12 Sep 2012

I want to start blogging again, but i Suk!

I may change the title of this blog, I may not. When I think of blogging, I have thoughts like, 'Why?' 'Is anyone going to read it?' 'Do I want anyone to read it?' "Is any of this going to bite me in the ass later?' Well, to start off, I may or may not change the title of this blog because I may or may not want anyone to read it. If I leave it as is, It will probably get no attention as it's an old blog and I'm not in Africa any more. Do you remember Encyclopedias? I do. Well, I'm already thinking of other micro-blogs that I wanna do. Look, I half hope that no one ever reads this and the following blogs, and I fully hope that I'll find some sort of motivation beyond bartending.

3 Sep 2009

Reading can be fun!


Last night I finished reading A.W. Tozer's "Wingspread A.B. Simpson: A study in spiritual Altitude"
I know, the title doesn't seem very exciting and if you're not Steve Carlin, then you're probably asking yourself, "Who the heck is A.B. Simpson?" That's what I was asking when I was par-oozing my friends bookshelf. So, I was bored a few nights ago and I wanted to read something. I had just destroyed a fiction novel that I picked up last time I was in Lusaka and was hungry for more reading. The only reason I picked up this volume was because I've heard much about A.W. Tozer being a great writer and the other books I had either read already, or didn't look interesting enough. That should tell you how interested I was in the other selections, since I picked up a book written 66 years ago about a man that I never heard of.

Wingspread is a biography of the A.B. Simpson, who was a Canadian man born in 1843 and died in 1919. The most interesting thing about Mr Simpson was how disciplined he was and devoted to making a huge difference. He was an amazing speaker and formed a huge heart for evangelism. This brought him to post civil war Louisville, KY. He later moves to New york, NY and starts The Christian and Missionary Alliance. At 37, he becomes very sick and is told his days are numbered. He goes to a healing service and listens to the testimonies of those who were healed. He didn't want to get caught up in the enthusiasm so he prayed about it. One day, he goes on his own into the woods and kneels and prays for healing on his own. By miracle, he is healed and knows that it was The Lord. This causes him to believe and from then on teach on divine healing. Many criticized him for this.

Sorry, I didn't start this to write my own biography about this man. If you're interested, I would suggest picking up the book. It's a quick read, which is an inspiring story. I felt that I was sitting and having a coffee with A.W. Tozer as he was narrating the story because as I was reading the book it was as if I could hear his voice.

That's all.

10 Aug 2009

On a lighter note: Shane & Shane


A couple years ago, I borrowed a Shane & Shane CD from a friend and at the time found it so terribly boring that I changed their name to Boring & Boring. In my mind, I labeled them as one of those dime-a-dozen christian bands that I'll never like. Still, I couldn't figure out why so many people were raving about them. Ok, fast-forward to about two weeks ago. I heard one of their songs coming from my neighbor's room (at the ark you can hear everything through the walls) and I knocked on the door and asked" what music is that?" She said that it was Shane & Shane, I was so surprised that I had to look for myself to be sure. Yes, it was Boring & Boring! My mind was racing "How could what I'm hearing possibly be that bore-you-to-tears band that I listened to years ago and cast aside as no good?" This music has, a deep sound, acoustic guitars that consist of more than GCD and EAB chord progressions. The lyrics are sung with passion. Wow, it was as if I found something new, although it was something that all these other friends of mine have already become tired of. Did I judge the band incorrectly, or did I just borrow the wrong CD? Anyway, this is my formal and public apology to Shane & Shane and the following that may be upset at how I used to think of this band that now I enjoy. Although, I've only been able to borrow one disc of 'An Evening With' By the way, Psalm 13 was what I heard from the neighbor's room, great jam.

Sorry guys. I like your stuff now.

26 Jul 2009

Life and Death


A few nights ago, I was leaving the Ubuntu Campus after having dinner with Jon and Jillian. The distance to the Ark is a short 2 or 3 Kilometers (1.2-1.8 miles) but I'm driving because at night the village dogs roam in packs and can be vicious. Ubuntu doesn't have power yet, so the only lights are the headlights on the Nissan Patrol. Headed towards the hospital, I saw a man walking his bike ahead. From a distance, I saw him switch from the right side of the road to the left side of the road, which is the side people drive on here. In the bush, the "rules-of-the-road" don't necessarily apply, so I easily drifted to the 'wrong' side of the road to avoid a collision with this man walking his bike in my direction. As I was approaching him, he stopped walking and began to wave. I didn't think much of it, we were going in opposite directions and I didn't recognize him, so I just kept on keepin' on.

Minutes after I arrived at the pad, I received a phone call from Jon, He was asking if I could come and get this girl who was trying to make it to the hospital but no longer had the strength to continue. As he asked me, I recalled that there was a man visiting from Lusaka who had a Patrol and was there at Ubuntu, so I advised Jon to ask him if he could help, otherwise I would drive back out as quickly as possible. Less than 5 minutes later my phone started ringing, and immediately grabbed the keys and started out the door as I was answering the phone. When I answered, Jon told me that the other guy took the girl and her brother and I didn't need to come out and get them.

Without much more thought, I brushed the teeth and checked my email and went to sleep. The next day, I saw the guy who had taken the girl into the hospital the night before and I asked him if everything went okay. He looked at me and asked, "So, you don't know what happened?" "No what happened?" I responded. He went on saying that the girl died of heart failure and she was only 15 years old. He said that she was traveling to the hospital from far with her brother on bicycles when she couldn't continue and he went on to the hospital to get someone to drive out, but no one would and so he was heading back to her. I realized that he must've been the one I past when I was driving. Beginning to feel like maybe if I had stopped the girl might be alive, I was thinking over what had happened. When I past the guy on the road, I didn't sense that he was in distress or that there was an emergency. My thoughts went to 'what would I have done?' and I was thinking "If it were my sister, I would've stood in front of the vehicle, anything to get someone to stop and help." In my head, I started asking why didn't he do what I would've done, why did he just wave? Of course, I realize that there is a clash of two cultures here. Maybe if I were Zambian, I would've sensed the need?

Later, I was asked one of the doctors if he knew about this girl. He told me that he did and he went on the say that when she arrived there wasn't much they could've done for her, because there is no life support and such equipment that larger more advanced hospitals have. He said, if she was bleeding to death or dehydrated, they have blood and fluids.

Death here in Zambia is much more part of daily life. The life expectancy is quite lower than in the States and out here in the bush, the resources aren't as readily available to handle every medical case. Often, people have to walk 2 days to get to this hospital and may arrive too late to be properly cared for. This hospital has however, saved countless lives since it was built by the church 50 years ago. Still there is wailing almost everyday at the hospital, where loved ones are mourning the dead not far from where I stay at the Ark. I have to be careful not to become de-sensitized to this, so that I can remember that death is real and life shouldn't be wasted on meaningless activities.

28 May 2009

Testing of My Faith



Chioke,

Yes, I noticed that you set out to make some points* about my previous blog post. In this post, my goal is to clear up some of your claims about what I believe and I would like to make some points of my own. I’ve noticed that I’ve missed some things that I wanted to say in my previous responses, so this time I will be careful to hit everything by being a little more systematic about it.

*For those who want to read what Chioke wrote click HERE.

I watched the video that you linked to your previous post “A girl like me” (Doll test). First let me say that I don’t disagree with this video on any particular point. This problem does not only pertain to African Americans, but people in every country that I’ve ever visited, and not just black people but Asians, and whites as well. While in the Philippines I found that guys preferred lighter skinned Filipino women, and in Mongolia girls and guys alike would wear long sleeves and long trousers when it was hot outside, because they don’t want to look like they’re from the countryside. In China, most of the advertisements seemed to have very light skinned Chinese women in the pictures. In Zambia, some women try to use certain lotions to lighten the skin. In America, white people spend plenty of time and money tanning in salons and at the beach, or in their backyard. This problem of one skin tone being valued over another dates back as far as Solomon’s Song of Songs. When one reads Song of Songs 1:5,6 it seems obvious that dark skin was not usually preferred at the time and place of the author.

5 Dark am I, yet lovely,
O daughters of Jerusalem,
Dark like the tents of Kedar,
Like the tent curtains of Solomon.
6 Do not stare at me because I am dark,
Because I am darkened by the sun.
My mother’s sons were angry with me and made me take care of the
Vineyards;
My own vineyard I have neglected.

Now, I find it hard to believe that a white Jesus has anything to do with the woman in this story, or with Mongolians who are maybe 1% Christian. Often, people simply want what they cannot have; this is a problem of all humans, even you have admitted to wanting darker skin while you were in Uganda. This problem has existed well before Jesus was born and of course before his image was changed to that of a hippie white guy.

Women want bigger breasts, people with straight hair want curly hair, and people with curly hair want it to be straight. People dye their hair all colors, get nose jobs, braces on their teeth, piercings and tattoos. Africans want to be fatter, Americans want to be thinner, Chinese people go through a painful surgery to be a few inches taller, hoping it will give them an edge over someone else in the job market. Dutch people, well they’re just Dutch and proud of it. Men want to be women, and women want to be men. People get contacts that change their eye color. I believe that every human was born for a reason; purposefully in the time and place they were born. Most of us though want to change what we can’t change, that is who we are. Some go as far as to drastically change their appearance, in hopes to find something, something they believe they need and don’t have.

Psalm 139:13-16
13 For you created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother’s
Womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and
wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret
place.
When I was woven together in the
Depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
Were written in your book
Before one of them came to be.

Now, moving on to the “Let’s work together on this and reference scientific methods less.” First, it seems as though you either missed my point, or just failed to address what I was really getting at. The point was and is, that we live in an unbelieving world (mostly referring to the western world) where we will chose anything over the numinous. I would also like to point out that if Dr. Dawkins is a man who believes that good explanations must have empirical content, then I don’t think he would be so sold out on a theory that can’t be scientifically proven any more than God the Almighty can be. Yes, you read that right; I do believe that God cannot be scientifically proven, on the flip side, I do believe that it’s impossible to prove that He doesn’t exist. I’m certainly not looking for Mr. Wizard or Bill N. the science guy to agree with me so that I can have more credibility. One has to believe or not, accept or reject. I think many scientists and philosophers have come to the conclusion that God cannot be proven or disproven, and yet they chose not to believe. Again, this is because Darwin’s theory, aliens, etc. do not challenge or threaten, so it’s easier to chose not to believe in the God who created the heavens and the earth and then spoke to His creation about Himself and how He would like those who want to believe in Him to live. Instead they put their faith in other theories or truths that can’t be proven.

1 Corinthians 1:18-21
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I
will frustrate.”
20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

I will have to admit, however that I haven’t read much about the philosophy of the medieval era on into the enlightenment age or even into postmodern, or the information age (whatever you want to call where we are now). So, when you mention cats like Aquinas, Anselm, Augustine, Kant and his homies, then I can’t say too much on the subject. It does seem to me though that since philosophy has left behind Christian theism, that the worldviews have been almost continually shifting as people realize that the current worldview doesn’t quite work. I simply have a hard time believing that “The truth” can just keep on changing from one age to the next simply because we want it to. Again, I apologize; I don’t have my philosophy merit badge (I am an Eagle Scout though). The main question that comes to mind when you talk about that is, what do you mean “Kant and his homies won?” Won what? I hope you don’t mean they won the world to Atheism? Billions of people in the world, including most Africans believe in a spiritual realm and in God or many Gods, yet somehow a few philosophers are smarter than the rest of the world and have some knowledge that the rest of the world doesn’t. Oh, and People writing about what they believe and facing criticisms, no problem, it’s a 2000-year-old problem for Christians yet we are still here.

Mathew 5:11-12
11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with the way people search for truth. I believe that we are all searching in one way or another and that search may consist of a number of styles. Some seek to find their truth through success, money, drugs, alcohol, academia, the bible, the Quran, philosophy books, University, Scientology, Science, traditions and culture. Never have I judged one process of investigation into the nature of truth better or worse than others. We are fallible creatures and we learn and grow from our experiences and mistakes. Remember Chioke, I wasn’t raised in the church, and two thirds of my life I didn’t believe in Jesus. I thought it was all a joke. Karen broke up with me after high school, because I wasn’t a Christian.

The collection of books that you hold on to may not claim to be the authority, but anyone who sits down and publishes a book on a certain subject must believe he has some sort of authority on the topic. So, you go to the library and find books, read them and then decide if you agree with or not what that author is talking about. When you chose to believe, whether it is after further investigation or not, then you hold on to that idea and your reason and understandings of the world are shaped by that, so that is what I meant by you hold on to your own collection of books as well. The collection is simply compiled by you your professors and colleagues. I do read more books than the bible and I read books that don’t agree with my worldview, hence the reason we’ve started this series of written conversations since last year when I read Song of Lawino. The bible as you know was written by a number of authors over a stretch of at least a thousand years. Dr. Walter A. Elwell writes about the New Testament Canon, “The formation of the New Testament canon is no less enigmatic than that of the Old Testament, also being a process rather than an event.” He also mentions “In 380, we find our twenty-seven books in the familiar arrangement (taken from the Latin Vulgate) listed in the writings of Amphilocius of Iconium.” So the process of the Canon formation in the west, was pretty much wrapping up at the end of the 4th century. What’s interesting to me about his article on the matter is that as early as the 2nd century there was already collections of these same writings being formed, they were just limited and not official yet. Probably because the cost of producing such letters, we didn’t have Canon copy/fax machines yet. I’m not sure what you mean when you say “I might be talking to a straw man” but you are right, I agree that the bible does not seek any justification outside of itself.

John 1:1-5
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.
3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

2 Timothy 3:16-17
16 All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

What is “every good work?”

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

And on to my friend’s point, who is also your friend Drew. The conversation only stops at that point, because I believe something that he does not, and I guess he was not able to handle that (we did continue to talk anyway). Unreasoned belief? Why would you say that? Here is what I know to be true, and no one that has known me longer than 10 years can disprove it. My life was a wreck, my car had been wrecked and was no more, I was living in Va. Beach with no friends to speak of and then I met a person at work who was just cool with who I was. Angry as I was, complaining all the time, nothing really to offer but a draining relationship and that girl was a Christian (no romance was involved). When Anna and I decided to hang out because we both played a bit of guitar, I asked her if he boyfriend would mind because she was wearing a small diamond ring on her wedding finger. She told me that she was not married but the ring was there as a symbol of purity, that she was waiting for marriage. I laughed at her and told her straight up that she was out of her mind. That didn’t seem to shake her at all and after a year of being friends, this girl gave me a book for my 20th birthday “Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennon Manning. I read it in July of 1999, about half way through the book on an airplane ride to my next job; I just knew that what this guy was talking about was true. I can’t explain how or why I knew and accepted it, but I did. Since, then my life has only become better each year. It has not been easy the whole way, far from it. Challenging, but I’m more free than I was last year, and as I grow more mature, I’m sure that I will be more free than I am now. Before that I was on my way to being an alcoholic, perverted, abusive man, possibly on my way to prison for the bad decisions I was making. Unreasoned belief? I have too many reasons to believe. What I am talking about is a transformed life. Am I perfect now? No, it’s a process, and an event.

There is no way that I can understand what you feel or have to deal with when talking about the history of your ancestors. I think for the first time, I realize why you’re so adamant about preserving the traditional African cultures. The faint echoes of your heritage are precious to you, and I’m truly sorry for what has happened. I have to say though that I am not cool with slavery as a vehicle for evangelizing. I don’t read Phyllis Wheatley’s song and feel at all at ease with what happened to her or anyone who has had to undergo such a travesty. She chose those words for her own personal reasons and I can’t even begin to understand it.

I have to agree that there are forces over and above a person’s autonomy that pushes them into adopting different perspectives. You seem to think that the only force is that which is coercively spurring people into believing in Jesus Christ. Along with the Christian religious perspective is a wide range of forces; gangster rappers convincing hundreds of millions around the world that Gold chains, huge ass diamond rings, guns and violence are the way, Islam, Mormons, Atheists, Communists, advertisements, pornography, Governments, Traditional cultures that not only contain that which should be preserved but also that which oppresses and subjugates women and children, Movies (not just Hollywood, but many from Nigeria which commonly circulate the continent of Africa), and demonic forces, that which the witch doctors and traditional healers often tap into, social pressures, etc. You seem to think that because I have access to more money than the average Zambian, that I am more powerful, like being an “economically superior missionary” somehow makes me a threat to all that is Zambian culture. I realize that the color of my skin automatically brings certain thoughts upon my arrival on the scene, but I’m not out to just throw around some money and force people to change everything about their lifestyle. I believe that every culture has good, bad, and amoral in it. Just as an example, I would not tell a Tonga man that he cannot engage in polygamy, but I am not cool with the often-found neglect and abuse of women and children at the hands of men, which is socially acceptable here in this culture. I wouldn’t suggest marrying more than one woman, because my culture doesn’t readily accept it, but I assume that you would not be able to roll with spousal and child abuse as acceptable. Just a quick question, how exactly did the British force Christianity on the Zambians? If you have any sources on that, I would be interested to look into it.

Believing in God does not make one a good person. Memorizing the bible, going to church, or praying does not make one a good person any more than living a morally good life. There is no way that I am able to evaluate or judge the morality of your or anyone else’s lifestyle for that matter. You have asked me not to morally evaluate others’ life situations, yet it seems to me that you have done just that towards me and anybody like me, even to the point that you are asking me to stop living the way I live. Chioke, you have obviously deemed yourself fit to judge approximately a billion people who are alive today, not to mention all those who lived and died believing as I do in the past 2000 years.

Romans 2:1
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

I believe you can live a very morally good life, probably even more morally good than I might be living mine. That is not beyond what I can accept. No matter how good one lives his life though, It’s not enough.

Romans 3:23
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Believing in Christ isn’t about being perfect; it’s about recognizing that we can’t reach our fullest potential without help. It’s about recognizing that the creator of the universe loved us so much that he sent himself in the form of a man to be sacrificed for our iniquities so that we could be good enough, so that we could reach our fullest potential.
Isaiah 53:1-ff
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord Makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

So, I hope this helps with some of the assumptions that you ‘ve had to make and if there is any assumptions that I’ve made about what you believe and they are not right, please set it straight. I think everyone needs to be challenged as to what they believe and why.

James 3:3
Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

Proverbs 12:1
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.

Later

2 May 2009

Dangerous or not?


The first time I've ever seen a Chameleon with my own eyes, was last year when I was driving and one about the length of my forearm was crossing the road. He was doing his little pimp walk and seemed to be almost the same color as the orange dirt of the road. I almost ran over him, but I managed to stop in time and was able to take him out of the road and release him in the bush. Since then, I've seen about 3 or 4 others alive, and a few dead. After telling some of my Zambian friends about my encounter with the Chameleon, they began to brush off their skin as though ants or something very undesirable was crawling all over them and they went on to tell me that these animals are extremely dangerous. I asked how they were dangerous, and some told me that if the tail of the creature wraps around your finger, you could be dismembered. Also, I was informed that when someone comes across this particular lizard that they either run away, or stone it to death. This didn't sit well with me, because these creatures only eat insects and are quit nice to see around. There certainly is a superstition about these creatures, frogs, and many other animals. The picture posted above is the smallest one that I've seen so far, and I will continue to catch and release these animals in the bush so that they have a stronger chance to survive.

18 Apr 2009

The Shack


I just finished reading a book that I heard a lot about and was a little reluctant to start, but let me tell you this was one of the best fiction books that I've read in a long time. It's not even my type of book. If you haven't read this, my suggestion is get it, read it, love it. After reading this book, I think the way I understand God will be changed forever. I cried a couple times too, I will admit.

Wm. Paul Young writes an amazing story of a man whose daughter was brutally murdered, and how God helps him deal with his pain, the judgement he has of God and others, and forgiveness. This book takes God out of the box and allows us to have a more open mind, less cluttered with traditions, religiousness and more freedom. I love it.

If you want to look more into it, check out the website. www.TheShackBook.com