Wednesday, 29 February 2012

I thought it all I lost


I thought it all I lost once won


by grace and now lost by works I done.


O finished in despair I cried


Finished finished finished I am.


Then remembered I on a rainy day


that once the sorrowful man once avowed   


'It is finished', no more merits may be add.


It is done, no more sinners may cry!

K.Oni

Willingly yet unwillingly


Tis true the prison I entered again


Willingly yet unwillingly my soul betrays


An un-canning eye for that of which I was freed


Despairing of it after it has been committed.


Oh once again that diffusing ray


Quicken my soul to once again hate


That bitter taste which wages is death


That filthy stench which pollutes the world and soul.

K.Oni

Monday, 27 February 2012

Book Review: What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him


book title frontThis book challenges Fathers to be fathers to their sons by calling men to love Jesus which will make them real men. Byron Forrest Yawn presses various issues about manhood and masculinity through the filter of the gospel, being shocked in his survey on biblical manhood at the lack of the mentioning of Jesus Christ. Yawn radically affirms that Masculinity cannot make sense without the cross and that what the church needs are warriors of the gospel of Christ not boys trapped in men’s bodies. Manhood is the most complete in that image of Jesus, the maker of heaven and earth, on his knees like a commonplace servant washing the disciples feet. Pastors are to install this view of Manhood into the young men in the churches and Fathers should not neglect their responsibilities in being spiritual leaders in the home.

Byron Forrest Yawn talks about men in marriages and raising a family. He writes of men thinking about their own leadership at home that the question isn’t. ‘I’m I a leader?’ but do I take pleasure in sacrificing my own needs to meet those of my wife?’ How one answers this question may reveal the selfishness or one’s lack of grasping what the gospel is. Also Yawn says of chastity, the question is not ‘are you chaste’.  Impurity is a matter of the heart. The real question is ‘why are you chaste’. Because of moral pleasure? Because the opportunity to be impure has not presented itself. Because your parents and peers keep a close eye on you. Or because you believe what God has said about sex? This type of questions enables one to search the motivation within ones heart whether it is Christ driven or self pursuing.

Fathers are to teach their kids and take time to explore life with their sons and find out what their dreams are together not to neglect their sons to find it out for themselves. Sons are to be taught about sex and are to know that fulfilling sex  - as God intended it  -results from a consistently sacrificial relationship built on the principle of unconditional love.

Writing about friendships Yawn writes that there could be other reasons men don’t invest in friendships. Maybe they have something to hide. Namely, themselves. Some men may be to embarrassed to expose the realities lurking in their personal and spiritual life. The shallowness of their soul. The ineptitude with the basic of the Christian life. They don’t know how to lead their wives. Their finances are a mess. They are a failure in business and etc. Uncovering their struggles to another person seems the most frightening prospect they can imagine. Squaring with reality would be the hardest thing they’ve ever done. The risk is too great.

This book I highly recommend for all men to read whether a Father or not for it prepares you to abstain from grave mistakes that some Fathers make in raising their sons and if a Father this book helps you uncover the responsibility of your role in raising your sons and preparing them for life and biblical manhood. Yawn writes ‘The majority of men start discovering at forty what someone should have told them at eight. By the time we realize these hidden wrinkles, the’ve already done their damage. And they’re hard to untangle.


“Above all else, sons need to know their fathers love them. Every son needs to hear his dad say ‘I love you’. Its not really optional. This is especially true when it’s hardest to say - when their sons fail or disappoint” p56.

What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him can be purchased at: http://harvesthousepublishers.com/book/what-every-man-wishes-his-father-had-told-him-2012/


K.Oni

Book Review: Another Man's war


Another Man's War: The True Story of One Man's Battle to Save Children in the SudanDeath hides in the tall grass of South Sudan. What looks like an empty landscape can explode at any moment is the constant environment Sam Childers finds himself in when He is away from his own family to fight another man’s war in a country not his own. Another man’s war is Childers way of explaining his life mission of what God has called him into, luring him away from his chaotic background. Another Man’s war is a thrilling read which documents Childers exciting dark past to his exciting life-giving action packed present, which he aims to protect and provide for orphanage kids who have been victims of  Joseph Kony’s Lord Resistance Army.

Childers believes in fighting back and understands some people will say “I don’t believe Jesus would fight”. Childers agrees and responds by saying “He probably wouldn’t. He turned water into wine. He’d handled it some other way. I’m no theologian but I know what I know. The fighting we’ve done in Sudan and Uganda has produced an oasis of peace and safety in a very dangerous part of the world. If you were to visit there today you could see it for yourself” p115.

One aim of this book is to raise awareness for his work and he comments on the uselessness of some of the rich organizations to go to the difficult places: “What I want to know is why its easy for a big organization to get millions of dollars through the system, only to end up afraid to deliver the goods, while an organization like mine that is not afraid of war and is willing to go over and beyond to save lives has to struggle so hard with only what we raise ourselves” p71. Sam Childers and his crew of soldiers constantly travel to the dangerous areas in order to supply aid to those whom NGO workers are scared to visit because of ambushes.

Sam Childers is here to fight another mans war, fighting for children and innocent victims who couldn’t fight for themselves, and staying the course until the war was over. His African operation has rescued more than 900 refugees of all ages and in time Childers got involved in a real war between African governments, between lawlessness and right, evil butchery and compassion, brutally brainwashed soldiers and helpless, innocent children. Childers provides a safe house (orphanage) for these children and besides feeding the children and the workers they feed anyone in the neighbourhood who comes at meal time, which adds to about 1500 meals a day.

Sam Childers believes that he is fighting for the children and families God sent him to protect. Fighting for the right than nothing more for them to live in peace, worship in freedom, and wake up in the morning knowing that they’l be alive and safe at the end of it.

Sam Childers also encourages his readers whenever they can to steer the conversation towards people and humanitarian aid rather than worry about oil and relationship with China which seems to concern our governments more than genocide.

You can purchase Another Man's war here: http://www.machinegunpreacher.org/store/media/another-mans-war-book/

K.Oni

Book Review: Real Marriage: the truth about sex, friendship and life together


In Real Marriage: the truth about sex, friendship and life together, Mark and Grace Driscoll openly communicate the reality of their marriage, sharing their difficulties, struggles and success (how they overcame their difficulties) to the world. This book is frank, transparent and pastoral in that it aims to help marriages to stand on the solid rock which is Christ and to be rooted in the Gospel. It emphasises friendship to be a key factor in a good marriage. They write “All the talk about spending time and doing life together, making memories, being a good listener, growing old and taking care of each other, being honest, having the long view of things, repenting and forgiving can be summed up in one word—friendship." Repentance and forgiveness are to be continual in a marriage because both are sinners. A refusal to endure in the willingness to forgive and repent may result in living a bitter marriage and a loveless ordeal. Commenting on the story of John Wesley’s marriage which some biographers have called the “30 years war” the Driscolls write “The painful story of the Wesleys reminds us that there are no loving marriages apart from repentance and forgiveness, Marriage either gets bitter or gets better.”

The book is divided into three parts which have chapters consequently related to the title of the different sections. Part 1 deals with Marriage, Part 2 Sex and Part 3 The last day. Each chapter of the section will appeal to different audiences and because the book is written by the couple, there are different addresses directed to only one part of the sexes. Mark and Grace are complimentarian in their views on marriage but even those with differing perspective can learn and gain an helpful insight into marital issues and how to overcome them biblically.

Part 2 of Real Marriage deals heavily with sex answering questions of what a married couple may do in their marital bed. Mark and Grace list a variety of sexual acts and using three criteria’s to judge whether these acts are permissible. Mark and Grace promote a positive view of sex declaring that sex is a gift from God rather than sex being gross. Sex is to be enjoyed and should be used to God's glory.

Reading this book as an unmarried man, I have enjoyed the openness and frankness of Mark’s and Grace portrayal of their own marriage. In some way it has prepared me for some of the challenges that are likely to occur if one day I do get married and the best ways to prevent some of the problems occurring and how to tackle them when they do. This book has benefits to all, those in marriages and those thinking about marriage. One has to be aware of the explicitness of the details prescribed in chapter 10 where the authors answer questions on what sexual activity are permissible. In approaching these chapters one has to be prepared and guard their heart from wandering into fantasy of what these acts entail but rather if married to talk it through with their wife and if single and know not of these things to seek out their meanings in non-pornographic materials.

Purchase Real Marriage: the truth about sex, friendship and life together at http://www.amazon.com/Real-Marriage-Truth-Friendship-Together/dp/140020383X/?tag=thegospcoal-20

K.Oni

Friday, 24 February 2012

Looking to Him

There are two Whitney Houstons in my head. One the young chirpy, squeaky clean, pop princess prancing about in the video to I Wanna Dance with Somebody. She was the Whitney I imitated while dancing and singing around in my bedroom as a little girl.

Hopeful. Optimistic. A future.

The other Whitney is the limp, haggard and frail addict who became drug dealer ‘Uncle John’s’ most lucrative client in her darkest days.

Tired. Lost. The past.

As the world was given a view into the soulful yet heart-wrenching funeral service for the singer at New Hope Baptist Church on Saturday, we remembered both Whitney the star and Whitney the lost soul whose need to be loved drove her to addiction and destruction.

From the pulpit at the New Jersey church, Kevin Costner, who co-starred in the film The Bodyguard which sent her career into the stratosphere, fought the lump in his throat as he shared Whitney’s insecurities. “Am I good enough? Am I pretty enough? Will they like me? It was the part that made her great,” he said. “And the part that made her stumble in the end.”

Though we were shocked by Whitney’s untimely death, we were not surprised. Because we have seen this so many times before. Some of the greatest talents have reached the heights of fame only to sink to the drink and drug-fuelled lows which eventually lead to their tragic ends. 

In the days that followed the deaths of Kurt Cobain, of Michael Jackson, of Amy Winehouse and so on and so on, psychologists cited the narcissism of celebrities and their craving for access to the ‘highs’ they get when on stage, bathing in the adoration of their fans.

But there is one thing that marks Whitney’s death apart from most of the others.  She was a Christian. Here was a woman whose faith in God and love of Christ we have heard emphasised throughout the obituaries and underlined at the gospel-filled funeral service. Through the highest highs and the lowest lows, her faith remained constant. So shouldn’t she have found it easy to resist the drink and the drugs?

Her stunning voice may have echoed the beauty of God’s creation, but how did her life reflect Christ through the slurred words, profanities and erratic behaviour?

How do our lives reflect Christ?

Whitney’s story is a sobering reminder that though we love a perfect God, we ourselves are imperfect. We need to take care not to succumb to the things of the flesh. We must guard our hearts and our minds and keep our eyes fixed on the one in whom we find perfect love and acceptance.  For 40 days, this is what Jesus did in the desert when tempted by the world. He kept his eyes firmly on God, and did not waver. He resisted despite attempts to cause him to sin.

During this period of Lent, we try to imitate Christ’s endurance by giving up things we crave or become addicted to. Whether we become addicted to chocolate, or Facebook, or the TV; or whether we become addicted to drugs or alcohol. Our addictions are an attempt to fill an emptiness in our lives. In becoming dependent on these worldly fixes we are in effect saying that God is not sufficient for us.

As we remember Christ’s endurance in the desert and look ahead to his death and glorious resurrection, may we not look for worldly pleasures which satisfy for a moment and lead to destruction, but look to Him who says: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” (John 11:25)

“Winter storms have come/
And darkened my sun/
After all that I’ve been through/
Who on earth can I turn to?
 
I look to you
I look to you
After all my strength is gone
In you I can be strong.”
            (I Look to You, as sung by Whitney Houston)
 
Chine Mbubaegbu - Editor, Evangelical Alliance 

Why Did God Let Paul Become a Murderer?


We know that before Paul was born God had set him apart for his apostleship.

He who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles. (Galatians 1:15–16).

And we know that Paul became a Christian-hating (Acts 9:1), Christ-persecuting (Acts 9:5), zealot (Philippians 3:6Galatians 1:14) before  he was converted. Forever after he would call himself “the chief of sinners” because of these wicked days (1 Timothy 1:151 Corinthians 15:9).

We also know that God broke into Paul’s life dramatically and decisively to bring him to faith (Acts 9:3–19). Which means that he could have planned the Damascus Road encounter before Paul imprisoned and murdered Christians. But he didn’t.

His purpose, therefore, was to allow Paul to become the “chief of sinners” and then save him, and make him the apostle who would write thirteen books of the New Testament.

Why? Why do it this way? Why choose him before birth to be an apostle? Then let him sink into wicked and violent opposition to Christ? And then save him dramatically and decisively on the Damascus road? Why.

Here are six reasons. The first two are explicit in the biblical text. The last four are clear inferences from the first two. God did it this way…

1. To put the perfect patience of Christ on display.
“I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience.” (1 Timothy 1:16)

2. To encourage those who think they are too sinful to have hope.
“I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:16)

3. To show that God saves hardened haters of Christ, who have even murdered Christians.

4. To show that God permits his much-loved elect to sink into flagrant wickedness.

5. To show that God can make the chief of sinners the chief of missionaries.

6. To show a powerless, persecuted, marginalized church that they can triumph by the supernatural conversion of their most powerful foes.

By John Piper

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Miscellanies 30 - Seek to be like Jesus rather than to be like the world


It is true my friend that many would rather gain the world than to follow Jesus. This is evidence because many will rather chase and be like those who are rich and powerful than to be like the meek saviour who gave his back to be whipped when he could have prevailed against them with a single word; he willingly died for vile hypocrites and murderers when he himself did no wrong. Ask your fellow citizens or even ask yourself the solemn question, what and whom am I truly chasing and seeking? What arouses my jealousy? Is it seeing the rich and famous with all of their money, glamour and fame or is it seeing Jesus in his holiness and meekness wishing that I could be like him? Rarely is it found in my generation old and young that their true delight is to be like Jesus, even among those who call themselves Christians. The latter group may pay it lip service but their hearts is as far from the desire as the east is from the west. It is a travesty, a human tragedy that ought to cause every man and child to repent of their grotesque ways. Yes there are those whom the Holy Ghost has so inspired that all of their revenues and profit seeking are all to be found in Jesus Christ. He has become now their goal and prize so with all the energy they can muster they strive after him like that apostle who considered everything as loss in order to gain the resurrected saviour. Imagine if we should forsake our yearnings for the rich, famous and powerful and trade our weak desires for a stronger eternal passion to be like Jesus Christ. How much more shall love towards a neighbour extend, how much more will selfishness be found in the graveyards extinguished from the land of the living, how much more will society be painted with the loving stroke of justice and kindness and how much more will that queen of graces humility be found in the hearts of men? Love shall flourish like the grass of the earth and sin shall be hidden like the day hides the night. O my fellow citizens especially those who are sure that they are from the house of faith, let us seek to be like Jesus and not desire weak appetites for fleeting unsatisfying pleasures which leads to death and hell.

K.Oni

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Book Review: What does the Lord require


In Micah 6:8 Micah answers the question which he asks in Micah 6:6. “With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high?” Micah’s answer was rooted in what God has already told man which is “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly before your God.” This simple yet difficult answer James C. Howell explores in detail devoting three chapters to the three things which God has shown us to do. James Howell also explores the historical nature of the prophets life and the historical meaning of the words so as to impart the fullest meaning of what it means to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly before your God.

This book is easy and accessible to all audience as James Howell clearly presents his case from Micah  of what the Lord requires of us and also gives us example of what this means in our own society.

In answering what might justice, kindness and humility look like for us today, Howell looks at what the original words meant and consequently presents a definition of what these words mean. God has shown us what is good and what he requires and these words are not to be taken as a checklist but rather to be lived as a way of life. These attributes are bound up with relationships so we are to live in such a way that manifest these attributes in our life rooted in our relationship first with God. We are to seek justice, be intent upon kindness and humility and not settle for a lack of it.

God does not call us to think about Justice, or to want justice or to wish that it happens, or to campaign and pray for justice although these may be superb, holy activity pleasing to God. God simply yearns for us to do justice. The Hebrew word for justice is Mishpat which can simply mean a law or an ordinance. God has given his people a way to live and they are to live by it - in doing this they are living justly because love does no wrong to a neighbour and love fulfils the whole commandments. For us living Christians today, if we live our lives entirely by the ordinances found in the new testament then the orphan will be parented, the widow looked after, the poor provided for, the oppressed fought for (fighting for their rights) and etc. Our desire to do justice will lead us to broken communities: a slum, a marginalised people group, a neighbourhood slammed by a plant closing; to display God’s holiness to a wayward society.

God also requires us to love kindness. In the Hebrew the word translated to love kindness is ahavat hesed. Many translate this word to mean covenant loyalty and Howell agrees that this is probably the best way to speak of what Micah says God wants us to love. God wants us to love covenant loyalty and covenant loyalty is to be done in a community. Exodus 34:6 wonderfully declares that God abounds in hesed; the loving covenant loyalty overflows out of God’s own heart and immerses us in its flood and we are to do the same. We are to love hesed or as the King James version translates it we are to love mercy

The last of the requirement is God wants us to walk humbly with him. Some scholars translate the adverb humbly as hatzneia which connotes attentiveness. If we are attentive to God it will lead to our humility because his awe and splendour will simply amaze us and we will fall to our knees like the old apostle who received those promising revelations that tells us of the end of all things. To walk humbly before God will be like the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to to heaven but beat his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner! We are not to be humble but to walk humbly that is a constant humility head bowing Jesus exalting life we are to lead. Those who walk humbly are not passive but active and wont get entangle in ego issues. They would be like their master and Lord who unwrapped the towel from his waist and washed his disciples feet. We are to walk humbly not just with each other but with God.

God has graciously shown us what is good. And what does the Lord require? To do justice, to love covenant loyalty, and the unspeakable pleasure in walking humbly with your God.

There is at the end of the book a study guide to be done in a group which allows the group to go deeper into the materials just read.

You can purchase from Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/What-Does-Require-James-Howell/dp/0664236944

K.Oni

Monday, 20 February 2012

Ken's newsletter 4


A new year is always moments for new beginnings and new resolutions but one thing will always remain the same, our God, The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Entering the new year brought much joy to my soul and much of my heart was fixated on how I can do more for his kingdom and glory.

Returning to Bristol after the Christmas break has refreshed me and put in me a new excitement for the work that I am doing with Woodlands church. Last term all seemed to be introductions and getting alongside ministers and those who are doing great works in their fields and helping them with it. This year more responsibility I believe has been placed upon this young shoulders which has encouraged me to be more diligence and serving in my role. One of the responsibilities I have acquired is to be a pastorate overseer.

Pastorate overseer

The role of a pastorate overseer is to ensure the health of the pastorate that I am looking after. So my role is to make sure that the pastorate is functioning well and that those who are leading it have a clear direction of what a pastorate is and where it is heading. A pastorate is simply a collection of small groups which meets together once every two weeks for fellowship and discipleship.

The BEING Course

This is another area where I have been giving a leadership role, well, a co-leadership role with the student Pastor. The BEING course is a once a week study looking at the different aspect of the Christian life or journey. This is to help Christians in their understanding of the gospel and what it means to live a Christian life. This is rooted in the Christians understanding their identity in Christ Jesus and to provide an environment where young Christians or Christians of any age (although aimed at students) may come and ask questions and grow in their faith. I help run this course and thus far it has encouraged me as I hope it has encouraged our hearers.

Alpha Course

A new Alpha course has started and I have decided yet again to be a student leader. My role is to facilitate the student group and help generate discussion. This term Alpha we hope and are praying to be fruitful as the last Alpha course so all of our hopes are placed entirely upon God.

I thank God for this term thus far and many encouraging things have happened to me which I will share with you in my next newsletter. I will also share with you how the Bristol Christian union mission events week went and what I have been up to at UWE.

God has taught me once again to seek first his kingdom and righteousness and everything will fall into place. I appreciate all of your prayers for me and as always any support especially financially is always of great help to my year.

Thank you all, with all of my love and more

Ken Oni


Friends who leave


I have friends who leaves when the winter comes


And foes who stay and gives me a call


Although for ill and war enunciate


Yet better than swallow friends who did


In July plunder my gain - 


And when the bitter locust all had ate


None returned with a grain accrued


But one solemn knock did sound


From a brother born for such trials.

K.Oni

What is the 'Bad Eye' in Matthew 6:23?


A verse in Matthew is somewhat difficult to understand. It seems to dangle in the Sermon on the Mount with little connection to what goes before and after: "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!" (Matthew 6:22-23).

Before it: the familiar saying about not laying up treasures on earth: "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21).

After it: the equally familiar saying about not serving God and money: "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money" (Matthew 6:24).

Therefore, the sayings before and after Matthew 6:22-23 deal with treasure or money. In fact, the first would flow really well into the second if we simply left out the intervening verses 22-23. The gist would be "Treasure God in heaven, not money on earth . . . because you can't serve two masters, God and money." So why does Jesus link these two sayings about money and God with a saying about the good eye and the bad eye?

The key is found in Matthew 20:15. Jesus had just told the parable of the workers in the vineyard. Some of them had agreed to work from 6 am to 6 pm for a denarius. Some the master hired at 9 am. Others at noon. Finally some he hired at 5 pm. When the day was done at 6 pm he paid all the workers the same thing—a denarius. In other words, he was lavishly generous to those who worked only one hour, and he paid the agreed amount to those who worked twelve hours.

Those who worked all day "grumbled at the master of the house" (Matthew 20:11). They were angry that those who worked so little were paid so much. Then the master used a phrase about "the bad eye" which is just like the one back in Matthew 6:23. He said, "Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?" (Matthew 20:15).

Unfortunately that last clause is a total paraphrase, not a translation. "Or do you begrudge my generosity" is a very loose paraphrase of "Or is your eye bad because I am good (ē ho ophthalmos sou ponēros estin hoti egō agathos eimi?)" The "bad eye" here parallels the "bad eye" in Matthew 6:23.

What does the bad eye refer to in Matthew 20:15? It refers to an eye that cannot see the beauty of grace. It cannot see the brightness of generosity. It cannot see unexpected blessing to others as a precious treasure. It is an eye that is blind to what is truly beautiful and bright and precious and God-like. It is a worldly eye. It sees money and material reward as more to be desired than a beautiful display of free, gracious, God-like generosity.

That is exactly what the bad eye means in chapter six of the Sermon on the Mount. And that meaning gives verses 22-23 a perfect fitness between a saying on true treasure (vv. 19-21) and the necessity of choosing between the mastery of God and the mastery of money (vv. 24).

So the flow of thought would go like this: Don't lay up treasures on earth, but lay up treasures in heaven. Show that your heart is fixed on the value that God is for you in Christ. Make sure that your eye is good not bad. That is, make sure that you see heavenly treasure as infinitely more precious than earthly material treasure. When your eye sees things this way, you are full of light. And if you don't see things this way, even the light you think you see (the glitz and flash and skin and muscle of this world) is all darkness. You are sleepwalking through life. You are serving money as a slave without even knowing it, because it has lulled you to sleep. Far better is to be swayed by the truth—the infinite value of God.
So if you are emotionally drawn more by material things than by Christ, pray that God would give you a good eye and awaken you from the blindness of "the bad eye."

Pastor John
By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: www.desiringGod.org

Sunday, 19 February 2012

How close is close?

Last Thursday morning, a text message arrived on my phone from my married son. Not a particularly newsworthy event, but there are text messages and then there are text messages. This was one of the latter.

Basically it was telling me that his wife wasn’t going out with her friend and workmate that night as originally planned. (Not that interesting.) It also said that, for the foreseeable future, she had been asked to take over the shifts her friend was supposed to be working. (Pretty mundane.) They are both supervisors at an Iceland shop in a Nottingham suburb. (Okay, you’re beginning to yawn.) The friend’s name is Cassey. (Ring any bells yet?) Cassey, 22, had just won £45 million on the Euro lottery, which apparently makes her as rich as Hugh Grant, and had cancelled her evening out with my daughter-in-law because the press were all over her story. She wasn’t doing her shifts at Iceland anymore because she had resigned her job. Not surprising really.

I have never been that close before to such a huge, unexpected sum of money. It had a really strange effect. I have always felt very fortunate in life and have a more than comfortable income on which we live well. But then a text arrives and all of a sudden you feel poor, indeed even unlucky, because it’s not your ticket; which is ridiculous because I have never bought a lottery ticket, so not winning hardly makes me unlucky.

In 2005, Professor Richard Layard, a distinguished economist, published a book with the intriguing title, Happiness: Lessons from a New Science. One of his ’lessons’ was that scientific research shows that people’s level of happiness does not rise with increased wealth over and above the level of basic need. What does make people happy is having more money than other people. What causes dissatisfaction is finding out that someone else, especially someone close, is doing better than you. That explains why last Thursday morning I suddenly felt poor. This ridiculous reaction has a scientific basis. The Bible calls it covetousness and its history is as ancient as humankind. It’s the reason Cain killed Abel and why Jacob stole Esau’s birthright. Children learn it very young: “It’s not fair”; “I’m hard done by”.

Last Sunday the Greek Parliament passed yet another austerity package. Millions of people are seeing their financial future collapse, and they are rioting about it. Why? Layard’s new science tells us it’s because their European friends are doing much better.

The press reports portrayed Cassey and her fiancé Matt as decent young people determined to help others from their good fortune. There is talk of providing dad a pension so he can retire from his decorating business and of helping close friends to buy their houses.

I find it a sinister thought that over the weekend I was preoccupied with the question of how "close" a friend of Cassey my daughter-in-law really might be, but by Monday morning the fate of the Greek people had slipped my mind.

 It’s not surprising that one of God’s early instructions to His people was that they should not covet. Professor Layard agrees that it’s quite a problem for us humans.

Miles Walker is a pseudonym - Evangelical Alliance

Remember the night


O my dear my lovely one
The kind that seeks for summers and blooms
Remember the night 
We were on a stream of enlightened love
Where scattered beams enveloped our shades.
Remember the tempest happily stilled
All voyage distilled 
And waves did weave.
Remember the stare the unmoved glow
The happy hour when love unfold.
O my dear my lovely one
The kind that seeks for summers and blooms.


K.Oni

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Just before my eyes fall sleep


Just before my eyes fall sleep
I linger much on you my sweet.


How deeply grained
Etched tenderly on my heart 
A gentle smile does beam my face.


But this and this alone I cannot bare
To know you sleep with a forlorn gown.
  
I must at once share your bed 
But settle I must to my post right here.


O for distance that terrible foe 
Will thee not shorten to be my friend. 


That I may comfort and fight her fears!


Just before my eyes fall sleep
I linger much on you my sweet.

K.Oni

Friday, 10 February 2012

A resemblance


I thought I saw a resemblance adieu 
An emblem surely of once her youth 
Which did bring a concentrated eye 
Studying each expression brought joy aloud  -
Oh you must be her long lost twin
A sibling or descendant spring from 
fountains found in Aphrodite’s field.
O dreary heart cease thy joy
For once it raptured just as much
 For her when a sudden sorrow bloomed
Because our union she did decline.
Now in front a mirror display 
Of her perfections deeply engrave
In thee whatever your name may be
In obtaining you I’ll gain her too.

K.Oni

Sunday, 5 February 2012

It still Lingers


It still lingers vividly strong 
The wind and tide disperse it not -
Toxic but sweet; yielding a fragrant scent
Toxic because I cannot have it at all.
I wish it gone like my long lost past
Yesterday dies as midnight arise
But this remains lingering strong
Weakening my heart as each day death draws both nigh.

K.Oni

Saturday, 4 February 2012

The way of holiness


Holiness is misunderstood in our day and age. Many think of it as if it was an unpleasant thing, as if it is the hostile friend of pleasure. Holiness is associated with an un-happy life evidence and reduced to the life of religion and those who are enemies of culture. Holiness occurs not in the thinking of many men even among those who are called to holiness because the God who redeemed them is holy. Some do have a desire to be holy, but they too have failed to see the pleasure and loveliness of having such an attribute so they adorn themselves with an hypocrites vest and walk around gloomy as if there is but death in following God’s commands and laws and they disfigure their faces as if they would rather be indulging in the pleasures of their flesh; but they pursue this drowsy holiness because they don’t want to go to hell and have misunderstood what true holiness is.

I wonder what your view of holiness is - do you desire to be clothed in it and if so what are your reasons? Scripture firmly says ‘strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the lord’ (heb 12:14). It is clear that man in order to see the Lord must strive - that is with great violence of energy, with a earnest desire for the holiness in which God has commanded us seek or else we shall never see his face; we shall never enter his rest and take our place in that Mansion which Christ our heavenly beloved has gone to prepare for us. But what is the holiness we are to strive for?

The holiness we are to strive for is that holiness which is a conformity of the heart and life unto God. It is that holiness which eluded the Pharisees because they thought holiness to be an outward thing rather than the conformity of heart unto God. This holiness is also a conformity unto Jesus Christ for He was man without sin and we are called to imitate his life. If any man should live their lives like Jesus as presented to us in the gospels then no man would ever be in the dark of what is meant by true holiness. This holiness is also a conformity to God’s laws. By God’s laws I mean God’s precepts and commands as they are delivered to us in the gospels and those contained in the letters.

The nature of this true holiness is a most beautiful, lovely thing. There is nothing in it but what is sweet and ravishingly lovely. As Jonathan Edwards put it:

'Tis the highest beauty and amiableness, vastly above all other beauties; 'tis a divine beauty, makes the soul heavenly and far purer than anything here on earth-this world is like mire and filth and defilement compared to that soul which is sanctified-'tis of a sweet, lovely, delightful, serene, calm, and still nature. 'Tis almost too high a beauty for any creature to be adorned with; it makes the soul a little, amiable, and delightful image of the blessed Jehovah. How may angels stand with pleased, delighted, and charmed eyes, and look and look with smiles of pleasure upon that soul that is holy!’

My friends, Holiness is what we were and are created for, when we live in holiness we find that our souls finds rest; and communication with God is as smooth as butter and our hearts and will will have no differing opinions.  Jesus died for our sins and clothes us in His perfect righteousness. The evidence to show that this is ours, this perfect righteousness whether it has been reckoned to us and that we are on our way to heaven is that we truly have a desire to be conformed to God by pursing his holiness.

Edwards helps us with application points to test our hearts to see whether we are on our way to heaven or being conformed to God in his holiness:


  • Meditate on the holiness of God, and see if you cannot see a conformity, a likeness in your mind. If those that think themselves in the way to heaven, that are unholy in the meantime in their hearts, would compare themselves and their nature to the holy nature of God, such a glorious light as the holiness of God would quickly discover their rottenness and unsoundness.



  • See if you can see any resemblance in your life to the life of Christ.



  • Is there an agreeableness between your souls and the Word of God? Have you love to all God's commands and a respect to them in your actions? Is it your delight to obey and hearken to the will of God? Do you obey them of choice? Is it what you would choose to do if God had not threatened to punish the breach of them?



I encourage you all to holiness in as much as I encourage myself not as a means to obtain your salvation because if you pursue it this way you will fall by the wayside. Pursue it with joy and great diligence exclaiming with the Psalmist “With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander away from your commandments!” Psalm 119:10.

K.Oni

Indebted to Jonathan Edwards sermon titled The way of Holiness.  http://www.biblebb.com/files/edwards/wayofholiness.htm

Isles of Wonder

As the six-month countdown to the Olympic & Paralympic Games began, the artistic director Danny Boyle revealed the theme of the opening ceremony. Boyle’s inspiration for hisIsles Of Wonder is derived from Shakespeare’s play The Tempest in which Caliban refers to the wondrous beauty of the island. “Our Isles of Wonder salutes and celebrates the exuberant creativity of the British genius in an Opening Ceremony that we hope will be as unpredictable and inventive as the British people,” said Boyle.

“Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises,” declares Shakespeare’s Caliban. This week I have been more aware of the island’s noises than its beauty. Amid the rumours of the allocation of bonuses, the clanging of the decline thereof and the cacophony of calls for stripped knighthoods, it’s hard to detect any sense of wonder, beauty or unpredictability. For all the while a predictable British exuberance of a less noble quality abounds.

And yet, when we delve into history, these isles indeed knew a sense of wonder, a kind of genius that combined nobility and entrepreneurship; an understanding of citizenship that measured success in terms of communal wellbeing rather than personal enrichment.

A historic glance would, for example, shine a light on George Cadbury: "We can do nothing of any value to God, except in acts of genuine helpfulness done to our fellow men". Such commitment to the less privileged shaped the working conditions in the Cadbury factories, as well as housing, pension, medical and dental care for their staff. Every summer, Cadbury provided food and entertainment for 25,000 children from the deprived areas of Birmingham. Reflecting on his life, he wrote: “I have for many years given practically the whole of my income for charitable purposes….”

“’Charitable’ is too narrow a description; ‘reform’ would be more apt. Successive generations of Cadburies were catalysts in a wide range of social reform. The wider Quaker community only made up 0.2 per cent of the population, yet its contribution to British society is massive. The business and banking ethic of Cadbury, Rowntree, Boots, Barclays and Lloyds was derived from their Christian faith, as they followed “the Divine Light”.

Historically, the English Protestants understood the whole of life as a vocation – a sacred space of worship through deeds of love, righteous service and commerce. “What mattered was not worldly riches but a richness towards God expressed in gratitude, generosity and a life of virtue,” writes Peter Heslam in Transforming Capitalism.

Isles of Wonder indeed.

Recent research by the University of Essex concluded that the British are less honest than we were a decade ago. The business and political commentator Jeff Randall voiced this week a poignant question: “What kind of people have we become?”

The script God has given us continuously engages us in a dialogue who we want to become. Whatever our vocation, we daily make choices affecting communal wellbeing and personal integrity - choices which either accommodate the dominant culture or align with the alternative script.Critically, it will not only shape our personal life but also the institutions we are part of. We can all pursue a vocation that has its home in faith and virtue and is concerned with the wellbeing God intended for the wider community.

As the eyes of the world are upon us, may the Olympic ceremony celebrating the best of Britain be genial, inventive and exuberant. Beyond that, may we see the growth of the city on a hill comprising a people whose character is pure, merciful, humble, peace-building and just. In the words of the creative director: “the light of the world”.

Marijke Hoek, Coordinator Forum for Change - Evangelical Alliance

Fasting


Fasting is a practice of self-denial. In the old testament there were different motives why people fasted, for example Hannah, who was greatly distressed on account of her childlessness, “wept, and did not eat” (1Sam 1:7). Violent anger produces the same effect (1Sam 20:34). According to 1Kings 21:4, Ahab, “heavy and displeased” on account of Naboth's refusal to part with his estate, sulked and “would eat no bread.” David demonstrated his grief at Abner's death (2Sam 3:35) by fasting. Ezra fasted to show that he was mourning over the faithlessness of the exiles, (Ezra 10:6) and the Jews in Ester’s day mourned with fasting, weeping and lamenting when they learned of the king’s decree to kill all of the Jews (Ester 4:3).

Fasting was also used to appeal to God to move him to pity. For example David pleaded to God on behalf of his child with Bathsheba that God will let the child live after God declaring that the child will die. When the child dies David stopped his fasting concluding that it was useless to fast when the child is now dead (2 Sam 12:16-23).

Ezra proclaimed a fast at the river Ahava, ‘that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods’ (Ezra 8:21).  Fasting is a way of seeking divine protection and favour, it displays one’s urgency to see God move or act very quickly in a situation.

The Pharisees in the New testament accused Jesus’ disciples for not fasting, they said to Jesus  "The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink." And Jesus replied, "Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days." (Luke 5:33-35)

The Pharisees associated fasting with abstaining from food and drink and a similar pattern is found in the old testament. But it is also abstinent from washing, anointing and sleeping. Dan 10:3 says ‘I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks.’  Fasting can be of short or long duration of time; what’s important is that after one has declared their period of fasting that they keep to it - so let your yes be yes and your no be no.

Also in the New testament Jesus gives us principles for when we fast, "And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. (Matthew 6:16)

Fasting can be opportunities when God reveals his will to the church when done corporately. Act 13:2-3 says ‘While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.’

 There is the soul of fasting, that is fasting from sins, having a pure heart and delighting in mercy rather than sacrifice. As the Lord says in Isaiah 58:6-7  "Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?”

God is seeking after true worshippers, those who will seek him in spirit and in truth. The same principles hold in fasting, God is looking at your heart and wants you to worship him in spirit and in truth. Fasting can show our urgency to see God move in our situations or it can display our grief and sorrows. Fasting should always be focused on God, should always be a time to seek him as well as a time to love humanity which ought to be our constant duty - both are our daily task.

What burdens your heart or what would you like God to do so desperately? Why not fast about it and really seek God’s face.

This is not a detailed assessment on fasting so please ask questions or post what you think on the comment box. I hope this gives you an idea of what fasting is or something about its nature.

K.Oni

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Short poems

I need I for inspiration
Initiation and imagination put another I 
Make it an ignition.
In-saturated constantly imitated 
Infiltrating now the infiltrated.
Call it a scene spectators speculating
Calculating schemes my enemies all eradicated.


                                                                  It seems baby whenever I am home with you
                               You make me feel like I’m whole again
Something seems to happen that ain’t static
                                         Far from being tragic the opposite of reality
Its magic albeit pretty astonishing 
Rushing like water, flushing, constantly blushing.
Washing away formalities tenderly inspiring
                                        A love song thrillingly makes me ecstatic.

Yea we on this again
Like tomorrow aint coming around
Drum beats sound the trumpets
Like  it’s the end of time
 Rah
Everybody wanna shine
Take mine 
Smash the shrines
Make a line 
Yea 
Cuz tomorrow aint coming round


K.Oni   


Wednesday, 1 February 2012

My outline for UWECU sermon - Why we do mission

1. Because God is missional

- John 3:16 For God so love the world that he gave his only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in him will never perish but have eternal life

In this text we see the missional heart of God - For God so love the world that is God the Father loved the world and this love was not a passive love but active - He looks at the whole of creation
 - it made him give and what did he give - His Son Jesus Christ who is the exact representation of his being as Hebrews tells us

- and Jesus is God john 1:1 and became flesh John 1:14  - Just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep John 10:15 and vs. 17 and 18 says For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me but I lay it down of my own accord and I have authority to take it up again.

We see the missional heart of God - in Love he sends his Son to die so that whoever believes will not perish but have eternal life. And if God has given his son to die for us beware of doubting his kindness and love in any painful providence of our daily life….


2. Jesus commands us

-  John 20:21, “Peace be with you. As the father has sent me, even so I am sending you”.  What is Jesus sending his disciples and followers to do? Matthew 28:19 All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you . And behold I am with you always, to the end of the age.  - Jesus knows our feeble nature so He comforts us with a promise I am with you till the end - wherever you go I go- you asking your friends to come to an event in the mission week jesus says I am with you - you are sharing the gospel with your hostile flatmates Jesus says I am with you - you are laying your life down for your friends and you are getting no recognition Jesus says I am with you -

The great commision is not optional it is a command -just as the Father sent Jesus into the world to save sinners likewise Jesus sends us into the world to bring the goodnews of the gospel to the universities, to the societies to the world - to your flatmates and course mates - it is not optional as a christian - your life is a witness - a witness of the of  the glorious gospel of christ that bids sinners to come and live, for failures and sinners to be made righteous….

- John 14:15 If you Love me you will keep my commandments - there’s a test for you right there - a sure sign to know that you genuinely love Jesus is always that you are obeying His commandments and that with great love and joy - Jesus says love your enemies - bring this gospel to those who do not yet know it - will you do that this mission week, for the rest of your lives?

3. For our Joy and theirs

- 1 Cor 9:23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings -  what does Paul mean by doing it all - that his the way he lives -his whole lifestyle is all for the spreading and knowledge of the Gospel of Christ so that they may share in its blessings -  how does he do this  -
1 cor 9:19 for though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all that I might win more of them -  who is them - that is those who have not come to share in its blessings - what are some of the blessings? it is said that the highest form of selfishness is that of the person who is content to go to heaven alone - Paul wasn’t content - so to the Jew he became as a Jew in other to win Jews - to the weak he became weak in other to win the weak - he became all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. There was a furious jealousy in the heart of Paul for people to treasure and savour Christ - for them to rejoice and be glad in Jesus  as - The psalmist says “Let the peoples praise you O God, Let all the people praise you. Let the Nations be glad and sing for joy”  - why - so that God be glorified in His Son Jesus Christ. How are they going to do that? If they have not believed and how can they believe if they have not heard -and how can they hear if there is no on willing to tell them and show them - to spend their lives with them like William Carey who lived among the Indians for forty years and known as the Father of modern missions….

And I want to pray for you guys the same prayer that Paul prayed for Philemon in Philemon 1:6 And I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ…..

K.Oni