About C.T. Sowa

Founder and Missionary-Evangelist, Way Of Hope Global Ministries. As a communicator, my divine mandate is "To bring hope, transformation and healing to the world through the inspirational and motivational communication of the Word." My communication pieces evolve around big topics such as, addressing human needs, promoting education, problem solving, communicating the gospel, church planting, extending the Kingdom of God on earth, leadership development, mentorship, coaching, volunteerism, behavioral competencies in teams, truth, faith, hope, redemption, empowerment, wholeness, service, holiness, covenant, justice, excellence, love, prayer, spiritual gifts, entrepreneurial formation and development of ministry organizations, prison ministry, local ministry, global ministry, revival and revivalism, theology and spirituality, mass media, plus much, much more. I will post on this blog regularly. Stay connected and be richly blessed!

A Critical Analysis of Achebe’s Presentation of the Umuofian Society Before the Arrival of Colonial Masters

Chinua_Achebe

Chinua Achebe (Photo credit: briggz5d)

Chinua Achebe is the author of the novel ‘Things Fall Apart.’ Achebe was born in 1930. He hails from Ogidi, Nigeria. Achebe is the most celebrated African novelist. Things Fall Apart, published in 1958 is his most famous novel.

Achebe is the author of other novels such as, ‘No Longer at Ease’, ‘Arrow of God’, ‘Anthills of the Savannah’ and so on. He has won many prizes, awards, and over twenty honorary doctorates have been conferred on him in countries like Great Britain, the United States, Canada, and Nigeria. Chinua was married to Christie – and they had four children. He lived and lectured in the United States.

Achebe coined the title of his book from lines of W.B. Yeats poem, “The Second Coming.” The lines are

          Turning and turning in the widening gyre
 The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
           Things Fall Apart; The center cannot hold;
      Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

In the genre of the development of the African novel, Things Fall Apart belongs to The Culture Clash Phase. This novel is divided into three parts.

Chinua Achebe - Things Fall Apart

Chinua Achebe – Things Fall Apart (Photo credit: lungstruck)

Part one exhaustively deals with the indigenous, pre-colonial, traditional Igboland (chapters 1-13). Part two deals with the protagonist, Okonkwo in Exile at Mbanta, his matriarchal village (chapters 14-19). Part three is about the final showdown that leads to Okonkwo’s hamartia or tragedy, which leads the end of the book.

Okonkwo is the hero in the novel. In this text, Achebe tells us about what happens in Igboland; that is, their religion, cultural attitude and tradition prior to the arrival of the White man in his mission of colonization. During this time of colonization we realize that there is a clash between African and Western cultures, and the conflict rages.

Since the advent of the White man, the indigenous people experience a split. Some of the members of Umuofian society (one of the nine villages) are converted to Christianity and others remain loyal to their traditional system.

Okonkwo utterly fails in his effort to root out Christianity and its influence because he did not receive the anticipated cooperation of his clansmen. Like a fish, he is thrown to a dry land, and this leads to his fatal demise. In his failure, frustration, and lack of resourcefulness to face the consequences of executing a court messenger, Okonkwo eventually commits suicide.

Achebe presents a society that is at one point indigenous, pre-colonial, and traditional. In the other section of this literary work, the Umuofian society is influenced by colonial masters, and this inevitably led to the relegation of the tradition, culture, and administration of the clan to the backwaters.

In Achebe’s masterful presentation of the outlook of Nigeria’s Iboland prior to the post-colonial era, the following observations are made.
First, the members of the society practiced traditional worship or religion. It is argued that in West African Traditional Religion, the people worshipped gods. Their lives are influenced by these gods, and they adhere to them. At the command of the gods, Ikemefuna is executed (chapter 7).

These gods exhibit unusual behavior. In their speeches, they refer to human beings as “bodies.” Their influence on the society is, on one hand, positive because they resolve conflicts as in the case of Uzowulo versus his wife (chapter 10). Justice in this case is administered by egwugwu. On the other hand, their influence is negative because whatever decisions these gods make have dominant effect. In chapter 11, for example, Chielo (“The Priestess of Agbala, the oracle of the Hills and Caves”) takes away Ezinma to the shrine of the oracle of the Hills and Caves without the consent of her parents, Okonkwo and Ekwefi.

Second, the society contracts marriage by both conventional and unconventional means. However, both kinds of marriage are acceptable. An example of the former is in chapter 11, where Ekwefi marries to Okonkwo. In chapter 12, Ibe weds Akweki. The marriage contracted in chapter 12 is somewhat classical since it places premium on bride price and consensus of both relatives of the bride and bridegroom. The bride uses brazen anklet and she presents a cock to the musicians. The marriage ceremony is chapter 12 is fantastic! It is a colorful and memorable feast where everyone eats to his or her fill, and drinks plenty of palm-wine! Professional dancers and girls entertain people at delightful feasts like this!

Third, communal life is a case in point. Oral tradition runs throughout the novel.  According to Achebe, “ Proverbs are the palmoil with which words are eaten.” When the moon shines brightly in the sky, folktale stories, myths and riddles are told. This practice is prevalent across Africa, especially in the countryside. In chapter 11, for example, Ekwefi and Ezinma tell each other stories.

This is a society where people share one another’s feelings for better or for worse. They believe in sharing kola-nuts between hosts and guests. They believe that this practice can be used to pacify one’s anger or wrath. Additionally, they share and drink palm-wine delightfully.

Fourth, traditional beliefs and practices are common since this society practices West African Traditional Religion. They believe in the Obanje Syndrome (chapter 9). The irony of the matter is that these obanje children that are mutilated after death as a means of preventing them being born twice or more times come back to be born just to die afterwards. In the case of Ezinma (an obanje), she was prevented from dying by a powerful medicine man.

The Umuofian society also believes in ancestral veneration. They believe that ancestors play pivotal roles in their lives. The people believe in oracles such as the oracle of the Hills and Caves (chapter 7).

Fifth, they undertake social activities including feastings, and other practices where male chauvinism dominates. Brasen anklets are worn by married women as a sign of submission to their husbands. The highest position of eminence attained by a female is that of a Chielo.

Sixth, the leadership administrative set up is one that comprises council of elders and spirits. In decision-making, more often than not, all the males gather to deliberate on matters of clanal interest, and make conclusion. The egwugwu is the last and final court (chapter 10). In the incidence of husband-wife saga, the egwugwu is not bent on apportioning blames, but enhances peaceful conflict management and resolution.

Seventh, premium is placed on status. There are four titles that a man can achieve in Okonkwo’s clan. One gains eminence by virtue of titles achieved. Leadership emergence is also a function financial prosperity. Also, it is as a result of the number of wives and children in one’s household – what the society views as “maximized manhood.” Okonkwo achieves all but one title. He wanted the highest title; he considers his seven years in prison as “seven wasted years.” He is in despair (chapters 14-19).
However, he knew that his chi (personal god) was not made for great things. So, his potential was not fully maximized.

Eight, the political arena is one that is championed by chiefs, elders, and title-holders. Punishment is prescribed for culprits. In terms of political decisions, women make little or no contribution, and men without titles are considered inadequate, worthless or efulefu.

Finally, in relation to funeral rites, we see Ezeudu’s funeral ceremony. It is important to note that the shortcomings of this traditional indigenous Igboland society. Human sacrifice is a common practice. Ikemefuna is executed (chapter 7). Classical worldview sees human sacrifice as barbaric, negative, and devilish.

The Osu Syndrome is also evident. These Osu’s were outcasts. They are contemptible to the entire society. Ordinary men and women are not permitted to contract marriage with an Osu. In Scriptures, Apostle Paul is quoted as saying, “There is neither bond nor free; neither Greek nor Jew.” Christian worldview generally shuns at this state of affairs. These people prefer male children to female children. The sick people in this community are isolated and left to die. Unuoka, for example had swollen foot and swollen stomach, and he was considered as an abomination to the land. In consequence of that, he was thrown to the evil forest. You may imagine how direly such people needed medication in order to be cured so that they will become healthy and profitable members of the society. All these people needed was compassionate evidence-based medical attention and therapy.

The society also practiced the derogatory act of throwing away children. The new religion, Christianity does not approve this practice; no wonder, Mr. Smith suspends one of the members of the church who consented with her husband to throw away their twin children in the evil forest. At the advent of colonial masters, the political, economic, and social systems are questioned and revolutionized. The new political system of the society is one in which council of elders, chiefs, and egwugwu’s are relegated to the background in order to facilitate a well-organized political system characterized by commissioners, court messengers, and so on.

In terms of the economic system, Achebe objectively recreates the history of the Umuofian society (the history of Africa as a whole). He highlights the improvements that the colonial masters bring. There is trade, education, and other forms of development. This society, clearly presented by Achebe (chapters 14-19) is improved, whereby the twins that were previously thrown away are shown love, and they grow well. Achebe makes the society real to the reader. He is a connoisseur and his literary work is philosophical. Like Thomas Hardy, Dr. Chinua Achebe uses gloomy presentation of characters and ideas:

‘What has happened to that piece of land in conflict?’ asked Okonkwo. ‘The white man’s court has decided that it should belong to Nnama’s family, who had given much money to the white man’s messengers and interpreter.’ ‘Does the white man understand our custom about land?’ ‘How can he when he does not even speak our tongue? But he says that our customs are bad; and our brothers who have taken up his religion also say that our customs are bad. How do you think we can fight when our own brothers have turned against us? The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.’ (PP. 124,125).

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God Loves You

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16,17).

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

God wants to have a relationship with you no matter who you are and what you have done! God’s love urges Him to receive you into His favor and reconciliation with Him. His purpose is that He wants to reveal His character to you.

Satan is a Thief and has an Evil plan for You

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

We are unrighteous before God, deserving death but in need of salvation. The sinfulness of humankind is traceable to the tragic fall in the garden of Eden. You can overcome self-will, poor attitudes and attain righteousness (right standing with God).

Redemption Through the Cross and the Blood of Christ

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9).

“Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:24-26).

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Corinthians 5:21).

The good news is that God has provided a solution for your sins and impending damnation. Christ substituted Himself to pay the price for your redemption. Jesus paid the price for your sins through the cross, the shedding of His blood and His death. Christ’s blood expiates or cleanses your sins and satisfies (propitiates) God’s anger. Jesus paid your ransom or liberation price to death because it took you hostage. He was buried, rose from the dead, and He is Lord of all.

Choice, Repentance and Belief in Jesus

“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved’” (Romans 10:9,10,13).

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’”(John 14:6).

“’Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.’ Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’ Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 2:36-38).

Realize that you cannot help yourself, choose to believe in Jesus, accept Him as your personal Lord and Savior and God will do His divine work of curing your spiritual impotence. God loves you so much so that He has been working in you so that you will and work for the furthering of His will in regard to your salvation. Turn away from your sins (repent). When you repent, God will wash you in the sea of His love and you will be justified (made just as if you have never sinned). Jesus is the only way to Heaven. Salvation and forgiveness of sins is only received by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. You can be free today as you receive God’s free gift of salvation!

Hope, Wholeness and Assurance of Salvation

Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (Ephesians 4:13,14).

“For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance” (Romans 8:24,25).

“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has began a good work in you will complete it until that day of Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (II Corinthians 5:17).

The will of God for us is to grow, mature and develop into the persons that He wants us to be. Hope is a Christian virtue that anchors one’s soul when one navigates the challenging waters of life. There is hope because of the assurance of salvation.  When you are forgiven and start a relationship with God, you are reborn as a new creature and the old sinful person is no longer. The Holy Spirit will continue to guide you in your relationship with God as you put your trust in Him and obey His Word so that He would be glorified in your life.

In order to Receive Christ, Pray the Following Suggested Prayer:

Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me, and dying for me. I know that I am a sinner and I ask you to forgive my sins. I believe that you were raised from the dead and I confess You as my Lord and personal Savior. I denounce evil. Help me as I choose to follow and obey you all the days of my life. Touch my life and make me whole. I receive the gift of eternal life. Thank you for redeeming my soul and giving me hope. In Jesus Name, amen.

Congratulations, child of God! Welcome to the family and Kingdom of God!

FEEL FREE TO LET US KNOW YOU PRAYED THAT PRAYER AND FIND AVAILABLE RESOURCES FOR YOUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH AT THE FOLLOWING WEBSITE WAYOFHOPEMINISTRIES.ORG

 

The God of Hope

Generally, hope simply means, to want something to happen or to be true and think that it could happen or be true. That is, to cherish a desire with confidence, anticipation and expectation of obtainment. Unlike this general meaning of hope, for the most part, the hope with which the Bible is concerned is a virtue that is vastly different from Stoic endurance, precisely because it is bound up with a hope unknown to the Stoic (I Thessalonians 1:3; Romans 5:3-5).

Hope in the biblical sense refers to belief in the living God, who acts and intervenes in human life and who can be trusted to fulfill His promises. In other words, hope is a Christian virtue that anchors one’s soul when one navigates the challenging waters of life.

The God in whom we believe is called “The God of Hope” (Romans 15:13). Therefore, biblical hope is inseparable from faith in God. He is the God of hope because He is unchangeable and His love is unconditional. Such hope does not depend on circumstances, human possibilities, or what we can do for ourselves or what people can do for us. The absence of God in one’s life is tantamount to hopelessness (Ephesians 2:12; I Thessalonians 4:13).

If Jesus is Lord of your life, I dare you to expect future blessings that at present invisible because we serve the God of hope who is reliable and trustworthy – He is “the same yesterday, today and forever.” The things we hope for are real (Hebrews 11:1); and our hope never disappoints us (Romans 5:5). Hope is not a kite at the mercy of winds of change, but “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul”, penetrating deep into the invisible eternal world (Hebrews 6:19).

The Trinity is greatly intertwined with hope because God is the essence of hope; Jesus is the bridge of hope and the Holy Spirit is the divine director of the community of hope (the universal Church).

Christ in us the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27), and our final salvation rests on such hope; and this hope of salvation is a ‘helmet’, an essential part of our defensive armor in the struggle against evil (I Thessalonians 5:8). Even though there are no explicit references to hope in the teaching of Jesus, He teaches His disciples, however, not to be anxious about the future because it is in the hands of a loving Father. Hope in God as a loving Father is opposed to anxiety about the future.

The Holy Spirit is the divine director of the community of Hope. We should not be anxious about accomplishing the assignments unto which God has called us, because the power of the Holy Spirit is available for us every day. The Holy Spirit enables us to do even greater works than Jesus did (John 14:12)! Let us join the songwriter and with one voice declare: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.”

The Scripture is the foundation of hope. Hope is used 121 times in the King James Version and 159 times in New International Version. There are also other related words such as “hoped” and “hopeful.” “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4). Because of the inseparable nature of ‘Scriptures’ and ‘hope’, we must do our best to start each day praying and studying the Bible.

Humanity is the beneficiary of hope and salvation is hope in Jesus Christ. Men and women, boys and girls desperately need the God of hope, which is why the Church engages in need-based evangelism.  Suffering is universal, no one escapes it. Obviously, we live in tough times.  No matter the tough situations that we face in life, our understanding of the implications and significance of the resurrection should revitalize our hope day in and day out. In the midst of the pain and brokenness that you may be experiencing, don’t give up. It will only last for a season. Bank on the inspiring Word of God as a great resource that helps you overcome!

The church is the agency of hope. According to Hebrews 12:14 and many, many other portion of Scriptures, the Church must be a holy community. Hope serves as a stimulus for purity of life (I John 3:2,3) and it enables Christ’s disciples to suffer cheerfully. God is calling Christians to reach the non-Christians, bring healing to the physically/emotionally sick, and minister deliverance to those that are oppressed by evil powers. We must embrace the way of Christ and the the apostles. You see, that is the Way of Hope!

Hope that is devoid of eschatology or ‘end times theology’ is miserable in nature (I Corinthians 15:19). The existence of biblical hope makes it impossible for Christians to be satisfied with the temporary joy and happiness of this life (Hebrews 13:14). Our call to be Christ’s disciples carries with it the hope of finally sharing His glory. Eternal salvation comes from believing in Jesus Christ, receiving Him as Lord and Savior and living a faithful Christian life. The fate of those outside eternal salvation is that they are doomed for hell fire where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Jesus Christ is our hope for time and eternity (I Timothy. 1:1)!

Religion and Culture

In this article, I will be engaging with Religious Relativism as a cultural religious element versus the Uniqueness of Christ as a Christian worldview. Obviously, we live in a culture where many people are embracing the worldview that ‘everything is relative’, and there is no absolute truth. Part of this essay will point to the fact that security comes from knowing the truth. At the hub of this article is the theological argument that everything isn’t relative – there is absolute truth.

In order to establish that there is an absolute truth, the discussion will border on The Inerrancy of the Bible (i.e., the Bible is true in all it affirms). So, I will answer the controlling question, “Is the Bible Relevant in the 21st Century?” Also, I will attempt a contrastive analysis between inclusivism and exclusivism.

As the Church universal is faced by confusion that is perpetrated by the emergent church, my basic thesis is that “The Bible is the infallible and inerrant word of God which provides the greatest wisdom and hope for  men and women in the 21st Century.”

A bible from 1859.

A bible from 1859. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Surely, the  emergent Church is very liberal, they raise questions without providing answers, they are moving away from the orthodoxy of Scriptures thereby raising such questions as, “Do we hold on to the account of the virgin birth of Jesus?” “Is homosexuality wrong?” Like Lee Strobel or Ravi Zacharias, I am presenting an argument for the credibility of the Christian world-view in a way that is free from arrogance, and sympathetic to the world-views of others.

On one hand, I agree with the argument of the emerging Church (not emergent Church) that there is a prophetic calling for the Church to change. On the other hand, I will emphatically say NO, NO, NO, to those who are clamoring for reforming the core principles of Christianity. Backers of such reform posit lots of arguments that I will not buy. Do I believe in a humble hermeneutic versus a fixation with propositional truth? Yes. I certainly believe in a critical realist epistemology. I also concur that we can go in search of a new ecclesiology (the theological study of the Christian Church) in a way that is positive, creative, and effective.

I do not necessarily kick against a tendency towards a particular kind of inclusivism that gears towards an openness to discovering God in the midst of others. This does not necessarily suggest that anything goes – which is at the heart of this article. Many aspects of postmodern culture try to push the church to make reforms – reforms that are not foundational to Biblical Christianity.

Western culture is becoming post-Christian. This means that the barriers erected out of the world-views of naturalism, universalism, and humanism are very real. Unless we take these barriers into account our evangelistic communication will be understood by an ever-decreasing number of people in the West. That is, even though many people have geographical and cultural access to existing churches, they cannot enter because they are confronted and prevented by the barriers of naturalistic, universalistic, and humanistic world-views.

George Barna, who has been tracking religious beliefs and behavior for more that a quarter-century supplies the following statistics about young people (as it is true among adults) in the United States:

There are many pieces of evidence exposing the theological confusion that plagues the minds of millions of young people.

         Three-quarters believe the following:

  • The devil does not exist – Satan is just a symbol of evil.
  • A good person earns entry into heaven by doing enough good works.
  • People are born morally neutral and make a choice as to become good or bad.
  • All of the sacred books from different religious traditions (i.e., the Bible, the Koran, the Book of Mormon, and so forth) are merely different forms of expression of the same spiritual truths and principles.
  • Spiritual and moral truth can truth can only be discovered through logic, human reasoning, and personal experience.

                 Two-thirds believe the following:

  • Praying to deceased saints can have a positive effect on your life.
  • The Bible discourages sin but never describes it as an innate behavior.

               Half or more than half contend for the following:

  • Life either has no meaning or the meaning is realized through hard work, which produces the resources to enjoy comfort, and security.
  • There are no absolute standards for morals and ethics.
  • Life is either a random series of acts or predetermined, but we have no real say in how our lives unfold.
  • When Jesus Christ lived on earth, He committed sins.
  • The Bible does not specifically condemn homosexuality.

Placing the above views into context helps us to realize that a very small percentage of people in this culture have a biblical worldview which serves as the foundation for their decision-making. I believe that that there is hope, because God is still in the business of raising gifted and inspiring communicators or preachers who will be strategic in winning people that are skeptical of faith!

I strongly believe that there is something wrong when a great percentage of a given population don’t know what to believe in by the time they are twenty-five years of age. I strongly agree with the proposition that the ‘new morality’ of permissiveness is no morality at all. Inclusivists basically argue that all that one needs to do in order to gain salvation is to be a moralist. They further argue that one does not necessarily need to be a Christian; if a person belongs to another religious faith, he or she only needs to be a good person. The point at issue is that, WE CANNOT SUBSTITUTE MORALITY FOR SALVATION.

There is a spiritual longing in the hearts of people that no one can fill except Jesus! This suggests that Christians need to have the ability to see the religious practices of pagans as an evidence of spiritual interest and preparation for the Gospel. While we attempt to preach and write apologetically, Rick Richardson reminds us that, “Changed lives are our greatest apologetic for the Gospel.”

One of the major problems of relativists is that they pick-and-choose their own beliefs as if they were the creators of their own lives or the universe at large. The following is a student’s argument against absolutism, which is entitled A Quantum-level Shift. This will be followed by a series of expose on John 14: 6-15 where Christ professes himself as “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

Einstein showed us that time and space are not absolutes but  relative to each other, that matter and energy are interchange-able, that space is curved, and that what you see depends on your frame of reference. So, scientific truth is relative to the frame of reference of the observer. So is any other sort of truth, in my thinking. Thus your evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is evidence you can see from your frame of reference. That’s all it is. 

Neils Bohr, Max Planch, and Werner Heisenberg are quantum theorists, scientists, who have mapped out a whole new vision of reality. They and others have shown that there is a lower limit to our abilities to measure things. They have shown us that when we measure reality to the smallest level, there is only probability.

Quantum theory has immense consequence for our view of reality. First, logic can no longer be seen as either-or. Either Christianity     is true or false. Reality is also-and. Light is a wave, and it’s also a particle. So, when you give me your arguments, you’re operating with old-time dichotomizing logic that went out with the downfall of Isaac Newton’s world of simple, certain scientific truth. Logic is synthetic. It creates contradiction in order to achieve a new and greater synthesis. 

Second, all reality is participant reality. There is no such thing as an independent, objective world that you can observe without changing. You can’t measure light particles without changing them, without creating the reality you observe. You probably want to make me think that early Christians just reported the historical facts. They helped create facts they observed, and then reported them out of their interpretation of reality. Scientists do that. Writers do that. Religious people like you do that.

Third, uncertainty and chaos rule the behavior of life at small and individual level. Patterns only emerge at the macro level, and those patterns are complicated and beautiful. Your simple explanation of life in black and white is too easy. It erases the complexity and imposes authority on life that is fundamentally spontaneous, a world of probability and playfulness.

Jesus professes Himself as the Way, the Truth, and the Life in John 14:6-15. “I am the way….” A ‘way’ or ‘guide’ is most often understood as a person or thing that conducts strangers through a region or serves as a model for conduct. ‘Guide’ is also associated with an old English word for being wise. The meaning of that word suggests that Jesus’ intention is to provide us wisdom necessary to conduct our lives.

There are more than three hundred portions of Scripture that elucidate the point that salvation is only found in Christ Jesus. Indeed, Jesus is the way! Salvation is facilitated with the blood of Jesus.  Obviously, ‘intelligent design’ necessitates a Designer. Christians can be sure that that the Holy Spirit is guiding us. In the face of the daunting dilemmas of life, we will always have Him to turn to, when we are not sure of the way!

Jesus is the messiah. “We have found the messiah”, said Andrew to Simon. Every Israelite knew what that meant. The messiah represented the Jewish hope, as El-Hady does that of Druce, and El-Mahdy that of Islam, both being from the same root, meaning “guide” – He who shall guide His followers to final triumph. Even so, but with greater eagerness did Israel hope for “the Anointed’s” coming. Having once met Him, ordinary avocations might be resumed for a time but His final call found them ready to leave all and follow Him.

Matthew 9-2-7 clearly sets Christ above all the Old Testament order, and commands us to hear Christ above them (Hebrews 1:1; Acts 3:22,23; Matthew 28:18-20; Hebrews 2:1-4; Ephesians 2:19-22. The Old Testament, a valid revelation needs the Head Stone, Romans 16:25,26; Acts 26:22; Galatians 1:8-12; Hebrews 2:1-1,3,4; Colossians 1:13-19; and in type Genesis 41:37-46. “This is my Son, the Beloved, hear Him” Mark 9:7. Who will reject these words?

At the end of this piece, is my personal testimony about how a literal dream about the veracity of the Word of God impacted my conversion from Islamic faith to Christianity. Currently, there is a rising number of testimonies about many Muslims coming to faith in Christ through dreams. The circumstances that led to my acceptance of Jesus Christ as my personal Savior (about a couple of decades ago), evolved around a supernatural change from an uncreative and negative attitude towards the Bible to a very deep sense of value for the Bible. While I was in high school, a classmate called Ernest befriended, but I did not know his motive at that time. Ernest quickly realized that I was a voracious reader. Therefore, he started suggesting certain portions of Scripture that I can read when I am at home!

On a certain day, he suggested that I read II Kings Chapter 2 at home. That evening, I read the story about Elijah taken up to heaven by a by a fiery chariot and it was thrilling. Some thoughts started flooding my mind about the era in which Bible events took place as opposed to the times in which we live. I doubted the relevance of the Bible to me as a modern man. I concluded that the Bible was an obsolete anthology and it cannot be used to influence my generation. I went to bed that night with the persuasion that Economics, Accounting Business Methods and other courses that I was taking can better educate me than the Bible. Also, I decided that whenever anybody discusses the Bible with me, I must dismiss him or her with the argument that the Bible is irrelevant.

In a dream that night, I found myself at the school campus with my friend, Ernest and I told him about the ‘irrelevance’ of the Bible. In our discussion in the dream, he referred me to Romans 15:4. When I woke up, the dream was fresh in my mind, and I read Romans 15:4, KJV, quoted as, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have HOPE.” You see where I got the ‘HOPE’ thing from! That Scripture grabbed my heart, changed my perspective about the Bible; and I developed reverence for God and His Word.

I started honoring Ernest’s invitation to go to church. I was led to Christ in one of the Bible Study meetings on a glorious Tuesday evening! My life is forever changed.

CT Sowa, Communicating the Gospel of Hope

C.T. Sowa, Communicating the Gospel of Hope

Sometimes the sermons or messages that I heard in Church hit me hard and I did not want to attend another service, but the Holy Spirit kept reminding me of Romans 15:4, “… that we (I) through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”  The Bible was written for our learning. This presupposes that it is relevant. It is not out-dated. It is as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. God uses Paul to educate his generation that even the Old Testament stories as old as they seemed, were written for people of all time so that it will influence everything that concerns humankind. Jesus Christ is my Savior and Lord! Free at last! This is my story. Alleluia to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world with His precious blood!

Pope Francis: The True Meaning of his Name

St. Francis of Assisi (November 26, 1182 – October 3, 1226), the man after whom the current pope is named left an indelible print in the sand of time because of his penitential or repentant lifestyle. On March 13, 2013 Cardinal Gorge Mario Borgoglio of Argentina was elected as pope, yet he took the name Francis. Therefore, he is known as Pope Francis 1.

“Habemus Papam” – Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., has been elected Pope Francis I (Photo credit: Catholic Church (England and Wales))

You might be wondering, “What is in a name?” Usually, newborn babies are given the name of another person. That is, some babies are named after their aunts, uncles, or grandparents. For example, my parents named me after my grandfather, Abdulai Tommy Sowa. Recently, I did a legal name change. I changed my first and middle names to Charles and Timothy (CT). I named myself Charles for Charles Spurgeon – “Victorian England’s best known Baptist minister”, and Timothy – The Bishop of the 1st century churches of Ephesus in Asia Minor. Remember, Martin Luther King, Jr., the African American clergyman and Civil Rights leader was named after Martin Luther the Protestant German Reformer.

As an itinerary evangelist, the overarching theme at the core of St. Francis’ preaching was God’s unfathomable love for humankind. He was not judgmental in his preaching at all. He embraced the life of Gospel poverty, and he had no feelings of overwhelming anxiety about it. Francis’ exemplary lifestyle serves as a flashlight on the dozing conscience of the 21st century church. Surely, there will always be sick people in our communities, and they need to be cared for. The poor and helpless also deserve our care. Lepers, for example, deserve to be cared for not with the attitude that we are doing them favor, but perceiving such ministry as a “source of spiritual and physical consolation….”

St. Francis of Assisi (circa 1182-1220)

St. Francis of Assisi (circa 1182-1220) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Francis of Assisi observes that, since we are absolved, there is more room for growth in the image of Christ. Incarnation is one of the dominant themes of the penitent Franciscan stripe. Lessons on the penitential stream teach Christians today (especially those that have swallowed the prosperity Gospel hook-line-and-sinker) to embrace simplicity of life-style. It does not necessarily mean that each and every one of us should do property denunciation and become friars. At the Third Lausanne Conference on World Evangelization, it was observed that one of the six major challenges facing the church is, “Calling the church back to humility, integrity and simplicity.”

We can make the conscious decision to overcome materialism, refuse to live exploitative lives, and practice generosity. When people become engulfed by the love of money, they employ all kinds of Machiavellian or manipulative practices in order to amass the mundane things of this life. Instead of consuming the best and leaving the poor to glean on our crumbs we should lavishly share our best with them.

Indeed, the lines between the penitential life and the compassionate life intersect. Surely, God is calling the whole body of Christ to be an “includer” of those who feel left out, and to be a voice for the voiceless. Both the rich and the poor reflect the glorious image of God. Therefore, the latter must be cherished and honored as much as the former is. Fundamentally, we are all the same. We are all equally important regardless of social status or physical condition. Neither the elite nor the common should be ignored. The church needs to do more in terms of ministering to people who are grappling with untreatable illnesses. HIV/AIDS patients, for example, should be treated with dignity.

Are we to cast judgment on those who are falling through the cracks due to their indiscretion and poor decisions? Certainly no. Being judgmental can hurt the feelings of people. Why should we (preachers) condemn people if we don’t have to? Our authority is not to preach judgmental sermons; our authority is to preach the redeeming love of Christ!

If Saint Francis of Assisi left a legacy of penitence, then it follows that Pope Francis’ leadership of the RC Church must epitomize repentance. There must be a clarion call to repentance that reverberates across the globe! Integrity issues, habitual temptations and wrongdoings among the leaders of the church must be dealt with. Each and every one of us must realize our sins and be willing to change our ways.

Since he has the awesome responsibility of leading the 1.1 billion-member Roman Catholic Church, I pray that Pope Francis will live out the true meaning of his name.

Trapped and Duped

A few years ago, I was trapped and duped. It pained me so much because I never anticipated it. In retrospect, I realized that I had the opportunity to handle the issue in a sensitive way such that it would not have caused me hurt feelings. I wish I had dealt with the issue in a more sensitive way. You can agree with me that it hurts to be duped. I was so hurt that I cried for days (I don’t get water-eyed so easily). We have all been victims of some tricks and snares. It is one thing to face traps, intrigues, manipulations and machinations. How we deal with them is quite another thing.

The kind of trapping and duping I am attempting to throw light on is one that a man or woman orchestrates and inflicts on himself or herself. Charles Spurgeon has observed that, “Beware of no man more than yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us.” More often than not, we have been entrapped in self-inflicted pain usually due to indiscretion, or failure to exercise self-control.

When dealing with such a crucial issue, it is wise to consider what the all-knowing God has to say. In the Bible, James writes about a temptation that comes from within us:

When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed (James 1:13,14 NIV).

Putting the reference in to context (verses 12-18), we realize that even though James writes about a temptation that comes from within us, he assures the reader in verse 12 about the benefit of endurance. In verses 13-18, he gives an eye-opener on the basis of enticement. Let us see an example of how temptation can occur in our finances. For instance, we Americans buy so much so that we spend about twelve billion dollars on storage facilities a year. It has been observed that the self-storage business supersedes the music industry.

When we bow to the inner pressure to buy more and more stuff, it is a proof that materialism, consumption, acquisition, and hoarding appeal to us. When we deliberately fail to bow down to the pressure of impulsive buying, it implies that materialism no more appeals to us. The More the pressure on us to selfishly lavish our financial resources on ourselves, the more we should think that we need to generously direct part our resources towards the cause of caring for the welfare and satisfaction of the needy.

God gives us everything that we have in this world. He expects us to manifest faithful stewardship in the way we use those resources. We are not inward-looking hoarders, but outward-looking distributors, treating people with warmth and immense generosity. God’s ardent wish is to have His way in our lives. He wants to influence us in “so simple a thing as how we use a dime.” Let us allow Him to have His way in our lives, because His will is always beneficial.

We may not necessarily be financial experts to come to terms with the fact that, one of the greatest ways to financial prosperity is withholding present purchases. Hence, we are able to save and invest. Thus, we become beneficiaries of the abundance that God, our Father has stored for us. He is faithful, but we have to do our own part.

God wants us to align our spending patterns with His infallible word. Failing to heed God’s counsel is like wandering away from His protection, and as we wander away the devil uses his wiles to enable us to make our own gallows in which we become trapped. When materialism (very strong want to own things) becomes one’s weakness; it becomes one’s insecurity – a thumbscrew that one unconsciously uses to turn to one’s disadvantage.

Since humankind by nature is insatiable, the wish to always buy stuff and the grace to resist usually looks like a David and Goliath confrontation wherein we prevail when we resist that temptation by God’s grace. Surely, there is something you and I need to put right with respect to our spending. Even though this article explores the area of our finances, the proven principles of God’s Word are applicable to every area that our self-control is tested. Let us imagine how the world would become a better place when we all inculcate the principle of being compassionate by saving some of our hard-earned financial resources and use it to help the needy!

Since we have a better understanding about the negative consequences of materialism, by God’s help we can prepare a defense against consumerism so that we will not be trapped and duped.

Billy Graham: Relationship With God, Roles and Results

English: Evangelist Billy Graham, at a Crusade...

English: Evangelist Billy Graham, at a Crusade in Cleveland Ohio, on June 11, 1994. This was the first time the Billy Graham Crusade had tried a Youth Night, and there were about 85,000 that attended the concert, at Cleveland Stadium, on the shores of Lake Erie. Photo Paul M. Walsh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In this article, I would do a brief description of the leadership actions of Billy Graham with reference to his relationship with God, roles, responsibilities and the results of his ministry.

Conversion and relationship with God

Billy Graham explains in his autobiography, Just as I Am, that sometime around his sixteenth birthday, after the preaching of Dr. Ham he became “deeply convicted about (his) sinfulness and rebellion.” In response to Dr. Ham’s altar call, Billy Graham went to the front. He writes that a family friend called J.D. Prevatt helped him understand what he needed to do to become a genuine Christian. He writes that after his salvation he continued in his salesmanship job alongside evangelism sandwiched with prayer. His relationship with God was the hub around which his life and ministry evolved.

Leadership and Roles

He reveals that on a certain night in 1983 he had his purpose and objective in life set – being a preacher of the Gospel, even though he lacked specificity about how and when!
After his resignation from the position of president at Northwestern College, he started ‘full-time’ evangelism. He draws the attention of readers to the establishment of a few principles of action that became the pattern throughout his ministry. This resolution was made in lieu of prayer, financial accountability, morality, cooperation with local churches, and generally carrying out ministry activities with integrity. In consequence of that resolution, Billy Graham made up his mind not to act himself familiar with the opposite sex, such as meeting or eating alone with a woman other than his wife.

Marshall Shelley recently published Ten Leadership Secrets From Billy Graham at the website of the Christianity Today Magazine (http: // http://www.christianitytoday.com). That article is replete with time-tested leadership principles.
The principles highlighted include,

1. Leadership is Forged in a Furnace
2. The Spirit of Team building Empowers and Energizes
3. Never Underestimate a “Small Temptation.”
4. Laser is on the Mission
5. Embrace the Challenge of Criticism
6. Recognize Fear as a Catalyst for Courage
7. Turn unthinkable Failure into Gold
8. Emphasize the Common Ground
9. Inspire other Leaders
10. Leverage weakness

In Robert E. Coleman’s book, The Master Plan of Evangelism, Billy Graham writes the foreword and reminds the readership about “The Priority to reach out in love to a confused and dying world with the good news of God’s forgiveness and peace and hope through Jesus Christ.”
Speaking to a one-time leader of Russia, Mr. Ponomarev, Billy Graham in an attempt to bring this leader to a relationship with God, witnessed saying, “ I have peace with God in my heart. If I die, I know I’m going to Heaven. God has given me the ability to love, to be more tolerant, to be more understanding, and to work toward peace in our world.”

Monumental impact

It is reported that 3.2 million people have responded to the invitation at Billy Graham Crusades to accept Jesus as their personal Savior. As of 2008, Graham’s estimated lifetime audience including radio and television broadcasts topped 2.2 billion. He operates a variety of media and publishing outlets.

Billy Graham has been referred to as a spiritual ambassador to political leaders. He is a leader who believes in social justice; during the civil rights movement, he began to support integrated seating for his revivals and crusades. In 1957 he invited Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. to preach jointly at a huge revival in New York City.
Dr. Graham has appeared on Gallup’s list of most admired men and women 55 times, more than any other individual in the world.

Acknowledging the enormity of the results of his ministry on one hand, and the need to give God all the glory by the same token; Evangelist Billy Graham sums it up in the preface of his autobiography by succinctly expressing, “ Most of all if anything has been accomplished through my life, it has been solely God’s doing, not mine, and He-not I-must get the credit.”