nigeria

Gates and Social Order

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Looking everywhere, one would see lawlessness and chaos all around in various forms. We seem to have this seemingly resistant strain of lawlessness infecting every fabric of our society, eating every fiber of our being. The stench from the resultant abscess is so offensive that citizens are denying their heritage, changing nationalities and pledging allegiance to other sovereignties. Every sphere of our lives is badly infected by this disease. You find its manifestation in the various arms of government, in business circles, in our civil affairs, in our religious houses and so on. It is everywhere! Because of lawlessness, several citizens do not enjoy essential amenities. Basic health care, standard education, good roads, stable power supply appear to be alien to our world. The law enforcement agencies also appear to be fueling lawlessness rather than curbing it. Anyone denying the fact that things are not right might be living in a self-created fantasy bubble.

With all sense of regard, I put the blame for this decadence and decay at the doorstep of the church. When I talk about the church, I am talking about you and I who call ourselves brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, we are the church. Let’s stop pointing the finger at others. Every one of us is culpable!

The church should see itself as the custodian of the gates of the nation it resides in. Gates control what comes in or goes out. They determine what influences are in charge or what authority dominates the territory. The church has a responsibility to the nation it is a part of. It should superintend the forces that influence the various systems that make up our society. It must have a say in the establishment of social order in the nation.

This might seem a far cry from what actually obtains today, because so many people who call themselves Christians, Christian leaders inclusive, have their hands and feet terribly stained and unable to take their place at the gates. The whole breed now appears weak and powerless. And we watch helplessly as waves and waves of disorder and lawlessness pound the nation.

We talk and talk and end our discourses by saying ‘God help us’ or ‘It shall be well’. Yes, God has helped us and will continue to help us but what have we done about the situation? I am not immediately getting on the band wagon of ‘It’s not time for prayers, it’s time for action’. We must do the two. Any spiritually discerning person knows that the spiritual controls the physical. Nothing takes place in the physical domain that has not been determined in the spiritual realm. You can talk all you want, do all you can try to do, mobilize all you can,… if it is not sanctioned in the spiritual realm, it’s gonna crumble like a pack of cards.

The scripture in 2 Chronicles 7:14 is still as relevant today as it was 3000 years ago. If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

You might say we have been praying. But what really have we been praying about? Possibly, praying self-centred prayers, praying interest-based prayers, praying for food and raiment – prayers centred around our needs and lusts. But I know what selfless, united praying for the enthronement of God’s kingdom can do. I have witnessed the power of that too. We need to return to our place of authority at the gates and pray the will of God for our land. Let’s put aside our differences – our doctrines, denominations, tribal sentiments and personal lusts and pray out disorder and lawlessness and pray in an order of peace, justice, fairness and equity over Nigeria. Cast out from our territory the demons of chaos, lawlessness and disorder. Do this in your closet, in prayer meetings, music concerts, church services and everywhere you find yourself.

I am not quite done yet! If you are really going to have effective prayers, you have to have the right standing. You can’t be an agent of disorder and pray against lawlessness. You can’t be circumventing the laws of the land and pray for order. You can’t be using your position unfairly, breaking laws, abusing civility, suppressing justice and expect a change in our situation. We must deliberately decide to think right, speak right and do right. Only then will we have the leverage to determine our destiny and redeem our land.

I urge you wherever you are, to humble yourself, turn from any wicked way, pray the blessing and government of God over Nigeria and watch Him heal the nation. I tell you, when the spiritual contract is executed, all our positive physical efforts begin to yield results. We must pray. We must be upright and stand for justice and fairness. It will then be a reality that one will chase a thousand and two will chase ten thousand.

SELAH.

Photo by Annette Schuman on Unsplash

The Real Feel

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It’s about 3pm now and the temperature in Lagos according to AccuWeather is 30°C. The temperature in Abuja is 27°C. I also noticed there is another temperature reading called the Realfeel® temperature which is 35°C and 32°C for Lagos and Abuja respectively. The Realfeel® temperature reading is what the temperature really feels like on the skin. It can be warmer or colder than the actual temperature depending on the weather conditions. The Realfeel® temperature is determined using a number of factors including the temperature, humidity, cloud cover, sun intensity and wind. A lot of people prefer to use the Realfeel® temperature because it gives a sense of how they really feel.

Relating this to our economy, there is the report on the state of the economy based on certain key performance indicators, which the government of the day can churn out every now and then but there is also the real feel of the economy which the average man or woman on the street senses and which defines his or her perception of how well or poorly the economy is doing. The government can look at its KPIs and adjudge itself to be performing. It could talk about the increasing foreign reserves, the stable Naira exchange rate, the improvement in ranking for ease of doing business in the country. The government could boast of several arrests bordering on corruption charges. It could talk about the savings made in spite of the lower oil prices, the GPD growth or the addition of more power generation capacity.

But the real feel is what the man on the street perceives. It appears to gauge his survival chances. It is the perception of the woman who is hawking by the street corner to be able to provide a meal for her babies. It is about the experiences of the businessman or woman who considers himself or herself to be a fundamental part of the micro-economy of the nation. It is about the payment or non-payment of salaries, the availability of stable power when a loved one has to undergo a surgical procedure. It is about our hospitals, schools and businesses staying open or closed. It is about being able to move around freely or sleep soundly without fear of having an unwanted intrusion in your space. It is about having the assurance that your life as a citizen of the nation is as valued as you think you deserve. It is knowing that the benefits of your sweat-laced labour will be available to you when you need it. It is our primordial understanding of the economy based on other connected indices like security, justice reforms, the corruption index, international relations, etc.

Leadership and government in general must be relational. It must be sincere. It must help define the right perception of the economy for all. It must encourage the development of the right narratives for its most important stakeholder – the vulnerable citizen of Nigeria. It must be concerned about how the thoughts that weave the fabric of the future of the country are strung together. It must offer genuine hope and be actively seen to be committed to the peace and stability of the nation.

At this time in our nation when we remember our latest transition from military rule to the democratic form of government, our reflections would naturally centre around evaluating the gains of democracy. We would think about the dividends of democracy and once again look to the promises of a better future. Like a lady being courted, the citizens of Nigeria need the assurance that the best days are not just ahead but are here in our time. Happy Democracy Day!

©Godreigns Amedari

SEARCH OUT REASONS…

Sometime ago, I made a trip with my family from Ibadan to Ile Ife, both in western Nigeria. We were going for my younger brother’s marriage introduction ceremony. We set out in two cars. In one car were my brother, his wife, my wife and myself. I sat in front with my brother who was driving. The ladies sat at the back.  In the other car were my mum and my other brothers including the one whose introduction ceremony we were going for. The car I was in was ahead of the other car which was also driven by one of my brothers. About midway into the journey, we got a call from my peeps in the other vehicle that they had hit a pothole and had a flat tyre. So they had to stop at a vulcanizer’s place to fix the tyre. We made a U-turn to find out how they were faring with the tyre repair. Shortly afterwards, we heard a rattling noise coming from the roof of the car. So my brother looked up to check what the cause of the noise was. Almost at the same moment, he looked ahead and discovered that the two vehicles in front of him had slowed down on both lanes because of a speed bump ahead. He pressed the brakes, and it went flat. He pressed and pressed in quick succession and the car wouldn’t slow down. On his left was a high pavement that ran along. Fortunately, my brother saw a little space on the right side of the road. He made a quick dart to the right and squeezed the car through that space. That action looked like something out of the movies. It was a big deliverance from what would have been a ghastly accident. We could have rammed into the rear of any of the cars ahead at a speed of about 100km/h or we could have hit the man who was standing on the road side at that moment. But we thank God for providing that way of escape for us and averting what could have been a sour chapter in a day we were to celebrate. We checked the brakes afterwards and were able to meet the rest of the family and continue on our journey.

I spent a lot of time reflecting on what happened on that trip (I guess anyone who had that experience would). One way of thinking was to say, if we hadn’t turned back to check on the rest of the family, we would not have been in that situation. We should have waited for them to fix the tyre and then proceed with the journey. But think about it this way: What if the failed brake system was a disaster waiting to happen?! What if the brake failed in an instant when there would have been no way out other than running into other cars or people or causing some major catastrophe? That could have happened. So I think God ordered our steps. He had a hand in the flat tyre. He arranged for us to turn back and made an easier way of escape out of an imminent tragedy. God ordered our deliverance. I saw a reason to give God thanks in the whole situation. Rather than have any regret, we searched out reasons to be thankful. In all things give thanks because all things work together for good for those who love God. We are usually quick to see what went wrong or what wrong steps we have taken. But it is gracious to seek out those moments God’s hands have been at work, where His mercy intervened and where we enjoyed angelic intervention. Those moments are always around us. Search for them and be grateful. God looks at a truly grateful heart and gives more reasons to that heart to be grateful. By this I mean, the more grateful we are, the more of God’s goodness we would see in our lives on a daily basis.

Selah.

DON’T WORRY – BE HAPPY

Following the announcement of the result of the Nigerian presidential elections and its acceptance by the incumbent president, Nigerians generally heaved a sigh of relief that the worst may be over. There had been lots of speculations of possible uncontrollable violence after the elections. Some people remembered a certain prediction that the country would disintegrate by 2015 and felt the election or its result would trigger this. Threats of various shades had come from the cardinal directions of the country, each with a perceived assurance of certainty. Worry levels suddenly shot up and were at an all-time high for the average Nigerian. Those who had previously heard about or experienced the devastating effects of any form of violence would genuinely have had a cause to worry. We are grateful to God for the peace he has given.

We are indeed grateful that God always has our best interest at heart. While we are awake or sleeping, he has genuine thoughts of love and peace towards us. In spite of whatever we see around us or experience, we should rest assured that God always want to give us His best. And so He urges us not to fret or be worried.

We were not made to worry. Worry is alien to our nature. It does more harm and no good to our mental beings. But in all sincerity, we still find ourselves worrying about everything. We worry about our bodies, our safety, our career, our finances, our children, our social status, our relationships or even the number of likes or retweets on our pictures or posts. Someone might ask, ‘Can we ever stop worrying?’ Well, yes, I believe we can, if we believe what God has said in His word.

One of my favourite scriptures is found in Matt 6:27. Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? (The Message). Worrying doesn’t improve our circumstances. Worrying does not bring solutions. Please, don’t mistake worrying for thinking out solutions. Creative thinking is healthy for the brain but worrying wears out the brain. It really isn’t a natural thing for us to do but it is what the devil would rather have us do.

This is what I discovered about worrying:

Worrying takes up memory space. Worry is like an unwanted app or program running in the background of our lives. It takes up valuable memory space that could be used to think about other more productive stuff. It slows us down. Imagine spending several hours of your day ‘thinking’ about a situation you have absolutely no control over when you could have spent the same time to pray about it, develop a plan for a new business idea and plan a fun way to spend the later part of the day. Mental time lost is difficult to recover.

Worrying defines wrong thinking patterns. Our actions and reactions are basically a product of our thought lives. We can establish thinking patterns and habits that define how we respond to issues, by what we spend our time thinking about. So when worrying is what we use our minds and brains to do, our thought-triggered reactions would have a tint or maybe a splash of worry on it, leading us to most likely make wrong decisions. This happens subconsciously and is very real. Let the peace of God that is beyond human comprehension rule your mind and govern your actions (Phil. 4:7).

Worrying affects our health. Worrying has a negative effect on our health. It leads to anxiety; it speeds up the aging process; it causes stress and even triggers different physical illnesses. Science says there is a tendency for our bodies to respond to worry the same way it responds to danger. This means certain hormones are released in the body and a sustained release of these hormones would eventually have a negative impact on the body. So even though God created these hormones for the good of the body, a misuse of them would negatively impact our health.

God says He would keep us in perfect peace if our mind is stayed on Him (Isaiah 26:3). Once we commit our cares to Him, trust Him to take care of them. Align your thoughts with His and think His thoughts. Our security, health, prosperity and success are His business and he would cause all things to work together for our good because we love Him.

Selah.

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

I had written this with the intention of posting it around Christmastime  but had to pause when some parts of Northern Nigeria were thrown into mourning on account of the heinous activities of some humans on fellow humans who had gone to celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus. But I believe this would still bless us.

As I drove around town last night and saw the beautifully decorated streets, I thought I felt the Christmas thingy. But somewhere at the corner of my mind was that nagging feeling of general insecurity across Nigeria.

There has been so much evil in the news these days that stories about Christmas are just able to make cameo appearances.  If we are not hearing about bomb blasts, we are hearing about protests turned violent. What about the son who kills his father for money or the young man who hacks his wife to death. I’ll spare you more details so you don’t get irritated and stop reading. In spite of the fact that some not so pleasant events are competing for more attention than our yearly celebrations, we still won’t forget Christmas. We will put up the Christmas decorations, send greeting cards, give gifts and get new clothes for the children (some adults won’t be left out of this anyway). The social networking media has made life easier. We can easily send Christmas wishes to our friends with little effort.

In this midst of all this I asked myself if we would still have heightened excitements about Christmas if we did not see the Christmas lights and decorations and if we did not hear the classic Christmas carols. Would we still smell Christmas in the air without the Santa grotto or Christmas trees? I have heard it severally that Christmas is to be celebrated every day. Which part of Christmas is referred to when this is said -the associated celebrations, the true essence of it or the total experience? I actually wouldn’t mind the total experience. I’d love to have the opportunity to say once and again several times a year that Christmas is in the air.

Among other great truths, I believe Christmas tells of the coming of light to the world. Jesus said He is the light of the world. From the scriptures, we understand that the world is full of wickedness and darkness. Darkness naturally fills the earth. The evils we see around us represent the darkness that is resident in our world. Recently, I thought and I asked, “If you want to see what darkness really looks like and you shine the light on it, what would you see? Nothing I found out. Darkness disappears when light comes. No wonder there is no comprehension of light by darkness, because they can never mix. So, what does this mean? The only way I can deal with darkness is to shine the light. Yes, shine the light. In the New Year, I am going to shine the light. As long as I keep my light under the bushel, darkness will rule. Darkness would clothe my own world like the Mephistophelian blanket it is, if I do nothing with my light. I have to be courageous and always speak the truth and speak for the truth. I must get involved in my community, shining the light and not blending in.

We would complain less about the darkness around us as we shine our lights. It is not going to be you alone; I am with you in this. Surely, we can have more Christmases in the year not just filled with Christmas lights but with the light of Christ shining through us. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Fathers, please stand up!

If any nation is going to experience real change, it has to begin with the smallest unit of the nation which is the family. The rebranding we have been talking about in Nigeria has got to start from the family. Our society’s fundamental problems are not going to be fixed by the church or the government but by families under the leadership of responsible fathers bringing up godly children.
We frequently hear great people appreciate their mums for the role they played in their upbringing but rarely hear about fathers. Typical success stories portray mothers as women who have played vital roles in the lives of the person or people involved. While awards and songs are dedicated to mothers, we only hear stories of fathers abandoning young children with struggling mothers. Now, statistics indicate that a greater proportion of youths involved in various vices are products of homes where true fatherhood is missing. I believe fatherhood is under attack from the enemy because of its significance in the home. For some, the devil has turned the graces and abilities God has given men into channels of abuse. It would appear that we have more mothers than fathers who have discovered their roles and responsibilities in child upbringing and have even adopted roles that should primarily belong to fathers. While we accept single parenting (in unavoidable situations) as a circumstance we have to live with, I strongly believe God’s original plan is that a father and a mother bring up godly seeds together. Mal 2:15. Each has specific responsibilities that are best fitted for them. The responsibilities of fatherhood are great and are best handled by a man. Men have been endowed with the graces to carry out the basic responsibilities of protection, discipline, instruction, provision and guidance. Every man’s fundamental responsibility is to bring up godly children who would likewise become great parents. Every father has a divine mandate to raise godly children. Myles Munroe says, ‘fatherhood is the highest honor God can bestow on any man’. The family is a man’s immediate sphere of influence. And fathers should make every moment spent with their children count.
It takes a miracle to change a grown man but sound counsel by a godly father in an atmosphere of discipline can change a child’s life for good. The values that make a man or woman a caring father, a loving husband, a suitable helpmeet, a principled leader or a law abiding citizen are usually developed at childhood. A father plays a vital role in cultivating these values in a child. If children are gifts from God, then no child is born to turn out bad because God does not give bad gifts. Some children might just require more attention than others. The greatest legacy you could give them consists of the things money cannot buy. While you provide education, food and clothing, ensure you help them develop godly character and the right values. Best of all, teach them to love God with all they’ve got. Never ever give up on developing the gifts we call children that God has given us.
I look forward to more success stories in which fathers play prominent roles.

PLEASE, DON’T GIVE UP ON ME

As we turn 49 and mark our anniversary with several other countries that gained independence in the same year, we worry if there is anything to celebrate. The picture is gory, the news is depressing, the future looks bleak, and there is nothing about the country that is particularly exciting. From politics to sports, from the market place to the church, it appears nothing good is coming out of naija. Every day we are affected by the realities of the enormous problems plaguing the nation. We are not sure of which or whose script our leaders are following as they discharge their responsibilities. We could go on and on. Now, all we want to do is run away or maybe wake up and realize that we were just having a bad dream. Yet the image of the country keeps following us like a badly caricatured shadow. And the truth is that the blood flowing in our veins has the name ‘Nigeria’ embedded somewhere in it. The mud thrown at Nigeria is definitely also slung at our faces too. This nation belongs to us.

If there is anything we can do, it is to continuously bring our nation before the Lord. Yes, we have been praying and I believe our prayers have worked in the past. I have seen the power of prayer concerning certain national issues. Prayer has helped sustain this seemingly divided unity we call Nigeria. Let us keep praying. Let us pray for the restoration of Nigeria. That classic scripture in the Bible, II Chronicles 7:14, is still very relevant today. If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. The word of God also says in Isaiah 14:28 that, as He as thought, so shall it come to pass; and as He has purposed, so shall it stand. God’s word is true and His good thoughts for Nigeria shall be fulfilled.

This independence anniversary is a good opportunity for all children of God to lift up their voices on behalf of the nation and pray down the mercy, justice, righteousness and prosperity of God upon Nigeria. This we should do and continue to do daily. Though it might tarry, change will definitely come. Since a man’s belly shall be satisfied by the fruit of his lips, I also believe that the citizens’ nation (Naija) shall be satisfied by the fruits of their lips (their prayers and declarations in righteousness, not curses) Proverbs 18:20. History is replete with stories of nations that have sunk to the lowest levels of failure and risen to the highest pinnacle of success and remained there. Our story can have a similar ending. I am told that the darkest hour is usually just before dawn. These might be our darkest hours with our dawn just by the corner. Let us usher it in with our sincere prayers. Keep praying for Nigeria. We shall rise again and we shall all live to witness the turn around. I seem to hear Naija say, ‘Please don’t give up on me.’