Saturday, 29 June 2013

Power, corruption and lies

This week has seen two public institutions facing serious accusations of corruption. Firstly there were the claims by former undercover police officer Peter Francis that he was ordered to dig up ‘dirt’ on the family of the murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence.
 
The allegations that police were deployed secretly in an attempt to smear the victims of such a serious crime have been described by the Lawrence’s lawyer, Michael Mansfield QC, as "institutionalised deceit".
Secondly, scandal has also hit the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the body responsible for inspecting hospitals and care homes. They were accused of covering up a report, which exposed their failure to properly investigate the deaths of 16 babies and two mothers due to neglect in a hospital in Cumbria. The author of the report was told to destroy his findings to protect CQC’s reputation. It has led to CQC’s chairman, David Prior, saying that the commission was "not fit for purpose".

Like the BBC's Jimmy Savile scandal, these are further examples of the damage caused when cultures of corruption and cover-up become embedded within institutions established for the public good.  

So what does a Christian response look like? 

Firstly, these scandals are a powerful illustration of one of the least popular of all theological topics: sin. Sin is perceived by many as a very judgmental concept because it is so often used only in relation to personal moral, often sexual, issues.

But in these cases we see the impact of sin, which is beyond just the realm of the individual. Of course, the decision to smear the victim of a crime or the suppression of a critical report is wrong, but in these examples the wrongdoing has been compounded, maintained and concealed through an institution. Sin is manifested in corporate failure.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby wrote a booklet called Can Companies Sin?(Grove 1992) reflecting on his experiences working in the oil industry. The answer he finds to his own question is a resounding ‘yes’. Despite their complexity, companies and institutions have moral responsibilities just as individuals do. Despite our fondness for a scapegoat who can be sacked to carry the can, few corporate scandals are any one person’s fault. Often it comes down to the "negligence, weakness and deliberate fault" of many. 

This is the sin-sickness of the world, the key underlying cause of all injustice. Rather than being used as a way of pointing the finger of judgment at others, a full and radical understanding of sin is the best way of understanding why the world is in the mess it is.

Through the presence of Judas in Jesus’s community, the multiple failures of Peter and the disputes of Paul with his colleagues, the Bible is reassuringly clear about the presence of sin in the Church.  Church history ever since has been a rich story of both the divine and the dusty. This can give us an earthy realism about the self-serving tendency inherent within all institutions.

This realism helps us avoid twin dangers of cynicism and naivety. We should reject the easy commentary of the cynics who simply deride all public bodies as hopelessly corrupt. They are wrong – strong public institutions are fundamental to any country and many good people are faithfully working within them. But we should also reject the naivety that leaps to defend public institutions at all costs. We should be wary of shifting the blame onto one or two ‘bad apples’ while ignoring the corporate nature of problems. 

And there is a role for all of us. Whether at work, in our communities or our churches, we can commit to speak the truth about issues that need exposing and addressing. When we do this, we become those who bring light to shine in the darkness of a sin-sick world. We should not be superior but humble, for we are not free of sin, but simply follow the one who is. The one who said: "You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free."

Jon Kuhrt is executive director of social work at the West London Mission and blogs atwww.resistanceandrenewal.net

Monday, 24 June 2013

Miscellanies 81: Come have communion with Christ again

Many miserable Christians are birthed from a lack of a secret communion with Christ. They have forsaken the intimacy of prayer, the transforming power of the word, the ministry of the Darling Holy ghost to their souls; these they have altogether neglected. They rise each day with a hardened heart, not knowing the fullness of their salvation nor the great absolute enjoyment that is found in Christ, and thus, they descend upon the world with much hypocrisy and guilt. Only if they had sat at the breakfast table with Christ and fed their souls with how much the Father loves them, how much Christ think and cares about them, and how the Holy Spirit wishes to impart in them all those virtues, yea, those sweet delights that brightens the face like a contented happy child. They would walk upon the world with a foreign love which would make the sons of this world blush and say, ‘see how the sun shines in the face of these Christians. They have the same cares and sorrows, but they live their days as if all of their treasures are stored elsewhere. They love and love.’ 

Come my dear Christian and have communion with Christ again. If Moses after fellow-shipping with the Lord had to cover his face, how much more on this side of the cross will you come away happy and beaming with love?

K.Oni

Friday, 21 June 2013

Nobody ever said I had pretty eyes

I Don't really want to wake up today,
I want to close my eyes to be far from the pain,
Today is full of rain.
I want to smile but my soul can't see the need.
You'll never hear me scream, but I bleed like a sacrificial lamb. 
A prisoner of my own history, with no friends
They don't really care, but they'll say my analysis is not fair.
Back-packing through life with the shadow of my own death,
I really want to care, but nobody understands, So
I keep running, but I end up in myself.
Don't think I'm cold if I don't say hello,
In times like these I just want to be free, to see
To believe, to release, to think that there's happiness for me,
Because you see, as a youth, let me tell you a truth
I cried alone, almost swallowed a stone so I would choke,
Then my life would be broke.
I learnt life ain't nothing but tears
Full of fears as I watched my best friend taking away by meth.
Nobody stops to notice the man on the street
Or the rich middle class girl on speed,
Getting A's but she won't take a break
In-case you realize that she's a fake.


Death is all we are owed
Life is empty in a eyes that is full of sadness.

And when they bury me, bury me fast
Send me away with one of my beats, play it once so the crowd can hear
My attitude to living, for being, now I'm glad I'm leaving.
Forgive me Mama for drama, I never worked hard like my papa,
But it was always on my mind, that I was no good, of no earthly use.
Feeling ugly and alone, so my feelings went stone cold.
I used to be bold, now I won't even hold a conversation about being old,
Because souls like mine are always ready to dine with death,
Nobody ever said I had pretty eyes, so I made them sad.
And she believes that no one can love a girl with scars
So I took her to meet the man with eternal scars.
He can understand, even though you are struggling to feel alive, let me lend you a hand.
This is true love, calling me at 4 am because she knows I'll be awake,

Staring out at the sky, wanting to fly to be free from this hard ground.

Death is all we are owed
Life is empty in a eyes that is full of sadness. 


By K.Oni

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

I have a love

I have a love that life could never ever tire
It is anchored in heaven with a wire
Every day it gets a little higher.

No day can steal this night away
Even though she is far away
This feeling never ever goes away.

She is my sun in the day, My moon in the night
Although we fight, its tight, its right
Her face is the fairest, rarest, carest.
Her kiss in the morning melts me
I breathe in her fresh air, best friends
We still have our best years.

No need to mourn those days when I cried
When I tried, when I lied, I thought I died.
Lost you to the wind, couldn't sing, wanted to drink the poison
Then you came running, hugging me, telling me that you need me.
Let me count the ways that I love you,
I forgive you, though there are shadows under my eye
And creases on my cheek, in truth there is love in this girlish face.
Thank you for your grace, lets start again, make way in the sunset
Let me give you a lily, I'll never be silly.

K.Oni

The Kingdom of God is here

A video that I made from the UWE Christian Union weekend away.



By K.Oni

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Miscellanies 80: How happy is the sinner now made saint

The barren woman sings when at last she produces her own offspring. The blind man, now seeing, first walks gently and then sprints to and fro in great excitement. Likewise those who were once tangled in darkness, nay, swallowed by it, and then afterward rescued unto the light, do give exceeding thanks to their heavenly hero. They say in retrospect, that "woe was me, for I never knew of my true misery and lostness. I had felt that I was altogether in good health, and my sins were never so great and gigantic as the sun in the sky and never so disagreeable too by God. God will forgive me, for my sins are little, and he is such a loving God that he will do no such thing by sending me to an eternal hell. Such a place existeth not, except in the mind of unloving religious fools who believe in a medieval doctrine propagated by Dante's inferno. We are to live as we ought to live, namely a pursuit of our own happiness. And which ever method by which we come to it, as long as it is not in the extreme camp of wickedness, then God, if there is one, blesses our endeavors." So says the unconverted man. But many more have no care, no, no virtuous spring in their heart that should move them with great seriousness to consider their standing before God, namely him who created in beauty and wisely the universe in which we live, although, now very much spoiled and ruined by sin.

But how different does the enlightened mind differ in his thoughts. O, infinitely different. For now he sees the heinousness of his sins and his life before hand, how it every day only served to arouse the wrath of God because it daily released pollution upon his earth, (John 3:36). How, now, he is forever thankful that the God of the earth did not arise to judge him when he was very much a willing servant of Satan, (2 Tim 2:26). O, see. He praises that God withheld his glittering sword, and instead lavished upon him the goodness of his sunshine, namely his grace and mercy. How happy is the sinner now made saint. And such is the disposition of all those who have been rescued, those who know something about their utter depravity and wrath deservedness, (Eph 2:4) that they should now receive mercy and love. This makes them weep tears of joy rather than tears of eternal pain and sorrow.

O be wise tarrying earthling, awake unto the judgment of your maker, for when he rises to Judge you and you are found to be absent in Christ, then you shall have no consolation forever. There shall be no day of bail, nay, no day of freedom. You shall be shut up in that frightening jail and the key for your release shall be thrown into that bottomless pit - that if anybody ever dare seek to retrieve it, they too shall descend endlessly with that key.

K.Oni

The Joy of Confession 26

In all my sins can I come to God? Can I come and touch the throne of grace when there exists within me the fear that I may fail again. When there exists in my members, that tomorrow will cast its darkness over today's repentance and I shall be as I was at first, namely a willful sinner. O this body of death, this wretched principles in me; and who shall deliver me from such a destructive body that goes against all of my happiness?

Thanks be to God who gives us victory in Christ Jesus. O let me taste those Calvary victories, let Christ see the travail of his soul, and be satisfied by seeing my victories won over sin and flesh. O Lord thou art my great redeemer and remedy.

K.Oni

Friday, 14 June 2013

The certain man passing through

Once upon a time, in a plain dusty city, there was a certain man passing through. One rich man in that town caught wind of this news and went by to watch this certain man pass by. He was not the only man in waiting, but wives and children alike flooded the street to watch the man go by. Being short in stature, the rich man climbed up unto a sycamore tree to see the man passing through, for he was about to come his way.

Why the rich man wanted to see a poor peasant can only be attributed to the stories that he had heard about the man passing through from a different city. The stories were spectacular, such as opening the eyes of one man born blind and raising a girl back from the dead. Also, the certain man passing through had among his ranks a tax collector like the rich man; and this was radical because the certain man passing through was a Jew.

The rich man shamed himself by climbing a sycamore tree. He could have exerted his authority I think by having guards to accompany him to this meeting, but no, he would climb a tree. What the rich man did not know was that in climbing a sycamore tree, he would have to climb down again to be the center of attention, or even more so, the center of mercy.

"Zacchaeus," the certain man passing through shouted, "hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today."
"My house!" thought Zacchaeus. "I am a sinner and have done many bad things." 
 Before having a time to think more about this unexpected request, Zacchaeus feet had falling to the ground, having a beaming smile of surprise about his face, that certainly it was his honor for this man passing through to stay in his house.

The crowd grumbled and protested among themselves, that how could he go and stay in the house of a sinner, the very person that robs everybody in this city by exorbitant taxes.

But little did they know that this encounter, this noticing of the certain man passing through of this sinner, would be the means by which they were never to be extorted again. In fact, the short rich man was so touched that the poor Galilean man passing through would stay in his house and even more, eat with him, that he declared that he would give half of his goods to the poor; and also, that if he has defrauded anyone of anything (which he has), he would restore four times more.

My honourable friends who have Christianity in thier hearts. Would you, like this man go into the house of a criminal, or of a corrupt politician with much mercy and grace in your heart and eat with him? Would you go into the house of those who oppose you and eat with them having a passion to grant them pardon?

Whenever you are passing through anywhere, always keep an eye out for the man sitting on top of the tree.

K.Oni

The certain man passing through was Jesus Christ. He can forgive you of your sins if you will only believe and trust in him. 




Broken

I cry to myself the storms of my heart
I write in ink the despair of my life
I am a soul alone, with grief beyond compare
A broken stone without repair.

K.Oni

I knew a sad boy - Sick of everything

I once knew a sad boy who was sick. He was sick of life. 
He was sick of living,
He was sick of breathing,
Sick of wanting,
Sick of seeing,
Sick of thinking,
And worst of all, he was sick of being. 

K.Oni

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Book review: Beautiful lies - You Are More Than *What Men Think *What the Mirror Reflects *What Magazines Tell You

book title frontLies can be pretty, but Truth is beautiful, writes Jennifer Strickland a former professional model who knows all about the lie and distortions the culture feeds young women. At just seventeen years of age, Jennifer met with Nina Blanchard, the legendary empress of the West Coast modelling world and signed a contract with her. Nina named Jennifer, the “Face of the Nineties,” and was introduced to Steven Spielberg, Eileen Ford, Georgio Armani and Patrick Demarchelier, the favoured photographer of Princess Diana. Jennifer reflected that this interaction was a continuation of the first beautiful lie that she believed, namely that 'if a man or woman thinks I'm pretty, I am. If he or she thinks I have potential, I do. If they want me, I'm worth wanting.'

Are you what man thinks of you? Or do you think that men could measure your value? I (Ken) say to you, that don't be so hasty to deny that you are currently pandering to men's opinions, but search your heart and scrutinize your motives to see if this men/society pleasing trait is well sipped into your veins.

“In this book you will find five beautiful lies which leaves our hearts locked at the bottom of the sea, the splendour within us growing dull and grimy like old, tarnished stones in a treasure chest,” writes Jennifer Strickland about the content of her book which is more an invitation into her heart and into yours. Accompanied with these beautiful lies are five solid truths to help you disable and dismiss the lies that you have come to accept about yourself and embrace the only opinion that matters, namely what your heavenly Father thinks.

It is a languishing cry that over 80 percent of women are unsatisfied with their appearance and that seventy percent are actually depressed about their size and shape. And perhaps, this is because we have a generation of mothers enslaved by the mirror who are trying to raise a generation of princesses in the image of worldly beauty. In one speaking event, Strickland recounts the comments written haphazardly in multicoloured ink all over the mirrors by young girls, which says: I will never be beautiful. I am ugly. No one loves me, not even my father. I am fat and nasty. I will never heal from my rape. Everybody hates me. I am not lovable, not even by God. I am worthless.

What lies are you believing as a woman? Are you identifying your worth with your appearance? Have you forgotten that 'the average model is thinner than 98% of American women?' Have you allowed the truth of the Word to enter in, so that you can discern the lies, contradictions, and confusions of the magazines?

But it is not only men who are telling women and girls that they have to be pretty enough, but it is women who run the fashion magazines, from the head editorial staff to those who create the content and edit the magazines that are preaching the message that 'women have to change to be pretty enough. That while their flesh is their value; ultimately, their flesh has no value. It's usable, replaceable, and disposable, (pg 97).'

Jennifer Strickland does a wonderful work in identifying the 'beautiful lies' which often cripples a woman from fulfilling their God given potential and she offers a stunning truth on combating such thinking disorders with the Word of truth, namely the scriptures. Jennifer has first hand experiences on the beautiful lies which she herself once believed; and now she is an instrument of God in disarming such lies and replacing them with heavenly truth. 


I highly recommend this book for women of all ages as a book either for yourself or for counselling other women in recognising the 'beautiful lies,' which they have accepted from the world. This book is relevant because the issue is present all across the mind of women, who are in need of affirmation, and to be encouraged to root their identity and worth in Christ alone. That they are beloved daughters and temple of the Holy Spirit.  

You can place an order here for the book: http://harvesthousepublishers.com/book/beautiful-lies-2013/

K.Oni

I once knew a sad boy

I once knew a sad boy who had no one to listen to him. All he ever wanted was for someone to listen to his stories, but no one stayed for more than a minute. He would go here and there but everyone turned away from him. So he spoke to the trees instead and every time he began his story, the wind came and blew his voice away. In time, the boy had only his own ears to listen to his stories and as time went by, his story became sadder. They were once full of life and hope but now it is full of sorrow and death. 

K.Oni