The Father Of God

14 January 2014



One of the greatest injustices of setting a day to represent the birth of Christ namely the 25th of December is that we have limited our celebration and reflection of it to that time of the year only. Most of us are guilty of remembering Christ’s birth as often as we remember our on – once a year. Honestly speaking, we only ever sing songs, listen to sermons and read and recount the story of Jesus’ birth at Christmas. I think that’s unfortunate because Christ’s birth was a milestone in the history of mankind. Bebo Norman, a contemporary Christian musician wrote:
And the angels filled the sky
All of heaven wondered why
Why the King would choose to be
Be a baby born to die
It seems the Lord’s Supper has ‘rescued’ the event of Christ’s death from such a fate. I am convinced that is why Jesus actually instituted it – “Do this in remembrance of me” he said.

In a bid to rebel against this unfortunate trend, I wish to reflect upon the oft overlooked role that one man played in the birth and life of Christ. His contribution is always mentioned at the very beginning of Christ’s earthly life but soon after that he is never mentioned again, neither by people who speak of Christ’s birth and life or even by the bible itself.

This man is of course, Joseph. There is some disagreement about Joseph. Some suppose he was a middle to older aged man. Some traditional writings further suggest that he had already been married and was widowed with several children. In fact, most image representations of him show him grey haired and bald. But early writers had a bias. In a bid to defend the virgin birth which was in doubt they may have been inclined to stretch facts and depict Joseph as very old and Mary as very young to discourage people from thinking that Jesus was conceived by their coming together out of wedlock.

We'll never know for sure how old Joseph was at Christ's birth while we're on earth. But I am more inclined to think that he was a younger man. I have a lot of respect for a young Joseph. I imagine a young Joseph to be focused rather than living life without any real intent. I imagine that he wanted to be successful and worked hard. I imagine that he, like any other young man, had plans. He certainly had his sights set on a young lady named Mary. He must have looked forward to marrying her and raising a family with her.

But life is no fairy tale and like many real life stories, things soon came crumbling down. For Joseph, it was when he found out that the young lady he loved had fallen pregnant. I bet he was devastated. But young Joseph was a good man and sincerely loved Mary so much so that he decided that rather than soothe his pain by battering her reputation, telling everyone how terrible and how lacking in chastity Mary was, he opted to quietly end his relationship with her instead.

I would imagine that a young Joseph soon picked himself up and begun to re-strategize but God had other plans. And this is where my respect for this man comes in.

I don’t think the average fellow who is just starting out with a promising career, already earning some good money and rising up all the ladders that this life has on offer would agree to father the child of his pregnant fiancée. A child changes things. That powerful car, nice house in a prime location, big wedding or great vacation all have to be put aside to not only ensure the safe arrival of the child but prepare for its future. A child means goodbye to a lot of the time you looked forward to having with your new wife. It means dirty diapers and late nights. It means missing out on late nights and weekends away with friends or special events you would otherwise have attended. The damning thing about it is that raising a child is a long term endeavour, at least 18 years and many times much longer. That is why the average teenage girl who tells her boyfriend that she has gotten pregnant, sees the man, younger or older, run in the opposite direction. Not many guys, especially still youthful, would consider such a sacrifice for their own child conceived out of wedlock but Joseph embraced it for a child conceived that was not even his own.

Joseph laid his hopes and dreams aside for a cause that was much bigger than him. I dare say he laid it aside for the greatest cause in mankind’s history – ever. God calls young men and women to do all sorts of things for him and many are willing until those callings begin to mess with their plans and comforts. And that’s why I am convinced that very few young men would agree to do what a young Joseph did because of how much it cost him. I’m not sure that I would.

Consider how it all ends. Joseph is not mentioned again after Christ’s 12th birthday. Sure it cost Mary a lot too but at least she gets mentioned during and even after Christ’s death. So prevalent was her role that she is worshipped thousands of years later in the Catholic Church. But for Joseph, it’s like he never existed. He certainly doesn’t exist in the pages of scripture after the first few chapters of the gospels that narrate Christ’s birth. After Bethlehem we all pretty much forget him. After all he sacrificed he is forgotten in the early pages of the story of Christ. Which man would sign up to lose so much and gain so little in the end? Sure, the title “the Father of God” has a ring to it, but when it comes down to it, there’s not much else there on this side of eternity.

I have no doubt though that Joseph will have many crowns for the humble, soon forgotten and life interrupting role he played in the grand story of redemption. Such sacrifice cannot go unnoticed by God in heaven. A man we may pity now on earth will be the envy of many in heaven. A young Joseph is a challenge to any young person with hopes and dreams and a promising future who God calls to take a road that ‘ruins’ all those things. How glorified and honoured God must feel when a man or woman makes such a sacrifice even though it costs them so much with so little earthly gain. I have a lot of respect for a young Joseph and I look forward to meeting him in heaven. He must have been quite a man!

The Prime Danger Of Being Reformed

16 November 2013




I’m proud to be reformed. I’m proud to be a five pointer. Don’t get me wrong. Being reformed doesn’t make me proud – at least I hope it doesn't – but rather, I am ready to wear my convictions on my sleeve. I am not ashamed of them.

However, there are times when I find myself ashamed of wearing the reformed colours. There are times I walk away from a discussion or meeting embarrassed to be associated with my own. The compelling convictions of the reformed faith have a tendency to make one think they are more superior and knowledgeable than the rest. And when I see this happening I, to some degree, despise myself and my own.

Paul, aware of this danger for those who espouse to the truth, elevates love over knowledge in one instance saying in effect, better an ignoramus who loves than a know-it-all who doesn’t and again, in a different instance, elevates love over even faith and hope. In 1 Corinthians 8.1, he says knowledge puffs up but love builds up going on to say in effect that the minute you think you know it all is the very minute when you must realized that you’ve missed it! It's not likely that you'll find a reformed person claiming to know it all but sometimes we behave like it! And do not be deceived, actions do, in fact, speak louder than words. In 2 Corinthians 15.2, Paul says, faith and hope are great but the greatest thing is love. Knowledge is good. But without the endearing ingredient of love, it can be an ugly, obnoxious and repugnant thing. Elsewhere, he encouraged that truth be shared but with one qualification, that it be done ‘in love’ (Ephesians 4.15).

Too many times, the language, both audible and visible, of reformed people is indicative of a people who look down and despise others for their beliefs and convictions that are contrary to the teachings of scripture.

I recently came across some reformed brethren saying in a rather public forum that the belief that one can cover their houses and cars in the blood of Jesus, as many believe, was ‘silly’ and ‘rubbish’. And an individual who practiced this covering of property in the blood of Jesus witnessed it all. A few Sundays ago, someone called the catholic church 'unserious' in a meeting where, unaware to them of course, at least one catholic person was present. The response from the audience was laughter and I think I laughed too. No doubt, that person won’t be visiting our church or any Reformed church any time soon. That’s the kind of thing I am talking about.

The paradox here is that the reformed faith emphasizes God and de-emphasizes us, that’s what I find compelling about it in fact. It takes the man off the center of the stage removing the stage lights off him and illuminates God, putting Him on center stage instead.

Take limited atonement for instance. Christ died for some and not all. And those for whom he died were chosen not because of anything good in them but by his grace alone. How does one come away from such a doctrine and bash other people for wrong beliefs and convictions? It’s a contradiction. What about irresistible grace? You do not come to God by your own strength and desire but by the irresistible call of the Spirit. It’s not you, it’s God. Yet with that kind of knowledge we go on to look down on those who refute the teachings of scripture. It doesn’t make any sense.

It could be that our knowledge ends in our heads but doesn’t successfully make it down to our hearts to effect change in our lives. In which case, the ignorant are better than us, at least they have an excuse.
For many though, it could be mere ignorance, a bashing of people who hold on to wrong doctrine that happens unawares for them. Whether it’s the former or latter, we all need to repent and realize that we embrace truths we hold on to simply because the Spirit has been pleased to reveal them to us through His word. We are not smarter and we are certainly not superior. Those who remain misled and misguided are not stupid. They are simply what we were before God was pleased to open our eyes to the truth. Shame on us if we think we’re any better, shame on us if we sit on the truth and shame on us if we share it but fail to do so in love.

Is Masturbation Sinful?

15 November 2013

Often called a grey area or amoral, I've never really heard/read masturbation treated thoroughly and biblically. I think this note by Zuba is the most comprehensive and compelling treatment I have found and so I thought I should share it.

By Zuba Mwanza



Before I begin, I would like to state that my writing of this note was to a large extent motivated by an article I read on the Modern Ghana page, entitled "Pastor Chris Oyakhilome's theory of Masturbation". In this article, Pastor Chris is quoted saying the following,

"Masturbation in itself is not a sin against God. Satan simply uses it in oppressing Christians and making them feel ineffective and inefficient in God's sight. But, once u understand that it has nothing to do with God, but its about you and your body..."

He said these words in a telecast when asked the question, "How can a Christian overcome Masturbation?" And when his response clearly seemed to have raised a lot of dust, he reinforced his position a few weeks later in another telecast (which I happen to have a copy of, and is also on Youtube) by clearly stating that, "It was not a slip of the tongue.." (as many who hold him in high esteem had been saying).

Everything God created is good [Gen.1:31]. And part of what God created is sex, our desire for it, as well our capacity to enjoy it. And these too, are good. However, sexual intercourse was created to be enjoyed ONLY in a marriage context.

By definition, Masturbation is "the act of giving yourself sexual pleasure by rubbing your sexual organs," (Oxford, 2010).

The concept of masturbation is basically deriving sexual pleasure n' satisfaction in a manner that is not ordained by God. If God is the one that created sex, as well as our capacity to enjoy it, He therefore has right to determine/ prescribe the manner & context in which it can be enjoyed.

Unlike the sexual desire God created, lust is a bodily passion. It is a perversion of that which God intended for good. It is essentially a strong sexual craving, aimed at that which God has forbidden (ie. Sex outside marriage). Where as sexual desire is perfectly natural n' enables a married man/ woman to enjoy sexual intercourse, lust develops when "by one's sinful desires, a person is dragged away and enticed," (James1:14). Lust is normally fanned by what we watch (eg. Movies, magazines), what we listen to (eg. Songs, erotic stories from peers), as well as what we read (eg. Erotic novels and stories in online or printed articles). Lust is sinful firstly becoz God says so (1Pet4:3, Col3:5, 2Pet2:18, 1Corint7:9b, Prov6:25, Gal5:19-21). But secondly, it is sinful because, it drives one to imagine him/ herself enjoyin that which disgusts God. That for which Christ was crucified! Therefore, He says, "Whoever looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Matt5:28. This is becoz, when u are havin lustful thots, the only thing keepin u from committing the sin physically is circumstance. Otherwise, given the ideal environment n' opportunity to do so, u wud seize it! However, God's will is that we shud keep away from sin becoz of our LOVE for him, n' not our fear of diseases, pregnancy or pipo walkin in on us. He wants us to hate sin for what it is. To "learn to control our bodies in a manner that is holy n' honorable, n' not in PASSIONATE LUST like the non-believer do.." 1Thessalon4:3-5.

One of the major reasons masturbation can NEVER be justified is becoz, without doubt, it is a product of passionate lust. In the earlier mentioned telecast n' article, Pastor Chris' underpinning argument is that "the sin is LUST, & not the masturbation that results from it. Because, masturbation is a habit like any other." This cannot be true simply because, whereas the Bible clearly forbids us to ACT OUT OF passionate lust as the non-believers do [1Thess4:5], that's exactly what masturbation is. In the telecast, he further argues that, "we cannot say that eating bread is wrong simply because we know someone who stole bread and ate it. In the same way, masturbation is NOT sinful, but the lust that leads to it is." This kind of reasoning is faulty because, if we are to go by it, even stealing wud not be sinful, except for the Covetousness or lack of contentment that leads to it. Therefore, if God is disgusted by Lustful thots, how much more what they lead to and what sustains them? Hence, not only is it improper for God's holy children [as Eph5:3 puts it], but also it offends God, becoz your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit [1Corinth6:18-20].

In addition, masturbation involves the arousal n' gratification of ones sexual desires in an illegitimate manner. Illegitimate in that, God the law giver does not approve. Masturbation is essentially sex with yourself. And so, eventho we may have no control over certain things that can arouse our sexual feelings, He requires that we "LEARN TO CONTROL OUR BODIES in a manner that is holy and honorable."1Thess4:4.

Therefore my beloved friend, if u are in the habit of masturbating, I wud like u to know that it is a SIN against God, and that He can enable u quit it (Titus2:11-12). I also urge all who will read this to live Self-controlled lives, becoz the ability to deny yourself that which u desire, primarily becoz God does not approve, is one of the surest ways of knowing that His Spirit lives in you!

Directorial Debut!

14 November 2013

My brother has a passion and talent for performing as an actor. He's been writing scripts for quite a while. One of them, a stage play, was realized last year entitled "No Greater Love". It was superb. He got behind the camera for another script he wrote, a short film this time around and the following is the result. It's brilliant especially if you consider that it's his first, enjoy!


Your Own Jesus

14 October 2013



Casting Crown's lead singer, Mark Hall, has a book to his name entitled "Your Own Jesus". My brother has an excellent review of it on his blog. To check it out, click here!

Envy

12 October 2013





I’d have never thought myself an envious person. But recently, after hearing a sermon on the famous passage on love in the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (the 13th chapter), I discovered that I suffered from an acute problem of envy.

It turned out that mine was at quite an advanced stage. I was really envious of a lot of people who had things better than me by any measure. For some reason I never realized it was a problem in my life.

The thing that has stuck with me most from Haddon Robinson’s words on love not being envious (though it was more of an aside point) was how unreasonable envy is. The unreasonableness of envy is that it will not likely be willing to 'swap clean'. Haddon said in his sermon that the envious person must be ready to ‘swap clean’. If I’m envious of a friend who has a certain car, isn’t it unreasonable to want the good he has in his life without having to contend with the bad? I mustn’t get the car only, I must get everything else; his asthma, his broken family, his loneliness, his undetected cancer, his few remaining years on the earth etc. When you think about it that way, you stop and think twice before envying. It is unreasonable to envy; you can’t want the good only. If you envy, you must swap clean. It should be all or nothing.

Unfortunately, in my depravation, I used this to make myself feel better. I opted to dwell, therefore, on the negative aspects of the lives of those I envied which of course wasn’t Haddon’s point.

I think the most sinful thing about envy is that it is an affront to God. To be envious is to tell God that he isn’t doing his job right and that you know better. It is to tell him that he should have given you kids like that family has, a car like that person has, a wife who cooks as good as that other guy’s wife, etc. It is to basically tell God that he made a bad call. What can be more offensive? Wasn't that God's point in those several chapters in Job where he responds to Jobs complaints for the terrible circumstances he had found himself in, going from hero to zero. God was saying in all those chapters, are you sure? Are you sure you can sit on my throne and do a better job? Of course, all Job could do was repent. There is a delicate balance we must find where we do our best and not be lazy while simultaneously accepting the place God puts us, with the things and people that he gives us. We must work hard so that we avail ourselves the best things of this life while being ready to live with the things God causes us to end up with.

The heinous thing I’ve found with envy, especially in my life on a social level, is its paralyzing effect. I have found myself failing miserably and literally unable to genuinely rejoice with those around me when they are blessed in some way or other. When you envy the progress of others, it is not possible to truly be happy for them and with them. This invariably results in a failure to mourn with them in their sorrow as well since you’re happy to see them go down and lose out. It is a terrible place to be. I've also found myself crippled; too focused on what I don't have that I fail to enjoy what I do have. How sad! Worse off, I end up robbing God of the thanks he deserves for what he has actually given me all because I'm so consumed by what he hasn't.

The trickery of envy is in its perpetuity. When does it end? When will you ever have a life that is so great, no one else has anything better than you? Sure, you’ll end up with a lot of money, but you’re not likely to have the best spouse or kids as well. You can never envy enough. I remember a song that used to be played a lot when I was in high school which had a line, “Remember when you’re feeling blue, there’s always someone who has it worse than you…” Well, they’ll always be someone who has it better than you in one area or other. So envying won’t get you anywhere. Contentment really is the better alternative.

Finally, the folly of envy is that it works on assumptions. It assumes that having that thing that the other person has will finally make you happy. It assumes that you deserve better than the person you’re envious of. It assumes that the thing(s) you envy about the other person is/are the aspect(s) of their lives that complete them. These assumptions are all faulty. That thing you envy won’t make you happy; true happiness is not found in the things we envy. No sir, no ma’am, you don’t deserve better than the person you’re envious of; on your best day, you deserve nothing from God at the very least. And finally, nothing temporal can complete a person; the people we perceive to be happy and complete are often not and if they truly are, it has everything to do with something permanent that cannot be corrupted or taken from them, something which comes only from above.

Envy is a disease of the heart, and every time I find myself with a wrong attitude i.e. a heart problem, I pray this little prayer I heard sang as a child:

Change my heart, Oh God
Make it ever true
Change my heart, Oh God
May I be like You

You are the potter
I am the clay
Mold me and make me
This is what I pray

I am yet to be let down after praying this prayer sincerely!

Faith – A Must for Any Relationship

04 October 2013



 

Here’s the thing about faith. The bible says without it, it is impossible to please God. The truth of the matter is that without faith, it is impossible to please anyone.

Any father would want his son to have a reasoning mind, to think through actions before taking them and to decide whether an action is profitable or not and not just do things blindly. However, no father would want to have to explain the reasoning and benefit before issuing his every instruction or conveying his every request. Why? First of all, because his son must be obedient and seek to honour him but more so because he would like his son to have a level of reverence and TRUST so that he can carry out instructions and honour requests without first questioning them.

This is true of any relationship; parent-child, boss-employee, sibling-sibling, friend-friend, etc. We rarely ever have to explain the benefit or reasoning behind every request we make to people we relate with from day to day. This is because, for most of them, they love and care for us and/or simply TRUST us and we them and they carry out more of what we ask and believe more of what we say without questioning it, even if it doesn’t make sense, than they do while requiring proof and reasoning from us first.

This is especially so with a romantic relationship. A man’s chief puzzle is his woman and vice-versa. Women are always talking about how they can never understand men and men say the same. Why then is it that a man will carry out instructions and requests and do things for his wife/fiancée/girlfriend even if they do not make sense to him? In fact, ask any man who decided to have a “why” mentality towards his woman and find out how long he was able to go on with that! You’ll discover that he couldn’t keep it up because it displeased her, and rightly so.

Spending hours shopping for the house when it could really all be done in 30 minutes? Going back to the shop to get a particular kind of cheese when the one he brought home first works up to 99.9% as well? Celebrating the baby’s first birthday even if the child will neither understand nor have any recollection of it? These are things that an average man may not appreciate and yet goes ahead to do anyway. Why? Because would like it and he loves her. And if he only does things which make sense to him in his relationship then she will not be PLEASED with him. Faith is necessary to please those we love.

Why should it be any different with God?

How can God be pleased with us if we only accept him when everything he has said and everything about him makes sense to us? How is our trust in him demonstrated when we choose to believe him ONLY when all the evolutionist’s questions are answered? What underlying message must God receive when we refuse him until all questions are answered and everything makes perfect sense in our heads? A belief in God on our own terms is no belief at all.

I understand that God took away a person or people you loved from you, but must he explain himself before you follow him? I understand that so many of your questions remain unanswered, but must you require a file from God containing answers to all your questions and before you come to him? No. We do not hold those around us to such an insensible standard, why must we do it to God?

Just as we do not demand that everything we do for those we love make sense, if we are to love God, we must believe in him and exercise trust in him and do as he says even if it doesn’t all make sense.

This is where atheists get it wrong. They have good questions. They ask, among other things; If God exists, why does he allow evil? Why does he allow suffering? Why doesn’t he speak in an audible voice and show the world that he is real? Why am I unhappy and unfulfilled if God really loves me and cares for me and wants the best for me? And so on. What I find illogical from people these people who claim to be very logical is that they do not demand ALL the answers from those they love and care for, and yet they demand this from God, who loves and cares for them. Yes, God encourages us to bring our heads with us when enter into a relationship with him by believing and trusting in him but to demand all our questions and queries answered before we yield to him is unacceptable. He will not answer them all because he is pleased when we exercise faith in him. When we submit to him even if it hasn’t all made sense, he is well pleased with us. It is the ultimate sign of love for him when we surrender to him with our questions and queries still unanswered.

Thankfully, as we grow in our relationship with him, through the study of his word and prayer, our questions and queries get answered along the way. Hence the good old song we sing, "We will understand it better by and by." And thankfully, he promises us that when all is said and done and history is wrapped up, all will be made plain and clear. He doesn't owe it to us but because he loves us, he will. Why did you lose your loved one who meant so much to you? Put your faith in him, you will understand it better by and by. Why did you lose your job/health/wealth? Why did that unfortunate circumstance befall you? Put your faith in him, you will understand it better by and by. Why doesn't the bible make a 100% clear, beyond shadow-of-doubt argument for God's existence? Put your faith in him, you will understand it better by and by.


Matthew 10:26 ~ So have no fear for them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be made known.

Hebrews 11:6 ~ And without faith, it is impossible to please God.

Girl Trouble

11 September 2013

Here's how it goes. A guy likes a girl. Naturally, he gives her particular attention. He beings talking to her a lot. He sends her text messages and calls her regularly. He makes sure to buy her a present on her birthday and celebrate with her in her victories and mourns with her in her losses.

Here's how it is. Today, the unfortunate thing is that if the girl likes the guy back, she 'lets him in'. She entertains him holding nothing back. It isn't long before the young fellow (who is helplessly 'in love' and cannot really help himself) is calling her sweet names, marking his territory for all other predators to see and stay away and really just taking her as his own.

Here's how it ends. The girl falls for the guy but things soon begin to get complicated. In some cases, months go by and the guy isn't proposing. Or he isn't providing any direction for the 'relationship' or definition for it for that matter. Or, worst case scenario, as guys often do when they are not tied down, the fellow moves on leaving the girl heart broken. She cannot hold him down because, he has made no commitment to her. She let him in without requiring a commitment from him.

Here's how it should be. A girl must realize that the only guys she must consider are serious guys. Guys who aren't around to merely have fun but guys who want one final and certain thing, to get married.

The first problem is that most girls want to play around too. In such a case, I guess the pair is perfectly matched, two playful characters. The ruin will be bilateral.

Some girls, however, are serious. They aren't looking to play around but they go about things the wrong way. Instead, they must be a delicate and wise balance of closing themselves up while at the same time keeping the guy interested until he makes the commitment by proposing. There must be a sense in which the guy is starved yet kept at the table. He must be kept in check. Communication must not be in excess. That is reserved for a boyfriend. Language of endearment e.g. "Sweetheart" or "I love you" must be none-existent and limited only to courtship. Gifts must be received with thanks but they too must be kept in check both in terms of quantity and quality lest he thinks he is owed something in return. Things like romantic walks, holding hands and generally time spent as a couple are all reserved for a boyfriend and girlfriend relationship. Anything short of such a relationship must be treated as mere friendship until the guy makes that bold decision to propose.

If the guy is frustrated and leaves, well and good. As hard as it might be and unapparent, it is a better scenario than the possibilities if he is let in without making a commitment. That is why prayer is vital to seek guidance and counsel from the Lord himself.

A girls greatest and most delicate treasure is her heart. She must only give it away to the guy who is ready to take care of it and is serious enough to do so for the rest of his life. Anyone who falls short of that standard must be cut out. Ladies, protect your heart.

Young women of Jerusalem, I charge you: do not stir up or awaken love until the appropriate time. ~Song of Solomon 8.4 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

Giving

05 September 2013



It is not strange to hear someone speak of growth in grace, love, faith or holiness however, the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 8 introduces an idea of excelling in giving. During a bible study this very evening I asked myself whether I am excelling in giving. Am I becoming a better giver as the river of time keeps rolling on? How really does one excel in giving?

We can excel in giving in the quality of our giving, the quantity of our giving and the attitude of our giving.

If we are to excel in giving, we should discover, looking back over a particular period of time, that the quality of what we give is getting better and better. If a few years ago we gave only those things that were either of no use or no value to us, we must find that as the years have gone by we have found that we now give things that we value, things of high quality.

If we are to excel in giving, we should increase the measure of what we give. If before we gave a few things we must give more. To be giving the same quantities of things we would give some two or three years ago is indicative of a stagnation in our giving.

Finally and more broadly, higher degrees of excellence in our giving are attained by a betterment in out attitude when we give. We must:

  • Give Secretly: Jesus spoke of this on His sermon on the mount, how that our right hand must not know what our left has given. This is hyperbole of course since this is hardly possible. Jesus was merely stressing the desirable characteristic of secret giving.
  • Give Joyfully/Cheerfully: We've all had the experience of receiving a gift from one who has given it begrudgingly. You do not enjoy a gift that you know the giver did not want to give to you. It is no different with God, nor is it different with others. Everyone loves a cheerful giver.
  • Give Selflessly: Our giving must be all about the other person taking deliberate effort to erase ourselves from the picture. The depth of human selfishness is an abyss. Just now I was watching a famous screen actor on a video clip on YouTube announcing to a church congregation that he had given a million dollars to a church project. I do not know whether he made the announcement to bring praise to himself but we can find ourselves giving to others and yet being selfish all at the same time.
  • Give & Forget: This means that while we may be taken aback at the immorality of someone withholding something good from us who just the previous week we gave to, we must never give expecting anything in return. We mustn't end up with a mental creditors book filled with names of people who we gave this and that to that are yet to give us anything. You have heard it said, "forgive and forget" but I tell you now, "give and forget".
  • Give Consistently: We must make giving to others a habit. It must be for us, as it were, a way of life. The Apostle Paul, in the same passage refers to our Lord Jesus Christ who could aptly be named "The Giver" as our supreme example and standard in the area of giving.
  • Give Sacrificially: While there is nothing wrong in giving spare change and giving what we don't need, it would be erroneous to give only that. Our giving beings to excel when it beings to cost us something. When we give that last item or that last amount of money so that we become the needy to supply the one in need, we become more excellent in our giving.
To excel in giving, as is exhorted by the Apostle Paul, is to have these elements in greater measure in our lives. May it be so!

Can You Pray To The Holy Spirit?

04 September 2013

About two years ago, I found myself in a bible study where this question arose. I was the only one who answered it in the affirmative and my position on the subject was met with vehement opposition. The general consensus seemed to be that we were only to pray to God the Father.

I later discovered that such a conclusion was neither biblical nor logical.

It is not biblical to say that we should only pray to God the Father. Scripture records for us the dying prayer of the martyr, Stephen, in the Acts of the Apostles when he looked up to heaven and prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (Acts 7.59).

I didn't have much that was significant to defend my answer in that bible study, but one thing I did ask those who answered the question with a definite 'no', was to approach the Elders of the church to have at least one song removed from our songbooks. "Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me." A song which is a prayer to God the Holy Spirit.

What about the Lord's prayer in which the Lord presented the model of prayer for all to follow that addressed God the Father? Well, one must understand that there is only one God. When we pray, we pray to Him. Granted there are three persons in the Trinity. But while They are different in function, They remain one in essence. Therefore, it is not possible to pray to One without praying to All Three. Thus it is not logical to conclude that you cannot or must not pray to any of the persons in the Trinity other than the Father.

When, then, are we to pray to the other two? One instance when it is appropriate is when we are praying with an emphasis on One's function. For instance, it is God the Holy Spirit who convicts men of sin. It is therefore only fitting that when we are praying for conviction of sin to take place, we pray to the Holy Spirit.