RSS

THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING; Light Of The World

It’s almost Christmas, and as we start off the final month of the year, I’d like to ask us a question;

QOD; What do you love most about the Christmas season?

How many people said the food? You get to eat either certain types of food, or certain portions of that food that you would not normally do. How many said hanging with family and friends? How many were less spiritual and more pragmatic and mentioned the fact that offices are closed and you can get a few days away from work? How many were even more practical and said less traffic on the roads? You’re like, “Why can’t people just stay in shags and clear up our roads?” When the songwriter said that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, they really weren’t joking. There are so many things that make it very memorable.

An interesting phenomenon I have observed about Christmas is that it is also a time of selective amnesia. It is a season when we chose to conveniently forget the resolutions we made at the beginning of the year. We planned to lose five kilos, but when you step on the scale in December, you have an additional three. But somehow that doesn’t stop you from eating all the nyama choma you can find. You had planned to save as much as you possibly can, but as the year winds down, not only have you not met your goals, you have now been tempted by a Bonfire Adventures ad for a holiday to the Coast you know will leave you even broke next January than you were when you started out. Christmas is a season when gyms are emptying. Church attendance is thinning. Bank balances are disappearing, and all the wonderful things we planned for the year are, if even for a season, forgotten. In the words of the popular Kenyan poet and philosopher, “Tunaweka shida chini, tunatupa mikono juu, kisha tuna ba ba banjuka tu”.

It’s a season when many people want to numb themselves, and anaesthetise themselves from the issues of life – drown their sorrows as it were. Maybe it’s been a long year, there are unmet expectations, dashed hopes and unfulfilled promises. This is a season we try to forget that there are problems we cannot solve, deadlines we may never meet, people we may never see again, and relationships we may never resurrect. So the question we ask, as we head into Christmas is this, how are we to approach this season?

Today we start a new series titled THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING. Through the  series we look at different narratives told throughout the season of Jesus’ birth, and try to understand what impact, if any they have on us. As we do so, we discover one simple event that has the potential to change everything about us – an event where God sent His son into the world to become the center of history. If you grew up in church you may know that at the beginning of the New Testament there are four gospels. There’s Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and they all contain different accounts of Jesus’ life. Matthew, Mark and Luke have fairly similar accounts, but John’s is very different. A couple of things are fascinating about John’s account.

Firstly, unlike some of the others, John does not start with the birth of Jesus. This is curious since when Jesus was crucified, and as he was dying, he says to a much younger John, “John, I want you to take Mary, my mother as your mother, and Mary, I want you to view John as your son.” We don’t know how much time John and Mary spent together. There are those who say they left and eventually went to a city called Ephesus, and he took care of her until she died. As a result, John must have heard the birth narrative over and over. Yet he never mentions it.

A second reason it is fascinating is because by the time that John was writing his account, he was a very old man. As a result, his account was actually written last. When John sat down to write his gospel, he may have been thinking, “I better write this down because I don’t have a lot of time left, and I want to make sure these stories are passed on for future generations”. At his age, he had probably told these stories dozens of times before to many Jesus admirers. Imagine if you are somebody who sat at the feet of Jesus, how popular you would be with Christians. Anywhere John went, Christians would say, “Tell us what it was like? We’ve heard the stories, but you were an eyewitness.” So, we know he’s told these stories many times.

In addition, John’s advanced age meant he had lived through numerous world events, and had experienced loss like you cannot imagine. He’s lost friends. He’s lost family members. In some ways, he’s almost lost his whole society and his whole culture. You see John was alive when Roman Emperor Nero went from town to town, slaughtering thousands of Jewish people, and sending tens of thousands of men, women and children into the slave markets. John lived through that. John was around the city of Jerusalem when, for seven months people starved to death, plagues broke out and the Roman army built a ditch and a wall all the way around the city, trying to get inside and ransack it. In 70 AD there was a Jewish war, and the temple was burnt to the ground. John was there. Over a million Jews were slaughtered. Over 100,000, slaves were taken from the city of Jerusalem and flooded the Roman slave markets. By the time John was writing this, Nero had executed his friends and co-workers Peter and Paul. And through all of that bloodshed, and through all of that loss, and through all of that chaos, even though he lived in a time of such darkness, John never lost faith.

In spite of what John had seen, in spite of what John had smelled, in spite of what John had experienced at the end of his life with the destruction of everything important to him, and the loss of just about everyone important to him John still believed that the entry of Jesus onto the scene, even as a toddler, would change everything. So when he begins his gospel he doesn’t begin with the birth narrative. If anybody had had the opportunity to say, “Mary tell me what it was like one more time. Mary what was it like when you discovered you were pregnant? Mary what did you feel when the angel appeared? Mary what was it like to know that you bore the Son of God?” When John begins his gospel he doesn’t begin with a manger, he doesn’t begin with Egypt, he doesn’t begin with Herod and the slaughter of children, little boys in Bethlehem, he begins with the significance of the birth of Jesus. This is how John chooses to start his narrative, here are the first five verses of his Gospel.

John 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

 (And then what he says next is fascinating, especially if you consider how much death this old man has witnessed, and how much darkness he had experienced in his own life since he met Jesus.)

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

candle

He starts with In the beginning.. ladies and gentlemen this is profound because it is a connection point between the old testament and the new testament. He ties in the coming of Jesus with the works of God in the beginning. He places Jesus at the centre of everything. He takes away the mortal perspective and makes him immortal. He makes him no longer just a miracle son of a virgin but the son of God long before creation and present during creation. In the beginning was the word.

When John wrote this, he had lived through some very dark days. It would have been understandable if all the sorrow and madness he had experienced through the years to kill his spirit. All the death this old man had witnessed especially because much of it was caused by Jesus Christ. But as on old man who ‘s seen so much loss, he speaks of the entry of Jesus using words such as ‘light’ and ‘life’.

As we come to the close of the year and closer to the Christmas season, I don’t know what this past season of your life could have been like. I wonder, if like John, you too have experienced and lived through seasons of darkness; times of when uncertainty and doubt slowly begin to invade your space. I wonder if 2016 threw some serious curve balls your way and in some ways left you disappointed. I wonder if all your loved ones made it through the year healthy and strong. I wonder if in 2016 you have experienced the darkness of the world.  

Even though this old man, who had seen better days, sits down to write the narrative, he begins his Jesus’ story this way – “In him (Jesus), was life.” John is trying to put into words his life experiences and perspectives into words – he’s had all this time to think about it, the things he’s seen, the people he’s seen born and died, the destruction of everything that was important to him, and yet he summarizes it this way, “When I think about Jesus the best way I know to put it is, in him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” 

It’s amazing that this is John’s introduction, and he starts it by saying, “Jesus is the light, and this light always shines in the darkness”. At this moment John thinks about the unimaginable darkness he has lived through and he says, “In spite of everything that’s happened, everyone who’s died, everyone who was executed, everyone who was crucified, everyone that was taken away; in spite of the fact that the whole Jewish nation is basically out of business at this point, in spite of the fact that the temple, the sacrificial system is out of business and never to be restarted, in spite of the fact that everything I’ve grown to know and love is gone. In spite of that, this light shines in the darkness. And he goes on to say, “And the darkness has not overcome it”.

It’s easy to understand what it means for light to shine and expose what was in the darkness, but it sounds as though this darkness is trying as hard as it can to put out the light. To snuff it out, to overwhelm it, to seize it, to imprison it, to surround it. Yet “the darkness has not overcome it.” This is a man who got news that the Apostle Paul had been executed. That Peter has been executed. Perhaps he was the last Apostle alive. And with a grin on his face, I’m sure he wrote, “In spite of everything this world has tried to do to eradicate the light that is life, the darkness has not overwhelmed it.” It has not put it out. Cesar couldn’t do it. Tiberius couldn’t do it. Nero couldn’t do it. The destruction of the temple didn’t do it. Even the death of Jesus himself hadn’t done it.

This was John who raced to the tomb the day that he had heard Jesus had risen from the dead. The John that peered into that empty tomb. Yet here he was, absolutely convinced that no matter what happens in this life, and that no matter what we face in this life, and that no matter how deep the heartache and no matter how extreme the fear and no matter how deep the depression, that there is a light that shines in darkness and there is no amount or type of darkness that can put it out.

As we come to the Christmas season, and the end of the year, what darkness has 2016 thrown your way? What impossible situations have you faced this year? Is it the bitter disappointment of goals you had set but not accomplished?

To pursue a certain academic course. To settle down and get married. To get a child. To get a job, or start a successful venture, or take your business to the next level? Maybe the darkness that has surrounded you is disease, maybe yours, or that of a loved one. Maybe it’s estrangement, or broken relationships or a lost job. Maybe even death in the family. In what ways has darkness tried to put out your light this year? How has the darkness conspired to snuff out and overwhelm the light of Christ that shines in and around you?

As Christmas approaches, maybe we need to approach the birth of Christ the same way that John approached it. With a great sense that the reason Jesus came, the reason he was born amongst us is simply this – to change everything! It was so that even in the midst of what seems like the deepest darkness, that Jesus is life, and Jesus is the light who overcomes darkness.

Today the world seeks to see this light. And maybe in the thickness of the darkness the light has seemed dim. In the thickness of the darkness we lost focus of the light. That light is shared with all who accept it. That light is available to all who seek it and the world is longing today to see that light.

The Scriptures say in Romans 8:19 that creation is yearning for the revelation of the true sons of God, the revelation of the carriers of this light.

As we enter into 2017 which I pray you are already seeking God for, As a born again believer ask God to renew his light in you because it is he who said a light is not hidden under the bed. Too many believer have hidden their light under the bed. It is time to bring it out and let that light shine in the darkness. The thick darkness around us can be dispelled by the light. Let that light shine. For those that have not taken in this light it is time to embrace this light. The light that warms with love, the light that reassures with hope, the light that spreads kindness, patience, love. But most of all the light that dispels the darkness.

It is time to embrace this light while he may still be found and begin a journey of impact and purpose. The realization of who this light is and the fullness of his power changes everything.

John knew something that I suspect he would love to pass on to each of us today – what makes Christmas the most wonderful time of the year is not necessarily what’s happening, but what happened when your heavenly Father and mine sent his son into this world. Because in Him, “In Him,” John says, “was the light of all mankind. And that light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” Not then, not now. And not ever. And that, ladies and gentlemen, changes everything.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 11, 2016 in Christmas, December, December Sermon Series

 

Tags: , , , , ,

From “Self” to God

Every year around this season we take time to reflect on how the year has been, but then it is also a time for us to prepare ourselves for the coming year. Some of us have started thinking about what they would want the next year to be like, you are writing down goals, applying for new jobs, hoping to get married. You are enthusiastic about a New beginning. For some, this has been a fantastic year, celebrating God in every way. For others this has been a not so good year and you either cannot wait for it to end so that you start a fresh or you have just given up.

As we get into the Christmas season, I would like to begin by talking to us about what kind of people God expects us to be. I want to give us a portion of God’s word that will be our mirror to show us how we have lived in 2016. And in the same time give you a manuscript that will guide you on how you need to live going into the next year. So as you are listening, my hope is that you will evaluate your life based on this and plan for the next year based on this to.

I am always drawn to the life of the Apostle Paul, that is captured well in his letters and the book of Acts in the New Testament. Part of the reason is that he is a man who tried his best to emulate Christ and the way he lived his life, is very admirable. He led a movement of Christ followers and we should all desire that. Paul was one of those extra ordinary men. Half man, half amazing. If there was a man who had accomplished much during his time and the generations that have followed, then it is Paul.

  • He was an intelligent man with a brilliant mind. It didn’t matter where he went, he was able to engage intellectually at the level of the people in that space.
  • Paul was a good teacher and his message had reached all levels of society, crossing all social barriers.
  • He was a great mentor and he had several apprentice leaders under him, who became influential during their time.
  • He was very resilient and focused, never deterred by the challenges he faced (he suffered greatly, stoned, left for dead, imprisoned, whipped, ship wrecked and bitten by a poisonous snake) but he kept on pressing on to the goal of preaching the good news.
  • Anywhere he went people would notice his presence.
  • He was a great author who influenced and changed his generation and to date our lives are transformed by his writing. From Love, to sexuality to Spirituality, you name it and Paul wrote about it. In the Church sector, he was the go to guy.
  • He was a man whose impact is incalculable. He planted churches in dozens of the most strategic cities of the civilized world at the time, tens of thousands were transformed for Christ and thousands of years later we gather here as a result of the work done by this fearless man. He had major accomplishments.

I don’t know about you, but I would love to have such a story read about me. I would love to have a long list of accomplishments in my life. That when the day comes for me to leave this world, people will look at my life and say, “indeed he lived”. He changed the world. Many of us are in that position. Time is ticking and next year means you are one year older and one year closer to you leaving this earth and we inevitably begin to question our life’s worth. Is your life counting for something?

Going back to Paul’s life, I wanted to see what was it like towards the end of his life. What was life like for him? I am drawn to a conversation that he had with a few elders of a church that he had helped start. In this conversation, He was instructing them on how they would continue with the work that Paul started. He had invested greatly in this community and I guess he wanted them to emulate him so that they could be successful.  We find this conversation in the book of Acts 20 and as soon as the leaders get there, he begins by reflecting on his past…

18 …“You know that from the day I set foot in the province of Asia until now 19 I have done the Lord’s work humbly and with many tears. I have endured the trials that came to me from the plots of the Jews. 20 I never shrank back from telling you what you needed to hear, either publicly or in your homes. 21 I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus.

Wherever Paul went whatever he said and however he said it, it all pointed to one thing, which was repent of your sins and turn to God. But listen to what he says in verse 24;

24 But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

In other words, all those things that I have accomplished, everything that I will accomplish, my whole life, everything that I have or own, is NOTHING! Yes, I know, I have preached the good news, I have planted churches, thousands of lives have been transformed because of me, check this out, I have almost lost my life several times for the sake of others, surely people should recognize…, there should be a special crown for me. But what does Paul say, Nope! All that is nothing, my life is nothing to me unless I use it to finish the work assigned to me by the Lord Jesus.

In other words, it doesn’t matter how much you will do in this world, it doesn’t matter how many schools you will go through, or degrees that you can put on your head. It doesn’t matter how many companies you will work for. It doesn’t matter who will marry you and how many children you shall have. If you do not use your entire life to do the work that God has assigned to you, then your life is nothing.

Those who have been coming to Mavuno, you know that you have heard this message before. Paul is teaching us something that is very counter cultural. Something that every part of our bodies wants to fight. In other words, Paul is telling us, consider your life, if everything you are doing, everything that you live for is only for you and your comfort and the comfort of your children, then your life is useless. God doesn’t want you to live for him only on Sundays, God doesn’t want you to just give him a tenth of your earnings, God doesn’t want, just your time, not just your money, but your entire life.

We live in a culture that has a condition called “Self- Directed Spirituality”. Where it is all about me, myself and I. It is my walk with God, and we become very defensive about it. Whereas that is true to some extent, the danger is that, the focus for many people is not in God but self. I don’t feel like going to church, I want to do what is convenient for me, I don’t feel like reading the bible, I don’t feel like giving my time and my money, I don’t feel like this church meets my needs anymore, I do, I don’t. I can’t because of, I want only if. Self- Directed Spirituality. You are the one in control, you run the show, it is not God sitting on the throne, but you, you call the shots. But your life is worth nothing to you unless you use it for finishing the work assigned you by the Lord Jesus. We see it in the life of Jesus, that everything he lived for was leading to one thing and that is for the redemption of you and me. He came so that we may have life.

As you pause and look back at 2016, how have you lived your life? And if you haven’t realized it yet, We are caught right at the center of living for the things of God, or living for Self. This is the battle that we face every day. Our society and culture, doesn’t support us in our endeavor to live for God. Instead it fuels our self-centeredness. We are more busy than ever, we are more connected with our phones than the people next to us. Earphones have become the polite way of saying, “Do not disturb”. You are in your space. TV, Internet, offices, we live in the “most connected season in the history of the world, but the most isolated”. Individualism is at its peak and all this stuff, is telling us, it is all about you! We go for days without really spending quality time with God and when we do it is because most of the time, we want something from Him.

So what can we do to start living for God and not just for ourselves? What are those things that will help us to start dying to ourselves and start living for God? Here are several things that I believe will start helping us, they may seem basic and cliché, but I am telling you, once you start applying them you begin to realize the purposes of God in your life. Some of you are already doing one or the other, but I hope you will get a new perspective today.

CONNECT – The thing that sets Christianity apart is small groups. The thing that distinguishes us from other pagan religions, that sacrifice to other gods, and burn incense and do all those kinds of stuff that makes you eerie, is small groups, small communities of people who meet on a regular basis to pray together, read, study and apply God’s word, and also help one another through this life and not this one meeting on a Sunday. Other religions will tell you other stuff, what you need to believe, what you need to burn, or what you need to stop doing. Jesus shows up and look at what he says.

John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

The way that you know you love God is not how much you love the intangible, invisible God.  The way that you know you love God and what is more crucial in your relationship with Him is how you treat one another. Christianity is at its core all about one another. But the internet has taken this away from us. We no longer see the reason why we should gather with others on a regular basis. Why should you, when you can get the best worship music in your home theatre surround system, or the best speakers, I mean, Kev has nothing on Joel Osteen or TD jakes. Christianity is at its core all about one another.

What’s the point here? ………………… Paul teaches us something: you will gather others around you only by giving yourself to them. The way people are going to know that you are my(Jesus) followers is not by how you treat me or how you talk about me, it is going to be about how you treat one another. The best place for you to start practicing that is in a small group, that we call a Life Group. And this is why we want every one of us into a group. Being in a small group is not an add on, it is the core.

You are not a Christ follower just on Sundays, where you get to do all those Christian things that we need to do. If this building was to be shut down, and we close shop for one reason or another, that shouldn’t be the end of this community because somewhere in this city there are small Mavuno communities that are meeting from Monday to Monday. They are caring for each other, loving one another, doing life together and as a result we learn even to love others outside our communities.

The church should never be facility dependent or personality dependent. The church is about one another. If you want to be a part of the Mavuno family, do not be satisfied with rows, Sunday music, and a lovely church for your kids, you need to be a part of a Life group where you are doing life with another because this is the essence of the Christian faith.

We have just finished talking about family and the kind of leaders we need to be in our families. Who are the men and women who will support you in this. Walk this journey with you? Your Life Group, becomes that second family that will walk with you the journey of restoration of your first family.

SERVE – If you work in a company, there are transactions that are mission critical. Companies do a lot of things, but there are some things that if your company gets right then everything else goes right. Be it customer service, or sales, whatever it is. For us the transactions that are mission critical are serving one another. There are people whose lives will never be the same again because someone served in, Ndoa, Mizizi, and Life Groups. The Kids are undergoing transformation because there are men and women who serve every week. There are countries that will change because there are people who want to start Mizizi in those countries.

And this is where we want you to step up and get involved. I want you to up your game. You know some of us sit here and say I don’t really know how to do that, I am not sure I have anything to offer. There you go again, it is about you, and the things that you can do.

There are so many things that you can do in this context that we can leverage on your skill set, what you have is critical for this community. But most of us spend 95% of our time complaining, ranting and raving. Be part of the solution, and not the problem. And these environments need to be top notch at all times and that is why we need you like never before, and you need to find a way to engage. You need to serve so that someone else can be blessed. You have something that someone else needs. You are blessed to be a blessing. You have a skill or ability that can be used in this context, do not down play it. This community needs you.

GIVE – Majority of Christ followers, do what we call Emotional Giving. This is where someone like me stands up and presents a picture of someone who needs treatment, or a family that needs support because of their loss, and we are all moved and you reach for your phone, type in the Mpesa Paybill number and you walk away and you feel good, that you have contributed to a worthy cause. This kind of giving says there is a problem and I want to solve a problem. That is not bad, it is good, but there is a greater kind of giving.

Missional giving is what changes the world. This is when you say that I am committed to the mission and vision of this organization and I will be a regular giver in order to ensure that the mission and vision of this organization is successful.

This kind of giving is far much better because you are saying I am going to give so that there is not going to be a problem to begin with. Emotional giving says we find those who have medical needs and we can fundraise for them to get better health. Missional giving, says, I will be part of the change, I will support or lead the change in transforming our health sector so that we do not have to fundraise again. I will be or I will support the raising of Fearless influencers who will transform our society.

Emotional giving says we find children’s homes so that the homeless kids can go there. Missional giving says let us prevent that stuff from happening. And we take our young people through Ndoa, we can establish lifelong marriages, through Lea, Parents can discover how to raise godly children who will in turn raise godly families.

Both this kind of giving is good and here at Mavuno we encourage both. But I want to challenge us to be missional givers. The problem with Self- Directed Spirituality is that we don’t give because it is my money. So why should I give out my money, I should be the one to decide what I will do with my money. God’s intention of blessing you was never so that you could be blessed alone. Everything that God has given you is so that you could be a blessing to others. Money was the other topic that was greatly addressed by Jesus, because he knows that value that most of us place in it, will take our hearts away from him. Truth be told, the other major thing that takes you from serving God and others, is money. Begin by creating a habit of tithing regularly. Start with ten percent. Do that as the first thing when you get your income. If you have been tithing regularly, I want to challenge you to raise your percentage. Remember, your life is worth nothing unless you use it to accomplish God’s work.

INVITE – Jesus didn’t teach us about church people, there were no church people, he taught us about people. People who were created in the image of God who are far from God who needed a saviour. But we his followers have gone ahead and made it an exclusive club.

Our focus is not the people who are here, is the people who are out there. We all have a network of people who do not come to church. People who do not have the same experience as you do, who are not as grateful to God as you are because of the blessings that he has given you. You don’t have to be ashamed to invite them, one day they will be grateful that you took a chance to invite them.

The reason many of you are here is because someone invited you. They told you just come and see. And then it’s like something just starts to happen to us when we keep coming. Be bold with your invitations. One day they are going to come and something will begin to happen to them and they will be transformed and guess what, you will be part of their story.

Mavuno it is absolutely crucial that we get the gospel right! We are at danger of thinking that the gospel means: living for ourselves, living right, stop doing bad things, attend church regularly, stop cursing, saying a prayer, getting baptized, doing those things that make us feel good about ourselves, which are not bad things. But what teachers and preachers have constantly left out of gospel presentations is the cost of your whole life, repentance and willingness to turn from sin, and changing to love Jesus Christ as the treasure of your world, your everything. Many people have never heard that gospel. You may say that is harsh, but I am only giving you the teaching that Jesus gave. These avenues that I have given you are here to help you live that life that God requires of you. Not a self- centered life, but a life that is dedicated to serve the purposes of God which are to love one another. What can we do? CONNECT, SERVE, GIVE, INVITE

What I am about to say next is extremely crucial for you. It is important that you give an answer to the statement that I am about to make. Whatever your answer is, I want to challenge you to apply it. Write it down, if you have to, share with someone who can keep you accountable, whatever you decide, do it.

If you have been coming here for the past one year, and you look at the four things or areas that I have talked about, and you see that there is absolutely no way you can engage with atleast 3 of those, then I want to challenge you to find a community where you can engage in that way. We are not here to play church, we are on a mission. Our mission is critical, and every second that is ticking, there are lives lost. This is a matter of life and death, including yours. So no room for joy riders.

When you come to the end of life, do you want to stand and say I lived my life for Samsung, Safaricom, Coke, a house, a car or do you want to say that through those organizations I lived my life for God. What would people say about you. Paul found a cause to live for that was so profoundly satisfying that it was more valuable than life itself. God’s purpose for you is bigger than your life.

Listen to me Mavuno, many of us do not know the treasure that we have that is Jesus Christ. When we get out of this world it is when it will smack us in the face how Christ was the greatest gift we ever had and He should have been our greatest focus of our passion, ambitions, desires and our life in its entirety.

What are you living for that is worth Christ’s dying for you?

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 4, 2016 in December, December Sermon Series, Engage

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Leaving a Legacy

When we think of family a lot of us will tend or lean towards immediate family i.e. if you a married you think of your spouse and kids – those who are single think of siblings and parents. Rarely do we go beyond our auntie’s or uncles. But here is something we need to know – who you are today is because of your parents, who they are is because of their parents and that goes on for many generations. Chances are you will influence your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews.

Whether you and I are intentional about it or not we are responsible and will influence the next generation by what we say or what we do. If you are to go back in history you will see a pattern of how your ancestors influenced the next generation all the way to you.

What I am saying is that – You are somebody’s previous generation! Think about that – you are going to be a picture in someone’s mind someday. You are who you are because of the family before you and there is a son, a daughter, niece, nephew, grandchild whom you will influence and shape in the years to come.

So today we will take a look at a remarkable story of which many of us may have heard of but we only focus on the second part because it is a feel good story. But we will take a look at part 1 to understand the power of generational parenting.

leaving-a-legacy-for-generations

So I will begin by telling you the part that you do not know and then go back in time to share a part that we often do not connect the dots.

Now, this story of family begins with the most famous family in all the world, a family that just about everybody in every part of the world has heard of or knows about. It begins with the family of Abraham, who had a couple of sons. And one of his sons was Isaac. Isaac had two sons, known as Jacob and Esau, who were twins. And Esau came out first, he was born first, and so he was considered the firstborn. As the oldest, he had some extraordinary opportunities, because as the older son in that culture it meant that you got a double share of all the inheritance, compared to all your brothers and sisters. And it also meant that you were the judge of your family. You were the authority, so when dad died, you were actually the rule maker, the power broker for the entire clan.

Now, Jacob had twelve sons, and his most famous son was, in fact, Joseph. And this is the story that so many of us grew up hearing, that’s such a powerful story. So I’m going to tell it to you really quickly.

When Joseph was about seventeen years old, he discovered very quickly that his brothers pretty much hated him. And the reason they hated him the reason they hated him is because Joseph was the son of his father’s favorite wife. So, it got really weird.

So one day Jacob says to Joseph, “Joseph, I want you to go check on your brothers, because they’re always up to no good.” And generally speaking, Joseph would come back to Jacob and say, “Dad, you’re not going to believe what they’re doing.” So on this particular occasion, the brothers, ten of the brothers are all out there doing their thing. Joseph goes to where they’re supposed to be. They’re not there and he finds out where they are and he goes to where they actually are. They see him coming and they’re like, “Here comes that dreamer.”

Here comes the snitch that’s just going to go back to Dad and say, “Dad, they’re doing it again.” You know, whatever it is they would do to get in trouble. So they decided they had had enough, and they decided, “Let’s just kill him. Let’s just be done with this once and for all.” So when Joseph gets there, all smiles, they take him, strip his robe off of him, and they throw him in an empty well to decide what to do with him. And then they’re overwhelmed by mercy, and they decide, “Let’s not kill him; let’s just sell him and tell our parents he was killed. That’s even better. And so sure enough, they sell him to some slave traders.

They break their father’s heart, they go back and say, “What can we say? Father, Jacob, we found his robe but there was blood on it, the blood of an animal and his blood mixed in. It looks like it was a terrible fight, and I’m sure he did a good job, but your favorite son from your favorite wife is dead.” Meanwhile Joseph is on his way to Egypt.

He somehow makes it safely to Egypt, and he’s sold to a man named Potiphar, who actually was one of the captains in the guard of Pharaoh and so, a very powerful man. And when he went into Potiphar’s house, we discover something interesting about Joseph. Joseph decided to live his life as if God was with him when it seemed like God had abandoned him. At every turn, we find Joseph doing the right thing, even though right things never happened. He continues to live as one that God is with, even though fate seems to take him in the strangest places. And he began to gain favor in the eyes of his master, Potiphar, but he also attracted attention from Potiphar’s wife. Potiphar’s wife came to Joseph and said, “I would like you to come and give me “private services”. And Joseph said, “No, I can’t do that. It would dishonor my master, your husband.” And it would also dishonor (and get this) my God.” To which we would say, “Time outJoseph, which God is that? The God that allowed your brothers to sell you? The God who would watch that whole scene and did nothing to protect you?” And Joseph decided to do the right thing.

So Potiphar’s wife frames him and claims that this Hebrew boy they brought into their family tried to rape her. And they had no choice but to listen to her accusation. Then the slave is thrown into the dungeon. Now it’s bad to be in the dungeon. It’s bad to be a slave. It’s really, bad to be a slave in the dungeon, because you’re not waiting for a court date. You’re not waiting for a court-appointed attorney to show up at your cell. You’re just waiting forever.

And yet Joseph continues to live like a man that God was with, even though it seemed like God had abandoned him. He continued to do the right thing, even though the right things never seemed to happen in his favor. Then we run into this very strange verse in the book of Genesis that summarizes this stage of Joseph’s life, and here’s what it says:

Genesis 39:21 (NIV)

21 the Lord was with himHe showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.

Whoooooa!!!! Wait a minute – God was with him??? If God was with him, he would be his brothers favorite little brother – he would not have been thrown I the well – he would not have been sold to the Arab traders – he would not have been auctioned at the market and bought by Potiphar – and maybe God would have muted Potiphar’s wife so she could not tempt him.

But in spite of this Joseph still lives as a man who does the right thing even in the most hopeless of circumstances. He keeps believing in God and carries himself well.

Fast forward a few months later and Pharaoh is upset with some of his servants and throws them in the dungeon. As they are in the dungeon one day they have dreams and guess what Joseph is there and he helps them make sense of the dream. One that stands out is of the King’s Cupbearer he interprets his dream saying that you will be restored to the King’s palace. When this happens, please remember me. Then it turns out this thing that Joseph said about the Kings Cupbearer comes to pass and he is restored to his job at the palace.

Two years later Pharaoh has a dream and he cannot shake it off, this dream bothers him and it was so vivid he has a feeling that it means something. He struggles to find the meaning, he is unhappy and grumpy and then the Cupbearer has a Eureka moment and remembers that which Joseph did for him. He approaches the King, tells him of the Hebrew boy who interpreted his dream and said he would be restored and the King summons for Joseph.

“Young man, I’ve heard that the gods are with you and that you can interpret dreams.” He says to Joseph. And Joseph responds, “No I cannot, but the God I serve can help Pharaoh interpret the dream.” So Pharaoh then shares with him what the dream is in detail.

Joseph interprets the dream and tells the King, what your dream means is that for the next seven years you will experience a time of great abundance, you will have a bumper harvest. After that the next seven will be years of famine and desolation and we will have no food.

So Joseph then goes on to advice the King that in the first seven years it would be wise to tax the people 20% of their harvest and build huge silos to store the extra grain. This will help in the next seven they will experience the famine. He suggests appoint a man to oversee this project and ensure it works out. The King thinks this is a great idea and appoints Joseph – the slave, the prisoner – to be Prime minister in the land.

Joseph goes to work for the next seven years, oversees the building of the silos, storing of grain and true to his word there was an abnormal abundance. After the seven years – just like he had said – it was dry, no crops grew, all water bodies began to dry and the people of the land became desperate. Food begins to run out for the citizens and the people in the surrounding countries and they have to come and buy food from the King. Here is what happens……….

Genesis 42:5–7 (NIV)

So Israel’s [Jacob’s] sons [Remember, Jacob is Joseph’s father. By this time, God has changed his name to Israel. That’s where Israel came from: an interesting Bible fact.] were among those who went to buy grain, for there was famine in the land of Canaan also. Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. 7 As soon as Joseph saw his brothers he recognized them,

Now he’s thirty-nine years old. It’s been twenty-two years since he last saw his brothers, and there they are. And they are in a row, bowed down to him, and he remembers. He remembers their voices as he stood in the bottom of that well. He remembers the terror of a seventeen-year-old brother with ten older brothers having his fate in their hands. He remembers the smiles and the laughs as they sold him. He remembers the clink of the silver as they were paid. He remembers the total lack of concern on that day when, for all practical purposes, he was a dead man. And he remembers all the years sitting in the dungeon, knowing that this was the end. He didn’t know the end of the story. He didn’t have an Old Testament. He didn’t know that we would be talking about him over four or five thousand years later. He had no idea. And there they are—bowed down in front of their brother, and their fate, their destiny is in his hands. But he also remembered something else: a scene from his childhood. And Joseph connected the dots, and here’s the part of the story that never gets connected. Are you ready?

As a child Joseph got to experience something extraordinary, his father Jacob was a twin to Esau. Esau was the older of the two. They were both sons of Isaac. Now the lads were very different in character. Esau based on the readings was the more macho of the two. He was a hunter and he would hunt and fish and bring home some good meat for eating. Jacob on the other hand was a good cook. In fact the bible tells us of a story where one day after a day out hunting Esau was unsuccessful and came home super hungry, when he got to the house very hungry he smelt an amazing aroma of a stew his brother was cooking. He asked for some and Jacob (which means the liar) offered him some if he Esau would trade his birth-right. Remember what we said about the first born privileges? Esau agreed and he was served with a healthy helping of the stew.

But that was not it as Isaac (their father) was getting old he was blind and the time came when he was to give his sons a blessing – which was a legal binding ceremony – so the time comes for this ceremony to take place. Once again Jacob with the help of his mother goes in before his brother, disguises himself as Esau and Isaac gives him the blessing of a first born. Now Jacob has Esau’s inheritance. Esau comes home and gets ready for his blessing and as he walks into the room and presents himself ready for his blessing – he is told you are too late. Your brother has deceived me and now he has your blessing. Now Esau is angry, what is rightfully his has been snatched from him….and read what it says…

Genesis 27:41 (NIV)

41 Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning  for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”

What this means is that Esau was waiting for his father to die and then he would kill Jacob for what he has done and reclaim what is rightfully his. But Jacob catches wind of this and he flees to a faraway land.

In this land Jacob settles at a relatives place here he works and builds wealth, he then ends up marrying two daughters of his master Leah and Rachael. Time passes and Jacob has many sons, his wealth increases, he has lots of flock – so much so that the land could no longer support him and his family. So after twenty years, God speaks.

Genesis 31:3 (NIV)

Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”

Now in the land of his fathers lives Esau his brother whom he duped out of the birthright and inheritance blessing. Esau has sworn to kill him so this command from God is a tough one for him and I bet he says – YOU better be with me. Not only did I con him out of his blessing I will be returning with wealth like we had never fathomed. He will kill me, kill my sons, take my wives for his and enjoy my wealth.

So he packs up everyone, all his belongings and begins his journey back home. Esau gets wind of his home coming.

Genesis 33:1 (NIV)

Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah [that’s his first wife, Rachael’s older sister], and Rachael [his favorite wife] and the two female servants.  He put the female servants and their children in front, Leah and her children next [now, when I read this, it just floored me. I just had to stop.] and Rachel and Joseph in the rear.

Joseph is the only of the eleven sons mentioned by name. And he put Joseph and Rachael in the rear. Now we’re about to find out that “in the rear” doesn’t mean miles away;

 3 He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brotherBut listen to this But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they weptThen Esau looked up and saw the women and children.“Who are these with you?” he asked. Jacob answered, “They are the children God has graciously given to your servant.” 6 Then the female servants and their children approached and bowed down [to Uncle Esau]. Next, Leah and her children came and bowed down [to Uncle Esau]. Last of all [there it is again, the only name mentioned] came Joseph and Rachael, and they too bowed down.

This was a story Joseph saw and had heard all of his life, the day that Uncle Esau spared your father’s life. And Joseph, he spared your life, and he spared your mother’s life. And Joseph, you know the story; your father deserved anything Uncle Esau chose. But on that day, there was a reconciliation that no one expected, that no one deserved, and Joseph, that’s why you are alive today.

And now thirty-something years later, there stands Joseph with his own brothers arrayed before him, with their faces to the ground. And he’s got the power of life and death in his hands, and he chooses to do for them what he saw his uncle do for him. In a moment of crisis, extraordinary emotion, he chooses to do what he saw done for him.

The story continues—you should read it for yourself—eventually he lets them know, “I may walk like an Egyptian and I may talk like an Egyptian, but I’m a Hebrew, and I’m your baby brother. And they looked up and, oh my gosh, they saw it was our seventeen-year-old brother, and they were scared to death. There is a part of the story when Joseph gathers them in his arms, and they all weep together. He says, “You may have intended this for evil, but God has intended this for good.” This is the thing my God would have me do.”

The moral of the story is this: what your children and what your grandchildren and what your nieces and what your nephews see you do will lay the groundwork for what they do in times of crisis.

They will forget just about everything we say; they will never forget who we are and what we are. And they will never forget what we did when doing the right thing was difficult; when staying was difficult; when running away would have been the easier thing; when not paying our debts would have been the easier thing; when mishandling our money would be the easier thing to do. They won’t remember what we say, but they will remember who we are, and they will remember what we do.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Battle Worth Fighting For!

We continue with the family conversation and we pick up from our last conversation about conflict in the family. As I said, there is no conflict like Family conflict. Family conflicts can push us to extremes that completely kill the relationships around us…to the point that there is always a reaction from our side that evokes different feelings for every member of the family that you are in conflict with…..this can push us to a place where we no longer care…cause its just too much….

Yes…..for some it is our sister, others its our brother, others dad…others mom…when it comes to that person their drama has been so much so that you just don’t care….I am sure if I was to ask around, majority of us have that, “I don’t care” person.

But here is the question? Are you sure that you don’t care about that person? Then why do you behave the way you do on account of them? You get angry? Your face changes every time we mention their name some of you are squirming on your seat right now as we start to talk about this…..drinking too much? addiction? Why …..…

What happened?”. Why are you that way? You know what I think the problem is? I still think you care, and part of the reason you feel that way, is a manufacturers default setting, that you were created to care. This applies even to those we feel indifferent towards . … even when we claim we are “moving on” Think about it,

But you were created to care. ..…no matter what the pain is like, no matter what the hurt is like, and regardless of how much time goes by, we were created to care when it comes to family. So today, I want to talk to you about continuing or beginning the process of reconciliation with family members. . .. both immediate and extended

I want to talk specifically to those of you who are Christians; those of you who consider yourselves follower of Jesus….this is because there is such a compelling reason that goes beyond any benefit that this process might have for us, although there is a benefit. It goes way beyond whether it even works, whether or not there is any kind of reconciliation.

I am going to say some tough things here today, but I wish to say that the boldness of what I am about to say is not derived from my brilliance, but from the authority of scripture. I will begin by elaborating the scripture on this bit of reconciliation and then I will talk about us.

That as Christians, as we’re about to see, we don’t have any choice in the matter but to keep the door open to reconciliation and to refuse to tell ourselves I don’t care, because God created you to care.

Now, if you’re NOT a Christian, or you used to be, and you are trying to figure the whole thing out, whatever the situation is, I’m so glad that you’re a part of this message, it may not be as compelling enough for you, but it’s still something to think about. Because at the end of the day, I believe for all of us, Christians or non-Christians, that this is a battle that’s worth fighting for.

That even if there is no actual reconciliation, even if they never come around, never see it your way, even if you’re never best friends again—perhaps it’s a relationship that you really shouldn’t move back into the way it was. Perhaps it was a relationship that was abusive, and you’ve got your boundaries set up, and you’re trying to stay within those boundaries. I mean your situation may be different, but in terms of reconciliation and the openness to reconciliation, even if you don’t win, this is a battle worth fighting, because it’s so good for you.

I want to just go ahead and give you the bottom line of why is it that those of us who are Christ followers must continue the process or begin, resume, the process of reconciling with family members. Here’s how the apostle Paul sums it up.

2 Corinthians 5:14 (NIV)

Not our love for Jesus, but his incredible love for us compels us. The New Living Translation or the Amplified version says, …” Christ’s love controls”. Basically, it means that the love of Christ limits our options, and narrows our focus, almost to the point of forcing us to do the only thing that’s left open for us to do. What is that?

The apostle Paul goes on, and his language is kind of challenging, so I’m going to try to lead you through this, this is so important..

14 For Christ’s love compels us we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.

To which ‘most of us be like, “Okay, I got the first half of that, Jesus died, but I don’t know about all dying.” It’s like Paul is writing this or dictating this, and it’s like he’s thinking, Okay, that wasn’t very clear. Let me say it a different way. So, he repeats the same idea:

2 Corinthians 5:15 (NIV)

15 And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

Here’s what he’s saying: that because Christ gave his life for us we are to give our lives to him. That because Jesus said no to what was in his best interest for our best interest we’re (to return the favor) by saying no to ourselves for his best interest. To die to yourself is basically to decide that when I’m up against a wall and I have a decision to make and I know what God wants me to do and I know what I want to do, I’m going to say no to me and yes to God. Easy, right? I mean, we do it all the time?

Then he continues:

18 All of this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ . . .

The common definition of reconciliation as it relates to relationships is

1. The restoration of friendly relations.

2. The action of making one view or belief (compatible) like-minded with another.

We see from this definition that the words restoration and compatible are part of reconciliation. However, the root of reconciliation is the word conciliation, which is the action of stopping someone from being angry. When we have reconciliation, it means that we restore our relationship to one that enables us to be compatible and friendly with one another again.

Think about a locksmith (who cuts keys) who takes a blank key and he sticks it into your lock and then he works on it and he sticks it in the lock and he works on it, and works on it until this blank key fits perfectly into a lock. He reconciles that blank key so that it opens a lock. God is working on us, and working on us, until we become like Christ the way he intended for us.

Basically, here’s what he’s saying: through Christ God removed every obstacle to reconciling with us except us. In other words, he set the table, he opened the door, and he sent us an invitation. And the only reason a person would not reconcile with God, through Christ, is because the person chooses not to. God has done everything he can. And all he waits on is for us to say yes.

Another way to say it is this: the only obstacle to you being reconciled with God is you.

Now, here’s what he’s leading up to: that just as God was the innocent party, and just as we were the guilty party, and just as the innocent party has every right in the world to say, “I’m done with you. I don’t want to have anything to do with you because you………. You’re wrong and I’m right, AND I DON’T CARE! God said, “You know what, I’m going to to do everything in my power to initiate the reconciliation process, even though I have no reason to and no one would expect me to.

When you became a Christian, when you were reconciled with God; you remember this. Some of you, it wasn’t that long ago. You came to God with bad habits and he reconciled you anyway. You came with a past; God reconciled you anyway. You had sin in your life. You didn’t even know it was sin until you’d been a Christian four or five years. And that had been in your life for years and years after you had been reconciled to God.

That God set the table, opened the door, made the invitation, you finally said yes, and you came just as you were. And here’s what Paul says, and this is where the rubber meets the road.

18 and he gave us a ministry of reconciliation.

In other words, if you’re a Christian, your life, your message, your words, your behaviour is to be a message of, “Hey, you can be reconciled to God. Did you know that no matter what you’ve done you can be reconciled to God? Do you know that no matter what your addiction is, what your problem is, what you’re dealing with, you can be reconciled to God? That you don’t have to clean up your act before you can be reconciled to God? Do you know that God will accept you just as you are before you do anything?

That’s the message of Christianity. And we’ve been given that message to live out and to share with people whenever they are interested. And he elaborates.

18 God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.

So, the picture of reconciliation that we’ve taken advantage of as Christians is that God did not count your sins against you. He just said, “You’re invited. I forgive you.” “But God, I’ve got all this junk.” “I know. I forgive you.” And then there’s the junk we don’t even know we have until we get reconciled. It’s like, “Oh, my gosh, you love me and you knew about all this?” “Yes.” Because the key phrase, the key to understanding reconciliation—and this is where we get tripped up with family—the key to understanding reconciliation is this phrase: “in-spite of”. That God was reconciling the world to himself in-spite of. And this is our problem, isn’t it?

You see the reason I don’t want to be reconciled to you is “because of”. The reason I have such a hard time with you is “because of” … The reason I want to write you off is because of. The reason I don’t want to have anything to do with you anymore, is “because of” … And God, through Christ, says, “No, the message of reconciliation is a message that’s in-spite of.” And he doesn’t leave us alone; he goes on. 19 And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

Vs20 We are therefore Christ ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.

Do you know what an ambassador is? A representative! That, if you see me, I’m the best reflection of Christ you’re going to see. You know, that’s the whole idea of being an ambassador, that I represent someone.

Here’s what he’s saying: because of what you experienced, the process of reconciliation—that God initiated in-spite of you, he says that we are to live that out and carry that message everywhere we go, which means we have no real option but to offer reconciliation to the people we do not want to reconcile with, because we are the ambassadors of our Saviour.

Now I realize, for most of you, when you became a Christian nobody explained this, in fact, if you are not a Christian you may never become one because of this. It’s like, “I’m not doing that. You know, I don’t want to . . . Look, if you’re telling me I’ve got to reconcile with her because God loves me, I think I’ll just skip the whole thing.”

We quickly and very eloquently communicate to people that they can be reconciled to God. We even say to that brother, sister or that deadbeat father of yours, “You can be reconciled to God in-spite of your sin, but you can’t be reconciled to me because of your sin.”

In other words, “I have standards and they’re higher than God’s. So, honey, you go ahead and be reconciled to God, but you’re not going to be reconciled to me. You can be reconciled to God in spite of what you’ve done, but I’m not going to reconcile with you because of what you’ve done.”

Now look, I know some of you could stand up and tell your stories and when you finished telling your stories I would be tempted to say, “Forget all this Bible part. I hate him too. I hate her too. Let’s just hate her together. In fact, I want to send her a whatsapp message. Just forget everything I’ve said. You get a pass. Everybody else has to be reconciled but you don’t have to apply this message because that’s the worst story I’ve ever heard.” Some of you have lived those stories. Some of us have friends who’ve been through those stories. And the whole idea, that I would ask you to begin the process of reconciliation—it seems like an insult, doesn’t it?

Pastor. . .there are so many elephants in the room; it’s like a circus of elephants with us walking between them. There are so many issues, hurt, pain, and I can’t imagine getting into that again.”

And so, here’s what I want you to understand: reconciliation is not about let’s sit down and talk about this one more time. Reconciliation isn’t about justifying myself to you so you can see the world the way I see it. That’s all about because, because. Reconciliation is in spite of.

In other words, we’re going to move on with our relationship in spite of what you have done or said. Which is what God did. By this pacification, therefore, the barrier was removed, and, God having assumed a gracious attitude toward the sinner, it is possible for the sinner now, influenced by His love, to come into a friendly relationship with God. Reconciliation, is removing the barriers of anger, pain, bitterness and assuming a gracious attitude toward the other person, so that it is possible for them to come into friendly relationship with you. Reconciliation is a process that begins with an attitude that acknowledges what was done for you by Christ is way much more than what you will ever do for others. Reconciliation isn’t about bringing up the past. It’s not about convicting; it’s not about coercing; it’s not about changing. It’s all about in spite of. While we were yet sinners and going to sin—Christ died for you in-spite of.

Come on, when you became a Christian, you didn’t become a Christian after you got it all worked out and straightened out. You didn’t even know half of what was wrong with you. Most of the stuff that you don’t like about you, you discovered after the fact. And yet God loved you in spite of. And that’s the ministry of reconciliation. So, it has nothing to do with getting all that stuff sorted out.

Okay, but pastor, “but you know I’m afraid if I go over there it looks like I’m condoning that relationship, their behaviour, their attitude…….. So, you’ve decided my best defense against reconciliation is I don’t want it to look like I’m condoning something that I don’t condone.

Listen to this, listen, God sent his Son into the world, not to condone what we’re doing, but to live in such stark contrast and to let us know that there’s a God who loves us. He came among us. And yes, some people are going to think you’re condoning it, but you’re not. You’re being an ambassador. You’re doing the uncomfortable thing. You are reconciling, and you’re not there to accuse them and help them understand how wrong they are. That’s not what reconciliation is. It’s in spite of; it’s not because of.

“What if it doesn’t work?” So, what? Let me ask you a question: who did Jesus die for, which people? He died for ALL…both those that believe, the ones that don’t believe, the ones that receive, and the ones that don’t receive. Is God’s grace only sufficient for the people who are going to believe? For God so loved the future Christians that he gave his only . . . NO! God sent his Son into the world, knowing it wasn’t going to work all the time for everyone. All God is asking us to do is to make the painful decision to slowly begin to set the table, open the door, and extend the invitation, it may not work, but God will work in you.

In fact, I believe that when you decide to reconcile, that will become the epicentre of God’s activity in your life. God will get more done through your meagre efforts, through your willingness to move in their direction than anything else going on in your life right now. And you know something?

RESPONSE TIME:

So, let me ask you: who is this person? Who is the “I-don’t-care” person, who’s the person you’re tempted to say, “I just don’t care.” And if you’re a Christian, would you be willing to take at least a baby step toward doing for them what your heavenly Father did for you? You’re not doing it for their sake, you’re not even doing it for your sake, you’re doing it for Christ’s sake—because Christ’s love compels us to do it and left us no good option.

Now, you know part of my temptation in this message is to suggest…. here are three things you can do, or here are five things, or here are some suggestions. You are smart enough to know what the first step is. The problem is deciding to take it. In just a minute, as we close the service, here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to ask any of you who, while I’ve been talking, know who I’m talking about in your life. If you’re a person whose kind of got an, “I don’t care” someone, I’m going to ask you to stand. Here’s why: because that’s going to be your first step.

Because when this message is over, nothing in your world will have changed. When this message is over, you’re going to go back into the same environment, the same relationships, with the same emotions, with the same resistance, with the same soundtrack of sad music playing in the background, with all those pictures, with all that rejection, with all that fear, with all that angst—it’s all still there. And there’s not going to be anything in you or around you to compel you to take this step that you know, in this moment, your Saviour probably wants you to take.

So, I’m going to ask you to go public with a group of people, who you don’t know, to say,

“You know what, this is my first step toward what I know God wants me to do.” I’m not suggesting that anyone move back into dangerous, abusive relationships. You’ve got boundaries; You need to pay attention to all of that. I’m talking to those of you, you know, you’re just mad. You’re just angry. And you’ve tried not to care, but you’re created to care.

And then, when you stand, we’re going to cheer for you; we are. We’re just going to erupt into applause. It may just be one person. It’s okay if you’re the only one. But I’m just telling you, this is your way of saying, “I am willing to do the uncomfortable. I am willing to take a bold step. I don’t want to spend another season of my life withholding from her what God so generously gave to me. And I’m not doing it because it’s going to work. I’m doing it in-spite of the fact that it may not. I’m not doing this because we’re going to get everything all worked out. I’m doing this in-spite of the fact that we may never get it worked out. I’m not doing this because it might force them to see my side. No, I’m doing this in-spite of the fact that they may never see my side. I’m going to do this because this is what I was created to do and this is what my Saviour has called me to do.”

 

Tags: , , , , ,

IT IS NOT YOU, IT IS ME

We are entering the holiday season, and if I may ask….what are some of things that we enjoy about the holiday season, (offices closing, food, food and more food, travelling, hang out with friends and yes, family.
Majority of us, if not everyone in this place, we’ll be connecting with family. And families have their own different dynamics, our families are very … different. However, with our differences, come several conflicts… We all fuss n’ fight in our respective families. I want you to be very honest with me, as I ask this question. If your answer is yes, please put up your hand straight, if it is no, well, don’t. How many here can say yes, my family, whether nuclear or extended has had a conflict in the past one week, month, or 3 months? Conflict in family is like conflict nowhere else. It is so complicated,emotional, it just seems to go on
and on. And part of what makes it so complicated is we don’t even process conflict the same way . We all have our way of processing or responding to conflict and the thing is that we believe our way is the right way. Please raise up your hand if you identify with any of these categories.

its-me

The Withdrawer – they tend to avoid confrontation at any cost and as a result they physically and emotionally pull back. The more the tension rises, the more they withdraw. They wont even argue. If you ask them how they are, their answer will be, I’m okay!

The Analyzer – they depend on facts, and nothing else but facts. They tend to be very intellectual and logical. They are such poor listeners because by the time the other person is halfway through what they are talking about, they think that they already know how the conversation ends. They also consider feelings as inferior and prefer dealing with facts regardless of how the other person feels.

The Defender – The other person is always the problem. You believe that you had absolutely nothing to do with the problem at hand. Your motto in life is, “it wasn’t me”

The Retaliator – You are always locked and loaded ready to fight back when you are challenged. If you feel threatened, you search through your archives to find any past offences. If you confront a retaliator about something they did, you might find yourself after a few minutes arguing about something entirely different from what you were talking about.
The Champion – You see every conflict as an opportunity to win or to be right. You will never quit until you have made the other person see their point. You will use whatever it takes to win, temper, intimidation, manipulation, tears …and sometimes go to extremes of violence.

As long as there is family, there is going to be conflict, It is inevitable . We have different kinds of conflicts, probably as many as are people in this room. Not only do we have different kinds of conflict, we have many ways of dealing with conflicts . It’s just complicated. We can’t bear living with conflict, but it seems we just can’t live without it.

So how do we deal with conflict?

Here’s what’s so interesting about why it is so important for you to listen to today’s message and not miss a single word.
The thing is this, even though there are many, many versions of people and approaches to conflict, what we’re going to discover today is that there is only one source of conflict in family . There are lots of approaches to handling it; there are lots of responses to it; but there’s only one source of conflict. And today I want to do my best in our few minutes to unpack this because if we take a long hard look at it, acknowledge and own it then you are going to be able to make progress as it relates to conflict in your family, especially if everybody in your family could kind of wrap their brains and their hearts around this one single idea, I’m telling you, I promise you, there is a high chance that the tension, the tone, the conflict, the emotional levels in your family will significantly decrease…. That’s just how powerful this principle is.To do this I want us to turn to a book written by a gentleman by the name of James, Jesus’ brother, and the name of the book is … James. In his book that he wrote to Christians, he introduces us to one of the most profound relational insights in all of the world, certainly in all of the Scripture. And I’m going to go ahead and give you his bottom line right up front. As James introduces this powerful principle he begins with this question.

Here it is:

What causes fights and quarrels among you? “The reason we fight and quarrel in my family,” you say, “is because my husband won’t do this, and my wife, you know, she’s not careful. And she spends all the money. And he doesn’t work hard enough. And he’s insensitive. And my kids won’t behave. And my parents don’t understand. And my teenage daughter won’t clean up her room. And my kids keep wearing each other’s clothes and leaving them on the floor.”
If everybody would just sit down and do what I tell them, there would be peace in the family. In fact, if everybody in the world would sit down and let me instruct them, there would be peace in the world. Because at the end of the day, I know what you should do. And if you would do it, we would have peace in this home. It always seems that it has something to do with the other person. And we keep on looking out, even when we admit that we are wrong, we admit that our anger or pain was caused by the other person. But is this true?

So, if you have your Bibles, please turn them on and scroll down to James 4. This is where I really need you to lean in because this is huge. Some of you are going to push back or even resist and that is absolutely fine. But please note I didn’t make this stuff up, I am not that smart, the boldness of this message is derived from the authority of scripture. So James, begins with a question …

Today’s word James 4:1 (NIV)

1. What causes fights and quarrels among you?
Again, it’s a question where it’s so general you think, Well, there can’t be one answer. There are as many answers to this question as there are people in the room.. … Don’t they come [that is, quarrels and fights] from your desires that battle within you?…
James here suggests to us that our conflicts, quarrels and fights, ultimately comes from something that’s inside of us?” See, I want to say, “No, the cause of quarrels and fights in my family is because of something inside of them or something they’ve done.” And James says, ‘Okay…..there is a common source , there is a common enemy , there is a common root. The source of all your fights and quarrels is something inside of you.” You have a desire, and every single conflict, with every single person with whom you’ve ever been in conflict, specifically family, there is a desire in you that is spilling out on the people around you. And it began with something inside of you.”

Now, if we just stopped right there and thought through our most recent quarrels and conflicts, some of us will begin nodding in agreement that James is right and you will begin to see where we are going with this. He goes on.

2. You desire but do not have,
Every time there’s a conflict, you want something. Every time you’ve had a conflict with anybody in your family, every time it comes up, even when it’s the same thing over and over, there’s something you want or something you think you deserve.“Well, he promised, and she promised. We had a marriage contract. It was a covenant. It was a vow. My kids said … .. the point is, every single time there is a conflict between you and someone in your family, there is something that you want that you don’t have. But then look at the next three words;
3. You desire but do not have, so you kill .
So you kill. Now, James is talking to people in a church. James is not talking to thugs. But it is extraordinarily relevant as we think about what happens in families. He says, “Here’s what happens: sometimes there are things that you want so badly, there are things that you want to such an extent that you are willing to hurt the people you care about the most in order to get what you want. You kill.”
Marriage – Husbands and wives have “killed” their relationship, their long term commitment to one another because somehow you wanted your wife to do something or become something that you wanted. You wanted your husband to be the kind of man that you have seen your friends’ husbands be. You want him to hold you like so and so holds his wife. Husband you wanted your wife to gain weight or become skinny because that is what you are attracted to. But because you were not getting what you have been asking for many years, it is time to end it.

Parents – Now, you know what, some of us have seen parents kill their relationships with their kids because their kids wouldn’t do what their parents wanted. In fact, some of you left home immediately after high school or college, and the reason you left home, you could not stand to be around your parents. But if I were to interview your parents, who drove you
off and killed their relationship with you, the bottom line behind all the agony and all the tears and all the yelling and screaming, they wanted you to be something, they wanted you to behave a certain way, they wanted you to do something—and you just wouldn’t do it. And there was something you wanted your parents to do or stop doing, and they just wouldn’t do it, and it killed the relationship. We’ve seen people belittle and criticize others to the point where they have no confidence in themselves, shame their children till they’re almost afraid to be around their mom or their dad. We’ve seen women who have such high expectations of their daughters and their words just destroy what’s going on in the heart of their daughters. When you want something from someone, whether it’s your husband, your wife, your son, or your daughter, and if you want it badly enough, that you getto the point that you lose perspective, and you don’t understand the dynamic we’re talking about,
in your desire to get what you want from them, oftentimes you want something from them so you’ll feel better, prouder, or more fulfilled—whatever it is, I want you to realize that you have the potential to destroy that other person.

You’ve seen it so many times, and unfortunately, some of you are in the process right now of doing that very thing because we are not even aware that we are doing it, because we think it is all about “them” but it’s not really about them, it’s about you. Listen; do you know why you hurt the people closest to you the most? Because they’re close to you and you want something from them. And the whole time you’re arguing, fighting and you are doing all these things because you are telling yourself it’s them, it’s them, it’s them. And James, the brother of Jesus, says, “No, it’s you, it’s you.”

You want something and you’re not getting it, and you’re going to use your words and your actions to get it one way or the other.

4. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.
And we’re right back to where we began. So James, why do we quarrel and fight in our
family? Well, because each of you wants something from the other and you can’t get it. Let me play this differently, and this is huge and please don’t miss it. when you find yourself gravitating around or in the midst of a conflict it is important to pause and take a deep breath and recognize that part of what I’m feeling right now is I’m not getting what I want, that is a game changer. If everybody in the family can pause long enough and recognize, the reason why I am fighting with you right now or we having this argument, is because you are not giving me what I want or I am not getting what I want,”.

If, in the middle of an argument or a conflict, you would do this: you would look at that person and say, “You know what, part of the problem is right now, I’m not getting what I want.And what if your husband or wife or your teenage son or daughter said, “ Well, I’ll tell you something Dad, I’ll tell you what the other part of the problem is—I’m not getting what I want either.” Now, I know there are people here listening and they’re thinking, I wish my husband were here to hear this. I wish my wife . . . I wish they had made this a family Sunday so that all our children will be here. You see, there you go again. Isn’t that the issue? It’s them; they need to hear this sermon.

Can you imagine what would happen in your home if this became the habit? James doesn’t end there. Here’s what he says.

5. You do not have because you do not ask God.
He says, “The reason you don’t have is because you don’t ask God.” Now this is huge. In other words, instead of stopping in the middle of the argument and going, “Hey, you know what part of the problem is, I’m not getting what I want, did it ever occur to you that before you went into your kid’s room and threw off the covers and started calling them names, before you went and started the argument or started the conflict, the justified argument—I mean you’re so justified, before you go raging in, roaring in, sulking around—you know, ‘I’m going to make him ask me twenty times before I tell him,’ before you do any of that,” James says, “has it occurred to you to get on your knees and say, ‘God, I want my husband to get a better job and make more money. God, I want my teenage son to get better friends. God, I want my daughter to break up with that idiot—sorry, God, I know you created him but I don’t know, maybe you weren’t paying attention, but God, anyway.’”

James says, “Has it occurred to you that before you go extracting something from someone else for your benefit” (because there is always a selfish element in all of our fighting and complaining and arguing), he says, “before you go raging in there, has it occurred to you to get on your knees and pour out your heart to God and say, ‘ God, there is something I want from my husband, kids … daughter wife father There is something I want from my mother. And I’m not getting it.” He says, “Has that even occurred to you?” To which we say, “Well no, because usually I’m just so mad. And usually when I pray I kind of pray at them: ‘God change him, change her, fix him, help him to start going to church.’ Usually when I pray for these people it’s like, ‘God, would you please make them do the stuff I think they should do?’”

James is going, “Okay, has it ever occurred to you that what you want you aren’t getting because you’re trying to squeeze it out of someone who doesn’t have it in them to give you, potentially? You have not because you haven’t asked God.” Now, I’m telling you, this is so powerful. And then he goes on, and this is the part we hate.

6 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may
spend what you get on your pleasures. Here’s what he’s saying. This is so powerful. He says, “Christ followers, God followers, if you’ll take a deep breath and if you will have—and I don’t mean just a quick prayer at the door before you go in: ‘Lord, help this to go good,’ because you spent all your time planning your approach; you spent very little time asking God to examine your heart. If you will allow God,” he says, “to really grapple with you at the level of what is it that you want, what is it that you want from her, what is it that you want
from him, what are you expecting of her, what are you expecting of him, what do you think is going to make you happy, are you trying to wring your happiness out of their behavior, once you grapple with it . . .” In some cases, God isn’t even going to give you what you want, because God isn’t going to mess you up by giving you everything you want. And at that point that’s when you go back to God and say, “Okay, I don’t think she has it in her to give me that. He’s not going to turn out like I want him to turn out. We always said you were going to be a doctor.” You know, all that stuff we do with kids. He says, “Have you taken this to God? And can you own your part of it?

Now, here’s the question, here’s where we are going to end with. Ready? Who, who, who in your family is suffering because you’re not getting your way? Who in your family feels the
pressure to change … behave … to start … to stop … to work harder … to get skinnier, the pressure to workout more? Who is feeling that pressure, because somehow you’ve communicated, and you have all kinds of ways of communicating that, but who is suffering because you aren’t getting your way? And what would happen in your family today with your son or your daughter or with your wife?

Your children may be grown and gone but they are somewhere out there still trying to make you happy. You may have part ways with your brother or called a truce with your sister, but they’re still living with those expectations you laid on them before they left home and every time they’re with you they’re thinking, I’m not living up to it. I’m not measuring up. And that’s your issue, that’s not theirs. Who out there is suffering because you refused to own the fact that this has more to do with you than it does with them?

And what could you do today, either through a letter, email, phone call, a lunch, an appointment, to begin to take that unnecessary and inappropriate pressure off of them? Do you know why you quarrel and fight in your family? Because there’s something you want and you’re not getting it. And do you know why they quarrel and fight back with you? Because there’s something they want and they’re not getting it.

In the ideal world, in the ideal family, in a family where men and women really are
seeking to know God and follow Christ, there is a pause before the storm. There is a pause before the conversation. There’s a come to Jesus, come to God moment, where I say, “God, before I start this conversation, before I confront her (because things need to be confronted), before I address this issue (there are issues that need to be addressed), before I launch into that, God, I just want to recognize what is it I want? I want the ‘what I want part’ to be dealt with here, before I take it there. God, do in me what you need to do in me before I try to squeeze out of the people I love something that only you can give me to begin with.” Do you know what the source of fighting and quarrel is in your family? You want something and you’re not getting it. So why not take that to God, why not own it? Maybe for some of us today begins a brand-new habit.

Prayer.

 

Tags: , , , , ,

THE KIONGOZI CHALLENGE

Arguably the greatest challenge of our nation is a leadership challenge. True or false?

The challenge of leadership.

I have always wanted a better Kenya. I want a Kenya with good leaders. However I have never thought of myself as part of the Kenya leadership. I have a friend who did. We met in Campus because he was a classmate of several high school friends of mine.

Pst. Simon: In the year 2000, he felt a leading out of his burden for Kenya to run for Member of Parliament. It was something he had never really given serious consideration to, but he wanted to become an answer to the prayers for good leadership. He knew it was dirty, but he knew clean players were needed to go in and play a clean game.

He did my best. He miraculously won the NARC nominations. Then, that was a sure ticket to Parliament. His name was on TV and in the papers. He was elated. People he had not met for years suddenly knew his phone number, and called to congratulate him. Then the unexpected happened. Someone bought his nomination certificate for Kshs. 2M. He was kicked out unceremoniously, and another ran on my behalf.

He was hurt, deeply. But he never gave up his pursuit for a well-led Kenya. His thoughts are the inspiration behind this month’s messages. He is influencing now, and training many men and women in leadership. Perhaps one day he will get back to that line, but he is doing his part now, for which I am grateful. In many ways he has influenced me, and even some of the choices I make for our future.

QOD; What would you consider as the top quality of a good leader and why?

kiongozi

Everything Rises and Falls on Leadership: The greatest challenge we have as a nation has been and will always be, it seems, good leadership. Good and effective leaders are hard to find. At home, in the market place, in institutions, in the villages and in the nation.

John Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” How true. A leader is the pride or the shame of his followers. Moi used to say it well in reference to political leadership: Siasa Mbaya, Maisha mbaya. Leadership determines how well people live. We have seen leaders in Africa who are worth billions of USD and their citizens (mostly paupers) sing and dance in their praise. The income disparity is in itself a clue to the collective character of the people who lead us!

Many of us have suffered due to poor, ineffective or bad leadership. We talk a whole lot about leadership, but not much of it (good leadership) goes around. That’s true. Most businesses and institutions are not well-led. Most relationships are not. And most nations in Africa have a leadership crisis.

Questions about Leaders: General Elections are almost here. We saw the failure of systems and leadership in our last general elections, and the ugly results. Many of us are looking at the candidates who have started campaigns and are asking ourselves:

  • What makes one a good leader?

  • Who should I vote for and why?

  • Is there a score-card that we can all agree on, so that it will not just be about parties or tribe?

  • Should we give up looking for good leaders in dirty politics and just make do with what we’ve got?

  • Is there hope, given the kind of leaders presenting themselves for Governor, Senator, President and MP?

Leadership is a big deal. Some seek for leadership for selfish reasons: to make money, to enjoy the privilege of power, to protect themselves, to have relational appeal, to have a name and to seek revenge. Others seek leadership because it is a call to help people.

This month, we will be looking at our place and role as Christ followers in the rising nation. This month look at God’s plan for us as a people and how he invites us to take part in his dream for Kenya. Jeremiah 29:5-7 We learn that God calls us to actively seek the prosperity of the place God has put us, because if it prospers we also prosper. If the country sinks, we sink with it. There is too much to lose, against what God has given us already.

This series is for Kenyans, and people living in Kenya. The series is for you and I because we have the education, the financial means, the exposure and the social networks to make a tangible difference in the nation. We are God’s plan for Kenya.

Week 1: When good people do nothing, evil prevails

Week 2: Play your role as a citizen

Today we are saying leadership is a big deal. Some seek for leadership for selfish reasons: to make money, to enjoy the privilege of power, to protect themselves, to have relational appeal, to have a name and to seek revenge. Others seek leadership because it is a call to help people.

I believe both the motive and the qualities of the leader matter. Today we talk about the qualities.

Our Challenge: We want to talk about the qualities of leadership that we should test for our leaders, but are also useful benchmarks for our own leadership. After all we are the sample space from which leaders emerge.

The Scriptures are not silent on this matter. Let us read Psalm 78 and pull out 5 qualities of the leader we should be and the leader we should elect to follow:

Psalm 78:70-72

70 He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens;
71 from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance.
72 And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.

This is a summary of Davids life. His 7 line CV. David took a messed up country and built it to glory. He was a shepherd boy who was invited by God to serve his nation through leadership. He put together an A military team, expanded his territory, created lots of wealth and gave quality life to his citizenry. He is arguably the best leader Israel had.

Let us unpack this CV and see what it teaches us about leadership. We can use this as a test for leadership. And also as a test for us.

5 Qualities of the Kiongozi wa Kweli

1. Conciliatory – A leader is a peacemaker (Matthew 5:8 – Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God)

David is portrayed as a shepherd of Israel. A shepherd is made one by his flock. His number one role is to keep his flock together, at peace with each other. A true leader:

  • Loves and preaches peace and unity

  • Build bridges across religious, social, political and ethnic divide (respects everyone regardless of gender, religion, generation, ethnicity and political opinions)

  • Is tolerant to different views, opinions and convictions.

Conciliatory behaviour and 2007/8. Kenya collapsed in 2007/8 because leaders were not conciliatory.

A good leader is conciliatory! This is especially important in a nation like ours.

A good leader is a blessing to God and the people!

2. Caring – A true leader truly is a shepherd to the people. (See John 13:11 – I am the good shepherd. The shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.)

Caring for people opens the door to followership. People will follow a leader who they know cares for them.

A shepherd’s commitment is the welfare of his sheep. He spends time with them, knows them, meets their needs (water, food) and defends them from predators. He cares.

  • Understands people’s needs (can articulate the real issues)

  • Is willing to sacrifice for the sake of the people, he is a servant leader (its not all about him, he sees the leadership position as a platform to empower and serve people)

  • Upholds human dignity, justice for all & equality of all

When a shepherd is in charge, life should be good! (Psalm 23)

A good leader is conciliatory and cares.

A good leader is a blessing to God and the people!

3. CharacterA true leader is committed to doing what is just and right!

Failure of African Leadership. Alleged #GovernorFails – slaps, personal safety before others’, etc #SenatorFails tipsy at a function, family scandals etc

David shepherded the people with integrity of heart. A leader is authentic, quick to admit shortcomings. He can be trusted with power. A person of integrity submits to a higher power – from where he gets the absolutes.

Character is seen in:

  • Moral integrity – is responsible sexually and committed to family.

  • Financial integrity – can be trusted with finances, abhors corruption.

  • Relational integrity – can be trusted to keep his word, is honest to others, faithful to family.

David was not perfect. But he was honest and quick to repent because of his broken heart.

A good leader is conciliatory, cares and has good character.

A good leader is a blessing to God and the people!

4. CompetenceA true leader gets the job done. (He has results)

One of the biggest criticisms of MCAs in Nairobi is that they do not know what they are doing, and when in doubt the resort to violence.

David led Israel with skilful hands. He was an effective leader – he won the wars, expanded the territory, maintained security and build the economy. Before he took office, he had proved himself (Goliath, bear and lion).

  • Skills – What are the leader’s skills and abilities? Is he or she fit for the job? (Whatever (s)he is vying for)

  • Achievements – What has he accomplished before as a leader?

  • Commitment – What is he committed to do for the people?

A good leader is conciliatory, cares, has good character and is competent.

A good leader is a blessing to God and the people!

5. COMPELLING VISION – A true leader sees and paints a picture of the preferred future. (Where there is no vision the people perish – Proverbs 29:18)

DTR Question;Where are you going as a person?

David was a visionary. Besides building Israel into glory and achieving the Israeli Dream, he dreamt of building a temple for God. God stopped him, but he prepared the resources for it. He had thoughts of what future Israel needed to be, and he made it a reality for many. A shepherd has got to paint a clear picture of the destination of his flock.

  • What? – Is the vision clear, specific, and possible?

  • How? – How do we get there from here?

  • When? – How long will it take to get there?

A good leader is conciliatory, cares, has good character, is competent and has a compelling vision.

A good leader is a blessing to God and the people!

Friends, I suggest that as the general elections approach, that we use this score-card to rate the candidates. That we will not vote for someone because he is a friend. Or she comes from my tribe. Or he has money. Or she is one of us. May we vote in the kind of leaders who will lead us into Kenya mpya. Let us vote in shepherds… because

A 5 C leader is a blessing to God and men!

Some of us argue that none of the candidates would pass this test. Vote for the one with the highest score. “What if he or she does not win?” You may ask. Vote for what is right, that makes you a winner even if your candidate does not win.

Let us bring it closer to where you sit. As a dad, a leader at home, do you pass the test of the 5 Cs? As a boss – team leader, business leader, small group leader or an esteemed citizen – are you conciliatory, caring, a person of character,competent and do you have a compelling vision?

Can you say that you exhibit these qualities in your life and in your leadership? Are you the Kenyan that we would vote in for any position?

Work to do: I challenge you this week to use this score-card to rate yourself. On a scale of 1-5, 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest, how would you rate yourself in each of the 5 Cs? Which of the 5 Cs do you need to work on?

Secondly, I challenge you to tweet, facebook and sign off on email as a 5C citizen who will vote in 5C leaders.Influence as many people as you can using the 5Cs

Remember, only God, the true shepherd can work in us the best of leadership. David was called by God to lead. He shepherded God’s people. It was his relationship with God that made him who he was. Faith purifies a leader’s motives, and gives him a greater reason to serve people.

I dream of a Kenya with leaders at all levels who follow this godly script. What would this country look like if we got governors, senators, mps, cabinet secretaries, a president and a deputy president that believed in and lived out the 5 Cs? We would have zero tolerance to corruption, clashes and senseless killings would belong to the past, development would happen and we would finally have the Kenya of our dreams.

Additional Text

2 Thess 1:11-12, 2:16

11 I pray that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. 12 We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

SERIKALI VS MWANACHI

We have had many protests against the ‘mighty’ government. Have you ever taken part in one? Could have a protest against the greed of MPs or a pro-life protest or a protest in the university for one thing or another.

I am sure you are familiar with seen many slogans which stand for a struggle of the citizens against the mighty seemingly unresponsive authorities:

Haki Yetu!

Kenya Yetu!

. Go Home/ Must Go.

The song: Bado Mapambano…has become a song that reminds everyone aluta continua!

There are things in our nation that are annoying enough to set citizen versus the government. The list is long…

  • Impunity – from politicians to cops who misuse their weapons
  • Corruption – open theft of public funds for personal use (chicken scandal)
  • Ineffective services – garbage collection, water, road repairs, lack of drainage, etc
  • MCAs scandalous trips

It has been said that a people get the leaders they deserve.

QOD: Which leader best reflects who Kenyans are, and why?

In this chicken-egg-who-came-first situations, we have all asked the following questions at one time or another:

What is the role of government anyway? What should I, as a peace-loving Kenyan Christian expect from them? Is government just a necessary evil I will have to live with? What should I hold them accountable to?

And what is my role then as a citizen? Should I pay taxes to a corrupt nation? Do I have a right to civil disobedience?

This month, we will be looking at our place and role as Christ followers in the rising nation. This month look at God’s plan for us as a people and how he invites us to take part in his dream for Kenya. Jeremiah 29:5-7 We learn that God calls us to actively seek the prosperity of the place God has put us, because if it prospers we also prosper. If the country sinks, we sink with it. There is too much to lose, against what God has given us already.

This series is for Kenyans, and people living in Kenya. The series is for you and I because we have the education, the financial means, the exposure and the social networks to make a tangible difference in the nation. We are God’s plan for Kenya.

We seek to answer these questions today from God’s word, which always has something to say about the things we grapple with everyday.

Let us go to Romans 13.

A little context first:

The political climate in Rome when Paul wrote these words was quite remarkable! A man named Nero was ruling Rome. He was one of the most wicked of the Roman Emperors, even having his own mother and wife executed. He is most notorious for blaming a tragic fire that decimated Rome on the Christians. This resulted in tens of thousands of Christians dying via persecution. The Christians were under severe persecution.

Romans 13:1-7

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Based on this text and supported by others, we see the role of a citizen:

1. Submit to the authorities (Vs 1,2) – We are called to submit to the rules, regulations and authorities in the land. The civic authorities are established by God! In other words, there is no authority or power except that which God has shared. It is all delegated.

It is a call to obey traffic laws, HR regulations, immigration laws, county council regulations on bus stops and littering, estate rules, etc

What of evil rulers, established by God? God may not sanction the election of certain people or the military coup that beings dictators to power or the change of constitution for a leader to stay longer – but he allows men/women to rule. Daniel 2:21 says, “He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them.”

Jesus told Pilate, ‘you have no authority except that which has been given to you from above.’ Jesus was acknowledging that even when occupying authorities wrongly judge the righteous one, they are still acknowledged as ‘delegated authorities.’

Should we obey always? 

governance-administration512x512

Yet, it is to Nero and his government that Paul issues the command for allegiance.

Of course, Paul had no illusions about Nero. What Paul is commanding is not blind allegiance to wicked men, but willful obedience to the commands of God. This command has nothing to do with the ruler and everything to do with the spiritual condition of the believer. The command is simple and the command is clear: believers are to willfully submit to secular authorities!

When the laws of the state do not contradict the laws of God, then the state is to be obeyed without question. However, when obeying the law of the state forces you to violate the clear teachings of God, or your convictions, then God is to be obeyed, regardless of what the state says. This is what the disciples did when they were called before the local authorities in Acts 5:25-42. They said, “we would rather obey God than men.” The Hebrew boys in the book of Daniel would rather burn in fire than obey an unrighteous decree from the King.

Call it civil disobedience, but spiritual obligation stands above civic duty.

Sovereignty of God in governance gives us peace as Christians; we know in spite of who leads Kenya or America, God is the King of the nations. He is still in charge.

This role is perhaps the easiest of the roles to follow. Let’s look at two other roles that are a little harder to fulfil.

Play your role as a citizen – submit to the governing authorities

2. Support the authorities – Pay taxes, honor/respect leaders

On taxes: Paul gets specific about taxes, as Jesus did. (Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.) Do not steal from Government at work, in business – pay land rates, landlord taxes, port taxes and all other rates that you should legally.

God has created a human economic order where everyone needs to chip in to support the common services we share as a country. Not paying taxes is stealing from the government and stealing from your fellow Kenyan.

Comment #KOT: It is very tempting to call leaders names and talk ill of them. Social media makes us feel like we are contributing to society by trashing people. That aspect of social media is not aligned with God’s will for us as Christians.

Respect the Office: We have a right to critique leaders, but we see even Jesus spoke respectfully to the leaders of his day. Give honor to whom honor is due, and respect to whom respect is due.

Illustration: Bahati sits on presidents dias. It is good to make a show to bridge the relations between the highest office of the land and people. It is wrong however to misunderstand the importance of the office, in our effort to connect or speak to the office bearers.

Give honor to whom honor is due, and respect to whom respect is due. As you talk before your kids, as you watch them on television, speak respectfully – whatever your political affiliations. Respect the office.

Why bother, if the system is bad anyway? The government is corrupt, the people are mean, the infrastructure doesn’t work. Why bother? Our citizenship I believe is a gift God gives. There are those in other parts of the world that would admire being a Kenyan. It is a gift to be a Kenyan. The question is how are you caring for this gift, and what role are you playing to ensure the success of this gift.

How are you caring for this privilege. I believe God expects us to support the authorities to care for this gift. You owe it not to the government but to God who put you here, either as a citizen or as a resident living and working here.

Play your role as a citizen – Support the Authorities

3. Participate in governance – Vote for leaders, run for office or work for the civic authorities. Become one of God’s servants in government if God so leads you. Make a difference from within. You may not think your vote counts, but not to vote is to vote for whatever comes. It is irresponsible of you. It clears your conscience to pray when you know at least you did your part.

Play your role as a citizen – participate in the governance process

That is what the citizen is to do. What then is the role of the governing authorities?

a. Guarantee God-given freedoms The authorities represent the true King. They should ensure that citizens are able to pursue their social, spiritual, economic and other goals freely. They should especially guarantee the right to life and freedom of worship. We are to stand up to government when they don’t, and demand such God-given freedoms.

Example: Only God has the right to take away life that he has given. This life begins at conception. It is our duty to protect that right in the best way possible. Willful abortion based on preference stands in the way of that right. We should protect that right.

Play your role as a citizen – and hold government to account

b. Punish evil, promote what’s right &just – Bears the sword on our behalf to punish wickedness and promote good. It is the role of government to deal with terror, corruption, impunity, errant drivers, crime, drug lords and sexual abuse.

When corruption happens in our very eyes, when drug lords walk free and even hold government positions, when violence threatens our security – we are to exercise our prophetic voice to condemn the lack of government to do their part and call them to action.

Example: Corruption. You should stand up to an authority and refuse to bribe. You can also report through the structures provided. Whether the government responds is at this point not the issue.

Play your role as a citizen – and hold government to account.

c. Govern – provide order, services, infrastructure and education among others. We are to demand these services from the authorities because we pay taxes. We are to hold the county governments and the central government and any other authorities to account so that God’s intention for the authorities may be fulfilled.

Example: Go and vote. It is your right. It is also your responsibility. Our mandate is to exercise our judgement to participate in the electoral process. You are part of the process God uses to institute his leadership on the nation. This is regardless of the way the vote goes. Graphic

Example: Take up Office. A few of us have the education, gifts and experience to give leadership in government as civil servants or elected officials. If you have these gifts then you should take up office as a matter of service to God. When good people do nothing then evil prevails. Your citizen duty is to serve the country according to our means. Take up office according to your gifting, and calling.

  • Some in the neighbourhood, and in the school committees

  • Some in the ward development

  • Some in ministries, at various levels, as CSs etc

  • Some as MCAs, MPs , Senators and so on.

Play your role as a citizen – and hold government to account

The message of the text is this: Play your role as a citizen – hold government to account.

We are in a fallen world. It will never be perfect. And that is why we long for heaven. But meanwhile we are to do our best as responsible citizens and try to get the best from a not-perfect government. Our role as Christians is to play our part in inaugurating God’s Kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.

Prayer

Confession

– failure to submit, failure to support authorities by paying taxes and working with them, failure to participate in governance

Prayer to

– support authorities

– participate in governance

Hebrews 13:20-21

20 Now may the God of peace,…, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,