True Freedom!

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36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8)

Recently my family and I had a chance to watch a move named, “Freedom” . The movie was about a family attempting to escape slavery in the southern states of USA to the free Canada in the north, through the renown Underground Railroad.

I didn’t realize though that the movie was a bit age inappropriate for the younger ones. One of them was woken up by a nightmare that night. The mistreatment of the slaves is extreme, and should not be done to anyone.

On the more positive side of the movie experience, I have to say that I just stumbled on it as I was searching for something for us to watch together. The title, “freedom” attracted me and the curious me wanted to know what about freedom it was talking about.

On one part, the movie told of the third generation of slaves escaping from their owners, while it paralleled it with the journey of the first generation from the slave port in African to the slave market at the shores of America on the other.

The story has a nice ending where the slave family finally crosses the border to the free Canada with the help of some Christians. This freedom is worth celebrating, but I also saw in the movie some other kind of freedom that could easily escape the notice of a casual watcher.

There are two notable characters in the voyage of the slave ship from Africa to America. One was Newton, the ship captain and the other was Ozias, the interpreter. Newton was a freeman, while Ozias was a slave, with a collar around his neck.

Ozias was in the ship to assist the slave traders communicate with the slaves from the point of purchase and through the whole journey. He had a very endearing character of being an encouragement to others, both the slaves and the traders. He spoke, and sang hope to the hopeless and sobering truth to the conscience of the proud.

Ozias’ faith in God was from a personal encounter with Him, as he had shared with Newton at the beginning of the voyage. Newton on the other hand did not believe in God, as he sang once, “If you are drowning in the sea, will God keep you afloat.”, and as he told Ozias, “I’ve learnt to expect nothing from God.”

At some point in the journey, there was a big storm that threatened to wreck the whole ship with all on board. Though the storm eventually calmed down, Ozias was one of the victims of the storm. He succumbed to effects of battling with the storm, but not before reminding Newton that it was God that had saved them. Interestingly, this time Newton concurred.

On his deathbed, Ozias, with the captain beside him was still smiling, a character that had distinguished him free indeed though still an earthly slave. The captain, though considered a freeman had until that night been a slave of his “privileged heritage”. As Ozias breathed his last, and on his, Newton’s, part cut the collar on the neck to free him, he also became truly free calling Ozias his brother.

The captain who had previously not believed in God had his own encounter with Him that night, an experience that transformed him from that day. He was truly free and that became his last dealing in that trade. He went on to share of his conversion during his wedding that followed soon after he went back home.

That story, especially the two characters really spoke volumes to me in that area of true freedom. This is an issue I’ve been wrestling with asking, “When one becomes born again, do they of necessity get free from all adverse circumstances?”

Reading from that experience and those of many faithful believers, it doesn’t seem to be guaranteed. But what does that mean? It seems to me that if you are in union with Christ, it doesn’t matter your circumstances, He is with you in whatever you are to go through.

“…20Each one should remain in the situation he was in when he was called. 21Were you a slave when you were called? Do not let it concern you— but if you can gain your freedom, take the opportunity. 22For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman. Conversely, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave.…” (1Cor 7.)

In light of the freedom Christ in us brings, other circumstantial inconveniences of this life become shadows. “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Rom 8:18)”

I do recognize that freedom from slavery is an emotive topic, but the pursuit of that freedom is outside the scope of this post. My focus is the freedom that is universally available to all that would believe in the true freedom Giver, Christ Jesus!

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free,” (Luke 4:18)”

The Lord open our eyes to true freedom!

Redeeming Love.

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Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:13)

The moment I saw Josh walk through the gate, I knew there was something terribly wrong. It did not take him more than five steps before breaking down in tears , proving my suspicion right. I had to run to support him from his staggering walk. As awkward as it felt at first, I found myself providing a shoulder for him to cry on.

African men are not supposed to cry, but Josh was no typical man. He had his stack of stories for his atypical life. Even then, it was the first time to see him cry and I could only try and fill up for myself what could have happened – he just kept mumbling words in the line of, “ndugu yangu, kwa nini haya? (my brother, why these?)”

With little expertise in comforting crying men, I allowed my Josh to cry and sob, as much as he needed to before asking the details of what had happened. The last time we had spoken was the previous day and I knew he was on night shift at work, so I thought it had to be something to do with how he found his family when he came back in the morning.

As it turned out, his boss had later in the evening given him permission to be off-duty from work, and he had decided not to wait till morning to go home. As late as it was, he decided to pick a bike home and spend the night there as he could sleep-in the following morning as a well deserved rest from the busy week.

He was however not prepared for what he found at home. While his children were fast asleep, his wife was not at home. “Where could she be?” , Josh wondered.

True to his latest characteristic of exercising himself on listening to the guidance of the inner voice, he started to walk out of his compound to some blocks around the neighborhood. It was like a voice telling him turn there, walk to the left, forward, and then right, until he found some three people in a distance by the side walk.

As he approached them, he could not figure out the faces in the dimly lit walkway, but the voices were becoming discernable. To his amazement on one hand, and the accuracy of the inner voice guidance on the other hand, one of the voice was that of his wife, and her position in relation to one of the men was less than one would expect of a married woman.

“What are you doing with my wife here at this hour?” Josh paused, but before an answer could be given, two blows had landed, one on the man, and another on the wife. As Josh was narrating this, he was also saying, “God will forgive me.”

Long story short, what followed after that was a very intense season of seeking the Lord for guidance on what to do going forward in the backdrop of that magnitude of betrayal. I must admit that at that point I felt inadequate to advise him on what to do.

I could only encourage him to do what I had told him a couple of times before, “let the Lord show you what to do”. I know it is supposed to be good advise, but somehow that time it felt inadequate. At the back of my mind the story of Hosea and Gomer appeared.

Fast forward to when we were catching up recently, almost an year after that incidence. It was as if the series of events were five years compressed into those intervening months. After wrestling with a decision on how to move forward, he had forgiven his wife and decided to give her a chance to change her ways.

This may have been the best decision according to Josh, but did not go well with those around him. He had made the decision and kept it between his God, his wife and the men, and himself, but as the saying goes, “no secret between three”, and somehow the information found its way to the parents and siblings.

His own family demanded that the wife goes back to her parents home until they go for her. He on his part obliged as his position was, “anything that will bring peace and unity at home.” It however turned out that there was no intention to go for her, but rather to do away with her. He was told that if he went for her, he’d have to leave the family home and join his wife anywhere , but in that compound. According to them, he was bringing disrepute to their respectable family, and was weak in not being able to control and manage his wife.

In all this, he maintained his position that, it is true his wife had done wrong, but he had forgiven her, and that to him it was simply because he loves her. As he shared these things, he said something that I thought quite profound. He said, “all these I cannot do it on my own, I cannot do it. It is God that has enabled me.” I’ve thought about that since, and how true it is. Further I started seeing the picture of Christ and His bride in Josh’s Story:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness,” Jeremiah 31:3.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” Eph 5:25.

“He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him.” 1Thes 5:10.

As I write this, Josh is together with his bride, who is simply smitten by her husbands love, even as everyone around him has advocated for their going separate ways.

“Love never fails”

“If you believe, I dare you!”

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Kunguru

26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Mat 6:26)

Mwas whistled away his favorite tune as he walked to his day’s gig. Since he’d left his last employment only a week earlier, he has had to reacquaint himself to living one day at a time.

You see , he’d gotten married earlier than his pears, more out of circumstances than choice – his girlfriend at 22 had gotten pregnant by him.

With no guts to do what everyone around him in similar situation was doing, abort, he had encouraged his girlfriend that it was better to work hard to support their family with whatever they were able to get.

At that time, he’d been enrolled into a sales and marketing college, but his parents discontinued fees payment when he got into the family way. Out of his decision, without a skill for income generation, he realized he could not afford to be selective on what work he could do. He welcomed every opportunity for work, which were mainly day wages manual work.

As they had stuck together with his girlfriend, now wife, their family had grown to 3 children. It was not easy to support their growing family, but something had happened that had helped him shift the burden from his shoulders. An encounter with Jesus Christ had made all the difference. Over time, he’d learnt to trust God for his daily provision.

When he did not have work, he’d just go out and ask wherever there was potential work. It was on one of those walks some 12 months ago that he had knocked at a gate asking for work.

At first he’d been informed there was none to which he said “thank you”, with a smile. Walking from the gate, he’d sat down at a shed some couple of meters away to rest and consider where to go next. As he sat there, he noticed the gate open and someone beckoning at him to go back.

This ended up being a better day than he’d hoped. Not only did he get engaged for work, it was not to be a day job, but rather longer term employment.

It had since been a good whole year of guaranteed provision every end of month, which had been a big relief. Even though it was not a lot he was very grateful to have lots of time to rest and reflect when he was not at work.

On the flip side, even though he had enjoyed the one year of employment, it was not until it ended last week that he realized how much he’d become out of touch with the daily reliance on God and His promise to supply to his needs.

This morning, he was not whistling because of confidence in the guaranteed of salary, but rather the opportunity to once again rely on the One that never fails on His promise to supply, and He alone.

He thought of how the previous night, he had received a call for today’s work, just as they were having their dinner with his family. The meal was to be the last if nothing came up.

It was out of this consideration he had decided to leave the house without breakfast to allow the children to eat what had remained of their dinner. He knew that he’d get something to eat, only he did not know what avenue it’d come through.

Whistling all the way to work, Mwas found the gate-man already opening the gate for him as he’d been alerted to expect him. He immediately, after the morning pleasantries got to his work which constituted trimming the lawn and weeding the flower garden.

Barely 30 minutes into the work, Mwas was startled from his work focus by the rather loud footsteps of a lady walking towards where he was. He did not at first recognize the lady, but as she came closer, he realized it was Linda, the property manager .

“Hi Linda, how are you doing?”, Mwas asked her trying to decipher the ‘ no nonsense’ look on her face.

“This is serious matter Mwas, you cannot believe what just happened”.

“OK, slowly, what happened?”

“I was in my office , and was preparing to take my breakfast. When I tried to open the flask, it popped with a big sound, the top giving way while leaving the inner glass intact.”

“OK, and then?”

“Do you know what that means? It once happened to my own sister and she has since had problems with her stomach – you’d think she’s pregnant, while she’s not. That to me is a sign that someone is after me to bewitch me. I cannot drink that tea.”

“How is it that you are a Christian and believe in those things? There is nothing like that. There was simply too much pressure built-up in the flask that caused the popping.”

“If you are such a believer, I dare you come drink that tea.”

“What? Let’s go.”

With Linda on the lead, they both went to her office to prove that it was not witchcraft. Served with the excellence deserving of an Estate Manager, Mwas delightfully ate the continental breakfast (something he had not had for a while) as Linda watched in anticipation. (Does that remind you of Acts 28:4-6?)

After the second cup, Mwas had had enough, and invited Linda to share hoping he’d convinced her there was nothing in the popping of the tea flask.

“No I can’t drink it…you finish it up.”, Linda responded to the invite.

“Oh , ok, in that case just allow me to share with my friend” Mwas replied as he stood up going out to share the tea with the gate-man that had opened for him earlier.

He then went back to continue with his work with fresh energy.

Nb: this account is true apart from a few things changed for prose – don’t you just love how God’s promises outworks uniquely in each of our paths through our day to day circumstances?

Christ Our Life In The Story Of Two Trees.

20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.“ Gal 2:20 NKJV �

Maina 2020

Recently I noticed some development at the initial stages of a phenomenon I had observed earlier over a stretched period in my younger years.  In those days, it was just something interesting to observe, but this time round, it spoke to me so much about Christ who is our life, I had to share it here…

In the earlier observation, there was a huge tree at a very prominent place in the homestead I grew up in. The tree used to supply the family with poles from its branches for use in the farm.

Whenever a branch was cut, another shoot would grow in its place and eventually grow to be used for poles.

At some point, there was a branch stump that dried after being cut, leaving some kind of hole that would collect dust and water. With the little water and soil from dust in that hole, another completely different species of tree started growing. A “sower” must have scattered the seed there and it found some good soil to germinate.

The new tree was growing very fast, so much so that in the three month period of a boarding school term, we would come home to notice significant difference.

One would expect the tree to wither as it grew on very little soil, but it had its way. As the shoot was growing upwards towards the sunlight, it was producing roots that were growing downward towards the ground.

“The remnant of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward”. (Is 37:31, 2 Kings 19:30)

The roots seemed to have a two fold purpose. On one part the roots were seeking nutrients for the fast growing tree, and on the other, they were providing support as they seemed to hug the host tree. As the roots reached the ground and round the host tree, they became bigger and bigger, and started merging forming part of the stem.

30 He must increase, but I must decrease” ( John 3 ESV )

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As the roots for the new tree grew downwards and thicker into the stem, the branches on the other hand grew upwards, eventually starting to get higher than the host tree.

What would previously be referred to being one, was now evident to any observer that there were two each of its own kind.

The older tree decreased in visibility, as the new tree became more prominent until one would be excused to identify the tree as the new only.

13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.(Eph 4. NIV)

As the new tree became bigger, it seemed to quench the life of the old tree out of it. The old tree became weaker and weaker and eventually dried out. After the old tree dried out, the new tree started closing the spaces previously occupied by the older tree and forming a smooth stem.

One could now only see the new tree, but for the spaces of the previous tree yet to be covered.  The tree has since been cut to give way for other development, but the picture is still etched in my mind – the increase of Christ until He becomes All and in all.

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Back to the developing tree on our current compound.

It was quite a disappointment earlier this week to notice that someone clearing the area cut the budding tree down including some of the roots that had started to grow downwards.

It felt so bad, my first response was to ask  God to restore it to life – I literally prayed for it. For a while it felt like the unfolding picture was gone, until I remembered that we treated the tree in the earlier time the same.

“Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. (Is 11:1 NASB.)”

We severally tried to cut it off the old tree, but every time we would cut it, it’d come back more aggressively. With this remembrance I was encouraged to realize that there is yet a lesson to learn of Christ, that He is the…..;

“…one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.” Heb 7:16 (Emphasis mine)

Is God Speaking and What is He Saying?

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In less than a week during this “slow down” time, I’ve been able to go through the old testament of the bible in summary form.

This has been made possible through the action bible, a pictorial comic-like version that highlights the major stories in the bible narrative chronologically.

Incidentally, I’ve always considered it as only useful for children, and hence not read it through before. This time round it was hard to put it down once I started reading it.

What I particularly liked about it is that one is able to go through the narrative as a continuous unfolding story of God’s relationship to man. In that unfolding story, it is easy to note the consistency of God’s character of love and justice and His being intentional in the relationship.

On the flip side of the relationship, the inconsistency of man in his character and response to God’s expectation of him is also obvious. Man is sometimes acknowledging the sovereignty of God and during those times he prospers and is at peace, at other times he pursues his interests independent of God and falls into disfavor with Him.

At crisis times, like the world finds itself in right now, we are bound to ask ourselves whether there is something God is communicating to us through the crisis. My take on that is that God has already spoken and if we are listening we will hear what he’s been saying all the while.

What crisis like the one we are in has the potential of doing is to cause us to listen. May the Lord be gracious to grant us eyes to see, and ears to hear what the His Spirit is communicating.

One of the communication that to me stood out in, and seems to summarize the narrative of the relationship between God and man is in the King’s dream in Daniel 2. In the vision, he saw successive kingdoms of men’s civilization, and how they were all going to end at some point.

36 “This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king. 37 Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; 38 in your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.

39 “After you, another kingdom will arise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. 40 Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. 41 Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. 42 As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.

44 “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. 45 This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.

“The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.”

There is however a unique and distinct kingdom that is set up at those times that has no end. This is not like any of the kingdoms of men, but of God that crashes all other kingdoms. Once it is set up, its expansion has no end. The Price of this Kingdom reigns with a scepter of righteousness.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:7)

But unto the Son He saith, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Thy Kingdom. (Heb 1:8)

Nature of the Kingdom:

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, (Rom 14:17)

When is this Kingdom coming?

Some believe that the kingdom of God is coming with the second coming of Jesus, but I see differently from the bible. In response to the pharisees’ inquiry, Jesus had this to say,

20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21)

This means the Kingdom has been on earth since Jesus time on earth, and has been expanding on earth through the saints that have believed.

God’s present speaking:

We started with asking ourselves what God is speaking, and I think it important to ask further, how He is speaking. In Heb 1:1, the bible contrasts for us how He spoke in previous times, and how He’s been speaking since the introduction of His kingdom on the earth:

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. (Heb 1)”

What is He saying?

There are some people who consider crisis like the current one as judgement from God. I do not dispute, but I think that there is a final judgement that is coming at the end of the age. In the meantime, Jesus did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.

In that light then, this is what the Lord is saying (as He has been saying):

“I have loved you so much, that I have given my only begotten Son, that if you believe in Him, you shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” ( Paraphrase of John 3:16)

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Mat 11:28)

But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” (John 4;14)

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)

Beloved, this is your hour, not because it’s a new speaking, but because you are hearing it, for

behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. ( 2Cor 6:2 )

I believe that this speaking is both for those not yet in , and those already in the kingdom. Because of the ever expanding and immeasurable nature of this Kingdom, there will always be an element we need to apprehend of the kingdom of Christ.

Sometimes the very things that worked in our pursuit of God (aka traditions) in previous times could be the very ones that we need to drop to be focused entirely on Christ, the King of the Kingdom.

NB: The last two years I’ve heard the word “utterness” severally and have wondered what it means, and how to apply it. Now I think I am beginning to understand – The Lord is requiring our total surrender to Him if we are to walk with Him victoriously in these times we are living in. “Not one hoof will be left behind!”

Of Being a Christian and Smoking the Weed.

weedPeter is a 19 year old man that I met last year, but only started spending time with  last month. The good news is that he received the salvation Christ offers some two weeks ago.

It is as he sought to understand how to live the new life in Jesus that he asked me, “mzee (Swahili word for old man – a salutation I have accepted as I approach 50), there is something I’d like to let you know, now that I have accepted Jesus.”  “Yes Peter.” I curiously quip. “You know I smoke weed. Do you think it is okay to do so when I am a Christian?”

If I was asked that question was some years ago, the answer would have been an outright, “NO” with capital N. “go home and burn every trace of the weed and never smoke it again.” But that time is passed  now; so I was a little diplomatic, trying to hide my shock as much as possible. What has happened since to tamper my response?

Growing up in traditional conservative Christian environment, some of the gravest sins that one had to leave behind after conversion were smoking, and drinking. I carried that perspective with me even to adulthood. One can only imagine my surprise when one day in a new church I received an invite from the men’s group leader with a note to carry with me my smoking pipe. As you’d imagine the first time I could not get myself to go – reason being that it was to be hosted in a Brew & bistro joint I felt not comfortable with.

Later in the same church I  started attending a men’s home bible study fellowship only  to realize that not only was there beer drinking, but there was a bar counter at the backyard which meant a provision in the home had been made for that lifestyle in hosting guests.

I was later to encounter a very serious (from my evaluation) believer who had a smoking pipe as his signature image. One does ask, “what happened that softened my stand?” Did those things stop being sin, or were they not sinful in the first place? Or, maybe I was conforming to the culture?

This is what I think happened – I understood that it is not that one becomes righteous because they do not sin, it is that a righteous man does not sin.

“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”. (1John 3:9)

And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:” (John 16:8)

This to me means that the first step is to receive a righteousness that is not of our works, but of Christ Jesus, our righteousness.

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. (1Cor 1:30)

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2Cor 5:21)

It is then that the new born spirit receives the indwelling Lord and is convicted of the undesirable things in the life He has taken residence.

Back to our conversation with Peter. I thought of using the route of why he smokes, to which he answered that it gives him psyche to work.

I asked him to consider why those athletes that take steroids to enhance their performance are punished when they are discovered. Of course he was able to say that it is because they are cheating – the performance is not their real self.  I stopped that line of reasoning there as food for thought.

Then I said to him that my opinion was that he should consider the approach of what the habit benefits him with, by asking himself, “what value is this habit to me?” From there he’s able to make a decision out of his own conclusions.”

“All things are lawful for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “All things are lawful for me”—but I will not be controlled by anything. NET (1Cor 6:12)”

By this time, he had become more open to share even how he started out of an influence from a friend, and the way it cost him a job as he acted like a mad person. Out of that he was also able to share how he desires to stop, but is unable. “Now, you have Jesus in you to help you – ask Him.”

Last time we were together two days ago he told me he had stopped smoking the weed 2 days earlier and the desire for it has gone completely.

I believe Peter was a Christian even when he smoked the weed, but not sure of its benefit to him. I praise Jesus for setting him free.

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. KJV (John 8:36)”

Let us walk in this awesome freedom Christ has secured for us!

The New Normal After Corona.

Promised Land“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But my loving kindness will not be removed from you. And my covenant of peace will not be shaken ,” Says the LORD who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10) NASB

It feels like ages since I last posted something here. Much has been happening, and I kept telling myself I will write when things ease up, and then Corona happened.

The scripture I’ve quoted above has been in my mind and heart lately, and think it appropriate to help us to keep focused on God’s faithfulness. This is a time where things as we’ve known them are definitely being shaken, and we should expect a new normal.

What will the new normal look like? I’d like to share a post by Cheryl McGrath of Bread For The Bride that I found quite inspired for all of us to consider as we are all affected one way or the other.

Blessings to you and all yours,

Patrick

Walking with Jesus.

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“32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.”(Heb 11.)

 

Earlier last month, my family moved to the coastal city of Mombasa, some 500km from the city we’ve always called home. I however, have still some things to do in Nairobi so I’ve been shuttling every week to and fro – thanks to the new railway service.

As the train traverses the Savannah plains that is the land between Nairobi and Mombasa, one watching through the windows cannot fail to notice how fast local life passes by. From the remote villages of the vast Kamba land to the diverse wild animals of the Tsavo, one only gets a glimpse of what happens.

Given the speed of the train, there is little to experience along the way, and eventually one starts looking forward to the destination. I have wondered more than once what it would be like to experience the village life and graze cattle in the same place I see the wild animals.

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Further I’ve thought how similar our experience of the journey of faith can be:

On one part, one can look at the train journey as a life where one believes in Jesus, departs from Nairobi, and then speeds to Mombasa – heaven to meet Jesus there.

Another can be viewed as a walk with the Lord (like journey to Emmaus) where a couple of you depart Nairobi with Him when you believe, walk with him through the wildlife inhabited plains, for many days unlike the 5 hours on the train, encounter challenges with Him along the way , and scale all of them with Him. You get to the destination Mombasa, having not only arrived victoriously, but also bonded immensely with Him as you’ve experienced life in Him together.

Given a choice between the two, I’d rather the walk – tough, but immensely satisfying.

Right or Left, where does the follower of Jesus stand?

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Earlier in the year, I wrote a post on the tension I was grappling with where politics is concerned. That was in the run up to the general elections in Kenya, but now the electioneering period is over with the climax being voting last week.

The post election atmosphere is far from what most of us hoped it would be; “let this hullabaloo end we go on with our normal lives”. There’s much uncertainty with the declared ‘winning side’ on one hand celebrating, and the ‘loosing side’ on the other hand refusing to concede.

It is not for me to say what side one should stand on, as I had a surprise thought last week while considering what Jesus’ position was on some of these disputes;

“13 And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.

14 And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?

15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12)(emphasis mine)

Often times I’ve wondered why Jesus would sound so unconcerned about such an ‘obvious’, or ‘outright ‘ case of unfairness. The details of that response may not be the subject of the current consideration, but rather where the believer stands and the effect on us when these scenarios are presented to us.

It is increasingly becoming obvious to me that the interest of God on earth is on a family, a body He can express His will on the earth in and through, the Church. His focus therefore becomes the transformation of those in the family to a place of standing for love towards all, and an invitation to those outside to join the family so that they can be part of this family that He by His love in and through them draws the world to Himself.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Rom 12:2)

..By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”(John 13:35)

I sign off today with a excerpt from an article I read this morning which really expresses in simpler language what has been in my heart;

Genuine Christianity is neither left nor right. It is not a sub-culture but a counter culture….https://acalltotheremnant.com/2017/08/14/we-are-neither-left-nor-right/

Christ, the basis of our unity.

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1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! 2 It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; (Ps 133. KJV)

“Will He answer this my prayer?” asked Dr Rachel. “Yes, He always does.” I responded. This was part of a conversation my wife and I had sometime earlier in the year with a learned acquaintance.

The conversation led to talking about whether God answered every prayer of Jesus while on earth. According to Dr Rachel, God did answer all apart from two instances. “What! which ones?”, I was obviously very curious to know which these instances were where God the Father did not answer the prayers of His Son, of whom He said He was well pleased.

Dr Rachel proceeded to give the two instances;
1.”39 And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.(Matt 26)“, and
2.“that they may be one, just as We are one.”(John 7:22.)

The consideration for this post is more for the second prayer, and less for the first one. Perhaps in future God will give us an opportunity to examine the first one in another post. The question then becomes, “Did God answer Jesus’ prayer for unity of believers or not? ”

If one is to just look at what is evident externally in Christendom, there are as many believe systems among Christians as there are denominations if not more. In my own christian walk, I’ve been to at least 5 denominations and to some degree each has been different from the other. The answer may not always be evident to the natural eye, but I believe the Holy Spirit is working towards that end;

“13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Eph 4.KJV)

Oh, what a glorious end!…,but how shall this be?. I believe the Holy Spirit is at work in every child of God, conforming us to the image of God’s Son, leading each to submit to Christ as the head of the body, the church, the one new man.

So to my friend and many that may be wondering whether Jesus’ prayer for believers’ unity was answered or will ever be answered, I can answer that with confidence, a resounding yes! , and urge us all to let go all other ground (nationality, race, gender, creed, …) of unity, apart from Christ, for all other is sinking sand, the ground upon which if we build our lives upon will eventually crumble, but Christ the foundation which has been laid will stand for eternity…Christ our life, and only basis of true unity!