Monday, 29 December 2014

I knew a sad boy who was very lonely

I knew a boy who was very sad because he was lonely. He was so lonely that the loneliness often made him shiver, as if he was out naked in the bitter cold. Often in his loneliness, he would ask himself this question. 'What is the point of living? Nobody cares; and a certain person whom I admire very much cares not for me either'. He would sigh each night, wishing he had the strength to take himself away into that other dimension where all is silent. But each morning he wakes up alone, and do all things alone. And even though he works and smiles, yet it was all a cover to hide his deep dark loneliness. Nothing could fill it but one thing, but that thing was never going to be. The boy is indeed a very miserable boy, and he fears, no, he knows that he will spend the new year all alone. Such a terrible thing that is, that I told him at once to come and spend it with me. With a great sigh he accepted but said that he would not be a great company, because his heart will be somewhere else. The boy confessed that his heart was always at that somewhere, or rather with that someone.

K.Oni

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Tired of waiting

I spent the night praying
Holding the posion saying God I aint playing
Tired of waiting, life is hard
Infact its pretty lonely
Wishing the mob would pick up stones to stone me.
K.Oni

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Give me what you will, My dear Lord

Give me what you will, My dear Lord
And take what you will, My dear Lord
I will endure, whatever the grief,
And follow you still, My sweet dear Lord.

Trouble and pain you have promised me
No easy path on this road I tread,
Suffering seems to be the book I read
Joy and gladness still follows me.

O pity not me  the world I plead
For Christ did die and rise indeed.
All my errands for him are not vain
Though they leave me with marks and stains.
But know, surely as light comes with the sun
That my reward will come when this earth is done.

please me in your prayers keep

Dear Christ, My wonderful mediator, please me in your prayers keep, To flee from sin, and from my lukewarmness to awake. Please on me sprinkle thy blood, and from heaven continually watch, That I may not in my misery keep, but in your righteousness be, And live in thy heavenly bliss. 


K.Oni

I must beyond my own ache look

There is more to life than her loving me back,
Starving children, needy friends
I must beyond my own ache look.

Broken down yet not dead,
Words without frown
I can another heal,
When beyond my own ache look.



K.Oni

Should I write a Christmas eve's cheer, or wallow in dirge?

Should I write a Christmas eve's cheer, or wallow in dirge?
What my heart feels, that true I should write, with distinguished sight.
Here, in this woods, sunlit trees, happy kids with birds feed;
And I, surrounded by household heed, still alone, even with many deeds.
Absent, though present, dance, yet not dancing, laughing, yet not delighting,
For she, that girl in 10,000, even in years way past 1000, Much missing, painfully longing,
To hold once more and more, hoping, even in my death, stolen, my memories of me,
Remembering her, not remembering me.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Will she me love and love again

I see her, beautiful as dawn,
Golden in all ways, like summer days.
No copper seen in attitude, but silver
Pure in heart, like a clear stream,
Christ reflection realised, when those serene eyes surveyed.
Will she me love and love again?
Or as another replaced my place.

K.Oni

I see my lack of faith

Here I see my lack of faith, namely not that I believe that God does not exist, but that he does not reward those who seek him. So I have put my hands up at private prayer, on study of him, on giving to him, on love, the kind that treasures God above all things. And thus I have recieved the reward in myself, namely a heart full of darkness, devoid of the inward sunshine. O for help and grace! For pity from heaven, that on me the eyes of mercy may once again look upon; and by supernatural power, the kind that raised Christ from the dead cause me to believe again; even more to experience.

K.Oni

Never to climb up Love's wall again

What she makes of me
I no longer know,
Dreadful to hear the truth revealed
Shudders my heart with terror.
To hear her string no longer tight,
That I am released to fall,
And I, never to climb up Love's wall again.

K.Oni

finally on my way home.

There is a day that will come when my strength will fail me; unable to hold on, to grab onto the horns of life with my hands, that day shall be glorious, fantastical, for I shall be finally on my way home. 


K.Oni

Thursday, 27 November 2014

I pray best with great passion when it is not about me

All I want now is to know Jesus; to grow in my knowledge of him. In my evening prayer, as peace entered into my soul after pouring out to him my petitions, all I could say was come to me Lord Jesus, whether through a vision or a dream, or speak to me audibly, or in any way like you did to our fathers of old, reveal yourself to me in that way. I asked him, and instead of being granted that which I asked, more peace flooded my heart which brought me to such a state of satisfaction, that I layed on my bed with great serenity and joy. All in me is calm; the waves of anxiety have ceased. All thoughts of worry are clear out of sight. All of her worries which brought me to prayer that consumed me is gone. I leave all that now to His providence. He shall deal with it and restore that which was lost, or use it as a means which is all for her good. Although I will not leave off prayer regarding the matter. I pray best with great passion when it is not about me or of my ills, but about those to whom my heart is very bessotted. Their cares rises above mine, and I am much driven quickly to prayer for them than I am of myself.

K.Oni

What a wonderful peace My Lord Jesus gives

What a wonderful peace
My Lord Jesus gives
When I surrender to him
And seek him in blessed prayer.
I poured to him my heart
He answered me with delight,
Not for the things I asked
But with his Peace
He satisfied my heart. 


K.Oni

Sunday, 16 November 2014

I was feeling sad, then I read my Bible

I was feeling sad, full of all sorts of anxiety and worry. My mind was everywhere and nowhere. In the darkness of my room I sat, with no energy at all, save to lay on my bed and entertain myself with movies, which brought me no joy at all; but it helped pass the time. I thought about many a thing, such as the hopelessness of my life, the barrenness of all my works, the uselessness of my existence, and despairing of my future. At all this I sigh, wishing no company save two, but one who is the Almighty, I felt far and distant from me. This made my condition decline even worse. But I did today fresh encouragement take, when I opened my bible to the book of Psalms and started meditating on Psalm 119. There I found relieve in the words written, and in reading just a few words, all my energy returned to me, and joy filled my heart. All my worries faded and Christ seem present in my soul again. This, time and time again, has proven to be a constant remedy to my soul, namely the reading of the word of God. I believe entirely, and sincerely in as much as God sees fit to grant, that the reading of scripture can cure all levels of depression and anxiety. But I have found this true in my experience, and dare not make it a rule of faith for all. This is how God heals me and I can encourage you in your misery to do the same, to find relief in the words of God. Perhaps God may use his words as the means of grace to cure you.

K.Oni

Saturday, 15 November 2014

The writings of Sunny Caane: A distant admiration for those who have the will to close their own eyes

I have a distant admiration for those who have the will to close their own eyes, never again to see the light of day. They have a strength I do not possess, a will that I have, but a strength that I lack. For this hour, everything is dark, the sun is black to me and life is happiless. I do not see how to go by each day, how to carry on, how to live. Like Romeo, seeing his beloved on the bed, dead, though she lives, yet he thinks her dead, drank that poison whole, till life was found in him no more. I wish too for a woman in the market to sell me a bottle, full of poison, and in the loneliness of my existence, drink it till no more drops remain. Then in peace I will go into that realm that nothing exists, well at least, into that realm where this life no longer remains; and I shall be free from the constant pangs of my broken aching heart, and the deep despondency of being close friends with loneliness. O the depths of my longing this moment, to be free from this vision of life is bottomless. But I have not the will to do that which I so desire. Like my sins, I cannot overcome, like them, I cannot become, and like her, can never win her heart. It is all stacked against me. The fire burns my work, the snake thinks me not worthy to poison, and death thinks me worthless to visit. I must visit her, and although I know where she lives and many times I have put my hand on the handle to open her door, yet the strength is not in me. I always hold the handle but never turn it. O the sadness I feel too for them that close their own eyes is deep, a tragedy! And mine too shall be a tragedy. O dear Sunny, my nightmare is my solitude, and I fear that I may no longer be able to bear it.

From your dear Sammy. Write soon Sunny.


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Home-grown terrorism?

With the rapid rise and advance of ISIL in Northern Iraq and Syria, and the recent resurgence of radical groups in Libya, the Church has been grasping for ways to respond.
 
This week the new director of Britain’s surveillance agency, GCHQ, accused big US technology companies of denial, claiming they are becoming “control networks of choice” for terrorists.
 
It seems to me that British Christians often feel hamstrung in their capacity to offer tangible resistance to radical groups, despite knowing such groups are aggressively recruiting using the social media networks that run through our own country.
 
One London church community faces the reality of terrorism locally. London vicar and Westminster Theological College lecturer, Azariah France-Williams, leads a church that sits on the council estate that harboured the 21 July 2005 bombers and recently saw the arrest of four men on suspicion of plotting terrorism. 
 
The vicar recently met a family with a 7-year-old son, who fear he may be targeted as he gets older. They worry he is vulnerable to being groomed and indoctrinated. They want to move out of the estate.
 
Others want to put it behind them and embrace the 'keep calm and carry on' mentality, but a number of people who once enjoyed polite conversation with the arrested men say they now have a lens of suspicion on everyone, unsure of who can be trusted.
 
The estate has many disaffected young people. The absence of fathers is a factor blamed by some for the behaviour of these young men. Those on the estate who might be well-placed to be a father-figure tend to be wary or even afraid of the youth most in need their support.
 
It seems terrorist groups know they can lever Western military action to both recruit and harden people's resolve against Western powers. In today's technologically connected world, there is a distinct lack of boundaries.
 
Azariah says he’s seen the same resentment a Muslim Iraqi might feel in Mosul mirrored by a Muslim counterpart on his estate. He warns that young people’s access to inflammatory material and the ability to network with like-minded peers is dangerous when combined with economic factors.
 
The would-be bomber sees his dad disrespected and his mum working round the clock. They switch allegiance, wanting a different path. Their own gang on the estate becomes too small, so an international tribe is necessary to fuel and fund their new nomadic status as they exist within, but not of, the world of the estate.
 
Some Christians believe the Church needs to engage with this issue of home-grown terrorism by resisting Islam, or at least radical Islam. But Azariah doesn’t see the issues in his neighbourhood in those terms.

As a trustee of the local community centre, he was supportive of Muslim Eid prayers being held there because it brings families together. Eid provided a rare opportunity for these young men to spend time with mature elders who can help them construct a healthier personal narrative – one that supports citizenship and creative, positive protest for the issues they face.
 
St Francis Church on the estate is part of Citizens UK, which engages in deep listening to all aspects of the community. This listening is transformed into positive action. The church has a range of community building initiatives that centre around family, creative arts and space for different people to meet.

Isaiah 11:6 gives us the vision of the wolves and lambs, leopards and goats, and calves and lion lying down next to each other. Powerful predators alongside the weaker victims. This may be a place for the Church, refusing to alienate but rather ‘lying down’ next to these young people who have the potential of becoming the predator.
 
Some might call Isaiah 11’s vision of new creation escapist or even utopian. It doesn’t deal practically with problems on the ground. But we have to remember that Isaiah proposed that vision during one of Judah’s darkest hours, when the aggressors of the world were at the door.

Perhaps envisioning and seeing new alternatives is where the Church is — or should be — best equipped. It seems intrinsic to a worldview based on hope, and to a faith that claims to be good news. Maybe envisioning alternatives locally — with neighbourhood children and parents — can be a powerful witness in a world constantly clanging with alarm bells and security warnings. As all radical groups know, an alternative vision of reality can really mobilise.
 
Matt Lynch is dean of studies at Westminster Theological Centre

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

That it must end

That it must end
remains not in my memory.
Such thinking
will only cause my eyes to weep,
So I muse on happy things,
But happiness, no weight of grief can bare.
For even the winds of loss
Will shake my house,

Crumbling it to the ground. 

K.Oni 

Whoever has me loved in their heart

Whoever has me loved in their heart
Should tell me now, for this hour, this season,
When loneliness is with me as a hated friend,
Willing to part with her for another who would have me. 
Her, who is gone
has made me lonely, that any company now will do,
But not satisfy, only she could satisfy,
But to her who has me loved in her heart,
I am willing to offer myself to you
As a consolation, knowing that perhaps
You need me like I need her. 

K.Oni

The writings of sunny Caane - I miss her

I miss her – her whom I have been blessed with for a few years. Now, she is gone, taken away by the stronger wind of another. She yielded to his fragrance. But my fragrance made her cover her nose and run away. It stank, so much so, that any whiff of my smell made her sick. Thus, as all good men do, I stay away respecting her illness of me, and cried alone, deep into the midnight hours when the stars are weeping. Till this day I weep, and live in regret, that she slipped through my hands. 

K.Oni

Miscellanies 92: It is not as if I have it all together

It is not as if I have it all together. As if I have all the pieces of my life in place, as I would have them. Instead, they are scattered, some here and some there, and others, there and here. Do not find it strange if you do not find a constancy within me. If today I am full of sunshine, and tomorrow I am full of darkness, it is because my life is not yet a finished painting. 

K. oni

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Pardon for the Greatest Sinner

“For thy name’s sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.”
—Psalm 25:11
Doctrine: If we truly come to God for mercy, the greatness of our sin will be no impediment to pardon...The following things are needful in order that we truly come to God for mercy:
That we should see our misery and be sensible of our need of mercy. They who are not sensible of their misery cannot truly look to God for mercy, for it is the very notion of divine mercy that it is the goodness and grace of God to the miserable. Without misery in the object, there can be no exercise of mercy. To suppose mercy without supposing misery or pity without calamity is a contradiction. Therefore, men cannot look upon themselves as proper objects of mercy, unless they first know themselves to be miserable. So, unless this be the case, it is impossible that they should come to God for mercy. They must be sensible that they are the children of wrath, that the Law is against them, and that they are exposed to the curse of it: that the wrath of God abideth on them and that He is angry with them every day while they are under the guilt of sin. They must be sensible that it is a very dreadful thing to be the object of the wrath of God, that it is a very awful thing to have Him for their enemy, and that they cannot bear His wrath. They must be sensible that the guilt of sin makes them miserable creatures, whatever temporal enjoyments they have; that they can be no other than miserable, undone creatures, so long as God is angry with them; that they are without strengthand must perish, and that eternally, unless God help them. They must see that their case is utterly desperate, for any thing that any one else can do for them; that they hang over the pit of eternal misery; and that they must necessarily drop into it, if God have not mercy on them...
1. The mercy of God is as sufficient for the pardon of the greatest sins, as for the least, because His mercy is infinite. That which is infinite is as much above what is great as it is above what is small. Thus, God being infinitely great, He is as much above kings as He is above beggars. He is as much above the highest angel, as He is above the meanest worm. One infinite measure doth not come any nearer to the extent of what is infinite than another. So the mercy of God being infinite, it must be as sufficient for the pardon of all sin as of one...
2. That the satisfaction of Christ is as sufficient for the removal of the greatest guilt as the least: “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1Jo 1:7). “And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Act 13:39). All the sins of those who truly come to God for mercy, let them be what they will, are satisfied for, if God be true Who tells us so. And if they be satisfied for, surely it is not incredible, that God should be ready to pardon them. So that Christ having fully satisfied for all sin, or havingwrought out a satisfaction that is sufficient for all, it is now no way inconsistent with the glory of the divine attributes to pardon the greatest sins of those who in a right manner come unto Him for it. God may now pardon the greatest sinners without any prejudice to the honor of His holiness. The holiness of God will not suffer Him to give the least countenance to sin, but inclines Him to give propertestimonies of His hatred of it. But Christ having satisfied for sin, God can now love the sinner and give no countenance at all to sin, however great a sinner he may have been. It was a sufficient testimony of God’s abhorrence of sin that He poured out His wrath on His own dear Son, when He took the guilt of it upon Himself. Nothing can more show God’s abhorrence of sin than this...
God may, through Christ, pardon the greatest sinner without any prejudice to the honor of His majesty. The honor of the divine majesty indeed requires satisfaction, but the sufferings of Christ fully repair the injury. Let the contempt be ever so great, yet if so honorable a person as Christ undertakes to be a Mediator for the offender and suffers so much for him, it fully repairs the injurydone to the Majesty of heaven and earth. The sufferings of Christ fully satisfy justice. The justice of God, as the supreme Governor and Judge of the world, requires the punishment of sin. The supreme Judge must judge the world according to a rule of justice...The Law is no impediment in the way of the pardon of the greatest sin, if men do but truly come to God for mercy: for Christ hath fulfilled the Law, He hath borne the curse of it, in His sufferings. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Gal 3:13).
3. Christ will not refuse to save the greatest sinners, who in a right manner come to God for mercy; for this is His work. It is His business to be a Savior of sinners; it is the work upon which He came into the world; and therefore He will not object to it. He did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Mat 9:13). Sin is the very evil which He came into the world to remedy: therefore, He will not object to any man that he is very sinful. The more sinful he is, the more need of Christ. The sinfulness of man was the reason of Christ’s coming into the world...The physician will not make it an objection against healing a man who applies to him that he stands in great need of his
help...
4. Herein doth the glory of grace by the redemption of Christ much consist, viz., in its sufficiency for the pardon of the greatest sinners. The whole [plan] of the way of salvation is for this end: to glorify the free grace of God. God had it on His heart from all eternity to glorify this attribute; and therefore it is, that the device of saving sinners by Christ was conceived. The greatness of divine grace appears very much in this: that God by Christ saves the greatest offenders. The greater the guilt of any sinner is the more glorious and wonderful is the grace manifested in his pardon: “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Rom 5:20)...The Redeemer is glorified, in that He proves sufficient to redeem those who are exceeding sinful, in that His blood proves sufficient to wash away the greatest guilt, in that He is able to save men to the uttermost, and in that He redeems even from the greatest misery. It is the honor of Christ to save the greatest sinners when they come to Him, as it is the honor of a physician that he cures the most desperate diseases or wounds. Therefore, no doubt, Christ will be willing to save the greatest sinners, if they come to Him. For He will not be backward to glorify Himself and to commend the value and virtue of His own blood. Seeing He hath so laid out Himself to redeem sinners, He will not be unwilling to show that He is able to redeem to the uttermost...If you see not the sufficiency of Christ to pardon you, without any righteousness of your own to recommend you, you never will come so as to be accepted of Him. The way to be accepted is to come—not on any such encouragement, that now you have made yourselves better, and more worthy, or not so unworthy, but—on the mere encouragement of Christ’s worthiness and God’s mercy.
From “Great Guilt No Obstacle to the Pardon of the Returning Sinner” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 2, reprinted by the Banner of Truth Trust. http://www.monergism.com/pardon-greatest-sinner

Friday, 31 October 2014

Today is reformation day. I too will be reforming my life

Today is reformation day. I too will be reforming my life. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany. Today, I will be nailing my one thesis on the wall in my room.

As one writer has written, that 'at the time, few would have suspected that the sound of a hammer striking the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany, would soon be heard around the world and lead ultimately to the greatest transformation of Western society since the apostles first preached the Gospel throughout the Roman empire. Martin Luther’s nailing of his ninety-five theses to the church door on October 31, 1517, provoked a debate that culminated finally in what we now call the Protestant Reformation.'

Perhaps in a few years, as I consider this one thesis that I nailed on the wall in my room, that it would lead to the greatest transformation of my life in regards to my relationship with God. That this act of will, will culminate in me being more holy, and enjoying Christ Jesus as the supreme treasure of my life.


K.Oni 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Intolerant views should be eliminated

Post: "Intolerant views should be eliminated."
Response: I saw this statement yesterday in the comments of some news about a Christian... and no doubt we all increasingly see these kind of statements frequently posted around the Internet. IN fact, these are the kind of statements where I have seen people receive hundreds of "likes" on progressive-leaning news websites like Huffington Post, especially when they are talking about the views of theologically conservative Christians. It really appears that the persons who make such declarations, and their followers, fail to see the sheer irony in these statements. For to "eliminate" a view is somehow to believe that certain views are so unworthy of public discourse that such person(s) should not have the freedom of conscience to hold such views or speak about them publicly to anyone else. Now, if I understand tolerance correctly, all Christians I know of firmly believe in freedom of conscience. That is, they will disagree wholeheartedly with a false view of the world, but they allow for others the freedom of conscience to hold such bad ideas. Faith is a supernatural work of God in the heart and not something that can be coerced by the sword.  But the new kind of so-called "tolerance" appears to embrace an a kind of "enforced tolerance" ethic which is obviously so muddled in self-contradiction that it should not even bare mentioning. But the new believers of such views seem to sit comfortably within their self-contradiction. It does not seem to bother them that their position defies all reason or logic, even when plainly pointed out.
These contradictions run deep: Ideas they like should be made mandatory and what they don’t like should be banned: There’s an underlying fascism that runs through those who hold these views. It’s not enough for them to embrace gay marriage; everyone else must be forced to love gay marriage. It’s not enough for them to make sure the speakers on campuses conform to their beliefs; speakers who don't hold their views must be shouted down or banned from speaking. It is not enough that they believe in abortion rights but everyone else must be required to pay for their abortions.  While they may not use the sword to accomplish their goals they seem to be comfortable letting a judge friendly to their cause make a judicial fiat to outlaw free speech.
Consider this: Those who want to eliminate Christian views, by default, believe their own views are right and the Christian views are wrong. "Oh my, how narrow." And more often than not, they believe their views are morally superior to the Christians views. Wouldn't it be better to be open and honest and simply say, in love, that we sharply disagree with one another, rather than force our opponent and their views off the map? True gold fears no fire. The more our opponents work to undo Christianity the more they will realize they are kicking against the goads. 
Let's pray for wisdom as we enter this new era as to how we might engage and love our friends who are influenced by such views.
 
 john_hendryx http://www.monergism.com/blog/intolerant-views-should-be-eliminated

In the late evening

In the late evening, when sleep has
come upon me, I tell my hands that now is the hour to leave our work alone. We must rest our mind and go softly into
that land of dreams, where our beloved comes to us willingly, showering us with kisses. 

  






K.Oni

Mind love

It has become apparent to me that mind love needs to be
shown in a physical way. It is better to be extreme in
displaying love, that is, to show fantastic delight through
physical expression than to hide it secretly in ones mind.
This is because the object of your love will feel the warmth
of your love, rather than feeling the breeze that accustoms
the grey skies.  For although the sun shines beyond it,
yet it is no good in providing warmth for humanity.

K.Oni

He was very zealous in his cause

He was very zealous in the cause he
affected to serve. Her love was written in indelible
characters upon his heart; but when they first met, he
greeted her with skeptical contempt. This was because she 
had once betrayed him, violating all of his decencies. 




K.Oni

Beautiful Woman

Beautiful Woman

God did put you forth as the standard of beauty

To walk upright in his statutes and ordinances

To live pure in heart and in submission to his will.

Beautiful Woman

Whose beauty surpasses the sun

That angels in heaven muse among themselves about

The surpassing worth of your glory

Which shines above all the daughters of eve.

Beautiful Woman

God is indeed your shepherd

Who has prepared a banqueting table before your enemies

That you should eat and fill yourself with his delights

And no arrows by night nor bullet by day shall harm you

Because you are protected under the shadow of the Almighty.

K.Oni

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

How Ought We to View Other Men's Sin?

"...we are but dead men until God quickens us by his grace alone...we never cease fighting against God until he has brought us to his obedience by the Holy Spirit... 
...we see secret compacts, poisonings spittings, malices, treasons, and wicked practices. To be brief, we see some so devilish that they fling themselves altogether headlong, as though they meant to make war willfully against God. These are things that may astonish us. And although we are dull, yet we ought to have some remorse when we see things to be so disorderly in the world. Nevertheless, St. Paul says that if we consider what is done, and how all things are turned upside down, and what license the world takes to itself to resist God, it behooves us to apply the same to ourselves and to conclude thus: The same could happen to me, and just as much as I see to be the case in them that are most wretched. For when we look on the diseases that are around us how some are eaten with cancers and other evil diseases, and others have the worst possible sickness, we must look at ourselves and say, As ill, and even worse still, could happen to me, if God had not taken pity on me.  For all of us carry the seed of them about us, and that not only in our bodies. there may be some diversity of constitution so that some are stronger and more robust than others, but the soul of man is utterly corrupted and marred. So then, the sins that reign in us are all of them warnings to make us cast down our eyes and be ashamed before God and his angels, and even to cause us to hate and utterly abhor our persons.
Thus you see why St. Paul has added here that the devil is at work still.  He uses the word 'now', as if he should say, 'My friends, if in looking upon your present state, you find anything well, and that the same keeps you from humbling yourselves thoroughly and feeling how miserable you would have been if God had not shown pity and mercy towards you, see what is happening all about you; see how the unbelievers behave themselves, and you shall find them to be like wild beasts and enemies of their own salvation. You find them stark mad against all right. In short, you shall see such great enormities as shall shame men and make them say, Alas, is it possible that it should be thus? And so you see what you are. Do not say, Fie upon you, you wicked man! You may well find fault with such a one, but you must, at the same time, add presently for a sauce to season it, How great God's mercy been towards me!.
Let us never condemn the sin, then, that we see everywhere, without considering at the same time that if God had not checked us, we would have fallen as deeply as we see others have fallen; and therefore let it stir ourselves up immediately to pray God that he lead us not into temptation, [Matt 6:13] and let us acknowledge God's infinite goodness, in that it pleases him to check us in such a way that we do not fall into the horrible pits that we see all around us. For when we look upon the most wicked folk in the world, and even upon such as we are driven to abhor as monsters, we must (as I said before) conclude thus within ourselves, 'Alas, as much would have befallen us, if God had not remedied it'. And so you see how we ought to bring this teaching into use."
- John Calvin, Sermon on Eph 2:1-5, From John Calvin's Sermons on Ephesians

Monday, 27 October 2014

Lately I've been thinking

And she's a beauty
She'll make a perfect queen
I want to see her every morning
Before I leave,
Leave her with a kiss
Then tonight we get to tease
Cuz lately I've been thinking
Something better for you and me,
Calculating plans
Your father says its alright. 
And she's a beauty
She'll make a perfect queen. 

K.Oni

Miscellanies 91: For a month my soul has been troubled

For a month my soul has been troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this ache'? But from this ache I have learnt so much. So much that will only tend to my future good. So much that will only benefit all my relationships and the future ones to come. This ache was a neccesity. It was his megaphone to awake me from my slumber. It was his medicine for me to get well again. But I am still in bandages. I am still healing; still recovering from my nausea. Sometimes deep into the night I hold my heart because it is extreemely painful, it hurts deeply. I ask the Lord to take this feeling away from me, but he tells me that his grace is sufficient for me; or at least I know that that is what he is saying. I tell him that I feel alone. He replies that he alone is sufficient. I remind him that it is not good for man to be alone. He tells me to wait. I tell him that I cannot see a future for me. He tells me to trust him. That even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death that I should fear no evil. I tell him that I am in that valley right now. He tells me that I am overexagerating. I tell him that I am weak, that I can break at any point now. He asks me a question. Have you ever lost your faith in your weakness. I tell him never entirely. There is always a flickering flame no matter how weak. He tells me that he will never blow it out. Soon enough he tells me that he will add more coal to my fire. I tell him that I need to burn again. I have been luke-warm for too long, I need to burn and blaze. He tells me that there is a season for everything. I tell him that this is one of my darkest seasons. I feel so alone but not empty. I feel weak to temptations and I cannot get rid of my old sins. He tells me there is grace and mercy enough for me. He tells me to fight and overcome. I tell him that I fear that I may never overcome. He tells me that it will not be in my strength but in his. I tell him that I believe.

K.Oni

Stop blaming the victims

Can rape ever be the fault of the victim? If you have been reading the papers this week, it seems some people believe so.

Sheffield United’s Ched Evans was convicted of rape and ordered to serve five and a half years in prison for raping a 19-year-old woman. Having served less than half of that sentence, he has now been freed and a debate has opened up about whether he should be allowed to return to the club.

Except that’s not where the discussion ends. Now, the nature of the incident is being examined by people across the land, piecing together the information they know in order to distinguish if he did in fact rape his victim, despite a court of law ruling that he had.

Through it all, Evans and his girlfriend, who has stood by him, have protested his innocence. This week, he self-published a video on YouTube, expressing his regret for his “infidelity” and stating his love and commitment to partner Natasha Massey.   

The BBC was forced to apologise yesterday for Michael Buerk’s comment on the Radio 4 programme Moral Maze, which suggested the young woman has no credit in this case because she had “drunk so much that she could barely stand”.

But what of this victim? During the programme, Buerk admitted she is “hiding like an IRA informer in official anonymity” and is “being hounded by internet trolls”.

One poll claims that 50 per cent of women believe rape victims are to blame for their attack. Those aged between 18 and 24 were the most likely to have these views. Shockingly, 24 per cent of those in this age group added that wearing a short skirt, accepting a drink or having a conversation with the attacker made the victim responsible in part.
 
Is this how we are called to treat victims?

Somewhere in the UK there is a young woman who is hearing celebrities, footballers and the press say she is to blame for the attack she faced. Somewhere in the UK there is a young woman reading the hateful tweets and death threats. Somewhere in the UK there is a young woman who hears on the BBC that she has “no credit” to call this abuse because she had drunk too much.

We have a responsibility to try to stop suffering. We are called to do what we can to end it – whether that suffering is distant, where we give money to the work of charities in the developing world, or closer to home, like donating to foodbanks or becoming a foster carer.

The parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25 teaches to help those who are suffering. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.”

The victim of this crime is suffering today. What are we going to do about it?

While joining the debate on Evans’ future is relevant, considering whether the victim is to blame is not. We should be denouncing rape in all forms, all situations and all places. We should be praying for those who persecute. We should be praying that victims know their value to God.

Jesus stood up for the needy, the vulnerable and the abused. Let’s follow his example in our discussions today.
 
Amaris Cole is editor of the Evangelical Alliance 

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Fighting dirty: the battle for school places

This week, a mother was convicted of forgery after she submitted a fake tenancy agreement in order to secure a place at a high performing school for her daughter. She was fined £500 and sentenced to 100 hours of community service.

Many parents might have sympathy for her. The magistrate in the case, Michael Peacock, sounded like he did: "You are obviously a very good and conscientious mother and like all good mothers you want your kid to go to the best school available. We hear of people buying expensive houses in expensive streets and so on, in order to get into a certain catchment area".

But, as he summed up, his judgment was clear: "Whatever you do it's got to be within the law. What you did was dishonest. It was cheating, cheating the system."

There are few issues that create the kind of anxiety and competitive behaviour among parents more than the battle for school places. Recent figures show an increasing number of parents are giving false information to secure places for their children at the most sought-after schools. Over the past five years, more than 700 children are believed to have had their places withdrawn after false information was submitted on application forms. In the past year alone, some 420 parents were suspected of cheating to ensure their children get into the best primary and secondary schools, a rise of 13 per cent on last year.

This issue is closely entwined with Christianity, because frequently it is church schools that parents are keen for their children to attend.

Recent media reports also claim parents have falsely claimed their children have been baptised. Although it could not be counted as legal fraud, there is the common issue of people attending church just to get their child a place at a church school. It's such an established route, to avoid the cost of private education, that it has its own catch-phrase:"Get on your knees to avoid the fees".

Rather than simply condemning parents, it's worth reflecting on the root causes. For me, these issues illustrate the complex mixture of good and bad, the divine and the dusty, which is within all of us.

On one hand, the commitment, care and sacrificial love that most parents show towards their children embodies the best of human nature. Whether religious or not, for many the bond of love for their children is a sacred thing and parents want the best for their offspring.

And yet, on the other hand, parenting also reveals a darker side of human nature, one that is deeply susceptible to the distorting effects of anxiety and pride.

Anxiety can be the default setting for modern parenting. Schooling worries are fueled further by league tables and Ofsted judgments. The fear that our decisions will mean our children miss out on life changing experiences can haunt parents like a persistent ghost.

Pride is often the flipside of anxiety. Even more than the houses we own or the cars we drive, children can become emblems of parental achievement. Living embodiments of our marvelous balance of skills and values. Sure, we love them, but we also love what they say about us. I tend to tell the stories that make me look good.

My oldest son has just started at a local comprehensive school. Inevitably it's a time of increased anxiety for him and for us as parents. As a family, it's a time when faith and prayer has been more relevant than ever. But it has also made me reflect on Andy Dorton's comment: "The problem with Jesus is that he never had kids: claim he understands all our temptations if you like, but he never had kids."

Last week at the local Church of England church connected to my son's new school, they held a special service for the school. A prayer was said, summing up so well a Christian hope for what education can bring: "For all involved in the task of education, that it may be devoted to justice rather than self-seeking, equality rather than privilege and the creation of community rather than division."   Amen!

Jon Kurht is executive director of social work at the West London Mission

Friday, 26 September 2014

Sleepless

A grey cloud like a flag from despair hangs over my head.
Sleepless,
Going about my day with my face pale as wax,
Fatigued, confused, angered by my past reflection,
Hand icily cold, crumbling like a fairy dream,
Broken, like some great river's ice at the touch of spring,
Sleepless,
Alone, like a storm tossed-wreck.
Feeling unconscious to life like steel.
Dreaming awake to fall asleep,
As slumber falls on the eyes of a tired child.
Sleepless,
Because I'm still accepting that she's gone away,
Feeling,
As stars that flashes with the sun,
Breathing, as a sea disturbed by a violent wind.
Sleepless,
For my love upon love upon love in her was packed,
Now gone,
Despair replaces the cloud I've lost.

K.Oni

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

I do see God's hand in everything

I do see God's hand in everything. The old divines put such a matter under God's providence. There is not a thing which occurs that God had no hands in it. He is in every detail, in fact he weaves it all together for the good of his awesome glory, yet sins not, and grants liberality to the creatures as justice and his love demands it.

Now sometime ago, on the 24th of December 2013, I decided to go and cut my hair for it was rather messy and unkempt. Ony my way to the barbers, I bought Ola Ola pounded yam and placed it in a blue carrier bag. I sat down at the barbers now waiting to cut my hair, but besides me sat a boy who clearly had a disability. I shunned him not, although at first when he placed his hands on me, I moved away as to find it a repulsive thing. Perhaps I did shun him, but afterwards I allowed the boy to rest on me.

Now, it was my turn to cut my hair. I hanged up my jacket and placed my blue carrier bag on the chair. After my hair cut for which I paid double to the barber because he spent almost half an hour on my hair and only ten minutes on the previous customer.

I thanked the barber, put on my jacket as to leave and in almost exiting the door, I remembered my blue carrier bag. To my surprise it was gone. I related this information to the barber and he reinburst me at once. And just before I had finished cutting my hair, the barber had given me his number just in case I needed an haircut for next time. Then I went to buy another Ola Ola pounded yam and took my train home.

Now, as I sat happy and pensive on the southeastern train, I remembered that inside that blue carrier bag which was taken, I had left my beloved headphones and mp3 player. Now, I marevelled how it was a marvellous thing that I took the oportunity to take the barber's number, otherwise my headphones and mp3 would have been lost to the wind, for I was travelling on the very next day for six weeks.

What was also interesting was that the barber had asked me whether I had anything of value inside the taken blue bag. I replied, no. Memory failed me then but returned to me on the train. I called the barber and he promised to keep it safe for me on my return. He kept his words. 

Finally I got home and reflected upon all this, on that comfortable chair where men empty their internal waste marvelling at the wonder of God's providence. If I had never sat next to that boy, If I never took the barber's number, If I never paid the barber double, then perhaps little sympathy would have been shown me. And even though I cannot now travel with my mp3, for I had no other headphones, but I really wanted to travel with my mp3, I thought that perhaps this was a blessing, but certainly I knew that it was surely for my good, for God works in all things for the goodness of all those who love him. Now I cannot say I love God amazingly, nay, my love is full of all kinds of poverty, but it is love still, though very immature.


In all this I did see God's omnipotent hand, guiding my daily events according to his Sovereign will. Some cannot accept this, fret not. I am content for you to believe in God's absolute goodness even if you cannot reconcile it with his absolute sovereignty.

K.Oni