osama Bin Laden Library

The Obama administration on Wednesday declassified nearly 80 documents and other materials, including books and press clippings, seized from Bin Laden’s compound during the raid by Navy Seal members in May 2011 which resulted in the death of the world no 1 most wanted.

The materials showed that Bin Laden spent a lot of time reading. The books showed that Osama read a wide range of books from sober works of history and current affairs to wild conspiracy theories spun by anti-Semites.

He also studied his enemy the United States by reading the “9/11 Commission Report” as well as other reports on Al Qaeda by the Congressional Research Service.

The list of English-language books – which were all digital copies rather than printed editions – reads like a university reading list, largely made up of serious texts on international relations, politics and law.

So if you are looking for a reading list this summer, here is help.

The full list of English language books:

  • The 2030 Spike by Colin Mason
  • A Brief Guide to Understanding Islam by IA Ibrahim
  • America’s Strategic Blunders by Willard Matthias
  • America’s “War on Terrorism” by Michel Chossudovsky
  • Al-Qaeda’s Online Media Strategies: From Abu Reuter to Irhabi 007 by Hanna Rogan
  • The Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Greg Palast
  • The Best Enemy Money Can Buy by Anthony Sutton
  • Black Box Voting, Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century by Bev Harris
  • Bloodlines of the Illuminati by Fritz Springmeier
  • Bounding the Global War on Terror by Jeffrey Record
  • Checking Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions by Henry Sokolski and Patrick Clawson
  • Christianity and Islam in Spain 756-1031 A.D. by CR Haines
  • Civil Democratic Islam: Partners, Resources, and Strategies by Cheryl Benard
  • Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins
  • Conspirators’ Hierarchy: The Committee of 300 by John Coleman
  • Crossing the Rubicon by Michael Ruppert
  • Fortifying Pakistan: The Role of U.S. Internal Security Assistance (only the book’s introduction) by C Christine Fair and Peter Chalk
  • Guerrilla Air Defense: Antiaircraft Weapons and Techniques for Guerrilla Forces by James Crabtree
  • Handbook of International Law by Anthony Aust
  • Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance by Noam Chomsky
  • Imperial Hubris by Michael Scheuer
  • In Pursuit of Allah’s Pleasure by Asim Abdul Maajid, Esaam Ud-Deen and Naahah Ibrahim
  • Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions since World War II by William Blum
  • Military Intelligence Blunders by John Hughes-Wilson
  • Project MKULTRA, the CIA’s program of research in behavioral modification. Joint hearing before the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research of the Committee on Human Resources, United States Senate, Ninety-fifth Congress, first session, August 3, 1977. United States. Congress. Senate. Select Committee on Intelligence.
  • Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies by Noam Chomsky
  • New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11 by David Ray Griffin
  • New Political Religions, or Analysis of Modern Terrorism by Barry Cooper
  • Obama’s Wars by Bob Woodward
  • Oxford History of Modern War by Charles Townsend
  • The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers by Paul Kennedy
  • Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower by William Blum
  • The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly Hall (1928)
  • Secrets of the Federal Reserve by Eustace Mullins
  • The Taking of America 1-2-3 by Richard Sprague
  • Unfinished Business, U.S. Overseas Military Presence in the 21st Century by Michael O’Hanlon
  • The U.S. and Vietnam 1787-1941 by Robert Hopkins Miller
  • Website Claims Steve Jackson Games Foretold 9/11, article posted on ICV2.com (this file contained only a single saved web page)

The documents ‘probably used by other compound residents’ includes

  • Art Education: The Journal of National Art Education Association, “Islamic Art as an Educational Tool about the Teaching of Islam” by Fayeq S Oweiss (March 2002)
  • Arabic Calligraphy Workshop by Fayeq S Oweiss
  • Published Work Sample from Fayeq S Oweiss (2004)
  • Resume for Fayeq S. Oweiss, PhD (2006)
  • Delta Force Extreme 2 Videogame Guide
  • Game Spot Videogame Guide
  • Grappler’s Guide to Sports Nutrition by John Berardi and Michael Fry
  • Guinness Book of World Records Children’s Edition 2008 (scans of several pages from)
  • Is It the Heart You Are Asking? by Dr. Islam Sobhi al-Mazeny (suicide prevention guide)
  • Silkscreening Instructions
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (CNA) talked about several things in her Arthur Miller Freedom to Write lecture, which closed the PEN World Voices festival in New York Sunday night.

She had sharp words for everyone and here I capture the poignant points.

• CNA declared that America had its own censorship. “There is a general tendency in the United States to define problems of censorship as essentially foreign problems,” Adichie said. She pointed out that Americans like to be “comfortable”. And she worried that the comfort has brought “dangerous silencing” into American public conversation. “The fear of causing offence, the fear of ruffling the careful layers of comfort, becomes a fetish,” Adichie said. As such, the goal of many public conversations in the United States “is not truth … [it] is comfort.”

• Without mentioning the personal ordeal surrounding the kidnapping and release of her father, she characterized Nigerian’s life as one where they expect “pain.”

• CNA identified social media as a contemporary “tool of silencing”. That the focus of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, which was centered on the abducted girls in Chibok was censorship forcing Boko Haram to look just like the Taliban. “It is censorship to force a story to fit into something that already pre-exists.” She pointed out that Boko Haram were not targeting girls only, but opposed western education for both boys and girls.

• CNA said that breaking silence is not always easy. “To choose to write is to reject silence,” Adichie went on to say, “I have often been told that I cannot speak on certain issues because I am young, and female, or, to use the disparaging Nigerian speak, because I am a ‘small girl’ … I have also been told that I should not speak because I am a fiction writer … But I am as much a citizen as I am a writer,” she said. It was as a citizen and writer that she spoke out against the recent criminalisation of homosexuality in her home country, a law that not only put the safety of many innocent civilians at risk, but also many of her friends.

• CNA concluded with an anecdote about her own teaching of a workshop in Lagos. A student complained that a story was not “teaching us anything”. At first Adichie dismissed him, but later she thought she had engaged in an “overprivileging of literature”. His question, “Does literature matter?” was an important one to her. “I would not want to live if I were not able to have the consolation that stories give me,” she concluded, “and for this reason I will stand and I will speak for the right of everyone, everyone, to tell his or her story.”

floyd-mayweather_jpeg

Late last year, radio personality Kelly Mac interviewed outspoken and undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather on 107.3 Jamz. The “best” pound for pound boxer, Floyd “Money” Mayweather confessed that he has a “good heart,” but that he does not feel obligated to give to charities, specifically in Africa.
“[People] say ‘well, he got all this money, why is he not giving to Africa?’” starts Mayweather. “Well, what has Africa given to us? What has Africa came and gave to my children and to my family? Things work two ways.” He then discussed the threat that he believes giving too much money to charity can cause. “Everybody’s always talking about giving, giving, giving. That’s the problem. Everybody’s doing so much giving, at the end of the day, they may not have nothing. Then they’ll say ‘why was he giving this to that person, and giving this to that person when he should have been saving?’”

Mayweather goes on to say that he should be able to do whatever he wants with his earnings, such as using it to provide for himself and his family. “I never got involved in the sport of boxing to say ‘I’m going to fight and make hundreds of millions of dollars and just give it all away.’ If I’m gonna mess money off in a bad way, I’m going to spend it on myself. I’m going to do what I want to do with my money. You hear people talking about, ‘well, he should…donate to this or donate to that.’ No, I should donate to Floyd Mayweather, donate to Floyd Mayweather’s family. Because that’s what it’s about.” According to Celebrity Net Worth, Mayweather, 38, is now worth $330 million. Mayweather also has a charity, The Floyd Mayweather Jr. Foundation, in which the foundation declares to help underprivileged youth in Las Vegas, Nevada. Recently, Mayweather has been in the news for reportedly spending $50,000 for rapper Nicki Minaj to appear at his daughter’s birthday party.
Watch the Video here and Tell me what you think

Click to Watch

Do you know any ORPHAN (Who lost both parents) who has completed secondary school and desires to study in the university? Tell them to apply for a SCHOLARSHIP @ www.samamagafoundation.org/apply. Deadline: May 29, 2015. For More inquiries call: 08034622690, 08174364192, 09036804381:) Please feel free to share amongst our brothers and sister.

New-Bible-Hi-Res-JPG

Q: Shortest chapter in the Bible?
A: Psalm 117
Q: Longest chapter in the Bible?
A: Psalm 119
Q: Chapter at the centre of the Bible?
A: Psalm 118

#‎FACTS‬:
– There are 594 chapters before Psalms 118.
– There are 594 chapters after Psalms 118.
– Add these numbers up and you get 1188.

Q: What is the centre verse in the Bible?
A: Psalm 118:8

The next time someone says they would like to find God’s perfect will for their lives and that they want to be in the centre of His will, just send them to the centre of His Word!

Psalms 118:8 (NKJV) says
“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. “Coincidence?

CONCLUSION – The bible is not a mere history book. It’s a pre-written Program.

RECOMMENDED READ – The Bible Code (Vol 1&2)

Let me start this way, have you ever tried being someone else? or imitating their personal attributes?, I wonder why I even bothered asking, we all are guilty of that at some points and areas in our lives (If not all). The point here is that, inasmuch as the act of imitation may look good or produce desired results, it just could be so wrong. in Fact it could be a Trap, Yes a TRAP and of course there is something called the IMITATION TRAP.

WHAT IS THE IMITATION TRAP?

I noticed the trap in pulpit ministry before I saw it in music ministry. Young preachers imitating older or better known preachers. Cadence, vocal pitch, even attempting to mimic the humor or jokes, and sometimes just outright stealing stories and analogies employed by the preacher they obviously admired.

The same thing is true in music ministries and if you’ve been around long enough you’ve probably seen it yourself. Churches whose Choir play note for note everything exactly like it was off the record. The singer who is obviously trying to be Kim Walker-Smith or the worship leader who is shouting things because he heard Matt Redman do it.

The Imitation Trap is seeing the success of someone else, and assuming that this is the way that you have to do it. To judge your success not on what God has called you to do, but on how others live out their callings. I want to present four reasons that worship leaders or any minister at all, should avoid this trap at all costs, and a positive alternative to imitation that might just be a way forward for you, and your ministry.

1.) THE PRESENT IS ALWAYS THE PAST

I don’t need any more new songs. It’s not that they are bad or that the old songs were better; it’s just that I don’t need them. I could stop hearing new worship songs and still introduce new songs to my church every Sunday for the next 10 years. That is how big my back catalog is, and I would venture to say the same would be true for a lot of churches.

When I became a leader in my Church, their song list was very different than the one from my previous church. I quickly realized that even if I did a new song every Sunday I would never catch us up to the song list I was used to because my old church kept adding new songs, they were always going to be a step ahead of me.

The same principle applies to worship ministry in general. You can try really, really hard to emulate what you see or read about the ministries at churches like Hillsong, Bethel, Elevation, Fresh Life, The Village, Saddleback, etc. But by the time you bring your church to that point (assuming it’s even possible), all of those churches that you’re trying to copy have moved forward to the next thing. You will always be a step behind.

The first reason to avoid the Imitation Trap is that it will always leave you a step behind.

2.) THEIR CALLING MAY NOT BE YOUR CALLING

A friend of mine just built a studio at his church; it’s pretty nice. They’ve got the Mac Pro’s running the latest version of Logic and Pro Tools and all the other gear you’d expect to find. They put out an album. Whether it was good or not isn’t for me to say, but I can say that it wasn’t received in the way they had hoped it would be.

Why did they make a record? Did they have a thriving artistic/songwriting community in their church? No. Did they have an audience watching their worship service on YouTube? Was there demand? Was it a natural response to how God was growing their music ministry? The answer to all of these is of course, not really.

So why did they make the record? Because it was what other churches were doing.

There are churches who strive and struggle needlessly because they are trying to be something God has never asked them to be. The small church plant barely 6 months off the ground that’s trying to operate like the large, established church that birthed them. The rural church with a worship leader who acts like you’re in the heart of Lagos, Abuja, New York or even Australia. Then there is the urban church that moves to the suburbs so they can have a large meeting space.

The second reason to avoid the Imitation Trap is because you may be trying to live out a calling that is not yours. God never called you to be like the church down the street or the church in some other town. He’s called you to be you, your church to be itself. A good verse to consider here is John 21:22-23 where Jesus tells Peter that it doesn’t matter what he’s called someone else to do, it only matters what Jesus has called Peter to do.

3.) THEY DON’T LIVE WHERE YOU DO

I believe in contextualization; I believe it because I see it in the Bible. In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, the Apostle writes that he has “become all things to all men that I might win some to Christ Jesus.” He states that “to the Jew I am a Jew, and to the Greek I became a Greek.” I believe that there is a biblical principle for us to follow, that we should minister to our church in a way that makes sense to our cultural context.

A great example of this is a church I know of in the heart of one of Nigeria’s most secular neighbourhood with well-schooled, lively, young-minded and educated church members. They have no cultural context for popular Worship songs in Nigerian languages. This church has folk, indie rock, and even techno/electronic worship. While I enjoy what I’ve heard from the Church Choir, almost none of it would work at my church, and in the same way, the majority of what happens at my church probably wouldn’t go over well there.

The third problem with the Imitation Trap is that you might be imitation something or someone who is specifically geared towards a very specific context that doesn’t apply to you. I’m really glad that the guys in the RCCG Choir (Redeemed Christian Church of God) didn’t try to be Hillsong United. In the same way, I am thankful that Avalanche (Common Wealth of Zion Assembly, COZA Choir) didn’t try to be Deeper Life Choristers. My hope is that you will do what you are called to do, in the context that you are called to do it in, and that everyone else (myself included) will do the same.

4.) THEY CAN’T EVEN IMITATE THEMSELVES

The dirty little secret to all of this is that most of the churches that people try to emulate couldn’t emulate themselves.in America, Mars Hill music was very different before they hired a bunch of outside musicians to lead their bands. Elevation Church and Bethel both hire outside musicians like James Duke, and Stu G to come in and work on their records. All or most of the musicians at the big church who’s stuff you watch on YouTube are probably paid.

Now, I’m not saying that’s wrong or evil. I am also not saying that there isn’t a big church somewhere with homegrown talent, or that any of the churches I’ve mentioned are without homegrown talent, because that’s obviously not the case.

What I am saying is that you may be trying to copy something that can’t be copied. In some ways this goes back to the last point regarding context, in that if Elevation church were the size of your church, or in your churches context, they probably wouldn’t do things the same way as they do know in their context.

The fourth problem with the Imitation Trap is that you’re trying to imitate something that isn’t real. I’m not questioning the genuineness of another church. I’ve met and spent time with folks from some of these well known churches and they are awesome brothers and sisters in Christ who have a passion for him, his church and his glory. But if you’re running and pushing a volunteer music team to operate like paid, professional musicians then you are only hurting yourself.

It reminds me of Acts 15 where Peter asks why people were burdening “believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear?” I don’t think it’s unreasonable to make this application: why are we burdening our music ministries with expectations that even these massive churches can’t meet on their own?

INFLUNCE IS DIFFERENT THAN IMITATION

I once told a friend that “I’ll borrow a good idea from anyone.” I’ve seen great ideas from every church I’ve mentioned here, and some even better ideas from churches you’ve never heard of. But it’s always been with the goal of moving towards what God has called me, or my church to do and to be.

I’m thankful for the insight and example that many ministries have. I’ve really appreciated some of the online training via YouTube that I’ve received from brothers like Paul Baloche or Bob Kauflin. James Duke is an incredibly influential guitar voice to me personally, and I always enjoy a Hillsong tune. I am thankful for the influence of all of these and more not mentioned. But I am even more thankful for the freedom in Christ to be who I am, and for my church to be what God has called us to be.

FINAL NOTE

As a final thought, I realize that this is a broad topic and that I’ve spoken in broad terms. I also recognize that I’ve mentioned specific groups and people directly as examples. If I didn’t speak clearly on something or something you read came off as being poorly worded or disagreeable, please email me or leave a comment so we can avoid confusion and miscommunication. Who knows? It’s very possible that I could be wrong on something.

Pastor Joseph PrinceToday, we honor Pastor Prince, an amazing man whose ministry has changed our lives. We will always be grateful for his faithfulness in sowing the Word. Have a wonderful Birthday! May God bless you and give back to you just a fraction of love you give us on a daily basis and your day will be rich in glory.

Join us in celebrating Pastor Prince today. Share your birthday greetings to him here!
—Team JP

I have been wondering a lot recently on the kind of songs and music we play or sing in church these days, then i came across an article  Worship Links blog about the legalities of secular music in the church. the article  pointed me to the fact that it’s a global issue in the Church today. With different perspectives, contexts, and opinions on the issue,  I’ll try to cover it from a broader angle. More and more churches are playing “secular music” in their services. It’s happening both with the live band on stage, and in the background music to ministrations. What was once unthinkable to many is now a common place in churches all across the World even in Nigeria. What’s going on? Why is this happening? Should we be worried or is it no big deal?

secmusic-main

WHAT IS SECULAR MUSIC?

The dictionary defines Secular as: “denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis”. This is an interesting definition for us to consider. By this definition, many songs that would be considered “secular” would actually not be. This will come into play later, but for now, let’s consider the common church definition*: “anything not blatantly Christian”. For the purpose of this discussion, we will only focus on lyrics. I am fully aware that there are those in the church who would want to broaden the topic to include styles of music, and maybe we’ll talk about that someday, but for now, we are talking about the words sung in church, whether the music be Rock, Pop, or Pipe Organ.

*Note: By Common Church Definition I’m going off my own personal experience  If you feel like I’m off base, that’s totally fair and you can let me know in the comments section.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT IT IN THE CHURCH?

Why indeed. As more and more churches use secular music on stage and in the background Here’s some thoughts on WHY:

  • 1. Cultural Engagement

Churches tend to run in three streams: Evangelistic, Discipleship, and Social. Evangelistic churches are the ones who will often take and use secular music for cultural engagement. “Whatever it takes to get people in the church to hear the message” is their creed and they follow through on it. This nothing new, Salvation Army founder William Booth put christian lyrics to old drinking songs, and Fanny Crosby (Blessed Assurance & a million other hymns) often put poem and lyric to the popular music of the day. Secular music is used to draw a crowd to hear the message, or to make people feel comfortable with “songs they know”, so they get used to singing when the “church songs” come up in the set list.

  • 2. Cultural Inheritance

All churches have some sort of cultural inheritance. This is where a lot of churches that flow in the Discipleship steam would tend to use secular music. Churches that have a “special” in their service, which is usually a song after worship but before the message may use a secular song with a spiritual theme. Remember the dictionary definition of secular? Many “secular” songs have religious or spiritual themes or meanings. Some webpages that provide chord charts for worship songs have special sections for this type of special music. Songs like “Turn, Turn, Turn”, “Have A Little Faith In Me”, “Lean On Me”, “When Will I Ever Learn (by VanMorrison)” or “Show Me The Way (Styx)” or any number of U2 songs (Yahweh, 40, etc) are often re-purposed for church use if they fit with the message or the theme of Sunday’s sermon.

  • 3. Cultural Reality

A while back I was told of a Church in Lagos (Nigeria) that allowed Korede Bello (a Well known NON-GOSPEL Musician) to sing a song from his album. I asked about it and found out that his music was considered by the Pastor of the church as uplifting, hence worthy to be placed on the altar. It wasn’t for the purpose of engagement and it wasn’t some sort of compromise, but it was just an attempt to blend with the cultural reality of our present society which majority of our church members stem from. This was church of people who were gospel centered and biblically minded. In their context, playing a record with good music and no swears just wasn’t a big deal.

  • 4. Cultural Compromise

Somewhere, someone is reading this blog and screaming “it’s all compromise!!!”. But I’m not talking about the “whats” but the “why” of doing secular music in church, and there is no doubt that cultural compromise is a legitimate reason. Both the Engaging and Inheriting churches above are choosing their music out of well meaning reasons. I was actually surprised that when I tried to think of churches that I felt firm were “compromising” and the truth was that none of them were using secular music much, if at all. I’m sure there is someone, somewhere that I’m not thinking of, but the fact is that for the majority of churches who use secular music in some form in their services are doing so with generally good intentions, historical precedence, and in some cases, with either a biblical reason, or at the very least are operating in biblical freedom.

WHO ARE YOU PLAYING TO?

If I’m playing worship music the purpose is to sing to God and serve his church by giving a vehicle for the church to do the same. So in that case, playing purely secular music doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Conversely, I have heard of some friends who do old school swing music (think a cross between Sinatra and Brian Setzer). They go to public places in their city and across the world. They bring a few kids who know how to swing dance ( Double dutch, Lindy Hop, Charleston, East coast, etc) who start to dance and draw a crowd, they then start teaching people in the crowd how to dance. Once you’ve got the crowd, they begin to share their story, and what God has done in their lives. Even more important than the public preaching to their ministry is the one on one conversation that happens. I’ve gone on outreaches in that style before and have had some very fruitful ministry talking to people on the street or public places who came closer because of the music.

WHERE DO YOU STAND ON THE SUBJECT?

I really want this post to be a conversation starter more than an open and shut case. I’m both liberal and conservative on the subject. I think a church that plays a new, trendy secular song (such as the songs in the Nigerian Main stream) every week to connect with unbelievers is both silly, and unnecessary. I also don’t think its a big deal if a church band or choir finds some song with a certain spiritual theme or idea and repurposed it for God’s work.

As with so many things you have to ask questions: What is my cultural context? Both in this Life and in this church? What does my leadership say on the subject (if they care at all)? What am I doing? Outreach or Upreach (worship)? Will this serve people? Will this hinder people?

There’s a lot of music out there that’s labeled as “secular” that has some really deep thoughts on life, God, Jesus, and faith. There’s also a lot of “sacred” music that has next to nothing to say on any of those subjects.

It’s not as closed a subject as fundamentalists would have you believe, and it’s not as open a subject as those pushing the envelope think.

Thoughts? Leave a comment

Kim Jong-un  ... The SUPREME Leader of North Korea

Kim Jong-un … The SUPREME Leader of North Korea

North Korea was in the news again and it wasn’t for Kim Jung Un’s state media issue image from a factory or orphanage visit. It was allegedly for devising new uses for a gun originally designed for shooting down enemy airplanes.

Though Kim wasn’t the first person to find scary uses for anti-aircraft guns (that distinction perhaps goes to the ingenious Arabs, who found in them a ready mate for the Hilux van), this post is bigger than reports of his most recent adventure. This post is about the major thrust of the North Korean narrative from all sides: propaganda.

As part of an interview panel last year, I got the chance to throw assessment questions at the candidates, who were mostly young graduates with some experience in cyber journalism and blogging.  One of these questions was: ‘what is the biggest news in the world right now?’

The idea was to gauge whether the candidates cared enough about the world around them to pause and engage with it. Unsurprisingly, considering the demography we were dealing with, most of the interviewees did know about their environment and were also able to navigate, to an extent, the constant flow of local and international news.

However, the story changed when we probed deeper, aiming to gauge what I call their propaganda perception skills. That very few passed that particular test didn’t come as a shock. If anything, it only affirmed how hard it has become to distinguish propaganda from real news.

Some analysts even say that the gap between propaganda and news has become so faint that every journalist, writer, and blogger is an unwitting accomplice. As such, every time we allow a bias that we’ve subconsciously developed as a result of our media influences to seep into and colour our work, we are helping propagate what could be a carefully planted propaganda message.

This fact was very much evident in the answers the candidates in our interview gave to the questions put to them, and this shows how much we are shaped by the media.

As a whole, most of the candidates, young people in their 20s and early 30s, pointed to the crisis in Iraq and Syria and the Scottish referendum as the major news stories in the world as at then, they, however, had little personal opinions about the news. When prodded, those who tried to voice opinions sounded like Fox News newscasters, regurgitative, with little sense of balance.

Since they were supposed to run what will be a major news site in Africa in a few months, their responses fell short of the required benchmark, which is for journalists to be able to effectively find their way in the international and local news landscape and have a clear understanding of how politics influences news reports. It may look like a tall order, but the truth is far simpler than that: understanding how the media, everywhere, works, grants a journalist the ability to sieve through the propaganda to get to the real news it garnishes.

For example, while our candidates knew about the crisis in Ukraine, most could not break through the reporting nuances of the media to get to the fact that the conflict resulted from a much wider conflict that stems from NATO’s expansionism and Russia’s efforts to keep it out of its sphere of influence. They also mostly believe that while Putin is a problem, Obama and the EU leaders are saints that are more interested in world peace. When we tried to point to Iraq, Libya and a couple of other countries where the west, not Putin’s Russia, had been the catalyst for the destruction of flawed but functional societies (in effect, whatever the western media accuse Russia of; their government has been guilty of, ten times over), it was a hard sell to some of the candidates.

The problem we noticed with our small group of interviewees is something that affects the general population.

Take Boko Haram and its bloody insurgency for example. While people rightfully note the bloody carnage that that devil’s spawn is spreading across northern Nigeria, journalists readily fall into the trap of wrongfully painting the group as mindless. Boko Haram, like most ideologically driven sects, is not mindless in its approach to insurgency. Boko Haram may have started out without a predictable mode of operation, but this is because it was mimicking of other insurgencies.

From Car bombs to suicide bombs, from beheading to planting flags in towns, from attacking military facilities to turbaning emirs and declaring Islamic caliphates, Boko Haram was looking towards and imitating the actions of the global Jihadist movement. Thus, its mode of operation is a combination of that of several like-minded insurgents. As such, to effectively report about Boko Haram, the writer/journalist must put this into perspective, and also recall the more benign start of the group and the fact that the Nigeria state (read, its police force) bears direct responsibility for the creation of the devil that Mohammed Yusuf’s sect became.

Most importantly, while a western journalist’s report may be shaped by national interest and the pressure from his/her employer, the views of a Nigerian journalist covering the same news should not in any way be shaped by such considerations. As such, when reporting the news of the Kim Jun Un’s recent brutality, balance means indicating that the news came via South Korea, a nation still effectively at war with North Korea and whose Intelligence agencies–widely attributed with this new information–has been proven to have lied about events in the North, including executions of Kim’s close circle, in the past.

The lesson here is that no news item should be viewed in isolation and that balance can only be achieved by studying the underlying causes and getting a little bit of the historical perspective.

With the arm wrestling currently going on in the world between the powers, the world should be looking to us for unbiased analysis, which we sadly can’t provide if we just copy and paste the one-sided narratives that parties in the conflict provide.

I am not a worship leader. I am a Christian.
Most weekends in our church, for a number of years now, I find my service to Christ and His Church being outworked by leading people in worship. But that is not who I am. It is simply what I’m doing in this season.
I’m a huge believer in the truth that the power of what is seen and what we do is entrenched in the strength of the unseen and who we are. It cannot be understated that our functionality in the Church as worship leaders, musicians, artists, dancers, film makers, technical teams, etc… is contingent first on our functionality as Christians.
The power of what is seen and what we do is entrenched in the strength of the unseen and who we are.
I was reminded of this again today as I did my daily Bible reading. How many times have I prayed the prayer from Isaiah 6:8 ?
“Here am I. Send me!”
It’s such a glamorous prayer to pray! It comes with a sense of adventure and anticipation for this romantic, idealistic odyssey to unfold. One snap of the great celestial finger and my ordinary life becomes extraordinary!! Oh, to be sent by God!
(yes, I’m using hyperbole)
Preceding this prayer in Isaiah 6, I believe we see a key to the daily discipline of discipleship that is so important for the success of our Christian lives. What happened before Isaiah uttered those words?
He saw God and responded to what he saw.
He then heard God and responded to what he heard.
“Here am I. Send me!”
Why, through various seasons of my life, have I prayed those words without then following through or seeing apparent impact? Why does it seem to be the same for so many others?
Perhaps it’s because without a relentless daily pursuit, through the daily discipline of discipleship, to see God as He is, hear His voice, and respond accordingly, my prayers lack the grounding that sees them become reality.
On the latest Young and Free EP by Hillsong is a song that I’ve been singing in our youth ministry and church called ‘Pursue‘, written by Hannah Hobbs and Aodhan King. The lyrics of the chorus have become for me (and I’m sure for many others too), a commitment to discipleship — the tireless, single-minded pursuit of following Christ.
Now until forever
Jesus I surrender
Show me what I don’t know
More of You
I’m desperate for Your presence
Longing to be with You
Lead me to a new place
More of You

As creative teams, let’s never forget that we are Christians first.
When what we do week in week out flows from the strength of living daily as disciples of Christ, I believe that we’ll see immense longevity and fruit come from everything that we do.