Remove the labels!

You may have had some negative things spoken about you lately or throughout your life, but you must know this:

YOU ARE NOT WHAT PEOPLE LABEL YOU…YOU ARE WHAT GOD LABELS YOU!! HE ALONE MUST HAVE THE FINAL SAY!!!

So quit believing those things…and put on your new found label in Christ. And begin telling yourself all the good stuff: I am beautiful, caring, intelligent, the best… (the list is endless!).

Say it TODAY! Do not remain what people think and say that you are. There’s never a great time to break free from all that negativity than everyday. Everyday is the right time! So, make a conscious effort everyday to cast off all those cloaks of negative labels!

See you at the top!

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©Mark Gadogbe, 2021

Stop lying to yourself

This new year, I hope that part of our resolutions would be to stop living a lie in our marriages and relationships just to keep or save face. If your marriage/relationship is not good or healthy, it’s just not good. Face that ‘shit’ and deal with it!

Stop all that “playing religious” just to hide the garbage in your marriage. It’s not good for your health. If you die in it, we’ll bury you anyways. There is so much to live for, and a whole lot not worth dying for. A lot of marriages only look good on the outside because we keep playing the game of religious pretense, deceiving our own selves.

I hope you do not realize too late to save yourself from a bad and toxic marriage or relationship this new year, before it kills you.

Cheers to a happy and healthy 2021! 💪🏽

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©Mark Gadogbe, 2021

Featured image credit: https://instagram.com/serwaaamihere?igshid=kyrilkeealxj

Public Opinions

Sometimes in life, when you seek too many opinions from people, you never get to make any bold decision! And most times too, when you need others’ opinion, you never get it until after a decision is made and then their “expert opinions” on your decision (actions) come flying in torrents. “Oh, you should have done it like this or that, or you should have gone this other way”, etc., will always be the feedback from your critics, who funny enough, just sit and wait to offer their criticism only after an action is taken.

The spirit of unhealthy criticism seems to have gotten into many of us, and all we know and do lately, is turn ourselves into “social commentators” who just sit and talk (commenting) all day on other people’s life choices, especially all over the media platforms. Whenever news gets into our ears or our social media feeds, of people around us who are striving in life and daily putting themselves out there to make ends meet – often on the back of many critical personal decisions – we quickly zoom into our default criticism mode and make unwholesome comments about them. If only we are putting in the works ourselves, that could be cool, but no, we always forget we have so many decisions to make about our own lives that we ourselves are not even courageous enough to make. Sadly, instead of lifting people up with inspiring opinions, we instead specialize only in pointing out other’s faults, denigrating them or hating on them. This is becoming the growing trend with this new generation of ours, especially on social media platforms.

This unwholesome trend is making social media no longer fun for a lot of people. It is no longer a place for the faint hearted, but those who can grow the toughest skin to all manner of criticism, abuse or cyber bully. It is now a place where even a post with the most innocent of intentions can place you in deep waters of cyber bully which can cripple your very existence.

Funny enough, most of the people we always find expedient to criticize for making what to us are ‘wrong choices’, as if that is our paid job, are the ones not just sitting down like us, trying to act all clean and angelic. Rather, they are at least doing something with their life, they are the ones putting their hands to the plow and trying out what works or will not work for them, learning valuable lessons and making future improvements. One day, they are the ones that will grow to become resilient influencers and world game changers. On the contrary, it is we, the critics, who now call ourselves “social media commentators”, who will remain at the same place with apparently nothing better to do with our lives, other than offering vitriolic criticism.

Perhaps, the most talked about people are always people who are doing something and trying to get somewhere. Critics will always remain to talk down achievers, but may themselves not be achievers. Very few achievers seem to waste time talking down others.

Well, criticism in itself is not a bad thing, but it must be constructive. Otherwise, it is only damaging and never builds a person up. People struggle to turn out good when they constantly hear negative words thrown at them. Try that on your child or spouse and see how they turn out. Words carry power and our words must always be measured, even if we want to criticize. Negative environments are just so caustic, and we must do all that we can to avoid them – at least, for our own mental health.

©Mark Gadogbe, 2020

Featured Image Credit: Instagram | @adina_thembi

https://instagram.com/adina_thembi?igshid=okjw7q120usi

Dear Women, It’s International Men’s Day! Hello?

International Men’s Day is celebrated on 19th November every year to celebrate men and address some important male issues. Unfortunately, it appears the day doesn’t receive as much buzz as its opposite, International Women’s Day, which is celebrated on March 8 every year.

I know it’s somehow sad that an important day as International Men’s Day passes every year without some women in our lives even realizing it. The least they could do is to use the day to recognize our existence as men and the positive roles we play (no matter how little) in their life and society as a whole, but somehow, it often appears there’s a grand scheme amongst some women to pretend not to know what day today is and what every little bit of appreciation means to men.

Maybe it’s not a grand scheme after all. Perhaps it’s just a sad reality that only a few men out there are influencing women’s lives positively enough to warrant a great celebration or recognition by the large army or population of women.

Perhaps, the reality might also just be that it is time for us men to embrace the sad fact that the world is progressively becoming feminine, and our essence in this new world might continue to be downplayed. We might as well awaken to the fact that it’s not just gender equality or balance that is being sought but female domination.

Perhaps, all men are needed for by some women in this “new feminist world” is to be sperm donors. If we are not lucky, that’s the only recognition we may continue to get. We may only find our worth when our “new age women” get tired of their dildos, so let’s fast and pray they do real quick…for our own good. 😂😜

In any case, may the good Lord continue to bless and lift up all women who continue to recognize, appreciate and celebrate the men in their life. Thank you for being our support system and life blood! 🙏🏾

Happy International Men’s Day to all men! May we continue to play our divine roles and fulfill God’s purpose in our lives. The world can still not do without us, under God’s divine order. 👏🏽💪🏽🙏🏾

©Mark Gadogbe, 2020

Witnessed a mix of good and bad fatherhood

Our fathers are great (not all though), but we do not want to be like them when we become fathers…we want to be better. Yes, better than they are or were! Come on fathers, a charge to keep we have…!

A charge to keep…🤔

My view of fatherhood has been a balanced one because of my personal experiences. Even though I focus most on the good, I appreciate the ‘bad’ as well.

Ultimately, dad has been a great dad, but he had his good times and bad times with parenting. I had a fairly balanced experience of fatherhood growing up. I grew up to witness at first hand, both the good and the bad. Dad had largely been a great dad; but at a point, he admittedly became a bad dad and neglected his responsibilities towards us. I wouldn’t say he is fully to blame for my parents’ divorce and our bitter experiences of growing up in a broken home, but he obviously contributed. Mum single handedly shouldered a lot of responsibilities until her untimely demise. But I’ve been blessed to also see Dad acknowledge his shortcomings openly to us following mum’s death and trying his best to make amends. I have seen a beautiful lesson of a Dad pick himself up and try to be better.

Even though it had to take the shock of mum’s death to perhaps bring our Dad back to his senses, I guess he really did his best to reunite with his children. Ten years on, after mum’s demise, he’s still trying his best to be there for us in every capacity as a Dad, obviously having learned his lessons. On our part as his children, I wouldn’t say there’s still any bitterness towards him for the way things went (trust me, words can’t describe how really broken our relationship with Dad was), except that we do sometimes wish mum hadn’t gone that early.

But we also do know that there are no guarantees in this life and that our story or experiences is obviously still better than many people who had to go through worse. Whether we like it or not, the obvious truth is that, there are families much more devastated by divorce and failings of parents. It is therefore important to have that balanced thought and always be reminded that, no matter what we are going through or facing today, our story is still better than millions out there.

So, on every Father’s Day going forward, we just feel blessed that things turned around for us and our Dad, when we never even imagined it would. And then, we also remind ourselves of our resolve to do better and be better.

Indeed, a charge to keep we have and a God to glorify! Happy Father’s Day to all you amazing fathers out there! Keep giving fatherhood your best shot, God being our help! 🙏🏾

Been grateful for this one thing…all my life 😊😁

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©Mark Gadogbe, 2020

Watch your associations

Some people don’t want us to become better than them so they always find a way to discourage you or create doubts in your mind about your plans.

It’s important that you never become comfortable with your associations or where you have reached in life. Sometimes your vision is bigger than that of your associates and you need to always realize that so you don’t settle with their mediocrity.

One of my favorite quotes is by Steve Maraboli. He says:

“People who lack the clarity, courage, or determination to follow their own dreams will often find ways to discourage yours. When you change for the better, the people around you will be inspired to change also….but only after doing their best to make you stop. Live your truth and don’t ever stop.

You must get to a point in life when you can tell yourself you’ve got no time for negative energies. Life is too short to entertain, court or waste time on negative judgmental assumptions of people or the attitude of people who constantly try to make you feel bad or doubt yourself.

This year, resolve to live your best life and be your best self.

©Mark Gadogbe, 2020

Positive declarations and prayer

Today, I feel led to speak LIFE over you:
I command every dead thing in your life to come back to life.
May your business, finances, marriage, relationship, education, etc witness a glorious facelift.
I declare that your joy is returning and out of your belly shall flow springs of living waters.
I see God writing your story anew and I see the windows of heaven open over you.
You shall not die before your time but you shall live to be celebrated.
I silence every voice of accusation against you.
You are delivered from the grave!
The hand of the devil is lifted off your business, marriage, family, children, etc!
From today onwards, your destiny is secured and God’s pillar of fire is separating your camp and that of your enemies.
No evil shall befall you and no plague shall come near your dwelling.
You are blessed, an oak of righteousness, a planting of the Lord.
Many shall come to enjoy your fruits, to drink of your waters.
You are victorious in life and nothing can change that;
For He that has promised is faithful and He shall perform it!!!
Amen and Amen!!

It’s a prayer to be claimed…so if you believe it, shout a big AMEN to receive it.

©Mark Gadogbe (McApple)

Pressures of young married couples

Young married couples need money to run their life. Once you marry in our part of the world, your responsibilities skyrocket because it’s never about just you and your partner. There’s so much to do and there’s so much external pressures…especially from our families. You don’t have to complain in our part of the world…you just have to cope; it’s called being “responsible“.

We’ve seen many young couples unable to survive because many fail to sit down and plan their monthly expenditure early in their marriage. When you do, you’ll actually realize you have very little to save for your future after trying so hard to satisfy “everybody”.

Everybody is trying to get money out of you in our part of the world and funny enough, they see it as their “right” to have a part in your small money. Family, friends, church, strangers, etc. Some take it as a loan and do not pay back, perhaps thinking your situation is better than theirs. Others think it is their “human right” to demand money from you just because they are your family. The Churches especially, if they have their own way, they will take all your monthly salary and tell you to go depend on God’s supply.

Many churches these days don’t care the source of your money or how their members make a living. It doesn’t matter to them how young folks make their money (genuinely or not), as long as they bring it to Church. The more you give in church, the more you’re liked and the closer you get to (or the better attention you get from) the “man of God”. The more affluent you seem, the more the Church tries to get closer to you or act as if they care about you. Minus the money, you’re on your own. Some Pastors live on Church funds (which of course keeps growing) so it doesn’t matter to them to even think about the kind of financial responsibilities their members carry outside the Church.

Out of over spirituality too, many struggling young couples themselves too don’t mind throwing money at Church even if they can’t feed their family. If their family member is in real need even, they will rather send the money to church than help the family member with it and not have anything (e.g. tithe) to give at Church.

Some churches have no clue at all what work their young members do. In fact, they know close to nothing about the people they call “members”. They care rather more about “members” bringing in money to give tithe, offertory, covenant offering and all the many others they have devised in our part of the world.

We are living in a time where many people are doing very dubious things just to make money and some feel encouraged or rather pushed by our churches and their constant demand for money and so will do just anything to “save face” in church or feel they also belong. Imagine how close you are to the “man of God” or the position you hold in Church and most times that he asks for members to sow “a seed befitting your status” you are unable to give. Some Pastors will even force you to give by calling out your name or putting you on the spot with all manner of tricks.

But the sad truth is that, most times when young married couples or “members” are even in need, family and friends offer help faster than the Churches we give all our lives to with 100% religious devotion. In fact, you even feel more comfortable going to family and friends for help than the Church. The Church mostly becomes the last resort when all avenues have been exhausted. How many churches even help their poor members? Most times, they even take longer to help. It is mostly when “members” need the Church to come through for them that the Church starts acting funny with their “are you a member in good standing” antics, but surprisingly, one’s membership never comes into question when the Church needs your money (tithes,offerings,fund raisings for projects, etc).

The financial pressures are just so much on young married couples…but many times too, we are our own enemies because we try to do too much to please everybody. We must learn to live within our means, always watch our finances and have good financial plans for our life. We must live with the mind that help is never coming from anywhere. It’s sad because I often see young married couples depend on alms just to get by, yet still give all they have without thought to church, family and friends…just to save face and thereafter wallow back into poverty. I don’t know what kind of mentality that is though. 🤔

©Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2019

Image source: El Carna Studios

Never jump the steps

For many, their marriage story is somewhat like this: they were so consumed by love and unable to control their passions for each other and allowed it to blaze on until “unfortunately”, she got pregnant. Then, to avoid the “Christian shame” usually associated with such, they decided to get married quickly, before any of the “over-religious Christian critics” see signs of it. And then, it is only after the baby comes…perhaps with troubling symptoms, that they begin to hang their passions on the wall and do the all-important background health and family history checks, stuffs that they should have done way back! Not everybody gets so lucky to escape situations of this nature when you allow your erections and horny feelings control and determine your direction.

It is always a very difficult decision breaking things off with one’s lover of God knows how many years when hit with the inevitably ugly situation of not being “medically compatible” perhaps in your genotypes. On the other side of the coin is “family history“. Never underestimate the possibility of the one you met somewhere and fell in love with turning out to be a direct family relation. These stuffs may be rare but real; there are true stories out there of people it has happened to who had to bitterly separate because of incest. Not every culture deals kindly with incest and some have lost lives and beautiful futures. The gods in some of our African families may not be that forgiving as the God up in Heaven.

Avoidable situations of this nature in love relationships are what a good friend of mine describes as “jumping the steps”. Of course, it’s a simple principle in relationships/marriage that, when you jump the steps, you risk a great fall that either leaves perpetual damage or a big scar for the entire life of that union. The exception to the rule is only by God’s divine grace.

So, here’s the thing. When you meet someone or fall in love with someone, still try hard to not let your horny hormones take the better of you into sleeping with each other, worst case having unprotected sex, before making the all-important family background checks and medical compatibility tests. Stop fooling yourselves that love conquers everything…there’s love and there’s stupid love. That love may fly out the door at the first smell of trouble. When in doubt, ask the millions of people all over the world who have been abandoned by the ones they once thought loved them and nothing could ever separate them.

Surely, there’s a reason why God gave us brains to use even when we are deeply and madly in love. Never jump the steps!

©Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2019

The right attire for Church (God’s presence)

On Sundays, we put a lot of effort into dressing to look our best for God and sometimes it appears the way we dress is what actually makes us accepted by God in His presence. Many have equated not dressing one’s best when going into God’s presence to having total disrespect for God because one wouldn’t dress just anyhow to meet a renowned worldly personality, how much more God. Most churches even put more emphasis on our looks before God on Sunday mornings than how receptive our hearts should be for God’s word coming into Church. Perhaps a clean look equals a clean heart for God.

There are rules for dressing in some churches

Here’s a little story I once read years ago (can’t remember the source) and that changed my perspective on what exactly the right attire (or attitude) should be for Church:

One Sunday morning an old cowboy entered a church just before services were to begin. Although the old man and his clothes were spotlessly clean, he wore jeans, a denim shirt and boots that were very worn and ragged. In his hand he carried a worn out old hat and an equally worn out Bible. The church he entered was in a very upscale and exclusive part of the city. It was the largest and most beautiful church the old cowboy had ever seen. The people of the congregation were all dressed with expensive clothes and accessories.

As the cowboy took a seat, the others moved away from him. No one greeted, spoke to, or welcomed him. They were all appalled at his appearance and did not attempt to hide it. As the old cowboy was leaving the church, the preacher approached him and asked the cowboy to do him a favor. “Before you come back in here again, have a talk with God and ask him what he thinks would be appropriate attire for worship.” The old cowboy assured the preacher he would.

The next Sunday, he showed back up for the service wearing the same ragged jeans, shirt, boots, and hat. Once again, he was completely shunned and ignored. The preacher approached the man and said, “I thought I asked you to speak to God before you came back to our church.” “I did,” replied the old cowboy. “If you spoke to God, what did he tell you the proper attire should be for worshiping in here?” asked the preacher.

“Well, sir, God told me that He didn’t have a clue what I should wear. He said He’d never been in here before.”

Well, I don’t know what you make of this story but it sure “touched my life” and perspective forever. Hope it does same for you. Do share your thoughts with us.

(PS: This may be a very sensitive topic for some. I do hope readers don’t take things out of context. The goal is not to condemn or approve of church rules on dressing).

©Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2019