Sunday, 29 November 2020

The hiddenness of God

 “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there and backward, but I do not perceive him; on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. Job 23:8-10. ESV.

Does what Job described above look like your current experience? 

The hiddenness of God is an experience every godly saint go through from time to time – a situation where like Job, you have a feeling that God seems absent in the midst of your earthly struggles. You feel that God seems to be very far and has suddenly distanced Himself from you. You look for all the exciting experiences you had before with God when you first met Him and they seem to have all gone or not satisfying anymore. It is true that sin separates us from God and makes God to distance Himself from us. However, if it is because of a sinful life style, once you repent from it, God forgives and relationship is restored. But in most of the times when we feel this way, you look into your life to see if there is any active sin that is making God to seem very far away but you cannot pin-point anything substantial, and yet God seems to hide Himself from you. The truth is that the hiddenness of God is not always caused by your sins or any bad thing you have done and you are not alone.

This crisis is possible to happen in the midst of a dragged problem or a troubling situation you cannot explain, like in Job’s case. When tragedy happens, we all tend to asking God why, seeking for answers. Even those that encourage you not to ask God why, live with the question in their hearts. But not many of us get an answer to those questions of why. The truth is that when we are in the midst of a difficult experience, no matter how terrible it may be, the power of that problem breaks when God speaks. We tend to handle tragedies better with peace when we know God’s perspective. In this case, God seems silent, saying nothing. Nobody can actually tell the number of weeks, months or years that existed between Job 1 and Job 38, but we suspect that it was a long time. The challenge is that within this period, there are these strange voices that will be speaking very loudly, but they do not offer the answer that you seek. It was not easy for Job to fight off the voices of his wife and his close friends who, instead of helping him, exacerbated the situation and hence increased the intensity of his desire for answers. Yes, God eventually revealed Himself and spoke and that brought closure to Job’s questions. I pray that He speaks in your situation today.

This situation can also occur because God is drawing you up to a new level of relationship with Him. He may be up to something bigger than where you are currently. He hides, as it were, and expects you to pursue Him in a closer relationship. In the course of your earnest seeking, He teaches you something new and takes you to a new level of experience. Attitude is developed, patience is learned and childishness is done away with. Who does not want to remain in that first childish experience when God seemed all around you and responded to almost every word you uttered, even when we asked amiss? Who does not want to remain in that responsibility-free state where everyone cared for us and we cared for no one? The truth is that that is what happens when a new baby is born, even spiritual babies too. Nobody wants to leave a baby to stay on its own unattended to. But there comes a time when the baby has to grow, though still being loved and cared for, the person is left with little or no supervision because he or she is expected to be responsible and be able to take decisions according to all that he or she has been taught. God trains us so that we can manifest as sons representing Him in the affairs of this earth. You do not need the pampering of childhood to know that God is with you and loves you. If you continue to follow hard after Him, He will reveal Himself, His purposes and His ways to you.

It can actually be a period of great test of faith to proof something in your life. We often want to permanent a specific experience or even make an idol out of a single experience. We always want to re-invent the experience because that is what gives us the feeling that God is with us. If we do not have the experience, we feel God is very far away and has abandoned us. God may actually be drawing us out of ourselves, exposing the utter hopelessness and helplessness of our strength so that we can wholly put our trust in Him. The fact that we feel He is far does not really mean that He is far. It may truly mean that He is essentially active in our lives. He removes the cherished experience, breaks the arm of flesh and desires that we look up to Him for help.

The hiddenness of God happens because of the incomprehensiveness of God’s nature. Even though God can be known, yet no man can claim to have comprehensively known Him. He is an eternal mystery Himself, hence, no matter your experience with Him, you are still short of knowing Him. The revelation of God we have in nature, in the Scriptures and ultimately in His Son is the extent that is revealed to us, and that is enough for our salvation, but God in His essence is still bigger than what is revealed to us. We know God when we know Jesus Christ. Though the experience of this knowledge is often sensed at the realm of emotions and feelings, it is important to note that we walk by faith in what is revealed and not by our wavering feelings. Good feelings are good and God sometimes grants us those nice feelings as we experience Him. However, our lives should not be lived based on feelings but on faith. That is why without faith, it is impossible to please Him. He that comes to God must first of all believe and that is a prerequisite. Faith is a prerequisite at the beginning of the journey, it is a prerequisite in the journey and is also a prerequisite at the end of the journey. Nobody is discountenancing the validity of your feelings but valid feelings do not mean that they represent truth. Truth is what is revealed and what is revealed should be taken above our feelings. In practical terms, it means that the feeling of God’s distance does not mean that God is very far away because He is ever with us. Heb.13:5 says “never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” NIV. The truth revealed is that God is with us, even in every difficult and painful situation. We have to live at the level of faith in God’s written Word and not at the level of our feelings.

Now I want to humbly note that what I share here does not give all the answers to the issue of the hiddenness of God. For example, some have complained and asked why the God of love should make knowing Him very difficult, in spite of all the efforts of some people to sincerely seek Him. I have a brother who many years ago complained to I and my wife how he was willing to give his life to Jesus Christ but in spite of all his efforts, God seemed not to be easy for him to find. It is a real and practical challenge of many people. We led the brother to Christ but nothing seemed to have happened. We continued to pray for him until after many years, God cleared the cloud in his mind and made Himself known to him. He loves to reveal Himself to all who sincerely seek Him.

Firstly, what this teaches me is that I should always respond to God as he reveals Himself to me. Postponing my response is being presumptuous as He is the only One that takes the initiative to reveal Himself. Secondly, we have to trust His heart even when we do not understand what His hands are doing. We trust His heart that He has good intentions and good thoughts for us and will do what is good and right. Finally, as Henry Blackaby said in his book, Experiencing God, when you are confused in the middle of your walk with God and cannot seem to know where He is working currently in your life, continue doing the last thing you are sure God revealed to you and in due course, the cloud will clear. God loves you. Remain blessed.

Thursday, 12 November 2020

The argument: A false prophecy and a false prophet

A false prophecy is different from a false prophet as a false teaching is different from a false teacher.  A false prophet can give a true prophecy as a false teacher can teach  a biblical truth.  Someone who is not a false prophet can give a false prophecy as someone who is not a false teacher can also teach something wrong.

A false prophet is deliberate and leads people away from God while a true prophet can make a mistake. A false teacher is intentional and leads people away from God and right living while ANYBODY can make the mistake of teaching what is false. Many factors can be the cause: shear ignorance, level of theological education and exposure, environment, and personal or group interests. A deliberate and intentional person is consistent and will refuse all corrections, even when he is confronted with the truth while someone who makes a mistake repents once he receives enlightenment.

These are the reasons why we MUST all remain humble and hold ourselves accountable. We MUST all be watchful and take heed to ourselves and others as people who are accountable. It is very dangerous to walk alone in this pilgrimage. It is dangerous  to destroy structures of accountabilities God creates around you either in the form of old friends and significant relationships who can look you in the face and ask you difficult questions and confront you with the truth or established processes of checks and balances  that demands your compliance.  
Any man can fall. Anyone can fail. However, God wants all of us to win. God bless you.

Thursday, 1 October 2020

God - The Ultimate HERO in all of our stories

 "The Bible speaks very plainly about the flaws and failings of even its most heroic figures. The ultimate hero of the biblical stories, and the ultimate hero of our own stories, is not the human being in all of his or her sin but the God who works through sinful people to redeem them and accomplish his purposes." Christianity Today. 

Yes, the ultimate Hero in all of our stories as saved and redeemed sinners is not the Papas and GOs, the Bishops and Archbishops, Abraham or David or Peter or Paul. I am not the ultimate hero in my story. The ultimate Hero is God Himself, the God who loved me when I wasn't thinking about Him, sent His Son to die for me, raised Him from the dead, and pursued me like a "good man" wooing the "woman" he loves for a loving relationship, not for His benefits but for my benefits; He won me, cares for me and has made abundant promises to me which has eternal implications beyond this present life. My God, You are the Ultimate HERO! Amen.

Friday, 25 September 2020

Pray for the Assemblies of God Church in Abakiliki

Please for the sisters in this story for healing both physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually. Also pray that the perpetrators be brought to justice and that they may be encountered by the Lord. 

The Church must go back to preaching the Gospel of Jesus which transforms lives and cultures and brought the fear of God into the lives of our communities. This "gospel of health and wealth" we have embraced can only make us weaker and weaker everyday because it has no spiritual power. God bless.

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Absolute power is not meant for mortals

Yes, total and unqualified power is not meant for mortals to exercise. Absolute power is power that is independent and autonomous. It is not accountable and submits to no one. An office with absolute power makes laws for other people but lives above the laws it has made. It cannot be questioned and owes nobody any explanation. Absolute power exercises unguarded freedom without boundaries. This freedom is the reason why the occupiers speak freely and often carelessly. They can say anything, do anything and expect nothing else from those listening or watching them but to accept everything without questions. People with absolute power normally do not have good men around them. Praise singers, hypocrites and yes-men are the only ones that can hang around for a long time because they are the only ones that can be accommodated. Good men and old friends can only be accommodated at the early stages of the assumption of office, but once they settle down, they begin to drop their old friends one after the other.

The fact is that some offices, at their creation, do not have absolute power but some demagogues and power mongers can convert it into such by changing the laws and intimidating the people. The power of the office can also be converted into absolute power when they are raised above criticism, favoured and judged unlike other men and some mysteries created around them and their positions. Through this conversion, we have created tyrants on pulpits, thrones and other seats of power.

I dare say that God, the Creator, never made anyone to exercise absolute power. No one, I repeat, no one is endowed with the qualities and character to carry and discharge absolute power. The fallen man does not have the capacity to handle absolute power. He needs a horizontal as well as a vertical accountability in order to discharge justice and do what is right.

Any office that has absolute power will produce unintended monsters as its occupants. Put a saint to occupy an office that has absolute power embedded in it, it will not turn him differently. He may manage to resist at the beginning but give him many years to come, he will become what others before him became – monsters. Any office, be it religious or political, with absolute power embedded in it explicitly or implicitly, is a killer of morality. It is a pit and a grave yard, even for the most pious.

Many that exercise absolute power do not seem to understand what they have turned into until they leave office, if the position has that provision and the occupants allow the transition to continue. Then looking back, many ask themselves, “who did these despicable things? Who wrecked these havocs?” They will see that they have left in their trail broken lives trampled upon, dreams caged or destroyed, crying and weeping souls who could not save themselves from their cruelty and others just crushed because they dared to have an opposing view. There are some who unfortunately do not have the privilege of after-office reflection. They die in the position of power and are only left at the mercy of history.

Every office, whether political or religious, except occupied by the spirits, must have a sort of regulations and laws that guide the actions and or inactions of the occupants. The occupants do not make the laws that regulate the office, they submit to the laws that established the office.

Lord Acton’s words in 1887, contained in the letter he wrote to Mandell Creighton, who later became the bishop of England, are very instructive here. Mandell was writing on “The Papacy in the Reformation Epoch” but instead of presenting history the way it was, he tended to ignore or defend the atrocities committed by the Roman Catholic Popes who used the “papal courts of the Renaissance”, the inquisitions and tribunals to convict people unjustly and tortured and burnt many at stakes. Lord Acton accused Creighton, “you say that people in authority are not to be snubbed or sneered at from our pinnacle of conscious rectitude. I really don’t know whether you exempt them because of their rank, or of their success and power, or of their date… I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favoured presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way against holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.” Most of the Popes exercised absolute powers and like already mentioned, they turned out to become one of the worst dictators in the history of Europe.

If we want to live in a decent society, we must not fall into the fallacy that the office sanctifies the holder of it. Because every office is occupied by fallen men, we must create accountability structures that will help the occupiers to do what is right. Constructive criticisms and engagements must be advocated at all times without fear or favour. Though often bitter, but it reminds us that we are mortals. Even when the position is religious or the occupier is pious, we must not pretend or assume that the occupier cannot do any wrong or that the office has sanctified him or her. If you are the person in position, do not destroy the accountability structures you met on assumption of office. Strengthen them instead. Accept your critics as a gift and resist the temptation of increasing your powers, except you want the office or position to destroy your morals and integrity. Because you are a mortal being, absolute power will also corrupt you. Yes, absolute power is not meant for mortals. It is meant for only the Immortal God to exercise.

Finally, we need each other to remain the humans God wants us to be. Our hearts, as fallen men, need to be transformed and tamed. Only the acceptance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and continual submission to the Holy Spirit can do this great work in your heart and mine.  

Friday, 14 August 2020

Today it is Southern Kaduna, where will it be tomorrow?

What is happening in Southern Kaduna is very worrisome. I watched a syndicate session organized by Southern & Middle Belt Christian Forum and hosted by a social media television channel some days ago and the revelations are disturbing. In this twentieth Century, a people group is being attacked almost on a regular basis, women and children are killed, many are wounded, the remnant are displaced and the attackers come back to occupy the abandoned places of the victims. As one of the contributors alleged, these attackers are enabled by those in government. In fact, he claimed that the grazing reserve that the government created some years ago have been expanded with land belonging to the indigenes and Fulanis of different nationalities come to settle there and almost all the attacks come from this settlement. Islamic Emirates are created by the present State Government over a people group that is predominantly Christians and animists. He alleged that a case in point is the Adara Kingdom whose traditional ruler Dr. Maiwada Galadima was gruesomely murdered after he was kidnapped on his way going home from a meeting he had with the Governor. Though ransom was paid to the kidnappers, yet they killed him and his wife. Instead of appointing a new king for the kingdom, a new emirate has been created that will oversee the area.

Other contributors equally alleged that it is not just that the government is supporting and enabling the attacks, the military and security forces are accused of being complicit in the unfortunate situation. In a situation where the State Government will declare a curfew, every member of the community stays at home with the military manning the check points, yet the attackers will evade all the check points, enter and attack the sleeping communities, murder and maim for hours without any challenge, then when they have completed their mission and gone, the military will yet again enter these ravaged communities to arrest the youths who come out to protest the killings. On some occasions, a contributor alleged, the military will first enter the communities and search and confiscate and arrest those who have bows and arrows, locally made guns and matchets in their homes and almost as they leave, the attackers will come back to ravage the communities. Several reports have been done on these wanton and senseless killings. The narrative presented by the State and Federal Governments is that it is a communal clash, yet the question is “what is the essence of government if not to resolve cases such as this and bring peace?” If they are communal clashes, will the government stand by and see a genocide committed under its watch? The army brass said that it is not a genocide but “activities of criminal elements on both sides and not ethnic cleansing as it is being claimed”. The problem with this narrative is that it is only one side that is continually doing mass burials as reported by CNN here.

However, the question actually is, “must we wait until it degenerates to what can be categorized as ethnic cleansing before the government stop the killings?” Who are the providers of these weapons? Why is every section of the country complaining about the same ethno-religious group?

As Christians, the purpose of this review is for us to earnestly pray for our governments and those in authority. Also, we need to start to speak up and engage at all levels so that security can be restored and we can “lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim.2:1-4 ESV). We have to start to speak out because we do not have another life to live than the one we live now. No other time to make impact than now. No other generation will deal with our issues than our generation.

Today it is Southern Kaduna, where will it be tomorrow?

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
    for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
    defend the rights of the poor and needy." 

Proverbs 31:8-9

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves (2)

Yesterday, I wrote a post here about speaking out against injustice and standing for those who cannot stand for themselves.

I now saw this post concerning one Izu who committed suicide because someone listed his name as a rapist and abuser of women. He contacted the person who made the list for an opportunity to clear his name but the chance was not given to him. I don't know the worldview that moulded him to see suicide as a way of resolving a conflict or freeing himself from an accusation, but definitely not the Christian worldview. The Christian worldview encourages us to be strong in the face of anything, including false accusations, sufferings, knowing fully well that this life is a battle ground and we have no other option than to fight it and win, because our Saviour has made us more than conquerors. He has given us the grace for victory. No matter how complicated the issue may be, cowards are the ones that commit suicide and you cannot afford to be the one that will commit the murder of yourself. You are not the Creator of any life including your own life, hence you are not permitted to take it. "To use your freedom to take away your freedom is not a good thing"

Having said that, as a follow up to my previous post, I think it is time we start taking the issue of speaking up very seriously when there is injustice, oppression, maltreatment, victimization, evil, false accusation etc. Don't just keep quiet because you are not the victim. Do not stand aloof because you are strong. Don't just walk away because you think it does not concern you. When we do that, we are not obeying the Scriptures. Most of the major rights movements were initiated by practicing Christians like the fight against slavery championed by William Wilberforce and against racism by Martin Luther King Jr. Doing these things can be a lonely venture and is often dangerous because of the presence of evil in this life. However, living itself is dangerous and being a Christian in this "adulterous and sinful generation" is precarious. We have to obey our Lord.

People do not want to be associated with someone with a "bad tag". But it is time we Christians begin to ask further questions, do what our Lord commanded us to do and what He will do if He were in our position. We have to decide to obey Him, suffer and bear shame when it is the only way to stand for the truth. 

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
    for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
    defend the rights of the poor and needy." 
Proverbs 31:8-9

God bless you

The Christian's response to Marie Stopes Family Planning for the unmarried sexually active women

Marie Stopes, through their Country Director in Nigeria, Mr Effiong Nyong, advised sexually active single women to embrace the use of Family Planning methods in order to prevent unwanted pregnancy. This is reported in The Nations Online. He made a case for unmarried sexually active single women to avail themselves of the opportunity of the services of their NGO to obtain both short-term and long-term Family Planning methods. As a way of explanation, to be sexually active means engaging in "sexual activities that involve penetration of the penis into the vagina or the anus". So when Mr. Effiong canvases for sexually active singe women to obtain Family Planning methods, it means women who are not married but are actively having sex outside wedlock obtaining Family Planning methods that will enable them to continue in their lifestyle without getting pregnant.

This sounds very absurd and shows desperation on the part of this non-governmental organization to push their agenda and ensure that sex is liberalized and all the consequences of sexual acts, in this case by unmarried women, are down-played or removed. The absurdity of this campaign shows in the title of the write up itself, "Family Planning good for unmarried sexually active women". What has an unmarried woman got to do with family planning? Which family is she planning? She is single; she is not married, hence cannot plan for any family in the context of sleeping with a man. The key word is 'family'. It becomes obvious that the problem is not how to control birth or number of children but how to validate a lifestyle. Pregnancy is one of the things that can result after sex, hence when an unmarried person is engaging in sex, he/she should bear in mind that this act can result in pregnancy.
The Bible teaches us that sexual activity is to be carried out only within the confines of marriage, where there is commitment, trust and care. (1 Cor.6:18-20). Sexual activity outside of marriage is called fornication, adultery and uncleanliness. (Gal.5:19).
Any attempt to encourage sex outside of marriage or to minimize its consequences is actually ungodly and in pursuance of anti-Christ agenda who opposes God's purposes. That is what this piece of advise from Marie Stopes is set to achieve. It tells people that it does not matter what anybody thinks about it, you can continue in your illicit sexual lifestyle, as long as you can avoid unwanted pregnancies by using our Family Planning methods, everything will be fine. But that is very far from the truth. Everything will not just be fine. Never be deceived into thinking that you can violate God's laws and stipulations, live against God's purposes and at last be free from the consequences of your choices. (1 Cor.10:8).
Choosing to be sexually active while not married is choosing to live against God's commandments. It is choosing your pleasure above God's laws. It is being hedonistic which means engaging in the pursuit of pleasure at all cost even above reason. While we do not have anything against married people planning their FAMILY with the services of Marie Stopes, as servants of God, we condemn this promotion targeting unmarried women. God wants His people to be holy and His people must read in-between the lines and abhor anything that will bring defilement to their bodies and eventually  disqualify them before God. Holiness still pays both for now and for eternity while immoral lifestyle has its consequences also both for now and for eternity. God bless.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy."
Proverbs 31:8-9
When we speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, we are obeying the Scriptures. Now flip it. When we refuse to speak up for those who have no voice, unknowingly to us, we spread, aid and abet injustice. I have argued many times that our emphasis and focus should not first be HOW a matter is presented or WHO presented it. Our question should always be first, WHAT is he/she saying? The other matters can be resolved later without missing the point being made. By first asking the question of WHAT, we treat the information we are receiving by their own merit and logic. We see better through the logic of the argument being presented and not through our bias and prejudices. By focusing on WHO and HOW when issues are raised, our attention is often distracted and we fail to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Decide today to speak up for the speechless, the weak, the vulnerable in any arena where you find yourself. These include: the unborn child in the womb, the persecuted, the victimized, the oppressed, somebody absent where his matter is being decided, the less privileged etc etc. God will strengthen us, help us to live above our fears and prejudices as we obey this all important instruction that helps to build a decent society where justice and righteousness flow like a stream in the streets. God bless.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

The Church on the wheels (Part 2)

• A church committed to love and the welfare of the individual members: Being very conscious of the instruction of the Lord Jesus Christ to love one another, the early church practiced love. The Lord gave it as a commandment that the individual members of the church should love themselves the way God loves us. (See Jn.13:34,35; 15:17) 1 Jn.3:16 “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren”. We must love to the extent of laying down our lives for the brethren.

It is with this kind of love alone that we can be united and build community. That is the only thing that can cause us to have burden when a brother/sister is in problem so that we pray for him/her. Just as the church prayed for Peter (Acts 12:5), and Jesus prayed for the church (Jn.17). Only this kind of love can make people to have genuine interest in the affairs of one another and pray for each other. Family altars will be filled with prayers for others who are in one need or the other; even without the individual knowing it. Instead of making the weakness of a person a subject for gossip, it is made a topic for prayers.

The early church practiced love and when people saw it in Antioch, they called them Christians – Christ-like (Acts 11:26). Jesus said that “by this shall all men know that Ye are my disciples” (Jn.13:35 KJV). Love is the criteria for the people of God to be seen by the world as Christ’s. We remember that the apostles knew how important mutual care is and appointed 7 deacons to handle the affairs of welfare. The love was genuine and they increased tremendously. (See Rom.12:9,11; 1 Jn.3:17-23). Love is the greatest. One of the challenges of the contemporary church is making sure that the church is not dominated by bureaucracy and organizational hierarchical politics that they forget to take good care of their members. It is a lie that if you take good care of your pastors and they live well, you have taken care of the church. Taking good care of the church institution with teeming members struggling with the basic provisions is an indictment to the so-called wealthy church. The life of the members, without any contradiction, is the life of the church.

• A church committed to holiness and right living: The apostles taught the members to abhor sin and live righteously as children of light. Because of the challenges and accusations from the Jews, especially, trying to find a loophole or an opportunity to discredit the gospel, the early church committed themselves to letting their light shine. The people saw their good works and glorified God.
The first day Peter preached, he asked them to “repent…for the remission of sins” and “save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:38a, 40b). Later at the Solomon’s Porch, Peter urged his listeners “repent ye therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” (Acts 3:19) RSV. The church knew the real devastating nature of sin and were exhorted to avoid it. They lived for God. The teachings of the apostles emphasized the issues they majored on. Peter instructed the church, “as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct”. (1 Pet.1:15 RSV). The writer of the book of Hebrews also declared “strife for peace with all men and for holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb.12:14). Both leadership and the led all gave themselves to living up to what they claimed they believed. The life of the church was different from the life of the world and the border line was very clear. Peter even agreed that this kind of living can change a man without speaking to him. (1 Pet.3:1). Though persecuted, their righteous living was an indisputable challenge to their accusers. They prospered.

• A church obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit: Finally, we see that the church was filled with men and women who were willing to do the bidding of the Holy Spirit. They recognized that the Holy Spirit is the One in charge of His church and they listened to Him. He has to lead and teach His church. He was allowed to work unhindered. Peter broke his Jewish barrier and entered Caesarea in order to preach to Cornelius in obedience to the Holy Spirit. (Acts 10:17-20). They buried their sentiments and obeyed the Holy Ghost in their first Council in Jerusalem (Acts 15: 28-29) where they decided the fate of the Gentile Christians as concerns the Jewish dogmas. When the Holy Spirit asked them to separate Saul (Paul) and Barnabas in Acts 13, they obeyed. Paul on one occasion was forbidden to speak the word in Asia and in another occasion, he was stopped from going into Bithynia to preach the gospel (See Acts 16:6-10). He was asked to enter Macedonia. In all these circumstances Paul did not argue with God. He obeyed. Because they were obedient to the Lord of the harvest, they had abundant prosperity in the work. He showered His gifts on them and they were continually edified. They increased.

In conclusion, we have seen the 7 things the early church was committed to which made them successful. If we are to succeed in our generation and prosper as a church participating in God’s agenda, we must consider seriously these points. If we desire to get the kind of results the early church got, we ought to do what they did. It is left for us whether to be a church on the wheels or a sleeping church.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Good Night Ravi-Ji

I came in contact with Ravi Zacharias’ work when I was doing a research on a topic to share here at Evergreen Word of Life. As God would have it, I was also going through a crisis in my personal life. I had so many questions to ask but could not find anybody to ask. When I began to listen to Ravi’s messages, like a candle wax before a burning flame, all the questions began to melt away.

Something else happened. All the while, I knew that God did not call me to enter the normal mold of the Christian ministries around me. I knew that God called me into teaching and writing and to be a Christian apologist but I didn’t know what it all entailed. Ravi Zacharias International Ministries helped to open my eyes and sharpen this ministry which I am doing today. I attended the Core Module Course about a year ago which God used to further shape what He is doing in my life.

Ravi was an epitome of knowledge. He had a good command of the English language and vocabularies. I learnt several names of scholars from him from different areas of study – humanity, philosophy, anthropology, theology etc. I began to study names like C.S Lewis, Malcom Muggeridge, G.K Chesterton etc because of how he quoted from them. He was a scholar that had respect for other scholars even when he disagreed with them. Most of his works in my study include: The Logic of God, The Grand Weaver, Can man live without God and Nabeel’s book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. I can’t explain how he could quote from hymns, poems and excerpts from several works from memory even at old age, apart from the enormous grace that was upon him. The Poem by the Elementary School Teacher made great impact on me:

He came to my desk with a quivering lip, the lesson was done.
“Have you a new sheet for me, dear teacher?
I’ve spoiled this one.”
I took his sheet, all soiled and blotted
and gave him a new one all unspotted.
And into his tired heart I cried,
“Do better now, my child.”

I went/came to the throne with a trembling heart;
the day was done.
“Have you a new day for me, dear Master?
I’ve spoiled this one.”
He took my day, all soiled and blotted
and gave me a new one all unspotted.
And into my tired heart he cried,
“Do better now, my child.”

He taught me not to be afraid to reason and to question. From him I learnt the reasonableness of the faith that we profess and how to be bold to defend it before anybody no matter how hostile they may be with all gentleness and respect. I learnt that self-protectionism is counter-productive to Christianity. When the Christian teaching is brought out in the court of ideas, it gives adequate answers to life’s problems in a way no other worldview can.

Ravi Zacharias was a Christian evangelist with passion for souls. Like Billy Graham, he presented the Gospel of God’s love in a very simple and uncomplicated manner. He was consistent. His burden for young people who are inundated with atheistic beliefs made him to start the Refresh Program which focuses on those entering College. He continually emphasized on the virtue of humility as the vehicle upon which apologetics moves. Each time he quoted 1 Peter 3:15-16, he would emphasize on the first part of verse 15 and verse 16 which deals with our heart and our attitude. “In your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” ESV. He said that the world does not just want the Gospel that is heard, but the Gospel that is seen, because oftentimes, our lives speak louder than our words.

Ravi, I am grateful that God brought me in contact with you and your ministry. Thank you for the things you taught us during your lifetime. You are the inspiration behind the upcoming ministry area we are launching soon, Christian Apologetics: Difficult Questions, Adequate Answers.  We cannot but continue to do our part and to finish well as you have done. I conclude this piece with a few stanzas from Richard Baxter’s hymn which the daughter Sarah, said Ravi recited in January 4, 2020:

“Lord, it belongs not to my care
Whether I die or live;
To love and serve Thee is my share,
And this Thy grace must give.
If life be long, I will be glad,
That I may long obey;
If short, yet why should I be sad
To welcome endless day?

Then I shall end my sad complaints
And weary sinful days,
And join with the triumphant saints
That sing my Savior’s praise.
My knowledge of that life is small,
The eye of faith is dim;
But ‘tis enough that Christ knows all,
And I shall be with Him.”

Good night Ravi-Ji.

Re: We are all atheists by Leo Igwe

My attention is drawn to the article written by the humanist scholar, Leo Igwe, in Sahara Reporters of 13th May 2020 where he argued that “we are all atheists”. This my piece is more of a response to the philosophical underpinnings of his argument than to the issues he raised in his discourse.

First of all, I want to state clearly that I believe in people’s right to life, freedom of conscience, expression and association because I believe that God has endowed human beings with these inalienable rights and freewill; they are made in His image. Every human being has essential worth, therefore, violation of any of these rights for any reason, whether religious or otherwise, is a violation of God’s purpose for humanity. If God allowed Adam and Eve to exercise their freewill in the Garden of Eden, I believe it is against His plan for any man to dictate, force or punish any man because of belief or disbelief, as the case may be. Hence, I join to call for the release of Mubarak Bala who was arrested in connection with posts that he made on Facebook which was alleged to have insulted the prophet of Islam, Mohammed. Though I may disagree with his lack of sensitivity and respect for his Muslim neighbours, he has right to life. He has right to defend himself in a competent court of law without molestation or persecution.

Having said that, my focus is on the author’s statement, “we are all atheists” and his line of argument that brought him to that conclusion. It presents to be a very flawed argument. The reasons are obvious to every thinking person that reads in-between the lines.

First, the author is influenced by his concept of God – he seems to believe that God is a human idea that people use to fill up the gaps for anything they do not understand, hence his coining of the word Allah-god and Christian god in his discourse. It shows either a gross misunderstanding of those words or the usual atheist’s irreverence towards God. Almost in every language, there exists the consciousness of the Almighty God. Though they may have names for several gods, they have a name reserved for the Almighty. In Igboland where I suppose the author is from, there are many names for different gods but one is reserved for the Creator – Chineke. Chineke is in His own class, as it were, among the gods as the God who created the Universe. Allah actually is the name used for the Almighty God by both Arabic Christians and Muslims, though their connotations may be different just like when the Igbos use the word Chi. When you mention Chi, you can be asked a further question, which Chi? It will help your listener to understand which you are referring to. The writer majors his arguments on these differences in connotations and misunderstands the use of the word God in different languages. This perhaps explains why he mixed everything up when he gave his listings of the gods worshiped in different cultures. So he was not only playing with words, he was also displaying that he does not understand the relationship between the use of those words for the gods and the word used for the Almighty God.

Secondly, atheism by its definition does not accommodate belief in any god.  By saying that we are all atheists, he negates the common understanding of the word, atheism, as defined by atheists themselves – “a rejection of the assertion that there are gods”. By saying “all Muslims are atheists, even though all atheists are not Muslims”, the author accommodates the possibility of having an atheist who is a theist of a sort but not a Muslim. The author’s accommodation of belief, at all, in any god shows the confusion that exists within their set of belief or disbelief, whatever the atheist accepts. It is more of a moral issue, where the person has chosen to believe that there is no God or to deny the existence of God, despite all the evidences. Therefore, it is not because there is no God that the atheist believes in atheism, but because that is the choice he has made.

Again, the argument that “atheism entails a lack of belief in a god or gods. Muslims believe in Allah but do not believe in other gods like Ogun. Therefore, Muslims are also atheists” does not have logical consistency based on the definition of the terms. It self-destructs and falls like a pack of cards. It violates the law of rational inference in logic. You cannot say, “I have ears. Elephants have ears, therefore I am an elephant”. That two things have one thing in common does not mean that they have everything in common a. Someone may be an unbeliever in Ogun or Amadioha but the fact that he believes in the God of the Bible, for example, disqualifies him from being an atheist. Atheism, by its definition, is not defined in relation to any god as the author tends to portray. It is a lack of believe in gods or according to IEP, the view that there is no God b. So, in my view, the author over-generalized when he concluded, “we are all atheists”. The truth is that, we are not all atheists.

In conclusion, I posit that it is only in the Judeo-Christian worldview can the virtues the author tends to promote can and indeed have survived. God gives essential worth to every human being. You cannot violate someone’s life because you do not like him or because you do not believe what he believes. God has His image on every human being, hence as free moral agents, everyone should be free to make his decisions. Yes, our decisions have consequences, but they must be made out of freewill and not out of compulsion. I call on the author to examine authentic and biblical Christianity with an open mind and he will discover that the life and teachings of Christ worth believing and following. C.S. Lewis once said “If Christianity is untrue, then no honest man will want to believe it, however helpful it might be; if it is true, every honest man will want to believe it, even if it gives him no help at all.” c.

Finally, in addressing my fellow Christians, we must pay attention to what our Lord Jesus taught us. The gullibility, merchandise, arrogance and loveless behaviours we exhibit today are strange to the Gospel of Jesus and cannot allow us to effectively be His witnesses in this world that is in so much need. We must go back to missions and social work. This gap in identifying with the existential issues of our time makes the modern mind to view Christianity as not being relevant to their day-to-day life struggles. We built hospitals, schools, leproseums, refuge homes for the most vulnerable of the society, rescued twins, championed the stoppage of slavery etc etc. Where are those social actions today, especially in Africa and within the Nigerian church? This is a food for thought. When we resemble our Lord, it will be easier for the believer to think and the thinker to believe.

a.       Zacharias R. (2019). The 3.4.5 Grid. Lecture at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries Academy, RZIM.
b.       Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP). Atheism. Online at Accessed 19/05/20.
Lewis, C.S. (1970). God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B.Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), 108-109.

Friday, 8 May 2020

Personal Development during the Pandemic Lockdown

It is obvious that the Coronavirus is not going away soon. The world will learn to live with it for some time before the last trace clears. Everybody is adjusting and adapting. Companies are taking new decisions. Nations are developing fresh policies on how to continue to function in the midst of it  and revive their battered economies to avoid a more devastating social breakdown. The truth is that the world will not remain the same. The question that bothers me is, "is the church thinking? Shall we be ready for post COVID-19 or do we think it is going to be business as usual?" Anyway, that is an issue for another day. My focus now is to stir my readers up to prepare for what is ahead.

As you are in this lockdown, what are you doing with your time? Sleep? Watch movies? Play games? Then hop to your laptop and throw out one email to convince your hierarchy that you are working hard? Day in, day out? That may be one of the worst things to do to one's self. You have to develop ways to maximize this period so that you come out of this period better prepared.

Post COVID-19 Pandemic, there will still be opportunities, but they will be available for those who prepared themselves. A greater percentage of the populace will come out the same way at the same level pursuing the available limited opportunities. But a few who added some skills to their skill set will separate themselves from the crowd and receive more attention.

There is no gainsaying that most companies have discovered the benefits of working virtual. Some that used to pay on monthly basis may resort to hourly rate basis since they have learnt that it is more profitable for them when some of their staff work from home on adhoc basis. Emphasis will be laid on value instead of time. Most union agitations will not make sense because obviously, everybody will be adjusting. Because things will pick up slowly, it means that some people may not be able to retain their current jobs. How do you prepare?

1. Enroll in Online Courses most of which are cheap and free of charge. Example: LinkedIn e-learning, Google e-learning, MS in Financial Engineering offered by WorldQuant University, Udemy Education Courses, Coursera etc. Use that Internet Data to do online courses instead of just Social Media.
2. Learn new hard skills on you own like Musical Instruments, Disc Jockey (DJ) etc using online guides.
3. Attend Webinars to horn in your skills in your profession.
4. Engineers can learn AutoCAD, Primavera P6, Project Management/Project Controls, Unanet Risk Analysis, etc.
5. Attend Training and upgrade from Occupational Safety to Technical Safety. Attend training according to your profession like Data Analysis etc
6. Pastors can enroll to obtain Bachelor and Masters Degrees in Theology or Management etc etc.

The truth is that we can all do something about our personal development now. Make that choice today, focus and you will be glad you did.
God bless you.