Friday, 22 February 2013

Spoilt Children or Recipients of Grace? 1 Kings 21 (RBHW)

In his desperation to get Naboth’s vineyard, Ahab offered him something that was even of greater value than the vineyard. Why would anyone surrender something of greater value for a thing of clearly lesser worth? Makes no sense. But amazingly many of us do just that every day we sin. Daily we are choosing death over life; bondage over freedom; regret over satisfaction; a brief moment of carnal indulgence over a lifetime of ordered fulfilment. The hypnosis that the devil has us under makes so many of us willing to sacrifice eternity for the illusion success in this life. There is nothing in this life that is worth so much – even if we could have it all. Paul puts it this way, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” 1 Cor 15: 19.

Whew; finally! Something seems to have gotten through to Ahab. How long can one kick against the pricks? And yet some many of us do. I am convinced that WAY contrary to the notion of God being a stern judge, He is the most loving Father ever.

My wife is certain that if we had children, and especially if a little daughter is among that lot, I’d spoil them/her rotten. Well I don’t know… even as I don’t know if God doesn’t Himself spoil us as His children. Understand that in the traditional Jamaican culture, “spoiling children” is not giving kids their due punishment (a bout with the rod/belt/whip) when they do something wrong (who is often, in those instances described as, “getting away with murder”). It also has to do with an inclination to saying more yeses than nos. Things are changing though. With God however, we are left with no doubt that we’re wrong, when in fact we are. But He’s always more interested in saving us than He is to expose and punish us for our sins (the reason Jesus died). This is what I’m seeing with Ahab, the most evil of all the previous kings of Israel; that has been my personal experience… every day (without the slightest hint of exaggeration). It’s called GRACE.  So I'm not a spoilt child, but a privileged recipient of God's Grace.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me,
I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.

Lessons From:

The great message from Naboth is that the heritage of God is definitely something worth dying for. The question is, do we know its true value? Moses was also one who faced great dangers in standing for God, and was happy to do it. He esteemed, "the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward." Heb 11: 26.

Then as I imagine the horror of ending up with a wife like Jezebel, I'd like to pay homage to all the godly wives in the world today, especially those who frequent RBHW. Your value is, "...more precious than rubies; and all the things that thou canst desire are not to be compared to (you) her." Prov 3: 15.

Ahab at length retires into being an ambassador of humility before God, for surely he was destined to having the words fulfilled in his life, "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." Prov 16: 18.

To read 1 Kings 21 and other related blogs click here

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Am I Defenced Against God? 1 Kings 20 (RBHW)

Ben-hadad's changed battle plans (to fight in the plains instead of the hills) following his first defeat is instructive on the persistence of the devil to get us one way or the other. Note that immediately following this victory the word of the Lord to Ahab was, "Go strengthen yourself," verse 22. This is not typical for us, because usually after a victory we often tend to let our hair (defences) down, relax a bit and celebrate. But not while the enemy is at large, is God's advice. We must therefore resist the tendency to pat ourselves on the back following a significant victory; premature celebration will likely open to the arch-enemy other points of attack upon our souls. Depending on how comprehensive our armoury really is, we run a serious risk of being defeated almost as immediately as we win a victory. Friends, let's never forget that we're in hostile enemy territory; we're not safe until we're Home, or until we die in the Lord.  Hence we're told, "Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he falls." 1 Cor 10: 12

But here's an amazing twist! It's the same thing with God as well: His stubborn love just will not let us walk away without Him putting up a fight to win us back to Himself. So even while Satan, through Ben-hadad, employs multiple battle strategies, so God keeps trying in multiple ways to woo Ahab to Himself.

How sad a commentary on Ahab, and on humanity in general, that he seemed more determinedly defenced against God's multiple nets of Grace - set to pull him in the great draw of Salvation.  He seemed more disposed to getting into the snares of the devil.  How is it with us? May God have mercy on us.

Lord, please help me to put up the defence against the devil, and not You. In the end it is hoped that the devil will depart from us, and not You. Amen.

To read or listen to 1 Kings 20 and read other related blogs, click here.

Friday, 15 February 2013

God Sees Through Our Pretences – 1 Kings 14 (RBHW)

There comes a time when the weight of justice will force the door of mercy shut, and we must face the consequences of our sinful ways.  Of course, our longsuffering God will use every just means available to secure our salvation.  But if we wantonly persist in our evil ways, we'll have to face their due consequences.

It appears that God's allowing Abijah to die (the meaning of Abijah being, Jehovah is my Father) would serve as a removal of the cloak of pretence that Jeroboam wore, even as he blatantly disregarded God through his idolatrous ways. God sees through our pretences - a point perfectly illustrated in that part of the story where Jeroboam's wife sought to dress in a manner that would disguise her. We are so bare before the Lord that even a blind prophet of His can see through our charade.

Camouflage is often used by creatures in nature, so too do we seek to sometimes deceive others by disguising ourselves.
Wearing the name Seventh-day Adventist Christian offers no cover, such as would be available only with the Robe of Christ's Righteousness.  We would therefore do well to take heed to the warning given to Loadicea, " I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see." Rev 3: 20.

Father in Heaven, in our dire state of nakedness we come to You in full acknowledgement of Your sovereignty.  Indeed You are worthy of all our worship, adoration, and praise.  We offer all to You today.  We also acknowledge our sins before You and beseech that You tame our wandering hearts.  May we become true temples of the Holy Spirit - not so much that we can escape the consequences of our sins, but that as our Creator God, You may get the satisfaction of having made us, having sustained, having redeemed.  The sincere desire of our hearts is to "show forth the praise of Him who has called us out of darkness, into His marvellous light." 1 Pet. 2: 9.  All this we humbly do in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, amen.
To read this chapter and other related blogs click here

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

God's Grace Ensures I Have a Choice: 1 Kings 12 (RBHW)

In a conversation with a non-Seventh-day Adventist gentleman he expressed the view that God cannot read our minds, and therefore does not know what choices we'll make in the future; in other words, He's not omniscient.  He felt that if God had this capability He would therefore be culpable for everything that's happening in the world today.  ‘Plus,’ he lectured, ‘the Bible wouldn’t say that He “repented.”’ 

In view of the above argument God would therefore have to take responsibility for Jeroboam's desperate political ploy, and could actually be seen as a pathetic deity who operates by trial and error.  And what a major error in judgement Jeroboam would turn out to be!

We can rest assured that our God is omniscient, "Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely." Ps 139:4 (TNIV).  He's also a God of love (1 John 4:7).  Love demands freedom of choice.  Now a choice only exists when there are at least two options.  In this case it is the choice between good and evil; life and death; God and Satan.

Left to the Devil, we would have no option but to do evil and share his fate in hell.  But God, the just One, always ensures that we have a choice.  Jeroboam used his power of choice to cast support for the Devil.  This in no way implicates God, but instead ratifies the fact that He is "holy, and just, and good." Rom. 7:12.  He ensures that whatever happens to us ultimately is determined by our own choices.

Instead of blaming God for my freedom of choice, I want to thank Him for it, because with it I am not locked into a destiny of doom with the Devil.  Whatever situation I may be in today, I can choose to get out - that's the great provision of God's Grace!  Praise the Lord!

To read the  1Kings 12 and other blogs, click here

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Breaking the Silence, Unleashing the African Thunder: NCU BHM 2013

An African Thunderstorm
By David Rubadiri
From the west
Clouds come hurrying with the wind
Turning sharply here and there
Like a plague of locusts
Whirling, tossing up things on its tail
Like a madman chasing nothing.

Pregnant clouds
Ride stately on its back
Gathering to perch on hills
Like dark sinister wings;
The Wind whistles by
And the trees bend to let it pass
In the village
Screams of delighted children
Toss and turn
In the din of whirling wind,
Women- babies clinging on their backs-
Dart about, in and out madly
The Wind whistles by
Whilst trees bend to let it pass.

Clothes wave like tattered flags
To expose dangling breasts
Flying off as jagged blinding flashes
Rumble, tremble, and crack
Amidst the smell of fired smoke
And the pelting march of the storm

The above poem reminds us of the ominous presence and unbridled power that are associated with an African thunderstorm. It may have started as a mild wind but then it soon increased in velocity- whirling, tossing and altering every aspect of the landscape it passed through; making its presence profoundly felt. Its strange and insane mannerism cannot be easily understood by all yet conversely, cannot be ignored either. It seemed to fascinate and delight the innocent and perhaps the naïve who appeared mesmerized by the sheer natural beauty of its rhythmic sounds and movements that undoubtedly, reflected the awesome power of God, the Creator. Its fury created unwelcomed cracks in the landscape and even after the storm had marched on; it left a lingering ‘smell of fired smoke’ in the air.

As we celebrate Black History Month (BHM) 2013 here at NCU under the theme, “Breaking the Silence, Unleashing the African Thunder”, I wish to draw some parallels between the abovementioned thunderstorm and the Africans who came to work as chattel slaves on sugar cane plantations, as cowboys on cattle ranches, miners in gold mines and lumberjacks in forests within the Caribbean archipelago as well as on the mainland territories. 

Like the African thunderstorm, the arrival of the West Africans to the Caribbean was initially inconspicuous.  The first groups of Africans came as a small trickle in the 1500s and then became a mighty torrent; with the advent of the Sugar Revolution by the mid 1600s when millions of Africans were forcibly transported across the Atlantic Ocean along the infamous second leg of the Triangular Trade-The Middle Passage. Needless to say, the once unassuming streams of enslaved Africans soon outnumbered their counterparts in the colonies. They and their descendants have continued to multiply and in so doing, have profoundly altered the demographic landscape of the Caribbean lands; making the region’s population, predominantly ‘black’. 

Just like the thunderstorm, the Africans were also not easily understood and were often viewed as menacing savages (‘Guinea birds’) who were possessed with unbridled passions that could only be quieted by breaking their spirits, changing their names, their dress, their language, their beliefs and by extension, making them bereft of their self worth and sense of identity. For centuries, Africans and their descendants have been overshadowed by the ominous dark clouds of racial prejudice and inferiority. Stereotyped by proverbial sayings such as “Nothing black no good”; some  have learned to despise the colour of their skin, the texture of their hair, shape of their nose, the size of their lips and so forth. Others have seemingly accepted that their lot in life is to be ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water’.  Yet others have been numbed into silence, being constantly told that their mode of communication was ‘bad’ or ‘inferior’, and reflected the lingua of the uneducated masses. But then there are others who have refused to be restrained by the narrow perceptions of others and have shown themselves to be proud, strong, beautiful, gifted and black; deserving of an equal place under the sun. 

Let me hasten to point out however that the debate of good culture versus bad culture or bad language/proper language has been a polemic one and has represented the cultural dilemma of societies like the Caribbean region that have been colonized by others. The Creole languages, like the storm, may have had a profound impact on the local landscape and its peoples yet may have failed to be seen on the global radar and as such its importance and potency appear inconsequential. Hence, the pendulum swings from the matter of local relevance to global acceptance of culture and back again. 

Undoubtedly, the English Language and its concomitant European culture have enjoyed international acceptance and prestige for centuries largely due to the successes of Great Britain as a global imperial power. As a rule of thumb, the dominant cultures of the great conquerors tended to become the observed standards for the conquered nations. Though the term ‘imperialism’ is no longer in common usage as before and there is a distinct paradigm shift from classifying the world in such terms; nevertheless, it is clear that the former colonial powers have not only remained the real decision makers of the commerce; but they have continued to be the regional and global standard bearers of acceptable societal norms. It is not surprising therefore that Standard English Language continues to reign linguistically supreme and has even been declared, ‘the language of commerce’. Indeed, it would be foolhardy for one to attempt surviving in today’s global realities without a fair mastery of this language. 

Contrastingly, the Creole languages have not and may never share such acclaim; at least not in the near future. Creole languages spoken by the majority of Caribbean peoples have remained essentially off the radar. Challenged by its diversity and parochialism, these local languages have proven difficult to standardize or even to be read or taught. Creole languages have been learnt from birth and transmitted almost intuitively through mundane oral interactions and demonstrations of storytelling, songs, proverbs and other shared experiences. It has flourished through social exchanges that occurred outside of the formal school settings. 

In the poem cited above, we are told of the ‘screams of delighted children’ that were heard in the village. In a similar fashion, the Creole languages as well as other Afro-Caribbean cultural retentions have been viewed often as the fascination of the innocent and the naïve who are simply mesmerized by the sheer natural beauty of the intoxicating rhythmic sounds and movements associated with storytelling, proverbs, singing, drumming and dancing among the Afro-Caribbean Diaspora. It is ironical that although these expressions have been celebrated as a part of the region’s richly diverse cultural heritage; yet there persists the notion that once individuals have been properly educated [about the dangers of the ‘bad’ culture] or have been fully assimilated [into the more acceptable ‘cultured and civilized’ lifestyle] then they will soon abandon such childish frivolities and embrace and hopefully master the more accepted speech, gait and general lifestyle of their non-African [European] counterparts.

The resilience of the African people as well as their culture to resist centuries of Euro-centric socialization and forced assimilation (‘seasoning’ and established laws) have made it analogous to the African thunderstorm which also could not be constrained by human efforts. Like the storm, it left cracks and blemishes in the various lands that it had touched. These cracks were not always welcomed – especially by those who preferred a more homogeneous society, based largely on the European values and norms. 

In the aftermath of the storm, objects that were deemed impenetrable were shaken, stripped or changed. Similarly, the wind of change has begun to blow through the Caribbean. There have been important movements towards the increased visibility and respectability of the Afro-Caribbean culture especially their language.  As time marches on, the rich African cultural legacy has not only been transmitted orally through proverbs, stories, songs and poems by Caribbean cultural icons such as Jamaica’s Louise Bennett-Coverley-Miss Lou but also through the written word. Pioneered by ‘Miss Lou’ and bolstered by the publications of the Dictionary of Jamaican English (Frederic G. Cassidy, 1967 & 1980) and the Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage (Richard Allsopp, 2003); the Jamaican patois for instance, have been elevated to the prestigious position of being listed by the Bible Society of the West Indies as one of the recognized languages of world that have been used in the writing of the Holy Scriptures.  (Di Jamiekan Nyuu Testiment-2003).

Like the storm, the residual smell and smoke of the smoldering flames of shared experiences of our forefathers which were transported by the spoken words-whispered after dark as bed time stories, or rehearsed for entertainment and leisure have begun to morph in a formidable movement that cannot be easily ignored. “There is a time to listen and a time to speak.” Listen to the Winds of change that are blowing and break the silence that concerns our History in so doing release the African thunder-the power and beauty of the African heritage.

WARNING- Storm Advisory…A storm is coming!!  Let us break the silence and release the African thunder!!


 Sheryl A. Reid, Asst. Professor and Coordinator of History, Department of Humanities