Monthly Archives: August 2012

Have We Got It Wrong 2

There were some interesting reactions to yesterday’s article – ‘Have we got it wrong?’

Some people felt the article was spot on.

Others were irritated by what they thought was a blatant attack on marriage.

Some even felt the article was a little too tame.

The one thing we all agreed on is that something is definitely wrong somewhere.

Why did I point out those dark divorce rate statistics?

I wanted us all to be aware of the grim reality.

Not to scare.

Not to make those of us whose marriages didn’t make it feel better either.

But to encourage us to ask ourselves why.
As well as to goad us into dwelling on how we can play our own part in preventing those horrible rates from increasing.

For those of you who felt that yesterday’s article was an attack on marriage, I want to assure you that it most definitely was not.

Once again, I fully believe in marriage and really hope and pray to get it right one day.

To emphasise this point I want us to have a look at the following excerpt from yesterday’s article.

Quote
” Have we over-complicated matters?

Further still, has the excitement of the church wedding become so fevered that we have become blind to the fact that marriage is so much more than the wedding day???? ”

What I was implying is that we need to go back to the basics.

As I understand it, marriage is about two people coming together as one to build a life / family / future together.

I now believe that in order for a relationship / marriage to flourish there needs to be a great degree of commitment and selflessness from both parties.

Remember – Jesus pointed out that a man’s love for his wife is supposed to mirror His (Christ’s) love for the church.

Christ’s love for the church (you and I) is unconditional and selfless.

This requires regularly swallowing one’s pride and permanently dying to ‘self’.

In other words it is far more than the wedding day.

If there is one thing our generation seems to lack today, it is a commitment to seeing things through, no matter how challenging the circumstances may be.

Let’s take another look at 1st Corinthians 13.

Love is patient
Love is kind
it does not envy
it does not boast
it is not proud
it is not rude
it is not self seeking
it is not easily angered
it keeps no record of wrongs
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth
it always protects
always trusts
always hopes
always perseveres

Just taking one glance at the above makes it pretty obvious to me where I went wrong.

I failed pretty miserably in most, if not all of them.

The above verses are so much more important in the context of marriage and relationships than going to church and saying ‘I do’?

I now believe that in marriage we need to permanently focus on the love that is described in 1st Corinthians 13.

This selfless love that the Apostle Paul describes is supposed to be a personification of Christ’s love for us.

Now – remember – Christ said ‘go and do likewise’.

Marriage is supposed to be the prime example of this selfless and unconditional love.

I certainly had to face some painful realisations about my own lack of commitment and selfishness when I was married.

For those of you who are not Nigerian please accept my apology, as I need to focus on our beloved country for now.

As I pointed out in yesterday’s article, we love our big weddings in Nigeria; to the extent that many jump into marriages in order to enjoy the big wedding day and for the general rush and experience of being able to say ‘I do’.

For some it is because of family pressure; for some it is for financial reasons; for some it is simply for the thrill and apparent magnitude of the wedding day; for some it is just to settle down. For some it is love.

Everyone has their reasons; and none should ever be judged.

But what happens next?

Unfortunately many experience disillusion and disappointment. The end result is more often than not a breakdown of communication, leading to an inevitable split.

Much to the irritation of some people I spoke with yesterday regarding this topic I am still a little hesitant to be as blunt as I probably need to be on this topic.

Why?

Because I know that I made many mistakes and I am still learning from them.

Many couples are friends before they marry. But for some reason, as soon as they utter the words ‘I do’ something changes.

Suddenly the pressure of expectations from each other rears its ugly head.

Whereas before they used to have fun and enjoy each other’s company, suddenly the weight of expectation and the pressures that society seems to heap on each individual strangles the life out of the friendship / relationship.

So what do we need to learn from this?

1. From a personal point of view I believe that we need to fully recognise and understand our expectations before saying ‘I do’.

2. We need to ensure that the fun does not disappear from our relationships.

3. We need to ensure that we do not allow society or church doctrines to dictate how we should think, or how we should conduct ourselves in our marriages.

This is what I was referring to when I pointed out that there is no where in the bible that says a man and a woman got married in a church.

Is it possible that the expectations, concepts and precepts of society’s attitude towards marriage and how a married couple should and shouldn’t behave have basically robbed many marriages of the joys of a free, loving and intimate friendship / relationship?

In other words, have our societal ‘norms’ and expectations – be they financial, behavioural, church or otherwise, eroded the authenticity and joys of relationships?

I often wonder which is more authentic.
To be married and living a life in which one is constantly keeping up with appearances for the sake of societal norms and expectations?

Or to be in a genuine relationship of love outside of marriage?

Yes I know. It’s a little radical.

But is it really???

I am not saying one is better than the other.

I’m also not saying that one is right and the other is wrong.

But I have come to the realisation that contrary to how I used to frown upon couples who are not married living together, I now see absolutely nothing wrong with it; so long as both hearts are committed to a lifelong relationship / partnership.

Remember when Samuel anointed David to be king of Israel?!

Let’s remind ourselves shall we!!

‘ When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.’

But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’

1st Samuel 16 vs 6 – 8

So – which do you think God prefers?

To be in a marriage for appearances sake or to be with someone out of wedlock but be genuinely in love and wanting to build a future together????!!!

Does the fact that they didn’t go to church to get married mean that the Lord frowns on the relationship???

I am in fact very pro marriage.

My hope and prayer is that the two articles encourage us all to reflect on the importance of love – unconditional love – selflessness – authentic friendships and authentic relationships.

Be true to yourself.

Don’t just be another clone of your church or your society.

Take note – if you’re not true to yourself, eventually the real ‘you’ will come out, and it is very possible that your partner will not like what he or she sees.

Be true to each other – in terms of who you are, what you like and what you don’t like. Surely this is the only way in which you can really know whether somebody likes you for ‘you’.

God gave us all individual minds; individual characters; our own gifts; our own talents.

He purposely created you to be different from the next person.

Don’t be a clone of society.

Don’t be a clone of your church.

Be true to yourself and be true to God.

Remember, in as much as we are all in this together – to support, to encourage and to uplift one another, your relationship with God is between you and God.

For those of you who have never been married I say this.

Don’t be scared.

I firmly believe that marriage is a blessing.

But go into it with both your eyes open.

If you find your marriage in a rut, try as best you can to remember what you love (or loved) about your partner.

Then do your best to practice the love that is described in 1st Corinthians 13.

Finally, we are all on a learning experience; a long journey in which we need to do our best to continue to grow into the people that God created us to be.

On this journey we will make mistakes and we will at times fail.

But we must never give up on ourselves or think for one second that we cannot be better – for God and for each other.

Most importantly we must never ever give up on God’s ability to mould us into the wonderful and loving people He created us to be.

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HAVE WE GOT IT WRONG???

For some of you traditionalists this may sting a little. But please be rest assured that I am not purposefully trying to cause unrest or unease.

This is merely an observation; and just a few teeny weeny questions.

Just a few. Promise!!

I apologise in advance for any discomfort this article may cause you.

In the United Kingdom one in every three marriages between 1995 and 2010 ended in divorce.

In Australia nearly every third of marriages end in divorce.

The divorce rate in North America is 54.8%.

According to findthedata.org the divorce rate in Nigeria for 35 to 39 year olds in 1986 was 0.6%. In 2003 it was 1.6%.

Whilst this is a much lower percentage than those of our brothers and sisters in Europe and the U.S, we need to bear in mind that in Nigeria we tend to ‘separate’ and not divorce. It is quite possible that the ‘separation’ rate in Nigeria is just as high as the ‘divorce’ rates in Europe and the U.S.

Yes yes yes I know, I’m going through a divorce so it’s all too likely that I’m purposefully focusing on negative statistics.

I can assure you that I am not.

I very much believe in marriage, and to be perfectly honest I am looking forward to finding the right person to spend my middle and latter years with. Unfortunately the days of being able to use the word ‘young’ when referring to my dear self, officially waved an endearing but finite goodbye when I turned 40 earlier this year.

Statistics do not lie.

So what has gone wrong?

There are some who believe (as they do with most things) that marriages are under attack from the devil. This is quite possible.

Some are of the view that today’s generation (yep – you and I ) can’t even spell commitment let alone abide by it. This is also true, and quite possibly a legitimate reason for the increase in failed marriages.

Others are of the view that today’s generation simply refuses to put up with some of the unacceptable behaviours and actions that were prevalent in previous generations. Also possible.

Some blame the media.
I love blaming the media; such an easy target. Whenever in doubt blame the media!

However during the past few months I have sensed a more radical line of thought.

This rather controversial view is of the opinion that the institution of marriage has been hampered by the very fact that man has turned it into an ‘institution’. In other words man has indoctrinated and institutionalised something that was supposed to be a lot more simple, natural and straightforward.

Is there anywhere in the bible that portrays a man and a woman getting married in a church building? I’ve searched and searched and searched but I can’t find any reference to a couple going into a church building and being directed to say ‘I do’ as well as being required to sign marriage documents.

Correct me if I’m wrong but it seems to me that by our own volition we (mankind) have created an institution (or shall I say ‘system’) by which to maintain control, and then turned around and claimed that it is God’s will and God’s doing.

Is it God’s will for us to get married in church buildings? Who knows! But the bible certainly doesn’t give us any suggestions that it is.

Is it God’s will for us to sign documents? Again, who knows! But I’m yet to find anything in the bible that suggests or implies that this is what God wants.

I can sense the agitated sighs of “and so what Segs! What’s your point?”

Please tarry with me a little while longer.

Is it possible that as a result of an innate desire for systematic orderliness and accountability, mankind has more or less wrenched out the necessary ingredients for sustained relationships? Ie love, friendship and freedom.

In other words due to the subtle, subconscious, but inherent pressures that accompany the words ‘I do’, have we unknowingly created a ‘system’ that is basically destined to fail?

Again, please pardon me if I’m way off track here but it seems to me that in biblical times it was merely a simple act of two families meeting, and the payment of a dowry.

Have we over-complicated matters?

Further still, has the excitement of the church wedding become so fevered that we have become blind to the fact that marriage is so much more than the wedding day????

We Nigerians love the wedding day. In fact I often wonder whether the wedding day is about the couple getting married or the parents!!!

Has it merely become an opportunity for people to display their wealth?

The attitude seems to be one of ‘Sod the couple! They can sort themselves out later. This is our chance to show how well we’ve done. Let’s celebrate in style.’

No no no, I’m not having a go at parents. Anyone and everyone is entitled to celebrate their children’s wedding day in whatever manner they like.

I’m simply asking this question.

“Is it possible that man’s determined efforts to establish and build a thriving institution have in fact resulted in the unfortunate demise of authentic relationships?”

 

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THANK YOU!

A few weeks ago I informed you all that I had designed a seminar on divorce. I remember hesitating so many times before pressing ‘enter’.

My hesitation and reluctance was due to what I thought people might say. I was so concerned about people’s reactions and my personal reputation that I almost didn’t do it.
I was extremely concerned about the gossiping and the slandering that would ensue (and boy-o-boy do we enjoy gossiping and slandering in Lagos!!! Lol).

Well, as you now know, I did eventually press enter.

I want to thank everyone that called or sent me a message of encouragement during the following hours / days of my posting that article. Your words of encouragement were most invaluable. Thank you.

What has amazed me since posting that article is the amount of people that have contacted me to say what a good idea it is to have such a seminar. I am actually quite shocked by the amount of people that have got in touch to say that the seminar is much needed and long overdue- some of them are people I would have expected to frown upon such a seminar. I guess it just goes to show that God really does have a plan.

I have heard tales of people having to emigrate because of the stigma and near victimization inflicted on them because of divorce. I have heard tales of people turning to drink and drugs because of the depression caused by divorce.

I remember my return flight from Atlanta on 2nd October 2011, after my ex asked me for a divorce. On that flight I wanted to get absolutely hammered (for those who don’t understand that term it means to get blind drunk). But fortunately for me, just before ordering some wine, brandy, whisky, anything in fact (I was ready and looking forward to indulging in all various forms of alcohol!), I heard God tell me; ‘You are not to touch a drop of alcohol until January 2012.’
I realized there and then that, although it would be a challenge and sometimes excruciatingly painful, the best way to overcome the sorrow was to face the next few weeks and months 100% sober.

In other words I was just extremely fortunate to have received an instruction from a God that loves us all so much, and indeed always wants the very best for us. Thankfully He also gave me the grace and strength to obey.
Trust me – in my past I’ve gone down the road of alcohol and drugs, either for fun or to overcome sorrow and it is definitely not the answer. We’ll talk more about that at the seminar.

During the next few weeks, one thought kept running through my head over and over again.

‘Segs, you’re free now, you can have as much sex as you like. Go and rock! You deserve a little release. Go and get laid Segs!’

But somehow God made me realize that although the sex might be fun, and as far as I was concerned much needed, I would still wake up the next morning wishing I was waking up next to my wife.

The reason I am saying all this is because we need to recognize that we are all human. We all have failings. We all make mistakes. But that’s why we are friends. That’s why we are family; to help each other.

In other words we are not here to simply focus on being better than the next person.

We are also not here to judge the next person.

We’re not here to go through tough times alone.

We’re here to help each other through tough times.

We’re here to support one another through times of sorrow.

We’re here to strengthen one another in times of weakness.

This is the real reason for holding this seminar.

It is not just to tell you my story.

It is not just to tell you what went wrong – the mistakes I made.

It is to help those who are going through challenging times to find strength and hope; to know that they are not alone.

It is to show people who may be feeling lost and confused that this is NOT the end.

It is to enable people to find their real selves again.

And yes – it is to have a forum in which people can speak openly, without judgment or condemnation, about their personal experience and anguish of going through a divorce.

During the past few weeks I’ve written a few articles that may have suggested that I have something against church leaders in Nigeria. I want to make it very clear that I don’t.

In this light I want to thank my church pastor for helping me to move on. Thank you Mr. B.
And thanks for all your prayers Mr. D.

I want to touch briefly on something very important.

We spend so much time worrying about whether things might go wrong. We spend so much time hoping that things go smoothly in our lives. Well, the truth is that if everything in life was smooth and easy how on earth would we grow? If everything in your life was easy and smooth then how on earth would you know how to help those who are going through tough times?

I’m starting to believe more and more that every challenging situation we go through in life is for a reason – for the sake of our individual growth and development and more importantly so that we can help people who go through similar experiences.

There is something you and I are supposed to learn from every situation and every challenge.

Once you learn what it is, don’t just keep it to yourself. Use your lesson and experience to teach those in need.

A friend in need is a friend indeed.

Let us build a society in which we are all friends in need.

This may seem like a small step towards that. But remember – small steps lead to giant leaps.

If there’s anyone out there feeling dejected, rejected, unloved, alone and rather like a failure, I want to assure you that you are most definitely not a failure. I want to assure you that the only rejection that really matters is rejection from God; and that can never happen. He will never reject anyone that comes to Him.

Many years ago (I think I was between 5 and 7 years old), two of my older brothers and I were playing war in the front garden of our house. Can you imagine?!! Playing war in the front garden!!! You’d think we had the sense to at least play our war games in the back garden – away from the cars!!!

Anyway – the front garden it was.

As well as using sticks for guns we also used stones as grenades. Our war games were strategic and fierce.

In the midst of one of our intense afternoon battles I mindlessly took up position in front of our dad’s brand new black Mercedes Benz. Dad had taken the other car to work and was still at the office. He usually returned home at about 7.30pm.

So, there I was, positioned in front of this spanking brand new Merc, when my brother decided to lob a grenade at me. Till this day I ask him ‘ how on earth could you have lobbed a grenade at me when I was standing in front dad’s Merc? Come on!!!

But he did lob the grenade.

As that stone sailed through the air, everything seemed to be in slow motion. We all knew what the outcome would be upon the stone’s landing, but there was nothing we could do about it. As the stone landed on, and of-course smashed the windscreen of the Merc, a deathly silence descended upon us. Without uttering a word the three of us left the scene of the crime and went straight to bed. It was 2.30pm.

I doubt whether any of us slept for even a micro second. Indeed our anxiety and fear intensified more and more as evening approached.

Finally, we heard the beep of dad’s car. He had arrived from work.

Before going any further I should explain that the usual practice when dad arrived home was for us to run to him, screaming ‘daddy daddy daddy’ in excitement and joy. We would then proceed to take off, or more accurately, pull off his boots (remember those boots dads used to wear?!!).

But on this occasion there were no happy and excited screams of ‘daddy daddy daddy’.

After a very tense 20 minutes or so, we were eventually summoned downstairs. I’m sure walking the green mile is not too dissimilar to that walk we took down the stair case. But unbelievably, when we got downstairs, all he said to us was, ‘you poor children, you’ve suffered enough. Have you eaten?’

And that was it. Everything returned to normal. But before eating there was something we had to do first. Yep – pull off his boots. Lol.

Apparently when dad got home he was surprised by the fact that his children didn’t run out to greet him. He also missed it. He asked mum where we were and she replied,
‘Babafemi, o ori  moto e nita ni?’ Which, roughly translated means ‘Babafemi (my dad’s name), haven’t you seen the state of your car?’
Dad went to look at the car, and after seeing the state of it returned inside and said ‘those poor children. They must have been so scared and suffered so much during the past few hours. Please call them. I want to see my children.’

His love for his children far outweighed everything else.

As wonderful and loving as he is, my father on earth is certainly not perfect in love.

But our father in heaven IS perfect love.

So – multiply the love that a man had for his three rather mischievous children by infinity and you may just get an inkling of the love that our father in heaven has for you.

To our dear muslim brothers and sisters, I say
‘Barka Eid El Fitri’.

To everybody else I say ‘have great weekend.’

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THE GREAT REVIVAL

Sorry people, just one more tiny wincy memory of London 2012.

The picture that continues to shine ever so brightly in my mind (apart from the gorgeous smiles of Alison Felix and Shelly Anne Fraser Pryce – sorry but they’re just so adorable!!!) is that of thousands of athletes united in a celebration of sports; a celebration of unity; and yes, a celebration of love. I remember I kept wanting to be beamed up (in star trek fashion) to the stadium – to experience what must have been an amazing atmosphere for just a few seconds.

My friend Katie summed it up nicely when she sent me a message, basically saying that it demonstrated the fact that contrary to what many fear, we are not as separate as we might think.

So what was it that united all those people in such loving and joyful celebration?

There is of-course a very strong case that it was simply sports that united them. Indeed I’ve heard it said many times that sports unites’ the world – especially footy – sorry ladies but it’s true! Ok ok – it unites the men of this world anyway!!

But I can’t help feeling that it runs much deeper than that.

I personally believe that we humans were created to love one another. We were created to relate with one another.

We were created to celebrate with each other in times of joy.

We were created to support one another in times of sadness and grief.

We were created to encourage and uplift each other in times of failure.

We were created to share joy with others in their moments of achievement and success.

In short, we were created to help, support and share with one another at all times, in all moments – whether happy or sad.

We were not created to judge one another.

We were not created to put each other down.

We were not created to accuse or slander.

We were not created to bitch about one another.

We were not created to kick others when they’re down.

We were created to LOVE one another.

Please note – the God that created us is a God of love. In-fact just before he created man he said ‘let us create man in our own image’.

Our God is the personification of unconditional love, humility and mercy. So much so that because He knew that we could not attain the righteousness necessary for heaven ourselves, He sent His son to do it for us.

So – the ability to love unconditionally is already inside us.

His greatest commandment is to Love Him (God) with all our hearts, our strength and our minds. His second greatest commandment is for us to love each other, also with all our hearts, strength, and mind.

My next point may seem rather controversial. Trust me – it is aimed as much at myself as it is against anyone else.

I sometimes ask myself – do I really love God? Or do I love Him on condition of what He can do for me?

Do we love Him on condition of how much He can bless us?

Do we go to church out of love or out of the fear of God being displeased with us if we don’t go?

Do we want to serve God in church in that particular area because we passionately want to dedicate those talents He gave us to serving Him? Or is it to please the pastor as well as earn more love from God?

How many of us, myself included, truly love our God unconditionally? By this I mean without any kind of hidden agenda of what He can do for us?

My biggest concern is the message that is being preached in our churches today. It is a message of doctrines (formula) for God’s blessings. What concerns me the most is that we are raising a future generation that is being molded in the belief that money is the answer to everything – fulfillment, joy, peace, the lot. They are being fooled into believe that a relationship with God is all about – ‘a blessing for your fasting, a blessing for your church attendance, a blessing for your tithes, a blessing for your offering (I shudder every time I hear ‘offering time, Blessing time’ in a church). Uuugh!!! Sorry – just shuddered again.

Unfortunately for many, a relationship with God has more or less become – ‘blessing me for my works Lord’.

Many years ago some foreign emissaries visited Nigeria for a couple of days. On their way to the airport, when returning, one of them said, ‘this country is very interesting. I have never seen so many churches. There’s one literally every few metres. And yet there is so much poverty. Surely there’s something wrong there.’

In other words the result of our ‘me me me’ relationships with God is that we have become a nation that is poor in unity, poor in morals, poor in standards, poor in principles, and littered in poverty – all as a direct consequence of our abject ‘poverty in love’.

Once again, I am not attacking church leaders.

We are ALL to blame.

A few years ago after a rip-roaring sermon by a pastor on love, I was so uplifted and so moved by what he had to say that I walked up to him (never met him before, didn’t know him) after the service to thank him for an excellent message. During our very brief conversation I said to him ‘I genuinely believe that the true Great Revival will be love’. When I said this he looked a tad confused and to be quite frank, not at all interested. Not sure whether it was what I said that he wasn’t interested in or maybe he just thought I was rather boring (that’s very possible actually – maybe he just thought I was boring!!!), but anyway, I distinctly remember feeling a little disappointed by the fact that this man didn’t get what I was saying. So, Rather like that poor duck that used to trudge across our TV screens whenever a batsman was out first ball during a cricket match, I also trudged off, feeling sorry for myself, with a small but very irritating cloud hovering over my head.

I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say that so many churches have done so many revivals in Nigeria – most of these revivals revolve around personal breakthroughs of one kind or another. There is nothing wrong with this. Indeed in some aspects it is good and very necessary.

However, I personally believe that the Great Revival that is needed in our land is a revival of LOVE.

So why do we struggle with grasping the importance and necessity of God’s two greatest commandments?

I genuinely believe the reason is because we preach and talk about God’s grace and mercy but we don’t truly believe or walk in it. We still think and behave as if we have to earn God’s love.

The bible says that when we give our lives to Christ, our old self is dead, and our new one (through Christ) is born. However it may just be that due to our unwillingness to accept that Christ has already done ALL the work for us, we continue to work hard every day to get rid of our ‘old self’. In other words we continue to fight a battle that has already been won – by Jesus Christ.

The consequence of this is that rather than focusing on serving God with our hearts, as well as loving and serving others, our focus is primarily on what we can and must do to be BLESSED; what we can and must do to get our BREAKTHROUGH.

As my dear ex would say, “Honestly??!!!!!”

So who are we kidding?!!!! God can see through us and knows exactly where our hearts truly lie. Hello???!!!

I’m not criticizing. I’m just as bad.

But together we can come out of this continuous and terrible cycle of the ‘me me me’ syndrome.

The bible says that ‘love never fails’.

Let’s give it a try.

Let’s accept once and for all that Christ really has done all the work for us.

Let’s start focusing more on how we can love and serve God genuinely – NOT for appearances sake or so that God can bless us and people can say good things about us.

Let’s decide today to STOP the WORKS and DO the LOVE – for GOD and for EACH OTHER.

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The Hangover

I woke up this morning feeling as though I’d just waved goodbye to someone so dear. A somber emotion; an intense attack of withdrawal symptoms. What now???
What are we going to do now??????
I can honestly say that the just concluded London 2012 was definitely the most inspiring and uplifting games that I have witnessed in my lifetime.
The opening ceremony set a high precedent that was so easily maintained throughout the sixteen / seventeen days of competition.
The games were an awesome example of what human beings can achieve.
From the exemplary work done by over 1700 volunteers, to the contributions of Royalty (an exceptional acting debut by Her Majesty the Queen in the opening ceremony – Oscars here we come Your Highness!!!), politicians (David Cameron was so inspired by team GB’s amazing performance that he has promised to promote and drive more team competition in Britain’s schools), to last night’s magnificent demonstration of British pop music; and let’s not forget Boris Johnson’s stylish and passionate waving of the Olympic flag!
Good on you Boris!
Simply superb all round!!
The games were a monumental example of what mankind can achieve when united in one purpose – love, service, dedication, planning, joy, fun, awesome feats.
Team GB was outstanding throughout the tournament. Hats off to them all- the adorable Jessica Ennis, Mr. Farah, all the British rowers, and so many more.
Then there were David Rudisha’s stunning 800 metres, Sanya Richards Ross (she finally got her 400m olympic gold medal) and my two personal favourites, Shelly Anne Frazer Pryce and Alison Felix – their gorgeous smiles lit up hearts as well as the Olympic Park.
Michael Phelps!
Will there ever be another like him?!!!
You are an inspiration to what human beings can achieve Mr. Phelps. Thank you!!
You know me better than to think I wouldn’t reserve a special mention or even a whole paragraph for Mr. Usain Bolt and his most able companion, Yohan Blake.

Before Beijing 2008, as a result of the constant drug scandals that accompanied it, many people, myself included, had fallen out of love with athletics. Then along came our knight in shining Yellow armor – Mr. Usain Bolt.
Mr. Bolt, you have literally saved as well as resurrected international athletics. You’ve restored our passion for it. Thank you!!
I pray that you will defend both the 100m and 200m in Rio 2016.
Please, Please, Please stay fit and healthy!!!
By the way, Jamaica may have struggled to win that 4 x 100m relay had it not been for that incredible 3rd leg of Yohan Blake. Had this man been around in any other era we would be talking about him in the same vein as we do about Mr. Bolt.
Last night’s closing ceremony was a delightful celebration of British pop music – Queen, Kate Bush, Annie Lennox (the original diva – she should be ‘Lady Annie Lennox’ – same with Kate Bush), Oasis (but can someone please explain to me why ColdPlay didn’t feature), Blur, Take That, Ray Davies, The Who, and a scintillating performance of Always Look On The Bright Side of Life by Erik Idle.
Yes yes yes Emma, I know – and the Spice Girls.
Finally, I’m not going to complain about Nigeria’s performance. For whatever reason, things just didn’t go well for us in London 2012. But I’m sure the athletes that represented our beloved country tried as best they could. Now is not the time to complain and make accusations. It is a time for very sober reflection – what went wrong, and how can we ensure it NEVER EVER happens again.
A friend of mine in the UK told me a few days ago that Team GB’s historic performance had seriously lifted a nation that was low on morale, energy, inspiration and hope, due to the ongoing recession.
Those in the corridors of power in Nigeria should take note of how outstanding performances in competitive sports can uplift an entire nation. Every country needs the ‘feel good factor’.
One day Nigeria will perform outstandingly well in an Olympic Games. I am absolutely sure about that.
This may sound a little crazy because of what we see around us right now, but I also genuinely believe that one day Nigeria will host a games , be-it the Common Wealth Games, World Championships, or, dare I say it, an Olympic Games that we can truly be proud of.
Maybe not in our lifetime. But someday!!
However, we must start preparing the way for that day now. Let’s at least make a start so that our children / grand children can complete the job.
Remember – little steps eventually lead to giant leaps.

We are after-all human as well; and Britain has just shown us what human beings can achieve when united in one purpose.
But for now, it’s over to you Rio.
We wish you all the very best for 2016.

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BACK TO BASICS

I want to make it very clear that this article is not designed as an attack on the church or church leaders, in any shape or form. Indeed I believe that we are ALL at fault. I’m hoping that this article will open eyes and stir hearts. If it doesn’t, then I genuinely hope it encourages someone else to write something along the same lines with much greater impact.

The only message one seems to hear when attending the average church in Nigeria is ‘prosperity prosperity prosperity’. It is so common and so monotonous that it is almost beginning to sound like those ‘clanging symbols’ that the bible talks about.

Jesus came to earth as a carpenter. He personified humility and love. He personified simplicity. He rarely preached in a church building; and on the second occasion that He did, he was upset by what He saw – a place of business.

Jesus, whom Christianity is all about, told us to ‘go and do likewise’. In other words He wants us to love unconditionally, to give to the poor and needy – both in provisions, time and love, to heal the sick, to encourage and uplift those around us; to spread the great news that He has done all the ‘works’ that will ever be necessary for our permanent justification and righteousness.

When Jesus said that ‘money is the root of all evil’ He obviously wasn’t saying that money is evil. He simply does not want us to have money as the root and centre of our focus. The more money becomes the root and centre of our focus the more likely we are to compromise our faith and principles because of our innate and passionate desire to have it.

Unfortunately the constant prosperity preaching we are bombarded with in our churches isn’t helping at all. There is so much focus on what we must do and how we should do it in order to be ‘blessed’. So much so that Christianity in many churches today has more or less become a formula for blessings and breakthroughs. The result of all this is that our hearts are straying further and further away from God.

Remember, God looks at the heart and not what car we’re driving, how big our house is or how much we have in our bank accounts. It’s almost as if our only focus is earth. The whole point of our faith is that we are assured of blissful eternity in heaven. But way too many of us live our lives as though everything is about this place called earth; as though earth is the final destination.

I am not saying that one should not aspire to be the best they can be or to be successful or wealthy. Indeed, as a staunch Welfare Capitalist who believes that everyone should be given equal opportunity in education, health and housing etc, to go on and do as well as they want to do in their careers, such a notion doesn’t gel with me at all. But this should not be the main focus of Christ’s body. Money and success, as we have defined it, should not be the biggest and loudest messages coming pulpits across the country.

The greatest commandment is to love God with all our hearts and all our minds and all our strength. The second greatest commandment is for us to love each other in the same way.

How often do churches focus on love for one another? What is unconditional love? How do we serve one another? How can we transform our society into one of love, mercy and selflessness? What does it mean to have a heart for God?

Not service in order to be blessed. But service because we love God and love each other.

These are all topics that we should be focusing on more in our churches.
The fact is that we ALL (I know I certainly do) need help in this area – individually, and as a society.

A dire consequence of the constant prosperity preaching is the effect on young people. The youth of today are basically being brought up in an environment that is telling them that money is the root and pinnacle of success. As most of you know, I coach and train people. I often ask delegates what their goal in life is. About 60% of them say ‘I want to be very rich’. When I ask them why they want to be very rich they tend to get stuck.

Many are chasing wealth but don’t know why. This constant desire and chasing of wealth will more often result in frustration, emptiness and anxiety. Worse still, it results in a nation of ‘self’.

Listen out for the loudest Amen in church and you’ll find that it is when the pastor says something like ‘God will bless you’.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong in saying that. However there is a danger in there being too much focus on this, as it inevitably leads to a rather selfish society; the very antithesis of Christ’s message.

Christianity is fast becoming a faith of ‘self’.
We need to go back to basics; back to the heart of Christ.

I wrote this article because I sincerely believe that we ALL need help in this area. As far as I am concerned church leaders have a huge responsibility to help to create a selfless and loving society.

Every Sunday we pray for God to heal our land. We pray for God’s kingdom to reign in our leaders’ hearts.

Guess what!!!!

We need to start praying more fervently for God’s kingdom (of love, humility, service to God and service to each other) to reign in OUR hearts.

For our country to change, WE must change.

We must change from being a people of ‘self’ to being a people of ‘selflessness’.

The tool that God wants to use to change our hearts and mind-sets is the church.

This is a responsibility that church leaders must embrace.

We need to go back to Love and Service.

A nation in which we are our brother’s (and sister’s) keeper.

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