Good Friday

Today, I’m overwhelmed by the goodness of God. In that he loved me. He trusted that if I was given an opportunity to change my mind, I would reject death and accept life. He sent his son, Jesus, the Christ to bring the message of repentance and forgiveness that whoever accepted this message, will not perish but have everlasting life. Those who held me captive demanded payment by death for my wrongs. I was being led to be stoned. Jesus spoke his message of repentance and forgiveness, but it was rejected. When he insisted, they freed me and held him captive instead. He was stripped, beaten and nailed to a cross, to die for my sins.

Today, I’m overwhelmed by the faithfulnes of Jesus, the Christ. He trusted that if I was given an opportunity to change my mind, I would reject death and accept life. God demonstrated his love for me in that, while I was a sinner, Christ died for me. – Faithfully.

Today, I’m overwhelmed by the commitment of the Spirit of God. He trusts that if I’m given an opportunity to change my mind, I would reject death and accept life. In that he continuously remind me of my place and identity in Him, in Jesus, in God, my God.

IMAG3269

“Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Luke 19 : 39-40

By the Rivers of Babylon

There are times in our lives when we feel confined, frustrated and confused. When hope is far fetched. When peace is a memory and words are bitter. It’s in the midst of our sorrow that we remember Zion, the place we felt happiest; and we wonder why our experiences are now different. We begin the honest search for justification of our circumstances. With an exercise of the heart and mind, we draw on one of two conclusions. In our sight, we are righteous; our present situation is unjustified; or that we are unrighteous  and our present situation is justified.

Either of the conclusions will afford us some closure, but for freedom to prevail, we understand that action is required on our part. It’s with this sentiment that we draw on the one question – How may we give anything, when all we’ve had is taken from us, and our hope is lost in this strange land?

If we have ever been at the rivers of Babylon in captivity, then we have been in good company.

” About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[a]lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) Matthew 27:46

“Then Job replied: “If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery be placed on the scales! It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas— no wonder my words have been impetuous. The arrows of the Almighty are in me, my spirit drinks in their poison; God’s terrors are marshaled against me. ” Job 6:1-4

“Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable? Will you be to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails?” Jeremiah 15:18

“But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Luke 23:40-41

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” Luke 15: 21

“It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.” Isaiah 6:5

“By the rivers of Babylon we were seated, weeping at the memory of Zion, Hanging our instruments of music on the trees by the waterside. For there those who had taken us prisoners made request for a song; and those who had taken away all we had gave us orders to be glad, saying, Give us one of the songs of Zion. How may we give the Lord’s song in a strange land?” Psalm 137:1-4

Like these people, when we find ourselves in a terrifying position, our righteous or unrighteous justifications does not bring freedom but our response to the call to action does. The fact is, there wasn’t much of a difference between the prodigal son and Jeremiah by their rivers of Babylon regardless of how they each perceived themselves they were each in bondage and needed salvation.

Here are some thoughts on why bad things happen to good people in case you were wondering…

John explains – “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.” I John 1:8

Solomon finds – “Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins” Ecclesiastics 7:20

Paul teaches – “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:23

What must we do to get saved?  – Remember the Lord is good, have faith and Give Praise to Him!

Sounds simple, but to praise the lord by the rivers of Babylon requires enormous faith, trust and hope in God to bring freedom. It’s the belief in the Lord Jesus Christ that ultimately gets us saved.

“But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. ”Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:40-41

“He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” “They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Acts 16:30-31

Believing takes faith and action to bring about salvation.  Salvation is a process of faith and actions.

James challenges –  What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith SAVE them?” James 2:14

In this life, we will all come to our rivers of Babylon in captivity. It’s is not how we got there that matters, but rather how to get out of there that ultimately matters. Our belief works our Salvation.

Let me illustrate on this premise. Meet Justin. He is a Christian and has faith in Jesus Christ to be his provider although he is destitute.  Justin acknowledges he needs Salvation  from this predicament.

Scenerio 1. – Justin searches his heart and finds, he is righteous before the lord and he really doesn’t deserves the situation he is in and wonders why God is letting him go through it.  Justin reviews his over-drawn bank account, he reads the demanding letters from his creditors and the the notices of eviction from his landlord for unpaid rent. Justin comes face to face with the reality of his situation, he panics and depresses into inactivity.

Scenerio 2 – Justin searches his heart and finds, he is unrighteous before the lord and he really deserves the situation he finds himself in. Justin reviews his over-drawn bank account, he reads the demanding letters from his creditors and the notices of eviction from his landlord for unpaid rent. Justin comes face to face with the reality of his situation, he panics and depresses into inactivity.

Scenerio 3 – Justin searches his heart and finds, he has lost his joy. He’s frustrated and confused. He realizes, he is in a strange and captive situation and wants freedom. Justin reviews his over-drawn bank account, he reads the demanding letters from his creditors and the notices of eviction from his landlord for unpaid rent. Justin comes face to face with the reality of his situation, then he remembers, his provider the Lord is good, and begins to praise and thank him for his provision. He’s reminded of the people around him and their journeys through the rivers of Babylon, he remembers the conversations they had about their salvation experience. He begins to experience peace as he hopes again. He reads and listens to scripture that describe further how Jesus Christ is a mighty provider and it stirs  up his faith. He reaches for the phone to call a friend. Justin’s salvation is near!

In scenarios 1 and 2, Justin needed salvation regardless of his perceived righteousness. When faith does not lead to action, it dies. Inactivity breeds idleness and doubts which is a haven for sinful activities. Sin frustrates the process of salvation making us remain in this cycle of a depressed mind.

James argues this best –  “You foolish man! Do you want proof that faith without good works is useless?  Our father Abraham offered his son Isaac on the altar. Wasn’t he considered to be right with God because of what he did?  So you see that what he believed and what he did were working together. What he did made his faith complete. That is what Scripture means where it says, “Abraham believed God. God accepted Abraham because he believed. So his faith made him right with God.”—(Genesis 15:6) And that’s not all. God called Abraham his friend.  So you see that a person is made right with God by what he does. It doesn’t happen only because of what he believes.”

“By the rivers of Babylon we were seated, weeping at the memory of Zion, Hanging our instruments of music on the trees by the waterside. For there those who had taken us prisoners made request for a song; and those who had taken away all we had gave us orders to be glad, saying, Give us one of the songs of Zion. How may we give the Lord’s song in a strange land?” Psalm 137:1-4

They were seated, silenced by sentiments and crippled with emotions, their eyes filled with tears on the memory of their friend. They had hanged their instrument of gladness on a tree.  For they had left everything they knew to follow him and everything had been taken from them. For the first time in a very long time, they found themselves lost in a strange land of emotions, despair and great fear. The great songs of freedom had eluded them as they looked hopeless at this instrument of gladness -Their friend, Jesus Christ – their, master, teacher, savior, joy and hope as he hang… dying on a tree.

Let me suggest that the song of the LORD is Jesus Christ. David got the revelation in Psalm 118:14 when he wrote – “The LORD is my Strength and my SONG; he has become my SALVATION” .  The bible describes him as the author and finisher of our faith.  Be encouraged brothers and sisters, he will put that new song in your mouth. He will save you so you may be a witness to his goodness and mercies; that others may also put their trust in him.  David’s wrote in Psalm 40:3. “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD”

What’re you believing? Do you feel there’re things you’re not able to break away from? Do you feel as a captive? Have faith, break out and praise the Lord! Step out and know that the Lord is in control.

“Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.” James 2:21-26

The Last Testament

25th December is Christmas. It happens every year. It’s common knowledge from the first day of the year. On December 24th, the knowledge of Christmas is not diminished, rather heightened by blissful expectation or sheer anxiety. The only difference between the two sentiments is Planning. Nothing magical; just a plan for the Holidays.

Death – Finite, as in reality; also requires a plan.  It’s really a conundrum what happens in the aftermath; ooh but i know; absent in body, present with the Lord. Yes! but what about

LEGACY?

Let me to introduce you to The  Estate Plan by  Mensah Wealth Management –  The Last Testament .

At Mensah Wealth Management, we think you can be great in life and leave an amazing legacy in death – It’s all in OUR PLAN.  Our Estate planning team consist of professionals including Lawyers, Accountants, Mortgage Brokers, Real Estate Professionals and  Financial Security Advisors. Our estate plan is guided by our relationship with our clients and dictated by the nature and extent of their assets and their particular family situation, including the financial circumstances of each of their beneficiaries. Our plan is designed for individuals, families, business owners, trustees and executors. It’s smart and it works. Here is Jeff, a business owner and one of our favourite client. We consults with Jeff over a few weeks to understand all his needs; we analyze Jeff’s situation and recommend a tailor-made solution for him. In this case, we incorporate a tax planning strategy.

We advised Jeff to create two Wills –  a General Property (GP) Will and a Limited Property (LP) Will. Jeff’s GP Will would govern the assets in his general estate that would likely attract probate tax, such as bank and investment accounts. Jeff’s LP Will would govern all of his other assets, such as his private company interests and any other personal property that would normally not attract a request for probate. In other words, Jeff’s LP Will is never submitted by his executor to the Court for probate.

If you have ever been appointed or know someone who has been appointed as an executor of an estate, you would know of an exciting feature called a Probate. A Probate is the legal process of having a person’s Will validated by the Court. Probate is usually requested by banks and investment firms before they will allow an executor to claim assets. The Court charges a fee (known as an Estate Administration Tax) in order to issue a Probate Certificate to your executor. This fee is basically equal to 1.5% of the value of the assets governed by the Will. There are also legal fees to pay in order to have this process completed. These fees are usually a few thousand dollars. This process usually takes several weeks to complete, can be expensive, time consuming, frustrating for an estate executor or trustee in dealing with all the professionals. Sounds daunting, but What do they care?

Like Old Roger, they too are dead and gone to their graves, An apple tree is planted over their head.

At Mensah Wealth Management, We understand that you have worked very  hard to build a life, business and an estate. We commit to working with you to create a plan to secure the most timely and tax-efficient distribution of your assets. Our estate plan is designed to reflect the nature and extent of our clients assets and the particular family, financial circumstances of each of their beneficiaries.

Like Jeff, many of our clients have relied on our advice as beneficial and sound. For instance, the value of any shares in, or loans to, Jeff’s company would not have to be included in calculating probate tax since probate would not be required to transfer ownership of these assets to his family members. If the assets in Jeff’s LP Will are worth $1 million at the time of his death, the LP Will would save him $15,000 in probate taxes. Jeff is super excited. We review this plan annually as his circumstances change over the years. Jeff is particularly thrilled to find Our Plan is practically free.

At Mensah Wealth Management, our utmost priority is the well being of  our clients and their families; it’s with this in mind that we developed our popular new product,  Syndicated In-Trust Funds. This fund allows the beneficiaries to secure their money in an interest bearing, tax efficient Trust Account. If we put tax reasons aside, we have found our clients set up a trusts simply to avoid mismanagement of their assets or estate. For instance they may want to preserve and protect part of their estate for their children or grandchildren. Consider what might happen, if they left their entire estate to their spouse and he or she decided to remarry. What would happen to their child’s inheritance if his or her spouse convinced their child to invest in a risky new business venture. An inheritance held inside a trust may be protected from potential creditors such as the beneficiary’s ex-spouse or former business partner.

Surprisingly, many Canadians  fail to avail themselves of these planning opportunities for various reasons but mainly for lack of professional advice. At Mensah Wealth Management, our financial advisors and team of professionals work with our clients  to create the right Will for them. Our recommendations are based on the nature and extent of client assets and family circumstances.

We’re always delighted to render financial advice. Consult us to review your Estate Plan Free today.

The Shout

The Shout
JESUS!!! The spasm of sound echoed through the large auditorium. The stage was packed with choreographed dancers, musicians backed by the pious band.  A large screen hung on the back of the stage displaying the lyrics to the songs that had made the list on rehearsal night.  Tonight’s music leader was particularly animated. She blasted through a serious of heartening utterances amidst the inspired lyrics displayed on the stage teleprompters.
A beautiful array of lights lit up the stage. They change colors to usher new song demonstrating a change in mood and tempo of each song played by the musicians. The carefully selected sound speakers created reverberations for each note made by the group, muffing out the noise- camouflaged sounds that confessed the sentiments and emotions of the congregation when they attempted to rehash the songs being played and demonstrated on stage.
Thankfully the walls of the auditorium were sound proof, yet these walls spoke loudly a message of multiculturalism. Multinational flags decorated the walls creating a diversity of background and a sense of belonging for the spiritual family that gathered here.

My family was gathered around me to wish me farewell at the Kotoka International Airport. After saying our final goodbyes, I boarded the Lufthansa Flight 323.  I was mindful of my fellow passengers as I strolled down the aisle of our Flight departing from Accra, Ghana transiting at Lagos, Nigeria, Frankfurt, Germany and arriving in Toronto, Canada. Hamilton, Ontario will be my final destination. My beloved uncle had bought economy tickets seating me next to the tail of the plane. It’s only been three months since Uncle Dan and I began discussing the possibility to studying abroad. I had come to the capital city to wish my two cousins goodbye as they journey to England to further their education. It was my turn next and the world was mine for the taking.  One morning, I paid a visit at my uncle’s Kantamanto shop and lying on the dusty floor was the day’s newspaper.The front page had an advertisement that caught my attention.  I picked up the newspaper and looked closely, it read “Study Abroad – Columbia International College, Hamilton Ontario. Canada’s biggest International boarding school – Total Care” I tore off the page in a hurry and run up to my uncle’s private office.  “Look what I found Uncle”  I flipped up my hands to reveal the advertisement and little did I know that a prayer was being answered and a prophecy was being fulfilled.

A prophetic word of exhortation came from the worship song leader, “guys press into God, greater things are yet to come to the City of Hamilton. Call onto the south, north, east and west for a greater harvest, c’mon guys press in …”

Pressed between two overweight passengers, my teenage frame allowed my body some comfort; yet my mind was racing and butterflies filled my stomach. This is my first time in an airplane.  Each bump seem to tense the muscles around my chest, my breath was shorter and faster. The plane gathered momentum and began to accelerate; “no, stop this, I ‘m losing my mind, someone please stop this thing” My mind raced. I was cold and shivering. At this point, I could hear my heartbeat amidst the thundering sounds from the Boeing engine. Suddenly I couldn’t feel the bumps any longer and the plane was in an elevation tilted towards the tail. All I could see were the back of passengers’ heads and the storage compartments next to the ceiling of the plane. We were in mid-air and I thought I was deaf and dying.

The fear of death was the reason I first came to know about Jesus Christ.  It started when two of my school mates, Eben and Joe sat on the lean tall dormitory bunker beds across from where I lay engulfed in my own reality. Eben was well-behaved but guarded, he was spotted everywhere with a bible under his armpit. He led the scripture union on campus, a pious group that managed to attract all the smart, well-behaved kids to their gatherings. I had been to one of their meetings out of curiosity and I thought it was too organized for me.  Eben was busily painting a vivid picture of gloom, horror, despair and hope to Joe. He called it the “The Rapture”. Joe responded sheepishly with blissful expectations. I had pretended to be asleep on my bed but both my ears were dialed into to their conversion. I had mixed feelings about the validity of their stories but I knew I didn’t want to suffer the tribulations he described. That night, all alone on my bed with my pillow soaked in my own tears, I asked Jesus to not leave me behind when he came to rapture his people; and I fell asleep . The Wachowskis of the Matrix series will describe it as, I had taken the Red pill and I now knew the truth about the matrix. Except, I didn’t find myself in a liquid-filled pod, and my body wasn’t connected by tubes and cables to a vast mechanical tower covered with identical pods.  I knew I wasn’t the same after that night; something in me had changed and I was curious to learn more about this experience.

I experienced severe cold, snow and wind chills for the first time all at once, when the doors of the plane opened in Frankfurt, Germany. I finally knew, we had left the tropical climate of Africa and we were in a temperate climate. A shuttle services transported us from the plane into a massive terminal. They had eight of those in Frankfurt and they were interconnected by trains, called skylines. The airport taxi’s were Mercedes Benz, the people we met were snubs and the cappuccinos tasted like it needed a lot more than sugar. Our ordeal lasted for only 11 hours and we were onboard our next flight into Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.

The plane landed in Toronto at midnight. The runways at Pearson were less bumpy than our first experience at Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria. The lineup to see the custom officials were long but I figured if I  survived Africa and Europe, North America should be manageable, and it was. We were ushered into the luggage area to pick up our belongings. I looked up I’d seen my name on a cardboard. It read.” Nabil Mensah-Acheampong, Columbia International College” It matched my description so I  matched straight to the limousine driver and introduced myself. I knew I was much closer to my new home, it was difficult to contain my excitement.

It was exciting to see about 200 young adults gathered here tonight. Most of them had their arms raised up in abandonment, others knelled and some jumped around intermittently with the change in pace of the music. The musicians had played for about forty minutes then they begun to wind down their songs. The dancers were preparing to step off off the stage.  The worship leader was silent and the congregation waited in anticipation.

I anticipated the journey to Hamilton was forty five minutes from my weeks of research. The street lights on the Queen Elizabeth Way were lit and bright but the Toronto skylights were soon receding minutes after we left the airport. Moments later, I faded into a trance at the backseat of the limousine.  I dreamed of the life I was leaving behind and the new life I was embracing– home, brothers, sisters, father and mother.

It had taken a while, but I was beginning to find a new home, brothers, sisters, father and mother in this new church. The preacher wore a mustache and spoke so very eloquently. He reminded me of a Middle Eastern man when I first saw him behind the pulpit. It could be his exquisite facial grooming or because he made frequent references to his spiritual experience in Kabul, Afghanistan. Nonetheless the ambiance here bore resemblance to Maranatha,  my first church after I returned home to Kumasi, Ashanti Ghana and had told my dad about my faith experiences in school. Coincidently he had had a similar encounter and  made a decision to relinquish his will to Jesus Christ. We had an instant rapport on the commonality of interest and it deepened our relationship.

Gingerly, I was developing many relationships with the people that gathered here weekly.  Many have become friendly to me but I couldn’t yet call those friends. I stood with the other kids on the left side of the building from the lobby entrance; their presence provided me with an instant sense of belonging and brought comfort to my nostalgic sentiments because they too were Colored.

Multi-colored lights, multi-colored faces shone with hopeful expectation as we waited unassumingly for the closing exhortations from the worship leader. After much anticipation, it came forth. With Unison, we let out a deafening uproar to declare our solidarity to the name that united us…”JESUS!!!”

>Adjust meant Advancement

>You’ve seen it before, it’s a swivel chair; stable in design, adjustable in functionality.

It was the spring of 2008 – I sat down on a black swivel chair, all alone in a dark cold basement wondering Why? Why I couldn’t hold on. Why I let go so easily, why I gather much but lose much. Why I felt empty, why I won’t get ahead. Why???.

Then, a thought run through my mind. I was certain it wasn’t my natural thoughts because it demanded me to do something it wouldn’t do on my own.

“Stand on that chair” I sensed.
“Excuse me?”, I questioned.
“Go ahead, stand up on the chair” I heard again, much clearer this time.
I hesitated, looked around, but reluctantly stood up on my swivel chair.

“You are standing high, ain’t you?”
“Yes”, i guess I am” with apprehension, I managed to satisfy this thought.
“Can you go any higher on this chair, Nabil?”
“No I guess not” This time my response was after careful deliberation.
“Well you can, you need to adjust the swivel latch to advance further”
“I cannot reach it standing up here” I complained.

“You’re right…I will show you the principles to advancement”

What I learned that day can be summed up in 3 words: Humility, Humility, Humility.

When we recognize that we have gotten as far as we can and you cannot go any further on our own, we must begin to look at alternate ways to advance

1. Humility to take a step down – Like I could not reach the adjustment latch on the swivel chair while standing up on it, it’s important to take a step down to adjust our attitude for further advancement. Attitude adjustment produces greater altitude.

2. Humility to ask for help – Since I couldn’t adjust my altitude on my own from where I stood, my other alternative was to ask for help from other people who saw the latch. Seeking counsel and help from people who are willing and able to assist us adjust that latch for further advancement is invaluable. That requires communication, trust and honesty.

3. Humility to receive help – If I came down from my chair to adjust the latch, I had to climb back up to the now elevated chair. The higher the elevation, the greater the help required to get back unto it. Alternatively, If I’d asked other people to adjust the chair for me while I stood on it, It also required much humility to respond to the suggestions, advice and work with them until the desired elevation is reached regardless of how uncomfortable it got.

In hindsight, we all have 20/20 vision. Have you ever felt you needed adjustments in your own life? Have you ever felt you could have advanced further with good support around you? The good news is, It’s never too late. Take courage in the scriptures “Every valley will be filled, and every mountain and hill will be leveled. The crooked ways will be made straight, and the rough roads will be made smooth” Luke 3:5

The Ashanti tribe of Ghana has the saying: “Diae Okwa kwan no nim se nekye akyea” Translated : “When we are paving our path to the future, we don’t necessarily know if we are paving it straight or crooked”.

We retract our steps to identify what needs to be adjusted or we rely on those around us for feedback and adjustments if necessary. In retrospect, adjust meant advancement

>I once was dead, but now I live – Do you believe this?

>
Easter – Jesus Christ died and Rose again…really? What does this mean to you and me? Egg hunt? Okay funny! Seriously though what’s the significance? According to John 11:25-26: Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Well, let’s begin by defining death – according to http://www.dictionary.com, Death is defined “the act of dying; the end of life; the total and permanent cessation of all the vital functions of an organism”

No kidding – okay, let’s balance things out and define Life:

Search results produced 36 definitions for life; being a simple guy, I randomly chose the first one – Life: “Being manifested by growth through metabolism, reproduction, and the power of adaptation to environment through changes originating internally.”

The apostle Paul made reference to this type of change in Romans 8:10 “But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.”

Okay, your body dies – End of life; but your Spirit lives – Reproduction. That is a powerful statement of hope in death. Your body dies, but your spirit lives on because Jesus Christ reproduces His life through you. Can this be what He meant by “I am the resurrection and the life? The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die?

Let’s take it one step further. What is this reproduction of Christ’s Eternal Life? According to John 17:3 “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent”

We Talkin’ Bout Knowledge? (Satire of Allen Iverson’s Interview on practice)

“It’s easy to talk about; it’s easy to sum it up when you just talk about knowledge. We sittin’ in here, I’m supposed to be the child of God, and we in here talkin’ about knowledge. I mean listen, we talkin bout knowledge. Not a salvation, not a salvation, not a salvation. We talkin bout knowledge. Not a salvation, not a, not a, not the salvation that I go out there and die for, and pray every salvation like it’s my last. Not the salvation. We talkin’ bout knowledge, man. I mean how silly is that? We talkin’ bout knowledge. I know I’m supposed to be there, I know I’m supposed to lead by example. I know that, and I’m not shovin’ it aside, you know, like it don’t mean anything. I know it’s important, I do. I honestly do. But we talkin’ bout knowledge, man. What are we talkin’ bout? Knowledge? We talkin’ bout knowledge man. We talk… We talkin’ bout knowledge. We talkin’ bout knowledge. We ain’t talkin’ bout the salvation, we talkin’ bout knowledge, man. When you come into the sanctuary, and you see me pray, you see me pray, don’t you? You see me give everything I got, right? But we talkin’ bout knowledge right now. We talkin’ bout knowledge. Man look, I hear you, it’s funny to me too. I mean, it’s strange; it’s strange to me too. But we talkin’ bout knowledge man. We not even talkin’ bout the salvation, the actual salvation, when it matters. We talkin’ bout knowledge.”

On a serious note, why am I spending hours writing this blog instead of being out there advising clients, selling insurance, investments or registered education saving plans. I’ve got bills to pay you know…

Here is the bottom line. To know him and make him Known: “My people perish from a lack of knowledge” Hosea 4: 6 The apostle Paul expressed this in Philippians 3:10-11″That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead”

I know Jesus Christ. Yes, I met Him and he changed my life. He is the reason: I have an education, a family; natural and spiritual, a house, a business, a Life.

Not very long ago, I was dead. Truly, just like the dictionary described. Everything in me ceased to exist. I felt nothing; I went through life like a zombie. I followed people, latest trends, music, movies, whatever was worth following, I followed…just like the chaff, tossed to and fro by the wind; on and on I went until I met Jesus Christ.

He called me out and embraced me. Instantly he showed me love that I had never experienced before. He made my life a light by making me a leader. I ceased following blindly. He showed me a vision and made it clear. He led me on a path. He knew I would need support so he planted me in a body of believers and instantly gave me a new family; a spiritual family. He reproduced and gave me the power to adapt to any environment through changes originating internally – Changes originating from His Spirit within me.

This knowledge I have of Jesus Christ does not allow me to sit back quietly when others give credit to an Easter bunny! a Rabbit! for the reason for my, our celebration of Life. His Spirit within me won’t let me stay quiet when people make this season about chocolates. No, this knowledge brings me life and has far more significance that an Easter Egg Hunt.

Jesus Christ truly is the light of this world. The one who believes in him will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in him will never die. That is the hope of eternity. “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ”. Philippians 3:8

Folks find a friend who has knowledge of Jesus Christ and talk to him/her; better yet visit a local church this Easter weekend and be honest with you… See if you too may receive this precious knowledge that produces Eternal Life. Your life depends on it.

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Hebrews 2:14-15

>Love Lockdown

>When steel bars wraps around a heart, it goes on Love Lockdown and that was my experience with Love.

Links break when chains are no longer needed and so is the case of a broken heart.

Love breaks the heart that dares to contain it; it knows no limit and bound by nothing. Its unyielding characteristic is ALWAYS; in trust, in protection, in hope and in perseverance. Love will break your heart – It’s only a matter of time.

Love mends the heart that dares to contain it; it knows no limit and bound by nothing. Its unyielding characteristic is ALWAYS; in trust, in protection, in hope and in perseverance. Love will mend your heart – It’s only a matter of time.

LOVE – It never fails.

Families fail, friends fail, lovers fail but Love Never Fails. Relationships break when the hearts involved refuse to share in love. To hold back love is to deny love. To deny love is to fail love and to fail love is to deprive love the opportunity to mend…a broken heart.

Can you relate? Will you come into a relationship – with me? This heart – It’s broken, it’s mended. It’s Loved.

‘Tis better to have loved and lost Than never to have loved at all. – Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem In Memoriam:27, 1850
Love is – Patient & kind. It doesn’t envy, boast and not proud.

Pride is not vulnerable. Vulnerability is the beginning of a recognition of our imperfections – The defining pillar for any relationship. When we are able to recognize the strength in others while empathizing with their weaknesses, we weave the fabric that wraps around a winning relationship.

Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, and it is not easily angered.

Anger results when expectations are unmet. Expectations are present when we keep record of wrongs. To choose to love is to choose to keep no record of wrongs. To keep no record of wrongs is to have no expectations in love. It’s a conundrum, but it’s simple really, We DON’T have to love everyone; If we choose to love someone, we choose to risk our hearts to ALWAYS…trust, protect, hope and persevere.

Can you relate? Will you come into a relationship – with this heart? It’s broken, it’s mended. It’s Loved.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth!

The truth is, the heart needs to receive love to feel loved; and to feel love is to contain Love; though it may eventually breaks our hearts. We risk our hearts to hurt anytime we love – the deeper in love, the higher the risk. The best chance of preserving our heart is to Receive and Release Love – with no reservations, with no fear, with absolute certainty that Love Never Fails.

***It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres***

Can you relate?

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

>Learn to Golf; Learn to Lead; Faith is Key

>
“Open you stance, lighten your grip, turn your hip on the upswing, keep your eye on the ball, hit down on the ball, the power is in the follow-through, belt buckle to the target and hold your finish”

The vocabulary was foreign, the game was foreign, the instructor was familiar. Gary Heyes is a friend of mine, a minister of the Gospel by profession, a demonstrative minister of the gospel by personality, a husband, a father and a golfer.I have met Gary Heyes outside of the premises of the church building on a number of occasions, but this time, it was at the golf driving range. Our meeting changed my golfing experience.

It was a sunny day at the Eagle Classic Golf Centre, and once again, I was there to hit some golf balls. My desire to play the game was strong, only parred by my frustrated attempt to get over my futile efforts of hitting the golf ball.

Today, Gary stood across from me with the stern eyes of an instructor “Turn those hips, and I don’t want to see your right thumb, your grip should create a visible “V”; in order to do that, your right thumb should not be visible from where I stand” He would insist, “Take a practice swing” I would, and it felt odd, but when I took a swing at the ball, I made good contact. Gary will say to me “Its getting better but you’re still not fully turning your hips, see the power comes when you turn those hips on the upswing and swing down and through the ball on the downswing.”

He will continue to explain ” See Nabil, when your grip is light, it allows the club to pivot around your fingers with minimum resistance to make better connection with the ball; you want to swing through the ball and your hand is the only connection to the club, and the club is your only connection to the ball, so in order for you to feel like you are hitting the ball, you need not feel the clubs in your hands…Take another swing.” I would, he would watch, commend my progress, point out my shortcomings and repeat another slew of instructions.

He will often demonstrate by taking the club from me, assume the perfect stance and hit an unbelievable shot with excellent loft and distance. He would hand the club over to me and say, “Now, you try it”.

His instructions and demonstrations were clear, stern but generous. After hitting a few dozen balls, I noticed my grip was better, so was my stance, swing and ball-flight patterns; I got better results. Importantly, I noticed that I was adapting Gary’s style of playing golf.

Like most people, I thought very little of the game of golf as a sport, until I tried to take a swing at a golf ball. After many unsuccessful attempts, I finally made contact with the golf ball and projected it into space. It was an exhilarating experience. After which, I embarked on a journey to make more consistent, straight, long and accurate shots; a feat that seems to take a lifetime to master. prior to my meeting with Gary, it had been a couple of months since I made contact with the golf ball, and that evening, I felt I had broken through. I was on my way to becoming a golfer.

After my encounter with Gary, I learned from a dozen other people conspicuously and inconspicuously, however, there was one man in particular who really took interest in me and helped me adopt my own game. Kim was a retired preacher, with a new passion for golf. Each morning and evening, I would practice with Reverend Kim at the driving range. For three consecutive weeks, we would practice hitting over 200 golf balls in the morning and over 150 golf balls at night. By the end of the three weeks, I had adapted my own game. I understood golf.

When people first come to the faith, they often want to develop their own, but their desire to grow is only parred by their frustrated attempt to get over their futile efforts of living the life of faith.

They might be inspired by friends, family, minister of the gospel or persons of faith in the bible. Their attempt to emulate their role models often leads to frustration, disappointment and discouragement, mostly because they don’t find the Garys’ and the Kims’ of the kingdom.

The Garys’ and the Kims’ is what is needed in the church; in our world; and on your journey today. I speak of Leadership; Selfless leadership. When someone first come into the faith, their struggle to find their way is apparent. In order to develop, they often lean on the faith of parents, friends, family and role models until they finally understand and develop their own. As much as it was important for me to lean on Gary’s golfing knowledge until I developed mine, It is crucial for a new person of faith to lean on the faith of models, until they develop their own.

The founder of the Christian faith was a leader of 12 ordinary men. He took interest in them and led them by faith. They responded to his faith, adopted it and eventually developed their own. The fact that Pastor Gary and Reverend Kim are both coincidentally ministers of the gospel had little to do with their ability to help me find my place in golf; but rather, the testament to their leadership, was their willingness to take interest in me, coupled with their desire to come alongside, to help me on my way. That was selfless, that was leadership, that was faith.

>Let Hope Rise!

>Recently, I have been following interviews with Dambisa Moyo, a Zambian born Economist, Oxford and Harvard Graduate with an impressive resume including post with the world bank and 8 years with Goldman Sachs. She echoes most of the sentiments of many Africans and provide a much needed voice to African leaders regarding Aid to Africa.

I too share her views, partly because I was born and raised African, mostly because they are logical and true. I’m of the view that people are empowered to change their economic circumstances when the are given the time leverage and the economic framework to lend their skills to producing goods and services.

The basis for my discussion is from a human experience. Aid to Africa is like social security to the unemployed. What the unemployed need is an opportunity to work, not food stamps. In her book, Dead-Aid, Dambisa proposes a market based solution to Africa’s problem. Although capitalism has not solved the world’s problems it sure is the best vehicle to deliver wealth to nations. With money comes the ability to build infrastructure such as roads, hospitals, schools, and post offices. People are empowered to create wealth and re-distribute them.

Laissez-faires are not without limitations. History will suggest, the bulk of a nation’s capital is owned by a few and it encourages production of luxurious and ostentatious goods by the few and for the few instead of basic necessities for the masses. The basic notion of capitalism encourages beer or car production instead of food or bicycles production.

Aid carries with it a culture of dependency. Many of my friends who regularly visit Africa tell the same story. People expect you to have money because you have lived in a western country. People expect you to give them handouts because you have lived in a western country. People will spend exorbitant amount of time following you around and call you “master” or “sir” in order to benefit from your “generosity”. The fact that people equate wealth and financial assistance with the west must stem from the attitude that, the west has it all and they are giving it away. People have grown to expect remittances from the west so the incentive to work is made redundant. The media plays an important role in perpetuating this false concepts but that is another discussion.

For the most part, the aid culture has crippled Africans. From colonialism, slave trade, now corruption, foreign aid and foreign remittances. Many African people stretch their arms for someone else to deposit aid. In my previous blog titled: “I don’t have much but what I have I give you”, I related Africa’s dependency on aid to the unemployed dependency on welfare or social security. The aid culture has placed many African’s into a perpetual poverty mindset where the onus of production is repositioned on someone else.

I do not pretend to have the answers to Africa’s problem but I can offer my opinion on what can be done. If development will come to Africa it has to come from people who believe their heritage is Africa; either domestically, in the diaspora or evacuated through slavery. In my experience, these groups are of all racial backgrounds. People who believe Africa is their heritage have to understand that it is impossible to evolve without a deep understanding of their heritage.

In addition, all factions of African institutions need to work together toward the common goal of development. I understand the separation of the church,the state, and the private sector. The government needs to write and enforce laws and policies. The private sector needs to use the nation’s human and capital resources to produce goods and services and the religious organizations needs to guide the moral compass of the citizens. Although I feel that is predominately the duty of the family unit; In many African countries, the family unit is broken so religion has a huge appeal.

On a practical note, the religious bodies need to understand that they have a pivotal role in the development of citizens of the country and should act as a family unit to nurture young minds to positively impact society. The private sector should understand that they have an important part to play in the nations development and should demand the best graduates from the universities and colleges who will become human resources to aid in the production of goods and services to compete in international markets; the government should keep law and order, encourage education, health care, apprenticeship, entrepreneurship and construction of infrastructure to aid development.

If these parties all play their roles effectively. No African country will need aid to develop. Africa has all the resources it needs to develop. Human resources often gets drained but many people of African heritage are understanding the importance of giving back and are repatriating to Africa to help in her development.

In creation of wealth discussions, the bigger issue is value, the perceived value of a product or service determines its price. People place value on gold; It makes gold expensive. Africans value their religious leaders go government should expand and regulate their mandate. Include them in issues of national interest. Provide them with the opportunities to develop the masses that flock to them and give them an incentive to release people back into society to function in public or private sectors. People value western goods and service, so tax imports heavily and use the proceeds to provide financing for domestic goods and services, education and health care reforms. Use the media to create value for locally produced goods and services and give people incentives to produce and purchase them.

When countries talk of trade, they talk of comparative advantage. Which suggest countries should concentrate on the production of goods and services that can provide them an edge on the global market place. Another talk is of diversification of production, where countries are encouraged to spread their wings; to be jack of all trades. Regardless of the path African countries continue on, it is understandable that It will be difficult to compete with developed economies on established business models, however, Africa can compete on technological based business models such as the e-commerce market and the Stock market. African religion, especially the ones with evangelical movement formation are exported everywhere; Africa can learn from the Vatican and use religion to organize people, disseminate information, and push national agenda overseas.

If trade is what we need to create wealth, then China is open for business, If faith and religion is what we need to organize societies, then Africa has plenty of faith and religion, If government is what is needed to institute law and order, then African leaders are gradually stepping up to the plate. African leaders are listening, Often they don’t know who to trust but many Africans in the diaspora are proving to be trustworthy by lending proven strategic recommendations and are hands on with the implementations. Being an optimist, I think Africa’s time to develop is nearing. Aid can not be sustained. It hasn’t worked in the last 50years with over a trillion United States dollars in Aid injections. It will not work in the next 50 so it’s time for a better solution. If you heard from most Africans, you will hear that they want to be mentally and economically empowered to change their circumstances so, STOP carrying them!

>Arise & Walk

>The chiming of of the bells sounded louder today. Perhaps because I sat closer to the gates. I have been waiting for my friend Joe. Joe and I had decided earlier that week we would go to the service with the others. The events that had transpired the last couple of months have given us a reason to believe and hope again. I would never have thought to attend the gathering of the brethren ever in my life. These days anywhere they went, people followed them…they are truly turning this city on its head.

At three in the afternoon, many came from near and far to pray in the temple. I was not surprised to see the town cripple also being carried to his corner where he begged for arms from passersby. He had asked his friends to be placed in that spot because he knew most of the town folks would be passing right infront of him.

Passersby usually tossed him silver, gold and sometimes food. In response, he would utter something under his breath; “thank you” It seems. The expression on his face didn’t quite complement his utterances. He looked like he was looking for more than a handout, he was looking for something more. I couldn’t quite pin-point his true desires. A gentleman offered him something to eat; he smiled, took it and began to slowly unwrap the package. It was a piece of loaf wrapped in leafs. I saw him devour the loaf in three bites. “He must be really hungry”; I thought to offer him some money. I began to search my shorts for change. As I frantically moved my fingers through my pockets, I heard noise from a distance; I looked up and there they were;

Peter and John. Peter looked radiant today; the rumours were true, He walked with confidence. The word around town was that his shadow was healing the sick. I had a hard time believing it, but looking at his poise this afternoon. I think I might reconsider. They seem to be in deep thoughts, and yet appeared very approachable. Lately, they have been faithfully following the last wishes of the Teacher; they have a fancy name for it..yes they called it the great commission.

They are stopping…by the cripple? I know Peter hasn’t brought fish to the market since he began following the Teacher and they have been in hiding for a couple of months. I moved closer to see the amount they would place on the outstreched palm of the cripple.

Peter looked straight at him and said boldly “Look at us” He had grown confident. Just a few months ago, the little girl had asked him if he knew the Teacher and he said never. He had denied knowledge of the Teacher two other times for fear he will also suffer the same fate. Today, he appears extremely confident.

I remember just before the Teacher was taken up, he said to them; ” But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” It turns out the Teacher was right all along. They were fearless now. These guys have become powerful. They had managed to get the full attention of this cripple. He was looking straight at them.

Then Peter said to him,”Silver and gold have I none, but what I have, that I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!”

I could not believe what I was hearing. Peter has grown almost arrogrant to expect a lifelong cripple to just.. rise up and walk?

He then reached out, held his right arm and helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. The cripple jumped to his feet and began to walk. “Un-belie-va-ble”, I managed to murmur as my Jaws dropped. I have seen the Teacher perform incredible miracles, but Peter, John? This is amazing.

The town cripple was ecstatic, totally rapturous. Eventually he calmed and went to the temple with Peter and John, all the while walking, jumping and praising God, “Halleluja, halleluja” He sang and danced his way into the temple.

I had witnessed the most incredible act of faith and seen true liberation in a moment. I felt a tap on my shoulder, I turned around and it was my friend Joe. He asked what had just happened. He had seen many people running into the temple to hear of the story of the town cripple walk for the first time.

I turned to Joe and said, you know Joe, I learned something today. The crippled man, never needed our silver and our Gold. Those things were good for him, but what he really needed was to be empowered to change his circumstances. What he really needed was to be just like us, to walk freely.

From what I have witnessed today, I think no amount of money could have given him the joy that radiated out of him from the experience of walking freely.

We silently walked together to the temple where Peter and the others glorified the name of Jesus Christ.

**This is a story of a man who was truly liberated from his predicament. He had learned to live with it all his life but in an instant, he was free…completely liberated from his lifelong disability.***

In June of 2008, I commented on one of Floyd McClung’s article.” Africa does not need more foreign aid”
http://www.floydandsally.org/2008/04/14/africa-does-not-need-more-foreign-aid/

In my comments, I suggested three principles illustrated in Acts 3:5-8 that can empower people to change their circumstances. To some of my audience, I add a fourth.

First Principle: – Winning
They have to get the attention of a role model: ” Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5So the man gave them his attention,”

Second Principle: – Consolidating
They have to be offered the same freedom that was offered to us: “6Then Peter said, Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

Third Principle: – Discipling
They need someone to hold them up by their strong hand until their feet gets strong enough to be independent. “7Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.”

Fourth Principle: – Sending.
They need an avenue to express outwordly, their new found freedom and an opportunity to be a witness. “8He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.

On one weekend service, Pastor Bob Leach gave a great illustration with three young ladies. on 2 Timothy chapter 2

“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

So, What can we give?…. simply, what have we been given?

We all don’t have much to give, but if we gave what we have been freely given, we will find in us, lies the ability to set others free from their lifelong disabilities.

“Silver and gold have I none, but what I have, that I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!” Simon Peter, Galilean fisherman.