Saturday, 31 December 2011

A picture

The night when the men in black came
Barged through my door to dethrone my name
Sat I still with a glass of wine
Legs cross waiting for them to take my arm.

Men in black, in here I am
Come sit with me before we part.
I shall now tell you of this frame hanged
She was my once sweet Lady who broke my heart!


K.Oni

Monday, 26 December 2011

My Bed

My bed is a hotspot to think about my fancy, to indulge in my many imaginations; when I sleep to conjure up my dreams of tomorrow. The moon shines her jovial face, granting graceful lights to all outside; but I care not for her. For I am inside my room, darkness occupying my air so as to be at peace with my imaginations and my fancy - to think nourishing thoughts of sweet fantasy which is far from my reality. I recline and smile closing my eyes for the next hours excited by the vision which will take me away to a far away place where I is king of my own world and may do and have as I please. Do not worry dear reader; the nature of my dreams is as that of the sunrise,  lighting up the dusk which reality mean-fully decorated. I in a melodic ease caress my brush lightly as a feather upon a dark coloured scene, setting free the caged birds, erasing the shadows of past hurts and draw happiness as a vivid hue that cannot be removed. Oh dear reader I am in love with my bed; many of my fellow creatures apprehend me not when I speak of my bed in the day - my heart longs for the night as a man for his virgin bride. I hope you understand me dear reader, I long for you to feel my sensations and my longings. My heaven is my bed for it is there I close my eyes and dream, colouring my reality with colours light and joy unending.

K.Oni

The Joy of Confession 16

Sinner: Dear Sir, Lately I feel that I cannot come to God to ask him of anything - I feel a guilt within my soul that I have not done what I ought therefore I am in no position to ask him of anything. Like Fathers on earth, they reward their children when they have done well likewise I feel God will not hear me because I haven’t done what I ought to do. As a result I feel him as far as the sky, I feel as a man looking for a coin in the ocean. Help me sir, for I do not feel right when he is so far away.

Sir: My Son, I beg you refrain from uttering such blasphemies against your heavenly Father. Were he to reward us ultimately based on our works, what soul could stand. But blessed is the man against whom the lord will not count his sin. The one who works his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. My Son, forget your works and soley rely on his grace. No more have a detestable mind but be renewed.

Sinner: Do you mean then sir that God rewards me not because of my works but because of his grace towards me?


Sir: Yes my Son. Only Jesus has done the necessary work. You only need to accept it and repent continually. Now bow your head and pray in faith, ask for whatever you desire - Your sins are forgiven and the righteousness of Jesus Christ covers you this day and for the rest of your life.


The sinner went away rejoicing, giving glory to God for his grace and mercy and for the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

K.Oni

Sunday, 25 December 2011

My Christmas Day


It is ok my friends to feast on Christmas day, it is a day to celebrate, a day to rejoice and be glad. Eat and be glad for Solomon writes “Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works. Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointments. ”

This was how I celebrated my Christmas day, I ate my bread with joy and drank my wine with a merry heart. I started the day by going to church and then returned to a luscious feast. There were all sorts on the table, fish, turkey, rice, snail, muscles, spring rolls, Nigerian sauces, drinks, cake and etc. Before we began to eat, a champagne was opened were we all wished one another merry Christmas and thanked God for the grace bestowed upon us to have the means to provide and eat what laid before us. I ate to my heart’s content which did make me feel full and the drink made me light satisfying my soul but only the Child born at Christmas truly satisfies my soul.

Then we proceeded to opening our presents and glad was I of the gift I received. There were many smiles and thankfulness for the gifts received and I very thankful for the precious gift that God the Father gave us at Christmas. 


The night then eased into watching strictly come dancing special and chilling, each doing whatever their heart feels and eating more food merrily and gladly.


To close in the words of Charles Spurgeon, “Religion (Christianity) was never designed to make your pleasures less.”


K.Oni

David Cameron's Christian country

David Cameron’s announcement in a speech last week that the UK remains a “Christian country” made predictable headlines. The speech, delivered during a celebration of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, asserted that our culture and politics are incomprehensible apart from a recognition of the Christian heritage of the country, and – most controversially – that the shared values that should guide British politics and society into the future should be distinctively Christian values.
 
His first point was relatively uncontentious: there is no doubt that the King James Bible was instrumental (together with the plays of Shakespeare) in creating the cadences of the English language. The second point wandered towards the controversial: “[the] Bible runs through our political history in a way that is not often recognised.”
 
The examples cited included the concept of a limited, constitutional monarchy; universal human rights; the welfare state; and a commitment to aid and development beyond our borders. I suspect that on each of these examples Cameron was simply right. Even if he is right, however, the fact that the Bible is the source of our original commitment to a constitutional monarchy (say) does not mean that such a commitment can only be based on the Bible.
 
The history does establish a burden of proof, however. Public atheism often adopts a series of distinctively Christian ethical – and even philosophical – commitments and asserts that they are in some way ‘obvious’. Only a little knowledge of history shows that this is false. It has not generally been obvious to human beings that infanticide is a bad idea, let alone that limited government is a good one. Constitutional monarchies are rare in human history, and generally only adopted by Christian states; if the position can be defended robustly from a naturalistic philosophical position, that requires demonstration.
 
The prime minister moved to his third point via a recollection of the importance of faith-based groups in society, and an acknowledgement that, whatever might be happening in Britain, faith is becoming more, not less, important and prevalent globally. Mr Cameron made the choice to welcome this.
 
Every strong society, he argued, is built on an unwavering commitment to certain shared values; the values which have shaped, and which should continue to shape, British society are distinctively Christian, although their worth can be recognised by others; therefore a public commitment to Christian values is important and appropriate. Tolerance in particular is a distinctively Christian value, and so a Christian society is better-placed to cope with modern pluralism.
 
The remainder of his argument was that faith is a motor for ethics. Reflecting on the banking crisis and the summer riots, he comments that “moral neutrality or passive tolerance just isn’t going to cut it anymore”. Well, yes, but this assumes that any ‘moral compass’ is a good ‘moral compass,’ and that is patently ridiculous. Committed belief in anything tends to creative activists; the moral value of the belief is entirely dependent on the sorts of action it inspires.
 
Mr Cameron’s argument will be made believable, or rendered ridiculous, by the public lives of Christians in this country. The ways in which we are involved in building and shaping local communities could make the vision of a “Christian country” attractive to our neighbours - or it could make them fear the idea. To do good, and to be known for doing good, is our calling: as Jesus put it, when people see our good works, then they will glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16)!

Steve Holmes, Senior Lecturer in Theology, University of St Andrews - Evangelical Alliance

Saturday, 24 December 2011

What's hidden inside

UntitledUntitledThere are words I wish I could  say 
UntitledFlatter your heart with what truly laid in my heart.
But see, I am a rationale soul - one disposed to clear day thoughts.
You are a wonder, a tower of beauty like the Eiffel Tower
And I a worn down council flat.
All reason tells me to abandon this love,
So I blush and keep what's hidden inside. 

K.Oni

Miscellanies 26 - The condescension of God at Christmas

What does Christmas tell you about God? Christmas forces us to focus on the birth of Jesus Christ. But who is Jesus Christ to you? Jesus once asked his disciples a serious question’ “Who do people say that I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!”* John tells us that Jesus was the WORD who became flesh.* Paul asserts that Jesus Christ is God who emptied himself and took on human likeness.* What you believe about the person of Jesus will radically dictate what Christmas tell you about God.

If you believe that Jesus is God then you will have the same view as Jonathan Edwards of what Christmas tells us about God.  Jonathan Edwards writes:

“The gospel leads us to love God as an infinitely condescending God. The gospel, above all things in the world, holds forth the exceeding condescension of God. No other manifestation that ever God made of himself exhibits such wonderful condescension as the Christian revelation does. The gospel teaches how God, who humbles himself to behold things that are in heaven and earth, stooped so low as to take an infinitely gracious notice of poor vile worms of the dust, and to concern himself for their salvation, and so as to send his only-begotten Son to die for them, that they might be forgiven, and elevated, and honoured, and brought into eternal fellowship with him, and to the perfect enjoyment of himself in heaven for ever.”*

God condescends down at Christmas in the Person of Jesus Christ, His Father rejoicing and dancing in heaven that His Son should take on such a noble humbling task for the salvation of his people and for his glory. The Holy Spirit eagerly awaiting the day when He will be the comforter and sealer of those who will be redeemed. Christmas portrays an humbling God, who was rich but became poor to dwell among men to make his home with them. God joined our struggle and gave us hope; He came into our darkness to display his conquering light. Christmas tells us of the humility of God and of his Love. If you ever doubt his love, remember his condescension at Christmas and yet He continues to condescend in the Person of His Holy Spirit today.

We are called to imitate this God, Christmas should be a reminder to us all of the condescending God who was rich but became poor. He released all heavenly comfort for the suffering of this world which eventually led him to His cross. Likewise his gospel calls us to do the same. Let us condescend into the sufferings of our fellow man, let us be found to sweat, to shed blood, to have our palms pierce and our mouth filled with bitter taste so that we who are rich became poor because we Love like the condescending God at Christmas.

K.Oni

*Matthew 16:12-15
*John 1
*Philippians 2:5-8
*Charity and its Fruits

Thursday, 22 December 2011

The Little Valley 2

Immediately to my left, I heard an echoing voice echoing my name saying

“Dimiti, Dimiti, come here and have thy soul instructed on what you have already began”

I was perplexed because I had yet ascribed to no design and my heart was still fixated on the marvellous beauty which has won my soul. “If you gain this Little Valley, you possess me.” Those words rang through my head over and over again wondering what she could mean by possess - I am a mere boy compare to her. She looked young but very old - a companion of wisdom and a friend of the sage. I saw her eyes like doves look intensely into mine, strangely communicating to me that I needed to heed the calling voice.

The voice echoed again.

“Dimiti, Dimiti, come here and have thy soul instructed on what you have already began.”

The voice came deep inside the dungeon, no light to lead me to the strange voice which beckoned my name. I treaded lightly, taking cautious steps, for now I must depart into the unknown. I walked steadily and slowly and began to immerse my self in the darkness wherein soon I was met by a little woman with large eyes and small lips; she wore a long robe which covered her knees and revealed her small feet. Her toe nails were black, a contrast to the small display of her bottom legs which were to my surprise remarkably clean for such an environment.

“Dimiti, Dimiti, come here and have thy soul instructed on what you have already began.” She said.

“Who are you?” She heeded not my question but continued to walk forward, guided by the lamp she held on her small right arm. She repeated the words - “Dimiti, Dimiti, come here and have thy soul instructed on what you have already began.”

I had no choice but to follow because behind me was darkness and emptiness. I felt turning back was a void option; to depart from this call and return from where I came, I would forever grope in the darkness behind me. I followed this strange old woman who had now stopped chanting her phrase for she knew I was following her.

“Here we are boy, here we are Dimiti, here we are man, son of Adam.
Light the room Selianta - arise and light for the boy is here!”

She had led me into a cave, enclosed and shut from the outside world. Those words she uttered immediately caused the cave to fill with light. I saw everything clear as day as if the sun himself illuminated this hollow. There were shelves nailed to the stone walls with pots, pans and books dominating what laid on them. There was a tiny bed in the corner and a fire burning in the middle of the room, the floor decorated smoothly with what I perceived to be onyx which did reflect one’s image. I turned my gaze towards her and repeated my question, “Who are you?”

She ignored my question and began to say “Selianta, appear and show, appear and show, appear and show - the boy is here, the man is here, the Son of Adam is here!”

Immediately, there appeared magically a light which slowly unravelled itself into a human being. It was a female. A beautiful female - her beauty as that of light itself; she became irresistible, unavoidable. My eyes were absorbed in the gracefulness of her attractiveness. Only that earlier magnificence which this young eyes beheld surpassed her in splendour - I walked instinctively towards her, stretching my arms to stroke her skin when she spoke,

“Do not touch me, do not touch me, never touch me if thee want to live.”  She walked with ease, observing my features and manner. She walked around me and continued to speak, “Never touch me Dimiti, never touch me if thee want to live”. She repeated of what I thought was the only words she knew. “Never touch me Dimiti, never touch me if thee want to live”

“Who are you?” I asked her. She paused for a good minute before answering my question.

K.Oni

Once again you strike my heart!

Cupid! Thou dids’t once again
Strike my boyish heart to love again.
Whence the future I held so bleak
Because of the last poison with which you poisoned me.
A summer promised but winter came
Thou a jest! no friend of love has thou portray. 
If shadows kiss the ground, and the valiant sun caresses the earth
Then why thy arrow no sooner make 
Her heart unite to mine never untied.
A mocking errand - A mocking errand
You did play my heart, I with all sentiment truly clenched
The end she will be mine.
Cupid! Thou a filthy fiend
You knew she played no part - 
For selfish pleasure and gods to engross
Once again you strike my heart!

K.Oni

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Little Valley

Dear reader, not much has inspired me in this dreary life as has been this little valley which I shall now tell you off. Old men have often said, that when they were young, they were inspired by loved ones to enlist for the war, counting their lives as a necessary sacrifice compared to that which has so marvellously inspired their souls. It is with me with this little valley, so high as it driven my soul that each day my mind wonders so merrily to reflect upon its scene.

I need not far to look before I write, no book to search nor nature to inspire but in mine heart to look; for therein is etched that vivid colourful image of that little valley which has forcefully occupied the centre of my heart. I only need to close my eyes and lo it appears, as if right in front of my eyes, as if I could touch and walk on its broad landscape.  Beautiful, beautiful all in me exclaimed longing to once again rest on those soft green grass where butterflies, fruit flies and salmon flies come to engage in their daily discourse of how striking, picturesque and convivial this little valley is.

Dear reader, this little Valley is breathtaking and ideal for humanity’s resting place. Earth possesses nothing in her to show more fair, no hill nor garden can compare. Dull is the man who walks straight by without a pause, without setting his camp for a year or so to live in earth’s only paradise. This little valley has excommunicated from its dwellers any trace of misery and sorrow, no one may stay and be woeful, no eye may see and not be giving to lust after its ownership.

You may ask me dear reader, if this Little Valley is as beautiful and heavenly as you say, then why has no man occupied it, no country claimed it, no god avowed it. That is because, at its entrance there is a clause upon entering, there is a blessing and a curse. If any man, country or god should own it they must meet the clause. But failure will awaken the curse, like a filthy executioner, it will execute the dreadful and terrible curse upon the man to whom fate disfavours. The curse is for all eternity, it never ends - fire and brimstone torments the flesh of all who fails. As a warning, before any man may make their resolution of whether to pursue or forfeit there treasure, there is to the right of the entrance of the Little Valley a dungeon where one may enter and for a minute feel the dreadful nature of the curse. Many wise, strong and valiant men have entered the dungeon and thought the pain too much to bear for all eternity. The little valley, being the sum of life was not worth the torture of their souls for all eternity. So, in weeping and grief only a few have endeavoured to pursue to enter in; who were fools who heeded not the warning of first entering the dungeon to feel the heaviness of the curse. In their imprudence they engaged in an adventure to that which fate has not baptized them to but soon awakened the deadly curse whom like justice blindly strikes her sword without mercy nor pity. They fell by the wayside, scorned and tortured by the eternal flames.

The curse is a terrible affliction, but my lot fell favoured on fates happy side. This I shall now tell you of the beginning of my adventure to possess and own this Little Valley; for that which inspired me being the Valley itself contained an inner treasure, a living being whom I saw from a distance. She looked more beautiful than the Little Valley and it seemed so strangely that she told my heart that she was the authour of what I beheld. “If you gain this Little Valley, you Possess me”.

K.Oni

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Ken’s newsletter 3

The past three months I can truly say from the bottom of my heart has been delicious to my soul. I have enjoyed it and amazed at the goodness of God. He has been with me unconditionally, sustaining me through the nights and greeting me with warm affectionate smiles in the morning. He has driven me to heights of beholding is sweet love and the grace he has lavished so freely upon his children. He has also worked in my heart, changing me to be more like His Son Jesus Christ. One way He has done that is by making me more servant hearted - thinking of others good before my own and not to think lofty opinions of myself. In the past month, many things have occurred of which I shall brief you of their ends.

Alpha course:
Looking back at the 10 weeks Alpha course, I can say with my hands solemnly placed on my heart that the Spirit of God has done a remarkable work. With many becoming Christians and many more growing in their faith has encouraged many of us and forced me to praise and give glory to God. I was a leader in the student group which mainly consisted of girls. Throughout the course we grew as a team and discussions flowed like water and many were comfortable to ask the difficult questions and express what they really felt. God’s grace was with us as He gave us wisdom and knowledge and friendly atmosphere covered in his sweet presence. I am delighted that the group will continue through an extended small group where we will continue to meet up in the new year and help the students in their journey with Jesus.

Leadership meetings:
Every Monday morning I have the privilege to attend the woodlands staff leadership meeting. I have been much encouraged by this meeting as I get to hear encouraging stories of what has been happening in people’s lives and in the church. We also pray together and clean together.

Coaching football:
I have recently been going to a primary school every Monday afternoon to coach some kids football. I assist Ian and help out wherever I am needed. The kids overall have been lovely, many loving football and willing to play. Personally I have enjoyed my time in spending time with kids who don’t necessarily go to church and to be able to have an influence in their behaviours. There is no space to declare the gospel but through the football we try to communicate good behaviours and in building relationships with the kids to communicate kingdom behaviour.

Student lunches and UWE:
I love UWE (University of the West of England) and the Christian union there. I love the students there too and this term I am glad to have had the opportunities to visit the campus on Thursdays to encourage the Christians there and to speak the gospel to unbelieving students. Woodlands student lunches has also been opportunities to build relationships with students who don’t come to church. Through the lunches I have been able to build good relationships with some and tell of Jesus and his good news. 

There are many more things that could be said, e.g. the Mullers course, my debate, discipleship, things I have learnt and etc.. but I must keep the newsletter short. 

I thank you for supporting me and praying for me - I thank God with all of my heart for you all and if you would like to sponsor me for my year then please email me at k_unit75@hotmail.com.

Pray:
  • To always love God with all of my heart
  • To seek others good before mine
  • To be bold, insightful and pro-active
  • To excel in the spiritual gifts especially the gift of prophecy to the glory of God and edification of the church
  • To reflect his life and glory - to be a tool for the conversion of sinners
  • To continue in faith for my support knowing without a shadow of doubt that God my heavenly loving Father is able to do immeasurable more than I ask and provide for me abundantly
K.Oni

Christmas carols

Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in the context of the reform of the English Poor Laws. The New Law concerned orphanages, workhouses and debtors’ prisons. While on the surface The Poor Law Act appeared to provide for the poor, Dickens challenges the poor stewardship of the ecclesiastical boards who governed with harshness rather than kindness, compassion and mercy.His Carol is undergirded by his critique of society and a form of Christianity that lacks mercy and an ardent advocacy concerning the oppression of the weak.So, it's a carol with a bite. It speaks to the heart. As his readers see the change in Scrooge,so may they find a shift in their own hearts.
 
Dickens is considered to be one of the most persuasive advocates for the poor of his time. His novels vividly describe the world as he knew it. He shone a light on dark realities such as the destitution and exploitation of children. Capturing the imagination across social classes, hisbooks raised awareness and struck a vein of sentiment,not merely entertainingVictorian societybut giving it a progressive impulse for change.For, as the upwelling of empathy shapes individuals, so also is it a significant force in wider societal reform. Over time, various Acts would, among other things, reduce the working hours of children, improve their education and ultimately lead to the end of child labour.
 
Centuries earlier, Mary’s ‘carol’ celebrates that God remembers kindness, lifts the humble and extends mercy. In Jesus a new force would arrive, who would address societal powers as well as the human heart and change the world as she knew it.
 
"God took the path of descent, that first Christmas, on a journey into the hidden depths of humanity. And we are now invited to follow," reflects Brian Draper. In the Christmas edition of the Radio Times, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams imagines Jesus to spend Christmas with the Occupy crowd at St Paul’s. “He’d first of all be there: sharing the risks, not just taking sides but steadily changing the entire atmosphere by the questions he asks of everybody involved, rich and poor, capitalist and protester and cleric.”
 
While this world is bent towards power and money, God’s universe is bent towards kindness, compassion and justice. While greed rules, his generosity abounds. Jesus is the gift heaven couldn’t wait to give. In fact, this son born to us reflects “the incomparable riches of God’s grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7).
 
Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and kings recognised the all-defining moment in history - the incomparable order of generosity, God’s ultimate expression of kindness. Not only for us to receive him but also for us to be shaped by him, living a life of compassion, kindness, humility, and gentleness (Colossians 3:12).
 
Whether this season our carols have a ‘bite’ or are mere entertainment depends on the shape of our heart and the character of our life. Whether we spend Christmas at home, at the homeless shelter, at Occupy or at work, our glorification of him is ultimately lived out in a narrow path that leads to life.  But, hey, it could change our world as we know it.

Marijke Hoek, Coordinator Forum for Change.  Evangelical Alliance

Biblical Themes and Other Religions

Even this cursory survey* indicates that there are some similarities between Christian faith and other religions. Islam and Christianity, e.g., both believe in an eternal Creator God and a judgment to come after death. Both Jesus and Confucius taught a version of the Golden Rule, and both Christianity and Confucianism teach respect for one’s parents. Such similarities are not surprising and can be understood in light of the biblical teaching that all people, including adherents of other religions, have been created by God in his image (Gen. 1:26–27; 5:1–2) and that God has revealed himself in a general manner to all peoples through the created order (Ps. 19:1–4; Acts 14:15–17; 17:22–31; Rom. 1:18–32; 2:14–15). But the differences between Christian faith and other religions are greater and more significant than any similarities.

1. God. The Bible teaches that there is one eternal Creator God who has created all else that exists (Genesis 1–2).Hinduism has theistic traditions, but it also includes polytheistic, monistic, and atheistic traditions. Confucianism’s views on the religious ultimate are unclear, and Buddhism explicitly denies the existence of an eternal Creator.

2. Death. Hinduism and Buddhism both accept the idea of multiple rebirths regulated by karma. The Bible, by contrast, teaches that there is only one life, after which all persons face judgment before God (Heb. 9:27; Rev. 20:11–15).

3. Sin. Many religions, particularly Hinduism and Buddhism, identify the root problem afflicting humankind as ignorance about the true nature of reality. But the Bible teaches that the problem is not ignorance but sin, that is, deliberate rejection of God and his ways (Isa. 59:2; Rom. 3:9–26). Moreover, contrary to Confucianism, the Bible teaches that after the fall of Adam and Eve all humankind has been corrupted by sin infecting their moral nature, so that people are not inherently good but sinful (Genesis3; Rom. 3:9–20; 5:12–14).

4. Soul. Buddhism teaches that there is no enduring, substantial soul that passes from one life to another. But the Bible teaches that there is an immaterial dimension of the person, created by God, which continues to exist after death (Matt. 10:28; Rev. 6:9; 20:4).

5. Salvation. Although some forms of bhakti Hinduism and Pure Land Buddhism do teach that salvation cannot be attained through one’s own efforts but rather is a gift from another being, Islam, along with most other religious traditions, teaches that salvation is based on one’s own deeds. But the Bible clearly states that salvation is not something that human beings can earn through their own efforts; it is the gift of God’s grace, which is to be accepted by faith (Rom. 3:20, 28; Eph. 2:8–9).

6. Christ’s incarnation. The Bible teaches that the eternal Creator is a tri-personal Being, and that the second person of this Trinity, while remaining fully God, became a man (John 1:1–14; Rom. 1:3–4; Phil. 2:7–8; Col. 2:9). In a unique onetime event, the Son of God became incarnate as the historical person Jesus of Nazareth. The Hindu notion of avatar, by contrast, concerns multiple manifestations of
Vishnu as both humans and animals, and involves legendary figures such as Krishna, not actual historical persons. In fact, no other world religions teach that the eternal Son of God became a true man.

7. Christ’s preeminence. Jesus is not just another great religious teacher. The truth of Jesus’ teachings cannot be separated from its grounding in the person of Christ as the incarnate Word of God, the eternal, omnipotent Son of God who shares fully in all the attributes of God. It is because of who he is and what he has done on the cross that Jesus is himself the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6), the only Savior for all humankind (Acts 4:12).

8. Christ’s substitution. The Bible teaches that salvation is based on the sinless life (Heb. 4:15) and the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross, as he took upon himself the punishment for the sins of the world (Rom. 3:25–26; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 John 2:2). There is nothing like this teaching in Hinduism, Buddhism, or Confucianism, and it is explicitly denied in Islam.

9. Christ’s resurrection. The Buddha, Confucius, Muhammad, and Jesus all died, but there is no reliable historical record of any—apart from Jesus—being resurrected after death (1Cor. 15:1–8). It is because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ that we, too, can have victory over sin and death and anticipate our own resurrection to eternal life with God (Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 15:20–22, 54–58).

Extract taking from the ESV study bible, The Bible and World Religions http://www.esvstudybible.org/images/excerpt-religions.pdf

*The article had previously surveyed the teachings contained in other religions. This extract comes after the surveying of the other religions. It is worth reading to gain understanding of the other religions. http://www.esvstudybible.org/images/excerpt-religions.pdf

Thursday, 15 December 2011

A Christmas ball

What a happy scene of merry dancers dancing to a foreign tune not far of the coast. Boys and girls dressed marvellously, beautifully and handsomely not one of whom I could say spoilt the scene perhaps except I. Each were dancing with a smile, burning off the sweet dinner which occupied them shortly before. I did put out my hands, surprised to be taking by some beautiful lassies




who danced way better than I could dream and smiled so free which made me believe that all in this room were having a splendid time. Some did tire but some did endure till the last dance which culminated in a final stretch of future Kings and queens this world to own, danced and spun with their partners till the music stopped.
K.Oni

Miscellanies 25 - All found in the same room

The vision my friends is for a renewed society and renewal of human life. It is said that the lion will lie down with the lamb as well as the wolf with the kid. In the kingdom of Christ, as it is here and as it should be, the rapist is found in the same room as the raped, the persecutor is in the same room as the persecuted, the wicked and vile dictator are in the same room as the poor, the homosexuals are in the same room with the religious, the educated found in the same room as the uneducated and all those who were aggressors as well as the victims were found in the same room. Those who were apathetic are found in the same room as those with great zeal. In this room are they all found together, singing and rejoicing, creating a new society where injustice and hatred are gone. The only things hated are those things which are intangible, evil spirits, principalities and ideologies which are contrary to Christ’s kingdom principles. Be what you may my friend, the door is open to you. Come inside and be transformed, to be one as we are in Christ Jesus.

K.Oni

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Rene and Poet 14

Poet facing Rene, trying to keep a straight face retold of how he spoke to his beloved of his long love for her.


Poet: Rene I shall now tell you of the story of how finally I told my beloved of the heavenly love I had for her. After you left me I struggled for a while within my soul whether to declare to her of my consuming desire to know her. 


The struggle within my soul went like this: Oh Poet, tonight is the night I must break my yoke. I wished it happened spontaneously wherein I had no time to contemplate my words. Nerves have penetrated the depths of me and since I’ve desired and been persuaded by Rene, I must deliver. This is my first voyage of this kind and before I sail I am stricken with a fever of a familiar kind. Some have called it sea sickness and if I encounter it now without ever sailing how much more when I and the sea should meet. I am sure those amiable dovelike eyes will do not much to calm my nerves but I must be a man - I must fasten my belt, hold my head high and swim if the ship should wreck. I reminisce on my training and how sweet she was to me and how happy and sad we did play in my imaginations. But have I taking her kindness for love and fall deluded to her heavenly smile; whatever truth it may be, one thing I know is that I am in love and she is worthy for me to tell her although I be so unworthy of such a companion. Oh my heart, whatever flames may burn I must burn with it. Whatever she says I must be content with it. Oh my soul can we ever love again - will we be able to sail again if we cannot sail on her steady calm stream. Such was the reasoning’s within my soul that I was persuaded at last that I must know for the sake of my own soul, for the sake of peace and sleep.


Rene: Even to the end, you struggled internally. But I am proud of you my boy, now pour on me the sugar of your story. For I see a lively lavish smile twinkling in your eyes. I know you too well my love to ever keep me in suspense. Tell me of the pleasure in declaring to her your love - I fear now I shall never see you again. 


Poet declared to Rene what happened in their conversation and of how she had felt the same way. She loved him and he loved her - both now united after a season of deep affectionate longings for one another. 

K.Oni

Cursing, Warnings and Threatenings in the old testament fulfilled in Jesus

All of the promises that we read of in the old testament all find their fulfilment in Jesus Christ because Paul the Apostle writes in 2 Corinthians 1:20 For all the promises of God find their yes in him. But this is not only true of all the promises, we can say also that all of the cursing, warnings and threatenings in the old testament also points forward to Christ and is fulfilled in Christ. For example, Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. In the old testament Lambs represented a sin or guilt offering.  Lev 14:12-13 ‘And the priest shall take one of the male lambs and offer it for a guilt offering, along with the log of oil, and wave them for a wave offering before the LORD. And he shall kill the lamb in the place where they kill the sin offering and the burnt offering, in the place of the sanctuary.’ Jesus became the sin bearer as he hung on that cross and bore the curse of God, as it is written ‘anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse’ Deut 21:23. Jesus drank the full measure of God’s wrath and was cursed for our sakes. Every illustration of God’s wrath against sin, and its punishment of sin all look forward to the wrath that was poured out on Jesus at the cross.  Isaiah tells us that God wounded Jesus for our transgressions and laid all of our iniquities upon him. There wasn’t a sin that Jesus didn’t pay for on the cross, that his all the sins of his people, he bore God’s wrath on their behalf. All of the curse, threatenings and warnings that God spoke against sinners in the old testament, Christ fulfilled them or when he returns he will complete the final execution against them.

While Jesus bore God’s wrath against sin on the cross, when he returns he will execute final judgment against sinners.  Psalm 7:12-13 ‘If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts.’ All earlier judgments points towards the final judgment which Christ himself will execute. If a person is found not to be in Christ on the day of judgment, there is no Passover lamb to cover their sins, but all the curse and wrath of God will fall upon them like a mighty waterfall executed by Jesus Himself because all the punishment of sin promised in the old testament is fulfilled at his return.

Therefore, let us take a secure covering and clothe ourselves with the skin of the lamb lest we be found naked and perish forever.

K.Oni

A prayer for my soul - I thank you God that you are my Father

I thank you God that you are a Loving Father
One in whom there is no deceit nor lie.
Each morning, you arise to care for your children
And each night you spread your blanket over them.
You have provided a Shepherd to guide and lead them
You have given them a comforter to always comfort them.
I thank you God that you are my Father
And have richly lavished your grace and joy upon me
I thank you God, I cannot thank you enough
Of how glad my heart is that you are my Father.
I pray that your children will know that you are for them
In their trials, pain and miseries, that you will never leave nor forsake them.
It is you who delighted to be our God, our ever providing Father
Supplying all our needs and giving us our daily bread.
Forgive us when we fail to trust, fail to see your kind and merciful heart.
Forgive us when we doubt your Fatherly ways.
Oh My God, my Daddy and King 
To whom belong all glory and praise
I love you but I pray I may love you more.
I have settled with my heart to always trust
To always believe that you work it all for my good.
You are my Father, when everything seems to fail, this I shall know
That you are forever my Father, who gave all for poor sinful me.
I thank you God that you are a loving Father.

K.Oni

Monday, 12 December 2011

Who dreams of me

I wonder what heart holds me dear
This Christmas a present would make them glad
Of me unwrapped to make them smile 
To have me sit side by side.


Must wander for a while off this dream
To sit by reality and ask of him
A vivid picture if there is
Such a one who dreams of me. 


Whatever picture portrayed I beg it be
As lively as rain upon the skin
Wetting the hair, drenching the brow
Thence I know its reality I see.

K.Oni

Chasing after holiness

I have heard many say that they would like to be more holy and live a more godly life. But I should ask, why do you want to live a holy and a more godly life? In your hearts of heart, what is your ultimate aim in seeking such a goal. Your answer may prove to be defective or effective in what happens in your pursuit.

I wonder what answer you have come up with, perhaps some of them run along these lines:
To have a clearer conscience
To please God
To please your family and peers
It is what is expected of you
To gain your salvation

Your answers may not be listed in the above but I’ll suggest a few reasons for why we should pursue holiness:

1.  Because God is holy* -  We should pursue holiness because God is holy and because we want to be like him. If your hearts desire is to be truly like God, to be like His Son Jesus Christ, then pursuing holiness becomes something of a joy rather than a chore. It becomes a delight to the soul. Consider who your heroes are and the excellent things that they do, is it not your joy to be able to imitate them and to be like them. Therefore you speak consistently of wishing to be like them and it excites your heart. Your motivation is born of excitements and the joy in being like them captivates your soul because there is something about them that you truly love and wishes was your own. Likewise consider God in a greater way, let him first excite and captivate your soul, let his holiness be like a pearl, a treasure that you desire to obtain, let his whole being be the end of your heart and you shall pursue his holiness in a joyful and easy way because your heart truly loves him and really wants to be like him. Until you have this joy of becoming like him in your heart, your pursuit will be like that of a boy who does an unwilling errand for his mother.

2.   Because you want to see him* - The writer to the Hebrews tells us that without holiness no one will see God. If you truly want to see God because you truly love him, then your heart should be consumed with the passion of being holy. A man would travel a million miles to see the woman he loves so dear. He would gladly endure the storm, farewell the pleasures, and surrender his possessions, if at the end of it all he could be with the woman he loves forever. Likewise, are you willing to forego your passions and pleasures in order to be conformed to the image of Christ so that at the end of it all, you see God and dwell with him forever. You really need first to have a heart that is serious about wanting to see God, otherwise there will be no pleasure in your pursuit of holiness and your  pursuit will only resemble that of a boy who really doesn’t want to go back home for Christmas but has to and it frustrates him

3. Because you love God’s grace on your life *- God has done a wonderful thing for mankind in that in his mercy and grace He sent forth his dear Son to die for our sins. And those who accept his mercy and forgiveness are giving a new life and reconciled back to God. They are now to live a godly and holy life as a result of being thankful for what God has done for them. Because they are thankful for God’s grace, they seek to throw away every thing that brought about the death of God’s Son in the first place. As a result of this grace and mercy shown to them, they pursue holiness with a joyful and thankful heart. They are like a boy who gladly goes to the grocery shop for their mother because they appreciate all of the sacrifices that their mother has made for them.

Whatever answers you may have come with in chasing after holiness, I pray that you first settle in your heart that your pursuit is because God is holy and you really want to be like him, that you really want to see him and because you love his grace upon your life.*

Of course we are holy in Jesus Christ and counted righteous in him by his righteousness nevertheless we are to conform to this in this life and to reflect more of his image. We have the Holy Spirit to help us and God himself has not abandoned us to this task alone but He his determined to complete the good work that He started in you.

K.Oni

* 1Peter 1:16
* Hebrews 12:14
* Titus 2:11-14
* There are more good and valid reasons to seek after God’s holiness which leads to a joyful and glad pursuit. And I believe a right motivation determines whether we seek it with pleasure or do it because we have to and therefore not have a great in God’s holiness.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Wicked witch 1

I knew her to be a wicked witch, a dark uncontrollable detestable thing
This only true in her attitude and love, her eyes also betrays her charm.
One day I passed by her colossal vivid castle, warning all to enter in
But all were wise except I, who this morning had an inquisitive heart.
The black long gates opened all on their own, following a path which led me here
To doors wide and frightingly scary yet persisted I to enter in.
The sight amazed my little eyes, beautifully decorated all she had inside.
A golden lamp here and another there - she must be rich or by deceit obtained.
Cautious steps I dare to take, walking slow to observe her place
I did begin to feel a love I cannot explain - perhaps I’m caught in one of her charms.
Before, the town whispered a yarn of a kid who was much like I
A fool who marched to the wicked witch abode and after was only seen thrice each year.
I wondered hard but returned to the scene to observe the beauty that surrounded me.
A portrait Large endowed the hall, fuzzy and fizzing from distance obscure
But nearer and nearer fuzzy it stayed but could not depart my eyes from what it displayed.
Brazing plates of the richest in life decorated the frame of the picture at hand
With little birds although large in life, eagles and sparrows hugged the edge.
My fingers raised to trace the lines of the one appeared so sparkling bright
When my heart increased its pace appearing to hear a melodic grace.
A sweet aroma must have filled the place, incensed I became suddenly tamed
At last I thought I finally knew peace, but surely a spell of hers invoke
I expected drama of the ugliest kind, bats and dragons and smelly cakes
But light adorned her Solomon’s like porch, and soothing air the friendliest found
Which did encourage my little heart to finish the course.


(to be continued)


K.Oni

Miscellanies 24 - The importance of the inward sunshine

I must now even more than ever set my soul upon Christ if I am going to be of any good use to the company around me. That peace must first be established in my heart and soul, it must fill my mind and then my whole being if I am to maintain any legitimate contact or discussions with any souls. I am quick to forsake others if I am discontent internally - I seek not to stare your eyes nor care about your ways. But this is not edifying to my neighbours and I ought to love them, yea, each one as Christ loved His church. So it is of first importance for me to each day with a more lively earnestness seek and beg for his peace to feed my soul. It must be enough for me to last the day lest I should sink in utter despair and dismay about reasons why I belong not in this passing shadow. I am much fond of the sunshine only if I have sunshine within me, otherwise I am quick to sit within my own darkness and contemplate on the abounding wickedness of my own soul. I wish I was more a holy creature, already perfected, yea, already like Christ; perfectly sanctified and righteous without blemish or defect. But I am not, I have many spots upon my skin which displays the ugliness of my character. Those with discerning eyes see it immediately and I see it with greater clarity than all. It is critical for me therefore to meditate a while upon that doctrine of imputed righteousness lest I be driven to insanity and will to tear and rip my garment because of my reoccurring sins. I am but a man, a dying man who is aloof about his future plans and wishes, if there ever was a wand, to wave it and have it laid out before my very eyes. It is a little comfort to my soul that I have not a real friend but you, my soul, as a dear companion - a reasonable guide and poor comforter for many of my miseries. But I have the Spirit who is a better comfort and guides in a better path. I must each day fight the morning lusts of laziness and settle my soul in the identity which my heavenly Father has made for me - I must prepare with such carefulness lest I be lost for the day to the darkness of my own soul. Oh I must have the inward sunshine caused by beholding the beauty of my Lord.

K.Oni

Saturday, 10 December 2011

A review on C S Lewis, The problem of pain


C S Lewis is one of the most loved and respected names in Christian Literature in the last century. J I Packer a heavy weight theologian writes of Lewis’s influence in his article titled ‘The Literary bloke’ that among today’s Christians, the name of the Anglican Clive Staple Lewis of Ulster of Oxford and of Cambridge is a household word… Countless copies of his Mere Christianity and Screwtape Letters have resourced the past half-century's evangelism and nurture; countless copies of A Grief Observed have helped bereaved believers; and countless copies of the Narnia stories have enriched half a century's children. Conservative Christians everywhere - centrists and mainliners, as I would call them - see Lewis as one of God's best gifts to our era of anxiety, disbelieve, and moral and spiritual drift.[1]

C S Lewis became a Christian in 1929 after spending many years as an atheist. His conversion was simple and profound as He writes in his autobiography "In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed; that night a most dejected and reluctant convert in all England."[2] Lewis is quick to note that this ‘conversion’ was simply to theism, not full-blown Christianity which would come later. His full-blown conversion to Christianity came one afternoon as he was setting off to the zoo and as he reached his destination he believed that Jesus is the Son of God.

Lewis produced a series of masterpieces in Christian Apologetics such as The Problem of Pain, The Abolition of Man, Miracles, Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce. Through these works Lewis came to be known as a formidable defender of the Christian faith.

The Problem of Pain

In this brief book, The Problem of Pain C.S. Lewis offers a brilliant defence of Christian theism despite the pain in the world. The problem of Pain is another attempt at Christian theodicy, the defence of God’s goodness in the face of the world’s evils. Lewis’s arguments are similar to many theodicies in that it contains ideas of previous and present Christian thinkers. Lewis’s main argument is that Man’s suffering is a result of free will not an original creation of God thus not marring God’s goodness or character. Lewis observes the notion that "If God were good, He would make His creatures perfectly happy, and if He were almighty He would be able to do what he wished. But the creatures are not happy. Therefore God lacks either goodness, or power, or both."[3] Lewis believed that this is the problem of pain in its simplest form. Lewis with great clarity tells his readers how this problem can be solved when he writes: "The possibility of answering it depends on showing that the terms 'good' and 'almighty', and perhaps also the term 'happy', are equivocal: for it must be admitted from the outset that if the popular meanings attached to these words are the best, or the only possible, meaning, then the argument is unanswerable". But the argument is not unanswerable as Lewis in the following nine chapters develop this statement through a detailed reflection on Divine Omnipotence, Divine Goodness, Human wickedness, The Fall of Man, Human pain, Hell, Animal Pain and Heaven.

In Chapter 1 the introduction, Lewis begins on a personal note, “Not many years ago when I was an atheist, if anyone had asked me, "Why do you not believe in God?" my reply would have run something like this: "Look at the universe we live in…”. Lewis describes a meaningless universe which has no purpose because all the scientific evidence points to an ever expanding universe which began by mere chance and consequently will end in doom. Earth, for millions of years was empty and will empty all life from its atmosphere and all stories will come to nothing. As an atheist, he could not believe that this is the work of a benevolent and omnipotent spirit, and confesses that “all the evidence points in the opposite direction. Either there is no spirit behind the universe, or else a spirit indifferent to good and evil, or else an evil spirit."

Lewis noticed that the very strength and facility of the pessimists' case at once poses us a problem. “If the universe is so bad, or even half so bad, how on earth did human beings ever come to attribute it to the activity of a wise and good Creator?” A skeptic may simply reply that it was the result of wishful thinking but Lewis affirms that this attribute or spectacle of the universe is something religion acquired from a different source. The source is to be found with the three elements found in all developed religion and in Christianity one more. The three elements found in all religions are: The experience of the Numinous (A sense of awe), the Sense of Morality, and the Numinous as the Guardian of Morality. 


Christianity contains a fourth element: A Redeemer who reconciles fallen mankind to the Righteous God. Lewis sums up this argument with the concrete view that we could not have invented the story of Christ ourselves therefore we have a good God and this very fact creates the problem of pain, rather than solving it because if God is not good then the problem of pain would never arise.

After establishing the fact that the reason why we have the problem of pain is because we have a good God, Lewis begins with God Almighty. What is the meaning of God’s omnipotence? Lewis describes God’s omnipotence to mean that God does not have the power to do anything but God does have power to do anything that is consistent with his nature. “God has the power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible. We may attribute miracles to him, but not nonsense.” Lewis then submits the idea that not even omnipotence could create a society of free souls without at the same time creating a relatively independent and “inexorable” nature. The universe Lewis establishes is a world where free souls can communicate and have the freedom to choose. These souls being free, may take advantage of fixed laws of nature to hurt one another and if we “Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free-wills involve, and you will find that you have excluded life itself”. Humans therefore possess a free will and as a consequence pain is unavoidable unless Man constantly chooses that which is the best for him, namely, God. Lewis also speaks of the freedom of God writing that “The freedom of God consists in the fact that no cause other than Himself produces His acts and no external obstacle impedes them - that His own goodness is the root from which they all grow and His own omnipotence the air in which they all flower.” Lewis ends the chapter with the view that the universe is the creation of a wise and omnipotent God but how can we be assured that God is good and not see a contradiction on how God could be good and let pain exist in His world.

Lewis’s big idea in his 3rd chapter Divine goodness is that God’s definition of goodness must include human pain. The dilemma is this: “If God is wiser than we His judgment must differ from ours on many things, and not least on good and evil. What seems to us good may therefore not be good in His eyes, and what seems to us evil may not be evil. On the other hand, if God’s moral judgment differs from ours so that our black may be His white, we can mean nothing by calling Him good; for to say, ‘God is Good,’ while asserting that His goodness is wholly other than ours, is really only to say, ‘God is we know not what.” Lewis proposes an escape from this dilemma by suggesting that since God is our moral compass there must then be a degree of agreement between both parties. Lewis uses this analogy to explain how we can come to an agreement: “when the man of inferior moral standards enters the society of those who are better and wiser than he and gradually learns to accept their standards.” The inferior party in this case is Man who needs to enter the society of God and as man begins to learn of God’s moral standard God will only ask men to reverse theirs. God’s moral judgement thus differs from ours “not as white from black but as a perfect circle from a child’s first attempt to draw a wheel.” Lewis asserts that “when Man speaks of the goodness of God they mean almost exclusively His lovingness. Thus when Christians say that God is love we interpret it to only mean kindness - the desire to see others than the self-happy; not happy in this way or in that, but just happy. What would really satisfy us would be a God who said of anything we happened to like doing, "What does it matter so long as they are contented?" We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven - a senile benevolence who, as they say, "liked to see young people enjoying themselves". Lewis discards this view of love and says that God’s love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness. Lewis describes the nature of this love and that we are the object of His serious love. We have a loving God who desires the best for us “When we want to be something other than the thing God wants us to be, we must be wanting what, in fact, will not make us happy.” Thus God may use suffering to prune his creatures until they are lovable because this is the aim of his love. Pain and divine goodness viewed from this perspective only affirms the goodness of God’s character and pain is corollary to God’s goodness. Pain is thus necessary for the alteration of Man’s character because men need such alteration. Lewis covers this necessity in chapter 4 Human wickedness.

Men have abused their free-will to become very bad, therefore a God of love must hate sin and be full of wrath against it. Men long ago, in the time of the apostles had a real consciousness of deserving the divine anger thus the gospel was preached as a remedy. But today, argues Lewis, all this has changed, and “Christianity now has to preach the diagnosis - in itself very bad news - before it can win a hearing for the cure. For generations, human goodness has been preached to us and thus when we merely say that we are bad, the wrath of God seems a barbarous doctrine; as soon as we perceive our badness, it appears inevitable, a mere corollary from God’s goodness.” Thus the problem is with man and not with God. Lewis then devotes some time in undoing false beliefs and shattering the idea that Man is good and not wicked. Lewis points out the fact that moral beliefs contain basic consistencies regardless of background; each belief agrees that man has problem and need fixing. God is morally perfect and we are not, He is Holy and we are not therefore Lewis in this chapter has been trying to make the reader believe that “we actually are, at present, creatures whose character must be, in some respects, a horror to God, as it is, when we really see it, a horror to ourselves.” And because we are a horror to ourselves and abominable to God, God’s love seeks to change that through the gospel, namely, through the death of God’s Son which was an event that could not be accomplished except through pain.[4]

Lewis explains the reason why this state of affair came about which he rightly understand to be the Christian doctrine of the fall of man. According to that doctrine, writes Lewis, “man is now a horror to God and to himself and a creature ill-adapted to the universe not because God made him so but because he has made himself so by the abuse of his free will.” Lewis then discusses two theories on the origin of evil: Monism and Dualism. Both these views tarnishes the goodness of God’s character but the Christian doctrine of the fall of man asserts that “God is good; that He made all things good and for the sake of their goodness; that one of the good things He made, namely, the free will of rational creatures, by its very nature included the possibility of evil; and that creatures, availing themselves of this possibility, have become evil.” Man was created to serve and love God, sin is a rejection of this which is our most basic function and it results in human wickedness and creates a world where man is hurtful towards one another. God allows this because men have free-will and were he to step in at every turn we would not really have free choices. One could argue that the choices are still free but at every turn God is choosing out of his own sovereign goodness to immediately correct the bad choices.

Lewis spends the next two chapters dealing with human pain. The big idea in his first dealing with human pain is that the value of pain shatters our illusion. Pain shatters the illusion that all is well “We can rest contentedly in our sins and in our stupidities; and anyone who has watched gluttons shoveling down the most exquisite foods as if they did not know what they were eating, will admit that we can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists on being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Pain shatters the illusion that we have all we need: “Let me implore the reader to try to believe, if only for a moment, that God, who made these deserving people, may really be right when he thinks that their modest prosperity and the happiness of their children are not enough to make them blessed: that all this must fall from them in the end, and that if they have not learned to know Him they will be wretched.”

Pain shatters the illusion of human divinity: “the movement ‘full speed astern’ by which we retrace our long journey from paradise, the untying of the old, hard knot, must be when the creature, with no desire to aid it, stripped naked to the bare willing of obedience, embraces what is contrary to its nature, and does that for which only one motive is possible.”

Pain is thus meant to be a guide, a teacher of true self-sufficiency that is to make us rely solely on God and to help us submit to the divine will. A scriptural support for Lewis’s views is perhaps Hebrews 12:10-11, ‘For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.’

Lewis 2nd dealing with Human Pain deals with six propositions regarding pain which Lewis saw as necessary to complete our account of human suffering which do not arise out of one another and must therefore be given in an arbitrary order. The six propositions are (the list will only be listed and nothing more will be said about them):1. There is a paradox tribulation in Christian suffering. 2. Tribulation is necessary in redemption. 3. The Christian doctrine of self-surrender and obedience is purely theological and not political. 4. The Christian doctrine of suffering explains the world we live in. 5. We must never overestimate pain.
6. Of all evils, pain only is sterilized or disinfected evil.

Lewis sums up this chapter lingering on his last proposition that pain when done is done, contrary to un-repented sin which is a fountain of continual and fresh errors. Lewis also understood that pain may not yield the desired effect which will lead to eternal damnation and therefore devotes the next chapter on hell. Lewis expresses his own disgust with the notion of hell but He defends it showing that it is both logical and moral. Lewis writes -“I am not going to try to prove the doctrine tolerable. Let us make no mistake; it is not tolerable. But I think the doctrine can be shown to be moral, by a critique of the objections ordinarily made, or felt, against it.” 


Lewis devotes chapter nine to animal pain and Lewis confesses himself that the Christian explanation of human pain cannot be extended to animal pain and about the end of animals, which we just don’t know. Perhaps Lewis could have devoted a chapter to whether angels felt pain or perhaps the angels who feels pain are the fallen ones.


Lewis ends His book on the vision of heaven which is the true end and home of humanity. Lewis’s big idea in this chapter is that heaven is the solution to the problem of pain. Christians should not be afraid to speak of heaven although it may be ridiculed as a ‘pie in the sky’, or that heaven is a bribe. We should desire it and in fact the desire for heaven is the secret signature of each soul. Your soul Lewis writes has a “curious shape because it is a hollow made to fit a particular swelling in the infinite contours of the divine substance, or a key to unlock one of the doors in the house with many mansions.”

K.Oni


*missing from this review is my own personal views whether I agree or disagree with Lewis

[1] The Literary Bloke (1998) J I Packer

[2] C.S. Lewis: Surprised by Joy

[3] All quotation without refrence are from the problem of pain. I read the book on a PDF without page numbers.

[4] My personal inferenc
e from what Lewis may mean

A Prayer for my soul - confession and petition

Holy Lord, I have sinned times without number, and been guilty of pride and
unbelief, of failure to find Thy mind in Thy Word, of neglect to seek Thee in my daily life.
My transgressions and short-comings present me with a list of accusations, but I bless
Thee that they will not stand against me, for all have been laid on Christ. Go on to
subdue my corruptions, and grant me grace to live above them. Let not the passions of
the flesh nor lustings of the mind bring my spirit into subjection, but do Thou rule over
me in liberty and power.

I thank Thee that many of my prayers have been refused. I have asked amiss and
do not have, I have prayed from lusts and been rejected, I have longed for Egypt and
been given a wilderness. Go on with Thy patient work, answering 'no' to my wrongful
prayers, and fitting me to accept it. Purge me from every false desire, every base
aspiration, everything contrary to Thy rule. I thank Thee for Thy wisdom and Thy love, for
all the acts of discipline to which I am subject, for sometimes putting me into the furnace
to refine my gold and remove my dross.

No trial is so hard to bear as a sense of sin. If Thou shouldst give me choice to
live in pleasure and keep my sins, or to have them burnt away with trial, give me
sanctified affliction. Deliver me from every evil habit, every accretion of former sins,
everything that dims the brightness of Thy grace in me, everything that prevents me
taking delight in Thee. Then I shall bless Thee, God of jeshurun, for helping me to be
upright.

Puritan Prayers

Friday, 9 December 2011

On Lobbying

I often find myself denying it. Usually at social gatherings where I meet new people and I am asked: “So, what do you do?” I've developed a little patter that explains my job. I explain that I represent Christians to parliament and government, but the response is often the same: “You're basically a lobbyist then?”
 
And I guess I am. Except I usually try and avoid the term, opting instead for something more diplomatic, something less likely to attract sneers and criticism. The revelations theIndependent has published this week  will perhaps give you some measure of sympathy for such hesitancy.
 
I could make all sorts of arguments in my defence. I could suggest the causes I work for are considerably more just than the massaging of Uzbekistan's human rights record. I could look to the Bible and the examples of Mordecai and Esther, Joseph and Daniel - people who had the ear of the King. But I still feel tainted by association.
 
On one level, the allegations are hardly shocking: 'top lobbyists claim to influence PM'. After all, one of the main purposes of lobbying is to influence politicians, and surely the best and most well-paid would at least claim they could reach the very top of the pile.
 
However, the reaction that came out of 10 Downing Street gave us an insight into how toxic the label of lobbyist has become: “It simply isn't true to say Bell Pottinger or any other lobby company has influenced government policy. Clearly it is in their interests to tell their clients that they can provide them with a service, and that is what they appear to be doing.”
 
For the prime minister's spokesperson to claim that lobbyists had no influence is surely beyond credibility. I don't want the government to be above influence. I want them to listen and to act in response. A government should hear what people are saying. But not just people with the money to pay for a million-pound lobbying contract, or former colleagues now nestling in the comfortable chairs afforded by their contact book.
 
How much of relationship do we miss when this is how we view them? When we view each relationship by what we can get out of it. When a meeting with someone we don't yet know is more of a chance to exchange business cards than to understand who that person is. When networking is about ‘working the room’, meeting as many people as possible, preferably in order of importance, and doing one's utmost to avoid getting nailed into one conversation for too long.
 
When this is what relationships are about, is it any wonder that we feel lonely and thathalf a million older people will spend this Christmas alone?
 
Relationship management is not a grubby little business of trading contacts for money, or selling whatever ideas or business will net you the biggest profit. Politics has to be about a lot more than that. There has to be a human, authentic, transparent way of relating to each other, a way that sees every person as created in the image of God and not as commodities to help you get ahead.
 
Relationships are about knowing others and being known. They are not always mutually beneficial. They may be marred by hurt and pain, and heartache and disaster. They are about arguments over how long the turkey will take and they are the joy we feel when we see our family again. They are about knowing a person, and not just their phone number.
 
And at the time when perhaps we remember this the most, relationships are about God with us

Danny Webster, parliamentary officer - Evangelical Alliance