WHAT CHRISTMAS MEANS TO ME THIS YEAR – Mayowa Agbedeh

Xmas to me is the birth of Jesus Christ, which brings happiness and excitement to my country. When Christmas comes, people will be wishing each other merry Christmas! When Xmas comes Santa will come too with gifts for kids like me!

Mayowa Agbedeh.

WHAT CHRISTMAS MEANS TO ME THIS YEAR – Moni

JOY TO THE WORLD

Christmas. I feel it used to be more electrifying. Or perhaps I used to be more excited about it than I am in recent times. What’s happening? I don’t know, maybe the things that used to make Christmas special for me no longer have that extraordinary touch. A new dress. A new pair of shoes. Baking cakes and doughnuts. Frying chicken and chin-chin. And sometimes tripping to the “roots” for a once in year family reunion. Drinks, all sorts, minus liquor and water! It was all about eating and drinking and having fun until the body groans for a break. Did we use to spare the celebrant a thought? I don’t know, maybe for a second. But Christmas used to be in the air; I could smell it with my childhood nose and could almost touch it with my teenage hands. I have changed, where did all the thrills go? I think I left them behind and I’m yet to make new discoveries. That’s something to work on, but in the mean time it’s comforting to know that something hasn’t changed, and that is the true meaning of Christmas.

This is Christmas:

“Then the angels said to them,

‘I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
For there is born to you this day in the city of David a savior who is Christ the Lord’;

Luke 1 vs. 9 & 10.

This is what I’m cherishing at Xmas this year, the true meaning of the season. I’ll be celebrating the celebrant with a heart of gratitude to God for the gift of salvation. A new dress is optional and new shoes too. Eating and drinking and laughing are still very much in order, after all, Christmas is good news! And you haven’t heard good news if you’re not merry making.

Merry Christmas!

Yours truly,
Moni.

WHAT CHRISTMAS MEANS TO ME THIS YEAR – Sola Musoro

One Good Lead…

God gave me a pencil.

It was chewed, the eraser bit was hardly there and there was only just enough lead to write a single day. The day I chose was December 25, 2012.

And the first end of the pencil I used was the eraser. I rubbed on lips galore and wiped out that word “Wash”. “Let’s wash it”, “When are we washing it?”, “Shey we are not washing today ni?” It was all gone. And not a moment too soon either. Yes, I had used the word pretty much myself, but I couldn’t still help but marvel how self-serving that word made one. Gone were the days when people did anything for anybody anymore. Instead it was always that person’s duty to ‘wash’ things. I can’t remember the last time I got a Christmas present or even a birthday present or even any present for that matter, it is just THAT rare. Although, I really can’t remember the exact last time someone has told me to ‘wash it’, it is just THAT frequent. My December 25, 2012 would however have none of that. On this one day, people would remember that the season was not about one’s self, but rather about ‘joy to the world’ and ‘goodwill to all mankind’.

I would draw Christmas trees in every home, with Christmas lights galore and even those annoying Christmas carol mimicking noises that tend to come with today’s Christmas ornaments. All of these are part of the commercial garbage that has numbed us all to the true message behind the Christmas phenomena itself, but hey… even the worst of commercial garbage does eventually find its place in the symbolic representation of what we know and mark as Christmas Celebration. So this one day, I will let it pass.

I will put my pencil to churches and write everyone to their homes. I will write father holding the hand of mother, mother holding the hand of son, son holding the hand of sister, sister with her arm about her father. I will write jokes, Christmas stories, the Christmas story, favorite family meals, laughter, music, bad singing, bad dancing, more laughter. I will write sleep in the sofas of the living room, I will write exhaustion in jubilation, I will write of a beautiful innocence that strengthens the bonds they call love.

Before they wake, I will go down with my eraser and take the ‘X’ out of ‘Xmas’. That oh-so-convenient little letter that takes out the one disturbing truth about the season*****.Yup, some baby dude of divine birth that sorta was born to die and resurrect to lead us all into death of the flesh and rebirth of the spirit and the purging of sins and blah-the-blah… Anyways, that guy to be here forward denoted as X was not actually born on December 25th. The debating intellectuals of long, deep, highly winded breath know this, and ensure that those of shorter breath know that they know this. But even so, we must accept that December 25th is the designated day to celebrate the birth of X. No debates. Yup, I’ve rubbed that out too. And, hang on; I rubbed out ‘X’ earlier on, didn’t I? Oh. Okay. Here goes. Christ. Christ. Christ. Whew! Easier than I thought.

Prrrrrrra-kpa-kpa-kpa-gbao-gbaooOO-gbaoooOOO!!!

And with that, I am rubbing out the bangers, knockouts, biscos, three-hit-combo-types, machine-gun-types and… I blow away the rubbings… and just like that… sanity is restored. People can walk the streets without fear, children can play in the streets, ears can take breather, and whoa that really took its toll on my pencil. I am running low and almost out of lead with much of the day still unresolved.

So, I write over the bad stuff in the newspapers, and put cute little J smileys on the faces all about and, for a day, everyone could forget the many troubles we live in and just be neighbors again.

Somehow, it seems I rubbed out the fireworks along with the bangermmunition barrage. So I used the last of my lead to draw the sky full of exploding rainbows of ‘wow’ and ‘awww’ and ‘Look, Daddy’ and ‘I wish this day would never end’.

And the pencil is used up. So I looked over December 25, 2012.

And I saw that it was good.

Sola Musoro,
Manager, Copy, at Centre Spread FCB.

What Christmas Means to Me This Year – Bode Omoolu

Xmas –

Melody: A time for singing, of sounds, musicals – carols and songs.
Happiness: A time for contentment, gratitude and appreciation.

Peace: A state of being calm, being in a state of coolness – all troubles are packaged away/boxed out and just enjoying the quietness that comes with the season

Excitement: A time for wafting of different smells – food and drink, new clothes; warmth.

Christmas will always be nostalgic. If only all seasons could be like this?
But then because it’s once in a year, it’s extra special.

Thank God for giving us the gift of Christ ‘cos He alone makes them, the whole experience adds up.
Thank you Jesus.

Bode Omoolu,
Senior Brand Manager at Prima Garnet Ogilvy.

WHAT CHRISTMAS MEANS TO ME THIS YEAR – Ayo Dada

Christmas to me is the most wonderful celebration ever on earth!

It is a heavenly originated festival of joy. It was first heralded by the angel of God as “great tiding of joy!”

I have discovered quite a number of heaven events that influenced the earth, which involved the
declaration of the angels of God concerning the earth that says, “woe to the inhabitants of the earth.”

But in this particular occasion it was declared as “peace among men.”

I am glad that the birth of the son of God that brought peace into our world didn’t come and go
unnoticed. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Ayo Dada,

Pastor at Liberty Christian Worship center.

STAND YOUR GROUND

God speaks to us in different ways at different times. Primarily, God speaks to us through His Word, the holy bible. However, many of us have also experienced God speak to us in other ways such as through an inner witness, an audible voice, visions, and dreams.

The way God chooses to communicate with us is important but more importantly is the need to obey Him. Sometimes, people around us may suggest that we act contrary to God’s instructions. It is not their responsibility but ours, to be certain about what God really wants us to do. It is also our duty not to waiver, but to insist on doing exactly as God has commanded us. After all, as we often find out, the gains of obedience or the loss that occurs as a result of disobedience is the cup of tea of the fellow directly involved in the matter.

In the book of Ruth, Naomi was leaving Moab for Israel because there was nothing left to make her happy in the land of Moab. Her husband and her two sons were dead. Her daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth didn’t have children, so there were no grand children for Naomi to take solace in. However, she had the love and respect of her daughters-in-law, they offered to return to Israel with her but she did her best to discourage them. Naomi insisted they go back until one of them, Orpah, gave in. But Ruth was determined, she was convinced about following Naomi and she wouldn’t allow the woman talk her out of it. I imagine it was not easy to argue with Naomi, but Ruth’s destiny was on the line. She had to look Naomi in the eye and say, No! The book of Ruth exists today because Ruth stood her ground. She met and married Boaz, became the grandmother of the great king David because she held on to what God wanted her to do.

In the book of 2 kings 2 vs. 1-14, Elijah was going home; God was going to take him to heaven by a whirlwind, on a chariot of fire. Elijah knew this and so did Elisha, and even the sons of the prophets. But more importantly, Elisha knew it was going to be the greatest moment of his life. It was going to be a great moment for Elijah too, and he seemed to want some privacy, just like Naomi. But that made it a moment of test for Elisha as much as it was for Ruth. Three times Elijah tried to shake Elisha off but on each occasion, Elisha was only more determined to follow him until the final moment. Elisha was persistent because he knew that was exactly what God wanted him to do. He was not intimidated by the status of Elijah, he looked him in the eye and said, No! Elisha got to see the glorious departure of Elijah; he got Elijah’s mantle as well as a double portion of his spirit or anointing because he did not allow Elijah to talk him out of doing the right thing. This is very exciting for me! However, the next story is a sad one, it’s a story of great destiny cut in its prime.

In the book of 1 Kings 13, God sent a young prophet from Judah to Bethel to speak out against king Jeroboam’s excesses. Jeroboam was king of Israel after the death of Solomon and the split of Israel into Judah and Israel. Rehoboam, son of Solomon reigned in Judah. God’s word to the young prophet was plain:

“For so it was commanded me by the word of the Lord, saying,

“You shall not eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the same way you came.” 1 Kings 13 vs. 9

God told him, deliver my message to Jeroboam and leave. Don’t even wait to eat or drink anything. The first person who tried to lure the prophet into disobedience was king Jeroboam; he invited the young man to eat with him before leaving. Of course that was supposed to be an honor, but the young prophet said, No! ; refusing to disobey the Lord. But the battle to stand his ground continued when the most unlikely person showed up and did his best to confuse him. An old prophet, one deserving respect, came to the young prophet and lied to him. He invited him home for a feast. The young prophet told the elderly man that God had warned him not to touch anything in that city, God even warned him not to go back through the way he came. But the old man said, “I too, am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘bring him back to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.’ The young prophet could have looked the old prophet in the eye and said, No! But sadly, he believed the lies of the old prophet. The consequence was fatal. The young prophet lost his life tragically and his ministry ended pre-maturely. It was a great loss.

Dear FOJ,

We need to be alert enough to recognize the voice of distraction and we need to be sensitive enough to perceive when we are being tested because it is possible to have a great destiny, yet lose out on it. Elijah said to Elisha:

“Ask, what may I do for you before I am taken away from you?”

Elisha said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” 2 kings 2 vs. 9

Elijah replied:

“You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am
taken from you, it shall be so to you; but if not, it shall not be so.”

Yours truly,

Moni.

OOPS! I DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING (A Tribute to Pastor Bimbo Odukoya)

Elijah did not expect the only son of the widow of Zarephath to die. The mother of the boy didn’t expect that to happen either, especially when there was a big man of God in the house. But the unexpected happened and the woman reacted bitterly. She actually blamed the incidence on Elijah’s presence in her home. Elijah didn’t panic; he put his faith to work immediately by taking the boy from the woman and going straight into the presence of God. He cried to God and God Revived the child. (See 1 kings 17 vs. 17-24) Now that sounds pretty easy but it would be good to ask; was Elijah shocked and shaken by the incidence? The answer to that would be yes, because Elijah said, “O Lord my God, have you also brought tragedy on the widow with whom I lodge by killing her son?” So, it was a distressing situation for Elijah but it was not a hopeless one. Elijah knew what to do and he was confident that if he did just that, the story would change. And that was why he didn’t fall flat on his face in fear, doubt, depression, or unbelief. He stood tall in faith by praying. He cried out, “O Lord my God, I pray, let this child’s soul come back to him.”

Although the crises was sudden, it did not make Elijah forget that God is God, and that God can heal and restore. He didn’t forget that if things suddenly go bad, God can make it right again. Elijah’s faith saved the situation. The man of God, Elisha had a similar experience in 2 kings 4.

The kind Shunamite woman’s son, who was conceived by the word of Elisha (as honored by God), suddenly died. The parents of the boy were shocked, his father resigned to fate but the mother rushed back to Elisha. She accused the man of God of toying with her heart by giving her something he knew wouldn’t last. “Did I ask a son of my lord? Did I not say, ‘do not deceive me?” she said. Elisha was surprised because God had not revealed the problem to him like He would normally have done.

Nonetheless he rose up in faith and followed the distressed woman home. Elisha prayed and the boy was revived. Elisha’s attitude is worthy of emulation because not even for a second did he panic or wonder if God could reverse the situation. He was so confident that he wanted to send his servant with his staff to go and raise up the child from the dead but the mother of the child objected.
Sudden crisis is not something anyone can prepare for. It’s like going to bed on a peaceful night only for armed robbers to come bursting in and kicking everyone around, or losing a loved one to a brief illness.

The month of December, 2005 recorded a moment of sudden crisis for Nigeria and the body of Christ in the country. There was a plane crash that brought sudden death to lots of school children returning home for the holiday and one of the most prominent TV preachers in Nigeria, pastor Bimbo Odukoya. She was popular for her television broadcast called “Singles and Married”, a programme targeted at helping young people sort out relationship issues while placing emphasis on biblical values.

Report that came to the public said that just before the plane went down, Pastor Bimbo led as many passengers as possible to Christ on the burning plane. Her personal assistant survived the crash and that for me meant that my beloved pastor Bimbo wouldn’t have died if God didn’t allow it.

Unlike the only son of the widow of Zarephath and The kind Shunamite woman’s son, pastor Bimbo didn’t wake up from the dead; she went to be with Lord.

Some sudden crisis we experience may leave irreversible situations.

There was a woman on that plane who lost three children, all teenagers. This was a woman who must have said to herself, “I’m through with child bearing; now I can relax!” And then within a twinkle of an eye, all three were gone. What a shock that must be! As I watched her on national television, crying, mourning, I kept asking myself, how do you console this woman? What do you say to her?

Dear FOJ,
Experiencing sudden crisis must be one of the most difficult things a human being can go through, but the bible referred to God as the God of comfort. There will be times when only God can comfort us because he alone knows what to say and what to do so that we will not lose our faith.

Yours truly,
Moni.