JOURNEY MERCIES!

All through my school days I was a champion athlete, participating in various events and winning many laurels. I loved to run and instinctly developed the skills to be a good runner, more than being taught the technique to do so.

One of the important traits on the track to be a champion, especially in 100m, is to fix your eye on the end and never get distracted from it. Runners are taught to pick a point/spot on the rope once lane position has been assigned and take off for it at full speed, exerting to the best, once the gun goes off. Eyes should only be on your track lane to avoid cutting tracks and then on the spot. You have to be blind and deaf to all else, including the reaction of spectators. If your attention wavered even for a second, your speed would reduce and cost you the trophy. The goal and reaching it is the only focus you could allow yourself to have, nothing more and nothing less.

I think this training has naturally spilled over into my life, shaping my personality and work culture! I have always been focused and intent on achieving the target, reaching the point, completing the task and was either ignorant or blind to all else. I didn’t mind the price I paid, the pain I endured, the straining of physical health and the emotional upheavals. It was to be done, it had to be done, irrespective of the cost. I would never go beyond the lines and boundaries, but within the framework would often run roughshod over many things and often, people.

Though such concentration and dedication to reach the goal is to be applauded in a runner, it cannot be fully applied to all of life. Such an outlook can make you insensitive and impervious to all other aspects of people and nuances of living. Even in a job, this will make you a tyrant, autocrat or dictator, one to be feared rather than followed. In the long run, you will develop such an one-dimensional and single color perspective, becoming unaware and unappreciative of the tapestry of life, that makes it monotonous and hence, boring to you as well as to those around you!

Life is not all about winning or reaching or touching the endpoint. Nor is it about forging ahead and forgetting everything else in your bid to achieve or gain a goal. Life is not a sprint that begins and ends in seconds or minutes or even hours, but a passage of time. Life is usually a long distance run, a marathon, or better still, an odyssey.

Life is a trek to be enjoyed, rather than a series of achievement hops. Life is not a string of frog jumps from one goal to another, but a travel that meanders through a myriad of land forms often hoarding and hiding different life forms. Life is an expedition of discovery and exploration, an adventure to be tasted and savored.

Life is all about growing, evolving and transforming into greater and higher dimensions of humanity. Every experience, every sight, every situation, every encounter, every instance plays a role in this shaping and forming of us. Whether we use them positively or negatively, they do impact us daily, consciously, unconsciously and subconsciously.

To all those who are like me, I say, slow down, take stock, look around and enjoy the journey on your way to reaching your goal.

The journey is as much a part of life as is reaching or achieving the target. Being sensitive to and savoring the travel will create joy in the small things and even tiny packets of time. Such joy in the ride will compensate and make it all worth while even when you don’t reach the goal and not allow you be stuck in the doldrums. Not every operation a doctor performs, nor every work a person complete, not every race run ends in a success or a win, inspite of your best efforts. There is no guarantee in life that we would complete or achieve all the time even though we did put in all we had every time.

It is then that we realize the effort and passage itself are reward enough, especially when you done all you can. It is not just about the beginning and the end, but the in-between too!

Let’s understand that peregrination is as important as the end point and take pleasure in everything and everyone we experience and encounter, using them all to learn and mature as we progress through time.

I did not win every race I ran, but I was happy to run, to compete and to complete the race.

That, my friend, is the secret of all of life!

That, my friend is the essence of living!

The journey is as essential and as gratifying as the goal!

*Pics courtesy: Unsplash.com, shutterstock and google images

DOES GOD SPEAK?

There is an old Tamil film song that used to touch my heart when I was a young child that goes like this: If Lord Jesus speaks, what will He speak? What will He speak in order to quieten a poor aching heart? These words were very dear to me because it brought God close to me, as One Who speaks to me.

Often we are in a quandary as to whether God speaks and if at all He is speaking, what is He speaking to us, especially in times of trouble.

Job, a man of great wealth and great integrity who lived in times past, also had the same question in a time of extreme suffering, when all that he believed in seemed swept away. His friend Elihu’s answer provides us a clue to this dilemma that seems universal and for all times. You can find it in the 33rd chapter of the book of Job in the Bible.

According to Elihu, God is not silent but does speak, one way or another. God does answer always, in one or two ways, even when people don’t acknowledge His presence. Elihu points out that God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it.

God speaks to us ‘in dreams, in visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in their beds. He whispers in their ears and terrifies them with warnings. He makes them turn from doing wrong; he keeps them from pride. He protects them from the grave, from crossing over the river of death.’

God also ‘might get their attention through pain, by throwing them on a bed of suffering, So they can’t stand the sight of food, have no appetite for their favorite treats. They lose weight, wasting away to nothing, reduced to a bag of bones. They hang on the cliff-edge of death, knowing the next breath may be their last.’

In reading this we see that God’s intention is to capture our attention so as to warn us away from evil and keep us from death. God speaks to is in visions and dreams of the night with the intention of terrifying us away from wrongdoing. Since we do not hear or notice Him, He has to reach out by other means to make us listen and take notice when we are finally in bed, resting.

God does not scare us in order to make us tremble before Him, but horrifies us so that we would refrain from felony or crime, since these would lead to death. That’s God’s agenda – to scare the hell out of us so as to keep us out of hell!

We also see that God uses pain to capture our attention and not to torture or destroy us. God’s purpose is never to punish or penalize us in a vindicative or vicious manner, but to prevent us from destroying ourselves.

C.S Lewis writes in his book, The problem of pain, that “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world’’. God has His own ways of waking the conscience of us when we are absolutely heedless. Of all His many tools, pain is the loudest, for it makes us take note of His word. The psalmist, King David, declares that before he was afflicted he went astray, but now he keeps His word.

To the question as to why would God deal with us so, we can only bow low and answer that it because we our insensitivity to Him. We are so stupefied and insensible to His voice of love and reason that He has to use other means to capture our attention. We have become so incapacitated by cares, riches and pleasures that we are incapable of deciphering His words. So, God has to resort to other ways of making us hear and heed Him and give Him our attention so that we can inherit life and not destruction.

To go back to our question of whether God speaks, we can safely reply, Yes, God does speak. To the question, if so, what does He speak, we can confidently say that He speaks in order to turn us from death to life. He doesn’t speak to put fear of Himself in us, but fear of doing wrong and going to hell.

The crowning glory of the fact that God speaks is found in the first chapter of the book of Hebrews in the Bible: ‘God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;’

If God speaks warnings through dreams, captures our attention through pain, what does He want to convey to us through His only Son, Jesus? What else but that our sins are forgiven through Jesus’ death of the cross and the way to Him has been made open by the blood of Christ!

God, through His Son, is speaking to us of reconciliation and peace with Him. He is telling us that we have access to Him through Christ. He is inviting the world to a relationship with Him and a communion with one another, made possible by the sacrifice of His Son. He is not just terrifying us to keep us from wrongdoing and hell, but also showing us the ways and means to read h Him and heaven!

Would we heed His call, the gentle still small voice of our Creator through His Son or are we going to force Him to use other means of persuasion?

The choice is ours, as He waits in the sidelines for us to hear and obey, out of our own freewill!

*It would help you to read a continuation of this article entitled WHY INTERCESSION AND PRAYER http://sabinatagoreimmanuel.com/2020/12/30/why-of-intercession-and-prayer/

*Pics courtesy Google, unsplash.com and shutterstock

TRANSIT THROUGH TRANSITION

In one of the stories in the Chronicles of Narnia, specifically in Prince Caspian, the four children enter a passage through a tree to leave Narnia and as they walk along the dark passage, behind them they still can look back and see Narnia. Then comes a time in their walk when Narnia is no longer visible and they just have to keep steadily moving forward, even though they see nothing ahead. As they continue walking, they soon see the glimmer of their world at the other end, getting closer and brighter, until they finally they emerge into the light and their world again.

The transition itself is very unsettling, and transiting through it is indeed quite unnerving. Going through or negotiating the passage between seasons and places is often alarming because, for one, you are neither there nor here. For another, you can see what you left behind, but not what is ahead. The time of your past, where you were and what you have been, is still visible, clear and fresh in your memory, but you aren’t yet able to see the future, what you will be or how it will be. You look back with nostalgia at what has been and draw strength from it. You draw inspiration from it and even talk about it a lot, because it acts as a reference point, a solid anchor for your present. You hold on it and try to prevent it from disappearing from your purview, but you soon lose sight of it.

It is similar to journey from one place to another, but in the case of travelling the fact that you get to see places or things passing by through your window and watch where you are going, makes it pleasant and thrilling. Also, with travel, you do know the duration of the journey, even when there is a delay. It is only when the waiting gets prolonged that you become restless, but still not troubled too much since you are in touch with your surroundings and there are people with you who are also in the same predicament.

During the transition, you just have to go on even when you can’t see anything and you feel like you are groping in the dark, like a person with a blindfold. When you begin you do see and know where you are going, but once you enter in, just as in a tunnel, there will come a point and time where there seems to be only darkness all around. You can neither see where you are going nor what you have left behind. You just have to trust the way you know and the vision you have seen do exist on the other side!

This is the most tricky part and point in traversing through transition – reaching the place where you can no longer see what you have left behind nor have the comfort of seeing the promise of something ahead. There is only darkness and dimness all around, nothing concrete visible. There is no datum point to help you fix your bearings or your surrounding or anything to pin your hope on. The only surety you have is that the path you are on will surely lead to where you need to go and the guarantee of the dawn that you’ve already had a glimpse of is just ahead of you. It is time to walk by faith and not by sight, since you have no sight to see at all!

When the world around seems dark and dim and the present is the only all-consuming reality which leaves you in a bind because you feel lost, what should you do? How do you handle such time of uncertainty and the unknown?

Here are some ways to help transit through transition time:

1. Don’t panic
People become very jittery and unsettled when familiar landmarks, practices, events and even people disappear from their sight or life. They keep trying to go back to what they know or do what they did before, but will find these failing to help them or give them the results they desire. Many often go back to what they are used and turn back rather than pursuing the way of the Lord. The disciples went back to fishing after Jesus death and resurrection. He had to come to their work and place of refuge, their fishing boats and fishing, to point them to what He had already chosen them to be and do – fishers of men.

2. Take one day at a time
Just live for the day fulfil the duties at hand. Be content to do what you have to do daily and be satisfied with living the day to the fullest. Find joy in the small things of life and what you can accomplish with what you have.

3. Don’t plan too much ahead
If you think too much of what might happen or what might be, you will lose your peace and become agitated. This frame of mind will cause you to feel even more depressed and lost. You may tend to make hasty or wrong decisions and so wait for the darkness to lighten. Live with what you know to do and what you have in hand, rather than aimlessly trying to plan for months ahead.

4. Remember the darkness is temporary but necessary
Just as a caterpillar goes through a stage of being confined in a dark cocoon, you will have to pass through this time to reach the next level. This period between seasons is temporary and not permanent, something even an insect knows and hence doesn’t struggle to escape it.

5. Keep in mind the goal and vision you have seen
Don’t forget what you saw or comprehended before you entered this tunnel of darkness or time of confinement. That is the goal you need to reach and for which you need this time of limitation. The passage had an entry and will surely, therefore, have an exit. God didn’t make you enter this phase without being able to help you out of it. So, encourage yourself with what you know to be true rather than being discouraged by what you see.

6. Be in and at rest rather in agitation
Enjoy the season of rest that has been given to you rather wasting it by worrying. A bear hibernate’s in winter to conserve energy and strength, coming out of its cave rejuvenated in spring. Take this time to relax, catch up on things you missed, sleep well and in general recuperate yourself to face the new season.

7. Recognize the times and seasons
Develop your senses to know the change that will begin all around you. Quieten yourself to watch for the signs of the season ahead, just as the lightening of the darkness signals the tunnel’s end. Begin to note the signs of dawn that portend the new day.

8. Prepare yourself for the new season
Instead of moaning or grumbling or panicking, begin to acquire new skills and new competencies. Have the attitude and demeanour of a student to learn new things. Use the time profitably to develop new habits and hobbies, if possible, new experience. Realign and restore things you have lost or been unable to concentrate on in the previous season. Assess what you may need in the new season and get yourself prepped up to handle it. Don’t waste the transition time, but use it profitably.

9. Confide in a few faithful ones
Have a few confidants and confide in them when the darkness becomes overwhelming or uncertainty is pressing you down. Don’t isolate yourself, but seek the help of a small number of faithful people who can and will support you in every way. Don’t try to show yourself strong, but lean on their wisdom and strength for they will be able to encourage you. Be accountable to them so that you don’t slip back or away from doing the right thing in a dark time.

10. Live by faith and not by sight
Stop trying to live by what your senses tell you, but each day trust in Him. The Bible says that His mercies are new every morning and His faithfulness, great. He Who made the day to appear after the night, making it an eternal ordinance, will cause the light to appear in your darkness and cause you to enter the new day. He will never let you go nor will He abandon you. So, take heart and trust in Him implicitly.

In Jermiah 48, we come across a significant passage in v11: “Moab has been at rest from youth, like wine left on its dregs, not poured from one jar to another— she has not gone into exile. So she tastes as she did, and her aroma is unchanged.

Being poured from one vessel to another, being moved from one season or place or phase to another is not easy, but if you are not, then you remain the same, without undergoing metamorphosis. There won’t be growth or cleansing or going higher. You won’t lose your impurities and become transformed.

Don’t resist transition, but bear with it and walk through it as being mandatory and necessary for progress.

You may not like it, but don’t retract or retreat from it!

During transition, stay calm and transit through it in quietmess, emerging stronger and better for having gone through it!

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com and Googlr images

OVERCOMING RETIREMENT BLUES & FIELDING OLD AGE WOES!

A few years ago I had to step back from active work because for one, the Lord impressed upon me to be at rest and to sit at His feet; two, my youngest reached school finals and I needed to be at home; and three, I found myself getting exhausted easily and realized I was worn out by multitasking, balancing home, work and ministry. Knowing I might become sick , I gave in my notice and stepped back into the home, even though I hadn’t yet reached superannuation.

There is a general opinion that it is a good thing to be able to retire early, but let me tell you, it wasn’t easy to to do so, even though I knew I nWhen we reach the season that we have bracketed as time to sit back and enjoy, we feel cheated or depressed if we don\’t attain our set goal. In our hurry to finish and wait for retirement to rest, we miss out or trample over the small things of daily life. When the time comeeded it. I had been running at such speed and working so hard that it took me a year to decelerate, unwind, slow down, quieten, pull back and come to rest. I felt guilty for not working and would often get triggered to do something, again and again. Thankfully I had a few faithful people who held me to my post and saw to it that did the Lord’s bidding, to rest.

Over a period of time I learnt to rest, accept it as God’s gift, relish it and even begin to enjoy the season. I relaxed totally, eating and sleeping well, letting my body get its make over and rejuvenation, using the time to catch up on my reading, deal with submerged hurts, gain emotional freedom and renew my spiritual insight.

I began to grasp that I was being recharged and refurbished for a new season of life. At a time when people of my age were getting ready to wind down, slow down, take it easy, I found myself ready and restored for a new lease of life. I began planning and doing a host of things, setting in motion what I would like to accomplish this phase of my life, before my call home, whenever that is. As I began to evaluate what would be the things my strength and energy would allow me to do, choose wisely what I can do and sustain for next 20 years, I noted something.

Even though we are the people of God and call ourselves His disciples who follow Him and live by the precepts of His Word, we have inadvertently adopted the world’s job profile of working till the 60s and then relaxing in what we call our retirement period. We have calibrated ourselves to the mode of such working till 60 and then doing nothing concrete after that age. We have programmed ourselves to concentrate on building up a portfolio of life, health, finances, family, travel etc to live a comfortable ‘retired life’ after working very hard. We have made and set our horizon which we strive to reach and then after attaining it, wander around lost in a mist of uncertainty, not knowing what to do and end up wasting our days.

The years beyond 60 are considered old age when, because we have decided it is time to sit back and lead a sedentary life, we become a burden to ourselves and our families. We seem to lose sight of life itself and view it as a burden, dragging ourselves along till our death. We fear the age beyond 60 and think either too little of it or too much of it. We are so terrified of it that we run ourselves ragged trying to provide for those years. We have set a false target, much before the time allotted, and therefore, end up becoming inflexible and insipid.

In sticking to such a schedule, we have committed the major mistake of trying to run a race that was meant to last 80 years in less time. We try to complete by 60 what was meant to be stretched over a lifetime of 80 years. The result of such an attitude and the aspiration to achieve in our 60s what we can get only at 80, is sad weariness and shortened life span. We end up with health issues such as diabetes, arthritis, partial blindness, hypertension, loss of hearing, and what not. The burden of trying to accomplish in a short time what must be stretched over a long period is so taxing that we tend to miss out on life and its nuances. In our pursuit of an unrealistic focus, we miss out on the process of life itself as well as it’s myriad designs.

When we reach the season that we have bracketed as time to sit back and enjoy, we feel cheated or depressed if we don’t attain our set goal. In our hurry to finish and wait for retirement to rest, we miss out or trample over the small things of daily life. When the time comes to enjoy as planned, we may be too sick to relish what we have worked for. We may end up losing all of life, not just our health, and maybe even relationships and people, because we have been too focused on the endgame rather than relishing every day. We are supposed to sustain our stamina and strength until the end, but lose it out in a bid to finish early. When we reach our end season, we may find ourselves not only alone and lonely, but geriatric and bereaving.

God has neither planned nor envisioned for us such morbid disillusionment and abandonment as our end time. His plan is for us to be well-formed and well-informed individuals, enjoying abundant and best of life just before our departure from earth or when we meet Him. The key to such a life is to realize and recognize that He has ordained and designed for us a rhythm of living, a perfect timeline, a mode of operation that will help us appropriate the abundant life He has promised and kept in store for us.

According to Moses, the architect of Israel’s freedom and nationhood, 70 or 80 years have been ordained for us to live, according to our strength. If this is the length of our days, then we need to conserve our energy until then and not exhaust it 20 years before the appointed time. We need to consider living well until the end of our days, until the last ounce of our strength has gone and we step into the grave. We need to pace and space ourselves so that we can live life to the fullest and accomplish what we have until that day of our death or the day Jesus returns. For He has appointed for us seasons and according our days so shall be your strength (Deut 33:28).

Caleb, the spy who along with Joshua refused to fear the giants in the land, possessed a different spirit. He urged the others to press forward into the land and conquer it because of God. Unfortunately, his fellow spies who brought a contrary reportcaused a setback and he ended up having to wander in the desert for 40 years along with the community. He had to see a delay in his dreams and the promises he had received, not because of his mistake but that of others. Yet when he finally enters the promised land, he still has the same drive and zeal to inherit what he had taken for his own, keeping intact the spirit of enterprising faith. We see him asking, no demanding, of Joshua that he be given the hill country of Hebron where there are giants. Forty years have passed but Caleb declares that he still has the same strength as he had that day and same fervor to possess his inheritance (Josh 14:10‭-‬12).

That the years beyond sixty are meant to the best and most fruitful time of life may be moot point, but we have never given thought to it nor realized it nor been taught as such. What is to be the most blessed and best season of our life in which we would be at full self-actualization, we have bracketed as worst time. By then we have gone through life, survived it, learnt from what it throws across our way, been totally immersed in it, saturated with its experiences, have distilled its essence and developed rich content. We are in the right place and position, with time to spare, to be able to train others, offer advice and possess the right language to communicate in the best way possible to those who are behind us in age, because of the passage of our years.

People give very high value to old wine and vintage wine that has been preserved for years is highly priced, with older the wine greater its worth. How is it then human life which by default has greatest value, is suddenly devalued and sidelined with the increase of years? When antiques, things that have existed for years, are estimated highly, why is it that people are counted less valuable with the passage of time? Why is it that highest form of life, humans are rejected as useless and not relevant? It is because we haven’t realized and accepted that old age is the best and most noteworthy season of all times!

Life is not a sprint but a marathon and so strength as well as stamina is needed if we are to complete all our lifework.

We need to sustain our energy and be fruitful till the last, and not end our life in weakness and defeat.

If we are to peak in the last season of our lives, we need to do something very important: We must not set our horizons of returns and rewards at the 60s but at 70s and 80s. We need to continue to influence, impact and even innovate beyond the age of 60.

Reassess your goals and priorities which may have revolved around your kids, but don’t give up as being useless or clueless.

We surely do need to take a breather at 60 and a time to realign to a new way of life because of diminishing physical strength, but let’s not write ourselves off.

Reach back to your dreams which you may have laid down because of your duties and restore them to the forefront of your consciousness and mind.

Renew your hold on life, reinforce your zest for living and restore yourself to live again, afresh all the years that Heaven has blessed you with beyond 60!

The age of 60 maybe the end for your job, but 80 or the end of your days is for your lifework!

To be fruitful and productive you need a lifetime, not just 60 years!

Don’t look for returns and rewards in your 60s and don’t plan for 60s. Plan and live for all the years God gives you life!

Have a new life, make a new beginning, learn a new skill, fulfil your dreams, pick up a hobby, do something you have never done before!

Be a Caleb with another spirit and conquer in ‘old’ age!

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com

WHY WOMEN WERE THE FIRST EVANGELISTS OF THE GOSPEL!

Recently helped coordinate a women’s training program in order to equip women with various skills needed to run a family. This followed the one the same team did for men and I found a vast difference in the way both these took off. It was interesting to study and note the different gender workings!

The men’s program registration picked up very slowly and not until the last few days, in spite of advertising it 3 weeks in advance. The number of men who attended were only the half the number registered, with some of these too dropping out midway the training. Only about 40% of those who registered completed the course fully and most of these were part of one church!

The women’s program, on the other hand, showed the opposite trend. Learning from the experience with the men’s program, the core team of women began praying together once a week, a month before the program. Planning and relevant issues were included as part of this prayer agenda the following week. The next week the core team of women, apart from praying, took total ownership of the event and began reaching out to churches and people they knew. Intensive and intense canvassing begun, with each one inviting their relatives, friends, aquaintances and church members to register for the training. Taking time to explain the nuances of the program, viz. the what, when, why of it, they urged and motivated the women to attend.

A week before the program the registered participants were put into WhatsApp groups and the team began to keep in touch through short messages. Prayer points as well as practical tips of how to arrange their schedules, prepare food etc in advance so that they could attend the meetings, were shared, helping to keep the women alert and in touch with the program. It served to trigger curiosity and maintain interest in the event, besides creating an anticipation of the event.

In John 4 we see that the first real evangelist was a woman, the one at the Samaritan well whom Jesus met. She went back to her village and told everyone that Jesus knew all about her and all that she had done. She made such propaganda, not feeling the least afraid to expose her own sinful nature and His acceptance of it, that they went back with her to meet Him and believed in His Word.

The last ones at the tomb, when it was closed sealing the burial of Jesus and the first ones when it was opened at His resurrection, were women. It was they who carried the good news to the apostles who then verified it. Women were indeed the first evangelists of the gospel of His resurrection from the dead!

Comparing and combining my practical experience with the Biblical precedents, I had a glimpse of why Jesus chose women to be the first evangelists of His good news!

1. Women are eager learners and thirsty for growth, especially if you give them space and attention. The best way to teach a woman is to give her some consideration, respect and acknowledgement. She will then be open to correction and rectification without rebellion or resistance.

2. Women are relationship-oriented, being connectors and builders of people. Their ability to be empathetic and sympathetic listeners enables them to quickly build a bond with others, intuitively sensing their need.

3. Women are good communicators and are never hampered by a lack of vocabulary, both the educated and uneducated. The 21,000 words a woman is supposed to have in contrast to a man’s 7,000 helps her voice out her thoughts, emotions and opinions. Women may need triggers to talk in order to overcome their natural reticence, but most women will just articulate and blurt out with a little motivation.

4. Women are doers and Bible designates them as the builders of the home. Nowhere in the Word of God does it say that a man builds a home, but does insist the role of a woman. A man governs the home that the woman builds, guarding, provisioning and administering it, but it is the woman who is mooted as its architect and builder.

5. Women are willing to go the extra mile to connect, communicate and care for others. They reach out to those around her and will generally have or be part of a group of people. She will have at least 2 or 3 cronies and friends with whom she will talk at least once a day. She cannot just be without reaching out to others.

Knowing all of this, Jesus not only brought emancipation to women, but also used them extensively in His ministry.

Understanding this, the Apostles and leaders of the early church tapped into their potential, giving them free rein even though they laid down principles for their spheres of action. These principles were not meant to confine women (as it is thought and practiced today), but rather provide walls of protection for them to be guarded from the enemy and guided in the right way. Lacking this was what caused her to be exposed to manipulation and exploitation in the Garden of Eden.

Jeff Reed of the BILD network USA, in his paper entitled ‘Women and the spontaneous expansion of the gospel’, declares and authenticates that women were key to the growth of the early church.

60% of any church anywhere in the world are women and any church leader or pastor who recognizes this would be smart to tap into this greatest resource that God has given and blessed his church with.

Myles Munroe points out that the greatest need of a woman is a man who knows his mind and has a blueprint for his life and his family. Created as his helper, he opines that a woman comes equipped with all the skills needed for him to be an achiever. Therefore, if she is blocked or left clueless, she cannot remain quiet but will begin to flow in other channels that will give her field to operate, since she is meant to perform!

Most men reject and sideline women with the accusation that they are incorrigible. They do this because they have no idea or clue about the design of a woman nor do they take the time to learn about her. This ignorance tends to birth insecurity and fear, because of which they think and assume that the only way to handle a woman is to bully, threaten, control or restrict her to a narrow area of operation. This forces the women under such treatment to experience frustration and dejection, resulting in depression and disillusion or aggression and decadence.

This is not to say that there haven’t been any men who have upheld and promoted potential of women. In the history of the world and the church, time and again, there have been men who have understood the value of women partnerships and welcomed the input women gave. Nations have been blessed by the governance of women leaders, voted in and supported by strong and secure men. Corporate companies have grown and expanded by the leadership of women whose authority has been upheld by male colleagues and subordinates. Churches and organizations have been established by the ministry of women with the able support of their men and others in leadership.

However, these have been more of a minority rather than the typical, a very small and countable number in contrast to the vast majority. Acceptance of women potential is yet to become the persuasion and conviction of the masculine gender. It hasn’t progressed to become the default disposition of the male component and counterpart of society or churches as a whole. It is more of a rarity rather than the norm, even though of late there have been pereceivable changes in the general outlook of the male social perception.

Let’s remember that when God didn’t find a man, He always found a woman to birth His will and fulfil His purpose – Deborah, Hannah, Esther, Lydia, etc. Remember also that Jesus has depicted the church as His bride, not as just His Body!

Happy is the man, husband, father, leader, son, grandson who would recognise and accept a woman’s potential, step up to give time and effort to develop as well give room for women to blossom and self-actualize!

Blessed are you if you such a man, for your woman will be a fruitful vine within your house, gladdening your heart and refreshing your soul with the wine of joy distilled from the essence of who she is and what she has become!

Jesus, her Maker, upheld her potential and acumen, giving room for her to flower.

Can you do any less!

To gain more insight, please read: http://sabinatagoreimmanuel.com/2019/08/16/woman-warrior-or-worrier/

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com and Google images

GOD’S WARCRAFT – ITS OFTEN ILLOGICAL & IRRATIONAL

Whenever I watch a movie that pits a small force against a larger enemy, I always look for the battle strategy by which the smaller army conquers the larger one. It excites me to see a bigger enemy, who comes into battle confident of gaining the upper hand because of the sheer number of people on their side, made to bite the dust by a smaller opponent through their sharper wits and smarter battle plans.

It thrilled me to watch: Prince Caspian’s force emerge from beneath the ground to encircle the enemy in the film of that name; Scottish King Robert Bruce vanquish a larger English force by impaling the enemy cavalry with spears hidden in the muddy terrain in the movie The Outlaw King; the American Robert Martin hoodwink and rescue his men from the English Lord Cornwallis in The Patriot and other such clever strategies in military and combat movies.

Interesting though these warcraft are, nothing can beat God’s battle strategies and plans that help His people win over foes stronger than themselves. The instances portrayed in films can be appreciated, the superb planning involved marvelled at and, even though these appear as unexpected twists in the tale, they can be fully understood. However, when compared to the art of war in the Bible, these pale in contrast to that which is exhibited by the Lord. God’s warfare and strategies are truly out of this world because they are often dependent on irrelevant and irrational actions that are precursors for victory or defeat.

Take, for example, the time Israel fought the Amalekites in the desert after the Red Sea Crossing as reported in Exodus chap 17. Fresh out of Egypt, rescued from bondage through ten miraculous acts of God that brought the then world power to its knees, led by an able warrior, Joshua, Israel had the ability and mental capacity to overcome this attack. Yet their victory and defeat did not rest on such strengths, but were hinged on their leader Moses holding his hands raised in the air or not while watching the battle from a hilltop. It seems such an irrational way of winning a battle, but that was how God worked it out for them!

Why did God make such moves as the battle turning for good or bad depending on whether Moses kept his hands raised or not? The reason is not hard to figure out: Four hundred years of bondage under a violent and harsh nation would have taught them the efficacy and advantage of brute force as well as strength. Israel was chosen to be God’s people, His royal priesthood and the people of His pasture. They had to learn to do everything not by might nor power but by Him.

They had to understand that their dependency on Him would be the reason for their success or failure. They were to cleave to Him and obey Him fully and totally. They had to learn this lesson before they entered the promised land and started live among others who did not follow Yahweh. God was teaching them this lesson and inculcating this into their beings so that when they were among other people groups, they would function as His people. Israel had to learn the secret of their existence – their relationship with Yahweh and their allegiance and obedience to Him!

Consider another time when they had crossed over the river Jordan to the land God promised to them through their ancestor Abraham. The first city they had to conquer was Jericho, one of the strongest cities of their times, a walled and defenced city, strong enough to withstand any invasion. It was a veritable fortress and conquering it would be the key for their conquest of the whole land.

Joshua, their commander is met by the commander of the army of God who then outlines the battle plan to conquer the city they are targeting. He tells Joshua that for 6 days the whole army of Israel should walk silently around the city once each day. On the 7th day they must go around 7 times, 6 times in silence as before, but the 7th time they must shout and charge straight ahead of them at the sound of the trumpet.

Any commander would consider seeking out the weak points in the battlements and using them to attack the city as the logical battle plan. God asks Joshua to do something that looked foolish in the eyes of men. The people of Jericho must have first looked on with incredulity, then with astonishment and finally with ridicule at the spectacle of an army marching in silence around the city they wanted to conquer. Israel had to bear it all and quietly rest in their tents, without reacting to their taunts and mockery.

Nothing is more difficult to bear than ridicule and it is hard to stand by or keep quiet or be without reacting at such times. Israel could not allow itself to be triggered into action or do something to prove they are not sissies. They remained faithful to the strategy given them by God through Joshua and won a great victory. They did not allow their own doubts or misgivings to distract them and they did not allow their own thinking to disrupt their obedience to God’s battle plan.

In the case of the Jericho strategy, it was not Israel who had to learn a lesson, but the nations around them. They had go know that Israel had a supernatural protecting force that would fight on their behalf. Israel was coming into the land as new settlers and the nations around had to be made aware of them being the people of Yahweh, so that the other nations would beware His power and allow Israel to dwell in safety and security. It was an object lesson for the nations around and indeed the Gibeonites came to make peace for this reason and because of the demonstration of God’s power on behalf of Israel!

It would often seem that God is a poor general and indeed this is a comment by Rameses, Pharaoh of Egypt in the movie Ten Commandments when he finds Israel trapped before the Red Sea. Pharaoh thought he had the Israelites under his mercy for he didn’t understand God’s battle plan. The Lord totally destroyed the Egyptian army, burying them in a watery grave under the waters of the Red Sea when they thought they could easily overpower Israel by their military prowess. Egypt that day ended up, not only losing its firstborns, but also its army, one that was feared for its invincibility during that period of world history. Moses’ song at that time declares His might: The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he has hurled into the sea. The best of Pharaoh’s officers are drowned in the Red Sea. The deep waters have covered them; they sank to the depths like a stone. Your right hand, the Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, the Lord, shattered the enemy (Exo 15:3‭-‬6).

To answer the question why God allowed this confrontation and made Israel go throw this crisis when they had just escaped 400 years of tyranny and bondage is again answered in Moses song: In your unfailing love, you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength, you will guide them to your holy dwelling. The nations will hear and tremble; anguish will grip the people of Philistia. The chiefs of Edom will be terrified, the leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling, the people of Canaan will melt away; terror and dread will fall on them. By the power of your arm they will be as still as a stone – until your people pass by, Lord, until the people you bought pass by. You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of your inheritance – the place, Lord, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, Lord, your hands established Exo (15:13‭-‬17). This is what exactly happened!

God never wastes His moves, but is always completely in control of the fight. He is an able General, a Master Strategist and Victorious Veteran of many successful missions. He knows what He is doing or how He is directing, and as His people we need to fully trust Him. The way He directs or plans the fight will be contrary to ours, often incomprehensible and seemingly foolish.

Apostle Paul well puts it in his second letter to the Corinthians and answers the question of why God’s combat operations are different and His plans appear nonsensical. It is because We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. He points out that this so since We are not fighting against human enemies. Instead, we are fighting against the rulers and the powerful spirits that have authority over this dark world. We are fighting against the bad spirits who live in the heavens (Eph 6:12 EASY).

God’s war mode may not fit our thinking process or our working style, but it brings total vanquishing od the enemy. It is ok to not be able to comprehend His strategy, but it is very important to obey it. If you want a complete rout of the enemy, you better hear and obey His strategy, unintelligent though it may seem to you. God knows what He is about and He plans with a far reaching eye about what is to come, who is to be touched, how it should effect and where it should impact. Therefore, it behoves us to follow His instructions implicitly, even when we don’t fathom them. He has more experience and expertise than anyone on earth or heaven. We must trust that God knows what He is about, even if we don’t!

In this pandemic period, let’s take care to follow His leading in our daily fight against negativities and negative situations of life that we are seeing and facing, daily!

*Pics courtesy Shutterstock and Google images

WHAT IS IN YOUR HAND

We are people who need hard evidence to feel safe and secure. We need to see money in the bank, cash in hand, provisions in the home, etc to feel comfort and comfortable. We are living in times and seasons where hard evidence in hand is needed for us to feel protected.

Yet, that’s not how our God works or seeks to assure. He is beyond and above the natural, the physical and the visible. His works are inspite of appearances and evidences, independent of what you see or hear or feel. His works transcend the natural senses and normal answers.

For example, in the Bible we see the prophet Elijah is sent to a widow in Zarephath during a famine. When Elijah encounters the woman picking sticks in order to cook her last meal for herself and her son, before succumbing to death as she is down to her last bit of flour and oil, The prophet tells her to share her meal with him and declares to her “For this is what the Lord , the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’ ”1 Kings 17:14 NIV. We see that indeed that’s what happened She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah. 1 Kings 17:15‭-‬16

The way of the Lord is always diammetrically opposite and contrary to the belief system of this world. His ways are not our ways and His thoughts far removed from ours, as far as the heavens are from the earth. That’s the gap between His thinking process and ours, a world of difference!

To live under the economy and provision of God and His Kingdom, you don’t need concrete evidence or hard facts. You just need to have faith, which of course is the real evidence of things invisible and substance of things unseen.

Let’s see more evidence of such working of God in the history of the prophet Elisha, the protege of Elijah. A prophet’s wife whose husband, a faithful man of God, was dead approached Elisha for help to save her sons from the money lenders who had come to take her sons in lieu of her debt. Elisha simply asks her what do you have in the house. When she replies she has a little oil, he asks her to borrow vessels from neighbours and pour out the oil. She obeys him and finds the oil run out only after she has filled all the vessels available. He then tells her to sell the oil and pay the debt. The point is that the prophet took what was available to birth a miracle by God’s power that rested on him.

God doesn’t need evidence of abundance to do a miracle or to supply your needs. He just needs  and uses what is available to meet the need of the hour. He doesn’t see what is not there, but sees what you have in hand and will use that to meet your lack. He never will condemn or chide when something is not there, but will always increase what is available or what you have with you. So don’t focus on what you don’t have, but focus on what you she for that is enough for God to meet your needs.

God is never constrained just by lack but also evidence about it. He is constrained only by a lack of faith and never by lack of resources! Nothing can prevent His power from flowing or His munificence from meeting our needs, except lack of faith! His hand is not shortened nor His arm restricted that He can’t provide care for you, but you can prevent or tie it up by your lack of faith!

Take another example, when hard evidence declares an emergency situation and shows what is in hand is insufficient to meet the current need. Jesus asks His disciples to feed the multitude, about 5000+ people, and all they have is 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes. What they have in hand is, in the opinion of His disciples, not enough to feed the people, but Jesus is unfazed by the meagreness of what is in hand. He just lifts what is in hand to God in prayer, blesses it and asks His men to distribute to the multitude. They end up not only feeding all the people, but also gather up 12 basketfuls of leftovers, one for each of his team to carry home to their families. God is not limited by what is at hand nor hampered by what is seen to meet our needs, not frugally or beggarly or miserly,but royally and abundantly!

The economy of His Kingdom, His rule and reign are not based on or dependent on lack of evidence or concreteness of visible facts, but on the capacity and the capability of His power and glory. You cannot draw from His store or His benefits without an exchange or a currency. The currency by which His Kingdom operates and by which you can get His provision is simple and easy. It is faith that is the hard cash that will enable you to live off and from His storehouse.

You don’t need cash in hand, money in the bank, investment in stocks or even a healthy financial portfolio to be cared for by Him or fed by Him. All you need is faith, faith in His ability, faith in His capacity and faith in His propensity to meet your needs. You just need to trust Him and live every day under His patronage through faith. He has promised to take care and He will, inspite of circumstance, lack of visible evidence or even your ability to provide.

He has enough and more in His hand to supply all our needs and the heart to bless His children with good things, day after day.

So don’t be disturbed by what you don’t have or depressed by what the little you do have, but be thankful for what you do have since that is enough for God to use or reuse!

Just trust Him and submit to Him, totally. Throw yourself illy on Him and He will protect, provide and please you with His Providence and beneficial munifence.

Don’t be disturbed by what you see or what you hear or what others say or even by what you know to be true to your sense and commonsense!

Just learn to walk by faith and not by your natural senses!

Don’t be limited by what you have in hand.

Be thrilled by the blessing of unlimited supply by a limitless God!

Saturate yourself, not with daily news reports or news analysis, but soak yourself totally in His Word for we need it to live in these times.

Do not live by what is evident, but live by His Word, daily!

Feed on it and live by it daily and you will see evidence of His care, concern and compensation, every day, day after day!

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com, shutteestock.com and google images

GOD’S WAY OF PROVISION DEFIES REASON & LOGIC!

Mathematics is called the queen of sciences because of its precise and accurate nature. It is something that stays true in every place at every time and for every person. One plus one equals two holds good whether you are in Africa or Antarctica, whether you are rich or poor, whether you are erudite or ignorant, whether you are western or eastern and whether you are GenX, GenY or GenZ!

However, in the Bible we often see that when it comes to how God provides or supplies the needs of His people, mathematics and numeracy do not seem to work or fail. Constantly, His way confounds and baffles human comprehension. Consistently, His work defies and denies calculations and computations.

The God of the Bible seems to take complete pleasure in surmounting logic, vanquishing reasoning and breaking through all the precision of mathematics!

Take, for example, the case of the prophet Elijah at the time he declares a famine in the land for a space of three years. God directs him to a place of seclusion and hiding by the River Jordan, telling him that He would send ravens to feed him while the river would provide drinking water. The Bible says in I Kings 17:6 that The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.

Now ravens or crows (same family) by nature considered unclean birds because they feast on carrion and other rubbish. When Noah sent a dove and a raven as the first to find out if the waters had receded, the dove returned as it did not find a place to rest. The raven did not return because it found sustenance and sustainability in the aftermath of the flood. Knowing this, causes a question to rise: Couldn’t God find other birds or other means by which He could supply His prophet?

Obviously, the raven must have pilfered it from a rich person’s table for only they would have food during a dearth. To use such a bird as a means of provision seems quite illogical and irrational, to say the least! We do not know why God used a raven, but He does and Elijah  doesn’t turn up his nose up at God’s way of provision. He simply receives his provision and uses it, even if he may have his own inhibitions about it!

After the brook dries up due to extended time of drought and famine, God again, contrary even to His own laws and directions, sends Elijah to Zarephath to be cared for by a widow, in the region of Sidon, traditional enemies of the people of Israel. In fact, Jesus cites this incident when His hometown rejects Him, to drive home the point that a prophet never finds acceptance among his own kith and kin.

Widows were and are part of those marginalized ones whom God instructs His people to take special care of as to their provision and upkeep. It must have been therefore really hard on the prophet to digest or accept this direction of the Lord, probably causing him to wonder at His leading. Elijah doesn’t waste time disputing God’s guidance, but implicitly follows instruction and simply obeys. God will never fit to a box of our making, but will always transcend our preconceived notions of Him!

In another case of defying and breaking natural and empirical laws, Jesus the Son of God feeds 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fishes, garnering 12 basket full of leftovers and 4000 with 7 loaves and few fishes, with 7 baskets of leftovers. The equations that will puzzle mathematicians would be: how can such a multiplication happen and how can these satisfy our understanding of ratio and proportion? These will indeed plague those who live by economics, because here it is not a query of numbers but a question of meeting the needs of those present with what is available at hand by the power of God!

The principle operating here is not one of logic and reason, but one of the dynamics and principles of the Kingdom or rule of God. God knows how to baffle the wisdom of the world and how to delight those who trust and obey Him with His own Kingdom economics and arithmetic. After all, He created them and so, obviously as the Creator, He could overcome or surpass any limits or limitations!

Lets analyze another instance of provision in the Bible by Jesus Christ, the Son of God. When His mother requests His help and intervention regarding a lack of wine at a wedding, He simply asks the servants at the place to fill 6 jars to the brim with water. He then commands them to take it for testing by the steward of the feast. The steward, astonished at the quality of the wine, congratulates the man of the house for starting something new viz., that of reserving and serving the best wine for the last, since no one but the servants knew the origin of that wine. I wonder what were the apprehensions felt by the servants in carting a cup of water for wine tasting! I am happy that they chose to obey the Lord, despite their reservations about their task.

The point is that God knows how to care and provide for His people and is not limited by any lack of sources or resources. He tells Peter to catch a fish to find a coin in its mouth for to pay the taxes. He is never at a loss in finding ways and means by which to help those who do His bidding, even if they are in a place where they must hide from the repercussions of obeying His will. His hand is not shortened that it cannot provide nor His store emptied that it cannot furnish those who trust in Him. The only issue, if at all there is one, is in accepting His modus operandi!

He can make water to come out of nowhere in a desert when three kings were stuck on battleground without water, cause food/manna rain from the sky, meat come on wings wafted by a wind, open a passage in a sea, enable water to flow from a rock or fire to fall from heaven. His provision and His methods of provision are limitless and endless!

This is not just something that happened of old, for even today, we have people reporting of finding money in their purses, healing happening in an unexplained manner, missing persons being found, storms suddenly clearing up, as well as other miracles that do not fit rhyme or reason.

God knows how to meet our need when we need, what ever maybe that need and wherever we may have that need. Whether it would be by reasonable and logical ways or by seemingly irrational and irreprehensible means is His prerogative. We must not be puzzled by it, but just simply expect it!

Why does God delight in such defying and destroying of precise methodologies that He Himself created and built as an integral part of this His created world?

I believe the answer to that lies in I Cor 1:25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. Also, v 28 of the same chapter: God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are…

Another answer as to the why of it is that God has to be allowed to be God and not be confined by our assumptions or to our conceptions and notions. God transcends human conjectures and mortal conceptualizations. He has to be so, otherwise He can’t be God, but only a figment of our imagination or a projection of our thoughts.

If we don’t allow God to be God or try to understand Him, we will only falter in faith. If we try to box or confine Him, we will only end up creating images and idols of our choice. If we get angry that He doesn’t fit or fails to live up to our expectations of Him, we will only turn away from Him and end up hurting ourselves in the bargain.

God is unpredictable and incalculable, but not fickle, erratic or volatile. He is the only sure ground and stable foundation in an uncertain, unreliable and oft-changing world. He is the one solid and steady reference point in chancy times. Trust in Him at all times in all seasons and in all locations. You will never be let down or left alone!

What can you do with and about such a God who seems to delight in being incomprehensible and interstellar?

Just enjoy Him and His provision, without resisting Him! Just take pleasure in Him and delight in His ways! Just revel in His works and take complete pleasure in being His child! Just experience the thrill and satisfaction of an adventurous ride through life with Him as your Father! Hold tight to Him and rejoice in obeying Him, totally!

A note of caution here – God can, will and may choose to break rational, reasonable and regular ways of doing things, but He will never break His principles and laws of moral standards or righteousness. He may overcome or function beyond and above the natural laws of maths, physics, chemistry and biology, but never will He work past or sideline His laws of what He has defined as right and wrong. The only predictable thing about God is His nature – holy and compassionate, outstanding in purity and love, totally other in divinity and sanctity!

Let’s not limit God by our mechanical computations or by our estimation figures and number crunching.

Let’s not tie His hands by our assessments and evaluations, but learn to marvel at His wondrous works on our behalf.

In this pandemic period, don’t try to live by economics or mechanics of calculations, for they will all fail. Seek to live by faith and trust in God, looking to Him for necessities of existence rather than luxuries of this age. He Who provides for the sparrows and cares for grass of the field, will surely take care of you and yours, even when all seems lost.

God is not limited by any circumstance or any lack of resources, but will provide or multiply what is at hand. Let’s not limit Him because He doesn’t fit into the box we have made for Him, but release Him to be the Lord of all.

Lets not be limited by our understanding or hampered by our limiting ways of thinking.

Lets just allow God to be God and simply accept His provision, not being concerned however He chooses to provide, accepting with humility His ways of working!

Just accept His provision, however it comes, with joy and wonder!

SYMBIOSIS AND COVID

Symbiosis involves interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association. It denotes a mutually beneficial relationship between different people or groups or species.

Symbiotic relationships are essential to many organisms and ecosystems, and they provide a balance that can only be achieved by working together. There are three basic types of symbiosis: mutualism, commensalism, and parasitism.

Mutualism is a symbiotic relationship in which both species benefit. Bees and flowers have a mutualistic relationship as well. Bees get the nectar they need to make honey by traveling between flowers. The bee brings pollen from one plant to another, resulting in pollination.

Commensalism is a symbiotic relationship in which one species benefits while the other species is not affected. One species typically uses the other for a purpose other than food. Tree frogs using plants for protection, golden jackals, once they have been expelled from a pack, trailing a tiger to feed on the remains of its kills, goby fish living on other sea animals, changing color to blend in with the host, thus gaining protection from predators, are all examples of commensalism

Parasitism is a symbiotic relationship in which one species (the parasite) benefits while the other species (the host) is harmed. There are many types of parasitic fungi that will attack various plants, fruits, vegetables, and even animals.

In the Bible, we see precedents for all these three types of symbiotic relationships existing, especially in the church.

In Acts 4:32 we witness mutualism when we read that All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.

Israel was instructed by the laws of God to care for the widow and the orphan, the poor and the needy as well as for the foreigner and alien who.lived among them. The Church also lived by this principle, a clear demonstration of commensalism.

Apostles Paul, Peter and Jude warn of parasitical people in the church who are blots and blemishes in their feasts, people who use and misuse the goodness of others in the Body of Christ for their own needs. In the Old Testament too, God warns the shepherds through the prophet Ezekiel for not searching for His flock but caring for themselves rather than for His flock and living off the flock (Eze 34).

I believe the best illustration of symbiosis occurs in II Cor 8 & 9 when the Apostle Paul commends the Macedonian churches for their generosity towards other churches in need and recommends that the Corinthian/Achaian churches follow suit. He points out the cycle of mutual benefit that results from such caring and sharing when he writes This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
(II Cor 9:12‭-‬15).

In these days of Covid, churches can follow this principle and demonstrate community concern and consciousness to a watching world through the acts of positive symbiosis. Not just commensalism symbolized in caring for those adversely affected, but also in partnerships of beneficial mutualism.

An example of such a relationship would be for larger churches with extensive technological resources to help the smaller ones, who lack such amenities, use their facilities to record and propagate their online services. The prayers of the latter will surely bless the efforts of the former and God’s love will be exhibited in a very practical way in a greedy and selfish society, making hearts sensitive to receive the gospel!

Churches do reach out to those in the community being hurt by the pandemic, such as migrant workers or those who have lost their income. However, church communities haven’t yet begun helping one another enough to warrant a community impact that will open doors and hearts for the gospel. Unless a community cooperation and coexistence is perceived, people around will never understand Christ’s love for the lost.

A city church adopting a struggling village church, serving it in times of need will go a long way in showing solidarity between members of the same family of God to those around. Just as the conduct of individuals and families is to adorn the gospel, the attitude and deportment of churches towards their needy brother/sister churches would provide context for the content of the gospel.

Not just churches, but Christian businesses and businessmen/women can also adopt and emulate the Biblical model of mutuality or commensality. This is not the time to behave like vultures to swallow up others because of the opportunity for acquisition, but rather exhibit charity in every way.

God’s way is for the mountain to be used to fill the valley so that a highway be made for all. He had this in mind when He told His people to care for the poor: Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land. Deut 15:10‭-‬11

Symbiotic relationships are showcased in nature to clue in us to God’s plan for mankind, as individuals and communities.

Let’s not be cunning as jackals or ravenous as wolves, but pure as doves and innocent as lambs, especially in this pandemic crisis!

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com and google images

BATTLE STRATEGY: COVER YOUR BROTHER’S BACK!

I always love the scene in the movie Gladiator where a band of poorly armed slaves ward off and win over an attack by a group of heavily armed horsemen. They stand shoulder to shoulder and win the fight, simply because they guard each other’s backs and protect one another from danger. What a perfect illustration of what we should do and how we should stand for one another in this battle for spiritual survival!

In Ephesians 6:10-16, there is one part of the body that doesn’t seem to be covered by the armor: the back. The apostle Paul, after describing the various portions of the armor of God, concludes with a request to pray for him and his team that they would be granted the boldness to speak the gospel (Eph. 6:18-20). Prayer is needed not only to activate the armor, but also to provide protective armor and cover for the others’ backs in the warfare against the principalities and powers of darkness!

This passage in Scripture points out that our fight is not against people, but for people, against principalities, powers and rulers of darkness. We are not to fight people but wage warfare against spiritual forces of evil. We are not here to massacre one another nor stab each other in the back, but to fight a common enemy.

In our Christian faith walk, we are all members of the same household bearing His Name, not enemies or rivals. We are blood brothers and sisters, of the same family, bearing the same DNA, the gene of Christ. How can we then compete or clash with one another and anyway, why should we? We don’t have to be jealous nor strive for the attention of our God, for He loves and cares for all of us equally and without partiality.

We all have a Father Whose home is large enough for all of us. We have a Father Who considers each one very special to Him. No one can take another’s place nor can anyone push another out of His heart. Why then do we cross swords and lock horns with one another? He shows no favoritism and He cannot be manipulated or hoodwinked. Why then do we harm and hurt one another?

In this world there is much cutthroat competition and base thievery. In Christ, however, there is much quietness and confidence because of acceptance and acknowledgement. We all have a part and a portion in His Kingdom and His purposes. Why then should we tackle and tussle with one another as though we have to fight for our position with Him?

We have all been given the same commission and the same task: Be a witness for Him and rescue His people from bondage. In this charge, we are all engaged in battle against a common enemy and we must concentrate on defeating him, not one another. Our closing ranks to maintain an united front will be anathema to our wily enemy whose major battle strategy is: Divide and rule! Our unity will sound the death knell to his rule and that’s why he turns us against one another. Foolishly, without understanding this, we resist one another rather than resisting him, the father of lies!

Our prayers, which is our true battleground and combat arena, should serve to provide protective armor for the backs of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our prayers are never to be used as weapons to wield or brandish against our own kind. The petition on our knees should not be daggers to stab our kith and kin in the back, but to rout and scatter our common foe. Instead of turning against one another, we need to walk in forgiveness towards one another so that together we can turn against the enemy and prevent him from gaining even an inch of space.

The book Hebrews says that the blood of Jesus spoke better things than Abel’s blood, why? It is because the blood of Abel cried out for vengeance and vindication, while the blood of Jesus calls out and pleads for forgiveness and reconciliation. If this so, we who are His brothers and sisters, called to imitate Him, how can we cry out for retribution and retaliation! That’s what Stephen, the first martyr did, when he prayed for forgiveness for his accusers even as he fell dead under their stones.

What is your blood and voice crying out for – revenge or restitution?

Covering our brother with our love and prayers is a family trait that’s already engraved and ingrained in our very deepest structure. We have been bequeathed with the nature of Christ and all we have to do is to walk in it. All we need to do is accept this fact and live by it!

Then we won’t behave as though we don’t have the same hereditary and heritage!

What if my brother or sister treat me as enemy, even when I don’t? Then you have the opportunity to exhibit the right behavior, even if they don’t! It only proves you are your Father’s child, even if they don’t behave as one!

Point out to them that they are of the same family and have been born of the same root. Ask them if they have been born another blood or borne by another father! Point out their error in love, still holding on to your stance without compromise – always protecting their backs.

Of course, it is not an easy thing to do so, but it is the right thing to do!

In combat, soldiers of a battalion guard each other’s back, especially on an attack mission. They depend on each other and defend each other, watching each other’s back. They become a band of brothers by learning to protect one another against the assault of a common enemy.

If this is the norm in a country’s army, how come we who are already a band of brothers/sisters who have to fight the same foe end up crippling one another and wounding one another?

You are indeed your brother’s keeper!

Let us remember, in a battle we stand together to win the war. United we stand, divided we fall!

When we reach home, we can settle our grievances and our differences!

For now, protect your brother or sister’s back.

Don’t stab them back or stab them in the back!

*Pics: Courtesy unsplash.com