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One Minute Lessons (Lesson 25)

While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Donʼt be afraid; just believe.”
MARK 5:35-36 ‭‭
Lesson:

When we are tempted to give up hope, that is when we must become quiet and overhear the words of the Master, "Don't be afraid; just believe".


The Timeless Lord!

And he is before all things COLOSSIANS 1:17a
The BBC television programme, Dr Who, centres around a fictional extraterrestrial race of humanoids called "time lords", of which the series’ main character, the Doctor, is a member. The Doctor, like all other "time lords" is able to have a non-linear perception of time, which allows him to see everything that was, is, or could be at the same time. He is able to travel to different time period with his technologically advanced phone box which allows him to manipulate time lines.

The Biology of Sin (A Review)

The debate around the proper interface between science and faith has widened in recent years beyond the confines of creation versus evolution. Nearly every area of human life is now contested. Matthew Stanford, an expert in psychology, neuroscience and bio-medical studies has spent most of life wrestling with a particular aspect of this debate : the question of how our biology interacts with our sinful behaviour. His latest offering, The Biology of Sin: Grace, Hope and Healing for Those Who Feel Trapped aims to deal with what he sees as the lack of of informed discussion on how the brain functions and how that should be understood in light of what the Bible teaches about human nature and personal responsibility.
The book is for anyone struggling with sin, which of course means all of us. As he says at the beginning, “People who have done very evil things are more like you and me than we may want to admit. Most have dreamed of better lives for themselves and desperately want to chang…

One Minute Lessons (Lesson 24)

To what can we liken our human condition? 
Isaiah says our condition is like that of a patient in need of a doctor : Your head is injured, and your heart is sick. You are battered from head to foot—covered with bruises, welts, and infected wounds—without any soothing ointments or bandages. (Isaiah 1:5, 6) The gospel account written by Mark tells us that the doctor is Jesus of Nazareth: Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners. (Mark 2:17) Have you come to Jesus the great physician of the human soul?

Property rights and human flourishing

"The lesson of economics is clear. If we want to promote human flourishing, we need social institutions that foster the division of labor, capital formation, and wise entrepreneurship. The common condition that is necessary for all of the above is the institution of private property. The more the right to property is embraced and defended, the more empowered are people to participate in fulfilling the cultural mandate God gave our first parents in the beginning." (Source:  Institute of Faith, Work and Economics) That line of thinking is misguided because it has not taken on board the fact that the "right to property" can be argued to be a man made one. Therefore very much a second best. A more serious point is that no one has a right to property as such because God owns everything. Though property rights have their benefit, it is also arguable that in a fallen world, pushing people to embrace "property rights" could simply promote idolatry. We need a roun…

Property rights and human flourishing

"The lesson of economics is clear. If we want to promote human flourishing, we need social institutions that foster the division of labor, capital formation, and wise entrepreneurship. The common condition that is necessary for all of the above is the institution of private property. The more the right to property is embraced and defended, the more empowered are people to participate in fulfilling the cultural mandate God gave our first parents in the beginning." (Source:  Institute of Faith, Work and Economics) That line of thinking is misguided because it has not taken on board the fact that the "right to property" ican be argued to be a man made one. Therefore very much a second best. A more serious point is that no one has a right to property as such because God owns everything. Though property rights have their benefit, it is also arguable that in a fallen world, pushing people to embrace "property rights" could simply promote idolatry. We need a rou…

One Minute Lessons (Lesson 23)

Listen, O heavens! Pay attention, earth! This is what the Lord says: “The children I raised and cared for have rebelled against me. Even an ox knows its owner, and a donkey recognizes its master’s care—but Israel doesn’t know its master. My people don’t recognize my care for them"
ISAIAH 1:2-3
Lesson:

The emotional pain expressed in this verse reminds us that our sins break God's heart.


Hiphop on the human condition

My ghetto ties got me living my life in pain See the world knows, we gonna be thugs forever
You can take me out the ghetto, but you can't make it better See the status of your money done changed But the status of your danger remains the same I need to clear my head of these evil thoughts And teach Magnolia and Gateway what I was taught Take a ride with me to eternity And watch me live to see another century COREY 'C-MURDER' MILLER
('Ghetto Ties' from the 'Life and Death' album) These interesting lyrics are penned by an incarcerated hiphop artist* . I find that hip hop artists express the depravity of the human condition in such profoundly honest ways. In those few words, Corey 'C-Murder' Miller not only captures that something is rotten within him, but that he cannot get salvation without such an inner transformation. Money cannot end the pain and danger he faces in this world. He is crying for help from another place.

Fruitful Work

As a child I used to hear the phrase, “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”. It was a daily reminder that work is good for us! And yet, there is something in all of us that loves to eat, sleep and play. The BBC reported this month that a man in New Zealand recent quit his job to play Pokemon Go full-time. Tom Currie worked at a seaside restaurant, but has decided to pack it all in to find digital creatures on his phone instead. He says he is relying on friends and family to help him out. His story has gone viral and now he is very famous for quitting work and just playing Pokemon Go.

Paul writing to the church at Ephesus reminds that rather than just stealing and Facebooking all day we must work: “Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need” (Ephesians 4:28). Work according to Paul is “doing something useful with [our] own hands”. In other words, doing someth…

Honest Living

Earlier this year, the American musician Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson was summoned before a Judge in the US to explain his lifestyle. The reason for the Court summon is that last year 50 Cent filed for bankruptcy saying he couldn’t afford to pay debts of between $10m and $50m. 

The only problem is that a cursory look at his Instagram feed reveals a very different impression of his life. In one photo, 50 Cent is photographed buried under $100 notes, presumably struggling to find his feet. In another photo he has stocked his refrigerator with bundles of dollars. This naturally baffled his creditors. How can 50 Cent claim to be bankrupt when his  Instagram profile shows that he is  drowning in money?

Picking and Mixing

A brother in the church wrote this book. He passed on a copy for me to read. I have enjoyed reading it. The final chapter on neo-Pentecostalism  is very strong.
The general conclusion the author makes is that syncretism is not bad in of itself. It is the degree, nature and purpose of syncretism that is problematic. In particular it is important that syncretism is subject to the Bible as the final authority.
I would have liked to have seen more reflection on neo-Pentecostalism with a more detailed look at its various perverse manifestations. The final chapter' main quotes related to American exponents. We don't get proper quotes from Nigerian exponents. But even when quotes of Nigerian exponents are given these are usually "anonymised". I also felt that the book could have addressed the relationship between the "regulative principle" and syncretism. Also biblical examples of "acceptable syncretism would have been helpful". 
Otherwise, apart from …

Mister & Pete's Shared Shame

I have always enjoyed watching movies portraying life in African American ghettos. This is despite the fact that though the movies are always engaging (and often humorous) they tend to be poorly directed. George Tillman’s Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete is an excellent break with the mold. It tells the story of 13 year old Mister (Skylan Brooks) raised by a single mom Gloria (Jennifer Hudson) who is struggling to keep her family together as she battles prostitution and drugs.
The tough home environment has left Mister struggling in school with his hope now firmly anchored on becoming an actor, thanks to the heavy dose of DVDs and video games that have become a form of escape from the horrors of real life. The situation is acerbated when Gloria is apprehended by the police, leaving Mister and 9 year old Pete (Ethan Dizon), the son of Gloria’s friend,  fighting for survival as they forage for food while dodging child protective services and ghetto bullies.

Flesh in the Mirror

I was blaming Satan and the world for my spiritual state of health, Until I checked out flesh in the mirror and spelt “S.E.L.F”
as the prime suspect and culprit. Preaching from the highest pulpit
but in the prayer room I’m claustrophobic. I know its deep, I know I’m weak, You know me forever gossiping But when its time for witnessing, I’m slow to speak. When its time to pray, I go to sleep. Time to fast, I go and eat. Time to stand and praise, I’d rather hold a seat. Back row, act low, hoping nobody notice me Because it ain’t hard to see I’m not what I’m supposed to be. But I don’t want to hear no lecture

Escaping Frestonia

In 1977, squatters in Freston Road, Notting Hill declared independence from the UK, after facing eviction by the Greater London Council (GLC). The squatters lobbied the UN and established a 1.8-acre microstate - "The Free and Independent Republic of Frestonia" - complete with its own postage stamps, visas and passports.

The 100-odd citizens of Frestonia varied from actors, artists and addicts to normal working class Londoners. Playwright - and one of London's first graffiti artists - Heathcote Williams was Ambassador to Great Britain. Actor David Rappaport was the Minister of Foreign Affairs. A two-year-old child named Francesco Bogina Bramley was the Minister for Education.

Movies and the Gospel

Editor's note: A very helpful article by Gavin Ortlund (via Gospel Coalition) on ways that movies are searching for the gospel. I have replicated the article below for preservation. (Note: Probably one caveat to note is that what the article is very correct with respect to most movies, except some of the Eastern ones. A lot of Chinese stories don't necessary have fully "happy endings" e.g. Curse of the Golden Dragon).  I love movies. I always have, but for some reason I've grown more and more fascinated with movies in the last three or four years—the massive industry that stands behind them, the intricacies and subtleties that make for good acting and good narration, and most of all, the power of stories to communicate at such a deep, complex, emotional level. I loved the new Star Wars.

Born Crucified!

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. Isaiah‬ ‭53:2‬ ‭
At one level this is simply telling us two contrasting truths. On the one hand we are being told Jesus was an average human being physically. He was not any more beautiful or ugly than people we meet around. If we met Jesus on the train we would not notice him. If he sat opposite us in a meeting at work we may even ignore his view.
On the other hand we are told Jesus had a very extraordinary beginning. He is likened to a plant growing in a dry ground or concrete. Is this a metaphor for the virgin birth? Possibly. But it is probably better to see it as referring to the entire vulnerability and improbabilities of his birth - the virginal conception, Herod's plot and the flight to Egypt.

Hard Truth!

Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? ISAIAH 53:1
The first question is answered by the second!  Our message = the arm of the LORD! Who has believed = those it has been revealed to. The arm of the LORD is helpfully translated by VOICE as the "awesome power and plan of the LORD in action". This power and plan of salvation unfolds in Jesus the Suffering and Exalted Servant.
The first question is rhetorical - who would possibly ever believe what we've been told? The answer is that only those to who it has been revealed or enabled to believe. This amazing power of a God who becomes man and is crucified for our sins is not for everyone to believe! It is a hard truth. But thanks be to God that God has not just become man and died on the cross, he has revealed his saving power and plan for us to believe in Him!
Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2014

Collapse in Shared Culture

Will Hatton writing in the Guardian on the "collapse in shared culture" makes some interesting observations :    "....an all-encompassing big-tent culture to which we all belong and which has the power to stigmatise and make individuals shamed is fragmenting into mini subcultures, defining themselves by loyalty to their own and opposition and hatred of the other. Arsenal and Tottenham fans define themselves by mutual detestation; men define their masculinity by objectifying women. Generosity and respect for political opponents grows weaker......Parallel, and reinforcing this cultural fragmentation, is a social fragmentation: the ties that bind communities and neighbourhoods are fraying. Long hours and long commutes make civic and social engagement harder. Our crowded lives offer less chance for friendship, association and the creation of a social life that you would not want to put at risk by being stigmatised for bad behaviour. Together, this collapse in a shared cultu…

Parodies of Hope

All human effort falls short of its intended potential, all human aspirations exist under judgment, and all human achievement is measured by the standards of the coming kingdom. In the present historical context, this means that Christians recognize that all social organizations exist as parodies of eschatological hope. And so it is that the city is a poor imitation of heavenly community; the modern state, a deformed version of the ecclesia; the market, a distortion of consummation; modern entertainment, a caricature of joy; schooling, a misrepresentation of true formation; liberalism, a crass simulacrum of freedom; and the sovereignty we accord to the self, a parody of God himself. As these institutions and ideals become ends in themselves, they become the objects of idolatry. The shalom of God—which is to say, the presence of God himself—is the antithesis to all such imitations. Always and everywhere he relativizes the pretensions of all social institutions to power, fellowship, joy…