THE BLANKET: An Introduction to Us

The human brain has a system of recognizing patterns and overtime saving energy by blazing past these patterns to expected results. When you’re just starting to learn math, you would have to grapple with why 1+1 should equal 2. Over time, you just know the answer is 2. Your mind skips the reasoning process and jumps to the answer and for every time you turn out to be right, the process becomes shorter, leading to faster answers and lightspeed reasoning.

It’s a fascinating fact about the way our minds work.

As the world grows more socially intelligent, we are increasingly aware of the rising epidemic that is “Stereotyping”. I say that we are only getting aware because this issue has been around for as long as we have been. I believe that stereotyping has its roots in our brains trying to reach conclusions as quickly as possible, so much so, it misses out on the individuality of the experience of life.

I dare say, that we are all guilty of stereotyping; it’s our nature.

That last statement up there is stereotypical too. The thing is, this pen is cocked and pointed at all of us not because we have evil intentions all the time, but because we carry a mind that needs to be trained to do better.

The Bible says in Romans 12:2, to be transformed by renewing the mind. The key is in the brain, in the mind. If we willingly take a step back to reconfigure our minds, we will be creating a transformed world. The following series hopes to question as many stereotypes as we can, but it will have no impact on you the reader if you don’t make a conscious and willing effort to accept when you are in the wrong and to make a change for the better.

Humanity is really a host of individuals. The human experience is individual by every definition. To throw a blanket over any group might save you a moment of consideration but you risk prejudice and consequences that might never be recovered from. Take this journey with us not to feel good about yourself, but to make a conscious effort to recalibrate your mind, to be transformed.

 

Cheers.

BY

Alexander Ikenna & Ezeonyeka Godswill

Movie Review: Paul, Apostle of Christ

 

Production Companies: Affirm Films and ODB Films

Distributor: Sony Pictures

Release Date: March 23, 2018

Running Time: 106 minutes

Reviewer: Chidimma Nnagbo

pau apostle movie poster

Paul, Apostle of Christ is woven around Paul (James Faulkner), Luke (Jim Caviezel) who played the role of Jesus in “Passion of Christ”, Mauritius Gallas (Olivier Martinez) Prefect of Mamertine Prison and the Christians under the care of Priscilla (Joanne Whalley) and Aquila (John Lynch). It is a 2018 American biblical drama film written and directed by Andrew Hyatt and Produced by David Zelon and T.J. Berden.

Rome suffers a devastating fire outbreak and Emperor Nero pins the blame on Christians and unleashes judgment on them by torture, setting them on fire on the streets of Rome and slaughtering them on sight. As a result, all Christians go into hiding under the care of Aquila and Priscilla. Luke enters the city just when they need counsel on what next to do. They ask Luke to seek Paul’s wisdom during his visit to him in prison.

The movie is faith provoking and sad but at the same time lacks the ability to hold a viewer spellbound. Of all the accounts of Paul in the Bible, the makers of this movie chose to showcase the end of Paul’s life when he is old, weak and almost ineffective, which by the way the bible has little record of. He even whines about his bones racked with pains and his eyesight bad. The Paul in the bible was bold, influential and the most eloquent of all the apostles so portraying him the way he is portrayed seem almost dissatisfying. Luke is seen persuading Paul to pass wisdom and letters to the Christians in Rome and beyond. In reality, Paul was not someone that needed persuasion to preach the gospel. His character, even in his last days was poorly sketched.

The cinematography, lighting, and costumes are perfect but the set is flawed. An idea that Paul is in the darkest and most hideous part of Rome’s cells is given but Paul is seen in a relatively well lit and somewhat spacious cell. The movie is not as explicit as expected of a movie staged centuries ago. The only act of violence shown is a hung man being set on fire. Asides that, every other act is told, not seen. Compared to ‘Passion of Christ’, this film is modest. This limits the communication of the supposed hardship Christians in Rome are going through to a viewer. The flashbacks of Paul’s active days which should have been the highlights of the rather dull movie is so poorly staged.

Does the movie achieve its purpose? If it’s purpose is to remind Christians what Christianity is really all about in a time where everybody is ‘woke’ and fighting for one right or the other, then yes. The message of love is strongly advocated. Cassius (Alessandro Sperduti) is seen dividing the Christian refugee camp and calling for justice against Rome. After what they subjected Christians to and what they are still subjecting them to, one might think waging war against Rome and fighting for their lives would be absolutely right; but Priscilla and Aquila chose a different way. They tell him he and any other person that carries arms against the Romans would be banned because they are Christians and live a lifestyle of peace. When Luke reports to Paul the situation of things at the camp, he says ‘Let peace be with you because we live in the world but we do not wage war as the world does. Peace begins with you. Love is the only way’. Cassius breaks into the prison to release him, he still doesn’t go. Instead, he asks him of whose authority he acts because it certainly isn’t of God’s.

Paul’s discussion with Mauritius Gallas after Luke healed his daughter shows effortless preaching of the gospel and conversion to Christianity should be. After Paul preaches to him, he asks what if he doesn’t believe after everything that has happened. Paul tells him it takes just a moment and it isn’t him but Christ himself that looks down upon a person and shatters his defenses. At that moment one would realize how much God knows and loves him.  He says he will pray that moment comes for him.

The scene of the afterlife shown where Paul meets all those he persecuted in an open field with dry grasses with warmth on their faces is a picture of heaven as I hope it will look. Then, a man I suppose is Jesus is seen from afar walking towards him. Perhaps this particular scene was not given much thought. Maybe it would have been better to end the movie with Paul’s execution.

Here is the official trailer:

 

Christianity and the vicious cycle of political hopelessness

For a long time in Christendom, there has been an unfounded nursed notion that, active political engagement is inherently defiled and corrupt, hence Christians who are serious and passionate about the gospel should not be involved. Most Christians are of the view that anything besides pulpit preaching of the gospel is a distraction from the Great Commission. while this sounds religiously true, it is urgently necessary to understand that we believe in a God who cares passionately about His world and the whole of His creation (Jn. 3:16) and is therefore concerned about its affairs such as, how it is governed and who governs it.

The Lord in Matthew 28:18-20, commanded us to go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey God in every area of life. In making disciples of all nations and in all areas, we must also disciple people to make godly decisions about politics and governance. Nevertheless, this is not the stance of many Christians. Some prefer to be indifferent towards governance and the whole process of electioneering. In Nigeria, majority of the active and most influential politicians belong to the ‘other side’ and are at the helms of government, advancing the purpose of their beliefs. That is largely the reason why today, the afflictions of Christians are multiplying all over the country; the incessant harassment of Christian farmers all over the country by Fulani herdsmen, Boko Haram insurgencies, the displacement of Christians from their original villages in Kaduna, Benue, Taraba etc. and many more terrorist actions are few examples.

While some of these persecutions may have their place in awakening the Nigerian church and increasing her thirst for revival, could this have been the original will of our God; that His people have no safe place of worship? These killings and terror attacks might go on and many more may arise simply not because God wants it but because Christianity lacks influence in Nigerian politics. It is not just okay anymore to fold hands and watch helplessly as evil men decide the fate of God’s true children. In this write up, I introduce the term “political hopelessness” to help explain the default condition of an ordinary Christian in Nigeria towards politics. I also try to charge the heart of Nigerian Christians to get involved in politics, lead and establish God’s purpose on earth.

The lack of Christian influence in the Nigerian government has led to a vicious cycle illustrated below:

Most Christians have recoiled from affairs of the government due to past experiences and therefore have developed a default mindset that sees politics and every politician as evil and corrupt. This has consequently engendered borderless political apathy. However, not getting involved does not solve the problem, it only makes Christians to be outnumbered and consequently loose in the elections. So when the elections are over and most of the seats are occupied by non-Christians, we have nobody to represent our interests. No one to stand up and pass bills that protect Christian interests and affairs as evidently displayed in various systematised anarchy unleashed against innocent Christian farmers, villagers, schools or gatherings.

As time went on, we lost our voices and because our voices were lost, our interest were buried! We consequently returned to the beginning of the cycle. And on and on goes the vicious cycle. This cycle has been on for decades in Nigeria and we have consequently settled with a sense of hopelessness having ignorantly concluded that nothing could be done anymore.

Furthermore, many so-called Christian politicians have worsened matters. They come to the churches and kneel on the altars only to get elected and enrich themselves. Such people have lost the trust of the Christian masses for they have helped make them hopeless. Reserved for them in hell is everlasting torment, except they repent and occupy for God.

In order to remedy the situation however, the cycle has to be broken. Christians must begin to deliberately strategize and put trusted people in the right positions. These efforts may not yield immediate results but at least will set the pace for generations to come. The Bible also challenges us in Luke 14: 28 & 31 to first sit and count the cost, and plan. With determination and proper strategy, Christ will rule and God’s counsel will be established. It is necessary that stable government policies that promote the preaching and practice of God’s word at all levels of civil service be implemented. It will be glorious if the government of the day sees and believes in the end time revival of the land and hands over power to the Holy Spirit to move in the lives of citizens. How can this be achieved? To what extent is this achievable? It takes having a sincerely consecrated disciple of Christ to be in power. How else can he/she be in power if not encouraged to accept God’s leading and training, and then get involved in governance?

It is worthy of note that the involvement of Christians in government through the ages is the most vibrant reason why today, we have hospitals, abolition of slavery and the practice of killing twins, modern science, the true understanding of the worth of women, regard for human life, great works of art and literature, a workable system of justice, education for the common human being, the free-enterprise system, etc. A writer tells a story of a Christian minister named John Witherspoon who became president of the College of New Jersey in 1768. While there, Witherspoon taught Biblical principles of government to his students. Of the 478 young men who were graduated during his tenure, 114 became ministers; 13 were state governors; 3 were U. S. Supreme Court judges; 20 were U.S. Senators; 33 were U.S. Congressmen; Aaron Burr, Jr., became Vice-President; and James Madison became President. As a Christian, Witherspoon exerted an enormous influence on the direction of American government. So did Joseph and Daniel during their times in the Bible. These are eloquent testimonies of men whom God used in politics during their time. What makes it different now?

As Christians, we must come to the understanding that God is interested in having His Children take over every sphere of influence even on earth. And we must deliberately determine to make His counsel stand if we truly love Him. The true proof of our love for God and one another lies partly in our participation in politics albeit, with a kingdom mindset. How do we claim to love God if we don’t engage in things that enhance and promote His kingdom? How do we claim to love one another if we don’t participate in the area that most profoundly shapes basic rights and the freedom of others? We must arise, take the bull by the horns and put an end to this vicious cycle of hopelessness. You have the opportunity to influence the world for God if you will only take it.

However, taking the bull by the horns comes with a price. We must realize that this is a mandate worth living for and if need be, worth dying for. We must be ready to loose our lives in pursuit of this mission, bearing in mind that to live is Christ and to die is gain. And also that as long as we remain in the will of God the Father, there shall no evil befall us neither shall any plague come nigh our dwelling, except it be His will. We therefore, must come to a point where our lives mean little in the face of God’s great promises. He has said, “he that loveth his life shall lose it, and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal”. Eternity is the bigger picture. We must be able to give up our lives to pursue Heaven’s mandate. If we do not come to that point, then it is better not to have started. Are we ready to die if need be? Are we ready to say like Daniel and his friends, “our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” We will not compromise. And the Father will fight for us. We have the opportunity to influence the world for God if we will only take it. May God grant us the courage, Amen.

(C) 2018

Steven Kator IORFA

I = LIFE

It came in a flash like some Allen knew exactly what was on my mind.

In the midst of 2 strangers in a BRT bus, one looked like another normal guy, and the other like a boss.

*Lagos my location, but I had thoughts in heaven.
So I felt heaven on earth, well that’s what you get for being in Him.

Have you ever wondered how lovely it would be to spend a whole day without bad mouthing anything, anywhere or even anyone?

Like No…
Bastard; playfully said
or
Fool; with a lovely pat on the head

No…
‘You will never amount to anything’ from a mother to a child and perhaps;

No pastor would lead a congregation of well meaning followers to a battle ground that makes a post of ‘deaths to whoever’ and then tag God in prayers like he was a supporting cast in this horror movie on a steady loop in their mind.

But they don’t see it,
We don’t see it,
I mean how black can a heart get before truth can no longer wash it?

I wish we can all set a day apart;
A day when we will all agree to rather trade punches than hurt with our words

A day when we will be focused enough to not let any slippery dark word go unapologized.
A day when we stop using these black knights to bat men, but rather;

Step into the light and use white to bathe them.

A day, when we master love
Then We try a week,
Then a month;

And soon it becomes abnormal and weigh a thousand tons on our lips whenever we try to muster the courage to plant a word that will grow into a scary tree from these our mustard seeds.

So I decide daily, surely, purposely;
I choose to believe differently
To fight differently
To speak differently
See differently

And actually stop playing the devil’s hate game with him.

Since we are buddies, let me play a little with God;
For I am in Him
And He is in me
Heaven in *Lagos;
LIFE!

I will be that one drop of oil that will float above stormy waters.
I will fight alongside anyone I can, till my heart goes silent with its beats.

It’s who I am, it’s what I give,
LIFE!

 

*Lagos is a major city in Nigeria.

BEAUTIFUL SUBSTANDARD

You ever noticed how adorable the girl looked when she smiled whose face is so freckled or pimpled?

You ever noticed how cute it was watching that poor family happily eat together of the same plate?

To the ladies…

You ever noticed how loving the guy was who never met a single quality on your checklist? Or how handsome the guy looked when he cried?

You ever noticed how simply beautiful that old ignorant woman was who kept talking superstitions with so much confidence and good intents that you couldn’t help but smile?

You ever realized how perfect those scattered eyelashes or uncarved eyebrows can be?

You ever saw how admirable that poor little boy was when he acted out a deed of love?

You ever saw the ease with which little children of different races bonded on first meeting?

Did you ever take a moment to notice…

You see the problem is we think we need to be perfect to be happy, but no, we don’t and we cannot. We don’t need to be perfect to be happy neither can we be no matter how hard we try. The one thing that connects us is the fact that we are humans, we were created to be family. We all hunger for that sense of belonging, and desire love that is real, unconditional and unfailing.

Love is the answer… it is that which binds  us, it is the one thing that can make us stop struggling so hard to belong,  to be noticed and to be considered better than others. It is the one thing that will make us stop jumping into  conclusions,  criticizing and judging others but rather hearing the full story and making fair decisions.

It is the one thing that will keep us from being biased in our dealings with people of varying tribe, race or religion, class or background, political party or mindset.

It is the one thing that will enable us see everyone as who they are-humans- first before what they are!

It will enable us know that we are all equal and that no one is better off because we all fall short..only in different ways.

Love will enable us live happy lives in the midst of imperfections. A life of happiness is the one we live when we keep our lives simple, improving on the things we can do, our strengths and using them in the service of others faithfully.

True love makes a perfect world. It deletes all imperfections and pastes beauty. It  makes a  show of standard, proving neither perfection nor standard to be happiness but rather happiness in substandard is what yields perfection.

However,

True lasting love is not natural. We cannot produce that lasting love by our broken selves but we know one who can because He is whole and He is love.

We know someone who can amend our imperfect world with love because He amends our hearts. It was necessary that he started with our hearts because the brokenness of the world around us is only a reflection of the brokenness of our hearts. He has shed love abroad in the hearts of those who accept his arm of fatherhood.

When He walked on earth as a man called Jesus, we knew Him to live, love and show happiness.

We knew him to have been born in an average home  of a carpenter and his dear wife.

We knew him to see perfection in an old woman who gave a few coins as her offering.

We knew him to see perfection in children of different backgrounds.

We knew him to see perfection in a woman who the society had condemned.

We knew him to see perfection in a disciple and friend (Peter) though impulsive and undecisive..

We knew him to see perfection in crying women who had lost their brother, his friend.

We knew him to see perfection in a short “sinful” taxcollector.

We knew him to see perfection in a  man who died a criminal beside him on a cross.

He, Jesus can give us the ability to truly love. He can give us the ability with which we can heal our broken world. He came, died and rose so that all who believed in this could be one with Him, partake in his nature and have him as their representative before God, he came to give us his nature of eternal life and love.

AGAINST ALL ODDS

Since the days I learned to write my ABC’s I have always known that E effortlessly came before the Gs and Hs and with eyes like mocking jays’ ears I watched as this routine set to educate with Greek elements taught me that the Es Extraordinary will always exceed the N’s Normal that the best B-E-S-T only referred to people who constantly applied Basic Excellence to Supersede every Trial that dared believe possible is not a closed universal set with only such elements available but an ever growing individual set only bound by the extent to which we stretch so we stretch till our limits no longer exist we stretch till our breathes cease and we lay hold on eternity as we be physically transformed to who we truly are saints. We stretch cos we are sent.

So Hello Reality,

My name is Godswill Ezeonyeka and I have decided to not be bound by your rules. Trust me, it is not my intent to come off proud or maybe arrogant; but I just can’t fit into the boxes you house me in anymore. You claim the odds are against me that I can never beat this and fitting in seems the best option, but then I would be lost. So what sense does it make when the struggles of my life gets me fighting for my life? Do I live by the sword only to die by its side?

My name is Godswill Ezeonyeka; and don’t be mistaken, this is no identity crisis. I could join ISIS and show you how real this is but Christ is my Choice, it goes way deeper than what eyes see. This is my decision― to leave like Abraham, eat like Daniel, give like Solomon, to preach like Paul; to only appear normal yet be free so you can see that you’ve been barking up the wrong tree. I am certain you do not know who these people are because the last you heard from them is a letter like this as they dared realms unseen; stomping impossibilities. Their lives all but lost.

Yes― you can call me ‘Unreasonable’, but I make Reason able to find roots on solid― Word. God’s words. So I don’t make thoughts of the pains to come if I fail the shame and repercussions I dare to challenge for yet my rod will still stretch out above these waters, my knees will not yield your command, listen I skate on storms and though a giant may charge at me, you will not want to miss the next news headlines “greater is He that lives in me”.

My name is Godswill Ezeonyeka, and I am sorry― No― I do not agree that things go one way. That fate holds all cards to play. That I am helpless. Too many lies. Do you know who I am? The known world was called forth because of me, so don’t tell me of a ‘real world’, I decide which is real― the world my eyes see or the world I see in His eyes. I call the shots, Reality. You owe me, Reality; so pay attention.

My name is Godswill Ezeonyeka, and I may not be as brave, see this is not about a thorough plan. Your fire may burn me, my friends; the King may not stretch his sceptre for my safety, this boiling oil might be the last of me, these walls so thick may not give way to my victory still His faithfulness makes me faith-full ― Yes! No matter the stakes, I stay high on His intoxicating Word no matter what you bring my way, Reality. Hope you are still listening?

Cos I know for a certainty that aside fairy tales, animals can talk, water can stand tall as walls, the sun can take a pause on its journey and hungry lions can get selective with their lunch. Fire can defy the laws of gravity, a valley full of death can rise to become a mighty army and a man can with God as a son speak. So it doesn’t matter what you think, I just want you to know this much

I have chosen to right my perspectives; to redefine my reality

Like others…and others yet would, I have chosen Him over you and me.

I am broken from your rules.

In Jesus I live. True.

 

Yours sincerely…

 

By Ezeonyeka Godswill & Henry ‘Glofame’ Okoli

 

WWF-What Is The Source Of Your Fear Of God?

Isaiah 29:13
KJV:Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men
ESV:And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men
NIV:The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.
AMP:And the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips but remove their hearts and minds far from Me, and their fear and reverence for Me are a commandment of men that is learned by repetition [without any thought as to the meaning]

It is surely a terrible thing for one to have God’s fear as a result of man’s precept. Fearing God mainly by reason of man’s presentation of Him may not be helpful, and can be so detrimental. Let your fear of God be based on your personal encounter with God, while you are genuinely sincere with and cherishing the experience from your heart. That way you can always go on with the Lord through thin and thick, shine and rain, without necessarily having any brethren around you to cheer you on.

If all the fear of God you’ve known so far in your life is as a result of what man has told you, you are not doing yourself a good job. Honestly, you are not trying at all. When you will be up against boisterous storms of life, you might not be able to withstand with such knowledge. It takes personal encounter with the Lord to stand the test of times continually. Take your Christian race serious, and get into series of encounters with God continually. Let it be daily renewed. Believe the Lord Jesus Christ by what you also directly hear from Him (and not just what you know of Him from somebody), and make sure you are sincere with yourself from your heart in all things.

Remember God tries the reins. He searches the heart, to know the truth thereof. Do not try to hide from God. Many that do such are deceiving themselves into the awaiting destruction. See these:

Isaiah 29:15
Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?

Isaiah 30:1
Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin

Coming back to our study:
Hear what these people said to the person that preached to them.

John 4:39-42
39
KJV: And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.
40
KJV: So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.
41
KJV: And many more believed because of his own word;
42
KJV: And said unto the woman, now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

But somebody may be thinking, I wish I could hear Jesus Christ directly like this people. Yes, you can. In our time, by faith, we hear Jesus Christ directly by meditating on God’s word for ourselves daily. Though sometimes the Lord may choose to reveal Himself to the individual in different kinds of visions, yet it is as He wills. So, don’t be praying for such visitation. Satan may transform himself and visit you. Anyway, let’s take a cue from the Bereans.

Act 17:10-11
And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures DAILY, whether those things were so.

This is exactly how we go about it in our time. Remember Jesus Christ knows all about your whole life more than any man can. And most times many study God’s word with their own personal glasses on, and not Holy Spirit’s. And such may not perfectly present God to you. Of which we have many like that today. I say, therefore, meet with Jesus Christ directly for yourself, via His word, and by the help of the Holy Spirit. Reverence and fear Him for your personal encounter with Him, for surely, our God is a consuming fire. You are surely in the safest place knowing Him directly with all sincerity and genuine desire from your heart.

Shalom.

-Adebayo Funmi

WHY CAN’T TRUTH SET OUR HEARTS ON FIRE?

iStock_000017285103XSmall.jpg
WHAT’S THE POINT OF BEING A CHRISTIAN, IF IT LEAVES US NO BETTER THAN ANY OTHER PERSON ON THIS PLANET OF OURS?

I think that this is the big question that must bug us, if we’re really serious about our lives, and the whole point of being ‘saved by God’ and ‘transformed by him’. If we are unable to look ourselves in the mirror and tell ourselves the truth about ourselves, it may just be the case that we’re just playing with our lives and our lives matter too much for us to simply spend it on a merry-go-round circus, deceiving ourselves till we’ve kicked the bucket.

The essence of this piece is to shout out the words of truth as loud as I can, because truth is all that our life is worth. I really mean this. Continue reading