Friday, December 3, 2010

Identity crisis: Shut up, Mr. Pastor! - Part 2 (Final)

The first part of this article was aimed at attempting to get people to think out of the box and see scripture without the assumptions it generally tends to be taught with. I plan to really zero in on the meat of the article. However, I need to say something before I go on. I am NOT looking to encourage finger-pointing or fault finding. That is all too easy to do and a breeding ground for hypocrisy. While we should be unafraid to break free of bondage from any quarter, whether denominational or not, I am hoping that individuals, like you and I, will be able to find their roles in the body AND function. There is no point if there is no edification. So let me try to clarify these giftings.

First, the word ‘apostle’ means one is one who is ‘sent out’. Paul always started his letters with ‘Paul an apostle of Jesus…’. Several definitions include ‘an individual who plants the Christian faith in new places’, as well as ‘one who has the ability to build spiritual communities’.

These definitions, as well as a study of Paul’s life, help to clarify the apostolic function. It is a gift that triggers an individual (or individuals) to GO OUT with God-given passion, to bring God’s word to people, to foster and build NETWORKS aimed at BUILDING body life. He/She may tend to be adventurous, have a knack for trying new things and tends to be project person. (I say this at the risk of people thinking in terms of process-centric organisational projects, which are never the best model to imitate with regards to the workings of God’s body – his people.) Apostles like to ‘build’ and like Paul said, ‘lay the foundation’.  According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 1 Corinthians 3:10

The reality is that many denominations are started by ‘pastors’ who are really apostles. They like projects, they like to build and in isolation, tend to like order and structure. A circle of believers RUN by ONLY apostolic individual MAY have problems because of the love for structure – and that is why this role is complimented by THE PROPHET.



A prophet is one who does two major things, amongst others. He gives INSPIRED thoughts and foretells future events. Sorry if I burst your bubble but a prophet does not always sit in hermit-like silence waiting for God to send his next vision, while he froths at the mouth and has a weird stare. Now, just before you laugh, Ezekiel, an Old Testament prophet, had to do some very weird stuff – and prophets can be weird. Why, you ask? You see they live between two realities and dancing between two contrasting worlds can make you seem a tad loony sometimes! Prophets give inspired preaching; they help the body get aware of things happening in the spiritual, what God may be saying at certain points. Because he is led by the Spirit who is not rigid and has been compared to wind, he brings balance and challenges RELIGION when he is really in tune with God. I think ACTIVE and TRUE prophets are in very short supply our day.

Point to note, every prophecy must be judged by scripture when given to an individual, and when said out loud in a gathering, two to three ELDERS are to judge and determine if it aligns with scripture. The same goes for shouting out in ‘tongues’. If there is no interpreter, shut up your mouth…or do the whisper! Simple. Prophets may be radical by nature, having a strength of personality that is needed to go against the tide when they see things that others do not see. They may also have lone spells as it is easier to get spiritual clarity when away from the general din.

Now, when apostles lay foundations and kick-start a move, and prophets compliment them, it becomes necessary to deepen understanding, and this is where teachers come in. They like to analyse, read, explore, and ask ‘why’, ‘when’, ‘how’, ‘what’ – and are generally created CURIOUS! From taking time to learn and study, and by virtue of the drive they possess, when they explain scripture, you have an ‘aha’ moment. They can help the body understand concepts.  So much of the catastrophe we have to deal with come from people who try to force themselves into roles that they are not made for. There are times you sit listening to a preacher who is ‘teaching’, and you realise that he is completely off the mark again and again – but suddenly you notice that when he starts to appeal to those who may not be in line with God, powerful passion comes from nowhere that makes him convincing, simply because he has other giftings, - but not the gift of teaching. The teacher has a drive to know, to learn, has the ability to flesh concepts, to see symmetries, to understand and to explain in a way that is enlightening.

Then we have the Pastor.

A pastor is a spiritual shepherd BUT that term, 'shepherd', has been bastardised. The reason is that there is actually only ONE shepherd, one GOOD shepherd – and that is Christ. And all of us are brethren. John 10:16 “ And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd”. You see, E.A Adeboye, Chris Oyakhilome, T.D Jakes, you and I are ALL BRETHREN and none is above the other. However, a pastor’s shepherd tendencies refer to the affection he has for the sheep, NOT about being able to 'LEAD' or stand in front of them. A hireling can do just that. He may look or sound like a shepherd, but how do you know when he is NOT a shepherd?

But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. John 10:12 – 13

So how do you know a pastor, from scripture? Let me use this weird explanation. If a pastor doesn’t learn from others about managing his resource, he tends to end up being broke a lot of the time. Why, you ask? You see, a pastor is ready to spend and be spent for those he MINISTERS to. He, unlike the Apostle or Prophet, has a greater tendency to micromanage. The church (not the denomination) suffers because many (ordained) ‘pastors’ do not have this passion, and many real pastors are not ordained, and remain unaware that they are really pastors and should go ahead and function in that nurturing capacity.

I heard of a story about a popular ‘pastor’. There was a major program coming up and funds were being allocated for the program. Now, one of his PA’s told him that his wife needed heart surgery, but could not afford it. Because of the coming ‘gospel concert’ no funds were given to the PA’s wife. She died on the day the concert began. Well, here is my personal opinion (and God knows way better than I do). That ‘pastor’ though popular, is not a pastor. You see, a pastor’s shepherding instinct would not be able to let that happen to his sheep. A pastor is not OVER his sheep. He is a PART of the sheep but has a duty to care for them because he is one of several sheep that is imbued with capacity for caring and nurturing – and compliments the roles of others who are a part of the flock.

But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.  Matt 23: 8-12

The problem is these days, we have a lot of ‘shepherds’ who have acquired a taste and craving for sheep barbeque.

How does a pastor function? A pastor is caring and nurturing, will have no inhibitions about using time and resource to help others in the body, and is wary about false teachings. He is the one who likes to settle quibbling, will pray for others (Note: I did not say call for prayer meetings), will feel sensitive to the emotionally wounded – and he often finds out, if he is ordained a pastor, that he is inadequate. You can’t have enough hands and that is why many TRUE pastors are in the body of Christ, but are not ordained - and are not functioning. And that is why denominational leaders are swamped with handling too much, so much so that their families tend to suffer. THIS WAS NOT THE DESIGN GOD HAD IN MIND! Every gathering has a pool of complementary gifting, but people do nothing because they don’t know or have been taught to lean on a man for direction, nourishment, growth and everything else. That is not organic living. It is parasitism.

That leaves the evangelist. Phillips is the only person in the New Testament who is specifically called an evangelist. He also had daughters who were prophetesses. Must have been an interesting family! An evangelist is a man-on-the-move. He declares the gospel to the unreached, not really concerned about setting up a lasting system, but wanting people to hear and be convinced. He tends to be armed with miracles and a radical mindset, because he needs it. You see, unlike most of the others, he is a ‘field worker’. So right after Phillip preached to the Eunuch, he was teleported! How cool!!!

So picture this. An evangelist goes out to preach to a tribe somewhere. He is accompanied by an Apostle.  The evangelist moved off, but like Paul, the Apostle stays for a while encouraging the saints and facilitating fellowship because in a few weeks he will LEAVE them to stand alone. Yes. Trusting God to KEEP those he called, Paul left them leaderless and thriving only on communion and fellowship!

Go on, read Acts again. Like I say in most articles of mine, don’t believe me. Do find out for yourself.

Paul would set up ACTUAL churches and these leaderless groups thrived as ministry gifts came to the fore. He would return or send letters to them much later to appoint elders who would be people they knew to be godly and mature based on real knowledge gained from fellowship and interactions. Teachers among them would study scripture (remember the Bereans) and prophets and pastors in these gatherings would grow in their gifting because there was room to express them.

Like a living system it was meant to be, evangelists bring about expansion and growth, apostles co-ordinate, prophets are the defence mechanism, pastors nurture and heal, while teachers increase intelligence. The result is everyone is built up – or using old English ‘EDIFIED’. These roles do not need offices or nifty titles. Chances are, YOU reading this have one or more of these gifts. So if a brother goes out of line, like Peter did and was blasted by Paul, because he is your brother, you can say ‘Shut up, Mr. Pastor!’, as long as he is a pastor.

If you can’t say that in genuine love, though, you can always send a well-written email.

Goodness and mercy shall follow you – and may you REMAIN a house of the Lord all your life

Cheers…

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The view from above

The plane took off and my friends and I chitchatted excitedly. It was my first time flying with a group of friends, so there was no ‘alone-time’ to look out of the window and to get lost in personal musing. My friend who sat next to the window almost reminded me of a little daughter as she pointed at interesting sights.
‘That’s a bridge. It’s so long, even from here’
‘That’s a cloud. Wow! We are flying ABOVE the clouds’
‘Wow, there is so much water. You’d never realise how much water surrounds Lagos’
Her enthusiasm was infectious.

I love travelling, be it by train, boat, plane or camel. I have not ridden a horse for a while, but I think it will be interesting to do an interstate trip on horseback, with an accompanying car – just in case!

But what struck me is this simple fact:

It’s a very different view when you are far above and looking down. 



All of a sudden, things take on a different perspective, and more and more, you realise how small you are and how big the ‘bigger picture’ really is.

From the skies above, walls just blend into the landscape. You see them, but they are not really important. It is greenery, water bodies and large expanses of earth that really stand out. Buildings are all alike from above, irrespective of the grandeur they appear to have when one is on the ground. It reminds me of the walls of denomination.

I almost HATE denominationalism and the sordid brands that people look to in order to give themselves some sort of identity – as though Christ is not enough. By its very definition, a denomination is about exclusivity that brings people together based on traditions. Unfortunately, this exclusivity, many times, tends to give a false feeling of superiority…and the ones who do not believe ‘the same things’ are outcasts, even said to be heretic. Ah, how we love to brand people as heretic. Burning at the stake is no longer ‘cool’ or, with the vehemence displayed by some ‘followers’ of Christ, certain people would be burnt to ‘purge’ the church and as always, it would be ‘in the name of the Lord’. Just check out Foxe’s book or martyrs.

I am neither Pentecostal nor Orthodox. I am not Protestant – I see nothing to protest. I am just a disciple of Christ.
Simple.
And who are my brethren? ANYONE who SINCERELY believes and accepts the sacrifice of Jesus, and has made him Lord irrespective of DENOMINATIONAL affiliation. Whether they be Redeemed or TREM, white garment, 7 day Adventist, Jehovah witness, Protestant, Pentecostal or whatever MAN-MADE divide people have chosen to go by.
Ah, John, you are losing it, you say.

Well, for me, the parameter for testing spirits as seen in scripture is NOT a string of doctrines and dogma. It is SIMPLY this:
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” 1 John 4: 1-3
“For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed” 1 John vs 7 -10

Now, even the disciples had their segregationist myopia rebuked by Christ himself.

And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part. For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” John 9: 38 – 42
And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.” Luke 9: 49 – 50

And the reason for this, he clarifies when he said:

“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” John 10: 14 - 16

ONENESS… Simply, in HIM, because it’s all about HIM, not pastors in jerry curls or safari suits, not huge building with nine keyboards and huge building plans, not white garmented clerics or the choice of a holy day, not ‘holy ghost services’ or demon and witch spiritual lynching, not Baptist or ‘foursquare’ or ‘eight cubes’, not ‘deeper life’ or ‘redeemed’, or a ‘present house’ or ‘future kraal’ or whatever names you conjure. It is not about your pet doctrines that you will kill and even die for. It’s not even about you, or your belief that the hair should be covered or whether trousers should be worn. If you have been privileged to lock eyes with a demon possessed individuals, you suddenly lose sight of some silly quibbling. Furthermore, you need to understand that so much of what we practice as modern Christianity, this hybrid religion, actually stems from sun worship, but right now, that is NOT EVEN the most important thing. You need to get it into your thick skulls that it is ALL about HIM, HIM, HIM!!!

JESUS.

Paul talked about people who did not ‘discern the Lord’s body’. If you really learn to see from the skies above, you define individuals based on their WALK in GOD, not their denomination, by their FRUITS and NOT their religious brand! There are saints everywhere and there are vermins everywhere, and no denomination is holier or more right than the other. Yeah, I said that!

Why? Simple.

It is all man-made and will all end here on earth. But the true church, ah! you have to ‘see’ that beauty. She is made of people from every race, every tongue, every tribe, she is bold, she is beautiful, she is strong, she is the very bride of the lord and she will not soil her garment with any things that is temporal. She is made up of people who stand up like Daniels in the middle of a corrupt world, not bending to the whims of doctrine or fashion, or trends, not thinking promiscuity is fashionable or that life should be about what one can amass because she has set her affections on things above, so much so that other things pale in comparison. My God, she is so, so, so, so, aware that everything that the eyes can see is TEMPORAL. She is not hoping that the Lord will not come anytime soon, because she waits for the coming with an inner cry of “Maranatha!”, sick to death of the filth in the world, but so, so, so aware that it is almost time, that the harvest has been ripe, and that so many are falling away and yet, the labourers are so, so, so few and that people spend more time talking instead of reaching out with their voices and hands and blood and tears and skills and everything they have to snatch as many as they can from the darkness, because anyone whose antennas are in good working order knows that time is so short and that dark, dark days are coming.

Friend, that is the view from the sky above. Your acceptance of my view is not important.

I do know that if you are really plugged into God and his heart, he will lead you OVER TIME to where you should be and those you should be with, before he moves on AGAIN, as he tends to do – and depending on the walk he has mapped for YOU.

Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.”

People constantly yap about trivia reminding me of the quote by Heraclitus: Dogs bark at what they do not understand.
It’s almost sad that it’s demons that really get the picture. Don’t you forget that before beating the day light out of the sons of Sceva they did not ask, WHERE do you belong.

They simply said

“WHO are YOU?”

Identity crisis: Shut up, Mr. Pastor! - Part 1


I want to start by making a statement that may sound surprising.

The pastoral role, from scripture, is not one of authority. Or to rephrase it better, there is nothing that shows that a pastor is meant to be a LEADER within the gathering of believers. 



Okay, you may pick up your jaws from the floor – and/or wipe the suspicious frown from your face now. I am just going to express some thought and ask you to do your own research – but more importantly – find out your place in God and his body because time is really short.

My reason for writing this article is that I notice a growing trend of confusion among God-chasers. It is confusion about functioning within the body of Christ. A lot of the time, a person who wants to ‘work for God’ ends up working in a department of a Christian denomination. Many have come to believe this is the only way to serve God – find a denomination, find a denominational department that you feel resonates with you – and be loyal as you help to build up the ‘house of God’.

That is the way POPULAR Christian practice has wired many to think.

Truth is, nothing could be further from the truth. It is why so many are burnt out and do not know why.  It is also the reason why many wonder why they don’t ‘fit in’ and even when they try, they still do not have a sense of being where God wants them to be. Don’t get me wrong: It is possible and good to belong to a department, and to experience growth as well as contribute – but that does not mean you are functioning within the lord’s body.

Doing some study, I was a bit amazed to find out that the word, ‘Pastor’, which is quite popular today and is synonymous with ‘leader’ in many circles, occurs only once in the New Testament and in only two books of the bible. However, what really roils me is that this role is a desired on for many people not because of a real understanding of what it is about, but because they equate it with leadership. A bigger problem now occurs.
Most people do not even understand what scriptural leadership is about. People use business organisation as a yardstick and think that leadership is about power suits, exotic hotels, control of people and unquestioned authority. The bigger your brand, the more the members and financial income and of course, the more you can have and buy: Trips, hotels, high society functions, even chicks, in short, the ‘good life’ – with a ‘swagga’ in the name of ‘the lord’. Kinda’ reminds you of something out of a hip hop video.

Disgusting.

It is for this reason that people attempt to climb up the denominational structure, chorister to choir leader, to deacon, to pastor, to senior pastor, to board member…and if you get lucky, the ‘pastor’/leader, has a stroke (working for the lord) – or better still, dies.

And then you get his ‘mantle’. Hallelujah!

You can then command people, set up meetings, run programs to keep your crown entertained and buzzing – and of course, jealously guard your position – till you have your own stroke, or die. It is a sad scenario because there is not enough space for everyone at the top. That is why you have so many people fighting to climb up denomination rungs and to control denominational boards – and that is why most denomination are very political when you get past the veneer of the niceties, sounds, bright lights and the overused bile-inducing gospel clichés. At the centre, many times, is good old POLITICS. The real problem, however, is a complete misunderstanding of ‘body’ function.

Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4: 8, 11-16)

You see the words ‘Apostle’, ‘Prophet’, ‘Pastor’, ‘Evangelist’, ‘Teacher’? The question to be answered right now is, ‘which of these is YOUR gifting?

In many cases, our minds have been so conditioned to think that these GIFTS operate within the confines of a denomination, and even worse, there is a gross misunderstanding to view these as OFFICES or POSTS or APPOINTMENTS rather than what they are: Gifts given by God to individuals to help to build up and contribute to the WHOLE body of Christ without the need for formal ordinations and man-made appointments.

In other words, a pastor does not need a pulpit. A pastor does not need to be ‘ordained’. To be really blunt, if you are not really a pastor, whether you are ordained or given a pulpit or post, you are just a clown with a title – who is clueless about who he is, what he is, and who will be ineffective because he has no understanding of his true identity, abilities and functions. The good news is, as soon as you realise what your true gifting is, and you go on to embrace it, there is a deeper sense of satisfaction and you start to really contribute to the body of Christ.

Actually, friends, none of these roles need an ‘ordination’. You are either it – or confused.com

So, which of these is your gifting?

To be continued...

Monday, October 4, 2010

Have we ALL being deceived?



So what was God’s plan?

Straight up.

His plan was to get a group of men to come together to build. To brand themselves uniquely with different names, different modes of worship, so that there could be some sort of uniqueness. His plan was to get people together in gatherings where in unity they would sit down, stand up, dance, clap, pray, raise hands, wave hands, talk to their neighbours, give an offering when told to. His plan was that there would be a unique language, or parlance or lingo, used by faithful faithfuls that made no sense in the actual language but that was understood in these unique circles, with words like ‘I am strong’ when one was sick, or ‘it is well’ when one needed to talk, or ‘My brother’ when you gave no thought about the welfare of the other.

His plan was that after each service, people walk out into godlessness, not aware of His ever-watchful eyes as they went about their business. His plan was that people could rip each other to shreds, with their mouths, with their actions, with their intentions…and even do so in the name of the lord – and yet feel nothing. Or maybe not feel nothing, but feel that what they felt, that little nudge of a still small voice was nothing.

Going on, his plan was that the few men who would build, and brand would also stand grand above the faithful band of God seekers, and would show them how to obey God, how to live for him, how to live their lives, how to handle every detail of their lives…because they knew about each and every one of these God seekers, their pains, frustrations, their backgrounds, their learning styles, their hopes, dreams and their divine destiny. By virtue of ‘leadership’ they knew it all.

OR

Maybe God sits, silent, watching and constantly waiting, hoping, loving- and knowing.

Maybe if God was man he would wonder why Adam walked away from his love, why he called to the people and they elected Moses to be a go between, when, like a father, he wanted to dance with them all – because he could.

Maybe he would wonder why, after he grudgingly allowed Moses to ‘lead’ these people, they still did not come close. They drifted further and asked for a King. Maybe it would have torn his heart, wondering why men always seemed to prefer substitute relationships instead of just being with him. For Christ's sake, he had been enough for Enoch, and Abraham and Moses and Jacob and Paul! Even Moses, like Saul, was bound to fail, because what the people did not understand was that God alone had all it took to lead them and relate with them.

And maybe, if God was mad, in between teary eyes and a longing heart, he would have sent his son to change it all. To make all things new, watch as his kid was beaten and bruised as they both pursued a new living way. And as we all know, they both gazed in smiles as the veil was ripped in two, worried Pharisees scurrying like mice, not understanding with open blind eyes the prophecies that were fulfilled that should have made them as glad as aged Simeon. Their hearts were used to a norm that they would do anything to live by and live for, and even kill for if necessary, with God’s words…aye, they would try to kill Lazarus and send him back to his lodge in Hades!

But scarcely was the veil ripped that the weakness of man unfurled again. From all being equal and being brethren with the Lord, all having all things in common and all seeking, knowing and fellowshipping with God, person to person, each knowing him and telling the other about their unique fellowship, a fellowship that brought a true, sincere bond, there slowly came Constantine and Luther, service on a Sunday morning and cathedrals, priests made way for pastor, both complete with robes and a worshipping crowd. The rituals were taken away to become the service order – and the Centre, the very Lord, became the ‘other’, sitting silently in services, as men’s eyes watch with delight at dancing, purring pastors in clean suits and flashy carriages. Deacons and the board fight to climb the corporate religious ladders, to uphold the unique ‘Christian’ brand, as business techniques are taught during the rituals, pardon me, the service.
The sermon is over, the building now called church, and believed to be the House of God, is empty. The houses of God who will receive none of the tithe and wonder why their souls are parched have gone into their cars, or buses to go back to the routine of a godly godless lie…pardon me, life. The doors are finally closing, the cleaner comes through and all is quiet in the building, quiet enough to hear the silent drip of tears.

God’s tears?

I had hoped that they would want to TRY to know me, to try to seek me personally. Not fight about things I said in letters written by dead men, that were to be directions to seek ME. Not base their lives around dogma that did not draw them close to me.

But maybe John is wrong. Maybe all is well. We are happy and we are ‘blessed’ in all that we do for ‘God is with us’ and ‘it is well’, for ‘we shall not die but live’, and are ‘covered by the blood of Jesus’

Or maybe the simple question is, if it’s not ALL about HIM, what the HELL is it all about?

The search for a soul mate (Part 2 of 2)

My wife and I were spending the evening with a newly married couple. The husband happens to be a popular musician, and as we talked about some of the huge challenges of the music industry, life and other matters, he said he had known his wife for 13 years before they got married. She’d known him, his travails and had been his friend when he was not popular. It reminded me of my wife. We had known for 11 years, and it still seems a bit funny to realise we are married. You see, my wife is calm, easy-going, very discreet, extremely cautious when making decisions, not confrontational, but strong-willed.



She was a ‘good girl’, and when I was younger, I kinda’ liked some ‘fireworks’ in a lady!

Well, as it turned out, I wasn’t her type either!

Well, apart from being perfectionist, stubborn, overtly analytical, moody, very intense, crazy, abrasive, cynical, adventurous, God fearing, God tempting, erratic and sometimes weird, I think I was an ok guy.

But, despite our many ‘differences’, she had always been easy to talk to, we shared some very core values, had similarities in what we wanted out of life, and our conversations were meaningful. In short, she was, and has always been, a good FRIEND.

At this point, I have to say a few things. The ideal soul mate is not necessarily the person you are physically attracted to from the word ‘go’. Reason being, physical beauty fades. It’s also not someone who you FEEL so passionate about and can fly over the moon for in the heat of romance. Well, romance, like fireworks, may really light up the night sky – but it does not last and hence, cannot be used as a foundation for a lasting relationship. Besides, once you learn how, romance, like fireworks, can be manufactured easily!

Many times, your soul mate is that person you can let your hair down with, you can talk to for hours, who you can drag along to see a movie when you need company, who you can watch a movie with or just sit in comfortable silence with. It’s that friendship that lasts.
A soul mate is not someone who agrees with you on everything. There is a word for constantly agreeing with someone on every issue.

It’s called ‘faking’.

You are aware of their flaws, but those are flaws you can live with…and this is very critical. Everyone has a set of flaws and weaknesses AND everyone has a set of some particular flaws and weaknesses they can LIVE with (and have capacity to endure), without breaking down. Now while I am not for partner battery, some people have capacity to handle that when their partners dole that out. John Wesley was said to be dragged around the house by his hair when his wife was angry with him. I also know of instances where a lady believed a man was ‘IT’, married him and started getting beaten regularly. She took it for about 3 years – and suddenly, it stopped and they now have a wonderful relationship. Now, in the short run (which must human beings judge almost anything by) it must have appeared to all that he was a wrong choice.

But in the search for a soul mate, very simplistically, your soul mate may already be your friend. You may not just be seeing him/her as that special someone.

People watch movies and see the cars, glitz and ‘bling bling’ – or see the flashy lifestyle of the corporate and rich. With that as a background and knowing that women innately long for security, while men long for satisfaction, what we come to see and define as ‘security’ or ‘satisfaction’, many times, have already been pre-determined by society and the media. We say we are making an ‘informed decision’ when we choose a rich, good looking man with ‘prospects’ (which is basically an attempt to predict the future based on a limited understanding of the present, the variables that created the present, and NO knowledge of what the future really is like.) We choose a good looking lady, who speaks well, comes from a ‘good family’ and who we look good with.

I must say, it's quite shallow.

A really good way to make choices when looking at prospects is try to see all prospective partners, years down the line and all having the exact same cars, assets, looks or whatever…and then ask yourself, if they all have the same level of all things you desire, WHO would you rather be with?

Because, the ‘WHO’ is the person on the INSIDE.

And this is where I’d like to examine another expression used when it comes to marriage. I hear the expression, they ‘made it’ to the altar.
The altar is JUST a start. After the altar is where the journey really begins.

You see, a marriage is REALLY only a success IN RETROSPECT.

In my opinion, a marriage is successful when one partner leaves…to the afterlife AND where there was understanding and mutual ACCEPTANCE before the demise of one of the partners. Truth is, no matter how rosy or sweet any marriage appears to be, it’s still a movie in progress and no one knows the end. So some marriages start with a band and a bang and all things nice, and fall slowly into decay and divorce. Some start with no fanfare but the individuals bond and have a lasting relationship that is way beyond a public display of affection. And some, they just undulate ALL the way.
I’ve read of several divorce cases after 40 years of being together. So a marriage can hardly be said to be ‘successful’ or ‘over’ till the very last day – and this is a very vital lesson that those in and out of marriage must understand.

Before I round up this article, there is a phenomenon that plagues many marriage relationships. You see, may people realise, after they get married, that they still feel a close bond to someone from the past. They find a close friend, of the opposite sex, easy to talk to, easy to confide in, and so on. Many start to wish they had married their friends or wish they could undo the past and so on. Many, unconsciously, start to flirt a little, or some have outright affairs. I think it comes from a little misunderstanding about how we are as human beings.

Your partner is NOT the ‘ultimate’.

Simply because, NO ONE is the ultimate when you live close enough to see their flaws. You will always find someone prettier, more god-fearing, more sensitive, more sexually appealing, richer, and more intelligent.

And now I will re-state that sentence as: You will always find someone who APPEARS TO BE prettier, APPEARS to be more god-fearing, sensitive…and so on. And then when you divorce, you find out your new ‘angel’ has broken wings and a huge set of flaws, and you did not give enough time to develop the skills needed to live with, and bring out the best, in another person.

Do not get me wrong and go shaking your head in disdain at divorcees.
Marriage can be HARD sometimes (though it’s a lie that it is always tough) and each relationship is almost twice as dynamic and complex as the individuals in the relationship.

I have to be spiritual here. When you marry, you become one. In other words, your partner becomes, REALLY, your soul mate. In other words, you are one, but you may not know it or FEEL it YET. And whether it is admitted or not, divorced couples will always find a small part of themselves still wanting the other. There are loads of books on the subject, so you may try picking one up if that is a challenge at the moment.

In summary, don’t be led just by what your eyes can see. Many of those things will fade away in reality or because you get so used to them that they don’t count. Your soul mate, many times, may just be a friend, but it will be someone who you feel at ease with. That individual WILL be flawed, but it won’t be flaws you can’t handle. Do not be stupid and get in or out of a relationship because someone said ‘God said’ or ‘God said no’. Whatever your decision, have this firmly engraved in your mind: The ceremony will end and every one will go home, but only you and that person will live under the same roof for a long, long time. Your kids will have that person’s face, attitudes and mannerisms, and very possibly, core values.
That really helps to put things in perspective, doesn’t it?

Also, in your heart of heart, when you are with someone who you should not be with, you WILL KNOW. You may fight it because the person is nice or likeable or because you have been together for a while. But that internal compass is of extreme importance. It does not make the person bad or good. It just means the individual is the best fit for someone else.

And this is where I write the most liked, and at the same time, most hated words of many authors


                                                      THE END


The search for a soul mate Part 1

Ah, I hated marriage! I definitely found all the expressions used to describe it slightly morbid:

I tend to think in pictures and flowcharts, so the expression, ‘settle down’ always reminded me of a sad floating object, slowly losing buoyancy, and finally sinking down to the bottom of a dark, lonely, well, where it would sit still FOREVER and gather slimy moss, or ‘Tie the knot’, which conjured pictured of tying a noose round the neck of some sad male, doomed to be led (for life) by an aggressive or manipulating female...or a combo. ‘Getting hooked’, that was definitely about dead fish on a slab! Worse still was the fact that one of the incentives for marriage was legit sex (or sex accepted by religion and society).

Now, when I was younger, the notion of sex meant crossing the final frontiers and a definite final loss of dignity, bringing pictures to my mind of two writhing groaning and moaning worms in soft earth, spurting smells and fluids, and chaffing as they strove for ecstasy!….Ewwww!!!

But that was then. I got married and it’s been one hell of a fun ROLLER COASTER. I guess I should have gotten on board earlier!
Truth is, marriage is a double or nothing deal. It’s nice with the right person. HOWEVER, when it’s with someone who MAY not be best fit, now, that’s a veeeeeeery rotten deal. Like a female friend of mine said, nothing will hurt like a being married to someone who doesn’t look at you lovingly anymore. I have also been opportune to sit between couples who have lost ‘the fire’. You sit still in uncomfortable awkwardness and finally happen upon a profound revelation – thumb twiddling demands real skill!

My take on marriage is, it’s simply a process where you get to choose your roommate FOR LIFE, and you take on the job of becoming all you can be, as you help the other person to be all they can be. You’re allowed to have sex and children may come along the way to TEMPORARILY add a sizzle to your life and learn, hopefully, how to live properly…but at the end of the day it’s just about the both of you. Finally, you have someone who is duty-bound to laugh at your dry jokes, because tomorrow night you WILL be by her side watching ‘sex and the city’ (or some ‘happy’ program about dolls and wishes, and romance with everybody dressed in pink!)

But somewhere out there, for the unhooked, is, most likely, the woman or man for you. What I have come to realise is, it’s not about if a potential partner is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. From personal experience, you can be dating the perfect lady and still know deep, deep, deep, deep down inside (if you know anything about listening to your internal compass) that this wonderful person is the best thing for ANOTHER person, not you. But the uncanny truth about lasting relationships is that many times your soul mate who you click with, or your ‘knight in shining armour’ who will cross the oceans for you (when that special one sends you emails from abroad via the internet) may be right in front of you.

Yep. Right in front of you.

Now before I get all theological and talk about how Eve was always in Adam, though he could not see, and how because she was his soul mate, she just clicked with him, (Check out how they BOTH made a bad decision because that is a sad part of their ‘clicking’), what sustains most couples through the seven big baddies is the good old ability to COMMUN-icate. Before I go further on that, the seven big baddies are:

(Drum roll)

MONEY
SEX
CHANGE (in finance, status, life cycles, hormones, jobs, living conditions…etc)
INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES
CULTURAL DIFFERENCES
CHILDREN
And of course, IN-LAWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!(Gbaaaunnnn + fireworks!!!!)



Now, there is so much talk, especially due to our movie-influenced pseudo lifestyles, about meeting the ‘one’ who sets you on fire, or having a passionate romantic relationship, or someone whose kiss sets off fireworks in your head, and makes one of your legs go up…duh! And of course, many want a relationship where their man spends ‘quality time’ (which, sometimes, means all day) with them (while making lots of money and doing several jobs at the same time…SOMEHOW!), where their wives can discuss business concepts with them, while taking care of the house, and the babies, as she does the dishes – and while pounding yam AND reciting scriptures, and once in a while, letting off ‘delicate’ farts that smell like Prada.

Ok.

Three hearty cheers for the hopefuls.

I am not here to burst any bubbles, but let’s come back to the real world for a split sec. This article is about searching for a soul mate. The mythological background for this concept is that human beings were creatures with four legs and arms. Don’t look at me funny, because SOMEHOW we kinda’ looked good! But the ‘gods’ thought us too strong and split us in two, and now, sadly, we have just two legs and two arms. Imagine what David Beckam would have been like on the ball. But, according to the story, man was split in two and now, searches for his other half to ‘complete’ him.

On a serious note, as one goes through teenage years and makes the transition into adulthood, one experiences a growing level of self-realisation. You start to ask questions about who you really are, why you are on earth and what your purpose is about. At some point, we start to gravitate towards our dominant thoughts, or better still, our purpose. So, some will do anything to make money, while some will focus on a career, and some others will feel they were created to perform a specific task. Now, whatever a person’s purpose, known or unknown, there is always need for help in achieving that purpose.

And some level of assistance is needed to help you get to your purpose.

It’s also true that if the crew you set out with on a journey do not have the right skills, qualities and competencies to get there, you may not get there, or you may experience a lot of difficulty getting there, or you may have to let go at some point, and try to go it alone – or look for a suitable companion (or companions) for your journey.

You can easily deduce at this point that the quality of who YOU are, and who you are WITH, both play a major role in accomplishing life’s goals…or at a more serious level, your unique purpose.



To be continued…

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Not forsaking the Assembly... WASSAT?

So here I am in my living room, typing an article with a keyboard that is missing the letters ‘G’ and ‘H’, really understanding the words of the song, Big Yellow Taxi – “…you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” – but determined, nonetheless, to write an article. It’s been far too long and waiting forever to find a replacement laptop keyboard for rather rare laptop, an Advent 7208 is beginning to grate on my nerves. So here I am, writing and using and on-screen keyboard to augment what’s left of my keys. Well, considering writing in the past, was done employing regular ink-dips, I have to be grateful for the magic of technology and touch typing.


I am still basking in the afterglow of a meeting with a few friends of mine. A friend had put up a notice on Facebook that there was going to be a prayer meeting. (I know; I rolled my eyes too!). Many people tend to find these very boring and a chore, and for very valid reasons. Some prayer points are sometimes outlandish, unscriptural and sometimes, out rightly unintelligent. I was once “privileged” to be at a prayer meeting where we were told to pray against evil tortoises eating our progress.

Poor Ninja turtles…

Well, if I could, I would have loved to bring out a book on Zoology, and told the guy leading the prayers to pray against every unicellular and multi-cellular animal in the book!

And the truth is, for many prayer meetings that are not strange, they are sometimes totally boring. Perhaps, that’s why people like night vigils. If the numbers of attendees are just right, you can fall in meekness at the back of the room, striking the prayerful pose of one wrapped up with carrying the sins of the world – and sleep off. A friend of mine has an uncanny skill. She can sleep with her eyes open. Now, that is X-Men material.

Now, my friend even added, “Come fasting”. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm???

Luckily for me, many times, eating is like a chore. Give me a drink ANYTIME.

So I told him I was not coming. I tend to enjoy carrying out spiritual exercises on my own, anyway.

But somehow, I ended up going and ended up fasting.

The meeting that followed can best be described as chaotic. It was rowdy, it was loud, it was unscripted.

It was real fellowship.

And when we prayed, I don’t think I have prayed like that for such a long time, because I was well aware that I was with brothers, in the real sense of the word, we were of one mind, NOT one perspective on all issues, and we wanted to please the God. There was a vertical and horizontal connection. In my atheist days, I would read this and had a good “lol” moment. But an earth-bound point of view is simply at loss where things spiritual play out.

Simple



As many know, or deduce, I do not ‘belong ’ to any denomination, neither do I promote any. I ONLY promote a personal search for God. When you decide to start out, how He takes you on that journey is up to Him – and you.
At some point in my search for God and meaning, I came to a cross road. I sensed a leading on my inside that aligned with scripture, though it was an unpopular route. Simply put, I could search for God via the lenses of a structure, or search for God via the lenses of the personal call I felt.
It’s at this point many miss it with blanket ideology. Each person on this journey must find his way and path in God.

There is no superior path.

But the KEY guide that will safeguard the seeker is NOT his heart. Why?
Simple. The heart is too deceitful a compass.
The voice inside the seeker will show him how to go, and though, depending on the individual’s own path, the walk may appear strange, it will NOT contravene scriptural PRINCIPLES… note, I do not say stories or examples, but PRINCIPLES.

So when we talk about fellowship, which is a core PRINCIPLE, many mouth scripture about not forsaking assembly. As denomination (which is what many call ‘church’) is soldered into our skulls, we find it hard to see things outside the framework of a structured religious setting. So the assembly most think about is a ‘church’ service. Now, the truth is, while a denomination might provide the CURRENT framework to stimulate fellowship, fellowship does NOT need the denomination/ church system to occur effectively. At this point, words fail me to explain this concept indepth, but I will use a short illustration to try to clarify what I mean – and I will use a very important scenario.

If you are a regular reader of my notes, you know by now I am of the school of thought that the tribulation occurs AFTER the rapture. You can look up my analysis of this view on my blog. The SEQUENCE of things is NOT a core Christian DOCTRINE, but we know these events will occur. So here is my scenario-planning based story.

It’s 2013, a year after the Olympics disaster, when key sites of the International event experienced mass suicide bombings. The world doesn’t end in 2012 but nations have become paranoid over security, and as each one has been affected in some way by the disaster, stronger socio-political alliances are formed. America, Britain, China and Germany form a ‘necessary’ alliance with other key nations of the world that are mutually sympathetic – and just as 9/11 allowed for the passing of a bill that overrides human rights of an individual if considered to be a terrorist, so do new INTERNATIONAL laws mean that a new definition is given to “Religious intolerance”.

Under these new laws, to safeguard the “common good of Citizens of the World, each religious body must conform to Government prescribed rules and unified ordinances, and must ACCEPT all major laws and bi-laws irrespective of personal convictions, sentiments or opinion. Under the new laws, the ruling Global state/government will determine what is right and wrong, and by extension, what SIN is, for ALL classes of religious groups. It will be a punishable crime to come up with ‘sectarian’ views as to what each religion allows or does not allow, and though this may go against the personal views of individuals, this new Ecumenism of complete state-controlled religious oneness will be for the good of all.”

I have not read this anywhere. I’m just churning it up as it comes, but if we examine the scenario, it implications are that, what is a normal mode of worship for any religion RECOGNIZED by the state/Government will have to conform to what is allowed under every religious umbrella. In other words, if the Government says, abortion or homosexuality is wrong or right, it will be a punishable offence to disagree, irrespective of your religious beliefs.

So tell me, how are denominations to respond if the Government deems right something the scripture sees as wrong. For example, it becomes a religious law that “being a Citizen of the World” means you are ENCOURAGED to have multiple and exchangeable sexual partners, within and outside marriage, in order to achieve optimum population, and the offspring will be catered for by Government funding. After a few opposing clerics are publicly executed, it becomes clear that the state means business about this new religious injunction.

Ask yourself, how will denominations react?
It’s not rocket science.

Some will ALIGN with the Government, quoting “give to Ceaser what is Ceaser’s”, “honour those in authority” and “giving honour to whom it is due”. In that way, these denomination will be preserved.

Some will defy the Government, losing their lives in the process – and many of these would most likely be sold out by their ‘brethren’, who would most likely take over these Government-backed institutions, like during the Inquisition.

Some will live in denial and say “it’s not their portion” till staring into a gun’s nozzle brings clarity about their need to make a choice – and then the true state of their hearts will be revealed.

Some will try to go into hiding and be hunted down.

So John, you say, what’s your point exactly?

My point is, if you cannot meet in your denomination’s building or parish due to circumstances outside your control, would the scripture about ‘not forsaking the assembly’ still apply because you cannot meet in a church building anymore?

Monday, August 2, 2010

He never lets go!!!!!

My computer has had problems for a while and I will have to fix it  and then post more content

But in the mean time, I love Matt Redman and find his songs quite inspiring.

This song is about the Father's love

He never lets you go!!!!

Enjoy


Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Water

The desert stretched on forever before him. He was tired – dead tired. Soon, he thought to himself, he could die.

He was out of supplies, parched, drained, depleted and his strength was failing fast.

His brisk walk had long slowed to lazy steps. Now, he mustered every ounce of concentration to put one foot in front of the other.

The problem was, he did not know where he was going.

Along the way, when he had the opportunity, he had packed things he thought he needed for the journey, but they had become dead weight as he trudged on in the fierce heat of the desert. It was really sad that it was in pain, lack and closeness to death that clarity was found – he simply needed bread, water and a compass.

Then he saw them.

A group of travelers loomed ahead, or so he thought. He blinked at the mirage, but it did not go away. They were really there. Anticipation gave him strength and he walked with greater determination, quickening his pace.

It was a mistake.

The little energy he had was drained away as strength left him. What fluid he had left in him vanished quickly as they seeped from his pores in the fervent heat. The sun burnt like eternal coals before his eyes that were smarting – but were so dry that blinking did nothing to help.

Water, he said.

He was before the queer group now. They were in the middle of the desert surrounding a figure that sat meekly on a stone before them. He did not understand the strange ritual that involved them walking around the stone in perpetual circles, neither did he notice that he had been reduced by weakness to his knees, crawling on all fours like an invalid, throat parched, face scarred, eyes blurred. He needed water.

The group finally noticed him and they stopped momentarily. Dehydration was almost making him mad, so there was no time for long speeches. He willed his shaking hands towards them in a pleading gesture.

“Water!”

All around him, smiles lit up the face of the strangers as a knowing look filled their eyes.
“He wants water” he heard them say, and he felt hope well up within him. At least he would have water.
The group helped him sit up on the burning sand and then they began their march around him.
“What is water?” one said.
“Water is life”, answered another
“What are the sources of water? That is really important to know” said a tall dark man.
“I think there are five sources of water. There is rain, underground water, water from strea..”
“This man needs water” said another frantically. “Give him SOMETHING.”

Someone rushed up to him and finally said the words he had been dying to hear.
“Here is some water”
Half-blinded eyes looked up. He looked at the man who stood before him. The face was as scarred as his, but maybe this man had something he needed. He looked to the man’s hand. Confusion made his head swim.

There was a tablet in the man’s hand with the words in bold “WATER”.
“That is water,” said the man genuinely. “What do you think about the writing style, not forgetting this is a key element to have in the desert?”

Somewhere in his mind, he thought to himself, he had stumbled on a group of man people. That was the only explanation for their genuine but useless “solutions”.

Realization dawned on him. If he stayed longer, he was going to die. Die here with this genuine group that talked about what he needed but did not seem able to give him any of it. His alliance with these folk would be the death of him except he found water. He fell to the ground, crawling away, dragging his body along the sandy earth.

“Come to me, I’ll give you rest” he heard behind him. He struggled to look around and his gaze fell on the man sitting on the large stone. The eyes burned with a brilliance he had NEVER seen in his walk. It was understanding, care, love…power. Bizarre - but in a good way because it gave him hope which he knew would not make him ashamed. He did not realize that just looking into the man’s eyes had automatically made his limbs start to move towards the man. Man, this man was a magnet.

“Wa…water!” He said and for the first time, tears filled his eyes. He had been through so much. He just needed to get on with this journey he had found himself on.

He saw an empty hand stretch out to him. His anguish at the sight gave way to shock for there was a huge bowl of clear water in the well-formed hands.

Forgetting manners, he grabbed the bowl and drank, then felt ashamed at his behaviour. He looked at the stranger’s hand first, knowing he would have to look at the man’s face. It was just good behaviour. There was a healed gash on the hand. Curiously, he looked up to see the stranger was smiling at him, amused. He stood looking at the stranger, wondering who he was.

Then he realized he was now STANDING. Wow, what water!

“Who are you?” he said, curiousity growing by the second.

The desert wind stopped blowing, as though all of creation had to be still when this man spoke. The sound of the group that kept marching and babbling endlessly faded into the distance as though the brilliance of this man made all things turn to gray.

When he spoke, the voice was calm, genuine…and knowing.

“I am Jesus, but right now, I am water”

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Questions


Discouragement!

Now, that can be such a heavy word.

After a meeting went wrong, I sat down in the driver seat of my car, feeling like my life was been driven out of control. Oh, yeah, I would have loved to 'take charge' but sometimes, you look back at your life and wonder how you came to be where you are.

That was how I felt.

I looked to the sky and thoughts filled my mind.

I wondered why evil seems so powerful in the world. Having read about how so many of the rich, powerful and famous have occultic ties, or became linked to clandestine activities or compromise, I wonder why the basic necessities of life do not come easily to men so that evil can be easily shun.

I have heard tales of people selling their souls for wealth, for fame, for influence. Why was wealth hard to get in the first place?
Why do people who pursue God, many times, have to face tough, rough times that test their faith and make compromise alluring when they are already trying so hard to please God?
Why does it appear that while the devil seems to be bent over backward to grab the soul's of men by appealing to their senses and with things they desire and even need, God seems hard to get a handle on, prayers are not always answered and even Christian leader would give a second thought when it comes to banking their lives and decisions COMPLETELY on scriptural principles - and I do not mean rhetorics or idle lip service as we always see.

Speaking to a friend of mine, he confided in me, talking about the struggles he had been having in his life, how he had been fighting to stay away from sin, how he had been trying to find and align with his purpose. He went on to say he wondered if in the quest for money to simply get by, he had lost it along the way.

I said what I could but I did not believe I had the right words to say.

The Bible says God is not interested in the death of sinners and yet while media, economy and politics roil and foul the soul, as shiny sensuous music and art are spewed forth on a daily basis, greying the lines of right and wrong, what the God-chaser is left with many times is with burdensome religion, controlling dogma, impractical cliches - depression, loneliness, lack, confusion, as they scavenge for the crumbs that life gives

OR

They (like a million others) may just give in to compromise, bribery, greed, loss of self, loss of purpose, loss of natural affection as they become cold corporate clones, high-classed prostitutes, 'flexible' business people giving into immorality, corruption, unnatural affection and compromise - to make ends meet, to climb up the corporate ladder, to cinch business deals, to get ahead...to survive.

Till they become whited sepulchers.

So I looked to the sky and thought of God and wondered if he played chess with the lives of men. Some live and some die for reasons we don't understand. Job's life made sense in the long run after so much trauma. BUT beyond the lessons (which I don't fully grasp) I still ask myself why?

Why did Jesus have to die? Why did he have to go through all the pain and suffering and beating?
I know the quick reply may be, to save us from our sins - but was there no other way?
There is the quote, without the shedding of blood, there is no remission for sins' - then why blood?
Why not water or plant sap - why did it have to be blood? Like someone said, why does God seem obsessed with blood?
Life is in the blood, says scripture, you reply - but God is life and he has no blood, I counter.
Well, there are things we don't understand, you say.
But we have the mind of Christ, I reply.
I know, you begin, but, you see...

I watch you from across the room seeing your mouth move, but my ears hear nothing because my thoughts are far away.

Why did God have to make earth if he knew more people would end up in hell than in Heaven? Why must torment be eternal - and though it is said to have been just for the devil and his buddies, now men are in the mix, how come that doesn't change anything - and did he not know from the beginning some men were going to disobey anyway?

Why make Adam if he was going to fall and land us all in trouble? And if the perfect man fell, how are we supposed to stand when we are created fallen for 'in sin did our mothers conceive us!'? Why are many scriptural prayers not answered?

David said, I have never seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begging bread.
Well, I have.

I have seen good people wilt from cancer, fervent prayers offered and they still died anyway. Seen humans melt in flames, butchered for no reason, watched with my eyes as a 10 year old kid was set ablaze, fire on his hair as he cried, looked at the cameras and said "God, why?" I have seen babies turn away from dried breast, crying because there was just no milk, seen poor tribes wilt to the bone for lack of food.

My concentration is broken as I hear a rap on my window. I look to the left and wear a "mask" over my face, hiding my emotions. I have no more money to give the beggar outside the car. I have given all my spare change away and I have bills to pay and I cannot tell him to shoo off - and yet, I cannot smile, and yet I cannot whisper hope because I do not know the right words to say - and the lights just turned green. So I drive away, my heart heavy, knowing that I am not the only one in the world that is having a messed up day. I remember a family friend who had kids that had gotten used to no food...they learnt that sleep helps. These kids were barely 10.

So why doesn't a 'God of love' make it any easier?

And if it's all so messed up, maybe God is not so good after all, maybe there is no divine plan, maybe we all just fool ourselves with this whole 'god' business.

Right?

Well, I still believe.

I still believe in God and I know whom I have believed.
Someone sang a song a long time ago and said "If I suddenly woke up and find out that you are not there anymore, I'll still believe you Lord"

I thought it was a daft song or a song not well thought out.

I still think so.

If there is no God, then there is no God, but if there is 'evil' in the world, then we can call it evil because there is an inbuilt compass that knows there is an 'other' way of acting or thinking...a good way.

If there is life, it started from a source or initial trigger or it would void Newton's law of inertia. There had to be a kick-start to life or all form would have continued to be in a state of rest. Also, the scientific basis for the formation and continuity of life shows too much evidence of design so that Genesis 1:1 is a loaded gun that millions of books cannot HOPE to cover fully.

So there was a start.

Now, if there was such COMPLEX design, then, LOGICALLY, there was a plan. One doesn't create COMPLEX design without a plan. Well, when I heard someone was doing a major degree studying the cell, I laughed. It seemed too small, then I found someone else was doing a Ph.D focussing on the MITOCHONDRIA, a unit within the cell.

So let's call this designer "the higher other", the "light", the "source" - and other nifty titles.
Well, since it's a free country, I'll call Him God - I'll save JAH for later.

It's a big jump but I'm going to just talk from the perspective of the Bible because discussing it's validity is a whole lot of other articles, but THIS God is GOOD.

Now, if God is good, then WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY...and all the other WHY's.

This is my answer.

Prove that for any operator A, E||^=Tr(AA^T), Highlighting where Tr denotes the trace help. 

Er...what is that?

That's a quantum physics equation I looked around to get. It's very helpful for me (and hopefully for you) to be faced with stuff that tells us emphatically: You don't know much.
Yes...YOU.

The amount of knowledge one has determines the decisions one makes. The one who has more knowledge has a difference in perspective from the one who has little.

It is in the same way that God knows why because he has answers and understanding that we don't.

In his wisdom, he has given us choice. Now, you can sit down and get angry about why the knight on the chess board moves L-shape, or you can ask the Grandmaster and board maker 'what do I do now?'

Some pawns will be lost. Depending on the unique play of your life, maybe your knight...WHAT! He just let your queen get captured - but you MUST trust that He knows the end from the beginning and combine that with FAITH that He is Good.

And perhaps, now you understand God's reply to Job.

It was


"Prove that for any operator A, E||^=Tr(AA^T), Highlighting where Tr denotes the trace help. 

 OR

Trust me!"

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Don't be offended

At that time in my life, I was a pastor - and that was why I was looking into her eyes.

There were tears in her eyes and she was afraid. Her husband respected me and so could express his fears. I had to squelch mine inside. When I got a call about the emergency, I had looked to the heavens and trusted God as we drove to the hospital.

We walked into the crowded ward and seeing many dead babies all around did nothing to help my faith, but I filled my heart with scripture and calmed the couple.

Then I saw the baby.

I have always had a mega soft spot for kids, but this boy was different. He was a few days old and he was a fighter and I loved him for it! His lungs heaved as he fought for air, his eyes darted around, looking slightly glazed - or maybe it was my eyes getting misty. He was a few days old but something had gone wrong somewhere and he was fighting to stay alive. His mum burst into tears, but I re-assured her, laid my hands on the child, and forced faith to well up on my inside. I had prayed for people and seen them get better, seen circumstances turn around and that conviction gave me strength as I projected my faith onto the child.



I don't think I had said a more fervent prayer and after that I could turn to his mom and say calmly "Don't worry. It WILL be alright".

It was alright.

I got a call the next day at work. The baby was dead - gone to be with the Lord before me, before his parents, in a place way better than earth's best. His mom?
She was devastated.

My role meant I took the news calmly, said what I felt I was supposed to and project all the strength I could to the caller.

Then I went to the toilet and cried.

The walk with God means that doors will open and the supernatural will be displayed. Prosperity becomes a birthright and by Christ's stripes, we can claim a healing. But Hebrews 11 cited as the popular faith chapter shows us a valid key in the walk with God. It talks about those who did 'great' things, BUT also talks about those who were sawn asunder, or in modern-day English, CUT in two. Some were stoned, beaten, became vagabonds, were poor and destitute because of their faith in God. Like marriage, the God journey is for better for worse and sometimes, the only thing that can be held onto is TRUST in the goodness and plan of God.

When John the Baptist was cast in prison and was going to be beheaded, he sent his disciples to Jesus to relay a message."Are you the one or do we wait for another Saviour?" I bet the naive and theological might want to squabble about his 'irreverence' or any such nonsense many are able to conjure, but John spoke genuinely as a man. He was afraid. Much later, Jesus as a man, was afraid and thought about the possibility of not going to the cross.

But back to the story.

Jesus performed miracles for the disciples of John and sent the message back to him "Blessed is the man who is not offended with me"
Another translation says "Blessed is the man who does not fall away because of me" (Luke 7:23)

We live in a world where the path of least resistance is pursued. We even think that walking with God or getting directions from God means that we enjoy ease.

Truth is, 'positive' outcomes are not proof that one heard from God about a direction to be taken.
Truth is, sickness and death are sometimes not the result of sin, lack of faith or hidden compromise.
Truth is, all the 'heroes' of the Bible walked a lonely road at so many points in their lives.
Truth is, many times, it is when you start to follow God that life gets complicated because he has to wean you off certain 'things' - or most times, NOBODY knows why it gets complex.

I do not advocate or endorse denominations, a set of theological rules, 'tried-and-tested' techniques or any such stuff. They might be helpful and there are enough folks advocating these. However, I advocate knowing Christ and letting him lead you as only He can. How he does that is up to him. It's his job to build His church.

But if the road gets rough, and brethren do not understand, or your loved ones leave, and your finances crumble, or maybe your baby dies or whatever tough scenario you MAY face, my friend, know this.

GOD doesn't love you any less.

Perhaps, I will sit with you in silence, because that may be all you need. And also, because I do not have all the answers. But somewhere in the midst of your pain, when you think about God, know that he holds you and never allows what you cannot handle to come your way.

And like he said "Blessed is the man who is not offended with me"

Strength and Honour, friend...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Jesus




I sit down sometimes and ponder on Jesus and what he is really like.
Is he black because Revelations says his feet are like brass or is he white because all the movies depict him that way? Or is he Hispanic or really (SERIOUSLY) does he look like Osama Bin Laden because he was from the Middle East?

(I'm sure many have not thought about that before!)

Would his temperament have been sanguine or would he have been a hot-blooded choleric? Did he turn water to wine just for the wedding bash - or did he enjoy a Jewish cocktail every now and then?
(I have NOT yet been privileged to stumble on a non-alcoholic Jewish wine. So, MAYBE, just MAYBE the wine Jesus 'created' had the label 'שתה באחריות' - which is translated in English as "Drink Responsibly" – that’s what the online translator came up with anyway.

Truth is, I don't know - and while those who are zealots will want to fight and talk about what Jesus is not (like they strolled through the streets of Jerusalem with him chewing on a kebab and dates), no one really knows.

He displayed many human emotions, love, fear, happiness, anger, sadness

And yet he was God in a human stocking.

At the end of the day, Jesus becomes who we think he is. We basically project on him our desires, the things we have learnt about him from people around us, from denominations, from the public, from the news, from the media, from parents…and so on.

However, study has led me to see “information”, "news" and "facts" in a new light. Many times, the news and media is controlled by people who decide what the public sees. The people who watch the news and listen on their radios then make decisions based on the pool of selective information they have been 'primed' to receive. This is the same way scribes and historians would write about events around them, but many times, would favour a ruler or a point of view, and would sometimes edit out significant events.
The sad fact is that many times, nothing is further from the truth than 'truths', that "news" has been set up to be received in a particular way - or to evoke a particular response.

The same applies to the Christ.


We see him as the effeminate man on the posters, the confused martyr on stained glass windows, constantly looking depressed as though thinking “Wow, how many times do I have to mount that cross?”
Or we see a gay version of him dancing down the street on a Youtube video singing "I will survive" - and it goes on and on.


At this point, I have to relate a story. I am not sure if it was a dream or a vision, but a fellow Christian was allowed to ‘peep into the esoteric’.

He saw a gathering like a regular denomination with people doing all the norms: the singing, the dancing, the chanting, the praying, the raised hands, the crying... and many more interesting things we tend to do in "houses of God".
Note: Let the reader understand that the Christian/Disciple is the House of God, not any denomination.

Now, in the vision/dream/what he was seeing, there was a man seated at the back, alone and away from "the action". Well, the fellow who was seeing this unfold wondered who the man was and walked up to an usher in the vision.
Man: Who is that lonely man in the back row way from the attention and the interesting stuff that is going on in this "house of God"
Usher (with a bewildered look on his face): Are you kidding me, mate? How can you not know who that is? That is Jesus Christ, DUDE!

I think a lot about this analogy, and in my constant search and quest to know God, it reminds me of key facts.
First, the search for God and his truth is an individual quest. No one has seen God and those who may have glimpsed into the eternal have only seen a sliver of a larger picture - a sliver that was meant for them alone. Taking that sliver as doctrine or dogma leads to error - and a great many have toed this line.
Secondly, just like relationships break down because an individual assumes his/her partner will have the same likes and dislikes, there is only one way to learn to SEE Christ and to PLEASE Christ - learn of Him FROM Him.

The corporate expression is alright, but when it starts to lead to the death of the individual walk with God, it starts to become an addictive disease. Its symptoms are the clock-like preparations for a Sunday Service with no thought of God during the week or life’s dealings, feelings of guilt at missing a service/’fellowship’ meeting - when godless actions do no evoke the same emotions.

So what is my version of Jesus? Who is My Jesus? I have seen he is meek, humble, and easy to talk to. I also notice that while he hates evil he is not overbearing and like he never did in the whole of Scripture, he doesn’t try to choke the Talmud down my throat – and he applies the same thing to the KJV. I don’t understand him a lot of the time and he still makes me angry because I think he should be watching my back with regards to things I find important – but I am slowly learning to trust him and that he has a way of working things out at the end. I have found out he is very strong, tough, extremely decisive and is not the pussycat of Judah. In fact, he embarrasses the expression, Lion King.

In my life, My Jesus allows for a lot of drama, things happening just in the nick of time – sometimes, drama I’d rather do without! And, he gives me songs in the night, inspiration in the morning, balance for my madness, and a light in my frequent depression.
But that’s not all.

However, I don’t know the other facets at the moment and I am content to keep exploring.
But, that’s enough for now. I’m off to ‘trouble’ my wife in the kitchen (devil grin) and I know, for sure, Jesus will be watching.

My Jesus…