Guest Post: Your Finances: Wetin Man Go Chop? by Bolaji Olawoye

By Bolaji Olawoye

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…. For where your treasure is, there you heart will be also”[1]

What God battles for is not the presence of, or the abundance of life’s necessities, but for your heart. What masters your heart masters your life – in its entirety!

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (riches)”[2]

Life is in this way: You either run with a purpose in heart and a vision in goal OR the tidal waves of the world will wash you along, dumping you in the trench of financial & social circumstances and you will continue trying to keep-up.

Why would Jesus call mammon (or riches) a potential master? It is simply because it has the power to become one! The (necessary) cares & worries of this world are potent enough to master a man’s heart.

According to Ecclesiastes 10:19, all the physical cares of the world are solved by one thing – money! Mammon is a master because you will continues to need it to satisfy ephemeral necessities until you learn the secrets of the Kingdom. The question is not whether we need money, we do! Neither is it how to get more money, as that might arouse greed and worry, leading to the trap of the devil. The concern usually is, “how we get those things that money answers?”

“…Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?”[3] or ‘Shall we not drive cars?’ or ‘Shall we not work?’ “For after all these things, the Gentiles (the unbelieving, the ungodly) seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. (Notwithstanding) … seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you!”[4]

The scriptures above (and their interpretations) reveal the balance Jesus strikes, between your needs and His provision for them. He reassures that God knows you need these things, but He does not want you to live life, seeking to lay hold of these necessities because He has His own means of making them available. What Jesus recommends is that you seek God’s Kingdom. In it you will find mastery over finances, and then you will not have to worship mammon. God’s kingdom is within you. It is the sphere of dominion of God’s nature, His power & His principles of life. You will find these things in the Bible and as the Holy Spirit leads you into all truth.

Live life, avoiding the snare of excessively accumulating money and material possessions for personal use!

“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and to many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction & perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows”[5]

Let me paint you a picture of what Jesus is saying, the way I understand it:

Most adults that are responsible for fending-for or taking care of themselves are daily in pursuit of riches, without even knowing it. If you are not a working-class adult, you might be used to collecting allowance from someone else as a typical youth. When you start working, you might start seeking after mammon unconsciously! Certain challenges arise; you need an accommodation – you need money; you need a car – you need money; you have a fiancé/fiancée – you need money; your parents deserve some spoiling – you need money; you need clothing, feeding, etc – you need money!

Fear and insecurity mounts and the accumulation of money and material wealth seems to be a necessary pursuit! At some point, some of the “seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”[6] spiritual teaching start meaning less.

You then discover you need a good-paying job (or a change to one); you hustle a bit, God is merciful and you get one. However, there are usually two (2) types of jobs employees get. One that pays well with little time for other things in life OR the type that gives you ample time for other things but pays little.

For the well paying job, you wake up early, work till late, for at least 39 hours a week! You might be involved in some church work, at least so you do not loose the zeal for spiritual service. But perhaps you are serving someone else and spending less of your time digging into God, spending time with your family and bearing more fruit in the things that God has deposited into you.

For the not well paying job, some use the free time profitably in Kingdom service but with tight financial situations. Other less godly ones use the time to hustle and ‘breakthrough’.

If you get married and raise a family under these conditions, the situation most likely gets complicated. There is an increased demand for your time and money. Then you realise that you need more money to make ends meet. There might now be less time for paying attention to God’s voice or His word. This might continue for a long time. Life is continually spent trying to make ends meet; man must survive; your family must feed, kids must to go school’. Though there will be the good times, but life essentially becomes the pursuit of its necessities.

Everything is now a pursuit of money, because truly, “…money answers everything”[7]. However, you will never have fulfilment in it because you do not use life doing what you were built for, what you are talented in doing. What everybody is doing may seem necessary but it is certainly not God’s initial purpose and design.

However, it is always a nobler thing to walk in the fullness of God’s perfect purpose and design – to seek His Kingdom.

Seeking the Kingdom of God

God’s Kingdom is not some external religious structure:

“The Kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you”[8] It is the operation of a system that obtains in Heaven – God’s dwelling place, being manifested here on earth within adopted kingdom sons. It is a spiritual reality that is in our lives and over our affairs. It is not the denial of our existence on earth but living on earth within the spiritual sphere of heavenly principles. Seeking the kingdom is living a life subjected to- and manifesting the principles of God’s kingdom.[9]

Principles of the Kingdom of God

These are the principles by which Abraham lived: his faith relationship with God and his demonstration of earthly reign. Jacob prophesied, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a law giver from between his feet.”[10] Paul taught, “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood…”[11] John declared, “And (Jesus) has made us kings and priests to His God and Father”[12]

Notice the lifestyle of Abraham: He was a great worshiper and friend of God and he reigned on earth. Christ is the Seed of Abraham[13] and so are we, living with the same principles that were passed to Judah by prophecy and down to Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah. It is a Kingdom of kings and priests – of worship within and dominion without. You worship like a priest, you rule like a king. It is a kingdom of the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. It is a duo-principled kingdom of the nature and power of God. His nature is His Person – He is Love. His power is His Dominion, His Glory and His Creativity. A daily passion and walk in these principles is seeking after His kingdom.

Wherever you are placed in life, God must be able to manifest His love and His power to the world through you! Every God-inspired and God-provided employment, service or entrepreneurial endeavour that will allow you to fully live in the fullness of your natural gifting and spiritual calling will be truly seeking His Kingdom.

In addition to these, you will also need to find out what provisions God has made in His Word for your financial freedom and abundance.

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[1] Matthew 6:19-21; [2] Matthew 6:24; [3] Matthew 6:31; [4] Matthew 6:32-33 (with author’s emphasis & non-quotations); [5] 1 Timothy 6:9-10; [6] Matthew 6:33; [7] Ecclesiastes 10:19; [8] Luke 17:20-21; [9] I acknowledge some insight provided by the article (THE KINGDOM OF GOD by Jack W. Hayford) Spirit-Filled Life® Bible, © 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.; [10] Genesis 49:10; [11] 1 Peter 2:9; [12] Revelations 1:6 (with author’s emphasis); [13] Galatians 3:29

Guest Post: The Three Enterprises by Bolaji Olawoye

By Bolaji Olawoye

Most adults have three (3) areas of expression in life – their profession (or vocation), their business (or wealth-generating endeavour) and their passion (or dream). Their profession can be their profession, occupation or what they do every day (usually a skill they studied for in some tertiary, technical or professional institution). Their business is their wealth-generating enterprise, a source of greater income for them to execute greater projects and/or desires. Their dream is their passion; a cherished hope; an inborn gifting or talent; an ambition or an aspiration.

For a few individuals, all three wonderfully come together in one single enterprise. A quick scenario is a young man who studied some personnel relations course in school (profession), runs a high-brow consulting outfit (business) and has the in-built gift of motivational speaking (passion). Another instance is a woman, a tailor by profession, having a multi-million naira fashion outfit with a passion to design affordable clothes for kids.
For other individuals, just two enterprises come together. Imagine a world-class lawyer or attorney running a chamber that rolls in millions per court case (profession and business) but would love acting (passion). Alternatively, imagine a high-earning university consultant professor (profession and business) whose deep-hearted passion is painting!

Still for others, all three come separate. Have you recently met a young mother of 3 or 4 kids who loves teaching kiddies Sunday school (passion), runs a women’s salon (business) and works in some government parastatal (profession). Or a university lecturer who has a cyber-café and loves athletics.

Which Enterprise Is The Best?

All three different categories of people could live wonderful lives every day because all three aspects are being expressed. They have a great job, a good financial base and above all, inborn talents being expressed. However, having all these three different aspects as all-together-different endeavours might induce some level of stress. You are distracted and your attention divided. You are tempted to drop one or two other aspects and concentrate on the one that you think gives you most joy (usually your passion, dream, aspiration and inborn gifting/talents) while risking the importance of the other phases and/or the quota they are contributing to your life. Therefore, it will be very important for you to, early in life, identify, discover and appreciate these 3 different aspects of your life and how they can be achieved collectively in one or two endeavours, if possible. You will need financial intelligence to know which one of the 1st (profession) or 3rd (passion) facets can be supported by business ideas. If this is not feasible or expedient for you to realise, don’t force it. However, if it is possible to do so with all due honesty, purity and integrity (devoid of greed and exploitation), please, go ahead. And do not say in your heart, “…My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth’ (But)…you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”[1]

Some people in life are sadly unaware of these issues in life. They have (erroneously) believed the lie of the devil that life is primarily about ‘making ends meet’ or ‘earning a living’ or ‘just to survive’ or ‘just to enjoy’. No, God teaches otherwise! He said to mankind at creation, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”[2]

Fruitfulness is a basic God-given responsibility in life and He has given you everything necessary to accomplish it!

“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given unto us all things that pertains to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:2-3)

“And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” (Deuteronomy 8:18)

Another basic level of assignment is multiplication – taking what you have and multiplying it. Multiply your financial resources; reproduce your gifts and talents in other people. Give generously and watch God bless and multiply you.

“After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them. His lord said to him, well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord…For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” (Matthew 25:19-29)

“And when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied and all that you have is multiplied” (Deuteronomy 8:13)

Yet another level of responsibility is to subdue. The Oxford mini Reference Dictionary defines the verb subdue as to “bring under control; make quieter or less intense.” Listen to me dear partaker of righteousness; you are not a victim of life’s circumstances because you have all it takes to subdue the spiritual, financial, emotional, physical, moral, social and environmental challenges of life if you believe in Jesus! “You are of God, little children, and you have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world”[3]

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5)

And finally, have dominion! You not only belong to a kingdom of gentle, meek worshippers, you also belong to a kingdom of bold, blessed rulers; you belong to a KINGDOM of PRIESTS!

“The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a Lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people.” (Genesis 49:10, with author’s emphasis)

“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep my covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” (Exodus 19:5-6, with author’s emphasis)

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9, with author’s emphasis)

and from Jesus, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelations 1:5-6, with author’s emphasis)

What is Life’s Highest Calling?

I believe one of life’s highest callings is to serve others in great humility. Jesus said, “…whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many.”[4] “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.”[5]

Between the 19th and 32nd verses of Matthew 6, Jesus taught on a lot of issues: Treasures, Light, Service, Wealth and the necessities of life. He then concludes after them by saying, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own troubles.”[6] In this passage, He touched on the three enterprises of life and then reveals to us that the most fulfilling and highest call in life is to live for others. Life is not to be in pursuit of its necessities or wealth but in fulfilling the kingdom.

Permit me to illustrate. A career is wonderful but it must be one that establishes the kingdom if you are to live in fulfillment of your duties as a king and a priest of the kingdom of heaven. Wealth is an essential part of God’s kingdom and His will for us; after all “…it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”[7] Part of that covenant is what God gave to Abraham, “I will bless you…and you shall be a blessing…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed”[8] The most important purpose of wealth is in establishing the Kingdom and propagating the Father’s core values.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”[9]

If your wealth is being diverted to an eternal investment, your heart remains focused on eternity because for you to invest in eternity, that means you value it over mere earthly and temporal possessions.

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”[10]

In his book, The Coming Wealth Transfer, Matthew Ashimolowo explains that wealth is neutral and simply takes on the form (and core values) of its owner. You will either serve God with wealth (as a Kingdom steward) or serve the devil (accumulating and spending it over worldly, temporal and selfish lusts that do not measure up to eternal values in God).

For many youths, their desire is simply to get a good well-paying job, settle down, start a family and start living large. I must confess, this is wonderful and noble. Notwithstanding, it is more noble to have something to contribute to your nation and to humanity. It is nobler to fulfill God’s call and operate in Christ’s gift upon your life. This is seeking His kingdom.

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[1] Deuteronomy 8:17-18; [2] Genesis 1:28; [3] 1 John 4:4; [4] Matthew 20:26-28; [5] Matthew 18:4-5; [6] Matthew 6:33-34; [7] Deuteronomy 8:18; [8] Genesis 12:2-3; [9] Matthew 6:19-21; [10] Matthew 6:24 (with author’s emphasis)

In Retrospect: The Poem for Michelle

For Michelle (Happy Birthday)

Yellow pawpaw,
Plum and in full plume
May your beauty never wane
Sweet angel, Angel Michey
Sweeter than the sweetest bagel

Chinazar,
Our Esther, shining star
Chikezen,
Oriental ruby, radiant as ever
May your rising sun never go down,
And your light never cease to glitter
Garments ever cleaner

May your brilliance never thaw
Joy of a family, hope of a nation
Desire of men, promise of a future
A future more glorious
Splendid till the perfect day

Your crest shall never fall
Blessing to the world
Crispy as corn flakes
Slender and delicate,
Yet resolved as steel
Born on the last day
End of an era
Dawn of a new day
Delight of the seraphs

If I were God,
To you I would give a pod
Filled with sweets and good tidings,
Long life and prosperity without strife
But, I am not God,
He’ll give you more

©Gbenga Awomodu, May 2010

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P.S: I wrote this poem to celebrate a dear friend earlier in the year. I thought to share it here because it reminds me of the impact we can make in other people’s lives when we step out of our own world to appreciate them. Looking back, I believe this is one of my most memorable pieces of writing this year. As the year winds down, I would like to encourage you to continually lead a selfless life and endeavour to appreciate the people God has placed around you and in your life. It is so easy to overlook/underplay the importance of familiar friends! Stop thinking too much about just you and you alone. Share God’s love this season with your loved ones and the most random of people. Cheers!!!

Guest Post: Contemporary Christian Music and Creativity by Tolu Awobusuyi

By Tolu Awobusuyi

Until recently, the general ideology was that Christian music was strictly ‘worship’-oriented; Halleluyah-chorusing music that only edified the souls of Christians worldwide. But in the last four decades, Christian music has grown to include various forms of music (rock, metal, rap, reggae; name it! It has a Christian alternative). And in defiance of the stereotypes set down by the previous generations, these emerging music ministers have branched into all sorts of music, spreading the Gospel as they say they are. But tell me; is this good news or what?

Artists like Lecrae (rap), Petra (metal) and Jeremy Camp (rock) believe they are to proselytize using the Gospel of Jesus Christ through all forms of music, arguing that we are in a world full of changes, and if we keep preaching the old-fashioned way, no one would be open to the Gospel. They also say that all music is from God, and so the devil should not be allowed to use God’s gifts as his sole property (see Why should the Devil have all the Good music? by Larry Norman).

Scott Stapp

But artists like Creed (rock/metal), 12 Stones (rock) and LPG (rap), say they are simply artists who coincidentally happen to be Christians. They argue that as Christians, they should be allowed a degree of freedom in their expressions, though a lot of their songs tend to be centred on their faith. Says Scott Stapp, front man of bestselling band, Creed: “I’m a Christian. If my music doesn’t turn out to be evangelistic, deal with it”.

They also argue that there are other life issues that need to be addressed through music, though they are not necessarily Christian in nature (see Underoath).

But the two sides of the camp have not been fully accepted by the conservative Christian populace. Many Christians believe music like rock and rap are devilish, and for good reasons. The genres of music the new “ministers” use have been noted for their violent, sensual, anti-Christian nature through the years, especially rock and metal. They believe, rightly at that, that we should be separated from the world in all appearances. They point out that the new forms of Christian music have become money-oriented, not gospel-oriented as they should be, and that the artists have begun to behave like their secular counterparts: immorality is becoming rampant (see Tonex, the Christian rap love triangle), the music is becoming more important than the Gospel, the artists cannot be differentiated from their secular counterparts in dressing (see P.O.D.). Some even go as far as to point out cases of Christian musicians releasing secular albums (see Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant). Some also point out Christian acts who have actually supported secular festivals of immorality, anti-Christian sentiments and open Satanism (Ozzfest had P.O.D. and Chevelle make appearances)

The secular market has been less supportive of the whole affair, calling it “crappy rip-offs”, “wannabe rock stars” and the like. With good point, I’m ashamed to admit. Most of it actually sounds banal, drab and half-baked. The albums of most top Christian artistes would not pass for underground secular artistes because the overall production quality is at best sloppy. And there is a general turn-off because of the message- the Gospel.

Now, I’m not forcing Christian music down anyone’s throat, but if we are Christians, I do not see why the world should be laughing. Sure they would mock us for our beliefs and all that, but that doesn’t mean we should give them good course. Joseph, Jesus’ father, was apparently an excellent carpenter, which was why Jesus could have been described as the carpenter’s son. Sure, we should never relent in our mission to spread the Gospel, but that does not mean we should not put our lives into it. I can’t say if the whole CCM thing is right, but no matter what, Christians should realize it is time to rise. It is time to get creative and be the light to the world. And as I come to this conclusion, I pray God gives us the grace and that we tap into our rights as God’s children so we can lead in ALL things.

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This piece was originally published in the 2010 Edition of Campus Mirror, an annual magazine of the Lagos Varsity Christian Union, University of Lagos, Nigeria and has been slightly modified. Tolu Awobusuyi studies Chemical Engineering at the University of Lagos.