The Courage to Start Again?

The Courage to Start Again?

There are many truisms in life, one that I like, often quote and constantly reminds my young minions in my regular power talk is “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Which really means no matter how hard we try no human being have that power or capability to go back to the beginning and make a new start. When we face certain experience or our present circumstances are not what we envisioned we wish we had done it better, take a different road; say something different, we wish we had done that better; we want to start over again. But how many of us wish we could go back to the beginning and restart from scratch? However, we constantly look back, we are prone to do that, then more often than not, live in the past, our rear view mirror are clearer than out windscreen. Sometimes our windscreen is cloudy, foggy we cannot see to push ahead, though we are dying to. But though we want to move ahead, we cannot, we cannot see the way clearly, and we cannot clear the screen because our windscreen wipers are broken. What a predicament?

The biggest problem we have is not with looking back, we all do it, its in our make up and some things that happen to us never left us, they happen for a reason. Some of those experiences left an indelible mark on our consciousness; they are what shaped whom and what we are today. Finding those reason why certain things happens, takes a lifetime of struggles, trials and failures, before we can fully appreciate the past. Some of what we can say, “I am happy I went through that, it makes me a better person.” Some we wished we never encountered, “I have such bad memories because of that, I wish I never saw that, touch that,  done that, experience that.” Again, that is OK, it is OK to look back, to return to where it all started, but our reflective mode and spirit should help us see clearer and make better decisions in present situations. Our decisions, chosen path should be about where we are going, not about where we are coming from. What we do now should be about where we are going, its about future reality. We must now focus on the ending, rather than the beginning. This is not about burning the bridges behind us, forgetting out past, it is about allowing what we gained from the past to shape and certify our future. We never forget many things that happens to us, some negative, some positive but we must courageously learn from those experiences, good and bad. This is the reason why the virtues or virtuous living are key to our present circumstances and continuous spiritual health.

Anyone can make a decision to make a new start, but it takes courage to act on it. The Apostle Peter encouraged the early saints, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these, he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge.” (2 Pet. 1: 3-5 NIV). Paul later encouraged the Philippians, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Phil. 4:8). Virtue (Greek) implies “moral excellence” and “goodness.” It is defined by Professor Arthur Holmes, “A virtue is a right inner disposition, and a disposition is a tendency to act in certain ways. Disposition is more basic, lasting and pervasive than the particular motive or intention behind a certain action. It differs from a sudden impulse in being a settled habit of mind, an internalized and often reflective trait. Virtues are general character traits that provide inner sanctions on our particular motives, intentions and outward conduct.” Proverbs 31, in describing a virtues woman, gives us a fitting example of true virtue in action.

We may try to envisaged, and by that even portray what it means to live a virtuous life, exemplifying the biblical virtuous woman is a start. What we learned then is a virtuous person has a predisposition, stemming from whom we are, our developed characteristics, shaped by those life experiences, to act in a certain way today and in the future. It could be about starting over, but it is not hasten by an affinity to the past or a thoughtless action, but by a settled mode of thinking and behaviour, that now becomes routine. This position satisfies and is stable, because it has a utility of producing sound decisions on reasons that creates external activities. American author Maya Angelou said, “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”  There is a very important point therein; we need the power of courage that prompts us to action, start a new thing, to start over again to change a situation for the better.

Virtues then are small seeds planted by the Holy Spirit, we learned and developed such behaviour with its prompting and guidance, and therefore have links to who we are in Christ.  Peter encourages the early saints to make effort to practice good works; Paul encouraged thinking on the virtues, so that they become part of us. The virtues have links to our character, we need courage to practice them, as the world around us points the other way. Our experiences taught us to clear our windscreen, and be courageous in keeping it clear, because many curves and precipice are on the road ahead.  Moses after getting the confirmation to leave Egypt, advised the Children to “March forward.” One can imagined the feelings of excitement, but fear was not far behind. Living in slavery left an indelible mark on their personhood, who to trust. They trusted Moses, and Pharaoh increased their punishment, they became despondent. Who can they trust again? Through great miracles and the demonstration of Almighty power Pharaoh relented. They marched out, guided by pillar of cloud during the day and fire by night. With the presence of God, they found new strength and their faith revived.

What is it that will restore out faith, give us courage to move forward? Whatever we do or say in life has consequences, most of our ends are determined at the beginning, but it does not have to, we can change. We can chart a new course, our experiences and present circumstances do not have to determine our future. However, we must be more courageously conscious about our future, about our ending more than we do our past. We need courage to make that move, to take that step and start over again!

 

 

Life is what we Make it

Life is what we Make it

Brothers and sisters this may sound familiar but it is worth repeating, that ‘that life is what we make it.’ However, the most fun part of our life experience is having a target to aim at.  Whether we know it consciously planned it, or unconsciously drift to towards it, we all aim for something, to get married to build a house to have loads of money or just maybe to achieve something special. Therefore, we all need to aim our lives in a meaningful direction. Some of us have some more certain tangible goals, like may be drawing closer to Christ, upgrading our spiritual status, winning at least one person to Jesus Christ. Or even a course for personal development and professionally equip ourselves for better ministry performance.

Alternatively, maybe some of us have been thinking about starting a new Neighbourhood Bible study or even starting a new church. Possibly then 2016 will be the year when we begin a new career, for some retirement, some writing a book, writing or singing a new song or just living healthy. I would not put it past some of our more ambitious folks to consider, even take steps to run for public office, no objection from me. In fact the more Christians entering in public office, it the better and more emphatic our personal and response services would be. So what that everybody’s goals are different? It is healthy even a good and positive thing to have one or two gold’s. Often we see people embarked on a course of action because they want a constructive self-disciplined program to pursue.

I will repeat for emphasis, we all need something to live for, to aim at, and that will make life interesting. Having a purpose increases our zest, our enthusiasm and passion for life. We welcome the break of each day, and greet each moment with joy and anticipation. Alternatively, if we just drift, having nothing to aim at, to hope for, and to work toward leaves us a bit limp, our energy sapped and remain sometimes hopeless and depressed.

After you read this my brothers, determine what it is you want to do and go for it! Write your goal down and give it pride of place on the mantelpiece where you will see it often, or on your bedside table where you can see it before you sleep at night or as you wake up in the morning. Remember this, not everybody will see or even appreciate your goals. They will put obstacle in your way to upset you, put you off, to change your mind, tell you it is not necessary, even tell you, you can’t do it. Some days you will even get sick of seeing your goal list, especially if you have not taken a first step to achieve it. Other days you will be reminded that either you are doing great or maybe you need to pick up the pace a little.

Brothers and sisters, I hope that you make your plans to achieve your goal in 2016. Or make 2016 the year when you determine that you will start out on the road to achieve your goals. Blessings!

Freedom in Christ

Be Free in Jesus

The Gospel of St Luke is one of the synoptic writings. It mirrors the messages of hope God found also in Matthew and Mark of the true Messiah. The message of hope in God through Jesus Christ is a reassuring to those who are lost and in a world of doubt and fear. I want to introduce you all to Him who alone have the power to heal from fear and deliver you spiritually, emotionally and physically from the ravages of our individual sin state prisons. A fitting story of deliverance can be found in chapter 13:10-17 of Luke’s gospel where we see Christ the Messiah meeting an unnamed woman in a synagogue, a place where He often teach about the goodness and mercy of God. Paul later confirmed the theme of this message in his epistles indicated that anyone who does not have the spirit of God does not belong to Him.

Like all human beings the lady had a spirit, the human spirit that keep her breathing and living as normal. However, she was possessed by another spirit, not from God, but Satan the god of this world and represented in other religions. Every person’s spirit can be categorised as either good or bad. The spirit she had was the wrong kind of spirit, the spirit that bound her and kept her imprisoned for 18 years, an entire lifetime for anyone in such state. It must have been a lifetime of torture, trials and failures. An evil spirit can cause physical as well as emotional and spiritual disability. This kind of spirit is evil and is of Satan the enemy of God and of His children. The spirit that all mankind need for spiritual and emotional, as well as physical health is the Holy Spirit of God.
Preachers and teachers everywhere, when we preach, we must see individuals as God’s creation and needing that touch of deliverance to make them whole. In this episode Jesus saw an individual who was in trouble, ravaged, controlled, one bent over in pain and misery for 18 years. Delivered the lady that day, and cured her by driving out the evil spirit that controlled and handicapped her for so long. The woman did not go to Jesus, fall on her knees, confess her faith, nor beg to be healed. Maybe she had not heard of, nor was aware of who Jesus was. Maybe His fame had not yet reached her community. He saw standing there and recognised her needs, He called her to come to him and when he put his hands on her, she was healed. Maybe she have heard many calls in her life, but this call was exceptional, she met the real deliverer of God. Here is a perfect picture of unmerited and unsolicited grace on a gigantic scale.

Later on Jesus was criticized by the Jewish establishment for healing the woman on the Sabbath. However, Jesus the great teacher and emancipater pointed out to his critics the error of their thoughts and deeds. These were church people “churchy” in today’s modern terms, they were belonging to the synagogues, yet Jesus had to remind them that on the Sabbath they untied a donkey or an ox to give it water yet they crticized Him for showing mery to a human being. In other words “where is your humanity?” Christ did no more than untied a  daughter of Abraham, a woman bound in misery for many years, and set her free from the grip of Satan’s control. The question then was and is, which is more important, an animal or a human being? His critics gave no response, they had no answer to Christ soul searching question, but slipped away ashamed of themselves.

Christ asked, Do you want to be healed? Do you want to be free? That question resounds through the annals of time and still remains relevant today as it ever was about two thousand years ago. Are you bound for a long time, many years may be uncertain who to trust or where to go for healing and deliverance? Do you know the Christ of God, who was revealed to take away the sins of the world? Well, I introduce Him to you today, the true Christ of God. There are many prophets being proclaimed today, but call of them from morning till night and they cannot deliver you. You just call His name now, wisper a prayer to Him who alone can deliver you! Some faith teaches that you have no sins, but the bible says you do, and if you deny this you are a liar. Whatever is your situation, He alone can save and deliver you from all your sins. Whatever is your problem, He can solve them, whatever is your needs He can supply, however deep is your prison, you can be made free. He can break the bars, He is the conquering Lion of the tribe of Judah, He can break every chain.

You may say you are a good person, you never hurt anyone in your life. Well I have news for you, according to the bible, it’s not good people who will be saved, it’s born again people, those who accept Gods gift of salvation in Christ. Not a voyage into a cave and have a strange message revealed to you from Gabriel, that does not conform with any of biblical prophets or historical message God revealed through the Jewish people. Neither is accepting Christ as your saviour an expedition into the the south or north pole, a place on Mars or to the deepest parts of the sea. Faith in Christ is basically simple, he is standing there beside you right at this minute, wherever you are, in your bedroom, in your living room, or kitchen, or in a public open space, He is ready to receive your call and He will grant you, your deliverance.

No god of Hinduism or Buddhism, not Confucius, Nor Muhammad. The God of Muslims is the old Sumerian Moon god that has no power to save, yet many flock to him. If you reject Christ, you reject life, If you choose Mohammed and his message, it is a clear rejection of God and His Holy Son revealed in the Bible. there is a train coming, you don’t need a ticket, your faith in the blood of Christ is your passport to get on board. The only way to be saved, is believing in Christ, the Jewish Messiah, the only name given among men whereby which man can be saved. Let it be so now!

Cup of Trembling – Jerusalem

Cup of Trembling – Jerusalem

Why is Jerusalem such a burden to the world, a hot bed for discussion and creates such conflict between two nations? Countless bible scholars, theologians, historians and news commentators have tried to come up with a plausible explanation but have fallen short of the mark in understanding the issues that bind two nations into perpetual conflict. Understanding the root of the present conflict between the two occupiers of the land or city area of Jerusalem is central to any peace agreement. War rages on in the territories between Israel and several militant Palestinian factions bent on destroying each other which has become a beacon a chief motivating factor for hate crimes and inspire those who look for excuses to qualify or justify their purposes for acts of terror.

Many American presidents among a host of world leaders have entered office declaring a concerted effort to find peace between the two people in their lifetime, but left office with tit for tat violence and bloodshed continuing unabated. The United Nations has issued a host of resolutions which largely goes unheeded by both nations, the present Iranian leader pledging the complete annihilation of the Jewish state, while the Israelites pledging never to be driven from their homeland again. Why the continuing hatred in the region, is not easily understood that is if the bible is but a story book to the average man. This centuries old problem of two peoples claiming absolute right to the city predates mankind, back to the foundation of the world and is the continuation of the eternal spiritual and titanic struggle between righteousness and the ruler of darkness. Would it then be futile for the efforts of president Obama, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president, Mahmud Abbas to try?

History

According to archeological findings ceramic evidence gives more than a strong indication of a possible occupation of the city over a longer time period, from at least the 3rd century BC. Biblical students of history supports this evidence of a permanent settlement of sites, within the borders of present-day Jerusalem, as far back as the Copper and Bronze Age (4000 – 2800 BC). In the word of Archeologist and Associate Professor at Pennsylvania State University Ann Killebrew, “Jerusalem was a large and important walled city between 1800-1550 and 720-586 BC”. The Professor argued that during the Late Bronze Age Jerusalem became a small and moderately unimportant and exposed town. Other scholars imply that the first written hint to the town are likely in the Berlin and Brussels groups of Egyptian Hieratic text around the 19th century BCE. She proposes that these texts make reference to a city called Roshlamem or Rosh-ramen. The scholars further points to the Amarna letters (tablets) around 14th century BCE. Some archaeologists goes further such as Dame Kathleen Mary Kenyon (1906-1978) of Britain which claimed that Jerusalem as a city was founded by West Semitic people with well structured settlements from around the period of 2600 BC. This analysis is supported in Jewish custom who contend the city was established by Shem and Eber, ancestors of Abraham.

Biblical

The first Biblical reference to the city of Jerusalem is found in the book of Genesis

after Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley)…Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High…and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth” (Gen.14:17-19 NIV)

The author of the New Testament book of Hebrew refers to this specific incidence of biblical history: “This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him…and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace”…Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever” (Hebrews 7:1-3 NIV).

History student knows that Salem is associated with peace and is a common name for towns and places, particularly in the western world. However in ancient times Salem was the name of a locality in the Near East, and traditionally identified with Jerusalem before the name “Jerusalem” was used. Salem is referred to in the Biblical account in connection with Melchizedek, with a typical translation “King of Salem” which means “King of Peace”. However, based on the Hebrew text, some scholars, declared uncertainty, saying instead of the “King of Salem” which is (melekh Salem) reading, the original text may have had ‘melekh shelomo’ in mind which carries the meaning of “a king allied to him”. Some scholars claim that the term could also be connected to the ‘Canaanite’ god ‘Shalem’, but interpreters say this may be stretching the word too far.

The accepted origin of Jerusalem, in Hebrew is ‘Yerushalayim’ and even this customary acceptance remains uncertain, as a small minority of bible scholars came up with a variety of interpretations. Some claim it means “legacy of peace” which is a combination of yerusha (legacy) and shalom (peace). “Shalom” they say is related to the Hebrew name “Shlomo”, giving Solomon as example, who was viewed as the wisest of men, builder of the Jerusalem Temple and son of David.Some scholars still claim, that the second part of the word could be “Salem” Shalem which literally means “whole” or “in harmony”, found in Genesis which is the original emergence of the name for Jerusalem.

Canaan

Scholars claim Canaan was an early term for the region around present Israel with its capital Jerusalem, including the Palestinian Territories, Lebanon and Jordan, as well as bordering coastal lands and parts of Egypt and Syria. They claim that the Hebrew and Christian Bibles bear evidence of the “Land of Canaan” extending from Lebanon southward across Gaza to the “Brook of Egypt” and eastward to the Jordan Valley, which included modern Israel and surrounding Territories. They offer various proposals as to the true meaning of the term “Canaan”. However, the widely accepted form is that it is derived from the Semitic root *k-n-‘ meaning “to be subdued”. They say this meaning is supported by the story contained in the Biblical references.

The Biblical narratives ascribed the name to Canaan, the son of Ham and the grandson of Noah, his descendants matching the names of various ethnic groups in the land of Canaan, listed in the “Table of Nations” found in the Genesis account where Sidon is named as his first son, and to be subdued by the descendents of Shem. The biblical version of events is supported by other historical data which explained that Abraham came to the city of Jerusalem that was then called Shalem after defeating the kings at war and rescuing his nephew Lot. The biblical account says the high priest Melchizedek came out and blessed him upon arrival but other sources say that Abraham asked the high priest king Melchizedek to bless him. Whichever way it happened, Melchizedek blessed him in the name of God a sign that he, served the one true God like Abraham did. This meeting of Melchizedek with Abraham was celebrated by renaming the city in their honor. Abraham then named the Temple Mount “Yeru” from the Hebrew root “Yireh”, and combined with Shalem creatingYeru-Shalem, which means the “city of Shalem,” or “founded by Shalem”

Compromising our Christian Faith

Attempt of ‘Oneness Doctrine’ to Compromise Christianity

The Christian doctrine promote salvation in ‘Christ’ only. It upholds the sacredness of the biblical teachings especially when it points to Christ. It promotes that ‘Jesus, is the way the truth and life’. Christ himself affirmed, that, ‘No man cometh unto the father but by me’. The biblical teachings not only promotes the sacredness of the Christian faith, but overwhelmingly supports and promotes the supremacy of Christ. After all the book of John affirm that Christ was in the beginning with the father and that he was God. How then can anyone tries to equate any other teachings with that of Christianity.

The apostles doctrine is that Christ is the only way to God, Christ affirm that by saying, ‘he is the door’. Most other religion promotes some other sacred person or message which conflicts with the teachings of the Scriptures. The ‘oneness doctrine, is about trying to put all religions on equal par which is completely and utterly wrong and its only intent is to compromise us. But also it is attempting to devalue our faith and our saviour, Christ the anointed of God. In Gods view that is unacceptable and wrong, no one is equal to Christ, and no manmade religion can be compared to the atonement of Christ. We cannot equate the things of God with false prophets, and this is a clever attempt to mix truth with falsity. Mixing cyanide in a jar and labelling it sugar extract does not neutralise its potency, it is still dangerous. Satan has always been trying to disguise himself as an angel of light, and this ‘oneness doctrine’ is just another attempt to capture the unguarded heart. What he did to our first parents? Disguised himself as serpent, questioned Gods, instructions, and having them feel as though God was telling them lies and he was giving them the truth. Because they listened to him, disregard Gods instructions, and took the wrong actions, mankind has been suffering the consequences ever since.

Truth cannot be dressed up, and it would do us, ”Born Again’ Christians to steer clear of this dressed up falsity, the so called ‘oneness doctrine’ as a clever Satanic trick to compromise our faith. Satan will never be satisfied until he defeats as many as he can. He continues to fight Gods, people, continue to disguise himself into various new phase, new systems, in order to capture, or ‘devour who he can’. He will stop at nothing in order to deprive us of the glory that awaits us, for him, ‘its paradise loss’ for us its paradise to gain. Do not compromise