THE LAW OF TIME PERSPECTIVE AND THE PERSPECTIVE OF TIME

THE LAW OF TIME PERSPECTIVE AND THE PERSPECTIVE OF TIME

“To find the real value of anything divide it by eternity”- Dr. Ferdinand Nweke

There is a law I have a certain fondness for, it is called the “Law of Time Perspective”. 
The reasoning behind it is a very simple one. It very plainly states that the longer one spends in planning for an event or occurrence the higher the chances that one will be successful in that venture.
The explanation of this is quite simple; if for instance two people are going for a job interview in two weeks it stands to reason that the person who starts preparing for it a week ahead would have a higher chance of success than the one who starts preparing on the day of the interview. 
This law is one of the most profound principles of success operated on a regular basis by many who might not even know the technical definition of what they are doing.
As we progress in this article we will see how this has a direct bearing on our lives and efforts.

Now let us talk a bit about the perspective of time.
We know that there are things that serve as equalizers in life and these to some extent create an equal playing ground and even field for all human beings; for instance there is nobody who has a different type of oxygen to inhale from what others have, nor is there anyone who will die with any part of his wealth regardless of how affluent he might have been in life.
In the same way there is neither a person allocated 23 hours each day nor is there any given 25 hours of a day. The President of the United States has 24 hours each day, so does the most impoverished pauper in the Third World of the Third World. 
Every single person has the same amount of empty golden boxes delivered on a daily basis to him or her, and it is only that person that has the choice to decide what they are filled with.

One of the greatest resources available to humanity is Time, and one major thing that distinguishes success stories from failures is what they do with their time. 
The successful person spends time with greater economy than he would spend money because he realizes that although time is free it is still one of the most perishable commodities available on earth. 
Once it’s lost there’s no getting it back. 
Time is an ephemeral resource- more so than we actually know.

Life expectancy in North America is between 79 and 81 years of age.
Nigeria on the other hand is lower- much lower.
With a current life expectancy of 54.07 years, Nigeria is ranked  216 in the world, and 16th in Africa. Thirty seven years ago,  average life expectancy in Nigeria was 44.74 years, ranking 58th in the world and 21st in Africa.

(Read more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/02/average-life-expectancy-increasing-slowly-nigeria/)

So let’s say you are American or Canadian and you are reading this article at the age of 30, and let’s take for granted that you will live until you are 80 years of age, this would mean you have only 50 years ahead of you. Now though 50 years might look like a long time it is nowhere near as long as you would think.
And if you are a 30 year old Nigerian reading this and the statistics we have above are anything to go by then many other Nigerians your age have just over 24 years left on earth. 
Now, let’s see if we can strike some sort of balance between the two ranges and pick a random figure like 70.
If you are 25 years old now and we take for granted you will live till you are 70 then you have just 45 years left to do anything with your life. 

Ask yourself what you did with the last 25; did you invest those years or waste them?
Let’s assume you spend 7 hours sleeping each day, 1 hour in the bathroom, 2 hours in buying condiments, making your food, eating it, and doing the dishes afterwards, 3 hours in your closest relationships (family in particular), 8 hours on the job, 1 hour on social media and the internet and 1 hour in unforeseen circumstances; a breakdown should be something like the following-

(1) Sleep……………………………………………07 hours
(2) Personal Hygiene……………………….01 hour
(3) Eating…………………………………………02 hours
(4) Relationships……………………………..03 hours
(5) Vocation……………………………………..08 hours
(6) Social Media………………………………..01 hour
(7) Unforeseen…………………………………..01 hour
                                                                          ________
                                                                              23 hours

The implication of the above is if you diligently use the rest of your time you will have just 1 hour left to use your time to gain eternal value.
Remember we started this by speaking about the law of Time Perspective; the longer you spend preparing for a significant objective the higher your chances at being successful in that task. 
If we understand that time was given to us to make something of eternal consequence then we will develop a different mindset.

Following our example above-
 If you are 25 and you will live till you are 70 you have (1/24 x 45 years=) 1.8 years actually available to prepare for and accomplish this objective of your life. 
If you are 30 you have (1/24 x 40 years=) 1.6 years available; 
If you are 40 years of age right now you have (1/24 x 30 years=) 1.2 years
And if you are  50 years today you have (1/24 x 20 years=) 0.8 years to do what you have to do.

A cursory look at the nature of time immediately reveals one major characteristic-  it is a means and not an end.

Time was given for a higher purpose, and its worth will only be measured by how much of it was used for that purpose. 
Now when we overlay this with the principle of time perspective we spoke about earlier the point at issue then becomes whether we have started preparing for the reason we were given time.
So what is the reason for time?

ETERNITY: THE REASON FOR TIME
Eternity speaks of Permanence. There is no change of status in eternity. Choices can only be made in the realm of time, not the realm of eternity, so choice ends when time does.
Time will end just like it began. Once upon a time there was no time. As difficult as it may seem to believe and understand this there was actually a time when there was no time.
Time is a creation and an invention of Divinity and it had a beginning-

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus BEFORE THE BEGINNING OF TIME”
2 Timothy 1:9

So Time is a creation like all others…it had a first day and it will have a last.
Some day time will end in the same way that it began
 The reason why we have mentioned this is because there is potentially an eternal value for everything that was created, including Time. There is a purpose for everything that was created, including Time. 
But the challenge is that where purpose is not known abuse is inevitable. 
So, what is the purpose of Time?

God dwells in eternity and not in time; time is a punctuation of eternity and it was created for one purpose- God has a program and Time exists for God to run His program with the rest of creation.
Let’s “evaluate Time against the backdrop of Eternity.”
The phrase you have just read is actually a misstatement and misrepresentation because one can never actually evaluate time against the backdrop of eternity.
But for the purpose of this article let us just assume Eternity is one quadrillion  (1,000,000,000,000,000) years.
No reasonable person who understands this would spend only 1 hour everyday of the rest of his life preparing for one quadrillion years.

If the time spent on this side of life will affect and determine what happens on the other very significantly and if we use our frame of reference to imagine that we have just 70 years to prepare for one quadrillion then we must realize the import of every wasted second.
If we call the estimated 70 years we will spend on earth “finite years” and the one quadrillion we have carved out as our sample size “infinite years” we will be able to have an idea what each unit of finite time is worth when compared with its infinite counterpart.
(i) We have 1 finite year to prepare for 1,428,571,000,000,000 infinite years
(ii) We have 1 day to prepare for 39,139,000,000,000 infinite years
(iii) We have 1 hour to prepare for 1,631,000,000,000 infinite years
(iv) We have 1 minute to prepare for 27,183,333,333 infinite years
(v) We have 1 second to prepare for 453,055,555 infinite years

Think about the numbers you have above. 

Imagine that for every second I do not make profitable use of here on earth it amounts to the loss of an opportunity to contribute to that which will cover at the very least 453,055,555 infinite years.
Imagine that anyone who has wasted a second of your time has literally robbed you of a minimum of the above stated vast amount of time. 

With respect to the foregoing I then suggest that one of the resources we must be most ruthless in apportioning is Time.
This resource is imperative, it is so critical that the management of it is a major sign of wisdom-

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise making the most of the time, because the days are evil.”
(Ephesians 5:15-16)

‘So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.”
(Psalm 90:12)

So I would like to ask this question- “What are you doing with your time?”

THE MONASTIC CYCLE (Part II)

THE MONASTIC CYCLE (Part II)

I had finished writing and had a few days earlier posted the first installment of the Monastic Cycle before I got into an interesting conversation that led to the writing of the second. 
I was speaking with a friend of mine, an economist and senior lecturer in a private university of repute, and we were discussing the article when the terms “economy of salvation” came up. I had never thought of such a construct before; so I sat back to listen to him as he told me how the concept of the Monastic Cycle I had brought up fit into the science of economics.
Among several other things he said, he said to me- “Suffering is what scarcity is in economics.  Scarcity determines value and it is for this reason that need is essential in seeking God.”

I immediately understood what he meant as I had done some research previously on human nature and why it was that we only turned to God in our times of need. That was the basis for the article on the Monastic Cycle in the first place. 
The need makes us seek God and along with the material benefits that seeking Him brings there is order, meaning, and some sort of structure that is added to our lives. 
However, for most humans there is a tendency to turn away from Him the moment we assume we have achieved or attained the comfort, convenience, or relief that made us turn to Him from the onset.

That turning away brings considerable tragedy, disadvantages and pain for the whole community and society that does so. It has implications for the lives of those who do.

I once heard a person recount a story he heard from someone many years ago. Many decades ago in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas, that “someone”, a missionary was preaching in a village marketplace; he held up a Book and said to the people- “This is God’s Book!” Then he explained to the people how it would affect every area of their lives. After he spoke, and the crowd dispersed, a man walked up to him and told him the story of his tribe. His ancestors had had a Book they lived by and it produced unprecedented prosperity in their land far west of the great mountains; but one thing led to another and complacency entered. His forebears were then driven from their lands and in a perilous crossing over the mountains to the east they lost the Book.
Generations later the tribe did not know how to live anymore as they had lost the Book that was a compass for every area of their lives.
The man then told the missionary that two weeks prior to their meeting an old lady from his tribe had a dream of a foreigner standing in a village marketplace and holding up the Book. She saw in her dream that if the elders sent someone on that particular day he would meet the foreigner. So the man looked at the missionary and asked a simple question- “Will you bring God’s Book to my tribe so that we will know how to live again?”

In this second part of the “Monastic Cycle” we will take a historical journey through the annals of time and see that there is a common tragedy among different people groups throughout the various epochs in history; the tragedy of losing God’s Book and forgetting how to live. We will see records that clearly reveal that when a critical mass of people have this Book and apply what it teaches in their lives, a nation is transformed; in like manner whenever a critical number of people abandon this Book and stop applying it in their personal lives, that nation begins to destroy itself. 

According to Americans for Divorce Reform the divorce rate in the U.S is one of the highest in the world with 43 % of first marriages ending in separation or divorce within fifteen years. America is said to have more than two million inmates incarcerated in prison- the highest per capita in the world. I will not speak much of its alcohol, drug abuse, gambling, and pornography epidemics.
Interestingly, according to the World Christian Encyclopedia, more than 84 percent of Americans identify themselves as Christian. 
The apparent contradiction in this is resolved when we consider the results of a 2002 poll by the Barna Group of Ventura, California which shows that only 7 percent of adults aged eighteen to thirty-five make moral choices based on the Bible.
In Western Europe the situation is worse; according to the European Values Study only 21 percent of Europeans say religion is “very important” to them and just 15 percent attend a place of worship once a week. I would wager that a great number of these people that attend a place of worship are likely to be from both Sub-Saharan and North Africa. Europeans increasingly view a belief in God and the concept of religion as an irritant and an impediment to progress. 

But it was not always like this. We saw in the first part of this series (Monastic Cycle part I) that Gordon Cosby, the founding pastor of Church of the Savior in Washington D.C, noted a pattern as he studied the evolution of religious orders. Like we said in the first part-
“First, an idealist attracts people with a strong sense of devotion. The devotees then form a community. Usually there are certain behavioral traits  that become prevalent in most of such communities. One of such traits is discipline- hence the strict rules of founders of orders like Benedict and Ignatius.
 Disciplined groups tend to prosper, this is because discipline creates industry and industry produces wealth, but that very success ultimately undermines the group’s commitment and leads to self-indulgence, and at this point the movement begins to fall apart. 
All these happen and then someone comes along to revive the spirit of idealism. After this happens the cycle starts over again.”

In England in the time of John Wesley (1703-1791), the Monastic Cycle was at the bottom phase and English society desperately needed that idealist who would lead the upsurge. The wealthy elite who were products of the revivals that ensued out of the practice of the principles enunciated by the Bible from pulpits of yore had grown complacent and over time had become impervious to the needs of the less privileged. There was no advocate for the poor and the oppressed. There was terrible hunger in the land. The weak and the young succumbed to epidemics of tuberculosis, diphtheria, and cholera. Children of the poor, from as early as the ages of four and five, went working in factories and mines, often working for more than twelve hours a day in hazardous conditions. In textile factories little children were scalped while crawling under big machines to pick up loose cotton; several fell into the machinery and died.
In the mines, children hauled large baskets of coal on their backs. Because animals cost too much to replace owners used small children to work the coal mines. Businessmen took advantage of the poor to build their empires and the Church of England did nothing.

It was against this backdrop that John Wesley emerged.

While studying at Oxford he became disenchanted with what he saw. The disconnect between the Church and society, the low morals and the unbridled cruelty, and the complacency of the clergy. Being a clergyman himself he felt a need to reform those practices and aspects of Church culture that were not in consonance with what he read in the Bible. He felt the need to help make the adjustments that would see to it that the Book produced the transformation in society he knew it could.
Having been rejected by members of the Establishment he began to reach out to thousands of people. As he was not given the opportunity to share in church buildings he went out in open squares and fields, preaching and making converts by the thousands. From them he trained over ten thousand small group leaders and with them discipled the larger body of new believers; they were taught accountability, honesty, leadership, godliness, the value of hard work, and love and respect for one another among other things.
His work led to the emergence of a middle class that moved the economy of England and also produced new innovations and products that led to the transformation of society. 
An example of John Wesley’s work was a businessman named Samuel Plimsoll who constantly witnessed the sinking of merchant ships and the subsequent drowning of hundreds of sailors and employees as a consequence of the overloading of the vessels. Most of these merchants were fond of this because they made huge insurance claims and maximized their “losses” in order to make humongous recoveries. 
To combat this Plimsoll created a device, since called the “Plimsoll Mark”, which marked a line on the ship to indicate a safe loading level. 
Other examples of the Wesleyan Reformation include Florence Nightingale who developed the modern nursing profession, and Elizabeth Fry, who led the reformation of the prison system.
William and Catherine Booth picked up Wesley’s legacy, and having been directly influenced by his writings and teachings they went on to found the Salvation Army, an organization that has done arguably the most work for the poor. 
As the reforms that John Wesley produced from the Bible worked in England many of the nation’s elite watched in trepidation as the French Revolution (1789-1799) saw the massive uprising that led to the killings of members of the upper class constituted by members of the French monarchy, it’s nobles, and the corrupt priests who had used religion as a tool of subversion. The movements led by the Wesleys prevented the same outcome from occurring in England. 

Earlier, it was a similar position Martin Luther found Germany in. Things had gotten to the bottom, there was a massive wave of corruption and the rot that was a characteristic of the Dark Ages saw to it that there was complete spiritual and academic illiteracy among the masses. The nobles and priests had exclusive authority and the people were kept under perpetual servitude by keeping them ignorant and separating them from truth. 
Luther was a young man in 16th Century Saxony who entered a monastery of Augustinian hermits while hoping to find salvation for his soul. After trying everything he could he felt all the more lost as he soon found that no amount of works would soothe the guilt he bore. As he heeded the advice of the leader of the Order of hermits in the monastery he began to search the Scriptures himself. While on a trip to Rome after being sent on an errand by his abbot he came to the “very gates of heaven” as Rome was then called; while there he opted to do more penance by walking on his knees up the stairs as he was instructed; the tradition was that a person could receive a fifteen year reprieve from “purgatory” if he did this. It was as he did this he heard a voice that said to him “The just shall live by faith”, he realized this was a portion of scripture he had seen in the Book of Romans, this scripture made such a deep impression on him after he heard this voice speak it to his heart that he got up from there and walked away.

While in Rome he was further burdened by the licentiousness and greed that was a normal occurrence in the behavior of the priests who supposedly stayed at the “very gates of heaven.” He was completely appalled by what he saw and this first led him to seek personal reformation. Six years after his ordination into the priesthood of the Catholic Church and being a professor at the University in Wittenberg he had a personal conversion experience; he felt the power of God’s Word and His Spirit in such a profound way that he immediately went out to start preaching that salvation was a gift from God and was to be received by faith, it was nothing to be earned.
In 1517, Martin Luther went out to write his famous “ninety nine theses” that addressed issues of repentance, forgiveness of sin, and the greed and worldliness of the church hierarchy. What followed was a storm that took the world apart and caused total transformation as the Monastic Cycle took its course. 

As Luther translated the Bible into common language and spread it in the hands of the masses there was mass education as people learned to read and write. They soon found that as they could read the Bible they could also decipher Arithmetics, read Architecture and write Poetry. It is not coincidental that the Reformation practically coincided with that period in history called the Enlightenment.
The Reformers launched reading programs across Germany and other parts of Europe. People were taught to read the Bible and could thus read other things like political pamphlets, news, and books on everything from Geography to Geometry. All kinds of information was then deployed, and this led to the spread of innovations and the release of creative energies. 

As Loren Cunningham noted about the renaissance in Germany at this time, “This changed all of history. Before this, there was no generally rich country on earth. Kings and tyrants were individually wealthy. A few aristocrats were wealthy. But not the common people. Individual potential exploded after the people were empowered by the concept of the priesthood of all believers. And as people learned to read, unprecedented numbers began to use their minds ever more broadly, coming up with ideas that created wealth and changed the lives of many. A middle class blossomed, and whole nations became wealthy after a significant number of people applied the Word of God in their lives. The gaining of new knowledge began to pick up speed. For centuries Europe had actually lagged behind the Middle East and Far East in creative development. They forgot much of their inheritance from Greece and Rome, while the Islamic world happily absorbed it and built on it. The Arabs invented the numbers we all use and the concept of zero; the Chinese had many inventions before the West, including paper and gunpowder. But these innovations soon paled in comparison to bright, new discoveries coming out of Europe. ”

Mariano Grondona, a professor of government at the Law Faculty of the National University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, made a remarkable statement in an article “A Cultural Typology of Economic Development” in the book “Culture Matters” after many years of painstaking research.
In listing his discoveries he said no country was a developed nation before the 1600s, neither in the East nor in the West: “It was the Protestant Reformation that first produced economic development in northern Europe and North America.” He then added that today the rate of economic growth in Protestant countries had declined in part because of the cooling of religious fervor.

We find that the effects of the Protestant Reformation and the Bible as a whole in society are not limited to the economy or educational sector.
In the United States Common Law there are Bible verses certain things are premised on, according to David Burton, constitutional expert, political historian, and author of “The Jefferson Lies” and “God in the Constitution”, John 8:10 was the basis for which a person became constitutionally empowered to stand before his accusers, while Proverbs 18:17 was the basis for the concept of cross-examination in Common Law. 

We find that the Monastic Cycle played a role through the history of practically all developed nations, and we can also trace the dire straits most of such countries found themselves in to the last few phases of the same Cycle, the point at which they turned their backs on the very factors that paved the foundations of their greatness. 

LEADERSHIP SERIES- THE UNDERDOGS: THE REAL STANDARD FOR MEASURING THE STRONG AND THE POWERFUL (Part II)

Leadership

LEADERSHIP SERIES
(THE UNDERDOGS: THE REAL STANDARD FOR MEASURING THE STRONG AND THE POWERFUL- PART II)

When we take a look at the disciples of Jesus we notice that He didn’t go in search of those with the most impressive CVs. In fact it would seem that He deliberately went for those who had very obvious defects. There was something that attracted Him to deficient and weak people, He would rather be involved in the making of others than celebrate finished products. 
This is quite different from the kind of “leadership” many chief executives and socio-political leaders are involved in giving. If you have ever been involved in human resource development in any capacity whatsoever, whether as the pastor of a church, as the team leader in a unit at your workplace, or as a teacher who is genuinely interested in the lives of the students you teach you  would have had first hand knowledge of how arduous it is to train or develop people.
The easier things to do would be to avoid “raw material” and go for the “finished products.” 

Jesus did neither.

He knew that the most profound treasures were hidden under huge volumes of dross and dirt. He knew that the treasure in the human resource was no different and as long as there was a longing for change in the heart of man and a predilection to work towards it there would be nothing that could hinder transformation from manifesting.
So He picked His twelve and did not pick men who had no reason or desire to be helped. 

It would seem to the untrained eye that He had a bunch of very unpromising recruits; men who would ordinarily not be considered by most of us for such a sensitive task even though most of us are very much like the same men. 

Consider Matthew (also known as Levi) the tax collector. Matthew essentially had a franchise to collect taxes, some of which he most likely kept for himself, while remitting the remainder to the Roman authorities to help support their pagan system. Tax collectors were so hated by the populace that calling a person a tax collector (or publican) by way of insult was considered one of the most derogatory and demeaning invectives.
By rabbinic custom Matthew could never enter the temple, never give testimony in court, and never be forgiven for his sins. No God-fearing Jews would have anything to do with him. That was how much of a traitor he was considered to be.
Yet Jesus picked this outcast among Jews as one of His twelve disciples, and Matthew had the privilege of writing one of the four gospels. 

We could easily imagine why Jesus could be tagged a renegade and trouble maker by some people when we see how He recruited insurgents like James and John the sons of Zebedee to fit into His core circle of twelve apostles. These were people that were known as “the Boanerges”, and the “sons of thunder.”
A little glimpse into the background to all these would explain the mindset and prevailing orthodoxy under which these men operated. 
The Roman Empire ruled over much of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
One of the farthest corners of the Roman Empire, Judaea was a land of ancient traditions and religious fervor and decades of Roman rule were causing ever more resentment among the indigenous people. 
During the first century, Rome had dominion over Israel.  In 63 BC, after the Romans invaded and conquered Jerusalem, in order to keep control over the Galilean and Judean peoples, Julius Caesar and the Senate installed Herod as king. He became one of Caesar Augustus’ favorite military leaders, and was admired by the new emperor because of his immense development program. He undertook several projects successfully and had administrative acumen that endeared him to the Roman authorities.  
Not only did Herod expand the Temple in Jerusalem to be more grandiose and Hellenistic-Roman in style, but he also imposed a sacrifice that the priests would give on behalf of Rome and the emperor.  

Additionally, Herod had whole cities named to give reverence to Caesar as well as imperial temples and fortresses to reinforce Roman control.  The great building campaigns were not possible without taxing the peoples of Galilee, Samaria, and Judea greatly; leaving the majority in poverty.  Not only were they required to pay taxes to the Empire, but they continued to function as a “temple-state” and were also required to pay the customary tithes and sacrifices of the Jewish religion.  There was an intense offense against the Romans that was the product of being forced into idolatry along with the difficult economic reality they imposed on them.
As one writer stated:
“The demand for tribute to Rome and taxes to Herod imposed on them in addition to the willful tithes and offerings to the Temple and priesthood dramatically escalated the economic pressures on peasant producers, whose livelihood was perennially marginal at best.  After decades of multiple demands from multiple layers of rulers many village families fell increasingly into debt and were faced with loss of their family inheritance of land.  The impoverishment of families led to the disintegration of village communities, the fundamental social form of such an agrarian society…”

 The Jews responded in various ways to the rule of Rome and the appointed governors and client-kings.
 The first response saw some Jews, as in the case of the Sadducean priestly order and the Herodian dynasty, live in compromise and subservience to the Empire, implementing the Romans’ wishes and playing the classic Uncle Tom role; this was deliberately designed to secure their place in the scheme of things and maintain the status quo. These people effectively sabotaged all efforts of their kith and kin to attain redemption from the Romans and in return they were rewarded with positions and the perks of office that came with them. 
The second kind of response from another group of Jews was a basic acceptance of Roman rule, with an implied readiness to challenge the Empire when Roman injustice became too much to bear. This “challenge”  was usually carried out as nonviolent subversion and protests.  
The third response was a total and complete rejection, though nonviolent, of Roman rule.  
The fourth way that Jews responded to this circumstance was embodied by the Zealots in violent rejection of Rome, this would lead to the eventual destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
 It is in this fourth category you would find James and John “the sons of thunder.”

To think that even after their three years of close proximity to Jesus while He walked on the earth they would still be asking if the aim of His death and resurrection was to lead the final insurrection against Rome that would overthrow it and put Israel in its place was astounding.
He was patient and simply told them it was not in their place to know what times and seasons God had set in His power.

Of course we realize He did not leave them the same way He met them. He was patient to guide them through their misguided notions and obstinacy. He had spent three years teaching them and pointing them towards a superior ideology that was extra-natural, the ideology of the Kingdom of God. Even after all these they were still asking at His resurrection “Will you now restore the Kingdom (authority) to Israel?” (Acts :6)

These were examples of the human raw material He had to work with.

It is completely superfluous to speak about the likes of Judas Iscariot whose penchant for avarice Jesus already knew sufficient about before selecting him to be part of the twelve.
There was Thomas who is the poster boy for incertitude and skepticism. 
There was of course Peter who was noted for his impetuousness, instability, and garrulousness.
These were just some of the other members of the group of twelve whose individual dispositions were equally dismal.

I cannot but imagine the dreary outlook a person who took a cursory glance at this bunch would feel, especially when one considers that it was these same men that would be the custodians of divine secrets. 
It was on these men that all hope for the advancement of the Kingdom of God would lie. 
Jesus did not just take a casual glance at them, He took a long look and saw potential that many of us would not see.
This is the way God sees- He sees the possibility in every “impossibility.” He sees the finished product in the primal matter of the human resource.

It is this same perspective that sets the genuinely strong apart from those that have some indices of power and thus think they are strong.
True strength is measured by how the “strong” treat the weak. 
There are human beings who imbibed this same mindset through history, and it was this mentality that made them strong in the eyes of God.
The one who is genuinely strong is the one that protects the weak. 
The one who is genuinely strong is not the one who is willing to trample on others in order to look like something he is not, he is the one who wants to make men.
He is the one who is committed to making heroes out of zeroes.

This is the kind of leadership we must all aspire to give, and the sort of leader we must all strive to be.

LEADERSHIP SERIES- THE UNDERDOGS: THE REAL STANDARD FOR MEASURING THE STRONG AND POWERFUL

LEADERSHIP SERIES
THE UNDERDOGS: THE REAL STANDARD FOR MEASURING THE STRONG & POWERFUL

When we think about the strong and the powerful in society we usually think in terms of those politicians, celebrities and business moguls that have a ton of cash.
The word “powerful” evokes images of glamour, stupendous wealth, fame, and complete loyalty and subservience from a coterie of aides and dependents.
It brings to mind large business empires, convoys and motorcades, red carpet treatment and political patronage. It makes us envision a select few for whom the world has gone beyond a global village to a global street; we see people who at the drop of a hat can get almost anything they want done. That is usually the life the average person thinks about when he thinks about being strong or powerful. 

It is the kind of life many of us aspire to lead.

While the above perspective of power might not be incorrect it certainly is incomplete.
We tend to view as powerful people that bark orders and get anything they want to indulge in while having others sniveling around them.
That is just the way we tend to look at the world.  

Compared to most of us Jesus had an unconventional and upside down way of looking at the world. 
It was an expression of what made Him the greatest leader the world has ever seen. It was an expression of God’s perspective of power and just what would endear a leader to both God and humanity.
It was an unfolding of God’s definition of power and what it really means to be powerful. 
How did Jesus view people? How did He treat and relate with them? And what secrets are therein for us to exploit in being the kind of political, religious, domestic, and civil leaders we ought to be?

The poor, prisoners, blind, and oppressed are all groups mentioned in Jesus’ first recorded sermon. It makes perfect sense that the people you mention are the ones that are important to you. The mention of these groups gives a very strong indication of His unconventional perspective.
Indeed, a more than cursory glance at His earthly lifestyle and His parables reveal one salient fact. 
God is usually on the side of the underdog- the unjustly oppressed, the one who has no other one to fight for him, the weak, the outcast.
And in order to be effective we must learn to think like Him.

Let’s take a look at a couple of His parables-

The story is told of two men- one was a very rich man, and the other was a beggar who lay at his gate, poor, wretched, and covered in sores. The beggar’s name was Lazarus. 
We are not told the name of the rich man.
It is not likely that many of us would know names of more indigent and less privileged people than socialites and celebrities in our cities and countries, unless of course we were working in Camps for Internally Displaced People or Homeless Shelters.

In another story we find three men, with two different responses to the same stimulus. A man on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho fell upon highway robbers who dispossessed him of his belongings and beat him till he was within an inch of his life; while he lay bruised and battered by the way two significant persons happened upon him. They were both distinguished and revered religious professionals; incidentally, their responses to the needy man were similar. 
They ignored him and walked on.
We are not told their exact frame of mind, but we have enough maneuverable room to extrapolate. 
We don’t know the nature of their engagements but we can deem it safe to infer that whatever they might have been they were considered to be of more importance than the life of a fellow human being, a life they were in a position to save.
 Another case in point is this, in those days, the members of the Sanhedrin (the Governing Religious Council) had a tradition that demanded they had no interactions with dead bodies, any one of them who touched a corpse would be considered unclean.
It would seem that these sanctimonious men were over-zealous in their bid to uphold these rules and regulations- rules and regulations that did not have a human face. Anyway, they might have taken them so seriously that they didn’t even seek to confirm if the man had any breath left in him before they crossed to the other side of the road.

There was a third man, a man from a tribe considered by the Jews to be mixed race heretics. The members of this tribe were called Samaritans.
It is this man we have come to refer to as the Good Samaritan (a term that suggests he was an exception to what was prevalent among the Samaritans, even though there is not one single mention of a “Good Samaritan”; the Bible referred to him as “a certain Samaritan”). 
This half-breed who was despised by mainstream Jews is the hero of this story and the focal point in the same way that Lazarus was in the previous story.

A certain writer said, “I have actually gone through the Gospels and placed Jesus’ contacts on a homemade graph. With few exceptions, the more upright, conscientious, even righteous a person is, the more Jesus threatens that person. The more immoral, irresponsible, social outcast a person is- in other words, most unlike Jesus Himself- the more Jesus attracts that person. (How is it that Jesus’ followers usually do the opposite?). The free gift of grace descends to whoever will receive it, and sometimes those who have nowhere else to turn are most eager to hold out open hands.”

For the avoidance of doubt the above writer is not attempting to give the impression that Jesus’ position was one of no standards; quite the opposite really. He was attracted to those who were despised and disqualified by men and so were cognizant of the fact that it was only God that could change their conditions. 
In many cases the transformation after meeting Him was so complete that there was absolutely no drive or desire to return to what they were previously bound by. 
It has been correctly said that “Jesus did not come to save us in our sins, He came to save us from our sins.”

Of all the recorded interactions Jesus had with people the one that strikes me the most is the one in which He met the Samaritan woman at the well of Sychar. What struck me most was the degrees of separation between them.
For starters, this woman was a Samaritan, and as we have seen Jews had no dealings with Samaritans. They were the descendants of Jews who intermarried with people from nations that were traditionally avoided by ancient Israel because of the multiplicity of idolatrous activities they were involved in. 
Secondly, she was a woman, and it went against conventional practice for a Rabbi to be seen in public talking to a woman.
Thirdly, if there was ever a need to talk to a woman in public it would still have been highly scandalous that it was this woman who was selected. Everyone in the community knew she was a five time divorcee and that she was not married to the man she was living with at the time.
Indeed, some scholars believe that this woman was so ostracized that she had to go get water from an open well in the blazing heat of the noonday sun when it was customary for local Middle Eastern women to draw water in groups early in the morning. 
The divide between both of them had racial, social, moral, and religious components and would ordinarily have been an impassable gulf. But for Him it was not one that could not be bridged. 

He cut through all these differences and settled on one thing they both had in common- thirst.

 Eventually the topic of discussion transcended physical water to spiritual water. 
In all the four gospels it is only here we find it recorded that Jesus introduced Himself to anyone as the Messiah. 
It is not coincidental that He recruits this woman to be His first missionary. 
It is clear that God is attracted to what is traditionally despised by human beings, and is drawn to those that have no other place to turn to. This was the case of the woman at the well of Sychar; He placed faith in her and she rose to meet the challenge. Amazing what the average person can do when a little faith is placed in them.

Another person I can think about is the person we have come to call “Blind Bartimaeus”.
 It is interesting and noteworthy that the majority will tend to refer to us by what we used to be, especially when what we used to be has a tag of shame attached to it. 
We are wont to recall as “Rahab the harlot” the lady who protected the spies Joshua sent to Jericho.
There is just something about human nature that makes us want to grade ourselves as better than others, and we are inclined towards doing so by keeping derisory descriptions of others.
 It’s not uncommon to hear something like, “Don’t you remember Loose Lisa? The one that had all those abortions before she was fifteen”, or “That’s Willy, the fellow who was dealing drugs and raping girls when we were in school.”

The name Bartimaeus literally meant “Son of Filth”, or “Son of Garbage”. Apart from being a blind destitute that subsisted by begging his name was a proclamation that not only deepened the insult but reinforced the adverse circumstances that were his daily experience.
One day, while Jesus walked on the highway out of Jericho He happened to pass by Bartmaeus who, hearing a throng and the footsteps of the crowd that surged around him, asked those beside him what the commotion was about. After he was told who it was that passed that way he cried out “Son of David, have mercy on me.” 
The people who were around him tried to shut him up. There was no doubt in their minds that he was being a nuisance and Jesus would have no time for him. However, they were wrong, just like so many that think they have all the answers.
True to His character, and to the consternation of several people, Jesus stopped, turned round, and sent for Bartimaeus. What happened next shows the tendency of the average human being to stay with one when things are rosy, and abandon when things go awry.
The people that had used hard words in their bid to shut him up were the ones that smiled at him after Jesus noticed him; they were the ones that said to him “Cheer up, the Master calls for you.” This man who was obviously persona non grata to others was noticed and promptly healed by God. 

Of all the people recorded in the Bible that Jesus healed Bartimaeus is the only one mentioned by name.
The ones that are most important to you are the ones whose names you will remember.
The most important point I want us all to note here is twofold- Not all those we call strong and powerful are actually strong or powerful (the yardsticks most of us use are defective in measurement), and to be strong and powerful the most important standard is an assessment of how we treat the weak.

We might know that the measurement of a man’s strength is by how well he treats his wife and children, but have we gone beyond this to see that the measurement of the strength of all those who consider themselves strong is in how they treat those they are better than?

CLASS DIVISION, SOCIAL STRATIFICATION, AND GOD’s POSITION (Part 2)

You may choose to judge me or disregard my thoughts, but I do not believe in evolution as it is postulated by materialists, secularists and humanists. I am a creationist because I have seen more than ample evidence of the existence of God and His work. The concept of evolution as it is propagated is not consistent with what I have seen and experienced of the Divine record and expression.

Now, I have mentioned this for two major reasons. The first is that there is another extreme on this spectrum. We have seen that the first extreme has to do with the spread of enmity and hatred through the stratification of society on the basis of individual differences; we have seen how extremely myopic, distasteful, and gross is the behavior of tribalists, racists, misogynists, and every other misguided element that claims superiority over another on the basis of some social difference. If you have ever been discriminated against or been the object of ridicule and scorn because of a basic difference you have from others then you will understand how it is; that is the first extreme, and the other extreme is that one adopted by several people who call themselves Liberals. This extreme is the first reason for which I have said the above. 

This extreme they have adopted is the one that seeks to completely abolish all differences and embrace the concept of All-Inclusiveness. Humanists among them espouse the absolute pre-eminence of humanity in the universal order, and as such believe that human beings are superior to everything- including God, if He exists. For them there are no absolutes, there is no right or wrong, everybody’s right and wrong is relative so you cannot say anything is certain in moral terms since there is really no objective standard for measurement. Thus they expect and demand that everyone, irrespective of their beliefs and practices, as long as they do not “harm anyone” (physically and immediately speaking) be allowed and even encouraged to live as they please. By so doing there is a social and legal corridor opened for the spread of all kinds of perversion, and by so doing all the things that were once considered as not in line with propriety are increasingly being accepted and considered as appropriate.

The second reason I have said this is to highlight the complete evil of the Humanist concept of Relativism.
Relativism is the concept that viewpoints and perspectives have no absolute truth or validity within themselves, rather their importance, relevance, and value are only relative, and subjective according to differences in individual perception and consideration.
When understood as “moral relativism”, the term is often used in the context of moral principles, where principles and ethics are regarded as applicable in only a limited context. The term, relativism, often refers to truth relativism, which is the doctrine that there are no absolute truths, and that truth is always relative to some particular frame of reference, such as a language or a culture.
Relativism, as a denial of absolute truth, leads to moral license and a denial of the possibility of sin and of God; it constitutes a denial of the capacity of the human mind and reason to arrive at truth.

Have we paused in an attempt to understand the implications of such a mindset? Can we relate to the import of this kind of perspective?

The implication is that nothing is right or wrong anymore. Wrong is relative and, for now at least, can only be absolute when it immediately infringes on the rights of another. So this perspective posits for instance that nothing is wrong with a female being sexually attracted to another female as long as it is mutual and does not “affect” a third party; never mind that third party observers can be thrown into an internal conflict of identity when exposed to an environment like this; never mind that children that grow up in such environments are not given the opportunity to be nurtured in the natural order. 

I will divert a bit and then tie in what I am saying with where we are headed. I will first speak about this natural order. In this context the natural order is a family started by a man and a woman; if man and man or woman and woman were natural they would be able to produce their offspring. A basic law of nature is procreation. A basic characteristic of the natural system, and any other system for that matter, is that it is self-propagating. This is why you will find a mango or orange tree that does not produce fruit as unnatural. If it does not produce fruit it will not produce seeds. If it does not produce seed and have the ability and environment to duplicate itself then it is unnatural.
I have learned to obey health laws and so I have along with exercise adopted the act of eating fruits occasionally. One of the days I was having a serving of fruits in my hotel room during one of the conferences  I was speaking in I got thinking about the seedless apples and grapes I was eating and where they came from. So I decided to read up and saw that many fruits today do not come from seeds, rather they come from cuttings. This is true of grapes, blueberries, apples, cherries, and most other fruits designed and prepared scientifically. How it works is that a piece of a vine or branch is cut off, dipped in rooting hormone and after it sucks up the chemical is placed in dirt moistened lightly, it is in this process that roots and leaves form. So because they come from cuttings, new grapevines and other fruits are essentially clones of the vine and trees they were cut from.
Seedless fruits are clones and man-made; God designed nature and put in it the ability to procreate and sustain itself to a degree.

At this point I will state that there is no justification for hating another person on the basis of social distinctions and differences. A person’s sexual desire for another person of the same gender might be a perversion but should not be a reason to hate him or her; the person should be separated from that act in the same way that a patient is separated from the illness. The hatred should be for the disease and not for the sick person. Nobody has a right to hate a person on the basis of his sexual orientation, race, religion, or any other distinctive. We must be very clear about that.
Then again we must not attempt to explain away a terminal illness and make such excuses as “I was born this way”; a child with a congenital heart defect was born that way but that does not make it acceptable to dismiss the condition and accept it as a way of life, especially when something can be done to correct it.

The natural order has variety ingrained in it. By way of illustration think about a pen and a piece of paper, a chair and a table, or a spoon and bowl; the strength is imbued in the variety of the objects. There is very little a pen and a pen can accomplish as a pen cannot write on another pen, a chair and a chair will not give the level of comfort and convenience that a chair and table will provide, and a spoon and a spoon will be useless as it will be awkward while eating to use a spoon to scoop food out of another spoon. In the same way God created black and white (and every race in between), male and female, the varieties in language, and several other distinctions. 
Yet we must note that it was not every distinction that was created by God.
Like there are man made fruits that are genetically engineered and unnatural there are also lifestyles and belief systems that are unnatural.

The reason I now speak about this dimension is that there are people who are completely against every form of discrimination, and I support that, but the way they intend to go about it is the abolition of classes and divisions and the adoption of equality across board. I will use the term “division” in a more positive sense than it is used normally. I am using it as a synonym for distinction rather than an expression of rancor and animosity. 
Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines division as “: something that physically divides or separates something else”. So, in this sense the abolition of division is not only a futile task, it is also an incorrect one. 
Some attempt to pursue Inclusiveness  and completely cancel distinctions when appealing for it. This is the driving logic behind the prevalent genre of human rights activists that encompasses the pseudo feminists, liberals, atheists, gay rights activists, pro-life activists, and every other group that fits into their frame of reference.
The mantra is “Equality for All”. And many fail to understand this very simple point- Different choices produce different consequences, and while we may determine our choices we cannot determine the consequences of our choices.
It is for this reason that “Equality for All” will never work…people will never make the same choices.
Historically there is a prevalence of poverty, violence, repression and backwardness that follows a particular religion; not regulating that religion and opening the doors of a secular society to people that espouse it is a choice made by the political class in Europe, the consequences are being seen in Germany and around many parts of Europe where pockets of such Islamists have taken root.
A woman can do what she chooses to do with her body and have unprotected sex with multiple partners, but when the consequence becomes an unwanted pregnancy she cannot in all good conscience kill an unborn child and deny him/her the right to live…the same right granted her. She cannot in all GOOD CONSCIENCE

In the United States the Democratic Party is known for its official position against every form of discrimination, so all minorities find solace in its fold. There are political groups, socio-economic groups, and many of the civil liberties organizations that have those who want to equalize all classes; people that advocate freedom in sexual orientation, people that advocate equality of the sexes, people that advocate freedom of worship, and then those that insist on the “freedom” not to worship (usually by the imposition of atheism), along with many other different groups, find their way into them. 
Usually there is a kindred spirit that binds all these disparate and distinct groups together- the fight against discrimination. That is okay but if it goes beyond that into the abolition of division then what the person is attempting is an abrogation of the divine order. 

There is a difference between division and discrimination and we must realize that division does not have to lead to discrimination. 

There are two things I will say in summary about this- the first is that there are divinely ordained divisions and it is these that serve as the foundation of the natural order. Not accepting racial inequality is not the same thing as not accepting a different sexual orientation. Not accepting domestic abuse is not the same thing as not accepting that a woman does not have the right to kill another human being just because he/she has the misfortune of being in her womb. Not accepting that a person should die for his religious beliefs is not the same thing as not accepting that people should believe in a Supreme Being.
Nobody has a right to force his own interpretation of life down another person’s throat. No human being has the exclusive preserve to arbitrarily determine right and wrong. Only God does.
I know God is the center of the universal order. He is the ultimate Absolute and His perspective is what determines standards of life, humanity, and existence. What He says is right is right and what He says is wrong is wrong. 

The second thing I will say is there is a divinely constituted reward system and this system is based on equity and not equality.

What is consistent with the character of God when it concerns blessings, productivity, and reward is equity not equality. This is why He is a God of justice.
A Work and Reward system is premised on Equity.
All the parables used to describe the workings of the Kingdom delineate this work and reward system. An example is:-

“There was once a man descended from a royal house who needed to make a long trip back to headquarters to get authorization for his rule and then return. 
But first he called ten servants together, gave them each a sum of money, and instructed them, ‘Operate with this until I return.’ But the citizens there hated him. So they sent a commission with a signed petition to oppose his rule: ‘We don’t want this man to rule us.’ When he came back bringing the authorization of his rule, he called those ten servants to whom he had given the money to find out how they had done. The first said, ‘Master I doubled your money.’ He said, ‘Good servant!’ Great work! Because you’ve been trustworthy in this small job, I’m making you governor of ten towns.’ The second said, ‘Master, I made a fifty percent profit on your money.’ He said, ‘I’m putting you in charge of five towns.’ The next servant said, ‘Master, here’s your money safe and sound. I kept it in the cellar. To tell you the truth, I was a little afraid. I know you have high standards and hate sloppiness, and don’t suffer fools gladly.’ He said, ‘You’re right that I don’t suffer fools gladly- and you’ve acted the fool! Why didn’t you at least invest the money in securities so I would have gotten a little interest on it?’ Then he said to those standing there, ‘Take the money from him and give it to the servant who doubled my stake.’ They said, ‘But Master, he already has double…’ He said, ‘That’s what I mean: Risk your life and get more than you ever dreamed of. Play it safe and end up holding the bag.'”

Luke 19:12-26 (Message Translation)

Reading the above passage it becomes clearer that faithfulness, commitment and consistency will determine reward, and where rewards are not equal it becomes immediately apparent that some form of class is automatically established. As long as there is equity there will be a class system.
For this reason stratification cannot be expunged. It is part of the original design. God also stratifies and classifies. What He does not do, and what we should not do, is discriminate.

Yet, God does not stratify like man does; and His stratification certainly does not give room for anyone to gloat or boast. 
“For who regards you as superior or what sets you apart as special? What do you have that you did not receive [from another]? And if in fact you received it [from God or someone else], why do you boast as if you had not received it but had gained it by yourself]?”
1 Corinthians 4:7 (Amplified Translation)

Culture has been defined as “the sum of attitudes, customs and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another.” God has a culture. This culture is adopted by everyone that puts faith in Him through Jesus Christ.
We will call this culture “Kingdom Culture.”
God acknowledges different cultures- and even uses certain parts of them. This is because all cultures have some redemptive value. 
While there are diabolical practices that have infiltrated different socio-cultural groups most of these groups still retain some elements of the Kingdom culture.
For example, there are cultures that might have a pattern of disloyalty in them even as they have an ingrained respect for elders. There are some other cultures that have an inordinate desire for money with greed an albatross for them, yet these same cultures have the virtues of courage and diligence woven into the fabric of their lifestyles. 
My point is that God understands diversity and does not intend to destroy it; instead He intends to use it.
He has redeemed people from the fallen aspects of their culture. He has redeemed people from every nation.

“And they sang a new song, saying:
‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals,
Because You were slain and with your Blood You purchased for God persons
From every tribe, and language, and people, and nation'”
Revelation 5:9 (New International Version)

He delivered people of all nations and cultures from bondage and He expects them to maintain their diversity in order to be instruments He will use to redeem others in the same cultural groups from bondages similar to what they were held by.

This brings me to tribalism…especially tribalism in church. Tribalism is the twin sister of Racism.
I remember a White American professional I was speaking to who made a matter-of-fact statement, he said, “The most segregated time of the week in the United States is a Sunday morning.”
 
Very true. Very tragic.
This is a result of racism. Stratification that God did not design and Classification He did not intend.
He created Races, He did not create Racism…the Fall of man created that.
He created Tribes, He did not create Tribalism…the Fall of man created that; and the most deplorable thing is when people who should know better are at the vanguard of this travesty.

God created different tribes. These tribes are ethne (plural for ethnos, which means “nation”). And from these ethne He created a new ethnos, a new nation, one that draws from all the people groups in existence.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, A HOLY NATION, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light”
1 Peter 2:9 (New International Version)

I will speak about a very disturbing trend I have seen make its way into the national consciousness of countries like Nigeria- tribalism in Church.
The church is a nation. Just like the Ashanti, Igbo, Yoruba, Fulani, Efik, Zulu, Xhosa, Native American, Arab, and many other nations of the earth. 
If you have given your heart to Him then you are part of this new nation and it is your responsibility to not only live by the dictates of the Kingdom Culture but also to express it and show by your behavior how it supersedes the one you were carved out from. You are meant to transcend the elements of that culture not consistent with the Kingdom Culture you have been redeemed into.

Yet in Nigeria, I see people who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ who have more loyalty to their clannish attachments than they have to Jesus and His people. These people will sell a Kingdom cause out without blinking an eyelid when it conflicts with their primordial tribal affiliations. They will deliberately undermine even God’s people to push petty clannish agendas. Their Christianity is a farce and mimicry…they have no understanding of the covenant. 

“That which divides us is of the world, and we are not of this world.”

If people who claim to follow Jesus do not understand the above statement how can the world be helped?
The Church is meant to live through the template the world will see and be inspired to live above Racism and Tribalism. 

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life- your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life– and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
Romans 12:1-2 (Message Translation)

This is part of the essence of God’s stratification- variety. 
So, let us not attempt to destroy the natural order that God has created by, on one hand, destroying all distinctions, and on the other hand creating and upholding other distinctions He has absolutely nothing to do with.

CLASS DIVISION, SOCIAL STRATIFICATION, AND GOD’S POSITION (part 1)

Segregation, Inequality

CULTURE, ETHNOCENTRISM, TRIBALISM, SOCIAL SEGREGATION, AND GOD’S POSITION

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man, true nobility is in being superior to your former self.”- Hemingway

As a social scientist I like to study human behavior, as well as the theories that seek to explain them. One of such theories is the conjecture referred to as Social Stratification. 
In sociology, social stratification is a concept involving the “classification of persons into groups based on shared socio-economic conditions … a relational set of inequalities with economic, social, political and ideological dimensions.”
Stratification is the relative social position of persons within a social group, category, geographical location or social unit. It is a system of social classification that unfortunately serves for many as a basis for discrimination.

This theory is premised largely on Socio-economic conditions but the truth of the matter remains that wealth and social status are not the only indices upon which the division of society is made.

There is something intrinsic in human beings that makes us get a false sense of worth by thinking we are superior to others. There is a mentality deeply embedded in the psyche of many human beings that produces discrimination. The default paradigm for most people seems to be the conception that personal value is determined by the number or the type of indices of stratification in which one has an “advantage” over others.
The ensuing consequence is that people are now stratified on the basis of every discernible distinction and variation.
If a sense of superiority is not postulated on the basis of Socio-economic considerations like wealth and social status it will be argued on the basis of gender, or other factors like educational qualifications, race, or some less consequential things like physical features and attributes. 

It is tragic and highly regrettable that even religion is one of such social variables used for discrimination.

There are several others. It would seem that every possible variation in the human race is used to stratify people.
Let me break this down and give some illustrations.

On the average, many people measure their success and value on the basis of how much they earn compared to others. If Mr. A has a higher income than Mr. B, or has a bigger car, or bigger house, or lives in a nicer neighborhood, the tendency will be for Mr. A to feel he is superior to Mr. B. 
If he went to an Ivy League School in a place like the United States he would be “superior” to the one that went to a State College or Community College in the States who naturally would feel he is “superior” to someone educated in Nigeria for instance.
Then even in Nigeria the Private or Federal University graduate would feel in a different class from the product of the State University, who would in turn feel like he is ahead of the person who went to a Polytechnic, who of course would feel he is on a pedestal beyond the reach of the person who went to a College of Education.

Think about stratification and discrimination on the basis of gender. How many times have we seen cultures and communities that deliberately put women under? In many communities and cultures in several countries women are treated as possessions, they are flogged like animals and treated even worse than that in many cases. 
There are still communities in countries in Asia for example where widows are either buried with their dead husbands or killed through immolation or strangling. It is suggested that such women should be killed in order to keep their husbands company, and serve them in the afterlife.

Think about other forms of stratification. 
Unfortunately, there are many people who profess a creed or religion in and through which they believe themselves to be superior to others. The average Jew believes himself to be superior to others, he sets himself apart not as much because he is interested in seeking God or a higher purpose to life as he is in not associating with men of lower stock. The radical Muslim straps a bomb on himself or picks an AK 47 rifle and walks into a restaurant to kill “infidels” he is sure are hell-bound even as he is confident he is going to some kind of paradise.
The Catholic looks derisively at the Protestant and is confident his Block Rosary makes him more of a Christian and that he is more broad minded than the Protestant, who is in turn convinced every Catholic is an idol worshipper. 

Think about the catastrophic consequences of stratification and discrimination on the basis of race.
The evils of racial segregation are well profiled. Slave Trade and ownership in the U.S, the Americas, and Europe was the height of man’s abominable inhumanity to his fellow man. The South of the United States has produced monstrosities like the Ku Klux Klan which made it a project to eliminate minorities, and the African American response to this saw organizations like the Nation of Islam, and characters like Malcolm X with his message on “all white men being devils” step into the limelight.
The white Apartheid government of South Africa committed reprehensible acts against native and indigenous blacks and arrogated to themselves the right to govern the multiplicity of races that eventually made up the multi-ethnic South African society. And govern they did…with brute force and criminal ferocity. 

We have heard about the complex caste system in India, the four different classes that make up the varna classification system and then there are the Dalits that don’t even feature in that system. They are not in any class as it were.  The class at the top of the chain in the Hindu caste system are the Brahmins who are supposedly “priestly people”, then directly under them you would have those that are supposedly predestined to be warriors, rulers, and administrators, these are called Kshatriyas. 
The next class under this would be the Vaishyas  who are artisans, tradesmen and merchants. Then the last on the spectrum are the Shudras, these are those that make up the laboring class and are the last considered on the varna classification list. 

Then there are the Dalits who have no class and no caste. They don’t even make the grade. They are literally outcasts and are off the scale totally.
An example of the Brahmins would be the Bengali people, while an example of the Dalits would be the Sangli people. 
These people don’t mix as Dalit literally means “untouchable”. 

So, people are already defined by others before they are conceived. Defined by others and having their destinies set by others. Set on the basis of their skin color or caste system or some other primordial consideration. 

I see that two major evil consequences of stratification not managed properly are a hindering of potential and an inability to take initiative. The reason for this is quite simple…
Whenever you allow anyone classify you the fact is you have given him a right to cancel you.
If you allow people fix you into a category you would also have ensured they determine the way you think and behave. This is because there are pre-conceived notions of what people in a certain category can think, believe, do, and aspire to.
For instance, if you are just a black man you will likely act in the way people who are merely black men behave. You would live within the framework of the stereotype and the “generally accepted” code of conduct expected of black men.  
If you are just a sexy looking girl, you will likely behave in the way that ladies who are merely sexy looking girls behave. You will most likely give into using your body to gain some sort of significance or relevance because you would have given into the mindset of those who like to objectify women.

There is a very popular religion which has a factor in its belief system that best exemplifies this. This factor is called “kismet”. It simply means “Fate”. Invariably, there are some born to be poor; they are designed to, according to this belief system, remain as the dregs of society and thus their aspirations are already set by society…this is what has produced the Almajiri system in Northern Nigeria. 

The tragedy of the human situation is that there will always be indices for segmentation in human behavior and history. This is inevitable.
And the truth of the matter is segregation in its entirety is not a product of man’s rebellion. Man’s rebellion indubitably exacerbated segregation and stratification, but even without it there still would never have been a classless society.

There is no point in time when there will be an equal system, on earth or in heaven, which gives people equal rewards for various levels of effort.
I believe in God, and I believe in the Heaven He created. I have studied the Bible and everything I see leaves me in no doubt that the Kingdom of God is premised on a reward system. A reward system based on equity.
I make bold to say that even God does not reward or bless on the basis of equality, instead He rewards and blesses on the basis of equity.
The principle is EQUITY not EQUALITY.

There will never be a time when everyone will be rewarded equally. If this ever happens it will make nonsense of incentives. 
Equity is justice and fairness. Not everyone will make equal contributions in life, so not everyone will receive equal results.

This is why communism will always be utopian. 

It never was, and never will be practicable that everyone in a society will be on an equal footing. We see the practical out-workings of this utopia in the satirical masterpiece by George Orwell, “The Animal Farm”. It is a literary composition written to express the prevailing circumstances before, during, and immediately after the Communist Revolution in Russia. If you have read it you will remember all the commandments that were initially given to the animals on the Farm, the first being “All animals are equal.” 
After Napoleon took over at the death of Old Major that commandment was surreptitiously changed, and it became, “All animals are equal…but some are more equal than others.”
This is the contradiction of the Communist ideology and its mode of production.

There is a fundamental part of human existence and the human constitution that ensures not everyone will receive the same output. This is simply because input will never cut across board.

We will continue this series

Westernization, Modernization, Post-Modernism and the Path to Progress I

WESTERNIZATION, MODERNIZATION, POST-MODERNISM & THE PATH TO PROGRESS (part 1)

I want to highlight a very important topic and begin the discussion of it today. 
The world today is divided by such terms as the First world, Second andThird world; there once were only Developed countries and Developing countries, then someone added a third group (Underdeveloped countries) to distinguish between those countries that are making an attempt to progress and those locked in the doldrums.
Then there are people who have mistakenly assumed that the Western countries are emblematic of Christianity and so everything done in them is an expression of this.
Then there are those who have accepted the imperialist thought that a country has to do every single thing like the West is doing it in order to become a progressive country or just to progress as a nation.

I would like to use this article to marginally point out the fallacies inherent in this type of thinking but primarily make a case for why nations that seek to progress and advance must not use the Western model as it is presently constituted as an example for emulation.
We will first begin with a brief definition of terms. I will try to make this as simple as possible so please bear with me.

Westernization is defined as a process in which societies adopt core aspects of western culture which include legislation, politics, economics, lifestyle, diet, clothing, language, philosophy, and values. The process involves western influences and interests joining with parts of society and causing a metamorphosis towards a more westernized character and the attaining of Western life or some aspects of it.
Westernization can also be related to acculturation and enculturation. Acculturation is “the process of cultural and psychological change that takes place as a result of contact between cultural groups and their individual members.” After such contact, changes in cultural patterns are evident within one or both cultures. Specific to westernization and the non-Western culture, foreign societies tend to adopt changes in their own social systems relative to Western ideology, lifestyle, and physical appearance, along with numerous other aspects, and shifts in culture patterns can be seen to take root as a community becomes acculturated to Western customs and characteristics – in other words, westernized. 
So this is evident in the type of music we see around the world through fora like MTV Base and the clothing we see most of our youth wear, mostly patterning themselves after the likes of gangsters, drug addicts, and entertainment based celebrities. 

Modernization refers to a model of progressive transition from a ‘pre-modern’ or ‘traditional’ to a ‘modern’ society. The theory looks at the internal factors of a country while assuming that with assistance, “traditional” countries can be brought to development in the same manner more developed countries have been. Modernization theory both attempts to identify the social variables that contribute to social progress and development of societies and seeks to explain the process of social evolution. It does this by maintaining that traditional societies will develop as they adopt “more modern practices.” Some point to the fact that modern states are wealthier and more powerful and that their citizens enjoy a higher standard of living. 
So, basically this means that those countries that have been classified as “modern” by reason of the attainment of certain standards and measurement by specific indices are used as the model of development, and several of the paths they have followed are held up to be the way to progress.
When not properly applied it will become imperialist thinking and will give the idea that the only path to development is the adoption of the same values (or lack thereof), ideology, culture, and lifestyles that produced it.
When properly applied and taken in context it is seen to be the truth. This is the way it was designed to be, but there are elements of perversion that were injected into the formula, these elements were not originally meant to be in the mix and have been embedded in it to derail the original purpose (I will throw further light on this later).

Post-Modernism describes both an era and a broad movement that developed in the late-20th century across philosophy, the arts, and architecture. While encompassing a broad range of ideas and projects, “postmodernism is typically defined by an attitude of skepticism or distrust toward grand narratives, ideologies, and various tenets of Enlightenment rationality, including the existence of objective reality and absolute truth, as well as notions of rationality, human nature, and progress. Instead, it asserts that knowledge and truth are the product of unique systems of social, historical, and political discourse and interpretation, and are therefore contextual and constructed. Accordingly, postmodern thought is broadly characterized among other things by tendencies to epistemological and moral relativism.”

Let me break this down a bit. Most Western countries have this post-modern ideology. A look at the above shows that this mindset interrogates notions of absolutism, immutable truth and anything that is not subject to empiricism. It embraces relativism and states that nothing can be known or understood completely, God either does not exist or is peripheral in the spectrum of our lives if He does, and truth is contextual.  
We find this thinking prevalent in the sort of education the Western world has since adopted and is bequeathing to Africa and the developing world- the kind of education they refer to as “Liberal Education”
The premise of proper education is that God is the center of the universe and we must “orbit” around Who He is and what He requires. But this Liberal education tells us we are the center, and God (if He exists) is at the periphery. 
Liberal Education has brought:-
(a) Humanism:- this is an ethical philosophy that prioritizes universal human qualities and intellect above all else
(b) Rationalism:- this is an intellectual position that rejects the validity of transcendental justifications, such as dependence on faith, the supernatural or divinely revealed truths
(c) Liberalism:- this is the belief that “freedom” supersedes morality. This “freedom” is essentially freedom from God
(d) Agnosticism:- this is the belief that ultimate reality is unknown and unknowable. So by implication if God exists you cannot know Him.

Having defined these terms I will now speak about how they affect advancement and genuine progress.

I have a Facebook friend who is an atheist; I saw a post he put up on what he noticed while watching a series of shows based on quizzes and mind games like “The Weakest Link”, and “Who wants to be a Millionaire”; he noticed that most of the questions that were asked about references to Scripture and Bible quotations were practically strange to the contestants. These questions on scripture were so basic that even he who had as much knowledge of God as a toddler has about quantum physics knew the answers.
I saw how he responded with incredulity to this and how he interpreted it to mean that the Caucasians sold Africans, and the rest of the world, a dummy. As far as he was concerned the white man took Christianity to Africa to exploit Africa, and having gotten what he wanted he (his descendants) has dropped that “tool” as it is no longer useful to him. The white man had thrown it so far away that he could not even remember the most basic of questions on the subject matter he was the principal purveyor of. 

I thought that was an interesting line of thought because I probably would have had the same thinking if I didn’t know any better. 
It’s perfectly understandable his mindset.
What else would any reasonable person think when he sees a salesman who convinces another person to buy a product he says is good for everyone without using it himself?
Only that the product is really good for everyone and has worked for all those that have ever used it with a full understanding of what it is. 

I have previously asked if there is any explanation as to why practically all the countries that are First World countries today were once known as Christian countries (as we have seen some of them now call themselves Post-Modern); I think the answer does not require very much critical thinking. 
At the risk of sounding biased I will still make this statement, “There is a connection between development and the lifestyle/teachings/ideology of Jesus”
The things Jesus taught were revolutionary and life transforming. There was no single people group that received His ideas and remained the same afterwards.

What we do in Africa and the developing world is copy the behavioral traits of the average, liberal Westerner in the false assumption that Westernization is synonymous with Modernization. It is not. 
Westernization and Liberalism are like the chicken and the egg, one produces the other and the other in turn produces the one that produced it. Modernization is not the same thing. 
The revolutionary teachings of Jesus Christ produced Modernization and what Westernization is doing today is taking us further away from Modernization, not bringing us closer to it.

Now the ideology and pattern of thought that is gaining ground on the prevailing orthodoxy is liberalism, but the people who are advancing this pattern of thought are actually truncating the same process that led to the emergence and development of the West, its countries and various people groups. Any Westerners who have imbibed this pattern of thinking and are spreading it are unwittingly retracing their steps and going back to the point at which their forebears originally were before the advent of the light that followers of Jesus brought.
Now these people criminalize righteousness and reward evil. Government is meant to legislate and enforce uprightness and righteous values but the trend now is to push for the punishment of those that are saying the things that the majority in the West once held as ideals- the things that made them worthy of emulation. 
However, now they have left all of that behind and among other perversions have embraced the very things that characterized the way of life of the heathens they once delivered through Christianity.
Take a look at abortion for instance-

All across primitive, pagan and heathen civilizations there were cases of infanticide in times past and it was people like the missionary Mary Slessor who helped stop the barbaric act of killing twins, now the descendants of those who sent her and once held to the ideal of the primacy of human life in every natural consideration are the ones that have taken the murder of innocent children to another level.
The rate of abortions in the Western world indicates the tragic indifference to human beings that is fast creeping in. The bloodshed that was characteristic of Africa and some other parts of the world has become the hallmark of the West in more subtle ways.
Dr. Gilda Sedgh of the Guttmacher Institute in the United States revealed some data from the latest global abortion study first published online in November 2013. Among much of what data was shared it was shown that any regard for life as a value in the Western world is increasingly rhetoric.
In Europe, around 30 per cent of pregnancies end in abortion. In North America the rate of abortions is 17 in every 1,000 women
Some might decide to start an argument as to whether aborting a foetus is the same as killing a human being, usually I would ask such people when life starts. Does it start inside the womb or does it only start after the child comes out in delivery?

Abortion is Infanticide. It is only permissible for medical reasons or when there is a choice to be made between the life of the child and the life of the mother. 
The gauntlet has been picked by those that once had the light and they are now the ones exporting this vice around the world. 
3,000 abortions take place everyday in the United States of America, that amounts to 1, 095,000 every year. Think about this.
And that’s not the only symptom of the regression of the West. Westernization produced Post-Modernism and this has produced its own vices chief of which is not just the attempted eradication of God from the mainstream but also His complete obliteration. Humanism is on the front burner in Post-Modernism, and the object is making man the center of the universe and the ultimate reason for the existence of everything.

It was about three years ago or so that I heard of a group of Europeans who went to the nation of Togo in West Africa to attend a voodoo festival, they got  involved in Satanic chants and incantations while eating human excreta; after the sordid experience they were asked about it and some of them spoke about how thrilled they were that they were “close to nature.”
They pulled out the heads of chickens and drank their blood, some tore off their clothes while others were barking like dogs. This group who went on “spiritual tourism” went in search of spiritism and ended up adopting the same things their forebears came to deliver Africans from. They came to explore nature and alternative paths and ended up encountering and adopting what they thought was just a product of superstition. 
They embraced the devil like many are unwittingly doing today-
There is no vacuum in life. Light either fills a void or darkness takes it.

 Even a cursory look at those nations that have toed the paths of spiritism, the occult, and shamanism will show how backward nations that reject the light are.
I will make some statements now. They might be offensive to some people but I would suggest that all those given to rational thinking should give them a long and hard thought.
There are countries like Haiti and the aforementioned Togo that institutionalize voodoo and witchcraft; all a rational person has to do is look at all the indices of development to realize that they are making very little progress.
On another note, we have been told that Islam is the “religion of peace”, if this were true the logical thing would be that everyone of us would be heading towards the Muslim world. Even the most basic knowledge of social science shows the correlation between peace and human progress.
 Nobody would be migrating to the West because the maternal mortality rate, literacy levels, Gross Domestic Product/Gross National Product, per capita income, ratio of jobs to people, and many other indices would be much more favorable in Muslim countries than in the West.
Women would not be oppressed, poverty would not be commonplace (over 90% of those that meet the United Nations assessment of living in extreme poverty are in Muslim dominated areas of the world), factional crises would not be the norm, and terrorism would not be over 95% constituted by Muslims.
In Nigeria, the quota system has been applied, among several other sectors, to education because the Muslim dominated North is said to be “educationally disadvantaged”, so cut-off marks into institutions have been dropped to preposterously low levels in order to keep up with the Christian dominated South. 
Despite the fact that out of the almost 56 years since Nigeria’s independence the country has had rulers from the Southern part for just over 15 years while over 40 years have been under administrations led by people of Northern extraction the areas where Islam has been dominant are still the most backward in the country.

This is not meant to be a slight on Muslims because I know many good natured, decent, progressive and anti-violent Muslims, but the fact remains they are not developed because of Islam but in spite of it.

The ancient civilizations and Barbarians that eventually made up Europe were involved in exactly the same type of behavior Africans were involved in before the advent of Christianity. Those who once prided themselves in mythology, idolatry, demon worship as well as extremely brutal acts of savagery received the light that came from following Jesus and the result was development.
The West got ahead of Africa largely because they had a head-start that was more than 18 centuries long.
The teachings of Jesus, His ideology, and the life and community transformation that is the result of these were in Europe centuries before anyone in Africa ever heard of Jesus.
Now it is turning 180 degrees.

We know that when the sun rises in one part on the earth it sets in another. When there is light in one part of the earth there is darkness in another. Darkness is not a phenomenon, it is simply the absence of light.
Now some of the people who were once light bearers have rejected the light and the direct consequence of that is darkness. Since there is no vacuum in life the implication is that “Rejecting one is accepting the other.”
Light and Darkness are mutually exclusive. Anything that is not consistent with light is synonymous with darkness.
The Bible tells us “God is Light” (1 John 1:5), and Jesus called Himself the “Light of the World” (John 8:12)
As several in the West have turned away from the Light they have sunk deep into the mire of darkness. 
There are many of such people that are reverting to tree hugging, ancestor worship, and other forms of idolatry, and the consequences are subtly creeping in on them.
I saw the unwrapping of all these once when I watched a group of “tree huggers” and followers of “Mother Nature” who were the subjects of a documentary shown on BBC once; they engaged in a mass wedding, but this was not just the average wedding, it was a wedding that was meant to reflect through them the “original” condition of man and his attachment to nature. They got buck naked in a bid to remove the “encumbrances” of civilization and civility and walked in the forests in order to maintain their soul tie to nature. 
It dawned on me that they were traveling in the opposite direction from where ancient civilizations came into the path of progress into the Light.

There can be only one result for those that seek to institutionalize and nationalize homosexuality, idolatry/witchcraft, impiety, abortion, and all other such vices, and that result is not progress.
Progress and Advancement will only come as we consistently follow the Light the West initially followed. The light that got them to where they are presently.
In the second segment of this series I will point out in more definite terms how and why nations must follow this Light if they want progress.

ENEMIES OF GOD

ENEMIES OF THE FAITH

“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
James 4:4

One of the things that is likely to strike the reader of this article would be the image of the man being stabbed in the back.
This is an apt description of what we are about to discuss. Enemies of God are usually not in plain sight if you don’t know what to look for. And this makes them all the more dangerous so when they strike it hits one in the place least expected.

I remember speaking in a Bible conference somewhere once where I used the phrase “enemy of God.” I also remember how someone, a preacher at that, took me to task immediately afterwards and asked me how God could have “enemies”. He went all sanctimonious on me and started lecturing me as to how God loves every single human being and how God only had friends and no enemies.
I agreed with him on the first part that had to do with God loving humans but thoroughly disagreed as to the part in which he claimed God had no enemies. 

I mentioned several scriptures to him and showed that the Bible was replete with references to those that God considered enemies. One of such verses is above.
So, the question later became, “what makes a person an enemy of God?”

When we hinder His program and fraternize with those that want to destroy it we have become enemies of God.
There are three different moulds that are relevant today in order to understand who an enemy of God is.

“Now it came to pass, when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies, heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though at that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;) That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief…Then sent Sanballat his servant unto me in like manner the fifth time with an open letter in his hand; Wherein was written, It is reported among the heathen, and Gashmu saith it, that thou and the Jews think to rebel: for which cause thou buildest the wall, that thou mayest be their king, according to these words. And thou hast also appointed prophets to preach of thee at Jerusalem, saying, There is a king in Judah: and now shall it be reported to the king according to these words. Come now therefore, and let us take counsel together. Then I sent unto him, saying, There are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of thine own heart. For they all made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.”

Nehemiah 6:1-2, 5-9 

There were three main sources of opposition that Nehemiah faced while doing the work of God. These are the same three sources of opposition we will face as the Church or as individual believers every time we attempt to do God’s work. 
These sources are symbolized by three men:-

(a) Sanballat the Horonite was a native of Beth-Horon; and his name Sanballat, literally means “Sin the moon god has given life”. The name is worth taking note of, and is highly symbolic as this man represents all satanic opposition to the truth of God’s Word, His Church and His work in our world today.

It is no mystery that the devil has a morbid hatred for Christ, the Church, and individual believers. That is not news.
One of the reasons he attempted to rebel against God is to usurp the Throne of God and claim His glory. This is why he would have the audacity to claim he can give life. 
Satan is real and influences people to act in certain ways for the furtherance of his objective; he is able to give direction to those that give him attention, ….and many do so unwittingly.

Most of us understand that we live in a three dimensional world. 
Almost every tangible thing we see and handle has three dimensions. It has length, breadth, and height. The chair you are sitting on right now, the electronic device you are reading this article on, the bowl from which you would have had breakfast this morning, and practically every other physical thing we use. That is easily seen and easily understood.

What is not as easily understood is the fact that there is a fourth dimension. An invisible, intangible dimension whose major part most people are still oblivious to. The part of the fourth dimension that many of us are conversant with is the intellectual and mental realm, it is in this dimension that we have thoughts and ideas.
For instance, the clothes you are wearing existed somewhere before they showed up in the physical, material realm; the car you drive existed somewhere before it showed up in the physical, material realm. They all existed in the minds of the manufacturers/producers.
That much is understandable.

What many of us do not understand however is that there is more to the fourth dimension than that. Thoughts exist in the mental or intellectual realm, but the intellectual realm is not the only thing that exists in the fourth dimension. There is a spiritual realm that is part of the fourth dimension. There is a sponsor for almost everything we see and do, and that sponsor is either God or the devil. 
As we live our everyday lives we consciously or unconsciously incline towards either of the two pathways. 
Whether we know it or not we are actively living out a script and contributing our quota either to the advancement of the Kingdom of God or the advancement of the cause of the devil…

There is no vacuum in life.
A wise man said it this way-  “Principalities work through Personalities.” 

In Sanballat’s case he was consciously opposing the program of God and knew exactly what he stood for, but he most likely did not understand the consequences.
Today we can readily point to groups like Satanists, New Agers, Occultists, Necromancers, Atheists, and several others, and see that they fall into the mould of Sanballat the Horonite.

Yet the above list is not exhaustive.

There are some ways to pinpoint those that are under this mould even if they fit into any classifications other than the ones listed above.
One way stands out prominently for me. 

Having studied this phenomenon for a while I have come to the conclusion that any person that has an irrational hatred for God, Jesus Christ, the Church, or believers in Christ is a person who is under an influence- a diabolical influence.
I will go a step further and say that the wave of Anti-Semitism all across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa is a product of that same influence. 
The person that sponsors the hatred of Jesus Christ and His Church is the same one that sponsors hatred against Israel. There are many under this influence that are oblivious to the fact that they are. For them their irrational hatred is ordinary.
But we must understand that nothing is ordinary.

(b) The third person who was mentioned was Geshem the Arab; I am putting him second on the list because I would want to end with the second person. 

As I previously mentioned Geshem was an Arab, a descendant of Ishmael, the alternative to faith. 
This man’s name means “Firmness” and he represents all the legalists who with their fleshly strength attempt to do spiritual work. 
He is first and foremost a symbol of Islam and Muslims, especially those who engage in militant Islam. He represents those that actually think they are doing God’s work while all the time they are destroying it. 
The Bible says, “These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.”
(John 16:1-2)

There are these ones that actually believe they are following God but are unconsciously living in opposition to His will. There are some who have embarked on “Jihad” thinking they will gain heaven by killing others.
Watching commentaries on many of the young men drawn to ISIS it becomes more apparent that a majority of those drawn to this warped ideology are petty criminals and wasted youth who try to make some sort of penance in the hope that they can pay for their previous misdemeanors by submitting their lives for a “higher cause.”
Tragic really.

A religion/creed/ideology that is based heavily on works and the deeds one must undertake to secure salvation is one that will breed an air of superiority and arrogance in the mistaken assumption that they will pay their way to heaven through observances.
Thus, they will fight those who believe in concepts like the original sin, and that Jesus Christ is the Son and the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world. 

Geshem is the profile of those who try to use strict religious observances like absolution, praying five times a day, zakat, and all other fleshly practices to gain spiritual and Providential acceptance. 
Tragically, there are also some in the Church who are trying to follow God using the same pattern. The legalistic means they follow is what keeps them bound by the law

(c) The second person in the trio mentioned in the Bible after Sanballat was Tobiah the Ammonite; a descendant of Ammon, the son of Lot. I have placed him last on the list because his profile is the most strategic and tragic of the three and concerns believers the most. He is the most unfortunate character of all three.

We might remember that Lot was Abraham’s nephew and lived with him for many years.
On his own Lot was described as a “righteous man” (2 Peter 2:7); this means that Tobiah had a godly heritage and lineage. 
 Tobiah’s name literally means “The Lord is good.” 
So obviously he understood the language of the Kingdom and if we were to use modern day parlance we could say he was a “church boy”.
Yet he was obstructing the path of the Lord by joining in with Sanballat. 
Tobiah was part of the fifth column.

“A fifth column is any group of people who undermine a larger group—such as a nation or a besieged city—from within, usually in favor of an enemy group or nation. The activities of a fifth column can be overt or clandestine. Forces gathered in secret can mobilize openly to assist an external attack. Clandestine fifth column activities can involve acts of sabotage, disinformation, or espionage executed within defense lines by secret sympathizers with an external force…Emilio Mola, a Nationalist General during the Spanish Civil War, told a journalist in 1936 that as his four columns of troops approached Madrid, a ‘fifth column’ (Spanish: Quinta columna) of supporters inside the city would support him and undermine the Republican government from within.”

Fifth columnists exist everywhere. Even in Church. The contest between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of the devil is for souls and for the eternal destinies of nations. It is for influence over this world- to purify it and make life worth living, or to corrupt it, deface it, and absolutely destroy it. 

Tobiah represents the 5th columnists, the lip service and carnal “Christians” who cause trouble and hinder God’s program with their fleshly thinking and actions. The name suggests they belong with us, but their words and action prove they are strangers to the covenant of grace. They are in Church but not really of Christ.
Tobiah was more or less a spiritual Uncle Tom.

I have seen people who are supposedly people of God and “insiders” who are the first to blow a whistle on even the smallest indiscretion of their pastors or any other church leaders; they do this even when they are far from perfect and have done even worse than what they broadcast outside. I have seen people who are blessed by a ministry and have had their whole lives turned around only to turn against that same ministry further down the road.
I have seen people who criticize the way their church handles finances even when they have not contributed a dime and have no moral rights to do so. These ones who don’t share in the weight of the vision and contribute absolutely nothing still are the ones that go out to say things they have absolutely no understanding of.
I have seen people who think there are things they should have but the moment their pastor has the same things they are up in arms, even when they have given him nothing. They criticize the pastor, the congregation, the vision, and every other conceivable thing when it does not go their way.
I have seen some church people who are within the church but are not part of it; they use their carnal mindset in decision making and pursue only what they stand to gain from…absolutely not interested in what God wants.
They will readily foist a political candidate on their community or nation for parochial and primordial reasons like race, tribe, or personal financial gain. They would not as much as think about what the Kingdom of God either stands to gain or lose.

When a church person goes out to spread anything that will bring shame to the Church without considering the effect it will have on the unsaved then he fits into the mould of Tobiah. 
When a church person goes out to defame the Church or his pastor because of a personal grievance or for some individual gain he fits into the mould of Tobiah.
When a church person takes it upon himself to openly criticize church leaders especially when there is no contribution of his to the church he fits into the mould of Tobiah.
When a church person does not consider the divine program before selecting who will govern him and millions of others he fits into the mould of Tobiah.

When a church person does not understand he is a representative of the kingdom and puts his selfish interests forward and ends up in partnership with the enemies of the cross and possibly ends up spreading what could cause further damage, whether factual or not, to the cause of God and the Body of Christ he, just like Judas Iscariot, fits into the mould of Tobiah. 

David, the king of Israel and man after God’s heart, was faced with a situation where he learnt about the death of one who had sworn David must first die; he was told of the demise of one who had sought his destruction in a vengeful manner; he was told of the death of Saul. But because David looked beyond the man who intended for him to perish and saw the significance of his death and the shame it would bring to the cause of He whom Saul once represented, he said-

“The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places:
how are the mighty fallen!
Tell it not in Gath,
publish it not in the streets of Askelon;
lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,
lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.”
2 Samuel 1:19-20

This is how a kingdom minded person would think. 
So, assess yourself and see if you are an enemy of the faith

The Directorate of State Services and the Fulani Herdsmen problem

THE DSS  STATEMENT AND THE FULANI HERDSMEN PROBLEM

This writer knows a reasonable amount of well educated and well intentioned Hausa-Fulani. This article puts to light the same things a hood number of them have commented against.

Throughout history the major premise of violent conflict has always been the contention for resources. People groups, communities, and nations have gone into full scale war over material resources. This is not uncommon.

More than half of the wars Israel has fought with its neighbors for instance are directly traceable to skirmishes over water or land.

Fulani herdsmen and farmers conflict in Nigeria was partly a land resource based conflict predominantly in the North of the country. It was once customary and understandable that herdsmen and local farmers would have some sort of strife as their interests, though complimentary, looked mutually exclusive more often than not. The herdsmen supply much needed beef through the cows they lead around, while the farmers produce food items the beef compliments. This, in theory, is straightforward and facile, the practice of it, on the other hand, is another thing entirely. 

According to a Human Rights Watch report of December 2013 violence between Fulani herdsmen, farmers and local communities had killed 3,000 people since 2010. Fulani herders and farmers are in constant violent conflict over herdsmen’s increased need for access to grazing lands against the expansion of farmland by farmers into corridors traditionally used by the Fulani. Farmers accuse the Fulani herders of allowing their animals to feed on still-growing crops and contamination of community watering-places. The Fulani herders in turn accuse the farmers of denying them access to grazing areas when alternatives cannot be found. 

It is comprehensible that there would be a certain amount of strife between farmers who plow their ancestral farmlands and herdsmen whose livestock intrude on such lands eating the crops and destroying the remnants, however, what is happening with the crises between herdsmen and farmers has seen a profound degeneration, one that portends unimaginable repercussions.  

Previously, the conflicts between the Fulani herdsmen and indigenous farmers was largely in the core north of Nigeria. There were skirmishes in the Middle Belt, but they were few and far between. Now these conflicts have gone beyond mere skirmishes and Fulani herdsmen wielding sophisticated weapons move into entire communities, in a mode of operation that is similar to the terrorist group Boko Haram, and ransack them while killing and raping innocent people.
 However, unlike the Boko Haram menace which is localized these marauders rampage through communities and have now spread their activities to the South of the country.

With the massacres of thousands of innocent people in recent years (incidents like the Dogo Na Hawa massacre of over 500 indigenous people in Plateau State and the recent genocide of multiplied hundreds of Idomas in Agatu, Benue State readily come to mind) there has been the sustained question by well meaning Nigerians as to how best the situation can be handled.

There have been systematic and sustained killings going on for many years in places like Plateau State and in many other places where Fulani take their cows for grazing.
In the past few months there has been an upsurge in sporadic killings and the wanton destruction of communities in many different places across the country. The kidnap of a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation in his country home in Ondo State was traced to the Fulani. So was  the kidnap and murder of a traditional ruler from Delta State. After the murder of a 65 year old farmer in Edo State and the subsequent discovery of his mutilated body by relatives the youth in the community burnt down a Fulani enclave after it was learnt that the perpetrators came from there and every single Fulani had subsequently taken to their heels.

With the situation getting out of hand responsible citizens have looked for succor from the government but recent events have brought out a very ominous pattern. 
Apart from the fact that there have not been any arrests after the pogroms committed by many of these Fulani herdsmen it would seem that the relevant security agencies have taken sides with the criminal elements among them.
After a series of protests by some farmers over the activities of the Fulani herdsmen in Awgu, Enugu State a few weeks ago 75 of these farmers were arrested and detained without charge. 
It is not clear if a single Fulani was invited for questioning.

In the most recent of ambivalences the Directorate of State Services has gone on to make a very callous, irresponsible and inflammatory statement, to the effect that a group of “Biafran activists” murdered and buried five Fulanis in a mass grave.
In a statement signed by its spokesperson, Tony Opuiyo, the DSS said the killing of the Hausa-Fulani residents has triggered tension among different communities in Abia State.
Although Mr. Opuiyo said five men were killed alongside several other unidentified persons, only the names of four individuals were provided.
“The Service has uncovered the heinous role played by members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), in the abduction/kidnap of five Hausa-Fulani residents, namely Mohammed Gainako, Ibrahim Mohammed, Idris Yakubu and Isa Mohammed Rago at Isuikwuato LGA in Abia State,” Mr. Opuiyo said.
“The abducted men were later discovered at the Umuanyi forest, Abia State, where they were suspected to have been killed by their abductors and buried in shallow graves, amidst fifty (50) other shallow graves of unidentified persons.
“Arrest and investigation conducted so far, revealed that elements within the IPOB, carried out this dastardly action”, he added.
Mr. Opuiyo said he was alerting Nigerians to the ‘divisive’ and ‘gruesome’ activities of IPOB operatives.
“It is pertinent therefore to alert the general public that IPOB, is gradually showing its true divisive colour and objectives, while steadily embarking on gruesome actions in a bid to ignite ethnic terrorism and mistrust amongst non-indigenes in the South-East region and other parts of the country.
“Following this act, tension is currently rife among communal stakeholders in the State with possibilities of spillover to other parts of country”, Mr. Opuiyo said.

Even if we are to disregard the fact that the aforementioned group is one which has no history of engaging in violence and is simply fighting for self-determination even as its  members have been tortured and killed by security forces while having peaceful demonstrations the DSS statement is still reckless, unconscionable, and morally reprehensible.

In the face of its apparent inability to stop the murderous rampage by the criminal elements within the ranks of Fulani herdsmen, or worse still, it’s complicity, the DSS does not have the moral right to speak about the fanning of mistrust and the igniting of ethnic terrorism in any form.
To then make such a brazen statement in the face of its incompetence in providing adequate security for the citizenry it is meant to protect is taking irresponsibility to previously unimaginable lows. 

Just what is the thinking of the authorities in allowing their spokesman make such unfounded and highly polarizing claims? And even if it is valid is there no better way for such information to be managed in such a tense environment already deeply divided along the fault lines that are so apparent in the Nigerian society?
Why have they not made arrests and intelligent statements concerning the internecions and decimations of entire communities and families by Fulani marauders? Children in diapers are slaughtered like fowls along with their family members and burnt alive in their multiplied hundreds. The loss of lives by these vampires in just the past few months has hit record highs and is numbering in their thousands, and all the security agencies have the nerve to tell us is that the perpetrators are foreigners.

For the avoidance of doubt, I believe in the sanctity of human life, and I believe that it must be respected. Murder in any shape, form or guise is completely unacceptable. For this reason I find some things absolutely befuddling.
One thousand Shiite Muslims were massacred in Zaria and buried in mass graves. Thousands more Nigerians of every other ethnic stock have been brutally raped and murdered by Fulani herdsmen. The International Terror Index has listed the Fulani militia in Nigeria as the “fourth most deadly terror organization in the world”; and the DSS has said absolutely nothing about these.

Why has the DSS only just found its voice? The double standards here are just too acute to be swept under the carpet.
Are the security agencies attempting to serve sectional interests to the detriment of everyone else they swore to protect?

Anyone can readily do the research and see how much an AK 47 rifle costs in financial terms. Havocscope, a global black market information site puts the average cost of AK 47 rifles worldwide at $534 per gun. Other unconfirmed sources put the cost of rounds at between $3 and $5 for a box of 20.
The question then becomes, “how do these mostly indigent nomads afford to buy and use these weapons?”

Anyone that has even a superficial knowledge of the Fulani will know that it is customary for their elite to own heads of cattle. Between the Sultan of Sokoto, the Emir of Kano, the President of Nigeria and all the other members of the Hausa-Fulani elite across Nigeria there is the ownership of multiplied hundreds of thousands of cattle. 
These cattle are not ranched and so are given to Fulani nomads to lead about. 

Following the rapid desertification of the core north  of Nigeria many of these nomads are heading south with their cattle in search of grazing fields…which are fast becoming killing fields. 

Nigeria is a country that is currently a melting pot of a very dangerous brew of things. With the current unemployment situation, the acute fuel scarcity, hunger, desperation, epileptic power supply, corruption, exploitation of ethno-centric and religious leanings, mass illiteracy, inept and arrogant political class/ leaders bereft of both ability and vision, their crass impunity, and culture of mediocrity, the flagrant disregard of due process and court orders, and the continuous violation of the constitutionally backed secularity of state we already have a very full plate.
To now add a divisive and sectional security apparatus intent on further stoking well lit fires will lead to a conflagration.
The questions at this juncture would now be, “Is this what they want, or are they obtuse to the point of not realizing what is bleeding obvious?”

WHY GOD DOES NOTHING WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN

WHY GOD DOES NOT INTERVENE 

WHERE IS GOD WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN?

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘thy will be done.'”- C.S Lewis

A plane crashes in the Alps instantly killing hundreds of passengers, among whom are about twenty children, at least two of which are infants. 

A young girl who is less than six years old gets sexually molested from that age by an uncle, and then her father over the next twelve years…at least two hundred times.
A four year old girl is given away to a “cousin” by her mom who knows fully well that she would be trafficked and plunged into the underworld of crime and prostitution by the pimp who calls himself a family member. The girl grows up through this sordid maze and sleeps with different breeds of men, in some cases having over 80 different customers in one day, in order to survive.

Adolf Hitler murdered at least 6 million Jews.

Multitudes of black men and other minorities lie in unmarked graves, victims of terrible racist acts perpetrated in the South of the United States. Slave-masters abducting people from their lands in Africa and transporting them like logs of wood for thousands of miles across the Atlantic. White Supremacists lynching innocent blacks through centuries of slave trade, and still doing so today through institutionalized methods even after the abolition of slave trade. 
Like the invaders who snatched lands from the Native Americans and subjugated them to years of oppression the Apartheid government of Boers kept the majority black population in repression, unfathomable humiliation, and untold hardship for years on end.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in Syria since the turn of the Arab Spring, caught in a conflict that is not of their own making, many bombed to smithereens while others are singed by chemical and biological weapons.
A bunch of brigands referred to as ISIS obliterates entire cities and towns, pillaging them and beheading the inhabitants like sheep in an abattoir. As they do this they abduct Yazidi girls and sell them off in their slave market. Their vampire colleagues called Boko Haram storm remote villages with machine guns and machetes hacking down innocent and defenseless people like they were playing a computer game.

Ebola strikes entire communities in West Africa killing multiplied thousands and drastically affecting the economies of the countries in which those communities are. A story I remember vividly was about a victim of Ebola in a Liberian community who died with her 5-7 month old baby in her arms. The medical workers were called in, they got there to find the gory sight of the infant crying and sucking on the breast of the corpse.

There are, no doubt, many more of such cases and examples of the evil with which this world is besieged. Not only is evil ubiquitous, it seems to also be proliferating at an alarming rate.

We live in a world where terrible things happen. Of that there is no doubt. What seems to be in doubt though is a good God who is well intentioned, magnanimous, and benevolent “allowing” such terrible things happen.

I have heard well meaning people ask this question, and I have seen those who seek to support their vacuous claims of the non-existence of God attempt to use this as a rhetorical question in a bid to fortify their arrogant ignorance. 

So, where is God when bad things happen? Where is He in the face of tragedy?

The answer is “He is there”

The next question then becomes, “Why doesn’t He do anything to stop the tragedy from happening?” or “Does He do anything to stop the tragedy from happening?”

There are two answers to these questions. They are what I choose to call “Legality” and “Morality”

LEGALITY: 

“The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord ‘s:
but the earth hath he given to the children of men.”
Psalm 115:16

In creating this world God handed it over to man; this singular action gave man legality on the earth. It was not ownership of the earth that God gave to man, it was stewardship. This stewardship was a lease, and this lease will expire some day, but up until that time man has legality and will only have what he permits, by commission or omission, in his life.
By way of illustration, if Mr. Williams owned a facility that Mr. Harold chose to lease for his fast food restaurant, for let’s say ten years, that facility although owned by Mr. Williams would be under the administration of Mr. Harold for the duration of time covered in the agreement. Although Mr. Williams still owns the building he would not be at liberty to walk into the offices and kitchen of Mr. Harold’s restaurant because though it is technically his building the business it is being used for is another person’s.

In a similar manner, God gave man the earth to steward on a lease but humanity (through the actions of the progenitor of the human race) lined up with the devil. It is this alliance that has produced the diabolical desolation the world is experiencing today.

This is why redemption became imperative. 

As many as have given their lives to Christ have been legally delivered from the devil’s bondage and are no longer under his authority. And because man has legality whoever he invites into the “facility” (his world) is who comes in.

America drives God out of her schools and gets perturbed when the devil replaces Him? Europe send Him out of her national life and blames Him when things go wrong? He seems to be the one to shoulder the blame for all the tragedy. And that would make sense IF He were the one that ran all the affairs.
It would be fair to blame Him for the tragedy if He were the one that ran the earth. But He is not the one. He handed over power to man and man gave it to the devil…willfully.

This is why the Church is here. To advance the cause of the LORD and expand His kingdom.
This is the reason for redemption. To stand with God for the deliverance and liberation of countless multitudes flung on the path of perdition but for whom the price of freedom has been paid.
If you are saved you are required to help God in this regard; work with Him and help Him as a partner-

Someone might ask, “Does God need help?”

“Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord,
curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof;
because they came not to the help of the Lord,
to the help of the Lord against the mighty.”

(Judges 5:23)

Since leasing the world to humanity He has maintained the legal position of non-interference, not getting involved until He is invited.
This policy is still what applies today, and it will be so until the lease expires and He reclaims the possession which was handed over to man. Until then, He needs someone to help Him intervene in the affairs and issues causing so much pain and decadence in the world today.

In the end, the question will be “Did you live for your will, or did you live for His?”

MORALITY: Force and Freedom make uneasy partners and an emphasis on one always diminishes the other. Coercion does not produce Freedom and this is quite clear in human history. How many times have we seen force produce real freedom?

The U.S invasion of Iraq is a case in point. It was supposed to “free” the Iraqis from the tyrannical grip of the despot Saddam Hussein. That show of force has produced just about as much freedom as a rock in the desert produces orange juice.

The parents among you will undoubtedly understand how it is possible for one to rebuke a recalcitrant child and make him sit down when he wants to stand. Sometimes, even a cursory glance at that child will reveal his thought pattern as the scowl on his face tells you, “I may be sitting on the outside but I’m standing on the inside.” 
This is exactly what God faces if He attempts to force or coerce anyone to do His bidding.

In the Bible records show that Intervention without Invitation does not produce Transformation. The Old Testament nation of Israel had God intervene on their behalf after their cries for deliverance from the affliction of Pharaoh reached His ears. He sent Moses and set them free through mighty signs and wonders, but it would take only a few steps into the Sinai for the people to forget and start showing monumental levels of ingratitude as they complained against Moses and murmured incessantly while yearning earnestly for the lifestyle they were delivered from. The mental conditioning of slavery made it practically impossible to move these people into the Land of Freedom.

The Bible also tells us prophetically about something that will happen when Adam’s lease ends. The Lord Jesus Christ will return again and the devil will be imprisoned for 1,000 years; this millennium would be one of unprecedented increase and bliss for everyone. The shocking thing though, is that after it the devil will be released from His prison and will go to the four corners of the earth seeking support, and will find active supporters from those who would have partaken of the 1,000 years of bliss and abundance. There are those who will still embrace the devil willingly even after all the love God Almighty would have shown them…try and imagine how many would embrace Satan’s deception if God used force on men and turned us all to subservient machines.

It is against the boundaries of a Moral God to coerce or force a person to do anything; even if it is for the good of that person.

It is for these reasons that God will not intervene until He is invited.