Friday, February 10, 2017

My Flower 'የኔ አበባ'

My Flower
   'የኔ አበባ'
  By Solomon Belete Haile

I heard the birds singing,
Robin, chickadee and starling,
In the fresh air of spring,
It was my flower's time too,
To flourish and blossom,
Under the blue, bright sky's bosom,
Beneath a cheerful moon,
A canopy of bright stars,
Swelling surf and new grass.

Alas, my flower,
She'd been through rough weather,
The wind, the chill, the stormy winter,
Leave her alone, come on gardener,
It is spring, let her prosper.

The gardener planted a flower,
Atop Ethiopia's highland 'Wollo meder',
Adorned her with beauty and glamour,
Nurtured her with aroma and savor.

She was gentle, yet strong,
Swayed in the wind but never broke,
Blossomed for a spell but not for long.

Her tall stemmed stature,
Flamingo akin splendor,
Transplanted up yonder,
By the swift action of the gardener.

Oh benevolent, caring gardener,
What have you done with my flower?
If you wonder why I am despondent,
Withdrawn from life,
Lacked interest,
Here is my answer:
I missed my flower.

It seems to me unfair and absurd,
Justifying the wrong and lopsided,
I'm not questioning the gardner's wit,
And yet,
I am left bewildered and puzzled.

Kibitzers suggest at times: 
To take a moment and deep breath,
To search and find the silver lining,
That I may justify your doing;
But, where is the silver lining?

Why disrupt that pretty flower,
Why pick her up instead of another?
In your garden she seemed at ease,
To our look and tactile embrace.

Now that she is uprooted,
Taken suddenly and lifted,
Relocated to a new abode,
What's left of her to exude,
Is a few petals, buds,
And a memory of her resplendent.

  Abeba Belete Blazek 
(May 19, 1962 - July 19, 2003)




Sunday, February 8, 2015

CHRISTMAS: A CATHOLIC TRADITION

By Solomon Belete


WHAT IS CHRISTMAS?
A Response To Greg Koulkl’s Christmas Promoting Article



I read an article written by Greg Koukl promoting Christmas. This article was posted on brother Tesfaye Robele's Facebook page. Tesfaye Robele's prologue to the article and Greg Koukl's apologetics for this Catholic tradition prompted my reaction to write a response. Therefore, you'll find Robele's prologue, Koukl's article and my response as follows in that order.


Tesfaye Robele's prologue to the article reads:

"Jehovah's witnesses do claim that celebrating Christmas (and everything associated with it) is a pagan origin! It is a logical fallacy to judge the truth or falsehood of a proposition on the basis of its source of what motivates someone to believe it (its genesis). In other words, the legitimacy (reliability) of sources or motives does not make a proposition true or false. Thus it is a fallacy to assume or conclude that religious beliefs or practices are false just because they are acquired by psychological dynamics or taken from the wrong origin (e. g. Learned from parents) or because people believe them in order to satisfy felt needs or their religious practices. The apologist Greg Kolukl has published interesting article on this regard. Please see read it.


Greg Koukl's article promoting Christmas:


The question of whether Christmas is pagan enters into the idea of cultural practices. Some have made the assertion that Christmas has pagan origins. Christmas does not have pagan origins, but there are winter celebrations that are pagan. There was, for example, a saturnal celebration around the time of Christmas that pagans celebrated, which was actually a temptation for Christians to participate in that had pagan content to it. So the church changed the day that they celebrated the birth of Christ. They used to celebrate it in the Spring. But the church said, We can celebrate it any time we want. Let's celebrate it at the same time the pagans are celebrating their pagan festival. It'll act as a contrast to that pagan festival because our celebration is the birth of the God-man, Jesus Christ. It has Biblical content. Plus it will protect Christians from being wooed away by this other celebration to participate in what was a pagan celebration.

It was really a wise thing that they did and the kind of thing that many missionaries do even nowadays. They take the momentum of a cultural practice--a cultural practice that may even have religious content to it, offensive religious content--and they redeem that for Christianity. They redefine what people have been doing. They reinvest it with new meaning. They capture the cultural form and they reinvest it with spiritual meaning.

By the way, there is an example of this in the Bible. Circumcision was practiced by the Egyptians before it was practiced by the Jews. It was a cultural practice which had some religious significance. God captured the practice, gave it to Abraham, reinvested it with new meaning and it became a religious rite for Abraham to worship his creator.

We think of circumcision as this really holy thing in the Old Testament associated with the covenant, which it was. But it wasn't that way originally. By golly, it seems to me that if God can do such a thing--take a practice that had heathen content to it, save the practice, reinvest new information to it--then it certainly is okay for the church to do it.

We've done that many times. We've done that in other cultures and it served to offer a springboard for us into cultures using cultural forms and reinvesting them with new meaning. If you read Don Richardson's books Eternity in Their Hearts or Peace Child, this is what he talks about. They captured cultural forms that had one meaning and reinvested it with a new meaning, and this became a springboard to reach into these cultures with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And we've done the same thing with Christmas.

Now there is nothing at all wrong with that. We're not celebrating a pagan holiday because the pagan holiday was the saturnal and we're not worshipping the god of Saturn, or whatever the content was. We are not doing that. If you listen to the words of the song "Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree," the original was written with the Christmas tree being a type of Jesus Christ. You look at the words and the gospel is in the words of the Christmas tree. So this is not a Christmas trees that we're putting in our house as an idol to some tree god, or something like that. No, this is a tree that we are using as a cultural expression that can be invested with religious meaning for the Christian.

The same thing with the giving of gifts. That may have had a pagan meaning for others who practiced the other holiday. But for us giving of gifts is appropriate because it reflects the gift that God gave us in the person of Jesus.

My point is that we have liberty in reinvesting cultural forms with spiritual meaning. We have done that with Christmas. I don't think there is anything wrong with that at all. I think it's good and healthy for us to do so.

I think it can be legalistic to say one should not celebrate Christmas. There are different ways the term legalism can be used. One way it's used is to mean that we take laws that aren't God's laws, but are in fact man's laws, and we make them equal with God's laws. For example, we take a man's law that says we shouldn't smoke. Now the Bible doesn't say we shouldn't smoke, it doesn't say you shouldn't drink, it doesn't say you shouldn't go to movies. We take our rules that we apply in our church or denomination and apply it to all Christians. That's a type of legalism. In other words, we make things wrong that the Bible doesn't make wrong.

It appears that is what is going on with Christmas. If you celebrate the birth of Christ, then you're doing something wrong. My point is, this view is legalistic in that it makes things that aren't Scripturally wrong and it makes them wrong. It makes something a rule to apply to men when God didn't give them that rule.

I think the practice of Christmas is fully legitimate even though there may have some pagan elements that were originally associated with a celebration at this time. That doesn't make our celebration of Christmas the same as that old celebration. In fact, it's quite different. We are celebrating the birth of Jesus.

Now, we aren't obliged to do so. There is nothing in the Scripture that says that we ought to, but it strikes me that it is entirely appropriate. It is appropriate, but not obligatory. If you look back in the Old Testament, one of the things that God did is He arranged for the Jews to celebrate festivals that He established to remind themselves of the significance of that event by participating in these annual festivals year to year.

Even Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, wasn't given by God in the Scriptures. It's something that they do to recollect a deliverance, a special deliverance, that God gave them during what we call the inter-testamental period, those 400 years between Malachi and Jesus. Theirs is a festival that is commonplace now but which doesn't have its source in a direct command in Scripture; but it does function like many of those other things that are in Scripture. It reminds people year to year of God's faithfulness and His goodness.

What we do on Christmas is focus on the birth of Jesus Christ. I don't understand how anyone can look at the Christmas carols that we sing during this time and say that this is pagan.

Even if the word Christmas came from the Catholic Christ Mass, it doesn't mean that now. This is a fallacy--going back to the original etymology of the word, and holding that if you say this word you are affirming that meaning instead of the meaning that you hold the word to have at the present moment. Words don't work that way. What the word Christmas means is the day that Christians celebrate the birth of Christ. That is what it means. There is not a bit of paganism in that, and for anyone to say that 500 years ago it meant this is inconsequential. It doesn't mean that anymore. When we say the word Christmas, we are not blaspheming. It just doesn't mean that. It just seems to be much ado about nothing.

Should a Christian celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ? That's really what we are talking about. Some say no. Why? Because when you celebrate the birth of the Messiah, you are doing something pagan. How does that make any sense? Should someone have a Christmas tree or stockings? That's a separate question. But should someone celebrate the birth of Christ? How could anybody object to that. I don't agree with the assessment of the stockings or Christmas tree either. Frankly, there are probably all kinds of things I could find in their daily life--their little habits and things that they do--that if you went back to their beginnings their foundation has all kinds of questionable ideology, but they don't have that significance for people now.

Actually, the language thing is a real important parallel because our words change meaning as time goes on. They are tokens for a particular meaning. At one point in history a word meant a particular thing, at a later point that word means something different so you can't say that when you use the term later on you're referring to the earlier meaning. That doesn't make sense.

By the same token, Christmas trees and gifts and stockings, and that kind of thing, are tokens also. Now tokens are only things that represent something else, like a bus token. A bus token represents a ticket to ride on the bus. It doesn't have meaning or value in itself; it's simply a token of something else. Technically, this other thing is called a type. Now it may have been that a Christmas tree was a token in the past of a pagan type. It betokened worshipping nature, for example. The Christmas tree for a Christian no longer betokens worshipping nature. It betokens worshipping Jesus.

A Christmas tree doesn't mean anything to me. It means Christmas trees are part of Christmas. The significant point here is that my tree has no pagan content. That's the critical issue. There is a difference between the true meaning of Christmas and the spirit of Christmas. They are entirely different things. One of them is theological, the second one is emotional.

The true meaning of Christmas has to do with Jesus Christ. It isn't about love, it isn't about giving, it isn't about peace on earth, it is about Jesus Christ. The other things may be related, but it isn't about those things.

The spirit of Christmas, in my view, has to do with the feeling you have. The feeling is a result of your past experiences with Christmas. For me, the spirit of Christmas has nothing to do with Jesus. But this is why I can say, I have a Christmas tree not because the Christmas tree reminds me of Jesus, though I could imagine for some people it does, and if you were taught early on that the Christmas tree is representative of theological truth, then that becomes a theological meaning for you. But for me a tree and ornaments are just my cultural expression that has to do with the emotional impact with Christmas, and I think that's fine.


My Response To Greg Koulkl’s Christmas Promoting Article:


CHRISTIANS: LET'S UPHOLD THE SCRIPTURE OVER HUMAN WISDOM AND TRADITION

Brother Tesfaye mentioned the so called "Jehovah's witnesses" take on Christmas. We all know where "Jehovah's witnesses" came from. Simply put, they're adherents of unbiblical system of thought and belief designed by Charles Taze Russell and J. F. Rutherford. As the late Walter Martin put it in his important book: 'The Kingdom Of Cults' pages 57 & 58: "Jehovah's Witnesses believe that it is impossible to understand God's plan of salvation independent of this Russelite theology." Contrary to Scripture, they deny the deity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ among other things. That makes them a cult. To this end, I'm aware of brother Tesfaye Robele's labor in exposing the true face of the watchtower organization.


My point is this: When it comes to doctrinal matters, regarding Christian practice and living, I don't give a "you know what" to what "Jehovah's witnesses" say. This is a discussion with in the family of believers and brother Tesfaye: thank you for posting Greg Koukl's article to further a discussion regarding Christmas.


Could December 25 or January 7 be the birth day of Jesus? What about the commercialized aspect of Christmas? Well, this were some of the issues debated among Christians for many years. As a Bible believing body, we ought to answer this basic question: "is it Biblical to celebrate Christmas?"


To examine any spiritual activity in terms of whether or not it is Biblical is a noble Christian practice. In this noble probe, as a Christian sheds light on the source and origin of a spiritual religious tradition, apart from the Biblical norm, we shouldn't be quick to label it a "logical fallacy." Brother Tesfaye, I respectfully disagree with your assertion in equating such an effort with a logical fallacy. I can not imagine why examining the involvement of questionable parties and practices in the origin and invention of the Christmas holiday and ascribing that examination and drawing a conclusion as to what Christmas really is is considered a fallacy. The seasonal similarities of Christmas with that of saturnalia, the similarities in the manner in which the ancient winter festivals of Europe and Christmas were celebrated, and most of all the motive and unscriptural act of the Roman Catholic Church which is the responsible party in ushering in this new holiday; all of these begs for an investigation. Therefore, I urge you to soberly read my rebuttal to Greg's argument for Christmas and try not to broadly brush it as a logical fallacy.

God has seriously warned His followers not to worship Him, so to say in a borrowed styles of pagan customs. See how He warned His people; the Israelites in the Old Testament and Christians in the New:-


"When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it." (‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭12‬:‭29-32‬ ESV)


"Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭6‬:‭14-18‬ ESV)


From his blog I gathered Greg Koukl, the author of the article in discussion is a fellow Christian brother. It is not clear (at least to me,) however, why he is alluding to the Roman Catholic Church without mentioning her by name, and defending her dubious act of christening the pagan holidays of Rome and therewith the invention of a new holiday: Christmas. What he referred to as "the church" in his article is none other than the Roman Catholic Church. He also tried to explain away every potential issue regarding the celebration of the Christmas holiday in order to uphold the tradition of Christmas. Let's check his argument points:


1. WHY IS GREG DEFENDING THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH; A HERETIC ORGANIZATION?

Well meaning Christians around the world celebrate Christmas. Until recent years I myself was one of them. Like everything else in life however, when I grew in wisdom and understanding exhibited behavioral changes. One of them is no longer associating the beautiful Biblical story of the birth of my Lord and savior with a human traditions that begun with the Roman Catholic Church (herewith referred to as RCC).

I am not a catholic, and therefore I choose not to celebrate Christmas; a dubiously invented holiday of the RCC. I think the nativity story of Bethlehem and its overarching theme of Jesus' first advent in the gospels is the most beautiful narrative ever written. The RCC however in its competition to gain more dominion over the pagan idol worshipers of the old, mashed up the pagan way of worshipping practices together with the Biblical account of Jesus' birth and subtly invented a brand new holiday and called it: "Christ's-Mass." Now the question for the Bible believing Christian is: whether if it is Biblical to follow the leadership of this heretic organization or not? Apparently, I chose the latter.

I know lots of people, some of whom are family and friends just happened to be Catholics. My hope and prayer is that they understand the depth of deception they're in and come out of it. Nothing I say hereafter is intended to offend anyone; I'm only stating the facts. From its beginnings in the 3rd century throughout it's history, the RCC has demonstrated an astounding arrogance of positioning her authority on a par with the Bible and God Himself. "Christ's-mass" is not the only invention of the RCC. Allow me to mention some of the unbiblical heresies of this organization:-


- Prayers for the dead,

- Venerations of angels and dead saints,

- The worship of Mary and the use of the term "Mary mother of God,"

- The establishment of the doctrine of purgatory,

- The use of Latin as the only language of prayer and worship in churches,

- The establishment of the office of papacy,

- The kissing of the pop's feet,

- The authorization of cross worship, images and relics,

- the establishment of a mass ritual,

- the use of "holy water,"

- the practice of canonizing dead saints,

- The use of rosary beads,

- The celibacy of the priesthood,

- The inquisition of heretics,

- The sale of indulgences,

- The dogma of transubstantiation,

- confession of sin to the priest,

- The adoration of the wafer,

- Forbidding the Bible to the laity,

- The invention of the scapular fetishism,

- The doctrine of seven sacraments,

- The addition of apocryphal books to the Bible.

This same heretic organization responsible for the invention and practice of all of these and many other blasphemous acts is also responsible for the invention and practice of the Christmas holiday.


Well, if you're a Christian who happen to value being rooted in this dubious human tradition, think again. Jesus spoke in the gospel of Mark quoting Isaiah saying:-

"in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!" (‭Mark‬ ‭7‬:‭7-9‬ ESV)

What is Christmas? If words mean anything, then we should not simply walk away with the simplistic explanation thrown by Greg Koukl regarding the name of this holiday: "Christmas." Suffice to say, the mark of the Catholic Church is written all over it. It takes a simple observation to notice the association of a "mass" in Christmas.


What is a "mass?" It is regarded by many as the corner stone of the catholic church's belief. I can not think of any better way to explain what a "Mass" is than quoting a Catholic priest named John O'Brien In his book "The Faith of Millions." In this book, pages 255-256, O'Brien described the mass like this:-


"When the priest pronounces the tremendous words of consecration, he reaches up into the heavens, brings Christ down from His throne, and places Him upon our altar to be offered up again as the Victim for the sins of man. It is a power greater than that of monarchs and emperors: it is greater than that of saints and angels, greater than that of Seraphim and Cherubim. Indeed it is greater even than the power of the Virgin Mary. While the Blessed Virgin was the human agency by which Christ became incarnate a single time, the priest brings Christ down from heaven, and renders Him present on our altar as the eternal Victim for the sins of man—not once but a thousand times! The priest speaks and lo! Christ, the eternal and omnipotent God, bows His head in humble obedience to the priest’s command."

You see, the Christmas you didn't care to give much thought about its origin is intrinsically associated with the RCC blasphemous tradition of a mass. The RCC still practice a "Christ-mass" and the way it is done is explained above.

Despite the clear fact laid out in the Bible about Jesus' sacrifice on the cross being a once and for all act ( see Scriptures like: Rom. 6:8-10, Hebrew 7: , 9: etc.,) the Catholics believe otherwise and sought a need for a sacrificial system of worship and established just that: "A MASS." What an abomination! So, as a Bible believing Christian, why adopt a strange invention of the RCC: "CHRIST-MASS?"


The RCC holds the belief that the traditions of the church are as equally authoritative as the Scriptures. The question for you my friend is this:- if you're a Bible believing follower of the Lord Jesus then, why are you following the unbiblical tradition of the RCC? Let me reiterate what I said earlier, I don't know about you but I am not a catholic, and therefore I choose not to celebrate Christmas; a dubiously invented holiday of the RCC.



2. THE CIRCUMCISION ARGUMENT:

Greg mentioned the circumcision practiced by the ancient Egyptians before God made a covenant with Abraham and the actual covenant of circumcision recorded in Genesis 17. Then he tried to point a parallel between that and the origin of the Christmas story in relation to the Roman's celebration of Saturnalia.


He wrote:- "By golly, it seems to me that if God can do such a thing--take a practice that had heathen content to it ( HE IS REFERRING TO THE ANCIENT EGYPTIANS PRACTICE OF CIRCUMCISION) save the practice, reinvest new information to it--then it certainly is okay for the church to do it. What is it that Greg said was "CERTAINLY OKAY FOR THE CHURCH TO DO?" It is what the Catholic Church has done in the fourth century. That is, to take a practice that had heathen content to it (HE IS REFERRING TO THE ROMAN'S WINTER FESTIVAL OF SATURNALIA,) save the practice, reinvest new information to it (IN OTHER WORDS, MASH UP THE HEATEN RITUALS AND PRACTICES OF SATURNALIA WITH THE GOSPEL'S ACCOUNT OF THE BIRTH OF JESUS AND BRING ABOUT A NEWLY INVENTED HOLIDAY CALLED CHRISTMAS.) That is what he meant by "it certainly is okay for the church to do."


This is a clever means to justify the Roman Catholic Church's act of inventing Christmas. This does seem a sound argument on the surface; however, the problem with this argument is that, it is just an assumption on Greg's part. We don't know whether or not God intended to: "TAKE THAT HAD HEATHEN CONTENT TO IT, SAVE THE PRACTICE, RE-INVEST NEW INFORMATION TO IT..." AND REINVEST" the Egyptians practice of circumcision. There is no mention of such a thing in the Bible; God adopting a pagan practice and re-instituting it. Actually, God abhors such activity. (See the scripture I mentioned earlier: Deuteronomy‬ ‭12‬:‭29-32‬ ESV)


All we know is that our God established circumcision as a perpetual reminder to the covenant that existed between Him and Abraham and his children. Abraham and his descendants exercised the mandate given to them by God and circumcised themselves.

And according to the New Testament, everyone of us in Christ "...also are circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ," (‭Colossians‬ ‭2‬:‭11‬ ESV)

Whereas, Christmas is a holiday invented by the Roman Catholic Church without Scriptural mandate. Therefore, Greg's extra biblical reference of circumcision by ancient Egyptians to explain away the deeds of the RCC is not acceptable.


3. THE ARGUMENT ALLUDED TO THE SIMILAR METHODS PRACTICED BY MISSIONARIES AROUND THE WORLD:

Greg wrote:- "We've done that many times. We've done that in other cultures and it served to offer a springboard for us into cultures using cultural forms and reinvesting them with new meaning."

Apparently, using pagan rituals and practices as a launching pad to communicate the gospel is another excuse Greg gave to indulge in pagan cultures. I disagree with that idea also. The Christian missionaries engagement in making use of idol worshipers culture as a springboard to fulfill their mission needs to be carefully looked at.

When Christians go about their business of mission, they should bear in mind the commandment given by The Lord Jesus; which states:

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭28‬:‭19-20‬ ESV)

As you can see, ushering in a new holiday in the name of Christ is not in the commandment given by The Lord. Human practice as mentioned by Greg should not be the norm for a Christian's faith or practice but the word of God. Again, the principle the Lord set for us is clear and discerned by asking "... What saith the scripture?..." (‭Romans‬ ‭4‬:‭3‬ KJV)


We can learn a thing or two from the great missionary in that regard. Paul the Apostle, the great missionary used something found amongst idol worshipers and used one of their item of worship to open up a conversation about the gospel of the Lord Jesus. (He captured the moment by making use of the name the Athenians assigned to their idol's altar as a springboard, if you will,) on the hills of Ariosphagos, Athens, Greek, Acts 17. But you don't see him adopting any of the Athenians instruments of worship.


Read what he said:- he said the following to them:- "For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you." And he proceeded proclaiming the good news. He also made sure to tell them that the God of the Bible can not be served like their idols in one of their magnificent temples. He said: "The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything."


4. THE OTHER ARGUMENT GREG MENTIONED IS, AS TO WHY THE SO CALLED "CHURCH" INVENTED CHRISTMAS. IN HIS OWN WORDS, HE SAID IT IS TO: "PROTECT CHRISTIANS FROM BEING WOOED AWAY BY THIS OTHER CELEBRATION TO PARTICIPATE IN WHAT WAS A PAGAN CELEBRATION."

You're right if you guessed that I disagree with Greg on this point as well. What a joke! As you can see the RCC is championed by Greg for the concern she displayed towards the spiritual wellbeing of believers. The sad irony is that, it is this same church which is responsible for banning the laity from possessing and reading the word of God.

Discipleship should not be practiced by tricking believers or letting them believe in dubious inventions and traditions. The right way of sanctifying believers to The Lord is by teaching them His word. Jesus himself prayed: "Father...Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth." (‭John‬ ‭17‬:‭17‬ ESV)

I know that brother Greg and most of you profess the sufficiency of Scripture. So, why not stand for it instead of give in to the unscriptural human means to promote the Christian faith? Is that not a contradiction in standing? You confess that the word of God is sufficient for the work of God, yet you upheld human methodology and tactics to further your belief. I believe:

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." (‭2 Timothy‬ ‭3‬:‭16-17‬ ESV)

Let me add one more Scripture on the sufficiency of scripture and pen off.

"The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;" (‭Psalm‬ ‭19‬:‭7-9 ESV)

Therefore, the argument for Christmas by brother Greg as presented in his article is not Biblical. Whether it be now or early in the 4th century, if you care to "PROTECT CHRISTIANS FROM BEING WOOED AWAY BY THIS OTHER CELEBRATION TO PARTICIPATE IN WHAT WAS A PAGAN CELEBRATION," teach them Biblical doctrine.

Finally, I'd like to point out that the only two sacraments given by the Lord to his church are the Lords Table and water baptism. The Bible is clear as to what we commemorate, Jesus' death not His Birth: Matthew 26 and 1 Corinthians 11:23-28.


Blessings!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

SEXUAL IMMORALITY WITHIN



By Solomon Belete Haile
February 6, 2015

A friend sent me a text message. About a story aired on the Voice of America Radio, Amharic Service program on February 2nd, 2015. It’s about a sexual assault allegation. A prominent Ethiopian Pastor and gospel music singer was accused of sexually assaulting a married woman. "If the allegations were substantiated," I texted back to my friend, "it’s very sad". Now that I listened to the broadcast, the following is my opinion and I’d like to share it with you.

You can feel from the outset, that the host of the program, Mr. Addisu Abebe appears to be enjoying the murky story. I felt sad when I listened to the back and forth, between him and the accusers. Mr. Abebe found the poor moral behavior exhibited by these Christians to be potentially news worthy. He then milked the story as much as he could and prepared a “special report”. After all, these married couple were presenting a vulgar accusation against one of their own. A famous gospel singer named Tekeste Getenet. Thus, to Mr. Abebe and the majority of his listeners itching ears it was a dramatic story.

As it was the case with me and thousands of believers, these detrimental accusations were startling. Since the sanctity of marriage is a highly regarded and widely talked about topic in our Bible, a story like this, evokes a genuine concern among Christians. Hebrews 13:4 reads:

“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” (ESV)

The "marriage bed," as referred in this verse is a sex enjoyed with in the boundaries of marriage. It is a gift from God, for married couples. That is why this verse exhort believers to hold sex honorably. You can see in the verse also, judgment awaits those who defile the gift of sex and misappropriate its God made purpose.

According to our Lord Jesus, the act of sexual immorality in a marriage is the only justifiable reason for a spouse to divorce and re-marry, Matthew 5:31-32; and this in turn explains how serious an offense a marital unfaithfulness is when carried out in a form of sexual immorality. Therefore, if we take Mr. Abebe’s words to be true and the accused singer really owned up to these charges labeled against him, the shame he brought upon the name of The Lord and upon the body of Christ is enormous. Let alone a renowned gospel singer like him whom many look up to as a role model, all of us as Christians are expected to display holiness in our lives.

In his first epistle Paul exclusively warned the Corinthians to:

“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (6:18-20 ESV)

Physiologically, believers are wired in the same way as non-believers when it comes to being sexually evoked by an opposite sex. What makes a gigantic difference between the two is however, the grace of God, that is ever present to help the believers subdue and control their sexual feelings or any other sin for that matter; from getting the best of them. Paul wrote:

“…but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,” (Romans 5:20 ESV)

As a direct result of lacking the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit in their lives, non-believers, solely rely on their carnal mind’s intuition as they grapple with similar exposures of temptation and they are prone to fell. Likewise, despite being born again, Christians who are not constantly being filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18,) manifest a high propensity to sin against the will of their Lord; just as the non-believers whose lives are void of God’s Spirit. The self-defense mechanism against the odds darted towards Christians from this world and Satan is discussed in Romans 12:1-2:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (ESV)

Therefore, when Christians are not led by the Spirit of God, they are laying down their guard against all sorts of temptations. It doesn’t matter how long a person been following Christ, it doesn’t matter whether that person is a Bible teacher, a pastor, gospel singer or any other type of minister; if he or she doesn’t let the Holy Ghost control his or her life, failure is inevitable.

The best defense against our fleshly desires is the continuous renewal of our mind by the Holy Ghost. This is what the new testament calls the filling of the Spirit. The filling of the Spirit is different from the baptism of the Holy Spirit; which is a one time experience. The Lord baptized every Christian with the Holy Spirit, when we first believed in the Lord Jesus. Unlike the filling of the Spirit, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not to be repeated (1 Corinthians 12:13,). The sealing of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13 & 4:30,) and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9,) are also a one time experience in a Christians life. However, being filled by the Holy Spirit is a daily experience of a born again Christian. And it is realized when a Christian is engaged in redeeming the time, by devoting in Studying the word of God, prayer, worship,...etc., 2 Peter 1:5-15. Only then, we will not become as vulnerable and be defeated for worldly attractions like the love of money, unlawful sexual desires or materialistic greed.

It is true that none of us are perfect. Christians are sinners like everyone else, yet we’re a forgiven people. The fact that our sins are forgiven by God however does not give us a license to sin. Paul wrote:

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? We know that our true self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. Let no sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been bought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” (Romans 6:1-2, 6, 12-13 ESV)

What is equally disturbing in this story is, the apparent action of the accusers. It’s not only Biblically inappropriate to drag your own fellow believer to a secular court, for trivial cases; or it is not only odd to seek a public opinion by presenting your case in public, on a worldwide media such as the VOA; but it’s also embarrassing to the accusers themselves and brings shame to the name of the Lord and His body the Church. Let’s go back in time about two millennia and see Paul’s reaction as he was presented with a similar situation. The Corinthian believers act of dragging each other before the unbelievers’ court and thereby incurring shame to the body of Christ, deeply angered Paul. He wrote this to them:

“When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud-even your own brothers!” (1 Corinthians 6:1-8 ESV)

We don’t know what happened during the course of mediating this Christians. Looking at where the case ended up however, one can infer that, all the parties involved should have handled the situation in a better way. A better way, something that is not what it is right now: a shame to the name of the Lord and His Church. The pertinent church elders and pastors refusal to go out front on Mr. Addisu Abebe’s radio program however, is the only smart decision that I observed from the whole story, and we should applaud them for that. Mr. Tekeste Getenet also, did himself a favor, by keeping his head down and not further embarrassing himself and bringing more shame to the name of the Lord. To the contrary, however, I can’t see the logic behind the decision made by Mr. Melaku Yeshidagna and his wife Mrs. Hosana Dadaa, in initiating a public defamation of Singer and Pastor Tekeste Getenet. In my opinion, they have embarrassed themselves by exposing Mrs. Dadaa’s unwise and unchristian behavior.

It’s my assumption that, in everyone’s judgment, the singer pastor should take the lion share of the blame for what happened. I agree with that 100%. I’d like to remind my readers however, the accusing lady Mrs. Dadaa, also should be held responsible for her role in this sexual debacle. No impartial observer would simply accept her words and deem her acts innocent; no way! Without getting deeper into the details of the 14 minutes broadcast, let’s ask these questions pertaining to Mrs. Dadaa’s actions.
What kind of a married, Christian, woman, in her right mind, would:-

End up flirting with another married man, who happens to be her friend’s husband? And also admitted in
doing so, with this man, for about a month over the phone and text messaging?

Go out with another married man, for a dinner, alcohol shopping and ultimately walk into this man’s hotel
room?

After walking into his hotel room, expose her breasts in a pretense of changing a comfortable clothe?
For all the while it took the man, to take the pictures, he allegedly sent to his friend.

Change a comfortable clothe in a married man’s hotel room, and in the presence of that man?

Seek comfort, in his hotel room, after dark?

Had liquor, with him, with in his hotel room?

The answer is, no married, Christian, woman, in her right mind would do such things.

Mrs. Hosana Dadaa however, admitted in doing all of these; not once but again on another day, with this same man, whom she is accusing of a sexual assault. Only God and the two people knew, how things went the way they did. But as for me, after listening what she had to say about the alleged sexual assault story; I find it hard to believe Mrs. Dadaa's story; unless of course, she was also consensually walking along with the man.

I’m being cautious here, not to blame the alleged victim unjustly; but come on, she is not a minor and therefore, we need to equate her acts in the equation. Remember, the grace of God is sufficient not only for the prominent Christian ministers of the word, but also to each and every individual Christian. As it was written, we are all called out from the world to be the aroma of Christ, 2 Corinthians 2:14-17, and therefore, let’s act like it, and do not expect Christian virtues from the church leaders and servants alone. This is a Christian life, not a football game; therefore, there are no players and spectators here. As a church, we’re all in it together:
“…betrothed to one husband, to be presented as a pure virgin to Christ,” 2 Corinthians 11:2 ESV.

Scripture tells us that, struggle between our born again spirit and the flesh will remain a constant battle, so long as, we’re in this body, Gal. 5:17. The way we can help out, our newly created self (2 Corinthians 5:17,) is by crucifying our moral fleshly desires. Paul wrote:

“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passion and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:24-25)

Finally, there is a lesson here for all of us. This didn't just happen without a reason. However sad the situation sounds; how seriously real people and families were affected by it; still, I believe God is using it as a teaching moment for many. We ought to learn from this, and watch for something like it may not happen in our lives and in our churches.

In my humble opinion, diligently studying the word of God and applying its truth in our daily lives should take preeminence. Jesus prayed:

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17)

Simultaneously, praying without ceasing for the Holy Spirit’s total control of our lives is essential. We need to pray, to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, and not our carnal desires.

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,” (Ephesians 5:15-18)

When we pray, let’s also pray for the following individuals:

• For the ex-communicated singer, that he may learn his lesson, understand how much his sinful act defamed
the name of the Lord and be restored to his ministry following a sincere repentance. “For godly grief produces
a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
(2 Corinthians 7:10 ESV)

• For the accusers of Mr. Tekeste and their family, that the Lord may heal their spirit, body and marriage.

• For the church elders, that they may be filled with wisdom to do the right thing.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Is Christmas Biblical?

A personal letter that I shared with family and friends in 2012


"And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord ? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams." (1 Samuel 15:22 ESV)

"teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20 ESV)


Dear family and friends, as a Bible believing Christian, I'm always troubled in Celebrating holidays like "Christmas" for reasons I'll explain later.

But regrettably, I used to find myself doing things contrary to my convictions, rather than practicing the perceived truth of the Bible. It's sad but, I've to admit that I'm guilty as charged by the Scripture. Guilty, for being so oblivious to my convictions and the Scripture itself and telling most of you "Merry Christmas" in the past (even with good intention,) and therefore a pleaser of men not God: (Galatians 1:10).

Did I say "good intentions?" Ha! This is what always gets me into trouble; (in trouble with my conscious) because, deep inside my heart I know that I should be true to God and pleasing to Him, not pleasing to people, by identifying myself with their unbiblical traditions. Because I know what Jesus said in Mark 7:8 when He speaks of the Pharisees and the scribes: "Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." (NASB).

The Bible says in James 4:17 that: "Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin." (NASB)

But why have I acted so foolishly and subdued myself in practicing human tradition in the past?

When it comes to Christmas, people who know me close enough, and well enough knew what my opinions are about this holiday. I always tell my wife, family and friends a number of things regarding Christmas. Things like: it's pagan origins and God has seriously warned His followers not to worship Him (so to say in a borrowed styles of pagan customs) Deuteronomy 12:30-32; 2 Corinthians 6; things like no record of this holiday is in the Bible either during the sojourn time of Christ nor after His ascension to heaven, and most importantly, the Bible is clear as to what we commemorate (His death not His Birth: Matthew 26 and 1 Corinthians 11:23-28;) things like the birth day of Our Lord Jesus Christ could not be December 25th, January 7 or any other day in what is observed by many to be His Birth Day (and so to say a "Christmas",) because a careful study of Scripture debunks this assumptions. Here are at least two primary reasons as to why this could not have been a season for Christ's birth:

First, We know that shepherds were in the fields watching their flocks at the time of Jesus' birth:

"And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night." (Luke 2:7, 8 ESV)

You see, shepherds were not in the fields during December. According to Celebrations: The Complete Book of American Holidays, Luke's account "suggests that Jesus may have been born in summer or early fall. Since December is cold and rainy in Judea, it is likely the shepherds would have sought shelter for their flocks at night" (p. 309).

Second, Jesus' parents came to Bethlehem to register in a Roman census:

"In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn." (Luke 2:1-7 ESV)

To use Scott Ashley's words: "It would have made no sense to have conducted a census in the dead of winter, when temperatures often dropped below freezing and traveling was difficult due to poor road conditions. Taking a census under such conditions would have been self-defeating!"

One other obvious fact is that, Christmas today is driven more by commercialism than a true Biblical spirit.

Therefore, I tell my peers: "we shouldn't be celebrating this unbiblical holiday, in a way that is consistent with the pagan worshippers of the sun and their calendar."

However, (like I said earlier) my propensity to please people kicks in and I'll find myself not practicing what I preached to others. I give in easily to my wife's request to buy a new Christmas tree or my own urge to buy a Christmas present for loved ones during the hustle and bustle of the season or by the time spent with family and friends sharing a nice meal and seasons greetings like the one that I've expressed to many of you up until last year via Facebook, emails, text messages, phone calls, even including physical visits.

These were the things I said & I did with good intentions; deeds well meaning in my part but Biblically not so sound to be proud of. But I did them anyways without seriously examining the implications of my actions to others and I'm very contrite about what I've done up until last year.

I don't want be like the proverbial Pharisees whom the scripture said:
"they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God." (John 12:43 NASB)

Therefore friends, I'm not wishing you "a merry Christmas" that doesn't do you any good anymore. Whereas if you are in Christ, I exhort you to live a life worthy of your calling (Ephesians 4:1-16).

"Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you." (1 Timothy 4:16 NASB).

And if you're a family or a friend who has not committed your life to Christ yet, I say to you why not consider it right now?

"And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. "(Acts 4:12 ESV)

"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures," (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4 ESV).

"For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done." (Matthew 16:26, 27 ESV)

Peace be with you!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sojourners

"Enoch walked with God, and he was not,for God took him." (Gen. 5:24 ESV)


"Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God." (Gen. 6:9 ESV)


"For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep..."(Acts 13:36 ESV)

Jesus Prayed to the Father: "I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do." (John 17:4 ESV)

Paul the apostle wrote: "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing." (2 Timothy 4:6-8 ESV)

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1,2 ESV)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Surprised by His Love

In a Sunday Bible study session of a small Church in the center of Addis Ababa, an Ethiopian Bible teacher was vehemently expounding the preeminence of Love. It has been quite a while; about fifteen years ago, but I still remember his teachings quite vividly. He was teaching from the 13th chapter of Paul's epistle to the Corinthians. I remember him drawing zeros for every attribute the apostle Paul described between verses one and three beginning with the words "IF". That is,

"If I speak in the tongues of men (0) and of angels (0), but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers (0), and understand all mysteries (0) and all knowledge (0), and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains (0), but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have (0), and if I deliver up my body to be burned (0), but have not love, I gain nothing."

I remember him adding zeros after zeros on the blackbord in front of the Sunday Bible class. That is to show his students that, all the language proficiency, prophetic power, understanding of mysteries and knowledge, possession of great faith and charity, and sacrifice one could have without love amounts to nothing.

0+0+0+0+0+0+0+0 = 0.

All that one can be, and all what one can do ammounts to zero if there is no love in it. As a christian, the norm by which God wants us to measure our faith and practice is none other than by the Bible, His word. Just as that Ethiopian Bible teacher thought, (by the way, that Bible teacher is our beloved brother Menelik Asfaw) love has preeminence above any other virtue or act in a Christians life according to the Bible (1 Corinthians 13 ESV).

The virtue the Lord Jesus Christ wishes his disciples be recognized for is their love for one another. He said in John 13:35 ESV that,

"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

and therefore He commanded them that, they love one another (John 15:17). However, the Lord did not stop there. By further instructing His disciples to love even their enemies, Jesus displayed the character of the new faith He is inaugurating to the world. Look at the following Scripture verses;

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?" (Matthew 5:43-46 ESV)

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. (Luke 6:27-35 ESV)

Anyone who has experienced Jesus' love, finds it undemanding to love others. When you and I understand the love of God in which He poured into our hearts in spite of our rebellions and shortcomings, then we are able to love our neighbour that inflicted pain upon us. Emulating Jesus' own life as He Himself loved His enemies, is the key in learning how to love others. Check out the following segments of Scripture to learn Jesus' love for His enemies:

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!" (Luke 13:34 ESV),

"For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life." (Romans 5:6-10 ESV),

I believe all of our christian experience has to do with love. God loved us and He sent His beloved son into the world to pay for the penalty of our sins(John 3:16 ESV). As a result we're reconciled with God (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV), and knowing the fact that we're loved by the Almighty, now we love Him (1 John 4:19 ESV) and willingly comply to His commandments to love Him and others:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”(Matthew 22: 36-40 ESV)

"Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law." (Romans 13:8)

I don't know about you but I'm surprised by Jesus' love for me. According to Romans 5:6-11 ESV:-
1, for while I was still weak,
2, while I was still a sinner and
3, while I was God's enemy; Christ died for the ungodly me; God has shown his love for me and I'm reconciled to God by the death of His Son.

I know that He did this for me neither because of what I've done nor what I'd do in the future, but by the grace of God I am what I am. (1 Corinthians 15:10 ESV). Paul emphasised the fact that we're saved not of our doings but because of God's grace and mercy. He wrote to the Ephesian Christians in 2:8,9:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."

For Timothy: on 2 Timothy 1:9 ESV:

"who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began"

And again to Titus in 3:5,6 ESV:

"he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior"

I'm surprised to know that I'm loved by the Lord Jesus. Had it not been for his love and mercy, my life would be void and meaningless. But now that He is my Lord and Saviour I've a purpose in life. Everything fell in place. Even my uncertainties and questions have answers because of Him. Jesus decorated my life. When I begin to understand the extent of his love, I'm stunned and surprised than ever. How could He do this? Wow! The love of the righteous for the wretched; the almighty for the impotent; The omniscient for the fool? You can not find all of these any where but in Jesus.

I'm surprised to find myself be friended with Jesus. In the Gospel of John 15:13-17 ESV Jesus said:-


"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another"


Who am I to be called a friend by Jesus? He did all of this and more out of his Godly love and I'm eternally grateful to Him.

According to Ephesians, because of Him I'm no longer a stranger and alien to the covenants of promise but I'm a fellow citizen with the saints and members of the household of God built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.


1st Peter 1:9 and 10 ESV, also tells me that: I'm part of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a member of people for his own possession, that I may proclaim the excellencies of him who called me out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once I was not among the people, but now I'm part of God’s people; once I had not received mercy, but now I have received mercy.

What he has done for me is priceless. Jesus taught in Matthew 16:26-28 ESV that, Without salvation for our souls, all of our lives labor and toil amounts to nothing; and to merit salvation for our souls there is absolutely nothing that one possibly can do. But He did it all for us. Accomplished it in our stead. Thank you Lord! Thank you Jesus!

All I can do now is love you back and worship you. I understand that I no longer live for myself, and die for myself. Your word instructs me that, as long as I live, I live to you Lord, and if I die, I die to you my God. So then, whether I live or whether I die, I am yours Lord (Romans14:7-9; 2 Corinthians 5:14,15).
.

Featured Post

Sojourners

" Enoch walked with God , and he was not,for God took him." (Gen. 5:24 ESV) "Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his gen...