Sunday, February 28, 2021
Home Authors Posts by 1Africa

1Africa

Christmas is… about giving

0
It’s the most wonderful time of year!

Christmas time is the best!

There are so many wonderful things to appreciate about this time of year and regardless of where you live, whether you get to experience a picture perfect White Christmas, or like me, live in a land where Christmas happens in the heat of summer, there are universal Christmas concepts that will remain.  Traditionally speaking, we know these to be sentiments like ‘peace on earth’ and ‘goodwill to all men’.  Beyond these add some festive togetherness, Christmas caroling, copious amounts of food, sparkling lights and that jolly old man in his red suit and then of course my favourite part, gifts!  And, all of sudden we are presented with all the ‘feels’ wrapped into one magical season! What’s not to love about that?

Santa Claus is coming to town

I remember Christmases in my parents’ home when my two older sisters and I were growing up.  As most people do, we made a point of celebrating each other’s birthdays through the year, but Christmas had a way of catapulting the three little girls in our household into a major level of excitement.  While we were raised with an awareness that Christmas was about more than just the festive trimmings and gifts under the tree, we weren’t ever discouraged to enjoy Christmas and embrace all of its wonder.  Through our young eyes, we saw it as magical and every year we would carefully draft our letters to Father Christmas asking him for all the little goodies and trinkets that our hearts had come to desire.  Come Christmas Eve, we’d lay out carrots for the reindeer and a glass of milk and mince-pie for the man himself and go to bed that night with the sweetest anticipation of the promise of the gifts to come during the night.

It sounds pretty idyllic, right?  A few decades later and not much has changed!  I still approach the Christmas season with the same sense of anticipation I did back then, albeit outworked a little differently.  I am now the Mommy in the household and the thing I look forward to most now is witnessing the wide-eyed wonder of my two young children at this time of year.  In fact, watching the joy that seems to emanate from every ounce of their little beings when they see what ‘Santa’  has left for them, somehow far exceeds the excitement I have ever experienced myself.  It completely attests to the saying, “it’s better to give than to receive” and some thing that transcends the season and its festivities.

Joy to the World!

Have you ever wondered why we give gifts? It has nothing to do with the economy or a man called Santa but it has everything to do with original Christmas day and actually the very existence of Christmas is because of the act of giving a gift.  But, this gift was special.  It was the ultimate gift.  It was the gift of Jesus Christ.

This is how much God loved the world.  He GAVE his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why:  so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.  God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was.  He came to help, to put the world to right again. -John 3: 16 (The Message translation)

If I, as a parent, experience the greatest joy when seeing my children receive something I have given to them, how much more does God respond when we receive what He did for humanity?  A baby, God’s Son, who became a man, wrapped in salvation, given freely to the World, to save it.

It is because of Jesus that Christmas is about giving.  And, this gift is available if only we choose to accept it.  I want to encourage you, when you receive and give gifts to your loved ones at Christmas, let’s never lose sight of the real reason ‘why’.  This year, in the midst of the celebrations, I pray that if you have never received what is truly the greatest gift of all, that you will open your heart to Jesus this Christmas.

Christmas is… about love

0

Love matters!

You don’t need to look very far to see that love is considered significance for the vast majority of the world’s population. After thousands of years of civilization, love is still a foundational element of the human existence and something we, as a population, seek after and aspire to possess. And when better to see the importance of love than at Christmas.

Something’s missing

Imagine Christmas without a pinch of love.  Seriously! I’m not sure there would be much point.  Isn’t it love that makes us want to spend the holiday with family and friends? What about gifts? Don’t we exchange presents because we love people and want to show them how much they mean to us?  If it wasn’t for the love we have in our lives the whole practice of celebrating Christmas wouldn’t make any sense.

At the heart of the matter

If you really look at it, gifts and quality time aren’t the only expression of love you find in Christmas.  At the very centre of the first Christmas you find love.  Christmas at its core is a celebration of the birth of Jesus.  Any parent will tell you that the birth of any child is an amazing event but Jesus wasn’t just any child.  Jesus was a gift from God and according to the Bible the reason God gave us Jesus is because He loves us.  Without the motivating element of that love, the gift of Christ and the event of Christmas would never have happened.    When God made mankind He made something that was good, but along the way we stopped being what He made us to be and because flawed and less than this original design.  But He loved us.  As a father loves a child that makes mistakes and makes wrong choices, God loved us.  He loved us so much that He chose to step in and rescue us from our own mess. He did that by sending us the most precious thing He had, His Son, Jesus.  Through Jesus we can reconnect with God. It was the ultimate gift, the perfect gift, and all because of Love.

Unwrap the gift

Many times are the Christmas season time with family that should be a period of celebrating the love you have for each other can leave you feeling disappointed and deflated.  It can be more stressful than joyful.  It’s also true that for those who don’t have loved ones either because of death or circumstance this time of year can be lonely and heart sore. Whether your Christmas is brimming over with love or if you find yourself alone and looking for those arms to embrace you, remember that the greatest love ever known is available to you in a relationship with Jesus.  All you need to do to experience it this Christmas is accept the gift of Jesus.

Christmas is… about peace

0

Sometime in October this year, I drove past a huge, local retail store and noticed that workmen were already starting to put up decorations in preparation for the festive season. A few days later, my daughter asked me why Christmas ‘stuff’ was up so early. It seemed a simple enough question. As I then tried to answer her, I realised that I didn’t really have a kid-friendly answer to give her. To get into a babbling rant about how stores all over the world capitalize on emotions to siphon hard-earned cash from the buying public in the name of Christmas wouldn’t really have been a bright idea. So, like I always do when faced with a tough question from my kids, I left it at a pretty neutral “hmm, good question”, and moved swiftly to asking her if she preferred strawberry or apricot yoghurt. Though I’d managed to dodge a bullet, I still ended up ruminating on the issue as I lay in bed later that night.

In need of an answer

As a parent of two little kids who are now verbalizing very clearly their attempts to make sense of the world around them, I’m faced daily with the responsibility of guiding them through that process. Lying beneath the surface of most things my kids ask me these days are far deeper questions: why do we do the things we do? There is so much craziness around us and we see people frantically busying themselves with all kinds of things. Dad, what does it all mean?

More than meets the eye

At times, to be honest, it’s not easy to accept that I don’t have all the answers that my kids – or other people – need from me. Yet, I am comforted by the knowledge that my relationship with God has allowed me to experience certain truths very deeply and personally. I have learnt that the activity of life can, many times, be a cover for the lack of peace we sometimes feel within us. If we all had peace and were perfectly content, we wouldn’t have come up with terms like ‘retail therapy’ for example. That we even have terms like this, suggests to me that we’re looking for peace and think we might just find it if we fill up our trolleys and accumulate as much as possible.

A gift for all

Lest I be misunderstood, this isn’t an anti-shopping piece. Much as I’m not a big fan of some of the manipulation that happens around this time of year, I’m not even against retail stores and all the ‘incredible deals’ or ‘limited time offers’ they advertise. Rather, this post is intended to remind anyone reading it to give as much time to careful reflection as to merrymaking and gift-wrapping, as the year comes to an end. True and lasting peace is a gift. That gift is found in the person of Jesus Christ, given to us by God the Father. His words to us are “…my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

As Christmas approaches, we can be sure of one sad fact: there are many people who are troubled and afraid. In some of us, it may be obvious and visible. In others, it may be masked behind the veneer of Christmas cheer. For those of us who have come to know true peace, may this be a time of extending it to others. For those of us who are searching, may we come to truly know the peace that comes from a genuine relationship with Christ.

Christmas is… about joy

0
The surprise of Christ’s joy

Not even the worst evils in this world has the power to quench the surge of hope and possibility that rises in us when confronted with raw beauty, like a breathtaking landscape. Or when we are privy to an under deserved act of kindness. The sheer scale of someone’s generosity can weigh on our soul for days, like a holy moment. Evil doesn’t quench such things. Even though our world is flawed on so many levels, it can still be spectacularly beautiful, and our souls bears witness to this amidst terrible suffering, rising up to meet us in these moments of awe.

Joy can do that to a person. In moments of deep sadness, the light of joy can piece a weary soul, lifting it to a place of refreshment. It’s pleasure and happiness, a healing broth.

Joy to the world

Joy is something many people would naturally associate with the Christmas season: a time to spend with family and friends, enjoy good food and drink, and maybe take some time off work. But there is another type of joy at play within the Christmas story, one that upon discovery can bring great delight to your heart.

Have a look at this ancient writing by Paul of Tarsus:

“…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…” Hebrews 12:2

Keeping an eye on the prize

Jesus Christ is said to have endured the cross because of a certain ‘joy’ He set His eyes on. Now doing this is no different (in principle at least) from you and I who endure, for example, daily exercise because we have set the ‘joy of weight loss’ before us! But what kind of joy could Paul be referring to, that would make a man like Jesus endure the torture of crucifixion? It’s not about time off work or seeing the family. Surely it must be of much greater significance if it could carry him through such agony.

The answer may be surprising, but that joy is….you.

You are a source of joy

While Christmas is wrapped up in a lot of stuff that is really not about the original story you can, if you apply some discernment, uncover the original message which continues to echo across the ages for those who have ears to hear: Jesus Christ came into the world to willingly give Himself up as a sacrifice for your sin. And the thought that you would accept this sacrifice was the reason – the joy – that helped Him endure the agony.

It’s a curious thing that Christ would look to us as His joy, to endure such great pain. But a show of our value, and a deeply humbling thought as we contemplate our approach in prayer.

It is our desire to see you think of yourself as Christ’s joy during this Christmas season. That you can bring a smile to the face of the Almighty, not because of what you’ve done, but because of who you are. Join us then, to:

  • invite Christ into your life through prayer, as the source of newfound joy, that rises in your heart like a surge of new hope and optimism about the future;
  • invite His healing presence to bring peace where darkness has been reigning;
  • admit to your sinful nature, and ask Him to guide you in His salvation; and
  • believe that His Spirit is working to help you.

Let us together this Christmas season, draw strength from His favourable gaze towards us.

Joy to the world!

Pray for Zimbabwe

0

News feeds around the world today are filled with stories about the situation in Zimbabwe.  However, with vague details and conflicting perspectives, it’s difficult to know exactly what is unfolding in the nation.  What we do know is that it is a sensitive and significant time in the life of that nation. Regardless of what is happening or who is instigating the action, the ultimate authority still belongs to God.

The Bible tells us that we should pray for our leaders and rulers, not so that a particular agenda or political ideal will succeed but so that there will be peace, Godliness and dignity. (1 Timothy 2:2)

Today we pray for peace in Zimbabwe. We pray that God’s will would be done.  We pray for wisdom for the leaders of the nation and for the surrounding countries that they will respond to these events in a way that will see Zimbabwe continue forwards toward a peaceful and positive future.

World events can cause us to feel unsettled, anxious and concerned about the future.  It’s hard to be at peace when situations arise that pose more questions than answers. However, peace isn’t just the absence of uncertainty or tension, true peace is found in knowing Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, and being sure of your future because of your relationship with Him.

 

Pray for the Kenyan elections

0

Today, is a significant day in Kenya as the population heads to the polls to elect a new leader.

Following on from months of uncertainty and divided opinions over the validity of the previous elections in August, the polls have been opened to give the people of Kenya an opportunity to recast their vote for a new government.  Sadly the feelings of hope that normally accompany such an event have been marred with unrest and violent clashes, leading to many to boycott the process or stay away from the polling stations due to fear.

The game of politics is an interesting one, whether you are in Kenya, Zambia, the UK or the US. The patterns always seem to be the same. Election after election, new candidates rise to prominence, promising to be The Answer to all the country’s woes. They promise to bring change and to get everything working again. In reality, very few do. It is true that there are leaders who are passionate about their people and who are able to do some good but, on the whole, human history is littered with countless experiences of people letting each other down.

Moments like the one Kenya is stepping into provide us all with a timely reminder of our fallibility and that of our fellow men. In spite of our best efforts, even our great leaders and politicians are not enough to see us through. While we pray for a peaceful election in Kenya and hope for the best, we should also take stock of our lives and ask ourselves deep questions about where we place our trust. Is it in some great leader or rising politician? That is not enough. Is it in our savings or retirement funds? The great crashes and recessions have proved how unreliable and fickle the markets can really be. Wherever we look in the world, it’s clear that we need help.

Through His son Jesus Christ, God extends His hand to humanity. Beyond just a helping hand, He offers relationship. It is this relationship with God that shapes us and enables us to navigate life, with all its hurts, troubles and disappointments. In a sense, it is a choice very similar to – but far greater than – an election because it has deep and lasting consequences. Leaders and systems may come and go but God promises that His love for us remains forever. If you don’t have a relationship with God and want to know how you can explore one, chat to us below. Even if you have questions and want to engage with us on matters of faith, we encourage you to connect with us.

God, science, or philosophy?

0

Last semester, I signed up for an introductory philosophy course without much thought. I needed a couple of elective courses to fill up the gaps in my degree and this seemed like an easy fit; the subject was interesting and the time slot was perfect. As the beginning of the semester neared, I was added to the course programme, and I found out that one of the first topics we could be covering was the existence of God. A small knot formed in my stomach. My mother had mentioned that a friend of hers had lost her faith after taking a philosophy course, and a few people had warned me against it. Fear began to rear its ugly head. What if my professor said something that I didn’t have an answer for? What if a student asked a question that I had no logical way of answering? Doubts and questions ran through my mind and I considered switching courses. I was terrified of being confronted with some type of awful truth that would unanimously prove that God did not exist.

After a week or so of feeling afraid, I had a frank conversation with myself. I’m not the kind of person that ignores knowledge or facts. I don’t believe in avoiding information because it challenges what you believe, but rather confronting it head on. So why was I running away from this? My mother had always told me never to make a decision because of fear, so with that in mind, I chose to stay in the course.

Still, I was nervous – I pictured myself walking into a lecture hall full of genius-like atheists who would have brilliant one-liners to shut down any notion of faith that I possessed. I went anyway and what I found was a room full of people eager to learn. No matter their faith background, they had questions just like I did. There were girls wearing hijabs, boys with kippahs, modern-day hippies and beard-trimming hipsters. Never was anybody rude or inflammatory, and opinions and debates were kept civil and respectful.

After a few days, we got into the different arguments for and against God and instead of finding rock-hard evidence against God, what I heard was an open discussion. Did some things challenge my faith? Sure, but not in a way that would break it down, but rather in manner that would make me go home, and ask myself some questions and pray about it. And not once in doing that did I come up empty. Fear would’ve made me turn away from doing this course, but courage allowed me to see God in a new, fresh, and eye-opening light.

God is more than big enough to handle any questions and doubts that we might have, so don’t ever be afraid of challenging your faith or lack thereof. If God created the universe, then He is more than capable to answer questions about it. Of course, there will always be some things that we don’t entirely understand, and although we can be honest about it, it’s important to not allow open-ended questions to turn into fully fledged unbelief. Whether a person believes in God or they don’t, there will always be some things that neither side can answer.

I can guarantee you that God is not anti-science. He loves knowledge – He created it! The human desire and impulse to ask questions, discover and search was planted in us by Him. It is not something that He wants us to ignore but rather to use to find out more about Him, His character and the beautiful world that He has created for us.

So next time somebody has some queries about your faith, don’t be afraid to enter into a respectful discussion and tackle the hard questions. If there’s an answer you don’t know, be honest! Lack of knowledge doesn’t mean defeat, it just reveals opportunity to go and learn something new. And if you’re having your own doubts – talk to somebody about it, google some resources or read a book (Gods Not Dead by Rice Broocks is a great one that anybody can understand). I’ll leave you with this quote,

“Now faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods” – C.S Lewis.

Connect with us

129,514FansLike
51,500FollowersFollow
1,090SubscribersSubscribe