Tag Archives: spirituality

IT’S UP TO US.

‘David said to the Philistine, “you come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty…

“I often try to imagine how intimidating Goliath must have been.

The bible says he was over nine feet tall.

Over Nine flipping feet!!!! Continue reading

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A Change of Heart

Loving people unconditionally is something I’ve always struggled with. Some people are just so difficult to love!!
But they are!!! Lol… Yes yes yes – including myself!

Shut it!!

Arrogance has often been a major challenge; so too have pride, anger, and a tendency to be easily irritated.
I’ll stop there. No need to add any more.

Yep, that’s me – a few hundred miles away from ‘far from perfect’.

Continue reading

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What’s It All For?

Boy oh boy did I delay on this one!!

The skeleton of this message had been in my mind for quite a while, but sensing that I might not enjoy writing it, I..er, ….. well to be honest I just kept pretending it wasn’t really there, in the hope that I could get away with not having to write it at all.

So much for that plan working out!!

I’m sure that by the end of this article some of you will be wishing it had. Lol

Romans 8 vs 28 says that ‘All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose”.

I’m currently on my way to Gbagada to facilitate a Sales course.

Continue reading

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Life’s Too Short

I had an interesting conversation a few days ago with a dear and ‘old’ friend of mine about how short this life really is. Sorry mate, but whichever way you look at it you are now officially old!!!

Yes yes I know, so am I.

Moving on swiftly.

Having agreed on the fact that this life is indeed short, he pointed out the importance of trying one’s very best to enjoy each and every day.

Whilst I fully agree with him I can’t help thinking that it’s such an unfortunate shame that in reality we spend most days worrying about everything and anything; from our bank account balance, to our health, to kids’ school fees, to that transaction, to what’s going to happen tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, next year and the year after that!!! Continue reading

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Now That Our Eyes Are Open!

After reading the article ‘Have We Got It Wrong???’ my good friend Lanre correctly stated;

‘This is a great article Segs. I can see where you’re going with this. But you didn’t land.’

He’s absolutely right.

I purposely utilised some shock therapy to wake us up a little; to wake us up to the fact that with regards to marriage something has definitely gone wrong somewhere.

Judging from the many responses I received; some of which were a resounding show of agreement and some an open display of irritation, I think most of us are now aware of the fact that maybe, just maybe, we need to re-assess our motives and priorities with regards to marriage.

Quick reminder;

Continue reading

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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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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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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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STOP COMPARING

‘On hearing this Jesus said ‘ it is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. But go and learn what this means, ‘ I desire mercy not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’

Matthew 9 vs 12 to 13

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God…

1 Peter 2:9

“If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.

John 8:7

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Matthew 18:22

The above verses are all talking to, and about the same people. They are talking about God’s children.

During a recent conversation about the trials that we endure in this journey of life, I pointed out that every single person in this life – whether christian or not is having to deal with some issue or another. The challenge in a country like ours is that we have developed a rather judgmental attitude towards one another. I believe that this stems from the fact that we are constantly comparing ourselves with others.

We compare the length of prayer time; we compare the length of meditation time; we compare the cars; we compare the houses (see how God has blessed him!!! See how God has blessed her!!!); we compare the wives; we even compare the kids. Whether consciously or subconsciously we quite literally compare EVERYTHING. This constant comparing of ourselves to others often leads us to judge others as to why they do or don’t have certain things. We ALL do it.

The worst aspect about our tendency to judge others is that it leads to secrecy. As christians we are supposed to love each other unconditionally. We are supposed to help each other; encourage each other; lift each other up; not give up on one another. But our tendency to compare and judge has eroded our desire and motivation to love unconditionally. The consequence of this is that people who are struggling with various issues (and trust me – we all are) are forced to keep those issues to themselves. Exactly where the devil wants them – on their own. Once someone thinks they alone are having issues and problems the devil will have a field day with their mind; making them think they are the worst person in the world. I know. I’ve been there.

My message to you this morning is this;

If there is anyone out there struggling with anything or any area of your life, do not think that God doesn’t love you. Do not judge yourself. God loves you unconditionally and nothing can separate you from His love.

‘neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’

Romans 8 vs 39

Secondly find someone you can trust and talk about it.

Finally, DO NOT GIVE UP.

What the devil wants is for you to give up

Please DO NOT give up. You have so many good years ahead of you. God wants you to succeed. He wants you to be happy. He will definitely not give up on you.

‘I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.’

Hebrews 13 vs 5

So don’t even think about giving up on yourself.

No matter how you feel now; no matter how dark everything may seem around you; no matter what people may be saying about you – be rest assured that God has not, and will never forsake you.

Be rest assured that He has a plan for you.

Be rest assured that your future is extremely bright.

Don’t give up on yourself.

Don’t give up on God.

He’ll never give up on you.

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