Monday, 5 November 2018

16 Lessons on Listening

Just finished reading a book that has been on the shelf for sometime - Listening Life by Adam S McHugh. The book has some real gems coupled with wobbly theology in few places. So sadly no blanket recommendation. But here are some very helpful truths I took away from it. 

1. We desire to learn how to listen better because we want to learn how to become more human. At the heart of listening is that it enables us to  love and welcome people into our lives. We all want to be story-hearers and not just storytellers because it is who God made us.

2. Listening is obedience! The word we translate into English as “obedience” literally means a “listening from below.” Obedience is a deep listening, a listening of the whole person, a hearing with your ears and with your heart and with your arms and legs. 

Monday, 1 October 2018

4 Lessons on Prayer

I have just finished reading Alexander Whyte's Lord Teach Us To Pray. It is a good read but the book requires careful reading. The author has a tendency to lose sight of the biblical SATNAV. So here are four helpful reminders I picked up from the book about prayer.

1. Pray continuously - when we pray to God to give us things many of us have a tendency to stop. Whyte borrowing from Rutherford cautious us, "even as we got those good things by prayer at first, so we have to hold them by prayer to the end".

2. Praying effectively requires time - we need to set aside plenty of time for prayer not because God needs our time. We need time to prepare our hearts to seek God. Whyte says, "without a liberal allowance of time, no man has ever attained to a real life of prayer at all". 

3. Reading the gospels imaginatively enriches our prayers - Whyte believes that as we read the Bible we should try and visualise the events described before us.  He says, "I demand of you-never, now, all the days and nights that are left to you-never open your New Testament till you have offered this prayer to God the Holy Ghost: "Open Thou mine eyes!" 

4. Sin and prayer do not go together - Whyte helpfully reminds us that, "all prayer, from the lowest kind to the highest, is impossible in a life of known and allowed sin...sin and prayer cannot both live at the same time in the same heart. Admit sin, and you banish prayer". The good news is that, if we  "entertain, and encourage, and practise prayer, and sin will sooner or later flee before it".

Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2018

Saturday, 1 September 2018

A Saviour for all seasons!

I am currently reading Alexander Whyte's Lord Teach us to Pray.  In a section on "The Psalmist and His Lord", he encourages to keep our focus on Jesus in every season of our lives:
Now, if David could set Jehovah always before him in his prayers and in his psalms, Jehovah, Whom no man could see and live, how much more should we set Jesus Christ before us? Jesus Christ, Who, being the Son of God, became the Son of Man for this very purpose. And, so we shall! For, what state of life is there? what need? what distress? what perplexity? what sorrow? what sin? what dominion and what disease of sin? what possible condition can we ever be in on earth, in which we cannot set Jesus Christ before us in prayer and in faith, and for help, and for assurance, and for victory? Who are you? and what are you? and what is your request and your petition? Open your New Testament, take it with you to your knees, and set Jesus Christ out of it before you. 

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

True Preaching

If true preaching does not subdue us, it is sure to exasperate us. The better the preaching is, the more it is either a savour of life or a savour of death to him who hears it.
ALEXANDER WHYTE

Sunday, 1 July 2018

What is prayer?

Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Uttered, or unexpressed;
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.

Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
The falling of a tear;
The upward glancing of an eye
When none but God is near.

Prayer is the simplest form of speech
That infant lips can try;
Prayer the sublimest strains that reach
The Majesty on high.

Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath,
The Christian’s native air;
His watchword at the gates of death;
He enters rest with prayer.

JAMES MONTGOMERY 
(1771-1854)

James Montgomery was only five when his parents left him in boarding school and shipped off as missionaries to the West Indies, never to be seen again. Remarkably, James grew up to be a prominent publisher, hymnist, and avid supporter of overseas missions. He wrote four hundred hymns, the best-known being the Christmas carol “Angels from the Realms of Glory.” But Montgomery later said he received more praise for this hymn than anything else he had written. It a hymn that explains prayer in a wonderfully poetic way!

The hymn assures that in some prayer is not very difficult because if we are in union with Christ, our entire being is lived in His presence. He hears our every sigh and sees our every tear. Alexander Whyte makes the same point that Montgomery makes when he says,
To say within ourselves, "I will arise and go to my Father,"-that is to begin to pray. To see what we are, and to desire to turn from what we are-that also is to pray. In short, every such thought about ourselves, and about God, and about sin and its wages, and about salvation, its price and its preciousness; every foreboding thought about death and judgment and heaven and hell; every reflection about the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ; and every wish of our hearts that we were more like Jesus Christ: all our reading of the Word, all our meditation reflection, contemplation, prostration and adoration; all faith, all hope, all love; all that, and all of that same kind,-it all comes, with the most perfect truth and propriety, under the all-embracing name of "prayer"; it all enters into the all-absorbing life of prayer.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Prisoner of Christ

Make me a captive, Lord,
and then I shall be free;
force me to render up my sword,
and I shall conqueror be.
I sink in life’s alarms
When by myself I stand,
Imprison me within Thine arms,
And strong shall be my hand.

GEORGE MATHESON
(1842-1906)

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Motivation for forgiveness

To forgive the incessant provocations of daily life—to keep on forgiving the bossy mother-in-law, the bullying husband, the nagging wife, the selfish daughter, the deceitful son—how can we do it? Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.” We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it is to refuse God’s mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exceptions and God means what he says. 
C S LEWIS