3 min Read
And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; or a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.
Luke 11:5-8 (NKJV)
The first time I listened to this narrative, the premise of it was on persistent prayer. This story comes after Jesus had taught his disciples how to pray because they had requested him to teach them how to pray. Therefore, it is a logical progression for bible commentators and teachers to follow, assuming that Jesus was keen to have his disciples persist in prayer. Even the NLT added this line to make the connection… Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story…
But is this story really about persistent prayer? Did Jesus mean that if you persisted in prayer, what we commonly have known as the Lord’s Prayer, God will eventually cave in and answer your prayers? The Lord’s prayer is merely ten lines long. You mean if you pray these ten lines persistently, God will move on your behalf? Notice how ludicrous and illogical it sounds?
3 min, 50 sec read
So Marie Kondo or The KonMari Method is the new fad – the view you can declutter your life, keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy. This concept has taken the world by storm. Marie Kondo has a Netflix show, Tyding up with Marie Kondo and has a #1 New York Times best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She is highly rated by various news outlets and listed as Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people. That’s how far-reaching her influence is.
I also stumbled on this term “cleanfluencers.” It’s a term attributed to personalities on Instagram who share tips and ideas on how to clean your personal space. The power and reach of social media, coupled with Marie Kondo’s ideas have enabled the cleanfluencers movement to become so popular in recent months. In an interview on Mail Online, psychologist Emmanuella Murray explained that there is a perfectly good reason as to why people find looking at people’s clean homes satisfying. ‘We don’t like mess, it can actually make us feel quite stressed and overwhelmed,’ she said.
© Schulter Etyang 4 min read
There are only two ways through which we receive blessings from God. The one way is to deserve the blessings, and the other is to not deserve (undeserved) the blessings.
- Deserved way
- Undeserved way
The deserved way
So, how do we try to deserve blessings from God?
Non-Christians try to earn their blessings from God through good works or living good moral lives. They work hard. They are honest individuals. They pay their taxes. They love their spouses and kids. They participate in community projects that uplift the poor, orphan, widow, prisoner and immigrant. They are good citizens. They obey the laws of the land. They are good people.
Christians try to earn their blessings from God also by being good or in their case being spiritual. They fast and pray. They give their tithes. They go to Church. They love God with all their heart, soul, strength and mind, and love their neighbours as themselves. They participate in community projects that uplift the poor, orphan, widow, prisoner and immigrant. They attend Christian conferences and events. They read books of Christian authors. They read the Bible throughout the year. They serve at the local Church. They are humble and kind. They are spiritual people.
See how both groups seek to get a blessing from God? They seek to deserve the blessings from God.
The problem with this approach is this, inevitably, frustration, anger and bitterness set in when it seems God is not responding to our good deeds – God is not keeping his end of the bargain.
5 min read
The answer to the question posed in the post’s title is—God shuts the heavens over you. God will not move on your behalf.
Let me unpack this
Israel was in decline. They had rebelled against Yahweh, his statutes and his prophets. Time and time again Yahweh sent prophets to warn them of impending doom but instead, they raised the middle finger to their God. Things got worse for them. They were struck with famines and droughts. They lost wars against enemies. They died from sickness and diseases. Yet despite their rebellion, God loved them, and when they turned to him he immediately turned their misfortunes into blessings. He healed them. He blessed them. He provided for them. He protected them.
But as human nature loves to coil back to its default mode of sinning, they turned their backs against Yahweh time and time again.
3 min read
We cannot do without New Year’s resolutions. That’s the truth. Goal setting is as old as creation itself. After God created human beings, he set goals for them — be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue and have dominion. (Genesis 1:28) Adam Alter in his book Irresistible, writes, goals … are a biological imperative rather than a luxury or choice (Pg. 107) We are intrinsically goal-oriented beings.
Jenny and I make resolutions every New Year. We usually sit and write what we want to do in the coming year. We set goals and plans for the year ahead. We set goals as it concerns our health, spirituality, finances, friendships, in-laws, home, vacations, studies, career, ministry etc.
2 min read
Every Christmas for the past seven years, these words cross my mind and when they do, I pause for a moment and just wonder.
These are the words
God’s answer to everything that terrorized us was not an army or king but a child.
I guess I may have listened to these words in a sermon or read them in a book. I will not take credit for such impressive words. These words have lent meaning to Christmas time, for me. Ever since the gospel of grace powered itself into my heart, my appreciation for Christian celebrations came full circle.
Estimated Reading Time: 3 min, 25 sec
I don’t know how this got started but for some years now, whenever Christmas time comes around, this song, One of Us, written by Eric Bazilian, and originally released by Joan Osborne, unconsciously taps itself into play. It’s as if my memory bank set this song to auto-play whenever it’s Christmas. And it plays on repeat throughout. I wake up in the morning and the first thing I hear is the chorus of the song.
Here’s the chorus of the song
What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home?
Songwriters: Eric Bazilian / Eric M. Bazilian
One of Us lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc
When I first listened to this song, I thought it was sacrilegious. My view of God was of a being in heaven with all power and majesty. A God too pure to be equated to us. A God too lofty to be reduced down to human terms. And yet this song tagged at what we all know is true. We all know, whether we acknowledge it or not, that there is a higher being – a more powerful being. We all know we are not alone in this world, and we all wonder whether this being knows and understands us.
Estimated Reading Time: 4 min, 32 sec
On November 30th, 2018, I attended my first ever TEDx talk in Johannesburg. It had been a desire of mine for many years to attend the famed conference. When I got the opportunity, I took it.
The TEDx is a meeting where great minds share their ideas on a specific theme. This year’s theme was Decoding Greatness. The theme was centered on Nelson Mandela and others like him. As you know, Nelson Mandela is an international icon who amongst others brought an end to apartheid. 18 speakers from diverse fields shared their own ideas on greatness using Nelson Mandela’s life as a prop. It was exciting, inspiring, and enlightening.
Estimated Reading Time: 2 min, 42 sec
Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)
Jenny and I use Hebrews 4:16 often when we pray together. Most mornings before we leave the house we ask the Lord for grace. Just ten minutes of prayer and Holy Communion does it for us, and Hebrews 4:16 will undoubtedly be used in our prayers. Aren’t we spiritual people? Lol. Roll your eyes.
A gospel purist would argue that New Covenant Christians are already (present tense) at the throne of grace, that we are seated with Jesus in heavenly places, that we are at the right hand of the Father, and Hebrews was written to Jews who needed instruction on the contrasts between the Old and New Covenant. I concede.
I had a look at the Greek word for to and saw something interesting. The Greek word for to is eis, which means to or into. To or into are prepositions and in the Bible are often used interchangeably. I then replaced “to” (come to) with “into” (come into) and the scripture took on a different meaning.
I’d like to share this song with you.
In this song, you see the gospel, our response, and how our outlook on life changes too.
- Gospel – You know my name… And you know my name…
- Our Response – So now, I pour out My heart to You…
- Outlook – No fire can burn me, No battle can turn me, No mountain can stop me…
God in Christ Jesus lavishes us his grace and then we respond by giving ourselves to him. When this is reversed, grace goes missing.
Here’s the lyrics to the song