In a sub-article , How Israel and the Jews have shaped history, Adrian Rogers observed that “As you study history, you learn that the indestructible Jew has left his indelible mark upon history. The Jewish people are not great in number. Of the world’s population, they are only 0.2%. That’s not two percent. That’s less than one-fourth ofone percent. Yet did you know that 22% of Nobel Prize winners have been Jews? In 2013, six of the 12 laureates were Jewish…”
Rogers argument is that although the Jews are few in number, they have made tremendous contributions to the development of the world as we know it – be it “…in medicine, health, music, and public life.”
Buttressing his point, Rogers employed rhetoric by drawing attention to some of the useful inventions by Jews:
“Have you ever taken an aspirin? Friedrich Bayer, whose company developed aspirin, was a Jew. Were you vaccinated for polio as a child? The injectable and oral polio vaccines of Salk and Sabin were so effective, the disease has been all but eradicated.
Has the dentist ever deadened your tooth before he started to drill? Alfred Einhorn, who developed Novocain, was a Jew…”
You can head over to Crosswalk.com to read the full article. But here in this post we will further examine it’s concluding paragraph:
“All history has been dramatically impacted by six Jews: Moses, Paul, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, and above them all, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
There are many things we know about these people that make them great. Time and space will fail me to delve into how all six of them dramatically impacted history.
So let us take a little peep into three of them with Biblical history: Moses, Paul and Jesus:
There many things that are remarkable about this man referred to as the meekest man on earth. As one source noted, Moses is “Universally recognised as the deliverer of his people, the Israelites, from slavery in Egypt, biblical and human history also credit him with establishing Israel’s judicial and religious systems.”
2. Apostle Paul
Paul has been described as the Apostle of Apostles and the writer of two-thirds of the New Testament Bible. As noted in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Paul is often considered to be the most important person after Jesus in the history of Christianity. His epistles (letters) have had enormous influence on Christian theology, especially on the relationship between God the Father and Jesus, and on the mystical human relationship with the divine.”
3. Jesus Christ
Indeed, Moses, Paul, Freud, Einstein and Jesus impacted the history of this world as we know it. However, Jesus Christ is the greatest of all. He is the Saviour of the world. and you know what? He is my Saviour too!
Christmas is the season we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the baby that changed the world. As we celebrate, we should not lose sight of the real essence of it, chief of which was to restore the broken relationship between God and mankind.
Remember that at the birth of Jesus, some angels proclaimed to the shepherds saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” Luke 2:14. Because of Christmas, peace was proclaimed to those who would come into a relationship with God.
So let us celebrate Christmas with a heart of peace towards God and an attitude of peace towards fellowmen. Towards that end, here are my simple suggestions on the
Three Kinds of people you should make peace with this Christmas:
1. Make peace with God
When God sent Jesus Christ to be born on earth and also gave Him up to die for the ultimate redemption of mankind, He made peace with the world. You can say the war between God and the world is now over.
On a personal level, God has made peace with you by the atonement of Jesus Christ for your sins. He is no longer at war with you over your sinful nature.
But the question now is, “Are you at peace with God?” Being at peace with God means that you have spiritual peace. It means that you have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.
If that is not your story yet, let this Christmas season be that opportunity you have been waiting for to be connected back to God. Without having spiritual peace, or simply put, without being reconciled to God, peace in other areas of your life may continue to elude you. Therefore, “Yield now and be at peace with Him; Thereby good will come to you” Job 22:1.
2. Make peace with yourself
Once you have made peace with God, the next natural experience you should have is peace within yourself. Being at peace with yourself means that you have emotional peace – inner peace.
The main reason you are not at peace with yourself is because you are not at peace with God. But if you have made peace with God, it is high time you allowed the peace of God to rule your heart.
Be at peace with yourself because God is at peace with you now. Forgive yourself of your shortcomings because God has already forgiven you.
You are not perfect – no one is. What you lack in one area of your life, you gain in another.
Just as all men do, you have some strengths and some weaknesses. But which ones do you focus more on?
Often times, you focus mostly on your weaknesses rather than on your strengths. By so doing, you fail to celebrate or properly harness your strengths to your fullest advantage.
How do I know you are not focusing on your strength?
You constantly think of what you don’t have instead of what you have.
You always bemoan what you can’t do instead of doing what you can.
You intentionally begrudge other people’s talent instead of harnessing yours.
You are regularly unhappy about the places you haven’t visited instead of celebrating the places you have visited.
You complain that you can’t ‘see’, but you forgot that you can ‘hear’.
While you are doing all that, you forget that time is not waiting for you. Opportunities are passing by that you could have harnessed to make your life a little better.
If that is you, then you have something to learn from the blind Bartimaeus in the Bible.
An account in the Gospel of Mark chapter 10 verse 46-47 has it that:
… and as [Jesus Christ] went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.
And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth…
Did you see that?
When he heard…
That’s the pivotal phrase.
This story wasn’t about Jesus Himself per se. It was the story of Bartimaeus, a beggarly blind man, who could hear, who had faith, had courage, had focus, had a voice, who proved to be unstoppable, and who got his desired miracle: restoration of sight.
As you can see, there are many good things about our man Bartimaeus. But for many years, he failed to harness his strength, dwelling on his weakness (blindness).
Consequently, he became a despised roadside beggar until this documented encounter with Jesus Christ that completely turned his life around for the better.
In the mean time, I will chip in the following counsel:
Focus on your strength. If you use it very well, the resultant gains may cover your weakness.
Focus on doing what you can do and stop being so unhappy about what is beyond your capabilities.
Use the talent you have, and don’t kill yourself over the ones you don’t have.
Bartimaeus was blind but he could hear. He didn’t have the sight to see Jesus, but he had the ear to hear that Jesus was passing his way.
With that information, he activated his faith and his voice. And He called out to Jesus, “Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” And he got his sight back.
So I will ask you, if you can’t see, can you hear? Harness the power of your hearing first. Who knows, like Bartimaeus you will have your sight back in the process.
Picture Credits: 1. Photo by novia wu on Unsplash. 2. Photo by Stephen Arnold on Unsplash.
Have you ever let opportunities pass you by because you were focusing on your weakness rather than on your strength?
As followers of Jesus Christ, let’s relate that to our attitude towards the free gift of salvation we received from Above.
Many of us would say that our salvation is what we are most grateful for in this life. And that’s a great thing!
Jesus Himself taught that our greatest joy should be that our names are written in Heaven (See Luke 10:20). So it is well in order to feel immensely grateful to God for our salvation and also allow that joyful attitude to reflect in our daily living.
But do we really live our lives daily in a way that demonstrates that we truly appreciate our salvation? Are we as joyful as we should be?
Probably not! That’s why I am writing this post, because I’m convinced some of us are falling behind expectation in that regard.
Sometimes we are immensely grateful we are saved. Some other times we don’t even seem to remember we are saved. So we go about our lives not reflecting the attitude of gratitude both before God and our fellow man or woman.
It is my believe that if we are constantly thankful to God for the free gift of salvation we received in Christ, it will positively impact on the way we respond to God and the way we treat other people.
In this post, I will highlight five ways being grateful for your salvation will impact your life positively.
5 ways you will be positively impacted if you constantly feel grateful for your salvation
1. You will find it easier to live a life of gratitude, irrespective of your estate in life.
You have the capacity for gratitude that does not depend on your external circumstances. But the question is, “Are you using it towards God and your fellow humans?”
The Bible tells us that “In all things, we should give thanks to God.” That’s a way of saying you should always maintain a heart of gratitude.
I am not saying it will be easy to do. But it is something that can be done, even when life doesn’t go the way you want it.
As someone pointed out, “It is not everything that happens that is the will of God. But it is the will of God that you should give thanks to God no matter what happens.”
2. You will live to please God rather than yourself or anyone else.
When you appreciate your salvation as something you could never achieve by your best efforts, but which God delivered to you undeservedly, it becomes imperative that you focus on pleasing the One Who got you saved in the first place.
God paid the highest price for your salvation so He deserves to get your highest love, greatest pleasure and deepest loyalty.
Before you were saved, you were living for yourself and for the devil.
Once you have been saved, you should begin to live your life to the glory of God. Always being grateful for your salvation will help you in that regard.
3. You will love other people more
When you love God with all your heart, loving other people becomes a less difficult challenge.
At salvation, you received the love of God in your heart. This love that has been shared abroad in your heart is what enables you to love other people, whether they are lovely or unlovely.
If you don’t value your salvation, you will underestimate the need to love other people with the same love God has loved you with.
4. You will not live a hopeless life
Hopelessness is a consequence of not having any expectation for a future good. But in Christ, you are guaranteed of a good future.
God has promised to bring you to an expected end. A glorious one!
Our salvation is not an end in itself. It is the restoration of our relationship with God here on earth and it points us to a more glorious future.
As a saved person you have hope in this world and in the world to come. You will not lose sight of that if you are someone that always appreciates your salvation.
Apostle Paul argues that, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” 1 Corrinthians 15:19.
Because of your salvation in Christ, you have been born into a living hope that extends beyond this world into a glorious eternity.
5. Your faith will be strengthened
Ingratitude will drain your strength! But gratitude will empower you.
The greatest thing God did for mankind is sending Jesus to die for the salvation of the world. This singular act coupled with your positive response to it by faith is what afforded you the benefit/hope of eternal salvation.
If you appreciate this on a personal level, it will strengthen your faith in God and in the belief in His willingness to answer your prayers.
Just like Apostle Paul, you will reason that , “He [God] who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32, NASB
In what other ways do you feel being grateful for your salvation in Christ will positively impact your life?
The 7 Times Forgiveness Question and the Surprising Answer
The Gospel of Matthew (18:21-22) has a record of an important conversation between Peter and Jesus which bothered on the question of forgiveness.
Peter had sought a validation from Jesus on his belief about the subject of forgiveness. But beyond Peter’s wildest expectation, Jesus taught him and the other disciples an expanded lesson of a lifetime.
Was Peter simply trying to show that he was magnanimous, or he merely wanted to validate his 7 times forgiveness theology? Either way, Jesus had him covered.
Validating your beliefs
When you seek information to validate your beliefs, one of two things can happen if you eventually find the truth:
1. If your belief about a subject is right and you come to find the truth, your belief will be validated by the truth you have discovered;
2. But if your belief is wrong, the truth you find will burst your bubble, deflate your ego. But you will be a better person if you would take dressing from it.
The second scenerio was the one faced by Peter in the conversation with Jesus concerning forgiveness:
Peter: Lord, how many times should I forgive my neighbour when they offend me? Is it seven times?
Jesus: Peter, I did not tell you seven times, but seventy times seven.
Wow! Peter was dazed by that response. He just learnt that 7 times forgiveness offered to someone is not magnanimous enough. Four hundred and ninety times was Jesus’ new standard measure.
Of course Jesus was not limiting forgiveness to only 490 times. But that was not what Peter expected to hear. He got the lesson anyway.
Some credits to Peter please?
Despite this shocking revelation from Jesus, I think we should still give Peter some credits here.
First he knew that he ought to forgive his neighbours when they offend him. But he got it wrong when he thought that a neighbor deserves to be forgiven only seven times and not more.
We can see that Peter’s focus was on himself and what he had the capacity to do, without knowing that with a relationship with Jesus Christ, he could have the capacity to forgive infinitely.
Perhaps he had reckoned that he could forgive a person only seven times and nothing more because he couldn’t imagine that one should go on and on doling out forgiveness limitlessly. As we saw, Jesus stretched the limits farther than Peter had imagined.
Another thing we should give Peter some credits for is that he willingly held out his belief about forgiveness against the light of the truth to be revealed by his Master.
I wouldn’t say Peter was testing his popularity by the question he asked. But rather, I can say he was on a quest for the truth. And it paid off because Jesus had the real truth about forgiveness to neighbour revealed to him in a way that he (Peter) never knew.
But then, this revelation of 490 times forgiveness rattled Peter’s theology, deflated his ego and settled the issue once and for all.
What is your take on the number of times we should forgive?
Recently, I heard something on an international news channel that I consider worth talking about here. An aged author and ostensibly an intellectual man who was being interviewed about a book he wrote (amongst other things) was asked:
“You are an atheist and a Christian. How is that possible?”
“I’m a cultural Christian: I’m a Christian by my culture, but not one by my belief,” he replied.
Really? An atheist and Christian in the same breadth?
Can someone be a Christian who does not believe in God?
The answer is obvious!
Unfortunately, this man in question is not the only one making this type of “cultural” mistake. There are people around the world who think that they are Christians simply because of the home or geographical location they were born into.
Those things as factors may exert some influences on who you become but they are not what will make you a Christian. And of course, being a Christian goes beyond being born into, or living in, any of the so-called christian nations.
I would like to further explore this topic in subsequent posts, but here it suffices to say that being a Christian is not about the culture you were born into or the one you live in. It is about you having a personal relationship with God through faith in His son Jesus Christ.
Unlike the man mentioned above, it is not enough to to see yourself as a cultural Christian; you should be a Christian by heart as well.
In the first place, being a Christian presupposes that you believe in God. And in fact, a Christian does not only believe in God, he or she also believes in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
It is therefore a mistaken identity to be called a Christian if you don’t believe in God and in His Son Jesus Christ.
In a previous post, we reasoned that you should not live your life by the dictates of public opinion. Frustration will be inevitable if you let your decisions in life be driven by opinions of the public rather than your life’s purpose.
It does not mean that public opinion will not favour you at times. But you should still embrace it with caution if it happens to go in your favour at any point in time.
You cannot afford to ride comfortably on the tide of public opinion for too long. You can learn that lesson from the example of Jesus Christ.
During His life and ministry on Earth, Jesus faced a lot of persecutions from both the religious leaders of His day and sometimes from members of the public. At various times, He saw Himself at the receiving end of negative criticisms.
But He had it good on some occasions too. For instance, at the celebration of Passover in Jerusalem at one time, Jesus performed many wonderful miracles. As a result, many people in that city came to believe in Him (as the Messiah). In other words, public opinion at that point in time was fully in His favour.
But how did Jesus handle the favourable public opinion?
He lingered more than necessary in Jerusalem to enjoy the favourable public opinion? No!
He commended the people for speaking good of Him? No!
He rode on the tide of the favourable public opinion to promote Himself and His ministry? No!
He began to base His ministry’s decisions on favourable public opinions? No!
He was completely carried away so much so that He miss-stepped in His missions? No!
Did He need or use the favourable public opinion to massage His ego? No!
Did he consent to the people to make Him king prematurely? No.
Jesus knew His true identity and so did not require public opinion to validate it. He was too “purpose driven” to be influenced by the vagaries of the opinions of the teeming crowd.
The Gospel of John tells us clearly how Jesus handled public opinion:
But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man. John 2:24-25.
Do you get the picture now? Even when public opinion was favourable to Him, Jesus did not entrust Himself to the people. Simply put, He did not reckon with public opinion. He remained who He was even in the face of His rising public acceptance in Jerusalem at that point in time.
As you can see, Jesus did not allow public opinion to direct His life. He remained focused. That’s a big lesson for you and I to learn from.
You should not let favourable opinions about you get into your head. If you do, you might be carried away with pride more than you can handle. And if you relish positive public opinion so much, negative public opinion (which are inevitable) will definitely hurt you.
Unlike Jesus, you do not even know people in and out so you cannot always be sure of their intentions. Besides, it does not mean that the crowd that gives you a favourable rating today will not turn against you in future.
Just like they did to Jesus, those who praise you today will be there to ‘crucify’ you tommorrow.
Jesus did not entrust Himself to the crowd, neither should you. Let your trust be in God only, because Psalms 118:8 tells us, “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humans.”
Have you ever been faced with a favourable public opinion? How did you handle it?
Jesus encountered many kinds of people on the day He was crucified. This post takes a close look at the roles played by these people from His trial to His eventual crucifixion.
1. The elders and the chief priests.
These were the religious power brokers wielding tremendous influence over the people and the government of the day. Over time, this strict sect of people became offended with Jesus, because they felt threatened by His rising popularity and the way He has been tackling them on various contentious issues.
They were losing followers to Jesus. And the more accepted Jesus became amongst the people, the less relevant it appeared that these revered religious group became. Out of sheer envy, they delivered Jesus to governor Pilate to have Him destroyed.
They conspired to have Jesus crucified and they had their way, without knowing they were fulfilling a divine purpose. That is why Apostle Paul while speaking of divine wisdom to the Corinthians quipped, “None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
Yes, the Lord of Glory was crucified over spurious charges leveled against Him by this sect of unloving religious kingpins.
2. Pontius Pilate.
He was the unwilling partner in the greatest crime of all times. But he was equally guilty as the elders and the Chief Priests who masterminded the crucifixion plan.
As the ruling governor of the land, it was in Pilate’s powers to set Jesus free, having found Him to be innocent of all the charges they brought against Him. But he did not discharge and acquit Jesus because he feared the people more than he feared God.
He yielded to the blackmail of the people that he would be adjudged not to be Emperor Ceasar’s friend if he did not have Jesus crucified (John 19:12) as they demanded.
Therefore in order to be seen as not being disloyal to Ceasar, Pilate released Barabbas, a guilty man that deserved to die and killed Jesus, an innocent man that should have been set free. What a miscarriage of justice!
3. Mrs. Pontius Pilate
Amongst the participants in the crucifixion saga, if anyone was to be adjudged not guilty of crucifying an innocent Man, Jesus, it would be this woman. She knew the charges brought against Jesus were spurious.
She reckoned that Jesus being innocent should not be killed as the people demanded. To that effect, she pleaded with her governor husband not to have Jesus crucified. But he refused to be persuaded, leaving the woman completely helpless; her plea fell on deaf ears and Jesus was sent to Golgotha to die.
This was the ultimate beneficiary of the travesty of justice that Jesus suffered. Being a condemned criminal, he was scheduled to die. But he got a second chance at life when the people demanded him to be released to them instead of Jesus.
Congratulations Barabbas! While you, a convicted criminal was discharged and set free, Jesus an innocent Man was made to face the cruelest form of the death penalty at the time – crucifixion.
5. Judas Iscariot
Everyone knows him as the mole amongst Jesus’ disciples. It was him that gave Jesus the kiss of betrayal (John 22:47-48).
Being a greedy man, the love of money took the better part of him. He sold his Master to the blood-thirsty religious leaders for only thirty pieces of silver.
He later showed some remorse for this ignominious act by returning the money he earlier collected, but it already was too late; the deed had been done. Jesus had been captured and His traducers were not ready to renegotiate the deal with Judas as requested.
In the end, Judas died before Jesus. As he could no longer live with the heavy guilt of selling out on his Lord and Master, he took his own life, thereby sealing his destiny as the confirmed son of prediction.
6. The Multitude
These people consented to have Jesus crucified in place of a notable criminal, Barabbas. Without maintaining an independent frame of mind, they became willing accomplices in the dastardly execution of the evil machinations of the enemies of Jesus.
According to Matthew’s account, the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask for Barabbas to be released to them, and destroy Jesus instead. In response, Pilate flogged Jesus and released Him to be put to death by crucifixion.
That was the final nail in the coffin, the final blow that sealed the deal. And they took responsibility for their action: “Then answered all the people, and said, His blood [be] on us, and on our children.”
7. The soldiers
These were the band of military men directly under the command of governor Pilate. Once their leader had released Jesus to them to be crucified, these soldiers began to have free reins dealing disrespectfully with Jesus.
They stripped Jesus of His own robe, put a mocking royal robe on Him, fabricated a crown of thorns on His head and began to bow their knees to Him in false worship.
Before leading Jesus to the Cross, they spat on Jesus, slapped His head and spoke to Him in derision, “hail the king of the Jews.”
These soldiers gave Jesus vinegar mixed with gall, which a source explained is “...usually given, according to a merciful custom, as an anodyne to those who were crucified, to render them insensible to pain. Our Lord, knowing this, refuses to drink it. He would take nothing to cloud his faculties or blunt the pain of dying. He chooses to suffer every element of woe in the bitter cup of agony given him by the Father.”
These soldiers crucified Jesus, “and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.”
8. Simon of Cyrene
The soldiers found Simon of Cyrene along the way and compelled him to bear Jesus’ cross to the desired destination. Depending on your perspective, you can say Simon was at the right place at the right time or at the right place at the wrong time.
At the right place at the right time because he had the opportunity to enter the illustrious pages of history as a burden bearer for Jesus. On the other hand, as a man in the right place at the wrong time, you may say the soldiers victimised him by forcing him to bear a burden he did not bargain for.
Whatever your perspective is, we will all agree that the history of the journey of Jesus to the Cross would be incomplete without a mention of this (un)willing burden bearer from North Africa.
9. The two thieves on either side of Jesus’ cross.
Then there were two thieves crucified with Jesus, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Both have been found guilty of criminal acts and were receiving the reward of their rapacious iniquities by being nailed to the cross.
Their being crucified alongside Jesus was a rare privilege, one that could have changed their eternal destiny once and for all. But instead of being remorseful for his sins, the thief on the left joined in the league of people mocking Jesus, saying “If you are the Christ, save yourself and save us.” He didn’t have faith in Jesus and he was far too short-sighted to see beyond the now.
Enter the second thief…
He was remorseful for his own sins, accepted his punishment and rebuked his other guy for reviling Jesus. Most importantly, he showed faith in Jesus by making the request that made him one of the first beneficiaries of the “salvation by grace through faith,” which the cross epitomises.
“Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom,” he said. “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” Luke 23:39-43. The second thief was saved at the last minute.
10. The passers-by
These ones had no pity on the helpless Jesus on the Cross. Instead of keeping quiet, they joined in the mocking party, reviling Jesus saying, “…Thou that destroyest the temple and buildest [it] in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.”
They also were too short-sighted to see the eternal purpose in the suffering of Jesus on the Cross. And of course, Jesus ignored them completely without responding to them and they went down in history as mere passers-by without any specific identity given to them.
11. The centurion and the guards
These were also part of the soldiers earlier mentioned. They are featuring here again because they had the opportunity to confess Jesus as the Son of God.
They had stood directly ahead on the crucifixion stage, guarding the dying men on the three crosses. As firsthand observers, they had witnessed something that gave them the correct perspective about whom Jesus is – the indisputable Son of God.
The records in the Gospels showed that as Jesus breathed His last, the earth quaked, the rocks split and the veil in the temple split too.
“Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.”
12. The Marys and the other women
These were a group of women who have been followers and supporters of the Ministry of Jesus. “Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.”
They did not abandon their Lord at the time of need. Although they stood afar off observing the crucifixion of Jesus, I would say they showed courage by sticking around despite the fear and threat to life they were exposed to at the time.
13. Joseph of Arimathea
You can call this man a secret disciple of Jesus. Nothing about his discipleship was ever reported until he showed up to request the body of Jesus from Pilate for a proper burial.
As with the prevailing custom at the time, this Joseph being a rich man, had prepared a tomb for his own burial. But as a mark of respect for Jesus, he donated his final resting place for the interment of Jesus.
According to Matthew, “when Joseph had taken the body (of Jesus), he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.
This singular act is what history remembers him for from that era till today.
This article examined the various characters that Jesus encountered during His trial and crucifixion based on the account in Matthew chapter 27. It is my believe that you have gained some lessons in one way or another by taking a closer look at them.
Share your own thoughts in the comment section below.
When you hear the name ‘Thomas’ in the Bible, what comes to your mind? If you are like most people I know, I guess your mind will immediately think of ‘the doubting Thomas,’ the incredulous member of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ.
When Thomas came to be nicknamed a doubter
Thomas came to be associated with that uncomplimentary adjective when he (understandably) doubted the seemingly impossible news that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead.
I want to be a happy father to my children and a happy husband to my wife. After all, a grumpy man would not make a good companion to anyone – family or not family. This is part of the reason I have realised that I should strive to always have my emotions under control…
It seems logical to think that unhappy parents may not be able to raise happy children. And I don’t want to be caught in that web.
Distinguished and best-selling Author, Rick Warren, in one of his devotional articles, stated that there are three levels of knowing God: recognition, acquaintance, and friendship.
To know someone deeply, you have to regularly talk to, or spend time with, him or her. Knowing God deeply is not different from that. Except you are willing to regularly fellowship with God, talk to Him as a friend and let Him talk to you too, you may never get to know Him at the deepest level possible.
Various situations could arise in your marital relationship that may want to force a communication gap between you and your spouse. But don’t allow for a breakdown in communication between you both. If communication fails, many other things will fail along.
In a thorny situation in your marriage, know that your spouse is not the thorn.
If your spouse wears an unusual outlook, you as the other half should show persistent care (by asking) to find out what the problem is.
If your spouse slows down in communicating with you, that’s not the time for you to withdraw from him/her.
Be strong for your spouse by whispering to him/her that you are there for him/her
Jesus was more than a baby. He is the God-incarnate. As the Saviour of the world, in Him lies the eternal hope of mankind. Here are some special things about Him that set Him apart from any other man in recorded history:
Jesus’ miraculous conception by a virgin.
His conception by a virgin and birth were both undeniable fulfilment of Prophecies.
He wasn’t born to earthly royalty, but angels heralded His birth.
The birth of Jesus is the proof of God’s love for the world.
Jesus was born to die.
Jesus is the only man in history with the complete tripartite cycle of birth, death andresurrection.
He is the only one giving eternal life to anyone who believes in Him.
If you don’t want to end up in the wrong destination, you should not continue on the journey in the wrong direction. The prodigal son found his back to his father, so can you! If you are an atheist, here are 16 sobering truths I wish you to know:
God exists – whether you believe it or not.
To know God, check the Bible
God loves you, I thought you should know.
God is not angry with you.
Jesus Christ is the only Way to God.
You are not the first person to doubt the existence of God.
The Bible has a word for anyone who doesn’t believe there is God…FOOL.
There have been people who turned from atheism to God and so can you.
Your lifetime is your only opportunity for you to know God.
Whatever misgivings you have about God can be handled.
God has numerous children and He has room for you too.
If you die today, where would you spend eternity?
The problem of sin cannot be solved except in Christ Jesus.
You are accountable to God, now or later.
There is a future reality called Hellfire, for everyone who rejects Jesus.
I know some of you know Me already.
But many of you are yet to know Me personally.
You must have heard about Me before.
As my Name is regularly called amongst the nations.
I can see you feel happy this special season.
And I really like that… but you deserve much more.
I can feel the special and colourful atmosphere.
Pervading across many lands around the world.
The special emphasis on love and giving this season.
The special music playing in homes and malls for the same reason.
The beautiful decorations all around are all noticed.
All is well and good and appreciable.
You say it’s about a Baby that was born by a virgin.
You are right; it happened several centuries ago.
But do you know I Am that Baby?
Much more than that… I am the Lord and Saviour.
You commemorate My birthday yearly at Christmas.
Celebrating it by all means and ways possible.
Eating the best of meals and drinking the best of wines.
Exchanging gifts amongst yourselves.
You and everyone seem to be happy.
As you spend your time and money.
Visiting people and visiting places.
And throwing parties here and there.
You do all that because of Me?… fine!
But do you know what I really I want from you?
I mean, am I not the One you are celebrating?
At Least I should get a special gift from you!
But do you know the gift I ask of you?
I don’t really want your money.
I don’t want your sacrifices either.
I don’t want whatever you have to give.
You care to know what I really want from you?
I will tell you once again and again:
I want you to know Me personally.
That’s what I really want from you.
You can begin by giving Me your life.
I have given Mine to you already.
That was why I was born, you know!
That was why I lived and died!
It’s time you rewrote your life’s story.
It breaks my heart that year in year out.
You celebrate My birthday religiously.
Without knowing Me the true Celebrant.
Yes, I am the One you celebrate His birth at Christmas.
I am the “Reason for the Season.”
In case you haven’t noticed it before.
My name (Christ) is the main part of Christmas.
Yes, I am Christ the anointed One.
I am Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Son of God.
I was born, I lived, and I died for you.
All I want is for You to know Me personally.
I knew you before you were born.
I invite you to come and know Me now.
So we can be together forever in glory.
Through this life and the one to come.
The real you is not the one that stands in front of the mirror every morning. The real you is inside of you. The word of God is the mirror that will reflect your true identity. As a Christian, your true identity is in Christ. It is only in Christ (the Word) that you can discover your true identity….
Your identity is who you are. And as a Christian, who you are is important, but who you are in Christ is far more important.
That brings me to this important question: Do you know who you are? Or better still, do you know who you are in Christ?
You should know who you are! If you don’t:
You will go through life not maximizing your full potentials;
You will suffer from identity crisis; being unsure of yourself, unsure of why you exist in life;
Your self-esteem will not be at the right level;
You will end up being unhappy or depressed, emotionally. And of course, you deserve better than that! That’s why I am writing this post.
“I know who I am.” That’s the title of the monstrously successful hit song by popular Nigerian worship gospel singer, Sinach.
There is no time I play that song that I don’t get inspired by its lyrics, which are deeply rooted in the word of God. I could never be depressed or unhappy with a song like that on my lips.
But just like many other Christians, there were times I wasn’t so sure about who I am in Christ. I would often ask myself questions such asAm I really saved? Are my sins truly forgiven?
Does God love me personally? Am I completely acceptable to God? Does He have a purpose for me? Am I Sure I am qualified for Heaven?
Looking at myself back then, those were not easy questions to resolve. But once I began to look more in the word of God than in my feelings, the pictures became clearer. As I began to see myself in the light of God’s word, my doubts began melting away.
I am not saying I’ve got everything figured out yet. But at least, I am not where I used to be; I now have a firmer grip of my real identity in Christ than before.
Having said that, I don’t deny that it is possible for a Christian to suffer an identity crisis. But you don’t have to, or why should you?
Many of the identity issues you might face as a Christian will arise if you continually focus on something different from what God says you are. Whatever you might have gone through in the past or you may still be going through presently, they should not make you confused about your true identity.
Who God says you are is your true identity. At any point in time, you ought to be able to say “I am what God says I am.” That is to say, you have to always align who you think you are with who God says you are.
How can this be achieved?
As a Christian, here are 3 three sure ways out of the problem of identity crisis:
Knowing who you are in Christ.
It is good to have a very firm grasp of who you are in the Lord. Who you are by your spiritual birth is far more important than who you are by your natural birth.
In other words, who God says you are matters more than who others, or you, define you to be.
At a crucial point in His lifetime, Jesus was cross-examined by the authorities of the day. “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” They asked him.
“I Am” was Jesus response. No mistake about it. He knew who He was and He embraced it with all His heart, even though it carried a fatal consequence – He was condemned to death! (Mark 14:61-64).
Jesus Christ never suffered an identity crisis, why should any Christian for that matter?
Embracing who you know you are in Christ with all your heart.
It is one thing to know who you are in Christ and another to completely embrace it with all your heart. Sometimes you may not feel like you are what God says you are. But it doesn’t depend on how you feel about it. It is a matter of the integrity of God Himself.
You have to apply faith and accept that you are who God says you are. Stand on it even if your senses try to tell you otherwise.
Embracing your identity in Christ is the key to guaranteeing that you will not be caught up in the quagmire of an identity crisis.
Living your life according to your revealed identity in Christ.
In Christ, you are a new creation, old things have passed away. The point has been made that who you are in Christ is your true identity. And that’s the identity you should live by.
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9.
I know you are familiar with the things spelt out in that quoted scripture above. If you embrace them with all your heart and live by them by faith; If you see yourself in the light of who God’s say you are, you will never again suffer from identity crisis as a Christian.
Let’s take a further look at who you are in Christ:
A new creation. Old things have passed away in your life. You have been reborn.
Disciple of Christ. You are not a ‘nobody’. You know and follow Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.
Light of the world. You show the way; you are a trailblazer. Your light shines forth even in darkness.
Ambassador of Christ. You are a VIP (very important personality); an approved representative of Heaven on earth, with full benefits attached.
Salt of the Earth. The world needs the flavor God has put in you.
Son of the most-high God. You are valuable. It cost God His only begotten Son to get you to become His Son too.
Royalty – You are a royalty, you became one when you got born again.
Holy and righteous – God has declared you guiltless. Your sins are completely forgiven.
The Bible didn’t leave us in doubt about who you are in Christ.
Knowing, embracing and living by the revealed identity you have in Christ are solid things that will make you not suffer the issue of identity crisis. And your life will take on a new meaning if you can get to the point where you can boldly say: I know who I am!
How does knowing who you are in Christ help you overcome any problem of identity crisis? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.
… Belief in God isn’t blindly based on acceptance of the Bible as truth, or simply because the argument makes sense, but because when we begin to truly look for him, we begin to find him everywhere. In nature, in science, in supernatural experience, and perhaps most compellingly of all in the transformed lives of the people who have already believed in him – Martin Saunders,Contributing Editor, Christian Today.
As a follower of Jesus Christ, I know that God exists. But I also know there are atheists everywhere around the world – people who do not believe in the existence of God.
Just like Jesus wants us to do, I owe it to such people in particular and to humanity in general, to tell them about God. Not just because of the earthly benefits but for the eternal significance as well.
As you well know, I can’t force anyone to believe in God. But I can at least let them know some things that may help them make up their mind in the affirmative. After all, acknowledging Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and personal Saviour remains a decision everyone has to take by him/herself.
So if you are an atheist, here are 16 sobering truths I wish you to know.
1. God exists – whether you believe it or not.
I had to say that first because it is the main thrust of this discourse. This article is of no effect if God does not exist. What is the point of life if there was no God?
Sorry to disappoint you: the fact that you do not believe in God does not diminish Him one bit. He is an all-sufficient God. Even if you change your mind and decide to believe in God today, it still does not add to His value.
But you know what? It is in your best interest both in time and in eternity to acknowledge Him. I hope you will find the impetus to continue reading after hearing that!
2. To know God, check the Bible
The Bible is the manual of life God gave to man. It is the final authority on anything there is to know about God and His creation.
If in your search for God, you have not checked the Bible, then you have been looking in the wrong direction. And if you have checked it before, you have to check it again. This time, do it in faith.
God has revealed Himself to mankind through the Bible. The Bible has the correct answer to all the questions about life and the after-life. If your disbelief in God has come from reading other books, it is now time you read the Bible with an open heart and with faith.
3. God loves you, I thought you should know.
Contrary to what you might have heard about Him, God is a loving God. As the Bible puts it, “God is love.” God loves you even if you do not acknowledge Him yet.
You don’t believe in Him, He loves you. You hate Him, He still loves you. Because of that love, He does not want you to perish in your ignorance of, or disbelief in, Him.
He would rather have you come to Him humbly in faith through His only Son Jesus Christ, whom He allowed to die in the hands of wicked people for your sin and those of mankind.
4. God is not angry with you.
Has anyone ever told you that God is angry with you? That will not be true! The fact that you don’t believe in God does not mean that He is angry with you. In fact, He loves you too much to be angry with you.
God should have been – and He has every right to be – angry with you for not believing in Him. But His Son Jesus Christ has paid the price for you once and for all. For now, you are covered by His abundant grace.
The only thing that can provoke God eventually is if you fail to acknowledge the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for you before you leave this earth. If that happens, there is nothing God can do for you again; His anger would then no longer be restrained on the other side of this life.
Anyone who fails to believe in God while alive will be eternally separated from Him after death.
5. Jesus Christ is the only Way to God.
That is an audacious claim, I know. But it is not outrageous.
It is true that there are many ways to arrive a given destination. But when it comes to going to God, Jesus Christ is the Only Way; there is no shortcut and there is no roundabout way.
There is no other way to God apart from through Jesus Christ. That fact cannot be overemphasized.
Jesus Himself declared unequivocally: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” John 14:16.
6. You are not the first person to doubt the existence of God.
I guess you know that already! There have been people before you who did not believe in God and there will still be people after you who will not believe in Him.
For instance, Marilyn Adamson confessed in her expository article Does God exist?:
I was an atheist at one time. And like many atheists, the issue of people believing in God bothered me greatly…
However, the fact that you are not alone in the disbelief in the existence of God should not give you any comfort. Being in a state where you do not believe in God is not the best place you can be.
7. The Bible has a word for anyone who doesn’t believe there is God.
You should hear that word as stated in Psalms chapter 14:1:
A fool says in his heart there is no God.
That is it. According to the Bible, anyone who says there is no God is a fool. Such persons may or may not be educated, lowly or highly placed in the society, if they do not acknowledge God, they are fools. That may sound harsh I know, but then it is the harsh truth.
So you can see that it is wisdom to acknowledge God. It is foolishness not to.
I know there are people who think they are wise so they think have no need of God. But for such people, the Bible says, “In professing to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22).
No matter how you feel about it, there is no wisdom in saying there is no God. If I say there is no God, it means I am foolish.
The only good news after this is that this kind of foolishness can be cured. The cure is to turn to God in faith through Jesus Christ.
8. There have been people who turned from atheism to God.
Sad to say, some people have died in their atheism, thereby sentencing themselves to eternal damnation. But thankfully, there have also been people who moved from atheism to faith in the true God.
Growing up in a non-Christian family with intellectually gifted but unbelieving parents, I used to think that belief in God and the supernatural had been discredited by the advance of science, and was incompatible with liberty. Religious faith seemed to me to involve the blind worship of a cosmic dictator, and the abandonment of reason in favour of ‘revelation
Similarly, in Five atheists who lost faith in atheism , Martin Saunders, a Contributing Editor for Christian Today, writes about some “former atheists who found that their belief in nothing ultimately led them nowhere.” These people were intellectuals who departed from their avowed atheism to robust faith in God. That can be your story too!
9. Your lifetime is your only opportunity for you to know God.
The nine months spent in your mother’s womb prepared you for the life on earth. Similarly, your life on earth prepares you to be birthed into eternity.
Therefore, your life on earth is your only opportunity for you to know God, personally. If you miss it, you miss out eternally.
I don’t want you to miss out. Hence, I am writing this post to you as an individual.
The point is, if you do not get to establish a personal relationship with God through his Son Jesus Christ while you are still alive, you will inevitably be faced with the stark reality of being forever separated from God. That’s not something to look forward to, I must say.
10. Whatever misgivings you have about God can be handled.
That’s a promise, trust me! God is big enough to handle any (mis)guided thought you might have about Him. But nothing can be sorted out without your cooperation.
As Saunders stated, “when we begin to truly look for [God], we begin to find him everywhere. In nature, in science, in supernatural experience, and perhaps most compellingly of all in the transformed lives of the people who have already believed in him.”
You were not born an atheist, just as I was not born a Christian. I became a believer in Jesus Christ and so can you.
At some point in your life (or is it over a period of time?), you came to believe there is no God. You have your reasons, rightly or wrongly, for the claim that there is no God. But He is such a gracious God that He would not force you to acknowledge Him.
Therefore, if you would make up your mind to seek Him in faith, you would find Him. This is a guarantee because God said through prophet Jeremiah that:
“… ye shall seek me, and find me [God], when ye shall search for me [God] with all your heart” Jeremiah 29:13
11. God has numerous children and He has room for you too.
The key is in your hands! God created everyone but not everyone is His ‘child’. I hope you didn’t find that confusing?
The children of God are those who believe in Him through Jesus Christ. You may say you do not believe in God. But it is that same God that you don’t believe in that created you.
It is true He created you but He cannot force you to become His child. Becoming his child is something you would have to do out of your own volition, without any force from me or from anyone else.
To become a child of God, you have to be given the right. As the Bible says “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to … But as many as received him, to them gave he the power to become sons of God” John 1:12
The good thing is that the right to become a child of God is yours for the asking… even right now!
12. If you die today, where would you spend eternity?
Would you not want to find an answer to that question before it becomes too late? That’s a question not only for you but for all humans. There are only two possible options – eternity with God or eternity without Him.
Fortunately, anyone who believes in God through His Son Jesus Christ has already settled that issue. For such people, there is nothing to fear; their place is in God.
You already know that the fact that you don’t believe in God does not preclude you from dying. And death is the gateway to eternity. Once you die, you have lost all the chances of ever knowing God.
Your present life is the only chance you to make the decision about where to spend eternity – with God in Heaven or with satan in hell. There is no sitting on the fence between the two choices.
Failure to choose God is already an automatic choice for hellfire. Hope that doesn’t sound too harsh?
13. The question of sin cannot be cured except in Christ.
There is no substitute to Christ at all! Even you yourself know that you are not perfect; you are not without blemish. In order words, you are a sinner who needs the forgiveness of God.
I didn’t say that to condemn you, but rather as a kind of reality check. You have to know this (in case no one ever told you before now): just like all humans, you are a sinner because you were born that way.
Sin is the nature of all men. You cannot solve the problem of sin on your own; you need help – God’s help.
The only authentic remedy for sin is in the blood Jesus Christ. All it requires is a simple faith in His sacrificial death and resurrection. It is only in believing in God through Jesus that your sin nature and its eternal consequence can be permanently dealt with.
14. You are accountable to God, now or later.
This is inescapable! You may not believe in God but you should understand that you are still answerable to Him. Whether you chose to accept Him or not you will still be accountable to Him for your actions.
One day, you will stand before Him to explain how you lived your life here on Earth and what you did with the offer of grace by His son Jesus Christ. I thought you should know that too.
15. There is a future reality called Hellfire.
Many people don’t like to hear that word ‘hellfire’. But I care about you too much not to warn you about it!
It is the final destination reserved for everyone who rejects the salvation that Christ offers. The place was originally meant for satan and his angels. But sadly, anyone that rejects God has sided with satan and so will ultimately end up where satan himself will be confined to too, forever.
You don’t have to go there if you decide to accept Jesus Christ now that you are still alive, otherwise, hellfire will be an inescapable reality. This is not a threat; it is the truth I just tried to share in love.
16. Very far from God is not too far yet.
You might think that you have gone a long way in the journey of your (wrong) belief that God doesn’t exist. But I would say you are yet to reach the point of no return. God is ready to accept you as his son/daughter if you give Him the chance now.
Once you realise that you are on the wrong part, the honourable thing to do is to retrace your steps. Anyone who fails to acknowledge God is already on the wrong path.
If you don’t want to end up in the wrong destination, you should not continue on the journey in the wrong direction. The prodigal son found his back to his father, so can you!
Forget about the wrong things you might have been told about God. Dismantle your previous mindset and seek God yourself with all your heart and with faith.Give Jesus an invitation into your heart and I can assure you He will honour it.
Would you acknowledge God through His son, Jesus Christ now?
P.S: To you that believe in God through his Son Jesus Christ, if you have any sobering thing you would want an atheist to know that doesn’t fall into any of the ones listed above, do me a favour by commenting. You may be the voice that someone may hear to turn to God. Those that have contrary opinions are also welcome to comment.
You are living in a world where it is not so cute being a Christian any more. As a Christian living out your faith, you will often have to face hostilities – whether subtle or pronounced – from some people you come in contact with in your daily life.
There seems to be people everywhere who oppose you simply because you chose to live out your life for Christ. The opposition could come from unsaved family members, your neighbours, your colleagues at work and even from people you meet on the street or in shopping centres.
But why is it like that? The answer is not so far-fetched: people love darkness more than light.
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
John 3:19-21 KJV
It is Saint Valentine’s Day once again. Suddenly our love for one another is awakened again.
But beyond the usual focus on couples’ love, friendship love and family love that pervades the air in times like this, how about talking about the love of God for us too?
The love of God is the greatest love there is. It is the love for all seasons.
Those who neglect the love of God will never ever be able to truly love. It is God who gives us the capacity to love.
God has put His love in our hearts.
And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:5.
Valentine’s day should not make you go searching for love in the wrong places. Neither should you go doing things that make it look like you are desperate for love.
God’s love is already given; and God’s love is for you. It is reliable and available every time.
Here are 6 Unique Reasons You Should fully embrace the Love of God
You are already infinitely loved by God.
Even if no one else loves you, be aware that God loves you beyond measure. He loved you before you were born, He loves you till now and will continue to love you for the rest of your life.
God proved that His love for you has not limit when He gave His son to die for you.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 NIV
God’s love for you is unconditional.
If God was looking to love only those that measured up to His standards, then He would have no one to love, because none of us would qualify.
God loves you because God is love. His love for you does not depend on what you did or what you didn’t do. He loves you irrespective of your individual performance – whether you measure up or not.
Does that sound too good to be true? But it is the gospel truth!
God’s love is all inclusive.
Whether you are a Christian or not, whether you believe in God or not, whether you are black or white, male or female, whether you are homosexual or heterosexual, God loves you.
Whatever you are and wherever you are in the world, God loves you. There is no one in the whole wide world that God doesn’t love.
God loves you the way you are. But He will never leave you the way you are. His love is a life-transforming love – His love will change you for the better.
Nothing can separate you from the love of God.
God will never walk away from you. He will never break your heart if you embrace His love. And no circumstance is strong enough to separate you from the love of God.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Romans 8:35 NIV
God is the most faithful lover there is. He sticks with you in good and in bad times, every time.
You can experience God’s great love which He offers to you freely.
God’s love has been bestowed on all mankind; It is already given to all. All you have to do is to receive it. You receive it through simple faith in Jesus Christ.
Receiving the love of God into your heart will be the greatest experience of your life. It will transform you in many ways.
If you accept the love of God into your life and live by it, it will preserve your heart on earth and prepare it for eternity. This is a bargain that is available only in Jesus Christ. You cannot get it anywhere else.
Your heart will never be satisfied until it embraces the love of God. Valentine’s Day love will come and go but the love of God remains. God’s love is love for all seasons. Embrace it now.
Sometimes you feel your back on the floor even when you would rather be up there in the sky. “Life is not fair,” so goes the common saying.
Sometimes you reckon it is your fault; some other times it is not. But this is not about apportioning blames as much as it is about doing the right thing.
But, “What should you do when you find yourself on your lowest ebb?”
The choice is yours: either remain on the floor and be trampled upon to death or you do whatever is necessary to get back on your feet. It might not be easy but it can be done.
“It is okay to fall, but only when you don’t stay down”. That was a line I borrowed from a cartoon movie I happen to watch on Disney Junior with my three years old son. I think the wisdom in it is clear. It is not falling that is bad, but falling without getting up.
When you do fall (we all do sometimes), don’t stay down. Get up and pick up your life again. You can’t go anywhere lying down.
This was a lesson learnt in a hard way by a man driven by his youthful exuberance to the brink of oblivion. Despite his grievous mistake early in life, he rose back on his feet. His human dignity was restored when he took the hard decision to go back home.
Welcome to the world of Kito.
Kito was a tall, handsome and promising young man. He was every lady’s dream man. Every lady wanted to have him and every young man wished they were him.
Kito was born into a wealthy family. His father was one of the richest and kindest men around.
Unlike some other young men of his age, Kito had everything going well for him. He was born into a wonderful family, was always well fed, had the best apparels to wear, owned the coolest ride in town and had a retinue of servants at his beck and call.
However, Kito felt he needed something more from life: freedom – absolute freedom from parental control and freedom to explore the worlds afar off.
Kito woke up one day and made an uncommon request to his father.
“Daddy, please give me half of your life savings. I am entitled to it as one of your only two sons.”
Lord Yom was dazed over his son’s unusual request. He stood speechless momentarily, pondering and gazing endlessly into the cool morning sky.
“I can’t believe my ears. What has come over this boy?” Yom managed to mutter under his breath.
That kind of request had never been heard of in the history of the people of his culture and beyond. No good child ever demanded the sharing of the estate of a father who had not yet passed on.
Irrespective of the negative perception of his request, Kito had made up his mind. There was no going back on the idea of heeding the alluring invincible call from the outside world.
Kito, who had relatively been a good boy all along, was about to rewrite history – in a negative way.
As one poet puts it, Kito was:
A chosen son! A precious child, free and pure!
Parents watched over him! Protected, and secured.
He grew into a man. Was seduced by Satan’s charms.
Christ’s commandments forgotten. The devil, inflicted harm.
Kito’s loving father was saddened by his son’s unpalatable decision to leave the home. Reluctantly, he obliged the young man with the half of his estate as he had requested.
Having received what he asked for from his daddy, Kito ventured out into the far country with prepaid debit cards fully loaded with enough cash to do all kinds of financial transactions and support a frivolous lifestyle.
“At last, I am free to live my life freely the way I want it,” Kito assured himself. But he was so shortsighted he couldn’t see very far into the future.
With the confidence of a man with a huge balance in his bank account, Kito travelled far and wide to the most exotic places in the world.
He lavished his portion of his father’s hard earned money like there was no tomorrow. He began to throw wild parties, with plenty beautiful ladies in attendance.
Multiple fair weather friends found hiding places in Kito’s nest, exploring the advantage to the fullest. To them, life with Kito was a life filled with enjoyment.
With enough cash flowing out from Kito’s deep pockets there were no dull moments; everything was well taken care of. Drinks, food, women were freely enjoyed at Kito’s expense.
Kito did not invest any portion of the huge wealth he extracted from his father; neither did he engage in any productive venture to earn additional income. He spent all he had until there was nothing more to spend.
Then came the harshest economic down-turn in town. Kito became confronted with an awful reality: when you keep spending everything you have without investing any part of it or earning additional income to it, one day you will have nothing left to spend.
This simple economics proved a hard thing for Kito to understand until it was too late. He had spent all his resources before he knew it; he checked his pocket and found no cash left to spend.
When he tried, as usual, to get some currency from a nearby ATM, the machine vomited the card with an alert message indicating “insufficient fund.” His heart became broken.
“What is happening to me?” Kito asked himself, so far away from home.
He wiped his eyes to be sure he wasn’t dreaming. But then the harsh reality had begun to dawn on him: He has fallen to his lowest point.
Life was no longer the same with Kito. No more money to spend. Nothing to call his own. No friend to help him out.
Without cash, the ladies found no reason to keep him warm anymore. His friends had deserted him. Kito was left alone to bear the brunt of his indiscretions.
Worst of all, he could no longer afford to pay his rent. Consequently, his landlord threw him out into the streets where the elements took turns in teaching him some hard lessons he would never forget.
Things moved from bad to worse for Kito until he had no more food to eat. He began to associate with some pig farmers with the hope that he could at least be given some pigs’ food to eat. But he got nothing from the make-shift employers while the unpalatable economic realities in the land lasted.
For several nights at a stretch, Kito went to sleep on an empty stomach. As the hunger pangs continued to buffet his stomach and with no one around to call a friend anymore, Kito came to his senses. He realised that even the servants in his father’s house had a better economy than the one he found himself in.
“Why don’t I go back to my father?” he soliloquised.
It was a hard decision which he had to take because he knew he had thoroughly messed up his life. He wasn’t sure his father would receive him back. “But it was worth it to try”, he finally reasoned.
Kito decided it was time he made a radical change. With the decision to return to his father, a new beginning was ushered in for Kito:
With a remorseful heart, Kito took a decision to return to his father;
He acknowledged he had sinned not only against his father, but against God too;
To his pleasant surprise, his father accepted him back, forgave him of the past misconducts;
His father even threw a talk-of-the-town welcome home party for him;
His relationship with the father was fully restored as if he never offended his father.
Kito reached his lowest point in life, but he didn’t remain there. He returned to his father remorsefully and was met with abundant grace and unconditional love.
Just like Kito, all of us have gone astray like sheep without a shepherd at one point or another. Some of us have fallen from grace to grass. It is now time to go back home, where love and grace await us.
When you reach your lowest point and you don’t know what to do, return to the Father – God. He will help you sort out things. There is enough grace in God to accommodate your inadequacies.
My dear friend, you were created to be in a relationship with God. May be right now you feel like all is not well that relationship with Him. There is still hope for you because God longs to have you back.
This is a call to make a new beginning with God. His love and mercy are enough to accommodate all your mistakes and indiscretions.
Your lowest point should not be your ending point. No matter how far away you think you have gone from God, you have not reached the point of no return yet. Like Kito, take your chance and return to your Father.
God is gently calling out to you, “Come back to me, I am here for you.” Will you heed the call?
This article was inspired by the “Parable of the Prodigal Son” as told by Jesus Christ in Luke 15:11-32.
We are now in the third post in the special series highlighting an online discussion I had with an atheist. In the last post, we saw the said atheist claim that he was a ‘devoted Christian’ for several years before he switched to atheism.
In response to that, I sought to know if he ever had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. His answer to that question together with my own comment forms the basis of this post.
The Atheist, TAB
It wouldn’t matter if I told you that I had a “personal relationship with Christ” because you would just come back with I wasn’t doing something right and missed it.
The long and short of it is, there is no god. There is no Jesus. Modern religion is just the Zeus stories evolved into some place where we cannot go to prove whether the gods are there or not.
I don’t believe in anything of this sort because it cannot be proven. To quote Hitchens, what can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.”
It’s all rubbish. I chose to reject the god worldview and live simply as my own man with the world around me as it is.
Good sermon though. You got it down. It’s a shame that it misleads so many people away from a life of curiosity and learning to one that is simply satisfied with not knowing and looking forward to a world for which there’s no proof or evidence for.
I read your comments again TAB. I am glad that you also took some time to read mine.
I am convinced you got the message already. So there wouldn’t be much use repeating myself. But allow me to say that Zeus compares in no way with our Lord Jesus Christ, who died and resurrected. Did you ever hear that any god claimed to have died and resurrected?
Dear TAB, God is real and so is Jesus Christ His son. The proof is in me and in anyone that believes. If you seek Him with an open mind and with faith, you will find Him.
When it comes to the possibility of God’s existence, the Bible says that there are people who have seen sufficient evidence, but they have suppressed the truth about God.1 On the other hand, for those who want to know God if he is there, he says, “You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you.
I would like to hear your thoughts.
Still ahead: When You Encounter An Atheist For The First Time Part 4
I have never met an atheist face to face before. But I was fortunate to encounter one who recently visited this blog and was kind enough to leave a comment.
I had just published on my blog a post entitled “To Those Who Say There Is No God.” In the post, we construed an atheist as one who believes that there is no God. The following points were also covered in the post:
I am a Christian and so I believe there is God;
There are enough pieces of evidence within and around us to prove that God exists. And so I wondered how some people find it so easy to claim that God does not exist;
That according to the Bible, anyone who says there is no God is not wise;
That Jesus Christ Himself told us during His earthly walk that He is the ONLY WAY to God.
Following that post was a protracted online discussion with an atheist blogger who engaged me over his claim that there is no God. The full content of the online exchange between both of us has now been packaged into a five-part series to be posted on this blog, beginning with this one. (Note that instead of his real name, I will simply refer to the said atheist blogger as TAB.
The Atheist, TAB
I grew up “spiritual” with no religious training other than the random christianity events for holidays. As an adult, I became a Christian, then got into messianic christianity. Then I rejected christianity and became a Jew. Then I rejected that too. I can’t say with 100% certainty that there is no god, but I’m about as certain as saying there probably aren’t unicorns either.
Ultimately, it was my incessant needs to have questions answered. Religion couldn’t answer them. I found the natural world to provide a better source of understanding the world than a sky man watching me.
TAB, thanks for stopping by and for commenting. As you found out, engaging in the so-called Christian holiday events doesn’t make one Christian.
To be a Christian is to ‘know’ God. To know God, one has to begin with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, which is based on faith.
It is not religion or religious training that can save anybody, but faith in Christ. Anyone who talks about being a Christian without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is involved in mere Religion, not Christianity.
It is good that you have not come to that point of categorically saying there is no God. I hope I understood you well there? If yes, then I take that to mean that you still have an open mind about this ‘God exist or not’ stuff.
When it comes to ‘searching’ for Him, God speaking through prophet Jeremiah said, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13). This shows that anyone who seeks God with all his heart will find Him. You can say it is guaranteed!
I am not talking about religion in the common sense of it because religion is not what makes the difference. The difference comes from beginning a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
In my own case, I found that knowing God through Jesus Christ has helped me [to get] answers for the questions that most troubled my heart. So if you don’t mind, I would gladly recommend that you establish a PERSONAL relationship with Jesus Christ. Only then will some things begin to add up for you.
You said the natural world have helped your understanding [more] than the Man in the sky. First, we believe that God put the natural world in place too. In fact, the Bible has it that “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1). Although some people do not agree, nature itself speaks eloquently of the existence of God.
Simply put, the natural world was created by God. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20.
Secondly, my own concept of God includes the fact that He is inside of me through the Holy Spirit, not some unimaginable being out there in the sky as you put it. I totally understand if the last statement didn’t make any sense to you.
In conclusion, let me add that what God offers us is a close personal relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, not religion. This is what true Christianity is all about.I once heard a preacher explain it like this:
Religion is man[kind] attempting to reach God, whereas Christianity is God reaching out to man[kind].
Understanding this simple analogy will make a whole lot of difference in anyone’s life.
First and foremost, let me be frank with you. As the title clearly portrays, this article is not about me. But I had to begin with a short narrative of a personal history to be able to put things in the best perspective. Kindly indulge me as you read on.
My mother, Victoria Ofunim Uyanwanne Bakwunye (nee Okwuedei) went home recently to be with the Lord at a very ripe age estimated at 90 years. Needless to say, it was our greatest honour and privilege as her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to gather from far and wide in June 2015 in our home state of Delta, Nigeria, to give her a very befitting burial. Before her death on April 18, 2015, she had been all my siblings and I had since our father passed on twenty one years ago at an equally ripe age.
Despite her being advanced in age, I am glad that she didn’t die until her wish came through.
As at the time our father, Uyanwanne Bakwunye, passed away in the morning of June 13, 1994, I had hardly fully understood the meaning of death because I was probably too naive – an innocent teenager I was – to have fully comprehended the full import of death as it were. It was shortly later in life after his death that I came to the full realisation that I would never see my dad again in this life. Poor me!
I missed my dad (especially his love and friendship) since his passing on. But I am not complaining; all has been well with me and I have many reasons to be very grateful to God for everything. Thanks to my recently departed mum and my older siblings who ensured that I was well taken care of from then on.
I was the baby of the house. My parents gave birth to me when they were already advanced in age. This realisation often reminds me of something similar from the story of Joseph in the Bible. It was recorded of him in the book of Genesis (37:3) that “Joseph was a son born to [Jacob] in his old age.” I guess I could easily identify with that depiction! (Incidentally, for many reasons other than this, Joseph has become my favourite Bible character).
As a child, I wasn’t so sure of the number of years between my parents’ ages but one thing was very clear to me then: my dad was much older than my mum. I grew up knowing both of them as “Baba” and “Mama”. In those days in the Nigerian environment (a small town known as Owerre Olubor in the present Delta State) where I was born, (and I believe in many other parts of the world), that was how children called their parents – especially if they were advanced in age as mine were.
We didn’t live in any remarkable luxury, but we were happy and contented
Being the fifth and the last child of my parents, I would say things were relatively easier for me than it was for my older siblings. While growing up, I was never under any kind of pressure. I was much loved by my parents and my siblings and I knew it. They protected me and shielded me from any ‘bad weather’.
They met my needs to the best of their abilities. They shouldered most my responsibilities, leaving me with lots of time to play and to read my books. (To be sincere, I played more that I read then. Smiles! Let’s leave that topic for another day!)
Suffice to say, to a very large extent, I could aver that I was the object of the love of my parents as well as those of my siblings who were much older than I was. We didn’t live in any remarkable luxury, but we were happy and contented. I couldn’t have asked for a better family than mine, as I was convinced that the best family to be born into was this one I was born into.
I hardly wanted people to know I was the last child of my parents. But somehow, some people were always able to figure that out.
My family members had some pet names for me. For instance, my mother called me “Ugochukwu” (meaning God’s honour), while my eldest sister Caroline Onumuzor fondly called me ‘Lastborn.” That’s what she and some other people from my home town still call me till date!
To be honest, I didn’t mind them calling me “Lastborn” anywhere, provided no ‘outsider’ was around to hear them call me that. Smiles! To me the reason was simple: most people thought that all “lastborns” were spoilt brats. And that’s not a compliment! So as much as possible, I hardly wanted people to know I was the last child of my parents. But somehow, some people were always able to figure that out.
Back then, most people knew me as “Okem” for short (which simply means “my bequest” or “my gift”; the name in its fullest form being “Okechukwuyem”, meaning “God’s bequest/gift to me”). I later became known as “Victor” before the age of six years when my mum took me for infant baptism in her church, St. Barnabas Anglican Owerre Olubor, Delta State. She remained a member of this church until her glorious exit from the earth earlier this year.
Thanks to mama, she was the light we saw that pointed us the way to Christ!
About sixteen years after I underwent the said infant baptism, at which time I had become an undergraduate, I had to undergo what in Pentecostal cycles is referred to as “baptism by immersion” ; that was after I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and personal Saviour. This didn’t require a change of name, but a change of heart. Thanks to mama, she was the light we saw that pointed us the way to Christ!
Now fast forward to the present year, 2015. Baba and mama’s lastborn has become a man. I am now a full grown adult, married to a beautiful lady from heaven and blessed with two wonderful boys (Best and Newman) as children.
Needless to say, I have not only increased in stature, I have also increased in wisdom in all ramifications. So when in the morning of Saturday April 18, 2015 I was informed via a telephone conversation with my eldest sister, Onumuzor, that my mum had “just passed on to be with the Lord”, I was already well abreast with the real meaning of death, the death of an aged parent.
To be honest, I had always been scared of losing my mum.
I heaved a deep sigh…. Mama is gone? Instantly, emotions welled up like a flowing river from within me and my eyes were filled with tears as I managed to end the telephone call. I found myself sobbing my eyes wet, with a nagging thought in my heart like “the day I feared most had finally come: mama was no more.”
To be honest, I had always been scared of losing my mum. I mean I knew she would die someday, but I didn’t expect it would be that very day. I also knew mama was well advanced in age, yet I had the secret wish that she would stay on earth a bit longer. After all, despite her old age, she was still relatively strong in her body and she always had the love and care she needed from her children and grandchildren. Her health had also remained relatively stable until she suddenly had a relapse two weeks before her demise.
Mama came, she saw and she conquered! That’s the feeling all of us her children share.
There I was standing in my sitting room on that fateful Saturday morning when the news of her death filtered into my ear drums. At first, I had tried not to cry aloud but I couldn’t. I then walked from the sitting room towards the kitchen to tell my wife, Jennifer, about the sad news I just received. I sobbed for a while in her warm embrace as she tried to console me. I then regained my composure, but not fast enough as not to allow my first son notice that everything didn’t seem well with his daddy.
“Mummy, why is daddy crying,” he asked, “did he fall down?”
“No Best, he didn’t fall down. Don’t worry, he will be fine,” my wife tried to explain to the boy.
I wouldn’t blame him; he had never seen me cry since he was born three years ago. Besides, he is only a child and would not even understand the full meaning of death. How would we have explained to him that his paternal grandmother was no more? The last time mama saw him, she was very fond of him; they bonded well together.
I was still a bachelor when mama told me she would be ready to go ‘home’ only when I had given her a grandchild.
I remember then, Mama heart’s was really glad that she had seen a grandson from her last born child – Me! Some years back, I was still a bachelor when mama told me she would be ready to go ‘home’ only when I had given her a grandchild. Over the years that followed, I never forgot those words!
Despite her being advanced in age, I am glad that she didn’t die until her wish came through. In fact, I would say she had more than her wish because she had two grandchildren through my wife and I – in addition to several others from my older siblings and their respective spouses. In all respect, she died a happy woman, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Fulfilled!
I wept on hearing the news of mum’s passing. But moments later that same day, the negative emotions I felt about her passing began to wane and positive stimulations about her life and times began to well up from my spirit.
Mama came, she saw and she conquered! That’s the feeling all of us her children share. I for one, her exit made me cry. But at the same time, I felt relieved when I began to put things in the proper perspective. I am convinced that she had gone to be with the Lord, because till her death, she maintained an unwavering faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, as her Lord and Saviour. It was this realisation that gave my siblings and I the greatest consolation of heart we needed.
I know I would not be able to describe all things my mother represented, but I know I wrote from my heart.
As I very well recall, naturally, I wept on hearing the news of mum’s passing. But moments later that same day, the negative emotions I felt about her passing began to wane and positive stimulations about her life and times began to well up from my spirit. Suddenly, I thought about her strict love, fearlessness, self-discipline, self-control, contentment, patience, courage, independent mindedness, industry, smiling face, generosity, strong faith in God, fidelity, sense of loyalty and many other sublime qualities too numerous to mention in this space.
In response to the positive thoughts overflow, I pulled by tablet device and began to type as fast as I could and as the words flowed. In the end I came up with these verses of poetic expression below that informed that title of this discourse. I know I would not be able to describe all things my mother represented, but I know I wrote from my heart.
TRIBUTE TO MY MOTHER
Mama, today you are gone from our midst
But you are not gone from our hearts
Cos we will always remember you
Though you are no more here
Your legacies remain alive with us
You were a mother like no other
You were unique in your own ways.
You lived your life the best way you could
You lived your life the best way you could
You ran the race God set before you
Now you have gone the way of all men
We are sad that you are gone,
But we will always celebrate you.
You found the gospel light at a tender age
And you followed it till you breathe your last
You did not only find the way of Christ
You pointed it out for us your children to follow
You told us you knew no other way, but the way of Christ.
You were a mother like no other
You told us to follow Jesus Christ
Till our days on earth are gone
Now that you are no more here
God will help us to follow through
You taught us how to give the tithe to God
Since the time we were kids
Now that we are grown men and women
We have not forgotten this lesson of yours.
You were a mother like no other
You proved that love and discipline can go together
You never spared the rod to spoil the child
You never feared any man, except God
You showed courage even in danger
You stood for what you believed in
Even when no one else stood with you
You are a shining example of faithfulness, loyalty and discipline
You never went back on your words
You always did what you promised
Your face always carried a cheerful smile
That radiated to those around you
The daughters of men testify of your generosity
Your love was strict, but it was also true
We are glad we had the chance to know this.
You are a shining example of faithfulness, loyalty and discipline
You stayed faithful to God until your last breath
You were loyal to our father even in death
And you disciplined us in love unto maturity
You may be gone from our eyes
But you will never be gone from our hearts.
Adieu Mama, a woman of faith and focus.
The answer to the question may surprise you. Why did I say so? Because, it probably may not be what you think. Please read on.…
The word “blaspheme” means “to speak evil of; defame; or revile.
For us as Christians, we believe, and rightly so too, that there is no sin that is too much for God to forgive. We believe it, we talk about it and we even sing about it.
In one of the verses in Fanny Crosby’s evergreen hymn “To God Be the Glory,” we normally echo with all assurances that “The vilest offender who truly believes, That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.” That’s a great promise from a great song.
Yet, during his earthly ministry, Jesus Christ, at one point in time stated that “All manner of sin and blasphemy shalt be forgiven unto men: but blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.”
What does Jesus mean by “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men”? Was He really saying that not all sins can be forgiven? Is the promise of forgiveness not for everyone? Is there any sin the blood of Jesus is incapable of cleansing? What is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? Who can commit the unpardonable sin? Can an unbeliever commit the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?
“Therefore, the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost that Jesus warns about must be the willful reviling of the Holy Ghost with knowledge of what is being done
A quick search on google.com along these lines produced several explanations by different people on the issue of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. But I found the one given by Andrew Wommack in his daily devotional article, The Unpardonable Sin, to be of most relevance to my quest. The text of the said article is reproduced below for your further reading.
MATTHEW 12:31, “Wherefore I say unto you, “All manner of sin and blasphemy shalt be forgiven unto men: but blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.”
LUKE 12:10; MATTHEW 12:24-31; MARK 3:22-30
The word “blaspheme” means “to speak evil of; defame; or revile.” In context, Jesus is saying that blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is attributing the working of the Holy Spirit to the devil. Many people in the Bible did this, including Saul, who became the Apostle Paul. However, we see in 1 Timothy 1:13, that Paul said he received mercy concerning his blasphemy because he had done it “ignorantly in unbelief.” Therefore, the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost that Jesus warns about must be the willful reviling of the Holy Ghost with knowledge of what is being done.
This parallels Hebrews 6:4-6, where qualifications are placed on those who can fall away from grace. This passage indicates that only a mature Christian can commit such a thing. Likewise, with blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, rash statements spoken against the Holy Spirit in ignorance or unbelief by those who don’t really know what they are doing can be forgiven.
From our human perspective, no clear line can be drawn as to when someone becomes accountable for blasphemies and has committed this unpardonable sin. We can be assured that God knows the hearts of all men and that He will judge righteously concerning this. However, God’s Word does show us that when anyone becomes a “reprobate,” they lose all conviction from God (Rom. 1:28).
Therefore, anyone who is convicted and repentant over having possibly blasphemed the Holy Ghost has not yet reached the place where it is unpardonable or they wouldn’t care. Keep your heart tender and sensitive to Him. Listen to His voice speak to you through His Word today.