Saturday, May 22, 2010

God's Grace

The root of compassion.

"We love each other because he loved us first." 1 John 4:19 NLT

If there is one need that we all carry with us regardless of age, socio-economic background or ethnicity, it is the need to be loved unconditionally. This need is built into the very fabric of our being; we want a safe place where we can go and be loved without fear of rejection, a place where even at our worst, we are not deemed an outcast, and we're still embraced. A person cannot truly grow spiritually unless they know that even at their worst, there is a place where they can go and still be embraced. Unfortunately, this goes against everything that a performance-oriented society teaches us, and because we live in a world so entangled in discord, political-strife, economic oppression, dissension, and war, it is very difficult to find that place where love does not come with several strings attached to it.

Church is supposed to be a place where we can come and receive this kind of love, but unfortunately, what you may often find in church is a polished version of what you find in the secular world, a place where you are accepted by God's grace in principle, but denied that love in practice unless you follow the right denominational rules (whatever those may be).

Author and pastoral counselor Paul Tournier made a very poignant observation when he said, "The Church proclaims the grace of God. And moralism, which is the negation of it, always creeps back into its bosom...Grace becomes conditional. Judgment appears...I see every day its ravages in all the Christian churches." The fact that Mr. Tournier said that he sees "its ravages in all Christian churches" goes to show that we have a long way to go when it comes to truly accepting the unique contribution that Jesus brought into the world - the message of grace. Our struggles accepting this message, ironically enough, also show that we are indeed fallible and need the very grace that we talk about. When we do accept this message of God's grace (love without strings), we will then realize that we have the same propensity for wrongdoing that is present in the lives of those whom we hate the most, a very humbling fact when you think about it.

We have so perverted the meaning of the word "love" that we have misconstrued it to mean some sort of mushy feeling that we get similar to when you are having your favorite meal or participating in a favorite hobby. But when this is translated to our interaction with others and we say that we love someone based on some quality that we find admirable in that person, or because of something that they can do for us, we don't really love them, we only cherish their ability to perform for us or make us feel good. You only know that you truly love someone when they cannot pay you back in return for the love that you give them.

If we are going to heal and be agents of healing for others, we have to first realize that God's love for us is not predicated on our ability to perform for Him. God is not some heavenly boss who is impressed with our consecutive weeks of church attendance, or record number of Scripture verses memorized or the fact that you have not used a cuss word in 5 years. To place our performance against the backdrop of Biblical law is to come face to face with our true debt and fallibility. It is only when we realize this that we can truly appreciate what it means to be forgiven and loved by God, and therefore pass this love on to others. Too often, however, we put the cart before the horse, telling broken people who barely know what love is themselves to "get at it, and love others..come on, do it!" But to attempt to love someone else when you barely love yourself is to only use another person to feel good about yourself...

It is my hope and prayer that wherever you are broken, you may experience the ravishing effect of true love.


Stephen Oladotun Akinduro

Friday, March 19, 2010


Pain is not only a good thing, but it is allowed for the purpose of moving us closer to God.

Refusing to allow pain to be worked out in our hearts will not only hinder our own relationship with God, but the building of relationships with others. Whether it be our own pain, or the gentle exposure of pain in others, if we quarantine it off and deny it's existence - perhaps because of the effect it's had on our self worth - we miss out on what God really wants to do with us and for us.

I just finished listening to the latest podcast entitled "PAIN" (here) and it really is something to think long and hard on.

The truth is we often do the exact opposite of what pain is truly intended to bring about in us: and even with others. We tend to isolate the pain, pretend it doesn't exist, or even close ourselves (and others) off from the suffering of another saint for fear of what it would expose or even bring to the surface in our own hearts.

I agree with their analysis that the end result of undealt with painful issues not only hinders our building relationship with others - but it answers many questions I have had recently on the sad outcome of relationships with others. Exposing pain or painful areas in others (even if it is unintentional on our part) is not welcomed and is actually the beginning of the demise of a relationship which could have been very productive and fruitful for God's Kingdom.

WE all as Christians need to get real, honest & true about these things if we ever want any hope at all of truly being Vibrant Truth-Bearers to this world, ie bearers of the flame of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Heavy Load of Tradition

In regards to religious activities, did you ever wonder why people just seem to follow the motions of all the various traditions that have been passed down over the centuries?

Jesus told us the answer, he said this is like 'thinking as a child', and told us to instead think like men. What then followed in Paul's words, were specific points to consider -- especially those that centered around behavior when they were gathered together as a body.

I Cor. 14:20 Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature ..

Paul said that if they were mature they would consider all the next points of which he gave examples.

One point was that when the church comes together, they should be careful to consider that all present had the Word of God. That all could speak, and that when revelation comes to a second person, the first person should sit down and be quiet. It's not difficult to understand that this is a sign of maturity, a willingness to be quiet and let the next person speak. It's also a sign of understanding, recognizing that this is exactly the way the Spirit works.

Why does the church not do that ?

It is because of the heavy load of tradition that has been inherited and passed down throughout the generations.

It takes courage to admit that your thinking is immature and anti AGAINST scripture -- against what is so clearly laid out as 'how to' be a mature church, primarily the fact that consistent consideration always be given to each other, the gift in all.

Monday, October 19, 2009

In Your Time of Need

There comes a time in life when we have to let go and trust all we are and can be to the Giver of life. There is a time of hurt that only God can understand, a time of deepest need that cannot be ministered to by a human friend. There is an anxiety that cannot be resolved, a pain that cannot be relieved, a feeling that cannot be healed by anything another may say or do.

It is only as we give up our desperate efforts and give God total control that we can experience true healing. This healing may not be as we expect, but entrusting our life to the Good Shepherd will ultimately be the best choice that can be made. For in giving your life to Him, He will take your burdens and hold you in His comforting arms. He is the only one who can truly understand. You are upheld in love and in prayer.

by Unknown

Monday, September 21, 2009

He Alone is Extra-Ordinary

Deep within us all, what we truly long for in life is to see the beauty of Christ -unfolded in others . His beauty is most evident in people, ordinary everyday people. Do you agree? He gave us a message of love and endearment towards the lonely, the outcast, the broken & the weary. He's not changed His mind on this. It's where Christ's heart truly is. He is most evident in the ordinary. He alone is extra-ordinarily revealed in the ordinary broken processes and wounds of lives.

It's so refreshing to break through our preconceived ideas / prejudices about others, even about God and what His plans might or might not even be. Break through our own ideologies and beliefs about what this means, this man called CHRIST JESUS living out His life on this earth. Often it seems we get stuck , stuck on what we believe / stuck on what we prefer or have been led to believe -when all along God's primary interest seems to be in you and I, the everyday people ; getting us on the same page as him, thinking like he thinks, seeing what he sees everyday. Instead of our prayers and thinking always centering around , Lord bless this , Lord fix this or do that, turning that around in the right direction and asking the Lord to simply fulfill the desires of His heart through me and change me, and simply reach out to those around me everyday. God is patient with us as He seeks to get us from being primarily centered upon ourselves ie of trying to get Him to go where we want to go, to thinking in terms of where He's invited us to come to, and where He already is

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Miracle of Belief

July 17th.

"My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words." 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Paul was a scholar and an orator of the first rank; he is not speaking out of abject humility; but saying that he would veil the power of God if, when he preached the gospel, he impressed people with his "excellency of speech." Belief in Jesus is a miracle produced only by the efficacy of Redemption, not by impressiveness of speech, not by wooing and winning, but by the sheer unaided power of God. The creative power of the Redemption comes through the preaching of the Gospel, but never because of the personality of the preacher. The real fasting of the preacher is not from food, but rather from eloquence, from impressiveness and exquisite diction, from everything that might hinder the gospel of God being presented. The preacher is there as the representative of God - "as though God did beseech you by us." He is there to present the Gospel of God. If it is only because of my preaching that people desire to be better, they will never get anywhere near Jesus Christ. Anything that flatters me in my preaching of the Gospel will end in making me a traitor to Jesus; I prevent the creative power of His Redemption from doing its work.

"I, if I be lifted up . . . , will draw all men unto Me."

I wonder what His church would LOOK like to the world if we truly grasped this reality. It seems to me that everyone wants to be heard ad nauseum, that everywhere WE look including internet-land, the 'excellency of speech' is well & thriving. Imagine how Oswald describes this attitude: as a traitor to Jesus Christ!!

The Kingdom of God ... is not a phsyical kingdom, it's not a church building, it's not a ministry, not a preacher, in fact it's nothing we are looking at - instead the Kingdom of God is within. (Luke 17:20.21)

"And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. "

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Leaving Ourselves in God's Hands

Jesse Penn-Lewis “...From that hour I understood, and knew, intelligently, that it was dying, not doing, that produced spiritual fruit. The secret of a fruitful life – in brief – to pour out to others and want nothing for yourself: to leave yourself utterly in the hands of God and not care what happens to you.”

How do we get to the place where we are consistently allowing this to take place in us ?