Dealing With The Fundamental Problem of The 21st Century: Plan Your Future

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Photo credit: http://www.typorama.com

 

Who will you be 5/10/15/20years from now?

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Photo taken from http://www.digitalphotos.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, I want to share with you some very important lessons I gathered from listening to Dr. Mensa Otabil preach a message entitled ‘Developing a 20-year Life Plan’. First time I heard him speak on this subject was early 2014 after he had declared ‘ORDER’ as the church’s theme for the year. As usual, the church was overflowing with so many people since it was – yes you guessed right – the first Sunday of the year. No one intends to miss the first Sunday of a new calendar year. I left home earlier than usual that day (I’m always on time but this was a special ‘on time’) because I didn’t want to give up my usual sitting spot. I have a special preference for seats close to the stage. The reason being that at the end of the service I would have siphoned large chunks of Otabil’s anointing into my spirit man. Just in case you didn’t know, the closer you are to the stage and by extension the man of God, the greater the chances of your supernatural breakthrough. Aha! ‘Too much play’ a typical Ghanaian will say. Alright, let’s get to the crux of my message. I want to start with a quote by Myles Munroe:

“The greatest tragedy in life is not death, but a life without a purpose.”

 

Just recently, the clarion call to plan my future rang so hard in my heart, it felt like a high-voltage electricity had zapped me. I had been prompted a few times but I guess the notifications weren’t strong enough to make me leap to their summons. This ‘electric shocker’ was no joke. I took a sneak peek into the future with my mind’s eye and I didn’t like the outcome. I was confused and somewhat terrified. I’m in my mid-20’s (early 20’s to be precise) and the question I keep asking myself is ‘what have I successfully achieved up until now?’ I can’t even recollect some of the goals I put down some 5 years ago (that’s if I put any goals down in the first place) so how do I possibly go ahead to evaluate myself. This is probably the reason for the tension build-up within me. You don’t leave anything to chance in this life because if you do, life will gladly put you in a place you never asked for – and you sure wouldn’t like it. This is why I felt the need to dig through the internet and feed my soul with this thought-provoking message again. I needed to wake my lazy self up (you probably need to do same too) and get back on track. Frankly speaking, when I listened to the audio again, it felt as though it was only yesterday he spoke those words of wisdom (no exaggerations here). I don’t plan on wasting further ‘typing ink’ and space so let me go ahead to share some of the lessons I learnt.

 

God has a plan for each one of us. You are not a miscarriage of nature. You are not here by accident. Your parents might have not planned your birth, but God did because He has a project for you. You need to live each day with the mindset that there’s a reason for your existence here on Earth. Quick question: Do you know how the first car came about? It all happened one stormy night in the year 1807 when violent winds spiraled into an old politician’s garage. First, nails, screws, old newspapers and empty flower pots were swept up into the air where they began to collide with one another. As the winds got stronger old paint cans, pliers, dustpans and four basketballs joined the collision process. This random bumping took place over a long period of time until the various automotive parts – bonnet, doors, battery, headlamps,etc – appeared and rearranged completely to form the car. Absolutely ridiculous you say? Yes! Never in history did a car pop out from someone’s garage. There was a plan for its amazing invention. In the same way, God fearfully and wonderfully created each one of us with a unique purpose. This is why Jeremiah full of the Holy Ghost  said that God had holy plans for him even before he was conceived. ‘We are not here filling space’ as Otabil said. We need to discover God’s plan for our lives (not OUR plan for OUR lives). And until we find our true purpose, we’d never be able to appreciate who we truly are and function adequately as we are intended to.

 

God gives us necessary tools to design ourselves according to the plan He has for us.

Not only do we carry specific tasks in our hands, but also we have the ability to tailor ourselves to suit our God-given assignment. I feel this is where many of us fall short. We are struggling to make great strides in certain facets of our lives because the plan and the design is a total mismatch; no points of connection whatsoever. Let’s look at the example below:

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Sumo wrestler (left), Gymnast (right)

Sumo wrestlers are clearly different from gymnasts. You can tell by simply comparing their physique. The gymnast has a slender body and light muscle mass and this helps her to obtain the right balance, agility and strength to pull off a performance successfully. The Sumo wrestler on the other hand is heavy with muscle mass for a reason: the heavier he is, the more difficult it is for his opponent to push him out of the ring. If we should look into their lifestyle habits, I can bet their diet and recommended daily exercises are different. Why? Because each one has to “design” his/her body according to the specific task ahead of them. If you’re a ‘hawk’, you don’t swim; you fly. That’s your build. The plan must influence the design. Spend enough time to understand your God-given plan so you can obtain the fruition of your assignment by choosing the right design.

 

God’s plan for us is time-bound. You don’t have ETERNITY to accomplish anything on Earth, you only have TIME and that time is finite. Do you realize that in life, the only time you have is the time you make use of? Every other minute, hour or day that goes unused is a part of your life flushed away. Gone never to be regained. It is said that procrastination is the thief of time but I want to push it further by saying PROCRASTINATION IS THE THIEF OF LIFE. Yes. A waste of time surely is a waste of life. Really, we need to stop treating time as though we were playing a game of soccer. There’s no fourth referee to signal any ‘TIME ADDED ON’ here.  Work diligently with the time you have because there’s no more time other than what is already set out for us. Sometimes we need that little nudge to remind ourselves that it’s 24 hours in a day, not 29, 7 days in a week, not 15, and 52 weeks in a year, not 1000. If you want to be the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, you begin your search for a mentor during your teen years. You don’t wait till you are past 25 years before you get moving. No. You should have read several books on Entrepreneurship and Leadership, attended very important training workshops and networked with business-minded individuals by now. You don’t wait till the last minute. Also, don’t expend unnecessary energy on so many things at the same time. Like I said, the clock is ticking. Rather, learn to do a few things WELL because that is what will bring the best out of you. I don’t know about you but I sometimes wish I had received these tips a bit earlier. But not to worry at all. At least, I’ve learnt that what needs to be accomplished today needn’t be accomplished 5 or 10 years from now. I need to do what needs to be done now, NOW because time and tide never wait for any man or woman.

 

 

And finally…

 

Do what God has designed you to do to have fulfillment in Life. Don’t waste your life trying to fulfill your friend’s or parent’s desire. Life is already too short to waste it chasing after someone else’s dreams. Find what is yours. See it. Embrace it. Breathe it. Love it. OWN IT and live life to fulfill YOUR God-given desire. God bless

 

NB: I’ll be writing a second and final part to this post soon. In the meantime, you’ll find attached to this article a link to a guide on how to draw a personal 20-year life plan. It’s the exact guide I received in church the first time the message was preached. I want you to download and PRINT a copy for yourself. To say what he said on that day, you are free to make changes to the original document. This is just to guide you on your journey to draw an effective personal 20-year life plan. God bless once again!

 

 

 

Click on the link below to download:

 

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The Bible and Slavery (#BustingBiblicalMyths)

The bible doesn't support human slavery

“When the Missionaries arrived, the Africans had the Land and the Missionaries had the Bible. They taught us how to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible.” This witty quote very much encapsulates the perception people have about the role of Christianity in the Transatlantic Slave trade. The Transatlantic slave trade alone, saw some 10 million Africans transported to the Americas between the 1400s and 1800s. According to many, the Bible motivated the slave masters to brutally rob Africa of its vital and vibrant human resource. How true is this?

We must first establish the fact that the issue of slavery is quite complex. The characteristics of slavery is so complicated that it is almost impossible (and largely erroneous) to provide a generalized definition of the term. That makes perfect sense considering the fact that child labor, indentured service, chattel slavery, forced labour, sex trafficking, apprenticeship-internship etc. were all commonly referred to as ‘slavery’ during biblical times. Since the mention of slavery brings to the table several forms of servitude, this discussion will employ terminologies to help identify the form of servitude being spoken of at each point in time.

It is very sad that people blame the New World chattel slavery (slaves were treated as actual property, had no legal protection and no means to attain liberty) on Christianity when the traditional leaders of the land exchanged their own people for manufactured goods, weapons, sugar, mirrors,whiskey etc. How do you bypass this fact to blame the Transatlantic Slave trade on the supposed ‘tool’ the oppressor used? Slavery is against the human rights of human beings. The world has come a long way in the fight for human rights. Is it not ironic that Christianity played a major role in the abolishment of the New World chattel slavery especially in the U.S? Even long after the New World chattel slavery was abolished, the black civil rights movement was also spearheaded by people like Dr. Martin Luther King. And although many forget this fact, he was a reverend minister. A house divided against itself shall not stand. If the bible indeed promotes such form of brutality, how come Christians made major contributions to its abolishment all over the world?

The Old Testament alone contains many alarming instances of slavery that open our eyes to how widespread and lucrative it was in those days. Remember the story of Elisha and the wife of the prophet… the prophet who left his wife at the mercy of his creditor when he died? One of the things the creditor told her was that, either she paid up all the money her husband owed him before his death or risk having her sons sold into slavery. This compelled the widow to contact the prophet Elisha for help. Again, this scenario tells us that slavery was very widespread and lucrative then. It was perhaps very common too; it appears one could easily have contact with slavers. I made this inference from the manner in which Joseph’s brothers sold him to slave-merchants who later sold him into slavery in Egypt. Speaking of Egypt, I can tell that Egypt was probably one of the ancient hubs of the slave trade. Remember how the Egyptians enslaved the children of Israel for about 430 years? The unfortunate thing is, many people tend to disassociate Egypt from Africa. No, Egypt is very much an African country. And historical accounts show that some other African countries had slaves from other continents too.

Indeed some of the most heinous crimes ever reported in human history are said to have been motivated by some approval culprits discovered in the bible. This includes the New World chattel slavery. It is very alarming, considering the level of damage the Slave Trade has done to Africa as a continent. But none of it is true. The bible doesn’t tell Christians to go about enslaving anybody they can overpower. Enslaving defeated foes was almost like the winning prize of a war. Considering the number of wars in the bible, I believe that gives you a fair idea of how many instances of slavery there are in the bible. Slavery was a form of punishment in the bible too. Anytime the Israelites rebelled against God or reverted to idol worship, God allowed their enemies to defeat them in a war and capture them. This scenario recurs so many times in the Old Testament that one would wonder if the Israelites didn’t ever learn from their past mistakes and that of their forefathers.

Obviously the Israelites must have had slaves too. As stated already, slaves are amongst the ‘spoils’ soldiers brought back home from wars. The issue here is what the bible says about how the children of God should treat slaves. One of Paul’s unconventional epistles in the bible is the book of Philemon. We see Paul use a more soft and apologetic tone in this epistle. This is even more stunning considering the fact that Paul was talking to someone he has authority over. He states it clearly that he could compel Philemon to do as he says, but out of love he would rather appeal to his conscience to do the right thing. All this was in connection with Philemon’s slave,Onesimus. Onesimus had wronged Philemon and had left to be with Paul. It appears his departure is what caused the rift between him and his master as it must have been that he ran away. Paul had worked closely with Onesimus and had great love for him. The former slave was now a staunch Christian. Paul was sending him back to his former master and required Philemon to treat him like a brother in Christ and not a slave. He could have imposed this initiative on Philemon but chose to make an appeal out of love. Here, we see Paul making a great contribution to the liberation of a slave.

In the New Testament, Christian ‘slave masters’ are admonished to treat their slaves like brothers and Christian slaves are admonished to honour their masters no matter how mean they are to them. This is where the contention is. It appears by admonishing slave masters to deal with their slaves kindly, the issue of slavery hasn’t been dealt with at its roots. As stated earlier, several forms of slavery did occur in biblical times. In Timothy 6 for instance, Paul made reference to economic-based slavery (known as ‘indentured service’) where people offered themselves as slaves to work for other families in order to survive or pay off a debt. God regulated this form of servitude by establishing a set of strict laws to protect men and women (be it Hebrew or Gentile) from any form of cruel treatment by their masters. God’s Law for example:

  • Forbade masters from running big interest charges on servant’s loans (Leviticus 25:35-38)
  • Provided marriage rights (Exodus 21:4,10-11)
  • Physical protection rights ( Deuteronomy 10:19; 24:14, Leviticus 19:34, Exodus 21:26-27, Leviticus 25:39-41)
  • Provided freedom rights (Deuteronomy 15:1;12, 23:15)

NB: Most of the laws of the Ancient Near East gave room for chattel slavery as the laws provided very little or no protection at all for the slaves. God’s Law on the other hand offered protection for slaves in Israel at that time amidst harsh conditions faced by their counterparts elsewhere.

It’s of no surprise then that some slaves rather preferred to stay behind looking at the great benefits that came along with working in their master’s home. Most of them for instance had access to formal education and also had the opportunity to learn a trade like carpentry and medicine. There was the sense of belonging to a family unlike chattel slavery that equated one to nothing more than a piece of furniture. ‘To fire a bullet into a slave was like firing a bullet into a pumpkin, not like firing a bullet into a human.’, as one researcher described the plight of chattel slaves. It’s sad that many feel God’s Law made provisions for chattel slavery when in the actual fact, God’s laws prohibited any form of servant mistreatment (check scriptural references above). In the Bible, kidnapping people and making them slaves against their will was very clear: it was a crime punishable by death! (Exodus 21:16). Paul actually emphasized God’s disapproval of this kind of slave trading in his letter here. What Paul is doing over here is harking to Old Testament ethic and condemning chattel slavery alongside heinous acts like lying, murder and sodomy. Several forms of master-servant relationship existed under God’s Law BUT nowhere in scripture did it ever endorse a dehumanizing relationship such as New World chattel slavery. Yet skeptics will somehow manage to read a portion of scripture and criticize it for supporting such brutality while the entire Bible, in its rightful context, makes plain God’s disapproval of any deplorable acts of cruelty and injustice.

Anyway, with respect to warning Christian slave masters to treat their slaves kindly, there’s a potential problem we need to bring to light over here. There’s almost always the tendency for one to abuse his or her newfound freedom. This is nothing new. Just as many of the women at that time misunderstood their newfound freedom in Christ (referring to gender equality), it was very likely some slaves had also began to overstep their boundaries by disobeying their masters. Some probably got complacent, seeing no need to either work hard or show respect to their masters–someone they were now equal with. Well, too bad because Christianity came not to extinguish social positions BUT rather to make them completely irrelevant to accepting the new life in Christ. This is how Christianity differed from the Greco-Roman culture in that the latter placed much emphasis on one’s status based on one’s family or wealth. In God’s family, both the Jew and Greek, Circumcised and Uncircumcised, Male and Female, Barbarian and Scythian, as well as the slave and free are all in a common relationship with Christ Jesus. One group has absolutely no basis to undervalue another group because there’s no such thing as superiority/inferiority. The slave master in this case isn’t better than his servant because he himself is also a slave to the True Master in Heaven! This is why Slave masters were being admonished to treat their servants with utmost respect and dignity as a means to exemplify the approved relationship between those who were in a similar position. After all, each servant bore the image of Christ and as such deserved to be treated as God’s beloved.

Though the Bible is against practices that abuse and dehumanize a human being, many still feel the New Testament writers should have outlawed all forms of slavery altogether. If you’ve been following closely, you’ll agree that annulling the morally permissible, economic-based slavery would’ve done more harm than good to impoverished families. In the sense that this was the only means by which they could fend for themselves. Moreover, about 40% of the Roman population comprised slaves; most of which were young children but some were adults. Paul really understood the times he was living in knowing very well the social catastrophe he would have caused had he managed to persuade the Roman government to free all slaves. This is not to say that Paul had no future plans of instructing the church to move away from the general slave system. We already know that Paul opposed slave-trading (1 Timothy 1:9-10) and in addition to that, advised people to pursue freedom (1 Corinthians 7:21-23). Until a much better social welfare program had been established, tearing down the only ‘welfare program’ that existed at that time would have exposed many to the harsh environment out there.

Written by Elvis Sampson and Elikplim Sabblah

References: 1 Timothy 6, Exodus 21, Leviticus 25, Deuteronomy 15, Galatians 3:28, 1 Corinthians 12:13, Colossians 3:11, Philemon, Does God Approve of slavery according to the bible?, The Atlantic slave trade: what few textbooks told you – Anthony Hazard, Does God condone slavery in the Bible? – Glenn Miller.

What Lies Beneath?

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Racism. Sexism. Terrorism. Ethnocentrism…These terminologies do not seem to convey the true message of what really happens (or is happening) before our very eyes in this small world. Listen to the radio. Watch TV news. Men are brutally murdering other men almost every day. I tell you, the heart of a man is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things!*sighs*. What in the world drives one to do something as inhumane as taking the life of another man in the name of ‘you are a foreigner in my country’? I say this with respect to the on-going crisis in South Africa that has claimed the lives of many innocent victims. You can’t fathom how a person/people can be so threatened by the presence of another group of people to the extent of losing one’s sense of love for humanity. If we really think we are dealing with just another kind of political, gender, cultural or racial difference, please let’s consider our line of thought once again.

The social media is electric with anger and indignation judging from the numerous tweets and Facebook posts pertaining to the recent xenophobic attacks in SA. Many (especially blacks) were disappointed by the fact that Africans are the very people perpetuating these gruesome attacks on their fellow African brothers. In my opinion, that should be the least of the reasons for our disappointment. This is men killing other men! Whether it’s black people attacking white people or white people attacking black people or black people attacking black people or white people attacking white people, our conscience must be stung strongly regardless of the kind of people involved. This [Xenophobia] must be seen as a heightened form of barbarity incited by powering one’s fears with absurd imaginations and false preconceptions. If this ‘fear’ is irrational and unreasonable, then it exists for the wrong reasons. Why feed such irrationality? Some say the attacks began shortly after the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini said the immigrants “should pack their bags and go” because they were the cause for the increment in the rate of unemployment among the local citizens of the country (Others claim the masses misconstrued his statement). Even if it’s true that the foreign citizens are ‘stealing’ jobs from the hands of the ingroups, does it still justify any of these killings? Does it?

Xenophobia isn’t a 21st century problem. The word may be quite modern but the act is as old as humanity itself. There was a time in Egypt when a King was threatened by the presence of the Hebrews who were greatly multiplying in his kingdom. For fear that they may join forces with his enemies if war broke out, He ordered the midwives to kill all male babies born by the Hebrew women. This didn’t go as planned so he tried again but this time around he [the King] was more successful with his request after he charged all his men to drown every Hebrew baby boy in the Nile River. Just picture that. Someone please take a look at how evil can comfortably seep into a man’s heart even when’s he’s threatened by his own defective imaginations. This King certainly had no idea that Egypt was once upon a time found in a sorry plight with the situation turned around by a very wise and kind-hearted Hebrew man named Joseph. If only this King knew that their presence was actually a source of blessing to Egypt, he would have thought twice about treating them ruthlessly and subjecting them to meaningless deaths. And South Africa, these people you call ‘strangers’ are the very people who have greatly contributed to the development of your nation. All their struggles have helped boost the nation’s economy for a better future for the next generation. Can’t you at least be grateful for this? You’re rather setting their stores and children on fire. Really?

You know what’s funny? We are here calling people ‘foreigners’ on our lands. How about us? Aren’t we ‘foreigners’ on Earth too? There’s a beautiful sky above us laced with clouds that condense to give us rain to cool our surroundings and to help our crops grow. Did anyone of us create that? Look up to the sun. We definitely didn’t hang it over there like we do with our portrait pictures. We came to meet this burning ball of gas which stimulates our sense of vision and even help in proper skin formation by giving us some amount of Vitamin D free of charge. I won’t even go into the science and specifics of the other things it does. No one pays air bills. You breathe this air for free! Did anyone of us offer suggestions when the lands were being demarcated into continents and countries? We didn’t even help draw the plan of mother earth to start with. Where would we go if the owner of this earth told us to pack our bags and leave because of our ‘threatening presence’? The sea? The skies? We will have to travel to space or a different planet for that matter—another foreign place for foreigners like us. Do you get what I’m driving at? We are here enjoying these gifts given to us freely out of loving kindness by someone (or something depending on how you view the origin of this universe) but today, we go ahead of ourselves to decide who lives and who dies on the basis of our unjustifiable feelings. C’mon people!

We can keep on protesting against the wave of anti-immigrant violence by brandishing ‘SAY NO TO XENOPHOBIA‘ placards on the streets or playing friendly matches in ‘LET’S KICK XENOPHOBIA OUT’ jerseys and all that but if that’s all there is to do, then we’ve only succeeded in taking Aspirin to relieve our fever and pain. We still end up missing the main point. All are strenuous efforts have unfortunately aimed at curbing the symptoms of the problem and not working to uproot the source of the problem itself. We cannot deny the fact that the heart of this issue lies in the issue of the human heart. Living within us are wild hearts that are depraved beyond our wildest imaginations. I’m not referring to the pear-shaped organ that pumps blood to the various vital organs in our body. I’m referring to the ‘heart’—the seat of our emotions—where every issue of life springs up from. It’s dead. Just dead. I get to understand and appreciate more why Jesus wasn’t that interested in making bad people good but was rather keen on making dead people with dead consciences alive. It’s because our bloodthirsty hearts need something more than social conventions and ‘ethics rehabilitation’ classes to neutralize the poison within. It needs something beyond what this world is familiar with. We don’t need a lot of good morals to fix this. WE NEED GOD. It’s about time we humbled ourselves and actively pursued after His Spirit because He is the only one capable of creating in us a clean heart and renewing a right spirit within us. Without His transforming power, we’re like unplugged electric irons trying to remove wrinkles from a fabric. If we don’t get serious with our quest to find and deal with the root cause of these problems plaguing this nation and the world at large, we will continue to wallow in injustice and our lands will remain broken because what lies beneath…God help us all.