On Boko Haram – How I see things as a Christian

I have largely stayed away from commenting on the kidnap saga that is currently the buzz in Nigeria, due mainly to the fact that there have been conflicting details regarding the whole episode and a lot of controversy has generated due to the sketchiness of the information which until recently came in trickles.

It had also become clear that we as a people were beginning to lose our sense of shock, not only at the brazen violence inflicted on Nigerians by the Boko Haram sect, but also at the total inability of the government to arrest the situation and stopping it from assuming the dangerous dimension that it has now taken. I guess this is borne out of the fact that week after week of news of bombings, killings and kidnappings had begun to take its toll on all of us and we were all beginning to accept it as normal.

As shameful as that may sound, it pretty much sums up our “collective response” to the happenings in the North due to Boko Haram, until now.

It is however not my intention to “psychoanalyze” Nigerians or presume to speak for over 160 million people. My desire is to examine the issues on hand, not only as a Nigerian, but especially as a Christian who lives in a Nigerian context.

So then, what do I, as a Christian, make of all of this?

God is Sovereign (Psalm 115:3; Daniel 4:35 NASB):

God is Sovereign

Well, what did you expect?

This is my basic starting point and it is at the heart of all that helps me to make sense of everything.

But what has that got to do with Boko Haram?

God, the Scriptures say, “HAS MADE EVERYTHING FOR ITS PURPOSE, EVEN THE WICKED FOR THE DAY OF TROUBLE.” – Proverbs 16:4 This clearly shows that God is in fact in control of the situation, as troubling and out of control it may seem, and that Boko Haram, with all its murderous rage, will not (because it cannot) take one life more than has been decreed by God. The truth about God’s sovereignty also means Boko Haram’s days are numbered. That there will be an end to all this. Despite the gross evil perpetrated by this group or its seeming invincibility, despite all the cache of weapons the group may claim to possess (or in fact possess) and despite all its intention to establish its agenda through bloodletting and wanton killings, it will pass from the scene at the appointed time. “YET A LITTLE WHILE AND THE WICKED MAN WILL BE NO MORE; AND YOU WILL LOOK CAREFULLY FOR HIS PLACE AND HE WILL NOT BE THERE.”Psalm 37:10

 

God is Just (Deuteronomy 32:3-4 NASB):

Justice

A caller on a call-in program I was listening to on the local radio station, expressed very cautious optimism about the latest news by the DSS (Directorate of State Security) on the capture of those behind the Nyanya bombings. He said something to the effect that, “I hope they don’t go ahead and release them after they have publicly paraded them”. Now that may sound a bit far fetched, but one thing is clear; Nigerians do not exactly have great confidence in our Justice system. I can imagine the frustrations of those who have lost loved ones since this insurgency began, either at the hands of Boko Haram or at the hands of the authorities, in the case of mistaken identity. I can also imagine the frustration of those who have hoped for speedy justice against the killers of their relatives but instead have to endure the very slow grind of the “wheels of justice” in our nation. All this coming together makes one wonder whether these murderers will ever face justice. Well, as a Christian, I am comforted by the fact that God is not only sovereign, God is also just. The Scriptures affirm, in 2 Chronicles 19:7 “NOW THEN, LET THE FEAR OF THE LORD BE UPON YOU. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU DO, FOR THERE IS NO INJUSTICE WITH THE LORD OUR GOD, OR PARTIALITY OR TAKING BRIBES.” I therefore know that not one of the perpetrators nor their collaborators, will escape God’s righteous judgment. It is rumored that these terrorists have support from people in government and this means some of them may escape justice. But as a Christian I rest in the knowledge that NO ONE will escape what they justly deserve from God. “ASSUREDLY, THE EVIL MAN WILL NOT GO UNPUNISHED…” – Proverbs 11:21

 

God is good (Psalm 100:5, 145:9 NASB):

God is Good

In January of 1971, Idi Amin, the then commander of the Ugandan Army overthrew the government of his boss, Milton Obote in a military coup; about 8 years later, between 300,000 to 500,000 Ugandans had been killed, murdered at the hands of their own government. In April 1975, the Communist Party of Kampuchea, led by Saloth Sar (later known as Pol Pot) came to power in Cambodia; in just 4 years of his rule, an estimated 1 to 3 million of his own people lost their lives due to the policies of his government. Need I speak about Adolf Hitler, who saw to the annihilation of nearly 6 million Jews within a period or 4 years or Josef Stalin who also murdered many of his countrymen. All these murders were carried out by governments that were “ordained by God” for the purpose safeguarding their citizens. (Romans 13: 1-7) As humans, our starting point in nearly every calamity is that we are recipients of what we do not deserve and that if God was truly good, He should not have let this or that evil befall us.  We have become so used to God’s mercy, so used to being spared the consequences of our individual and collective rebellion such that whenever the Lord sees it fit to refrain his hand and allow us reap the fruit of our actions, we are quick to point the finger at the Divine. In spite of how deserving we are of a government akin to the ones described above, in spite of how utterly devoid of the fear of God our rulers have proved to be, the Lord has been pleased to spare us the pain of being led by a murderous government. God is indeed good. Furthermore, God has spared this nation from the calamities that a government unprepared to fight terrorism could impose on its people. “OH GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD, FOR HE IS GOOD, FOR HIS LOVINGKINDNESS IS EVERLASTING.”- Psalm 107:1

 

 Governments are ordained by God (Romans 13:1-7 NASB)

government

Not only does the Bible make this very startling assertion, it goes on ahead to state exactly what purpose any government is ordained by God for. In verse 4 of Romans 13 it says, “…FOR IT IS A MINISTER OF GOD, AN AVENGER WHO BRINGS WRATH ON THE ONE WHO PRACTICES EVIL.” The Bible also does not state any further task for governments beyond this task of punishing the practitioners of evil and thus, by implication, commending those who are law abiding. This singularity of purpose is also clearly implied in verse 6 of Romans 13, “FOR BECAUSE OF THIS YOU ALSO PAY TAXES, FOR RULERS ARE SERVANTS OF GOD; DEVOTING THEMSELVES TO THIS VERY THING.” It is therefore amusing to see governments attempting to do everything except the singular purpose for which it exists, while it fails woefully at its reason for being, “punishing evil doers”. I am therefore often amazed when I read or listen to people attempting to “sell” administration after administration as successful on the basis of its “economic policies.” Imagine commending a government for staying out of what it has no business doing in the first place and ignoring the ONE THING for which the Lord God Almighty ordained it. Of course this means that men who are in authority and yet fail at their duty will be judged by the righteous Judge.

 

Governments fail because they are peopled by men who at their very core are rebellious against God (Romans 1:18-32, Romans 3:9-16 NASB)

failed

There is no other reason why governments fail apart from the fact that there is no fear of God in the hearts of those who govern. While I don’t believe that a person must be “a Christian” to rule a local government, a state or the nation; I believe that a fundamental criterion of some modicum of morality is required for anyone to successfully rule a nation. Now, the bible does not give the qualifications required for holding political office the same way it does for those who would seek to either lead a family or shepherd God’s people (I guess the reason is that the mandate for rulers is quite simple – punish evil doers); that is why I am not particularly interested in where a man comes from or what he professes as his faith as long as he has a track record of making morally sound decisions and he has enough fear of God in him to confront evil.

 

As a Christian, I speak against all this (Ephesians 5:11-12 NASB),

Light shining through Especially against the lack of will on the part of government to confront evil, not because I think they will listen, but as a witness against them so that they have no excuse. I have nothing to say to the Boko Haram sect, because the Boko Haram sect has been appointed for destruction; and the instrument of God, with the duty to bring about that destruction is the government (Romans 13:4). So, if government does not rise to its responsibility, as a Christian, I have the duty to point it to its complacency as a witness against it.

 

 

 

 

Love not the world. . .by Shadrach Saddih

“I am a billionaire and there is nothing anybody can do about it. . . I am a preacher. I am a motivational speaker. I am a TV personality. I am a life-coach”

Dear brethren, isn’t there a point at which we should pause and admit that something is terribly wrong? For how long do we imagine we can continue drinking the sweet but extremely poisonous concoction that is materialism without harm when in fact it starts killing you from the very first sip? The above statements which are attributed to Pastor Paul Adefarasin of House on The Rock (HOTR) are a telling commentary on the state of the Church in Nigeria. I read that the statements were made in a sermon (if we can call it that) in which he sought to respond to Forbes Magazine (online) drawing up a shortlist of the 5 richest pastor’s in Nigeria and excluding him. I am aware that this story is 2 years old but for some reason it was published again on 11/02/2014 and I read it and I think what I have to say is relevant regardless so here we are. 

I have so many questions arising from this: How is it possible that such a highly respected pastor with such a large following does not realize the diametrical opposition of motivational speaking to the faith of God in Christ? In-fact to begin with why does a pastor feel the need to respond to an article on whether or not he is among the richest pastors, in the first place? Of course the answer is obvious: materialism or if you like worldliness or still yet “chasing the Joneses”. His pride/ego was bruised at not receiving this (utterly useless) human recognition so he set out to claim it. But I merely use Pastor Paul’s statement as a reference point – the problem is a pervasive one, cutting across all too many of us who go to church and profess to be followers of Christ. The Scripture says in 1 John 2: 15 – 16

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world”.

The question then arises: how do you dear Christian see yourself in this world? As part and parcel of the system, pursuing the same man centered goals and achievements and ascribing to the same superficial standards, desires and judgments as the world or a pilgrim journeyman making his/her way Home and merely interacting with the world and its systems to the extent that is necessary and seeking to affect it for God’s glory? As it is written: 

“ and those who buy, as though they did not possess; and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away”

Those last words are instructive: the form of this world is passing away! We cannot continue to focus on our lives here on Earth as if it were our final destination. Indeed you must suspect that the reason many are so hung up on the here and now is because they do not in truth have a Heavenly hope or aspiration. I urge you to pause and examine yourself: your values, standards and perceptions of your role and participation in this existence we call life, do they reflect and evidence your profession of faith in Christ or is that all you are, a mere professor of faith in Christ? How do you view yourself, beloved? As a “TV personality, life coach and motivational speaker” or as one called of God to tell the world of the Gospel of Jesus and feed the flock of God with the spiritual meat needed to sustain their souls on this eternal journey?

Beloved beware of the devil! He will distract you by any means necessary just to destroy you and one of his most potent weapons is turning your attention to worldliness and materialism because as long as you are caught up with chasing “the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life” you will steadily fall behind in the pursuit of your sanctification and the righteousness of God. I beseech you by His mercy to take heed unto yourself, your life and doctrine lest you drift into the worship of mammon and gratification of flesh and self to your spiritual ruin. 

May God have mercy on us all.

A case against silly jesting – Rape is not a joke!

But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. – Ephesians 5:3-4

In the last 48 or so hours, the Nigerian social media space was abuzz with reactions to the rather off color joke a popular nigerian comedian called Basketmouth shared on his wall about date rape. Without a doubt the joke was inappropriate and deserving of the censorship it has so far received.

But I have been wondering, what should be the appropriate Christian reaction to all of this: the joke, the criticisms, the defense etc?

Well for one, the hypocrisy is too palpable to ignore; but then there is that part that should concern me more than anything else – the mockery that rape makes of the wonderful gift of sex which God gave to humanity to enjoy within the sacred confines of holy matrimony.

Rape, as painful as it is to the victims,is the sad and inevitable consequence of a world drowning in its trivialization of sex.

Rape is the sad and inevitable consequence of a world drowning in its trivialization of sex

Rape is the sad and inevitable consequence of a world drowning in its trivialization of sex

Sex is neither a weapon nor a bargaining tool, it is not a reward for good behavior or something to be with held because one’s partner has acted unsatisfactorily. It is the sacred duty of a man to his wife and of a woman to her own husband. When a society starts to discuss whether or not rape should be the content of a joke, then it is too late! Sex has been desacralized, and that cheap imitation which we have, in place of God’s wonderful gift, is simply conquering its latest frontier.

Without a doubt Basketmouth’s joke was tasteless and should be repudiated, but our problems, especially concerning sex, are much bigger than this silly jesting.

On the ALUU murders…

Someone had asked for my “view on the ALUU murders”; here it is:

I asked someone in my office, “Supposing those “innocent young men” came to your house, beat your husband to a pulp, raped you and then your daughter; would you perhaps have endorsed the actions of the ALUU indigents”?

Rather than go off in rage and rail at those “ALUU monsters”, let’s ask ourselves, “Why isn’t that me wielding the stick, pouring the fuel or lighting the match”?

But for the grace of God, it could have been me murdering those boys!!

That! is the lesson to learn

Nobody has been given the right to take another man’s life.

So, the ALUU murderers stand under the judgment of a Holy and Just God.

Their sin is not just against Tekena, Lloyd, Ugonna and Chidiaka; their sin is against God, who made these men (boys) in his own image and after his own likeness.

But, how many of us are outraged by the fact that these ALUU murderers defy God?

How many of us have paused and asked, “What is stopping me from being this murderous”?

It certainly isn’t because I am modern, educated, intelligent, kind, thoughtful, affection, advanced culturally etc.

It is THE GRACE OF GOD. He restrains the madness that is bound up in my heart, he showers his love on me and chastises me when I go astray. His rod and Staff comfort me (hedge me in).

But for God, I would have been the one holding the club, the fuel or the match.

As sad and as painful as the death of these young men are, the lesson that must be learnt is that MAN’S HEART IS DESPERATELY WICKED (Jer. 17:9) and only a holy God restrains man’s wickedness.

No one must take pride in his/her “sanity” because our insanity is only a “have it your way” away.

“Vengeance is Mine, I will repay” says the Lord (Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30)

Masturbation is not Sin? Really?

What I Had Always Thought…
Sometime last year, a dear friend of mine reluctantly approached me and told me that she was struggling with masturbation.
She said she did it because she was “angry at God” for certain things which she thought she should have but didn’t. She also mentioned the fact that the “habit” was reinforced by certain “brethren” demanding such things as “phone sex.”
She wanted to stop but didn’t know how.
I assured her that she was not alone in this “struggle” especially since I had, had my fair share of struggle with masturbation (even as a married man). I told her the following:
1. Admit it is a sin you need to repent from
2. Find a person you can confide in to share your struggle with.
3. Realize that, because you are born again, you are under no obligation to yield your members as instruments of unrighteousness.
4. Resolve to overcome Masturbation.
5. Pray to God to strengthen your resolve.

Masturbation Isn’t Sin?
Imagine my consternation this week when I heard that Pastor Chris Oyakhilome said masturbation is not sin. I had to listen for myself and I offer you that opportunity to hear it for yourself; see link below

http://m.vuclip.com/w?cid=393954196&z=1102&frm=s

The points he put forward for saying masturbation isn’t sin are:
1. The bible doesn’t it call it sin
2. masturbation is between you and your body,
3. It is only when it becomes a thing of the mind that it offends God.

While the points he raises are very debatable, that is not the goal of this write up. Pastor Chris got me thinking about something much more important than masturbation, and that thing is, “What is sin?”
It is “easy” to call something sin and not even know why it is sin especially if it is not expressly stated in the scriptures (except for the fact that it makes us “feel” uneasy, it is not “societally” acceptable, it hurts others, it is “unfilthy” etc.)

Take masturbation for instance;
1. It is not stated expressly in Scriptures as sin.
2. We can’t go the bad habit route since “picking one’s nose in public is a bad habit”
3. What about “Your body is the temple of God and it ‘destroys’ your body?”. Well, that would make eating chocolates sin.
4. What about lust? Lust is “old english for desire” and was used in the Authorized Version do describe an action of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:17 KJV). However we connotatively use it for “lusts of the flesh” (which is sin). Nevertheless, saying masturbation always involves lust is very tenuous since you would have had to question every human being (dead, alive and yet to be born) who has ever masturbated or will ever masturbate; about whether they pictured a person of the opposite sex in their mind before they masturbate. What about the man that has the “image of his wife” on his mind?
5. What about just “feeling its bad”. Ah! You have now become the standard for measuring what is right or wrong. The problem with that is, even if you hit the bullseye on masturbation (that is, your feeling is right) what about other vices you “feel” are okay? Remember Jeremiah 17:9 – “The heart of man is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things, who can know it?”

What Then Is Sin?
So, what then is sin or better put, what then can be deemed sinful (especially if the Bible does not state it categorically as sin)?

To understand sin, one has to be clear on who God is, and what he demands from his creatures.

Without going into a theological treatise, I would like to state a few things about God in relation to his creation as I believe it would help us understand the subject of sin better.

1. God made everything for His own pleasure – Rev. 4:11
2. God made man for his glory to declare his praise, to give him thanks- Isaiah 43:7, 21; Romans 1:21
3. God created the heavens and the earth with laws of design and regularity (Genesis 1:1-31 ; 8:22 Ecclesiastes 1:2-7; 3:1-8; Psalm 89:34) [God created creation to function in a particular way]
4. God has also allowed man to “improve his lot” within the context of the laws of design that he has set in place. Man has creative ability – (Gen. 2:15; Isaiah 28:23-28)
5. However, man is not allowed to:
a. Alter or disregard the laws of God- (see Gen. 1:28, then Gen. 11:1-8; Deuteronomy 12:28; Ezekiel 20:19; 36:27)
b. Worship as God what God made- (Exodus 20:4-5: Romans 1:22-25)
c. Worship as God what man has made- (Jeremiah 2:13, 26-28)

The caveats in 5 above basically capture the essence of what sin is
“Altering or disregarding God’s law”
“Worshiping anything apart from God as God”

Sin Is Also “Not Glorifying God”
1Corinthians 10:31 says “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Hmmm… I have asked many people to tell me what it means to “glorify God”. The answers I get include:
1. “Ahn! Ahn! To glorify God na!”
2. “Glorify God? Haba! It means to honor God na!”
(Ok? So how do I ‘honor’ God?)
3. “To glorify God is to do things not to please myself”
(Really? So God is glorified when you are displeased abi?)

Let’s face it, most of us don’t know what it means to “give God glory” or “glorify God”. We think we know but when we are asked to explain it, we realize how we have never thought about it.

Let me try to help us:

Glory comes for the Hebrew word “kabod” (pronounced “kaw-bode”) which means “weight”. It also refers to splendor or copiousness. Copiousness is quite apt when one thinks about God saying, “All the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord”- Numbers 14:21
It gives you the idea that there’s just no “getting away from God” everything has to be examined in relation to him; “Trying to ignore God as if other things mattered more than him” is precisely why man is in such a bind.
To “glorify God” is therefore to examine everything we do and everything we are in relation to God and his demands on us (remember the 3 caveats in point 5?)

This would likely seem like “nitpicking”; but when we take a closer look at it, we would see it as it really is “liberating.”
As we would see that “glorifying God” is “using” things as God created them to be used, and “being in relation to” all of creation and the created order in the way that God determined.

So, we eat food only when we are hungry and not to “feel good about ourselves”

We drink wine with “friends and family” to celebrate life, not to get drunk so that we can “forget our sorrows”

We engage in recreational activities like watching football for relaxation and entertainment, not to drool over stars or clubs.

We go to the gym to “keep fit” not to “get our self-esteem back”

We work to “earn an income”, not to “define our lives by it”

We were given sex to “enjoy with our spouse” not “to satisfy private lusts and build egos”

The list goes on and on…

So, How Does This Affect Masturbation?
The first test to put masturbation to is,
Can one masturbate “to the glory of God”?
I doubt if anyone would say yes to that.
Masturbation is defined as the manual stimulation of the genital organs for sexual pleasure.

Immediately one sees the problem with masturbation because it fails the “God’s design for sex” test.
So, it obviously cannot rank as God glorifying and is thus sin.

On A Final Note:
Why did I have to go this route?
Well, for one, we are prone to using the broad brush stroke of “it is sin” to label anything we are not “comfortable” with and this opens us up to arbitrariness or even the danger of endorsing the “sins” we are comfortable with.
We must be ready with an answer for those who would want to sway us in our convictions by examining on what basis those convictions are founded.
If anyone is caught in this sinful habit, I pray that God shows you a way out.
You are loved. Not condemned.
Your Brother
Olamide Falase.