Soul Food 4 U

It addresses itself to every day issues of life from a Christian perspective. You'll be challenged. You'll be rebuked. You'll be encouraged. You'll grow.

Monday, February 19, 2007

THE ‘N or M’ GENERATION IN INFORMATION AGE

February 9, 2007

THE ‘N OR M’ GENERATION IN INFORMATION AGE
Reflection:
 The word of God is like a lion. You do not have to defend a lion.
All you have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself
(C. Spurgeon).
 You do not conquer mountains, mountains cannot be conquered. You
conquer yourself, your hopes, your dreams (J Whitaker).
 When the rate of change outside exceeds the rate of change
inside, the end is in sight (J. Welch).
 A man must brood over his own thoughts until his mind takes fire,
and then he may hope to light other minds (T.T. Lynch).

TEXT:
Jeremiah 31:33 "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their
hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will
a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,'
because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the LORD.
Isaiah 2:3 Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the
mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us
his ways, so that we may walk in his paths."
Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy
nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of
him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Thinking of how the establishment in which we work shape our lives and how
their success in embracing and creating change influences our world and
life view calls for attention. It is in those organisations that we spend
our best time, use our sound mind, our energy, our best looks and
coverings, as we interact and depend on one another for accomplishment of
shared goals. The emergence of associations and large companies in the
late 19th and early 20th Century in Europe and North America, as a result
of industrial revolution, operated on the assumption that it is the top
managers who did the thinking while workers had to do what they were told.
By the time of colonisation of Africa, organisations were designed and
managed on impersonal basis through clearly defined authority and
responsibility record keeping and uniform application of standard rules.
The churches, schools and families followed the same pattern of thinking
as I remember my induction into the church. The new members had to go
through three levels of instruction, The Seekers (Acaria), The Learners
(Athomagi) and those to be confirmed (Moko). One of the questions we had
to respond to was “What is your name?” The standard response was ‘I am
called N or M’ and if you said anything else like your real name you
failed and had to repeat the class for a full year. ‘Good people’ did not
question those who had the knowledge and so we progressed into the
industry with that mindset.
Toward the end of 1980’s, international competition and globalisation
caught many institutions and organisations unawares as it became clear
there was no one best way. The assumption that ‘usage of brains’ was a
gift of a few lucky people made companies that had been leading unable
to cope with change. With the computer-generated information and
internet connections, information became available to those who were
subdued by ignorance. Organisations that are having an advantage are
those who acknowledge that every person has something to offer, and
that diversity is an asset. It is open continuous improvement, minimal
boundaries, no status symbols that create differences, no special
parking places, as each person is a valued contributor. What of
organisations headed by those who belong to ‘Nor M’ generation, who
believed that it was the secretary to store information, and the
‘yellow’ notes of the teacher can now be accessed through internet?
Information is the most valuable asset and the learning organisations
are aware having employees or worshippers or students, who feel
powerless because they do not know how to respond to challenges is
deathly. If we do not want to have close up opportunities, we must
encourage creative living. We need to befriend the internet, e
commerce, e marketing, e mail, interpersonal relationships,
collaboration not competition, continuous training so that we are able
to cope with the change outside. How about Jesus Christ disciples who
are the light of the fast paced world? Might availing of information
to all people be what the bible calls the kingdom principles?
Think of what Jeremiah prophesied that a time was coming when people would
know the law of the Lord and each would be responsible for the choices he
made. The managers, teachers, pastors who assume that they are the ones
with information and so they do all the preparation and then ‘dispense’
it to the ‘headless’ employees, congregants, or students may be amazed
that their inflexibility is holding back people from unleashing their
potential. Jesus Christ did not send us the Holy Spirit so that a few
people can have titles that enable them to be held in high esteem while
affecting little in regard in the kingdom of God. Phrases like ‘We have
come to encourage you . . . reflect ‘Nor M’ thinking, how did you get the
encouragement? Open up the source so that ‘When you come together,
everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or
an interpretation (1 Corinthians 14:26). The usurping of the gifts of the
Holy Spirit to the church by a few titled members may have followed human
weakness (1 Corinthians 11:18) that got strengthened by the industrial
thinking. The various gifts that Paul’s talks about (1 Corinthians 12,
13, 14) should be exhibited. Information age is biblical when the basic
source of information is Christ, and his word then an inquisitive mind is
set to be open for learning. Wherever the Disciples of Christ are, they
encourage every aspect of development that upholds dignity of the free,
human person. To be the light of the world is to hold in high esteem the
most sacred right of man which is clear conscience, development of
individual abilities, inclinations and professionalism.

IF YOU EMBRACE BIBLICAL KNOWLDEGE YOU WILL;
a. Be a consultant – Keep an upward gaze- Talk to God regarding your
‘territory and assignment’. Think of what Dr. Ben Carson’s mother did
when she was confronted by a problem of poor academic performance of her
children. She prayed and God showed her what to do. As a result of a
prayer of a low cadre, single mother, the world has benefited from her
son’s neurosurgical skills among other benefits. You rise above your
circumstances as you look up to God for your needs. (Ben Carson’s books
include ‘Gifted Hands’, ‘THINK BIG’ and ‘The Big Picture’).
b. Share knowledge – Think of the testimony of George Washington Carver
who was in the first generation of freed slaves in America. He was
concerned about other needy people whose only possession was their own
manual and cheap labour. “When he had convinced farmers on the wisdom of
crop rotation, and they rotated cotton with peanuts and the sweet potato,
a new and desperate problem arose. They had an abundance of peanuts and
sweet potatoes and no buyers. They turned to Carver and asked him what he
was going to do about it. He went into his laboratory and prayed and
discovered 300 new ways for the uses for peanut and 150 new uses for
sweet potato’ (Walking with God, W.J. Smart, 1955, page 103).
c. Accountability – Each one of us has the duty and responsibility to seek
for knowledge. We should look out for ways of sharpening our skills so
that we are useful wherever we are. It is not test of how effective the
government, the boss, the pastor/bishop, manager, are for together, we
share what we have. All of us who submit to Christ as Lord are the public
relations officers, the ambassadors of the kingdom of God on earth and we
need to know the ideals of the kingdom we represent. “Do your best to
present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be
ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15).
Respect and high esteem of all who are created in God’s image and likeness
is our responsibility.

What paralysis in your economy, family, church, and society can you
clearly see that it is hindering God’s people living at their maximum
potential? "This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD
who formed it and established it--the LORD is his name: 3'Call to me and I
will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not
know” (Jeremiah 33:2-3) NIV.
Information age is a time to allow the Holy Spirit to empower us as we
listen to him and recognise the value of net working for everyone has
something valuable to offer. Each one of God’s people is an asset for the
extension of the kingdom of God on earth.
What Jesus Christ told his disciples is relevant for us in this knowledge
driven time, “7 As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is
near.' 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, and cleanse those who have
leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give” (Matt
10:7-9) NIV. Standard solutions and standard answers will not work today.
Know who you are, you are not ‘N or M’. The sick, the lame, the blind, the
deaf, thugs and frightened people need an odour of heaven. (In Kenya today
we need urgent connection to heaven and net work because of past paced
challenges that include Rift Valley fever, devaluing of human beings,
leading to unexplainable killings of people, quality of opinion formers
and leaders and so on). That has to be one who loves the word of God
enough to read it and allow it transform them so that they are able to
cope with the rate of change outside and reveal God’s solution.

ANYTHING WILL GIVE UP ITS SECRET IF YOU LOVE IT ENOUGH (G. W. Carver)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

BALANCING BETWEEN GRACE AND SELF ESTEEM

OCTOBER 27, 2006

(Part 1)
TEXT
Jonah 1:9 He answered, "I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God
of
heaven, who made the sea and the land."
10 This terrified them and they asked, "What have you done?" (They knew
he
was running away from the LORD, because he had already told them so.)
11
The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, "What
should
we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?" 12 "Pick me up and
throw
me into the sea," he replied, "and it will become calm. I know that it
is
my fault that this great storm has come upon you. NIV

REFLECTIONS:
• When life is a picnic, people play with theology; when life becomes a
fight we scrabble for religious conviction.
• There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people
will
not feel insecure around you.(Nelson Mandela)
• "Low self concept can be a crippler - it can hinder people from
achieving their potential, sabotage relationships and careers. It can
keep dedicated Christians from fulfilling God's purpose for their lives
yet high self esteem may be promotion of self worship”.

Jonah knew who he was and whom he worshipped yet had made choices that
led
him on a path that was not facing where God had sent him. Was Jonah
suffering from low self esteem that made him not consider himself
capable
of doing what God had assigned him to do? Is it not possible that
Jonah
was having a problem of high self esteem that made him want to have his
way independent of God,’ . . .is this not what I said when I was still
at
home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you
are
a gracious and compassionate God. . . (Jonah 4:2). Jonah’s complex
seems
to be that he was so aware of his effective communication skills that
he
chose to play small by running away from the greatness. The dilemma of
low
self esteem and the grace of God is an issue that calls for our
attention.
Low self value results when those significant to us on our path in
life
constantly point out our weaknesses and shortcomings until we believe
it.
If you think of yourself as hopelessly incompetent, you will also
expect
others to respond to you as if that were true. Self fulfilling prophecy
is interpreting of events one experiences in ways that reinforce their
existing beliefs about who they are. The prophecy not only helps
solidify a person’s view about who s/he is but acts as a guide into
future encounters. The fears that are deeply entrenched in someone’s
inner and unconscious beliefs make one act in ways that confirm the
fear.
The way you value yourself determines the perimeter within which you
operate. For example, if you think you are poor you interpret others
responses to you in ways that support your belief. Such a person is
apologetic for being smart or ‘eating the good of the earth’. That
belief
of not deserving the best and not being good enough makes one tend to
‘snatch’ or ‘overeat’ and display tendencies of one ‘stealing’. Low
self
view and value is a real crippler that paralysis people so that their
focus is survival and self protection. Placement in positions of power
and acquisition of possessions does not solve the challenge of low self
esteem.

SOME SIGNS OF A PERSON STRUGGLING WITH LOW SELF ESTEEM INCLUDE;
Inability to see good in self and in others, being excessively critical
of
others or self, guilt feelings that make one feel undeserving of God’s
love, hard taskmaster who has no allowance for failure and so is
frightened by risks, always seeking to please others and so not feeling
affirmed enough, the feeling that the problem is not what you do but
who
you are, inability to empathise with others, etc.
A person who is driven by ‘False Evidence Appearing Real (F.E.A.R.)’,
tend
not to mind benefiting from other’s weakness. In search for
affirmation
and proof that one is able, a person develops some parasitic tendencies
that cripple those with whom s/he relates with. Think of Paul and Silas
thrown to jail for casting out a demonic spirit from a girl. “When the
owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was
gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace
to
face the authorities” (Acts 16:19-20).
Are there people today, including believers, who consider poverty in
Africa, HIV+ and AIDS and other disorders as noble source of income?
Are
there people today who would feel offended if healing of the mind and
discoveries of cure for some of the crippling diseases was found
because
their NGOs would have no work for their mission was based on
continuation
of other people’s misery? Please note that the work is good and should
be
encouraged but watch out before you fail to be concerned about the good
of
the people and be just concerned with what is in it for you. Building
your
strength on other people’s weaknesses and limitations can make you get
what Gehazi realised when his concern for his hunger was more than
appreciation for the healing of Naaman. “Is this the time to take
money,
or to accept clothes, olive groves, vineyards, flocks, herds, or
menservants and maidservants? 27 Naaman's leprosy will cling to you and
to
your descendants forever." (2 Kings 5:26-27).
In whatever capacity or station you are, do not use your position to
dis-empower others so that you remain benefactor. If you do so you
retain
their paralysis and those you would have helped to find the light of
God
remain in their paralysis. When you make others have to depend on you
to
show them the way, you take away their ability to depend on God.
Low self esteem has crippled and sabotaged establishment of God’s
kingdom
on earth as it is in heaven. A lot of energy is spent in wiping the
cobweb instead of killing the spider that is causing the trouble. It
is
God’s will for us to turn, face the future in the power of the one who
knows how to straighten those with withered hands or infirmed by the
beliefs systems in which we have been nurtured. To those who are
crippled
by low self esteem should realise that God’s infinite ability to redeem
the most negative experiences. The redemption by Jesus Christ puts at
our
disposal the power to compensate for our biggest mistake and great
weaknesses giving us new possibilities and beginnings.

THE HUMAN HEART IS THE PROJECTOR, THE SOURCE OF THE EVIL PICTURE. IF WE
WANT GOOD CLEAN PICTURE WE WILL HAVE TO DO SOMEHING ABOUT THE PROJECTOR
(D.A. Seamands)



(To
be
continued
-
Dangers
of
high
self
esteem
and
solution)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

WHO TOLD YOU?

October 13
Reflections:
Ø What we are today is an outcome of thoughts that we permitted to occupy
and dominate our minds yesterday.
Ø Following the path of least resistance makes rivers and men crooked
(Francis Gray).
Ø You are born an original do not die a copy (John Mason).
TEXT
Ezek 14:1 Some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat down in front
of me. 2 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 3 "Son of man, these men
have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before
their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all? 4 Therefore speak to
them and tell them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: When any
Israelite sets up idols in his heart and puts a wicked stumbling block
before his face and then goes to a prophet, I the LORD will answer him
myself in keeping with his great idolatry. NIV

Jeremiah 23:9-40 An important passage to reflect on as a leader whose
influence is impacting others.

A boy who had been sent to shop on an early morning found the trader
gloomy and dejected because thieves had robbed goods from his shop. The
boy was taken aback when in consoling the trader by telling him that God
would provide, the downcast merchant said that the thieves had stolen his
gods as well. How do you encourage a man whose source of strength is
taken away? What hope is there for one whose god, one’s source of
motivation and guidance, is stolen?
Whatever preoccupies our minds is a pointer to what we value and that is
what shapes the thoughts that direct our actions.
According to the creation story there are two basic sources of
information that incline our minds to the choices we make, that is either
God or the serpent. When man was asked by God where he was because he was
not where God had left him, the explanation was that fear on realisation
that he was naked had driven him into hiding. God asked man, “WHO TOLD
YOU THAT YOU WERE NAKED”? (Genesis 3: 11). The other source of
information that put doubt into what man knew marking him fearful and
insecure continues to plague humanity to this day. Idols and stumbling
blocks are the coverings that people seek to cover the nakedness that
result when we move from the place that God placed us. God is not
deceived by our actions that pretend that he is the only God while there
are idols that control the heart.

SOME CHOICES THAT ARISE FROM THE KNOWLDEGE WE HAVE OF GOD.
1. Trace the source of the knowledge on which you base any of the choices
that you make. “Who told you?” is a question that should be ingrained in
us as we make choices that lead to our growth in Christ or growth in the
worldly affairs. In order to grow people have to abandon some of the safe
areas of their lives and take some risks. There is security in what is
familiar and has been tried before even if it is a ‘hiding’ from the
fullness of life. Growth that is dependent on what God says is a risk to
one who has lost the secure place that God placed him or her. It is risky
to try to understand a different point of view for that may mean change of
beliefs that are familiar and act as idols around the heart. The truth is
that you take a greater risk when you go to seek God while holding on to
other sources of information. You risk the anger of God who knows the
source of motivation of your heart.

2. Do not resign your originality for a copy as you give courage to others
- Who told you that you cannot be the original that God created you to be?
‘I am a woman/man’, ‘I am poor or rich, ‘I am young or old’, etc are
messages that give us an image ourselves that determine how we view the
world. Some of the information that we have gotten has made us have a
marred image of God. An image of god that is faulty makes people go to
seek his counsel while they know deep within that they have other sources
of guidance. Courage that comes from ignorance can be very dangerous for
it makes people ‘fake’ before God who does enjoy our manipulative
strategies.
Do not give encouragement using information whose source you are
not sure of even though it sounds sensible. God is not pleased by
people who are not originals but just use words that they have
heard others say. "Therefore," declares the LORD, "I am against the
prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me. 31
Yes," declares the LORD, "I am against the prophets who wag their
own tongues and yet declare, 'The LORD declares.' Jeremiah 23:30-32
NIV
To be the light of our world we need to take time to listen to the Lord
who is willing to talk to us. “But if they had stood in my council, they
would have proclaimed my words to my people” (Jeremiah 23:22). Do you use
phrases and statements that you have not reviewed their source? ‘Everybody
is doing it’ or ‘we have always done it this way’, is no excuse of failing
to listen and speak what is fresh and relevant from God.

3. External motivation makes you lose the sense of who you are.
Extrinsic motivation gives security that may appear firm but like gods
that can be stolen is temporary. Security that comes from rewards that
one gets when they comply or deliver something of value to others can be
deceptive. The reward may be in form of money, grades, promotion,
support, praise and acceptance. The reward tilts the mind to focus on
the reward; avoiding any possible risk. The joy of exploring the purpose
for which one was created is lost as the path of least resistance is
followed. Rewards that other people have set deflect attention from
allegiance to God as people submit to the ‘rewarder’. Authentic
motivation that arise from the presence of the Holy Spirit is killed and
people lose autonomy that comes from status of being a child of God
.When people miss out on the purpose they tend emphasise on rituals and
forget the reason for the ritual. Rituals can clog people from growth in
Christ and spend their energies refining their formal procedures that
become source of motivation. That is when the church as an organisation
becomes the ‘call’ and the mandate of Christ to go to the world becomes a
secondary issue.

As the light of Christ in our world today we must go back and trace our
source of information. Who told you? Are we speaking what God has told
us or are we echoing what others have said? Africa needs people who truly
listen, speak and do what God has said. There is a lot whitewashing and
visions as was in the time of Ezekiel when prophets said, ‘This is what
the Sovereign LORD says'-when the LORD has not spoken (22:29). God wants
to speak if we let go of idols and other sources of information that we
have and listen to him who has our life in his hands.


If you fail to listen to what God is saying regarding you and your mission
in this life, outside forces, and other people will take over the control
of your life whether you like it or not.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

“I WAS ALWAYS ON MY MIND” – WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF YOUR POWER?

October 6, 2006
REFLECTIONS:·
Do not ignore, underestimate or overestimate Satan’s power (Mark Bubeck).·
Roho Mtakatifu [Holy Spirit] to an immature Christian becomes RohoMtaka vitu [Spirit of possessions] (J. Ng’ang’a’).
A Christian needs to be Balanced, be Biblical and be BraveTEXT: Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate theone and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise theother. You cannot serve both God and Money. 1 Kings 18:21 Elijah went before the people and said, "How long will youwaver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baalis God, follow him." But the people said nothing. NIVIn the recent past I have heard talks that indicate that the base ofChristianity has shifted from either Europe or America to Africa. Thatreminded me of conversation I had on one of the field trip to a communitythat is fairly active in religious issues. The sanguine caretaker of theguest house that I was staying in told me of how spirits (majini) hadinvaded a school adjacent to his church. When the senior most clergy wastold of the incident, he together with the other elders resolved tofundraise in order to get the renown sorcerer to help contain thesituation. The caretaker told me of how he offered himself to go for thewitch in place of their ‘bishop’. He went on to explain how the spiritswere exorcised and the church was doing very well. On inquiring whetherthe power used by the sorcerer was the one Jesus left to his disciples,the Caretaker was quick to point out what sounded like Jesus power was forsocial superficial issues while real traditional challenges needed anothergreater power. What is your view? Is Christ able to sort out challengesrelating to ancestral spirits and traditions?What distinguishes Christian faith from others is the source of ‘ruling’power. Power is the ability to influence the beliefs, attitudes andbehaviour of other people. The force or drive that that gives capacityto translate intention into reality and sustain it reflects who the Lordis and that is the one who is worshipped. The main challenge that we faceas Christians is the balancing between dialectical tensions caused bypresence of different sources of power. Time and energy spent in thebalancing act between the powers usurps from the believer opportunity tobe energized by Christ Jesus. Some of the main sources can be categorizedinto four broad groups;1. God who is Almighty, omnipotent and omnipresent. He created man andwoman and gave them authority to rule (Genesis 1:26-28). Jesus Christ cameto return the humanity to God’s intended position of ‘ruler ship’ thatderives power from God. As Jesus Christ was leaving earth he clarifiedthat he had been given authority and so those who believed in him werealso authorized to use his power (Matthew 28:16-20).2. The earthly system includes the structures that people come up with. Human beings tend to organize themselves in a way that strips others ofsome abilities. The value people have is related to products or servicesthey identify as valuable and those who have access to the ‘preferred‘products or services wield some power. That is how money is said to givepeople purchasing power. Whatever gives power is a treasure that attracts.Jesus Christ said, ‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will bealso’ (Luke 12:34). You cannot help but consciously or unconsciouslyworship whatever gives you power. The chief executive officers, thebishops, the presidents are all a result of cultural organisation andplacement that give people external power. Power that is given by externalarrangements makes people have some hidden insecurity because it can betaken away. ‘ In an effort to avoid being hurt some people constantly tryto maintain control of others and dominate the situations they face. Theydispense approval and disapproval . . . they are unwilling to let othersbe themselves and make their own decisions without their consent. Suchpeople are insecure, lack of control is an unacceptable threat to them(McGee Robert, Search For significance, p61). When ‘Christians’ depend onthis type of power, they think that God’s power is not adequate. Thetension caused as people struggle to balance between what gives them powerand depending on the grace of God tends to skew them towards self service. While structures are important for human operation, we must be carefulnot to derive power from them.3. Satan and the demonic power is a reality. Have you heard there is an‘evil eye’ whose look makes milk go sour? In this category is witch craft,spirits of the dead (who are not waiting to wake up when Christ comesagain) and all other spirits that seek to control human beings. Satan usesvarious devises to gain control over people of all ranks in any society.Halloween is some certification of power that is spiritual and not of God.Paul had an encounter with a sorcerer who was opposed to the things of God(Acts 13:6-12) and he showed him real power is with Christ and all whotrust in him. Satan tempted Jesus Christ with power (Luke4: 5-8) and asour Lord quoted the scriptures, so we also need to know what is written.4. Human beings are not empty slates waiting for any one to in script onthem. We have a will and power to choose which power to allow direct us.The greatest tragedy in Africa today is people assuming they are under theinfluence of God’s power while they are not. Self can be a very strongcontrolling power while people are confessing to be serving God. Onedangerous aspect of lowered self value has its roots in traumas in thislife that cause people to be stuck in an infantile world in which self ispredominant. Characteristics of a person stuck in ‘self world’ include;Ø Lack of empathy. These are ‘counsellors’ who hardly ever listen to anyone else. You begin to share your experience and they fill in the restwith their story. Ego centric people are poor listeners for they do notbother to know what the other person is saying. They are people who cannotmourn or rejoice with those who mourn/rejoice because they have gonethrough rituals and other experiences that dried them up.Ø Obsession by one’s power, importance, or brilliance. Their ownachievement and conquests make the talk. The talk is ‘my committee’, ‘mystaff’, ‘my church’, ‘my trophies such as grades, children’sachievements’, etc.Ø Preoccupied with envy of others and will do everything to pull themdown. Desire to occupy posts and be considered a success is exchanged forthe glory of God who declares, ‘And My glory I will not give to another‘(Isaiah 48:11).How can one who is a light to himself be a light of the world? Listen toprayer needs of the people and you can tell the power in operation. Mostprayer needs are about the issues that Jesus Christ said are for pagans(What shall we eat and what shall we wear? ‘For the pagans run after allthese things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them’. Matthew6:32).We cannot be ego centric and seek the kingdom of God and itsrighteousness. To be preoccupied with self is to act as if you are servingChrist while the real concern is your self which is self deception.You do not drift into God’s service you have to have the power (Matt 28:18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earthhas been given to me. The power we have is delegated to us and it is notnatural. We have to allow Christ to totally influence and control everyaspect of life by daily, continuously selection to be under his power(Luke 9:23). Christian faith is not a balancing act but total submissionto the Lordship of Christ even when at times it does not seem as the bestalternative from a human perspective.Can we say that people are evangelised because they have churches andsocial activities that mention biblical terms while in times of crisisthey go to the sorcerer? If to such has the gravity of the Christianfaith drifted, might it then be that Christian faith has lost base? No man bear witness to Christ and to himself at the same time.

Friday, September 22, 2006

A KING WITHOUT TEETH

September 15, 2006

REFLECTIONS:
To a mind that is blind, eyes are of no use (Chinese proverb).
A belief is like a guillotine just as heavy, just as light.
Heaven forbid that knowledge without zeal should replace zeal without
knowledge (John Stott).
Conviction is worthless until it converts itself into conduct (Thomas
Carlisle)
TEXT:
Matthew 7:24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts
them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. NIV
2 Corinthians 10:4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the
world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the
knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to
Christ.

On a visit to Kenyan renowned game park, Maasai Mara, I noticed that the
zebras, gazelles and wildebeests were many but the lion, the king of the
jungle, was rare to find. The dignified, relaxed lion lives in no fear of
being attacked by any other animal and it is no wonder that it is said to
sleep for 18 out of the 24 hours. On inquiring why lions are not many,
the tour guide said that among other factors, lions tend to have serious
dental problems. If that be so, it means that a lion using its speed and
superior skills kills a zebra, but is unable to chew the meat and so
starves to death in presence of plenty of food. That is miserable. That
made me reflect on our situation as God’s apex of creation. God created
human beings in his image and likeness. ‘Then God said, "Let us make man
in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea
and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and
over all the creatures that move along the ground." (Gen 1:26). In God’s
structure, a day of rest was provided for right from the beginning. Why
then is there so much hunger, fatigue, stress, unfulfilment and general
lack of dignity in human beings? Has the ruler become the ruled?
Like the lion, man who was created to rule could be a king without teeth
and so cannot chew the already available food. People’s teeth are their
cognitive processes that include their characteristic way of viewing their
world and how they see themselves in relation to the world determines what
they see. Worldview are people’s eyes that determine what they see out of
what there is to be seen. Worldview gives the mental framework within
which people operate. In that framework is the issue of application of
Christian doctrine and how it applies to all other aspects of life. How
people characteristically adapt and integrate information is like teeth to
a human being or sieve that sorts what should go in and what should be
rejected. There are no human beings with no capacity to think unless
there is a health problem. The basic cause of difference between people is
what they consider to be information worth attention and what they do with
that information.
Unfortunately there are beliefs that lead people to operate in a
mechanical way and so do not develop the thinking part of the brain.
Routine tasks and specified roles can make people just slip into their
expected roles and so need not think. For example, in cultures that
emphasise the grade in examination more than learning, thinking and
exploration is sometimes unconsciously discouraged. A learner said,’
School creates mindless lab rats who simply follow the leader and never
question life. Always striving after that piece of food or in the case of
school, a letter A,B,C,D,F, that is supposed to describe a person’. Lack
of inquisitive mind make people fail to see opportunities around them
even though they may have certificates that show they have spent time
learning. Translation of information into meaningful and relevant usage
is what leads to human transformation. The place of well developed mind
is critical in integration and synthesising of Christian principles that
make us have the inner strength, security, courage and wisdom that lead
to charting the way in our social economic and political world.

WHY A CHRISTIAN SHOULD USE THEIR INTELLECT
1. Our God is a thinking God and created us to use our minds to rule. ‘But
we have the mind of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 2:16). We are in a world where
the people who have the ideas rule the world. When the people who are
described as having corrupt mind are the ones whose ideas are being heard,
the they are the rulers. To conquer the world as soldier of Christ we need
to generate and propagate ideas that are born out of our intimate
relationship with Christ. Our warfare is not against flesh and blood but
against forces and ideas that contradict the values of God’s kingdom. We
need to proclaim God’s truth in way that overthrows lies of men and
habitual thinking that makes man be ruled by what he meant to rule.
2. The biblical themes as revealed through the creation story, the coming
of Jesus Christ, the redemption and judgement all imply that man has
inescapable duty both to think and act upon what he thinks and knows. God
has revealed to us what we need. ‘The secret things belong to the LORD our
God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever,
that we may follow all the words of this law’ (Deut 29:29). It is our duty
to receive his revelation, to submit to it, to seek to understand it and
to relate it to the world in which we live.
3. Loss of intellectual confidence leads to use of references that have
been drawn from people’s experiences in the world. Handling of issues
such as poverty, disease and high levels of ignorance in Africa cannot be
left to unregenerate minds. We are the light of the world not in our
hidden corners of fellowship but in the world of industry and trade and
demonic forces. Theories developed in other cultures may not be easily
truncated into our systems without causing damage. We need the views of
men and women of the word, prayer and know where we are in relation to
God’s time map and other nations.
4. Genuine praise and worship of God results from ‘the word becoming flesh
and dwelling among us’. It is not frenzy that results from the rhythms of
our songs but realisation of ‘who’ we are and ‘whose’ we are. We cannot
declare the mighty works of God in our times if we do not use our minds to
see and consider. ‘Faith is a reasoning trust, a trust that reckons
thoughtfully and confidently upon the trustworthiness of God ‘(John
Stott). True faith is not just belief in self and in ones ability but it
is reflecting and trusting in the character and the promises of God. As we
put our weight in the word of God who teaches us how to produce wealth
(Deuteronomy 8:18), he inspires our thinking, and cause sour mind to see
possibilities. We then act on what we know.

Our mental processes are our teeth. When our thinking is not renewed we
draw the beliefs we act on from the world. Our teeth are the core values
or deeply embedded beliefs that unconsciously control us. Our view of
life, the meaning of life and what our part is in life should be renewed
if we are to benefit from what we profess as our faith. Christian can
starve to death if the mind is blind to who God is and what he has for us.
‘Confess it and you will have it’ can be misleading if our mind is
disconnected from God. ‘The Lord says:” These people come near to me with
their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from
me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men (Isaiah
29:13). God is not pleased with us when we slide into man made rules and
assume that we have had a relationship with him.
We must use our minds and so interpret God’s will here on earth. Our
continent is starved of ideas that can bring about control of the
resources that God has given us. We need to rule the earth using the
scientific knowledge that God is revealing to us and through us. Our
social cultural structures that include our organised gatherings
(churches) need prayerful review so that God’s people can enjoy the good
of the land. The individual and communal mental maps that are used as
references in life need to be renewed according to the word of God not
the rules that we have inherited or come up with (Romans 12: 1-2).
The hope of God’s people in Africa does not lie in the sterile past
however glorious, neither in other nations and continents, but in the
Living God who is our Father and wants to use us. God has given us minds
to help come up with solutions for problems and challenges that we find in
life. We need sanctified minds that God can use to give us revelation. We
need spiritual dental check up.

We are soldiers in a fierce army whose main battle field is the mind

Friday, September 15, 2006

NUMBERS – BARRICADES OR BRIDGES?

REFLECTIONS:
Numbers –the science of statistics that represent people with
tears wiped off (A doctor).
Perhaps you may not be a star but you do not have to be a cloud.
New ideas bring revolutionary possibilities for growth or decay of
all societies.


TEXT:
Ps 90:12 Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of
wisdom. NIV
Revelation 13:18 This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him
calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is
666

One of the greatest challenges that confronted me was in my third year of
learning. Somehow my knowledge base was challenged as what I had known was
given different meaning. The word ‘one’ which means ‘look’ in my language
became a number. Letter ‘e’ became i, o became u, etc. and the world
ceased to make sense and somehow that trend has continued. When the
knowledge base shifts, new information has to be acquired if we are to
remain effective and relevant. The fact that a signal is familiar does not
necessarily mean the same thing to everybody. Symbols such as ‘lake’
could mean a mass of water but it could also mean his/hers in Kiswahili
(Jina lake). Mistaken advice, however sincere, may be serious in many
effects.
As messengers of the Gospel message we need to be aware of differing
cultural interpretation of signal systems. Think of numbers that carry
meaning as well as express relationships. Statistics express relationships
and communicate information with a combination of numbers and symbols.
From the very beginning, the numeric system of communication is used. For
example, the creation took seven days, Jacob served Laban for seven years
in order to marry, Pharaoh dream had seven thin cows that ate seven fat
cows, Jesus talked of seven spirit, seven loaves, forgiving others seven
times, The Sadducees gave an example of a woman who had seven husbands,
while the woman at Samaria had had five husbands. Daniel waited for an
answer to his prayer for 21 days (Daniel 10:13) while Jeremiah waited for
10 days(Jeremiah 42:7 Ten days later the word of the LORD came to
Jeremiah).
Numbers carry an agreed- upon meaning that is accepted within a cultural
grouping as conveying specific information in a precise manner. You
cannot assume that the meaning your community attaches to a number is the
same as that another community attaches. To understand the meaning
attached to numbers that are used in the bible one has to have some
understanding of the cultural meaning attached by the people of that day.

SOME TRAPS THAT WE NEED TO CONSCIOUS OF WHEN USING NUMERIC SYSTEM

1. Superstition - False notion. Many cultures have some beliefs about
some numbers having bad spell. Such numbers may not be pronounced without
some caution and in some cultures the ‘earmarked’ numbers are skipped when
following a sequence. How the numbers are selected and why, is not clear
but the belief is passed on from one generation to another. In some
cultures wealth and children are not expected to be counted verbally. For
a Christian to propagate beliefs that have no worthwhile foundation is
irresponsible. It is worse when some people ‘import’ superstitious beliefs
of other cultures and integrate them into their own belief system.
Superstition cultivates insecurity and sends a legion of structural cracks
through peoples’ disposition. It feeds on exaggerated, self made lies and
fears that grow so thick that the branches hide common sense –and worse,
God. To declare that a number means perfection, restoration, prosperity,
completeness, etc. may not communicate effectively. Some more information
is needed that would explain what it is about the number that makes it
carry that given message.
2. Syncretism – ‘The union of two opposite forces, beliefs, systems or
tenets so that the united form a new thing, neither one nor the other’
David Burnett). Syncretism may take the form of taking new ideas and
retaining the old meaning. Adding more value to numbers and expressing
the mixing of the old and new ideas in an indigenous system of belief.
Cultures have a system of dividing time and using numbers to express the
various divisions. Just as it happens in language, there are cultures that
become dominant and so their language is learned by others, use of English
is an example. Similarly in dividing time into manageable combination such
as weeks, months and years, there are dominant cultures whose divisions
have been adapted by others and that may explain existence of different
calendars. We have Julian calendar/ Ethiopian, Gregorian (that is the one
we use), Jewish, etc. New Year according to Gregorian calendar is not the
same day as expressed in other calendars. While God understand our
calendars it is not fair to speak to a congregation that has people from
various cultures as if they used one type of calendar. Is June 6, 2006
according to Gregorian calendar the same as it is in Ethiopian Calendar?
Which calendar does God use? Using one type of calendar to instil fear
and insecurity in people is mixing belief systems that do not arise from
the bible. That is not one way of lighting the world.

3. Witch-hunting - Christians can set themselves in a way that they find
Satan in every thing and blame as the subtle force behind all bad events
and encounters. The number 666 appear four times in the bible according to
NIV
The weight of the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents, (1
Kings 10:14, 2 Chronicles 9:113); The list of the men of the people of
Israel. . . : of Adonikam 666 (Ezra 2: 2;13). The verse in Revelation
is the one that has attracted a lot of interpretation particularly as we
approached AD 2000.
This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number
of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666 (Revelation 13:18)
The Wycliffe Bible Commentary says, ‘The concluding verse of this chapter,
in which the number of the beast is revealed as 666, has given rise to a
multitude of interpretations’.
Looking for the mark of the beast in people’s names, birthdays (My
friend’s sister was born on 6.6.1966), car number plates, calendar dates,
estate house numbers may be a combination of superstition and witch
hunting. Almost anybody can be made antichrist by attaching value to the
letters that make his name, count the numbers backwards and the devil code
will be revealed. Charles Swindoll says of the search for meaning of 666,
‘Christians let’s wise up. We look foolish enough in the eyes of the lost
without giving them fuel for the fire’.

Numerical systems of communication provide us with a precise way of
presenting figures and summaries and should not be abused through
ignorance. When the numbers are misused they become barricades that create
fear and paralyse the people from making reasonable choice to follow the
Lord. Any communication that does not provide a bridge into greater
insights and discoveries of the kingdom is a hindrance that should be
avoided. Like any language has to be learned so are the numeric systems.
As the Psalmist said we need the Lord to teach us to number our days and
to interpret numbers in a way that makes us gain and increase wisdom in
the land.

Count your blessings name them by one and it will surprise you to see what
God has done.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

SERVE THE PEOPLE AND THEY WILL BE YOUR SERVANTS FOREVER

August 31, 2006

REFLECTIONS:
When people fail to understand who they are, they start competing with
others and that preoccupies them making them tired, frustrated, angry, and
short-tempered.
They achieve more who do not care who gets credit.
We can attempt to be in the hands of God like a pen is in the hands of a
man (John Wesley).
The more a person realises his/her power to choose, the more of a person
they become.

Text:
1 Kings 12:7 "If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve
them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be
your servants forever." NKJV

Gaining entry and permanent residence in the hearts of the people so that
we can effectively market ourselves and our beliefs to them is the
Christian term of reference (mandate) or call. We get inner strength when
we have assurance and security that comes from knowing that there are
people who love and accept us as we are and will look out for us. A true
partner is a person who is loyal to you and will be with you when you have
made mistakes and the whole world is out to show you how stupid you are.
The rulers and the ruled, the employer and the jobseeker, the rich and the
poor, all need the loyal service of a true partner who will be there
through the thick and thin of life.
To be effective disciple makers, peace makers, and change agents,
we need the art of making real, loyal friends in whom we can take refuge
from the hard knocks of this life. In spite of our being born into
families, learning in groups and finding the meaning of our lives through
people, the art of winning friends is not as natural as we may assume. The
ignored advice that the elders had given Rehoboam (1 Kings 12:7) remains
relevant for any one who wants to influence others. We are in people
business. According to the elders of Israel, winning permanent residence
in other peoples hearts involves serving, listening, and careful
selection of the words spoken to others.

HOW TO WIN PEOPLES HEARTS
1. Determine to be a servant to the people today- Tomorrow is today in
waiting; Yesterday is today lived. Today is what we have; life is
evaluated on the choices we make today.
Today in whatever position or circumstance you are in; decide to look out
for the need of others. Show the way to one who is unsure. Choose to
radiate warmth and extend friendship to those with whom you are. Determine
to communicate to those you interact with that you care and value them
everyday as long as it is today.
One obstruction to our service to others is fear of losing power, and the
respect that goes with our status. Somehow the apparent loss of power is
the actual key that turns the hearts of others to you and you gain more
power and respect. That was Jesus Christ style, . . . just as the Son of
Man did not come to be served, but to serve, (Matthew 20:28) NIV.
2. Answer the people - Listen to the people so that you respond to what
they are asking not just what you think they are asking. Many
organisations have taken time to come up with strategic plans that include
vision and mission for the company. If the mission statement is not linked
to a person on an individual basis, and it does not touch them on a
personal perceptive level, then it is meaningless. Mission statements can
be sterilisation of humanity with statements that are chock full of
corporate language and buzzwords but speak little to the hearts of the
individual. To imagine that an individual in desperation will kill
their aspirations in order to serve that of the organisation or church is
like assuming that a left handed person can become right handed because
you insist.
Listen to the dreams, aspirations and fears of the people so that you help
them know that in serving you they are not drowning themselves. If you
make the other person feel important, significant and valued, that person
is likely to be totally committed to your cause. Recognise the personhood
and humanness of people and they will offer you their shoulders to ride on
and that is how they willingly choose to be disciples of whoever you tell
them to obey.
Speak good words to the people - Select words that make people feel good
about themselves. Evaluate people from their intentions rather than their
actions and so give them benefit of doubt. Treasure hunt for, whatever is
true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is
lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or
praiseworthy-think about such things (Philippians 4:8) NIV.
Know that no one enjoys being criticised, pulled
down, embarrassed and humiliated and so avoid such words as would shrink
the person inside.. . . Pleasant words promote instruction.24 Pleasant
words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones
(Proverbs 16:21b, 24) NIV. Once people know that you have their welfare
at heart, they will drop their defences and be willing to take your
criticism and so you will help them to grow. People that find you
encouraging will be attracted to you and will allow themselves to be
influenced by your counsel.

If you recognise the unique, immeasurable presence of another, the person
will incline to you, listen and willingly follow you. Loyalty is a result
of you accepting to go with me on my journey and in return I will go with
you all the way. Calling others sinners, terrorists, is not Jesus
language. Jesus Christ took time to acknowledge the humanness of others,
he called those who others were calling sinners friends and he won their
hearts. The acknowledgement of Zaccheus, taking time to be with him, won
his heart, property and future (Luke 19: 1-11).
Rehoboam failed to take the counsel of the elders and he lost opportunity
to rule ten of the twelve tribes of Israel. Our positions and possessions
become empty shells that provide temporary or no security while the
influence and long-term loyalty is lost if we fail to serve the people,
listen and use our communicative acts to demonstrate our trust of them.
Rahab listened and served the Israel emissaries that were sent to spy her
country, and as a result she saved herself and her family as they became
incorporated among Gods people (Joshua 2). Rebecca listened and served a
thirsty traveller and his camels with water and she was rewarded by
getting a spouse in Gods chosen family (Genesis 24).
The entrance to other peoples inner world begins with our service to
them. That is what Jesus Christ did when he extended his open arms for us
(But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still
sinners, Christ died for us [Romans 5:8] and we now pledge our loyalty to
him with all we are and all we have in this life and in the life to come.
That is our pattern as we seek to serve God in serving humanity.

If your candle is not burning, you can light it from mine and I will
suffer no loss (Helen Keller).

SERVE THE PEOPLE AND THEY WILL BE YOUR SERVANTS FOREVER

August 31, 2006

REFLECTIONS:
When people fail to understand who they are, they start competing with
others and that preoccupies them making them tired, frustrated, angry, and
short-tempered.
They achieve more who do not care who gets credit.
We can attempt to be in the hands of God like a pen is in the hands of a
man (John Wesley).
The more a person realises his/her power to choose, the more of a person
they become.

Text:
1 Kings 12:7 "If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve
them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be
your servants forever." NKJV

Gaining entry and permanent residence in the hearts of the people so that
we can effectively market ourselves and our beliefs to them is the
Christian term of reference (mandate) or call. We get inner strength when
we have assurance and security that comes from knowing that there are
people who love and accept us as we are and will look out for us. A true
partner is a person who is loyal to you and will be with you when you have
made mistakes and the whole world is out to show you how stupid you are.
The rulers and the ruled, the employer and the jobseeker, the rich and the
poor, all need the loyal service of a true partner who will be there
through the thick and thin of life.
To be effective disciple makers, peace makers, and change agents,
we need the art of making real, loyal friends in whom we can take refuge
from the hard knocks of this life. In spite of our being born into
families, learning in groups and finding the meaning of our lives through
people, the art of winning friends is not as natural as we may assume. The
ignored advice that the elders had given Rehoboam (1 Kings 12:7) remains
relevant for any one who wants to influence others. We are in people
business. According to the elders of Israel, winning permanent residence
in other peoples hearts involves serving, listening, and careful
selection of the words spoken to others.

HOW TO WIN PEOPLES HEARTS
1. Determine to be a servant to the people today- Tomorrow is today in
waiting; Yesterday is today lived. Today is what we have; life is
evaluated on the choices we make today.
Today in whatever position or circumstance you are in; decide to look out
for the need of others. Show the way to one who is unsure. Choose to
radiate warmth and extend friendship to those with whom you are. Determine
to communicate to those you interact with that you care and value them
everyday as long as it is today.
One obstruction to our service to others is fear of losing power, and the
respect that goes with our status. Somehow the apparent loss of power is
the actual key that turns the hearts of others to you and you gain more
power and respect. That was Jesus Christ style, . . . just as the Son of
Man did not come to be served, but to serve, (Matthew 20:28) NIV.
2. Answer the people - Listen to the people so that you respond to what
they are asking not just what you think they are asking. Many
organisations have taken time to come up with strategic plans that include
vision and mission for the company. If the mission statement is not linked
to a person on an individual basis, and it does not touch them on a
personal perceptive level, then it is meaningless. Mission statements can
be sterilisation of humanity with statements that are chock full of
corporate language and buzzwords but speak little to the hearts of the
individual. To imagine that an individual in desperation will kill
their aspirations in order to serve that of the organisation or church is
like assuming that a left handed person can become right handed because
you insist.
Listen to the dreams, aspirations and fears of the people so that you help
them know that in serving you they are not drowning themselves. If you
make the other person feel important, significant and valued, that person
is likely to be totally committed to your cause. Recognise the personhood
and humanness of people and they will offer you their shoulders to ride on
and that is how they willingly choose to be disciples of whoever you tell
them to obey.
Speak good words to the people - Select words that make people feel good
about themselves. Evaluate people from their intentions rather than their
actions and so give them benefit of doubt. Treasure hunt for, whatever is
true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is
lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or
praiseworthy-think about such things (Philippians 4:8) NIV.
Know that no one enjoys being criticised, pulled
down, embarrassed and humiliated and so avoid such words as would shrink
the person inside.. . . Pleasant words promote instruction.24 Pleasant
words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones
(Proverbs 16:21b, 24) NIV. Once people know that you have their welfare
at heart, they will drop their defences and be willing to take your
criticism and so you will help them to grow. People that find you
encouraging will be attracted to you and will allow themselves to be
influenced by your counsel.

If you recognise the unique, immeasurable presence of another, the person
will incline to you, listen and willingly follow you. Loyalty is a result
of you accepting to go with me on my journey and in return I will go with
you all the way. Calling others sinners, terrorists, is not Jesus
language. Jesus Christ took time to acknowledge the humanness of others,
he called those who others were calling sinners friends and he won their
hearts. The acknowledgement of Zaccheus, taking time to be with him, won
his heart, property and future (Luke 19: 1-11).
Rehoboam failed to take the counsel of the elders and he lost opportunity
to rule ten of the twelve tribes of Israel. Our positions and possessions
become empty shells that provide temporary or no security while the
influence and long-term loyalty is lost if we fail to serve the people,
listen and use our communicative acts to demonstrate our trust of them.
Rahab listened and served the Israel emissaries that were sent to spy her
country, and as a result she saved herself and her family as they became
incorporated among Gods people (Joshua 2). Rebecca listened and served a
thirsty traveller and his camels with water and she was rewarded by
getting a spouse in Gods chosen family (Genesis 24).
The entrance to other peoples inner world begins with our service to
them. That is what Jesus Christ did when he extended his open arms for us
(But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still
sinners, Christ died for us [Romans 5:8] and we now pledge our loyalty to
him with all we are and all we have in this life and in the life to come.
That is our pattern as we seek to serve God in serving humanity.

If your candle is not burning, you can light it from mine and I will
suffer no loss (Helen Keller).