JESUS’ FATHER’S DAY SPEECH

HOW JESUS’ WORDS CHALLENGE AND INSPIRE FATHERHOOD TODAY

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the Gardener…any branch in me that does not bear fruit, he prunes”

-Jesus

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This is one for the season. I didn’t realize it until now but this particular text from John 15 packs a punch. While reflecting and meditating, I came to realize that there are plenty of chapters and verses that speak about Jesus’ relationship with God as his Father. All these verses are great, but Father’s day is unique and though it is no excuse for a celebration, it does emphasize something deeply rooted in the hearts of fathers all over the world. This thing is the greatest question plaguing children world over. Where are the fathers; who is he that I might connect with them? That’s right, relationship and connection is the missing factor among many youth today and they need answers.

I hear my friends’ hurt reverberate and echo in each word they speak and feel the pain buried in their hurts well up to the point that they literally feel like they are choking on their emotions. Seeing young women my age struggle to raise a child is no joke, especially when they knew that they got that child because of the love they felt their man have for them. It is no small matter when a child grows up never knowing his father. This actually is a a major issue. For where a boy would want to learn about life and how to win a woman’s heart and be the kind of man that she’ll need him to be, his father is not present to help.

As some of you reading this might know, I am a huge fan of comic books and I sometimes speak from my theological background as a graduate student on issues through them. I hope you realize by now that comics in some fantastic way, communicate something true about society. Take for instance, Peter Parker who is well known for being one of the world’s most loved and characters. Fans love the character not for any other reason than the sheer fact that they can relate to him. Think about it, in his earlier prints, it was revealed that a certain gentleman used to have his way with the young Peter and Peter could not share this information with his aunt for fear that the man might harm him; a bold move by Marvel and one of the reasons I love the company so much. At a time when many did not address these issues directly, they dared to do so through the pages of comic books.

Something else that I hope is not missed is Peter’s reaction to the loss of the only father figure he ever knew; he made an oath. He swore to embody that which had been passed on to him by his beloved Uncle Ben, that ‘with great power must also come great responsibility’. Peter changed entirely and sought to prevent the loss of innocent lives at the hands of crazed lunatics who sought to do harm to others. The point? A father figure is still a deeply influential figure to a child. And out of the loss of such a one, a fictional Peter Parker became a superhero!

Are we then to wear tights and fight crime? Are we to take on a new monicker to dazzle and impress the citizens of the world? The answer is a resounding, no. We are to call the fathers back. For those of you who have lost your father and someone else has taken over his stead, try your best to learn from him. Hard as it might be, they are there for a reason. There are lessons to be learnt that only they can give. We might not necessarily like them, but they deserve their honor. They are fathers.

As Jesus makes it clear, that his unique connection to the Father validated his authority and those who believe in him are connected to him. Although Jesus and the Father are not related in the same way we understand kinship, it is nonetheless beautiful and a mystery. As king, he makes those who trust in him, fellow sons and heirs of his and his Father’s kingdom. Most especially and most beautifully is the connection they have. Because of this connection, Jesus is able to say,

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other”

He has declared productivity to those who remain connected to him. For some of you seeking a productive connection. For truly this post is for the fathers/father-figures and their sons; do not let this moment pass and reconnect. You will make an impact on this world and the world itself cannot wait to see you bloom into who you are supposed to be.

For those of you who do not have a father, it is hard, I know but right now, God’s here and he loves you. If you give him this chance he will not, as I have experienced for myself, fail you. You are completely safe in his loving embrace. Yes, we do not know why we’ve had to endure, pain, hurt and suffering for so long because of this issue but take his word, he knows what you are going through. He understands pain. And isn’t that the point of having a parent? Do they not teach you from what they’ve actually experienced and endured in life?

This is his promise to those of you trusting in him right now, I will cause you to bear much fruit if you abide in me. That means, in the face of opposition; I trust, in the face of fear; I trust, in the face of doubt; I trust, when the chips are down; I trust. I do not believe in chances and that’s probably why I’m going as hard in this post as I am right now. There is hope for you. If you’ve read this post to this point, I believe that it’s for a reason.

For those of you seeking a hand and support in the form of prayer or encouragement, my contacts are as below. Feel free to introduce yourself and talk, I find it hard, especially for men to live without strength and that incredible re-assurance that they can still be the man they need to be in the face of all odds. Also, for the young women who desire to be more and need an exemplary example of manhood that they can look up to in a world that is robbing women of their worth and reducing their worth to mere eye-candy.

Catch me on;

email: brian.opati@gmail.com.

cell: +254-728-670657

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The Lord is with you and the Father to the fatherless…

Be blessed!

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HOW DEEP IS YOUR LOVE?: THE GRAVE OF A BURIED GOD

WHAT WE CAN TAKE AWAY FROM THIS HIT SONG BY CALVIN HARRIS AND DISCIPLES
“Open up my eyes and
Tell me who I am
Let me in on all your secrets
No inhibition, no sin”

-Ina Wroldsen

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I have to say, this post is for all of those out there looking for love; those who are yearning for it, like I am. This is for those who are sorta tired and worn out with shallow ‘love’ in relationships; for those of you asking one nagging question to that guy/girl that’s been on your mind and are uncertain that they are keeping real with you. This is for those fed up with cat calls, and having their hearts strung out like puppets; this is for those interested in more than empty words begging, hurting and eager asking one question…”How deep is your love?”

When I first listened to Calvin Harris’ song, I didn’t know what to make of it. I liked the feel of the song, it really felt like it resonated with something in my life. Before I knew it, I found myself humming to its tune, watching the music video on YouTube and memorizing it’s lyrics. All this happened when the song first came out. All those of you who can relate with me on this will agree, the song is catchy and let’s face it, there are some songs out there that really do speak to us. This particular one is just one of those songs I guess…

I am still young and as you know being in your early 20s can be a struggle, a lot about the world just dazzles us and we are like “OMG! I never wana grow any older!”. [Ahem, raise your hands up in the crowd if you can feel me there, you, young man I see you; and you, m’lady, I hear you]. These are the experiences that make us the kind of adult that we’ll become later. Apart from all the eye-candy and momentary happiness that the sights and sounds that we immerse ourselves into, there’s more we get exposed to…

“Umm, hey there. I couldn’t help but notice but I saw you from over the counter and thought I’d come closer and have a close encounter…[’cause, let’s face it again, love is alien]”. He comes closer and your eyes fix onto his. You don’t know what to do, you try and play it cool but soon realize that because he was so hot, you had quickly given up your cellphone number and [sometimes] more. The relationship with him seems to feel like something new, as though the stars above have just made their home in your belly. “Wait a minute” you say, “I am not feeling too good actually”. Before you knew it, you found yourself pregnant and he isn’t replying to your texts nor is he answering your calls. You panic. You realize that it wasn’t love, it was something else…

The question of the level of commitment in relationships is probably and arguably as old as time itself. It’s the fundamental flaw of human comprehension and understanding of the universe. A quick journey back to our ancestors, from Egypt to Greece to Rome and several civilizations prior, we see that the core of our cosmology [understanding of our universe] is deeply rooted in the relationship that exists among the gods above. Many gods were very human in their relationships, in fact there really should be a Tela Novella show casting what these (often scandalous) relationships were like. For, in my view, we knew then, as we know now, we can’t live alone. We need love and relationships.

In fact, it’s so essential to our nature that some forms of punishment across the globe actually involve isolation. The results of these punishments are heartbreaking, for whereas beating and other forms of punishment can heal over time, punishments involving isolation are shown to rob a person of part of their personality as they gnaw at their humanity. These people remain scarred for life. Mentally and emotionally, these people, once released back to society return with a social limp. Some cases have seen these individuals commit suicide; a phenomenon deeply, and closely related to the same scenario of a broken man or woman.

As painful as the reality of these occurrences are, they are relatable. As a believer in Christ, I find myself challenged by this very thing. I acknowledge my shortcomings and realize that no matter how holy I feel, I am human and still drawn to committing the same mistakes and sins that I have just alluded to in this post today. But I rejoice in one thing, God has answered this question. When I expected to hear an answer that would satisfy me from others, he gave me his answer, he turned to me. He embraced me. He told me, “Look, look at my grave…how deeper can love be?”

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“no greater love has a man than to lay his life down…”

-Jesus in his final days

YESHUA BAR ELOHIM: THE ENIGMA OF JESUS AS SON

JESUS AS SON: PART 3 “JESUS AS EMBODIED ISRAEL”

When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols” (vv. 1–2).

– Hosea 11:1–7

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Another aspect tied to the title of Son of God, is that of the identity of the nation of Israel. As Hosea points out in the verse, Yahweh actually refers to Israel as his own beloved child, and as his son. Although it should be noted that Moses is the first to point this out in Exodus, but he isn’t permitted by God to speak of it. This particular identity is historic in nature; implying that it is tied to the Jacob, the father of the 12 sons of Israel. Now, what’s even peculiar about this is that Jacob who was given a new name by a divine stranger was called ‘Prince with God’. This identity ties well with the identity of the Messiah as Prince of Shalom (as the true Prince/Ruler with God).

Jesus exercises his authority as the ultimate Patriarch that will redefine the world by selecting the 12. Now, if this isn’t made clear enough, Jacob’s name literally meant liar; Jesus intentionally revealed his name as ‘The Truth’. There’s not only that revelation but the continued allusion to his very being as the ‘Vine’ and his followers as the ‘branches’ as seen in John 15. This identity is essential to Jesus’s teachings as he anchors his church to his identity as the sole source of teaching. This is how God’s working in the messiah manifests its weight; God has revealed that he redeems by redefining and replacing the old in a manner that only he could.

The kingdom of God is unlikely to be formed unless Jesus lived the life that Israel was to live in all its history, and that is a righteous, devoted life to Yahweh alone; this is based off Deuteronomy 6:6. So, the theory goes, that when Jesus lived the perfect sinless life, his very life was made capable of enveloping all who were going to fall under the umbrella of his name as Son. It is in this very belief that the generational gap that stretched over for centuries is now reduced because Israel Incarnate has truly become Immanuel. He is our direct connection to God the Father as he is also now our Elder Brother as the book of Hebrews tells us.

So, you see, there’s quite a lot going on here with Jesus’ title of ‘Son of God’. Each of these implications are reflected in Jesus’ teachings as well as the doctrines surrounding him in the entire New Testament. What then does all this mean for us today? I have 3 main ideas:

a. Jesus identity as Israel gives us direct access to God and as such we can approach him directly (not relying on traditions as the Pharisees did).

b. We are assured of a genuine cover of our lives when we submit to him; Jesus is capable of understanding us “at all our points of weakness” because he himself was tested but yet without sin as the book of Hebrews tells us.

c. Jesus has given his followers a new identity as the members of the divine city, we have become, in him true Israel; if we remain in him we continue to be true Israel according to John 15.

And, to make things even more interesting. The New Testament would paint Jesus’s life in the same way as the Israelite journey, especially Jesus’s Flee to Egypt, his Baptism, His Period in the Wilderness for 40 days, His Temptation, His Passion and the eschatological aspect of Israel; His Resurrection. The Resurrection is blanketed over mankind and over all creation for those who believe in him. This is why John 1 would tell us, “those who believed in him he gave the power to become sons of God”. Paul the Apostle on the same note would say, “As he is, so also shall we be”.

“Do not fear, I have overcome…behold I was alive, and was dead and now I am alive forever more”

-Jesus to John

BORED-TESTAMENT: WHY THE TANAKH/OT IS EXTRAORDINARY

“Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad!”

-Debrayim 6:6

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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