The Battle You and I have to win.

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“3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (2Cor 10)

You have had a busy day at work and now it’s time to go home. You board a bus and the FM radio on the bus has this talk show about the latest trending topic in town. You are not interested for all you are thinking is how you can have some quiet and just relax your system. You cannot seem to close your ears to the already too high volume of the bus stereo.

You consider another tactic and this time you reach for your phone and hope you can get some sobering inputs from your social circles. Fortunately the bus has some free Wi-Fi and therefore you do not have to spend your data bundles. The tactic seems to be working when you open the first social media site, until you realize that the last site you subscribed to, has about 10 affiliates that send daily updates to your email. This is depressing as you try to scheme through the now overflowing inbox which you cannot hope to ever read all emails. By the time you get to the house, all you want is a quiet time in your room. Luckily today, the rest of the family is away at the grandma’s place until tomorrow.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matt 11:28)

You put down everything and kneel down to pray. “Phew!”, you think to yourself, “at least I can now have some quiet”, but wait a minute, you might have celebrated too soon. As you try to give some focus to your prayer/meditation, another innocent sounding player in your mind starts speaking, “this would be a good time to fix the sink that has been leaking, or maybe watch that movie that you’ve been postponing to watch because you’ve not had time.”

The ‘innocent’ player moves from one proposition to another, and before you realize, it has been twenty minutes of battling with giving your complete focus to Jesus on the one hand and getting occupied with something ‘more useful’ on the other.

“..men ought always to pray, and not to faint;…..4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me… (Luke 18)

You do not give up because even with these many better sounding use of your time, deep down you know that there is no better place to be any time than the presence of Jesus. With persistence, the alternative thoughts seems to be giving in and you start thinking about the story of Mary and Martha and what Jesus said, “42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10.)”

Your previous thoughts about chores and activities you could otherwise be doing begin to be replaced by thoughts on scripture as you remember the story of the unjust judge and the persistent widow (Luke 18.)

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.(1Tim 6:12)

Beloved, what am I trying to communicate? It is my experience, and I believe that of every saint of a daily contention for ‘what is’ vs ‘what seems’. The enemy will use our thoughts, will, and emotions, mostly fed by happenings and circumstances around us to create a reality above what God has established eternally for His people by Christ Jesus.

Christ’s victory over the enemy of our souls is an indisputable, but we on the other hand have to apprehend it daily by faith. Why is this so difficult sometimes? It is because the enemy has some sort of partnership with our old nature (read un-renewed soul) to defeat our new nature (spirit). The battle/fight now becomes one of supremacy, as in who takes charge. Our spirit on the one hand is in tune with the Spirit of Christ and hence has capacity to bring the reality of peace and rest to us, while on the other hand, our soul is in contact with the natural world of troubles and anxiety. This battle we cannot win by our own selves, but thank God for Jesus, for the battle is not ours, it is the Lord’s.

Be encouraged brothers and sisters, for “…Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”(2Chr 20:15)

Love in Him,
Patrick

A body prepared for Christ

Indeed we are His body in our locality.

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community of God Community of Saints

“Therefore, when Christ came into the world, He said, “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am, it is written about me in the scroll, I have come to do your will, O God’” “(Heb 10:5-7).

YesC, indeed, God prepared a body for His Son to dwell in while on earth. He however did not stop there, but also prepared for Him a body on earth to dwell in even after ascending into heaven. You and I are that body for Christ to dwell in, and find expression on the earth. This is not an afterthought, but rather was ordained before the foundation of the earth.

“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be…

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“Organized Christianity is an enemy of the Church.”

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orgchartNevertheless what saith the Scripture? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” (Gal 4:30)

When Abraham was called out of his family and ancestral land to where God would have Him, together with the call was a promise for a son. This son however was to come in God’s own way and timing. However, when it took a little more time than both Abraham and his wife Sarah thought it would take, they organized something according to their thinking. Boom, a child was born to Abraham with Sarah’s maid, and there you go, ‘the promise is fulfilled’.

When we read this story in Genesis 16, it is easy to ask, why they could not wait, not realizing that we have done the same thing in our day.

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,And lean not on your own understanding;6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct[a] your paths.(Prov 3)

God by Christ Jesus has promised to give a Son, the one new man, the church. This promise He has done and declared by Christ Jesus that He will build that son, the church against whom the gates of hell shall not prevail. We have however not been patient with Him to build it His way, and have built it by organizing the fulfillment of the promise according to our understanding, and there the organized church is built.

That which we have built has become so big, it is a threat to the son of promise. Notice from the story of Abraham and Sarah that as long as the maid was not empowered, she served Sarah. The moment she was given the place reserved for Sarah, she became haughty and felt superior to her. This is the same case with Christianity today, as long as we organize with our natural understanding, that which we build will be a threat to that which God has promised, the body of His Son, built on the solid foundation of the apostles with Christ as the corner stone.

The good news however, is that it is not all lost, for the promise of God cannot be nullified by our organizing something, however big that becomes. All that can be shaken will be shaken and only that which can stand will stand, the house built on the rock. May we all, brothers and sisters be found being built on that solid foundation.

Blessings to all that call upon His Name.
Amen,
Patrick.

How do we set goals for Spiritual progress?

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spiritualprogressAs I notice the dates on my notebook/journal change from ‘2015 2016′ to ‘2016’, I realize that yet another year has started rolling.

Like all progressive people do, I think it a good thing to set goals for this year so that I have something to work towards , lest the days just roll by and December comes with little to show for the 365 days.

Those oriented towards strategic planning tell us that goals have to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) for them to be helpful.

My dilemma however is one; I have spiritual progress in mind as my goal, but how do I measure that? What are the parameters that can help me determine whether I am making progress in my relationship with God or not?

In this dilemma, there are thoughts that we can meditate on to help us out:

1. What it is not.

“23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” (Col 2.)

“23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. ” (Matt 23)

““Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.””(Mat 15:10b,11)

For many years , I did all I knew to do that to my understanding constituted God’s requirement for spiritual progress: I tithed faithfully (10% of my gross salary); I attended church meetings anytime they were called; I tried to be as nice as I could to all I interacted with; etc. It never seemed to be enough. There was a constant sense of feeling like I needed to do more.

In this current consideration of what constitutes parameters that measure spiritual progress, I have concluded that the things we do or not do are not the ones that make us but rather they are a fruit of who we are within. That is helpful in giving us a hint on where our focus ought to be, within, and not without. When the within is in order, the fruit will consequently be good.

We do not focus on the fruit, but rather the plant that produces the fruit.

2. The starting point.

“..You must be born again.”(John 3:7)

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” (John 4:23)

Jesus speaking to Nicodemus, a teacher of the law, on the way of progress in the kingdom of God, told him that before anything else, he must be born again. This is a good self check for all of us before we put a lot of energy and effort to making progress in a journey we may not even have started.

Speaking to the woman at the well, Jesus again told the woman that God is seeking for those that worship Him in Spirit and Truth.

This in our current meditation points to the fact that our relationship with God is spiritual. We have to be first alive to Him (by way of spiritual birth) before we can talk about making progress. This is by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ as the way God the Father has provided for the restoration of that relationship that was broken between God and man at the fall in the garden of Eden.

The question then each of us has to honestly answer to is, “Am I born again, made a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth , and the life?” Another equally important question is, “Do I live by that Life or not? Gal 2:20

The answer to these questions is very important in determining the way of progress.

No amount of tilling land, manuring it, and watering it will produce fruit until there is a seed planted on the ground, or for a branch whose connection to the tree is already severed until it is reconnected.

3. Spiritual Parameter (s)

But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”(Luke 10:42)

Having established that we need to be first and foremost alive to God to be able to consider our relationship with Him, we go on to consider what the parameters that constitute spiritual progress are.

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. (Gal 5:)

The list of these good things that a progressive person would desire and possibly work towards may look at first like qualities one can acquire on their own efforts.

On a keener consideration however, one realizes that they are fruits , in a sense the results of a growing Life within that expresses itself outwardly through these various forms.

4.The measure of progress, Christ.

2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.(1Cor 2:)

Natural analogies are limited in illustrating spiritual realities, but I will attempt with an illustration using a mango tree. It is mango season right now in Kenya and I am looking at a mango tree as I write this.

What comes to mind are three things that can indicate the growth of the mango tree; stature, health, and fruitfulness. All these are as a result of increase in the mango life in the tree. This increase comes from the nourishment in the soil, watering, and photosynthesis through the leaves.

“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” (1Cor 3:6)

When I consider myself as one of those branches on the tree, having been joined to the Vine, Christ, I realize how my role has been reduced into one thing, abiding in Him. Unfortunately for me, unlike the branch, I can of my own will disconnect from the branch.

My conclusions are that for the mango tree to bear more fruit, the branch has to remain on the tree, and the mango life has to increase. Similarly for the christian, it is the life of Christ that has to increase in us for us to make spiritual progress in our relationship with Him, and for this to happen, I have to remain in Him.

The conclusion for me therefore becomes that the single parameter (so to say) that measure spiritual progress in us is increase of stature of Christ.

…so that the body of Christ may be built up 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)

The gifts each of us in the family of God has been given are to be applied towards this end, building the stature of Christ in one another

Let us therefore beloved encourage one another in reckoning ourselves dead to the old man that pulls us back to the dos and don’t s , and reckon ourselves alive in Christ by the new man, the inner man of the heart.

The Spirit give us understanding and willingness to abide in Him, Christ in who alone is the Father well pleased, and hence the only measure of true spiritual progress.

Together in Him,
Patrick

Why do you love the one you love?

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“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”(Jn 13:34)

Sometimes towards the end of last year, my wife, Virginia and I were invited, together with some others to a Couples’ seminar. We were first unsure whether to attend, having not been to one for a couple of years, but we finally decided to give it a try. We are glad we did as new mutually beneficial relationships have been formed, but that is a story for another day.

What I have in mind as the subject of this post is something that came out in one of the sessions. We were each asked what we love about our spouses, and how it has helped keep our marriage together. Fortunately, I was not the first one to respond, because that would have been disastrous. I have found out that in such forums, people tend to pick a queue from the people who answer first to formulate responses that seem to be expected, and I was not sure what was expected.

When my turn came, I said several things among them that Virginia is God fearing, patient and caring. On her part, she said quite a number, some of which were surprising, but suffice it to say that all who spoke painted positive images of their spouses.

Thinking since the meeting on my own, I’ve felt that something did not settle very well with all those reasons for loving each other, and wondered what it is. It is just lately that I’ve thought what the reason for unease could be:

“ 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, (Eph 5)”

As a spouse, I think it is okay to love ones partner because of the qualities they have that are likable, but as a follower of Christ, though one may start there, one ought not to stay there. The Christian, like the Lord loves not on the basis of what the subject of the love offers, but rather on the basis of the love they have in their hearts. In a sense it is a responsive love toward God, and a proactive love towards others – offer to others what we have received from Him.

“19 We love because he first loved us. (1John 4)”

“the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.…(Rom 5:5)”

Blessed be God who gives us capacity to love one another.

Together in Him who is Love.
Patrick

Embracing the cross and why we need to pray for one another:

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“..Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.…

” (Mark 8:34)

It is A W Tozer in one of his writings who advising believers on the way of spiritual progress said, “..Be hard on yourself and easy on others – carry your own cross and never lay one on the back of another..”. This I have tried to take seriously since I read it.

In the last one year or so, there are words I’ve been hearing repeatedly in my heart, “Listen and trust”. At first, it never was anything more than thoughts to ponder on and then move on to the next thing, but when they kept on coming again and again, I decided to take them seriously. It is then that I thought that perhaps they had some specific significance to my life in relation to what the Lord is working on in me. The more I thought about the words, the more I started linking them to some character weaknesses in me and I concluded that they could just be my cross for the season.

In my zeal to share my opinion or perspective in certain matters of faith, I’ve found myself sometimes not listening to what others are saying and hence the need for crucifixion of that aspect of my self. It may be a small thing to others who do not have a weakness in this area, but trust me when I say, “it is hard to listen to another while you are burning inside to tell your side of the story”.

As I have exercised myself in carrying this cross, I have been thoroughly humbled and blessed at the same time while hearing the voice of our Lord not only as He speaks from inside of me, but also through others He dwells in, and His creation all around us. On the one hand, for me to hear significantly, I have to listen, and on the other hand, trust the voice of the Shepherd that I hear.

In the spirit of Tozer’s words referenced above, I am not sharing this as a general word for everyone, but rather to encourage you to embrace your own cross in whatever form it takes.

God’s end for the cross:

3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.(Rom 5)

In whatever form the cross comes to our lives, it is never easy for it means death and death is painful. It takes a revelation of God’s way of dealing with us to appreciate that the cross, whether in form of life circumstances, or an express instruction from God that looks impossible to us, is always for the good. God has pleasure in giving us the kingdom (Luke 12:32), but has also designed the way into the kingdom as through the cross. The cross will crucify everything that is not of Christ and allow the enjoyment of the Kingdom to that which cannot be shaken, Christ.

This perspective allows us to see what God’s goal in allowing the dealings of the cross in us, “the decrease of us, so that Christ may increase.” This for sure is for our good even though it does not seem or feel like that when we are going through it.

Corporate concern:

Sometimes when going through a very hard situation or circumstances, one may feel very alone, but it’d help for each of us to keep perspective of the unifying nature of Christ’s work in preparing His bride:

“15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;(Eph 2)

Each member of the body of Christ is important, so much so that the examples we have of men and women of faith (Heb 11:39,40) could not be completed without us who come later. It will take each member growing to maturity to fit in their place for a full functioning of the body in full stature (Eph 4), an objective that even the gates of hell will not prevail against.

While it may not be possible for each saint to be informed about the circumstances of all other saints, I’ve found the Holy Spirit faithful in bringing to our hearts different members of the body at different times, and I am learning not to take any of these nudgings lightly.

When the Lord brings another saint to your heart, it is always a good thing to pray for that person. While saying that, the question arises as to what or how one would pray for when they are not aware of the situation the saint is in? One brother that God has connected me with has always wondered on this and his conclusion has been, “I pray not that the cross be taken away, but rather a sufficient supply of grace be made for God’s end to be furthered through the situation.”

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”James 5:16

Let’s pray for one another,
Patrick

“Not by Experience”; Wisdom from Experience.

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20151110_132701Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord “ (Zech 4:6)

Sometime last month, I had the privilege of meeting with a man I have known since my teenage, an opportunity I’ve not had for over twenty years. He is popularly referred to as ‘muhunjia’, my vernacular name for preacher. This is a man I knew for proclaiming the gospel in the highways and byways. I remember him for proclaiming Jesus in our village fearlessly in spite of being despised and looked down upon by the more established mainstream churches in the day.

During our conversation, there was lots of catching up in which I did most of the listening. Among the many things we shared, one has particularly stuck with me and it was, “Even with my many years of preaching, I cannot just wake up and go preach, I have to hear the word of the Lord not just for the day but on a moment by moment basis.” Wow, now that sounded like,

“..the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does…” (John 5:19)

“..Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God…” (Matt 4:4)

What a freeing way to live? May we all – the sheep of His pasture hear and follow the voice of the Shepherd, and that alone.

Love in Him,
Patrick

Deconstruction And Reconstruction

deconstruction and reconstructionFor no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. ” (1Cor 3:11)

The building of the temple of the Holy spirit, which we (the church) are, has to start with the foundation like all other buildings.

The scriptures are clear that this foundation for the the church which is Jesus Christ is already laid. That to me means that any form of work even if it goes by the name of Christ, that is not on the foundation of Jesus Christ is no church at all. Having said that, subsequent courses of the building can be built wrongly even when the foundation is right, so Paul gives an admonition,

….let each one take heed how he builds on it. ….” (1 cor 3:10 KJV).

When we get born again, Our lives are on a clear foundation entirely on the revelation of Jesus Christ. Thereafter we are prone to build differently depending on the discipling environment we grow up in. Again like the foundation, the building can only be right if it is built using the same material with the foundation, a growing revelation of Christ Jesus, and not just knowledge about Him. Any other material will not stand.

but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.” (Heb 12)

There is more than one thing that compromises the building material for our lives in Christ, but in a general sense, it is mixture of what is of the Spirit and that which is of the flesh. There are two major culprits I have observed;

1. Culture

But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God” (1Cor 11:16)

Reading church history over the ages , one will not take too long to notice how some missionaries would mix the gospel with their own cultures. Closer home, as missionaries brought the gospel to Africa, to whom we are forever grateful, they also brought it together with their own cultures.

Observing the Christian landscape in Kenya, you will not fail to tell where the missionaries that took the gospel to specific parts were from. Where Italians took the gospel, the predominant ‘Christian’ names will be Italian; where the British missionaries went, English names will be the common ‘Christian’ names. In more recent times, the West African influence is equally noticed in the places they have taken the gospel.

2. Tradition

Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition,” (Mark 7:3)

Where I grew up, the predominant church denomination was the Anglican church. As I grew up and became aware of existence of other denominations, I somehow felt like those other ones were inferior to the denomination of my parents.

I soon observed while in boarding high school that people from different parts of the country had different denominational orientation and those in one denomination tended to come from specific parts. We were each feeling superior or better informed in our little denominational molds.

Again like culture, this is attributable to which denomination predominantly took the gospel to the specific part of the country. It is like the scramble for Africa was not only on governmental lines, but also cultural and denominational (read church traditions).

Deconstruction:

When we want to go further with the Lord, or when He wants to take us further into Himself (which He always longs to do Luke 12:32), we will find ourselves being frustrated when we do not allow for deconstruction.

No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.” (Mak 2:21-22)

…Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; …”2Cor 10:4-5

Resisting the process of deconstruction is like trying to build the 3rd course while the 2nd course is compromised. For guaranteed stability, the 2nd course need to be brought down and redone with the pure material before the 3rd can be made with the assurance for standing.

Reconstruction

…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.….” (Matt 16:18)

When the owner of a house builds the house, He does so with ultimate care using the best of material. The very presence of compromise in the building of the church is evidence that man has put his hand in a work that is not his. “What shall man do then?”, One may ask. Surrender himself utterly into the hands of the Potter for the modelling into the right shape and for the laying into the right place on the building.

…The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?.…”(Matt 21:42).

“…For in him we live, and move, and have our being;….
.” (Acts 17:28)

Beloved, let us surrender to Him, for in Him alone are we secure.

Love in Him,
Patrick

The root cause vs the symptoms:

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rootsandleaves
…. but the root of the righteous bears fruit.”(Prv 12:12)

Some two days ago, there was a fight in my house that resulted into a scream and a cry. The two boys in the house will one moment be enjoying play together and the next be on each other’s neck trying to sort a disagreement.

This time round, they had just gone to their bedroom to sleep and the younger one had bitten the older one, who reacted with a punch back. When I went to the room, I demanded they go to sleep immediately and sort the issue the following day.

Discussing the issue the following day, the conversation went something like this;

Me, “What happened?”
Son, “He bit me.”
Me, “why did he bite you?”
Son, “because I was on his bed.”
Me, “had he asked you to leave his bed?”
Son, “Yes”
Me, “what did you do?”
Son, “Nothing.”
Me, “So why did he bite you?”
Son, “because I was on his bed.”….

For sometime in our back and forth conversation, the boy did not see his part in causing the fight. Suffice it to say that the conversation continued with both of them interrogating the genesis of the scuffle and how it would have been sorted differently with less acrimony.

Thinking about this incidence was an addition to my meditation lately on the way we humans deal with our issues. There is what manifests as the issue, which I call symptoms and there is the cause of the manifestation, which I call the root.

Health Issues

Visiting a friend earlier this month, I found a physician in his house who was administering some physical therapy to a member of the family. He (the physician) was very passionate about his work and he got to explain the therapy under the field called reflexology.

The treatment does not involve any prescription of medicine and only deals with ensuring proper circulation of blood through some kind of massage on the feet. He went ahead to tell me that he can treat any ailment apart from those caused by accidents like fractures using reflexology.

He said that this is because the root of all body ailments is related with flow of blood in the different parts of the body as blood carries both nourishment and defense to those parts. I won’t belabor my point too much for my medic language is limited as you may have already realized, but he said with proof that most of the times, when we get sick, we treat the symptom and not the root.

In my friend’s case, the one being treated had been experiencing headaches and recurrent flu that had significantly gone down since the treatment commenced. Some of the health issues we experience could be dealt with by a basic adjustment of lifestyle.

Poverty

“11 The poor you will always have with you,[a] but you will not always have me.”
(Matt 26)

In my attempt to understand the issue of material lack which is perennial in the continent I call home, I was introduced to a very sobering book, “When helping hurts”.

The book highlights the possible reasons that even though there is a lot of resources from the rich to the poor, the problem seems not to end, but instead in some instances ends up hurting both the giver and the receiver.

One core reason highlighted that I resonated with was that in almost all cases, lack of material resources is not the problem, but rather a manifestation of a root issue.

The root of the problem is identified as broken relationships for both the receiver and the giver, where relationships are defined at four levels, 1. Relationship with God, 2. Relationship with self, 3. Relationship with others, 4. Relationship with the rest of creation.

It made sense thinking that God has given us the ministry of reconciliation, restoring relationships through which God’s purposes are accomplished.”….as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” (2Cor 5:20)

The root of all problems

Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” (John 5:14)

“And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” (John 9)

For the longest time I can remember, I have wondered why Jesus more than once told a person he had ministered to, to stop sinning on one part, while on another would answer to the negative to the question of whether some ailment was as a result of sin. These two may seem contradictory, but I do think that the root of all human suffering is unrighteousness (read sin).

The Remedy

12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:…14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.(Rom 5)

In that one man, Christ Jesus, we have the root of all our ailments sorted. He is the All in all.

Love,
Patrick

The Narrow Path, a strand in the tapestry.

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Tapestry

Tapestry

“13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matt 7).

Considering these two ways described by Jesus above, I have always thought of the wideness or narrowness in terms of size and related ability to accommodate few or many people. Lately however, I have thought of another perspective of looking at narrowness vs wideness and that is in terms of specificity and generality.

Narrowness by reason of specificity:

When one considers specificity as a way of understanding this narrowness, that is the point at which the path of following Jesus departs from Christianity as a religion. The narrowness / specificity of each of our lives can be understood in two ways:

On the one hand, no two human beings of all those born will have the exact same life experience while on the other hand, there is no other way provided by God , the Father to make Himself known to mankind apart from by His only begotten son, Jesus Christ . Combining these two aspects of specificity, the path becomes really narrow, in a sense tailor made for each individual.

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Jn 14:6)

“Before I created you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I set you apart; I made you a prophet to the nations.” (Jer 1:5).

The challenge for each of us is to find that narrow path tailor made for each of us, which is first narrowed by the fact that it is in Christ alone, and then the fact that the Father leads each of us very specifically through the unique relationship of Parent-child. Once the first aspect is taken care of, we will become aware that there were works prepared for each of us to do before the foundations of the world. That is the place of ultimate fulfillment, where every member of the body fitly joined together in the body supplies their part.

My encouragement to everyone who reads this is to consider that their path is narrow because no one else can walk their path to the letter. There is a cost to depart from the camp and follow your Lord outside the camp, but it is worth every bit.

I sign off with some words from a commentator in the movie, “Do You Believe?”

“I am not sure any of us gets to see the whole picture, God’s eye view so to say.” It’s like we are little children sitting on the floor, gazing up at back side of the tapestry that is being woven. To our eyes it sometimes looks ugly, the colors are jumbled and none of it makes much sense , but one day, we will no longer be sitting on the floor, we will come around to the other side and the genius of God‘s handy work will become clear. At the center of it all we’ll see the cross…

But in that immense tapestry , we will also see the single unique thread only one of its kind and color that our life has added to the piece, the one thread without which the whole would somehow be incomplete. Personally, I can’t wait to see the master piece”

The Lord grant us eyes to see and ears to hear.

Love!
Patrick

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