BORED-TESTAMENT: WHY THE TANAKH/OT IS EXTRAORDINARY

“Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad!”

-Debrayim 6:6

old-testament-sermons.jpg

The Old Testament is a fascinating library of books. A common misconception categorizes the Old Testament/Tanakh as a single book which-as many bible scholars world over, from both Jewish and Christian traditions would say, is a gross error. Although it is tackled as a unified whole, it was not compiled during a single period of time, but over several centuries, as the Gideons’ Bibles would rightly put it at the preface, “[The Bible] was put together by people from diverse backgrounds, places and time periods” (my summary). It is this single point that is vital to understanding the Bible as a library in and of itself. And although it does impact the world today after so many years of being in existence, it still wasn’t written to the world as the immediate audience.

Mystery still lies behind this phenomenon as it has shown that the Bible, in spite of its diverse authorship is still able to communicate to people living in our day and age. This is what is known as the divine inspiration of the text. Inspiration implying, in theological terms, that God was able to speak his words and communicate to his people over time through the words of the writers of the books. Troublesome as this might seem, it has helped many people over history to learn something about the divine. Not only has this feat been accomplished, it has also helped unravel the nature of YHWH/Ha-Shem (The Name) to men.

This nature of God is that of justice. Oftentimes, we see his justice play out in a manner that seems odd and not so contemporary to what we already know and see today in our legal systems. This too should not be an area of concern for as peculiar as it might be, people living thousands of years before us had specific concerns and expectations regarding their deities. These desires often manifested as the need for the deity to show his/her might in certain situations. Sometimes, this would mean that the gods would truly be seen as powerful if they reigned over more elemental forces. This seems to be a common thought in most world mythologies, of which Egypt had Re the Sun God. And in an interesting turn of events was fused with Amun to become even greater, Amun Re!

Now here’s where the Old Testament gets real interesting. Although many are familiar with the Biblical story of creation, we often get entangled in finding the meaning behind the message of the narrative. Although the pursuit is in itself noble, it is important to note that Genesis 1 for instance, is said to not merely talk about creation from the scientific point of view but from a theological perspective. It is said that the manner in which it is written is similar to that of a craftsman [living at that time] building a temple, with the last day of creation being the day when he constructed images/likenesses of the god/gods to dwell in the inner sanctuary of his/her presence. For Christian theologians, it might be even more interesting to suggest that perhaps God’s creation of Adam and Eve and letting them dwell in his presence in the Garden of Eden is a clear reflection of God’s original intent for mankind; to be right by his side always.

Back to the point though, Adam and Eve are those images in whom now the God of the Bible breathes his spirit into and they become, not clay/stone puppets, but living breathing beings like their Maker. This creation in his image and likeness, demonstrating the life-giving power of YHWH is the treasure carried by his worshipers. This explains YHWH’s ‘jealousy’ when his people pursued ‘lifeless no-gods (lo elohim)’. And that’s where the tragedy is made clear that God is trying to restore man into his (God’s) image in the world. This takes place through the most interesting drama ever to be witnessed; rape, murder, coups, prophetic messages, adultery, incest and lies just to name a few.

How bad do we really think we are? Isn’t God able to make us a part of his story today?

Shalom!

“God: Why do you eat of the fruit of the tree that I forbade you to eat?”

Adam: The woman YOU gave me to eat and I ate it”

-God’s good character first denied by man to his Maker in the first cosmic trial to ever be held

BLACK PANTHER: THE MOST UNIQUE CONTRIBUTION TO BLACK THEOLOGY

God works through me, the same as you. There is no feat I achieve that you are not capable of.”

-Black Panther

XJ02tlJ7-1-.jpg

As fascinating and as unexpected as it may sound, the Black Panther is indeed a very important figure in comics. This exception of the Black Panther does not exclude other significant black superheroes of authority and influence such as the Blue Marvel. But, the Panther takes first place because he came before the rest. His impact on African American thought was revolutionary. At a time when the African American community battled with self identity, Marvel Comics showed that they could rise up to the occasion and create a character who would be the image of African Americans. The Black Panther, though unassociated to the group that went by the same name did something unimaginable. It not only changed how African Americans saw themselves, it also demonstrated that though they originally hailed from Africa [which had been christened the ‘Dark Continent’ in the sixties], that they and their homeland were not so ‘dark’ after all.

In a manner that must have stunned DC readers at the time, the Black Panther was a point in and of himself. Unlike DC’s Cyborg, the Panther was not a sidekick, he was his own authority. He has remained, since the time of his creation, a king, a genius of Marvel’s top cream, a superhero and a priceless contribution to the Avengers’ team on panel. Now, here’s where some of you may ask some questions like, “Wasn’t Marvel just trying to capitalize on a present issue to earn some extra income?”. The answer, a resounding “No”, here’s why; Stan Lee had pointed out that he did not like his character being ‘shadows’ of the so-called ‘main hero’ because he felt that they took something away from this main hero. He later on went to state that he would not do to any of his characters what DC had done to Batman’s Robin and subjugate them.

At a time when comic books themselves were seeking relevance, Stan Lee and Marvel Comics were on the right path. Seeking to create characters of substance, and relatability; meaning that the selling point of the characters would not be on their power or abilities but on their diverse personalities, weaknesses, challenges and ability to ‘rise up’ as it were after being knocked down several times over. This, if I must say, is a strength. And as recent comic news is showing us, Cap’s history has been re-written. He is now a triple agent and a HYDRA project?? Anyway, many fans are a bit confused about this reveal but this story is bound to be one that may lead fans to respect the Captain even more. Some of you might be skeptical but watch this space…

Now, to the issue at hand, Black Theology and Black Panther’s contribution to the same. Black theology has had a very powerful influence on American society as a whole. Be it loved or hated, it is a force to reckon with. Seeing the likes of Martin Luther King Junior, pardon me, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. springboard the revolution in the U.S. that shook the very core of the rest of America we got the best comparison to the Black Panther character. We got Barack Obama, an educated African man who made African American history through his dual heritage as a Hawaii-born black man. It’s this point that makes me respect Marvel; they looked into the future by being great analysts of the present. I speak and express myself in these posts as a young African man of black descent and I have grown up reading comics. Not only do I love them, I relish their perspectives on several events. As an African theologian, I am thrilled to see the parallels that can be made from the comic book/fictional realm and the realm of theology. If some of the greatest ministers advised other preachers/theologians to hold a paper in one hand and the Bible in another, then comic books qualify right there near the newspaper.

Kudos Marvel on bringing the character to the big screen in Captain America Civil War!

“The more different we are, the more we find that we are the same”

-Chinese Proverb

MORALISM VERSUS GODSPEAK

WHY GOD’S KINGDOM IS A FAR CRY FROM WHAT MORALISM PREACHES

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

maxresdefault.jpg

 

Oftentimes, I tend to hear both friends and strangers alike ask me about why I study theology. Nearly nine times out of ten, I am also asked-in the same breath-why I did not want to pursue another occupation and ‘top up’ to my theological studies. These queries, though distressing and frustrating at times, are in my opinion, vital to bringing clarity to my innate affinity for all things God. It is this very thing that I’d like to tackle today in hopes that it will shed light on some critical issues that vex the heart and trouble the mind in matters regarding the divine.

I’ve grown up in a Christian home, with a godly family–all of whom are devoted followers of Jesus. My parents have always tried their best to ensure that my sister and I lived morally acceptable lives in the sight of God and men. Whereas I do not have any qualms with this perception-primarily because parents have a special kind of wisdom when it comes to handling their children-I still struggled with this matter. And struggle with it did I do, for a very long time. You see, I understood then as I understand now that parents’ intentions reflect their hearts. They are wired to ensure that their children flourish, prosper and become people of good-standing and repute in the community.

Now, my struggles came in a two-fold manner; I did not know what it really meant to be good and how that was accomplished, and secondly I did not understand what God’s big deal was and what he intended/desired from me. In all honesty, growing up, these two struggles gave me a warped view of what the very definition of good and evil was! For example, if I never drank alcohol or slept around, I saw myself as a ‘better’ person than the ones who did these things. As though to add insult to injury (as old as this cliche expression is), I would judge these people by my own moral standards. What a darkness I lived in, and I did not even have a clue of how wrong I truly was.

The other struggle manifested itself in my life when I realized that I really liked moralists/teachers of moralism. The televangelists who belted out fire and brimstone on the television screen would quickly receive a huge, thundering “Amen!” from me. Yet, in my deepest, darkest hours during those times I sat alone with no one watching me, I struggled in silence. As Lecrae once rightly put it (God bless his heart), “I was sipping on some secret scene, [believing that] no one would ever love you [i.e. me]”. I really did not get it and these problems really began to show up in my high school years. I really did not know what I was doing or what I had believed in was truly something I could call “Christianity” (How many people right now are masquerading under this identity but are doing ill and hurting many in the process? Is it possible to pray for them and hope they encounter the Living God of whom they claim to represent?).

This dark veil over my eyes began to break over my eyes in those very high school years. I sincerely did not know that I, a kid studying to become a physicist would end up desiring to study something else entirely, theology/the Bible. It was during this period that, although I still struggled with my holier than thou disease that I truly met God. No, it wasn’t through some moralistic teaching on how to behave and how to do right but by God, through his Scriptures speaking to me. He addressed my selfishness, my weaknesses, my errors and began to use me in school.

One of the most important things to ever happen to me was seeing a friend of mine fully have his broken arm healed and restored, although it was due for surgery just three days away from the healing! Wow! Not only did this blow my mind entirely, but it flipped my world. This was NOT what I expected. Since then, I have been learning. Yes, I do make mistakes and sin, but I do not resort to my old moralistic ways. I have simply learnt to submit. I am humbled by him because I have realized that it’s his mission, not mine to save the world. He is the Judge, not I. He is the center of my faith, not I.

Living free is what I have come to experience because I have learned to hear his voice over my own. You know what’s even better (especially for you out there who have been hurt and wounded by those professing to be ‘Christians’) it really doesn’t matter what you are struggling with. What matters is your heart and your willingness to hear from him and be healed, be restored. For in this his reign is made manifest in your life and mine. And as the Apostle Paul once said, “The Kingdom of God is not merely a matter of eating and drinking, but it consists of right-standing with God/right-living, peace (restoration of your person as well as peace with others, including enemies), and joy in the Holy Spirit.

May healing flow,

Peace to you…

 

 

WHAT ‘GANGLAND’ HAS TO SAY ABOUT KENYA’S POTENTIAL

WHEN ALL WE NEED IS A CAPABLE GROUP OF LEADERS FOR THE NEXT PHASE…

“You know originally, the gangs were created to protect everybody in the community. There was lynching and bombing going on and the gangs were there to protect. What people don’t understand is that a lot of the leaders died. Medgar Evers (has been shot), Bunchy Carter (has been shot), Fred Hampton (has been shot), MLK (has been shot in Memphis Tennessee). These youngsters didn’t have any direction. No leaders to look up to so they imploded on themselves”

-Lecrae

img_3327
Lecrae CC3…When the Christian Artists Get Real

It’s amazing how personal this song is, personal in the sense that it speaks from the heart about the heartbreaking effects of the difficulties being faced by many in the U.S. right now. Many of these difficulties are not recent as many of us would think because each and every single one of them have caused strains in inter-ethnic relationships. These strains are presented as being brought about (primarily) by a quest for identity–an identity in a new land/time period. Whereas in the past great leaders emerged who helped make a difference and level the grounds for those from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds, the need to progress, evolve and adapt is urgent.

So much crime has taken place because of hatred and indifference. These things, as the song would point out, have not helped lessen the burden being borne by either side of the conflict. Although these things are of great concern, the song would rightly point out that “it was a crooked system like this that left the King of kings bloodless”, a straight up nod to the fact that the systems in place that deny us the rights to be treated as human beings, regardless of race/ethnicity need to be acknowledged. Not only are they to be acknowledged but undone altogether.

Kenya’s current interest in advancing the nation falls under one oddly similar situation as the U.S.; it needs to accept and take advantage of its diversity. With over 40 tribes, each possessing sub-tribes of their own, Kenya’s diversity is as beautiful as the view of a rose in a kaleidoscope: Each mirror reflection interacts with another reflection from another angle and thus creates a beautiful view.Why tribal politics lets us down is yet to be understood, but the fact is, the power has been and always remains in the hands of the people to change things. Although, like the U.S., there were those who came before to fight the oppressive laws and systems that denied the people equal rights as the rest, Kenya can build right now and today from that great history and become greater.

Although there are issues that have kept many suppressed and kept under the feet of oppressive powers and laws, there still remains a great chance that they can rise up again and produce amazing people. As though things couldn’t get any stranger, Obama was Kenyan and became the president of the U.S. for two whole terms. Whereas some disagree as to his heritage, they should remember that Kenya, like the U.S. had great leaders that suffered to give the people freedom. No one bred from this beautiful land is without worth and value (forgive me here, I am letting loose on my patriotism here. I am Kenyan after all!).

Hence, if Obama can lead, so can any one in the world, but it starts here. No more crime, No more violence. No more pitiful fighting and squabbling. No more lying. No more corruption and stealing. No more negative tribal politics. No more extortion. No more robbing the people. As Lecrae and Propaganda’s ‘Gangland’ rightly point out, Jesus is the best example to learn from regarding leadership and making a difference, as well as living a life worthy of God in the midst of difficulty. This, I believe is what the Gospel of Jesus offers my people and the world today.

Why don’t we make a difference by tackling our issues differently?

Why don’t we dare to be better?

Why don’t we dare to love?

Why don’t we dare to share when it hurts?

Why don’t we dare to be different?

GENESIS: BEAUTY’S TRUE NAME

WHY BEING MADE IN GOD’S IMAGE AND LIKENESS IS THE PRIME ACHIEVEMENT OF OUR SPECIES, AND THE ASPIRATION OF THE ‘TOMORROW’

“Adam, where are you?”

-God to Adam

The_Creation_of_Adam.jpg

I have no idea how this topic came to me, but ever since it dropped on my lap I have had this pressing feeling that I have got to do something about it. What is that something, you ask? Blog it, of course! Ha ha. I think every blogger out there appreciates the thrill of sharing from their various fields of interest as they provide insights that were never before witnessed and/or shared by others. To all my fellow bloggers out there, I salute you and appreciate you for the work you do, keep the fire burning. For it was because of you that I gained interest in this art and for that I remain forever grateful.

So, down to the subject of interest, the creation of man in God’s image as the ultimate objective of our existence. What I love about this post today is its uniqueness as it is both the example and the hope of mankind. Our starting point on this subject? God’s question to Adam. When the the first couple experienced the effects of the catastrophe that was the identity changing Fall, they were not prepared for what came next. “Adam, where are you?” Are the first words that the first man heard from God after eating from the tree of good and evil. These words were timely as they were a reflection of concern; they were not words that came from God immediately after the disobedient act of the couple, but rather, later on.

What could Adam have been thinking at this point, as he was being sought after? “Oh no, I’m a goner. That does it, Eve, we are through; we had this coming…”, he, together with Eve probably riddled themselves with guilt to a standstill, with the guilt eating into their conscience. But what’s more peculiar about this is that, although we tend to ask why we as people are in trouble over an issue in life, we often look at the one who confronts us rather than look introspectively at ourselves. If we take the latter option we find that we gain more of our personal identity and character and we actually do become better people in the long-run, an option that the first couple did not consider.

Here’s where I wanted to take this discussion for today; whereas the story of Adam and Eve has been one of the most debated narratives of all time, it offers profound insight into the first sign of our loss as human beings. This loss being the very first sign of the shortcomings of our new identity, person and being. No wonder the name of God, I Am, is of such significant value when it comes to cracking the message of the Bible especially as far as humanity finding its being is concerned.

Although we are at present imperfect, we should be able to understand imperfection as a gift of mortality. We do not live forever, but we can’t surely conclude that it’s Y.O.L.O. either (catchy as the slogan might be). We are limited, we have various flaws and imperfections but we are not hopeless, neither are we useless. We are each of us one of a kind with a journey ahead of us. I’d like to propose that the fullness of this being that was once lost has been regained and that it is attainable today-and right now. God wasn’t concerned about destroying Adam, because as the texts show us, he was looking for him. He wanted to restore him and not merely finish him off.

His mercy is amazing and his greatest desire is that we rest in him in the midst of our failures and crowning achievements. Because, at the end of it all, what defines is not the material but the immaterial. And so begins the search for human beauty, the restoration of being to humanity; filled with purpose, drive, enthusiasm, joy, wholeness, love and peace.

May we truly unlock our potential in His name.

THE CHRISTIAN HOPE AND THE CONCEPT OF AN UNENDING TOMORROW

WHEN TOMORROW CAN NEVER DIE...

die-another-day-wallpaper.jpg

Hey y’all! I hope that your week has gone well and that Friday the 13th didn’t give you the spooks, because what I have for you is something to give even the dead hope. It’s been such an amazing journey so far with you and I do hope that these posts do make a difference in someone’s life. If you have been following my posts, I thank you; if you have just gazed upon this post and thought it worth the while to read it, I thank you too: These posts are made for your benefit and interest. I gain nothing from these posts by the way, just a smile or two…:-)and sometimes that’s all we hope our words do to others. We are people after all, broken and flawed but still possessing so much more beneath the surface that can be tapped into if we only transition.

What’s odd about the concept of transition is that it truly is a longing deeply rooted in the human soul and psyche. Buddhism describes the best transition as being likened to that of the butterfly that has emerged from a caterpillar; the Greeks described transition as sacrificial, likening the process to a snake shedding off its skin and today, people are finding meaning behind a full gender change. What these three entirely different worldviews show us is that although we have the need, we do not–as of now understand why we do have this urge. Something I would like to point out at this time though is that we have dealt with this issue from a moralistic point of view as Christians and done a lot of damage in the process because we do not fully understand what our faith is about, and that is, transition.

The idea is, what Jesus has done for man is so beautiful that the best way that the Apostle Paul could frame it in the New Testament is, “Now we only see (this thing) dimly as in a mirror…but we await the reality”. It is too hard to give it a natural equivalent. In short, the message that Jesus gives us from both his life and teachings are phenomenally radical. He offers a full transition to the Kingdom of the Light and to a new nature, life, worldview and Kingdom. But here’s the twist, it isn’t a new idea. Way back in Genesis, when God was creating and ordering his work, he structured the days as night transitioning into the morning.

It was thought that this move echoed the life of the free Hebrew when he/she had been brought out of Egypt. What’s even more peculiar is that although some make it seem like it was so glum for all Israel, it really wasn’t in the eyes of the modern reader: they argued with Moses that they ate well, that they had enough for themselves (and no one comes up to deny these claims, you can actually check it out), finally Moses is described (although he was a prince, as living a life filled with the pleasures of sin). It doesn’t look so bad now until we look back and see that darkness isn’t just torture or some deep magic or evil cult worship or stuff like that, but serving our appetites and doing what pleases us. This is the one thing makes us stuck in a loop and makes transition a fading thought.

Then it hits us, perhaps there is more going on in our lives than we realize! Please don’t mistake this post as being hateful and moralistic but as a theological expression of what’s truly going on with the human condition. After all, is it not written that God gives us the ability to will for good according to his will? Why then do we do things as we want, not as he directs us? I too fall in this category, I am by all means no exception. But there is hope. Hope that refreshes us. The movement of the days from darkness (night) into the day (morning) is a reflection of what God does with us when we follow him…whether sprinting or with baby steps, we transition.

That’s where the Bible makes it more interesting when it points out that the act of following God is not some cut and dry religious experience. It actually breeds life, “Though weeping may endure for the night, joy comes in the morning”…our pain is relieved; “His mercies are new every morning, great is your faithfulness”, he gives us what we need most and never forsakes us even when we slip, slide or fall. That’s the transition that Jesus offers each and every one of us. It is a reflection of what we as human beings are desperately crying for, change, identity, purpose, belonging, meaning and peace. It is an echo of what is to come when Jesus comes back tomorrow…

MY EYES BURN: FOLLOW ME AS WE TORCH THE SKY

SOCIAL CLUB: FLIPPING THE TRADITION

Official-Social-Club-Pic.jpg

[Intro: Marz]
You can’t contain this energy
Follow me as we torch the sky

[Verse 1: Fern]
I flipped the tradition
The way I was living was different than what my family had envisioned

I went through a time that I brought on myself
Would’ve been better if I had just listened
But, I was focused on living the life with
No ambitions I thought was right
I would stay up at night baggin’ the white
Dollars was stacking up high

This was the way I got by in a season hotter than July
What you expect from your guy
With a social by close to your pan of supply
For life, we are in it right ’till we die
Misfits everywhere, rejects multiply
Leave all the mess to the side
Cause when we ride we are not letting it slide
I put that on where I reside
This is that moment in time
You realize that this is your time, the grind
Lined up with the goodness of God
And the world can’t stop what we’ve brought
Recollect everything I’ve been taught
Spitting that raw, my writtens deserve an award
Oh Lord got Marz on board
Uh, and the flow not regular
I burn bright like my iPhone cellular
Ferny

[Hook: Marz]
I’m not who I was bred to be
There’s a wild fire in me
Like a roaring rocket
Faster than the speed of sound
You can’t contain this energy
Shattered images of all that you believe
Follow me as we torch the sky
Burn bright, all through the night
We’re burning bright, all through the night
Burn bright, through the night
We’re burning bright, all through the night

[Verse 2: Marty]
It’s the life we chose, or the life chose me
And I might go ghost, but I’m not gon’ sleep
And we all gon’ eat, that’s what I told my team
And we put God first, put that over everything
I got everything that I wanted, nothing in my life that I need
Imma always keep it 100, that’s the way that Imma always be
My old friends still gettin’ faded
Loved too quick I should’ve waited
Turned from lover into a hater
That’s the way you know made it
Rap game, Danny Tanner
I got no help, did it independent

Religious people always get offended, cause the tattoos the way that we living
That’s just how we do it, broke out the system of normal living
Got a gang of misfits
And everybody here, nobody missing
Own the streets and we run the city dog

[Hook]