The Believer’s Attitude towards Giving 

Giving is a natural/human phenomenon. It transcends race, faith, gender and age. Whether a believer, unbeliever, atheist or agnostic – every one gives. 

However, there is an attitude/mind-set to giving that is unique to the believer. In essence, his motives and mind-sets for giving are clearly different from that of others. He is a giver by nature and he does so appropriately. When he gives, he gives as one with the mind of God/Christ. This is so because all that he does is essentially informed by the knowledge of God that he has on the inside. He is therefore conscious and particular about how and how well he gives.

The believer understands that God is love and he demonstrates that love in giving. Right from creation, God has been benevolent towards man. We are made to know that God created the earth and all the goodness therein in the first 6 days of creation. He then created man in his own image and GAVE him (man) all the works of His hands. Have dominion over them, God told him. By his act of disobedience, man fell in Eden – sin had created a gap between him and God. Yet God never stopped loving mankind. Actually, right from the beginning, He had begun to perfect the work of salvation for him. To display his love for us yet again, He had to GIVE UP His only begotten son Jesus as propitiation for sins. 

So the believer is aware of certain facts about God and GIVING. He knows that: 

God is a GIVER by nature

God’s GIVING is borne out of love

God has always being on the GIVING end and never on the receiving end

God’s GIVING is benevolent and sacrificial

God has never GIVEN with an ulterior motive

God GIVES liberally and graciously to ALL

These facts control the believer’s giving culture.

A believer who is deficient in giving is so because he is yet to come to a full awareness/consciousness of who/what God/Christ is and who he is in Christ. He is yet to fully appreciate the love-walk and walk in the same. 

Below are three instances of giving in the scriptures. Each instance reflects aspects of CHRISTIAN GIVING worthy of emulation: 

JOHN 6:1-12

This passage gives the account of Jesus’ miraculous feeding of “the five thousand”. Having taught and healed the multitude, he desired that they be fed also. They were however in a lonely place and couldn’t get victuals. A young lad then shows up and offers to give what he had – five barley loaves and two small fishes. Jesus took and blessed what he gave and with it fed the multitude. 

Here are salient points to note from the account:

The lad in question positioned himself in a manner that he could give

It’s unlikely that he was the only one who had something to offer. It’s likely that some others had a little of this and that but couldn’t afford to part with it. This lad wasn’t restrained by others’ tightfistedness. He gave anyway.

What he had was barely sufficient for him alone, let alone “five thousand” people. He never could have imagined that Jesus would multiply it. He didn’t hold on to what he had because it was seemingly inadequate. He gave it anyway.    

He didn’t give with the hope of getting something in return, either from God or man. He simply gave, in his own little way, to meet a need.

MARK 12: 41-44

In this passage, we find the account of “the widow’s offering”. Jesus was in the temple and was observing how and what people gave. Rich folks came by and dropped what looked like “fat offerings”. Then came a poor widow who threw in two mites (copper coins) into the “offering box”. When Jesus saw what she gave, he commended her to have given more than all others. Why is that so?

The poor widow didn’t give out of what she had. Instead, she gave all she had.

It takes one who has a heart of giving to do what she did. Humanly speaking, she would be justified if she gave less or nothing. After all, she was only a poor widow who had nothing else left.

She refused to let her present financial strait hinder her from giving. She must have known that God is able to meet her needs regardless of what “her bank account” read.

2CORINTHIANS 8:1-5

This is a particularly compelling account of Christian manner of giving. It speaks of the benevolence of the Macedonian church. These folks gave generously to the need of others despite their own miserable financial circumstance. Here are certain facts to note about the manner context in which they gave:

These people were experiencing a downturn at the time. They were going through hard times or what we now call “an economic meltdown”. 

Humanly speaking, they had every reason not to give.

In the midst of their own hardship, they gave! Their present and temporary state of lack was not an excuse for not giving.

They not only gave, they did so extremely generously and with overflowing joy.

They were WILLING to give and gave even more than they should naturally do.

They were able to give in that manner because they, FIRST OF ALL, gave themselves to the Lord. It began with their HEARTS. One who hasn’t given his WHOLE to God is certain to struggle with giving to others.

In their giving, they exhibited the GRACE OF GOD that was upon them. How that Christ made himself poor that we may become rich. The disposition gives up things for the need of others at the expense of oneself. 

Love stimulated them to give.
Herein lies the uniqueness of the believer as a giver:

He has the mind of Christ/God hence would conduct his activities (giving inclusive) as Christ will.

He has a nature that gives and is never compelled before he gives.

His giving is borne out of a heart of love.

He is a sacrificial giver.

He has the right motive and attitude to giving

He doesn’t see God as a money-doubler.

He doesn’t give to get something in return.

He gives purely to meet needs.

He is always willing to give.

He sees giving as an act of worship – a way to honour, reverence, and appreciate God.

He stands in a perpetual position of a blessing to others

He knows it’s more blessed to give than to receive

He knows his well-being is not from material/natural things hence doesn’t allow them limit his ability to give.

Regardless of his financial/material adequacy or inadequacy, he is aware that God is his source and sustenance. 

Although he has needs too, he doesn’t allow that to cloud his obligation to meet the needs of others.

Does God honour the giving of a believer? Sure, he does. Is a believer blessed in/by his giving? Absolutely! Should a believer consider giving as a bargaining chip? Definitely not. If you have the habit to give, God will support your habit – Mark Hankins.

Think about these: If God would give/bless ALL men liberally, how much more those who are His children? If God could give us salvation by giving up His only begotten and asking nothing in return, why would he use the trade by barter system as a standard for blessing? Folks who “pay tithes”, give offerings, and give to others just so God can replenish their stocks need their minds renewed.  God’s blessings can never be commensurate with what a man gives. 

Without a doubt, God desires that his people be blessed. But much more, he desires that his people are also a source of blessing to the body of Christ and to others. One of the tests of a man’s love for God is in his finances – his heart of giving. The more he grows and walks in love, the more he is willing to give. We give because He (God) first gave and always give. 

Inherent in believing is giving. 

Image Credit: 3XM

©ayansolaibukun 

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The Entitlement Mentality 

John Bull is the only child of two successful parents. His father is the executive director of a major bank while the mother is an oil magnate. In between these parents lies a vast amount of property, business holdings and fat bank accounts. John Bull, an undergraduate in one of the private universities, doesn’t see the need to study hard or carve a niche for himself. What’s the point in stressing myself when I have family wealth to fall back on, he’ll say. Whatever belongs to my parents belongs to me.

Vera and Steve are couples. Both are working class though Vera’s workload seems to be more than Steve’s. Most times, Steve gets home earlier. Although he could help out with dinner pending the arrival of Vera, he’ll rather not. I’m the head of the house after all. My place isn’t in the kitchen. So he’ll rather hang out with friends in the meantime while a fatigued Vera gets home to do all the cooking.   

Foster is a citizen of Friverkistern. Throughout his undergrad days, he’d always had lofty expectations of his government. Although he had the opportunities to learn new skills and go for relevant trainings, he chose to keep faith with his government. It’s the responsibility of the government to provide me with a good job after studies, he’ll insist. He however gets offended and let down by the same government after 3 years of unemployment as a graduate.

Brian is an uncle to Taylor. Brian is a wealthy businessperson in the city. He had battled all the odds to make it to the top. On the other hand, his nephew Taylor is a lazy bone whose only job is to leave on Brian. He’ll rather knock at his uncle’s door each time he has a need. He believes God blessed Brian for a reason – to meet the needs of family. What more, he is convinced he has a stake in his wealth. After all, I’ve been praying ceaselessly for him. The minute Brian stopped dolling out cash to him he began to resent him. He’s just self-centred.  

Craig is a member of an ad-hoc committee set up by his company management. On the committee are folks as educated, exposed and experienced as Craig. He however feels he should naturally chair the committee, being the eldest. The other members however disagree with him and appoint a chairperson by popular majority. Craig makes things difficult for the committee as he always demands his ideas be approved in lieu of others.  

Clara and Gloria are friends. While Clara is open and shares her private affairs with Gloria, Gloria is secretive and doesn’t give much away. Interestingly, she expects Clara to open up to her about herself every time but cleverly avoids bringing up her own private matters. Clara eventually takes notice of Gloria’s clever ways and decides to talk less about herself henceforth. Upon noticing the change in Clara’s manner of communication, Gloria feels offended and decides to cut her off.

Peter has been home all day doing nothing. He knows he needs to cash a cheque at the bank down the street but puts it off until much later. He however doesn’t get to the bank until 4 – the exact time the bank closes for the day. When told to come back the next day, he flares-up and begins to cause a scene. He feels it’s not going to take any effort for the teller to attend to him as he is the only one left. Customers are always right after all.

………… . . …………………………..

One thing is common to the characters of John Bull, Steve, Foster, Taylor, Craig, Gloria and Peter in the illustrations above: they all have a complex called the entitlement mentality. It’s the kind of personality trait that makes a man feel the world revolves around him alone. He believes other people simply exist to singularly meet his needs or be at his disposal. One who suffers from this trait is unable to distinguish clearly between his privileges and rights. As far as he is concerned, his needs, desires and expectations are priority and he’ll do whatever it takes to actualise them.  The entitlement complex creates a larger-than-life portrait in the mind of one who has it. He clearly sees himself as one who is better off than every other person hence their need to be subservient to him.         

The entitlement complex is only a closely linked to narcissism – a personality disorder characterised by excessive self-admiration/importance and need for attention. You are sure to hear the entitlement claimant use expressions as I don’t care, it’s my right, I’m always right always. The first person and possessive pronouns I, me, mine are consistent in his lexicon. 

The entitlement claimant rarely sees anything wrong about whatever he does even when it’s obvious. Instead of owning up to a fault, he’ll rather make up excuses to justify himself. 

Let’s consider our special characters and entitlement claimants as case study. We’ll deduce certain characteristics peculiar to folks with entitlement complex from them:

John Bull is our first claimant. He is likely to be a product of an African influence that believes whatever belongs to the parent belongs to the child. Although he never contributed to his parent’s wealth, he feels he has a claim to it because of the sonship status. Such warped knowledge makes him lazy and irresponsible.

An entitlement claimant like Steve is downright inconsiderate and unfeeling.  He has an overrated sense of self-esteem. His untoward attitude is fuelled by his absurd patriarchal mentality that relegates the wife/woman to play less-dignifying roles. He feels that, because he is the husband, it’s his right to be cooked for even if it’s at the expense of his wife’s well-being. 

Foster is clearly disillusioned. He has an unrealistic expectation of his government.  He his is ignorant of the intricacies of the bill of rights. He fails to understand that just because the right to employment is valid, it’s not guaranteed. While it’s the duty of the government to provide certain benefits for its citizens, realistically, there is a limit to what it can provide. Foster’s claim to some right makes him overly dependent hence doesn’t take responsibility for his future.  He only thinks about what his country can/should do for him and not what he can do for his country.

Just like Taylor, many entitlement claimants always feel they have a stake in another’s success. While they are lazy and hardly take responsibility for their lives, they make others feel guilty for their sorry state. Taylor and his ilk lack a sense of appreciation for the sacrifice of others. Taylor insists his uncle is successful because of his prayers. Shouldn’t he rather say the prayers for himself?

Craig presents an interesting case of entitlement complex. He has little or no regard for due process. His claim to leadership is largely based on age difference. Because of his over bloated feeling of self-worth, he tries to impose his ideas on others. Folks like him are consistently arrogant.

Something about the entitlement claimant makes him feel he is so special. Someone like Gloria always likes to be in the position of strength. She wouldn’t tell her friend stuffs but feels it’s her friend’s duty to spill. Gloria is distastefully clever and selfish. The entitlement claimant gets offended over a situation he is culpable.

Because, he suffers from the entitlement complex, Peter is plainly inconsiderate, unreasonable and arrogant. The entitlement claimant thinks only of his own convenience and satisfaction. When things doesn’t seem to be working in his favour, he becomes irritable.

The entitlement claimants are of the generation gimme. 

Nothing more guarantees the erosion of character than getting something for nothing – Dennis Prager. From all indications, the entitlement mentality tends toward the undesirable. While its ideal can be channelled to positive ends, it turns into a personality disorder when it becomes excessive. While it could foster the attitude of a healthy self-esteem, it’s most likely to promote a malignant form of self-love/worth. 

Entitlements are not rights and except for the basic human rights, not all supposed rights are assured. Often times, folks use entitlement claims as a guise of laziness and inability to take responsibility for their inadequacies. They expect too much of life than they are willingly give to it.    

Mark Twain once said don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first. You owe it to yourself to make a sense of your life. As much as you matter, the world doesn’t revolve around you alone. 

If you want it, you earn it!




Image Credit: antipodeanwriter

©ayansolaibukun 

THE MAN AT THE POOL OF BETHESDA 

It was in the year 15BC, during the reign of Herod Agrippa. The name of the village was Emmaus – one of the poor villages in the town of Nazareth.

Having been advised not to engage in any tasking work by the village apothecary Noel, Tirzah laid down in her house on a straw mat her mother had given her during her last visit. Unless you want to lose this child, you’ll desist from all sort of labour and use the mixture I’ve given you, Noel had warned her.

The house is a square-shaped stone structure. The interior was essentially a single large multipurpose room portioned into sections in which members of the family occupied. Hammocks can be seen hanging in separate corners of the room. Scattered around are household items – hand mill, lamp stands, earthen vessels, bushels etc. Except for the garments and cloaks that happen to be properly folded and arranged in the camel’s furniture, every other thing seemed to be unattended.

Connected to the extreme end of the room is a smaller backroom where the animals – few sheep and rams – were housed at nights. The windows are small apertures grated with woods high in the wall and the floor made of pounded earth. As for the roof, it was made of flat sturdy timbers with barely ample slope to drain off the rainwater. When it’s not raining, laundry was put out on it to dry.

Tirzah had had four females issues already Sarah, Milcah, Dena, and Jedidah. With four children to her credit, she was supposed to be a fulfilled wife – it takes a fruitful womb to produce that number of children. Unfortunately, the Israel of that era, being predominantly patriarchal, did not have much regard for female children. Their presence was only felt in the place of discharging household duties and child bearing. As far as the Jewish tradition was concerned, as long as she (Tirzah) had not produced a ben (son), she was no better than a barren.

Being a man of good conscience and with genuine love for her, her husband Eliud, much to the bafflement of his kinsmen, had resolved not to take a second wife. As was expected, many of them believed Tirzah was the bane and that she was long overdue for a replacement. It was as though his folks had resolved to make life unbearable for Tirzah. Each time any of them dropped by, they ensured they frustrated her and make her feel miserable. You are no longer at the prime of your youth anymore you know, his mother Rahab had told him the last time she visited. Give me a male child while I am still alive or my spirit will curse you from my grave, she had threatened. Even his wife’s plea to him to heed the counsel of his people had fallen on deaf ears. In due season, he always reassured her, Yahweh will provide a male child.

On the 20th day of the month Kislev (September), it occurred to Tirzah that her monthly flow had not come as it used to. By her crude count, it was ten days since the flow was supposed to start. What’s more? She observed her hips were getting unusually larger and her bosom firmer. Something isn’t right with my body, she had told her husband. Well, there is only one way to find out what it is, her husband replied. Pay a visit to Otniel. Otniel – a heavily bearded man with a grave demeanour – was the only physician in the village of Emmaus at the time. Although his approach to medicine was somewhat crude, it always yielded results. Whenever the villagers had ailments or sustained varying degrees of injuries, it was unto Otniel they went.

Taking with her 5 shekels of silver as fee for consultation, Tirzah left for Otniel’s. It was still in the first hour of the day (7 am) and being the period of winter, it was extremely cold. But for the cloak of skin she wore, she may as well have frozen. She had quite some grounds to cover as Otniel’s place was at the outskirt of the village. The few villagers she met on her way wondered and asked what took her out of her house in such a bad weather and that early. I need to attend to an urgent business at the outskirt of the village was all she told them. Village folks can be nosy.

Shalom, she hollered on arriving at the physician’s threshold. After what looked like minutes, a voice bellowed a shalom in response. Yahweh be praised, she muttered under voice, relieved at the fact that she met him at home. A minute passed before the owner of the voice revealed his face. Judging from his appearance, he was about to set out. What brings you to my home Tirzah? You are indeed lucky to have met me as I am just preparing to go out. He ushered her in and she intimated him on the reason for her visit. Otniel listened patiently to all she had to say. From all he heard, his gut told him Tirzah was with child, but he couldn’t be too sure. In order to carry out a proper test, he collected a sample of her urine and asked her to come for a feedback in two weeks.

The standard pregnancy test was actually not a difficult one to perform. All you need do is to keep, separately, emmer wheat and barley seeds moistened with a woman’s urine. If the seeds sprout, she is pregnant. Also, if the barley sprouts first, the child was most likely to be male while the child is female if the emmer grows first. In Tirzah’s case, the seeds sprouted and the barley was the first to grow.

The news of Tirzah’s test was received with great joy in Eliud’s household. It was as though she had already put to bed. As a sign of gratitude to Yahweh, Eliud went to the temple and gave a meat offering – unleavened cake baked in the oven and made of fine flour mingled with oil.

As her month of delivery drew nearer, so heightened the state of anxiety in Eliud’s household. The man ensured that his wife took every portion prescribed by the apothecary. Her sister Peninah had already come to stay in order to help her with house chores. Although she would have loved to assist her family at the threshing floor, being the season of wheat harvest, she wasn’t permitted to go beyond a stone throw from the house. As much as she was happy about the love and care showered on her during the period, she wished she could contribute to the common good.

The baby arrived eventually and it was indeed a bouncing baby boy, a healthy looking one at that. The house of Eliud was filled with rejoicing and laughter as well-wisher lifted their hands in thanksgiving to Yahweh for the blessing of a male child. As was the custom of the Jews, the baby was taken to the temple to be dedicated to the Lord on the eight day. Being the first son, he had to be redeemed. In order to do so, Eliud gave the officiating priest five standard shekels as ransom. Upon, receiving the ransom, the priest took the baby in his arms, christened him Benaiah BaTazir as indicated by his father. He then spoke a blessing over him and handed him over to his mother. As soon as the dedication ritual was over, the family returned home to a feast to celebrate the dedication.

And so the boy Benaiah was added to Eliud’s household. He developed/grew like every normal child. He was a healthy boy right from birth and hardly gave his parents unnecessary stress. The day-old baby eventually became a toddler and soon began to make friends among his age mates in the neighbourhood. He was such a lively boy and a pleasure to behold to his parents.

All was well with the child Benaiah until he turned ten and fell sick. It all started with complaints of headaches and pains in his joints. At first, his parents thought it was just one of those seasonal bouts of illness and merely treated him with the herbs commonly used to cure such illness at the time. However, much to their consternation, the symptoms didn’t abate. Tirzah had now become frantic. She watched over the poor child day and night with tears, looking up and crying to Jehovah to restore his health. The once sprightly child was gradually becoming an object of sympathy by friends and family.

It dawned on Eliud that unless he took drastic measures and sought help from without, he was bound to lose his only son. So with the help of his close relatives, he took the boy away from the house and began to seek the help of physicians from far and near. First he went to Nazareth and then to Galilee, Judea, Bethany until he was finally referred to Cephas in Jerusalem. If he is unable to do something about the child’s predicament, said Gaius of Bethany, then there will be no hope left for him. Indeed, Cephas was known throughout the province of Jerusalem as a physician of repute. Although his charges could be deemed outrageous, on most occasions, he got the job done.

So great was Cephas’ repute and goodwill that Eliud was full of hope that he would get solutions to the child’s pathetic condition on getting to him. Yes, his service would cost him a fortune but nothing was too much to keep the beginning of his strength alive. It was therefore a dismayed Otniel to whom Cephas gave the verdict of his son’s condition: I’m afraid there is nothing I can do to help him, he told Eliud. Your son’s case is such a strange one. By this time, the sickness had already crippled the child Benaiah. With the sentence pronounced by Cephas, Eliud dropped all hope of a cure for his son’s sickness and took him back home to a frail Tirzah. The ripple effect for the boy was frightening: He could no longer mingle with his equals and lead a normal. Worst of all, he’ll have to depend on others for sustenance for the rest of his life.

During this period in Benaiah’s life, miracles were rare in Israel. Indeed, the people had heard the account of great and mighty works done by Yahweh through the hands the prophets of old, but they hardly get to witness them. Although there were magicians, illusionists and sorcerers all over the place, the closest their acts got to performing miracles were parlour tricks. The only reference point to healing at the time was at the Sheep Market at the outskirt of Jerusalem, at the pool of Bethesda. It was a five-sided pool with porches surrounded by five covered colonnades. In these porches gathered a great number of silk folks who continually waited their turn to be healed. It was reported that at a certain periods of the year, an angel of the Lord would go down into the water and make it bubble. Whosoever got into the water first after it bubbled was healed of whatever ailment.

Clearly, the pool was the only hope for Benaiah and it was there they took him. At the early stage of his predicament, his parents sought the help of two young men who always helped him to the pool at the early hours of the morning and returned to take him back before it became dark. However, as he grew older, he refused to be at the mercy of his aids. He resolved to go the way of cripples and drag his body back and forth the pool day in day out. He’ll set out at the break of day and embark on a homeward journey after each frustrating day at the pool.

It wasn’t until his seventh year in the predicament that the child Jesus the Christ was born of the virgin Mary at Bethlehem of Judea. This was the child concerning whom the prophet Isaiah prophesied

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

This child Jesus grew and waxed strong in Spirit. He increased so much in wisdom and in the grace of God that those who knew of his background began to take note of him. He however, didn’t begin to demonstrate his supernatural abilities until much later. In the meantime, he humbly learnt the trade of carpentry from his foster father Joseph.

By the time he was thirty, God had anointed him with the Holy Ghost and with power. He had been instructed by the Spirit to begin the works of the Father. He was no longer Jesus the carpenter’s son but the Jesus who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil. He now had a ministry and was busy at it with the help of his disciples. At this point in time, the Child Benaiah was no longer a child. He was a full-grown man in his 38th year as a cripple. He still continued to relentlessly visit the pool of Bethesda at Jerusalem, hoping that one day, he’ll be fortunate enough to step in first into the bubbling pool and be healed.

During this period, Jesus was not known to frequent Jerusalem as that was the dwelling place of the Jewish rulers who sought to do him harm. Nevertheless, as it was the custom for the Jews to congregate at Jerusalem for the Passover Feast, Jesus also went up with his disciples to celebrate the feast. Some hours before then, Jesus had left his hometown Nazareth feeling disappointed at the unbelief of his kinsmen. No prophet is acceptable and welcome in his own town, he had told his disciples solemnly.

On the same hour that Jesus was making his way into Jerusalem with his disciples, at the 12th hour of the day (6:00pm), Benaiah the cripple was contemplating leaving the poolside to embark on his homeward journey. It was a particularly unlucky day for him as he came late to the pool and had to sit at the edge of the large crowd of sick people. Had the angel of the Lord went into the water to stir it up, he was surely not going to get close to the pool let alone be the first to get into it. He had already turned his back against the crowd and the pool and was contemplating his move.

With his back against the pool, he was now facing the footpath through which folks came into that section of Jerusalem and went out alike. This meant that his gaze commanded the approach of passers-by. It was at this moment Jesus and his disciples made to pass by. Their passage was noticeable as they were about the only set of people coming in at the time. Something about the approaching group caught his attention and more particularly about the man who seemed to be the leader of the group. Well, he deduced he was the leader because he was the one doing the talking while the others – about twelve of them – keenly listened to him. What it was about the man that caught his attention he couldn’t tell. Although he had heard about the fame and supernatural abilities of Jesus, he had never seen him before and so could not tell who is who. Nevertheless, regardless of the reason for the force of attraction, he stared intently at the seemingly leader of the group.

When they were just a few yards away from the pool, Jesus, who had been admonishing his disciples concerning the subject of faith, fell silent as his gaze fell on the crowd of sick people before him, oblivious of his presence. Compassion welled up inside him. How gladdening would it be to see the whole of them healed, he mused. Even if he wanted to heal them all (and he could) not every one of them would have the faith to be healed. He was going to look away from the crowd when he noticed that one of the sick folks fixed his gaze on him. From all indications, the man was crippled. His gaze on him was that piercing that he could not look away from him.

As he gazed back at the man, he saw his entire life history in a flash – a man of many sorrows, crippled for a very long time. Without a doubt, he knew he had to do heal him. Instinctively, he walked straight to him. His disciples followed closely behind – they knew a miracle was about to take place; Christ doesn’t come in contact with you for nothing sake. On getting to the spot Benaiah sat, Jesus put the question to him immediately: wilt thou be made whole?

The question triggered a feeling of consternation in Benaiah. No one had ever asked him such a question. How can he ask if I want to become well? Perhaps he is trying to mock me, he thought. He must be the jester people say makes costly jokes in Jerusalem. But then, who knows if he has good intentions? Perhaps he meant to ask if I’ll like to be assisted with getting into the water in time when the pool is stirred by the angel. So in response to the perceived meaning of Jesus’ question, Benaiah answered: Sir, I don’t have anyone here to help me get into the water when it’s stirred up. Whenever I try to get in, someone else beats me to it. I should be healed long ago only if I had help.

Jesus understood his plight. His long years of misery had crippled his ability to reason well. The poor man couldn’t even answer a simple question properly anymore. Rather trying to make him understand the essence of his question, Jesus decided to address the situation head-on. He spoke to him with authority Get up, pick up your mat and walk!

That’s it! I’m definitely being mocked, he decided. He couldn’t even remember what it felt like to walk anymore as the last time he did so was 38 years ago. But almost immediately, he became excited about the thought of getting to walk again. Something from within told him It wouldn’t do you any harm to try standing like the man instructed you. He decided to take to the instruction. So placing both hands firmly on the ground to serve as fulcrum, he lifted his trunk. The second he did so, what seemed to be a surge of current ran through his body – from the crown of his head to the sole of his feet.

It was as though that flow concentrated on his lower region as he began to feel an usual strengthening of his waist region downwards. A feeling of warmth had set in…his joints had come alive, his bones revived, his twisted legs straightened out. I’m healed! he screamed as he jumped on his feet limping and then leaping and then breaking into a trot. In the heat of his excitement, he had sped off and forgotten about the man who asked him to stand up. He returned to give thanks to him but the master was long gone.

Image credit: The Faith Friends

©ayansolaibukun

PROPHECY GONE WRONG

It was on a Saturday morning. My mum had just woken me up from a well-deserved sleep just to share the news from our church with me.

The night before was spent at the church vigil where we had prayed all night against some demons trying to afflict the members and bring the church down.

I clearly recall how pastor had mounted the pulpit the Sunday before the vigil with a holy aggressive expression about him. You’ll think he was battling some unseen forces right in front of him. Anyway, he mounted the pulpit – a wooden elevated platform that there was no need for, now that I think of it. Yea, there was just a sprinkling of congregation in a space that barely accommodated us. The size of the entire building couldn’t have been longer than that of 3 shops at Tejuoso market put together. There was barely any room for an aisle. We were closely packed together and were just a couple of yards away from where the pulpit was. A simple lectern would have done the job. But what do I care? Pastor Esupofo wanted it that way and so it was.

Like I was saying, pastor Esupofo mounted the pulpit. He was on a threadbare white coat that he only wore on special occasions. Referring to what he wore as suit is to smear the essence of that particular outfit. He took a dramatic pause of about 30 seconds and blurted the devil is a liar! he exclaimed in Yoruba. Beeni (yes) the congregation responded in unison, springing up from the wooden benches they sat on. You couldn’t call them pews as pews had provisions for backrest. I remember brother Tayo, in one of his dozing spree, once fell backward and landed on his trunk.

Well, the congregation was all on their feet at the pastor’s outburst. Riding on the excitement his utterance gained, pastor Esupofo went on to prove to us how that the devil was always parading himself as strong but indeed weak and defeated – devilnition 101. At this rate, he was no longer looking like himself: his eyes had turned red and bulgy. It was as though the sockets would fall off. His mouth had begun to foam at the corners. It seemed as though his waist wasn’t in tune with his present condition as he kept trying to adjust his belt and balance the baggy around his waist.

After railing on for a spate of 20 minutes on the crafty nature of Satan, he broke suddenly into a warfare song:

Ile lanu k’agbara esu wole (let the earth open up and swallow the power of the devil)

K’agbara Olorun duro o (let the power of God reign supreme)

Hallelujah!

You need to have grown up around the aladura circles for you to understand the spiritual efficacy of that song. Well, the congregation understood and spontaneously took the song from our pastor’s mouth. In the twinkling of an eye, it was holy commotion as the tempo broke into frenzy. Heads began to sway vigorously and headgears flew off in the process. The sounds produced by the clapping were like fireworks as most of the congregation were artisans hence skilful with their hands, the beats from our agbamole helped to accentuate/intensify the tempo and vigour with which we sang. You see, the agbamole was the single musical instrument the church had to her name and alagba Akani saw to it that it paid it dues. Soon enough, things began to happen as the church began to chant the last two lines of the song repeatedly. Folks began to fall under the anointing and as they did, the benches fell along with them, I was lucky not to have been hit by one of them as I retracted my left foot just when it was going to land on it. Glory dust raised by the stamping feet filled the room and one could barely see the person standing close-by. Well, most of the floor plastering had already been undone and it was almost bare earth.

At last, pastor Esupofo grabbed the bell and swung it as a cue to end the singing and bring the church to order. I heaved a sigh of relief. Meanwhile, while every other person seemed to have yielded to the prompting of the bell, mama ibeji appeared to be on rampage as she suddenly went into the Spirit. Now, this wasn’t an encouraging situation coz mama ibeji was known to stay in the Spirit for minutes unending while the congregation perfunctorily listened to what the Spirit had to tell the church. There was a particular day she got stuck in the Spirit for about 40 minutes. It wasn’t a happy day as hunger pangs did a number on my stomach in protest.

Anyway, mama ibeji had begun her spasmodic gyration. Her body had begun to shake vigorously and thereafter to sway. Two of the elderly women held each of her arms to steady her while another carefully untied the baby she strapped and held it in her arms. In a short while, she began to speak strange tongues. Well, she spoke in strange tongues for a while and punctuated it with her interpretation in Yoruba. As usual, it was a doomsday monologue – all fire and brimstone. After what seemed like ages, she appeared to be bidding the Spirit farewell as the pace of her utterance slackened. She finally got a hold of herself, sobered up and before taking her sit, wrapped up her utterance by saying eyi ni oro Olorun si ijo omo enia (this is the word of the Lord to congregation of the sons of men).

Having ended her utterance, pastor Esupofo took control of things again. He asked us to take our sits while he shared what led to his initial outburst and song with us. At this point in the service, the heat from the harsh sunny weather and the just heated-up atmosphere was becoming unbearable. Well, the roof over our head was made of rusty corrugated iron without any asbestos. Besides, the room was stuffy due to poor ventilation as there were only two small wooden windows through which air filtered in. It was in this pitiable condition that we patiently sat to hear what pastor Esupofo had to say.

He began to narrate what he described as the revelation he had the night before. In that revelation, he began, I saw us gathered here in the church to pray. While we were at it, Sister Felicia (pointing at a sister in the congregation) came in with a group of dangerously looking men. She, along with those men, began to beat us all up and drove us out of the church. They eventually focused on the building and tore it down. He then gave us the supposedly interpretation of the revelation: Sister Felicia was an enemy of the church and was trying to bring down the building along with her evil cohorts.

As he narrated his revelation of Sister Felicia’s plan, folks in the congregation began to turn their gaze at her in wonderment and then to exchange telling looks. Ko le jebe! (it can’t be), I whispered to my friend Dele who sat next to me. How can pastor Esuposfo see a whole Sister Felicia wreaking havoc in his revelation? I mused. He has to be mistaken.

Let me tell you a little about Sister Felicia so you can see reasons with me. You see, Sister Felicia was a good somebody – very generous and nice to us children. She was from Benin but had lived most of her life in Ibadan. One could almost argue that she is Yoruba from the way she spoke the language. Sister Felicia was a jack of all trade. She was a tailor but also sold other stuffs by the sides. Famous among her produce was her epa (roasted groundnut). The children in the neighbourhood were all beneficiaries of the goody as she always gave us a handful each from it when it’s done. Most of all, she was a dedicated caretaker of the church. Because she lived closest to it, she always ensured she went there regularly to clean it up and put things in order. Not that there was much to put in order though.

Now you know why our dear Sister Felicia couldn’t have appeared in such a manner in pastor Esupofo’s revelation. Something is fishy!

As I was busy trying to make sense of the bomb our pastor just dropped on us, his voice filtered into my thought again and brought me out of my reverie. I had him instruct us all to stand which we all did. He then told us all to turn to the spot where Sister Felicia sat (coz she remained on her sit) and fix our gaze on her. Slowly and reluctantly, we obeyed. There was utter silence in the church now and should a pin have dropped at that moment, she would have heard distinctly. We were all held in suspense of what was about to happen.

The next instruction from pastor Esupofo was unprecedented. You all should begin to rain curses on her, he directed. Holy Armageddon! Olopa ewoni t’epe. The look on all faces was a mixture of shock and confusion. It was as though all hell was let loose on the house. Didn’t the good Lord say bless your enemy (if you are able to establish who is though. How come our pastor is saying curse Sister Felicia, the enemy of the church?

Sensing our inclination to disobey his instruction, he went on to declare those who refuse to rain curses on her as her partner-in-crime and curse too. At this point, a large number of the congregation began to grudgingly mutter stuffs underneath their breaths – it was a whispering party. The idea was to make pastor Esupofo think they were obedient while they silently went about speaking whatever they wanted. It was at that point that Sister Felicia, who had been shock-stricken all along, stood up suddenly, picked her bag and marched out of the church. The rest of the service was a pity-party.

As though we hadn’t had enough stress to last us for a lifetime, our man of God decided to impose a Friday vigil on us. We’ll be praying to fortify ourselves and the church against every attack of the devil, he explained.

It was to this august vigil we went and it was from the sleep the vigil deprived me of that my mum woke me. Wake up, she persisted, tapping me on the back. You need to hear this, she continued. Reluctantly, I sat up and asked for the reason she aroused me. You won’t believe this, she responded. Believe what, I pursued. Well, Sister Tayo just informed me that our church building has been torn down. It took me a while to process the information. How can the church building we left a couple of hours ago be pulled down all of a sudden? As though she was reading my thought, she proceeded to explain it. It turned out that our church was erected on a government property and several warnings to move it from the spot had been ignored. The municipal authority decided it was time to take action. They came with a bulldozer in the early hours of the morning – not long after we finished the vigil – and pulled the illegal structure down.

There and then, the pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place. Sister Felicia wasn’t the enemy of the church after all. it was our pastor Esupofo and the government and they successfully pulled down the building just after we prayed against it. Indeed, esupofo. But perhaps our pastor did too.

Image Credit:iStock

©ayansolaibukun

In the name of Relationship 

I once had a neighbour who was a bachelor at the time – tall, dark and handsome young man with a little change in the bank. He had this beautiful lady who always come around during weekends, mostly Saturdays. The minute she settles down in the guy’s room, she sets to work. She starts by sweeping and cleaning up his apartment – a room and parlour. She’ll then bring out a mountain-load of the guy’s used cloths – undies and all – and begin to wash. Sometimes, she’ll have to fetch the needed water to get the job done. Once the cloths are washed and hung out to dry, she sets out for the community market nearby to get foodstuffs/groceries which she begin to prepare the minute she returns. 

Meanwhile, while she is busy at work; Mr Smart is at a field adjacent our building playing football with friends. Once the match is over, he starts to discuss football and other manly matters with the same friends. After a discussion that spans over two hours sometimes, he comes home to have his bath, dresses up and informs the lady he needs to see a couple of people here and there. I hope food will be ready by the time I’m back, he’ll ask. Sure, it will. Just don’t take too long to return, the lady I now call Miss Compliant will respond. Anyway, by the time Mr Smart returns, food is ready. Usually, she waits for him to return before she eats. Food doesn’t taste well when you eat alone after all. So bros returns and they both eat.

Now, here is the curious thing, up to the point when she gets to his place till they both eat, the door is always partially opened – well, at least he leaves the main door opened while he drapes the curtain the over the net door. However, the minute lunch is over, boss man shuts the door completely and turns on the home theatre on full-blast mode. What happens during the period the blasting is on is best left to your imagination. All I know is after a couple of hours, the volume of the beat is turned to room level and the duo emerges looking refreshed.

This routine went on for a spate of six month until sometime in April. I got home one fine Saturday evening to be greeted by an interesting scene. Miss Compliant was banging on Mr Smart’s door crying profusely. Clearly, the dude locked her out. How dare you treat me this way, she lamented. After all I did for you…after everything I’ve sacrificed for you and so forth. Well, she eventually exhausted herself and decided it was time to leave. Ori mi a da fun e, she muttered as she matched out tearily into the street. 

I later came to know the lady had a master’s degree in economics from one of the federal universities. Besides, she had a fine job and earned a reasonable income. Mr smart was only a college dropout who lived on family money. By the way, it wasn’t up to a month of Miss Compliant’s exit before Mr Smart discovered another babe who continued in the path of Miss Compliant. He moved out of the house not long after. 

……. …. ………………………………  

If, as a lady, you fall into the category of the lady Miss Compliant, shame on you

It bothers me when I see or hear of ladies who literally enslave themselves all in the name of being in a relationship. It’s either such ladies don’t know their place or role in relationships or they have a big problem with self-esteem/worth. Nothing or better still, no Man should make a lady stoop way too low and lose her sense of dignity. It’s bad enough when less-informed folks indulge in servitude in the name of loving a man. It’s however distasteful when well-educated/exposed ladies condescend to the level of a maid for a guy who is yet to be their husbands.

I’ve tried to contemplate reasons why a lady will leave her parent’s house to gleefully do things she’ll do grudgingly in her parent’s house. A lady once told me that it’s okay for a lady to do such things as a way of showing submission for a guy. Really? I asked in amazement. Submission to a guy who is yet to be your husband? By the way, submission, in the proper context of marriage, isn’t the same thing as servitude. It only informs the sense of honour and respect a woman has for her husband. 

Among such ridiculous excuse made even by quite a number of ladies for this predicament is the need a lady to take care of a guy, please him and make him happy. Take care of him? I’ll like to know if such a guy is invalid, incapacitated or indisposed. Unless any of the above, a guy (bachelor) who needs a lady to take care of him really needs help. As for pleasing or making a guy happy, the lady who embarks on such mission must be Santa Claus. A man you need to please in order to keep is surely not a man you should be involved with in the first place. If you need to please anyone, it’s God and by extension you. Meanwhile, a man you’ll have to make happy in a relationship has to be one who lacks joy by himself. The first person that can make you happy is you. I’ll rather be in a relationship with someone who has a consistent disposition of happiness.

Folks should free themselves from the shackles of myths surrounding singleness, relationships and marriage. No lady should be pressured to go into an abusive relationship because she is running out of time. Ladies who fail to see singleness as fine and enjoyable are likely to become cooperate slaves and glorified prostitutes. 

If I were a lady, I won’t even think of getting into a relationship with a man who can’t take responsibility for his own meals, get his chores done and control his sexual urge. The condition for a meaningful relationship is mutual affection, respect and understanding. Both parties in a relationship have equal rights/roles. The fiancé is not the provider – both parties should provide for themselves or at best support each other. In the same vein, the fiancée is not a maid, laundress, and sex machine.             

The need for the knowledge of role-play in relationships is needful or abuse is inevitable. A lady should not consider a relationship as a means to an end and should refuse being taken for granted or used unseemly by a man no matter what he claims to have to offer. If the qualification for a relationship is servitude, shouldn’t you rather be on your own and make your life count? 
Image credit: depositphotos 

©ayansolaibukun 

BBnaija and the opposition: to be or not be? 

Another spell of pitiful drama and pointless controversies is upon us thanks to Multi-Choice, the brain behind the BBnaija reality show. Yet another 20 contestant will be slugging it out as they carry out specific tasks and do their best not to be evicted by the decision makers. The last-man-standing smiles home with a whooping sum of #45,000,000 – an 80% increase on the cash prize from season two #25,000, 000 – a SUV among others. 

The staggering level of goodwill it has gathered notwithstanding, its continued appearance has been a source of concern for many. Quite a number of critics have questioned the essence or relevance of the show. Many see it as a platform that erodes the sense of morality and decency especially among the youth. The show is described with varying expressions as a notorious show, a legacy of immorality, a dirty program, demonic program among others. 

I should state clearly that I’m not a fan of the program. The show is absolutely  against everything I stand for. The thought of joining its teaming fan has never crossed my mind and it won’t. From the little I glean about it based on the intrusions from the various social media, – the lewdness, vulgarity and uncouth dispositions of most of the contestants – it’s content is certainly not my taste.

Personally, I feel the overall concept/idea behind the show is a big joke, beginning with the misnomer-of- a-name it bears. My everyday dictionary informs me that a Big Brother is a person/group/entity who exerts dictatorial control. Such entity maintains a constant watch over others, often while presenting a positive image. Unless the term positive has come to entail undesirable elements in recent times, the essence of the show falls short of the name it’s known by. The brand’s insignia is another interesting misrepresentation – the image of a lone eye socket  gazing at nothing. To be sure, the eye suffers from a myopic condition. That realisation isn’t far-fetched. You only need to understudy the starry-eyed creators. Meanwhile, it’s equally laughable that a show whose name and essence is meant to depict the spirit of Naija is staged far away from Naija. It’s also said that the BBnaija show was designed by its creators to attract controversies and create agenda for social discussions. Well, one would have to give it to them on the former – that goal has been unarguably realised. However, it appears the creators clearly and indeed smartly left their idea of the concept of social discussions vague. It seems  their understanding of social discussion doesn’t entail serious, instructive, and thought/action-provoking discourse.  

My business in this write-up isn’t to turn my searchlight on the dynamics of the show. The truth is I care less. Left to me, I shouldn’t dignify the paparazzi, glitz, drama, controversies and absurdism that defines the show with a word. Then, but for the incessant request by intolerable clients, the witch doctor would love to stop making dangerous portions. I am obliged to write by way of response to the troubles and disturbances from the folks I call the virtual anti-BBnaija army. These are people who have taken it upon themselves to combat such social menace as BBnaija and declare war on those who encourage and promote the demonic program. This virtual army flood your social media platforms with chain messages and the make-it-go-viral standard crap. It’s with these set of people I have an axe to grind. 

Here is my first piece of good news to this set of virtual anti-moral/BBnaija combatants: the state of moral bankruptcy and decadence can only get worse. It’s a little thing called the gradual decay of things. The institutionalization of  mediocrity didn’t just find expression in a show like BBnaija all of a sudden: the society has been contributing its quota to its growth since time immemorial. You’ll have to prepare for more wars because BBnaija is just a tip of the iceberg. More display of coordinated insanity is yet to come. 

Perhaps one should ask whom the anti BBnaija activists are really waging war against. The creators/sponsors of the show or the viewers/fans of the show? In the case of the viewers, they are not phantoms or virtual beings. Rather, they are actual human beings with a craving for the kind of meal the show serves. As for the creators/sponsors of the show, they are stark business-oriented fellows whose goal is to make profit with less thought for the moral angle. Besides, they are simply providing their target audience with what they want while cashing-in in a grand style. Whether you like it or not, the fact remains that there are those who enjoy it and there are those who benefit from it. How do you war against two parties whose interests align?

BBnaija should be the least of your worries coz there are hosts of alternative mediums to do and undo available to all and sundry these days. All you need is a smart phone with internet connection. BBnaija has got nothing on the stuffs many can feast their eyes on when they are all alone. I should like to know how you intend to deal with the vices that aren’t given media coverage.  

If you must come to equity, shouldn’t you come with clean hands? While some in the rank of the virtual army are truly/genuinely fighting the wrong battle, many others on the bandwagon are simply phony characters. One only needs to see what some of them do in their private just-me-alone quarters, in the secrecy of their room – when no one is looking, the content/quality of their chats and private conversation and so forth – it’s one hell of a BBnaija.

Verily verily I say unto you, no be by force to view the show! There is a reason why the show doesn’t air on terrestrial TV. What that implies is that you’ll have to subscribe to the channel on cable television or via other online platforms. Even if it airs on terrestrial TV, you still have a choice – to be or not to be… So unless you have a veiled desire for it or your level of self-discipline needs upgrading, I see no point making noise over a show you are not forced to see.

Folks should know it’s called a reality TV show for a reason. Unpalatable as it appears, the show reflects/projects an undeniable aspect of our present day real-life situation. It simply depicts or re-enacts the moral/attitudinal disposition towards social values, especially among the millennials. How come folks are outraged at a platform that mirrors the moral fabric of many a youth?

Usually, men are the architect of their fortune or misfortune. When truly analysed, the bulk of those clamouring for its cancelation have, consciously or unconsciously, contributed to the prevalence of the show and its kinds. Isn’t it instructive to note that the show has more sponsors and financial backing than any educative show with a Nigerian audience as its main target? The reason for this is no brainer: large viewership attracts more TV revenue and consequently more sponsors. Sponsors will only invest their money in a scheme that will yield good profit. The main sponsor of the BBnaija show Heritage Bank is happy to be back and better because they suddenly realised the show is a goldmine for them. The viewing base of educative programs – even among the virtual soldiers – isn’t encouraging hence more sponsors for worthless shows like BBnaija. The fizzling out of a show like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is a case in point. What more, even morally mature individuals find the Cowbellpedia show uninteresting to watch. A social commentator Obinna Chukwuemeka rightly said and I quote if those who organized BBnaija suddenly discovered that Nigerians refused to tune in en masse, but have shown preference for moral and educational programs instead…,they’ll abandon the project and focus on some more responsible projects.

This virtual army even solicit that you join their ranks to pray against such shows and their sponsors. Seriously?  No way! I still have serious issues to pray about.

Chain messages and make-it-go-viral texts do nothing but constitute a nuisance for someone like me. Instead of being reactive, why not get proactive? It’s known that the actions, desires, and activities of men are largely controlled by the nature of influence they come under – it’s either worldly or godly. You don’t stop a skin reaction caused by a blood infection by applying some skin cream (medical or not). Rather, you get to the root of the matter by tackling the blood infection. Shows like BBnaija and people’s craving for them is just an externalisation of a root problem – the influence of the bondage of sin. The only way to fight that is to use your media platforms as a channel of the truth/gospel, get out on the street and contend for lives, get on your knees and pray for souls.Only then would you be making a difference.We will worry less when more lives are brought under the influence of the Word of God. 

Leave BBnaija alone and attend to more pressing life matters.

From henceforth, let no virtual army trouble me; for I’ve born their wahalas long enough.     

 
Image credit: Nigerian News Today

©ayansolaibukun