Thinking about Michelle + Church Distractions

Okay, I found it pretty hard figuring out what the title of this post should be. (So, if you find out later, please let me know *wink*)

For starters, how many black ladies/girls do you know whose first name is Michelle? Just asking, because Michelle Obama’s probably the only one I have met know. Na so so white-white, yellow-yellow people dey bear the name o! I have a really cool friend who goes by that name and guess what? Oh, you don’t need to! She’s fair very fair in complexion. In fact, buddies back in the university coined several nicknames to torment her – Mi-shung, Mi-shel-lia, Tshing-tshung, etc. She actually looks like she’s from China or maybe Japan… So, why narrate this entire story?

I was in church a few weeks ago and towards the end of the service, there was going to be child dedication. Immediately the pastor mentioned the baby’s name (Michelle), I just thought, “That baby must be light in complexion. Let’s see!” I was not particularly close to the front so I couldn’t confirm. Long story short – at the close of service, as I made my way out of the door, there was the baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, in her mama’s hands. Michelle na oyinbo o! Yes, she had a light complexion! Plus, I don’t think I know any Yoruba whose first name is Michelle; they’re mostly Igbo…

Come to think of it, imagine if the dedication had been before the sermon, maybe I wouldn’t have listened much, but been thinking about the baby and her likely complexion. But that’s a minor case compared to other likely sources of distraction during a church service. Let’s try paint some more pictures.

If you attend a church where the seats are not big enough for large angles of tilt/gyration during the Praise session, imagine how confined you are likely to feel. It would be worse if the person sitting next to you is twice the size of the seat… If you are like me, you would probably restrict yourself to the signature ‘gentleman’ dance – two pushes to the left, then two to the right; or, a push to the right, then a push to the left. You can’t shout jo! If the beat is highlife or woro, you clap and distribute your movement to rhyme with the other fellas near you. Occasionally, if your neighbour is so into the song/worship, especially ‘those ladies’, you have to automatically adjust your movement and timing to fall in sync with them in order to avoid ‘brutal’ clashes. To make matters worse, sometimes you may not be so lucky when it’s time to lift up ‘holy hands’! Your neighbour might as well lift up ‘holy hands’, only to ‘bless’ you with some conc whiff from their unkempt armpit. I still don’t know why some people don’t shave their armpit regularly or even use roll-on, some deodorant, and even some perfume, body spray or cologne! If you are still very much unlucky, the smell is that of one who has come to church without a (decent) bath. All of a sudden, you just start wondering whether you are in one of those Lagos danfos (commercial mini-buses) where the ‘fish people’ and the motley passengers will often daze you! Enough said… Next!

Sometimes, I wonder if people can actually hear and differentiate between what is good music and what is not. There’s a church not too far from my house. Their public address system is so loud that, from over 200 metres away, their noise is delivered live and direct into my room, many annoying decibels above legal. I get annoyed when I hear the praise leaders singing on one key whereas the instrumentalists, especially the keyboardist, are playing and accompanying on a totally different key! Arrgh!!! Only God can save me if I’m in such a church service. That’d be veritable tool in the hands of the devil o! Then, one more thing, these days I feel so exhausted after only 30 minutes of dancing in Church. Thing is: I love music and I connect with the lyrics of the songs, but lately, I have just observed my subconscious telling me, as if set to a particular programmed action, “Is it not enough?”. I don’t check the time because my phone is usually switched off and I don’t have a wristwatch, but I just can’t wait to listen to the sermon! I seem to be so comfortable with sitting to engage in some listening as opposed to breaking a sweat and increasing my heartbeat. Well, without further ranting, I think this is largely a fitness issue. Lagos is really stressful place. Period!

Now imagine if you had all of the distractions mentioned above and much more during a single church service. Mehn, I will just go see Pastor for counseling ni!

-GN!

Photo credit: www.godwillbegod.com

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.

___________________________________________________________________________________________
[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)

Living Without Pornography

By Gbenga Awomodu & Emmanuel Aboje

Pornography comes from the Greek word porneia which means “having to do with sexual relations outside of marriage.” Now, a graph refers to drawings, etchings or life – like artistic representations. Thus, porn-o-graphy is the life – like representation of sexual relations (outside of marriage). There is a kind of “pleasure cult” in the world right now. People are trying to satisfy the desires and yearning inside of them by pursuing all kinds of pleasures whenever possible. Oblivious to them, they are fulfilling a prophecy in the Bible. It says in 2 Timothy 3: 4 that “men will be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” Pornography production and sales worldwide is a multi-billion dollar industry and has been said to rival McDonald’s for the number of outlets it has.

Porn viewing

Viewing pornography?

Most of the porn viewed by the average human is seen through the television. Sitcoms now employ jokes and other humour to soften the viewer to immoral concepts ideas. Otherwise normal shows have broken the old decency barrier by showing and promoting foul language, sex outside marriage, as well as nudity. In some circles, this is considered “progress.” In the world today, more and more people are beginning to accept pornography as a normal thing and the effects are seen in day to day living, such as the way ladies dress. They remind us of the sleazy dressing of popular female artists most of whom engage in porn and shooting porn movies. Many people have changed their definition of the word to suit the present times and their selfish and sinful cravings of the heart. Two unmarried individuals can stand naked in front of a camera being viewed by millions of people and still feel “holy” as long as they do not have sex. The standards have been reduced to an unacceptable level – one which we as Christians must take a stand against.

Perhaps, you are out there and you are struggling with pornography. Today you make up your mind and you decide to stop, but after about two days you fall back to that old path, maybe even before nightfall on the day you make the decision. Maybe the internet has also worsened your case. You just secured internet connection for your laptop so you can do research for your final year project, small business, term paper, assignment or normal coursework, but after you have done some of those important tasks, you still get tempted to google some pornographic sites. (The internet card/modem or even the laptop may not even be yours!) Suddenly, something comes over you and you begin to thirst for some action. When no one is in the room, especially if you stay in the B/Q, late at night or during the weekends when the other guys and girls have gone home, house (some girls refer to their boyfriends’ abode as house), or somewhere partying, you download all the porn clips available and take opportunity to watch all the porn DVDs you have bought and hidden in a remote corner for some time. The way girls dress today may not even be helping matters and you think that you can derive sexual pleasure from porn since you are not bold enough to ask them out in order to sleep with them. You may even be a pastor or a well known worker in the house of God, but you are still struggling with pornography.

In Matthew 5: 28, the Lord Jesus makes it clear that whoever looks at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her in his heart. Imagine then looking at nude pictures and video clips of men and women, and (unmarried) couples having sex? It is sin! Therefore, you need to change. You need to turn to God for help. You have always failed to lead a porn-free life because you tried to do it on your own, surrounded yourself with or stayed around friends and environments that made you have access to porn. Firstly, you need turn to God for help. Pour out your heart to Him today. Repentance is turning, and shifting your focus away from your sins and looking unto God for forgiveness (1 John 1:9). He is willing and ready to forgive you. Confess to Him and ask Him to give you strength to always focus on Him through proper study and meditation on His word and through prayers. Afterward, ensure that you study and meditate on the scriptures. Join a community of Christians, whether a fellowship in school or a church at home. Become accountable to a trusted Christian, preferably of the same gender. It could be your pastor. Let them know about you and help you grow. They can always check up on you and find out how well you’re living above pornography and making progress in your Christian walk.

“What if I already have a fellowship or church I attend, I’m even a worker, part of the fellowship executives, even the pastor of the church/fellowship?” you ask. Well, with God that’s not difficult. You must realize that there are a lot of people in your shoes who do not cry out for help in time. Some die with this problem while others are eventually publicly disgraced. Many ministers of God have had their ministries destroyed before their very own eyes because they were struggling with pornography and one day, someone caught them in the act and broadcast it to the world.

Some of them actually entered into physical adultery and fornication which destroyed their marriage and ministry. As a man/woman of God, you may have attained a very high level of respect in church and the society and may feel embarrassed opening up to someone else. They may just bring you down by telling other people. The truth is that you still need to be accountable to somebody (James 5:16). If you are married, it will be very helpful to let your spouse know about your challenges. You can both work together in love to solve it. Being accountable to God and man will help you think twice before doing certain things. Trusted friends can pray for you and help watch out for potentially harmful situations, ones that could open you up for sin. Your spouse may want to travel with you whenever you are going to be away for a long time, especially when you’ll be alone for a big part of the journey or programme you will be attending. If they cannot go with you, they may want to call you occasionally to ascertain where you are and what you are doing. After some time, you may not need this level of close monitoring again.

If you are a student, it will also help that you get some accountability partners to work with. They need to check on you from time to time, pray for you and ensure you are doing the right thing and not exposed to compromising situations (2 Timothy 2:22, 1 Thessalonians 5:22). No matter how much of the scriptures you think you know, avoid every appearance of evil. You do not overcome temptations by playing with them or rationalizing. You win such by running away from them! Some other tips may include that you avoid undue exposure and questionable proximity to people of the opposite sex, especially in dark or isolated corners, whether during the day or at night. Avoid gatherings where sexually suggestive and explicit talks are done. Stay in gatherings where only edifying things are being said. The church usually serves as a healthy avenue to mingle with people of the opposite sex in a safe atmosphere. Being a part of relevant and appropriate meetings such as singles’ forums/retreats, student retreats, and getting busy and committed to serving in the house of God could also help you shift your focus off the animal instincts of pornography. But you have to be careful that you do not abuse such avenues. Today, many people are in a hurry to join a church and may soon lose focus because they are in much hurry to get busy in the church for the wrong and selfish reasons. If you are single, do not be in a haste to go into a relationship, if you are not already in one, when you’ve just joined a church. Take your time to know God for yourself and make sure whatever you do for God, especially in the house of God, is borne out of genuine love for Him and not because of human attention.

Remember, pornography is not the will of God. It is a sin against God. Turn to God for help. In turn, pass the message across to other people struggling with this sin. Help them avoid compromising situations. Pray for yourself and those people out there. Take a stand against pornography. Share your experiences with trusted Christians, especially those who have also crossed this path and are now standing for God. Join them in standing for righteousness and grow thereby.

This piece was originally published in the 2009 Edition of Campus Mirror, an annual magazine of the Lagos Varsity Christian Union, University of Lagos, Nigeria. Emmanuel Aboje studies Metallurgy & Materials Engineering at the University of Lagos.

Guest Post: Bible Cure for Gossip by Omotayo Alo

By Omotayo Omoseke Alo

I want to talk to you about a very popular word – gossip. No one is exempted from this course, because in one way or another, we talk about other people. Gossip can be truth or falsehood; it is still gossip. Have you heard or been the one to say “wait till you hear this!” Or, “I shouldn’t really be telling you this, but did you know…?” As a man created in God’s own image you shouldn’t be involved in idle talk that doesn’t edify or glorify your father in heaven. Psalm 37:30 says that the mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom and his tongue speaks what is just.

Gossips

Gossips

Gossip can be defined as malicious or slanderous talk or writing about another person or situation, with desire or intension to hurt them. It is a time–wasting, irrelevant talk about other people. When gossiping, information could also be passed across through signs and gesticulation, especially behind the person who is the object of gossip. One thing you should know is that God condemns those who gossip, our words reflect the mediation of our heart. You should agree with me that both males and females are guilty of gossiping. For guys their gossips are usually about drunken friends, old school friends, female colleagues at work, the sexiest girl in class, sexual relationships and escapades, and lecturers. The females are usually guilty of discussing other girls’ relationships, their friends’ weight gain or loss, how ugly a classmate is, male lecturers, the most handsome guy in class, snoring roommates, and the boys and girls with the worst body odour.

Gossip is sin and it is not good for you. Have you ever gossiped about someone and felt good about it afterwards? Truth is, even if you enjoy gossiping while it lasts, later on when you recall things that transpired, you tend to acknowledge that what you did was not proper. If you are still not convinced, has it ever happened to you that you discovered some people had been gossiping about you or you probably burst into a gossip session about you? How do you feel hearing first – hand, your supposedly cool classmate who’s always smiling at you, telling other people that you are too skinny, too proud and snobbish, especially when you know some of those things are not true. Can you handle it when you are the object of a secret jest that you suddenly burst into by chance…? So, how do you avoid and overcome gossip if it is that bad?

All you have to do is withdraw your association with gossips or gossip–gatherings. Whatever opinion you have about somebody, keep it to yourself. Seal your lips, guard your mouth and think before you talk. Gossiping does not help you in any way; it wastes valuable time and makes you a bad person. According to Matthew 7:12, in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. I am sure you don’t want to be gossiped about so please guilt gossiping.

For effective repentance from gossiping each time you get up from your bed, recite this verse and meditate on it. It isPsalm 19:14: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, o Lord my strength and my redeemer.” Ensure that you say something nice to somebody today; like I love you and I am praying for you. Make sure you mean it! Always look out for the good qualities and attributes in other people, do not focus on people’s faults. Have a wonderful day and thanks for spending some reading this.

Omotayo Alo studies Mass Communication at the University of Lagos. She lives in Lagos, Nigeria.