Monthly Archives: September 2016

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When Satan rises

Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel. 1 Chronicles 21:1 NLT

That’s the start of chapter 21 of 1 Chronicles in the Bible. It’s a rather dramatic start to a chapter, wouldn’t you say? The line alone is a full story. We could go to a cinema, they’d display it on the screen and then the credits would start to roll and we’d be very happy about the movie. Let’s see the line again…

Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel.

Look at that. Such potency. The stage is set for some really intense stuff….

Anyway, so David gets attacked by Satan, as we all do. The fiend asks you to do something. You know how his voice bees, telling you no one will know, telling you it doesn’t matter that much…saying just this once… Saying everyone’s doing it.. You know, don’t leave a brother hanging, you know, don’t you? (Or maybe, dear reader, you have never been tempted. In which case, okikola otya?). So, you are tempted and you start to move towards doing what he’s asked you to do…

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Back to our potent story…

So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, “Take a census of all the people of Israel—from Beersheba in the south to Dan in the north—and bring me a report so I may know how many there are.”

We see David giving in to the temptation. But David, we had so much faith in you. We expected much better from you. But wait, God doesn’t leave you, His child, to go down like that. He steps in to stop you from folly. He reminds you, “But my friend Kakoma, you are cut from a different cloth. Come on!”. Don’t go down, fight!

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV (Emphasis mine)

In our story, let’s see how God helps a brother and provides a way out…

But Joab replied, “May the lord increase the number of his people a hundred times over! But why, my lord the king, do you want to do this? Are they not all your servants? Why must you cause Israel to sin?”

You’ve been duly warned. Either a Joab speaks up or just something inside you isn’t entirely easy about you taking that money. Or doing that thing you are considering. Or telling that lie. Or you know, giving in. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you triumphed by listening to Joab? To that other voice? Sure, it would. But do you? Do I? Does our hero David listen? Let’s see…

But the king insisted that they take the census, so Joab traveled throughout all Israel to count the people. Then he returned to Jerusalem

It turns out he didn’t listen. He fell flat. Satan 1 David 0 but no one’s keeping scores.
But this isn’t about David, is it? He fought his battles, won some, lost some. This is about you and I. The Good Book says,

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 NIV

In essence, Satan’s always rising up and throwing temptation our way. Will I stand? Will you?

Unqualified

I’ve had the honour of serving on a number of job interview panels. I’m that last guy on the panel who doesn’t smile and grunts after every answer you give. The one who sips very loudly from his glass of water; so loud, the room asks you to repeat everything you said while he sipped. The one who comes in only to ask very difficult, “it says here that you…BUT isn’t it true that…” questions.

On the panel, we review a candidate’s credentials and ask them a number of questions about themselves. We then assess their responses to choose the best candidate for the position.The panel wants whoever has displayed certain capabilities the best and goes through the motions to determine which candidate that is.

When I see someone serving God in one capacity or the other, because of how we select our own candidates, I’m very tempted to think that these people are there because they are the best-qualified to do that thing. I might picture that they got the position by answering God’s  “Tell me about yourself…” and “So, what would you like to earn?” very well. They were probably a lot more composed than everyone else in the interview. Maybe they even had the most impressive CV.

God’s selection process is quite different though. I see that He selects the worst possible candidate for jobs.

unqualified

From choosing a guy who stutters and has no leadership skills on record to go and speak to one of the strongest kings of the time and tell him to release the slaves his great empire heavily relies on (Exodus 3 in The Bible). The guy’s tending sheep and goats when God shows up. Sheep and goats. [Using our interview process, best candidate: Leader with great track record of very, very good negotiation techniques, motivational speech, good army strategies and with the ability to provide for millions in a dessert ]

To saving an entire nation, Israel, by using a prostitute to hide the equivalent of FBI agents it had sent to gather information.  (Joshua 2). That prostitute’s actually named in Jesus’s lineage.(Matthew 1) 

To choosing a guy bent on killing the early church to spread it. He’s so devoted to seeking out and killing apostles but he’s chosen to join their ranks. (Acts 9)

To selecting as king the youngest in a family – the one so weak for the job, he wasn’t even called for the interviews (1 Samuel 16)

To using fishermen as disciples – I’m trying to imagine a fisherman at that time telling me about this guy who died but actually didn’t die and he’ll change my life. Ha! (Acts 4:13)

To using a woman so promiscuous, she was shunned by the town she lived in. He used Her to preach His message to that town and save its people. Surely, there must have been some ‘Godly’ people more qualified to spread the message (John  4)

I see that He truly has a liking for the weakest candidate.

When you get called back by that company and told, “We are glad to inform you that you emerged successful in the interview and….(all fades to black as you dance)”, rejoice, you were the best. When God calls you though, *cough* you were the weakest. Rejoice in that too. You are not qualified for the job. You were the least attractive candidate BUT…

…those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. Romans 8:30

You’ll be equipped to the point that people, who’ll mainly see the finished product, will say how awesome you are. But you for you, you know where you came from and who’s awesome. There might be times though, when how unqualified you are will show. In those times, the people who thought you were so awesome will say a lot. Go back to who’s awesome so that refinement can continue.

For you who feels God’s calling you to do something and you can only think of all the reasons you are not the right person for it, you are in good company.

…My power is perfected in weakness… 2 Corinthians 12:9

Most importantly, for you who thinks “doing God’s work” is just for that friend of yours who walks around with a Bible, well, God doesn’t.

Are you silently slaying giants?

There’s this interesting passage in the Good book:

After this, war broke out with the Philistines at Gezer. As they fought, Sibbecai from Hushah killed Saph, a descendant of the giants, and so the Philistines were subdued. During another battle with the Philistines, Elhanan son of Jair killed Lahmi, the brother of Goliath of Gath. The handle of Lahmi’s spear was as thick as a weaver’s beam! In another battle with the Philistines at Gath, they encountered a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in all, who was also a descendant of the giants. But when he defied and taunted Israel, he was killed by Jonathan, the son of David’s brother Shimea. These Philistines were descendants of the giants of Gath, but David and his warriors killed them.1 Chronicles 20:4-8 (NLT) (Emphasis mine)

We all know the David vs Goliath story – a young shepherd goes up against a towering giant in a high stakes duel. He kills the giant using his slingshot.

Many times in life,  you aren’t the David in the story – the giant slayer we hear about. The one who’s name we all know. The one we celebrate. Sometimes, you take on your 6-finger giants and no one knows about it. You battle and you overcome but there’s no party. Giants come in many forms: Terminal illness. A disadvantaged background. Raising fees every term for that child. For yourself. Taking care of orphans. Following God’s call and starting a church in times like these.Speaking up when the taxi conductor’s being funny. Refusing to bribe. Taking on injustice. Doing the right thing.

Elnathan. Sibbecai. Jonathan. {you}. All giant slayers.

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Many times, it might not seem like the fight is still worth it but by all means, keep going. We may not read about you or hear your David story but someone next to you has held their head higher because of your efforts. Someone’s life is better. Someone will make better decisions. Keep slaying those giants.  Your little infinity matters.

To little infinities

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One of my favourite movie quotes is from The Fault in Our Stars, in which the terminally ill heroine says to her love who won’t live long,

“There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I reset the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”

I have a plan for world domination. It is a good plan. I know this because I’ve shared it with my buddies before and they all fell off their seats listening to it. The fall might have been precipitated by other things but in my version of events, my plan did that. They are the same crew that praised my plan to buy a motorbike before I knew how to ride one but I’m sure they are much wiser now.

That movie quote, for me, is a stark reminder not to get caught-up in the big infinity of trying to take over the world and miss the little one around me.  It asks me whether I’m being everything to my little infinity. Whether before wanting to be everything for everyone, I’m being everything for the one. Whether, in this tiny sphere of mine, I’m giving nothing but my best. Whether I’m present and adding value.

It asks me about how, before I want to change the country – the bigger infinity – how am I doing in my home? Before I want to speak to thousands, how am I doing with my friends? Before I want to build apps that support several million users, how am I doing with 70? It tells me, “So you have a big plan…but first take a seat. Focus on the small picture FIRST.” It tells me not to get ahead of myself.

How am I doing with my little infinity? With the relationships-friends, family? With finances? In time management?

The Good Book puts it this way:

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Luke 16:10

Maybe the quote’s asking you too, how is your little infinity doing?