Friday, October 21, 2011

Overcoming Failure

Kyle Zimmer
President & CEO, First Book

Failure is one of my favorite topics. Because you can fail without ever succeeding, but you can never succeed without failing.

Now I think what helps everybody overcomes failure, which maybe more important in my own failures, is been brave enough to continue to question. To test it, to test it. Test ideas, test new ideas. And then when they don’t work out, pull back and go a different direction.

Don’t be afraid that everything you try is not a home run, because it is never going to be.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish

Steve Jobs
Commencement Address, Stanford University

June 12, 2005

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.
My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sins of the Fathers

Ayamma Edeani
Port Harcourt, Nigeria

The issue seems like the proverbial bad coin that keeps turning up at odd moments. Yesterday was such a moment in my life again and I feel I should throw it open to all of us in this forum where I have often been enlightened and blessed. Every time I take a stand based on what I understand from the Word, another argument that also comes from the Word that makes me review my earlier stand. I guess maybe I get shaken based on happenings in my life but I would like answers again based on the Word that may help me take a final decision on this issue once and for all.

So what is the issue? Inheritance of curses based on acts done by our forefathers. Wait! Before you jump up arms in the air, quoting scriptures or wondering what kind of baby believer question this is. Let me present the different sides as I have heard it and the most recent being from a Caucasian Christian (I was of the opinion that only African ministers believed the issue and hence the proliferation of deliverance ministers).

The book I read that made me reexamine the issue is written by an author Cindy Jacobs (The Voice of GOD. Ventura, Calif. Regal Books, 1995). In the book, she talked of generational sins and bondages using Deut 5: 9, 10 as her background scripture. She pointed out that this was equally applicable to Christians of the church age. She tried to explain that these sins and weaknesses tended to manifest even in believers lives who had such background as strongholds that tended to pull at them even when they had no desires of such. Although she mostly used old testament characters such as David, Solomon, Rahab to illustrate, she clarifies her point by saying that generational iniquity is the effect seen down the generations when sin was by a forebear.

Christ has carried our iniquities but she postulates that we as Christians have to appropriate the power of the cross at times in very specific ways to receive freedom, Acts 19:18. She listed the following areas as areas to check for generational iniquities and bondages that may manifest in different ways in a believers life, some seemed rather farfetched to me but here it is:


These she says may be the source of hardship and problems in a believer’s life that will demand a conscious identification with these sins and breaking their effect in one’s life. She equally advised that one may need to meet someone to help with breaking this bondage.

I have attended several bible studies during which the issue of sins of the fathers affecting the children and I can assure you it was never a dull one. Opinions varied depending on which school the speaker was from. Some claimed since the Deuteronomy verse was in the Old Testament before Christ, it cant be applied to born again, Holy Spirit filled Christians. Still others quoted the scripture wherein God said no longer will the iniquities of the fathers be accrued to the children that do righteously (Ezekiel 18). Quoting from the New testament, in 2 Corinthians 5:17, they argued that in Christ, we are new beings and so should not have to bear any of the sins of our parents seeing we have now been born into a new family.

Others talk of the sins of the parents giving satan a legal entry into the children’s life because God respect covenants and so will not intervene when rights were given to satan by the parents until the children consciously reject and renounce such covenants.

I hold unto the premise that Christ finished His work on Calvary as such we have no business with the sins of our fathers. However I also know that many people are plagued by issues and problems they cant seem to fathom the origin. A more thorough look at their lineage reveals engagement by forefathers in all sorts that are usually reprehensible. Some pastors have claimed that it is the ignorance of these christians in their authority as believers that has made them easy prey for the devil. I also know some of these ones who are firebrand Christians, yet life has not been easy for them. For some, the earth is like brass and the heavens closed in terms of prosperity despite every effort and hardwork.

The court is open, for genuine word based arguments. No sentiments please because the future of certain people will be determined by the advice given here on how to address the issue. Can the sins of the father or forefathers plague the future of a child of God?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Nigeria: One Nation Indivisible

Ayamma Edeani
Port Harcourt, Nigeria

It is another October 1st, a time when the drums are rolled out to commemorate the independence of our great nation, Nigeria. It has been 51 years of excitement, if one may say so. Different persons have differing views of how we have fared as a nation of many nations under one banner. Recent events have brought to fore again, the call by many that the time has come for all the individual nations in this entity called Nigeria to sit and discuss the terms under which we want to coexist together or peacefully disunite.

A largely heterogeneous mix that was “ceremoniously” united by the colonial masters without recourse to the desires of the component groups was bond to fray over time at the edges. A stitch in time saves nine is an apt idiom of what should have been done to enable the fabric of this nation hold. However the leaders, inherited, forced on or voted into power have not helped the issue. Selfishness, ethnocentric inclinations, religious intolerance, gross corruption amongst other things has served to fan the embers under the cauldron of seething sedition.

Many are they which are calling for a round table conference (whether in sincerity or out of a bid to be known, is irrelevant) to discuss the terms on which we can continue as a nation. Others are of the opinion that there is nothing to hold us together, so we are better off going our separate ways. On the surface, the latter opinion seems simple and less complicated but I also know if we are to split, a round table and a referendum are unavoidable.

The burning question is “along which lines will we split that will engender widespread acceptance and guarantee harmony”? Suppose we say the North from the South, we do see that the different nations under the 2 divisions are unlikely to comfortable in that lumping together. As can be seen in the perennial Jos crisis, the indigenous people are having a running battle with Fulani. To the uninformed, all persons from the Northern states are Hausas or Fulani, but to indigenes, there is no compromise to their identity and right to exist without being submerged under a “dominant” tribe. Should we talk of the Niger Delta with their numerous tribal entities that already feel marginalized within their states and are agitating for sovereignty?

Suppose the lines are to be drawn according to religious beliefs such as created the country Pakistan from India? In Nigeria, although the North is termed predominantly Islamic, there are states in which Christians hold their own in terms of population, what will happen then? Nigeria in theory is termed a secular state, yet religious crisis between adherents of Islam and Christianity in the Northern parts are rife. What can we expect if we split along religious lines? In the West, the populace consists of a good mix of Muslims, Christians, adherents to the religions of their forebears and those mixing two of the religions. Under which religious grouping will we consign the west then?

Irrespective of the differing good arguments for how we can divide amicably, I cannot truly see a light at the end of that tunnel. The problems we are facing will probably still remain and maybe grow worse. I stand to be educated and corrected, but I am yet to see countries that have divided due to their problems become havens of peaceful coexistence amongst its new stakeholders. Therefore I would buy into the reasoning of the first group, that as unwarranted the amalgamation of this country was, we are in it for good and we can make the best of our heterogeneity.

As a minority and a Christian, when I read or hear news of certain happenings in the country, everything within me cries for a split, but then I remember that I am not here by mistake. I could have been born a Ghanaian or Palestinian, but I am proudly Nigerian though sometimes one has to search hard to see what to be proud of. I believe as a Christian I have a major role to play in how this country moves towards achieving all it has potential to be. I also believe that our spiritual instructors have a strong voice that can echo loudly enough to change the course of this nation. It is unfortunate that when we need to hear those voices, they are silent and allow false prophets and pastors to speak. I thank GOD for the current leadership of CAN (CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA) for being vocal on national issues as well as proactively sending aid to crisis ridden areas.

The bible in 1 Tim 2v1-3 gives us a recipe for dwelling in peace in our land; it enjoins that prayers be made for all men and especially rulers. How often do we pray for our secular leaders rather than criticize? How often are heartfelt, heaven moving prayers made for the nation, not during crisis periods only? Life and death is in the power of the tongue, yet daily we only speak death about the nation and yet expect prosperity and peace! Jeremiah was told he had been placed as the power behind any king. He could place or remove any king or nation he decided about. We have been placed in the same position, but I guess the truth is that we either don’t care if the nation goes up in blazes as long as our little comfort zone is safe or we don’t believe we have the power. But the problem is that after John the Baptist and James; Herod will come for Peter unless we pray.

It is not by mistake that this country has Muslims and Christians massed together in the nation. If we were a predominantly Christian nation, how easy would it be to evangelize the North? As it is, we can settle almost anywhere in the commonwealth of Nigeria because we are Nigerians and this creates an avenue for the propagation of the gospel. Even when outright evangelism may be limited in certain areas, our lifestyle will evoke curiosity that will lead to witnessing for Christ. I am one person that is persuaded beyond all doubts that our continued existence as one nation Nigeria in all its diversity is for good and it will serve to accomplish the SOVEREIGN GOD’S plan for this great nation , for we are ONE NATION UNDER GOD!

Happy Independence Day!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Being Black in America

Re: Are Black People Staying Back When the Cloud Already Moved? – A Feature Article by Femi Awodele on Nigeriaworld.Com

Dear Femi,

I read your article, on the above subject, posted on the Nigeriaworld website on September 2, 2011 with interest. It is a very sensitive issue you try to address in your write-up. As you have rightly noted you are going to get loads feedback – “unpleasant e-mails” as described by you. Sure some of the comments will be an attack on you as an individual, and there are also those whose comments will try to address some of the issues you raised they either agree or disagree with. I'd say I fit into the latter category.

The argument you make in the article seems to have different thrusts. At one breath it appears to promote conservative political ideology among black people. It also sounds like a clarion call to black folks, “enough of the victim’s mentality already”. At other times it’s as though you are asking black people to return to Christ. And again it calls out the black leaders for failure of leadership.

You correctly describe the moral decadence in the black community; violence, extramarital sex, single parenting, STDs, etc. You mention the blight of poverty that plagues black people. The breakdown of the family is fingered as the root cause of high poverty level in the black community. You fault some of the government programs aimed at tackling these issues. You describe partnership with "Anti-God Organizations" who give sex education. You have issues with initiatives that address gang violence and promote the responsible fatherhood. You see social welfare programs that combat poverty as ineffective. You describe how the issue of homosexuality has now become a civil rights issue. According to you the real issue, which is the spiritual condition of the heart, has not been dealt with, and this is why these programs don't work. You call for a change in black leadership. According to you, it will take a “heart totally sold out to Christ” and one who is bold enough to challenge the status quo.

While agreeing with a lot of the points you make, your article appears to omit, or rather de-emphasis, a critical factor contributing to the plight of the black community in America, racism and bigotry. You and I are Africans – 1st generation Americans perhaps – and have only been here in this country barely 20 years. I do not say that to disparage you in any way but to point out that we really do not fully understand what it means to be a descendant of slaves and to be treated as one. If we didn’t live in Jim Crow America, how are we ever going to appreciate what it means to sit at the back of the bus?

The root cause of the plight of the black people is racism and hate. The dysfunctional family structure, the poverty, the violence, the issue of absentee fathers and single parenting can all be traced back to the damaging effect of slavery. They are all linked to the systemic economical, educational, and social disadvantages that confront the black folks everywhere and every day in this country.

While it is true that the current law, on paper, is no longer on the side of bigots, however bigotry of the heart, which is the most dangerous, cannot be cured by mere legislations. There is entrenched racism in every sphere of the society, and we cannot deny that. You would think with a black man in the White House things are different. But you know, if you have objectively followed the events of the past 3 years, that the election of a black president appears to have unmasked the racism that remains entrenched in heart of many in this country; things have gotten worse.

I agree with you that black people need to take responsibility for their actions and lives. I do not make excuses for the pervading laziness and absence of purpose in the black community. It is true that some black leaders have used the excuse of racism to organize and enrich themselves. However if we look around us we’ll find the banner of injustice flying high in the sky for all to see. It is there in the rate of incarceration of blacks compared to that of whites who commit similar offences – and with a prison record you are doomed for life? You are confronted with racism when you rent an apartment or apply for mortgage financing. It sticks out like a sore thumb in the churches every Sunday morning – more black people attend churches pastored by whites than whites who attend churches with black pastors. You find it when you show up for job interviews and they see your black face – how many black people are in management position at your job.

The political leaning of the black people is not too difficult to understand; it is a very natural phenomenon. People tend to gravitate towards the direction of acceptability. We all feel more comfortable in an atmosphere where we are welcomed: where we are celebrated and not merely tolerated. That is the reason black people tend to support the Democratic Party. I say “Democratic Party” and not necessarily liberalism. Black people at heart are socially and morally conservatives. There are fewer blacks who support cultural liberalisms, like homosexuality etc, compared to the number of white people who do. In fact in the black community homosexuals hide their sexual orientation, unlike in the white community where they flaunt it. There are more black people who are Christians than are whites. Yet black people vote en masse for Liberal/Democratic candidates than they do for Conservatives/Republican candidates. The reason is simple; the Democratic Party and Liberals over the years have been more attuned to the sufferings and needs of black folks – as well as that of the poor, the orphan, the homeless, and the immigrant. On the other hand the policies promoted by Conservatives and the Republican Party have not, in most parts, been favorable to black people.

It is easy to infer from your article that the Conservatives love God more than the Liberals. That is what they want to make us believe. Yet their actions – their fruits – have proven otherwise. It was the conservative southern part of America – where you have the most religious people – that went to war against the rest of the country because they want to keep their slaves. It is in the conservative south – the so called Bible belt – that is the hotbed of racism and bigotry in this country today. No one party or ideology can claim to be more Godly than the other. Righteousness doesn’t have a party affiliation.

According to you “our immediate problem is the “gang and sexual activities among our young ones across America”. I happen to disagree. The main problem we have is the problem that all mankind has; a heart that is not in submission to the Almighty God. That cuts across all races and political ideology. However the next big problem we have is inequality in the society – which by the way is the result of our darkened and wicked soul. We live in a society where greed in the name of capitalism is glorified. The issue we need to confront is the huge gap that exists between the poor and the rich – a gap that keeps getting wider and wider each and every day. The rich keeps amassing wealth and poor keep wallowing in poverty. The social safety nets that have been put in place – which you have condemned – are now been taken away by the policies of the so called “moral” conservatives. The people, who have and live in excessive wealth, fight with all their might against every effort by the government to help those who are less fortunate than themselves.

You consider the welfare law as a failure. That characterization of the welfare law is not accurate. It is true that the welfare law hasn’t completely accomplished the purpose for which it was enacted. However without the welfare law, many more people would have been living on the streets. A lot more children and elderly would have gone without health care. Millions of kids would have gone without food. A whole lot more children would have been born to single mothers? Many more would have gone without an education? Countless more would have gone without a job.

The family institution in the black community didn’t breakdown simply because black people have suddenly turned against God or gone into ungodly alliances. The families broke under the weight of societal ills. While I agree that the black family needs to do more to heal itself, it is wrong to ignore the odds that are stacked against the black people living in America. It is important that we, black immigrants from Africa who are new in the system, fully understand and appreciate the length and breadth of the issues before we cast the first stone.



Find original article here:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

His Image, His Likeness

Akin Ojumu
August 16, 2011

Force Majeure…is a French word. It is quite mouthful…like all French words. The English translation is “Superior or Irresistible Force”.

It is a common clause in contracts that essentially relieves all parties from liability or obligation in the event of an occurrence of extraordinary circumstance…an “Act of God” as they say…that cannot be anticipated or is beyond the control of the parties, which prevents one or all parties from fulfilling their obligation under the contract.

On my own, I’ve entered into gazillion of contractual agreements in my lifetime. I can’t even begin to count. And then there are those contracts entered into on my behalf, many of which I’m not even aware. There are mortgages, auto loan, credit cards, employments, insurance (auto, health, and life), even medical procedures, just to name a few. In many of these contracts, you are made to sign heaps of paper filled with legalistic mumbo jumbo, written mostly in fine prints, which make no sense to anyone at all.

Here is an example of the term in a mortgage agreement…

“…Subject to all valid easements, rights of way, covenants, conditions, reservations and restrictions of record, if any. To have and to hold the same, together with all the buildings, improvements and appurtenances belonging thereto, if any, to the Mortgagee and Mortgagee's heirs, successors and assigns forever. Mortgagor covenants with Mortgagee that….”

Blah, blah, blah. On and on it goes. What in the world does that mean? Little wonder people sign this stuff without even reading it. If not for an ulterior motive, why would anyone use so many words to tell you, “Pay up or get your clothes taken off your back.”

The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” Jeremiah 17:9

Our humanness, like dark clouds, shrouds everything we do. Inherent in every contractual agreement we enter into is the lurking intent to renege and defraud. It is as though we have to fight, with every fiber of our being, against our inner urgings not to stay true to our words. We embrace any and every excuse that enables us to break promises without any repercussions. We build caveats, and bury clauses into agreements to cover up our innate tendency for perfidy.

It is the human nature…an inborn error to mess up. It is the flesh at work.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

The natural tendencies of man to fail are in stark contrast to the faithfulness of the Almighty God. God’s mindset is so different than ours. Whereas human beings actively device new ways to break promises, God is firmly committed to stand by His words and promise no matter what.

From generation to generation, God continues to enter into contractual agreements with the sons of men. He gives His word, He swears to it by His Name, and it is done. No caveats, no force majeure, no ifs or buts.

Take for instance the contract with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the very first recorded in the annals of man. I can imagine the conversation going like the following:

Hey guys, welcome to earth…your new home. It is custom built for you…by the Words of my mouth. As you will see, it is quite a massive real estate, more than 500 million kilometer square territory…lush and rich. The land is brimming with all kinds of animals. The rivers are crystal blue and packed with an assortment of fishes. All of these creatures now belong to you. You are to name, and own, them. I give you dominion over them all. Do with them as you see fit.”

Then God takes them on a tour of Eden.

I’ve carved out the best part of the earth for you to build your home. This is Eden. It is such a beautiful land…a Garden of Pleasure. A river flows right through it…and then divides into four tributaries all packed with abundant resources. The gold here is exceptionally pure. There are also exotic metals, so precious, they make the eyes pop. And not only that, you will find all sorts of trees growing up from the ground—trees that are beautiful and that produce delicious fruits.”

He continues,

You mean the world to me. There’s nothing I can’t and won’t do for you. When I look at you, I see myself because I made you to look like Me. You are the adumbration of who I AM. You have my Life’s breath in you. That’s why I’m putting you in charge of this Garden. Keep it. Nurture it. It’s all yours…everything in it…Don’t you worry about a thing; I’ll come visit each and every single day. Should you have any question feel free to ask me.”

The tour takes them to the furthermost part of the garden, far removed from everything else, here God tells them,

We are now standing in the remotest part of your new home. It is critical that you pay attention now. Right in front of you, to your right, is the tree of life, and next to it, to your left, is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They are deliberately located at the outer fringes of your property.”

Then God says,

“…You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” Genesis 2: 16-17

Do you have any question?” God asks.

It is a very simple and straight forward offer of Life from the Elohim. There are no gimmicks, no tricks, no flimflams, no shenanigans, and the best part is…not a single paperwork. How cool is that? It is the deal of a lifetime…our lifetime. Who could say, ‘No’, to would think.

Well, we all know how it turns out. The aftershock of the fall continues to reverberate through generations of human race.

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8

The God of mercy and grace does not forever turn His back on us. He does not renege on His promises. In our fallen state, He reaches down to pull us up. He tempers His righteous judgment with His great mercy. His love covers our multitudes of iniquities. His Word is the oxygen that keeps the flame of His love forever burning. He sits at the edge of His throne expectantly waiting for us to return to who we are made to be,

His image, His likeness.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Time to Build an Ark

Akin Ojumu
August 12, 2011

Subtly – but surely – time takes its toll on all of us and we all age before our eyes. Like the small hand of the clock, we discern it is happening, but cannot see it happening.

With age comes change. As one day morphs into the next day, and the baton of life is passed from year to year, it is amazing how much change each transition brings. The hairlines recede, the waistlines bulge spilling over the waistband, and the eyes squint real hard to see.

As we change so does the world around us. Languages metamorphose, knowledge increases, and technology advances. The world we live in increasingly gets more complex – I guess every generation of mankind has that to say about their own world.

The world, through science, seeks solutions to nature’s challenges, and science in return provides the tools with which nature is subdued, transforming the landscape of human existence. More than ever before, our society relies on science to provide the evidence that explains the phenomenon of being. We turn to science to explain supernatural events. With philosophy we create rules for civil engagements.

The human mind – that mystery beyond comprehension, the puzzle that is impossible to solve – is not at all immune to change. On the contrary the mind is the foundation of all the changes that we see; it is from the inward part that all changes begin.

The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out…” Jeremiah 17:9 (The Message)

Our thoughts and thought processes have become more sophisticated and refined. In a post-modern world, the goal post of what is considered “normal” shifts each and every day. The ancient boundary of acceptable norm, set by generations before us, is displaced. The days of absolutes are long gone; replaced by a dispensation of relativism. Once accepted truths are jettisoned, instead the world embraces facts based on scientific evidence. An altar is raised for sacrifices to be bought before the gods of science and philosophy.

To be fair science has done a lot of good for the world. We are all witnesses to the impact of scientific advancement on our society. The world is a better place today than it was a few years ago. Life expectancy has more than doubled for most people, as a result of better health and healthier lifestyle. Science has found answers for many diseases. To a large extent the natural elements have been tamed. Science helps introduce efficient and effective processes and procedures to our daily endeavors, which enable us all to live more productive lives. Better means of communication have been developed…although it appears we communicate even less...with everyone living in his own cyber cocoon.

Scientific discoveries, in and of themselves, are a proof of the wonderful work of God in creation. Who but a super intelligent mind could have engineered the complex structure and functions of the human body? Only the Almighty God could have laid out the universe in its entire splendor with everything in its place in an orderly array.

For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” Romans 1:20

Yet, rather than glorifying God with each scientific breakthrough, the heart of man is lifted up in pride and arrogance. Puffed up in his wisdom, he thumbs his nose at the One who stretched forth the heavens and set the earth on a firm foundation, and breathed his own life into men and women.

The sepulcher of the human soul is littered with vain things. The mooring on the mind has been loosed; man’s mind is adrift in the sea of immorality. He is trapped in the cesspool of wantonness. Right and wrong now has new meaning. The innate difference that exists between a man and a woman, which for generations is accepted as the way we are meant to be, is rejected. A man can now be a woman, and a woman, man. A crisis of identity ensues as light dims on the honorable institution of marriage.

The pace of change is proceeding at a lightning speed. Like a freight train that has lost control the world barrels downhill toward its destiny, the day of Divine retribution; when we stand before an angry God.

From where I stand, that day is not too far out of sight. It’s high time I built an ark.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Amazing Grace

Akin Ojumu

August 3, 2011

“It is by the Grace of God…….”

You hear that all the time. Don’t fall for it. It is nothing but a clichĂ©……it is talking Christian....Christianese. What’s so amazing about Grace? I submit to you there is quite a lot you can do without the Almighty God.

You do not need God to live in unforgiveness and hate? On the contrary, the farther away your heart is from God, the more profound is the taste of hate in your mouth…..that lingering taste of anger and wrath against the unfortunate bloke who steps on your precious little toe.

Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” Ephesians 4:26

Who dares touch your cheek and their teeth don’t get knocked out? You do not need grace to beat the living daylight out of the man who sticks in your craw. It is with the fist that respect is earned. There is no place for the weak in the world we live in. Utopia is the habitation of the meek. Retaliation requires no grace.

When God is out of the way, you’ll hate till you are blue in the face.

If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also.” Luke 6:29

God wants you to take your hard earned cash and give to those who, for whatever reason, don’t have at all. He wants you to hand it over to these leeches looking for handouts. I know this for a fact. That’s who He is. It is His nature; embedded in His Divine DNA.

How in the world can you become wealthy anyway if you throw your wealth away? To build wealth you acquire more and more, and store them up more and more. That’s Economics 101……it’s not rocket science. If these sluggards ask you for money, run their credit history and make sure they pay back with high interests. If they miss any payment send the collection agency to harass them. You don’t want to throw money down the drain by giving it to charity do you? There’s no free lunch.

If you want to keep all of your dough you have got to build an impenetrable wall of lead around your soul, that way you keep the conscience pricking Word of God off limit.

Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything.” Proverbs 11:24

Who needs God’s grace to start a church or build a congregation? All you need is a well thought out strategic plan.

Rollout a good advertisement campaign. Blanket the airwaves and billboards with your Ads. Deliver heavy doses of positive mental attitude messages that massage the soul. Spice it up with a few deep revs and prophetic insights. Voila! You’ve got yourself a following. And by continually stroking their pleasure centers you get to pack the house, and the offering bowls will keep running over with tithes and offerings.

You certainly don’t need God’s grace to achieve that feat….great man of God that you are.

And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Act 2:47

Why should you allow God to continually look over your shoulder and breath down your neck? You don’t need your life and actions put under the intense scrutiny of His Word. You are the man, you’ve got what it takes to run your life however you want. You are in the driver’s seat of your life, what do say we take it for a spin and burn some rubber?

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

At the end of the day though, how would you plea when His Amazing Grace gives way to His Righteous Judgment?

We all shall close our eyes and stand before the bema seat.” Romans 14:10

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Plea from the Refugee Highway

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Greetings from Nairobi! We hope and pray that this finds you fine and well.

We know that recently, most of you have been hearing about the drought and famine situation in the Horn of Africa - Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia. Many commentators have even said that what is going on may be the worst since the famine in Ethiopia in the mid-80s. This is perhaps why Ethiopia is the best prepared of the three affected countries.

Somalis are the most hit as they are dealing with serious drought and famine in parts of Southern Somalia, not to mention the raging war that has gone on for 20 years. Sadly, the Islamic group, Al-Shabab, is making the situation worse by banning most relief agencies from operating in the areas they control. They, in particular, banned the agency that could help the most - the World Food Program.

Current estimate is that at least 1,500 Somalis are crossing the border daily into Kenya and Ethiopia. On the Kenyan side, they are going to the Dadaab Refugee Camp located at the eastern end of the country between the Kenya-Somalia border. Before the latest flow of refugees, the refugee camp was home to about 300,000 people. That number is now getting close to half a million.

While Kenya is dealing with the escalating refugee crisis, it's also struggling to take care of it's own citizens, particularly those living in North Eastern Province and parts of North Rift, among them Turkana, Pokot, and Baringo. These are areas that have hardly seen rain this year. Add to this the poor maize crop for the current season and a runaway inflation. In areas like Nairobi and Mombasa, there are items that are rationed. Even if you have the money you are only allowed to buy a maximum of 2 kgs of sugar and 2 kgs of maize flour (the most important staple in Kenyan homes). The prices of basic commodities have ballooned so much in the last two months and even fuel prices (petrol, diesel, and kerosene) have almost doubled. For a nation where more than 55% live below the poverty line, this may also result to increase in the crime rate.

Our Somali brothers and sisters whom we minister to are sad and heartbroken to see what's happening to their homeland and to their people. They are thankful to be alive and far away from the dire situation. Many would like to help, but then they themselves are mostly undocumented and jobless, should be in the camp instead of Nairobi, and are struggling to live from day to day. They all passed through the same refugee camp and so they know and understand the situation there and recognize that it's worse now considering the number of people coming in and the scarce resources. For a country that has been in war for the last two decades, the present situation is just aggravating the already desperate plight of these people.

Our response as a team has been to work alongside partners who are authorized to enter the refugee camp. Due to the issue of security and the fact that there are just too many groups trying to get in to help, the Kenyan government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are restricting access to the camp. So, we are currently collecting clothes, shoes, and food supplies that we will be handing over to our partners for transportation to and distribution in the camp to those who need them. 

If you are interested in helping financially towards the famine and refugee situation here in Kenya for the locals and/or the Somalis seeking refuge, you can send your gift to our ministry account with International Teams (IT). Please designate it for the Horn of Africa Relief and IT will get the money to us, which we will be turning over to our partners on the ground.

Thank you. We appreciate all your prayers and support.

Dotun and Ami Modupe
Nairobi Refugee Team, Kenya
Horn of Africa Relief
International Teams
411 W. River Road
Elgin, IL 60123

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Faking the Anointing

J. Lee Grady

Many Christians today can’t distinguish between the sweat of the flesh and the dew of heaven.

Gideon is one of my favorite Bible characters because I relate to his struggle with inferiority. God pulled this runt of a guy out of a hole in the ground and called him to deliver Israel. Gideon’s classic “Who, me?” response reminds me of conversations I’ve had with the Lord. None of us feels qualified to do God’s work, but we know from Gideon’s example that reluctant wimps can be transformed into valiant warriors.

I’ve heard people criticize Gideon because he laid out a fleece of wool on the ground and asked the Lord—not once but twice—to confirm His promise (see Judges 6:36-40). But the Bible doesn’t say God was mad at Gideon for wanting assurance. In fact, God answered Gideon both times with moisture from heaven. The dew was a sign of God’s favor and blessing.

“I love it when the Holy Spirit does miracles. But when people fake the supernatural in order to get an audience response (or a big offering), I run for the door.”

You know how the story ends. Gideon’s impressive army of 22,000 is downsized to a ragtag band of 300, and they carry only trumpets, clay pots and torches into battle. Through their supernatural victory over Midian, God made it clear that His anointing has nothing to do with human ability.

How many of us have learned Gideon’s lesson? Do you trust the Holy Spirit to work in you, or do you lean on the flesh? Do you have the precious dew of His miraculous anointing on your life, or have you manufactured a cheap form of human moisture to do the job?

Many Christians today can’t distinguish between the sweat of the flesh and the dew of heaven, but there is a big difference. As I have prayed for more anointing in my life, I’ve realized that we often mistake fake anointing for the real thing. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

The anointing isn’t in numbers. We place so much importance on church size today, yet God doesn’t seem impressed by crowds. I have nothing against megachurches as long as they preach the gospel—and many of them do a better job of it than small churches. But we’re headed for disaster if we think seating capacity alone reflects God’s approval.

The anointing isn’t in eloquence. Some people have an uncanny way with words (including non-Christian motivational speakers), but persuasive skill isn’t the same as spiritual anointing. The dew of heaven is holy. It brings conviction and repentance—not self-awareness and an ego boost. And true preaching does not exalt the preacher—it crucifies him and focuses all attention on the Son of God.

The anointing isn’t in looks. In today’s cool evangelical scene, rock star pastors are expected to be sexy, and everyone in the praise team needs trendy clothes. There’s nothing wrong with dressing to reach your audience, but I hope we don’t think the Holy Spirit is impressed with hipness. The dowdy grandmother wearing orthopedic shoes might have a word from the Lord for the congregation—but will we allow her on the stage?

The anointing isn’t in technology. I love to use digital graphics when preaching. But some of the most anointed meetings I’ve been in were in Third World countries where we didn’t even have reliable electricity, much less computers and projectors. When genuine anointing falls on a preacher, he or she can talk for two hours without having to entertain.

The anointing isn’t in emotionalism. In many churches today, lack of anointing creates a vacuum that is filled by screaming, swooning and other forms of religious theater. It doesn’t matter what is preached—it is “anointed” as long as the preacher punctuates it with enough volume and the people shout back. (One preacher I know had everyone holl\ering while she quoted lines from a BeyoncĂ© song!) Remember: Backslidden Israel shouted so loud that the earth quaked, but by the end of the day the Philistines had plundered them (see 1 Sam. 4:5-11).

The anointing isn’t in contrived manifestations. I love it when the Holy Spirit does miracles. But when people fake the supernatural in order to get an audience response (or a big offering), I run for the door. If we had the fear of God we would never pretend to have the anointing by jerking, slurring words, stretching the facts in a testimony or sprinkling glitter on ourselves.

Charles Spurgeon referred to the Holy Spirit’s anointing as “unction,” and he said of it: “Unction is a thing which you cannot manufacture, and its counterfeits are worse than worthless.” Let’s turn away from every false anointing and ask the God who answered Gideon to soak us with His heavenly power.

J. Lee Grady is contributing editor of Charisma.

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Compassion: The Defining Mark of a Christian

We’re a pretty tough culture. Independent. Pioneer-spirited. Entrepreneurial. Capable. Self-reliant. Even as Christians, the independent-mindedness filters into our behavior and spirit. While these qualities may have some good, they have some serious collateral. Unrestrained, these qualities undermine compassion. And compassion is important.

Jesus is compassionate.

The Bible has much to say about Jesus’ compassion:

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them” (Matthew 9:36)

“When…he saw a great crowd…he had compassion on them” (Matthew 14:14)

“‘I have compassion on the crowd’” (Matthew 15:32)

Jesus was the quintessential picture of compassion. He came and he served other people (Mark 10:45). He relentlessly healed the sick, fed the hungry, helped the needy, and taught Kingdom living (Matthew 5-7). Compassion, sympathy, care and protection are part of God’s very character as a Father (Psalm 68:5-6; Psalm 103:13). His compassion knows no bounds. But to say merely that Jesus had compassion is missing a bigger point. Jesus’ compassion grew out of his infinite love (1 John 4:8). Scripture tells us that Jesus came to serve, but not just to meet the temporal needs of one group of people in Palestine 2,000 years ago, but to “give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Thus, the compassion of Jesus was a compassion that transcended His life of thirty-some years, and erupted in a fountain of love and forgiveness for many. Jesus compassion is a saving compassion.

Compassion is at the heart of missional living

Now, we as Christians are to carry on the mission of Jesus in the world (Matthew 28:18-20). What does this mission look like? It is a mission rooted in love, and carried out in obedience. The Bible makes extremely clear that love for God is integrally connected to obedience to God (John 14:23; 1 John 5:3). True love (1 Corinthians 13) includes love for God and love for others (Matthew 22:36-40). Carrying this love to others includes telling them of God, who is True Love. It also includes living out the practical ramifications of the gospel—meeting physical needs, caring for the defenseless, providing for the poor, and rescuing the downtrodden. That’s what Jesus did. That’s what how His compassion reached others. We have been entrusted with this message, which is both truth (proclaimed) and action (practiced) toward others.

Compassion, in all its various forms, is not just the mission of parachurch organizations or charity ministries. Those are wonderful ways to express compassion, and they deserve our support. At the same time, compassion is something that every Christian should exercise.

Compassion is the central and defining mark of a Christian

Because we are believers, we should be compassionate. Paul writes in Colossians 3:12, after discussing glorious doctrine, that we must “put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts.” This is the type of culture that exists when God’s people are living in loving relationships with one another. It looks a lot different from the egocentric independent-spirit that we sometimes slip into, even in our churches and small groups.

We can be compassionate because of the gospel

So, if compassion is so important, how do we conjure up such pathos? How is it that we can be so others-focused and giving? We can be compassionate because of the overwhelming grace of the gospel. Picture yourself as you were before Jesus saved you. You were an active sinner, a God-despiser, a sordid, mess of decrepit humanity. Yet God loved you with an overwhelming love which exploded into your life with revolutionary force. The change in your life is best described as going from death into life. But why did God do such a thing, especially since you were in a position of active defiance to Him?

Because of compassion. Because of love. Because of His amazing unmerited favor (1 John 3:1). God did not do it because of some spark of goodness He saw within you, nor because He anticipated that you would eventually do some good or become good. He chose you because He is love. That’s good news. That’s the gospel. That is the only reason that we can love and serve others in compassion (1 John 4:19).

People everywhere need compassion. There may be people in your home who need compassion. Perhaps because of self-centeredness, you have neglected to be compassionate upon your family members. There are, no doubt, people in your church who need the compassion of a listening ear, or the chance to spend a few minutes in fellowship with an understanding Christian. There are people in your community who need Christian compassion–a homeless man reeling in the addiction of alcohol, a teen girl tempted to sell her body for drug money, a single mom with no income or resources, a coworker with a secret life of sex addiction and bondage to his flesh.

People need Christ’s compassion, and Jesus has sent us as Christians into the world as His ambassadors of that love and compassion. Who can you be compassionate toward today?

Robert Schuller Ousted from Crystal Cathedral

Published July 04, 2011 |

The Rev. Robert H. Schuller has been ousted from Crystal Cathedral Ministries, the Orange County Register reports.

Schuller, 84, who began his ministry in an Orange, Calif., drive-in theater more than 50 years ago, was voted off the board of the Crystal Ministries, which has been plagued by financial problems and familial discord, according to the paper.

Schuller’s son, who was forced from the board three years ago, says his father wanted to enlarge the board, a move that did not sit well with others.

"It's a very sad day and unfortunately, I know how that feels," the younger Schuller said.

According to the paper, the church's financial travails, including a significant drop in donations and dwindling membership, culminated in its filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The church still owes about $7.5 million to unsecured creditors, many of whom are vendors for the cathedral's "Glory of Christmas" pageant. According to a reorganization plan filed by the church last month, they have an offer from Irvine, Calif., developer, Greenlaw Partners LLC, to buy the core buildings for $46 million.

Robert H. Schuller has been at odds with his daughters over how they have chosen to run the church. The cathedral recently switched over from a traditional worship format to a Gospel-style choir -- much to the chagrin of many long-time members. Sheila Schuller Coleman also required choir members to sign a covenant acknowledging Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and the belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

The older Schuller publicly lashed out at the contract saying everyone is welcome in the church. Phillip Johnson, the architect who constructed the cathedral's iconic glass sanctuary, was an openly gay man.

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Charity – A Foundational Judeo-Christian Value

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein

President, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews

Last weekend we celebrated America's founding, and the precious values of democracy and individual liberty that are embodied by this great country. We did so knowing that we are blessed to live in one of the most prosperous countries in the world. Of course, the U.S. has its share of poverty — the Bible tells us "There will always be poor people in the land" (Deuteronomy 15:11) — but still, Americans enjoy the lion's share of the world's wealth, as well as access to education, medical care, and other essentials.

Even as we are grateful for these blessings, they also give us a sense of responsibility. Christians and Jews alike know that all good things come from God, and are graciously given to us for our wise use. Our shared Judeo-Christian tradition tells us that God works through us to bless those who are less fortunate.

While Christians have Jesus' words about caring for the poor to guide them, Jews have the mitzvah (good deed) of tzedakah, or charity. The literal translation of tzedakah is "righteousness" — this is because the Bible teaches us that we are considered righteous and holy in God's eyes when we give our time and effort to help those in need. We are guided, too, by the words of the prophet Isaiah: "If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday" (Isaiah 58:10).

In fact, charity is central to Judaism. Jews are among the most generous philanthropists not only to their own charities, but to non-sectarian causes as well, such as universities and hospitals. And even with all of her own needs, Israel, the Jewish state, has sent teams to Japan, New Orleans, Haiti, and other places around the world in the wake of devastating natural disasters. Israel is a country that cares for the needs of others.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Success Recipe

Akin Ojumu

What do successful business enterprises have in common?

It must be more than just smart people with good ideas. After all, there’s no shortage of both in the world, and only a fraction achieve commercial success.

What else is involved?

There are numerous common denominators to success. The team behind an idea exhibits honesty, openness and trust. They are able to break their idea down to its simplest form and clear value proposition. They carry a fire in their belly and operate with a sense of urgency to meet every objective. They deal with adversity and willingly step beyond their comfort zone. They temper their vision with generous measures of reality and consumer focus.

Most of all, they listen.

No magic. No complicated formula for success. Just healthy doses of integrity, drive and common sense and above all..........the grace of the Almighty God.

Does that describe you?

Friday, June 10, 2011

The First Council of Nicaea AD 325

The Council of Nicaea, the first ecumenical debate held by the early Christian church, concludes with the establishment of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Convened by Roman Emperor Constantine I in May, the council also deemed the Arian belief of Christ as inferior to God as heretical, thus resolving an early church crisis.

The controversy began when Arius, an Alexandrian priest, questioned the full divinity of Christ because, unlike God, Christ was born and had a beginning. What began as an academic theological debate spread to Christian congregations throughout the empire, threatening a schism in the early Christian church. Roman Emperor Constantine I, who converted to Christianity in 312, called bishops from all over his empire to resolve the crisis and urged the adoption of a new creed that would resolve the ambiguities between Christ and God.

Meeting at Nicaea in present-day Turkey, the council established the equality of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the Holy Trinity and asserted that only the Son became incarnate as Jesus Christ. The Arian leaders were subsequently banished from their churches for heresy. The Emperor Constantine presided over the opening of the council and contributed to the discussion.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Pyknos Aestheneia…Often Infirmities

Akin Ojumu

May 16, 2011

"When you see clouds coming in from the west, you say, 'Storm's coming'—and you're right. And when the wind comes out of the south, you say, 'This'll be a hot one'—bingo right again.

That’s Luke 12: 54-56 paraphrased somewhat in my own words…and to which I’d like to add…..

“When there appears to be a deluge of sneezing, wheezing, runny nose, and itchy, watery, red eyes, all around you, you say ‘the allergy season is upon us’. And yippee, you‘d be right again, for ‘tis the allergy season indeed.

From around March to May each year thirty five million Americans battle the symptoms of seasonal allergy as trees, grass, flowers, and plants spew out pollen into the air in gazillion of barrels per day. Like a hunter hunting its prey, they spring on us as often as it happens in spring – one of my least favorite seasons of the year.

Yes! I’m one of those 35 million allergy sufferers. Unfortunately so I might add.

The silver lining in all of these - being the glass half-full soul that I am - is that relief for the coughing and sneezing and itching and watering is but a pharmacy store away. Eye drop, nasal spray, and oral medications – of different shades and tastes – are the mainstay of treatment for me. I take them QD and BID all season long for a relief – that too often is temporary – and comes with a hefty price, in form of a gaping hole in the wallet and myriad of side effects.

Of course the natural thing to do to avoid these untoward consequences is to occasionally steal a medication holiday – skipping a dose here and there for a period of time – hoping that the wallet will hold and the untoward effects abate. Well even that has its consequences; the symptoms come roaring back with a vengeance after a while.

This past weekend was payback time for me for daring to steal a holiday from the medications. The waves of symptoms knocked me flat on my back, leaving me congested and breathless, sucking in air through my gaping mouth.

It was in this knocked down state that I engaged a friend in a tete-a-tete; a benignly routine catching up on how both of our weekends went down. Well as you can imagine the conversation came around to my major big deal ordeal in the hands of mother nature. I explained to my friend that nemesis – that recoil of nature that even the most wary transgressor find impossible to escape – caught up with me for stealing a medication holiday.

After hearing my tale of woes my friend – good soul and all – replied with these words:

“….it was good you tried going off medications, but I’m not sure whether you did that by faith or you just stopped by yourself. I believe with God you can actually live through the season without medications….if your faith is strong enough; otherwise I suggest you stay with the medications….”

You see my friend meant well and said that in good faith. However those words stung like bee sting. They were like a dagger’s thrust into a wounded soul. They came across as overtly insensitive especially to a man who is already knocked down. And it raises a lot of questions in my mind about my Christian faith – which my friend and I both share in common of course.

Is my faith really that weak? Does that explain why I’m at the mercy of seasonal allergy? Are Christians supposed to be immune to the forces of nature? Is the strength of our faith measured by the presence or absence of disease?

As those questions begin to pour, what kept ringing at the back of mind was…..

Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.” 1 Tim 5:23.

Often infirmities….pyknos aestheneia…..!

A weak faith? You are indeed in good company.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

No Such Thing as “Little”

Sometimes when you consider what tremendous consequences come from little things, you are tempted to think; there are no little things.

Think of it for a moment:

“Little hinges swing huge doors.”

“Little foxes spoil the vines”

“A little leaven leavens whole lump of dough.”

“A little rudder makes a huge ship turn”

“A little spark makes huge flames”

“The little tongue sets the whole body on fire”

“A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.”

Small helpful or harmful behaviors and inputs tend to accumulate over time, producing huge results. Many small improvements, consistently implemented, inevitably produce unimaginable results.