Jesus

MUST THAT WITCH DIE?

Blog pictureAs I drove to church one Sunday morning, I saw a billboard for a church program. The bold headline was ‘That witch must die’! I gritted my teeth, my fingernails almost digging into the steering wheel as I tightened my grip. I was terribly upset. I did a quick mental scan, wondering where in the teachings of Jesus and His apostles we could find a precedent for this? How did we descend so low? How did the people of the light lose their focus and get involved in daylight witchcraft? I had thought witches and witchcraft were usually associated with nocturnal activities. More seriously, I wondered why some in the church had decided to exchange their glory for the base life. This appeared to be the other gospel Paul was referring to. He marvelled that people were turning from the grace of God to some other gospel which was different from the one they had received. (Gal 1:6-10)

We have a received a gospel that tells the good news that Christ has defeated the enemy and raised us to sit with Him in heavenly places far above all other powers including those attributed to witches. So now, our focus should not be on killing witches in the villages or the cities. On the contrary, what we need is an experiential knowledge of the victory Jesus has given us in Him.

Do you know you are seated in heavenly places far above principalities and powers? Do you know that God can prepare a table before you and give you the victory while the witches are still breathing? Do you know that Jesus came to give life to all who would receive Him including witches? The church was not sent to kill witches but to preach the good news and the full gospel.

Sadly, we have an unfortunate situation on our hands. Rather than stimulating an atmosphere of love, some are busy stoking the flames of hated, selfishness and ungodly suspicion in the body. Or what would you say about this? Two people who are children of the stock of Abraham and who were previously friends, praying to God for the death of each other’s enemy. Which of them will God kill?

Our more important business is to bring the order and domain of the kingdom of heaven to earth. The order of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. An order that demonstrates the realities of victory over sin, sickness and death. An order that lights up the world with the love of Christ and the favour of God. Church leaders must redirect the body of Christ to its mission on earth. Rather than instil fear, they must build faith.  Rather than dignify the law, they should amplify the message of God’s grace.

Christians must discern the body. They must search the scriptures themselves to be sure the things they are told and sold are true. I must say, that we have become quite a lazy and powerless bunch, almost losing our godly influence in our communities. We must continually emphasize the finished work of Christ. We must seek to understand the victory Jesus has already procured. We should pray that the eyes of our understanding are open so that we may know the extravagance of the work He has done for us and the immensity of the glory He has given us.

Christians who know their place would fear no witch. They know their lives are hid with Christ in God!

 

THOUGHTS FROM THE NBA FINALS

The Golden State Warriors, with a game to spare, won its first NBA title in 40 years a couple of days ago. On the team was Andre Iguodala who has a Nigerian father and Stephen Curry, another young black American who is married with a daughter. Both were instrumental in giving the GS Warriors the title. I remember watching Andre in defence against the famous LeBron James of Cleveland Cavaliers. This earned him the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award for the finals. I also watched with delight as Steph (the MVP award winner for the season) kept making 3-pointer shots like it was just a stroll in the park. I took particular interest in these two guys because of their outspoken faith. Steph was quoted as saying “Each game is an opportunity to be on a great stage and be a witness for Christ. When I step on the floor, people should know who I represent, who I believe in.” Andre also once said, “When people see us on the court, we want them to see God’s work. We want to be a good representation of what we believe in …When you go out there, you’re not just representing your country or the NBA, you’re representing your beliefs. You want to play hard for someone who died for you”.

I remember another young man who had a band on his head that read ‘100% Jesus’ when his team won the 2014-15 UEFA champions league finals. Neymar didn’t have to do that. He might not be the most pious Christian on earth but he was acknowledging the Giver of life and making a bold statement as a witness for the Saviour of the world.

I am thrilled by the fact that these gentlemen never shied away from standing up for their faith in Jesus. These men have excelled in their careers and their spaces of influence. I am happy they have a relationship with the Creator of heaven and earth too.

It is good to know that they have made the right decision in that regard.

It is good to know that God still has His witnesses all around the world and that there is no need to feel alone like Elijah did when he thought he was the only prophet of God left in Israel (I Kings 19:10-18).

It is good to know we can serve Christ and excel in whatever field we are.

It is good to know that we can share our faith while we work hard or smart at our jobs or businesses.

It is good to know that we don’t need bigger platforms than what we already have, to be effective witnesses.

It is good to know that in the midst of fear, intimidation and terrorism we can spread the Good News.

We are living in an age where so many voices assault our senses of reasoning and the stand of faith we have chosen. We are surrounded with the mess of same-sex marriage issues, transgender ‘catastrophes’, brutal murders of Christians around the world, legislations in various countries that are anti-Christian, etc. We labour to keep a sane head above the waters of all sorts of ideologies, philosophies and opinions. So it is pleasing to see people who are exposed to the challenges of fame and wealth staying focused and speaking of their faith.

Every one of us has that great commission to be a witness for Jesus. You might not be the one who carries a megaphone on the street calling the attention of people to Jesus but you must be the one whose conduct and speech represent the attitude of the kingdom you belong to. We must be willing to stand for the faith that fills our hearts.

I know God wants us to excel in the works of our hands. He wants us to stand out in business, work, sports, arts, media, education, science and technology, politics or whatever field He has equipped us to thrive in. This brings glory to His name. This is how He fulfils His purpose. This is how His light overcomes the darkness of the world. Let’s stand up and take the challenge to be shining lights and living witnesses of His grace.

Still in His grip.

WHAT DO I DO WITH JESUS?

Mat 2:1-2  Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

Human beings generally do a good job of celebrating milestones and major events in their lives. We celebrate new jobs and do a housewarming party when we move into a new house. We have naming ceremonies for new babies, a set of funeral events when we lose a loved one and graduation ceremonies at the end of an education program. Marriages, anniversaries, birthdays and promotions all get some mention and celebrations to go along with them. And of course, celebrations vary from the most obscure to the most elaborate. We generally enjoy the celebrations and associated parties but always eventually get to find out that the real deal is not planning the parties but handling the object or cause of whatever we are celebrating. For example, a newly wedded couple gets to find out that handling the marriage is a bigger task than the wedding ceremony; the guy who has a big housewarming party gets to know that taking care of that mansion he has just built is no mean feat.

At this period we are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world. We are celebrating a major event in the course of man’s existence. Like every other event, what we do with Jesus is more important than how we celebrate His birth. Now that He has come into our lives, what happens next? Do we put a picture of Him in the corner of our room to keep Him in remembrance since we cannot see Him physically now? Or do we try to ensure that we say a prayer to Him daily and read a verse of the scriptures as often as we can? Another option is to accessorize with something that has the name Jesus on it. This is a nice idea too. There are several ways people try to stay linked to Jesus but here are some important things I believe we must do with Jesus.

Keep worshipping Him. Our Lord Jesus is thrilled that we celebrate His birthday and sing wonderful hymns about His birth and mission on earth. But His joy is that we worship Him all the days of our lives with every bit of our strength, mind, heart and soul. He wants to be the focal point in our hearts, the pivot of our lives and the centre of our joy. Let Him be involved in your decision making, let Him be the deciding factor when you have to make choices and let Him have the highest priority among all things in your heart. This is what makes our melodious singing and dancing true worship. Remember, we are urged to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, for this is our reasonable service of worship (Romans 12:1).

Obey His words. Jesus Christ left instructions for us to follow while we remain on earth. By His infiniteness and omniscience, he has everything about our past, present and future covered. And He has assured that if we can trust Him and follow Him closely, we would live the highest quality of life possible. It might be challenging sometimes but a sincere desire to follow the commandments and leadings of the Lord Jesus Christ has never been a bad idea. John the beloved admonished us in 1 John 5:3 that we keep the commands of God. And His commands are not burdensome.

Prepare for His return and tell others about Him. Jesus is going to come back again for His own. He asked if He would find faith on earth when He returns (Luke 18:8). In other words, would there be people who have looked forward to His return and prepared themselves to meet Him? This requires that we live holy lives and tell others about Jesus so that they have the opportunity to know the truth. The world is getting more evil and darker and the times are more challenging for those who trust in Jesus. But He has said He is coming back and we must hold on to this truth and tell others He is coming back again with His reward in His Hand (Rev. 22:12).

As we celebrate His birth, let’s think about what we would do with the Saviour whose Spirit lives in us. What we do determines how much we enjoy from our relationship with Jesus. He came that we may have life and have it in abundance. He is always willing to make sure this is a reality in our lives.

IN JESUS’ NAME (IJN)

I first came across the acronym IJN (in Jesus’ name) in a text message a few years ago. I remember I felt a little uncomfortable then like I still do today about our new Christian lingo. I wondered why I would have to sacrifice the name JESUS to keep the text message as short as I wanted it. I wondered if God was comfortable with this or if I was just over-reacting or being too conservative. I queried my mind and spirit on the matter, my thoughts fell on paper and I still have the same conclusion.
We live in a fast paced world in which the rate of change keeps increasing. Change is almost obsolete the minute it happens. And at this rate, you might wake up one morning and find out that life has moved on and literally left you behind. So these days, anything to help you get what needs to be done as quickly as possible is rushed at. From quick meals to shortened maturity period of plants for food, from 2 weeks MBA programs to ‘abbreviated’ church services, everything is picking up wings for speed. Everything is being shortened; even the URL for this blog is shortened to bit.ly/yFcmnG.
While all this is going on, efforts are made everywhere to remove references to God and Jesus Christ in government, business, education, etc. Political correctness these days is really all about edging Jesus out of our systems. And we should not join the world in wiping out the name of Jesus. This might appear farfetched but this is the reality. We have removed ‘Christ’ from Christmas and replaced it with an ‘X’. We don’t even say Merry Christmas or Happy Easter again, we now say Happy Holidays. Soon, we could have an abbreviated bible, one in which Jesus Christ is shortened as J. C. Our songs on the screens in our mega churches might just have a G or J to represent God or Jesus respectively because we are in the ‘microwave era’. You might think I am going too far and things will not get that bad. But I guess people who lived 200 years ago never imagined that one day we would have publicly professed gay pastors as we have today or that any Christian leader will say masturbation ain’t no sin! Well this is the reality we live with today.
If in spite of our busy schedule and the urge to do things as quickly as possible, we can still be patient with certain details, then I don’t think it is too much to write out our Saviour’s name in full whenever we have that golden opportunity.
I believe the fundamentals should remain no matter the tide of change we are surfing on or very soon, we might have a generation that would not know who Jesus Christ is because all they hear is J. C.
I believe it is a mark of respect for God to call or write His name with honour.
I believe we are acknowledging the Son before all by writing His name in full rather than in a shortened form.
I believe I am clear on whom I stand for or with, when I can patiently spell out the name Jesus when I have to.
I believe we are clear on who or what we are referring to when we write ‘in Jesus name’ and not IJN – before someone starts wondering if it is a short code or a chat slang.
Don’t think I am being religious, I am just contending earnestly for the faith delivered to the saints. This very name was the reason the early church was persecuted. In the New Testament (Acts 4:18; 5:28, 40) you read about the Sadducees forbidding the apostles from speaking or teaching in the name of Jesus. Today, they might not carry guns and knives to get you to keep that name as silent as possible; it’s the little, seemingly harmless moves that the enemy would use to get his job done. And this is the new face of persecution the church has to grapple with.

BEARERS OF GOOD NEWS

Luke 2:9-11 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

The angels must have been jostling to be selected to bring this good news to those shepherds that beautiful night. It always feels good to be the first to break a pleasant news to others. You even become more special when you are perceived as a regular bearer of good news. Everyone loves good news. Everyone wants to hear good news all the time.

We have good news for everyone that is relevant for all seasons. This season we are celebrating that special moment in eternity when the redemption plan of God for man was manifested on earth.

What is the good news?  God had kept His word. The prophesies were fulfilled. Israel’s long wait for a deliverer was over. Simeon and Anna, who were present the day the Lord Jesus was presented in the temple, could not agree any less. The man to rescue us from our slavery to sin and its consequences was born in Bethlehem. God had given peace on earth and goodwill towards men. God himself had reached down to man. It was not another effort of man to reach God but God’s ultimate and only way of saving man.  Finally, man would be reconciled to His maker. Glory be to God in the Highest.

Why is it good news to us? It is good news to us because we are privileged to partake of this miracle. The patriarchs anxiously waited for this great event. They prophesied about it but did not experience it. They knew its importance and significance and earnestly sought to be a part of it. They knew this was the coming of the true kinsman-redeemer of Israel and the world as a whole. Simeon was so happy to see the boy Jesus. Anna rejoiced to see that day. Today, we are fortunate to be able to celebrate this event too. This good news means we can be called joint heirs with Christ. It means we now have direct access to the Father through His son. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (I Timothy 2:5). What was hidden for several generations is now available for all to access.

What do we do with the good news? We should spread the good news. God says our feet are beautiful when we do this. He says we are His ambassadors and His co-workers when we tell others about Jesus. We would go because we have His backing and authority. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations… lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world (Matthew 28:19-20). Also, our response to the good news should be continuous gladness and rejoicing. Each time the devil brings an accusation or affliction, we should remember the good news. We should believe the good news and apply it to our lives.

Yes, it is good news. He might not have had a grand entry but all the forces of heaven and earth took note of His coming. He might have looked as helpless as any day-old babe will look at birth but His power and ability were never in doubt. He might have come to earth without a physical army or retinue of forces but everyone knew a King was born. We have nothing to lose by sharing the good news that has this man as its focus. We don’t have to defend the truth. The truth will speak for itself. We only have to tell the truth. Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born!

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.

Earth and eternity

The media has always provided great channels for influence of all sorts on mankind. Our lifestyle, values and general outlook to life have been and is still largely influenced by what we have read, watched and heard.
Several great movies have been made, fantastic songs produced and wonderful books written. And one cannot but appreciate the talent, energy and enormous resources involved in such projects. But we also cannot overestimate the impact of such works on the minds of millions across the globe, especially young folks. Several of these works attempt to shine a torch on hitherto dark areas of life and offer some form of explanation to life’s puzzles and mysteries. The curious mind seeking knowledge and answers is quick to explore such works for information. Those who have some information or knowledge on such issues may start querying what they had previously believed or accepted while those who have no previous knowledge use what they now have to fill in the gaps.
In recent times, there has been an increased curiosity about how and when the earth would end. Books and movies have described various scenarios of what the end of the world would look like. Some have mentioned exact dates based on scientific investigations and calculations. It is interesting to note that several have taken these stories seriously and even adjusted their lives based on these stories. I am actually worried that people would actually think that the world would definitely end at some period in 2012 like one movie depicted. I am also worried that people would believe that science or any man-made system can predict the exact end of the world. God has kept the timetable well guarded in His heart (Matt 24:36). Actually, concerns about the end of the world have always been expressed, even when Jesus was on earth. The disciples once came to meet Him privately to inquire about the signs that would indicate the end of the world. Matt 24:3
We should remember that the Almighty God has not told any man when this world would end. Of course, He has given us signs of the end of time but no human knows exactly when this world will end except Jah. He has said that His ways and thoughts are much higher than ours (Isa 55:8-9). People can only speculate and guess giving rise to various conspiracy theories and fictional stories. Several movies and books are products of these. In all these, science has no breaking news for God. Science is here to prove what God has already said and done and has no secrets to reveal to God. He is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. He is managing the earth He created and is in perfect control. So what about quakes and other earth disasters, you may ask? Yes, He knows about them all. And in fact, He has already told us about them in His word.
For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. Matt 24:7
Rather than bother about how or when the world will end, Christians should be looking to the second coming of Christ. Because where you spend eternity is more important than when this time-bound earth ends.
It should be the least of your worries how the world ends especially if you have secured your future in His hands. When I talk of your future, I mean your eternal destiny. And if you are like me, your path to eternal glory is clearly defined in scriptures.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God…Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. I Thess 4:16-17
While the world is concerned about a phase, you should be looking at the bigger picture. Busy yourself investing in your spiritual heritage and destiny. Develop godly character as you manifest the fruit of the spirit, conquer kingdoms and dominions in His name, and pray down His will on earth while experiencing heaven on earth. He says we should occupy till He comes (Luke 19:12-27) and not till the world ends. Get busy working for His kingdom and eternity.
Yes, this world as we know it would definitely come to an end one day and God’s children shall experience peace and joy eternally afterwards, worshipping at His throne. Worries, tears and heartaches would be gone. So let’s get our priorities right.