Book Review: And the Shofar Blew

Francine Rivers, again, did an amazing job of telling the stories of several characters which made it so hard to put the book down without wondering how it was going to end. And the Shofar Blew was full of suspense and dealt with several topics including the challenges of managing a church, being a pastor’s wife and its difficulties, being a pastor’s kid and its associated challenges, ageing, death, divorce, alcoholism, among others. 

Even though the story had several characters weaving together the plot, And the Shofar Blew centred more on a young pastor, Paul Hudson, and his wife, Eunice and child. The excitement in the story began when Paul Hudson accepted the call to manage an old church that had its traditions and an ageing congregation. Pastor Hudson did bring some life into the church but they were mainly influences of his childhood and the relationship he had had with his father. Throughout the over 450-page book, the story gradually unfolds and the young pastor becomes over-ambitious and crude in his dealings and, the consequence could not have been devastating enough.

After I put the book down, my mind has been on a journey of wondering what goes on behind the scenes in our churches.  My thoughts have been on pastors and teachers who probably may have heeded to God’s call but due to increase in the numbers of their congregation, their church’s financial obligations and popularity are twisting His words to suit the people. How many men of God are preaching God’s unadulterated word that has the ability to cut hearts and save souls? 

This may not be a challenge for pastors alone but for those of us who are Christian blogging or singing or ministering in all forms. Since you saw an increase in the number of followers, have you been preaching God’s word or are massaging the truth in order to gain more followers? Do you present the message as it is or you are afraid of stepping on toes and losing your followers?

I have really been spending my week praying for pastors and everyone who has the responsibility of shepherding. It is my prayer that we keep spending time with God to know what He has given us to tell His people. There may be financial obligations but the sheep need to know God’s word. Let’s not massage God’s word for popularity sake.

The truth is Jesus Christ came to die for our sins and He is the way, the truth and the light. No one goes through the Father, except through Him. – John 14:6.

What message are you presenting to your followers?

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5 Blogging Subjects that Attract Wide Readership

Oursmiley community is gradually growing bigger. We have gained over 100 followers and to celebrate this achievement, we’d like to share blog subjects that attract a wide readership. This is based on the blog’s traffic statistics over the years and aimed at giving you some insight in case you are thinking of what to post on your blog.

Below are the subjects that attract a wide readership, starting from the bottom:

5 – Your Perspective

This, perhaps, is one of the easiest subject to write about. A Christian blogger may read a portion of the Bible or hear a sermon and may decide to share his/her perspective on the subject. The content may also be based on the writer’s revelation and depending on how the content is presented, this subject area may attract some readers. Your perspective will matter more if you are an expert in a particular field. For instance, people would click on the link to read a post if a successful musician shares tips on how to sell an album.

A blogger should not always share his/her perspective on subjects but rather find other ways of presenting them. One way of doing that is to give the subject area to other writers to develop and for you to feature their work on your blog. 

4 – Book Reviews

This is quite an interesting subject to blog about and one of the most demanding. It requires reading Christian literature and sharing your thoughts and critiquing the book’s content.  Well, depending on the country you are blogging from, this subject could be something to explore but the truth is when book reviews are done on this blog, the number of Ghanaian readers who click and read is not as high as other nationals, therefore, making it a tricky subject to blog on.

3 – Fiction

Christian fiction has a wide readership, particularly, if they are well-written, full of suspense and has some humour in them. This is an area to explore, especially, if your target readers are Ghanaians. If you have a perspective to share on a subject, you may want to think creatively and convert them into short stories to break the monotony of writing dissertations or thesis for your blog.

2 – Guest Blogs

Featuring other good writers on your blog is one of the quickest means of attracting readers and expanding your blog’s reach. If you have the time and the skill, interview other people [especially, those who do not like writing] on various subjects and post them on your blog. When such posts are featured on a blog, they attract readers, particularly, from the guest blogger’s circles. It is almost like a brand endorsement or social media influencer recommending your blog. 

1 – Personal Relatable Experiences

Based on this blog’s statistics, this is one of the most widely read subject areas.  Readers would want to know your personal life stories so instead of writing broadly on a subject and providing information on how to do something, it is better to package that into a personal testimony on how you overcame an addiction or met your spouse or how your tithing habit helped you to overcome poverty. Your relatable life testimony could be the life-changing agent for that reader going through a similar challenge. 

 

Are you a blogger? Which subject do your readers love?

Are you a blog reader? which one is your favourite? We’d love to know. 

From Accounting to Gospel Music – How an ‘Encounter’ Totally Changed the Dreams of Miss Ivy Okyere

Her dreams of wearing high heels and working in corporate Ghana as an Accountant was cut short a few months after she graduated from the Pentecost University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting. She wears high heels, though, but this time she stands in front of large congregations and her mission is it is to win souls, heal the sick and encourage everyone through her eight-track gospel album.

The musician, who completed Achimota School in 2006, is also a pastor at Zoe Outreach Embassy in Accra. Ivy Okyere’s life and dreams were altered when she began her national service and had a near-death experience.

“In November 2011, I fell sick and appeared somewhere that I can’t tell but I knew it is some kind of spiritual experience,” Miss Okyere said.

In what appeared to be a vision, the gospel musician went to a ‘certain place’ where she saw people dressed in white gowns and in there, she began to ask questions.

“I saw people in a queue as if they were going somewhere. A man walked up to me and told me that these people are going to present themselves to a king,” she said. “The man said I should not join because I was not part but I could only observe.”

According to the musician, that was when she moved out of the queue and became more conscious of her environment. She does not remember how she came out of the trance but what the singer recalls was the instruction she received from the ‘man’ in the said experience.

“Go and sing because this is the time for you to sing,” the exact words of the unknown man in the ‘experience.’

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It was with this instruction and later, a confirmation from another Man-of-God [name witheld] that Miss Okyere, with no prior experience in singing, began to work on her album that was released in April, this year. In between heeding to the call and to the release of her debut album, the singer made some adjustments to her career and prepared herself to do full-time ministry.

“I was working in Multicredit Savings and Loans in Kumasi before I moved to Accra and I have worked in an automobile company. Currently, I am in the process of setting my own business,” said Miss Okyere.

The musician recounts with excitement, how close friends and family react when they listen to her songs for the first time. Most of them are surprised at how an aspiring accountant could switch into full-time gospel ministry because, to them, the change has been ‘drastic.’

“They are happy. Everybody goes like I am happy for you. Everybody goes like the songs are powerful. Everybody goes like you hear the lyrics clearly and they are biblical,” she said. “It’s amazing that the whole thing happened just like that. I remember, the first time people heard me singing, actually even my own mother, she was like ‘how, what happened to you?’[Miss Okyere giggles] No one actually knew I had the voice to sing but right after the encounter, I began to have this whole experience. So it’s amazing,” the gospel artiste added.

WhatsApp Image 2018-10-17 at 14.34.10.jpegWhen questioned on the choice of her style of music, Miss Okyere remarks they are exactly what she receives in her spirit. Unlike some gospel musicians who write songs based on their experiences, she receives her inspiration while she worships and prays.

“Sometimes, I see myself singing in a dream and when I wake up, I still have the songs. What I do is I write them or I pick my phone and record them,” she said.

Her favourite track on the album is the praise song titled ‘Nkunim’ [meaning victory]. She likes it because even though she received a revelation of it, the song summarises her experiences.

Nkunim because I believe that through all the experiences I’ve had, the Lord gave me the victory. I have other songs that portray that but for now, that is my favorite,” she said.

Miss Okyere lists Don Moen, Sinach, Nathaniel Bassey, Joe Mettle, and Willy and Mike as some gospel musicians who inspire her but commenting on the current gospel tracks being produced in Ghana, the singer believes artists should be more focused on spreading the word of God.

“Money is good, fame is good and I think you have to use your talent but you shouldn’t neglect the fact that we are in the ministry with a purpose. It is a call and you have to heed to the call and not any other thing,” she said.

The gospel artiste, together with her team, are working on shooting music videos, finding radio slots to lead live-worship sessions and preparing to record tunes for her next album. In subsequent releases, she hopes to translate the songs into several other languages.

“That is what the Bible says and this is the ministry the Lord has given me. I also need to make sure that every tongue, every tribe, everybody understands the message to know what the Lord is doing, so,  it is going to be in different languages and the songs will be all over the globe,” Miss Okyere said.

“For upcoming gospel artiste, I would say, once you are in, do things right. Do not imitate the bad but correct what you think is wrong and stay focused. As long as you have chosen to go with the gospel, remember Jesus is the reason for the gospel.  Do it the Jesus’ way. Say it right and sing it right by portraying what it stands for,” she concluded.

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To listen to Miss Okyere’s album, please click on the play button. Let us know what you think about her tracks in the comment box. 😊

Guest Post: Baptism – To be Immersed or not Immersed

One spiritual exercise that has generated a lot of debate in the Christian faith is baptism. While some denominations believe that baptism should be by immersion, others believe that it can also be by sprinkling water on the believer as there is no strict form baptism has to take. In so far as there has been a symbolic act to signify baptism, that settles it.

This leads us to the question – What is Baptism?

The word ‘Baptism’ is a transliteration of the Greek word ‘Baptizo’ which means to immerse. The same word is also referred to as ‘Mikveh’ in Hebrew to mean an immersion. Basically, it is an immersion into another substance, for the purpose of being saturated with it, such as water in this instance. The new covenant also presents the immersion of a believer ‘’in the Spirit of God’’ and also ‘’with Fire’’ Matthew 3:11. For the purposes of this article, we will limit it to water baptism.

Baptism was seen as a ritual cleansing referred to as ‘Mikveh’ in Hebrew and was an established practice in Israel which was understood to be a work of the Spirit of Yahweh for inner cleansing. John’s Mikveh immersion was an outward symbol after an inner change that enabled repentant individuals to enter into an elevated state to prepare them to receive the Spirit of God and enter the Kingdom of God. John 3:5.

Baptism is, therefore, a higher spiritual exercise where the heavens open unto the believer for which matter it has to be dealt with in all seriousness. After John had announced the coming of the Messiah, he eventually baptized him in the Jordan River, further confirming the significance of water baptism. We read in Matthew 3:16 that after Jesus was baptized, the heavens were opened unto him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.

As Christians, we are charged to go into the world and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Ghost. Matthew 28:9 KJV. This means that after a person has believed in the word of God, the second part is baptism, which is an outward expression of the believer’s faith in God.

Therefore, from what has been enunciated, a believer is either baptized or not baptized as there is no middle ground; Baptism is only by immersion!

This is a Guest Post submitted by Ernest Nana Osei. Ernest is an ordained minister of the gospel, journalist and a law student.

Book Review: The Scarlet Thread

Set apart in different centuries, Francine Rivers tells a story of two women who were related but had never met, yet, shared a similar experience. Both women, during certain periods of their marriages, had difficulties accepting the dreams/directions of their husbands. The author must be commended for doing an awesome job of weaving the two different stories in an engaging way, leaving the reader with no choice than to keep at the almost 500-page novel.

Immediately I picked the book, I could sense how the story was going to turn out. I somehow knew Sierra’s relationship with her husband wasn’t the best. What husband accepts a new role in another organisation, in a different State without discussing it thoroughly with the wife and children? Just imagine yourself waking up to the news of your husband or close relative selling your house, in the neighbourhood you’ve lived in all your life and resettling the entire family to another side of the planet because of his new job. No prepping or orientation was conducted but that same person requires you to jump with excitement to the unexpected news with the excuse that he’s mentioned this subject once. (Really? Alex. Really?Unamused Face on Samsung Experience 9.5 )Right then, I could smell a self-centred husband considering his needs, dreams, and ambitions as paramount to everyone’s. Whatever happened to proper communication in a marriage? I guess these weren’t in Alex’s thoughts since he saw Sierra as a mere housewife who had no ambition. Person Shrugging on Google Android 9.0

But Sierra gradually became a strong force later in the story and I rooted for her when she decided to pick her life up, reject monies from her husband and welcomed her independence. I loved how she transformed from the lady who always blurted out her opinion on issues to someone who paused, thought through her words and the likely implications they may have before she uttered them. To me, the husband deserved more than what was meted out to him by Sierra, in the closing pages. How the story ended was somehow expected, maybe something more tragic or dramatic would have made the book more thrilling and different but in all, it was a good book.

I felt there were some pertinent lessons in there for every Christian, particularly, for those who are married and those seeking to get married. It makes you realise the importance of the God-factor in every marriage and lays emphasis on the role of communication in every relationship. Have you or your family taken a drastic decision which has had a seemingly terrible toll on your life? Then you need to read Francine Rivers’ Scarlet Thread. It will help lessen the burden and make the change bearable.

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If you read my post last week, you’d notice I mentioned The Scarlet Thread was my first Christian novel, therefore, if you’ve read any books in this genre or you know of other great authors I should look out for, please drop the titles in the comment box. Thanks!  Grinning Face With Big Eyes on Microsoft Windows 10 October 2018 Update

©  picasion.com_9CWp

 

Meet the Blogger: 7 Questions with Delali

This is the 100th post and according to the polls which ran on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, the majority of you want to know more about the blog administrator/manager. I am, therefore, going to pose questions and answer them myself. If there is anything else you wish to know about me, you can leave that in the comment box. I will try to be as frank and fun as possible:

About Delali

IMG-20180616-WA0013My name is Delali and I do an 8am-4pm on weekdays as a Communications and Marketing person with an NGO. I am a mother of an almost two-year-old, a wife of almost three years and a blogger.

In 2013, I started a personal blog and a year later, I got a job as a content developer, managing the blog for a real estate marketing company. I have also blogged about cars but I made the big switch to Christian blogging in 2015. I started by posting content every day but along the line, I fell back (I was adjusting to married life, probably 😂). I wasn’t consistent in 2016 but I picked up from where I left off last year. I am more consistent, deliberate and I ensure at least a post goes up each week.

Why Christian Blogging?

First, I believe I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to start this. Secondly, because I thought there weren’t a lot of serious Ghanaian Christian Bloggers but as I searched wider, I have identified a number of them who are doing amazing things (blog post for another day). Thirdly, I see so much content that needs to be developed in this niche. In other words, there are a lot of stories that can be told about our belief and anyone who ventures into this niche will never lack content. Amen!😂 Finally, because of my background in communications, this blog gives me the avenue to apply most of what I have studied eg. in print journalism, graphic communications, advertising etc.

What inspires you?

Everything around me. I think I find it easier to write and a couple of friends have remarked that my posts are more in-depth than my speech (I don’t know why). I guess it’s my gift.

As a blogger, I make time to visit, read and comment on other people’s blogs and that provides me with ideas on what to post. Through that, I have made a number of acquaintances, an activity every blogger should take seriously. I also draw inspiration from a lot of people. I don’t have a role model yet, but, I pick lessons from the lives of different personalities.

What are your struggles as a blogger?

Do I have any? At first, I used to worry about the number of people who visited the blog after I wrote on certain subjects but I have gotten over that. How? Because I’ve realised this blog had two types of audiences – Ghanaians and other nationalities. Different posts appeal to different audiences. For instance, when I do a book review, the number of non-Ghanaians who click to read is higher and the opposite is what takes place when I create funny posts. 😂 I am learning to find the balance, ie. creating posts that appeal to both groups.

My other challenge is finding the time to put together the content. Currently, I have conducted an interview with a former classmate of mine, who is doing gospel music and I need to transcribe, create a post and upload it to the blog. I need to do a review on my first Christian novel – Francine River’s Scarlet Thread. (***Don’t be shocked. I didn’t know anyone wrote Christian novels. 😂 Perhaps, you can drop titles and authors of Christian novels in the comment box so I search and read.*** ). I am also planning a special giveaway for loyal followers of the blog and I need to find time to do all of that.

What are some of your favourite tools as a blogger?

The whiteboard hanging in my room and a marker.😂 That is where I write my ideas and because it is close to my bed, it does not only serve as a reminder but haunts me when I do not meet my timelines. I also have ‘Keep’ on my Nokia 8 which serves as a notepad and I use that to jot down my ideas.

Which are your most read posts?

My most read posts include 3 Reasons I Dislike the Empire Series for 2015, To my Husband on our Second Wedding for 2017 and for this year, Me? A pastor’s wife? Never. And the blog’s Homepage too. 😂

How do you use social media? 

I am deliberate with what I post on my personal social media pages. I am guided by this principle: I do not want people to know everything about me with just a click of a button. If you want to know more about me, you need to ask and I will provide you with the details. With this, I can say I am a very private person and that is why it has taken such a long time for me to create this post.

For blogging, social media is a useful tool. I started this blog by using a pseudonym because I had wanted to remain anonymous but I realised it was very difficult getting people to read the posts. 😂 Most people will read your blog posts because they know who is behind what they are reading, therefore, promoting the posts on social media prompts them to take a look at what you have.

How does the future look for Delali and Christian Blog?

For the Christian Blog, I am working hard to get it established. I also envision a Christian magazine whenever I look at this blog. I am also working on finding ways to remunerate guest bloggers and contributors. It wouldn’t be bad to write for the blog and get some money for sharing your personal experiences and knowledge.

Personally, I would love to take a 12-months vacation to Bali or The Maldives or Cancun and work on my first Christian novel… (it’s a dream. Please allow me!) 😂

© picasion.com_9CWp

 

Guest Post: Who is Your King?

In Africa and the world, the Ashanti Kingdom is one of the oldest surviving empires. Found in modern-day Ghana, the kingdom covers the Ashanti region, of course,  that explains its name. The Ashanti Kingdom is so vast, it stretches into other regions of the country. They were particularly known for their wealth in gold and other natural resources, past military achievements and their beautiful culture.

In the past, when a newly installed Asante Hene (Ashanti King) assumed the throne, he made a peculiar demand. He sent an order out to all who owned lands in the area considered as part of the Kingdom. The order – landowners were made to pay a levy to the Asante Hene before a set time. Defaulters automatically lost ownership of their property.

Just to let you know how powerful the Kingdom is, permit me to narrate a more recent event. This happened when the Asante Hene lost his mother, the Queen Mother. As part of the tradition, they organised a befitting burial for the Queen Mother and a curfew was declared. On a particular night, from dusk to dawn, no soul was supposed to be found on particular outlined streets in the Kingdom. That was the night the body of the Queen was conveyed to be washed and embalmed for the final burial.

The interesting thing that everyone living in that part of the country, no matter your nationality, is subject to the rules of the Asante Hene and his Kingdom. This has worked well through the years and that is synonymous to the Christian life of whoever you obey, you are subject to.

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.” Romans 6:12 KJV‬‬‬‬

Today, many Christians struggle because they live double lives. They are struggling with addictions and secret sins. They profess Jesus Christ as Lord but are not ready to live as followers of Christ. They will be in church on Sunday mornings and the local club in the evenings. Christians do not even have Christian friends because they find them boring. We serve the Lord God but are fully subject to secret sins, addictions and love for money.

If every single decision you make in your life is based on how much money is involved and what you are going to earn for yourself, you are possibly serving money. If there is a pet sin that controls you, such that you are unable to stop, you are in servitude to this sin and you need to turn fully to Christ. The good book says…

“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” Romans 6:16 KJV‬‬‬‬

We cannot serve two masters. Definitely, one will be considered greater than the other. Consider this seriously and be guided by the Word…

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24 KJV‬‬‬‬

If God is your king, your whole world should be ruled by Him and that includes every single aspect of your life. The Word of God is a complete manual. King Solomon said that there is no new thing under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). And in fact, men have lived before us who had the same challenges as we face today. Everything recorded in the Bible is very much relevant today. Decide to live by it, and allow yourself to be guided by the Creator of the universe. Ask yourself this all-important question:

Who is my King?

This is a Guest Post submitted by Nimuah Tarko. Nimuah is a Ghanaian, a passionate Christian Blogger, a church worker, a husband, a God lover and recently a father. He is the Blog Administrator of Wisdom Treasures.