What is the Gold on the Mantelpiece of our Lives?

The Gold on the Mantelpiece of Life

As the first month of 2018 draws to a close, let us take some time out of our busy schedule to do a little reflection together. This may be one, not the most but, may be one of the most important decisions you ever made. January is the first month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and the first month to have the length of 31 days. The first day of the month is celebrated as New Year’s Day, partying and much fanfare welcomes the day. It is, on average, the coldest month of the year within most of the Northern Hemisphere (Europe etc.) and the warmest month of the year within most of the Southern Hemisphere (Australia etc.). In the Southern hemisphere, January is the seasonal equivalent of July in the Northern hemisphere and vice versa. Ancient Roman observances during this month.

Originally the Roman year had 10 named months Martius ‘March’, Aprilis ‘April’, Maius ‘May’, Junius ‘June’, Quintilis ‘July’, Sextilis ‘August’, September ‘September’, October ‘October’, November ‘November’, December ‘December’, and probably two unnamed months in the dead of winter when not much happened in agriculture. The year began with Martius ‘March’. Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome circa 700 BC, added the two months Januarius mensis ‘month of Janus’ or ‘January’ and Februarius mensis ‘month of Februa’ or ‘February’.  Pompilius also moved the beginning of the year from Marius to Januarius and changed the number of days in several months to be odd, a lucky number. After Februarius there was occasionally an additional month of Intercalaris ‘inter-calendar’. This is the origin of the leap-year day being in February. However, in 46 BC, Julius Caesar reformed the Roman calendar (hence the Julian calendar) changing the number of days in many months and removing Intercalaris.

Many ethnic groups then add meanings and symbolism to months, listen to daily horoscope readings because their future lies with the movement and interpretations of the starts. This may sound familiar but it is worth repeating, that whatever the month you were born in, ‘that life is what we make it’. Your future does not depend on the month you were born in, or your star signs, it is about the purpose for which you were born. You were placed here by God’s design not a lunar eclipse. The most fun part of our life experience and purpose on earth is having a target to aim at.

Got you? What direction did you think this was taken? Arguments or discussions about the meaning of months, and how they affect your life? No, not even close my friends. So, then, It’s not so much about months, the beginning of months or even making January, or New Year’s resolutions. As for whether we know it consciously planned it, or unconsciously drift towards it, we all aim for something in life, to have a firm foundation. Parents want their children to do better than they, and sometimes they set the foundation for their kids. We planned for and work towards a good education, that will land us a good paying job, get married to build a house to have loads of money or even loosely, just maybe to achieve anything or something special. Because, we all need to aim our lives in a meaningful direction, our relationship with Christ should be at the forefront of our goals. Yes, some of us have these more certain tangible goals, like may be seeking God first, ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well’ (Matt. 6. 33). What is the Gold on the Mantelpiece of our Lives? Putting Christ first is the first step to upgrading our spiritual status! Then winning at least one person to Jesus Christ, should be part of our life’s plan. Or for those who have the ministry call and spiritually gifted, a course for personal educational training and development. Which is professionally equipping oneself for excellence rather than below par and mediocre ministry performance.

Then again, maybe some of us have been thinking about starting a new Neighbourhood Bible study or even starting a new church. Possibly then 2018 could be the year when that we embark on that new initiative, possibly begin a new career, for some even retirement, some writing a book, singing a new song or just a commitment to living healthy. This should not be a goal for the year starting January 2018 only. I would not put it past some of our more ambitious folks to consider, even take steps to run for public office, no biblical objection and none from me. In fact, the more Christians entering in public office, it is the better and more emphatic our personal and response services would be. So what that everybody’s goals are different? It is healthy even a good and positive thing to have one or two golds. This is life achievement go0al, given pride of place on the mantelpiece. Often we see people embarked on a course of action because they want a constructive self-disciplined program to pursue.

Again for emphasis, we all need a purpose for being, something to live for, something to get out of bed, aim and shoot our life arrows at, that something that will make life a bit more interesting. Having a purpose increases our zest, our enthusiasm and passion for life and it can be infectious. We welcome the break of each day and greet each moment with joy and anticipation. Alternatively, if we just drift, having nothing to aim at, to hope for, and to work toward leaves us, the body of Christ internationally a bit flaccid, our energy sapped by life’s circumstances and we remain sometimes hopeless and depressed.



The Seven Social Sins

Many of us are used to hearing sermons on ‘spiritual sins’ focussed on us from the pulpit, but not so much on evils that lurk within the social fabric of society. Of course, the need for the message of ethical values are great in modern cultures and must be preached in and out of season and with the aim of directing us to live closer to Christ. Preachers not preaching about social ills are deserting the message of human worth and value, and unresponsiveness and disregard often do much more harm than absolute odium, a deletion of care for all. Too often, we neglect to permit ourselves to be esteemed by our families and friends our support group, the people who truly love and who add meaning, and who actually matters in our lives. More often than not, we are blinded by our own self-interest, pursuing others who are rich and wealthy, they look up to, and want to love us, the kind of people that are more interested in their bank balances, that do not even care or add value to our lives. This is actually a worthless endeavor, a fruitless chase, a waste of time pursuing a friendship with the rich, those who do not have our interest at heart. While those who truly love us, who daily demonstrate that love by being there for us, recognizing our humanity, in good times and in bad. They have to stand by and watch us making a fool of ourselves, literally pleading with the rich to be our friends! The time will come and now is when we stop pursuing those with no ethical or social values, who do not care about our human value or worth and care for those who daily demonstrate their love. It is time for us to love our fellow man, while allowing ourselves to be loved despite the mounting socials ills.

Taken from a sermon, ‘The Seven Social Sins’ preached in London, on March 20, 1925, F. L. Donaldson highlighted the following:

  • Wealth without work.
  • Pleasure without conscience.
  • Knowledge without character.
  • Commerce without morality.
  • Science without humanity.
  • Worship without sacrifice.
  • Politics without principle.

Humankind is so caught up in his own self-importance, that he forgot to care for others, human life now below that of an animal. He endeavors daily to save the planet, spending millions to save endangered species, but humanity we will not care for.  Ethnic cleansing, famine, and wars destroying sections of the world while we spend billions developing nuclear weapons, enough already in existence than can destroy the world several times over. Scientist declared that a child is not a human until it’s born, so he gave women godlike powers to terminate a pregnancy whenever she wants, so 4 ¼ million babies are aborted yearly in the name of progress. In the name of empowering women, if the child will stop her education and career, she has the right to end its life! When and in whose book, does a career becomes more important than human life? Get rich quick, get-going while the going is good, forget about social ills. Is this not a world going backward?

We find in Stoic philosophy, “What a despicable thing a human being is if he does not rise above human affairs! All the time that we are struggling with our passions, what is so wonderful about our achievement, even if we prevail? We are outdoing monsters: why should we be conceited because we are not as bad as the worst people? I cannot see why anyone who is more robust than the others in a hospital should be pleased with himself: strength is quite different from good health. Have you broken free from moral vices? Your face does not have a feigned expression, your speech is not designed to please somebody else, nor are your feelings concealed, nor do you harbor greed, which denies itself what it has taken from others, nor luxury, which squanders money shamefully only to recoup it even more shamefully, nor ambition, which will bring you honors only by dishonorable means? You have not yet achieved anything: you have broken free from many things, but not yet from yourself. The virtue to which we aspire is marvelous not because freedom from evil is in itself wonderful, but because it releases the mind, prepares it for knowledge of the celestial, and makes it worthy to enter into a partnership with god”. Socrates and the Stoics 7h – Seneca, Naturales Quaestiones Book I, praefatio 1-7

The Apostle Paul, met some of these Greek philosophers, “A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, ‘What is this babbler trying to say?’ Others remarked, ‘He seems to be advocating foreign gods.’ They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, ‘May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean”. (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas) (Acts 17: 18-21).

Epicurean philosophers originally taught that the supreme good is happiness, but not mere momentary pleasure or temporary gratification. The Epicureans, named after their founder Epicurus (341-270 B.C.), they believed the chief end of living was a pleasure. They believed in numerous gods who had no influence over the affairs of man and did not believe in the immortality of the soul. However, by the time of Paul, this philosophy disintegrated into a more sensual system of thought. The Stoic philosophers, on the other hand, taught that people should live in harmony with nature, recognize their own self-sufficiency and independence, and suppress their desires. The Stoics, founded by Zeno (c. 300 B.C.), believed that God was the world’s soul which indwelt all things, God was in all men, all men were brothers. That living in harmony with nature brought happiness. Many Stoics were men of high moral principle, and that human affairs were governed by fate. At its best, Stoicism had some admirable qualities, but like Epicureanism, by the time of Paul it to had deteriorated into a system of pride.

Though the world often confuses vanity and pride, they definitely are not the same things, as one can have pride without being conceited.  One can have pride, which is a healthy opinion of others and us. However, there is a kind of pride that can be elevated to a dangerous level it becomes vain, narcissistic when we become self-absorbed, and think negatively of others and even what we want others to think of us. John gave this advice about what is in the world, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives for ever” (1John 2: 15-17).

Each of us when we were young, we have a personal ambition of sorts, some want to be doctors, lawyers, pilots, engineers or do creative things, and among a number of disciplines to pursue. Yet we all have to fight holding on to our dreams, fight for the opportunities that are out there, hold on to that pride, that ambition that burns within you, never let go. Not many have the ambition to sit back and enjoy life in paradise without effort, to be pleased with his/her-self, without actually achieving something. However, for many, the focus is not on self but on others, for to them a successful life is wrapped up in serving others in their communities. For many recognizing human values, pursuing and fighting for social equality, being there for someone in need, helping to lift or carry a heavy load is what life is all about. Let us examine ourselves with the ‘seven social sins’ and see where we fall. How many of us in society today, that can stand and say, I am as sinful as the most errant among us when it comes to being my brothers keeper, but with God’s help I can be as good as the best among us in combating social ills?



Genuine or fake friends

The term ‘fake’ is in the news a lot these days, a term generally associated with US president Donald Trump. However, have you ever wondered if your friend is real or counterfeit? On the other hand, is it OK if I call you my friend? What qualifies us as friends? Well, let us understand what true friendship is. One definition of friend is, ‘a person who you know well and who you like a lot, but who is usually not a member of your family.’ We often hear people say, ‘S/he’s my best/oldest/closest friend – we’ve known each other since we were very young.’ Or we’ve known each other since kindergarten.’ ‘He’s a family friend/friend of the family.’ ‘This restaurant was recommended to me by a friend.’ ‘We’ve been friends for years.’ Tom and Jerry are (good) friends of ours’ or ‘we are (good) friends with Peter and John.’ ’I’ve made a lot of friends in this job.’ Alternatively, ‘He finds it difficult to make friends.’ When most of the above is the case, we accept as the norm without question. When the latter is the case, we often try to find reasons why someone is friendless. Even try to offer up good reasons why this is so. Nevertheless, the lists of friendship quotes stretches, without labouring, I think the point is obvious. In addition, what it reveals is that we use the ‘friend’ phrase very loosely. Likewise, it is obvious that there are differing levels of ‘good’ as well as ‘false’ friendship so whom do we trust? Let us engage the issue together.

Most of us at one time or another in our life journey, has encountered one or more ‘fake’ friends, but they never outnumber the ‘true’ ones. Those people who falsely claim to be something, feel, or do something they can be called fake. When our friend acts sweet but spreads rumours about us when we are absent, we can say that they are fake. They are the ones we must identify and recuse ourselves. ‘Fake’ when used as a verb, means to take an action with the intent to deceive, to misrepresent the truth, as you know it. Alternatively, these people are only our friends when s/he needs or wants something from us, or when it suits their cause. Whatever it is they want, do not have to be money or material things, maybe some news or juicy gossip about someone, friend or foe. After s/he gets what they want, s/he ignores you until he wants something else. Now hear this, the best of us fall prey to their conceited attitude, until our eyes are open to their folly, or after we are burned whichever comes first. Untie the knot, loose them!

Friendship is something we can never live without; we all need a friend in good times and in bad. Someone who sticks closer than a brother does! What does the Bible say about Friendship? How are we to choose our friends? How should friends treat one another? All of these are good questions and the Bible has some good Scriptures to study to answer them. ‘One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother’ (Prov. 18: 24). Now you understand why some seemingly unshakeable, unbreakable, friendships end in such public shame and disgrace. It is because it takes time, through let downs and heartaches to know who really are our friends. Time proves their value and worth, their longevity is a testimony to their importance. Yes, some friendships have to go through trials, much burning will take place for truth and dependence to be realised. Yes, some friends are only so by name, their actions prove anything but. Those we can do without, free ourselves from, break the shackles they have on us, as their very presence in our lives spells ruin, heartaches and trouble. So why do we keep them, when they only cause us hurt? Of course when our eyes are open and we attempt to separate from them, they become angry with us for wanting to leave, we become the problem, not them. ‘Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered… or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.’ (Prov. 22: 24-25). Therefore, we have a just cause to separate ourselves. Fake friendship can be disastrous to our state of mind, our personal wellbeing. Hear this; be careful whom you call your friend.

Friendship is viewed highly valuable in the biblical story of David and Jonathan. We understand from the biblical narrative (1Sam. 18:1), that Jonathan loved David. However, it was not until Second Samuel (1:26) that we fully understand the solemnity of this friendship. Here we read how David has lamented after Jonathan’s death, in which he said that his love for Jonathan was more wonderful than the love of a woman. Some bible watchers erroneously interpreted these passages to advocate a homosexual relationship between David and Jonathan. However, this spurious interpretation should be rejected for at least the following reasons.

Of paramount importance, we are all familiar with the three words in Greek expressing three levels of love, Agape (unconditional love), Phileo (brotherly love, friendship) and Eros (erotic love).  Hebrew actually has four words for love, but they are not always translated as love.  You have Ahav (love), Racham (tender mercies) Dodi (beloved as spousal love), and Ra’ah (brotherly love, or friendship).   It would be wrong to try to make a parallel between the Greek words for love and the Hebrew words, which creates a real problem in translation as love is at the very root and centre of Scripture. I suppose we could say the closest to Ahav is Agape, Ra’ah is like Phileo and Dodi is like Eros.   Yet this would not be accurate as Ahav is used in cases where Agape would not fit, Ra’ah, although rendered as friendship, is also rendered as Shepherd and consuming passion and is often used by David to express his love for God, so it would be very inappropriate to consider Ra’ah equivalent to Phileo in many cases.

Israel’s King Solomon uses Dodi toward his adored to express a sexual desire, but it does not carry the lustful, self-gratification of Eros. Likewise, there is a fourth word in Hebrew for love and that is Racham, which is often expressed as a romantic love or rendered as tender mercies. Though this message is not about homosexuality, we can with confidence say that the word ‘aheb’, (aw-hab’), ‘ahav, for ‘love’ used here is not the typical word used in Hebrew for sensual activity. The closest word in Hebrew for erotic ‘love’ would possibly be ‘Dodi.’ However, ‘aheb’ is used and possibly has some political and diplomatic meanings (1Sam. 16:21; 1Kings 5:1).

Additionally, David’s association of his relationship with Jonathan with that of women was possibly an allusion to his experience with King Saul’s daughter, as he was promise one of Saul’s daughters for killing Goliath. However, Saul continued to add conditions on the marriage with the essential wish to have David killed (1Sam. 18:17, 25). The friendship Jonathan showed to David was superior to anything he could have received from Saul’s daughter. Moreover, the Bible plainly and unfailingly condemns homosexual practices (Gen. 1:26-27; Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Rom. 1:18-25). Commending a homosexual love between David and Jonathan would be controverting the prohibitions found all through the Scriptures.

Therefore, the friendship between David and Jonathan was a pure covenantal relationship. We understand David and Jonathan forming an agreement from reading 1Sam. 18:1-5. In this agreement, Jonathan was to be second in command in David’s future reign, and David was to protect Jonathan’s family (1Sam 20:16-17, 42; 23:16-18).

Obviously, this indicate that the men were very good friends, and in this friendship we observe a few ‘friendship’ qualities, ‘sacrifice, loyalty, defence, and expression of emotions’ qualities that define true friendship. First in (1Sam18:4), we see how Jonathan gave David his clothes and military garb. The significance of this gift was that Jonathan recognised that David would one day be king of Israel. Rather than being envious or jealous, Jonathan submitted to God’s will and sacrificed his own right to the throne. Second, (1Sam 19:1-3, we read of Jonathan’s loyalty toward and defence of David. King Saul told his followers to kill David. Jonathan rebuked his father and recalled David’s faithfulness to him in killing Goliath.

Finally, Jonathan and David were also free to express their emotions with one another. In (1Sam 20), we see a plan invented by Jonathan to reveal his father’s tactics toward David. Jonathan was going to practice his archery. If he told his servant that the arrows he shot were to the side of the target, David was safe. If Jonathan told his servant that the arrows were beyond the target, David was to leave and not return. Jonathan told the servant that the arrows were beyond the target, meaning that David should flee. After releasing his servant, Jonathan found David and the two men cried together. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Prov. 17:17). This is an age-old unbreakable truth and evidence in the friendship of David and Jonathan, disaster did not separate them.

Rather than being evidence for a homosexual relationship in the Bible, the account of David and Jonathan is an example of true biblical friendship. True friendship, according to the Bible, involves loyalty, sacrifice, compromise, and yes, emotional attachment. That is the message we should learn from the narrative of David and Jonathan. The idea that the only person in the Bible described as ‘a man after God’s own heart’ (Acts 13:22), was a practicing homosexual (or a bisexual man) is someones faulty hermeneutics, and clearly ridiculous. An absurd idea which has no true biblical basis.

As with David and Jonathan friendship, some people came into our lives to add value, but clearly, some are only there to shame and embarrass us, to take, and to destroy our name, image and standing, which are you? Jonathan was there for David, in good times and in bad, when King Saul, Jonathan’s father attempted to kill David Jonathan did not side with his father, but shielded David. If you are never there when your friend need you, a shoulder to cry on, to help find a way, can you really call yourself a friend. If you killed him/her by your spite and lashing tongue, how you call yourself a friend? Jonathan never turns his back on David, what kind of friend turn their backs, ignore the cry for help, leave at the time that you are needed the most? Would David have died if Jonathan weren’t there? Being a friend in need and indeed? If Jonathan were not standing by David, when he was struggling, he would be in serious trouble. Likewise, if you were not standing by us when in our struggle, do not expect us to find you when we succeed. David when he eventually sat on the throne set out to fulfil the promises he made to Jonathan’s household, because of the true bond they share.

What is Jesus view on Friendship? “My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:12-15). Not only is love a command, but it is closely linked with friendship. You reveal your all to your friends. So that only someone close to you, a considered friend can truly hurt you! The true friends will not, but will lay down his life for us! Christ is a true friends example of love and faithfulness.

Human destiny, humanity’s future is never tied to those who abandoned and left us at difficult times in our lives. It is not that those who leave are bad people, like John Mark, who abandoned Paul, when things got tough on the missionary road. It means that they have already played their tune, sing their song, and act their part in your story. Remember the saying, “when one door is closed, another is open”, I say many are open!

British author, theologian and poet C. S. Lewis asked this question, ‘Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a good fire?’ Lewis went on to advise that, ‘Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.’ So, as someone once ponder about what to do if we find ourselves trapped in a hole in the ground beneath a massive rock that we cannot move, and have no hope of being rescue? His advice is we meditate on and ponder the view of how lucky we are that life-cycle of friends has been good to us up to this point in time now absent, because we hurt them. Otherwise, he said if time has not been good to us thus far, which given our existing situation appears more possible, we should reflect on how blessed we are that the friendship we lack will not be distressing us any longer. ‘Woeful waste makes woeful wants,’ was one of my mom’s favourite quotes. I since have understood that this can apply to any situation in life. If we spend our time acting unfriendly, causing ruin, destroying those souls who acted friendly towards us, when the evil days come, when the massive rock of life circumstances surrounds, pins us down, who will be there for us, who will we call on, or who will be there standing by our side?

True friendship does not need daily conversation, telephone calls, or even weekly home visits. This kind is the David and Jonathan kind, it is from the heart, and though out of site, they are not out of mind. Though near are far, you are assured and reassured of their continuing, stick-to-it-iveness, they never part. Just call, they will tell you, and I will be there, before you can say, ‘Cat on a hot tin roof.’ My Christian friends know this that the durable link of friendship is not always a stable comparison, because true friendship is not always about giving and taking in identical manner. As an alternative, friendship is rooted in a sentiment that you know accurately who will be there for you in times of trouble. “When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathise with him and comfort him” (Job 2: 11). The person who never shirks or shies away when you need them or something, no matter what the value or what time of day or night the call comes is what true friendship is all about. Jobs friends demonstrated that.

Hubert H. Humphrey, American politician and former vice president once said, ‘the greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it.’ Most of us can identify with this sentiment. At one point or another in our lives, we experience what it is to have friends. The world as it is, is filled many loveless, abandoned and forsaken souls, the suffer fear and dread, they need a friend. You, I, we all can join hands and hearts together, to help fill that void in people’s lives, the kind that governments cannot provide. So make a commitment today, make an effort to share a moment, or a smile, give friendship to somebody in need. Give true friendship, which is that symbol of love, someone will appreciate. Be a friend to Jesus, by being a true friend to a suffering depressed soul! You will find it is worth the effort.


Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;

many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection.

Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations,

in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

‘Desiderata’ (Latin: “desired things”) is a 1927 prose poem by American writer Max Ehrmann

Appreciate people for who they are!

Don’t go chasing after people after they reject you. There is a reason and a purpose for your rejection. Some reject because they took enough, already abuse and have no further use of you. You will miss many, but understand and abandon feelings of regret for your nonappearance to people who never appreciate the value of your company. The people who belong in your life will stay and add value, they may take but they will give back. They will seek you out, they will find you, and they will stay and help you smooth out the thorny issues. We all have them, those who value you will help you overcome and smooth the rugged terrain. However the lesson you must learn that will guide you safely through the remainder of your life, is you must never start seeing yourself through the eyes of those who critique and undervalue you.

Those who undervalue will undermine, develop, build on, embellish slips and point finger at our shame. There is a saying, ‘appreciate those who appreciate you’ but the Christian way is much more powerful. We appreciate others even when they do not appreciate us! W appreciate others for who they are, not as we wished them to be! We are made in the image of God and if we hate people, we hate God! It seems easier to hate, and the difficult thing in life is to love those who hate us. We should be an example of good so that we be an attraction to those who will appreciate our uniqueness and love us for who we are. You work hard at being you; it is so easy to want to be like others. Do not abandon your God design distinctive self to be like someone else. You are not a carbon copy of anyone else; you are an original being, uniquely carved out by the hand of the master designer. We are all beautiful in His eyes, yet the world tends to place much emphasis on physical attraction. However, no physical magnificence can be as lovely as a beautiful heart.

Your Friends, the real Enemies?

Have you ever wondered why people you love, and who formerly expressed love and friendship towards you, end up hating you without a cause? Do you think this is a modern phenomenon? If you turn the pages of history, it would alarm you to know it is not a new thing. Listen to King David query of God: ‘Many have become my enemies without cause; those who hate me without reason are numerous. Those who repay my good with evil lodge accusations against me, though I seek only to do what is good’ (Psa. 38: 19-20). Did you get that? Wow, those who experience your good deed, the ones you know and believe was your friends, are the ones who repay kindness with evil. Read again the part that states, they ‘lodge accusation against me, (David). Those who seek to harm Davids were not his enemies, but those who experience his goodness, his friends. His close confidant, the real enemies? So should you not keep your enemies at bay, or should you keep them closer?

Did you know that up to 90% of people who are murdered, it happened at the hands of someone close to them, someone who profess love or that they considered friend? Why is this? People have to know you, to want to kill you, it rarely ever happened at the hands of a stranger! Therefore, the old and over used cliché, ‘there’s a thin line between love and hate’ is actually true. That is the problem with overused cliché they are often true indeed.

What happened between the statement or claim, ‘I love you’, and the point at which they want to do you hurt? David’s youthful vigour has waned; he was now an old man. He reached a point of his life when he needs love and support from those he love, his relatives, and his own people. The people of Israel knew his history, his self-sacrifice, his personal contribution to making Israel a great nation. However, so do many of his friends, close neighbours though he waged war against, the nation’s enemies and protected them, now hate and cast accusations against him. Ones true friends would never raise an accusations against you. If they were real friends, they would speak to you in confidence about any issue that may be damaging to your name and image. Your friends watch your back, and would want to healp clean up yout image not damage it.

David felt let down, as we all would be, he made an appeal to God, about those he loved, those who return for his goodness for them actions that revealed hate. If you have not yet seen what David experienced, you have not yet lived. I guarantee you that the ones who hurt you the most are the ones who are supposedly close to you. The stranger will never know your innermost thoughts, your personal life stories, but your friends do. They know it because you confide in them, expecting help, prayer and steps to solve your problems. However, it is because there is no God in them, no holiness, and Jesus blood has not applied to their gossiping lips; that they become treacherous by their actions. They never tell you anything, their secret life remain secret, but you never see it. You trust them so much, you are anxious to tell what going on in your life. They know what to tell you, just enough, but not too much that they can be accused. So they are in prime position to betray your trust.

Plainly they are those kind of people who only draw close, the ‘wolves in sheep clothing’, ‘the foxes that chew at the tender vines’, they seek only to do you hurt. Yet where is the cause? Why do they hurt you? Why do they betray your trust? They profess everlasting love and friendship was fiend! They hurt you because there was no light in them from the beginning. They are the dangerous ones, they are the so-called friends, the ones who dig to get into your life, with a show of friendship, show that they care, and hurt you without a cause. They are the sons/daughters of the evil one.

You must never be afraid of them, yet you must never return hate for hate or you will end up like them on the wrong site of truth. They have their place in the judgement of condemnation. Separate from them, be not partakers in their evil schemes! Remove yourselves from their attempt of encouragement, for their counsel is evil. Nevertheless, never stop praying for them, never stop loving them, never stop showing that you are different. That you are God’s elect, bought with a price, the precious blood of Jesus. You will never return evil for the evil they do to you. Inspire of the evil they do to you, you must do good anyway.

Emphasise firm knowledge, established on objective truth.

Sometimes it takes years, for some people a lifetime to develop an identity, knowing who you are, not the ones they think you are, or think you should be. The true one, the real unique you, the one God create with a purpose, fulfilling your design objective, Gods plan for you in a hostile environment. Not that you are perfect, ‘we all have sinned’ but highly favoured, just and only forgiven sinner, saved by grace. Finding, identifying occupying your place, in the world in a culture pregnant with subjectivity however, you must be free to design and create to your own taste. Not that subjectivity is wrong at all times, far from it, subjectivity has its place, but it must be research and reason before one submits to greater forces. Subjectivity is an essential theory of philosophy, associated with awareness, activity, personhood, authenticity, and truth, which has been variously define by causes. Roughly being a focus, closely meaning people, who have conscious experiences, such as viewpoints, feelings, beliefs, and desires. Because we are originals and not a carbon copy of anyone else we must be allowed to form, develop and establish the true us, not formed by others ideas or their cynicism of us.

However, objectivity is pregnant with impartiality, which is the absence of bias/prejudice. As being objective, we are able to find fairness, equitability, even-handed, justice, open-minded, disinterest, detachment, dispassion, neutrality etc. We very often head ‘the ideals of journalistic accuracy and objectivity’ being flaunted about, but it is rarely achieved. Very few news broadcast or headlines have accuracy and objectivity. Nevertheless, this is what world reporting and what society need from its news reporting. We often heard the phrase, we will have to agree to disagree, but it also works the opposite way. It is important that we look at things objectively, and then we have a clearer picture of what we are subjecting ourselves to. Understanding who we are as a human beings, firstly a new born, that our parents loves and cherished. As we grow through childhood into teenage years and into adulthood, singleton in school. Later in society always looking for a footing, forming identity through groupings, friendships a sense of belonging. For some entering into relationships, starting a family man, and finding a suitable working pattern that conveniently blend with our family life and responsibilities.

Those experiences in the academic pursuit understand that it takes pages and pages to develop a coherent concept. Of course not pursuing an academic discipline, for those other times as for a magazine article a short vignette will be acceptable. In the start of 2017, this article will emphasise firm knowledge, established on objective truth. I will share with you a selection of thoughts I have gathered over the years addressing a wide range of issues relevant to your role as an ambassador for Christ.

Sometimes all it takes is a short reflection or a briefly explained insight to put a stone in someone’s shoe, gently prodding him or her to see things from a different perspective. Not to follow the usual hype, hysteria and half-truth peddled by the unlearned and spiritually blind. Many of Christians interactions with family and friends are laced with tales that undress, peal the skin from, separate, destroy others with whom we take a dislike or imagined a hurt that never exist. Our interactions with people must be about building up others, building walls of friendships, not building walls that keep us apart. Maturity in Christ is not about tearing down bridges that brings us together, and unites us. We should be spiritually mature enough to say stop it! Whether it is family or friend, let them see the error of their ways, be objective. When we join in the arguments that are assassinating others, we are being subjective to the forces of hysteria and disunity. It is like putting a bullet to their head, not with a gun, but from our lips. ‘But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgement. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell’ (Matt. 5: 22). Stop it, already, its 2017!

Start today, the first working day in January 2017, to love your neighbour, our sister/brother as ourselves. As only then, we will see again clearly, since we are in relationship with them and with God. This means that much of our individual and collective effort in 2017 will and should be about planting and nurturing the seed of righteousness and love rather than in harvesting the fruit of hate. As Christian ambassadors, let us be prepared to take small steps, engaging someone over time, evangelise our backyards. Offering little morsels like those in this ‘emphasis on firm knowledge, established on objective truth’ is a great way to get people thinking objectively and hopefully move them towards re-establishing a firm relationship, subjectively with Christ. Likewise helping the unsaved to making a firm commitment to follow Jesus Christ.

I hope you share it with your family, friends, work colleagues and associates.

God: I Got This, I Got Your Back!

I felt compelled to revisit this message in light of the demonstrations across American cities. In most western countries, we have democratic institutions and systems where people have the opportunities to express their opinions freely and vote for the candidate of their choice, who they wanted to lead them. Unfortunately, in many countries of the world people die for such privileges, dictators, politically unfit and misfits grab and exercise enormous power through force and intimidation. Millions of people today do not have a voice, they cannot vote for their leaders, and if they raise a voice of dissent, they are intimidated, lock up in prison, or silenced forever. Let us stand up for the democratic system where we are at least we know we are free to express opinion, and vote for who we desire. It does not means we always get what we want, but at least we have that choice!

The packages that arrive at our address today, the uncertainties life brings may not be the ones we planned, work, bought, dream or prayed for. However, it is the ones that lands at our doorsteps, it becomes the one we are stuck with. There comes a time in life when we experience defeat, even disaster, but we must admit defeat, lick our wounds and start again. Some punches are hard to accept, but accept them we must, so acknowledge them, and move on, life goes not backward but forward.

The election is history; no one can go back there and change it, no one can change the hands of time! However, we are here now, we have today, it is ours to win or lose, so grab it and run, just move with it. The best planning and preparation we can make for tomorrow is taking control of the opportunities now. We worry because we don’t know what will happen tomorrow, the future terrifies the best of us. When humanity begin to realise that nothing in life is guaranteed, only then we will be more confident about today, and end our lives much stronger than when we first began! Only the future is ours to take and that only is secure with God. We must learn from our experiences, even the bad and sad ones, lessons therein are designed to correct errors, to have a better ending.

Each morning when we open our eyes, whether we live in western democracies or under a dictatorship we are blessed. “As long as there is life there is hope.” Each moment that we are awake, we have life, which means we are blessed! We need no election results, no motivational speaker, bible bashing, jacket tale flashing, feet stamping, and not loud shouting preacher to tell us we are! We are blessed in the city, we are blessed in the field, we are blessed in our homes, and we are blessed when we travel. We are blessed because we have life, but we can have it more abundantly when we understand and accept that Jesus is Lord of our lives. The election result brought worries and pain for many in America, even the world, but let go of your worries and let God take control of today and tomorrow. We should spend more time praying for people everywhere, mostly for those in war torn areas, famine ravaged, destitute and hungry people who have no hope. Their situations, their dire circumstances dictate their desires, their hopes their dreams of a better future.

Christians have a better grasp of the future, because Christ is our Lord and He knows better than us what tomorrow holds, we should depend on Him. If the future were here it would not be the future, it would be today, we are stuck with the present, so live it! We must make the best of what we have, in the here and now, live for today, and while living with the difficulties, pray for a better tomorrow. If we live well, work with what life dished out to us, and make the best of what we call today, the future is and will be bright. Gods word reassures, relax, I got your back!

So fear not for the cloudy skies that hangs low above us, nor the gathering storm that approaches from a distance. They can harm our bodies, but never kill our spirits. They cannot come near or harm us, and should not worry us if we rely on the word of Him whose promises are sure, and who we rely on. We depend on Him for our daily sustenance, why not relax and allow Him to take control? We don’t know about tomorrow or know about what the future holds, but God is faithful to His children, our destiny is secure. Many troubling, fearful things about tomorrow, we label the future we do not understand, because we cannot see beyond today. However, God promise to stand by us, in the storm, in the battles, in the midnight hours. We know who, God holds tomorrow, and we know who, God hold our hands, He, Christ stands by me/us!

Love & Accept your Unique and Individual self

Every person was placed on earth for a purpose and that means we merits being with someone who make us happy. However happiness is not an entitlement, it is a gift of who we are as an individual in the sight of God. Though our uniqueness does not merits  or guarantee success, that is something we work for, but our individuality threatens some, they want to make you, force you to be like them. Uniqueness and individuality in the presence of fools creates tensions and uncertainty, they cannot deal with you because you resides on another level, a power level they cannot understand. However in the presence of greatness, these differences are game changers, they look on the status quo and are not happy until something gives. They understand that they are place within their context as change agents, to make a difference for the better, not worse. They bring another element of inspiration, another level of possibilities, which the blind mind and heart cannot understand and cope with. They become defensive and intolerant to you, they label you impossible, and you are a threat. In the secular environment this is shameful, a tragedy even, but in the body of Christ, this is pitiful. But why is this so blatant in churches where leaders, are meant to be inspiration to others and not oppressors?

When God wants change agents, people who will not be afraid to tackle and sort difficult situations. People who will grab others by the scruff of the neck and pull them forward drag them into the twenty first century, while chiding them for hanging onto the nineteenth century for so long. The church was not born in the nineteenth century but in first century A.D! God broth people into the church and gifted them to serve in the office He alone chose, the church then should be engaged to find these people, train and give them their marching orders. They should not create offices, and put in the wrong roles, this is about saying to God, I hear what you say, but I will do it my way. Uniqueness and individuality should not be a threat to anyone who knows and walk with God. Their spiritual eyes should guide them to see, that the gifted among them are unique and add value to the offices God chose for them. They add value to Churches, to families and friends, to communities and our world.

It is not wrong for us to want someone in our circles who will not complicate life, someone who understands our values, who will not cause us pain or grief. This is everyone’s desire; however, life is not so narrow, we do not always get the people around that are free from pain or from inflicting pain. We live in a world made up of all sorts, but it is only our friends who can hurt us. I do not accept the phrase that “sometimes, the first step to forgiveness, is the understanding the other person is an idiot”! If anyone accepts this notion that would have only extended our own misunderstanding of an individual and the situation he is in. We are not just undermining his individuality, his personality, we are disrespecting his humanity.

One, who is created in the image of God, should be appreciated and respected. One’s mental state should not be a matter for criticism and put-downs. Luke remind us of Christ advised ” Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ Jesus never looked down on others; never undermine their mental state or ability. If they reject you, they reject God, because you are a child of God with uniqueness skills and abilities. Forgive, walk away, but never stop loving them in the same vain that you are loved, and forgiven by God.

Killed any Giants Lately?

Giants, they are many but they must fall, they must die! We all see and experience life giants, faced them, struggle with them, fight with them daily, but too many of us cave in to them, they slay us instead. We lie wounded on the field of battle, because we give up the fight, and lose the battle before we even began. Don’t ever give up the struggle, fight for what you believe, for who and what you want to be in life. Of a surety when we give up, and stop believing, we stop fighting, then we will unashamedly be defeated in the race for life treasures. No matter how many times your hopes are dashed, your dreams blocked or shattered, your goals shaded, and you are knocked about, tossed around, listless, open your eyes, keep them open, stand firm and fight the enemy, even if you are punched drunk, fight. Role with the punches, knocked down many times yes. But the greatest of fighters never stay down, no matter the size of the opposition, they never fear and they don’t quit. They became great because they have someone in their corners, they mend the cuts, soothe the swelling and bruises, they tell them bob and weave, your winning. Though sometimes they know its time to throw in the towel, they allowed them to continue, sometimes unashamedly foolish. But they believe and encourage and soon, sometimes a lucky punch, they turn the fight around.

Giants issue intimidating threats, but never fear, never stay down, fight. If you messed up, pick yourself up, wash up, brush up, and start over again! Opportunities denied, fight. Plans shaded, your ethnicity, your skin,your age, becomes a problem. When they refuse you, scorn you, turn their backs on you, that should give you more gusto to fight, tell them you will do it anyway, fight. The price for the race of life never goes to the quitters, but to those who continue through the struggle to the bitter end. They persevere and win over seemingly insurmountable odds. Know and believe this my friends, you are a winner from your starting point – in the womb. The sperm that got to the egg that created you had to run a marathon, through hostile territories, and struggle through strong defences.

That person is you! Satan wants you to believe you are a looser, but God say you are a winner from the start. You are because He is! Slay those giants of fear, and fight for your life and the battle you must win. The greater the fight you face in life, the greater your victory, and the sweeter the price you will win! Learn a lesson from King David. “And David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with spear and javelin, and I come to you with the Name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel which you have taunted”. (I Sam. 17:45). You must fight but not the kind of fight Satan wants. Satan wants you to get physical, and hate your brother. But your brother/sister are not the problem, Stan is. He is the father of lies and unaware Christians, those who let down their defences, whose shield have been compromised are his weapons of war. He will use us if we let him, to become torn in our brothers side, a pain in the neck of the saints of God, he wants us disjointed and disunited. But we must be smart, develop a well devised battle plan, seasoned with peace. Don’t give him an inch or he will take a yard, fight against him, slay him with the giant weapon of Love.

Giant taunters are in the ranks of God’s army, enemies are in the Christian camp, they presume to be for the Lord’s, but they are not. They Satan’s hoards, fight against seasoned, battle hardened soldiers of God. Instead of joining forces and fight against Satan, the real enemy of God, we allow him to turn us against each other. Satan and his battalion present themselves as angels of light, but they are impostors, they represents Satan’s kingdom, not God’s. We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against rulers of darkness, spiritual powers, giants in high places. If they who fight against you God’s elect, were God’s people, they would build you up, but because they are enemies of Christ they fight you. Yet my friends, if you hate them, fight with them, you are just like them, so kill these giants of hate with love. They who resist us, reject us, deny us, block us must be shown love in the morning, and in the evening too, we forgive them seventy times seven. The sure way of defeating, slaying satanic giants is by our gestures of love and peace. You must be different from them, you represent the kingdom of peace and love, where no Satanic giant can win or concur. The battle against Satanic forces, the giants of this world is not ours it is the Lord, stand back and watch the salvation of the Lord.