30 March 2012

Courtship Series

I have decided to embark on a series of 10 articles on courtship- one every fortnight. After a year of being in courtship myself, I feel that I am now an authority on the matter. No, I'm kidding. My year with my one and only, has been a learning experience and the learning continues. The articles on the subject are my own thoughts and various things I have gleaned from our courtship counseling sessions and our relationship. Hopefully, it will not only be a set of penned thoughts on the matter but may be useful to some, some day.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the readers of my blog. My mother has become my most publicly ardent reader, thanks Mom. Thanks to my dad for putting me up on his blog and increasing my readership by at least 90%! Thank you to those who from time to time, send me a note of encouragement, share what I write and put up links to my blog. Thank you, thank you, thank you, it means a lot. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

28 March 2012

Facebook Makes People Sad

In my post entitled facebook, I discussed the advantages and disadvantages of being on facebook. One that I came across and mentioned didn't really qualify as a 'con' to me, mostly because I couldn't identify but over the last few months it has began to make sense. Facebook makes people sad.

This phenomenon that seems to be so imposing that it cannot be ignored goes as follows:

One of the most unavoidable deceptions of social networking sites is that people put their best foot forward and conceal their worst foot. No one wants other people to know when they are struggling or depressed or abused.

Those who are either married or in relationships put up pictures that communicate that they are hopelessly in love, athletes put up pictures of them being awarded for their successes. Graduates put up their graduation portrait. People always mention how much fun their having, at the best place, with the best people.

Consequently on lookers, who by the way are probably guilty of the same, develop a lopsided view of their others. It begins to occur to them that their friends are living lives which are more fun and enjoyable than theirs, and are invariably happier than they are. Sadness then sets in.

I guess I can understand this. Its easy to read of someone preparing for their wedding and thinking, "I don't even have a boyfriend or girlfriend" or "I am so far from being ready to marry my mate". One who is jobless reading of someone who got promoted would obviously feel quite sad about their situation. Someone not progressing in life may find it depressing to read, everyday, of all their friend's advances in society. A couple with no children will see all the baby pictures their fellow couples are putting up and find it rather depressing. Those who haven't done well in their exams will inevitably be bombarded by updates from friends who have. Yes, facebook does have a saddening effect on us.

I guess the second most important thing to remember is that the grass is always greener on the other side. They say, and it's true, that many would refuse to switch lives, after they walk, just for a day, in the shoes of those whose lives they admire. Seeing the often concealed, downside of other's lives might leave you thankful for the downside of yours.

The most important thing to remember is that the Lord is sovereign. Whatever the other person has that you don't is no accident or mistake. God planned for things to be the way they are, and he has a plan that if you trust and obey, will leave you happy and Him glorified. Do the right and trust Him.

26 March 2012

The Image of Christian Rap

This week, I saw this on a friend's facebook wall:

The caption read, "Mighty men of God right here".

I commented and said, "They look like thugs."

The response was, "Thugs for Jesus bro!"

Thugs for Jesus. They can dress, gesture, wear tattoos and walk like the worldly rappers, but as long as they say 'Jesus' and 'the cross' and 'grace' in their lyrics, its OK, after all they're doing it for Jesus. I wrote that my primary problem with Christian rap is not the rap itself but rather my own connotations and associations to rap in my mind that make me uncomfortable with it. My secondary problem with it, that would help my primary problem greatly, is its image.

Observe the following...



Shall I rest my case? I apologize if I threw in any worldly rapper in the set of pictures. The truth is I just couldn't tell the difference.

I repeat, the mannerisms, the gestures, the dressing, the chains, the hand signals, the tattoos etc, are all reminiscent of what is happening in the worldly rapper's world. These men may have their hearts in the right place. They may truly be Christians but they must realize that it is not just about the message. The way the message is given is also important. God must be glorified by both the message and how its delivered. How can you bring what is seen in the world into church? Yes, they have taken the art from its worldly use but surely can the addition of Christ to the art bring out what is pictured above? I don't think so.

I do not see God glorified. I see God honored with lips but not with actions. I see a genre that puts me off but the striking resemblance it has with the way it's used in the world. Unless this changes many like me I believe will only find it all the more difficult to be open to Christian rap. Christian rappers out there, what you are doing could save a generation but how you do it could just as easily ruin it.

25 March 2012

Our Empathetic Captain

Everyone has one of those moments every once in a while when something is said that challenges, rebukes, stirs or encourages you in a very unique way. Sometimes its something that is well known that you didn't know, something people would be surprised to find out had a special impression upon you because its so common. Sometimes its something you already knew that comes to you afresh. But that's how God's word works.

The last time this happened to me was when I came across Ezekiel 33. Every Christian should know Ezekiel 33. Verses 1 through 9 struck me like a blow between the eyes. I wrote something about it, click here to read it.

Well, it happened again. This time during tonight's sermon on Hebrews 2:9-13. The preacher, James Williamson, spoke of why Jesus needed to be an empathetic Saviour. He couldn't save us from heaven, He had to come down. He had to walk in our shoes and experience what we experience and so become our 'perfected' Captain of our salvation.

"I can't imagine what you must be going through," is a statement we often hear being said or say ourselves. And when someone says it to us, we often think, "No you can not." But that statement can never escape the lips of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Have you been sick or taken care of a loved one who was? Jesus knows what that is like. Whether or not He ever fell sick, I don't know and doubt, but how many came to Him bringing the sick? Even His disciple's mother (Peter's mother) was once sick. He knew what it meant.

Have you lost a loved one? Jesus knows the most painful, yet physically painless, feeling that death brings, the pain of losing a loved one. Jesus knows what that is like. He lost a beloved friend and even though He knew He would raise him from the dead, He wept.

Have you suffered for following Christ? Jesus knows what that is like. No one can dispute that.

Are you living in poverty? Jesus said, "Foxes have holes, birds have nests but [I] don't even have a place to lay My head." Abject poverty.

Have you been rejected by a young lady or ignored by a young man? Jesus was never rejected or ignored in that particular way, but He understands. He too face rejection and He too was ignored.

Do you feel like no one understands? If anyone felt that way, it was Jesus. He was on a divine mission on earth and even His closest friends could not comprehend what lay ahead of Him. There was no one He could sit down with face to face and have them sympathize with Him.

Are you homeless, broke, lacking food or clothes, a victim of theft, jobless, friendless, betrayed, forsaken, feeling inadequate, poor, sad, lonely or distressed? Jesus knows what that is like. He understands. No wonder He intercedes for us night and day. No wonder no one was better placed to die for us, because He wore human flesh and felt what we feel.

What a blessed thought to think that my Saviour knows. No matter what I go through, He knows. It has been a blessing to me. I hope it blesses you too!

24 March 2012

Christian Rap

Downloading some books on Writing from "free-ebooks.net", I saw a book entitled "1 God". The description of the book was: "522 pages of poems depicting the Omniscient Creator, irrefutably proving that there is only one Creator who created this whole universe...". Needless to say, I was hooked! Like a car flying to the finish line in the last stretch of road I was headed for the download button with my mouse. And then I saw the name of the author -Nikhil Parekh.


Well, that 'car' headed for the download button came to a screeching halt for the author was Indian. This brought questions in my mind as to which deity this book spoke of considering that India is a deeply religious nation with at least 8 major religions and a million 'Gods'. The comments on the book confirmed my hesitation with comments such as "The writer really needs to sit and think about everything that is right and not mix up faiths, as was done in the front pages."

I know of at least two powerful Indian Christian-make that three-Yahweh serving preachers and so it wouldn't have been so fat fetched that Nikhil Parekh would happen to be of a Christian persuasion and that his book would be about Yahweh, however in my mind Indians are synonymous with the worship of thousands of deities other than Yahweh and so I hesitated.

I have a similar problem with Christian Rap.

I think rap has established itself in our day as musical art, a force to be reckoned with. Whether you accept it or not, or like it or not, rap is a musical genre. One of my most favorite preachers bashed it as a none creative form of music but I disagree. Rap music can be very well crafted and presented. I have heard and enjoyed a few rap songs which have appealed greatly to me, even non-Christian in fact although I do not particularly enjoy the genre.

However, I cannot accept Christian Rap in a church I attend. I can accept it at a concert (in extremely limited measure -I cannot bring my self to attend a rap concert) or in my mp3 player (a song or two) but not in the Sunday church service. This is not because of Christian rap itself but because of the things rap is associated to in my head. My mind associates rap with certain things. I associate it with Tupac, Jay-Z, Eminem and so on. I cannot worship aright in a church service with such connotations and associations going on in my head. And so for the weaker brother, in this case me, I will be a member of a church where fellow weaker brethren are.

Some churches do not suffer from such associations and connotations and so accept rap in their meetings. I have no problem with that, but I cannot manage to be a member with them, I can probable attend one or two services and survive but that's it. Indians are to idolatry as rap is to Tupac -its a connotation, an association, a perception in my head and as wrong as they may be, they do exist.

Having said that I do feel that rap can be used to the glory of God. I feel it would be an invaluable tool in winning the unregenerate of my generation (I am one of them but I am not of them, I'm old school :-) ). It would be meeting them where they are and at their level. It would be speaking to them in a language they understand. However, the Christian rappers have a lot of work to do, in redefining the image of rap. And I do not see enough effort on this issue from the Christian rap society.

The only thing that seems to have changed are the lyrics. The mannerisms, gestures, dressing, body art, chains etc, are all the same. Surely, it must be different. No wonder I struggle still. Someone at a concert comes up to rap and other than the lyrics everything else is the same. The so-called Christian rap concerts have the same aura and wildness of worldly rap concerts. No wonder the unregenerate feel right at home at those concerts rather than challenged and convicted. That is the challenge that Christian rappers face today. God help them.

22 March 2012

Thomas Spurgeon (Part 3)

Thomas' biographer says:
In one respect Thomas Spurgeon the Twin resembled Jacob the Twin—he served two periods of seven years for his reward. In all else he was an Israel, having power with God and with man. His experience in London was very similar to his experience in Auckland—he built a tabernacle and, in a comparatively short time, found his health unequal to the task the Church involved, and was compelled at length to resign it. The great personal event in his Auckland ministry was his Marriage, in his London ministry his Jubilee.

Indeed, due to poor health Thomas resigned his pastorate in Auckland, New Zealand in June of 1889. The church was obviously disappointed to see him go but knew it was necessary. Thomas lingered in New Zealand and was involved in 'missions' where in particular locations evangelistic meetings would be held. He did this for 18 months. In those endeavors 776 conversions where recorded. Several churches invited him to pastor including his former Auckland church from which he resigned. He declined them all. Australia soon beckoned for him to get involved in the missions there but this was eliminated as a possibility due to the events soon to follow back home.

In 1892 on the first of February Thomas' father, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, died and this only a few months after the birth of a son Thomas Harold Spurgeon. By June, Thomas and his family where in England. A Dr. Pierson who offered CHS his services to preach while he was ill continued on after Spurgeons death. After a year, he had to leave and the church invited him to come back. Thomas Spurgeon stepped in the gap while he was away.

His preaching warmed the hearts of the people. The authentic Spurgeon note could not be missed. On October 9, he preached his farewell sermon and on the 14th set sail for Australia. About four hundred people saw him off. Thomas stated that any invitation to him would have to be a probation of atleast 12 months in view him taking over as pastor, none negotiable. This was a rather bold position to take but it paid off. In March of 1893 after a period of debate and discussion two thirds voted to take Thomas Spurgeon on for 12 months of probation. Thomas left his family in New Zealand and headed back to England to begin the probation. At no point during the probation did he send for his family, which he could have. This gesture won him the respect of many. It showed that he did not want to give the impression that the case was closed and he would be confirmed as pastor even if at the expense of time away from his beloved family. Much to his own credit, the allocated probation period did not even elapse. 8 months into his probation, another meeting was called where Thomas, without further ado, was elected to succeed his father as pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle. This he revealed, when asked for a few words, to be his father's wish. "When I die," CHS said, "I'm sure they'll call Tom." In his address to the congragation he read a letter from his father quoting him to say, "Get very strong, and when I am older and feebler be ready to take my place."

Thomas went on to pastor the church for 14 years in which time the Tabernacle was infamously burnt down due to negligence rather than spite as was first believed. Thus he built two Tabernacles in his life time. His wedding was the most significant event in New Zealand and his 50th birthday (jubilee) in England.

Thomas Spurgeon at 50 with his wife Lila Rutherford SpurgeonUB
Due to illness, he tendered his resignation in 1907, which the church reluctantly accepted. He devoted his last 10 years after his pastorate to overseeing the three auxillary wings of the church as president: The Theological College, Orphanage and Colportage Association. He also spent alot of time travelling and turned back to his first love -art .

He arguably did more painting in his last days than the rest of his life combined holding three exhibitions where 80 paintings were exhibited in the first, 100 in the second and 124 in the last totaling just over 300 paintings. The last exhibition of 124 paintings being only a year before he died. All proceeds went to the Orphanage. He also spent his after-tabernacle-years in literally works.

In his last years, his health deteriorated and on October 20th, 1917, he complained of a sharp pain between his eyes, lapsed into a coma and died. The direct cause of death being a burst artery in the brain.

Thomas Spurgeon became known in his day, not as he is known today-the son of the great prince of preachers, but rather for his own merits. As I read his biography, I began to see him clearly. Both the description of himself and what he did brought him into clear light from the shadow of his father as no doubt was the case for those in whose time he lived. He developed his own identity not by trying or deliberate effort but as a result of his evident love for God and his church. He lived a full life and died having fought the good fight, run the race and kept the faith.

Note: To download his biography, click here.

20 March 2012

Thomas Spurgeon (Part 2)

In part 1, Thomas Spurgeon, son of the great Charles Haddon Spurgeon heads back out to Australia, after a year at home much to the disappointment of his father. His father was eager to have him trained and groomed as both his 'side kick' and eventual successor but clearly the Lord had other plans-for the time being at least. CHS didn't know that his son's time in Australia would be formative for him and would prepare him to be successor.

Thus due to ill health Thomas headed out to Australia. It is worth noting that Thomas would send lengthy letters home on his voyages, one being over 150 pages! On one occasion he included table of contents to make it easier for his parents to find what interested them.

In December of 1878 he arrived at his destination. He spent most of his time preaching and still drew crowds. A year later, 1881, he found himself in New Zealand preaching at Hanover Street Church where there was no pastor. He was hosted by the Rutherfords for a few months who he had known in Australia on his first voyage. He grew very close to them on his first trip and eventually wed their daughter, Lila Rutherford, at the very church -Hanover. In November at age 25, he accepted temporarily the invitation to pastor Auckland Baptist Church. In a letter to a friend he said:
"...I have accepted the Pastorate here at least for a time, and mention this as an extra reason why you should visit N.Z. I feel sure the Lord would have me stop here for a while, nor should I be surprised if I remain for good. It depends on three things. (1) If my health holds good. (2) If the Lord blesses the word. (3) If my parents offer no decided objection."

The following month, his father's reply arrived:

"Mine own Dear Son,

How your whole conduct delights me, you are quite able to judge for yourself, and yet you defer to your parents in all things. May your days, according to the promise, be long in the land. I think the case is clear enough that you ought to settle, for a time at least, in Auckland, but still you see, we know but little of the facts and so I preferred to leave you to your own judgment. I know what that judgment will be. I believe the work before you will arouse all your energies—which is good; but I hope it will not tax them—which would be mischievous. It is a sphere worthy of you, and yet its excellence lies rather in what it may be than in what it is. All things considered, it is full of promise..."
CHS' counsel was ironic since exhaustion was a contributing factor to his relatively early death at 58.
The church soon came alive with their new pastor, and the numbers grew exponentially. Thomas reported in a letter to a colleague in February that they were experiencing the largest numbers ever 547 in the morning and 600 in the evening on one particular Sunday. By the middle of the year, similar tidings were still being reported: 19 baptisms, 16 new members, overflowing congregations, "larger congregations than ever", etc.

As for how his preaching developed over the Auckland years, The Chicago Standard of August 25th 1887 reported, speaking of Thomas Spurgeon:

"He is quite tall, rather spare, sharp-visaged and spiritually intellectual, a plain, unaffected, strong preacher, often, when deep in his subject, much like his father in manner and style. There is that same deep earnestness, that same yearning of soul, that same sweetness of spirit, that same simplicity and devoutness of manner which captivates and captures his hearers, and that same boldness of utterance which commands the respect of all."

By March of 1882, 6 months into his pastorate, having already shifted venues upon his arrival to Chorall Hall, it was decided that a building project should be undertaken. It was later determined that Mr. Spurgeon travel to England to get financial aid from brethren there, he left for England in May of 1884.

Arriving back at his father's church to a hero's welcome, one guest said that there was only one name in Australia and New Zealand which was heard as much as his father's, his own. Thomas went on to spend 5 months in England most of which were spent preaching and lecturing on behalf of his church back in Auckland. He occupied his father's pulpit several times during his time back home.

Having raised £2500, on December 12th 1884, he set sail for New Zealand, his father bidding him never to return saying he would not bare to part with his son again. He never saw his father again.

At Adelaide he wasted no time in wiring a rather cleverly crafted telegraph to his church in Auckland that made a fair circulation in the New Zealand papers due to the wit it exhibited. The cable ran, "Romans first eight twelve Second Corinthians first eleven". The church received it and read out the two passages to the congregation:

"First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness whom I serve with my spirit in the Gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers : making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come to you. For I long to see you. that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end that ye may be established; that is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf."

Tuesday, May 12th 1885 was the day of the opening service of the constructed Auckland Tabernacle which still stands today in Auckland, New Zealand. The total cost of the building that accommodates at least 1200 people and was designed after his father's church, the Metropolitan Tabernacle back in England, was £14, 628. It opened debt free. A week after opening, 1700 persons attended the evening service. Such were the numbers. The next few years saw incredibly vibrant church life which the Lord blessed with fruit.

In 1886, Mr Spurgeon and Miss Rutherford were engaged and married two years later in February of 1888. Like the senior Spurgeon's wedding, the junior Spurgeon's wedding chapel was full to capacity with many more people outside. The church purchased, as a wedding gift for their pastor, a writing table. A replica of the one the people of New Zealand gave the Pope. On Christmas day of the same year Daisy Spurgeon was born but died three months later. Mr Spurgeon later said that he owned no land in New Zealand except a small plot in the Auckland cemetery on which a simple stone had the inscription-

Daisy Spurgeon

Aged 3 Months

"Even so, Father..."

16 March 2012

Thomas Spurgeon (Part 1)

Thomas Spurgeon is not given nearly as much credit as he deserves. Apart from being know as the son and successor of his father Charles Haddon Spurgeon, he remains unknown and yet he achieved great things for God and was a great man, preacher and pastor.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, his father, is known as the prince of preachers, ranked second only to Jesus. If you do not know who CHS is, you are missing out on an entire chunk of Christian non-biblical history and a wealth of Christian knowledge.

Thomas and his older twin brother Charles were born on September 20th, 1856. His father, who died two years shy of his own 60th birthday, was aged 22 at the time. Thomas' biographer after taking an entire two chapters just describing who his father, Charles Haddon Spurgeon was, says:
...This is the name that Thomas Spurgeon and his brother Charles bore. It was an inestimable privilege, but it was even more a severe handicap. With such a heritage life was almost certain to assume a bias. He was almost certainly destined to be a preacher, and when he became a preacher was sure to be compared, and compared unfavourably, with his father. It was as difficult for him to grow up naturally as for an heiress to discover whether she is loved for herself or only sought for her money.

When asked who was the better behaved of the two, Spurgeon replied, "Charlie is the best boy when Tom is not with him, and Tom is best when Charlie is away." That's CHS for you!

The Spurgeon Sons: Twenty-One Yearly Pictures (Click Image to Expand)

Thomas remembered in one of his sermons how he earned sixpence for sitting still for 15 minutes from his father. He says, he had never worked so hard for so little before or after. He was clearly a handful to have to be enticed to sit still using money!

The biographer mentions of Thomas' childhood that on Sunday evenings, the boys would gather around their mother, Susannah Thompson Spurgeon, and she'd speak to them about life and they'd sing hymns with her while she played the piano. Every Sunday evening they'd sing "There is a fountain filled with blood". Thomas recalls:
...When she came to the chorus she used to say, 'Dear boys of mine, I have no reason to suppose that you are yet trusting Christ; you will, I hope, in answer to our constant prayers, but till you definitely do you must not say or sing, "I do believe, I will believe, that Jesus died for me." It is just as wrong to sing a lie as to tell one.' Then she used to sing it by herself.

He goes onto say:

...I remember well the bright morning when as we came to the breakfast table, I climbed upon her seat and put my arms round dear mother's neck—I like to have them there still—and I said to her, 'Dear mother, I really think I do love Jesus.' Thank God, she took me at my word, and said to me, ' I am so glad to hear it, I believe you do.' Then I wanted Sunday night to come that I might be able to sing my loudest in the chorus.

His brother and he were mostly educated by particular individuals while they were children, later they went off to school where Thomas excelled in art particularly. When the time came to go to college both boys were strangely kept from further studies there which was surprising in view of the emphasis the Spurgeons put on education. However, the biographer speculates that this was cause of the desire both parents had for the boys to become pastors. Charles pursued a career as a merchant and Thomas as an artist.

At 18, they were both baptized and joined the church. Their first preaching efforts appear to be near their home when a neighbour began a small gathering where the gospel was preached in his home. Both boys began preaching there and before long the home was too small no doubt because of the name 'Spurgeon'. That work led to Northcote Road Baptist Church.

Thomas struggled with his health, his frailty most likely attributed to his mother, which led him to resign from two pastorates he took later in life.

The next significant spell of his life was his time in Australia. Poor health led the parents to send him off for a spell to Australia where it was hoped a change of air would do him good. Little did they know that their boy would go on to pastor and grow arguably the largest church in that part of the world although not on that voyage. On the extended voyage Thomas' love for the gospel and for Jesus cannot be missed in his letters to his parents. Every Sunday on the voyage he preached to those on board much to his own delight that the souls there would get to hear the gospel of Christ. He earnestly wished that some would be saved.

His father's reputation preceded him and he spent a lot of his time preaching though he continued his pursuit of a career in art. The tabloids were mostly critical of him saying he was not as good as his father. However, the people flocked to hear him, all wanting to hear something of the greater Spurgeon from the lesser.

After about a year, he sailed back on news that his mother was gravely ill. He arrived in October and in November when his father suddenly fell ill on a Sunday morning, he was asked to preach for him. He ended up preaching five times, two Sundays both services and one service on the third. His brother Charles took the other service.

In December, he joined his father on his trip to France where his father's favourite resting place was, namely, Mentone. They returned home in April the next year where Thomas joined his brother at the theological college of the church where their father lectured. He showed much aptitude for his studies and excelled.

A year later, however, due to ill health he sailed off, again, for Australia. I will end my first of three parts here. His departure hit his father quite hard. He looked forward to having his beloved Tom by his side in the ministry and his hopes were shattered. But this was all for the best as Thomas entered the most fruitful period of his life and ministry yet much to the benefit of the body of Christ in new Zealand. He went on to pastor Auckland Baptist Church (now Auckland Tabernacle) and it became the largest church in New Zealand and this was achieved so early that he still had enough years to return home and succeed his father for 14 years!

Spurgeon spent only two entire nights in prayer in his life, the second being when his son Thomas left. Yet the attitude of his heart was revealed in the message he preached that Sunday, based on Hannah who had given up her own boy, Samuel. "Brethren and sisters," he said, "This is one of the hardest lessons: to learn to give up what we prize most at the command of God and to do so cheerfully."

04 March 2012

Whitney Houston

Whatever went wrong with Whitney? A promising rising start with a bright future and a voice to take her there. After her movie role in The Bodyguard, the sky seemed to be the limit. She was a model, singer, actor, record producer and so on. Her movies won at the box office, her singles peaked on the charts and her records easily made platinum. Her concerts sold out. Houston's rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner", USA's national anthem at Super Bowl XXV at Tampa Stadium on January 27, 1991 is one of the best vocal performances I've ever heard. It was as effortless as it was sublime. It was the first ever rendition to become a pop hit. See it below...

Her marriage to a notorious fellow, Bobby Brown, in the early 90's marked the beginning of her downfall. Soon she was discovered or rather confirmed to be involved in drug abuse and the like and this from a woman whose early beginnings where firmly rooted in the church singing songs such as 'Amazing Grace' as a little girl. As we all know, once drugs come in, the good goes out. Not too long down the road and the once famous and rising star's name was now the object of mockery, and synonymous with jest and scorn. A laughing stock. A tragic fall from grace. She literally threw her career away. Several chances to redeem herself were presented but only after she separated from her husband in 2003 did she begin again to find her rhythm.

But Whitney never did quite find her rhythm again. Attempts to reinvent herself and kick of a career that was stalled for so long never quite materialized. Fans would walk out of her concerts saying her voice was a mere shadow of what it once was. On the 11th of February 2012, she was found dead in her hotel room submerged in a tub.

Whitney's story comes as a warning to many, especially young people. The youth are not careful what company they keep. Look where Whitney ended up. And perhaps the worst case, young ladies arrogantly refuse to end relationships with dubious young men. Whitney's story could just as easily become theirs. Clearly the saying, "show me your friends today and I'll show you yourself in 10 years" is true.

1 Corinthians 15:33 ~Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

03 March 2012

Percy Chisenga (1949-2012)

Pastor Percy Chisenga died on the 1st of March and was buried today. His death came as quite a surprise to me. I thought his cancer of the bladder was well under control. The truth is that with our medical system in Zambia, my fear for those who fall prey to terminal illnesses such as cancer increases every time. This is because I hear too few cases of people who go to the hospital with a serious ailment and are brought back to full health after medical treatment. Its unfortunate. I don't blame the medical practitioners who were in charge of him for his death, though, necessarily. That is not what has prompted me to write this note. I am stirred, however, to write something about Pastor Chisenga because of a comment the song leader at his funeral service today made.

Rev. Nyirenda was Pastor Chisenga's schoolmate in high school. After a few songs he exclaimed in his own rather humorous way, "I have never met a boy more notorious than Percy Chisenga!" Apparently, Pastor Chisenga was quite the character back in high school. Rev. Nyirenda went on to say how remarkable the change wrought by Christ in his life was. And rightly so, I mean, it was shocking to hear that Pastor Chisenga was once notorious because he had was a very humble man. A man from Malawi where Pastor Chisenga was pastoring called him the most humble expositor of God's word he had ever come across. Rev. Nyirenda went on to emphasize the life changing power of salvation. Pastor Chisenga was diligent in sharing that saving grace. In a thousand years, just like the rest of us, Pastor Chisenga's name will be lost in the sea of history. However, what he did for Christ will stand the test of time, and we praise God for that!