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FEAR ITSELF: The Man of Kerioth

Nothing more to gain. Nothing more to lose.

“You’ve gotta let me in!”

“Get out of here, you lunatic!”

“Please! I need to see the council! Any priest!”

To the bustling crowd outside the Royal Stoa the unusually uninteresting sight of the man raving at the door before the temple guards barely registered. The past night had been most eventful with rumours of the arrest of that Galilean teacher, the one people claimed was Messiah. The buzz was that he was standing trial before the Roman procurator at the Praetorium. This madman, on the other hand, was of no consequence.

On the contrary, he had everything to do with what was going on. This man’s name was Judas.

“What nonsense is this?” A priest bellowed from the courts beyond as he made his way to the guards.

Judas saw his opportunity then. But as he sprang forward he was tackled to the ground by a guard. “Unhand me!” he snapped.

“Ah, yes…” Disdain dripped from the priest’s voice as Judas stared up at him. “I remember you.” With a wave the guards made way.

Judas pushed himself to his feet. “Sir, there’s been a mistake. That man, Jesus, I heard what you’re doing to him. He’s innocent.”

“Is he? You didn’t seem to mind with your theatrics at Gethsemane.”

Did he remember! But for Judas he could never forget. Betraying wth a kiss, who does that?! He had gone too far this time. How could he have done this? How could I?

“But you can’t!” The priest stared him down. “Are you trying to tell me how to do my work? Know your place, man–”

“To Sheol with it! I-I didn’t know what I was doing!”

The priest slammed a foot on the floor, the sound echoing in the hall. “You would be wise not to insult my intelligence. I know a man with an eye for the bottom-line when I see one. I was there when you came to us. You came of your own will. You wanted to know what we would pay you if you handed him over to us. You knew well enough what we were going to do, but it was just the 30 pieces of silver you desired. That says more about you than it does about us.”

Judas shut his eyes.

All his life, he always looked for the angle that would profit himself. As a businessman it was a skill that helped him. Money would answer all things, but only the smartest could get it. The risk of loss could only be avoided by overstepping the rules.

When the news of the Nazarene reached him, he knew that this was the salvation Israel needed. In the man’s voice was the authority of royal breed. This was somebody he should follow, he knew. Somebody that would be king. Somebody that it would be profitable to be close to.

And amazingly, Jesus made him one of the Twelve. Judas kept the purse for them. Jesus had taught a radical message, but the actions that followed it were alien to Judas’ sentimentalities. Wouldn’t you lose if you turn the other cheek? How can the greatest be slave of all? How does this philosophy usher in a kingdom? How can trusting God solve the pressing problems facing them? As these doubts festered, there were also moments when they seemed to make sense.

Jesus had performed miracles before his eyes. Judas and the rest of the Twelve had cast out demons by the authority Jesus gave him. It had been truly remarkable. Clearly God was with him. But why did it still seem weird? Would they be nomadic followers of this man forever? What did the future hold? This could not be the totality. Even Solomon had written in his proverbs that wisdom was profitable to direct.

Judas stuck with the best that he knew: look out for number one.That’s when Judas started stealing from the purse. It was in little bits that no one could notice. But what choice did he have? This Jesus Movement was clearly going nowhere, so why not make the best profit out of it while it lasted?

And Jesus wasn’t helping matters. He just would not change his message to get the support of the clergy. What leader does not understand the rules of diplomacy? Why would Jesus continue to walk among the poor and lowest of society? None of these were the foundations of a kingdom!

The last straw was at Bethany. A woman broke an alabastar box, pouring expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet. How could she waste a year’s worth of wages on the feet of this man? And when Judas voiced his opinion Jesus took the woman’s side.It had been the last straw. Such weakness could not overthrow the Roman occupation. The Jesus Movement was either already over, or it needed a push to take the radical violent turn it needed. It was now or never, but Judas would not miss out on what gain he could accrue.

30 pieces of silver.

Never before had such a bargain felt so empty. It mocked him, reminding him of the despicable traitor he was.

He pulled at his hair. “I don’t care about the money.” He grabbed the bag from his girdle and lifted it before his face. “This, this is blood money.”

“Watch your tongue here,” the priest lowered his voice.

“If he is sentenced, his blood will be on my head.”

“You did not seem to mind when we gave you. What is this? Are you remorseful now? Are you suddenly a believer in that demon-possessed miracleworker? You, a close confidant of the blasphemer, you handed him over for a price. The deal is over!”

“I know. Just take it. Please. It gives me no peace.”

The priest folded his arms. “That is your problem. Not mine. Get out of my sight, and take a bath or something.”

“No! Please!” He smashed the bag to the floor and it burst open, spilling and sending coins bouncing in every direction. “Take it back! I don’t want it!”

“GET THIS LUNATIC OUT OF HERE!”

The guards manhandled the screaming man and tossed him down the steps and into the streets.Where is your profit now, eh?

His thoughts mocked him. he could not face the Twelve ever again. Where could he go?

Friend, is this how you betray me?
Jesus had known. Why did he allow it to happen?

Why did I?

Nothing more to gain. Everything to lose.

Everything lost.

The only option left in his mind was the noose.

—–

Judas’ story is a tragedy for the ages. There are many suggestions as to why he betrayed and handed Jesus over to be killed. But one root we can point to is the hold ‘Money’ had on his life.
Fear of poverty or of the loss of what has been acquired can cause a person to pursue and hold on to money and all its provisions for life. It becomes a master, dictating one’s mood and causing impulsive decisions. The worst kinds of such impulsive decisions can be made in our lowest moments. Like Judas hanging himself.
It can cause people to make decisions completely inconsiderate of what is right, just for the sake of a profit.
Fear makes us shortsighted, as if there are no options except those presented before us.
But what fear does not do is to remind us that the things it is causing us to hold on to are fickle and will fade away eventually.
This is not the life God has in mind for us.
Jesus came and died and rose to give us a New Life that is abundant. It triumphs through and over all circumstances. Even in the valley of the shadow of death it fears no evil, confident that “God is with me.”
With the life of God, Money and the good life become no longer a master or a desperate pursuit but a tool to be used and enjoyed with purpose, to be a blessing to all.For Judas, the 30 pieces of silver meant nothing to him after the fact. They coud not give him the peace he needed and that his soul desired. His fear and guilt blinded him from the salvation that God was providing for him, being worked out on a hill not so far away.
Don’t let them blind you.

P.S.: I called him the man of Kerioth because one of the most accepted translations of his name, Iscariot, is the Hebrew Ish-Kerioth which means Man of Kerioth. Kerioth was a town in Judea.

Some believe it was also a take on the name of a militant anti-Roman Jewish group called the Sicarii, and that Judas may have been a member. This would support some of the assumptions of his possible frustrations with Jesus’ non-militant approach. But some believe the Sicarii did not exist until after the time of Jesus.

In this story, I tried to base elements of his character solely or majorly on what is contained in scripture. This does not presuppose that my explanations is more correct than any other. But the lessons the Bible posits are what is most important.

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FEAR ITSELF

Ever since the Fall, sin and death have held men and women in bondage, so that life becomes a sprint from birth to death. In the space in between, the enemy has used the fear of death to keep humanity in bondage.
Fear keeps us shortsighted, blinding us to the salvation God has provided.
It keeps is stagnant, afraid to venture out and expand into greater things.
It causes us to base our hopes and lives on variable and fickle things that will crumble.
The fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of loss. All rooted in the fear of death.

But Jesus came to change all that. In His death amd resurrection He defeated sin and death, and came to “…deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Hebrews 2:15
He defeated death and turned into into a doorway to the best parts of our eternity, when it is time.
He is ever with us, so we need not fear death.
Yet, in our lives, we encounter fears in one form or the other.

Over the next couple of days I’ll be putting 3 men in the spotlight. These guys were players in the background during the events of Jesus’ death and resurrection. And each of their stories are pictures of some fears we face. We will look at them and see what we can learn from them, and how they overcame fear (for those who did).
The casualty of fear is a price we need not pay. Jesus did, so we can live boldly and free.
I hope you enjoy this series.
Thanks for coming by.

And, here we go…

The Man of Kerioth

The Man of Arimathaea

The Man of Galilee

The third instalment will be posted on Sunday, April 20, 2019

A Fish ‘Tail’

A Fish Tail

There once was a fish named Mee

Who lived in the Galilee Sea.

With water all around

‘Twas the best place to be found.

All was just as he hoped it to be.

 

But one day he saw something uncanny

It looked like a shiny little penny

It glistened right there on the seafloor so bare

So inviting for a gastric journey.

 

So, ignoring the warnings he’d always been told

Like how not all that glitters is supposedly gold

He opened his mouth and, with one big gulp

He swallowed the penny.

That’s what ruined his world.

 

For from that moment, his troubles got a head start

His stomach hurt so bad, he wished he could just fart

But the penny weighed heavy and couldn’t be purged

No matter how hard he tried, it just wouldn’t budge.

 

He was stuck in position

With a bad case of indigestion

‘Cause he’d messed up big time. He deserved his lot.

But in a moment’s realisation

He saw there was salvation.

So he looked up and prayed, “Lord, save my halibut.

 

“I know that I’ve been a total fool.

And though I’m stuck in water, this is just uncool.

I’m sorry I messed up. Please help me for real.

I know you can help me. I trust that you will.”

 

It wasn’t immediate. But Mee didn’t fear.

For though it took a while, help did appear

In the form of a hand that broke through the water

And grabbed Mee in a fist.

“Oh crap,” he did mutter.

 

But the hand squeezed Mee and, voila, it was over.

The coin popped out of his mouth. He cried, “Praise Jehovah!”

The hand’s human muttered, “It’s just like Jesus said.

I’m broke, but this coin’ll pay our taxes instead!”

 

So while Mee was glad to be out of his mess

It amazed him that Jesus could use it to bless.

So he mused, “If God could take

The messes I make

And turn them into something great for His Name’s sake

Then I can trust Him to help me

And, in all my ways, lead me

And make me to be all He wants me to be.

 

Every step ordered to follow His own

Every day, knowing I’m never alone.

Every way, making the right decisions.

Guided by His hand.

That’s all my submission.”

 

I don’t know what else happened to the fish called Mee.

Haven’t seen him in a while. I’m just the Narrator.

But now, I figure he’s living a bit differently.

He’s learned a lot. And will learn a lot more.

————

 

This story was inspired by the account in Matthew 17:24-27. Jesus and his disciples entered a town and were told to pay the temple tax, so He sent Peter to the sea and said, “Take the first fish that comes up and, when you open its mouth you will find there a shekel. Take it and give it to them to pay the temple tax for Me and for yourself.” (verse 27)

Some reaches were made here for comedic and rhythmic purposes, so some artistic license was stretched. For example, halibuts are not native to the Sea of Galilee, and we don’t know for certain that Peter was broke, and most importantly, we don’t know how that shekel got to be in that fish’s mouth in the first place. For all we know, it could have been carrying that coin in its belly since it was a wee little baby fish-thingie!

But the point here is that, when we trust God with our lives, He can make something beautiful out of each and every one of us. Of course, His intention is not for us to make mistakes, as some mistakes can totally change the course our lives. But if we trust Him with our lives, He can make it so that it would look like part of a grand plan for something better when we look back on how He’s led us and guided us in and through it all. A loss may look like a set up for another opportunity. A break up may set one up for a new perspective and/or a new relationship. A delay may set one up to find something missing before.

For some of us, it may not be all that dramatic. All the good that may come out of that mess could just be so that your story would be an encouragement to another person going through what you went through, as they see God’s faithfulness even through the adversity in your story. 2 Corinthians 1:4 says, “[God] comforts us in every trouble, so that we can share the same comfort with others in trouble.” (Contemporary English Version) It could be the coin the person needs to be lifted on the inside. That, in itself, is worth it.

This is God reaching into our darkness with His Light, like Peter’s hand breaking into the water to reach that fish. God led the way in sending Jesus to die and rise for us. Through the ages, through our lives, the effects of the Gospel story will continue to reach into our stories, directing our courses to His worthy destination. Himself.

However He does it, God is at work in each of our stories, working it all out for His glory, to show His love and mercy and grace and AWESOMENESS!

He is out for you too.

Your story is not over.

UNDER THE NIGHT SKY: A Prelude to THE RIDER

Under the Night Sky teaser

“Tell us a story, Grandpa!” Betty cried.

It was a starry night in the Old West. The war had been over for decades, but the country was still settling in. Deals with the native landowners were still being brokered as many communities still dared to live on the frontiers. In those days, many chose to live independent of established settlements. Many drifted in search of a home, in search of a life. Some, having lived the lives they had wanted, chose to spend the rest of their days camping in the scenery the land afforded, living on the frontiers. Just like the old man sitting by the fire with his grandchildren, under the night sky.

The twins‘ squeals were so loud they echoed in the still night. He tried to calm them down, though he still enjoyed the sound of youth around him. What precious moments he could have with these children, be it in wilderness camp-outs, he was determined to enjoy. He’d only wished it had been under better circumstances.

“Yeah!” Ben intoned, rubbing his palms together. “Tell us a scary story.”

“Or a romantic one,” Betty said, beaming. “Where the man fights for the maiden’s heart.”

“Ugh…” Ben shook his head.

Grandpa turned to Janice, their older sister at sixteen. “What d’you think, Janana?”

From the wagon behind them where she sat, she smirked. “It’s Janice, Grandpa.” She had chosen to stay in the wooden wagon, probably deeming the grass too undignified for a young woman like her. “It’s been ages since anyone called me that.”

“You used to love it when we called you Janana.”

“Yeah, when I was nine.

“C’mon, Grandpa,” Betty chimed in. “We want to hear the love story.”

“As long as it’s also a scary one,” Ben added.

“Last time you heard a scary story you wet your bed, and I had to wash those sheets,” Janice said, staring pointedly at him.

“GRANDPA!” Ben protested, Betty laughing by his side. “She wasn’t supposed to bring that up again!”

“But the stink on that mattress was lethal…”

“GRANDPA!”

Grandpa tried to stifle a laugh, holding a hand up. “It’s alright, little man. Nobody’s bringin’ it up again. Are we, Janice?”

“OK, Grandpa.” She returned to the book she was ‘reading’. Grandpa was certain she could barely even see the words in the dim lighting where she sat.

He ruffled the boy’s hair. “’Sides, you’re all grown up now, Benny. I’m sure you don’t wet the bed anymore. Like the Good Book says, old things are passed away.”

Janice muttered, “The bedbugs definitely passed—“

“Janice!” His eyes flared enough for her to get the message. She covered her lips, still smiling. “I could tell stories from your own childhood, young lady. Embarrassing stories.”

She gasped, playing along. “You wouldn’t.”

“Oh, this sounds good.” Betty said, sitting up.

“Tell us, Grandpa!” Ben said.

“Grandpa?” Janice was just now considering the possibility that he was not joking. He was considering the same thing.

Pa leaned in to the twins conspiratorially. “There was this time, when Janana was just a wee little—…”

“You know what?” She threw her hands in the air. “The fire’s dying, Grandpa. I’ll go get more wood. And it’s Janice.

He knew there was much more on her mind than she let on. “You OK?”

“I’m fine, Grandpa,” she pushed herself to her feet.

Their parents had dropped them with him on their journey west, telling the children that they would just be ‘spending the summer with Grandpa’. But he knew it was really gold fever that had overtaken them. Rumors of the gold deposits in California had drawn throngs from across the nation just to get some gold to change their lives. He could not blame them, though he feared they would be disappointed. Even if there was something to this gold rumor, then soon everyone would have gold, and then it would be worth nothing. It was all up to chance. He just wished their lives could be better. The children definitely felt the same, and none felt it more greatly that Janice. They surely deserved better.

“Don’t go too far,” Grandpa turned to her. “You don’t want the Rider to getcha.”

“The who-now?” Ben asked, his ears practically perked at the idea.

Pa turned to the twins, knowing he had their attention. Dramatically affecting a shocked expression, his nose flared in mock horror. “They never told you about the Rider?”

Janice rolled her eyes. “Ugh, you are not telling them that one.”

“What story?” Ben’s ears practically perked at that. “Tell us, Grandpa.”

“You’ve never told us this story,” Betty said, frowning at Janice.

Pa dramatically paused, letting the shadows of the flames dance in his face as he took on a haunting tone. “Why, the Legend of the Dark Rider is a tale as old as time. It was first told to me when I was … really really young.”

“Bet Janice wasn’t born then,” Betty intoned.

“It’s a story just as true back then as it is to this day. But the best way to tell it…” he hoisted his guitar up on his shoulder. “Is to tell it in a song!”

“Yeah!” Ben pumped a fist. “A story and a song.”

“Sshh…” They fell silent as Grandpa strummed. He could see Janice sauntering by the periphery, listening. Everyone loved a good story, he mused. He cleared his throat dramatically and, with a barrelling baritone, began:

There’s a tale about a man from hell

Who rides across the desert land.

Only thing on earth he’s got’s his horse

And the rifle in his hand.

He rides to find the life he lost

Or a life he seeks, nobody knows.

You’d best watch out or he might just take yours.

That’s how the story goes.

“Is he a ghost?” Betty asked.

“More like an Outlaw?” Ben asked, his mind reeling with ideas. “Ghosts don’t know zip about guns.”

“When did you become an authority on ghosts and guns?” Grandpa asked with a smirk, still strumming. “You OK back there, Jan … ana?” He completed the pet name quietly, sending the twins in giggles.

“I’m fine, Grandpa!” Janice called back.

“Better be careful,” Grandpa called back. “Forgotten the rest of the story already?”

Janice turned back. “Grandpa, you can’t keep scaring us with cautionary tales to make us stay safe in the desert. Stay close, don’t wander off on your own. That’s the gist of it. If you want them to wet their beds while you’re at it, it’s fine by me. I don’t care.”

Grandpa wrapped the bridge and moved on to the next verse.

He creeps out in the dead of night

There’s no telling when he’s here.

He’s always lurking beyond your sight

I tell ya, you’d best beware!

‘Cause it make no difference who y’are

He’s a tortured soul, he’s got no care

He preys on your most darkest fear

That’s how the story goes.

Most darkest?” Betty asked.

“Hey, grammar wasn’t all refined back in the old days,” Grandpa said. “That’s how the song was taught to me.”

Don’t matter just how far he’s gone

Don’t matter all he’s taken.

When he’s got his rifle in your face

Remember, he ain’t fakin’.

He’s never full, he’s always out

To have his fill. He’s always about

To spill more guts and blood and gout.

That’s how the story goes.

The twins were grimacing now.

“Don’t worry. It gets better.” Grandpa peeked over his shoulder. “Janana? Wanna sing the next part?”

“Oh, don’t stop, Grandpa.”

“Yeah. The music is nice. The story, well…”

But then he stopped strumming. “Janice?” She had not replied him.

That was when he realized that something was wrong. He did not have to wait too long to find out what.

As one they turned, and the sight before them took their breaths away. Grandpa’s heart sank as he hurried to his feet. There was a horse standing by the wagon. And there was Janice on that horse, her face white. But it was the man covering her mouth, the man on the horse, who completed the picture. His wide brim hat cloaked his face in a shadow.

Dear God, Janice!

“Speak of the devil and he will appear,” his voice gruff voice droned. “Looks like someone wasn’t listenin’ in church.”

The twins screamed. Grandpa pulled them to stand behind him. But the stranger would have none of it.

“QUIET! All’a you, zip it, or she’s dead!” The barrel of his gun was in Janice’s cheek. Grandpa’s heart thumped as he tried calmed the twins down. The fear in Janice’s eyes sliced through his gut. In a way he feared he had brought this evil upon them all.

Dear God, please… it can’t be.

He held his hands out. “L-let the girl go, please,” Grandpa said, mustering as much confidence as he could. “You don’t have to pull that trigger. I – I’ll give you anything. We don’t have much money. But we have f-food … an-and water, and—“

When he’s got his rifle in yer face, remember, he ain’t fakin’…” The Rider twisted the barrel in her cheek, drawing his voice out by her ear. Her sobs were amplified in her breathing now.

Grandpa shook his head. “We’ll give you all of it! Just … please, let the girl go. Don’t … do … just, p-please … don’t hurt her.”

For a moment they just stared at each other, Janice whimpering with tears streaming down her face. God protect that child. Dear God …

“Where is it?”

Grandpa blinked. “What… Oh, sure, yes. We’ll give it to ya.” He kept his gaze on the man as he reached back for the twins. “It’s OK, little ones. I’m just going into the wagon, to get s-some stuff for the good gentleman here. You stay right here, and don’t move. Ok?”

But they still clung to him, quivering. The night had flipped, taken a turn for the worse. This was definitely the last thing they had expected for the night, and why would they? They must have been scared to death, but Grandpa had to think of their safety too.

He turned to the man on the horse. “I’ll move with the children. The food is in the wagon—“

“No,” the Rider growled. “You go in. They stay.”

Pa tried to take a step, but they still clung tighter to him.

“GET BACK!” the Rider snapped. That jolted the children as they let go of Grandpa, bawling with all their might. “Get them to shut up! Disgusting maggots!

Grandpa stretched his hands out to calm them down. “Shh. It-it’s OK. Everything’s gonna be fine. I promise.”

They sobbed past their closed mouths as Grandpa walked slowly towards the wagon. The Rider maneouvered his horse to stand by, keeping Grandpa in full view at all times. The older man knew that he could defend his family. But that gun in Janice’s face sat on the edge of his mind through it all.

Good Lord, protect that girl.

He stepped out with the sack of fruit. He dropped it by the Rider’s horse. “This is all we’ve got.”

The man watched Grandpa without a word. Slowly, he dug out one of the fruits from the bag. An apple. He bent low and gave it to his horse. The crunching of the beast’s munching stood out bizarrely in the stand-off.

Janice was crying out loud now.

Pa wished he could take control of the situation. But he couldn’t. No options – no safe options – presented themselves to him. He stepped back to hold the twins.

The Rider tossed Janice to the ground then. The girl screamed and scampered over to her Grandpa, who was just grateful to have her alive. “Oh, thank God,” Grandpa exhaled as he hurried to her. “Are you OK?”

“I’m f-fiiiiii…” But she wasn’t. Now she let the waterworks flow as she cried openly. Grandpa embraced her. The twins clung to him, crying and quivering.

“W-was that him?” Ben asked. “The Dark Rider?”

Grandpa looked up, but the man in black was already riding off into the night.

Grandpa shook his head. “I don’t know. It’s OK, Jan… it’s OK.”

She cried into his chest as Grandpa looked on. “I th-thought I was g-going to d-die…”

“You’re not dying, pumpkin.”

“H-he’s not coming back, i-is he?” Betty stared off in the Rider’s direction too.

Grandpa shook his head. “No, he’s not. But we’ll be safe and prepared, if he does.”

Something did not sit right about the intruder to Grandpa. It could not be the Rider of the story he was telling. But if it was, then that meant a whole cache of other things were about to unfold.

“And he’ll get what’s coming for him,” Grandpa said. “The story wasn’t over.”

He whispered in their ears,

So the Rider came to steal to his fill

He took and did whate’er he willed.

He’s crept on us, ’cause we weren’t on our toes.

“Pa,” Janice tried to protest, but he just patted her hair and nodded.

Cheer up, my dears, though all be dim.

‘Cause we’re not victims of his whim.

He’ll surely get what’s comin’ for him.

That’s how this story goes.

“Still think that song makes things better?” Janice asked.

Grandpa nodded. “He’ll get what’s coming for him.” He squeezed their shoulders.

One thing he knew, staring into the eyes of that man, was that he was flesh and blood. And whenever myth gave way to reality, whenever the word became flesh, things could never go as planned. Something was about to happen. He could feel it in the air.

“If I know a thing or two about men like him, it’s that no man can escape from his own story. That man’s story is not done. Not just yet.”

 

TO BE CONTINUED IN ‘THE RIDER’, THIS FALL

© Emmanuel Onimisi 2017

ABOUT ‘THE RIDER’

Hi there. Emmanuel here.

Man! It’s been over a year since a posting something new on here. But I’ve got something new coming up and can’t wait to share it with you. You ready?

If you’ve been following me on the social media lately you may have heard a bit here or there about this little novel I’ve been working on called ‘The Rider’. Initial plans were for it to be released by today, but sadly it is not completed. As the concept expanded and evolved, more editing and pruning and refining has been required. But, not to worry, it is very close to completion. Today, I’ll be releasing a short prelude to this adventure to keep appetites whetted.

But first, what is ‘The Rider’ about?

Of course I can’t spoil the whole story to you here (sorry), but I can tell you that it is about a man who rides (DUH!) It is set in the late 19th century and primarily framed as a Western (you know, those old American movies about cowboys and outlaws) because it plays on the themes underlying such stories. They are usually about a man, or a group of people, living out in the Old West, under adverse circumstances, who have to fight to protect a town, or a family, or a way of life. Some are about people running away from the life they’ve known, some about outlaws living outside the law on their own terms, and some about families on a journey. These elements have since diffused into the stories we tell to this day.

I chose the time period because of the stock elements of that time; discovery majorly. The basis of much of the inventions and knowledge base of the 20th century were propounded in that period as principles, laws and theories. But even outside of the fields of science and technology, geographical discovery had been alive for centuries by then. Many families and individuals were not tied to particular places but were in flux, not only geographically but also emotionally. Frontier families and communities were rife in those days.

I loved playing with these elements because I believe they play out in our lives to this day. Since the cultural changes in 2016, identity has been a major issue in the social consciousness. For many, who we are and who we want to be is not an affixed position but is something we ‘discover’ gradually. Everyone out there has their idea of who we are and who we should be, and they are too glad to scream it into our ears through the media, through our institutions, everywhere! For some of us, we make mistakes in the course of this quest for discovery. But we dust ourselves off and move on, hoping we arrive at some point or points that we can call home. It’s the human story, replaying ever since the days of Adam.

But then, in and beyond and through our quests, God is also working. He is at work in each and every of our respective stories, plotting how we can come to the good life He has prepared for us. Even when we never knew or realised it, He has and is still working things out for us to answer His call to life, and to truly live. For many of us He leads us gradually, slipping into the discoveries we make, ordering our steps and bringing us home. This is the primary element of the story in THE RIDER.

Because of the personal connections of these themes to me, it has become dear to my heart. I truly can’t wait for this story to be in the hands of everyone, but that’s why it must be its very best. It would be a bit darker than most of my other works, I think I should put that out there. But I can promise you that light shines through still.

So there, that’s what THE RIDER is about. Didn’t tell you much, did it? But then there’s the prelude story, ‘UNDER THE NIGHT SKY’ available online. Consider it an excerpt that actually tells you all you need to know about what to expect.

Thank you very much and have a great weekend.

The Rider Teaser 2

Love Keeps No Records Of Wrongs

Saw this post by a friend and thought y’all would like it. I did.

temissan001

Hello people! This is a short story I wrote for a writer- friend o’mine a while back.

I usually don’t write short stories but I decided to try it out. Tell me what you think, will ya?

She flinched as she applied a sac of ice against her swollen face.
“I’m not taking him back” she muttered, “I can’t do this anymore”, she
cried. Her mind reeled back to the now famliar routine. A slap, yet
another and then the slamming of fists against her frail self.
Funny how regardless of everything he did, she still always
accepted him back. For he had her bound in fetters and chains. There
was no letting go, or so she thought.
The voice of the door cut her train of thoughts, “come in” she said
absent mindedly as she stared at herself in the mirror. There he was,
somber and all. Before she…

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9/11: The Day the World Changed

I remember where I was on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

No, I wasn’t in New York. I was in my house here in Ibadan, Nigeria. My older siblings had just started a new session at their school, and were on their way home. Galaxy Television used to show some amazing cartoons (Ghostbusters and Godzilla, among others) at around 3pm, and we never missed them. But when we turned on the TV, there were no cartoons that day. Galaxy was showing a live feed from CNN. That red band with the words ‘BREAKING NEWS’ was at the bottom of the screen. Something really bad had just happened in New York City, and thousands of people were running and screaming on screen, with thick clouds of smoke and dirt rising in the background. As horror overtook the globe in those moments, I later got to understand the terrible things that had happened that day. A couple of bad guys –real ones, not like the ones in the movies– had hijacked aeroplanes and crashed them into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre. Another had crashed into the Pentagon, while yet another which had probably been headed for the Capitol or the White House, crashed into a field, thanks to the heroic efforts of the passengers and crew. It would be years before the enormity of it all made sense to me.
Thousands of unsuspecting civilians died that day. The United States was in shock, as it appeared their intelligence community had been blindsided. It was a terrible day for everyone all over the world. It was as though an erstwhile peace had just been destroyed. I can never forget the footage of the second plane crashing into the Tower.
There was grief and terror. There were questions all around. Why? How did this happen? Even here in Nigeria, the talking heads on television all tried to make sense of it all.

The world has changed a lot ever since. The United States, even moreso. The War on Terror took American troops into Afghanistan and later to Iraq, all in an effort to destroy this wave of evil that had just reared its ugly head. More have died, families have been affected. No one has been the same since 9/11.

And the questions lingered. Why? Why did God allow this to happen? Was God punishing America? Had God left them alone?

But God was right there. In the midst of the pain and tragedy, God never left.

He showed his courage and love through the lives of the brave men and women, firefighters and police, who risked life and limb to rescue survivors from the debris. Some even died in this effort.
In the days that followed, it was as if the world slowed down a little, to look at the things that really mattered. Like life … family … hope … and God. People turned to God for answers. The evil one had hoped to rain disaster and tragedy, but God took over and used it as an excuse to draw people to Himself.
You’ve probably heard of the World Trade Centre
Cross. The structures of the towers were supported by these crossbeams, so they were never given any special meaning at that. But, in the midst of the debris of the North Tower, this cross was one of the few remaining structures still found intact. It was like a reminder that in the midst of disaster and tragedy and grief, you’ll still find the Cross! God’s Grace and Mercy, and His Pain too! He weeps with all who grieve, and He comforts them because He’s right there, in it with you.
He never left us. Nor will He.
Ever.
The popular World Trade Centre cross has since been placed on a pedestal, and was a symbol of comfort to many. It is now one of the exhibits in the National September 11th Memorial and Museum. I would’ve put the picture up here, and as soon as I figure out the photo licensing details, I will. You can look it up on Google if you want.

This is why 9/11 has a new meaning to me now. It is an opportunity for the world to just slow down a bit, and look at what was lost, and at Who was with them through it all. Who IS with us.
I am sad, along with the families of the victims, at all the casualties that resulted from that day. I trust the Lord to give comfort to all who grieve. He is always with us, and will never leave us.

‘God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear…’
PSALM 46:1 and part of verse 2
(this passage of Scripture, and the verses that follow, was read by President Obama at Ground Zero, on the 10th anniversary of 9/11)

“Go, hug the Transformer!”

Have you ever been told to ‘go to blazes?’ Sorry, someone probably spoke out of turn. But on my side of the globe, what people say is, “Go hug a transformer!” This conjures up pictures of Tom from TOM AND JERRY getting zapped with electricity. We get to laugh as Tom walks away in jerks of static, while Jerry runs off laughing. By the way, it’s been over thirty years. The sooner Tom realizes he’s never gonna get Jerry the better it’ll be for him.
So Tom is staticky, not the calm and conniving Tom we’re used to, for a moment. We could say he’s a different person … er, cat. A different cat. He’s ‘transformed’!
While it looks comical, electric shock is no joke. It’s death. So please don’t go hugging the transformer on your street, no matter what anyone says!
But then there’s another Transformer I think we all should hug and embrace. And while this one has many good perks, it will most assuredly KILL you! But that’s why we should embrace it.
OK, I’m not suicidal, in case you were wondering. This Transformer is different, trust me.
Romans 12:2 tells us “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may be able to test and approve what God’s Will is, His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

So that we can know and do what pleases Him, God wants to change the way we think, changing our mindsets to become like His. A change in your mindset will change you. It is letting go of who we are so that we can hold on to who he wants us to be.
Remember the Hulk from Marvel comics and movies? He was originally a man called Dr. Bruce Banner, who was exposed to gamma radiation. This transforms him into a green hulking monstrousity anytime he’s exceedingly angry. The Hulk can do a lot of things that Bruce Banner can’t, such as having titanic strength and leaping to near-stratospheric heights. He was transformed by an exposure to radiation.
To be transformed, we need a spark. A jolt. Some electricity. Like hugging a Transformer?
It’ll be the death of whosoever dares to embrace it, but he or she will leave as a different person. Staticky, bursting with electricity.

For us to live the New Life in Christ we must let the old life with its mindsets die daily. We need some electricity. I think of the Grace of God as electricity (have you read my previous post, GRACE LIKE ELECTRICITY). While it has been made available to us, we need to deliberately recieve it. Embrace the source.

And the Source is JESUS, the Word of God Himself. He is the One we ought to embrace. He has made the Grace of God abound to us, but we need to recieve it.
Our minds are renewed as we interact with Him in studying the Bible and talking with Him. Just like interacting with a friend, soon we begin to think and talk like Him. We’re transformed as His grace fills us.
And we become more like Him, thinking His thoughts and doing His acts. We would have His heart, growing in love and abounding in it. We can’t do it on our own. We must recieve His electricity. His Grace.
Then, we are ready to get started, holding on to Him in all our ways.

Don’t you just wanna embrace the Transformer?

A not-so-major motion picture: TRANSFORMERS
A not-so-major motion picture: TRANSFORMERS
Part of a series of humorous movie posters I made for this blog.
That’s the transformer on my street. Who knows, it might actually be a robot from space! Go figure!

To Please my Commanding Officer

A couple of posts ago I hinted that I’d be joining the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) here in my country. Just in case you were wondering, nah, it’s not the military. The NYSC is a program organised by the Nigerian Government (yeah, I’m Nigerian) to place graduates of universities and colleges into service for the nation, for one whole year. Some get to work in hospitals, some in industries, and some of us get to teach in schools (yup, I’m a teacher alright!)
During our 3-week orientation experience (aka bootcamp) one fact was constantly drilled into our heads: that for the next 12 months our lives belonged to the government. They would be responsible for us, but we were going to serve them. I mean we weren’t even given a choice! They gave us uniforms, and we were consistently indoctrinated on what service to the country means. It felt like they were trying to brainwash us! And that’s not the half of it. Everyday, from early in the morning till evening, we were drilled by military personnel: standing in formation under the hot sunshine for hours (some folks fainted), marching, standing at attention anytime the anthems were sung, discipline — it was like they were punishing us for being civilians! Ok, I’ll admit it was also fun, but I still felt like they were trying to turn us into mindless pawns, or robots!
But it gets better.
Now we’ve been deployed to our places of assignment across the country, and this writer’ll be teaching for the next 12 months (and he’s loving it! The kids are amazing, thank God!) I’ve noticed that wherever I go in my corps uniform, I’m respected. People bow to greet me, elderly folks see me and bless me with prayers (in my country, the blessings of elderly folks are placed in high esteem); it’s all been pretty cool. But you see, I can’t let it get to my head. It’s not me they respect. It’s the people I represent — the government — that they respect. But it’s still been fun to be a celebrity (hehe).
It’s all come at a price, though. We live by a strict code, barring us from living like others. For security reasons I’ve been seperated from my lovely laptop (sniff!) That may seem like a small price to you, but not to me. Besides, we have given up some other stuff such as the comfort of home, friends, the lives we’re used to, etc. We represent the government here, so we gotta be good.
It’s got a military ring to it.

But then, I also am of another military breed.
Paul wrote, “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him.” (2 Timothy 2:4).
Following Jesus is like being in His army. It means we’ll live only to please Him. Actually, that’s the best way to live, because it’s got a Great Reward.
It comes at a price too. We don’t just live like anyone else would. We don’t simply blab because We have the freedom to. We don’t simply do stuff because we can. If He doesn’t want us to, we don’t. On the other hand, we speak and do stuff if and when He wants us to.
In case you didn’t notice, let me lay it out for you: YOUR LIFE IS NOT YOUR OWN!
We were made to live for Him, to please Him. That’s what following Jesus means.
It’s not everytime that this is easy, I know. But He’s told us that to follow Him we must deny ourselves. It’s like He always says: to live for Him we must first die to ourselves. That’s the way to life. And the rewards here and beyond far outweigh the hardship of submitting to His leadership. There’s glory and honour involved, but remember, it’s still all for the One that called us here. He’s not a sadistic mind-controlling dictator. He’s crowned us with His glory because He loves us. Following Him is the best thing that could ever happen to us. Really.

I too am undergoing training in His Service. By submitting myself to the guidance of His Word and His Holy Spirit, I’m allowing myself to become what He wants me to be.
A soldier pleasing the One that enlisted me.

‘For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.’
Romans 8:18

SO WHAT HAVE I BEEN UP TO?

Hello there! Emmanuel here!

I just wanted you all to be updated on some of my latest projects. Hope you like ’em! God bless ya!

If the Son therefore shall set you free, you shall be Free Indeed!
If the Son therefore shall set you free, you shall be Free Indeed!
Hupernikao means 'More than Conquerors' in Greek.
Hupernikao means ‘More than Conquerors’ in Greek.
Well, I thought that the Avengers were the equivalent of conquerors in modern pop-culture.
Well, I thought that the Avengers were the equivalent of conquerors in modern pop-culture.