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Rotational Presidency and Jonathan’s withdrawal from the race the only way to avert bloodshed: Open Letter to the President:


President-Goodluck-Jonathan-11

Borrowing from the Ondo and Anambra Governorship Polls of October 20, 2012 and November 16, 2013, respectively, as in INEC’s conduct of election 120 days before the end of the tenure of a serving governor; and specifically according to Section 132 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended in 2011, the election into the office of the President of Nigeria may most likely hold by January 2015.

On the same premise, elections into the 360 members of the House of Reps and 109 senatorial seats may most likely take place by the same month. This is in accordance with Section 76 (2) of the Constitution as amended. Elections into about 1,152 State legislative seats of the 36 States may most likely take place by the

same month in accordance with Section 116 (2) of the Constitution as amended. And elections into the 31 States’ governorship seats may most likely hold by the same January 2015. This is in accordance with Section 178 (2) of the Constitution as amended. The Independent National Electoral Commission is expected to announce the timetable for the elections most likely by October 2013(usually not later than 90 days before the poll’s date).

There are a total of 1,695 top elective offices at Nigeria’s Federal and States’ tiers of government, out of which, polls may most likely be conducted in 1, 685 seats by January 2015. The remaining ten governorship and deputy governorship seats are presently under staggered electoral calendar owing to Peter Obi v INEC Case of 2007 delivered by the Supreme Court of Nigeria. While INEC is constitutionally empowered to organize elections into 1, 695 top elective seats of the Federal and States’ governments, the States’ Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs) are charged with the constitutional responsibility of conducting elections into 11, 788 Local Government chairmanships and councillorships in the country’s 774 LGAs under staggered circumstances.

It is a truism that one out of the 1, 685 elective polls to be conducted by INEC by January 2015 will make or mar Nigeria. This singular election is “an election too many” and it is no other than “the presidential election of 2015”. It is our indisputable findings that the Presidency, the National Assembly and the Independent National Electoral Commission hold the key to the success or failure of the all-important 2015 general elections in Nigeria. The three important political establishments also face three major challenges threatening not only the polls, but also the lives and liberties of Nigerians as well as corporate existence of the country. The three major challenges are: security, unconstitutionality of rotational presidency among the six geopolitical zones and Mr. President’s second term ambition. It is correct to say that solutions to these three major challenges will save the country from chaos and bloodletting of unimaginable proportion looming large over the polls.

Consequences Of Political Domination Across Borders:

In the world over, political dominance in heterogeneous and multi religious countries by particular tribes or sections against their minority or weaker partners have led to disintegration of hitherto united and vibrant countries and caused hundreds of thousands, if not millions of deaths and institutionalization of group crimes. From former Yugoslavia to Lebanon; from Rwanda to Burundi; from Ivory Coast to Central African Republic; the list continues. The Serbs/Christian dominance of political powers from the time of Marshal Josip Broz Tito, who died in office (1st prime minister of Yugoslavia from 1943 and president between 14th of January 1953 and 4th of May, 1980), led to the Yugoslavian complex and bloody civil wars between 1991 and 2001. The wars eventually broke up the country into seven countries of Serbia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo, Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina, on account of the Dayton Peace Accords of 1995.

In Lebanon, it was ethno-religious differences between Maronite Christians and Muslims (Sunni and Shia) and political dominance and foreign influences that led to her blood civil war between 1975 and 1990. In Rwanda and Burundi, political and military dominance by the Tutsi tribe, which constitutes about 14% of the two countries’ populations respectively against the majority Hutu tribe (85%) and acute minority tribe Twa (1%) led to several civil wars that engulfed the two countries since 60s with that of Rwanda degenerating into genocide that killed between 800,000 and 1,000,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus between April and July 1994, a period of three months. Presently in the Central African Republic, the country is polarized and divided along Christian and Muslim war zones since the ousting of Gen. Francois Bozize on 24th March, 2013 by an Islamic rebel alliance known as “Seleka”.

In Nigeria, political dominance is incontestably factual. Though Section 14 (3) of the Constitution frowns at it, but the Section is made leprous by Section 6, sub 6 (c) of the same Constitution, which ousts the jurisdiction of any court to inquire and sanction its defaulters, likewise other provisions under Chapter Two-Fundamental Objectives & Directive Principles of State Policy. In 1999, the Southwest or Yoruba tribe got the Presidency through pen militancy and the South-south or Southern Nigeria’s minorities, who presently occupy the throne since 2010 (successor presidency), got it through arms propelled by resource control militancy. As the 2015 general polls, especially the presidential poll, draw closer, we are now a witness to mass defection from one party to the other and fusion of political parties with strong tribal or ethno-religious influences.

These are all geared towards returning Nigeria back to “born to rule” inglorious epoch where the old Western and Muslim Northern regions were “born to rule” and other federating partners including Igbo tribe, northern and southern minorities were “born to be ruled”. Since equity demands “what ought to be”, to be and “what ought to be done”, to be done, and judging from the premise of six geopolitical zones of Northwest, Northeast, North-central, Southeast, South-south and Southwest; the three zones of Southwest, Northwest and South-south are disqualified by equity from contesting the 2015 Presidential Poll in Nigeria, having held the plum post democratically in 1999 to 2007 (Southwest), 2007 to 2010 (Northwest) and 2010 to 2015 (South-south). In order of equitable hierarchy, Southeast, North-east and North-central are equitably favoured and qualified to contest the 2015 Presidency and two others following it and among the three, Southeast is the “primus inter pares”, followed by the Northeast. Even during the military’s inglorious epoch, it was Mohammadu Buhari (1983 to 1987) Katsina Northwest, Ibrahim Babangida (1987 to 1993) Niger North-central, Sani Abacha (1993 to 1998) Kano Northwest and Abdulsalami Abubakar (1998 to 1999) Niger North-central.

The best solution to social disharmony in a consociation democracy and ethno-religiously divided country like Nigeria is power rotation. The Republic of Tanzania made up of Unions of Tanganyika and Zanzibar formed in 1964 remains one of the stable countries in Africa. It has also not experienced any military coup since independence in 1961. It emerged from its post independence turbulence under its ruling party-Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) with some form of power balance within its ruling party, between Tanganyika, dominated by Christians and animists and Zanzibar dominated by Muslims. Its presidency has flowed from Julius Nyerere (Tanganyika) 1961 to 1985 (under limitless tenure), Ali Hassan Mwinyi (Zanzibar) 1985 to 1995, Benjamin Mkakpa(Tanganyika) 1995 to 2005 to Dr. Jakaya Kikwete (Tanganyika) 2005 to 2015. In its ongoing constitutional review, one of the leading agitations is the constitutional rotation of its presidency between Tanganyika and Zanzibar with insistence that next president will come from Zanzibar in its 2015 presidential poll. In Lebanon, with parliamentary system, the presidency and army chief are zoned to Maronite Christians, the prime minister is zoned to Sunni Muslims and the speaker of the parliament is zoned to Shia Muslims and this has restored internal political stability in the country, except other external political factors and influences such as “Palestine question” and the fate of the State of Israel on the so called Arab lands.

Summary Of What Must Be Done:

Without prejudice to a planned national conference of whatever name called, the National Assembly including the Senate and the House of Reps bodies working on constitutional amendment, should, as a matter of uttermost urgency and national importance, incorporate into the Constitution the rotation of the presidency among the six geopolitical zones under reference and state clearly on the premise of equity which zone should take the first shot bearing in mind that Southeast and Northeast have not governed Nigeria in recent times. Our prescribed order of hierarchy on the basis of a single tenure of six years is as follows: Southeast, six years (2015 to 2021), Northeast, six years (2021 to 2027), North-central six years (2027 to 2033), Southwest six years (2033 to 2039), Northwest six years (2039 to 2045) and South-south six years (2045 to 2051). If it is decided that it should start from the Northeast, or after the Southeast must have taken its turn, the arrangement must accommodate the Christians and minorities of Taraba, Adamawa, Bauchi and Gombe States. It is very important to point out that in the rotational arrangement being demanded, there will be a time for each beneficiary zone to “cry and smile”. The said constitutional arrangement can only be altered through a national conference, especially if the federating partners wish to live apart peacefully.

The second important thing that must be done is that President Goodluck Jonathan should withdraw his second term ambition so as to allow the equitably favoured zone to take its turn and avert chaos and bloodletting imminent in the polls. This sacrifice for national unity and cohesion must be accompanied with collective acceptance by other federating partners of Northwest and Southwest extractions that six geopolitical zones’ presidential rotation be incorporated into the Constitution on a single term of six years. The third important issue is the provision of adequate security to secure the liberties and lives of Nigerians before, during and after the polls. The security arrangement must also include demographic security on the part of INEC. This includes credible voters’ cards’ review, efficient continuous voters’ registration and non politicization of INEC’s substantive and adhoc staff recruitment and management.

Where It Concerns Mr. President:

Your Excellency, Mr. President should do the following:

1. Shelve Your Excellency’s second term ambition for sake of national peace, unity and cohesion.

2. Ensure that Your Excellency quickly assent to the constitutional amendment bill under reference once it is brought to Your Excellency’s attention and if indeed it warrants Your Excellency’s assent.

3. Your Excellency’s shelving of Your Excellency’s second term ambition should be conditional and must be predicated on collective readiness of the federating partners of Hausa-Fulani and Yoruba extractions to allow for constitutionality of six geopolitical zonal rotating presidency with a start from Southeast, or at extreme consideration, the Northeast, with Christian, Muslim and Minorities’ eligibility.

4. Your Excellency as the Commander-in-Chief should ensure adequate security and liberty for all Nigerians before, during and after the January 2015 general polls. To this extent, Your Excellency should reshuffle Your Excellency’s Service Chiefs and restructure the command hierarchies of the Armed Forces including the Nigeria Police Force.

5. Your Excellency, as Chairman of the Nigeria Police Council, should look into secretive and lopsided promotions of senior officers in the Nigeria Police Force by the IGP, M.D. Abubakar and some say surrogate Nigeria Police Service Commission. The names of the beneficiaries of such promotions are kept secret because the exercise is utterly lopsided and appeared to have been designed to favour Hausa-Fulani Muslim senior officers. It is alleged that a number of course mates of the present IGP from the Southeast and South-south, are still at the rank of Deputy Commissioners of Police.

Where It Concerns The National Assembly Members & Their Leaders (Senate President & House Speaker):

1. An unambiguous provision should be inserted into the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as being amended, providing for a six year single term rotational presidency among the six geopolitical zones in the order below: Southeast, Northeast, North-central, Southwest, Northwest and South-south. It should be done with uttermost immediacy and national importance.

2. Adequate funds should be provided for INEC for effective and efficient conduct of the important polls under reference.

3. Excuses of any type geared towards blocking or delaying the constitutional amendment being demanded, which may be premised on “want of time” or “national conference outcome” are totally rejected and immaterial to the present circumstance. If about 31 sections and sub sections’ amendments could be successfully carried out in the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 prior to the 2011 general polls within a short time frame, this popular demand of ours can as well be met in a question of few months before the polls.

Where It Concerns INEC Chairman & His Management:

1. Your Commission must discharge its duties in strict compliance with the provisions of the INEC Establishment Act of 2004, the Electoral Act of 2010 and the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 as amended in 2011.

2. To this extent, Your Commission should commence timely the continuous registration of voters and revalidation of voters’ cards and relaxation of stiff conditions attached to voters’ cards’ transfer processes and allied issues.

3. Your Commission should ensure deployment of adequate voters’ registration tools and personnel and designate clearly through adequate publicity registration centers across the country, which must be within the reach of registrable Nigerians. We advise that polling centers should be used.

4. Your Commission should avoid recruiting career politicians either as substantive electoral officers like RECs or adhoc electoral officers like EOs or ROs.

5. Your Commission should liaise with the NPF and the DSS with a view to constituting enforcement units to apprehend and prosecute those found flouting the criminal aspect of the Electoral Act of 2010 with specific reference to poll violence including killings, maiming, assaults, arson and other property destruction.

Finally, ominous signs are already showing the imminence of chaos and bloodletting in the January 2015 general polls. It is an established and incontestable opinion that Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gun powder. With five to seven million illicit small arms said to exist and be borne by wrong hands in the country and scattered across the country, the Presidency, the National Assembly and the Independent National Electoral Commission must act swiftly to save the country and her citizens from violence of unimaginable proportion threatening the conduct of the all important polls. All forms of parochial and ethno-religious interests must be nailed in a coffin and collectivist national interests made to hold sway. And the chief among the collectivist national interests is the constitutionality of rotational presidency among the six geopolitical zones.

The complex and complicated civil wars fought in the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 2001 should serve as a collective lesson to the political authorities under reference in Nigeria. In the wars, Serbs and Montenegrins fought on one side, Croats and Bosniaks in Bosnia fought on the other. Also wars erupted between Bosniaks and Croats in Bosnia, between Croats on one side and Serbs and Montenegrins in Croatia on the other, between Serbs and Slovenes in Slovenia, between Serbs and Albanians in Serbia, between Serbs and Kosovo Albanians in Kosovo and between Albanians and Macedonians in Macedonia. If the foregoing tragic scenario plays out in Nigeria, the so called “giant of Africa” and “the world’s birth place for black people” will be a history. The Yugoslavian pogrom and “war of all against all” must not be allowed a space in Nigeria!

Yours Faithfully,

For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law

Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chairman of the Board
Email: emekaumeagbalasi@yahoo.co.uk

Comrade Justus Uche Ijeoma, Head, Publicity Desk
Email: juijeoma@yahoo.com

Source: Radio Biafra.

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Does 2 Corinthians 1-2 Justify Promise-Breaking?.


“Because I was confident of this, I wanted to visit you first so that you might benefit twice. I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia and to come back to you from Macedonia, and then to have you send me on my way to Judea. Was I fickle when I intended to do this? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say both ‘Yes, yes,’ and ‘No, no’?” (2 Cor. 1:15-17 TNIV)

I was startled recently to read on a friend’s blog that it was a sermon on 2 Corinthians 1-2 which was part of what convinced him that it was OK to renege on a promise that he had made. Indeed, he was convinced God was guiding him to back out of a commitment he had made to a large group of people that would have wide-reaching effects on them in favor of a new opportunity that would be personally more fulfilling. He had just not had a peace about the previous commitment but now felt completely at peace.

Of course, I don’t know what was said in the sermon that proved influential. Presumably it had something to do with the passage, quoted above, in which Paul justifies changing his travel plans to Corinth. Paul was in Ephesus at the time (1 Cor. 16:8), on the west coast of what we would call Turkey. He initially envisaged traveling across the Aegean Sea by boat to Corinth in the province of Achaia, which formed the southern half of Greece. Then he would head up the northern half of the peninsula, to Macedonia, visit the cities he had evangelized there (like Berea, Philippi and Thessalonica), retrace his steps to the south, back through Corinth, and then by boat across the Mediterranean Sea all the way to Israel. The geography of 2 Corinthians 1:15-17 makes perfect sense if this is what Paul had in mind.

2 Corinthians 1:23-2:4, however, makes it clear that Paul chose to abandon those plans. As he goes on to explain, he did not want to make another painful visit to Corinth. Instead, he wanted to wait until he was assured that they had dealt with a certain individual there who was causing all kinds of problems—possibly the incestuous offender of 1 Corinthians 5:1-5. Now, however, Paul has learned that this man has repented (2 Cor. 2:5-11). Paul is therefore on his way to Corinth, but traveling over land instead, along the northern shore of the Aegean to Macedonia and then making his way down south in Greece to Corinth (2:12-137:5-7).

Apparently, this change of travel plans provoked criticism from someone in Corinth. Paul appears to have been accused of not being trustworthy, like the person who says “yes, yes” to something at one moment and then says “no, no” the next. Paul emphatically denies that this is the case (2 Cor. 1:18-22). All along he had wanted his next visit to Corinth to be one of mutual encouragement and if that meant postponing his trip and altering his itinerary, then so be it. The constancy was not at the level of the timing of the trip or who else Paul would visit en route before or after Corinth, but that he would indeed come again and do so when the Corinthians had mended their ways.

But neither was Paul breaking any promises. Paul says he “wanted” to visit them twice according to a certain itinerary (Gk. eboulomēnv. 15), not that he ever actually said he would definitely do things this way. The verb appears twice again in this passage, both times in verse 17, translated by the TNIV as “intended” and “did… make plans.” And the reason for Paul’s change of plans had nothing to do with his own personal fulfillment. His concern was entirely for what was in the best interests of the Corinthians.

But what about 2 Corinthians 2:12-13? Paul has now left Ephesus, heading overland to Greece, to meet up with Titus who has been in Corinth and find out if things were better with the church there. Apparently, the two have an agreed-upon travel route, each coming from opposite directions, and they are not sure at what point they will meet up. As he always does as he travels, Paul will also preach the gospel in the communities through which he passes. He does so at Troas, in what we would today call northwestern Turkey. Apparently, there was a good enough response there and perhaps invitations to stay longer than he had originally planned so that Paul can write “that the Lord had opened a door for me.”

But the main purpose of his trip is to meet up with Titus, in hopes of hearing that things are well enough in Corinth for him to continue on to that city. Paul’s lack of peace comes from not encountering Titus and thus from not yet receiving that good news. So he continues on his journey. This is a far cry from making a promise to engage in ministry at one location, subsequently not having a peace about it, and so going elsewhere. It is the exact opposite. The lack of peace comes because Paul’s original and primary commitment has not yet been fulfilled. He must remain faithful to that and not be tempted to go back on it in favor of a new opportunity, however alluring it must have been to stay in Troas to lead more to Christ.

I’m afraid the sermon my friend heard must have exactly inverted Paul’s original meaning. 2 Corinthians 1-2 is all about promise-keeping and in no way justifies promise-breaking because of new, unforeseen opportunities that are more personally appealing.

Craig Blomberg

Tapping Into the Power of Your Influence as a Woman.


Dr. Mark Chironna
Dr. Mark Chironna

I learned a lot about manhood from the men I grew up with. From my observations, being a man was all about power and authority. It was about taking charge and getting ahead, staking your claim and then making it happen.

Men, it seemed, were supposed to keep things close to their breast pockets and not let too much in lest they be taken advantage of.

I used to think it was indigenous to my ethnic background, until I was older and discovered that men in other cultures and nationalities modeled similar behavior. It’s all about pecking order and dominance, who’s going to be in charge and whose opinions carry the most weight. I learned at an unconscious level how to do my best to be in charge and have my way.

The irony of all that male bonding was that very little bonding actually took place in terms of truly connecting to other men. Instead, it seemed we learned how to model the behavior of the most effective guy in the pack. We would then go out and try to find our own crowd to lead–that is, if we had the urge to be leaders.

I learned how to be suspicious, how not to play my hand and how to bury my feelings. But along the way I also lost touch with genuine authenticity and intimacy. I fell for the illusion that I could make it on my own.

I have since learned that not only can we not make it on our own, but to be on our own is to be alone! Someone much wiser than any man or woman made the statement that it was not good for man to be alone, long before man ever had the chance to prove otherwise (see Gen. 2:18).

LYDIA AND ROSA The birth of rising inflation in our era has forced many families to have two sources of income in order to survive. Over the years the traditional role of women as homemakers and men as their family’s sole breadwinner has radically shifted. I can clearly remember even in my growing-up days watching my mom and dad deal with the need for both of them to work.

A challenge of a different sort also emerged: While the economy demanded that both men and women have a place in the work force, women were not considered equal to men. They were not equally compensated for the work they did.

Unfortunately, some who chose to distort truth and keep women under used the Bible to justify their failure to relate to the opposite sex in an equitable way when decisions were made and finances were involved. There was an unspoken rule–at least in the neighborhood in which I grew up–that a woman had to keep her place and that place was in the home.

Certainly there is great merit to having a secure home front and a strong maternal love for the family you are raising. No one can take the place of the nurturing influence of a woman, wife and mother.

Yet I wonder how Lydia, the Philippian entrepreneur involved in the textile industry, would have fared in today’s post-modern age of Western civilization. What might she have said about a woman’s place? (See Acts 16:11-15.)

I find it intriguing that because of Lydia, Paul was led in the strategy of the Spirit to establish a base of operations for a move of God in the Macedonia region.

This was not the Jewish world of the synagogue, in which the study of the scrolls was for men only. This was a Gentile world in which the rules were different, the culture was different, the climate was different and the opportunities were different. Paul recognized that Lydia was a woman of influence.

There is a great deal of difference between power and influence. Power has little to do with leadership, while influence has everything to do with it.

Even authority has very little to do with leadership. You can lose your authority and still be a leader. You can be denied power and still have influence.

African American Rosa Parks knew she didn’t have any authority when she got on the bus that morning just prior to the birth of the Civil Rights Movement and refused to sit in the back. However, she did have influence.

She was the reason the flames of hope burned brightly in the face of the flames of racial discrimination and hatred. Her influence paved the way for Martin Luther King Jr. to speak out against the inequality he saw in this nation.

There is no question that King had a major impact on how we view equality and justice at the end of the 20th century, yet the collaboration of King and Parks changed the outcome exponentially.

THE FEMININE VOICE In many corridors of today’s church there are those who still do not know how to resolve the woman issue. Every time I think we are regaining the glory of Paul’s declaration that in Christ there is neither male nor female, some voice rises to condemn the place of women in significantly influencing our world.

It seems to me that the percentage of women who abuse the privilege of power is small. It’s certainly not as high as the percentage of men who misuse power on a much broader scale.

But men who are hearing from God in these days of fresh outpouring are learning to observe, listen, and evaluate as the feminine voice provides the missing pieces and fills in the gap in understanding the unfolding of God’s divine purpose and will.

The rib taken from Adam was built into an entire support system that would reflect God’s glory in every arena ventured into. Men and women were designed to rule over all the works of the Creator’s hands, both in the garden and outside the garden.

The garden was the sanctuary. The first man and the first woman each had a responsibility to beautify the sanctuary and then extend it to the four corners of the globe. In open and honest dialogue they were to find new ways of viewing reality because they learned how to see creation and its workings through each other’s eyes. They were to collaborate in the process of heavenizing the earth.

Ironically, in today’s corporate world opportunities for dialogue–that is, shared and open conversation–abound between men and women. New and emerging models of leadership and influence are moving on the cutting edge of transforming businesses and organizations. “Empowerment” and “intimacy” are becoming buzz words in business society.

Compassion in the workplace was unheard of as a hot topic just one generation ago. Developing a vision of shared values where everyone feels he or she is a part and has a vital stake in the ultimate outcome wasn’t even considered necessary in the global arena three decades ago. Wouldn’t it be tragic if the secular arena modeled collaboration between men and women more effectively than the church?

Throughout the story of redemptive history we see vignettes of God’s intention to reveal the fullness of His glory through the collaboration and connection between men and women. When abusive authority oppressed the elect of God it was often the subtle and seemingly weaker vessel that became the key to deliverance.

Didn’t Deborah say that the evil oppressor Sisera would die at the hands of a woman? (See Judg. 4:9.) During the heat of battle, as his men were being overcome by the Israelite army, Sisera got off his horse, fled on foot and sought refuge in the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber. Jael drove the spike into the head of the enemy and crushed his skull (see Judg. 4:17-22).

Did Jael have authority? Not really. But she did have influence. While the battle raged not far from her tent, the victory was decided at her hand. It was prophesied that the crushing of the serpent’s head and the destruction of the serpent’s seed would be the direct result of what a woman had seeded into the situation (see Gen. 3:15).

When God wanted to initiate change in the nation of Israel, He asked for individuals who could get in touch with the feeling side of pain and bring it to speech to alter the flow of history. God, through the prophet Jeremiah, asked for the weeping women (see Jer. 9:17-22).

We don’t value tears much in situations in which we desire to be in control. Yet the power of God is revealed in the weak things that fly in the face of Adam’s broken image. Jeremiah himself had his entire ministry of influence built on his weakness and propensity for tears (see Jer. 9:1).

THE RICHNESS OF COLLABORATION Men and women will never be complete without each other. While at times we need to segregate, having meetings for women and meetings for men, we don’t need to rob ourselves of the richness we’ll find when we join together as co-laborers in the kingdom. Then we can manifest God’s glory in the church and in the world.

A world grasping for power, yet out of control, requires a church that is not afraid to be touchable, connected and flowing in a river bigger than our individual identity.

I strongly believe it’s the intention and heart of our Father that in this new era we begin to appreciate the dynamic that occurs when men and women collaborate for the sake of healing and empowering the nations. We must let the nations see the whole gospel modeled and see that transparency and honesty prevail in our relationships as men and women.

The fresh renewing we are experiencing in these days is ultimately intended to bring us to the true demonstration of God’s power and the unspeakable joy of connecting by being present to one another. Our willingness to drink deeply at each other’s wells will be the deciding factor in our ability to experience all God has for the nations as well as for our personal lives.

In the Son of Man we see the balance of logic and emotion, reason and feeling. In Him we see man-made cultural rules being broken and women having a place of influence along with the twelve.

By MARK CHIRONNA

Macedonia approves budget amid violence.


Macedonia approves budget amid violence, opposition boycotts parliament

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — Macedonia’s parliament approved the 2013 budget late Monday, amid clashes outside the building between rival groups of protesters that left 11 police officers and at least three opposition lawmakers injured, police and party officials said.

Lawmakers voted 65-4 in favor of the €2.7 billion ($3.6 billion) draft budget in the Christmas Eve vote, as riot police were need to separate pro- and anti-government protesters, who hurled rocks and eggs at each other. Three protesters were detained for questioning, police said.

Other deputies were absent for the vote in the 123-seat parliament. Reporters were also ordered to leave the building before the vote. The budget must be adopted by year-end.

The Social Democrat-led opposition argued the conservative government was spending too much on grandiose monuments, as well as expensive cars and furniture for state officials. The opposition had demanded that spending be trimmed by more than €200 million ($264.5 million). In an emergency meeting Sunday, the government agreed to cut just €3 million ($4 million).

Social Democrat leader Branko Crvenkovski, a former president of Macedonia, announced his party would boycott parliamentary proceedings indefinitely.

He urged his supporters to join a campaign of “civil disobedience” aimed at toppling Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski‘s conservatives.

Crvenkovski argued that the budget was wasteful at a time when many in the country are struggling to make ends meet.

But in a televised address late Monday, Gruevski accused his opponents of staging a “violent attempt to overthrow democratic institutions and the legitimately elected government.”

He added: “The budget is just being used as a pretext for a battle by (Crvenkovski) for his own political survival.”

The U.S. Embassy expressed “concern and disappointment” at the clashes in front of parliament and urged the country’s two main parties to try to ease tension.

“The peaceful expression of different opinions is the foundation of a strong and democratic nation, and the use of violence by any parties involved undermines that system and damages its ability to govern responsibly,” an embassy statement said.

“The United States urges the leaders of all political parties and their supporters to put an end to these confrontations without delay.”

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By Konstantin Testorides, Associated Press | Associated Press

Macedonia opposition ejected from parliament in row.


SKOPJE (Reuters) – The opposition in Macedonia was ejected from parliament on Monday for brawling, prompting it to pledge to boycott the chamber and initiate a campaign of civil disobedienceafter a rancorous disagreement over the size of next year’s budget.

The incident occurred after thousands of pro- and anti-government demonstrators clashed outside parliament in Skopje, the capital, and allowed the government to push through a vote in favor of its contested budget proposals in which only just over half of MPs took part.

As opposition MPs scuffled with pro-government counterparts to try to prevent a debate on a budget they felt was too profligate from getting underway, security guards evacuated parliament speaker Trajko Veljanovski from the plenary hall.

Security guards then forced opposition deputies out of the parliament building who joined their supporters in the streets as the government pushed through a 64-4 vote in favor of its own budget proposal. Parliament has 120 members.

Branko Crvenkovski, the head of the opposition Social Democrats, accused the center-right government of Nikola Gruevski of suspending democracy.

“From today, Macedonia has no constitution, no parliament, no government. We have a dictatorial regime on one side and the people on the other,” Crvenkovski said.

“From tomorrow we will begin (a campaign of) civil disobedience,” he told a crowd, without elaborating further.

The government proposed a 148-billion-denari ($3.2 billion) budget for 2013 last month, forecasting a deficit of 3.5 percent of gross domestic product. It put growth next year at 2 percent of GDP.

But the leftwing opposition condemned the budget proposal as profligate at a time of economic crisis and demanded a cut in it equivalent to about $260 million. The government refused and the opposition then submitted about a thousand amendments to the draft before tensions flared on Monday.

Outside parliament, police had to intervene to separate pro- and anti-government supporters who pelted one another with bottles and stones. Local media said at least six people had been injured.

The ruling rightist VMRO-DPMNE party accused the opposition of attempting to topple the government. “To do that they (opposition) mobilized their supporters, some of whom have a criminal background. … This will not succeed,” the party said in a statement.

Earlier, Gruevski, who is also head of the VMRO-DPMNE, accused Crvenkovski of masterminding the crisis: “This is all about the vanity of one man, of (Branko) Crvenkovski and his political survival,” he said.

Macedonia’s economy came out of two quarters of recession in the third quarter of 2012, posting 0.3 percent GDP growth.

The central bank has cut its 2012 growth forecast to zero from 2.4 percent, reflecting the negative effect of the euro zone crisis across the Western Balkans, but sees growth perking up to 2.6 percent in 2013.

($1 = 0.7590 euros)

(Writing by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Andrew Osborn)

 Source: YAHOO NEWS.
By Kole Casule | Reuters

At Midnight.


People of God, adversity comes in many shapes forms and fashions. These perplexing, confusing, and mystifying predicaments show up at the most inconvenient and awkward times in our lives, and the frustrating thing is that adversity does not need an invitation to enter your home.

One moment life appears to be serene, calm, peaceful and quiet; then the next moment we find ourselves caught in the middle of the storm. For some of us life is just one storm after another.

One of the strange things about this season is that it seems like it is lasting forever. One of the purposes God has for our lives is that we grow to maturity in our faith in Him and not in stuff or in people. You know your faith is maturing by what you do and how you act during your storm and in your problem.

“And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.

Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” Acts 16:23-28 (NKJV)

Here in the book of Acts we find a story about the Apostle Paul and Silas who find themselves in what seems to be a storm. Paul & Silas were called by God to take the gospel into the region of Macedonia. However, when they got there, instead of wide open doors, like they might have expected, they ran into a season of opposition!

They are locked up and in chains because they were at the place God wanted them to be, doing the very thing God told them to do. What I love about Paul and Silas is that they still had faith in God. The text does not say they were crying and angry but that they were praying and singing praises.

This is my favorite part of the text, it says “but at midnight”. I know you have heard people say that midnight is the darkest hour and it’s when you’re at your lowest, but what I want to point out here is that midnight is also a transition period. It is the transition from an old day to a new day. It can confuse you because when you think of transition you think of a sudden, rapid change.

Midnight transition is very minute because nothing really changes but the time. I want you today to put all your faith in God no matter how it looks my sister and no matter what they say my brother. Don’t allow the code red to detour you because there is a transition about to take place in your life but you have to trust God.

Remember you are where He wants you to be. It’s not time to put your faith in the things you see but put to your faith in the God who holds you in His hand.

Scripture Of The Day: “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” – Hebrews 11:3 (NKJV)

By Pastor Marquis Boone.

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