Saturday, 25 October 2014

Are you suffering?

Troubles are part and parcel of our existence. It doesn't matter whether you are rich or poor, weak or powerful, young or old! The troubles come in many ways. Some people are on life support, some are facing financial ruin. Some people are bereaved, others are facing abuse at work. The list goes on!

In moments of trouble our minds are filled with many questions. Why am I suffering? Where is God? When will these troubles end? Why am I the only one going through this? When our backs are against the wall, life seems very confusing! There are many voices whispering in our ears with many promises. How do we make sense of suffering?

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Desire for wealth

The desire for wealth does not need to be taught; it is an integral part of all human nature. Hence, when young men in the army attack cities and scale back walls, break through the enemy lines and drive back the foe … it is because they are spurred on by the prospect of rich reward...

In like manner, when the women of Chao and the maidens of Cheng paint their faces and play upon the large lute, flutter their long sleeves and trip about in pointed slippers, invite with their eyes and beckon with their hearts, considering it no distance at all to travel a thousand miles to meet a patron, not caring whether he is old or young, it is because they are after riches …

When officials in the government juggle with phrases and twist the letter of the law, carve fake seals and forge documents, heedless of the mutilating punishments of the knife and saw that await them if they are discovered, it is because they are drowned in bribes and gifts …

Thus men apply all their knowledge and use all their abilities simply in accumulating money. They never have any strength left over to consider the question of giving some of it away.
SIMA QIAN

Sima Qian (135 – 86 BC) was a Chinese historian of the Han dynasty. He is considered to be China's grand historian for his work which documed two thousand years of history from the Yellow Emperor to his time, during the reign of Emperor Wu of Han.

The comment above shows is helpful in reminding us that long before Adam Smith, others had recognised that selfish interest and the desire for accumulation is at the heart of much of human endevour. As Lord Jesus noted we are either serving God or pursuing our own selfish ends (mammon).

Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2014

Monday, 6 October 2014

The Art of Dying By Rob Moll (A Review)

Death may not be an exciting topic but it is certainly an important, if often overlooked subject. Which is why Rob Moll's recent book The Art of Dying is a welcome publication. The book has been written to address the question of the good way to die. Moll believes our culture does not know how to approach death because we have become so removed from experiencing it. This is a problem because we can't live well unless we are intimate with death and know how to die well. The Christian approach, Moll argues, is  that death is both evil and mercy wrapped in one. Therefore there are significant benefits from knowing how to die well.

At the surface we should all be capable of dying well because people take longer to die than before which should offer plenty of preparation. The reality is exactly the opposite. For many Christians the allure of modern medicine has meant greater focus on self preservation and surviving at all costs than preparing well for death. Dying as a spiritual discipline has long been forgotten. .

This is in stark contrast to christians in past centuries who practised the art of dying (ars moriendi). They had come to recognise that death not only marks entry into God's presence, it is also tremendous opportunity to witness to those around us and heal the wounds of the community. Through dying well the old saints prepared the spirit for the next life whilst impacting the present.

So what then is dying well? According to Moll a good death is a Christian death. That is to say a death or funeral that seeks to reenact or re-express the gospel. This means for the mourning community revering the body, celebrating the life, re-knitting the community and offering hope to the world. Dying well begins prior to death. This requires developing a culture of resurrection. A culture where the elderly and the dying continue their presence in the church. For the aged finding ways for them to serve is important. For the dying, it is about the rest of the congregation seeing life lived and ended with hope and faithfulness.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

10 reasons why I love the Holy Spirit

1. The Holy Spirit helps me speak when I am in precarious situations and need to bear witness :
When they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. (‭Mark‬ ‭13‬:‭11‬)

Friday, 26 September 2014

What is the safest place on earth?

It is certainly not the White House. Earlier this week I read that there has been a staggering 35 breaches of the White House perimeter since the mid 1970s. The latest incident involves a decorated Iraq War veteran who scaled a fence on last Friday night and got into the White House. It was later reported that he had more than 800 rounds of ammunition in his car and was arrested in July with a sniper rifle and a map marking the executive mansion.

In truth, there is no place on earth that is truly safe because the safety of the place depends on the people who protects it. The Great Wall of China is thousands of miles long, 30 feet high, and 18 feet thick and was built as security against the northern invaders. It is a massive construction, and was intended to be impenetrable. In fact, impressive as it was, the wall was breached not by physically breaking the wall down but by a simple ruse: the gatekeepers were bribed.