Friday, 30 March 2012

The Politics of Food

Who would have thought that this week’s agenda would be so dominated by the politics of food? It started with the news that people who have so much money that they will never experience hunger have been invited to use some of it to buy dinner in the prime minister’s private flat – and with it the implication of access to political influence. By the end of the week the politics of food had descended from the heights of Samantha Cameron’s cuisine to the relative heat of a Greggs pasty. Cabinet ministers were teased about whether they could tell the difference between a Cornish pasty and a boeuf en croute! The political implication is clear. The food you eat is a crude but graphic indicator of your status in society, and with it your power or powerlessness.
 
My church is very big on food.  Every Sunday after the service someone – usually several people – will have brought buns, cakes or fruit to share.  It is always abundant and it is always free.  At the same time every Sunday a handful of local people slip discreetly into the church’s back office and emerge with carrier bags full of tinned goods from our food bank. Occasionally the incongruity of the two events catches me off guard. But I’m aware that both are celebrations of God’s grace, and together they represent the reality of life in our South Manchester community. 
 
In the meantime, on Thursday the House of Lords economic affairs committee proposed that the UK government should abandon its commitment to pass a law saying that the UK will spend 0.7% of our Gross National Income on aid.  This figure, which was adopted by donor countries around the world over 40 years ago, has been honoured as a target by every government since Margaret Thatcher’s (though none has so far reached it in practice). It was the only fiscal policy that all three major parties signed up to at the 2010 General Election. The Lords committee argues that enshrining the 0.7% target in law might actually be a distraction from the vital questions of how effectively our aid contributions are spent. Christian Aid and Tearfund have pointed out that once no one has to argue about how much money we spend on aid it might be easier to focus on how it is put to best use. I am a simple soul when it comes to food and to politics. For me it is impossible to imagine that rowing back on an election pledge about the aid budget will mean anything other than more children dying unnecessarily of hunger. 
 
The correlation between food and power is a very direct one.  That’s why the cry of the market trader in Isaiah 55:1 is so extraordinary. "Ho, everyone who is thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy food and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price!” The stall holder stands in the crowded market place and shouts out: “Come on you lot, help yourselves!” It is impossible to conceive of a more open-handed approach to trading. It’s not that the food is free. Obviously you can’t buy anything without money. If you don’t believe me, try it in your local branch of Tesco! No, this food is zero-rated because the price has been paid by someone else. It’s a new economics that transforms the politics of food. But of course it is also a new economics of hospitality, of community and of love itself. 
 
Next week we will remember a night when friends gathered for a meal in an upper room, not in Downing Street but in Jerusalem. No money was exchanged for the invitation. Instead Jesus took bread and wine, gave thanks to God the provider, and gave it away saying “this is me“. The 19th century Bible commentator Albert Barnes wrote: “If the poor are willing to accept of it as a gift, they are welcome; and if the rich will not accept of it as a gift, they cannot obtain it. What a debt of gratitude we owe to God, who has thus placed it within the reach of all.”
 
Andrew Graystone is director of The Church and Media Network - Evangelical Alliance
 
100,000 people in the UK will receive free food this year through foodbanks organised by the Trussell Trust. For more information visit www.trusselltrust.org   

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Princess and the rain (1)


Once upon a time, so long ago, there lived a king and queen who had one daughter. 


When the queen gave birth to their daughter, they decided to name her Charley for the name Charley means free man.


There was a polite reason why the king and queen decided to name their daughter an un-princesses name. The reason happened sixteen years ago. One sunny day, the clouds suddenly turned sour and began to pour down with heavy rain. Every one in the Kingdom rushed into their house, closing their curtains and shut their door.


The rain poured and poured for twenty days. 


The king said to himself inside his palace “what manner of rain is this! Such a thing has never occurred in the past before; but it happens now in my reign. I feel cursed!” The king began to ask many questions mostly happening in his own mind. “When will the rain stop? Will it ever stop? What about the people? Especially the poor people? Am I not a very good King? What should I do?”


The king had locked himself in his room. 


The king was not a worrying king but the queen began to worry about him.


The queen knocked on his door. “Dear king, won’t you come to dinner? At least open the door so the servants can bring some food in.”


The king gave no response until the queen declared that she was very worried about him.


The king loved the queen very much and when they were both prince and princess, the king had promised never to make her sad. 


The king said to the queen, “My dear queen, I feel myself to be a very bad king. I cannot understand why there is such an heavy rain all of a sudden. Will it ever stop? What shall I do?”


“Of course it will, my king” said the queen. “Now open the door.”


The king opened the door and his queen embraced him. She encouraged him to come downstairs for dinner. 


Ten days has now passed, and the rain showed no sign of stopping. Before the king went to sleep, he would often watch the rain pour. On this tenth evening, he noticed something rather strange about the rain, that the rain, no matter how much it poured the day before, the water on the ground remained the same. The king explained this sensation to the queen.


“My dear queen, have you noticed that no matter how much the rain pour the day before, it never seems to rise higher the day after”.


“What a strange rain,” said the queen and she went straight back to sleep.


The king pondered all night until a thought entered his heart which caused the queen to be worried. The king was very sad that this plan would make the queen worried, so the king wrote her a note saying:


“My dear queen. My mind is constantly concerned about the origin of this rain and I am very worried about the people in the kingdom. So I have decided to go and see my cousin, Hugo, to ask of him whether he knows something of this peculiar rain. I will be back in a month or so. Lots of love. Your King”.


The king had told a lie. Very naughty of him to lie to the queen. It doesn’t generally matter if someone tells a white lie, but even a white lie leads to more lies. The kings true plan is to know something of this peculiar rain but the king did not have a cousin named Hugo. And the king was very concerned about the people in his kingdom especially about the children. 


The rain had caused everybody to remain inside all day except at noon, when the rain will suddenly cease. This allowed the poor people of the land to gather whatever fruits and food they could find. There was no more time for the children to play. The hour was so precious, that even the birds only flew not for pleasure but to gather up worms for their young ones. 


The king had also noticed this strange event, and knew, that He could not wait until noon to begin his research. The king was reminded that long ago, just when he was only a boy, his great aunty came to visit. 


It was the King’s birthday and many had brought him many gifts. The king’s great aunty brought him a special and an unusual umbrella. 

K.Oni

Letters to Sybil (3)


My dear beloved, It is you and hope that suspends the terrible dread of the magnitude of terror which ceases our camp, late at night, snatching men’s potency while they sleep covering them with an apprehensive dismay of the approaching day, where common men, must travail the tyranny of the foe. I endeavor my love, exasperating myself to comfort these poor folks who have forsaken all to fight this immoral adversary. The antagonist are much like us; they are men, but we differ in ideology and thus they have ceased to maintain their humanity. It is not our will to kill for the sake of killing, my comrades possess no lust for death, no thirst for murder, but, for the goodness of humanity, they pick up their weapons in fear and courage, fighting for country, love and family. As for me my beloved, the sweetness of returning to your table keeps me warm at night; I stare your picture before I sleep as to banish all ugliness and fear, and last night I had a dream, at most inspired by a tale I once read you of happy Adrian who was soon to enlist for war, and in a rush send a letter to his dear companion about his beguiling amity for her. These were his words:

  My darling, adorable friend, I fear it is all in vain that I have loved thee - I fear it will all be blown into the wind, scattered like blown leaves away from their source of strength. I fear many fears of your response that perhaps, it may severe this honeyed friendship that I have come to revere, or perhaps, that from henceforth, you may look at me with the eyes of pity and misfortune because we cannot be. These fears are in me but the attachment I have towards you are burly; like the thumb is to the ant able to crush it without much effort. These affections have grown like a mighty tide, an unsurfable wave in the last week or so when I have been denied your perfumed sociability, and it appears that our communication has matured thin, which makes me reflect that perhaps you wish to cut the thread of this love birthed in me as to limit its negative conclusion upon my soul. It has only amassed my desires and hunger; daily do I sigh upon my swing desiring my beloved to push me high. I must tell you. I must ride upon my horse to ring your bell - for I know no longer what hour I may perish by the coming war. While you read this I shall be on my way - then I shall in a day or two depart for the war. It is a terrible indictment! But my cherished friend, feel no pity and do not accept my request on pity but on genuine love. Do not forsake your purity for me but save it for the happy soul who has captured your eye of love. Whatever answer you may give, I have resolved to fight for you. I may fight with tears or with joy, but I must tell you of this flower which has blossomed, yielding many colours and sweet fruit in my soul.  Adrian.

My Love, the only fear I have, groping at my bosom is the fear of not returning to you in this life. I long to see the reality and immerse myself once again in a lively discourse with you. To sit and lie in the park, to visit aunty Mary’s bakery, to play sport with your brothers, to laugh and to dance, and most of all - to see you in white, lifting the veil, sealing our unbreakable love with the solemn words of which I shall end this letter with. I love you.

Sebastian

K.Oni



The Way of the Cross

The hostilities in Syria have taken a lower profile this week. Apparently, the main story worthy of news is that Vladimir Putin is prepared to back the UN’s proposals, calling for a ceasefire and allowing humanitarian aid into the country. He is the head of an administration which is arming the Syrian regime with heavy weapons to use against its own citizens as the Cold War is played out in the Middle East. The UN estimates 8,000 people have died. What is striking and tragic about the situation is the level of violence, and the seeming determination of the regime that the resolution to the uprising is the extermination of its opponents. This takes place not only in armed battle but also by strategic torture and execution. Violence escalates.

But it is another particularly brutal act that has been at the forefront of our thoughts for these last few days: the murder of the rabbi and the three Jewish children in Toulouse, France. The gunman, who is believed to be responsible for a total of seven murders, had expressed a desire for further deaths. Not only was the incident itself shocking and terrifying but early suggestions are that the man who carried out the attacks sought to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children. The notion that one might avenge the deaths of Palestinian children by carrying out executions of Jewish children strikes us as abhorrent.

Both instances point to the fact that violence generates violence.  Yet, at the centre of our Christian story is an act of violence upon which we reflect theologically as specifically understood to put an end to violence: the violence of the cross. Paul articulates this powerfully when he speaks of Christ, who, though being in the form of God, gave up his life to a gruesome death by Roman crucifixion, taking the violence upon himself in an act of reconciliation and forgiving those responsible. He met the military power and might of Rome with human frailty and weakness. Paul describes this as the power and wisdom of God, or the power and wisdom of the cross. This aspect of our Christian theology must help to formulate our response to the injustice we encounter. It is a clear rejection of the way of violence in favour of suffering, self-giving and reconciliation.

This week I was privileged to participate in an act of worship which involved revisiting the Stations of the Cross through the reading of Scripture around a university campus. It occurred to me in a profound way that in re-telling the events of Jesus’ suffering and death we were not merely remembering the story. In walking, talking and being observed by some rather puzzled onlookers, we were re-enacting the story. It also occurred to me that the hope assumed in our act of worship was that after it was over we were to go into the world to continue with the story. In other words, we were to actually follow the crucified one in the way of the cross.

Sarah Whittle, Nazarene Theological College - Evangelical Alliance

Monday, 26 March 2012

The best accuser in all the lands


The devil was finally called to stand
To bring the evidence he found all night!
In fear I sat for I heard him good
The best accuser in all of the lands.
Every case he attended no one may find fault
All accusations found on solid ground.
The jury watched with a persuaded heart
The judge was ready to hammer down;
Until another known by the Christ, Stood
To defend my case by the Judge’s rule.
‘Undoubtedly a sinner and a wretch
A blasphemer, and an adulterer at heart.
But as you well know my Father, the Judge,
No sinner may be acquitted by law 
Except by the blood of my Atoning death!
Sinner what have you to say, 
Answer me this question and take heed what you say.
I have in my records a time and a place
Where you confess to believe in my name’?
Yes tis true what you say?
‘Have you denied me ever since
Did you throw away your faith, before you sleep?’
No, my Lord, my hope in you still stands.
He then declared his argument done;
The Judge hammered down,
Not guilty was his shout.


K.Oni

Friday, 23 March 2012

Miscellanies 34 - Open the door for Christ


It is true that those who worship the Lord must worship in Spirit and Truth; and those who say that they know him, that is truly know him, must walk as he walks. For Jesus Christ, the heavenly King is the way and the truth. In him is the life, the life that shines ever brightly, eliminating the darkness. If we obey His truth, his words, we walk in the light; but if we disobey his truth, his words, then we walk in darkness. Perhaps the reason for the lack of spiritual maturity is the fact that you have not yet submitted to the words of Christ. You have not yet made it the roof of your house but you dismiss it willingly and unwillingly. If we are found to be in this darkness, we have only one thing to do, that is, to humble ourselves, to acknowledge our positions and come into his marvellous light. He longs to clothe you, he stands at the door and knock, he knocks so that you may hear him. Will you not come to the door that he may begin to put your house in order? Or do you say that you do not need him and seek to put your house in-order before you let your Saviour in. He comes to do it for you and with you and after, you shall both dine and break the bread and wine which is his body. O sinners like me, let us not linger and delay opening the door for Christ when we feel and see that our house is a mess. Let us at once rush to the door and give him a welcoming invitation; He shall come in with gladness and bid you peace.


K.Oni 

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Miscellanies 33 - Come, Sit and Stay


Jesus bids us to come to him. ‘Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Literally, Jesus says ‘I will rest your souls.’ Are you carrying an impossible load on your back, are you feeling the burden of sin, the burden of shame, the burden of shoulds and the burden of suffering? Jesus says come and I will rest your soul. Do not linger in your shame like our first poor parents. If you tarry till you are better, you will never come at all - but arise your feeble soul and go to Jesus. He will embrace you. One rough touch will break a bruised reed, and quench the flickering, smoking candle, but his matchless, tenderness, love and skill will strengthen your week hands, and confirm your feeble knees. He will comfort you entirely. Are you burdened with sin and shame? Come now! Hurry your weary legs and do not delay. ‘Come out of your bush,’ Jesus says, ‘come out. Where are you my beloved!’ ‘I am behind the bush because I am naked.’ O poor sinner. Come to Christ.

Some of you, who are of a godly spirit still carry your cross of shame - Jesus bids you to drop it for that is not the cross you were called to carry. He has carried your shame and sin. He calls you to come out from your bush so that he may clothe you with his robe of righteousness! Hurry poor sinner, come and when you do come, Sit at his feet. Mary discovered the way to get to know her beloved friend, Jesus; that was to sit with him. Sit and spend time with your saviour; study his happy features . Are they not meek and mild? Are they not gentle? Are they not govern by love? Sit a while beneath his cross; did he condemn you and scorn you, knowing that it was your sin that hung him there on the tree? No. He did it all for you, that you may share in his happy fellowship with his Father. Will you not come at this minute, leaving everything and sit with him to break bread and drink wine. Come and sit he says, come and sit. O sit poor sinner, but like a dog we are prone to wonder from the master whom we love.

The words of Christ are at first a strong medicine; bitter to the mouth - but if you stay like Peter, whom they had no other to flee to, for no one else had the words to eternal life. Jesus was and is the word of life, so they stayed. They followed him. And tell me poor sinner, if you do not stay with Jesus, where will you go? I shall tell you. You will go to sin, you will go to yourself, you will go to the park of pleasures where the kids of this world play. But soon you will find yourself to be a foreigner, you cannot sit on the swings. Your soul will be troubled, shame will engulf your heart, happiness will flee from you and sorrow shall be your dear companion. O poor sinners, stay with your master. He is calling you now with a strong love and zeal to Come, Sit and Stay. Come, Sit and Stay and I will rest your soul. Do you not believe this dear sinner that Christ his able to do as he has promised? If you believe it, then you will rise and come to him. But if you stay in your condition and do not come, then how have you believed in him or trusted him that he can do for you as he has promised. O you will make him out to be a liar and is Christ a liar? Absolutely not for he knows no sin. Come now and tarry not, come to him in prayer - speak to him to comfort your soul!

K.Oni

Was inspired by a recent book I’m reading titled Come, Sit, Stay by Ellen Vaughn of which I shall write a review of in due course. You can purchase it here: http://www.clevershoppers.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=80807

Monday, 19 March 2012

Smoke and Ashes

Why my soul at first did love
A figure whose frame fires us up - 
Only to burn our love to ashes
Snuffing our flames to smoke and ashes!

K.Oni

The writings of Sunny Caane (2)



There are something I have no hope for. I have abandoned any notion of ever attaining them, so I no longer entertain them in my mind. Although, these things I would like very much, that made me dream of them so long - now I know that any hope in ever attaining them is like a hope in the wind. I need not tell you what these things are I know them perhaps you do too. A little imagination should bring you close. But I do have hope in many things of which I shall hope for till my death. 



Light rain in the morning after vivid dreams of a new fancy while the old one remained strong. He (Paul) desired to say goodbye after missing the opportunity the night before. He awoke fresh in the morning with an aching heart. He packed, then went to the bus-top to begin his mission. He wondered how she will receive his gift whether it was easier for him to drop it through her letter box with a note. This was to be his second plan unless she's already left for home. Regardless, 'I must be brave' he thought 'and do this noble task more out of friendship than fancy. Everything about her heightens my senses, whatever her need as soon as I know of it, my mind can never forget as it does so easily with others. My motives are pure, and I fear she may decline but the journey and the thought brought me much sweetness and happiness.'


His heart felt strangely warm in giving her the gift. 'To my shame' he pondered, 'I only surveyed that wonderful face for a brief second but it is etched upon my mind able to last me for my duration apart. Pictures wont do nor videos, for nothing can substitute the joy of being present in her presence watching every move in grace, beauty and simplicity. Were I to describe the joy inside me, I feel I cannot but smile and blush. A day away is a day too long but a week is like the starving of my soul. Perhaps this is what I need - through harsh discipline she would be starved from my heart and finally I can do away with this unrequited love.'


Paul was a happy fellow constantly moved with a zeal and passion for humanity. He is a dear friend of mine and of him I can only declare praise and bid happiness to whom he finally settles with. 


There are some I’ve looked which sore my eyes, and some I’ve heard who sour my taste. I speak of no looks nor speech but the awful spirit which indwells them in. I am reminded of Ruth, a rash, unholy, un-thoughtful girl who in her youth was very much a bully. She had no taste for anything nice and found much pleasure in bullying. She almost imitated the devil, lying and hurting those who only wanted to go their own way. But she had to stand in their path and cause her existence to be noticed through terror.


Such sweetness never have i known in a discourse that occurred between me and her. All my being were like that of a fountain, overflowing with joy and pleasure. Oh dreary heart, we have a more sure reason to live, a more sure passion to fill. The air was as light as I ever known it. Oh I love, I love and love, but I cannot help but feel she was disappointed with me - I wish I was a better man, a wiser and more playful soul who delighted her soul. I well much wanted to kiss and uphold her. Such fancies which I have long held the extinguisher to the fire, have in a quick season reignited again.


K.Oni

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Saving little Joe's life


I’m ready to say goodbye,
So I’ll do the final rounds
Take a stroll round the block,
the last times I’ll see em all.
On the park bench chilling where me and E use to kick it
Diana was hot, we fooled around till the evening - 
Hey Mr Alfonzo serve me up on my usual,
The night is yet young, finally legit, remember when i use to jack it
From old man fray, he knew, but shut his eyes
And when I got paid I gave it all back.
This is my block, constantly hot on some family drama 
The other day made the news big Eric on the evening news-
Talking loud, about Jay, the local preacher
Who taught him about God instead of guns and riches. 
Now we grown when we use to be this ignorant kids,
Some of us gone.
I pour this liquor especially for uncle tom. 


Leaving it all, 
I only got one regret -
Hey Tasha let me apologize for things I should have said.
Remember the first time we met,
I loved u,
Ever since then, I should have said,
but there was plenty of dudes besides I only weigh like a 50 pence. 
Give me a last hug,
I know u got a man.
Give all props to Nate
I hope he treats u like I can.
U a diamond and rose,
Don’t let a man bring u down
Live your life and be happy I hope I see u one more time. 
Hey mama I’m ready this is my will dry your eyes.
I’ll see u in heaven!
Besides my heart will save little Joe’s life.

K.Oni

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Breaking the cycle of violence

This week Taliban militants vowed to avenge the shocking murder of 16 Afghan civilians in Kandahar by a US soldier, saying it will “avenge the martyrdom of each of the victims of the invading and beast-like murderers and punish them for their barbaric action".

And in Gaza, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees(PRC) vowed to take revenge on Israel for the Israeli air strikes on Gaza that killed at least 12 Palestinians.

It’s natural that when we or ‘our group’ experience injustice, we want to hit back. But all too often this leads to a depressing cycle of suffering, whether this is at the level of neighbours or nations.

Jesus took a different approach, challenging us to: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you” (Luke 6:27-28).

He also put this into practice, forgiving even those who were crucifying him (Luke 23:34).

When I first came across this passage at school I tried the approach on someone who was bullying me. I took the initiative to greet him as though he was a good friend every time I saw him. It worked: the bullying stopped and he became a friend.

On a national and international scale, forgiveness may be the only lasting answer to conflict.

One of the most remembered responses of forgiveness in recent times were those following the Enniskillen bombing of 1987. Whereas many Northern Ireland terrorist attacks were followed by acts of revenge by opposing terrorists, this Remembrance Day bombing was followed by acts of forgiveness and reconciliation that came to be called the Spirit of Enniskillen. In an interview with the BBC only hours after the death of his daughter Marie, Gordon Wilson forgave the terrorists, and said he would pray for them and begged that no-one took revenge for her death. His response was reported worldwide and may well have contributed to the eventual peace.

South Africa’s peaceful transition from injustice and oppression of apartheid to freedom and democracy was considered by many to be a miracle. It was made possible by the extraordinary response of forgiveness and reconciliation from Nelson Mandela and the process of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Chaired by Desmond Tutu, the Commission allowed perpetrators of some of the most gruesome atrocities to receive amnesty in exchange for a full disclosure of the facts. Instead of revenge and retribution, South Africa chose to tread the difficult path of confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

One certainty in life is that we will be let down by, or suffer in some way, at the hands of others. It’s inevitable because we are all sinners, or abusers (to use a more modern word). We abuse others, just as we abuse ourselves and we abuse our environment.

A couple of weeks ago, a Malaysian student robbed by two men who pretended to help him during last summer's riots said people should forgive his attackers and that he was not angry with the men.

We might find it difficult to forgive and forget. But we can choose to forgive and not dwell on the hurt we have suffered, to stop running through those hurtful conversations when we awake at 4am.

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.

Jerry Marshall, Forum for Change - Evangelical Alliance

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Does God change?


Introduction

The apostle Paul affirms that Man everywhere know who God is because God has made it plain to them.[1] Even those who do not have special revelation as the Jews have some consciousness of God’s invincible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature but have suppressed the truth by their unrighteousness and failed to honour him as God. Born from this suppression is the endless form of idolatry of man’s supposed knowledge of who God is, manifesting itself in the Athenian inscription to the “unknown god”.[2] The apostle made clear the magnitude of their error and boldly proclaimed the truth and nature of who God is given the Athenians an opportunity to be saved. This essay will briefly highlight the essential nature of God as revealed in the bible and then discuss whether it can be argued from the bible whether God changes.

 Andrew S. Kulikovsky in his article[3] the Nature of God presents ten essential attributes which constitutes God’s nature. The ten attributes listed by Kulikovsky are also agreed on by other theologians such as Wayne Grudem presenting similar attributes in his Bible doctrine and A.W Pink in his classical work The attributes of God writes in agreement.[4] The Ten essential attributes of God’s nature according to Kulikovsky are:

Spiritual
Self existence and Eternal
Personal
Triune
Immanent and Transcendent
Finite and Infinite
Immutable
Omnipresent
Omniscient
Omnipotent

These attributes listed by Kulikovsky are founded upon biblical text as revealed in the bible. For example in John 4:24, Jesus declares that “God is Spirit” and therefore his worshipers must worship him in “spirit and in truth.” This predicate is clearly adjectival and indicates that God is essentially spiritual.[5] Thus, God does not have a physical body, nor is he made of any kind of matter like much of the rest of creation.

God’s self existence and eternality can be found in biblical texts such as Psalm 102:24-27 which states:

“O my God, I say, take me not away in the midst of my days -- you whose years endure throughout all generations! Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end”.

Moses tells us that God existed before there was any creation: “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”[6] The grounds of God’s existence is himself, being from all eternity self-sufficient possessing no deficiencies or lacking in happiness. God is not dependent upon any part of creation for his existence or nature while the rest of creation are entirely dependant on him.

The doctrine of the triune God or trinity is used to summarise the teaching of scripture that God is three persons yet one God. The doctrine of the trinity may be defined as follows: God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God, and there is one God. This definition is based on numerous biblical texts such as Genesis 1:26, Isaiah 6:8, Psalm 45:6, John 1:1, Hebrews 1:8, Matthew 28:19, 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 2Corinthians 13:14. Because God is triune He is therefore relational. This triune God creates humanity in his own image endowing humans with personality which demands a personal creator.

God’s Immanent and transcendence are rooted in the following biblical text Haggai 2:5, John 14-16, Isaiah 55:8-9 and Psalm 113:5-6. God’s Immanent is meant as God’s presence and activity within nature, human nature and history. God’s transcendence implies that God is separate from and independent of nature and humanity.[7]

The three Omni’s borrowed from the Latin term “all” are attributes which states that God is “all” present, has “all” knowledge and is “all” powerful. The Psalmist writes ‘where can I go from your Spirit (Omnipresent), Psalm 139:7, Elihu responding to Job declares ‘Do you know the balancing of the clouds, the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge (Omniscient) Job 37:16 and Jeremiah says of God ‘that nothing is to hard for him,’ (Omnipotent) Jeremiah 32:17.

The scripture is abundantly clear that God does not change. The concept of a growing or evolving God who changes his eternal purposes is not to be found in the scriptures. “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob are not consumed,”[8] says Yahweh. God’s immutability does not imply that God is static or sterile but that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. God is unchanging in his knowledge and plans, neither does he have mood swings, nor do his affections and enthusiasm fade in intensity (James 1:170). The passages that indicates God changeableness will be looked at in the next section arguing that these passages are a case of anthropomorphisms. 




Does God change his mind and purposes

Orthodox theology has traditionally maintained the doctrine of divine immutability. By this it meant that although everything else in the universe  appears to undergo change. God does not. He is the unchanging eternal one. Wayne Grudem defines God’s immutability as the following: God is unchanging in his being, perfections, purposes, and promises, yet God does act and feel emotions, and he acts and feels differently in response to different situations.[9] Not everyone agrees that God is unchangeable. The God of Open view theology is a changing God. God changes his mind and learns from our actions and reacts based upon those actions. 

Both classical theism (orthodox theology) and Open view theology support their views from the bible. I will now discuss whether it can be argued whether God changes from the bible by presenting the two verses that open theist love to champion as evidence of God’s changeableness.[10] By God’s changeableness classical theist or orthodox theology will agree that from a human perspective, God sometimes appear to change his plans, or his actions based on what people do but this is not so from God’s view point. While open view theology will argue the opposite that from God’s view point God actually changes because he repents and changes his mind therefore God’s plan can be thwarted.

Exodus 32:14 says “And the LORD relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.” John Sanders, an advocate of Open Theism, says this concerning Exodus 32:14:
Apparently, Moses has a relationship with God such that God values what Moses desires. If Moses interprets God’s intentions in an unfavorable way and God values his relationship with Moses, then God must either persuade Moses or concede his request.  It is unlikely that Moses presents God with new information.  The real basis for the change in God’s decision comes from a forceful presentation by one who is in a special relationship with God.  With Moses’ prayer, the decision-making situation is now altered for God.  Being in relationship with Moses, God is willing to allow him to influence the path he will take.  God permits human input into the divine future.  One of the most remarkable features in the Old Testament is that people can argue with God and win.[11]
Sanders main argument is that God can be persuaded to change his mind therefore God can change his purposes and plans and even relenting from purposes he had previously set to take place. Orthodox theologians respond to this suggested changeableness of God by appealing to a hermeneutical principle of anthropomorphism. John Calvin, a beloved theologian of the reformed tradition saw this as a case of anthropomorphism commenting on Genesis 6:6 which is another verse that open theist love to champion for God‘s changeableness,  “And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart”. John Calvin writes:

The repentance which is here ascribed to God does not properly belong to him, but has reference to our understanding of him.  For since we cannot comprehend him as he is, it is necessary that, for our sake, he should, in a certain sense, transform himself. That repentance cannot take place in God, easily appears from this single consideration, that nothing happens which is by him unexpected or unforeseen.  The same reasoning, and remark, applies to what follows, that God was affected with grief.  Certainly God is not sorrowful or sad; but remains forever like himself in his celestial and happy repose: yet, because it could not otherwise be known how great is God’s hatred and detestation of sin, therefore the Spirit accommodates himself to our capacity.[12]

More text can be brought forward to support the hermeneutical principle of anthropomorphism for the biblical texts which seems to suggest that God changes his minds and purposes. For example Paul writes of God’s purposes before the creation of the world to save a people in 2 Timothy 1:9 “who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began”. And 1 Peter 1:20 declares that Jesus Christ “was made manifest in the last time for your sakes”. God had a plan and a purpose to save a people before the creation of the world and this plan and purposes was unchangeable as God his unchangeable, timely manifesting his purposes and plans in the last time for our sakes.


Conclusion

Scripture is abundantly clear that God cannot change, his nature and being is essentially the for all eternity. Although there is change in relationship for example his hatred towards sin nevertheless his being is the same as well as His purposes and plans. The passages in scripture which seems to indicate a changing God are cases of anthropomorphisms. As God himself declares “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob are not consumed.”[13]

K.Oni




[1] Romans 1:19
[2] Acts 17:23
[3] The Nature of God (2000) Andrew S. Kulikovsky
[4] Although Wayne Grudem and Pink uses different titles to describe the different attributes nevertheless they agree in the details.
[5] Ibid
[6] Psalm 90:2
[7] The Nature of God (2000) Andrew S. Kulikovsky
[8] MalachI 3:6
[9] Bible Doctrine (1999) Wayne Grudem
[10] The two passages are Genesis 6.6 and Exodus 32:14. Genesis 6.6 will be touched upon through John Calvin’s interpretation of the text.
[11] The God who risks: A theology of providence (1998). John Sanders
[12] Genesis, Calvin’s commentaries, vol 1, 248-249. John Calvin
[13] MalachI 3:6

Monday, 12 March 2012

Miscellanies 32 - What a lovely morning


What a happy morning, that my dear Lord Jesus, who is the love of my life should fill my heart with so much sunshine. He awoke me, just before dawn opened her lovely eyes, rousing me to pray and meditate on the indelible words his lovely ever pleasing Father gave for man to eat. I could not resist as sleep fled from my eyes distancing itself from the lively affections which has occupied my soul. I bid it all to grace, for in the week before my soul was like a hollow; empty and filthy. There was no room for happiness to play, joy was locked up by depressing melancholy and cumbersome guilt set his camp in the middle of my field. I was like a stone, unmovable in my low fondness with any creature high and low that I resolved much to settle within my own soul. She was all I had for comfort and she proved to be a miserable companion. Then I began to hear and listen to the voice of whom they call the prince of preachers; even though his body have long been decomposed, yet, the words he left his readers to ponder upon are like bandages placed upon an open wound. He preached that gospel which was delivered to the apostles; which ran rampant in the time of the reformation and which seized the hearts of the puritans.  He spoke of Christ, yea, of Christ beloved, that tower of beauty and strength, that meek and tender lamb who died for sins not his own. He spoke of Christ as being the gentle comforter, calling us all loudly through the trumpet of his gospel that all sins his elect have ever committed have all been forgotten. Although the gospel displays the grand-scale of sin yet it also display the eternal cleansing of sins through the Lamb’s atoning sacrifice. It made much my heart glad, and the Lord, adorned with the jewels of heaven came this morning, rising from his throne to touch my cheek, placing his pierced hands upon my head to affirm me of his endless love and mercy; for I am his and His forever. 

K.Oni

Sunday, 11 March 2012

As I’m getting older


As I’m getting older the world becomes more of a stranger
I thought I knew her well but each day I feel I’m a pilgrim.


My friends don’t worry, the stillness is my dance
I’ve learned to make peace with the thought that I’ll die.


Its not a beautiful scene - the stars are pretty ugly
But it’s a crime to call ugly what God has made to share in his beauty.


Reflect on my thoughts because I’m getting pretty worse
This heart of mine is getting colder by the minute and the hour.


Who will unfreeze before I take myself to the grave
I’m not looking for hope, hope is a commodity that charisma sold.


Its all down to my nature, there’s conflict within
An outrage, waging war I pray for the Spirit to win.


Its nearly over, a sabotage been played 
A wild card like wild strawberries found where the kids play.


I heard he said he was thirsty, I’m thirsty too.
Thirsty for righteousness, because sin has bankrupt; leaving me no more love to give.


Soon it will be over, unless the music play
A ballad of a saint found freedom from the sins he hates. 


As I’m getting older, the world is not my friend
But I seem to love her well - placing roses on her bed.


K.Oni

Saturday, 10 March 2012

She loved him like me


Even in his darkest place
I cannot let him pass! 


His large brown eyes were like a pool of chocolate
His paintings really felt like summer.


His warm brown eyes looked at me intently;


I tried to hide my love but failed miserably. 
I never saw it coming; She loved him like me.


"You give me an exciting place of happiness to escape to"

"You gave me hope" - 

His eyes soft and mellow, 
His posture, Strong and alluring.


Which will he choose
What will he say?


A butterfly from a distance called forth his name


The voice stilled and broke our hearts


Watching him walk to embrace His butterfly.

K.Oni

Friday, 9 March 2012

Psalm 16 - An exposition


This is a Miktam of David which can be said to be a prayer, meditation or poem of deliverance to God. The original meaning of the word Miktam is lost but the Psalm still speaks to us today.

Psa 16:1 Preserve me, O God,  - David begins his plead to God with a heart desire for preservation. One can imagine that David is in a very difficult situation, and whatever enemy may wish to destroy him, David is pleading to God that He may outlast them by God preserving him. One may run into the camp of a strong man knowing that therein is power to protect them, likewise David runs to God because He knows, without a shadow of doubt, that God is able to protect him.
For one to pray such a prayer highlights the impeccable fact that one is in a position where one cannot save or protect themselves; nor is there much hope in humanity to protect them, but in God alone. Only He possess the omnipotent power to secure and protect against the deadly arrows of the evil one. Our Lord Jesus Christ in his Life and ministry was constantly under the protection and preservation of God; only when God lifted his omnipotent hand to let the devils in for a season was our Lord's security breached. My friends, your life is in God's omnipotent hands and you can with confidence and assurance pray with David when your situations become vile and desperate, Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.

The Christians home is always a place of refuge because the master of the house is Christ and the builder is God. The wind of the devil and his host have long been blowing upon it with a violent force, but never has it blown over a single brick or cause injury to one of its dwellers. It is a place of refuge and whilst we long for it, for this passing earth is not our eternal home until its renewal, there we shall forever be safe and secure.

Psa 16:2 I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you. David in his heart has made a resolution, he has declared with a solemn declaration that apart from Yahweh His Adonai, he has no good. That is, that he has no good, no merit nor righteousness except that which is gained from God, or by being in union with God. All of his happiness is to be found in God, and if there is a good which he has that is not found in God, then it is no good to him.

What great lessons we can learn from this my friends which will bring our souls many glad tidings. If we today as good soldiers of Christ, belonging to his kingdom and being children of His Father say with boldness and sternness, that you oh God (that is the trinity) is my Lord and apart from you I have no good, nor happiness, how joyful shall we live our days! We shall be like Paul who counted all things as dung, yea, as utterly rubbish compared to knowing Christ Jesus his Lord. Apart from God, the saints of Christ have no good; they have no righteousness, no promises nor hope - their portion is but vinegar and sour grapes. But with God and in Christ they have an unlimited basket of goodness of which at any moment, when they put their hands in, to take something out, it is always good, yea, good for their souls. The Saints may pull out the imputed righteousness of Christ onto them, or the security of eternal salvation, or the surety of their sanctification, or the fullness of blessings in the heavenly places, or the sealing of the Holy Spirit till the day of redemption; and above all God himself who is their portion forever and ever and will be their delight for as long as God inhabits eternity.

These are the saints scattered all over the earth, found in different plains and islands. Psa 16:3  As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. This should be the Christian disposition towards its fellow heirs according to the promise of grace. The Christian should marvel and delight in the saints of Christ because they are the excellent ones. And why are they excellent? Is it due to any merit of their own? Not at all. It is entirely due to the fact that they belong to Jesus, God has chosen them and they have His Holy Spirit living in them. They are the redeemed, the new creation, and God is pleased to dwell in them, yea, to make his home with them. They are excellent because they have been purged and sanctified, they will be glorified and exalted to dwell with the Lamb of Judah in the new Jerusalem. The old man is gone, that is Adam, and the new man reigns in them who is Christ. The original image was corrupted by Adam which is now still present in those who are not yet saints but the new man is found in those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour. They are the excellent ones, for even angels marvel and inquire about their nature and meaning of their God given status. Therefore, my brethrens, delight in your brothers and sisters for they are the excellent ones of God your King. They are his treasured possessions and priced ones. If they are His, should they not be yours also - oh friends, delight in those who are called saints, who have become co-heirs with him. Delight in them and rejoice, thank God for them and let your feet dance at the mercy which was given to them. They run after the true God, they chase after him and Love him unlike the wicked, who run after false gods, and their sorrows will increase, for they thirst after that which cannot satisfy.

Psa 16:4 The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips. It is true that sorrow, pain and anguish will attend the worship of any other gods other than the true God - if this sorrow, pain and anguish doesn’t follow immediately in this life, then it will surely follow in the hereafter, where the wrath of God will have its way upon them, bringing destruction to their idolatrous way. If men cannot be purged of their idolatry in this life through reason, grace, or the love of God as displayed on the cross, then it is for certain that they will be purged in the hereafter. Worshiping idols is always a fruitless occupation, unfitting for the souls of men which was made to rest in God. But fools we have been in resting ourselves everywhere else except in the green pastures of Christ.

This verse does speak of idolatry in the sense of the physical worship of other gods other than Yahweh. Men are ready to forsake the tabernacle of Yahweh to render service to other gods, to offer them drink offerings and to champion their name as if it was they who rescued them from the oppressive hands of the Egyptians. The Psalmist had resolved to never do such an abominable deed - it is like substituting heaven for hell, life for death. Men who forsake the living God for idols are those who have chosen to go their own ways, their souls delighting in their abominations; gladly they offer their drink offerings to images of stone, or a tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an axe by the hands of the craftsman. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move. They go mad after them, but fools they are, for they do not know that its all a delusion; their works are nothing; their metal images are empty wind. The Apostle said ‘for we know that an idol as no real existence. and that there is no God but one.' God is contrary to these mute idols - Yahweh is alive. He is the creator of heaven and earth.

This sin of idolatry is great in the eyes of the Lord and often in the scriptures it is denounced with a great terror of vengeance. Yahweh says 'They have made me jealous with what is no god' and "For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king," 1 Sam 15:23. Saul's foolish ways earned him his just reward, namely the stripping and total rejection of his kingship.
 In exodus 22:20 it says "Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the LORD alone, shall be devoted to destruction." Notice the passion that will be given to the man who sacrifices to any god other than the LORD, the man will be devoted, that is the man will be committed to destruction. There is no alternative to the man’s unavoidable destruction except the man repents of his abominable ways; but if he does not repent, then he shall be devoted forever to eternal destruction. This is so because such worship provokes God to anger, for God had said in Exodux 20:3-5 "You shall have no other gods before me. "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God."

What are your idols? those elements which you have replaced the satisfaction of the Lord with. Is it money, work, culture, self, sex, etc? Whatever it is, depart immediately from it and remove its name from your lips lest you should also be devoted to eternal damnation. Take the example of righteous David who declared that offerings of blood he will not pour out, or take their names on his lips. They shall not be remembered but entirely removed from his memory, they shall not be a part of his life because the LORD is his delightful portion.

In rejecting Idolatry David concerns his soul with the only food and drink which can satisfy it, namely, Yahweh. Only God can satisfy the eternal thirst and hunger of men because only God is eternal. Men grope in over grown forest to find that fruit which at last will satisfy their desire, but when it is found, they hunger for more and begin to search for a different kind of fruit. But the man who has truly found God and God has found him, there is no other place or scene where he may go. He is infinitely satisfied by the fruit which is found in God - He is forever satisfied. This is why David says Psa 16:5 The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. Because of this choice, which all with a discernible spirit make by the grace of God, will say at the end, and with eyes of faith declare at the beginning, Psa 16:6 The (or My) lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. That is, all the lines of providence have lined themselves up in pleasant places. And David affirms of the nature of his inheritance, that it is beautiful. David has for him a beautiful inheritance and that inheritance is God himself who is the loveliest of all beings. Nothing surpasses him in splendour, nothing in majesticness - He is Omnipotently supreme, and has in his being all of the treasures of life and happiness. This is the inheritance of David as well as the inheritance of the all the saints. Therefore, David blesses the LORD who gives him counsel.

Psa 16:7 I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. David blesses the LORD from the depths of his soul. He awakes and delights in God and blesses God, that is, He give thanks to God. David gives thanks to God because God gives him counsel. A counsellor is a confidential advisor and God is portrayed to be the counsellor who gives counsel. Also, the baby spoken of in Isaiah 9:6 which we now know to be our Lord Jesus Christ will be called wonderful Counsellor. And Jesus tells his disciples that 'the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you' John 14:26. The whole trinity is therefore our counsellors - they instruct us in the way of holiness. The Father may whisper his gentle voice to us in the morning, reassuring us of his renewed mercy; while the Son, in the light of the afternoon, reassure our poor souls of his continual presence with us; and the darling Holy Spirit, just before we lay our feeble heads to sleep, may arouse our souls to say a prayer and fill us with unending peace. Therefore Christian, emulate David in giving thanks and praise to God, continually blessing him for given you counsel, which surpasses all the wisdom of the best counsellors of this world. Remember to bless him because your heart delights in his counsel. You might say, but I don’t hear the counsel of the Lord. I assure you this my friend, that God always instructs those who are his, therefore, the fault lies with you - for you must learn to listen and quieten your spirit like a weaned child on his mother’s breast.

The Lord gives us counsel but also does our heart. I would not encourage the natural man to listen to his heart or pay much attention to his heart, for the word of God tells us that the heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things. But for those who are born-again, I would advise such a deed, that is, to listen to their heart, for their heart has been changed and renewed to seek and accept those things which are of God. In obeying the instruction of our hearts, it is always wise to check it against scripture, following that principle of testing every spirit by the word of God.

Those who blesses the Lord from a deep sense of joy and satisfaction in their soul will not waver in setting the Lord always before them. David in his joy writes Psa 16:8  I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. With God's presence and aid one is assured of safety. One cannot be shaken.

In the new testament, Peter applies the rest of this Psalm to the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, (Acts 2:25). And how fitting it is that Peter does this noble exegesis. For who else was always in view of the throne of majesty, who else constantly had unlimited resource and the limitless presence of the Father above? It is our dear Lord Jesus - no sin was found in him, no ill or wickedness, but he rightly and perfectly manifested the righteousness of his Father without a single blot or blemish. Therefore, His Father is always before him, and Christ himself set his Father before him, for his whole aim was to glorify his Father and to do his will. The Father was always at his right hand as for Christ never being alone, except on that cross when his Father had to crush his precious Son for the sins of the saints. Even in such a horrific and damnable death - God turned it to be glorious and make it the chief way in glorifying his beloved Son. Even in death Christ was not moved, nor shaken, for His Father raised him from the dead as to crown him Lord of all humanity, angels and all that there is, visible and invisible.

Therefore the heart of Christ was glad - He was utterly happy in God his Father who did not depart from His promise but kept it and gave him a portion among the many (Isaiah 53:12), with Christ’ portion surpassing all of the many put together. Christ whole being rejoices, one can imagine on that Sunday morning, when the eyes of our beloved Christ opened - his whole presence immediately lighting up that dark cave and transcending out of his burial clothes. The cave nor death could not contain his joy and it overflows, for he promised his disciples that His joy would be in them. The joy of Christ is an overflowing fountain, it is contagious like the laugh of an innocent child, it flows richly from the belly and from utter satisfaction in all that His Father his for him. It is this joy that Christ offers to us - rejoice always as the apostle put it. Christ not only rejoices but his flesh is secured forever. For he now has an indestructible body, never to perish again. As long as God is eternal, so his body shall be eternal. His body will be safe and secure. This body can approach the sun and touch it and not burn. It can dwell in acid and not corrupt - whatever may be the fiercest trial heaven and earth can muster, the resurrected body of Christ can endure it and that for all of eternity. As it is with Christ so it will be with us. For we shall have the same body.
All this is secure because God Psal 16:10 will not abandon his Son's soul to sheol, or let his holy one see corruption.

 Psa 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Christ is constantly happy by his Father's side and so shall we for all eternity. There shall never be a grey stroke on the canvas of eternity, there shall be only those colours in the rainbows manifested. Men, woman and angels, Christ and God shall forever rejoice and be glad with each other till eternity dawns and closes its curtains. There shall always be a new mode of joy which streams flow from God - He shall be the constant source of our eternal pleasures and since there are no blemishes in God then there shall be no blemishes in our joy, satisfaction and happiness in all eternity. These manifold blessings may begin here in this world, for eternal life starts in this mortal flesh. We can begin to enjoy God here and magnify that joy a million fold when we have the possession of our new body and the new earth and new heaven.

K.Oni