21 February 2011

Beautiful Feet

Isaiah 52:7

I'll never forget the day my deskmate, a young lady, came to school in slippers. I couldn't help but notice her feet, particularly her toes. I especially remember not thinking much of them. I wondered how cliche it is to call someone's feet/toes beautiful as seen in movies and the like. I then wondered how many guys, in a bid to win her, would compliment her toes even though they weren't so great. Seeing no reason for speculation, I turned to her and asked,

"Has anyone ever told you that you have beautiful toes?"

"Oh Mwindula! Thankyou so much!", she replied.

It was then that I realised that I had a dilemma on my hands. It seemed that this young lady thought I was actually complimenting her toes. Not wanting to lie and/or be identified with the fleet of young men who had probably deceived her in like manner, I quickly clarified:


She was not impressed with me.

The feet of gospel-message-carriers are referred to as beautiful. Any bearer of good news is beautiful. The postman's hands with a letter from a loved one with its unkempt and dirty fingernails is beautiful, the secretary's irritating, high pitched voice calling to let you know that you have been offered a job for which you recently applied is beautiful, the repulsive smile of a toothless teacher handing over the test paper marked 'A+', is beautiful. How much more the bearer of the goodnews of our Lord Jesus Christ? That cure for the chronic disease present in the heart of man, sin. O for beautiful feet! O that my own feet would be called beautiful by many because I would have been the means by which they heard the gospel.

Do you have beautiful feet?

02 February 2011

Thoughts On Homeschooling

For the first time in a long time if ever, I put 'pen to paper' and struggle to begin this particular article. I struggle with whether to write a neutral article, one which is neither here no there (that kind which leaves a reader feeling like he/she has basically wasted their time, people want to hear which side you're on and why). I struggle with whether to pick a side and support it when I am most likely not informed enough to make an objective, comprehensive and sensible argument.

Usually, with not much forethought, I just sit down and type away 'free verse'. It seems the whole issue of homeschooling is a a big deal in the Western church. The whole controversy, I'm not quite sure if I can call it that, is one that the Eastern body of Christ has been... spared?

First time I heard of homeschooling, my response was, "cool". Now my response is really, "wow, what a hot topic." I am really intrigued by it and amazed to some extent by the debate.

This is probably because homeschooling and the controversy surrounding it is a luxury we don't have in Africa. I call it a luxury because I'd rather be wrestle with homeschooling than with hunger, unemployment, sickness, lack of education, inadequate health care, abject poverty, AIDS etc. Over here, we are too busy fighting for our lives to begin talking about homeschooling.

I suppose the whole issue of homeschooling has arisen, in the West, due to: need. The moral fibre of western society has been gnawed at for so long and to alarming proportions that one can understand why homeschooling was conceptualized.

Well, I will do the safest thing here and rather than pick a side (and perhaps lose the few readers I am already battling to keep), perhaps mention a couple of thoughts on the whole issue. Although I might give myself away...

1) It is unfortunate that homeschooling must even arise. It is a sad development that a society's morals can decay to such an extent that men and women become so afraid for their children, that they have to pull them out as it were. It is unfortunate and yet expected. We can expect no better from this world. In fact, we would be in order to expect worse. This is because of sin. The heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked. The question is what is the Christian's response to a rotting culture and society? Perhaps a study to answer that question would unveil principles that can help determine whether homeschooling is the way to go or not.

2) It would be sin to make homeschooling the main thing. The gospel is the main thing. Jesus Christ is the main thing. As important as the whole issue of homeschooling is, it must not become an idol. As important as it is that families process and pray and seek the Lord's will over how to educate their children, if we find ourselves peddling anything that is a part over the whole, we sin. No theme must be most sang, most discussed and most cherished than the gospel. It is in the gospel that we must invest our resources (time, energy, etc). And that is a trap that Western brothers and sisters must be aware off. I don't think brothers and sisters should part company and fail to dwell in harmony because they cannot agree on the issue of homeschooling. I don't think God would buy it.

3) Homeschooling and the controversy surrounding it, has not taken God by surprise. In his infinite wisdom, he ordained that the issue arise. I wonder why. Could it be to test/sanctify the Western church? To see whether, even in such 'hot topics', the church does not get carried away with debate and controversy but perhaps agree to disagree and move on? It's so easy to get caught up and forget what is important, the gospel and mutual edification, fellowship and the means of grace, salvation and sanctification. For me, a development of factions among believers wrestling with this hot topic would be to fail the test.

4) One other issue about picking a side, is that, unfortunately, there is no neutral ground. I suppose that it's one of those issues where you are either here or there, or would a Christian school be neutral ground? I don't know... But in the process of choosing whether to home school a child or not, I think it would be prudent to work backwards. To study principles in the bible pertaining to the issue and build on those principles until finally a final decision is arrived at but based on a foundation of biblical principles. Is there an article or book that does that, where there is a neutrality about the flow of thought through biblical principles? Almost all that I've read seems to have a 'made up mind'. I think it is important to work like that over any issue and thus the need to be well grounded in the word. This process must be done prayerfully (with earnest and continuous prayer).

Well there you have it, a few thoughts from someone looking from the outside in on the whole issue of homeschooling.

Weddings -Golden Opportunities

What golden opportunities indeed! No other gathering apart from family-get-togethers and funerals, bring family together, especially in our culture. The thing about weddings, that makes them more golden than funerals or get-togethers, perhaps even combined, is that all of your family in attendance are at your disposal. You reserve the right to conduct your wedding however you wish and your family will attend because they care about you.

But do we really realize this?

A couple of months ago, a friend asked me to watch a small clip. It was entitled, "letter from hell". It seems it is/was quite popular. It's about two young men who were close friends, one a Christian, the other not. For some reason the one never shared his faith with the other. The young man who wasn't a Christian died and went to hell. The clip has the young man in hell narrating a letter he had written to his Christian friend who was still on earth.

First he describes the place, then he describes the people he's with. He also describes the pain and the evil spirits there. As the narration progresses its intensity builds gradually, the young man gets more and more emotional after having started out rather collected. And then he finally breaks out as though he had been holding himself back. He asks his Christian friend in a frenzied voice, "Why? Why didn't you warn me? My best guess is that you were not aware of such a place. Who would know of such a place and not warn those he felt were heading there?"

I know of several people who I have not warned about the wrath to come, people who I was not forthright with, people who I will probably never see again, who, as of the last time we were together, were headed down a highway to eternal damnation. This causes me to want to be diligent in sharing the gospel with whoever I rub shoulders. But ofcourse, 'wanting' doesn't avail much. It is not enough to 'want'.

Probably the group we are most guilty of ignoring is our own family. How many of our family have heard the gospel? What percentage of our family have we tried to share the gospel with?

And that is what make weddings golden opportunities. Opportunities that must be capitalized on, first, indirectly but also directly. Indirectly in the way that we carry out our weddings.

Theres been alot of debate about weddings at my church, is this right and is that wrong, etc. Many things are not easy to just put in a box but Paul handles this in that timeless quotation, "Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial." There are alot of things that are permissible at weddings, but the question shouldn't be, would it be alright to do this but rather, would this be beneficial.

Would this thing or that thing send a Christian message to my family, friends and acquaintances that will attend my wedding? Will they walk away struck by how different my wedding was? Or will they see the very things that they see in the majority of weddings around? The wedding is such a great opportunity! An opportunity to send a message saying, "I am different, I seek to glorify God even if it means forfeiting things I really wanted and it is not I but Christ that liveth in me!" Oh for weddings that minister to the wretched hearts of those who attend, especially our families merely by the elements they contain (or do not contain!), weddings that send them away wondering, what they lack that you have!

The second way, we must capitalize on weddings is directly. How can you have such a large gathering of family, friends and even associates/acquaintances and not have the gospel message preached?! What an opportunity! Many of those in attendance, you will never get to invite to a church where the truth is preached, how can you pass on an opportunity to bring the church service to them! When I mentioned this to my mother, she immediately mentioned that in her day, gospel messages were common features at weddings. Christians getting married would indeed organize a preacher to give an evangelistic message at their reception.

Maybe I'm just a young man speaking from without. Maybe in the midst of all the excitement or hustle and bustle of wedding preparations I will forget to or even reject the idea of having the gospel preached at my own wedding. Maybe I just don't understand the ins and outs of weddings. Maybe I'm being too idealistic or hyper spiritual. But then again, maybe I'm not. Maybe I'm onto something. Maybe the greatest love you can show your family is to warn them of the wrath of God that awaits them and the love of God that draws them. What more convenient way is there, than at your wedding?