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Merry Christmas and Happy 2013!

Dear Friends,

It has been a very interesting first calendar year on Lost Pages! Every blogger needs a break! So, I will be taking 1 month off to recharge the batteries.

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and fantastic 2013!!

See you on 7 January 2013, the Lord willing!

Chola Mukanga

My Top 5 Books (Read in 2012)

I have been blessed enough to read over 40 books this year, covering many areas from memoirs to economics. Most of them released in 2011 and 2012. It has been most difficult to pick my top reads, but choose I must – so here we go.

5. Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee (Fiction) - a gripping thriller set in a desolate future where the only emotion is fear. It is the first of three books in the 'Book of Mortals' series. What really captured me as I read this book is the profound questions the book raised about the nature of man and his place in the universe. The book forces you to engage your imagination and live within a world so different from our own. The writing styles of Dekker and Lee are beautifully blended to keep the reader immersed on every page and yet eager to know what happens!

4.Meaning at the Movies by Grant Horner (General) - how should Christians approach cinema? This is an excellent take on cinema as a world view. It is both a theological and practical asses…

My Top 5 Movies (Watched in 2012)

I have had the pleasure to watch over 50 movies this year released mostly in 2011 and 2012. My top five draft picks below.

5. The Adjustment Bureau (2011, Thriller / Sci-Fi/ Romance ) - The affair between a politician and a ballerina is affected by mysterious forces keeping the lovers apart
Certificate : 12
Director: George Nolfi
Writers: George Nolfi, Philip K Dick
Stars: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt and Michael Kelly

4.The Lincoln Lawyer (2011, Drama / Thriller) - A sleazy defense attorney has a crisis of conscience when he represents a wealthy client who has a foolproof plan to beat the system
Certificate : 15 Director: Brad Furman Writers: John Romano (screenplay), Michael Connelly (novel) Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei and Ryan Phillippe


3. The Whistleblower(2011, Biography / Drama) - A drama based on the experiences of Kathryn Bolkovac, who served as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia and outed the U.N. for covering up a sex scandal.
Certificate: 15 Director: Larysa Kondracki Writers: …

We must be like shepherds!

That's why the announcement went first to the shepherds. They didn't ask God if he was sure he knew what he was doing. Had the angel gone to the theologians, they would have first consulted their commentaries. Had he gone to the elite, they would have looked around to see if anyone was watching. Had he gone to the successful, they would have first looked at their calendars. So he went to the shepherds. Men who didn't have a reputation to protect or an axe to grind or a ladder to climb. Men who didn't know enough to tell God that angels don't sing to sheep and that messiahs aren't found wrapped in rags and sleeping in a feed trough. - Max Lucado (Source: The Applause of Heaven)

Images of God (Sovereign)

Aside from a few countries in the world, most nations are now ruled by presidents - those who are usually elected and whose reign is subject to popular mandate in one way or another. Even where kings or queens exist these are usually ceremonial. The notion of a powerful King who rules over his people as absolute Sovereign is an alien concept and one that is not easy to relate to in this century. This is a stark contrast to biblical times where the head of the nation was always an absolute monarchy. So pervasive was this form of government that when Israel left Egypt and entered the promised land, they could not resist asking God to give them their own king because they envied “all the other nations” that had human kings (1 Sam. 8: 5).
One of the image of God given in the Bible as that of King whose sovereign rule and control extends to all things. God reigns supreme over all creation and history and we as human being are in every sense his subjects.During times when God's people …

The Unconditional Prayer of the Utterly Serious

Lord God, my singular ambition in life is to magnify you. I care not what the cost; spend me as you please. On your arrangements I place no conditions. You set the terms of my service. My prayer is simply that you ordain for my life whatever will glorify Christ most through me.
If my Savior would be honored more through my death than my life, more in sickness than in health, more in poverty than in wealth, more through loneliness than companionship, more by the appearance of failure than by the trappings of success, more by anonymity than by notoriety, then your design is my desire.
Only let me make a difference A prayer from Jim Andrews' good, if heartbreaking read,  Polishing God's Monuments. I recently read the book after languishing for over six months on my Kindle. How glad I did. The book tells the true story of Jim's daughter and her devoted husband who face it all (and then some) as a baffling, mind-boggling illness hijacks their youth and shatters their dreams…

Lighthouse

There's a Lighthouse on a hillside that overlooks life's sea When I'm tossed He sends out a light that I might see And the light that shines in darkness now will safely lead me on If it wasn't for the Lighthouse my ship would be no more
And I thank God for the Lighthouse
I owe my life to Him For Jesus is the Lighthouse upon the rocks of sin He has shone a light around me that I could clearly see If it wasn't for the Lighthouse, where would this ship be?
Everybody that lives around us says, "tear the Lighthouse down, the big ships they don't sail by this way any more. There's no use of it standing 'round" Then my mind goes back to that stormy night
When just in time, I saw the light Yes, the light from that old Lighthouse that stands up there on a hill
I thank God for the Lighthouse
I owe my life to Him For Jesus is the Lighthouse upon the rocks of sin He has shone a light around me that I could clearly see
If it wasn't for the Lighthouse,…

Listen!

He who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God too. This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and in the end there is nothing left but spiritual chatter..  - Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Source : Life Together)

Serving Well

I have been attending a training course at work over the last two days. Three pieces of advice I took away about effective working.
(1) Be clear (and know) what you can and cannot do.
(2) Take care of yourself, so that you can take care of your job.
(3) Always create space for thinking.
I came away thinking that the most important is missing. I would add (4) - always have someone who will honestly challenge you on (1) - (3). Acting on this is priceless.
This is good worldly wisdom which one can readily find appropriate biblical ground. For example :
(1) is all about tackling pride and insecurity. When we are secure in God, we don't need to live up to our jobs. He is our job security. That frees us to admit to stop and do less if we must.
(2) surely is about knowing that we are more important than the job. We are are NOT our job. Our worth is grounded in God himself. But more importantly, the more we act in concert with that truth, we are able to get a proper perspective of our…

A Sackful of Mercy!

Thanks be to God, through Whom we have such overflowing consolation in this pilgrimage, this exile, this present misery. I have often exhorted you never to forget that we are pilgrims, far away from our native land, heirs who have been thrown out of our inheritance. For those who never experience desolation cannot know consolation. And that is why people who live in the world, absorbed in its affairs, do not seek after mercy, for they do not feel their misery. But listen, you to whom it is said, and not in vain, "Be still and known how gracious the Lord is". Listen, you whom worldly interests do not hold back; listen, you who really know what exile means. Here is your comfort : help has come down from heaven! The kindness and love of God for mankind have appeared".
The kindness was always there, for the Lord's mercy is eternal; but it was hidden until "His love for mankind appeared . Before that, it was promised but not felt, so that many did not believe in it…

Images of God (Shepherd)

Perhaps the most well known image of God in the Bible is that of the good Shepherd, which is beautifully rendered in the treasured Psalm 23. Shepherds also feature as the primary metaphor for leaders in the New Testament, which we may miss because of the preference in newer translations for the term “pastor” rather than Shepherd.  Everyone who lived in the ancient Near East would have had no problem understanding this image of God. They would have either lived in a household that owned flocks or seen the shepherds who led their sheep to graze along the edges of settled areas. Many people living in highly developed societies are far removed from images of a staff-holding, sheep guiding shepherd surrounded by a flock of peacefully resting sheep and goats. But thankfully in many developing parts of the world the shepherd image of God is easily one they can relate to. 
Prophet Isaiah looking forward in time to the coming of the Messiah Jesus as the coming warrior Shepherd, "Behold, th…

Who is There?

Who is there? That’s the powerful question asked by one of my favourite hip-hop artists Guru from his Jazzmataz - Street Soul album in the song Who's there?. It is a question forged from a graphic description of two situations. The first verse presents a helpless young woman: These distraught thoughts of a single mother in a homeless shelter / About pain and heartache ain't nothing you can tell her / The case worker says that she should find a job / But does this worker know what kind of jobs that there are? / Degrading things like cleaning up people's vomit / For a little bit of dough and plus your brain gets nothing from it/ I'm smarter than that this girl thinks to herself / I'm worth more than that she thinks to herself / She pours a drink for herself while she stares out the window/ This guy says he got work for her maybe she should go to him yo / The money's good and plus he'll dress her up nice / She left her baby's daddy 'cause he beat her …

Limits of quantifiable wealth

Robert Skildesky has an interesting piece on the limits of using Gross Domestic Product (national income or output) as a measure of social wellbeing (or welfare). There has been a renewed push following the credit crisis for alternative measures to underpin policy direction of governments. For many years many governments have focused on increasing GDP but many a calling for a shift in think – wealth is proving not to be enough. Part of the problem is not only that money can’t buy happiness but also that how money is distributed affects many people’s happiness: Another finding has...started to influence the current debate on growth: poor people within a country are less happy than rich people. In other words, above a low level of sufficiency, peoples’ happiness levels are determined much less by their absolute income than by their income relative to some reference group. We constantly compare our lot with that of others, feeling either superior or inferior, whatever our income level; …

This is my Bible

This is my Bible.

I am who it says I am. – Matthew 5:16
I can do what it says I can do. – Philippians 4:13
I am going where it says I will go. – John 14:3

God’s Word is milk for my soul. – 1 Peter 2:2
God’s Word is seed for my faith. – Luke 8:11
God’s Word is light for my path. – Psalm 119:105
God’s Word is power for my victory. – Hebrews 4:12
God’s Word is freedom for my life. – John 8:32

When I read God’s Word, it brings me joy. – Jeremiah 15:16
When I study God’s Word, it keeps me from shame. – 2 Timothy 2:15
When I memorize God’s Word, it purifies my heart. – Psalm 119:11
When I quote God’s Word, it defeats my enemies. – Ephesians 6:10, 17
When I meditate on God’s Word, it brings me success. – Joshua 1:8
When I abide in God’s Word, it gives me confidence. – John 15:7

I am a Bible-believing follower of Jesus Christ!

(Source : James MacDonald)

Depth of Scripture

There is such depth in the Christian Scriptures that, even if I studied them, and nothing else, from early childhood to worn-out old age, with ample time and unflagging zeal, and with greater intellectual ability than I possess, I would still each day find new treasures within them. The basic truths necessary for salvation are easily found within the Scriptures. But even when a person has accepted these truths, and is both God-fearing and righteous in his actions, there remain so many things which lie under a great veil of mystery. Through reading the Scriptures, we can pierce this veil, and find the deepest wisdom in the words which express these mysteries, and in the mysteries themselves. The oldest, the ablest, and the most eager student of Scripture, will say at the end of each day: "I have studied hard, but my studies are just beginning" - Augustine of Hippo   (Source : Letter 137)

Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov

Karamazov was drunk when he learned of his wife’s death, and some say he exclaimed joyfully, raising his hands to heaven: “Lord, now let Your servant depart in peace.” But according to others, he wept, sobbing like a little boy so that people felt sorry for him despite the disgust he aroused in them. It is quite possible that they all were right, that he rejoiced in his regained freedom and wept for the woman from whom he had been freed, both at once. In most cases, people, even the most vicious, are much more naive and simple-minded than we assume them to be. And this is true of ourselves.. From Fyodor Dostoevsky's breathtaking masterpiece, the Brothers Karamazov. I truly enjoyed reading this extraordinary book that certainly makes for compulsory reading. That said at 1050 pages it requires some investment. I started reading it in August and I only finished in October, inter-spaced with other books, as I tend to do for larger works! There's no doubt to its value - in terms o…

Advice for doubting times

When the Lord’s ways do not neatly conform to our pat little paradigms of what seems (to our fallible minds) right and just, and good and faithful, it says something about human nature that usually the first thought that comes to mind is that something is wrong with God. Somehow the last thing that occurs to us is that God is simply too big for our small boxes. It is imperative at such times that we learn to be humble, not haughty. God always deserves the benefit of any doubt. And, faith always pleads with us, “Dear soul, trust God’s power, trust God’s wisdom, trust God’s goodness, trust God’s faithfulness—even though to your mixed-up, emotionally over-charged mind he doesn’t seem to be living up to his résumé or promises. Just do it anyway.” - Jim Andrews (Source : Polishing God's Monuments)

Moment of Truth

Phone Booth is undoubtedly one of my favourite films of all time. Stu Shepard (Colin Farrell) is the arrogant married New York City publicist who has been cheating on his wife Kelly (Radha Mitchell) with Pam (Katie Holmes). While using a public phone booth to contact Pam, he is interrupted by a pizza delivery man, who attempts to deliver a free pizza to him, but Stu turns him away. As soon as Stu completes his call, the phone rings. Stu answers, to find that the caller, who knows his name, warns him not to leave the booth. And so begins the ordeal with Stu now a virtual hostage to a sniper/caller lurking in the surrounding buildings.


The film serves as a classic illustration of how cinema interacts with viewers. As the drama unfolds there’s a mixture of curiosity and mild sympathy at the rude interruption of Stu’s day. A phone call is private even in a phone booth, and yet, we can’t help but wonder whether there may be more to the story than meets the eye. And so it proves, as the ca…

Every Christian is A Sun!

There is nothing colder than a Christian who does not work for the salvation of others. You cannot use poverty as an excuse; the widow who threw in her two small coins will accuse you (Luke 21:2-4). Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none” (Acts 3:6). Paul was so poor, he often went hungry and lacked even necessary food (Philippians 4:12). And being lower-class by birth is no excuse either. The apostles were obscure men from obscure families. Or are you uneducated? That is no excuse. The apostles were illiterate (Acts 4:13). Are you weak in body? That is no excuse. Timothy was a person who suffered from frequent illnesses (1 Timothy 5:23). Everyone can serve his neighbour if only he is willing to play his part…
Don’t tell me, ‘It is impossible for me to influence others.’ If you are a Christian, it is impossible for you not to influence others! Just as the elements that make up your human nature do not contradict each other, so also in this matter – it belongs to the v…

Images of God

Krac des Chevaliers was one of the crown jewels of the crusader Latin kingdoms of the east. It was built as an Hospitaller stronghold by the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem to hold onto the gains that had been made during the crusades. It became crucial to the defence of the Crusader kingdoms between 1142 to 1271. While other Crusader strongholds were under threat from opposing forces, Krak des Chevaliers and its garrison of 2,000 soldiers dominated the surrounding area. It was  the centre of the Crusader defences  until 1271 and was the only major inland area to remain constantly under Crusader control in during the 13th century. Without the Krac des Chevalier all other kingdoms were vulnerable.
One of the images of presented of God in the Bible of God is similar to that of Krac des Cheveliers. The Prophet Nahum declares, "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble" [Nahum 1:7]. God is a stronghold! Many of us live thankfully insulated from warfare and therefore t…

Primacy of Scripture

No doctrine concerning the divine and saving mysteries of the faith, however trivial, may be taught without the backing of the holy scriptures. We must not let ourselves be drawn aside by mere persuasion and cleverness of speech. Do not even give absolute belief to me, the one who tells you these things, unless you receive proof from the divine Scriptures of what I teach. For the faith that bring us salvation acquires its force, not from fallible reasoning, but from what can be proved out of the holy Scriptures. - Cyril of Jerusalem (Source: Catechitecal Lectures)

War on Christians

Rupert Shortt has fascinating article in theDaily Telegraph on the growing persecution of Christians around the world  : Imagine the unspeakable fury that would erupt across the Islamic world if a Christian-led government in Khartoum had been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese Muslims over the past 30 years. Or if Christian gunmen were firebombing mosques in Iraq during Friday prayers. Or if Muslim girls in Indonesia had been abducted and beheaded on their way to school, because of their faith. Such horrors are barely thinkable, of course. But they have all occurred in reverse, with Christians falling victim to Islamist aggression. Only two days ago, a suicide bomber crashed a jeep laden with explosives into a packed Catholic church in Kaduna, northern Nigeria, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 100. The tragedy bore the imprint of numerous similar attacks by Boko Haram (which roughly translates as “Western education is sinful”), an exce…

Meaning of Life

God made the world for the sake of mankind. If you can't see this, you are little different from an animal. Who looks up at heaven except human beings? Who admires the sun, the stars, and all God's works, except human beings? Who cultivates the earth and reaps its fruits? Who navigates the sea? Who has the fish, birds and beasts in his power - who except human beings? Therefore God made everything for mankind, because all things are given over into mankind's use. The philosopher's saw this correctly, but they did not see what follows - that God created mankind for himself. Since God set about for humanity's sake so great a work as the creation of the world, and since gave humanity's sake so great a work as the creation of the world, and since He gave humanity so much honour and power that it was supreme in the world, it was necessary in consequence, and a duty, that humanity would acknowledge God as the Author of such great blessings - He Who created mankind, …

Falling asleep and growth!

You can't force yourself to fall asleep. No matter how hard you try, there is no mental or physiological switch that you can flick in order to slip into unconsciousness. But you can create an environment that is conducive to sleep. You can turn the lights off, get a soft pillow, wear comfortable clothes and (if you're like me) turn on a little white noise. Achieving transformation in your small group follows a similar dynamic. You can't force your group members to humbly seek the Holy Spirit. You can't compel the Holy Spirit to convict anyone of their sin or move into your group with a rushing wind and tongues of fire. But you can create an environment within your group meetings that is conducive to regular, life-changing encounters with the Holy Spirit.. An excellent analogy about how proper fellowship conditions can help us move towards God honouring objective. The quote is taken from Sam O'Neal's Field Guide for Small Group Leaders: Setting the Tone, Accomm…

Only Junkhearts Allowed!

There's a powerful scene in a recent British movie Junkhearts, which tells a story of Frank (Eddie Marsan) an ex-soldier. Frank is haunted by an incident in Northern Ireland where he accidentally shot a woman in a failed military operation. He lives a lonely existence drowning his nightmares with booze in a council flat in London's East End. One day he meets a homeless 16 year old girl Lynette (Candese Reid) whom he offers a place to stay.


Unfortunately, after building a father-daughter camaraderie, it is rudely disrupted by the entrance of Lynette’s manipulative, violent and drug-dealing boyfriend Danny (Tom Sturridge). In the process Danny takes over the flat forcing the broken Frank onto the streets. A sharp reverse occurs with Frank now living on the very streets that Lynnett escape from, whilst Lynnette and her boyfriend enjoy his flat. As Frank remembers the memories he had with Lynette, he decides to come comes back for her, only to find her scrubbing the bathroom flo…

The Incomparable Prize

O Christ, Lord of the elect Immortal Logos of God the Father, Prince of wisdom, Strength of the weary, Joy without end, Jesus, Saviour of the human race, Shepherd, Protector, Guide, Leader, heavenly Pathway for the flock of your saints : Fisher of men, You come to draw us out from the sea of sin; You pull Your saved fish from the menacing waves, and carry them along to the life of the blessed. Guide us, Shepherd of the human flock; reign, O Holy One, over the children You have redeemed. Your steps, O Christ, are the road to heaven. O eternal Logos, you are infinite time and immortal light; You are the fountain of mercy and the source of goodness; You are the incomparable prize of those who worship the Most High - Clement of Alexandaria (Source: The Tutor, Book 3, Chapter 8)

Boring is Productive

Robert Pozen has a fascinating recent piece on the value of repetition in generating productivity : Chapter four in Dan Ariely's new book The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty summarizes some fascinating experiments that show that a tired brain makes us more likely to eat junk food, lie, or otherwise exhibit poor self-control.
Of particular interest to me (and, apparently, President Obama) are a series of experiments run by Kathleen Vohs (an associate business professor at the University of Minnesota) and colleagues, including Professor Baumeister. Vohs's experiments tested whether everyday choices — which candy bar to eat or what clothes to buy, for instance — wear down our mental energy. The results? Vohs and colleagues consistently found that making repeated choices depleted the mental energy of their subjects, even if those choices were mundane and relatively pleasant.
So, if you want to be able to have more mental resources throughout the day, you should identify the aspect…

Laziness as Self Love

It’s a fact: laziness is rooted in self-love. It is the ability to take ourselves off the hook. It is the willingness to permit ourselves not to do things we know we should do. It is believing that good things should come our way without our having to work to get them. It is opting for what is comfortable for ourselves rather than what is best for our spouse. Laziness is always self-focused and self-excusing. Laziness is undisciplined and unmotivated. Laziness permits us to be passive when decisive and loving action is needed - Paul David Tripp (Source: What Did You Expect?)

Images of God

One of the most powerful images of God presented in the Bible is a God who rides in the whirlwind and the storm. Prophet Nahum declares, "The Lord has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet" (Nahum 1:3).  It is a tremendous image of the Creator. God has power  over and through the whirlwind because He himself rides on it. It speaks of his sovereign control over catastrophic and unpredictable force of natures. Forces feared by ordinary man such as powerful tornado and hurricanes are mere servants of God. He towards above all.  When the ancients looked at the storms they remembered this prophecy and exclaimed, yes, the clouds are the dust of his feet!

We too need to keep this image of God firmly locked in our minds. It is a powerful challenge to current worldly thinking, where we have given "nature" a title of "mother" and worship it! The Bible says, no God controls it all!  But we also need to retain it because i…

The Last Frontier

Andrew Peterson's The Last Frontier:
Why don’t the mountains make me cry no more? / They don’t sing the way they did before / They’re just piles of stone / Dead as bones /Like corpses on a field of war /And they just don’t make me cry no more /And the highway’s like an old sad song /People moving through their lives alone /On the run from grace /From place to place /Like fugitives without a home /And the highway’s like an old sad song
And my heart is black as coal /It’s been mined and there ain’t no gold /It’s so dark in there /But I don’t care /I will lay down in this empty hole /Where my heart is black as coal /And there is nowhere left to go from here /I have fallen past the last frontier
But at the bottom of this well I hear you breathing: /Love below me /Love around me /Love above me /Love has found me /Love has found me here //So lay me down / Lay me down in a field of golden // Lay me down  /Lay me down in a field of gold and green The song is a portrait of the despair and ho…

Where the sun never stops shining!

Well four suns actually that ensure it is always shining! Armchair astronomers recently discovered a planet with four suns. The "bright new world", just under 5,000 light years away, is believed to be six times the size of Earth. It orbits one pair of stars and is in turn circled by a second pair. As a result, a total of four stars light up its skies. A handful of planets are already known to orbit pairs of binary stars, but the new find is said to be unique.

Oxford University's Chris Lintott says, "It's fascinating to try and imagine what it would be like to visit a planet with four suns in its sky". Well one thing is for sure in that world one would find it difficult to sleep! A world that never goes dark of course should remind us of that world that is coming that will never go dark. A world where God himself will be the sun!

Execution of Blandina

The whole fury of crowd, governor and soldiers fell with crushing force on Sanctus, the deacon from Vienne; on Muturus, very recently baptise, but heroic in facing his ordeal; on Attalus, who had always been a pillar and support of the church in his native Pergamum; and on Blandina, through who Christ proved that things which men regard as mean, unlovely and contemptible, are by God deemed worthy of great glory, because of her love for Him, shown in power and not vaunted in appearance. We were all afraid, and Blandina’s earthly mistress (herself facing the ordeal of martyrdom) was in agony in case she should be unable to make a bold confession of Christ due to her bodily weakness; but Blandina filled with such power, that those who took it in turns to subject her to every kind of torture from morning to night were exhausted by their efforts, and confessed themselves beaten – they could think of nothing else to do. They were amazed that she was still breathing, for her whole boy was m…

The Sin of Forgetfulness

Perhaps a lifestyle of unforgiveness is rooted in the sin of forgetfulness. We forget that there is not a day in our lives that we do not need to be forgiven. We forget that we will never graduate from our need for grace. We forget that we have been loved with a love we could never earn, achieve, or deserve. We forget that God never mocks our weakness, never finds joy in throwing our failures in our face, never threatens to turn his back on us, and never makes us buy our way back into his favor. When you remember, when you carry with you a deep appreciation for the grace that you have been given, you’ll have a heart that is ready to forgive.  - Paul David Tripp (Source: What Did You Expect?)