Jan 27, 2009

Expectations & Disappointments

I think it was 2 Sundays ago when I heard someone speaking about expectations. We expect something from different people, when they fail to meet that expectation, it becomes a disapointment. Likewise, it is the same with me, Is it ok to have unrealistic expectations?

I fail to live up to God's expectations and I'm sure God must be pretty disappointed with me, but the main difference is that He loves me. It makes all the difference in the world cuz I get second chances to do it better next time round, but should I fail, He'd be there to gently restore me.

Jan 26, 2009

The Book

Bible reading and study, anyone?

Solomon disregarded the book. We have a book, the Bible, the written word given to us. Though not quite a singular book, it is an inspired compendium of books, of different genre, by different authors written over a course of history, providentially preserved and handed down to us. To launch and sign-in to our blog-site, we have this window that prompts; whether we have done our “quiet-time”. Is quiet-time enough?

"It is written, "'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"(Mat 4:4)

The gospel of John begins with “In the beginning was the Word”. Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, said “ I am the Bread of life”. It could be well submitted that man can survive without eating bread. Granting such an assertion begs the question then; what does that man live on? We often skimp over or make the presupposition that, a lack in the devotion to the word is just that, a mere deficiency. We deny the obvious and the inevitable, that we would have to be ingesting another in substitute. A distorted perception? Consider the amount of media amassed and invading our space and all the time. Examine entertainment cable and television, advertising, paper and electronic media, the internet, ipods and blueberries, computer games, bloggers and chat-rooms, contemporary language, their philosophies, fashions and norms. The latest fads, the latest gurus. Information technology exploded and imploded. We are immersed and bombarded, simply to imbibe and absorb for the entire duration whether we know and care to admit it or not. A more astute or realistic conclusion would be, that for all conscious time, we are always listening to and are constantly being assaulted with words, only whose? To what end, this pelting by torrents that point, invites, suggest, encourages, attract, detract and so floods our minds and senses. There are armies of piped-pipers out there; effectively who do we happily follow? Wherefrom are we deriving our sustenance? What building blocks do we use for growth and maintenance? What powers our strength? How do we live? A healthy child displays a healthy appetite. A healthy appetite for food promotes related growth. Consistent growth pronounces maturity. The sequence really is quite organic. It does not just happen. Our liberality, procrastinations, and permissive freewheeling have made us so pickled and calloused so as not to know and be cognizant despite the glaring signs and dire consequences. It is self-deceit to imagine, contrive or submit that we are untainted. It is undeniably unreasonable, to not commit to an absolute life-necessity; to feed right . A popular computer maxim is “garbage in, garbage out”. Others would be quick to submit that we are what we eat. It does not take a whole lot of polluted food to cause diarrhea and illness. It is a fallacy to expect healthy growth from swill, not unless we are pigs.

As Christians, we profess to love the Lord, and by extension His word. But we have no qualms about describing bible-reading as a tiresome bore. This marks one of the most blatant contradictions in Christendom today. We would indeed be hard-pressed to defend our claim if despite years of declaring His Lordship, we have never be able to finish reading the bible from cover to cover? After years of proposed sincere and ardent discipleship, how many times have we read and reread the book? Would a frequency of once every year reflect a decent and acceptable pace? Though not about claims, ascetics or ritualistic performances, but how else can we imagine or propose that we do have an appreciation of the writ, when we have never read the whole. And should we have finished reading the bible from cover to cover, and for so many circuits, what of it? Is the bible so simple a book as not to require contemplation and deep researching? Can we properly understand completely the holy writ on this side of eternity? Is the injunction to meditate on it night and day spurious? We heartily champion with our lips, the inerrancy and sufficiency of the bible. Can the bible be inerrant, all sufficient and yet be irrelevant? We reveal and confirm our inconsistency, by not pursuing a careful, studious understanding of the complete book. If the script be true, it’s exposits will be reflected and translated into our own practical personal realities . Does our study of the holy writ engender holy lives or does it just vaunt itself in verbose wielding knowledge of script, doctrine and theology? Our ways belies our protestations correctly pointing to our true priorities and confidences; our life-pulse.

It is commonplace to find persons who must have the morning papers, to read the sports columns, to check out the headliners or cartoons, to be challenged by the latest crossword or sudoku puzzle. Others have a craving for coffee, caffeine, nicotine or some manufactured adrenalin rush to jumpstart the day. Without this starter or primer, the day would just not seem to go right. How many can honestly say, that the desire for the word ranks par with such? In truth, we have, we despise the word. It will not require hours of intensive search to find, some hobby, some interest, some game, some subject that so engrosses and surpasses our attention to the bible. Engrossed? Enmeshed would be a more faithful admission. “Lovest thou Me?…more than these? ” . Better to take a pass or pause for a well-considered answer.

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, (Eph 6:16-17)

Paul’s writings do illustrate the church and Christians as military. The word has been eloquently equated to and depicted as a sword. It is ludicrous to envisage a soldier, dressed up in armor with shield and helmet. rushing to war without his sword. It is equally foolhardy to commit troops to battle, holding swords , who have never been trained or exercised on effective swordsmanship. A lackadaisical attitude in times of peace will exact a very costly death toll when war is finally declared. And yet, we have been so lulled, dulled, anesthetized, duped and bribed even, to forget that we are at war, and that neither peace nor ceasefire has ever been declared. Our troops have been sniped off the walls, some have deserted, others captured, and still countless having disappeared from under the radar whilst we continue singing victory songs. Summon a roll-call; how many are unaccounted for? Riffle the registers, or better yet our memories. Is not falling asleep on watch-duty in the war-zone, treason? How much more if we have left the gates wide open and with our eyes wideand fully opened as well? Did we missed the muster hall?

When the enemy is finally upon us, would that then be the occasion for sword searching, cleaning and polishing, time enough to whet our swords, train for skills long since forgotten, if not lost. The unlearned teaching the untaught. Would it pain us, to see our troops mown down to die because they have never known the sword, and how to use it, and not to win advancing battles but merely to preserve their own lives? How many of us, our churchmen, our youth, our friends, our children, will be found among the fallen, the dead? Will an apology however profuse, be enough to account for or negate the losses? Of our loved ones? What would suffice the Lion of Judah? To what avail, our cries then. A responsible standing army we are? Or would not a designation of being derelict, more apt. Our actions, stature and status reveals our doublespeak. In the call to make disciples, of ourselves and others, have we been actively propagating disciples/soldiers or fodder? Do we resemble the LORD’s army by any stretch of the imagination?

So we neither feed right nor soldier right. Is quiet-time enough? It can certainly be a good place to start, but is it sufficient? Our inconsistencies, contradictions and evasive procrastinations, are painfully and undeniably in our face, except that we are inexplicably impervious. Is it as simple or naive as, we living in denial? Can it be that we are so far gone, gangrenous or doubly seared that we can no longer respond? If we will not, it would be prudent and timely to rethink the probability that, we may indeed be unwilling because, we were never His sons to begin with. Our ways attests our sonship and our love. There can be no love for the Father or the Son that is not demonstrated by the love for His word.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Jos 1:8)

Bible-reading and study anyone? Still no?

God bless.


Jan 19, 2009

King Solomon- Pt 3

Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven, and said, "O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart, who have kept with your servant David my father what you declared to him. You spoke with your mouth, and with your hand have fulfilled it this day. Now therefore, O LORD, God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father what you have promised him, saying, 'You shall not lack a man to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me as you have walked before me.' Now therefore, O God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you have spoken to your servant David my father. "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built! Yet have regard to the prayer of your servant and to his plea, O LORD my God, listening to the cry and to the prayer that your servant prays before you this day, (1Ki 8:22-28)

Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple is an interesting read. One would consider it strange that Solomon, despite finally completing the actual construct, claims no credit for himself. He ascribes all to the LORD, who spoke, who fulfilled by His hand, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to His servants, in particular His promise to David. Solomon’s confession was that “the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house... Yet have regard to the prayer …and plea.” at this grand occasion. David would have been mighty pleased with his son.

And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the LORD commanded. Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, "Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem that I have chosen." (1Ki 11:9-13)

This same meek Solomon, who the LORD confirmed as king, by coming down into the temple, in awesome display before His people, would go on, only to pursue after Ashtoreth, Milcom and Chemosh. He provoked the LORD to come to him the third time in judgment. Was it a small thing, or a insignificant lapse in judgment to build at least three other temples to other gods? Not one but three. What of the designs? Were they all originals, requiring much thought, or replicates hijacked from the LORD’s patterns? Did he magnify his errors by plagiarizing from the temple of the LORD to further his idolatry? How much manpower and material were expended? Over what duration of time? To take of the LORD’s peoples, blessing and provisions to build places of worship to other gods, who are no gods? How did his people reconcile or understand his leading? Now that there are further temples built by the king, do the people not worship there? Which temple was to regarded as most relevant? The first, or the latest? Which god now? Did the wisest of kings not know and regard the magnitude of his errors?

"When you come to the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, 'I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,' you may indeed set a king over you whom the LORD your God will choose. One from among your brothers you shall set as king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the LORD has said to you, 'You shall never return that way again.' And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold. "And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel. (Deut 17:14-20)

Is it not remarkable that the role of a king, when there was yet no king, was already laid down and prescribed in the Law by Moses? We read of Samuel’s grief over the rejection of the LORD as Sovereign and the diminution of the office of the High Priest only in I Sam 8. The Law given to Moses was in Deuteronomy, and in Judges, there was no king over the people.

Solomon being king and shepherd over Israel was required to read, and make a copy of a book, to be confirmed by the Levites, of the commandments of the LORD. He was to learn to fear the LORD by ensuring that he kept the commandments, law and statutes, not veering left or right, that his kingdom, his children, may continue long in Israel. He was required to read and keep for himself, this book for the rest of his days. We are not sure if Solomon ever made a written copy of the Law for himself, but we know with certainty that he broke every other rule prescribed for kings; acquiring many horses, returning to Egypt( pharaoh’s daughter as wife to consummate his treaty with Egypt), acquiring many wives, foreign wives included, amassing excessive silver and gold.

The Law provided a king with clear directives and a script to add. We also have been given a book. Would it not be wise, to learn daily from it, for the rest of our days and hold fast to all the teachings, so that it will be well with us, and our children after us? How are we to know the commandments, law and statutes, or are we exempt? We must be more wary of Egypt nor cause our children to go there, yet many of our pursuits, desires and ambitions are resident there. We see Israel delivered out of Egypt but taking Egypt out of their hearts was not a done thing. So many love it there, whilst others are waiting, only to go or return there. Egypt truly has much to offer for earthly living. Wine for water, meat for manna, cucumbers, garlic and delicacies to suit every taste and fancy. To live in the comfort and safety of mansions within a walled city. To own vineyards and olive groves; why be shepherds looking after incorrigibly silly sheep? Why not be slaves, if slavery offered delicious scraps from off the Egyptian lords’ tables? What more the opportunity to multiply horses, to fill one’s treasuries with much silver or gold, not forgetting servants and slaves . Who is the fool, who would forego the glitter, pomp and leisure within reach? Why did Solomon move, from one end of the pendulum, to the antipode? Why did Solomon follow after other gods who are no gods? Why did Solomon regress and no longer followed after the LORD? His foreign wives?

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the people of Israel, "You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods." Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. (1Ki 11:1-3)

If we would play Adam’s blame game, we could well say that Solomon’s lapse and collapse was owing to his foreign wives. But Solomon loved them so and clung on to them in love. Foreign wives were always warned to be a snare, and as with all snares, once caught, the more you struggle, the more you’d become entangled or hurt yourself. He was not caught in one, but by numerous. The wisest man in his time, following after strange women, doing stranger deeds and loving them so. Was the problem really his wives or his love? Did not his father, David’s years of nurture, matter? Did not the LORD, speaking and revealing Himself to him, count or come to mind? All those years spent on building the temple, so involved in the ministry, so to say. Were the LORD’s bountiful goodness and provision, not sufficient? What did the other gods promise or provide? Were his desires insatiable? Or did the mighty arm of his flesh, seem so strong, having accomplished much, as if by his own strength? Was he as Adam’s son predicated to listening to his wife? Were his foreign wives not predisposed to rule over him? Was he enticed to succumb to their combined onslaught or did he find it more comfortable by choice? How did he forget, from whose hand he had received all that he ever had? Why did the LORD remain silent until judgment? Does He allow us to do as we please, until?

The LORD is kind and good. No physical ill befell Solomon personally for His own Name’s sake. His kingdom was not wrested from his hand, nor from before his eyes though Solomon tried hard to kill Jeroboam. As if he could undermine or preempt the LORD’s will. I wonder; could Solomon not have repented and pleaded his case? Did he? Why did he not? Some say he did; but the consequences of his departure could not be erased or avoided. Oftentimes, we would propose and posit that God in His mercy and graciousness will always forgive, and we have this ridiculous notion that the consequences of our departures would somehow therefore not continue to extract their irreparable toll. Reading Ecclesiastes 12, whoever penned the book, whether Solomon or his scribe, the chapter, if not the whole book, echoes a tinge of resignation, if not remorse and regret. The summation concluding that the duty of man, no longer spoken as by a princely king, was to fear the LORD, the same epicenter of the very Law so early prescribed for kings. Beside King Solomon, lesser persons are we. The book ; reading, learning and following it’s edicts daily, holding fast to it for the rest of our days, would enable us, by the LORD’s grace, to end perhaps a shade less encumbered. To stay clear of Egypt and to shun “foreign” wives? both tasks more formidable than we would honestly admit. Those who have been there, will submit that it is will take a more miraculous act of the LORD, to take Egypt out of us.

The LORD is good, His love endures forever.

God bless.


Jan 12, 2009

King Solomon -Pt 2

When Solomon was growing up, I wonder, what were his days like? what influences pervaded his environment? Was he, his father’s favorite son? Was he the youngest ? I think not, because he was not so described. I am not sure he was the favorite because David was most emphatic over Absalom’s well-being and had bitterly mourned his passing, though he was the handsome son who had plotted against his own father, for the throne. Solomon would have remembered that he too had to flee with the rest of his family. Growing up with several siblings from different mothers and striving for the throne was certainly no triviality nor for the fainthearted.

Then David said, "Here shall be the house of the LORD God and here the altar of burnt offering for Israel." David commanded to gather together the resident aliens who were in the land of Israel, and he set stonecutters to prepare dressed stones for building the house of God. David also provided great quantities of iron for nails for the doors of the gates and for clamps, as well as bronze in quantities beyond weighing, and cedar timbers without number, for the Sidonians and Tyrians brought great quantities of cedar to David. For David said, "Solomon my son is young and inexperienced, and the house that is to be built for the LORD must be exceedingly magnificent, of fame and glory throughout all lands. I will therefore make preparation for it." So David provided materials in great quantity before his death. (1Ch 22:1-5)

David’s preparations for the temple were substantial. In addition to his exercising kingly rule over the nation, the pre-occupation with the provisions for the Temple would have been obvious to Solomon as a child and older. The amount of detail written down and most probably explained meant hours of work, for and between father and son. The necessity for scribes and skilled workmen to collaborate the plans augurs the immense precision. The completed temple is further testimony to the scale of David’s passion. David also spent considerable time, attending to and laying out, the ministry of the house of the LORD.

Then David gave Solomon his son the plan of the vestibule of the temple, and of its houses, its treasuries, its upper rooms, and its inner chambers, and of the room for the mercy seat; and the plan of all that he had in mind for the courts of the house of the LORD, all the surrounding chambers, the treasuries of the house of God, and the treasuries for dedicated gifts for the divisions of the priests and of the Levites, and all the work of the service in the house of the LORD; for all the vessels for the service in the house of the LORD, (1Ch 28:11-13)

Embarking on the mission, Solomon spent years physically building the temple in accord to David’s specifications and instructions. Wise as he may have been, he had still to build as he had been told. He required much material, skills and workmen even from Tyre, Sidon and Lebanon. The charge and commission to build the physical temple would appear to be a singular tasking. The administration of the priests and treasuries and people however, a lifetime responsibility. The physical construction was not an insignificant undertaking. The time, the planning, the administration, the finance, the supervision, the provisions, the people, the welfare, logistics required much. The project was not for a season but to span decades. We could wonder, how long did Solomon dedicate himself to this, his father’s commission.

But the LORD is no man’s debtor. He blessed Solomon’s work and made him renown and so great in his day that all the nations round about paid homage and tribute to Solomon. Even till today, the temple is remembered and described as Solomon’s temple. Gold, silver, precious stones, bronze, iron, stone and prized timber abounded. The flocks, the herds, horses and chariots, food, oil and wine. Palaces, vineyards, gardens, cities and merchants, ships, and peoples from all nations. There was no lack. He was so blessed that the Queen of Sheba could only say “that the half was not told me” regarding the Solomon’s reign. For all the time in the early part of his reign, Solomon was given peace in the land. Solomon was made to war by the LORD only after he had forsaken Him, built temples and sacrificed to Chemosh and Molech (I Kings 11). Peace is never a small gift, since war and plunder was the accepted means of acquisition in that age. Our understanding is incomplete, lacking and deficient because we here, have not known the atrocities or ravages of war.

And so we reflect, what could we describe, as our driving passion, our consuming ambition over and above the day to day responsibilities? David’s passion and provisions was for the building of a temple. The discourses, discussions and deliberations between father and son, the hours spent together, the shared desire of the heart. How much time and passion, a father to a son? And were these engagements principally between David and his son , or was it tripartite as with the Father as head? With regard to matters pertaining to the house of the LORD, can we evidence specifics, laid down from fathers to sons, as fathers to sons? What do sons remember, and hold close to hearts, not veering left or right? What legacies do we leave behind or follow? What is THE desire of our heart? The LORD unreservedly blessed Solomon. Was it for naught? Was it not, the blessing of the house of David? What is it, that so marks and confers such goodness to David and his house? Why and how did Solomon ever lose sight of the LORD?

Fathers and sons.
Fathers to sons.
The son of my father.
The sons of the Father.
The Father’s sons.

So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. (John 5:19-20)

God bless.


Jan 5, 2009

King Solomon

For as long as I can remember, I had always thought that Solomon had been most wise in his request to the LORD that he be granted wisdom. His request was:

Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?" It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, "Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. (I Kings 3: 9-13)

Recently, whilst doing some reading, I was quite surprised to find that I may have been wrong all these years. Let me share the reading.

Then he called for Solomon his son and charged him to build a house for the LORD, the God of Israel. David said to Solomon, "My son, I had it in my heart to build a house to the name of the LORD my God. But the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 'You have shed much blood and have waged great wars. You shall not build a house to my name, because you have shed so much blood before me on the earth. Behold, a son shall be born to you who shall be a man of rest. I will give him rest from all his surrounding enemies. For his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days. He shall build a house for my name. He shall be my son, and I will be his father, and I will establish his royal throne in Israel forever.'(I Chr 22:6-10)

So from before Solomon was born, the LORD had so provided and promised David. The LORD had determined to establish Solomon and confirmed that He would be a Father to him.

Continuing on, consider what David said to his son,

"Now, my son, the LORD be with you, so that you may succeed in building the house of the LORD your God, as he has spoken concerning you. Only, may the LORD grant you discretion and understanding, that when he gives you charge over Israel you may keep the law of the LORD your God. Then you will prosper if you are careful to observe the statutes and the rules that the LORD commanded Moses for Israel…..(I Chr 22:11-13)

This passage suggests that Solomon had been so instructed by his father and that Solomon's request was pursuant to his father's insight and advice. His father had told him specifically, what he had to be mindful of, for success.

The LORD was pleased and had granted Solomon his request. It's a wonder, what the LORD was pleased with. The LORD had not only granted Solomon's request but surpassed it by adding riches and honor in His blessing. He was not only demonstrating His goodness in blessing Solomon but was simultaneously making good and honoring David's assurance,faith and counsel. We indeed stand amazed at the LORD's goodness and faithfulness to all His own.

Fathers of today are often described as moneybags. They are like bank accounts, good only for making withdrawals when there is a need for money or approvals. Some have commented that fathers do not talk, they grunt. How often do fathers charge the children of today? How many children are able to remember what their fathers even said? When was the last we parleyed? What have our fathers counseled recently? Would we pale when compared with the Rechabites?

All that becomes, is completely dependent on our heavenly Father's blessing, and honoring promises, some that our fathers have made, in His Name. Solomon's kingdom and affairs did not end quite well. And that itself is an irony, a contradiction, for how can the wisest of kings fall behind. If the wisest can fail, what prospect do mere mortals have? Did Solomon lose his wisdom or did he forfeit all because he had both forgotten and did not quite give consideration to both what his earthly father David, and his heavenly Father, the LORD had said?

I'd ponder, between being "wise" and being obedient, which should I choose? Is wisdom superior to obedience? How often, we'd think we know the better.

God bless.


Service Form

There is a variety of service in the life of the body of Christ. Each of us can play a role in serving each other, with the aim of building each other up towards maturity in Christ under the teaching ministry of God's Word.

We invite you to pray and consider serving in some of the areas in the YTM as listed below. There are other areas we may bring to your notice during the year as the need arises.

You will need to allow time to pray and serve in these areas. Do not be discouraged from participating if you may not have much experience in your field of interest, because we are interested to help you learn to serve.

Music Ministry
Writing/Arranging songs
Musical instruments
Vocal (Singing team)

Logistics & Media
Audio/Visual (PA, Projector, Laptop)

Publicity & Communications
Designing flyers, invites and posters for events
Designing/managing the youth blog
Calling up youths for events

Communities for events
Youth committee