Tag Archives: God

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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Mistakes??? Part Of The Process

During the past few months I have spent an awful lot of time dwelling on the mistakes of the past. So much so that I literally made myself ill!!

I knew I shouldn’t have been doing it but I kept doing so anyway. I knew it couldn’t affect my future, but I kept doing it anyway. I knew it was far from healthy. But I kept dwelling on those past mistakes and failings anyway. It was an excruciatingly sad, painful and lonely
period. It was also a very pointless exercise in personal torture.

It is good, and indeed very important that we recognise our mistakes and failings. By recognising them we can make certain decisions to ensure we do not make such errors again. But once we have done this we must do our very best to move on, and not dwell on those failings over and over and over again. Trust me – it doesn’t help in any way at all.

Many of us believe that because our God loves us so much and so unconditionally (and He really does), that life should be a smooth journey – no issues, no mistakes, no failures, and no problems. We all expect a smooth, hassle free journey.

But why?

Where on earth did we get this false concept
from?????

Let’s take a look at a few of the main characters in the bible.

1. Abraham
‘I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you’
Genesis 12 vs 2

When God told Abraham he would be the father of nations do you think He meant that Abraham would father children through both Sarah and his maid servant Haggai?
Who knows – right?

Sarah’s idea for Abraham to lay with his maid servant caused rifts between both Sarah and Abraham, and Sarah and Haggi.

So whether or not it was all part of God’s plan or simply Abraham’s error of judgment the fact is that when God told Abraham He would make him into a great nation, He had already made provision for human decision making.
In other words Abraham’s journey may not have been a smooth one; there were some big bumps along the way. But God’s promise to him still stood.

2. Moses

‘One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them as they laboured. He saw an Egyptian beating an Hebrew, one of his own people. Glancing this way and that and seeing no-one he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

…….. When Pharoah heard of this he tried to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharoah and went to live in Midian’.
Exodus 2 vs 11-15

God had destined Moses to lead the Israelites out of Israel. Moses’ purpose was to lead Israel out of captivity.

Yet, he had to flee Egypt because he had committed murder and hence spent years in the wilderness in what I’m fairly sure was a state of remorse and fear. Life’s journey certainly wasn’t smooth for Moses.

3. David

David’s life never ceases to amaze me. He was told he would be king at the age of 17. He then spent the next decade running away from Saul and living in caves with vagabonds. Yet, he was still the future king of Israel.

It most certainly wasn’t a smooth assent to the throne. Yes, at the age of 17 he was anointed king of Israel – his purpose in life. But it did not mean that everything would run smoothly. Indeed, the decade he spent hiding in caves was the period of learning that he needed to go through in order to be the king that God had destined him to be.
But that is a topic for another day.

For today, let’s just take note that David was always destined to be a great king. His very bumpy journey to the seat of the throne was part of his development.

Let’s tarry with David a little further.

David slept with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. The sex was obviously scintillating, and indeed the passion so great that he arranged for her husband to be killed on the front line. Bathsheba gave birth to a son, which the Lord took away as punishment to David.

However the bible says;

‘Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and lay with her. She gave birth to a son and they named him Solomon. The Lord loved him’
2 Samuel 12 vs 24

King Solomon, despite his many mistakes and failings was blessed with great wisdom and went on to build God’s temple.

So, it was Solomon’s purpose to build God’s temple. David played his role, all-be-it in a rather twisted manner, in bringing Solomon into the world.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I am most definitely not saying that it is ok to sleep with another man’s wife. I am most definitely not saying it is ok to have someone killed.
What I AM saying is that, just as David did, several times, we sometimes make huge mistakes; we sometimes fail big; we sometimes fall huge. But it’s all part of this long rollercoaster journey that we call life.
Yes, you fell. But that does not mean you should focus on your fall so much that you forget why you’re here. The fact that you failed does not mean that you will not succeed in the end. Yes, you’ve made huge mistakes, but that does not mean that you cannot get it right.

Stop looking back at the past!

Stop looking over your shoulder!

Get up and Go again!

Our mistakes and failings, so long as we learn from them, are very often what mould us to fulfil our purpose; part of our overall development to be who we are destined to be.

Don’t expect life’s journey to be smooth. There’s nothing that suggests that we should expect hassle free development, and hassle free lives.

Recognise the mistakes and learn from them.
But do not dwell on them. Dwelling on the past will take up way too much mind territory.

In the overall scheme of God’s purpose for you, the mind needs to be free to maximise the present as well as visualise the future.

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STOP COMPARING (2)

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the jousting of the past few days. I’ve also learnt a great deal. Thank you.

I’m not a pastor, so I lay no claim to knowing the bible in as much detail as those that have made such valuable contributions to my earlier article. So please pardon me for the simplicity of my understanding.

Actually – nope – no need to pardon me. In my view Christianity is a very simple thing. I’m not saying that it is easy to be a Christian. In these days of all sorts of temptations and distractions it can often be extremely challenging to live and work in a Christ-like manner.

What I am saying is that I believe we Nigerians have made Christianity far more complicated than it really is. We have made it a practice of formulas and doctrines rather than a life style. We have made christianity into an practice of do’s and don’ts; an art of righteous and holy appearance rather than ‘hearts after God’s own heart’.

Please allow me to share my very simple understanding of a few verses of scripture to further explain myself.

At the end of the parable of the good samaritan Jesus asked, “which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert of the law replied, “the one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

I believe that when Jesus said ‘go and do likewise ” he was talking about Mercy and Unconditional Love. We are supposed to show the same mercy and love for each other as Christ continues to show for us.

Once again, as I pointed out in my earlier article, Christ said that the greatest command is “love”

About a month ago, a good friend of mine gave me the most awesome revelation during our fellowship meeting. We were discussing the importance of prayer and reading our bible, and assessing how we think we are maturing spiritually. I recall that I was feeling particularly pleased with myself because I knew I had been spending good quality hours in prayer and meditation. Boy was I doing well!!!!!!

We went around the room – each person taking turn to assess themselves. After we had all scored ourselves my friend then made the following comment.

“Jesus’ two ‘greatest commandments’ are centered on ‘love’. I believe that the true test of our spiritual maturity is our ability to love God and each other unconditionally, the way He loves us unconditionally – as described in 1st Corinthians 13.”

The statement made me shudder.

Unfortunately in a world where doctrines and appearances have taken precedence, love seems to have faded away. By love I mean the love that is described in 1st Corinthians 13 verses 4 to 7.

‘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.’

I decided that I would read 1st Corinthians 13 (especially verses 4 to 7 ) at least three times a day for the rest of this year so that it can start to properly filter into my heart and mindset.

The scary thing was that when I first started I realised I was far from being a ‘loving’ person. I always thought I was soooooo loving!! Lol

Love is patient – nope

Love does not envy – nope

Love does not boast – nope

Love is not easily angered – nope

Love keeps no record of wrongs – nope

Love always protects – nope

Love always hopes – nope

Love always perseveres – nope

It really wasn’t a pleasant score card to look at. It still isn’t to be honest. But I know God will complete the work he has started in me.

Now – I want us to look at this from another angle.

Which of the types of love described in 1st Corinthians verses 4 to 7 can we really say are flying high in Nigeria. In my view – none. As I see it that is the foundation of our problems in Nigeria right there. No no no – don’t even think about comparing Nigeria to other countries. Remember – ‘Stop Comparing’ – we are talking about Nigeria, and Nigeria alone.

Human beings are naturally selfish. But we in Nigeria seem to have taken it to a whole new level. Pride – anger – boastful, envy – are these not characteristic traits that are intensely prevalent in Nigeria? And yet every Sunday we go to church. Every day we read our bible – or at least we try to. Every day we pray – or at least we try to.

But – as famously coined by The Black Eyed Peas, “Where Is The Love?”

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not criticising. Indeed I am one of the biggest culprits, so I have no right to criticise.

I am just trying to get us to open our eyes a little. It is not about doctrines. It is about our hearts. It is about grace. Grace gives us the desire to want to lead better lives. Grace gives us the power to overcome sin.

The best foundation for our walk with God and each other is Grace, and Love, as described in 1st Corinthians 13.

The best foundation for all relationships is the love that is described in 1st Corinthians 13.

I really wish I knew this a few years ago. But we live and learn, and with God’s help, can get better and better.

Accountability to each other based on Grace and Unconditional Love is far more powerful, effective and productive than any other kind of accountability.

The best foundation for a better Nigeria is the Love that is described in 1st Corinthians 13.

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Many of us cannot grasp the magnitude of loss and despair that those who lost loved ones during the last few days will be feeling right now. we can only pray for God to comfort and strengthen them. Let us pray fervently for them this week.

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HAS GOD TURNED HIS BACK ON NIGERIA?

During the past twenty four hours a few people have expressed their opinion that as a result of an immoral and corrupt polity, as well as an unprincipled and lawless society, God has turned His back on Nigeria.

We Cannot, We Must Not allow ourselves to even entertain such a thought. It is exactly what the devil wants us to think. Yes, we may have leaders that do not care about the state of this nation; leaders who only care about the amount in their bank accounts; but at the end of the day unless we the electorate have a significant change of heart then we have no-one to blame but ourselves.

We are the ones that continue to allow bad leaders to govern us. What real difference is there between those of us that refuse to stand up for our rights and make governments accountable for their poor level of performance because we are too scared of what we might lose out on financially, and those in positions of power who cut corners in order to maximise their profits. Not much difference in my view.

Until we, the electorate finally learn that good governance and long lasting success is actually in OUR hands we will continue to be tossed and turned like kippers on a barbecue. The blame does not lie with God. He definitely has Not turned his back on Nigeria. He is crying for us to wake up from our slumber and selfishness. He wants us to elect the best people into government, in order for us to enjoy the awesome resources he blessed us with.

“Don’t be deceived my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above..”

James 1 vs 17

Oil is not a curse. God blessed Nigeria with oil. He blessed us with minerals. He blessed us with agriculture. He blessed us with natural gas. He blessed us with practically everything.

It is the greed and selfish nature of man that has let this country down. Not God.

It is up to us, the electorate, as to whether or not we want to continue like this. We had a great opportunity to significantly change the attitude of this government in January. But, unlike other countries that have made significant breakthroughs, we were not willing to pay the price – myself included.

Take a look at the history of countries that have made significant breakthroughs in governance and freedoms in the last one hundred years. Somewhere along the line a heavy price was paid by someone, a group of people or a particular region.

I’m sure the Israelites often felt that they were cursed whilst in captivity and bondage in Egypt. However within days of God taking them out of Egypt many were grumbling, believing that it would have been far better to continue living in bondage in Egypt than to be walking in the wilderness, despite the fact they were on their way to the promised land of milk and honey. Here lies the crux of the matter. Many of us would rather continue to wallow in a cycle of bad and corrupt governance than risk the dangers of saying ‘enough is enough.’

It’s up to us. Do we want to continue with ‘better the devil you know?’ Or is it time to say ‘enough is enough?’

This is not a message of violent revolution. It is a message of taking responsibility and holding people accountable. We simply have to start holding our governments accountable. We cannot continue to think that whatever we do won’t make a difference. It WILL make a difference; even if you cannot see or fathom it.

A man taking his dog for a walk along a beach littered with thousands and thousands of star fish noticed a young boy picking up each star fish one by one and throwing them back into the water.

“Young man, what are you doing? There are thousands of them. What difference do you think you’ll make?”

The young boy picked up another star fish, threw it in the water and said “it will make a difference to that one.”

Let’s ensure that the right people are elected into government. Then hold them accountable. It is not too late. We can still turn this country around.

We cannot afford to give up on Nigeria. We cannot afford the very real possibility of our children’s children dwelling in foreign lands with no identity.

God has not turned His back on Nigeria. He still loves us very much. But He has, and will always be a God of free will.

To truly enjoy God’s love we have to start loving ourselves.

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