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Showing posts from 2014

6 reasons to ditch that phone in a meeting!

Travis Bradberry gives six things having the phone with you in a meeting communicates about you:  1. Lack of respect. It says you consider your phone to be more important than the conversation or topic at hand. 2. Lack of attention. It communicates that you are unable to stay focused on one thing at a time.
3. Lack of listening.You are not practicing active listening when you are with your phone. So no one around you feels heard.  4. Lack of power. You are like a modern-day Pavlovian dog who responds to the whims of others through the buzz of your phone. 5. Lack of self-awareness. You don't understand how ridiculous your behavior looks to other people. 6. Lack of social awareness. You don't understand how your behavior affects those around you. From an article written by Travis Bradberry (Linkedin Pulse). Apparently researchers conducted a USA nationwide survey of 554 full-time working professionals earning above $30K and working in companies with at least 50 employees. They a…

The invisibility challenge

He is the image of the invisible God I have long been fascinated by the challenge of invisibility. One of the things people say when you discuss with the question of God with them is that there’s no evidence for God. Usually what they mean is that God is not physically obvious to them. God is not something that they can feel and touch so they struggle to accept that he exists.

Importance of routine

Barack Obama on the importance of routine: You need to remove from your life the day-to-day problems that absorb most people for meaningful parts of their day… You’ll see I wear only grey or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make. You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia. (Source: Vanity Fair) This is great advice on how to ensure that we keep our focus on things that matter and reduce the level of stress in our lives. Much of stress in our lives derives from having to make countless small decisions about things that have minimal importance. These things should at best be routine to reduce inefficient use of time.

Seven Tips on Delegation

1. Never sit on work - delegate it as a soon as possible. The later you leave it to delegate to someone else, the more disruption you are causing to the rest of his or her work.
2. Allow a buffer when setting a deadline. Always allow a suffient buffer to give you time to chase the work if it late without throwing you into emergency situation
3. Be specific. Always be quite clear about what you want done and by when. Make it clear that you expect the deadline to be met.
4. Give intermediate deadlines. Intermediate deadlines increase the likelihood of a project being completed on time, It also increases the quality of the finished work.
5. Remind before a deadline. A day or so before an intermediate or final deadline, issue a reminder that you are expecting the work back on the deadline.
6. Follow up immediately. If the person misses the deadline, you must follow up immediately. If they don't hear from you they may think it doesn't matter.
7. Don't listen to excuses. Make it clea…

Tragedy of the eyes

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life —is not from the Father but is from the world. I  recent came across the story of a British woman who died during cosmetic surgery at a clinic in Thailand. The 24-year-old was said to have been undergoing a procedure by an allegedly uncertified surgeon in Bangkok before her death. The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons said, “This tragic case highlights how, if lured by the prospect of what is essentially ‘cheap surgery’, patients can be left vulnerable.”

William Cowper's Blood Fountain (Part I)

I am currently working my way through the famous hymn "There is a fountain filled with blood" by William Cowper, as sung to the English tune which has grown on me ever since I learnt it at a local church:
There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins; and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
In plain english, the first verse says there is a natural spring filled with blood (not water) that is constantly flowing from the Messiah's veins. Any sinners that are bathed in this blood instantly lose their moral guilty before God, without fail. The fountain never stops flowing. It is so overwhelming that it has become a flood where your whole body can be totally immensed. Once the person is plunged totally beneath this flood all guilty stains are removed.

Stop killing!

Who are the greedy? Those who are not satisfied with what suffices for their own needs. Who are the robbers? Those who take for themselves what rightfully belongs to everyone. And you, are you not greedy? Are you not a robber? The things you received in trust as a stewardship, have you not appropriated them for yourself? Is not the person who strips another of clothing called a thief? And those who do not clothe the naked when they have the power to do so, should they not be called the same?  BASIL THE GREAT  (On Social Justice)

The Great Manager

In a factory building, there are wheels and gearings, There are cranks, pulleys, belts either tight or slack Some are whirling swiftly, some are turning slowly, Some are thrusting forward, some are pulling back; Some are smooth and silent, some are rough and noisy, Pounding, rattling, clanking, moving with a jerk; In a wild confusion in a seeming chaos, Lifting, pushing, driving but they do their work. From the mightiest lever to the smallest cog or gear, All things move together for the purpose planned; And behind the working is a mind controlling, And a force directing, and a guiding hand. So all things are working for the Lord’s beloved; Some things might be hurtful if alone they stood; Some might seem to hinder; some might draw us backward; But they work together, and they work for good, All the thwarted longings, all the stern denials, All the contradictions, hard to understand. And the force that holds them, speeds them and retards them, Stops and starts and guide…

Horatio Spafford's Life

In 1871, Horatio Spafford lived in the Lake View suburb of Chicago. He was a young lawyer with a wife, Anna, and fourlittle girls. In October of that year, the whole center of the city was devastated by fire. No one is certain how the fire started, but it killed hundreds of people and destroyed whole sections of the city.
All across town, people were wandering homeless and hungry. The Spaffords were deeply involved in doing what they could to help families in distress. But it was no short- term ministry. Two years later, exhausted from their work, they planned a trip to Europe for rest. But at the last minute, business kept Horatio in town. Anna and the four girls boarded a ship and left the harbor.
Late one night during the voyage, another ship rammed the steamer, which sank within twenty minutes. One of only forty- seven who were rescued, Anna was pulled from the water, unconscious and floating on a piece of debris. But the four Spafford girls perished. Anna sent a telegram from …

Four Reasons Why Some Preachers Get Better

Editor's note : A very helpful article from Hershael York on preaching. The version belong is from the Gospel Coalition though the link apears to have been removed. The original article was in fact posted on Sermon Central. I often have to answer the strangest question anyone could ask a preaching professor: "Do you think preaching can be taught?" I always want to respond, "No, I'm just going through the motions for the money." Of course I never do, not only because it's best not to say the smart aleck things I sometimes think, but because I know what they mean. It's not actually an unfair question.
No one denies that a preaching class and some coaching can help anyone become better. What we question is the possibility that someone with no natural giftedness and ability can be taught well enough that he can become really good.

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?

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 the…

The Art of Dying By Rob Moll (A Review)

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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 d…

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)

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.

Are you drunk?

A recent research study suggests that one drink a day could be enough to increase the risk of heart disease. The research found those with a gene variant that resulted in lighter drinking had lower heart disease incidence, contradicting popular claims that moderate consumption has a protective effect.  This finding adds to the general message that drinking costs lives, especially for those who get heavily intoxicated. That is on top of the tragedy we see on the roads from drunk driving.
The idea that drunkness is costly is infact at the very heart of Nahum’s oracle against Nineveh. Nahum starts by declaring that God's judgement is coming on Nineveh because through its oppression of God's people Judah it is actually at war against God.  Nineveh has embraced sin as its emblem and God will punish them. To be exact, Nineveh will punish itself : For they are like entangled thorns, like drunkards as they drink; they are consumed like stubble fully dried. (‭Nahum‬ ‭1‬:‭10‬).

Race in America (A Comment)

I am privileged to have a group of colleagues who like a bit of intellectual debate over ideas and current events. A month ago we found ourselves discussing the inequality of incomes in the United States in the context of Ferguson. We were curious to know the disparity of household incomes across blacks, Hispanics and White Americans.
In the course of that discussion we found that black people only make up 13% of the population, third behind Latinos (15%) and whites (72%). There was collective bewilderment. Apparently I am not the only one who was ignorant of this basic fact. I had always thought blanks represented something like 40-45%. That discovery led me to draw the following conclusions, as an African looking in from the outside.

How much is enough? (A Comment)

This is a rather late comment on an important book I read earlier in the year : 'How Much is Enough?: Money and the Good Life' by the brothers Robert and Edward Skidelsky. I say late because there's a long gap between when I read it and now, so my thoughts may be loose in places. For the same reason, this is a comment rather than a review, though the difference is subjective. 
The book is exactly as its title suggests. It is offered as a contribution to rethinking what we want out of life: what money is for and what is meant by ‘the good life’. To make their point, the authors reanimate certain philosophical and ethical ideas which they believe "have long been out of favour but which are by no means extinct".

Ten Tips for Taking Criticism

1. Understand the difference between constructive and destructive criticism. You need to learn how to interpret criticism. Is it positive criticism to build you up or negative to tear you down? Someone once said that constructive criticism is when I criticise you; destructive criticism is when you criticise me.
2. Don’t take yourself too seriously. If you can develop the ability to laugh at yourself, you will be much more relaxed when given or giving criticism. We all do some stupid and silly things. Blessed is he who can enjoy his blunders. We are approved by God; we don’t have to win the approval of others and look good in their eyes. We are not perfect people. Too many of us take ourselves too seriously and God not seriously enough.  

Taking life seriously

"Whether I do something really funny or really stupid, it is okay with me..I think that is what life is about. You can't take life itself too seriously...At the end of the day, nobody really cares. You're going to be forgotten anyway. The issues and problems that you think are like mountains that you have to deal with now, after time goes by, nobody cares...Might as well have a good time with it." Wesley Snipes  in a recent interviewafter the release of Sylvester Stallone's 'The Expendables 3'. The  'Demolition Man' star is  now back onon the big screen for the first time since his release from prison after doing time for three years after failing to file income tax returns. He began his jail term in December 2010.

A Parody of Faith

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There's a fascinating scene in Man of Steel when the man who would be superman, Clark Kent, turns up at a local church seeking answers. He is sitting in alone when local pastor Father Leone asks what is troubling him. Here is where we pick up the conversation : Father Leone: What's on your mind? Clark Kent: I don't know where to start. Father Leone: Wherever you want. Clark Kent: That ship that appeared last night, I'm the one they're looking for. Father Leone: [swallows nervously] Do you know... why they want you? Clark Kent: No, but this General Zod... even if I surrender, there's no guarantee he'll keep his word. But if there's a chance I can save Earth by turning myself in, shouldn't I take it? Father Leone: What does your gut tell you? Clark Kent: Zod can't be trusted. The problem is, I'm not sure the people of Earth can be either. [walks away] Father Leone: Sometimes, you have to take a leap of faith first. The trust part comes later. As the …

Confess and go free!

I recently came across a statement by Nate Larkin inI am Second that was like a breath of fresh air. One question that has troubled me is this. How do I move beyond merely being forgiven by God and actually begin to experience healing and growth in areas that afflict me? Nate's statement has been very helpful : I don’t think I really believed the message of Jesus. I thought it was up to me to be good. I didn’t believe that God would forgive me. I begged God to forgive me. Every Sunday I cried and I cried, pleading to him for forgiveness, but I never really thought he gave it to me. Looking back, I see how wrong I was.

Why are you plotting against God?

I love conspiracy theories!I think part of the reason is that we live in a complex world with many questions and very few answers. The rise of social media has also generated unlimited opportunitirs of finding like minded individuals who share our paranoia and bizarre beliefs. A more obvious reason is one put forward by Oliver Burkeman that we believe in conspiracy theories because they infact do happen.
The Bible goes further and says we suspect conspiracies and duplicity everywhere because we ourselves are conspiratorial. It is a legacy of the fall of Adam. The Prophet Nahum was raised by God to speak against Nineveh's conspiratorial stance : What do you plot against the Lord? He will make a complete end; trouble will not rise up a second time. For they are like entangled thorns, like drunkards as they drink; they are consumed like stubble fully dried. From you came one who plotted evil against the Lord, a worthless counselor. Thus says the Lord,"Though they are at full st…

Risk

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool. To weep is to risk appearing sentimental. To reach out for another is to risk involvement. To expose feelings is to risk rejection. To place your dreams before the crowd is to risk ridicule. To love is to risk not being loved in return. To go forward in the face of overwhelming odds is to risk failure. But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing, is nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he cannot learn, feel, change, grow, or love. Chained by his certitudes, he is a slave. Only a person who takes risks is free.
JANET RAND

Where do you belong?

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On 3 October 2013, a boat carrying migrants from Libya to Italy sank off the small Italian island of Lampedusa. Many of immigrants had come to Libya from other parts of Africa. When the Libyan uprising begun they sought to find greener pastures. Around 360 perished, with Italian Coast Guard rescuing 155. A week later another shipwreck occurred killing 34 people.

On the Kindle

This week I am kindling 'Be A People Person : Effective Leadershio through Relationship' by John C Maxwell. He has a great chapter on how to be a person people respect. A key part of having respect is "failure proofing" your life through listening for the “alarm bells” in your life. Here are Maxwell's 10 questions every leader must ask to help spot those warning signs.
1. Is My Personal Walk with God Up to Date? Every leader should be able to answer the question, “Do you have a word from the Lord that is up to date?” or “What have you been learning recently from the Lord?” We should have something that God is teaching me us today.
2. Am I Keeping My Priorities Straight? Countless numbers leaders have become “successful” only to discover the tragic price for their success was a broken marriage or loss of health. At some point along the road to success, their priorities shifted. Our priorities must be God, family and vocation - in that order.

Total Rescue!

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On the night of 14 April 2014, a group of militants attacked the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria. They broke into the school, pretending to be guards, and told the girls to get out and come with them. A large number of students were taken away in trucks, possibly into the Konduga area of the Sambisa Forest where Boko Haram were known to have fortified camps. Houses in Chibok were also burnt down in the incident.

How is your endurance?

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Everyone loves a tale of endurance. In most cinema stories the lead character is first introduced to us and then they face some unfortunate obstacle which they then have to overcome. Through that endurance process the audience picks up some life lessons for their own battles of endurance.
One of my favourite movies about endurance is the biographical Hurricane (1999). It tells the story of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter (Denzel Washington) a former middleweight boxing champion who was convicted for a triple homicide in a bar in Paterson, New Jersey. It depicts his life in prison and how he was freed by the love and compassion of a teenager from Brooklyn and his Canadian foster family.

In a moving scene the wrongly convicted Hurricane turns up in prison. The prison warden tells him to wear a prison uniform. He refuses by making it clear that "only guilty people wear a prison uniform". And since he is innocent of any crime, he cannot put on the identity of a convict. This …

Norwegian Treatment

Norway's government is considering withdrawing Norwegian citizenship from people taking part in terror activities and wars abroad. Plans to punish the potential threat of terrorist activity in Norway were announced on Monday. Minister of Children and Equality, Solveig Horne, said to the media: “This is a strong signal to people wanting to take part in terror operations and wars.”

Skyscrapers and capitalism

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Martin Parker has a fascinating piecewhere he explores what London's rising skyscrapers says about society. This quote is particularly interesting : Skyscrapers are terrifying and beautiful at the same time. They are both monuments to human ingenuity, and to massive inequality, as their occupants look down on the people living in cardboard on the city streets. The question they provoke is not really about boom or slump, but about the nature of an economic system which makes such projects possible.

On the Kindle

I am currently kindling 'Journey toward Justice : Personal Encounters in the Global South' by Nicholas P. Wolterstorff. The greatest moral philosopher alive today. What he observes about injustice in Honduras is fascinating: "..It is commonly said that the failure of Honduran officials to deal with crime against the poor is due to corruption—graft and bribery...Though there are indeed corrupt officials, the fundamental problem is not corruption but fear and a pervasive lack of trust. Poor people do not trust the police, the judicial system, or the bureaucracy. The police do not trust the prosecutors; the prosecutors do not trust the police. The result is that the poor are afraid to take action when they are the victims of crime or illegal treatment; they fear that if they file a report with the police or some government official, the person or organization that wronged them will retaliate. The police and prosecutors likewise fear that they will be the victims of retalia…

Elysium and Our Deepest Need

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Elysium is set in the year 2154 where two classes of people exist: the very wealthy, who live on a pristine space station city called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth. The government of Elysium enforces strict anti-immigration laws to preserve the luxurious lifestyle of the citizens of Elysium. That is all about to change when ex-convict Max (Matt Damon), who has always longed to go to city of Elysium, finds himself desperately in need to save his life from fatal radiation poisoning. He needs a machine on Elysium that can heal anyone. The big question is will he get to Elysium?

Robin Williams (1951- 2014)

The world has been mourning the passing of the actor Robin Williams. One of his best performances came in the movie Jack. Williams stars as a boy who suffers from a unusual aging disorder that has aged him four times faster than a normal human being. As a result he starts school for the first time with the appearance of a 40 year old man. The movie explores human frailty. In a moving scene towards the end,  Jack, with the appearance of a 72-year old but only 18 years old, arrives at his graduation ceremony and is given the honour of delivering the year's valedictory speech. Here is a moving quote from it:  I don't have very much time these days so I'll make it quick. Like my life. You know, as we come to the end of this phase of our life, we find ourselves trying to remember the good times and trying to forget the bad times, and we find ourselves thinking about the future. We start to worry , thinking, "What am I gonna do? Where am I gonna be in ten years?" But …

Children Learn What They Live

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn. If children live with hostility, they learn to fight. If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive. If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves. If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy. If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy. If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty. If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence. If children live with tolerance, they learn patience. If children live with praise, they learn appreciation. If children live with acceptance, they learn to love. If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves. If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal. If children live with sharing, they learn generosity. If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness. If children live with fairness, they learn justice. If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect. …

Male suicide in the UK

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The graphic is typical of most western countries, where it seems that suicides are rising for those above 40 years (accounting for population differences).  Prof John Ashton attributes this to "the dramatically changed position of men in society vis-a-vis women and vis-a-vis the labour market" is affecting "men's self-esteem and self-confidence". If that is true then he simply means that it is all economically driven.

Looking to God in difficult times

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Last Sunday I had the privilege of sharing from Psalm 3, as we begun a four part series looking at some of our most beloved psalms. The question we were asking is : where do you go when you have problems? Where do you turn when your life is out of control?

King David shows us in Psalm 3 how we are to respond in difficult times. When his son Absalom came after his home and work, King David responded to the situation by declaring in Psalm 3v8 - “From the Lord comes deliverance”. Throughout the Psalm he teaches us an important principle : When life is out of control we must look to the God who controls everything!

One Minute Lesson (Lesson 19)

Drama in the empire of King Xerxes : Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”
(Esther 4:13-16 ESV)

Alien Worlds

An excellent video of 25 places in the world that looks they are are from another planet. You can access the photo version here.

When God Wants A Man

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When God wants to drill a man, And thrill a man, And skill a man When God wants to mold a man To play the noblest part;
When He yearns with all His heart To create so great and bold a man That all the world shall be amazed, Watch His methods, watch His ways!

Freedom of Forgiveness

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Three US former servicemen were standing in front of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, the capital of America, and one asked his friend, “Have you forgiven those who held you prisoner?” The other replied, “You know, I will never forgive them.” And then his friend said to him, “Well, it seems that they still have you in prison then, don’t they?”
That story emphasises an important point: unforgiveness is a prison without walls! The good news is that it is a prison we can choose to break free from by the power of God the Spirit. Apostle Paul writing to the church at Ephesus says :

A Transfer Payment

The Christian life takes effort, and that’s a good thing; making an effort is the best way to know you’re for real. Be glad that blocking out time for prayer and Bible reading is inconvenient. This gives you an opportunity to prove that you really do love God, for we only make time for the people we care about. Rejoice for the opportunity to love your enemy, forgive the friend who wounded you, keep your word when it hurts, swallow the gossip you are dying to share, call in a favor to help someone else, and look away from the barely covered model on your television or computer screen. The burn you feel means you’re paying a price, which is something a hypocrite would never do. What has your faith in Christ cost you? Gladly pay it, and keep the receipt. It’s proof that you’re for real.
MICHAEL WITTMER Wittmer's point is an important one. The "cost of dying to self" is not just for God. It is for us as well. When we experience the cost it should reassure us that we are living…

One Minute Lesson (Lesson 18)

In him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17 ESV)
Lesson :

Jesus is the strong glue that holds all things together

Application:

Are you in a situation that is falling apart? Only Jesus can bring it together.


Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2013

Because of Jesus

Because Jesus is strong for me, I am free to be weak
Because Jesus is my defender, I am free to be quiet
Because Jesus is right, I am free to be wrong
Because Jesus won for me, I am free to lose
Because Jesus is someone, I am free to be no one
Because Jesus is extraordinary, I am free to be ordinary
Because Jesus is beautiful, I am free to be ugly
Because Jesus owns everthing, I am free to be poor
Because Jesus succeeded for me, I was free to fail
Because Jesus is first, I am free to be last

Bottom line:

Jesus is turning my world upside down!

Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2013

Untransformed Desires

When Jesus transforms our desires, we realize that the problems we have with sin in this world are not because we want pleasure too much; our problem is that we want pleasure too little. It is tragic when so-called Christians live just like non-Christians, running endlessly after the next temptation, the bigger house, the nicer possession, the newer pursuit, the greater notoriety, the higher success, and the more comfortable lifestyle. Such a quest for pleasure in this world reflects a lack of contentment in Christ. Deep down inside, people seem to be afraid that if they let go of the stuff of this world, they will miss out on satisfaction in this world. But disciples of Jesus gladly leave behind the trinkets this world offers because they have found surpassing treasure in Christ. The passionate pursuit of true, deep, and lasting satisfaction always leads to Jesus. DAVID PLATT There's something about the way Platt writes that just cuts the straight to the heart and leaves you gas…

Slay Yourself, 2nd Edition

I am currently thinking about a lot the challenge of Messiah Yeshua to me as his follower to die to myself. This is the biggest lesson I am learning at present. And he is bringing a number of good authors I have read in the past to mind. I recently quoted David Platt the call to "slay yourself". But here is how Paul David Tripp expresses the same challenge : "From the earliest age, our love of self shapes everything we do and say. We fight over toys, the last bowl of cereal, and who gets the bathroom first. We work to be thought of as right, to be viewed as attractive, to win the argument with a neighbor, to get the promotion. We strive to be first, best, the center, the most powerful, the best known, the most loved. We really do love us and have a wonderful plan for our own lives! We indulge our desires and do anything we can to meet our own “needs.” If we were really honest, many of us would say that we would be completely satisfied living our own lives for the sake …

One Minute Lesson (Lesson 17)

Remember that I am God, and there is no other God. I am God, and there is no one like me. From the beginning I told you what would happen in the end. A long time ago I told you things that have not yet happened. When I plan something, it happens. What I want to do, I will do. (Isaiah 46:9, 10 NCV)
Lesson:
God is unstoppable. When plans he something, it happens!
Application:
Don't panic on God's behalf.
Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2013

Slay Yourself!

In a world where everything revolves around self—protect yourself, promote yourself, preserve yourself, entertain yourself, comfort yourself, take care of yourself—Jesus said, “Slay yourself.” And that’s exactly what happened. According to the Bible and tradition, these four fishermen paid a steep price for following Jesus : Peter was crucified upside down, Andrew was crucified in Greece, James was beheaded, and John was exiled.
DAVID PLATT Is it just me or is it not the case that in the Bible the more closer people were to Jesus the more literal the taking up the cross became?

One Minute Lesson (Lesson 16)

This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations. For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back? (Isaiah 14:26, 27) Lesson:
God controls everything that happens in the world. And He cannot be stopped!
Application:
Let God stay awake. You go to sleep! God is in control!
Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2013

Social limits of markets

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Kelvin Albertson has an interesting article where he argues that neoliberalism focus on self interest (expansion of economic freedoms) inevitably leads to increasing surveillance (reduction in social freedoms). In other words although society may be becoming economically freer it comes at the expense of less social freedoms. It turns out the free market actually imprisons : The need for self-interested but free individuals to be constantly regulating each other to promote social good explains the seeming paradox that, as the state withdraws from the economy in line with neoliberal theory, its role in criminal justice expands. Where the actions of some have adverse social consequences, the state must attempt to disincentivise them through regulation and punishment. And this, of course, requires rigorous detection and monitoring.

Building Babel

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I read earlier this year that work on Saudi Arabia's Kingdom Tower is expected to start later this year. It is being constructed by the same company that built London's Shard skyscraper. At the time of the announcement in February 2014, it was set to be the world's tallest with at 1 km, more than three times taller than the Shard. The owners believe it will be "a landmark building that will clearly demonstrate Saudi Arabia's ambitions to the world".

One Minute Lesson (Lesson 15)

Do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God...Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 1:8, 2:3) Lesson:
The call of the good news of Jesus is an invitation to suffer for Jesus.The gospel is that good! This is strange for many of us because we think following Jesus is about reducing our suffering. Perhaps a question we need to think about at the start of this week is this: How are you planning to suffer for Jesus this week?
Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2013

Calling all callings!

We are free in Christ to do every calling, no matter how small, for the Lord. MICHAEL WITTMER (Source: Despite Doubt) How liberating!
Can I just add something? There's no small task as long as it is for Jesus. Why is that? Because there's no small Jesus! Only Big Jesus [Colossians 1:15-23]
We must grow to understand the full force of this verse : Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?....And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:37, 40). The bar for service in God's kingdom is very low! Even giving someone a drink for Jesus at home or work is service for His kingdom!
Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2013

Power of Confession

If the cleansing of confession depends on the confessor, we are all sunk, for none of us have confessed accurately or adequately. The power of confession lies not with the person who makes it but the God who hears it.
MAX LUCADO (Source: Grace) We need to be reminded of this truth every time we come to God in repentance. True confession must be genuinely repentant but we must remember its power is rooted in Him. Unless we get this truth we won’t experience the peace of God, even when we have already received peace with God
Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2013

We are not as strong as we think we are

I came across this touching story of Nate Larkin in the book I am Second : Real Stories, Changing Lives which vividly demonstrates human frailty : Nate Larkin went to seminary, where he trained to be a pastor, but he also learned an unexpected lesson. His class took a seminary-sponsored field trip to New York City. They journeyed to the red light districts to witness firsthand the exploitation of women by the sex industry.
They walked into the porn shops and saw the graphic reality of the forbidden fruit. “I was shocked by what I saw, disgusted by it,” he said. His face twinged and his eyes closed, forcing those first gritty pictures out of his mind. “But I was also fascinated by what I saw. It hooked me deep. I didn’t just like porn, I became obsessed with it.”

Cultural christianity

It started with a drink and then a few more. Then I smoked my first joint. I felt so guilty. But a month later I’m in the thick of it. I got sucked into this thing. I didn’t even realize it. I justified it, made myself believe that I was okay. But I wasn’t. I went from smoking weed to LSD and cocaine. It happened so fast. It’s like my compass just disappeared and I entered this whole other world. And when I finally realized how lost I was, it was too late. I couldn’t stop. “But even in the middle of all that, I still believed in God. It was weird. I would go to these parties, totally high, and end up talking about Jesus to my friends. I knew I didn’t belong there. I just couldn’t get out of the mess that I was in. MICHAEL W SMITH
Michael W Smith sharing his testimony in the uplifting book I am Second : Real Stories, Changing Lives. It is quite sobering that the more we know God the more hypocritical sometimes our lives become. The problem is that once we know God, our faith in Christ…

Hurried devotions!

Hurried devotions make weak faith, feeble convictions, questionable piety. To be little with God is to be little for God. To cut short the praying makes the whole religious character short, scrimp, niggardly, and slovenly. E M BOUNDS
The problem is that we know this to be true, but we must get in the habit of remembering it. This why it is so helpful to keep re-reading E M Bounds. He reminds us what is already obvious in our hearts. If we genuinely love God, we will take more time to spend our very best time with him.
But how to do this?
This is the paradox of our situation. For it is only through deep devotion and pray that we can yearn to love God more and more. It is only by praying for deeper praying that we grow to pray. It is only by studying God's word that we grow to love his word.
Oh, wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this deadly paradox? Thanks be God that in Christ, His grace is already sufficient for me. Only by grace can we enter, and only by grace …

Revenge!

We can relate to the reaction of some US soldiers in Afghanistan. A troop member received a Dear John letter. He was devastated. To add insult to injury, his girl wrote, “Please return my favorite picture of myself because I would like to use that photograph for my engagement picture in the county newspaper.” Ouch! But his buddies came to his defense. They went throughout the barracks and collected pictures of all the other soldiers’ girlfriends. They filled an entire shoe box. The jilted soldier mailed the photos to his ex-girlfriend with this note: “Please find your enclosed picture and return the rest. For the life of me I can’t remember which one you were.”
MAX LUCADO Lucado is very funny! He makes a serious point though. Revenge is very tempting to all of us. In our heart of hearts we believe she got what she deserved!
It takes something extraordinary to reorient our hearts to see that none of us get what we deserve from God. And that is good thing because the wages of our sins …

Holy scepticism

God may speak outside the pages of Scripture, because God can speak whenever and wherever He wants. But we should become increasingly humble about our claims the further we get from Scripture. MICHAEL WITTMER
This would seem to be a very wise balance to strike between "my Bible is the only message" and "I had a vision in the night". God can and does speak through any means he chooses. But because the Bible is the only most clear and sure way he speaks to us, we must be have the humility to subject everything else to it. We need "holy scepticism”.
Wittmer is correct that humbleness is key. I think humility / humbleness is the correct word because it takes humility to admit that the vision may be just in our head. The pride of man is what drives many of us to claim things we have not experienced. And when we find that our "10 minutes to heaven" story does not line up well with the Bible we are prone to reject the Bible rather than accept our experien…

Blind hearts

I attended a seminary in Philadelphia that was located in an urban community scarred with all of the physical, personal, and socioeconomic blight that has inflicted many communities in America’s greatest cities.
Each day I would carpool to the seminary with three or four future pastors to study the rich theology of God’s Word for the purpose of preparing ourselves to minister to sinners dealing with the difficulties of life in a broken world.
We would have the most amazing and exciting conversations as we rode back and forth together. I loved those trips as much as I enjoyed the classes.
One morning the car was quiet, and I looked out the window beyond myself and my posse of future theologians. For the first time I really saw broken houses, cars, and people. There was crying need everywhere I looked.
I sat in the back seat of that seminary-bound car and began to weep, not just at the obvious destructiveness of sin on that community, but at my own blindness. I had been in that com…

Amazing grace!

It was very encouraging to sing the full traditional seven verses of Amazing Grace on Sunday recently. I have noticed that some modern versions of hymn books try to shorten it. The casualty is usually this verse : 

Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.
I find this verse to be the most encouraging. It is no good holding onto great promises if such promises have no real world validity. Faith is not something that just floats heavenly. True faith comes by hearing God's word which directs us to look around and see how God is already at work. As the Bible, "taste and see that the Lord is good!"
And that knowledge of how God is already at work in our lives builds our confidence to trust God more and more. We can be sure that we will see God face to face, not only because the Bible says so, but because we can see God already at work in our olives. God is at work through all the dangers, toil…

Amazing forgiveness!

I came across this remarkable tale of forgiveness. It tells the story of Church organist Madge Rodda who was enjoying her normal Sunday morning routine of breakfast and bible reading at the local restaurant, when she was brutally beaten and raped by James Briddle. Thankfully, Rodda survived and what followed is short of miraculous. Read on!

Our biggest calling?

The life of faith is both less and more remarkable than many Christians know. It’s less because the Christian life has never been about jumping off temples but about the daily grind of obedience. It’s more because anyone can hop a plane to Trinidad, drive to the state capitol, or spend money they don’t have. But to love your neighbor day after day after ordinary day—that requires an act of God. MICHAEL WITTMER
Wittmer’s point is that it is actually harder to be faithful to God in what appears to be small and insignificant areas. We think the sign that God is at work in our lives is whether we have received a vision in the night or developed deep profound insight about an issue.

Social media and church unity

Social media allows us to vent our feelings without a filter. I cringe whenever a Christian leader says anything controversial online. I know what's coming. A barrage of criticism from people who may indeed be right in their assessment, but wrong in their approach. The disunity of the church has never been on display more than in our current age when everyone is a publisher. The problem is, because we speak from behind the thin veil of a screen, we disconnect a person's words from the context of their life. We pounce without understanding the heart, the motives, or the real life story of the one whom we are castigating. And when everyone voices an opinion about everything that is major news, the world sometimes sees the worst side of who we are. It is by our oneness that the world will know we are followers of Jesus, but social media can fuel division and put it on display. From Brandon A Cox's piece 4 Ways Social Media Will Destroy Your Life. His general point is that t…

What I Learned on Sunday, 2nd Edition

I enjoyed fellowship this past Sunday  at church. I was sitting next to a good friend. After the sermon, I asked him what he found helpful in the sermon. This is a new practice I have adopted. I want to increasingly speak to people sitting next to me about what I just heard before turning to world matters.
I believe this is important for three reasons. First, I want to see if I missed an angle in the sermon that my friend may have picked up. I am also keen to hear, as a preacher, how certain truths were understood. Secondly, it allows me to hear how God is working in his life. Thirdly, it allows me to share any challenges I have with another Christian and how that scripture spoke to them.
I wont say what my friend shared, but it was very good and encouraging. But here is what I shared with him as we spoke. The sermon came from this verse: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesian…

Dangerous Idols

The most dangerous idols for all of us are those that are easily Christianized. Selfishness is most dangerous when it masquerades as service. Self-focus is most powerful when it dons the costume of love. Earthly treasures are most seductive when they take on the appearance of spiritual need. Idols do their nastiest work when they wear the latex mask of God. PAUL DAVID TRIPP
This is a stinging statement! It is worth coming back to time and time again. Too often we think we are serving God when in fact we are just serving ourselves. The problem is that we are convinced we are serving God.

Star Wars, Star Trek and Cosmic Loneliness

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I have recently become drawn to the science fiction series Battlestar Galactica. It is set in a star system far away where Cylons and humans are struggling for dominance. As the series progresses you can't help but get drawn into the various characters and plots. It takes the life of its own and before long you feel you are part of the drama with your own favourite characters and heroes. You become part of a larger story, without in reality being part of it. I am on series three, and hope to say more about it in the future!  Why are we drawn to such fantasy stories? 
This question has been ringing in my head particularly since I watched two fascinating science fiction documentaries earlier in the year. The first one was Jedi Junkies (2010) which features the world's most dedicated Star Wars fans. From lightsaber wielding martial arts academies to a filmmaker who built the world's only life-size Millennium Falcon. From a Monster Garage-esque sculptor whose professional liv…

What I Learned on Sunday, 1st Edition

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:1, 2 ESV)Every Sunday morning I try and pick one valuable truth from the sermon I have heard to hold my fort during the week. I was challenged by today's sermon which came from the verse above.

Our Greatest Battles

The greatest battles take place in the smallest moments PAUL DAVID TRIPP
There's a lot of truth in that for battles of every kind.
I know from personal experience that one does not work one night and discover that they are have suddenly put on weight. It is through small acts of bad eating choices and then bang, you have put on weight. And what is challenging is that those battles are difficult to win because they are repeated often and seem so inconsequential in isolation. 
I have also found that areas where it is most difficult to be a light for Christ is in day by day faithful discipline. For example, it is easy to do an evangelism event, but much harder to know your neighbours. It is easy to pray for world peace but harder to greet that colleague who says nasty things. It is easier to give money to foreign missions but much harder to spend 10 minutes with a homeless person down the road.
The challenge of Christian living is to allow God to be God in these smallest moments.

Why do we long for darkness?

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The horror suspense movie Mama (2013) tells the story of young girls Lily and Victoria who have been rescued from a cabin after five years in the woods. At the time of their disappearance Lily was only a baby. Now she has grown up a little bit raised by a strange mysterious dark figure called Mama. Five years earlier Mama had killed their father just as he was about to commit suicide and possibly kill the children. 

Mama has come to view herself as a guardian and provider of the girls, especially the youngest Lily. And though Lily has left Mama and the woods physically after the rescue it becomes immediately clear that the woods and its darkness has not left them. She lives in a comfortable nice house and yet cannot bear to sleep on the bed. She crawls on the walls, resents her uncle and his girlfriend and does and say all sort of strange things. In one moving scene Lily hears Mama calling out to her and sneaks out of the house from a very high window, almost like an animal. The foll…

Kesha and Satanism

Another tragic celebrity. One wonders how parents can let their children follow someone so blatantly satanic. I can only image that the reason is that Satan has been reduced to a "mythical figure" even among who claim to be followers of Jesus. I suppose it is helpful that Kesha does not hide her satanism. We need to continue to pray for Kesha and her countless followers who are being led into satanism. 
Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2014

DNA of Sin

The DNA of sin is selfishness. Sin is about wanting my way, in my own way, and in my time. PAUL DAVID TRIPP
From Paul David Tripp's A Quest for More: Living for Something Bigger Than You. He is absolutely spot on. It would seem the soundtrack to a sinful life is appropriately Frank Sinatra's "I Did It My Way", which ends with words :
For what is a man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has not To say the things he truly feels And not the words of one who kneels The record shows I took the blows And did it my way Yes, it was my way
Interestingly, Mr Sinatra's song is the most popular song played at British funerals according to the Daily Telegraph. We believe that we are now our own saviours. The Bible's message is that we all need salvation! Salvation from God and his impending wrathful judgement on the world. We are all only trial and only God can save us from Himself! Not money, abilities or religion! And certainly not ourselves!

Copyright © C…

One Minute Lesson (Lesson 14)

One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger arrived at Job’s home with this news: “Your oxen were plowing, with the donkeys feeding beside them, when the Sabeans raided us. They stole all the animals and killed all the farmhands. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.” While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “The fire of God has fallen from heaven and burned up your sheep and all the shepherds. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.” While he was still speaking, a third messenger arrived with this news: “Three bands of Chaldean raiders have stolen your camels and killed your servants. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.” While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “Your sons and daughters were feasting in their oldest brother’s home. Suddenly, a powerful wind swept in from the wilderness and hit the house on all sides. The house collapsed, and all your children …

One Minute Lesson (Lesson 13)

Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is no more room, and you are made to dwell alone in the midst of the land. The Lord of hosts has sworn in my hearing: "Surely many houses shall be desolate, large and beautiful houses, without inhabitant. For ten acres of vineyard shall yield but one bath, and a homer of seed shall yield but an ephah." (Isaiah 5:8-10) Lesson 1: God is concerned about home ownership! 
Lesson 2: God is concerned about you being concerned about home ownership! 
Lesson 3: Not all all forms of home ownership glorifies God
Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2014