The Two Princes

Attending public events had its’ pluses and minuses. On the one hand they presented an opportunity to convey how well he was doing – the money, the power, the adulation, and the glory.

In a 3rd world country such as the Republic of Granaria, where money rules, it’s fairly easy to dazzle the public.

Granaria’s citizens – both rich and poor – are easily impressed with displays of power and wealth.

On the other hand there were times when Ethan would rather be doing something else – especially on weekends.

Still, no point dwelling on things.

Another moment of public adulation had presented itself.

He may as well enjoy it.

“Has the event actually begun?” he asked his assistant as they approached the venue.

“Yes sir, it started a few minutes ago.”

“Good stuff.”

His assistant smiled.

She knew what he meant by those words.

Although he had never spelt it out she knew the man she worked for well enough to understand that he enjoyed grand entries – arriving late – for all to see – being announced on his arrival as he takes his seat.

Not that she feels the same.

But she understands why her boss enjoys it.

He had risen from humble beginnings; risen to the very top – now the Group Managing Director of the nation’s second largest bank – Soveriegn Bank.

The press had been informed of his imminent arrival and had positioned themselves at the main entrance of the Exhibition Centre.

As his motorcade arrives, escorts and all, a mini stampede begins as press photographers jostle for the best position – the best angle – the best picture.

He alights from his car to proceed towards the main hall, enjoying another red carpet moment – the ‘sirs’, the courtsies, the bows, the pictures.

Not that he allows himself to be seen to enjoy it.

Not at all.

As usual he assumes an air of indifference.

“Hey look, that’s Ethan Mogambi, Group Managing Director of Soveriegn Bank,” says one of the guests in the hall, as Ethan makes his grand entrance.

“Wow! All the big boys and girls really are here today,” replies his friend.

“Is Gibson here?”

“Who?”

“Gibson Clarke, Group Managing Director of ALL Africa Bank.”

“Oh, ok…yea I think he’s here somehwere. But what’s the big deal about Clarke? He’s not one of the big boys, and certainly isn’t interesting.”

“Are you being serious???? All Africa Bank is the country’s largest bank! Besides the president himself Clarke is probably the most powerful man in the Republic.

His bank has five times as many customers as any other bank in the whole of West Africa.”

“Why do people like his bank so much?”

“You don’t have an account with All Africa Bank????”

“Nope. Why should I?”

“Mate, you haven’t lived. All Africa has the best customer service you can possibly imagine. Being attended to by them is as though one is being served caviar in a five star hotel.

The attention to detail, the display of love and care, the courtesy, the constant smiling. They never behave as though they are doing you a favour.

No airs and graces.

Just a complete focus on meeting your needs.

It’s like they understand us – like they know exactly what we want – what we need – getting things done as quickly and as smoothly as possible, and being treated well whilst doing it.”

“Sounds like I should open an account with them.”

“I can’t believe you don’t have an All Africa account. Who do you bank with?”

“Oh, me?! Soveriegn Bank ofcourse,” he replied with great pride – pride in the fact that he banked with Ethan Mogambi’s bank.”

“What’s their service like?”

“The service is really….em….it’s really….come to think of it the service is quite awful.”

“How do you mean?”

“The queues in the banking hall are slow and often chaotic, and the staff are seriously arrogant. In-fact they actually DO behave as though they’re doing you a favour.

They hardly even look at you when talking to you, let alone pay any kind of attention to detail. To be honest, now I think about it, they are blatantly arrogant.”

“Wow! That doesn’t sound too good. So why do you stay with them?”

“I…I really don’t know. Never thought about it until now. I …I ….think I basically fell for all the hype – the razmataz – Ethan Mogambi and all.

You know what?!! I’ve just realised that the attitude of Soveriegn’s staff may actually stem from being trapped inside their own hype.
 
Their service is so poor. They just don’t seem to care about us. It’s like we’re lucky to have an account with them or something!”

On the far side of the hall is a table of men and women in blue and yellow T shirts. They are in deep discussion as they assess something on an Ipad.

“Nope, can’t say I fully like this Charles.”

“Why’s that Gibson?”

“The car park is too small, and way too far away from the banking hall. We can’t have our customers being inconvenienced in such a way. We’ve got to do everything we can to ensure that we make life easy for our customers. They are what matters most.”

Gibson surveys the faces around the table, looking for signs of their understanding of the point he has just made.

The expressions on his colleagues’ faces do not convince him.

They haven’t got it.

He proceeds to emphasise his point.

“Six years ago, just a few weeks before I was formally asked to join All Africa Bank, I went to the head office of MVB (the cable tv provider).

Not out of curiousity, and certainly not by choice, but out of necessity. I needed to renew my subscription.  There was nobody else at home so I had to go and do it myself.

I was horrified by the state of their customer service centre.

The payment centre was dark, smelly, and to make matters worse totally chaotic.

I remember feeling disgusted.

Disgusted that this foreign firm that had been given free reign to monopolise our country’s television satellite provision, was displaying such blatant contempt for its’ customers – the nation’s citizens – you and I.

The state of that place conveyed scant respect or care for any of us.

I decided there and then that my number one focus during my tenure as Group Managing Director of All Africa Bank will be the customer – making life convenient for our customers.”

“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, before proceeding any further with this evening’s proceedings, we want to recognise the presence of two princes of the world’s financial markets – Ethan Mogambi, Group Managing Director of Soveriegn Bank, and Gibson Clarke – Group Managing Director of All Africa Bank.”

The audiance cheers – Ethan revels in the attention – Gibson appreciates.

The evening’s proceedings move along swiftly.

The event ends early enough for Gibson to ask his team to take a quick trip to the bank’s new site – the new head quarters.

He still isn’t satisfied that they fully appreciate his concern about the size of the customer car park, and its’ distance from the banking hall.

As they exit through the long corridor, along with the rest of the guests, they pass a big screen showing a CNN interview with Gibson Clarke.

Charles stops to watch for a few seconds.

“I have one more question for you Mr. Clarke.”

“Just one???” laughs Gibson Clarke.

The interviewer laughs along with him, before asking,

“What drives you?”

“Hmmm…you know, every single one of us – human beings – has an inate desire for power and adulation. Nobody can claim not to have this desire embedded in them somewhere.

But the biggest gift, and indeed the greatest power of all is one’s ability to serve others – one’s ability to make life better for those around him.

That’s what drives me.

Making life better for others.”

Charles nods his head in agreement, smiles, and continues walking.

He now appreciates his boss’s concern about the size and location of the bank’s customer car park.

©Segun Akande

The World Is Not Enough

I heard the most powerful message (yea that’s right – message of the church sermon type) on tv a few weeks ago.

Remember the late Princess Diana?

Yes – that adorable mother of Prince William and Prince Harry.

Remember Mother Theresa?

Yep – that amazing woman who dedicated her life to looking after those in need.

Both were known world wide.

When Princes Diana died, the world literally stopped for a few days.

Millions went into mourning.

Television stations had a field day!

She was celebrated and adored for her amazing contributions to mankind.

As explained by the preacher in the sermon I heard, in one of the main papers in the US there was a big article about Priness Diana – illustrating her life and achievements etc.

Underneath the article, at the bottom of the page, was a small paragraph informing us that mother Theresa had died – almost like an after thought.

There is no doubt that Princes Diana did many great and wonderful things whilst she was alive.

But who do you think did more for those in need?

Princess Diana or Mother Theresa?

I think we all know the answer to that.

And yet why was Mother Theresa barely mentioned?

Simple

The world’s definition of success is significantly different to that of God’s.

In-fact the two are complete opposites.

The world’s definition of success is fame and fortune.

God’s definition of success is our ability to execute the tasks that He has set for us – in other words how well we do the things that He wants us to do.

As a result of what we see around us, as well as what we are fed on a daily basis by the media, many of us long for worldly success.

We either get very frustrated if we don’t attain it – or find it and still feel empty.

Contrary to popular perception, the world is not enough.

Let’s focus a little more on those things that God wants us to do.

Being good to our neighbour

Loving selflessly and unconditionally

Patience and kindness

Am I lecturing you?

I certainly hope not!!!

I need to re-focus just as much as the next person!!

Let’s encourage one another to seek the things that God wants us to do.

That’s all for today – short and sweet.

Don’t you just love it!!!!

©Segun Akande

The World Is Not Enough

I heard the most powerful message (yea that’s right – message of the church sermon type) on tv a few weeks ago.

Remember the late Princess Diana?

Yes – that adorable mother of Prince William and Prince Harry.

Remember Mother Theresa?

Yep – that amazing woman who dedicated her life to looking after those in need.

Both were known world wide.

When Princes Diana died, the world literally stopped for a few days.

Millions went into mourning.

Television stations had a field day!

She was celebrated and adored for her amazing contributions to mankind.

As explained by the preacher in the sermon I heard, in one of the main papers in the US there was a big article about Priness Diana – illustrating her life and achievements etc.

Underneath the article, at the bottom of the page, was a small paragraph informing us that mother Theresa had died – almost like an after thought.

There is no doubt that Princes Diana did many great and wonderful things whilst she was alive.

But who do you think did more for those in need?

Princess Diana or Mother Theresa?

I think we all know the answer to that.

And yet why was Mother Theresa barely mentioned?

Simple

The world’s definition of success is significantly different to that of God’s.

In-fact the two are complete opposites.

The world’s definition of success is fame and fortune.

God’s definition of success is our ability to execute the tasks that He has set for us – in other words how well we do the things that He wants us to do.

As a result of what we see around us, as well as what we are fed on a daily basis by the media, many of us long for worldly success.

We either get very frustrated if we don’t attain it – or find it and still feel empty.

Contrary to popular perception, the world is not enough.

Let’s focus a little more on those things that God wants us to do.

Being good to our neighbour

Loving selflessly and unconditionally

Patience and kindness

Am I lecturing you?

I certainly hope not!!!

I need to re-focus just as much as the next person!!

Let’s encourage one another to seek the things that God wants us to do.

That’s all for today – short and sweet.

Don’t you just love it!!!!

My Dear Val

Can you remember that wonderful film ‘Love Actually’?

You already know I’m a hopeless romantic so why be surprised about my deep fondness for ‘Love Actually”?????

The scene at the airport – where it shows loved ones, be they couples, parents and their children, family members, friends – greeting one another in feverish excitement – a range of emotions – tears of joy – tears of sadness – a seemingly endless display of love in all its various forms – I JUST LOVE IT!!!

Ok…before going any further I have to confess that I’ve been struggling as to how to explain this next bit. Whether to tell you exactly the way it is, or whether to mix it a little so as not to sound weird.

I’ve decided to tell you exactly the way it is.

If you think I’m weird then so be it! I’ll still love ya!

The reason I love that scene so much is because it is something I’ve always enjoyed observing at international airports.

Ask anyone in my family and they will tell you that Segs has always enjoyed going to the airport to meet family members or friends (maybe not so much in Nigeria, as it really isn’t much fun having to wait outside!!).

Why?

Because there are few things more facinating than observing the wonderful reactions of loved ones greeting each other at airports. I’ve always found it so moving.

For years I would jump at every opportunity to go and meet a family member at Heathrow or Gatwick airport.

I always got to the airport at least two / three hours before the flight arrived so that I could observe passengers of other flights meeting their loved ones at arrival.

Each greeting told its own story – love, excitement, sadness, dread, fear, you name it – all there – plain to see.

Why on earth am I wittering on about Love Actually and airports????

Ah yes…LOVE – and its countless depictions.

Our generation seems to have allowed the media to decieve us about the true meaning of love.

Love is painted as a somewhat magical feeling of romance, excitement, physical beauty, and all manner of extravagance.

Add to the mix expensive jewelry, watches, holidays, cars, apartments and so forth, and I’m sure you’ll agree with me that love seems to have given way to ‘material gratification’.

I’m certainly not against excitement or expensive gifts. Indeed such things can be very pleasant.

But this media conjured ‘love’ that we all seem to subscribe to is simply NOT sustainable.

For many of us it certainly isn’t financially sustainable.

But more importantly, for all of us, that magical feeling of romance, excitement and passion is most definitely NOT sustainable.

Once again, I am absolutely NOT against romance and excitement.

In-fact the more the better.

I did a little research with regards to the origins of Valentine’s day.

Emperor Claudius II banned marriages because he believed that his soldiers would fight more effectively if they were single. In other words he didn’t want to have young married men who were missing their wives leading the front line. Can’t say I blame him to be honest.

However there was a priest called Valentine who believed in the importance of marriage. As such he proceeded to marry young couples in secret.

When the emperor found out he was incensed.

Valentine was imprisoned, tortured and executed.

One of the people who was supposed to judge him was a man called Asterius.
Asterius’ daughter was blind.

It is believed that during his incarceration Valentine prayed with and healed Asterius’ daughter.

This led to Asterius giving his life to Christ.

In a letter Valentine wrote to Asterius’ daughter just before he was executed, he signed it ‘from your Valentine’.

The meaning of all this?

Valentine was willing to sacrifice his life for what he believed in.

Despite his incarceration and torture he continued to love others unconditionally.

We can all learn from this.

I love this quote from a priest called Father O’Gara.

“Valentine has come to be known as the patron saint of lovers. Before you enter into a Christian marriage you want some sense of God in your life — some great need of God in your life. And we know, particularly in the modern world, many people are meeting God through his Son, Jesus Christ.”

“If Valentine were here today, he would say to married couples that there comes a time when you’re going to have to suffer. It’s not going to be easy to maintain your commitment and your vows in marriage. Don’t be surprised if the ‘gushing’ love that you have for someone changes to something less “gushing” but maybe much more mature. And the question is, is that young person ready for that?”

“So on the day of the marriage they have to take that into context. Love — human love and sexuality is wonderful, and blessed by God — but also the shadow of the cross. That’s what Valentine means to me.”

So, what exactly is ‘love’?

– Love is patient

– Love is kind

– Love does not envy

– Love does not boast

– Love is not proud

– Love is not rude

– Love is not self seeking

– Love is not easily angered

– Love keeps no record of wrongs

– Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth

-Love always protects

-Love always trusts

-Love always hopes

-Love always perseveres

1st Corinthians 13

In summary, love is everything Christ is.

Every relationship is meant to be a mirror of Christ’s love for His bride (the church – the body of Christ).

I’ve said it before, and at the continued risk of sounding like a broken record, I shall not stop saying this until things start to change.

If our churches focus more on ‘Love’ and less on the ‘me me me’ nature of how God can bless us and help us to be successful then we all stand a better chance of leading our lives in the loving and selfless manner that Christ commanded.

Isn’t it rather odd that there are so many better examples of loving and selfless people OUTSIDE of our churches?????

Indeed, contrary to the nature and design of Christianity’s message of love and forgiveness, us ‘Christians’ are actually the most unforgiving of people – world-wide!

Something isn’t quite right there!!???

Who is to blame?

We are ALL to blame.

Let’s focus less on how we can be blessed and focus more on how we can love and serve one another.

For those that went out with loved ones on Valentine’s, I hope you enjoyed every second of your night out.

For those who plan to make a whole weekend of it, please do your utmost to enjoy and cherish every blessed moment.

Romance is bliss!

Fun is awesome!

You deserve a good time!!

God is NOT boring.

He wants us to have fun.

But spend a little time reading and digesting 1st Corinthians 13.

Yep – today.

And do the same for the next one week.

Apply the love described in 1st Corinthians 13 to your relationship.

To those that were on their own I say this;

“Do not despair. Remember – ‘Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.’ ”

Be thankful for the most unconditional and secure love that any man or woman could wish for – the love of Christ.

And remain steadfast in hope.

God will give you exactly what you need.

©Segun Akande

Tagged , , , ,

Loadsa Money 2

Thanks to all those that sent me their views regarding ‘Loadsa Money’.

Indeed your views and comments made me feel a little ….well….cowardly, to say the least.

It seems that once again I was a little too light on the grim reality that’s been staring us in the face for the past decade or so.

In my defense (hey! gotta defend a little bit …pleeaaase???!!);

I know where I am coming from in terms of the many mistakes and errors I’ve made in my past, and the faults and defects I continue to do battle with today. Therefore I am always very conscious of not wanting to sound too harsh or ‘holier than thou’ – in any shape or form.

But – on the prompting of many readers I feel obliged to delve a little deeper into the heart of the matter.

The question is this-

How far and how deeply has the lust for wealth seeped into every facet of society – relationships – work – church.

Here are two quotes from two readers – in response to ‘Loadsa Money’;

Quote from Tolu

“Why do you often not go to the heart of the matter? In Nigeria of today: our entire value system, personal scorecard, the respect you command in society… associations… among your peers… and in your extended family, the way you’re treated by those who don’t know you, whether you receive good service in a public place, the manner in which you’re welcomed and treated at social events, the manner in which your children are treated at school etc etc, are ALL strongly influenced by the actual (or perceived) wealth that you have! We were sold to mammon a long time ago and there’s growing inflation!!”

I must confess that I love the bluntness, and the pure but controlled rage that underlies the above quote.

Nigeria seems to be a complete contradiction of the term ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’.

In Nigeria we not only judge the book by its cover, but proceed to judge the next four generations of the book – by that same cover.

The manner in which one is treated in the market place (working environment) largely depends on the fabric of one’s suit, shirt, and tie; and for the ladies – clothes, shoes, and handbags.

Whether or not the security guard allows you to park inside largely depends on the make, model and year of your car.

A man enters a restaurant with his wife / girlfriend / mistress ( yep, no pretence here – let’s keep it real), or business partner – the door man greets the man with a respect that implies that the president himself has just arrived, and then completely ignores the woman.

Why?

Because he or she naturally assumes that the man will be paying, and hence immediately pays homage to the person he believes holds all the aces – all the wealth.

The woman in search of a boyfriend /partner / husband – introduced to a handsome, polite, and very loveable man, but loses interest as soon as she sees his 1997 two door Honda.

The man in search of a girlfriend /partner / wife – befriends a gorgeous and amiable lady but loses interest because she isn’t of the same social standing.

Yep – works both ways.

The church car park – glittering with shiny new cars – range rovers, mercs, all manner of SUVs – a true sign that God Himself visits that particular church every Sunday!

Material wealth IS the new God’s love!!!!

The prestigious front row of churches – reserved for people of affluence – people of influence – people with LOADSA MONEY.

The second quote is from my good friend Nana.

Quote

“Just read your article, and the truth is that people go to church mainly to be blessed with “wealth” – in this case solely “loadsa money” and its all in the frame of mind,homes and state of country plus the portrayal of the finer things of life right in church as the “sign” that you are a true christian…cliques in churches of the who’s who and who wants to be “who” starting from the heads of churches…..people dedicate cars and material stuff in church and no one questions how they were able to afford them…our society and generations before now put in place the loadsa money = respect trend and now people of my generation have no integrity. I am afraid I will have kids who will be governed by thieves and live in a society morally stripped …I can go on but what good will it do?? The world is deaf!”

During a chat with some young (much younger) female colleagues at work earlier today I asked them what they think of our churches.

I was shocked when they all told me that they are Anglican (one naturally assumes that most of the younger generation go to pentecostal churches).

I asked them why.

Their reason – the Anglican church isn’t all about money, sowing seeds, and prosperity preaching.

They may be a little extreme in their view point but I can see where they’re coming from.

Quote

“At our church they don’t force you or put pressure on you to give offerings.”

Having said that I must point out that I have attended a few Anglican services, and they most certainly did not dissappoint with their prowess for collecting ‘big bucks’.

Let’s be honest – no church is perfect – just as no human being is perfect.

But my concern is that our imperfections regarding the love / lust for money passed the tipping point a long time ago.

The interesting thing is that our saviour, Jesus Christ, was a carpenter whilst on earth; and led a very simple life.

Final quote of the day in relation to Loads Money goes to Lanre.

“Awesome piece…. ” You CANNOT Serve two Masters. It’s Either You Serve one or Despise the other, or use one to Serve the other” This scripture is the ONLY Evidence we have in the bible where God compares our servanthood to Him with our servanthood to something else. For God to state this categorically, it means that it is a very CRITICAL PROBLEM. Many use God to serve mammon, whilst others use mammon to attempt to serve God.
SERVE Him because of who he is, and for His Mercies, Love, Faithfulness, Grace etc Not Because of What He Will do For You…So Next Time you’re Praising, Worshipping, Praying and Even Giving in church, Ask Yourself “What is my Motive” ? Love of God or Love of Self and Money?”

People – I most certainly am NOT perfect.

So very far from perfect in-fact.

But I do recognise, as do so many others, that something is not quite right.

A body that is supposed to epitomise love, selflessness, and humility, is strangely reflecting something entirely different – greed, selfishness, lust for money, and the all too familiar judgemental attitude that tags along with them.

To coin a phrase from Shakespear’s Hamlet, ‘Something is rotting in the state of our churches’.

Jesus said;

“Come to me, all you who are heavily burdened. My yoke is light”

Going to church – fellowshipping with one another should be a time / day we look forward to – to get away from the stresses and burdens of everyday life – to immerse ourselves in an environment of love, truth and humility.

But we seem to have made church another market place

– a place to talk about business, success, and Loadsa Money

– a place to flaunt success and wealth

-a place to seek opportunities to climb the wealth ladder.

Surely this is NOT the way it was supposed to be!!

Rather than finding a truth that set us free, we seem to have found another type of truth – one that has further ensconsed us in more bondage.

Can any of us really claim to regularly find peace in church?

Or do we often leave church feeling even more troubled – wondering why we haven’t received our breakthrough.

Christ’s message is one of unconditional love, peace, and humility – NOT WEALTH.

The population of Nigeria is in the region of 150 million people.

There are over 60 million Christians in Nigeria.

If just half the Christians in Nigeria can actually attain the ‘light yoke’ of Jesus then our environment will change over night.

But so long as churches continue to focus on the number of ‘bums on seats’ and the building of wealthy congregations, mammon will continue to influence every sphere of society – ‘with rapidly growing inflation’.

©Segun Akande

Tagged , , , , , ,

Loadsa Money!

What I’m about to say is not directed at any group or person in particular.

But rather, consider it a wake-up call for ALL of us.

And remember – I did warn you a few weeks ago that as well as encourage and uplift you this year, I will always tell you as it is.

I begin

During a chat with my dear friend Lanre this morning, it became all too apparent that mankind has more often than not being his own worst enemy.

Waaaaaiiiiit!!!!!

It really is about time I did this.

Before going any further I want to sincerely thank those very close and so dear buddies of mine; yes you guys – Tolu O, Gbogie B, Toyo O, Lanre O, Temi P, Tosin O, David A, and that tall chap that never likes being mentioned.

Thanks guys!!!

Time and time again our chats, arguments, and even at times the odd agreement, have been important and indeed necessary ingredients to most, if not all of my articles.

Right – back to the matter at hand.

A few weeks ago I woke up at about 4am (whenever that happened last year I got upset. Now I’ve accepted that it’s part and parcel of getting old). lol 

As soon as I awoke my thoughts went straight to that little town in the US where 20 kids were shot dead a few months ago.

What an absolute tragedy!!

Now – I follow Piers Morgan on twitter.

If you don’t then I suggest you do. He’s superb – brutally honest, and at times absolutely hilarious.

And as a fellow passionate Arsenal fan, it’s strangely comforting to read his angry tweets on Saturday afternoons – as that hallowed (yes hallowed!!) team from north London – yea the one that is forever in transition – continues to push the boundaries of pain and torture to new and unbearable heights.

Why am I talking about Mr. Morgan???

Oh yes – ever since the tragic incident in that little town in Conneticut, Piers Morgan has been agressively campaigning for a review of America’s gun policy.

He believes, as I do, that guns should be banned.

Ban ’em!!!! (yes yes, I did purposely omit the ‘th’)

Simple!

Full Stop!

No flipping excuses!!

Just ban the damn things!!!!!

But we all know that ain’t gonna happen.

Why?

Because the US government and its’ backers are making way too much money from the arms business.

I could write about this all day, but I’m going to give you just a couple of examples.

In which sectors do the biggest financial donors of US governments do business?

Yep. That’s right – Oil and Arms

What did Iraq have?

Who led the war in Iraq?

Who got the contracts for the rebuilding of Iraq?

The commercial arms sales, reviewed by the State Department in 2011, was in the region of US$44 billion.

The figure for 2012 was expected to be at least 60% higher.

Now here’s the rub.

Quite a few of the countries that the US sells arms to are routinely acused of human rights abuses by the US Government.

That seems to me a rather odd contradiction.

I’m going to stop there.

This is not a tirade, or even a complaint against the US government.

My point is this –

As a result of incessant greed, mankind seems to have pressed the self destruct button – steadily destroying millions of lives across the globe for the sake of financial gain.

Back home – we all know the damage and destruction that oil has inflicted on Nigeria; not least to our brothers and sisters in the Niger Delta region.

Whether previous governments are to blame for allowing foreign oil companies to literally rape and pillage our land, or whether we should lay the blame firmly at the door of the foreign oil companies, one fact remains –

It Should Never Have Got This Bad In The First Place!!!

Why did it get so bad?

The answer is simple

Lust for money

To be perfectly frank my concern lies not in who’s to blame, but in the state of human nature – our mindsets – what we’re all willing to do for the sake of a few million dollars.

Now let’s bring this home.

Yep. That’s right – bringing this to your front door – and mine.

My dear friend Lanre explained something to me this morning.

“When you allow your mood and emotions to be determined by the amount you have in your bank account you are allowing mammon to be your God. But when you remain faithful, grateful, and trusting in God no matter what, then you are walking in the spirit and not the flesh; thereby allowing the Almighty and living God to be your God.”

Pause for thought anyone????

Deep breath

So what to do?

I’m not saying we should all just sit at home and not face up to our financial commitments.

After-all we’ve got to eat; and so do the kids.

But who are you going to allow to be your God?

Who will determine your moods?

Who or what will you place your faith in?

On whom or what will you place your worth?

Once again, I have to ask this question.

Is It All About Earth?????

Is the reason you fast, pray, and go to church because you want God to bless you with “loadsa money”?

I’m exaggerating???

Ok..next time you go to church, listen out for the reason behind the loudest Amen.

I’m referring to ALL of us now.

It seems to me that we all need to be very honest with ourselves in order to make a decision.

Are we in this for ourselves?

Or

Are we in this for God?

Do we prefer ‘loadsa money’ on earth – at any cost?

Or

Do we do things properly – with love, and humility, in the knowledge that our real home – our real life – is in heaven.

Before I ask the next two questions I want to emphasise once more that I am talking about ALL of us – myself included.

When we spring to our feet during church services as the pastor makes a powerful prayer / declaration about money and success;

Are we praying to God?

Or

As a result of our desperation for wealth, possibly paying homage to mammon?????

©Segun Akande

Tagged , , , , , ,

Think Again

A few days ago Christiane Amanpour’s CNN programme featured Nigeria.

We were informed that statistically Nigeria is the third worst place to live on this planet.

The statistic not only made me sad but also rather irritated – verging on angry.

“How dare they?” I thought.

“What or who gave these guys the right to decide which places are good to live in, and which places are not?”

Needless to say, once my patriotic emotions gave way to our dear but often ignored friend, ‘Mr.objective’, I started to see reason.

Despite the valiant efforts of the present government, Nigeria continues to experience a myriad of challenges.

– serious security concerns

– unstable power supply

– a poor education system

– a non existent health care system

– inadequate housing

– bad roads

I said to a friend in 1999 that it would take fifty years for Nigeria to get to where it should be.

Why?

Because decades of military rule, constant abuse of power, and the blatant pillaging the nation’s resources resulted in not just stagnation but abject decline.

Hence, rather than blame this present government we need to bear in mind where we’re coming from.

1999??? That’s just thirteen years ago people!!

By my estimations we still have a another thirty seven years to go!

But one thing is for sure. We are finally moving in the right direction.

So for those who like me felt a little disheartened after the CNN programme I say this;

“Fear not!

And be not sad!

We are finally on our way. We may not see it in our life time but be rest assured that our grand children will live in a great Nigeria.”

But hang on!

This is not supposed to be a political article – not in the slightest.

My topic today is discouragement/encouragement.

Ahh yes – now it makes sense.

The reason I started with the CNN programme is because of how I felt after watching it; just a tad discouraged.

Nigeria is a country in which we all need regular doses of encouragement. Lol

I’m sure you’ve all noticed an increasing number of articles and phrases designed towards encouraging and uplifting us.

I genuinely thank God for such articles and phrases.

I’m sure you agree with me when I say that this journey we call ‘life’ can at times be so arduous, and so very dis-heartening.

But is it possible that the reason we are so easily discouraged is because we subconsciously believe that this is it?????

In other words despite our faith, we still seem to live our lives with a mind-set that screams,
“IT’S ALL ABOUT EARTH! IT’S ALL ABOUT EARTH!”

What on earth is Segs going on about now????

Very simple

The greatest security anybody can have is God

The greatest blessing anybody can have is God’s grace

The greatest gift anybody can have is Christ

The greatest wealth and power we can have is the spirit of the living God dwelling inside us

The greatest treasure anybody can have is Heaven

Is it possible that we are so easily disouraged because our focus is on the wrong things?

I’ll let you into a weee little secret. This is actually the article I was supposed to write yesterday. But when I woke up yesterday morning I kinda chickened out of it.

Why?

Because I was concerned that it may not be what you want to hear.

I’ve noticed something very interesting recently.

Whenever I write an article that is designed to uplift and encourage people to be the best they can be in this life – promoting success and wealth, I always get fantastic feedback.

But whenever the message is about Christ, and hints at the importance, relevance, and reality of life after earth the feedback is …well …non existent. Lol

So I guess I kinda (ok – no more kindas’) got addicted to the wonderful feedback.

That is until a dear friend of mine sent me a message late yesterday afternoon.

She has no idea how her message affected me.

She forwarded a message from Rick Warren’s Saddleback church to me. The message was about serving God.

In her personal message to me she said,

” But I guess you already know the importance of serving God. Keep up the good work.”

The vanity in me was so chuffed.

Absolutely delighted!

I even called her to confirm that the message was indeed for me!!

I went home feeling so good about myself.

But on waking up this morning her words came back to haunt me. Lol

Her words opened my eyes to the fact that due to wanting to give readers what they want to hear, I have buckled time and time again at the prospect of preaching this particular message.

So here goes

People!

This life is NOT the end!!!!!

In comparison to the real meaning of life -an eternity in Heaven -we are here but for a few miliseconds.

Our aim in this life is to be the best we can be for God and those around us – so that we can all enjoy that wonderful place we call heaven.

We must bear this in mind in absolutely everything we do.

In other words – yes, of-course, try your very best whilst you’re here on earth.

Love those around you

Provide for those around you

Protect those around you

Aspire for great things

Aspire for wealth

These are all good. There is absolutely nothing wrong with pushing aggressively for all the above.

But remember to always bear this mind;

Your real treasure – your real home – is heaven.

In all things you do, consider the reality that you are here to love and serve God before moving on to love and serve Him for an eternity in heaven.

So it’s up to us.

Do we want to continue living our lives as though this is it??? All about earth???

Or do we want to embrace the greatest security of all – salvation and God’s love.

The irony of all this is that if we think again, and re-direct our focus, our tendency to be easily discouraged and disheartened will reduce significantly.

There!

I’ve said it.

Sorry if you didn’t like this

Actually – no I’m not

Not sorry at all.

Think again, and do your best to embrace this message.

I know I certainly need to.

Let us regularly encourage ourselves in the knowledge that there is indeed a heaven.

There is an eternity of love, joy, and service to God.

This is what REALLY matters.

Finally, it’s befitting to conclude this article with a quote from my dear friend.

Quote

“The reality is that we will all die one day and we pray its at a ripe old age, but whatever age it is, there is heaven or hell; and we all know no one wants to go to hell. I’ve never heard anyone elect for it.

So it’s good to be reminded that it doesn’t end here, or even with death; and that it’s the aftermath that matters most.”

©Segun Akande

Tagged , , , , ,

The Man On The Cross

“More wine Drachus?” asked his fellow soldier.

“Eh? Oh…er.. yea, ok,” replied Drachus, now more than a little distracted.

Here he was with his companions – again getting merry after a day of fun and laughter; the fun of inflicting excruciating physical pain on another person – and laughter at the jokes that accompanied it.

He and his comrades had experienced such days time and time again. Days that presented them with a glorious excuse to let their hair down; to be as crude, vulgar, and mean as one could possibly be – just for the fun of it.

Today was just like any other day.

Except…..it just didn’t feel right this time.

Something was gnawing away at his concience – making him feel more than a little uncomfortable.

He glanced again at the man on the cross, as he continued his pretence of drunken revelry.

The man on the cross – the man everyone called Jesus of Nazareth was now very still.

It had been a while since he said anything. The other two were already dead. But this Jesus was still breathing; silent, still, but breathing.

Something just didn’t feel right. Why would a con man play his part right to the end – with no fear or remorse?!

How could a mad man suddenly become so silent?

And how could a mere human be so loving and so forgiving of His persecutors – right to the end.

Could they have got it wrong?

“What if He really is the Christ?” asked Drachus, no longer able to contain the harrowing questions that raged within him.

“You what???”

“Well…what if he is the Christ?”

“Look at Him Drachus! Look at him!! Do you really think a ‘King of kings’ would end up like that???

Look at the state of him!

Battered and bruised – stinking like a rotting animal – look at Him Drachus!!!

Does He look like a saviour to you???”

“Yea but what if…”

“What if what?”

“What if that’s the whole point?”

“How do you mean?”

“Well…what if the whole point of His life really is to die for us?”

There was a stoney and nervous silence for a few seconds.

“Shut it Drachus!!! You’ve had too much ale. And this time it seems to have completely robbed you of your senses” laughed his colleague.

“Come on chaps, let’s get going. The centurion will be looking for us soon.”

The soldiers got up and staggered to their horses – rather worse for wear.

“You’ll have forgotten about him by morning Drachus. And you’ll be looking forward to butchering and crucifying the next one.”

The soldiers rode off. All except Drachus.

He had mounted his horse but simply couldn’t summon up the will to move.

He sat there – staring at the man on the cross.

“Could this battered man really be the saviour of the world?

If so, then why did He allow Himself to be treated in such a way?

Surely He could have stopped them!!

But maybe that was the whole point – to die for the sins of mankind – a show of unconditional love and humility.

Maybe this world really is just for a few seconds. Maybe we really are just passing through this place on our way to eternity.

These thoughts, and many more, circled around his mind.

And so many questions – but very few answers.

He couldn’t help wishing he had had the opportunity to listen to some of Jesus’ teachings – just to get a better idea of His message.

But then again he had heard enough from other people to be persuaded that the man on the cross was, if nothing else a loving man. He even healed people; and never asked for one drachma in return.

His mind returned to that moment – the moment in which he had started to feel uncomfortable about the day’s proceedings.

Jesus had fallen to the ground, under the heavy strain of carrying that huge wooden plank. His breathing was heavy, His energy completely drained, His eyes battered – bleeding profusely.

Despite the abuse, the anger, and the wickedness that was directed towards Him He remained resolute in peace. And…..was it love that Drachus could see in those beaten eyes???

Despite the angry objection of his comrades, Drachus had got off his horse in order to help Jesus. His heart felt for him. But outwardly he had to pretend to be his usual brutish self.

“Get up man,” he said as he bent over to help him up.

“Get up or I’ll whip you to within an inch of your life,” he shouted, in order to remain convincing in his brutality.

“You may as well. He’s going to die anyway,” laughed his comrade.

The others laughed.

Drachus took the opportunity to whisper some words of encouragement in Jesus’ ear.

“Come on, you’ve got to get up. Or they’ll start beating you again. Only a little distance to go now.”

Jesus looked at him. Despite the fact that his face was heavily swollen, with blood gushing freely from his brows, an unconditional love emanated from his eyes.

He looked at Drachus and smiled.

“Thank you,” said Jesus.

Those two simple words were enough to make his heart stop – albiet for a milisecond.

How could this man still be so gentle and so loving?

Drachus remained motionless on his horse as he continued to stare at Jesus.

By now his comrades were long gone.

Aside from Jesus’ mother and a couple of His disciples, he was the only one still present.

“Father, Father, why hast thou forsaken me?” said Jesus.

Drachus’ horse stirred as those words filled the air.

His heart now racing, as tears meandered down his cheeks.

He looked at Jesus’ mother, kneeling before the cross – inconsolable.

A few minutes passed before Drachus finally decided it was time to go.

As he prepared to leave he took one more glance at the scene around him.

Here was a scene of turmoil – a scene of pain and torture – a scene that spoke volumes of the potential depths of mankind’s wickedness.

As he took one last look at the cross, the man that they had just nailed to it, whose head had been bowed for several hours, looked up and smiled at him.

His smile was one of love and forgiveness; a smile that said it all – “It’s ok, I have already forgiven you. It’s ok.”

“It is finished” said Jesus, as He took His final breath.

Crying uncontrollably, Drachus alighted his horse and got on his knees.

It was now so obvious.

He and his companions had crucified the son of God.

They had insulted, beaten, and killed the saviour of the world.

And yet the saviour had not only forgiven him but would also seek for the forgiveness of all the others.

“I’m so sorry.

Forgive me my King.

Please forgive me.”

A lightening bolt darted across the sky

A roaring thunder

A gusty wind that seemed to carry everything in its’ path

A rain like no other descended on the city

But still Drachus remained on his knees.

Still Jesus’ mother and the two disciples knelt before the cross.

Although there was no formal acknowledgement of one another, there was a strange solidarity between them.

A union in the knowledge that mankind had just killed the son of God.

Union in the knowledge that the son of God had sacrificed himself so that they can have life.

Union in the knowledge that this was not the end.

It was only the beginning.

©Segun Akande

Tagged

The Way You Are

Did you help Jesus die on the cross???

Or did you share in His suffering on the way to the cross???

I think we can safely agree that the answer to both questions is a loud and resounding NO.

By dying for us on the cross Jesus ensured that ALL our sins are forgiven.

He also ensured that we have a permanent guarantee of salvation.

Jesus didn’t die on the cross ‘with’ us.

He died on the cross ‘for’ us.

Unfortunately we seem to have developed a rather different kind of Christianity.

One in which we were actually there with Jesus – being nailed to the cross with Him.

One in which we carried our own crosses as we staggered with Jesus to Golgotha.

In-fact we were also whipped by the Roman soldiers at the same time as Jesus was!!!

Weren’t we?????

Hmmm…so why do we behave as if we were?

We have devised our own formulas for earning God’s love – via our own power and our own will.

Unfortunately there is only so far that our own power and will can take us.

I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine about a book called ‘The Secret’.

The question on both our minds was whether this book is God based or not. I went to sleep pondering on this. When I woke up the next morning the answer was clear.

Yes – the universe does have power. However that power stems from God. God created the universe and every drop of power that it has comes from God – not the universe.

In other words let’s not attribute one miliscule of God’s power and glory to the universe or anything else.

God shares His glory with nobody.

He sent His son to die for you so that He can forever be at peace with you.

He then blessed you specifically with unbelievable talents in order for you to serve Him – through His purpose for you.

The peace of mind that He so desperately wants for us is supposed to enable us to quit worrying, in order to focus purely on fulfilling our purpose.

However, as a result of our determination to do it on our own – by our own strengths and formulas – our minds are not at peace enough to focus fully on His purpose for us.

When God asked Solomon what He wanted, Solomon asked for wisdom. God blessed him with a wisdom like no other person on earth. In-fact his was a wisdom so great that rulers from across the planet journeyed thousands and thousands of miles just to witness him in action.

But guess what?

They all knew where the wisdom came from. They all recognised that his wisdom came from God.

In other words the glory was the Lord’s.

Your purpose, the very reason you are still alive, the very reason you are reading this article is for the sake of God’s glory.

This is why I continue to emphasise this important point; and be warned – I will do so over and over and over again.

Your talents are not for your sake or your glory. They are for the sake of God and those around you.

So you are successful and have millions, billions even, in your bank account. You have the best cars and the most amazing houses. But will you be taking them with you when heaven calls?

Maybe I’m wrong but I very much doubt whether an old man/woman on his/her death bed will be lamenting about not having made enough money. I’m pretty sure that the main concern will be whether or not he or she fulfilled their purpose in life, and what kind of legacy they are leaving behind – for the sake of God and others.

The really successful people in the world today didn’t set out to be marvelously wealthy. The wealth naturally followed as a result of their dedication to creating value for others.

Bill Gates wanted to make sure that every home has a computer.

Ford wanted to ensure that every man on the street can afford a car.

These guys were passionate about adding value to people’s lives. They were passionate about serving mankind.

Is it any wonder that Bill Gates has basically taken it upon himself to use his billions to eradicate malaria in Africa?????

Their number one passion is to better people’s lives.

We live in a world which is fast becomming all too much about money money money.

Don’t get me wrong now, I’m not saying that money is not good or that I don’t want any.

Sure I do!

Who doesn’t want comfort???

But an environment in which people will do anything for money can only spell doom.

Sorry people – not trying to make you depressed.

I’m merely trying to wake us up – myself included.

For Nigeria to change we need to think less about ‘money’ and ‘self’ and more about ‘purpose’ and ‘service’.

My purpose?

Helping you identify what your purpose is, and helping you to achieve it.

I have a vision of a Nigeria in which every man is his brother’s keeper.

– helping one another to be the very best they can be -in order to love and serve God, and to love and serve each other

-a Nigeria in which every man and woman has equal opportunity to succeed and prosper, for the sake of each other and for the sake of our country.

Whilst this cannot happen over night or by magic; it can happen over time if we all play our part – by discovering and fulfilling our purpose.

We are all here for a purpose. If we all discover what our purpose is and pursue it with all our hearts / strength and minds, Nigeria will most definitely become the great nation it was always destined to be.

Why?

Because it will be a country that is focused on God’s purpose.

The way you are is not by chance.

You are the way you are because God designed you that way.

– To love and serve Him,

– To love and serve others

– To love and serve your country.

If you are reading this article it means that God still has a plan for you.

In other words you still have a wonderful opportunity to fulfill your God given purpose.

God hasn’t given up on you, so why give up on yourself?????

Tagged , , , , ,

Where Is She?

I recently gave you two articles regarding discovering and fulfilling your purpose.

I hope you took some time out to do some personal digging.

If you didn’t, it’s not too late.

Give it a go!!

Hey! I even gave you a warm Christmas message in between!

Gosh I’m a nice guy!

But today …hmmm….sorry ….just a little bit of controversy. Tiny.

Weeny. Honest!!

During a bbm chat with a friend of mine about ‘finding the right partner’ I asked her, “So what type of man are you looking for?”

No I was NOT chatting her up.

Actually now I think of it maybe I was!

“A man who is God fearing, and who I respect,” she replied.

A decent enough answer.

“I can do that” I thought to myself.

Only joking people!!!

I repeat – I did not have a hidden agenda. Although she really is damn fine.

But alas, a friend she is, and a friend she shall remain.

But as I reflected on her answer a few hours later I coudn’t help feeling a little saddened by it.

Why?

What about love?????

For what for many is a Continuous roller-coaster search for the right partner / package,  love not only seems to have flown its nest, but has also purchased a non refundable single ticket to the kalahari desert!!

When did she leave?

No idea.

Rumour has it she created a clone and left decades ago. And now it seems that even her clone has had enough, as she (the clone) was spotted walking out of the travel agents’ a few days ago!

Am I exaggerating???

Hmmm…

An old family friend recently said to me “Young man(I love it when he says that – makes me feel young again – like I’m in my 20s or something!!!), what are you waiting for? Find a good woman; one that is God fearing and respectful. Start a family with her. You don’t need to be in love.”

I must admit that whilst a little shocked by his statement it actually seemed to make a little sense – for a few seconds anyway.

Call me a prehestoric romantic, or whatever you want to call me, but I choose to believe in ‘LOVE’.

Surely even in this day and age it is still possible to meet someone, fall in love, be friends, plan together, and live happily ever after. Surely????!!

Or

Meet someone, be friends, attraction increases, fall in love, plan together, and live
happily ever after. Surely!!!!!!

So – what is Segs talking about today?

Simple

Where has love gone?

Will she be coming back?

And is she (love) a necessary ingredient for a happy relationship / partnership / marriage???

I’ve touched on more than one occasion in my articles about the “package deal”. By this I mean the “doing well, upwardly mobile, great potential, has a nice car, nice watch, fears God, and ambitious – doing well”.

We hear this in most churches accross the nation every Sunday.

Whilst there is nothing wrong with this,  I’m rather concerned that not only is mammon chipping away at the fundamentals of Christianity – love and serve God / love and serve your neighbour; but that old lover of money is now niggling away at the fundamentals of relationships / partnerships / marriages, friendships, unity, LOVE – selfless love.

We live in an age in which selfless love seems all too alien to our natural senses.

I of-course include myself in all this.

We have perfected the art of “loving on condition of”.

Think about it – on condition of;

For you ladies;

– Financial Liquidity

– Has a nice car

– Has a good job and is going places 

– God fearing (whatever that actually means)

For you men

– respectful

– good wife material

– good mother material

– humble

Very rarely do we hear the word “love” mentioned.

There is of-course nothing wrong with any of the conditions listed above.

Indeed every man and woman is entitled to freely make their own choice – and should never be judged.

But when was the last time you heard someone say ” I want to meet someone I’ll love and cherish, and who will love and cherish me”?

Would be quite refreshing wouldn’t it??!!!

Maybe our churches should focus a little more on the importance of love in relationships????!!! And what love actually is??!!!

Heaven knows we ALL need it.

There is however a more recent and more radical view point, which whilst at first sounds utterly ridiculous and more than a tad ‘immoral’, but on reflection actually makes a some sense.

Are you ready for this????

Get out there and have as much fun as you can. If you have a few flings along the way then so be it.

Why?

Because by doing so you stand a better chance of finding a friend – one way or another.

My concern with this view however is that the chances of hurting a few feelings along the way are fairly high.

The alternative of-course is to sit still, behave, and hope for the best. Also a good option.

The one thing that most people seem to agree on is that your partner / wife / husband should be your friend – your companion – warts and all. Lol

Can you remember the parable of the sower? The seeds that fell on good soil but were suffucated by the thornes of the pressures of this world?

This parable relates to love – both in terms of our love for God and our love for each other.

Most of us have a natural inclination to love and be loved.

However is it possible that the pressures of this world, as stated in the parable, have suffucoted our ability to love and be loved???

Pressures??

What pressures???

Oh let’s’see now – he / she must look right, talk right, walk right, sound right – be going places, cook well, is financially liquid, nice car, property, excellent prospects, fear God etc etc.

Why all these conditions?

Because they are fed to us directly and indirectly on a daily basis by friends, family, tv, magazines, gossip, and so much more – leading to an inevitable tendency to compare, compare, and compare some more.

Can you see it now?? – the good seeds of love that were suffocated by the pressures of the world?????

By the way – this ‘fear God’ thing that we all love to say – even demons fear God. But that doesn’t mean that they want to do good.

Surely better to change this to ‘loves God’ – right??!!!

Just a thought.

So – in a nutshell what I’m saying is this;

Love was NOT on that BA flight to the Kalahari desert.

She’s still here.

Keep searching

And if you make a few mistakes along the way, dust yourself up and try again.

Tagged , , , ,