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Forgive your enemies, it’s what the doctor ordered

…By Wambui

I attended a very interesting service the other day, at which I learnt some lessons I would always like to remember.  It was a service on inner healing.  

The preacher began by explaining the major cause of unforgiveness.  Many people were visibly surprised when he said that it is pride.  Why pride?  Because when someone offends you, you want them to see that you are hurt, angry, disappointed, and all the other negative emotions that humans experience.  However, these negative emotions accumulate over time, resulting in physical manifestations such as chronic joint pains, organ failure, migraines and even cancer.

Jesus said that he came that we may have life, and have it to the full.  The preacher explained that this life is both spiritual and physical.  Spiritual in that we should be close to God and always happy and rejoicing;  physical in the sense of good health, security and prosperity.  He also explained that our negative emotions are not just emotions, but evil spirits that rob us of the joy we should have as Christians.  Negative emotions that we think are quite natural are actually the devil’s way of killing, stealing and destroying the joyous life that Jesus died to give us.  

For example, self doubt and an inferiority complex are the devil’s way of cheating you out of the promise that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.  When you believe that life is too hard and that your problems are too big for any solution, then the devil has succeeded in cheating you that God does not have a plan for your happiness, good health and prosperity.

When you refuse to forgive your enemy because you think that the offence is too great, you are actually doing yourself a great injustice.  The longer you stay angry, the longer you keep away the Holy Spirit, because he only inhabits a calm and gentle soul.  The more you plot revenge against your enemy, the more you tell God that you don’t believe he can protect you and restore all the harvests that were destroyed in the locust invasion. 

If you’re health conscious, think about this:  the more you hold on to your hurt, the wider you open up your body to all kinds of diseases.

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…By Lee

“And we know that in all things we are more than conquerors, through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37

Once in a while people confide in me, pouring out their hearts on their many problems, and desperately hoping for God to provide a solution. Although I encourage them to have faith and stand strong in the Lord, I know that is far from easy to take that message to heart especially during times of turmoil.

I know for a fact that problems are created in the attempt to divert our attention from accepting God’s presence in our lives. God wants our focus to always be on Him, simply because, when we lose sight of God’s perspective, we blindly tumble towards our own destruction.

God knows how the ways of this world try to lure us into turning away from Him. When problems come our way, and we focus on them, they continue dragging us further and further away, until we are fully parted from our Godly mindset. The more we separate ourselves from focusing on God, the more we forget His word and the more vulnerable we are to adopting the earthly way of thinking; where we allow problems to drown us in a pool of worries, confusion and panic.

Through the apostle Paul, God assures us that we are more than conquerors in all we do. So in times of trouble, if those words can echo in our minds, and if we choose to have firm faith in them, knowing that God has declared us more than conquerors, more than champions, then we will be transformed in how we handle challenges. It’s like going to play a football match against a mediocre team. If you are intimidated by the team, you might end up losing, but if you face the team with the confidence of a winner, then you will play like a winner and triumph like a winner. It is all in the mindset. Therefore, when challenged with difficulties, recognise that you stand in God’s word and you have already been declared the victor in all you do.

So how can one be able to adopt a Godly mind set? The only way to adopt God’s way of thinking is to get deeper into His word. Develop your relationship with Him through prayer and daily devotion. Like any relationship, the one you have with God requires time, attention and commitment. As your relationship with God grows, He will gradually reveal Himself to you. The more you know God, the more you trust in Him. As your trust in Him grows, the stronger your faith will be.

In the book of Romans chapter 12, Paul also tells us that our minds should no longer be conformed to the motifs of this world, but instead be transformed in our way of thinking. We decide what manifests in our minds. If we allow our minds to be filled with fear and worries, it will reflect in the way we live. If we allow God’s words to take root in our minds, it will manifest in our lifestyle. We will begin to reflect His nature and being. The word says God made man in His image, so there is no reason for us to think that we can never reflect His nature.

So I urge you to fasten your minds on God and take hold of His word. Do not allow thoughts of fear and discomfort to dwell in your psyche, but allow the truth of God’s word to shape your mind. We

When facing problems, you should always remember that the God who breathed life into you has made you a conqueror of anything you will ever face. God will always provide a new perspective on your situation and he will empower you with the strength you require to get through it.

…By Mwandi

1 Samuel 1:10-13a “In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD……Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard.”

Today a person I care very deeply for wrote to me and said God does answer prayers.  Only that morning had she prayed earnestly for help…not knowing how, or where or whom; only knowing and believing that God would be able to deliver her out of her strife. 

I read her email and saw her pain, her anguish and her joy at salvation.  In her email I read all the emotions I had experienced when I was in desperate need for an answered prayer.  I knew how it felt to be praying for something so earnestly and deeply it brings you to your knees; you sob endlessly being unable to form the words in your mouth but your heart screaming out to be heard.  Not knowing how long you would have to endure turmoil until you were alleviated from your situation.  

And in those prayers I always remember wishing that God would send someone…anyone to help me.  That He would release an angel who would cradle me in their arms and let me know that everything would be ok.  And not only say it, but mean it and help me.  And then I wished I could be that person who was called upon to help another.  That without my knowing God would use me to answer another’s prayer.  And I prayed for the same.  Believing that God would deliver me, I believed in turn that I should be used to help another…even if I were in pain, I should help.     

Today a person I care very deeply for wrote to me and said God does answer prayers.  And I believe her.  God answered my prayers in a way I’ve not been able to stop thanking him for His intervention.  And simultaneously used me to answer somebody else’s prayer.  He knew that on Monday morning she would be praying to Him for help…so on Saturday delivered me from my pain, and on Sunday evening he placed it in my heart to be of that help and write to her what she needed the most.    

Isaiah 65:24 “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear”.

 

A Cursed Life

…By Wambui

I’ve always wondered about curses from God, and how they manifest themselves in the 21st century. I’ve read about the locusts, plagues and boils thousands of years ago. How about now? How would you know if you are cursed? I got an idea of what a curse looks like when I heard a story that made me shiver. These are all pseudo-names.

The tenth plague of Egypt...

John was a god-fearing man. He lived a quiet life with his wife and three sons. However, his youngest son Peter was particularly rebellious and trouble always seemed to look for him. One night Peter came home drunk with a teenage girl hanging on his arm. John was outraged and gave his son a thorough tongue lashing. Peter, incensed at being embarrassed in front of his new catch, hit back, with both words and blows, and left his father writhing on the floor in physical and emotional pain. John, in his anger, told Peter that he shall never name any of his sons after him.

Ten years later, John had passed on, and Peter was on his second marriage. He had been trying for a son for almost five years, but had only one daughter, Susan. Peter’s home was a picture of poverty. His wife, thin and frail from years of physical abuse, hardly spoke any more. She didn’t sing as she used to, or dance to her favourite songs. Peter was happy when Susan finally found someone who would marry her, and who could afford to pay a handsome dowry. That was one less mouth for Peter to feed.

Susan settled into her new home and bore three sons and one daughter. Her eldest son James, now twenty-three years old, was very frequently away from home. He seemed to have developed a liking for a girl from a neighbouring village. One sunny Saturday afternoon, James brought home the girl, so his parents could meet her. Susan took one look at the young girl and screamed. She held her head in her arms as if she was in great pain, then fell to the floor wailing, “James, what have you done? What disgrace have you brought upon this family?” James tried to get his mother to explain what she meant, but she only wailed louder. Her frail body could not take it any more and she fainted. James’ father came out to see what the commotion was about, and casually greeted the young girl by her name.
“How are you, Linda?” he asked. “You know Linda?” asked James.
“Yes, she’s your cousin,” came the reply.


One month later, James committed suicide. He could not marry the girl he thought was the love of his, and who was pregnant by him. He could not live with the disgrace he had caused his family.

In order to take care of the young Linda, who was now three months pregnant, Susan and her husband decided that Linda he would be married by James’ younger brother Oscar. However, Oscar would hear none of it, and when Susan threatened to disown him if he did not comply, he disappeared. His body was found two days later hanging from a mango tree on the farm. When Linda was six months pregnant, her blood pressure shot up without apparent reason. She miscarried a baby boy who would have been named after his great grand father.

What do you think of this? Have you heard of similar stories?

The Manual of the Warrior of Light, presents a collection of philosophical thoughts and stories that will inspire spiritual seekers everywhere…here we share some excerpts with you…

All the world’s roads lead to the heart of the warrior; he plunges unhesitatingly into the river of passions always flowing through his life.

The warrior knows that he is free to choose his desires, and he makes these
decisions with courage, detachment and – sometimes – with just a touch of
madness.

He embraces his passions and enjoys them intensely. He knows that there
is no need to renounce the pleasures of conquest; they are part of life and bring joy to all those who participate in them.

But he never loses sight of those things that last or of the strong bonds that
are forged over time.

A warrior can distinguish between the transient and the enduring.

…By Mwandi 

Before I got baptized, I had always been a critic of the frequent church-goer; who on Sunday, in their Sunday best would praise the Lord with all their heart, and all their soul and all their might…then on Monday don the ski mask and rob you blind.  And it was unfortunate for me that I knew so many of them.  There were few people I met who I could say were truly spiritually in-tune and showed that both in and out of the office. 

I remember countless sermons in church that taught one thing and I ended up doing the other the very next day; a sermon on taming the tongue…and the next day insulted my manager in all the international languages I had acquired.

 Then I made the glorious change in my life and was baptized.  I was a new person.  I had a new outlook for life, I had new joy and peace within me and for the first time I had an overwhelming amount of hope.  But I was still working in the same office that drove me up the wall.  It didn’t take long, and it wasn’t too hard for me to quickly become a Sunday angel and the next day be a Monday Devil. 

 I remember countless sermons in church that taught one thing and I ended up doing the other the very next day; a sermon on taming the tongue…and the next day insulted my manager in all the international languages I had acquired.  A sermon on patience, and the next day wanting to chop off the head of a matatu tout for short changing me.  One on being a Samaritan to those around me; helping them up…yet the next day tearing them down.  There was a problem.  There was a missing link. 

 Not only was I not applying everything I’d learned the day before where it mattered the most; I was breaking one of my most sacred vows…putting God first and having Him guide me wherever I go.  I could be wrong (though I highly doubt it) but I don’t think God intended me to be a razor-sharp clawed, fire breathing vixen in the office.

 But many people claim and say that God does not belong in the office (unless your office is some form of ministry).  That religion and politics do not and should not mix; and that “me” as the politician is totally different from “me” as the religious person.   But where else can one practice the principals learned on that religious Sunday?   

 Finally, I did what every struggling Christian thinks last to do…I prayed.  I asked how do I bring God into the office?  How can I show, that something within me has changed…that God is fully with me and that I am a changed person?”

 The answer did not come easily and the application of the same is harder still.  It required of me to hold back when I wanted to go forward.  Or stand firm when I wanted to flee.  It meant me persevering when I wanted to quit; and letting go when I wanted to hold on.  It took more of me than I thought it would but I gained all the more back.  The peace that resonated within me from my decision was now spilling into the one place people said it should not go. 

And that is when I knew…it’s not the preaching in the office; neither the countless bible verses exhibited your work space; nor the continuous exclamation that “I am a Christian woman” that makes the difference.  It is God, living within you, guiding, transforming and emancipating you, that makes the difference wherever you go.

Swept away by the world

…By Wambui

Being a good Christian, following the commandments, praying and reading the Bible regularly is a very safe way to live. It is almost like standing on the bank of the River Nile, watching the millions of gallons of water flowing past, carrying away with its force items as small as ants and as big as trees.

At some point, watching from a distance gets boring; the urge to be a part of the action overcomes you. Almost as if they can hear your thoughts, a group of old friends happen to pass by in a raft, so without a second thought, you grab an oar and head straight into the water. After all, you can swim, so what’s the big deal? For a Christian, that’s the point at which all the do’s and don’ts become stifling, and you feel like you need to shake things up a bit.

For the first 10 minutes, the ride is smooth and uneventful. The scenery is breathtaking and it’s all laughs in the raft. Then the water begins to get rough; there’s a whirlpool coming up ahead. The guy whose idea the ride was shouts, “To the left.” So you all paddle frantically and somehow manage to avoid spinning endlessly at one point in the river. To a Christian, this might be your first hangover. The friend who took you clubbing gave you some bitter soup and voilà!

The sun is still shining and the water is calm again, so all’s good, right? Wait a minute. The water seems to be flowing faster, and there’s a bend ahead. “Is that a rapid?” The girl next to you says, “Yeah, hold on tight, it’ll be rough.” True to her word, all of a sudden, all you can see is water. It’s everywhere. Its force is so much that it yanks your oar right out of your hand, slapping you in the process. You’re holding on so tight that your fingers are paining, and you can feel your shoe coming off, but you can’t let go. A Christian comes to this point when s/he realises that being in the thick of things is not easy. There are lies to keep up with, lifestyles to maintain, appearances to make, and all for what? Just to avoid looking ‘uncool’.

You feel yourself tilting over slowly, slowly, slowly, then you realise that you’re only still breathing because of the air pocket formed by the hollow of the raft. “Am I looking up at my seat?” you ask yourself. Your fingers are numb; you’re holding your breath; the raft is moving away, but you can do nothing – you’re at the water’s mercy. For a Christian, a drowning experience can be a chance for revival. When you realise that you’re helpless, you’re more likely to be open to God’s word. This drowning experience may come in form of drug/alcohol addiction, financial ruin, or a deep sense of loss or emptiness.

As the current sucks you deeper and deeper, and you can’t hold your breath any longer, you give up on the idea of dying peacefully in your sleep, and accept this unexpected, watery death.  Suddenly, the water is calmer, you feel the sun on your head and something soft grazes your knee. Mud? It seems this was not your day to die, so the current pushed you to the river bank. As Christians, do we have people around us who push, pull and prod us to live a good life? Do we do the same to others? Are we accountable to anyone who can keep us from getting into such “watery” situations?

You look around and see one of your friends who is so shaken that she refuses to get into the rescue boat (the drug addict who has refused rehab).  The girl who sat next to you in the raft is now on a stretcher, heavily bandaged on her knee and elbow (a baby and HIV from a “complicated”  relationship).  You look at yourself, see how muddy you are, one shoe missing, and wonder if you’ll ever be able to wear those expensive jeans again (guilt, sense of loss, doubt and anger).  As you pull yourself slowly to your feet, you ask yourself, “Why didn’t I just stay on the river bank in the first place?”

…By Mandii 

On the path to my spiritual awakening, when I still had my doubts about the existence of God as I know him today, I was often perplexed by the notion that God knows all. I followed the logic that if He did know all, then He knew what we were going to choose in the future, meaning we really had no real free will. 

An omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient God...

I put these thoughts aside for awhile and established a relationship with God. Upon returning to my previous musings, I realised that this divine foreknowledge of our choices was not a problem for me. Keeping the concept of an all knowing God in mind when looking at the Christian definition of free will: the ability to make equal choices between options, regardless of a person’s sinful nature- how does God’s omniscience conflict with our free will? 

Let me use a simple analogy to elaborate on my point. The sun will rise and set tomorrow. I’m not causing it or preventing it from doing so by knowing that it shall happen. Similarly, if I ask my little sister to choose between a chocolate and a carrot, I know she will choose the chocolate. My knowledge of this does not restrict her from making her choice. Even if she was inclined to choose the carrot to please me, as it’s healthier, I have not forced her to make that choice. My sister is free to make the choice and my knowledge of her preference and in turn, her choice, has no effect upon her when she makes her choice. 

The red pill or the blue pill?

In short: God knowing what we are going to do does not mean that we can’t do something else. It means that God simply knows what we have chosen to do ahead of time. Our freedom is not restricted by God’s foreknowledge; our freedom is simply realized ahead of time by God. 

While God is omnipotent and knows the choices that individuals will make, He still gives individuals the power to ultimately choose (or reject) everything, regardless of any internal or external conditions relating to the choice. In a biblical illustration of free will, when Jesus was nailed on the cross, the two criminals, one on each side, were about to die. Only one asked Jesus for forgiveness while the other, even at the end of his life with nothing else to lose, disparaged Jesus. From a Christian perspective, this was a free and personal choice between everlasting death and everlasting life. 

An important issue to consider here is the concept of time. God’s concept of time differs greatly from ours. If the future exists for God even as the present does, then God is consistently in all places at all times and is not restricted by time. This would mean that God is not subject to our perception of the natural laws of time, subject, and that God is not a linear entity- to be precise, it would mean that God is not restricted to operating in our time realm and is not restricted to the present only. 

If the future exists for God even as the present does, then God is consistently in all places at all times and is not restricted by time.

Following this logic, if God is not restricted to existence in our version of the present, then the future is known by God because God dwells in the future, as well as the present (and the past). This would mean that our future choices, as free as they are, are simply known by God. Again, our ability to choose is not altered or lessened by God existing in the future and knowing what we freely choose. It just means that God can see what we will freely choose, because that is what we freely choose – and knows what it is. 

This concept is demonstrated in the scriptures, as spiritually God inhabits eternity. Psalm 90.2 says “Before the mountains were born, or Thou didst give birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.” These verses and others do not actually say that God exists inside or outside time, rather that He is eternal. A number of verses also state that God has no beginning or end. This is not definitive, but we may be able to conclude that since time is that non-spatial, continuous succession of events from the past, through the present, and into the future, and that since the word “beginning” denotes a relationship to and in time, and since God has no beginning, that time is not applicable to God’s nature. In other words, God has no beginning and since “beginning” deals with an event in time, God is outside of time. 

So, in relation to our free will and God’s predictive ability, there is no biblical reason to assert that God’s foreknowledge negates our freedom. There is no logical reason to claim that if God knows what choices we are going to make that it means we are not free. It still means that the free choices we will make are free — they are just known ahead of time by God. If we choose something different, then that choice will have been eternally known by God. What’s more, this knowledge by God does not alter our nature in that it does not change what we are — free to make choices. 

In light of this, He has eternally known what all our free choices will be, He has ordained history to come to the conclusion that He wishes including and incorporating our choices into His divine plan: 

For truly in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy servant Jesus, whom Thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur,” (Acts 4:27-28). Why?  Because God always knows all things: “…God is greater than our heart, and knows all things,” (1 John 3:20).

…By Neemo

I wanted to share this beautiful traditional prayer to Ngai, The Kikuyu God of the Mountain. It has been translated to English from Kikuyu. The first time I read this I pondered the question: Did salvation come with the missionaries who brought us the Word of God, or were we, in our own way, already saved? I will leave it to the readers to decide after reading the prayer:

O my Father, Great Elder

I have no words to thank you

And with deep wisdom

I am sure that you can see how I value your glorious gifts

O my father, when I look upon your greatness

I am confounded with awe

O great elder

                                                                        Ruler of all things earthly  and  heavenly

                                                                                            I am your warrior

                                                                                  Ready to act according to your will.