christian

Christianese or Faithspeak

‘Bless you sister’, ‘It’s well’, ‘God is in control’. You probably might have heard these phrases or used them recently. These phrases and the like have become synonymous with Christians. Christian lingo or Christianese as some have called it are phrases that have come to be associated with Christians or Christianity. Its growth has somewhat been buoyed by an increased understanding of faith and the call to confess God’s word and speak positively. Several of these clichés have even found their way into the social and business world. I once heard a governor of one of the Northern states in Nigeria admonish cattle rustlers to become born again – trying to get them to change their ways.Mic

We know that the words of our mouths are very powerful, thus we have become more careful with the things we say, trying hard to make sure our words are largely positive. Once, someone was about entering an elevator going to the ground floor and asked the fellow he met in the lift if she was going down. The person quickly shot back, ‘I am not going down in Jesus name’. I can imagine the lady saying in her mind, ‘I beg, don’t curse me’.

Sometimes, Christianese phrases like ‘Praise the Lord’ or ‘Halleluyah’ are used as opening statements in noisy places to get people’s attention. Christianese has also taken a hit on not a few occasions. My pastor told me of a funeral he had to officiate some time ago (I tell you that is difficult). Trying to comfort the bereaved family, he said, ‘It is well’ and someone quickly retorted, ‘It is not well’.

Then there is also the abuse or misuse of Christian phrases or words associated with the Christian faith. For example, I heard a part of a song which said, ‘Maga don pay, shout Halleluyah’. Loosely translated it means ‘the deceived fellow has paid me the money, shout Halleluyah’. I find it ridiculous that Halleluyah, that expression of praise that means the same thing in every language, would be so unrighteously paired.

Also you hear people say such things like ‘I am strong’ when they feel a little under the weather. And when we try to politely respond, saying sorry, they say, ‘thank you’. This doesn’t add up. Why should I say sorry if you are indeed strong and why should you say thank you if you are strong? It would appear the state of weakness is being admitted, negating the earlier declaration. I think a better response should be ‘Don’t say sorry to me, I told you I am strong’. Funny right? Interestingly, when we get to the hospital, we tell the doctor exactly how we feel and forget the ‘I am strong’ song. I believe it is a declaration of faith to say, I am not feeling too good but I am already healed in Jesus’ name. It’s okay to say, ‘I ain’t got much cash now but God is supplying every need of mine. Yes, I am rich in Jesus name’. Faith doesn’t deny the situation, it declares the facts.

Our words carry the power and life of the Spirit when they bubble out of a heart yielded to the Holy Spirit. So it would be good to focus on the condition of our hearts. We should deal with the habits, weights and sins that we would hide behind our backs if we were standing before our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Then, with a surrendered heart, we can speak with a confidence that stems from the tree of faith and have in our hands the things we declare. It is interesting how yielding brings confidence and surrendering brings authority. But that is the dynamics of the Christian life for you. Then, it wouldn’t matter if you call it ‘Christianese’ or faith words. They would be words of power producing the things we speak.

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THE SURVIVAL KIT BAG

In recent times, the media has been awash with stories, songs, movies and the like that present a twisted view of marriage. Same-sex marriage appears to be hottest topic trending on all media platforms. It’s no longer news that the US Supreme Court legalised same-sex marriage across all American states. In other news, we hear that Germany’s National Ethics Council recently called for an end to the criminalisation of incest between siblings and that a Japanese court ruled that extramarital affairs are alright, so long as they’re done for business purposes.

Our culture is being re-defined. We are seeing a new normal around us adopted by celebrities and popular world figures and promoted by the media. I see that the world in which my children would grow up as teens and adults would be significantly different from the one I have spent some decades in.

I reckon that the journey ahead for the Christian who would want to keep being a Christian would be quite tough and trying. He or she would need to pack relevant items for survival as though he or she were going on an expedition for the first time. But every Christian who knows the Bible would know that the Saviour already told us what the outlook of the world would be like at the end of times. So there really is no need to press the panic button. What we would do is access our knowledge cache and fortify ourselves and the generations responsible to us to be able to handle the challenges around us.

We, particularly fathers, have the responsibility to make sure our children are grounded in the Word of God. The only way to identify counterfeit currency notes is to be very familiar with the original ones. The only way to detect a lie is to fully know the truth. The truth is found in God’s Word. We should read the Word of God and be able to give answers from the Bible to questions on contemporary issues. We also need to encourage our children to read the Word of God themselves. They should be encouraged to ask questions. Give them the right answers even if it means you have to do a little more research before answering them. This is better than leaving them to get answers from the wrong places.

I also recommend that we tap into valuable related resources around us for helpful stuff. You can find good ones online. I found some from Focus on the family which you can access here.

We should encourage our children to love other people and see them as God sees them – as His children. He hates the actions of those who go against His dictates but He still loves them anyway. Our children should be encouraged to do the same but to do so standing for the truth of God’s word.

We must protect the heart of marriage as we know it and the principles that define it. We must uphold the values of lifelong commitment, selfless love and mutual deference under God’s instituted authority. We cannot speak against gay marriage while our marriages lie on the edge of divorce or are ravaged by the evil fires of adultery and pornography. When this is the case, we become hypocrites and lose our credence and honour to defend the truth and speak against gay marriage or other perverted forms of relationship.

Surround yourself and family with the right company. Walk with families that share the same beliefs and faith with you. Always return to your company for encouragement and support. This is what the disciples did to weather the persecution storms they faced. Acts 4:23-33

One of the greatest pieces of heritage we can pass on to the next generation is a faith that is unadulterated and that is not defined by the spirit of the age. This is our responsibility deserving of a good report and a ‘well done, thou faithful servant’.

The One who has seen the end knows we can make it successfully to the end.

Selah.

FACEBOOK AND MY WORLD

Recently, I had to stay indoors because of the council elections going on in the city I live in. I had more time to flip TV channels like I usually do when I hold the remote control. Two talk shows on air that day coincidentally had the social networking issue or more specifically, the Facebook revolution as their subject of discussion. One talked about how Facebook had been used to raise funds for a baby with a rare medical condition needing special food. I also heard about a lady who had taken a Facebook fast during the Lent season hoping she would break free from her Facebook addiction. She was trying to apply the theory that a 21-day abstinence could break any habit. One discussant who was introduced as a social networking expert talked about having connected with some of the most influential and powerful people in the world via Facebook. He even said Barack Obama was one of his Facebook pals. On the other show, someone called Facebook a spirit. People wake up and the first thing they think about is updating their status and then the last thing before hitting their beds is writing about the highs or lows during the day. I know someone who once woke up in the middle of the night and found that power supply had been cut off and decided that the best thing to do was announce this to the world via Facebook. I also once saw someone stuck in traffic busy on her laptop browsing Facebook pages, to while away time I suppose, Lagos traffic could be annoying sometimes, you know. These days I hear children are busy on Facebook or tweeting away during classes when they should be listening to their teachers or lecturers. This has culminated in an increasing rate of failure in school exams. As for me, I have established contact with several old school mates I may not have met again, thanks to Facebook.
Our Facebook profiles have become mini autobiographies that tell our life stories. We relive childhood memories, discuss our present experiences and reveal our plans to our pals. Just like the success of an autobiography is basically determined by the number of copies sold, our profile’s popularity seems to be determined by how many friends we have and the number of comments on our pictures or writings. I guess there is an application that can help tell how many times our pages have been visited.
But I have questions… Can I afford to spend half of the time I use on Facebook on some spiritual activity like praying or studying the bible? Can I add my pastor or my Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ to my list of Facebook friends? Would He be pleased when He visits my pages? Am I concerned about the spiritual condition of the folks I call my friends or followers on Facebook? My dad used to say, ‘show me your friends and I will tell you who you are’. Is this true about Facebook friends too? Do my comments and statements on Facebook dovetail with my Christian beliefs? Do I have ulterior motives when I use a social networking service like Facebook? Does my profile show any light or provide seasoning like the Bible says I am supposed to do? You may be asking if life is all about preaching and preaching. But what better platform can you get to spread your faith than one that connects you with your world. Facebook might just be your epistle read by all men. 2 Corinthians 3:2-3. Meanwhile, I have some friend requests to attend to on Facebook.

Emails of terror

I believe we have several reasons to praise God for His leadings thus far. We thank Him for the blessings, challenges, miracles, trying moments, high mountains and the low valleys. Yes I know we might be a little disappointed because we have not gotten all we wanted, but in this race of life, if you just turn back for a moment, you would find out that you are way ahead of a number of folks. I don’t think that is too bad either. But one thing I am assured of is that you are still very much entitled to the all the juice God has prepared for you this year. And like the popular saying goes, ‘It is not yet over until it is all over. So expect some very pleasant surprises from Elohim in the months ahead. And don’t forget you lose nothing by constantly tugging at HIS garment like a child would do to ‘remind’ Him about His promises although He hasn’t forgotten. I have proved Him faithful!

Please permit me to share some thots with you on something I have observed and which has actually gotten me thinking. The internet service is a gift to man and of course like anything else, can be rightly used or grossly misused. We could have access to so much treasure online and we could also have a lot of garbage thrown in our face via the net. In an age when we are so close to the end of time and when our beliefs are constantly pummelled by the enemy as never before, I guess the admonition by the Apostle to the Gentiles that we should earnestly contend for the faith which has been delivered to us is most appropriate. We must be aware as Christians that our common enemy, the devil is not just attacking the body of Christ in very obvious ways. He is crafty and he knows that he can be equally effective by just adulterating the truth a bit and presenting it as the whole truth, albeit containing lethal poison. He is slowly infiltrating our belief system and spiritual lives with concepts and ideas that are foreign to the Christian life. Little wonder why the bible says he is transformed into an angel of light. Such activities of the enemy are meant to gradually sway us from the truth almost unknowingly.

I don’t intend to make too much noise. But I want to beseech us to be careful about the kind of mails we forward to one another especially members of God’s camp. Take for example, the mails that promise some wave of luck or fortune when you forward such to a number of people and some misfortune when you disobey. Or the ones that talk about some so-called mantra and/or surprises coming your way when you send the mail to a certain number of people. I’m sure you know them. In my personal opinion, I don’t think that follows any principle in the scriptures. The sovereign God is a God of purpose and destiny. He has not tied our blessings to some set of man-made procedures but to his faithfulness and our obedience to His Word. I used to respond to those mails with such threats of misfortune if I disobeyed until I stopped to think and check if it had an alibi in my new DNA. I didn’t find any so I stopped responding. I believe the blessings of the Lord make rich and its wagon has no space for sorrow. If God has blessed me or is about to, my sending a mail or not, affects nothing except on clear instructions from Him. By the way, such mails are an intrusion on my personal freedom offering me mandatory choices I never bargained for. Please note that this does not include mails that contain good stuff like scripture-based prayers that we are encourage to pray with and forward to others with no strings attached. Of course, in one of the testaments we are encouraged to pray for one another. I have made my choice and if you are game, you could break the circle of such mails by just tossing them aside with a wave of the hand when next they show up at your door. But I think you can encourage someone by recommending this post. I have not promised any blessing or curse for forwarding or not forwarding it.

SMS FROM GOD?

 

Recently, I received a phone call concerning a text supposedly from one of the respectable men of God in Nigeria urging Christians to offer prayers at a certain period of the night so that they would not mourn over any loved one. I learnt that text messages were sent and received all over the world concerning this. But then subsequently, a confirmation came that the purported text was not initiated by the man of God, although he still encouraged everyone to pray, of course because it wouldn’t be wrong to pray anyway. I have heard from several sources that people obeyed and offered prayers as ‘instructed’. My findings reveal that there was approximately 100 percent compliance. In fact I am told some streets were exceptionally noisy that night because of the intensity of praying in various houses.

Three things would have happened that night. One, the telecom companies would have noticed increased network activity that night which automatically translated to more revenue generated, thanks to the countless short messages sent that day. Secondly, God would have had an increase in the number of humans talking to him at the same time. If He were a man running a prayer call centre, the lines would definitely have been jammed that night. Thank God Jehovah is not a man. I guess the last time He got such level of attention would have been on New Year eve when most people would have spent the first minutes or hours of the New Year in the house of the Lord. Lastly, people would have found out that they had more well-wishers than they actually thought. Text messages crossed international boundaries to various corners of the world. Some even sent to people they had not spoken to in a long while, Christians and non-Christians alike. People showed that they were their brother’s keepers.

But as my Spirit churned this event, some issues/questions came to mind that really got me thinking:

Are we actually praying Christians? Do we need to be ‘threatened’ before we get to pray? It is not out of place if the period specified for the prayers in that text was regularly spent with God every night. God will be so pleased with us. We all have so many things to talk to God about that 2 or 3 hours might not even be enough. Do we realise that we would have greater successes and victories if we spent more time talking to God? Our lives should be prayer-lived lives so that such messages don’t come as sudden interruptions; rather they would just dovetail seamlessly with our plans, as long as they are of God.

 I also started wondering what our response would have been if the content of the text were different.  What if the text had urged us strongly to evangelise and win a soul for Christ during the week? Would it have gotten a commensurate response? Well, maybe, if there were an attached blessing, like some super financial blessing for all who follow the instruction. I guess this reveals where our focus is and our level of selflessness or should I say selfishness. All instructions from Jehovah must be taken seriously, whether it concerns us or others, obvious blessing attached or not.

And to what level are we willing to search and see if what we see, hear or read is true? How much of our walk with God is influenced by sensationalism and sentiments? How committed are we to checking in our spirits to see if we have a witness from God about any issue? The Holy Scriptures speak of the Berean Christians as followers who went back to research what they had heard to know if they were true. This should apply to everyone and everything that come to us in the name of our Saviour. We should be willing to test every spirit, every word, every revelation that is labelled ‘of Christ’ to know if it is actually so. This is what our Father commands. Some do not even believe that God could speak directly to them except through someone else. I can assure you, even God enjoys pillow-talk with his pals. It is very important that God and his instructions via the Holy Scriptures are the number one priority in our lives. His commands from the scriptures MUST carry more weight than that of any man.

Well, in all this I am grateful that in a world were few are trusted, some men of God are still held in such high regard that we can take whatever is said to come from them. And I believe this is on account of their level of integrity. I pray God will make us trustworthy pillars of relevance in our generation that others can look up to too in Jesus’ name. Amen.