The ninth month of the year has become typical for memorable events. In the year 2001, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York were virtually destroyed by aircraft supposedly under the control of Al-Quaeda. In the year 2008, we had the global financial crisis triggered by questionable practices perpetrated by some of the biggest financial institutions int eh United States. Once again, in 2018, we are recording the funeral of a notable son of Africa, Kofi Annan, the only black man to be named a Secretary-General of the United Nations.
I would like to hone in on a series on the BBC has been airing about the events that led up the near collapse of the global financial system as a result of questionable practices perpetrated by staff of some of the world’s oldest and “richest” financial institutions. The re-enactment of these events showed the utter confidence that people like the CEO of Lehman Brothers voiced out to his President, confidence that, to my mind, bordered on arrogance. He was absolutely sure that the United States or Barclays Bank would buy them out but he was utterly wrong. Yes, an institution with more than a century of success can definitely fail.
There are a few things we can learn from the events surrounding the fall of Lehman brothers. I will simply outline them and let the reader think through:
1. You are never too big to fail. We have seen it with institutions and we have seen it with great men. A history of great achievements can easily be erased from memory with one colossal failure.
2. Failure is often a series of wrong steps. Your habits are amplified as you grow in influence. The are amplified because you actions affect many more people that previously. The effects of a bad habit are much worse when you are a person or an institution of great influence.
3. You are never guaranteed someone else’s help. The decision as to whether your friends will help you when you are in trouble or not is not your decision, it’s theirs. You have no right to count on that help especially when the failure is your fault.
I am sure there are many other things we can pick from this part of the world’s history. Maybe you think, I should mention the need to keep out of any kind of debt but I am sure you have already heard that from Dave Ramsey.https://www.daveramsey.com
This week millions around the world paid last respects to Kofi Annan, the Ghanaian-born former Secretary -General of the United Nations. It has been a mix of sadness, inspiration, and even conspiracy theories like ” …the body never made it to Ghana”. (What?!!!). For me it is mostly the second: inspiration. I am inspired by one who was able to achieve much and make impact in his lifetime. He was a consistent performer academically in his early year and throughout his career in the United Nations, rising quickly through the ranks.
One key characteristic I have noticed about anyone who makes impact in this world is focus. Thing about all the great heroes of the past and present. Most of them were all know for one thing or the other. Be sure that as bright as they were they must have had many talents. Mandela was known for activism even though he could have made a great motivational speaker. Usain Bolt is known for athletics but maybe he can do well in football. Kenneth Hagin was known for Christian Ministry though he could have made stand-up comedian with his sense of humour (with all respect). I am sure Kofi Annan was skilled at a number of other things other than governance, negotiation and transformational leadership – his roles in the UN – but we recognize him for one thing: he led the UN!
You see, we do not have enough time in this world to explore all our capabilities. If we really want to go deep in any area of life and fly high in achievement in that area, I think we each stand a better chance sticking to one thing or a limited set of related items for a significant period of time. Focus is the first law of success.
Been Here Before
It was about 3:58 AM and I had been listening to music all night while at work. Most of the songs I was listening to were African praise songs on YouTube. I come across a comment by an American referring to the rocky spring and huts in a certain video. In her words:
“love this song it touches my soul, I am an American but it seen as though I’ve been in the place of the rocks before. Can you tell me where is it please? Especially the thatch huts with the branches on it’s roof”
My first thought was that Jennie was not saying she had been there and had forgotten where she went. Obviously a tour to such a rare place would be something worth remembering and even recording. My thinking is that she was saying she feels as though she had been there and the feeling was so strong that it was not just her imagination. It was to her as though something happened to her there that she was trying to remember even though she has really never been there in her own lifetime. Spooky!
At this point, the thoughts began to roll in. Is it possible that this Jennie is an African American who is picking up fragments of memories passed on to her from her ancestors; experiences they had before they were enslaved? Is it possible that some aspects of our inner selves can actually be inherited? This Subconscious Residue may be responsible for some kinds of Déjà vu or some dreams of things past, character traits which cannot really be explained as being genetic. Deep Spooky!
While towing that line, I might as well mention a certain event from my teen years. I was making a statement and at the conclusion, I clapped my hands in a certain way and I noticed the pause in the air. My mom asked my second cousin “Who claps his hands like that when he finishes talking?”, she replied without thinking “De” referring to my father. I mean, I can understand the appearance of one’s nose or one’s complexion being transferred via genetic code but mannerisms and character traits being transferred in this way is a bit extreme for me. Maybe someone can explain. Subconscious Residue.
“Where is the Tree?”
Back in the nineties, my distant cousins came in from abroad for the first time. While in the village, I understand one of them asked about a certain tree that had been cut down as well as an old dining table that had belonged to my grandfather. Spookier! Well it was either a case of familiar spirits or still my theory of Subconscious Residue. I never got to ask her about it myself.
At this point you might think this is a case of blabbing gone too far. Well, you will agree that there are many things which are yet to be explained about our human experiences. I look forward to asking the Creator when we get to Heaven. I do hope you are coming.
The concept of a Christian Businessman can be understood in a number of ways. One may think of the term as implying a fellow who was a Christian and then became a businessman. Another could think of it as a businessman who does business with Christians (meaning he has to speak like them to get contracts). Some simply think of a Christian Businessman as one who prays before every deal.
The Prayer or the Game
Thinking of a Christian Businessman as one who prays before every deal is like thinking of a Christian as one who prays before every meal. Praying before deals and meals is great but cannot completely define a Christian or a Christian Businessman. I believe it is more important to Christ how the businessman who is professing His name conducts his business than whether there is morning devotion ever hour at the place of business. I think He is more interested in hearing Christian Businessmen asking what He wants to do through them than asking what He can do for them.
Christ the Businessman
Our contemplation would be: If Christ were a businessman how would He conduct His business? How would be price His products? To what extent would He lie about His capabilities? How would He treat His staff? How would He relate with African government officials and regulators. Often “Christian Businessmen” sink in the quagmire of “It is the way it is done!” without asking “where?”. The way it is done in Ghana? Nigeria? Africa? Asia? Or the way it is done in Heaven? How would business be done in Heaven, if any such thing exists?
The Grand Cover-up
I think everyone needs to be alert when people try to hoodwink them with religiosity. One who has never heard of Christ should be so impressed with the conduct, honesty, fairness, genuineness, diligence, excellence and so on of a Christian Businessman that he asks, “What is it that makes you behave this way?” Rather than the “Christian Businessman” boring him with empty religious words and cliches.
46 “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, 47 who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” Luke 20:47
According to https://www.infoplease.com there are about 6500 spoken languages in the world. But I dare say that wherever you come from or whatver language you speak, there are means of comunication that are understand across all culture which we can take advantage of to win friends and influence people.
Wear A Smile
A smile is one of the most powerful indications of acceptance across the human race. A smile says to the other person, “You are welcome to my personal space…”. If nothing else is said, a smile is enough to tell the other person that he or she would like to see you again. Best of all, wearing a smile is the most inexpensive accessory you can add to your outfit, and it can come with significant rewards.
Make Eye Contact
Looking at someone when they are talking to you tells that person that they are important to you. It tells them you are paying attention exclusively to them while they are trying to communicate with you. It tells them they are more important that your phone or computer or whatever else is competing for your attention at that very moment. And guess what, you can make every single person that walks into your personal space feel that much important. The value of such a disposition to you is that you will also be important to every one of those same people and more. Eye contant may not come naturally but it can become part of you by practice. However, be careful not to stare or say what you don’t intend to say with your eyes.
Pass a Compliment
Saying something nice to some about something they are wearing or the way they look is a wonderful way to get remembered wherever you go. Your name may not even be the point of reference, maybe just what you said. And what you said, will be the starting point for the next discussion. A compliment makes the recipient aware that you noticed them in detail and they will notice you too the next time you need their help. Passing a compliment is not like buying a gift or giving a tip: it costs absolutely nothing yet works with almost everyone in creating a high-yield investment. Say something nice to the waitress, the receptionist, your colleague, your boss, whoever. it is simply universal.
The caption above is from the brief discussion a man called Jehu had with a man called Jehonadab when, in ancient Israel, the responsibility had fallen on Jehu to overthrow a corrupt government. Trust is just about the most valuable item another human being can place in your hands. Access is an awesome privilege someone higher than you can grant you. It is such a pity when we hear of young people who betray trust and abuse the privilege of access. So many things follow naturally when we have this state of affairs in relationships between the highly-placed and the upcoming.
* It becomes more difficult for the Highly Placed to repeat the offer of trust to the same person.
* It becomes more difficult for the Highly Placed to repeat the offer of trust to other Upcomings. Effectively the offender had blocked that stream of love and denied them the Privilege of Access.
* Other Highly Placed people become more and more wary of extending trust and the Privilege of Access
* The image of the Offender is tarnished. Being that he is the younger person, he has to deal with the consequences of his betrayal. Often such people continue in their ways and find other unsuspecting people to hoodwink. In other cases, their growth is stunted permanently by their foolishness.
Jehu’s question is a question most of us ask in our hearts as we engage people in all sorts of relationships: spouses, business partners, brothers, sisters, etc. One would possibly ask his or her spouse: “Are you as committed to being faithful to me as I am committed?”. One would ask a business partner, “Are you as resolute as maintaining our agreement so much so that when millions of dollars arrive, you will be the same person?”. One would as a brother, “Would you kill me if that is what it would take to get a share in our inheritance?”.
So many such questions come up in our close relationships. We all want to know: “Is your heart right, as my heart is toward your heart?”
A Little About Optics
According to Wikipedia, “Reflection is the change in direction of a wavefront at an interface between two different media so that the wavefront returns into the medium from which it originated”. In simple English, reflection happens when a wave hits a medium and bounces back at an angle. In the case of light, a ray hits a mirror and returns to the air from which it came. On the other hand, “Refraction is the change in direction of wave propagation due to a change in its transmission medium “. An object which allows refraction is said to be translucent, it allows light pass through it.
The Sun and The Moon
We have been taught that the moon reflects the light of the Sun. The Sun is the true source of light and the moon only appears to have light emanating from it. The moon appears to be a source of light. Some people attempt to describe our relationship with God as one between the Sun and the Moon, we being reflectors of the light emanating from God but I think there can be a more accurate description: Light passing through us.
Light Passing Through Us
Light passing through us implies that we are the first recipients of the effect of the Light before we have it directed at others. It implies that we are conditioned in a certain way, as translucent objects with respect to God’s light. It implies that we absorb some of that light before it ends up hitting another object. I think I would be more comfortable thinking about God’s light passing through me that simply bouncing off me.
20 “according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:20-21)
Earlier this week an over 800-page report was released in the United States detailing cases of child abuse bordering on pedophilia and sodomy among priests of the Catholic church. These cases were reported to number over 1000 spanning decades. The worrying part is that there are claims that the institution itself did whatever it had to to cover up these cases up to and including giving offending priests an opportunity to work somewhere else such as clerical roles in other locations or, in a certain case, in Disneyland.
Whatever we call ourselves: priests, presidents, parents, public servants and so forth, we find that our greed, perversion, hate and other features of our human condition still show up and show up so strongly and in such a pervasive manner that leaders within the institutions which are supposed to uphold the highest moral and ethical standards simply allow the humanity to prevail. It is the shameful reality of the human condition.
One reason for governance at any level is to contain the horrific tendencies of individual humans. We feel that if we could somehow curtail one another with rules and councils, we can create a better human race. Alas, it is the very same humans that make the laws, break them, modify them, ignore them, just to somehow keep satisfying the cravings of this fallen human nature. One case in point is a number of TedEx videos I saw recently advocating pedophilia as an acceptable sexual orientation. Some have accepted homosexuality and bestiality, why not pedophilia? Freedom of speech at it’s worst! We cannot escape our own selves.
You see, I believe that when there is no absolute reference point as to what is right and wrong, we can only go deeper and deeper into the quagmire of the depravity of the human condition. Without God as the absolute reference point, the possibilities of evil in our nature are endless and we will keep being less and less surprised at the unveiling of evil as the years go by.
“16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” John 3:16-21