Christians, hell is not the gospel.


I recently saw a video of a group holding signs at some awards that were taking place in Hollywood and they had a megaphone with flames painted on it. As a Christian, I felt a bit like I wanted to shrink back and not announce what I am. Why? Because the words that were coming through the megaphone did not seem Christian to me.

I understand that hell is something that the bible talks about and that judgement before a just God is something that all man must face. However I shrink back from shoving Christianity in people’s faces and angrily proclaiming Christ when His ways were humble.

It’s like the “God hates fags” placard. I am a Christian who believes the words of the bible and is convinced that any form of sexual contact outside a socially recognised marriage between a man and a woman is not what God intended, however, I do not subscribe to the statement that these people holding the placard hold.

Why? Because according to God’s word, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. When we were still His enemies, he laid his life for us. Because as a fallen human, saved by grace, I understand that I am no better than anyone else around me and that my white lies, greed and jealousy all make me a candidate for His judgement. God is gracious to all mankind, and shouting at someone you feel is the “other,” the defective, and daming them to hell like you are the righteous judge, is anything but Christ-like.

Hell is not the gospel. Christ’s glory, His love for his fallen people and how he took our place and restores lives, is. When you read the new testament, you find a gentle Christ and His gentle disciples who took the gospel far and wide and in many instances when you see His anger expressed, it is against an elite group who assumed their salvation was guaranteed and set heavy burdens over the people around them. Even when the disciples were told what to do when people rejected the gospel, we find that the disciples aren’t even asked to say anything … they were to do something that by today’s standard would be considered very benign and non confrontational … they were to dust off their feet and leave.

Christ warns us against the leaven of the Pharisees. While I can recognise these traits in both the world and the church, the bible’s standards are for those who profess to follow Christ. Our responsibility towards the world is not to Lord over them with our standard but to show them the gospel in its fullness and show them the change that takes place in our hearts as Christ takes over our lives.

Advertisements

My Food Trek met Zambia


Hehehe … so I came across a video circulating on the Zambian web that left me needing to punch something before I even finished watching it. It was one of those things that leave you feeling like someone has come into your home, urinated on everything, and walked away without taking anything but your dignity.

Okay maybe not so serious, but you get the point. I went on youtube looking for this video, where a young American man did little research about the country Zambia, our home and claimed to be cooking our food and called whatever mess he cooked Nshima and Ndiwo … then he went on to make very disrespectful and ignorant comments. I found no videos on the My food trek channel and after googling, understood why … ūüėāHe had met Zed Twitter. Even after he had posted an apology and taken down all related videos, Zambians were still commenting and sharing the video so other Zambians could see … and oh my ribs at the comments. Reminded me of the #lintonlies Twitter war that was sparked by Louise Linton when she more than embellished her experiences during a 1999 Gap year she spent in Zambia.

On a serious note, though, Americans need to learn that you do not invite yourself into someone’s home and insult them like the my food trek video guy; or get welcomed into someone’s home, like Ms Linton, and then insult them and that is why we as Zambians felt so passionate about making it known that this was not okay

Living despite our falls


I was reading a post by Doctor Ben Carson about Tiger Woods on Facebook this week; it was a motivational post, reminding us that whatever happens in our lives, we can still rise. I couldn’t help but remember my mother saying, “the media couldn’t rest until they destroyed him.” This she had said when Tiger’s life unravelled and he was not winning any golf tournaments. He has worked at getting back on top, and this September, he has achieved a win once more. If the quote I have shared is any indication, you can see that my mother doesn’t like it when the media splatters people’s lives out for the world to consume. She prefers hearing about the highs of their lives, like when Tiger wins tournaments, or when Celine Dion had her babies, though she only glances at these happenings.

This week, the fact that we people are quick to judge and move on has been highlighted for me. There’s a video that has been circulating on the net about the keep Zambia clean campaign, where a man asks a woman carrying a baby and water for sale on her head, to pick up discarded empty sachets. I was initially upset, but I’ve heard and watched things that have added some context to the conversation and that calmed me down. But reading the comments online, you find that even people who once supported this man, are now up in arms and boycotting the Facebook page, not to mention the name calling that falls in the category of things we as Zambians don’t do.

But in these interactions it is clear that people only like you when you do things that fit their mould of acceptable behaviour; I guess we all pick and choose, however, I like to think of myself as a person who decides who to associate with based on a track record, and not on individual moments or a few events in a space of time; but we all do it, form ideas about who people are and refuse to give grace. Sometimes though, we are as harsh as we are because we recognise a part of ourselves in them, and that sparks a defensive response on our part, and in an attempt to feel better about ourselves, try to make “the other” worse than us. It is clear that as we walk through life, we must make choices with the best intentions but not with the aim of pleasing people, otherwise we live our lives dancing to whichever piper plays, like puppets pulled in all directions, forgetting what we stand for.

Live your life, fighting for whatever it is you stand for, applying wisdom, but not swaying whenever people leave you or question your value. Live based on your convictions, hopefully stooped in truth and not just some shadowy candyfloss philosophy. Tiger rose and conquered again despite the media’s assertions that he was a “had been.” So always¬† remember those who cheer you on when you have nothing for them to gain, and if you should ever fall, pray that there are people around you who can tell you how far you fell but are still willing to stay with you and walk it out. If you should fall, don’t stay down, fight! Fight for the life you want.

Freedoms


I have found myself thinking about how important it is to preserve individual freedoms. This, probably because of a few things that Ive heard happen recently that challenge the idea that everyone has the right to self determination.

If you live in the western world, you have no doubt heard of the debates that rage about hijabs. If you havent, you can read about it here; in Australia’s case you can read just one of many stories here. There are more stories from Canada and the United states, however Americans tend to believe heavily in the ideal that everyone has the right to choose the course of their lives, at least in theory, and for that reason, a ban on head coverings seems unlikely.

Recently I’ve heard it said that some employers allow Muslims and not the Africans in their employment to have head coverings. In Australia, some people take it further, holding the belief that African employees are bad for business, and a investigative report a few years back showed that people with African names were more likely to be passed up for a job than people with names indicative of another ethnicity. The fact that Job prospects improve if you have an Anglo-Saxon name has caused some people to acquire a more “Western” sounding name in order to land a job and there are parents who even choose to give their children English names, to make their lives better.

Now, in the event that you hear someone in the workplace express views that indicate they feel one ethnic group to be inferior and that opportunities for furthering themselves should be limited, do you report that person or do you ignore it with the aim of protecting the person’s freedom of expression? Where does the balance lie? Are such views a threat to the individual freedoms of the ethinicity in question? And is reporting such veiws a threat to freedom of expression?

In today’s world, you see conformity becoming the new aim. People’s right to pursue a livlihood seems constantly under threat and government policy seems hell bent on making people conform to what some consider the norm. Take for instance the vaccination debate; I am a partial vaccinator, and a lot of people look at me funny when I indicate that I dont get the flu vaccine. I recently had a workmate stare at me blankly when I told her that.

You see, I work in the health sector and the health department recommends that health workers get the flu vaccine yearly. Currently, people are allowed to refuse but I wonder how long for. Previously, in Australia, parents could conscientiously object to children being vaccinated and while they still can, in recent years the government has moved to cut entitled payments for non-vaccinators. I believe that in order to maintain the health and wellbeing of families, the role that parents have always had in deciding what is best for their children must be protected. Rather than heavy handed tactics, and threats, and in this case, withdrawal of money that could put children at a disadvantage, goverment needs to create opportunities for discourse, where concerns on both sides are heard. In a democracy, we convince with ideas and not coerce through legislative power.

And yes, I do understand that parents don’t always get it right but to assume that governments are better able to decide the welfare of children is a misplaced idea. For instance, a few years back, there was something wrong with the flu vaccine and had severe reactions, with one child in particular experiencing life-long disability. Personaly, I would be better able to come to terms with something going wrong if I had made the decision on my own, rather than through coercion, and ultimately, it is the family that has to pick up the pieces of any adverse outcome of any choice they make.

That aside through, we also need to remember that the power that government has, needs to always remain in check and that if we give up to many freedoms, we give rise to tyranny. The idea that humans today, are better than those of old, is something we might need to view with a lot of scepticism. The assumption that the rights we take from ourselves and give to government are going to be used to the benefit of society seems to me, a dream far removed from reality and what we have seen happen time and time again suggests that “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The little I have seen of the show.


When you have watched too many western shows and decide it’s time to create something similar but for Zambians, what you get is a misrepresentation of your country and its ideals and can’t even get speech norms right. This I say about the misnomer that is “Zuba.” definitely not authentically Zambian and makes me wonder if it was written with the worlds acceptance in mind or to portray our very valid stories. Now, if we the Zambians can not get our own stories out with ourselves in mind, who then will tell these beautiful stories? Or do we just want to seem like zee world and Disney channel, or whatever it is people watch these days?

I have to admit that I have only seen trailers of the episodes and the Character that is Zuba seems to portray some good traits and I would probably like her. I do however look forward to the day when authentic accents and authentic norms are celebrated as vital parts of our story telling process. How many Zambians can relate to the characters? They seem to lack depth and dimension and seem to exist merely for the dramatic; to act as a superficial pastime, a place to let your mind roam, stagnant, with no value to gain.

I have my whole life planned out


I like to think of myself as a master planner when it comes to my life but if you know me, and know me well, you know that I really am not that great at planning. I used to be one of those people who just went with the flow, but I now find that in order to maintain my sanity, I need to have some set plan; and by that, I mean one of those unchanging fixed step by step guides for my day.

Life however is not like that. My parents, I am sure always had plans for each of their kids, and I am sure me having a child at a really young age was not part of it. Still, when it happened they rose to the challenge and walked out the days ahead.

I hadn’t planned on my daughter being as attached as she is to my mother, and I definitely had my mind set on becoming a vet. I had never intended to fall for any man; that to me, was an unnecessary distraction.

Our plans are not to be seen as set in stone, fixed paths on a road, but more like sign posts on an unknown road. Think about it in this way, someone with a good, kind heart wakes you up and says, I want you to get to a place called Destination, but I want you to get there with only a few clues that I will keep giving you as you make the journey. You don’t know what deviations exist on this journey, but you start off. At different points you may find road closures for whatever reason with signs saying detour. Sometimes the earth quakes and leaves you shaken. Sometimes you get magged on the way to Destination and you are left wondering why this good person has led you to this place.

We plan, sort of as attempt to get to what we think the destination is, and then we realise we have not arrived and have to forge ahead towards another pitstop. There are times we allow winds and tides to take us along and sometimes even take us backward. Sometimes we fall and break and lose hope, but rather than feel like failures, we need to trust the One who set us on the journey and walk it out, with plans that we intend to fulfill; plans we are truly working to achieve, but all that in line with the view that Christ is above all, and ultimately, His will is above it all, and that our plans might be changed by the true master planner.

How my mother saved me from one incident of molestation


so today I read a sad story about a 13-year-old who was molested by a vice principal at a her school and the sad events that followed. I couldn’t help but think of my own daughter who is 14 and whether she would be comfortable enough to talk to me about any such experiences. I sometimes wonder, like many parents if we have done enough to protect her or if ever it is possible to protect her.

I was reminded of my own experience from about 20 years ago. I am a Trust school kid, and at the time was in Grade three. I was one of those students who didn’t do her homework and didn’t finish her work in class but still managed to come 12th out of 24 students on the grade ladder. Eventually I think my teacher and my headmistress tired of my attitude and notified my parents. Mum straightened me out on the homework front, but my speed when carrying out tasks was none-existen … still isn’t great. One afternoon, another student and I didn’t finish taking down notes and we were asked by our teacher to go back and finish them (we could go home and eat lunch and then go back ¬†to school). I went ¬†home and because I lived 30 minutes out-of-town, by the time dad dropped me off at the school my classmate had already left.

I went into the class and started taking down notes and a janitor came in to clean the class. At some point he was ¬†standing close to me, and though I can’t remember the conversation, I felt uncomfortable. He reached to touch my face and I pulled away. He kept reaching and I was going to fall off the chair when I blurted out “I’m going to tell my mum”. He left me alone and I stayed clear of him every time I saw him in school. Of course I didn’t tell anyone about it but the reason I have blurted out that I would tell my mum was that I had remembered my mum saying that if anyone touched us in a way we didn’t like (not her exact words) that we should tell her.

I moved to the upper trust school the following year and sometime later, the same Janitor was with another janitor (one who was nice to students) and he tried to join a conversation that the nice janitor was having with me and my sister. I pointed out that I didn’t like him and that I hadn’t forgotten what he had done. He said he didn’t know what I was talking about and I insisted he did and he walked away. His collegue looked puzzled and hezitated before continuing the conversation.

Just that one experience has informed my parenting in an attempt to protect my daughter, but I don’t know if it is effective or not. I started telling her about inappropriate touch from about 2 and a half and tried to make it ¬†clear that if anyone touched her in a way that made her feel bad, she should tell me. Why those words? because most sexual abuse victims will tell you that they felt something was wrong or they felt bad or ashamed and the language needs to make sense to the child. As she’s grown older, my language has also changed and sometimes I simply give her scenarios and ask for her responses. By no means do I think it’s fool-proof, but our options are ¬†limited. We can’t go everywhere with our children but we can give them tools to protect themselves. Even with those tools, their courage may fail, or things might still happen for whatever reason. In such cases, remember to not place blame on the child, and to show them they are loved. And always remember to pray, because where we don’t go, God still goes, and in the end, His ways are higher and His healing hands always able to bind what the enemy destroys.

As for this child, I pray that she ¬†finds peace and that she remembers her worth and beauty and the courage to live life to it’s fullest.

 

26 years of grace


As this day comes to an end, I feel it appropriate to give praise where it is due. God has brought me this far. There are some who might call me crazy for believing in a being I can’t see, but this life has been rough! So, so rough and unrelenting in it’s challenges. When I felt out of place among my peers, with no confidence in myself, it was among God’s people, I found acceptance. It was God who gave me a family that defends, protects, corrects and accepts, even when I have nothing that seems acceptable within me. It is this same God who has seen me through moments of great despair, when all I could see was death. Few would know this, but there were times, plenty of times, when death seemed appealing. When I was so scared of throwing myself in front of a train, that I couldn’t leave the house, it was God who brought healing.

It was Him who gave me the child, who has been a teacher and inspiration. It was God who has kept me standing, brought me joy and brought love into my life when I least expected it. It was him who gifted me with a love for words and poetry, writing and drawing. I am a mother, with endless dreams and possibilities. Everything I have to be proud of, has been given to me. Gift’s, I hope, that can point people toward heaven.

I’m a beautiful work in progress, but oh has He been gracious to me and has never let me down! I am learning to rejoice in His goodness and trust His wounds and to count every blessing. I am filled with a sense of urgency, to make my life count, and if  unchecked, that could make me throw caution to the wind and make a mess of what I believe is a calling. I am not where I want to be, I fall, I’m the “chief of sinners”. I’m flawed, and my greatest prayer lately can be summed up as  “help my unbelief.”

I guess if I died today, I would want people to see God’s stamp at every step in my life. If you learn anything from my flawed life, I hope it’s that God is good and that there is nothing that happens out of His authority, and that if He allows it to happen, it has a purpose! I’m 26, and I’m living again; that is a miracle, that renders me unable to forgo the craziness of believing in a God I can’t see … I have seen Him, in the grace of those who share my belief, in those who shared it before me. I have seen Him in the small details of my life. Not only have I seen Him, I have heard Him and my prayer is that I would see Him and know Him as more valuable than anything else.

Can paedophiles change?


I was reading about the case of the baby who was allegedly abandoned in Thailand by his biological parents, who took his twin sister and brought her back to Perth. I subsequently watched part of an interview broadcast on 60 minutes. If anyone is unaware of the story, quick google search will deliver the story to you. Recently, it has been revealed that the biological father of these children has been convicted of 22 sex offences against children. In the interview, the father claims he no longer has sexual urges towards children and the woman interviewing him makes a statement to the effect that she has interviewed  many paedophiles and they have stated that they will always be paedophiles.

I understand that children should be protected and that we should be concerned with the safety of children, what I am trying to figure out is; is it right to make statements like “once a paedophile, always a paedophile”? If some paedophiles have stated that they will always be that way, does that make the statement true? We are constantly told we have  the power to choose our destiny, so why are we championing the view that people are victims of their biology? Where is the power of choice? In saying to people, this is how you are and you will forever be this way, aren’t we defeating them in the process? Can’t they choose to be different? Can’t they choose who they will be?

Are we making our society safer by making such statements or are we in fact making it harder for people to decide to change and be better? Are we saying, “you are broken and cannot be fixed” and throwing people in the “discard” pile. Doesn’t it seem weird that on one hand we say to paedophiles that they have no choice in the matter, they are who they are, and yet on the other we a so filled with anger when they offend. I think we are so angry because deep down we know that they have a choice and that they are responsible for those choices and it doesn’t come down to mere biological defect.

I personally believe human hearts  and minds can change. They can be renewed and made whole, and while I don’t think I would leave my child in a room with someone who has been convicted of sex offenses, I don’t believe anyone is beyond redemption. There is always hope and every human being should be looked at as an individual, not based on what others have decided about themselves.

The beauty of God’s presence


I feel like heaven’s face is shining on me today. Not just today but every day. I had forgotten what it felt like to read the word, worship and pray. I’ve longed to feel like I did when I got saved, to have my craving for sin vanquished and forgotten. I have many cravings, some sinful, others possibly wholesome. But this past week, I have seen God shift my priorities ever so slightly and yet that small shift has left me feeling like a new person … and all it took was Him showing me, despite my mess and cravings, that I needed to worship Him. In those moments when He is our focus and we strive to have Him be all we think of, He clouds everything we think matters and even the things we seek refuge from. In those moments there is peace and freedom. There is nothing more beautiful than God and the greatest blessing is to be His and experience His great love and presence.