Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Emergence Of A New Generation: Excerpts From Chapter Three

THREE

ENEMIES OF CHANGE
Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship (John 4:20)

…a great door… is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries—Apostle Paul.1

THE AXIOM “CHANGE IS THE ONLY THING that is constant” holds true. Change will always take place. But change is also one of the difficult things for us to handle. We love our comfort zones. Moving into new territories becomes difficult.
Andy Stanley, the Pastor of North Point Community Church in Atlanta wrote about the difficulty of Change in his book The Next Generation Leader. He said:
…it is easier to leave things as they are, to accept the status quo and learn to live with it. While that may be easier, it is not an option…Accepting the status quo is the equivalent of accepting a death sentence. Where there is no progress, there’s no growth. If there’s no growth, there’s no life. Environments void of change are eventually void of life.2
Inferring from Andy Stanley, change is basically challenging the status quo. That certainly does not come easy. As Christians, there are some specific enemies I believe will fight a change process in our lives. Let’s consider some of the specific enemies to watch out for whilst aspiring for change. I will limit myself to eight points, though; I believe there are many other things that can prevent us from fulfilling our God given assignments.

1. SELF
The popular saying that “you are your own enemy” is without any doubt true. This is because whatever you will become greatly lies with you. There is unlimited potential in you by virtue of your relationship with Christ. Unfortunately, no one but you can discover those potentials. If you don’t discover them, they will lie dormant in you.
    Your beliefs about yourself are very important. If you believe you are a failure, then you will fail. However if you believe you are a success, you will be. You can’t get very far in life if you give in to your self-doubts and allow it to rule you. No matter how gifted you are, you have to believe in yourself and step out to become what God has created you to be.
    You are the only one standing between your success and defeat; your change and stagnation. In fact, you are 100% responsible for what your life will become. What happens to you does not matter. How you respond is what matters. Always remember that.

2. AGE
Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity (1 Timothy 4:12).
Your age and your youthfulness are going to be a major barrier. The likelihood of being looked down on, ignored and despised should be expected. You will be tagged as inexperience, overzealous and a novice. But don’t allow such “looking down” on you to deter you. If God is working through you no one can stop you. Keep pressing on. Don’t get discouraged. Focus on what God has called you to do and do it.
Dreamers have never been understood. People who bring about change are always not understood at the initial stages. Don’t expect anyone to believe in what you carry. Start working at it and people will believe in you afterwards. When Joseph dreamt, even his own father Jacob — the father of the nation Israel doubted Joseph’s dream.
…his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? (Genesis 37:10).
You are still waiting for someone to believe in you? You might miss your moment whilst waiting. Don’t consider your age or youthfulness. Just step out there and start chasing your dreams.

3. FEAR
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest (Joshua 1:9).
Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God…For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:6-7).
Change comes with the unknown. The unknown comes with fear and uncertainty. Everything new always produces a level of anxiety and nervousness. Will I win, will this turn out well? Can I truly do this? Fear is a potent power that can ground and immobilize anyone to try new things.
     Look at Joshua 1:9 again. Do you realise God’s words to Joshua is in the past tense? Though the Bible didn’t state it, God’s words in the past tense I believe meant that when Joshua took over from Moses, he had fear in his heart and might have discussed with God about his fears. After discussing his fears with God, I suspect Joshua was still grounded in that fear. God had to come in again and remind him about the fact that “we have spoken about this your fear already.”
     Obviously, taking over from a man like Moses is no child’s play, but that does not justify Joshua’s fear. Someone has actually defined fear as False Evidence Appearing Real. Isn’t that so true? From personal experience, I have come to discover that anytime I act contrary to my fears, I later get surprised why I was afraid in the first place. Fear will stop you from entering the place of change God has for you.
Fear I believe is “faith in the devil.” From 2 Timothy 1:7 it is clear that fear is a spirit—a spirit which is not from God. “…God hath not given us the spirit of fear.” If fear is not a spirit from God, then obviously, it originates from Satan.
      Now, as much as fear is an enemy for change, fear itself is not the problem. The problem is what we do with fear: whether we will allow it to immobilize us or serve as a springboard for greater things. If placed in a right perspective; fear will drive us to our only source of strength—God (see Acts 4:29).
Fear: everyone feels it. If you read through the Bible, everyone God used had fear at a point in time. Even Jesus got afraid. Yes Jesus got afraid! Going to the cross did not happen easily. Jesus negotiated the sentence of the cross for three times (Matthew 26:39, 42, 44).
      Be encouraged, everyone gets afraid but those who succeed are the ones who don’t allow fear to hold them down. The presence of fear means nothing—the courage to rise above fear is the most important. You can overcome fear—you have the Holy Spirit.

4. RELIGION/TRADITIONS

Religion is defined as:
A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.3
For the purposes of human categorisation, Christianity has been categorised as religion. But looking at religion as defined above; you will agree that Christianity is more than “a set of beliefs…containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.”
      Religion is a creation of humankind; Christianity is a relationship with God that goes beyond the keeping of a moral code. Religion prescribes morality; Christianity prescribes grace. Religion is human effort: trying to please God through the adherence of morals. Christianity is God’s effort at reaching out to humanity (see Romans 5:8).
       Religion can also be seen as traditions. Traditions define the way things are done and anyone who attempts to break away and do things differently will face opposition. I am in no way proposing disregard for good traditions on which society is built and thrives. What I have in mind is tradition that stifles creativity, growth and change.
       When you look again at John 4:20 quoted at the beginning of this chapter, when Jesus touched on the most important issue the Samaritan woman had to address i.e. her search for true satisfaction in life; she quickly changed the conversation to religion.  “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain….” What she was saying in essence was that; “this is what I have known all this while,” “this is how it is done always;” “it is a tradition that has been handed over to us.” Tradition resists change — tradition glories in keeping to the status quo...

End of Excerpt

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Saturday, 25 January 2014

The Emergence of A New Generation: Synopsis

Book was inspired by an insight I had on Genesis 15:13-14.

13:And he[God] said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; 
14:And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.
If you look closely at the scriptures above, when God was speaking to Abraham, I believe He had two generations in mind.

  1.   Joseph’s Generation (vs 13
  2.   Moses’ Generation (vs 14) .
 If you are familiar with this biblical account, it is clear that it was through Joseph the Israelites went to Egypt. Genesis 15:13 was fulfilled through Joseph. After he was sold into slavery, his brothers later joined him in Egypt.

Exodus 1:6 captures Joseph and his brothers as a generation. “And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation.” After Genesis 15:13 was fulfilled through Joseph, God, who works with generations set in motion the fulfilment of vs14 by the birth of Moses. “And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. And the woman conceived, and bare a son [Moses]…. (Exodus 2:1-2). Remember it was Moses who took the Israelites out of Egypt with “great substance” after four hundred and thirty years (Exodus 12:36; 40).

The Emergence of A New Generation seeks to underscore the fact that in every generation, God has an agenda. It is a bold declaration that the youths of today are well positioned for exploits. It’s a wake-up call for today’s youth in the Body of Christ to rise up andand pursue their God given assignment, dreams and purposes. Combining Biblical, Contemporary Christian and Business world history, The Emergence of A New Generation provides precedents of young people’s involvement in the past to impact their generation; the purpose been to point to today‘s youth that, This is our time!


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Thursday, 23 January 2014

The Emergence of A New Generation: Excerpts From Chapter Two


TWO
Change
Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert (Isaiah 43:18-19).
...every single Christian can be a world changer, a Moses, and a deliverer in his [her] generation—Sunday Adelaja1

There are countless things to do to attain desirable changes. From my own experiences, let me share with you some tips for change. These are not rules to adhere to though, but they have been helpful to me and I believe they will be to you.

1. STUDY/PREPARE
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…. (Hosea 4:6).
…wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times… (Isaiah 33:6).

To experience change in any area of your life, you have to acquire knowledge. When I speak about acquiring knowledge, I am not only speaking about formal education. I am also speaking about informal knowledge—knowledge that is not acquired in established institutions. Anyone who desires changes in their lives has to be studious—informally and formally.

INFORMAL EDUCATION
        Informal education is studies undertaken by an individual outside of an organised or institutionalised environment. No curriculums involved: it is an individual’s own pursuit of knowledge and growth. I will discuss some forms of informal education. 
  • Reading.
(i)               Read the Bible.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Reading the Bible is not mere religious activity. It is fellowship with God.  Every Christian and anyone who desires changes in their life should have a desire, yearning and hunger for the Bible which is the inerrant word of God. No lasting change can occur in the life of a Christian who ignores the daily reading of the Bible. In his book Spiritual Leadership, J. Oswald Sanders wrote about the importance of reading the Bible. He wrote that
The [Christian] who intends to grow spiritually and intellectually will be reading constantly. Lawyers must read steadily to keep up on case law. Doctors must read to stay current in the ever-changing world of health care. So the [Christian] must master God’s word and its principles.2

      Sanders further bemoaned the lack of reading in his generation which I believe is also appropriate for our times. He said:
Today the practice of reading spiritual classics is on the wane. We have more leisure today than ever before in history, but many people claim to have no time for reading. [The Christian] cannot use that excuse.3
     Wow! “We have more leisure today than ever… but many people claim to have no time for reading.” We definitely cannot use the excuse of busyness as an explanation for not reading. 
    In an attempt to encourage reading of the Bible, I made a statement in my book Biblical Truths: Knowing What God Has Prepared For You, a statement I believe will be relevant to this discussion.

A lot of things are competing with our time; family commitments, business appointments, deadlines, and sometimes even Christian activity; but one thing is certain—time will not come to us automatically, we have to create and seize the time—...the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12). We can make time by giving up a number of things we are involved in. These things might be legitimate, but they necessarily might not be adding value to our life. One of the most practical ways we can make time to study our Bible is reducing the number of hours we watch television or surfing the internet. Television and the internet in my opinion are one of the ‘thieves of time’ and the hours we spend around these two can be drastically reduced to make time for reading the Bible. Don’t get me wrong, I am not proposing you stop watching television or stop surfing the internet; I am asking you cut down the time you use on them and channel the cut down time to your Bible—Your spiritual growth verses watching television and surfing the net—Choose this day which is important to you. Time cannot be an excuse for not studying the Bible because other Christians with equally busy schedules are effectively studying their Bibles. Studying the Bible must be a priority if you want a faith that works.4

You see, time is really not an issue. The issue is the premium we place on the Bible. If your premium on the Bible is high, you will make time to read it. Time is not on anybody’s side. We all have twenty-four hours in a day. What we put into that twenty-four hour period is an indication of our priorities in life.
Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days— Zig Ziglar.
If your spiritual growth is of high importance, then not reading the Bible is a bad option. The Bible contains the mind of God and His plans concerning our lives. We cannot relegate it to the background. Anytime you open the Bible to read, you are accessing the mind of God. The Bible is a manual for our lives. It contains practically an answer for all of life’s issues. Charles R Swindoll, one of the writers whose writings have imparted my life so much said
There can be no more reliable authority on earth than God’s word, the Bible. This timeless trustworthy, source of truth holds the key that unlocks life’s mysteries. It alone provides us with the shelter we need in times of storm. If I could have only one wish for God’s people, it would be that all of us would return to the Word of God, that we would realize once for all that His book has the answers… Turning back to the scriptures will provide something that nothing else on the entire earth will provide.5
 END OF EXCERPT

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Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The Emergence Of A New Generation: Excerpts From Chapter One.


ONE
God of All Generations
And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance (Genesis 15:13-14).
Think about it: Individuals from your generation will surface as leaders in every field—business, art, politics, economics, math, technology, medicine, [and] religion. Those men and women will shape the future during your lifetime. Nobody knows who they are. You might as well throw your hat into the ring by leveraging your gifts and opportunities for all they’re worth—Andy Stanley1

I WAS PREPARING TO SPEAK at a breakfast meeting to a youth group on how they can be relevant as Christians in this age. “What am I going to say to them” I asked myself? The continuous thought of having nothing to say kept haunting me. This youth group I was preparing to speak to were also “unfortunately” my contemporaries. This means that the probability of them knowing all the things I know was very high. Thoughts of that aggravated my fear. During my waiting and preparation period, a number of messages kept flooding my mind and the message I finally settled on is what has become the title of this book.
       A week before the breakfast meeting, the word generation kept prodding my spirit. Before this time; during one of my personal Bible study times, a scripture had “popped” out of the pages of the Bible ministering to me what I took to be a message from God. So when the word generation kept coming back to me, I quickly took a pen, paper and opened to the scripture that “popped” at me; Genesis 15:13-14. If you look closely at the scriptures above, when God was speaking to Abraham, I believe He had two generations in mind.

·        vs 13: Joseph’s Generation.
·         vs 14: Moses’ Generation .

         If you are familiar with the biblical accounts of Abraham’s descendants’ servitude in Egypt, it is clear that it was through Joseph the Israelites went to Egypt. Genesis 15:13 was fulfilled through Joseph. After he was sold into slavery, his brothers later joined him in Egypt. Exodus 1:6 captures Joseph and his brothers as a generation.
And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation.
       After Genesis 15:13 was fulfilled through Joseph, God, who works with generations set in motion the fulfilment of vs14 by the birth of Moses.
And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. And the woman conceived, and bare a son [Moses]…. (Exodus 2:1-2).
       Remember it was Moses who took the Israelites out of Egypt with “great substance” after four hundred and thirty years (Exodus 12:36; 40).  Let me at this point exhort you that no matter what you are going through in life; God’s promises and words concerning your life will definitely come to pass. You will come out from any challenge a better person if you continue to hold on to God’s promises. God has not run out of ideas. He hasn’t gone to “sleep” on your issue. Whatever you are going through, though it seems delayed, just hang on in faith— God surely has a plan to see you through

The Oxford WordPower Dictionary also defines generation as:

1.      All the people in a family, group or country who were born at about the same time.
2.      The Average time that children take to grow up and have children of their own, usually considered to be about 25-30 years.6
THIS IS OUR TIME
In every generation, God has an agenda. Now, the current influx of young, youthful men and women participating in business, politics, sports, entertainment, education, technology, religion and other spheres of life is not a mere coincidence. It is an indication that a new breed of young men and women are rising up to take over the affairs of their generation. There is an older generation out there that will definitely “hand over” to a younger generation who will become the future leaders of tomorrow.
One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh… (Ecclesiastes 1:4).
       I believe this is the right time for every young person to pursue their God given abilities because the opportunities of today will produce the leaders of tomorrow. What “burns” in your heart? What gives you fulfillment? What dreams do you have in your heart? It’s time to put your hands to the wheels and start working towards those dreams.

YOUTHFULNESS AND HISTORY

The United Nation officially defines youth as persons between the ages of 15-24. However, in many countries, there exists a wider margin for who a youth is. In Ghana, The National Youth Authority (NYA) defines youth as “young people between the ages of 15 and 35 years.” NYA further explains the reason behind this categorisation of who a youth is. Two reasons were given:

1.      The process of socialization…begins at 15.
2.      Ghanaians tend to assume full adult responsibility at age 35.

       Now this book speaks specifically to a generation of youths, combining both UN and Ghana’s definition of who a youth is. To further my submissions for this book, I will delve into a little history to provide you with precedents of young people’s involvement in different spheres of life in every generation. I believe we cannot separate our future from our history. To know where you are going, you must know where you are coming from. History helps us to make informed decisions about the future.
Bishop Dag Heward-Mills wrote in his book The Art of Leadership that
The most important subject for a young leader is history. A young person does not have the benefit of experience. He has to tap into the experiences of others. His only chance of avoiding certain mistakes is to study those who went before him…Every good leader will learn a lot from history.7
 END OF EXCERPT

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