A PUBLICATION OF HOUSE ON THE ROCK, LONDON LIGHTHOUSE
Love Come Experience
House On The Rock London Lighthouse
Sundays Two Services 9.00am, 11.00am Wednesdays 7.00pm Friends House, 173 Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ Email email@example.com Tel 020 8782 8778 Fax 020 8782 8777 Web www.hotr.org.uk
Pastor Omawumi Efueye’s Message
10 Tips For Healthy Living
Making A Difference
Solomon’s Corner Guidance on dealing with resentment and christian relationships
Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining Hope shines through as the victims of hurricane Katrina start to rebuild their lives
A youth worker shares her experience working with young people
An Interview With Diane Abbott An interesting insight into the life of the ﬁrst woman to be elected into the British Parliament
10 smart tips covering diet and hygiene to keep you in the best shape for the year ahead
Confessing Christ The importance and relevance of sharing the Christian message in today’s world
Gratitude – Learn to rejoice in the Lord regardless of what you’re going through
Message From The Throne Room An upbeat piece about how to turn life’s challenges into stepping stones
Dear Readers, Welcome to the 4th issue of Ablaze, we are so excited to bring you another labour of love.
Issue 4 / Volume 1 / 2008 Publisher House on the Rock London Lighthouse Executive Editor Omawumi Michael Efueye Managing Editors Alistair Frimpong Laolu Opebiyi Creative Director Tosin Lanipekun Editor Ndidi Okezie Editorial Team Anita Lahanmi Bebe Ojukwu Mobola Bello-Fatuga Nonye Chidomere Terry Thomas Admin Manager Gabbie Okiwelu Project Manager Funke Adenaike Photography Layi Rogers
Many thanks to our contributors Anthony Croucher Elizabeth Andoh-Kesson Jane Baker Karan Vidal Kemi Fatogbe Keno Ogbo
Our theme this issue is gratitude and within these pages you will ﬁnd an array of thoughts and teachings on this fundamental principle that if practised will transform our lives.
I would also like to invite more of you to share your thoughts and opinions with the Ablaze readers. You don’t have to be a trained professional to be an inspiration and encouragement to others and honestly that is the heart and goal of Ablaze. So stop reading articles thinking; “I’d like to say something about that” and say something! Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org
I would like to take this opportunity to voice my personal gratitude for the wonderful men and women of God who work to put this magazine together. Every page reﬂects a collaboration of people’s time and tireless effort.
2008 truly has been a year of new beginnings we have witnessed a paradigm shift on a major social and political platform and I am challenged to review my own life and ensure that there are no areas where I am limiting God to the norms and practices of the society I live in.
So to the Ablaze team (old and new), to all our contributors and guest columnists – I say a heartfelt thank you! I am conﬁdent that God has seen your sweat and commitment to his work and knowing that he owes no man; I encourage you to expect a bountiful harvest in the immediate future.
God is seeking people who dare to think outside the box and are willing to allow him to shake the foundations of tradition. I now make a commitment everyday to be one of those that he ﬁnds. My question to you is simply this.. What excuses are you still holding onto? Ndidi Okezie
Ablaze Magazine is published by House on the Rock, London Lighthouse. ©2008 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. This work is also licensed under the Creative Commons AttributionNoncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-ncnd/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.
In This Issue
An outline of the beneﬁts of regular exercise with particular focus on athletics and swimming
For more information and to order call +44 (0) 208 782 8778. Or write to:
Exercise Your Way To Good Health
An interesting take on the very hot topic of size zero models in the fashion industry
The best literature and music selections today. In this issue: Muyiwa, 21:03 and The Shack
23 House On The Rock London Lighthouse Trinity House, Heather Park Drive, Wembley London HA0 1SU, UK. Email: email@example.com
Notes From A Cyber-Diary
Tuffnel Park, The Place To Be A councillor in St. George’s Ward gives us an insight into the community
Appreciating Our Home The home is by far one of our biggest investments – plenty ideas for design & decor
A review of interesting online destinations such as the global rich list and sunscreenmovie
Size Zero And The Black Community
Change We Can Believe In: Truth Or Dare? A chronicle of Barack Obama’s run for the White House, culminating in his landmark victory
Glad Tidings Of Great Joy A Christmas Message from Pastor O! issue four 3
PASTOR OMAWUMI’S MESSAGE
GR ATITUDE Indeed, ‘these are the times that try men’s souls’, if we may quote the 18th Century English Political theorist, Thomas Paine. The prophet, Jeremiah talks of such times as these, as ‘the day of Jacob’s trouble’ (Jer. 30:7). Paul on his part, in his day, warned his spiritual son, Timothy that ‘perilous times’ would characterise the ‘last days’ (II Timothy 3:1). Pastor Omawumi Efueye
Long standing, solid and inﬂuential ﬁnancial institutions with the inconsistency of a badly baked Victorian sponge cake have collapsed. Even major economies like a toddler swaggering in inaugural imbalance, are on the brink of bankruptcy. Individuals, companies and even countries descend deeper and deeper into the quicksand of debt with the albatross of unbridled lusts, and unrestrained capitalist consumerism weighing them down and worsening their seemingly irreversible descent.
he spectre of terrorist attacks now seems distant and surreal as redundancy and spiralling inﬂation aggressively pushes it off the scene and arrogantly assumes its former position of prominence. With all this depressing news, the pervasive national milieu is one of fear. However, the admonition in the scriptures which appears once for each of the three hundred and sixty ﬁve days in the year and even one more for a leap year, is, “Fear not!” God has not given us, as the Word clearly exhorts, a spirit of fear or cowardice but of boldness, of love and of a sound mind which is also translated as self-control or self discipline. Many of us as believers, however, are not as concerned with what is happening now as with what had happened to us in the past, we are still struggling to unravel the knots which we (or others) ignorantly, foolishly or misguidedly (in the guise of having fun) tied in the affairs of our lives. “Don’t even ask me to consider the future”, many of you warn. “I can’t aspire or dare to think that far”. “What” I hear you incredulously ask, “has all these to do with the issue of gratitude”? God was and remains aware of our challenges and issues, yet gives us a clear instruction in the ﬁfth chapter of the ﬁrst Epistle to the Thessalonians from the sixteenth to the eighteenth verse: 16 Rejoice evermore 17 Pray without ceasing 18 In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you God is thus saying that rather than let our circumstances and the vicissitudes of life determine our demeanour, we are rather to let our demeanour and attitude reﬂect our faith in our loving, kind, faithful and gracious heavenly father. This in turn, will have a positive impact on our situations and circumstances which have no choice but to obey the word of God in our mouths. Against this backdrop, the story of Jesus healing ten lepers becomes relevant and instructive. Luke 17:11-19 reads: On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, ten lepers approached Him. Keeping their distance, they called out saying, “Jesus, Master have mercy on us!” When He saw them, He said to them, “go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him. And he was a Samaritan.
Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” then He said to him, “Get up and go your way, your faith has made you well.” Many lessons can be learnt from this very poignant story. Because of the highly contagious and generally incurable nature of this disease, sufferers were ostracized to colonies far from the habitations of others and physical contact was of course, completely forbidden. The lepers in our text were highly commendable for several reasons – a. they obeyed the laws by staying out o the city and not approaching Jesus or His followers b. more importantly, they believed in Jesus’ ability to heal c. they obeyed Jesus’ instruction without equivocation when He sent them to the priests even before they witnessed a healing (which speaks of true faith). In effect, these men were respectful, obedient and trusting. Thus, they had qualities that would put many a contemporary church member to shame. What they lacked however, was a heart of gratitude. In our lives on a day – to – day basis, God amazes us with awesome miracles, some earth-shaking, others in a sense, mundane. Like all the lepers in the story, when God does in our lives what only He can do, there is joy unspeakable.
PASTOR OMAWUMI’S MESSAGE
By far one of the most insidious fallacies that inhibit thankfulness amongst believers is the ‘works mentality’ that claims that “because I am obeying and working for God, He owes me this and other blessings.” Is it always easy to come back to God to offer the sacriﬁce of thanksgiving? Many times, no! The lepers would doubtless want to rush to the priests for approbation to go back to their families, jobs, friends and the myriad of things they had missed out on since the debilitation of this deadly disease. Many times, we even use God’s commandments as our excuse for ingratitude or non-gratitude – “after all, Jesus sent us to the priest and that’s where we are headed!” at other times, we claim that God who sees and knows all things knows that we are grateful in our hearts! “Moreover, God understands that having made me whole again (and about time too), I have so much to catch up on, so I can thank Him later.” By far one of the most insidious fallacies that inhibit thankfulness amongst believers is the ‘works mentality’ that claims that “because I am obeying and working for God, He owes me this and other blessings.” Jesus completely dispels that in His teaching on forgiveness and servant hood in Luke 17:7-10. Verse 10 particularly states that “so likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded to, say we are unproﬁtable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do”. 6
You see, God really owes you nothing and everything you enjoy is purely by His grace. Your duty and responsibility are therefore to continually offer the fruit of your lips in praise and thanksgiving. John the Baptist tells us “a man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven.” Paul, the apostle, on his part asks “for who maketh thee to differ from another and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory (boast) as if thou had not received it?” Yes, God knows your prayers before you even utter them, indeed you maybe very busy right now; or maybe you are hurting so much because of someone or something and God does not seem to be helping; or you may even feel that all you got was on account of your hard work, nature, friends, family connection or luck. Whatever your excuse, learn from the Samaritan leper who left the other nine with their “tools of incompetence, monuments of nothingness” which is what excuses are. Rather he chose to turn back, praise God with a loud voice, lie prostrate at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him. Will you today turn back from life’s busyness and schedules and begin to open your mouth and with a loud voice praise God? Will you lie prostrate at His feet by faith and thank Him for life, health, food, clothing, grace, peace, the anointing, family, etc?
10 HEALTHY LIVING
By Elizabeth Andoh-Kesson
Most of us are aware that we are not taking proper care of our bodies, yet we are still stubbornly un-willing to take the necessary steps to a healthier and consequently longer life. Here are 10 simple tips that if you follow can literally add years to your life span. There is no more excuse; this is the time. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to respect the body God has blessed you with. Start today.
1. Enjoy a balanced diet There is no such thing as bad food just bad diets. A healthy balanced diet consists of a variety of foods, including plenty of fruit, vegetables and starchy foods along with meat, ﬁsh, pulses and dairy. Try to base meals on starchy foods such as cereals, rice, bread, pasta and potatoes, choosing wholegrain options wherever possible. These foods are good sources of energy and naturally low in fat whilst providing valuable nutrients including starch, ﬁbre, calcium and B vitamins. 2. Cut down on saturated fat Fat in the diet is needed to stay healthy, however excessive consumption of saturated fat can increase cholesterol in the body, which can lead to obesity and heart disease. These types of fats naturally occur in foods of animal origin, but are also present in biscuits, cakes, pastries and vegetable fats such as palm oil and coconut oil. Ways to reduce intake of saturated fats include limiting the amount of hard cheese, pastries, biscuits and cakes consumed and purchasing leaner cuts of meat; removing skin from raw poultry and trimming any visible fat from meat before you cook it. 3. Check salt levels on labels and avoid adding salt at the table Sodium is a major component of salt and excessive consumption can cause increased blood pressure, which can lead to various other problems including heart disease. Al large amount of salt is already present in processed foods and snacks and foods eaten at restaurants. Remember to check labels on foods to be aware of how much salt they contain. Aim to consume a total of no more than 6g per day. 4 Drink plenty of water Drinking water replaces lost ﬂuids especially when exercising and helps the body ﬂush toxins from the system. Healthy adults should aim to drink 6-8 tall glasses per day.
5. Maintain a healthy weight by taking regular exercise Regular exercise not only helps to maintain a healthy weight but is also good for your circulation and general wellbeing. Aim to take exercise at least three times a week for at least half an hour each time. Remember to consult your GP ﬁrst, if you have a medical condition, have not exercised for a long period of time or are unsure as to whether you should exercise at all. 6. Use lower fat cooking methods such as dry frying, grilling and baking without added fat As mentioned in tip 2, saturated fat consumption can increase the risk of heart disease and obesity. Cooking without fat where possible and draining any excess fat that results from cooking; all help to reduce the overall amount consumed. When cooking with fat cannot be avoided try to use vegetable derived oils such as olive, rapeseed or sunﬂower, which are high in unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are better for you and can help lower cholesterol. 7. Avoid excess sugar Excess sugar that is not utilised by the body is stored as fat which can lead to obesity. In addition sugary foods and drinks can cause tooth decay. 8. Brush and Floss Regularly It is important to maintain good oral hygiene and a good brushing routine will help to counteract the negative impact of sugary and acidic foods in the diet. Dental professionals recommend brushing twice a day for at least three minutes and ﬂossing. Remember to have a check up at least twice a year. 9. Eat Plenty of Fruit and Veg Aim to eat at least 5 varied portions of fruit and veg a day. This can include a glass of juice and tinned, fresh, frozen or dried produce. However watch out for dressings on your side salads, as these can sometimes be high in fat and salt. 10. Don’t skip breakfast Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day as it sets you up for the day and consuming a good breakfast can prevent you from snacking on sugary foods before lunch. Whole grain, non-sugary cereals are best as the body slowly digests these types of foods helping you to feel fuller for longer. issue four
LIFESTYLE In This Issue
A = Accessories are and always have been the most important part of an outﬁt. Big or small they are as versatile as you dare to be. B = Back-comb your hair! Hair off the face is very in right now, as we give room for the eyes to do all the talking. C = Chanel 2.55. For all you fashionistas!!!! This is one of those iconic bags that will never go out of style. Designed by Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel herself, it was named after the date of its inception, February 1955 – Bet you didn’t know that!! D = Drain-Pipe Denim – Figure sharp tailoring to accommodate ‘Almost’ all shapes and sizes. E = Embellished Kaftans are this seasons favourite to jazz up even the dullest wardrobe. F = Faux Fur for the fashion conscious animal lovers!!! G = Gladiator sandals. Dismissed as one of the least ﬂattering women’s shoe trends of 2007, 2008 now sees a new twist on the gladiator theme with more elegant and intricate detailing. Warning.... A pedicure is an essential accompaniment to any gladiator sandal. H = High-Waisted trousers. ’Seventies-style wide-legged ﬁt are the hottest look of this season. Wear these chic trousers with a crisp white shirt and platform heels for a sophisticated, retro look! I = Indigo dark denim for boys and girls whether its boot-cut, boy - cut, baggy - ﬁt. Rock the look that works for you! J = Jackie O’s (Jackie Onassis) An accessory essential! – These sunglasses are a great Classic piece of eyewear. The oversized shades are the number one must haves. K = Knee length pleated skirts to match those Killer heels - I’m talking Louboutins baby!
A–Z GUIDE TO
FASHION By Nike Olowe
L = ‘LBD’ –. No other outﬁt in your wardrobe saves you from that “I have nothing to wear” moment, quite like the little black dress. What would we all do without it? Wear it day or night, on a big night out or to the ofﬁce, for lunch with the girls, or on a special date. M = Maxi Dress - Bring out the beauty in you with this seasons beautiful Maxi Dress!! This full-length dress covers thick thighs, and can hide wide hips. Whilst last year’s mini dress proved suitable for only those with skyscraper legs; this year’s fashion trend is a lot kinder to the average woman (Amen!) N = Nude Make-up. Less is certainly becoming more. The fresh faced look is just what’s needed to peel back those years and look naturally devastating. O = Old School Sneakers – We’re talking about the Reebok classics with the aluminous coloured laces! P = Puff sleeves, Puffed skirts, Billowing sleeves adds a hint of the classic 80s look to your every day wear. Q = Quality Mufﬂer. Need I say more? R = Retro seventies look has been tweaked and tailored for the demands of today’s modern society - there has never been a better excuse to Go Retro! S = Spa Treatments If you want your body to be kind to you, you have to love and pamper it. From a visit to the local sauna to a retreat hide away. The options are numerous. Just take the break. T = Tuxedo appeal have been both a hit for guys and girls. Fun Waistcoats, ties, suit jackets, makes for some seriously sharp tailoring! U = Underwear – Please, please, please wear the right underwear– regardless of what you may see, the rule of thumb is still cover it up! V = Vintage Butterﬂy shrug – Forget the high street, hit your Grandmothers wardrobe, you’ll ﬁnd the best treasures in that old trunk of hers!! W = ‘Wither away’- with this seasons Waist cinching belts. Trust me you’ll lose inches off that waist without breaking a sweat! X = ‘’XXL holdalls forget the tiny clutch. The modern woman is demanding space space and more space! Y = ‘Yves Saint Laurent ‘Top Secrets’ – The biggest ‘fashion faux pas’ is a traumatic make-up experience! Hit the stores quick for the amazing new alternative to makeup! Can’t keep that a secret!! Z = Zebra, Tiger, Leopard etc.. regardless of the beast.. animal print is hot hot hot! Make sure you go easy; small pieces work best to jazz up that ultra sleek outﬁt.
By Anthony Croucher
As Christians, one of the most important aspects of our relationship with God Almighty is witnessing the message of the Gospel to unsaved people with the intention of “making disciples of all nations” as Jesus Christ himself commanded in Matthew 28 v 19. There will be times however when unsaved people will try to make you feel insecure and fearful about your witness of Christ. I have a word for those who experience these kinds of circumstances from unsaved people. Don’t worry about them, simply bless them, forgive them if need be and continue to be bold in your witness. Gods’ Spirit is in you and is greater beyond imagination than ﬂesh and blood. A great biblical role model for us is Paul the apostle who said in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ”. We should adopt the same attitude as described in Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation”. Paul realised the awesomeness of Gods power behind those spirit and life-ﬁlled words and was therefore fully convinced and conﬁdent of his witness.
He also realised the might of Gods’ Spirit within him. In 2 Timothy 1:7 he explains “For God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”. The only spirit that God has given you is His Spirit; therefore do not accept any other spirit including fear. Jesus Christ helps us to realise that the fear we may experience in our witness of Christ can lead to our denial of him and therefore His denial of us if we choose to allow fear to hold us back. We see this in Matthew 10:31-33 when he says “Do not fear” and “therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven”.
I am not looking for what others can do for me, but what I can do for others even if they don’t say thank you. Really and truly we should be delighted at the fact that we have a part to play in working with God; helping people change their lives so they can experience the fullness of God’s blessings and love. In Romans 10:15 Paul states, “And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news”. Paul is emphasising that our witness for Jesus is a beautiful thing. Our witness of Christ is and can only be a precious thing which should be appreciated by every believer. Therefore continue to be faithful witnesses that deliver souls and know that God will bless you in the name of his precious son Jesus Christ.
issue four issue four
Love is... the heart of God â€“ Nike
AN INTERVIEW WITH
DIANE ABBOTT By Monica Omobola Bello
Introduction In 1987 Diane Abbott made history by becoming the ﬁrst black women ever elected to the British Parliament. She has since built a distinguished career as a parliamentarian, broadcaster and commentator. In the Beginning Diane was born in London in 1953. She attended the grammar school Harrow County and then went on to Newnham College Cambridge where she obtained a Masters degree in History. When she left Cambridge Diane joined Government as a Home Ofﬁce Civil Servant. She went on to work for the lobby group the National Council for Civil Liberties (now Liberty), and then became a journalist. She worked extensively as a freelancer and she went on to work as a reporter for the breakfast television company TV-AM and Thames Television. She also worked as a public relations consultant for various public sector clients. In Parliament Diane has served on a number of parliamentary committees on social and international issues. She was also elected onto the National Executive of the Labour Party. For most of the 1990s she served on the Treasury Select Committee of the House of Commons. She went on to serve on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. More recently she set up a special parliamentary committee investigating gun crime and she chairs the All Party Parliamentary BritishCaribbean Group. Diane’s work in Parliament has centred on education, crime, civil liberties, immigration and international affairs.
Q: How do you see the role of the Church in the community as a whole and what contribution can the Church make to the community with regards to aiding community development, strengthening relationships and engaging local people? A: At the moment the Church is an important part of the community. More people are involved in Church than are involved in political parties. In this way the Church has an important inﬂuence over large sections of the community. The Church can support families, encourage entrepreneurship and bring people together. Q: Gratitude they say is a perception, a way of looking at things. Some have maintained that adults have the responsibility of teaching our youths gratitude by exposing them to a wide range of situations that shake up their way of thinking. Such as a visit to a homeless children home can teach children to be grateful for their daily meals and a roof over their heads. Meeting a bed-ridden person can teach youths to be grateful for their social mobility and ability to get outside. What are your views on this? A: Yes, I agree wholeheartedly that a variety of experiences for our young people will teach them to appreciate their lives. It is also important for young people to learn to look at their lives in the context of the wider community. Q: Our community is hurting. The black community is hurting even more. What provisions can be made to prepare our youths to take part in the rethinking, rebuilding and maintenance of their communities to support healthy development and democratic participation? A: It is really all down to education. The more educated our young people are the more they will be keen to engage with the wider community and the world around them. Q: I would like to see more opportunities available for children to have real world learning experiences and make legitimate contributions to their communities where they see needs relevant to their own lives. How can young people be involved as a matter of course in the civic life of our communities especially community problem solving? A: I think the best way of achieving this is by offering children and young people volunteering positions. For example, within their schools, at old people’s homes or at community events. It is also a good idea for Councils to have consultation programmes with young people. Q: Children need to ﬁnd out that individuals can make a difference and that they can help create their own destinies rather than accepting a poverty/welfare mentality. How can the church help in this area? A: The Church can provide Saturday schools and parenting classes to help empower young people. The Church can also act as a place to go for support.
Love is….. subjective and what we choose it to be. Love is God – Karan
issue four 11
EXERCISE YOUR WAY TO GOOD HEALTH By Dr. Chima Oti
One of the ways of truly showing gratitude for something you care about is by looking after it. The human body should not be an exception. In the last edition we discussed the ideal body weight and the rush for the gym associated with the New Year. As promised this time round, we will look into exercise and the safe methods for staying ﬁt and healthy. Exercise remains an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise helps us to maintain overall ﬁtness; helps to keep our weight under control and reduces the risk of major diseases. So the big question remains- Is it a myth -some form of propaganda- or is exercise truly beneﬁcial to one’s health? The answer is a resounding yes to the latter – Exercise is beneﬁcial to one’s health. Beneﬁts of exercise include: ● Improved mental and emotional wellbeing as exercise promotes the release of chemicals and hormones which lower stress levels and increase happiness. ● Weight loss or the ability to maintain your ideal body ● Providing natural pain relief ● The improvement of self conﬁdence and self esteem. Everyone should be encouraged to exercise. However many of us feel that it is an expensive ‘luxury’ or will not ﬁt it into our hectic daily activities. Nevertheless there are various levels of exercise and a myriad of ways to include it naturally into our lives. Firstly, light exercise, which consists of everyday activities like walking, housework and DIY or gardening. These activities should allow you to talk at the same time and shouldn’t make you get out of breath. Secondly, moderate exercise which can make you feel a bit out of breath; examples of this include mowing the lawn, brisk walking or walking up a hill. Moderate exercise can make you feel slightly out of breath but not worn out. Lastly, we have vigorous exercise. This will leave you out of breath fairly rapidly and involves more intense activity; again examples include swimming, cycling, jogging and weight training. If you have not exercised before or have been inactive for some time, it is advisable to start with light exercise and gradually increase intensity. It is possible to achieve this by making simple changes to your everyday routine.
It is also important to discuss your level of ﬁtness with you family doctor, especially if you have any existing medical conditions. People are often under the misconception that they have to join a gym in order to stay ﬁt. Some of the more simple ways are outlined below. Walking: There is a tendency not to view this as a form of exercise but it remains an easy cheap and extremely effective way to stay ﬁt. Ditch the car for short journeys, walk to the shops and train station where you would have used the bus, take evening strolls with loved ones and ensure that you include walking as part of your daily routine. Running/ Jogging: Call up your friends and family, team up with your spouse or link up with your neighbour and start by jogging to the next street and back. You can begin with brisk walking and then progress to jogging. Start with short distances and gradually increase as you deem ﬁt. Swimming: This would involve joining a gym or some form of health club (except for those wealthy enough to have swimming pools in their back gardens.) Swimming helps to maintain body tone as well as burn excess fat. Remember to start slowly and increase sessions at your own pace. Cycling: A very effective way of exercising. Good for the bones and the joints and with increasing concerns over climate change, good for the environment when chosen as an alternative to cars or buses. One can begin with short rides around the home, then to the shops and short journeys. Finally consider riding to places of work or school. Aerobics/ Dancing/ Weight Training/ Yoga: These activities may involve joining an organization of some sort. They can be fun and if you have ever been curious about them in the past, maybe now is the time to look into one of these forms of exercise. Whatever type of exercise you choose to engage in, there are some general house rules. About 30 minutes a day of moderately intense activity is required for an average sized adult. Remember to start slowly and gradually increase intensity. Try and have fun at the same time. Find a form of exercise that you actually enjoy, this will prevent boredom and reduce drop out rate. Team up with your family and friends to help stay motivated. Prevent injuries by taking things slowly and do not try and overdo it. Adequate preparation and the right equipment remain essential. E.g. If you plan to ride a bike get a helmet, lights and adequate clothing. Set reasonable goals and targets. These should be short, medium and then long term. Your goals should be achievable and realistic. Avoid obsession and stress by taking things one day at a time. The immense beneﬁts of exercise will become clear after a while so I wish you all good luck as you challenge yourself to take up some form of new activity. I will be joining you as I can now see my wife insisting I walk to the station tomorrow morning on my way to work.
By Nonye Chidomere
Declaring His Love Muyiwa & Riversongz
Third album from Nigerian-born songwriter, worship leader and radio presenter and was No 1 on HMV Gospel Music Charts for a while. This 11-track album showcases the production talents of both Muyiwa and EMMA Award winning producer, Eddie Martin whose production credits include Whitney Houston and Jennifer Lopez. It is a superb blend of rock, pop and soul rhythms laced with American Indian, African lyrics and beats declaring God’s love and faithfulness. Stand-out tracks include the deﬁning track of the album–Hey Ya! American Indian-ﬂavoured, Never Forget, Oh Lord Our God and God Of Miracles with lyrics expressed in Yoruba (Nigerian language) and fast-tempo African melodies, Holy Is The Lord, Your Mercy Endureth Forever, Safe In His Hands, We Command You Nations, Lift His Name On High and Let There Be Light. Muyiwa’s desire to declare God’s love in song from a worldwide perspective further stamps his mark as a force to reckon with in the UK contemporary gospel music scene
Stellar Award winning trio -21:03 (Jor’el, Evin & Torrence) have really bucked the trend by taking urban/rnb gospel music to another level establishing their maturity since their previous album - 21:03. Need to get your groove on or need some encouragement, going through or been through challenging times or tragedy; then take solace in the lyrics of this album which charts their journey through life’s ups and downs particularly Evin who has lost both of his parents, a young man barely out of his teens. Stand-out tracks include a superb remix of the traditional gospel song – “Riverside”, You, Cover Me(featuring Fred Hammond, J Moss & Smokie Norful),Holding On, Indie-ﬂavoured Total Attention, Now, rap-laced Time for a Change. Dance/Hip Hop tracks include Talkin About and U Got Me Thru, Power of Christ ending with the song – Oh The Blood of Jesus, Brace Up (with a hint of Prince’s “When Doves Cry”) and Everyone Can’t Go. Just a few words I have to say in conclusion: Awesome, Smashing and a Must-have album.
Book Review The Shack William P. Young
“Mack” Philips took his three children on a family camping trip while his wife visited her sister. Just as they were about to leave the campsite, the two older kids decided to take a last canoe ride before heading home. As their canoe overturned, and Mack went to help them, his back was turned and the unspeakable happened. Mack’s youngest daughter,Missy, was abducted by a known child predator. After a massive search, evidence of Missy showed up at an abandoned cabin. Although they never found her body, everyone knew the worst had happened. For the next four years “a great sadness” fell over Mack and his family, until a note from God showed up in his mailbox.
issue four 13
EVERY CLOUD HAS A
SILVER LINING By Anita Lahanmi
Just over three years ago on August 29th 2005 the tropical storm Hurricane Katrina hit the centre of New Orleans. The hurricane left so much devastation in its wake; homes destroyed, families left homeless, decades of businesses washed away in the aftermath! Thousands returned to their homes after the hurricane to what can only be described as utter devastation – walls caved in, furniture destroyed and entire homes covered in layers of mud. However, despite the scene that met them when they returned; we saw that many of their thoughts were on rescuing priceless items that money could not buy – pictures of their children as babies, family mementoes etc. One survivor spoke about the hunt for her ‘treasures’ – not bonds, wads of money or even share certiﬁcates, but a rosary and her grandmother’s wedding ring, both of which more valuable to her than the Plasma TV and high tech computer. As I re-read the stories I am again reminded of that special innate quality, resident within the human psyche; the fundamental instinct to get up survive! 14 www.hotr.org.uk
“What was surprising was how much better everything was than it ever was before” – this description of Phuket in Thailand was given by Rick Von Feldt, a survivor of the Tsunami that hit Asia on Boxing Day in 2004. He returned to the island 3 years after the event and can only see the beneﬁts that have come from the disaster. I am both amazed and fascinated by some of the attitudes displayed by people who have been impacted by tragedy. I am especially moved by the stories not of devastation or the lives that have been torn apart by the hurricane, (terrible as there may be) but by the hope and determination shown by so many. They are resolute, focused on making the best of the situation they ﬁnd themselves in. There are countless stories of people who have lost loved ones, homes and businesses through one disaster or another yet some are always willing to look forward. They refuse to give up or surrender to their circumstances; instead they choose to ﬁght and rebuild. So, as we draw near to the end of another year we should be extremely thankful for all that we have! The next time you are complaining about the cost of your mortgage or the increase in your rent, why not take a moment to stop and think about the fact that you have a roof over your head. Or perhaps the next time you are complaining about that child or that parent, be grateful that they are alive. Appreciate every moment because they are precious memories which in themselves are valuable treasures. Gratitude is an attitude! It means appreciating what you have and not bemoaning what you don’t have; it is being grateful for today and expectantly awaiting the joys of tomorrow. It is looking for joy in the little things even in the absence of the bigger things! “Every cloud does have a silver-lining”; if you look hard enough you will always ﬁnd it.
Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all the others. Marcus Tullius Cicero Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul. Henry Ward Beeche As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them. John Fitzgerald Kennedy God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one second to say “thank you?” William A. Ward If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would sufﬁce. Meister Eckhart I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. G.K. Chesterton Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity; it must be produced, discharged and used up in order to exist at all. William Faulkner He who does not thank for little, will not thank for much. Estonian Proverb Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. William Arthur Ward There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy. Ralph H. Blum ~ (American Author) Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary. Margaret Cousins Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have, we will not be happy because we will always want to have something else or something more. Brother David Steindl-Rast The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated. William James When asked if my cup is half-full or half-empty, my only response is that I am thankful that I have a cup. Sam Lefkowitz The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. Helen Keller Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. Marcel Proust To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble but to live gratitude is to touch heaven. Johannes A. Gaertner Feeling grateful or appreciative of someone or something in your life actually attracts more of the things that you appreciate and value into your life. Christine Northrup
issue four 15
making a difference By Anita Lahanmi
“Boy charged over youth’s stab death”, “Teenager fatally stabbed in ﬁght”, “Boy gunned to death on his way home”... these are the headlines grabbing our attention as we switch on the TV or surf the Internet! Stories of young lives terminated prematurely at the end of a gun or knife. A disagreement or misunderstanding is no longer settled by a ‘punch up’; this generation is settling the score more brutally than ever before. A wrong look or hint of ‘disrespect’ could cost a young person his life. Turf wars are commonplace; a young life taken for the simple reason that the victim entered another gang’s territory! Many people talk about wanting to make a difference but when it comes to the crunch, very few people are actually willing to pay the price! Ablaze had the opportunity to meet with a young lady (not much older than the young people she supports) that has gone beyond dreaming about change and is inspiring change. Her name is Dena Dessoky and she works as a Youth Referral Order Assistant for the Camden Youth Offending Service. To give you some background, “a referral order is granted by a court to young people between the ages of 10 to 17 year olds who have pleaded guilty on a ﬁrst time conviction, (provided the charge is not serious enough to warrant custody)”. The duration of the order is between 3 to 12 months depending on the seriousness of the offence. The young person is referred to the Youth Offender Panel (YOP) who considers the best course of action for the offence committed. The panel consists of two volunteers recruited from the local community, together with one member of the Youth Offending Team (YOT). They talk to the youngster, the parents or guardians and (where possible) the victim of the crime to agree a contract aimed at making amends either directly to the victim or the community at large. The contract also includes elements to tackle other offending behaviour such as drug counselling, anger management and dealing with truancy.” Tell us about yourself: I was born in London but moved to Manchester when I was 9 and lived there until the age of 19. I went to University there for 1 year but transferred to London after a year to be closer to my family. My dad is Egyptian and my mother was Scottish and I have a younger brother and sister. I have always been interested in abnormal/criminal psychology and graduated from University in 2007 with a BSc degree in Psychology. I now plan to work towards a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology so I can work with young offenders with mental health issues. I have my own history with depression, anorexia, self-harm, etc. which I believe made me more aware of these issues and gave me an ability to empathise with fellow sufferers as well as the interest to help people who have any emotional difﬁculties. This is also what made me volunteer in the ﬁrst place as I just wanted to try to help people who may have emotional and/or behavioural difﬁculties. How did you become a Referral Order Assistant? I had this longstanding interest in psychology and with a desire to help out I sought any volunteer opportunities that would enable me pursue this interest further. I came across an ad in the paper for panel members so I applied, completed the training and began. I also had a lot of spare time whilst “studying” at university so I felt that I should also do something constructive with my time! So I started off volunteering as a panel member and then three years later this opportunity came up and I have been doing this job for the last eight months. I still sit on the youth offender panel but I take on a different role. I sit in a more supervisory role now, but the downside is it’s not so one on one. Sometimes you go into the panel and the young person is very rude and abrupt and then 3 or 6 months into the order you notice a change in their attitude and behaviour and so do they; you
see the difference! If I ever decide that I don’t want to be a Referral Order Assistant anymore I would deﬁnitely go back to being a panel member. What do you think is the biggest issue facing teens? I think gangs are the biggest problem facing young people today. When you see groups of young people together, chances are they are most probably just a group of friends hanging out together. However, there are those groups that are not so innocent and are intent on causing harm. Another issue facing teens is drugs abuse – we are not talking ‘pot’ but class A and B drugs. This is the serious stuff and this is being peddled by young people. I think the root of the issue is lack of stable families and broken homes, a lot of the troubled teens feel helpless and defenceless and ﬁnd solace in gangs. To them, the gang is their family and has ‘got their back!’ Do you think more can be done to tackle youth crime? If so what? I know Camden has a group of workers that walk around the area and approach gatherings of young boys and ask them what they are doing and talk about gang activity. These workers are approachable as they are casually dressed, young and male and are not uniformed police ofﬁcers. I believe this to be a useful tool as they end up chatting to the young people and can advise them about other activities in the area if they are bored etc. They also provide valued information on gang activity as they get to know faces and names. I am not sure about what extra things can be done, but I am sure things like parental awareness of gangs (as a lot of them are ignorant to it and swear blind their kid isn’t involved, when we know they are). Also, parenting support would be extremely beneﬁcial as a lot of young offenders come from families with no ﬁrm discipline and support. Of course there are
those who do and still offend and for them I believe this to be boredom and impulsiveness. Prison visits are great for kids who have already offended and associate with offending peers as it makes them realise there are consequences to their actions. Do you think the negative portrayal of young people is making youth crime worse? A lot of young people feel victimised when they are stopped and searched and develop a hatred for the police or people in authority as they feel they are being harassed. A lot of kids are aware that if you wear your hood up and you “look dodgy” you will be stopped or feared by the public. Some kids try to get away from this but others embrace it, as being feared makes them feel empowered in a way. I do not believe in criminalising young people who have a made a little mistake, but they must accept the consequences of their actions and pay back to society (hence why Referral Orders are so good as it becomes a “spent” conviction so they do not have to declare it when applying for most jobs).
Many people talk about wanting to make a difference but when it comes to the crunch, very few people are actually willing to pay the price!
What do you think the community can do to support young people? Make them feel special and show them that they are loved. Most of time they are not getting enough attention so they seek it negative ways. Teach them that they are individuals and have something to offer to the community they live in. If you could change one thing, what would it be? I would like to see an end to the gangs which I think is the biggest problem facing society today. When you get the young person on his own, away from the inﬂuence of a gang they are easier to communicate with. One on one, young people are easier to engage with and more forthright. In those instances, you see young people for what they are; vulnerable children. issue four 17
MESSAGE FROM THE THRONE ROOM By Anita Lahanmi
I’m going to ask the question anyway, even though I know most people will say, ‘Are you for real?’ Have you ever felt that the challenges you are facing are too many that you don’t know which way to turn? Do you sometimes feel like everything is happening all at once? The mortgage payment is due. School fees need to be paid. The bills are coming in thick and fast, so you end up robbing Peter just so that you can pay Paul! Do you ever feel that the problems are just too much to bear that you just want to give up? There was a point in time when I felt, what’s the point? Praying had become a chore and church an inconvenience. But the thing is, when you have the spirit of God on the inside of you, He just won’t leave you alone! Something within you will drive you to your knees in prayer even though your mouth refuses to co-operate. Your eyes scan the pages of scripture and even though the words don’t seem to register, something deep within you comes alive and hope is re-ignited. You suddenly think perhaps there is a chance that this is not how my story ends; perhaps this light afﬂiction really is temporary; maybe just maybe every cloud does have a silver-lining!
When you’ve reached the end of yourself, you’ve reached the beginning of God! When you speak the word of God into a situation, suddenly things are not as bad as they ﬁrst appeared. On this particular day, I was reading the Word for Today devotional and it told the story of a quadriplegic and all the things she had gone on to achieve despite her obvious ‘physical’ limitations. I’m going to borrow a line from what the writer said, “What are you doing with the lemons life hands you? Have you developed a woe-is-me attitude, or are you busy making lemonade?” Life is all about your perspective. You can either have a glass ‘half empty’ mentality or a glass ‘half full’. You are an overcomer - there is no problem or situation that is beyond God! I leave you with II Corinthians 4: 8-9, a scripture that we have heard time and time again from but this time read it with fresh eyes. Meditate and ponder on the words: “We are hedged in (pressed) on every side [troubled and oppressed in every way], but not cramped or crushed; we suffer embarrassments and are perplexed and unable to ﬁnd a way out, but not driven to despair; We are pursued (persecuted and hard driven), but not deserted [to stand alone]; we are struck down to the ground, but never struck out and destroyed”. When you are going through tough times, He is right beside you. He will NEVER leave you to perish in your problem nor will He forsake you! If your problem is too complex for God then indeed your case is serious but if God truly is Omnipotent and Omniscient, then this too shall pass!
issue four 19
SIZE ZERO AND THE BLACK COMMUNITY By Karan Vidal
It was difﬁcult to escape London Fashion Week in 2008. However, it wasn’t the innovative designs and budding talented designers that were making the headlines. This year, we were yet again confronted with the phenomenon that is ‘Size Zero’. This awareness began last year after the sudden death of two models; one of whom collapsed on a runway during Uruguay’s Fashion Week, then later died from heart failure. It later emerged that she had starved herself in preparation for the show. Protesters gathered outside London’s Fashion Week, on a daily basis, demonstrating against the fashion industry’s continued use and therefore apparent endorsement of Size Zero models. It is not only the fashion industry that appears to be boldly asserting the notion that not only skinny, but stick-thin is best. This trend is noticeable in the coverage of ‘celebrity’ weight issues in the ever-growing number of ‘celeb mags’ that are dominating our newsagent shelves. Statistics reveal that more than 50 million of these magazines are sold weekly. Research illustrates that there is a correlation between the readers of these magazines and a negative perception of self image. As they strive to emulate the body types of the featured celebrities. Of even greater concern is that readership demographic indicates that persons as young as 12 regularly read these magazines. There appears to be no parallel research in relation to this issue and ethnic minorities. This therefore begs the question; ‘what impact does the Size Zero phenomenon have on the black community? There are very few high proﬁle black models out there and those of prominence certainly do not subscribe to the Size Zero look. We can consider the most famous current and former models. Naomi Campbell is one of the original supermodels and is renowned for her extremely toned and statuesque physique. Former supermodel, Tyra Banks, was never in the Size Zero weight class. Indeed, she now appears to have naturally progressed into the world of TV presenting, adorning a fuller ﬁgure, which she herself admits is no longer suitable for high-fashion modeling. Although Naomi and Tyra were never what most of us would consider ‘average’
sized while at the height of their modeling careers, they were nowhere near the abnormal Size Zero that is being perpetuated as the current fashion ideal. A growing sub-culture of celebrities are the women who appear on our Television screens. It appears that the physical standards of most female performers and music ‘video vixens’ are much more attainable for black women. There is no doubt that the weights of the women who appear in the music videos are much fuller and more attainable than Size Zero. Some would argue that these portrayals are positive as they demonstrate that it is possible to be conﬁdent, secure and popular without conforming to abnormal weight levels. Morally, however, there is a risk that young girls - consistently exposed to images of women being gloriﬁed for their bodies and never their minds - aspire to appear in similar videos believing all the world wants from them is a 34, 24, 34 shape. This trend only serves to enforce the age-old stereotype of the black female as nothing but a sex object. Abigail Natenshon; MA LCSW Author of When Your Child Has an Eating Disorder, argues that prior to the perception of body image being inﬂuenced by the media; it begins to be formed in the home. The theory is that young women who are more susceptible to attempting to assimilate into the Size Zero culture have predominantly emerged from homes in which their mothers have constantly been on fad diets. By this reasoning, the emulation of Size Zero is only an extension of the unhealthy attitude to food that they have witnessed at home. It could be presumed that the origin of self image may be the same for black women but the attitude of their parents to food differs to those of white counterparts. This is especially the case with older generations as there may not be as much attention paid to maintaining a healthy balanced diet. If imitated, this position could be as equally damaging as adopting a life of ‘yo-yo’ dieting. We can clearly witness the deleterious effects of not paying enough attention to our diets by the increasing number of cases of diabetes and high blood pressure within the black community. However, black celebrities appear to be addressing this issue.
Oprah champions the cause for a healthier lifestyle and publicly shares the challenges that she continues to face daily. The very svelte Halle Berry maintains that she adheres to strict dietary requirements in order to keep her diabetes under control. It is clear that an equilibrium needs to reached between the forever dieting approach and the refusal to pay due attention to a balanced diet. Both approaches are inherently ﬂawed and bear a direct correlation to body image. There are many inﬂuences on the perception of body image in relation to the black community. It is fortunate that Size Zero does not appear to be a prevailing factor among this race; because the fashion industry and celebrities alike refuse to accept the blame for the current increase in reported eating disorders. Perhaps the fashion industry genuinely sees no harm in perpetuating the ideal that an adult should have the body size of a prepubescent teenager. An alternative explanation is that they are aware of the consequences of accepting liability in this increasingly litigation-conscious culture. After all, where there’s blame, there’s a claim.
The theory is that young women who are more susceptible to attempting to assimilate into the Size Zero culture have predominantly emerged from homes in which their mothers have constantly been on fad diets.
What then, is the best way to ensure that we develop a healthy self-image and are conﬁdently comfortable with our unique shapes and sizes? Part of the answer may lie in a more holistic approach to the concept of a positive body image. Particularly in the midst of being bombarded by Eurocentric body image ideals far removed from most people’s natural body dispositions. Increasingly faith groups have been addressing this issue as it spans across not just young women, but older women, and men also. There is a wide variety of teaching material in relation to health in Christian circles; The Makers Diet and Covenant Foods to name but a few. They emphasize the point that the Bible offers practical guidance on diet, which will have beneﬁts on health and, consequently, perceived body image. Perhaps what we see as the ‘unattainable truth’ may simply be that the experience of a healthy body and body image is one we will have when our spiritual, emotional, and physical lives come into a true peaceful balance.
issue four 21
Keeping Your PC Happy By Terry Thomas
Personal Computers...majority of the populace worldwide has one. They are quickly becoming a necessity in the modern era...Their uses are seemingly endless, for business, personal, learning, information gathering, social networking...or just plain having fun. It is quite possible to live a life, carrying out your daily duties by using your PC to obtain whatever you need to sustain you and pay all the bills. If you really wanted to, you could cut yourself off from the outside world, and never have to mix physically with another soul ever again. There was a television programme a few years ago that showed that it was possible for a person to live inside a plastic bubble for a week and survive just using a PC. (Don’t really know why one would want to do that...maybe just to prove that it can be done). But what happens when your PC is malfunctioning? Yes we’ve all had this problem, and wish reverently that there was a hammer nearby that you could use to smash the thing up with. In the same manner that one would take care of their car, by cleaning, carrying out MOT tests and servicing it...your PC also needs this kind of love and attention. So, with a little bit of time and fore-planning, there are ways that you could prevent this “Disaster” from occurring. Here are some tips: Protect it: There are various software packages that will prevent any outside access to your PC. Malicious software is becoming much more inventive and harder to discover. Some even advertise themselves as PC protection software. So, ﬁrstly you need a “ﬁrewall”. This is a must; and should block all unauthorised access to your PC. Secondly, riding alongside of the ﬁrewall, should be “spyware” & “malware” software. Not everyone is a techno junkie, so I will not go into details on the technical jargon; sufﬁce to say that many of the popular software packages have these “bundled” into a single software package. There are lots to choose from, such as “McAfee Total Protection”, “Security Shield”, “Steganos Internet Security”, “Zone-Alarm” and “Norton’s 360 All-In-One”. These should do the trick. Remember it is important to receive updates regularly, so set this to automatic. If these software packages are not able to fully protect your PC and you have indeed been infected, there are some specialist web sites that you can visit that may help. I highly recommend Major Geeks (http://www. majorgeeks.com) 22 www.hotr.org.uk
Clean it: Like any piece of hardware, maintenance of your PC is a requirement. Keeping your PC clean will increase the speed and performance of your PC and ensure trouble-free use. So it’s a good idea to empty temporary Internet folders and cache, delete your Internet history and also delete unauthorised “Cookies”. (Cookies are little ﬁles that are used for authenticating, session tracking, and maintaining speciﬁc information about users, such as site preferences or the contents of their electronic shopping carts). Defragging the registry is also important. (What are you talking about? Speak English!) Don’t worry; your Windows operating system can be set to “Optimise” your PC on a regular basis. If however, you wish to carry this out yourself there are some good PC maintenance software available that will take care of this for you. “Tune-Up Utilities” is one; another is “Vcom Fix-It Utilities” and “Stardock’s TweakVista” for those who are using Microsoft Vista. Remove it: As time goes on, your PC will hold and store a lot of data that you will never ever use, or data you may have even forgotten was ever downloaded and/or installed. This will clog up you PC and slow it down considerably. Removing old unused software via the “Add/ Remove” feature in the “Control Panel” is wise, followed by defragging the PC’s hard drive (in plain English, a case of taking the ﬁles off the shelf and re-stacking it neatly). Back it up: If you are worried about losing data, it is a good idea to back up all data ﬁles. If your PC has ever crashed and the hard drive was ruined, you know exactly what I am talking about, especially if you hadn’t backed it up. Years and years of data accumulated...gone down the drain. You restrain yourself with great effort from loosening a string of obscenities and wonder why you never made a copy. Here’s a suggestion, keep all your data ﬁles on separate hard drive, or even an external one. This way if bad comes to worse and your PC “dies”, at least you won’t lose everything. Now that your PC’s happy and zooming along at an amazing speed...get surﬁng!!
Notes from a
Cyber-Diary Keno Ogbo
Okay some facts about the ‘rich’. Mr Mittal is worth £27,700m from the steel industry; Ms Stenbeck is just 31 years old and worth £387m from her father’s media empire; Katie Price (Jordan) is worth £30m from modelling and Leona Lewis who was on X Factor for less than 6 months is now worth £6m from music. Are you still feeling rich? I am not. I just wonder what my position in the world is when it comes to wealth. I was sure I was right at the bottom. Well visit www.globalrichlist.com to see how far down you really are; enter your current salary into the dialogue box and sit back to learn the truth. Let me know what you think.
Over the last few months some words have been gradually introduced into our day to day speech. Although quite common terms, they were used infrequently or not at all. Think back to the last few weeks and recent news headlines or reﬂect on the conversations you’ve had about ‘credit crunch’, rising oil costs, falling house prices and inﬂation. I recently visited Google to ﬁnd out how efﬁcient my 1.0ltr Toyota Yaris was in terms of fuel consumption. All this elaborate deduction was to determine if I should take the bus or drive to work!!! On the ﬂip side, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 suggests that we give thanks even as we pay 121p for a litre of petrol!
www.sunscreenmovie.com I came across the link from a friend’s page on facebook. It does take a while to open and get going but it is worth the wait. It is ﬁlled with really good advice and epitomises everything I think we should be thankful for. Simply Enjoy.... Bonus link Remembering what God has done for us in the past is a great way to remain thankful but these things are easily forgotten and most times we need a visual symbol to help us. The rainbow is one such symbol. It’s the token of a covenant made between God and the earth to remind both parties of his promise never to destroy the earth by water again. Here’s a photo from Google.
That is a tough call but thankfully in a recent journey through cyber space, I stumbled across a few websites that may help us walk in line with the scripture above. http://www.globalrichlist.com/ How rich do you think you are? Bombarded daily by magazines, TV and newspapers full of celebrities, entrepreneurs and media savvy happy looking people, you are probably thinking ‘not that rich’. So, do you feel you are well paid? Maybe you are pursuing strategies to get a pay rise or looking for another job? I don’t know about you, but I could certainly do with some more money, my electricity bill is set to go up again soon.
Keno Ogbo is a New Media Consultant and the founder of www. spiraluniverse.org, a unique online directory and networking forum providing free classiﬁed adverts for Christians. In creating the site, she found herself spending well over 20 hours a week on the internet and believes that the internet presents a ‘parallel world’ that can inform and affect every area of our everyday life. If you have any comments on the websites listed, Keno would love to hear from you. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
issue four 23
Appreciating Our Home Possessing Our Possessions By Kemi Fatogbe
Nor need we power or splendour, wide hall or lordly dome, the good, the true, the tender, these form the wealth of home Sarah J Hale The Bible says that as children of God, we shall possess our possessions. This means that we should not only ‘own’ our possessions but dictate and govern exactly how we want them to be and how exactly we want them to work for us. Dare I say that if we have our priorities right, our homes would invariably be that one physical possession that we should truly aim to possess! Given that it is the one asset that we will invariably spend the largest portion of our income on as well as the largest proportion of our time in – credit crunch or no credit crunch. I do of course recognise that its different strokes for different folks as some might prize their cars, be it a Skoda or a Ferrari, over their homes and some might favour their electronics or their Imelda Marcos-inspired shoe collection over their homes. However, in terms of the most universally popular asset, bricks and mortar, our homes win easily. There are a number of things that go into making a house a home, such as its interior decoration and design, the personalities and experiences of the people that live there, the spoken and unspoken rules that its inhabitants abide by, state of it i.e. it’s level of cleanliness and its pervasive scents (often a direct result of the food most often cooked there, the fragrances most often worn by its inhabitants, the pet’s kept, and, the fragrances from the garden).The list could be so much longer as there are great plethora’s of things that go into making a house a home. Today we’ll be zeroing in on the role played by interior decoration & design, essentially focussing on those little things that you can easily do (and at minimal expense) to help towards truly possessing your house and thereby making it into a home for you and your loved ones. When we look at what the majority of people want from their homes, there seems to be one key universal expectation that uniﬁes both the old and the young, the afﬂuent, and less afﬂuent, the breadwinners and the homemakers and people from a cross-section of society and indeed the world. This expectation is that our homes be an oasis of peace and harmony that we cannot wait to get back to after that hard day at the ofﬁce, that long business trip, that gruelling day at school or after yet another sweaty trip on the tube.
In essence, the key thing that most people want to be able to do is relax...I am told that in modern speak this is tantamount to ‘chill axing’ - that essential combination of chilling-out and relaxing. Therefore, it logically follows that we should do our best to ensure that home is that essential oasis of peace that we all crave. To the uninitiated, the prospect of doing or achieving any such thing might sound daunting and therefore as rare an accomplishment as ﬁnding a chicken with teeth or a duck with earrings. However, interior design really is not that complicated. It should therefore certainly not be mentioned in the same hallowed tones as Rocket Science. Here are a few tips that are worthy of your consideration: ● All rooms should look as if they are lived in, we should never be too precious about our homes or the possessions in them lest our homes become sterile and unwelcoming therefore depriving the family and visitors of the joy of relaxing. Home should be a place to play...I’m a great believer in play and love the way George Bernard Shaw so aptly put it...we don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.. .” ● De-clutter. Rid the home of items that you do not need. Avoid keeping things in your home that are neither useful nor beautiful ● Use complimentary accessories. Bad accessories are to a room as trainers are to an evening dress. For example, a great way of spicing up a bedroom is by introducing cushions to supplement the pillows. ● Take steps to truly possess your home: Show off your hobby, bring your collectibles out to be admired. ● Arrange groups of small objects or pictures together for greater impact. ● Allow for good ventilation. It is advisable that each room where possible, have direct access to some form of fresh air. ● Use mood lighting...research has shown that harsh lighting can make people uptight without them even realising it. ● Break the monopoly of TV: Have music-only times... when you play family choices...be it on a Friday night, Sunday afternoon. There is such a great range of music out there now. God has gifted many young Christians in this area. ● Use good quality linen – 100% cotton will always win the day. ● Do not be afraid to experiment by mixing and matching. Be it the old with the new...the inexpensive with the expensive, quirky with plain...the list goes on... ● Dictate the smells of your home by using fresh ﬂowers, natural air-fresheners or by simply baking ● Change things around from time to time to create freshness. This can be achieved without breaking the bank by things as simple as moving the furniture around, changing the cushion covers, use of different throws etc Avoid: ● Excessive clutter especially in the relaxing rooms i.e. drawing or sitting rooms and bedrooms.
issue four 25
CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN
TRUTH OR DARE? “What a year we Democrats have had. The primary began with an all-star line up and came down to two remarkable Americans locked in a hard fought contest to the very end. The campaign generated so much heat it increased global warming”. Former US President, Bill Clinton at the Democratic Convention, 27/08/08
By Gabbie Okiwelu
not necessarily the answer. And so, it was a case of the ‘old way’ or the ‘new way’. Tough choice that! The old way is less problematic; it gives little room for conjecturing or theorising. It has been tried, tested & proven time and time again. There are hardly any surprises. Infact the old way is a hardliner, conservative to the core (no pun intended) and works on the premise; ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t mend it’. All in all, the old way provides a certain degree of stability and surety. The new way however, is that bit more complex. From the onset, its integrity is at stake. It has no previous successes to lay claim to, no statistics to back up its claims (if any), and no results to prove its reliability.
Oh, yes! The Drama that was the American primaries is well and truly over. The calm and serenity that deﬁned the Republicans’ campaign was overshadowed by those nail biting performances from the Democrats which left many of us glued to our TV screens, gagging for more. At the time of writing; both Parties’ Conventions are underway, Senators McCain and Obama have emerged as Ofﬁcial candidates for their respective parties and the suspense generated around each candidate’s choice of a running mate is ﬁnally over.
Nonetheless, beyond the cool and assured reserve of the old way, the marvel and wonder of the new way by distinction lies in the fact that it could well provide innovative and less arduous means of achieving results that seemed elusive under the old way. Consequently, some manufacturers make the mistake of referring to nouvelle products as being ‘new and improved’. The obvious ﬂaw with this advertising gimmick is that ‘new’ is indicative of something not previously in existence while ‘improved’ is indicative of a ‘bettering’ of something already in existence. So we cannot rightly talk of a product being new and improved; or can we? Be that as it may, I ask this question, which is it going to be – the old or the new?
Arguably, the US Presidency is a World institution and it is understandable that America’s presidential elections should generate such global interest. Accordingly, it is imperative that we look beyond the media frenzy and the histrionics of the campaigners to ﬁnd the true essence of each candidate.
When Barack Obama came onto the American presidential campaign scene, he was a little known US Senate representative for the State of Illinois. Political writers and analysts dismissed him with a wave of the hand as the new kid on the block with precious little to offer. What he had to offer, if at all; was nothing compared to the age & experience of Senator McCain or the intelligence & wit of Senator Clinton.
As the “most powerful man (or woman) in the world”; the person of the American President impacts each of our lives in some way or another. And as citizens of the world, if a righteous person is elected into Ofﬁce, we rejoice but if the wicked bear rule, then there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Heaven forbid!
We also had those sceptics who wondered at the audacity of a non-white male aspiring to the seat of the 44th President of the United States of America. After all, the old (unwritten) rule and person speciﬁcation was simple and plain – white, middle-aged, working class male, persons with military service records preferred (!).
As I ponder on the candidacy of both men and their campaign manifestoes, I am reminded of the movie; Crimson Tide. It tells the story of a young Naval Ofﬁcer who stages a mutiny aboard a US Nuclear Missile Sub to prevent his trigger happy Captain from launching offensive missiles without proper authorisation. Central to this story was the tussle for change and supremacy between two generations. In the ﬁrst, the hard hitting Captain (Gene Hackman) had seen war and had a ‘let’s get on with it’ stance whereas his fresh faced ‘“XO” (Denzel Washington felt violence was 26 www.hotr.org.uk
Thus, Obama’s candidacy upset the Establishment to no end but he wielded his supposed weaknesses to his advantage. His involvement in local politics and community projects which seemed inadequate against the glowing proﬁles of his fellow competitors soon put him as a candidate in touch with the electorate, equipping him with a powerful and decisive campaign tool. For, being in touch with the electorate meant being better informed about their needs and by extension, being better positioned to meet these needs. So, what are these needs, you ask. The threat of a seemingly invincible foe, the hurt and pain from September 11, the increasing death toll of innocent civilians and militia in Iraq and Afghanistan and the continued infamy of Guantanamo Bay are just some of the demons plaguing America.
Se “C to
Scenes from Hurricane Katrina which not only made America the world’s biggest joke but also made nonsense of the lyrics of its emotionally charged ‘Star Spangled banner’ which talks of ‘...millions unchained, who their birthright have gained....’ was one painful reminder of the failings of the social and political pecking order. Quite simply, the rhetoric of the incumbent Administration was beginning to wane thin. America needed some reprieve; Obama wanted change and dared his fellow Americans to embrace the same. Aided by his “audacity of hope” speech, Senator Obama quickly gained support with his “Change” crusade and his call for Americans to try something new. His popularity was further boosted by his track record at local level and his efforts at seeing that justice should not only be done but should also be seen to be done.
Aided by his “audacity of hope” speech, Senator Obama quickly gained support with his “Change” crusade and his call for Americans to try something new.
In contrast, Senator McCain appealed to America’s sense of national pride and loyalty. Voting off the Republicans would be tantamount to an admission of guilt and wrongdoing. Above the wisdom of his years, Senator McCain was intent on convincing the American people that he was still the same maverick politician, famed for his straight talking, liberal and sometimes unpopular views. One who loved his Country and carried about him the physical and emotional scars from defending it at war and most importantly, one who could right the wrongs of the past.
Sports manufacturer ‘Addidas’ advocates pushing boundaries because ‘impossible is nothing’. How true! The novelty of this year’s race for the White House is an endorsement to this statement while the intensity of the campaigns and the level of public support afﬁrm America’s deﬁance and readiness for change. If Obama gets to the White House, America’s gamble for something different would have played out before our eyes, a dare emerging as true and irrefutable as the paper on which this article is printed. 5:24am, Wednesday 04 November, I am awoken by a text message with this simple one liner - ‘He won’! Some 3 hours later I am confronted by various Newspaper Headlines ‘America embraces change’, ‘A New Dawn’, ‘America’s ﬁrst Black president...’ all proclaiming the same message backed with very emotional pictures from America and some, from Kenya. Elsewhere I read that Kenya’s declared Thursday 6th November a National Holiday in honour of their son. As I banter with my friend Onny over the euphoria and frenzy surrounding America’s choice of its 44th President and the absurdity of my Caucasian colleague congratulating me over Senator Obama’s victory, we both have this to say: “Perhaps I have lived a hugely sheltered life and still have a lot to learn about the white-black divide. We need to think in the long term but I fear that for many, it is all about the short term and that my friend would be putting too much on his young shoulders. He has a lot of mess to clear up ﬁrst”. “Indeed, I feel sorry for him in a way. Unwittingly, he is being made out as saviour of the black populace and that’s a lot of responsibility to carry on his ‘’young shoulder’’, as you say”. One of my (black) American contacts writing to me also had this to say “He is likeable, and eloquent-- quite a gifted orator. The euphoria is borne, more out of his colour than the perception of what he might do as President. AfroAmericans associate his victory to their struggle as slaves, but Obama Snr, apart from fathering him, had no impact in his life”.
Hard hitting words but love or hate the outcome, Change now is. Power has changed hands!!! What are your thoughts? Please write in to email@example.com and share your views with fellow readers. issue four 27
GRATITUDE AN INGREDIENT FOR EVERDAY LIVING I may never get another chance to write for “Ablaze” again, so if this article makes it to print, I am going frame it. Simply put I think Gratitude is a person’s disposition towards showing appreciation at all times; it is a lifestyle that anyone can have should they choose to! We can decide from today, to make a difference in our world by seeing the good all around us and expressing gratitude to people.
At the age of four, my parents decided to go their separate ways. After only four years of marriage they simply could not stand the sight of each other. I have never understood it; where along their four year journey did they forget all the good things that had brought them together in the ﬁrst place. At what point did the challenges they faced exceed all the fun and laughter they had shared? When did they stop appreciating each other and start taking each other for granted? Perhaps if they had focussed more on the good times they may still have been together today but alas...
I believe gratitude is two-fold, on one hand we must always see good and on the other hand we must show our appreciation for the good seen. Choosing to see good all the time is a key ingredient for living a life of contentment. In my few decades on earth, I have seen many relationships, families and businesses die simply because people have forgotten what brought them together in the ﬁrst place. ‘Life’ has a funny way of changing your perspective on situations; by making you focus on the negative things, thereby taking people for granted. I will never forget a former manager of mine. This man was very bright, an enthusiast and generally an all round good guy. Three years after I moved to another branch; I had the opportunity of meeting up with this guy again and what a complete difference! Gone was his optimistic view on life; he was now bitter, angry and disillusioned with the company. It wasn’t long before I heard he had been involved in fraud and theft – shortly after this he was arrested and spent some time behind bars. Somehow in those three years, his outlook had completely changed.
Life is too short to be pessimistic and bitter. A wise man once said that whatever we do not appreciate, depreciates. He’d stopped appreciating the good things about where he worked and began to focus on the things that were not right with the company. The minute you start to live life from that platform, it’s only a matter of time before your entire life begins to unravel. Sadly many get stuck in that poisonous zone and end up destroying their lives and the lives of those they are connected to.
Expressing appreciation for the good seen is the other side of the coin where gratitude is concerned. Simply saying “thank you” goes a long way to putting smiles on the faces of people. At my former workplace those words made the difference between a bad day and a good day. Nothing lit up my face more than a satisﬁed customer leaving the store, saying “thank you”. What a feeling! If those words from a mere stranger can evoke such feelings, how much more when they come from a loved one? Life is too short to be pessimistic and bitter. A wise man once said that whatever we do not appreciate, depreciates. Many kids have not recovered from the unkind words that were spoken to them in the heat of the moment. Nothing breeds insecurity and feelings of low self esteem than words of ingratitude and pessimism. We can decide from today, to make a difference in our world by seeing the good all around us and expressing gratitude to people. How? I hear you say? Well, when was the last time you said hello to the cleaner you always see on your way to the toilet during your break? What about the sales assistant at the supermarket that serves you at the tills? I don’t mean nodding a hasty hello; I mean really taking notice of them. Telling them what great jobs they are doing and how their service makes a difference to you. Try it and see the difference your conversation with them will make. One day I came home from work very ‘man like’. I waltz into the house feeling important and notice the living room is in disarray. I asked my darling wife why the room was in a mess and she replied, “Darling, is that all you see? I have cooked your food, done the laundry and hung out the washing. Did you not see any of the things that I have done?” Her words hit home. Daily my prayer is that I always express gratitude to my wife and not allow the things she hasn’t done to overshadow the good that she does. Over and beyond that I also train myself to see the good in others. I am by no means there yet but I will keep working on it until I do. So no matter what stage of life you are at; keep nurturing the gifts you have in your life with the seasoning of gratitude and watch your relationships, personal and professional, blossom and multiple. Trust me! An expression of gratitude is all it takes for us to change our world. Start today by simply saying “thank you!”
issue four 29
Glad Tidings of great joy A christmas message from Pastor O.
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players, they have their exits and their entrances, one man in his time plays many parts! 1” And so it is that all too quickly the curtain is being drawn on the year 2008. As we make our exits, there is the proclivity to ponder on the script that was 2008; to consider the part(s) we played, the roles we assumed and most importantly to wonder at the next Act; 2009
At the start of the year, the Word which the Lord gave to us as a family was that 2008 is a year of “New Beginnings”. Indeed, it was to be a time for reafﬁrming personal goals, rebuilding fallen walls, mending broken bridges and fanning the dying embers of crushed dreams and dashed expectations. We were to gaze intently because God was doing a new thing which would spring forth and be manifest for all to see. However, were I to take a poll of what 2008 was like for you, I know without a doubt that the responses would be as varied as my readership. For while some experienced new beginnings in the literal sense of the word viz. new births, new conjugal associations, new jobs, new achievements and new milestones; others who like the aforementioned embraced the Word and truly believed that 2008 would mark the genesis of better things to come, would have found themselves faced with the death of loved ones, broken relationships, redundancies, retrogression, stagnancy and unfulﬁlment.
I would be lacking in candour if I did not say that I am
Why should this be? Afterall, Romans 10 clearly disabuses the reader’s mind of
no less immune from the nagging thoughts and the
a God of favouritism - for whosoever believes in HIM shall not be confounded.
disconcerting feelings that characterise this time of year.
For there is no distinction of the Jew and the Greek, for the same is Lord over
Like you, I am prone to moments of anxiety and sobriety;
all, rich unto all that call upon him, Rom 10:11-12. So, why then is there this
moments when I worry that I may have failed to adequately
dichotomy? Why, you ask, should some of us welcome the end of the year with
exhibit the symptoms of victorious Christian living in the
aplomb and rejoicing while others shudder at the memory of what has marked
year gone by; moments when I fear that this gospel which
another perceived cycle of anguish and defeat while they look back with regret
I preach is no more real to my hearers than Santa, his
and self-pity. Yet, we all started the year believing!
reindeer and clan of elves; or worse still, moments when I agonise over my perceived inability and incapability to convey the reality and tangibility of the gospel of Jesus to the aching hearts and thirsty souls that have walked through the doors of the Church; souls seeking rest and respite from the accusations, the mockings, the taunts and the scourgings of the outside world. Yes! Pastors are just as human as their congregation!
Dearly beloved, if you fall into the latter group, take comfort in this one truth that the same God who made the promises at the beginning of the year is not a human being with a propensity for lying. He is also not the offspring of humanity that he should experience a change of heart occsassioned by whims, caprices or circumstances beyond his control. In this promise-keeper, there is no evil, and no changing and shifting like shadows. Because of his very nature and integrity, if he said something, he will do it. If he never intended to do it, he would never have said it.
You see, the reason he did not spare his son was because
It is his purpose being worked out in your life that has seen you through 2008
he wanted to through Jesus’ death, make all things freely
thus far and now reaches out to you in your place of longing.
available to you.
Indeed; regeneration, renewal and restoration are occasioned and necessitated
Jesus’ death on the cross was the ultimate sacriﬁce and
by destruction, loss and injury. Thus, the old gives way to the new and the pain
remains the highest ever ex-gratia deed to be recorded.
of ‘death’ is soothed by birth and the sorrow of the former overcome by the joy
True, we may incline our ears to the roaring voice of the
of the latter.
enemy which tempts us to evil while ignoring the still, small voice that characterises the Holy Spirit’s salutary counsel. Alternatively, we may ﬁnd ourselves weighed down by a sense of guilt and sin-consciousness when we have made wrong choices or accused God of being less than kind. But we must remember the words of the ageold hymn - “there is no place where earth’s sorrows are more felt than up in heaven, there is no place where earth’s failings are more kindly judgement given”. This should encourage us to stir up our faith in God’s unending and unequalled love which prompted his gift of salvation, secured his unwavering attention and guarantees us victory over all of life’s situations and circumstances. Inevitably, because we live in a sense-dominated world, we have become enslaved to our sensory perceptions and so oftentimes ﬁnd ourselves unable to comprehend the benevolence, beneﬁcence, omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience of our heavenly Father. It is always easier to doubt in the light of compelling physical evidence (or indeed the lack thereof) than to believe on the platform of faith. But, it is in those gaps brought about by the lack of physical evidence that God shows up. For it is in the midst of the void and the darkness that God brings light, order and form (Gen 1:1). Indeed, faith only functions when there is an obvious absence of evidence. It is illogical to believe for what you can already see or verify. So as the festivities take over and you ﬁnd yourself numb and impassive to the atmosphere of joy and excitement, I invite you to meditate on the words of the gospel lyric ‘Give me a clean heart, to lose the double mind, to believe you when you tell me everything will be just ﬁne...just lay your hands on me Lord and I will be brand new...for I am
Moreover, how dare you give up when the year is not over? As long as there is as much as one second left in 2008, then there is still ample time for God to bring to pass what he said about this year. You very nearly fell for the trick of the enemy designed to make you give up before it was over! Hebrews 11:1-3, 6 says: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. The foregoing presents faith as real (now faith is), substantial & evidential (substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen’), here & now (if we can relate to God’s calling into existence a world that was non-existent, then we can also understand that he can [and will] call forth the [your] new from the old, and life from death) even now. So do not cast away your conﬁdence for it will be amply rewarded Lastly, faith is predicated on belief (he that cometh to God must believe...) which in itself is predicated on love (1 Cor 13: 7 – Love...believes all things...) – so you believe because God loved. Dear friend, I encourage you to keep (the) faith. Refuse to be cast down or to be disquieted. Put your hope in God because you will yet praise him (Psalm 42:11), for hope maketh not ashamed (Rom 5:5). The losses, sadness and disappointments which you may have experienced thus far in 2008 have only acted as a launch pad propelling you into a season of joy and gladness for the rest of the year. Your miracle will manifest in due course. God will yet crown you with goodness and cause your path to drop with fatness.
calling out to you for a strength exchange, I will gladly
While I am tempted to bless you for the New Year coming, I will resist that urge
take your joy for my weakness...’. Surrender yourself to
by asking you to make sure you milk the blessings of 2008 completely before
the Lord Jesus Christ who gives meaning to Christmas.
looking forward to the even more glorious things that 2009 will inevitably
Begin to see things the way your father in Heaven sees
them and believe that he is causing all things to work for your good because you love him (and he loves you) and you are called according to his purpose (Rom 28:32).
Shalom. I look forward to sharing with you the testimonies of 2008 and the blessings of 2009.
issue four 31
Solomon’s Corner Wisdom is the principal thing...
Can you be offended with God? My Pastor has been teaching about offences and based on the signs of it, I feel like I’ve been harbouring some resentment and confusion where it concerns God. I know this sounds messed up and I’m sure you are shocked, but I need to know if this is possible and how I could let it happen
Is it wrong to pray about a potential spouse if they are not Christian? I have a friend who I really believe will give their lives to God very shortly. We connect on so many levels & I really believe that this person was sent by God. I’m taught in my church to pray about any potential partner, but I feel funny about putting this before God because they are not as yet saved. Should I pray or not?
Tony - South London
It is indeed possible for you to be offended with God. How could you have allowed this to happen you ask, we allow such feelings to arise when we lack the following: ● Faith in God that he will do as he promised. ● Patience to wait on the Lord for his promises and for his word to come to pass. ● A solid prayer life; It’s hard to be in constant prayer and get offended with God.
The bible says offences are sure to come (Matthew 18:7), but you should not make it worse by continuing to feel angry (Psalm 37:8) and do or saying something in anger that you can’t take back. The best way forward when you feel that you may be angry with God is to take that attitude or perceived offence back to God. Pour your heart out to the Lord and let him resolve this issue in your heart as only he can. (Ephesians 1:7) Trust that he already knows how you feel before you come to him.
Imma - South London
I can tell that you really like this guy, but remember that God’s gifts to us are without sorrow i.e. he brings a potential unsaved husband for you, but the only way to have him is for you to pray him into salvation. That’s not the way God works. He wouldn’t present you with something as important as a life partner and add confusion to his gift. You say you and this man connect on so many levels, but you do not connect on the most important level, which is salvation. Remember - 2 Corinthians 6:14- Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers [do not make mismated alliances with them... inconsistent with your faith]. We tend to try to hide our doubts and concerns from God, especially when it relates to something as anticipated and desired as a spouse. The mere fact that you feel funny bringing this to God in prayer already means you know that there is something not right about this You feel this person was sent to you by God. Yes. But maybe it was just so that you could minister to him and PRAY for his salvation. I suggest you move on. If it is indeed the will of God then God will make it possible for that man to come back to you SAVED. Trust God for guidance, because He has promised to guide you. Claim His guidance by faith. Say, “The Lord is guiding me. He is leading me. I may not see it this moment. I may not even know what to do at the moment; but, He is my Guide and I trust Him.
Suited, Booted, Well Heeled and Full Of Sole By Gabbie Okiwelu
I still remember it vividly, my ﬁrst ‘real’ job interview at Her Majesty’s Courts Service. Now, I am one of those people who like to live life on the edge when it comes to time. I live for the adrenaline rush I get from those frantic moments racing through airport terminal buildings to get to my boarding gate on time or those nights spent burning the midnight oil in completing a task that had been lying on my desk for weeks untouched. With each successive triumph, I wipe my sweat stained brow with a ‘phew, that was close’! But, before you dismiss me as being insouciant; please be advised that I really DO try. Unfortunately, poor calculations and miscalculations (I’ve never really been good at maths) always conspire to overcome my best efforts. Consequently, when the letter inviting me to interview came in the post, I soon busied myself with a ‘to do list’. My list included getting my hair and nails done (even if the female panellists disliked me, surely neat tresses and well manicured nails would count for something with the males), buying a smart black suit, sensible heels and a trendy briefcase to complement the look. 34 www.hotr.org.uk
On the eve of my interview, I laid out my entire arsenal with precision in a neat pile and then set up an elaborate alarm system to keep me in check. Nothing was spared - mobile phones, clocks, kitchen timers and even my nextdoor neighbour. This had to be the bee’s knees and I was leaving nothing to chance. D-day! I woke up bright and early, sat down to a proper breakfast and readied myself whilst practising my walk, hand gestures and smile in front of the mirror. I was suited & booted to the hilt. As I made the short walk to the Tube station, I congratulated myself for my timely exit from my ﬂat. I was in an overtly good mood – tipping the Newsagent, saying a warm hearted ‘yeah mon’ to Winston, the Victoria Line station attendant and even standing to the right side of the escalator taking in the posters that advertised everything from Sushi to Sun cream. As I got to the platform, I began humming and nodding in tune to Queen’s, ‘Don’t stop me now’. Indeed, nothing could stop me now – I had every hole plugged and every leak sealed. Or had I? Like Martha in Luke 10, in the frenzy to look my best, I got cumbered with much serving of my ego and appearance, being troubled about many things but neglecting that which was needful and giving up the good part. Sure enough, all these were soon taken away from me.
As I stumbled through the various parts of the interview, all I could say was ‘Lord, have mercy’. My smart outﬁt, manicured nails and salon-layered tresses were quickly forgotten and mattered very little at that point. Within minutes of getting on the Train, Transport for London (TFL) lived up to its name - Trusted for Lateness and the tired voice of the Tube driver came through the speakers with those dreaded words of “delays to the entire line due to a signal failure”. I suddenly felt physically sick and chided myself for the heavy breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast and a piece of grilled sole left over from dinner the night before. I broke out in beads of sweat because I was literally caught between wind and water. There was no way of communicating with the outside world and all I could see was an angry Panel sitting and waiting without any word from me and ﬁnally dismissing me as an unserious ‘no show’. Tears welled up in my eyes, ‘Father God, but why?’
along I had relegated him to the background. After all, what did Father God know about manicures and nail polish, or weaves and highlights or Criminal Procedure Court Rules and Statutes of Limitations? I was immediately reminded of Philippians 4:12 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. However, for the ﬁrst time, I understood this scripture in a form which was as profound as it was humbling ‘I am able to do anything and everything ONLY if Christ strengthens me’. Without the backing of the God Head and the powering of the Holy Spirit, my efforts were a beating of the wind for God in his omniscience was privy to it all with or without my permission. Indeed, the Psalmist puts it so eloquently in Psalm 139 when he says “thou knowest my downsitting and my uprising, thou understandest my thought afar of” (v.2) “Thou art acquainted with all my ways (plans, decisions)” (v.3). “Thou hast beset me behind and before...” (v.5) I immediately repented in that Tube carriage, went back to the passenger side (having wrestled foolishly and unsuccessfully to take over the driving seat from God) and waited patiently. When I ﬁnally made it to the interview some two hours past the scheduled time, I was quite ﬂustered. My embarrassment was visible behind my plastered smile and showed in my feeble handshake and wobbly knees. I felt faint as last night’s sole did not seem to have gone down too well and the interview was all but a blur. As I stumbled through the various parts of the interview, all I could say was ‘Lord, have mercy’. My smart outﬁt, manicured nails and salon-layered tresses were quickly forgotten and mattered very little at that point. I am sure we’ve all been there one time or another. Wanting to be in control, backing into tight corners and near impossible situations and then realising just in time (if you are fortunate enough) or too late (if you are not), that when the chips are down, all that matters is God. As I re-surfaced over ground, walking dejectedly back home and going through a mental catalogue of the whys and wherefores as we sometimes do, I heard the familiar jingle of a voicemail message – my formal appointment letter came a few days after. It’s been a good few years now and ever so often, I still ﬁnd myself trying to take over the driving seat, ﬁddling with the controls and fumbling with the directions. Nonetheless, Father God always comes to the rescue, lovingly and patiently reminding me each time that mine is to ‘cast’, and his is to ‘care’. 2008 IS my year of New Beginnings and yet it is one year in which I have battled a mix of emotions: discouragement, doubt, despair, fear, pain, worry. However, in it all and through it all, I can recall God’s faithfulness and recount his goodness. I can rest assured that his divine nature compensates for my human frailties and failings. I can stay safe in the knowledge that it is at those crucial times HE puts a spring to my steps, enabling me walk on water & through ﬁre. For this, I am truly thankful.
So, when next you see me suited, booted and well heeled; remember: my soles could very well be off!
No sooner had I said those words than it hit me like a bolt of lighting. Why call on Father God now when all
issue four 35
The Credit Crunch One Year On By Jane Baker
If I had a pound for every time I’d heard the phrase ‘credit crunch’ I’d never need to work again. I can’t think of a day that’s gone by in the last year without at least one mention of those infamous words. Cast your minds back to 9th August 2007, which saw both the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve in the US open up emergency cash to prop up their banking systems. On 12 September, the crisis at Northern Rock seriously – and I mean seriously – shook conﬁdence in the UK as the lender went cap in hand to the Bank of England. Even before August 2007, there were rumblings of trouble ahead. A growing number of banks issued proﬁt warnings throughout the year, as the impact of exposure to the crisis-ridden US sub-prime mortgage market became clear. 36 www.hotr.org.uk
Before the credit crunch came along and wreaked ﬁnancial havoc, the UK economy was looking pretty strong. Inﬂation and unemployment were low, while growth was high. But since then everything has changed as the economy began to falter.
Unsecured borrowing has become more costly too. At the beginning of 2007, personal loans with interest rates under 6% APR were relatively easy to come by. But today the market-leader, Moneyback Bank, is now charging 7.6% (for £5,000 borrowed over 60 months), with many other lenders gradually increasing APRs throughout the year.
Inﬂation has since smashed through the government’s 2% target. The CPI – the Consumer Prices Index – is currently 4.4%, while the RPI – the Retail Prices Index – has reached 5%. What’s more, for many of us those ﬁgures seem too low and don’t reﬂect reality. On top of that, unemployment is rising, house prices are falling and some economists say we teeter on the brink of recession.
It’s a similar picture for the credit card market. All but the most creditworthy borrowers have found the best 0% balance transfer credit card deals – such as Capital One – are beyond their reach.
But what does all this mean for you? Borrowers The credit crunch has taken its toll on every corner of personal ﬁnance, but arguably, the worse affected are those of us who need to borrow. As banks found it increasingly difﬁcult to fund new loans through the money markets, individual borrowers saw the stream of easy credit disappear. Indeed, interest rates and fees for mortgages have risen throughout the last twelve months, while lenders are demanding ever greater deposits. Northern Rock once provided 125% mortgages as standard, but the market for higher-risk home loans has since dried up entirely. According to Fool partner, Moneyfacts, there are now just two lenders left who still offer 100% mortgages. These days, to qualify for the most competitive deals, borrowers are now expected to stump up a huge 25% deposit. For many ﬁrst-time buyers the prospect of owning their own home has become nothing more than a castle in the air. But there is some positive news on the horizon. Moneyfacts say a number of mortgage rates have now returned to where they were in August 2007. In fact, the average twoyear ﬁxed rate deal is now 6.59% compared with 6.56% a year ago. But again, the best rates are reserved for those with the largest deposits or equity stakes in their homes and mortgage fees remain high. When lending criteria is as strict as it is today, it makes sense for prospective ﬁrst-time buyers and remortgagers to speak to an independent mortgage broker before choosing a new mortgage deal.
You may have better luck going for a credit card that is still a best buy but doesn’t necessarily top the tables. The Virgin Money Credit Card is a good choice for those of you with a reasonably decent credit rating but, at the same time, you don’t have to be the perfect borrower. Savers Lending criteria has been pretty tough for borrowers, but there has been better news for savers. Many banks have found wholesale funding a challenge, so they have turned to depositors for cash instead. This has meant – despite the credit crunch – savings rates have held up pretty well over the last year. In fact, there are a host of easy access accounts which pay well over 6% AER. If you’re looking for somewhere to stash your cash, the current best buy accounts include Kaupthing Edge Savings at 6.55%, Birmingham Midshires e-Saver at 6.52% and Bradford & Bingley Internet Saver at 6.51%. If you’re looking to lock your money away over the longer-term try the Hi Save Fixed Rate bond from ICICI and earn 7.20%, with no strings. Pensioners If you’re looking to convert your pension fund into an income using an annuity, now could be a good time to take the plunge. One of the few winners out of the credit crunch has been level annuities. (Level annuities provide the same amount of pension income every year for the rest of your life.)
Although annuity rates have been historically low in recent years – roughly half what they were in the early 90s – the credit crunch has brought a remarkable change of fortune. Why? Because the crunch has driven down the value of corporate bonds (or company debt), which – in turn – has forced bond yields up. Since annuity companies invest heavily in corporate bonds, annuities have been boosted after more than a decade of falling rates. There’s no doubt the credit crunch has had severe repercussions, and it’s almost impossible to predict how long the ﬁnancial turmoil will last. In the meantime, we’ll try to help beat it.
Jane Baker writes for Motley Fool. www.motleyfool.co.uk
issue four 37
What We Should Be Talking About
Tuffnell Park The PlaceTo Be By Anita Lahanmi
An Interview with Tracy Ismail
I am a Councillor for St George’s Ward, married with two daughters, one in primary school and the other in secondary school.
I live in St George’s Ward, North Islington and have done so for 11 years. My husband was actually born in North Islington and our family home is the very same house he grew up in as a child. Aside from council work, I sit on the PTA (Parents Teachers Association) at both of my daughters’ schools; organise fundraisers and summer fairs. I am extremely passionate about gardening and love reading books such as sci-fantasy and family sagas.
The Borough of Islington is full of contradictions – you have the Tufnell Park area which on one side speaks of an afﬂuent neighbourhood decorated with expensive housing, and in the same vicinity, a picture of the less privileged who reside in social housing. When you enter Tufnell Park you are greeted with wide, open spaces clothed in much greenery but not more than a stone’s throw away you are then accosted with the hustle and bustle of activity that is Holloway Road. These variances are some of the things, which make living in North Islington an interesting experience. Tracy Ismail is a Councillor of St. George’s Ward in Tufnell Park who loves living in the vibrant North Islington community and is about to tell us why.
My interest was sparked during the General What made you decide Election of 2005 when to be a Councillor? a Liberal Democrat candidate aspiring to be an MP knocked on my door. We got talking and she suggested I run at which I politely declined. I was asked several times to run as a candidate and each time my response was the same, ‘No’. A year later I was nominated as a candidate for the Liberal Democrats and much to my surprise elected in May 2006. When someone has a problem and you are able What do you enjoy most about to help solve it. Sometimes being a Councillor? people don’t know where to go or who to speak to when they have a problem. As a Councillor I have access to people that the general public would not necessarily be privy to. This means that in certain situations I can speak to people at the very top in an attempt to ﬁnd a viable solution to their problem.
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issue four 39
An House On The Rock bi-monthly Magazine.