Seeing Christ In ‘Descendants’

Descendants

 Photo Credit: Disney Enterprises, Inc.

I am not a TV or watching enthusiast, especially when most of what is highlighted is hope draining and depressing. Of course I do not entirely subscribe to a denial of current happenings but I purpose to meditate on the Truth as opposed to facts. That Truth might still offend some currently, but it does not cease to be the Truth. This truth holds that in all these things God’s  righteous character has not changed and that His eternal  purpose will continue being  fulfilled.

Anyway back to my watching story, my phase one  boys wanted so much to watch the Descendants. This is a three part film that covers the lives of the children of various evil characters in classics like Beauty and the Beast, Alladin , Sleeping Beauty, 101 Dalmatians. Since the children have been very helpful as baby sitters in this season, I consented and everyone was happy.

I must say that at first film put me off , the music was excellently done,  but it seemed to glorify evil so much that I attempted to negotiate for a change but none would hear of that. With a winner’s look, the eldest encouraged me to continue watching, per adventure I might see Christ somewhere in the whole thing.

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Romans 1 :20 (NLT)

The story revolves around Prince Benjamin’s(the Beast’s son) benevolence  when he allows the descendants from the Isle of the Lost  to come to Auradon. This is simply great:

Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts.  In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2: 11-13 (NLT)

His decision however, carries with  it a hefty cost. The Descendants: Mal, Ivie, Carlos, and Jay are still so evil and undeserving. It is in this phase of the film that I encountered my Ufarisayo (as one friend on fb would call it) or in my English, Phariseesm.  I so wanted  to save Benjamin (my picture of Jesus) from the Mal the evil and conniving girl.

So many times I would catch myself saying,  “why can’t he see that she doesn’t mean well?” The history of the Descendants was getting in my way of seeing how Jesus sees.

Jesus sees beyond the tax collector’s corruption, sees beyond the Samaritan woman’s seven husbands , He sees beyond Peter’s character issues, He sees beyond our weaknesses and failures. Above all,  He sees the end for which He was slain before the beginning of time – A pure bride reigning with Him.

It is such a refreshing moment when the bride (Mal) begins to see as her Lord and groom sees. Yes she even sees her nemesis Uma as one who needs a chance at a life of freedom, she sees that all the children of the Isle  need a chance at freedom and the opportunity of a higher kind of life.

What more, she is willing to forfeit her comforts and even her crown to extend this freedom to the others. I am not sure the makers of the film had this message in mind, in fact many other themes can be derived from this sequel but the picture of the bride and groom -Christ and His church grabbed and held my attention.

As the bride of Christ may we catch His heart and extend to all around us ,the same love that has been shed abroad in our hearts.

Totally His,

Virginia

LOVERS OR PROSTITUTES?

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Street prostitutes Stock Photo - 57134875

bride and groom holding hans

Dr. David Ryser was teaching at a school of ministry in the US. He quoted Sam Pascoe, ‘Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise.’ He mentioned that ‘enterprise’ can also be rendered ‘business.’ Martha raised a hand, ‘A business? But isn’t it supposed to be a body?’ He replied, ‘Yes.’ She continued, ‘But when a body becomes a business, isn’t that a prostitute?’ The room went dead silent and God’s presence fell on them. Dr. Ryser adds that the American Church in our time has become heavily populated by people who don’t know God, much less love him! [1]

Of spiritual prostitution there are plenty contemporary examples from around the world:

  • I live in Africa. Weekly I visit…

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HE ALONE

religion-3717899__480I am probably one of the very late commentators on SGR- the term we use to refer to the train travel between the cities of Mombasa and Nairobi. I have loved using it because of the reduced travel time but what I like most is the sense of community you experience especially when you travel in the economy coaches. I have had small babies for all the trips I have made and it is always a joy to travel with people who are so eager to help with the babies on the five hour journey.

The economy class is truly economical, not only in pricing but in the space. There is no space to place a baby seat, car seat or train seat if they exist. So you hold your baby the entire time.  However, all the times I have traveled, my neighbors have been gracious to hold the babies. Any mother would be grateful for this.

About two months ago my travel neighbors were two sisters, an elderly couple and a young lady. The young lady was engrossed on her phone at the beginning. The elderly couple was quiet and seemed to be richly enjoying the company of each other. They would exchange pleasantries from time to time and the lady seemed to be quite in charge of things (smile). The two sisters were the loudest on our table. They were talking about the exploits of a prophet, sounded like the pastor to one of them. The elderly lady was the first one to help with the baby, I felt like this would be too much for her but she ended up the most interested and the most helpful with this.

As we traveled, baby N our last born started sucking his thumb. I particularly don’t mind it because that is how he lulls himself to sleep. The elderly lady noticed and she also admonished (with that look of you mothers of these days)  me for under feeding the baby (N had just eaten two pieces of Weetabix, now how can that be little for a 10 month youngling).…. the beauty of SGR. One of the sisters on the other hand noted that she had had a preemie who had behaved just like baby N and asked me if N was one. I admitted that indeed he was born early.

The quiet lady put down her phone and joined in the conversation. She had had an experience with preemies too. At this one of the sisters recommended that we both make arrangement to go and see her prophet so that we are given deliverance sessions to break the curse of early deliveries. The next long time was spent on the history of this prophet and his many exploits and successes. It became an advertisement monologue.  A few scriptures were also used to show the importance of deliverance. This is not a discussion I will delve into in this post. All the while the elderly lady and I tended to baby N.

Finally the man spoke up. “You have talked of your prophet, what of the catholic priests,” he asked. The chasm had been created. One of the sisters fumbled to say something. The other interjected, apparently she was catholic. She went on to share something about Peter and St. Peters Square, their connection with priests and the validity of the priesthood. The conversation became hard, dry and full of tension. It became complicated as the two sisters had differing views. The man did not seem convinced by any of them, in fact he seemed to have been enjoying the deconstruction of this prophet –priest thing. I wondered whether he was a Christian and what he was leading to with this question.

He then shared how he had been a catholic for many years and had just recently been born again. He seemed either conflicted or frustrated at leaving Catholicism and finding the same clergy-laity divide.

It is at this point that I sensed a leading to share. I simply shared that wherever we celebrate our Christianity, however we do it, there is only One who died for us, only One whom we owe our total allegiance to.

He alone is our High priest, Hebrews 2:17

Therefore, it was essential that He had to be made like His brothers (mankind) in every respect, so that He might [by experience] become a merciful and faithful High Priest in things related to God, to make atonement (propitiation) for the people’s sins [thereby wiping away the sin, satisfying divine justice, and providing a way of reconciliation between God and mankind] (AMP)

He alone is our advocate 1 John 2: 1

My little children (believers, dear ones), I am writing you these things so that you will not sin and violate God’s law. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate [who will intercede for us] with the Father: Jesus Christ the righteous [the upright, the just One, who conforms to the Father’s will in every way—purpose, thought, and action](AMP)

He alone is our life

For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are His offspring.’(NIV)

He alone is the head that unites all us-parts Col 1: 17-19

He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together .Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So He is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ

He alone deserves that much airtime in our conversations. Can you imagine several hours of believers relating their encounters with him, their interactions with him, His love, His leading, His beauty. Can you imagine how much that would edify?

How I pray that the Ecclesia grows closer to becoming one man under the headship of its Lord.

Totally His,

Virginia

The Bride Breaks Free

cover4A while back, I did a blog post  titled “Grant us a King we Pray…..” In this post I shared a God directed desire to write a book on recovery from Church abuse.

Well, the Lord has been faithful and the book is ready, with a kindle version due for release on the 9th of July this year.

Pray with me also  that it may touch the lives that God had it done for.

As I reflect on my own journey , I desire to open up the space for reflection  with these words from Isaiah 40:10-12

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young (NIV).

This is the amazing love with which He loves His Bride. It is because of this love that this book has been written.

Please check it out, and consider leaving a review.

Totally His,

Virginia

GOD WILLING

I know this blog has been quiet for some time but I have learned to relax and post and share as God enables. Its been busy in the house and ministry too.

As I was growing up, my mom would always end her conversations or visits with ‘Ngai enda’ meaning if God wills. This is a statement that with time started shaping my thinking but not necessarily for good. I do not know when and how I got the notion that if we say God’s will be done, we open a door for Him to say no especially in answer to our prayers. By the time I was eighteen and going through life altering experiences, I remember questioning with a friend the consequences of that statement.

We could see that it is clearly an instruction in the bible; we could agree that indeed God must be given such a place, but much as I said I believed in it, I am not sure I got to fully embrace it. Last year again the same issue arose when a friend quickly corrected me for saying God willing and her stand was that God is always willing. I concurred with her on one part, God is always willing but I battled with the question is He always willing according to our will?

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts ( Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT)

Today’s self-help industry (which has infiltrated even sermons) has made it very hard for believers to embrace that our strength is futile outside of Christ. We are encouraged to will and wish for anything and work to make it happen. Surrender is taken as weakness, worse still as a lack of ambition. How can Christians then navigate the issue of the sovereignty of God?

For me this came to the fore in a very strong way recently, I am sure he has reminded me this before but this was very fresh and different. Earlier in the year we suffered some major losses in a project we were undertaking as an avenue for ministry. This loss was actually a climax in a series of negative happenings. We tried everything we could but the system we were up against was one of manipulation and oppression. It was a case where you are doomed if you do and doomed if you don’t (might this be one of the reasons I wasn’t writing after all?).  Any way we were faced with a choice of either using our will power and canal efforts or losing something we held dear and actually really needed. Were we willing to let go, absorb the loss and count God’s will best?

But how can God’s will be best when your very carpet of existence,survival, or comfort is being pulled right under your feet? This is a question we ask when situations in our lives are dire.

As time rolled and started nursing the wounds, I heard God ask me , “do you think My will is good?”

Like our self- proclaimed teenager (our first born at 11 has decided he is a teenager), I said “of course I know your will is good”

Then God pushed the button further, “do you really believe?….. even when…even when …even if ?” He stated all those things that had put so much pressure in our lives. You should have seen me cringe.

As I have co-worked with God over that, I can confidently say that -yes God’s will is perfect; whether I understand it now or not.  Why? because he knows our today, our tomorrow, and our eternity. We can therefore trust His judgment.

O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them. (Psalms 40: 5 NLT)

I know there is and will be a lot of theological debate on the subject of  God’s will as long as man grapples with the question of human suffering but I urge you my sister, my brother, and my friend  to count Him faithful  who holds eternity in His hands, we cannot ‘outknow’ him.

Is this a call to passivity? Not at all. It is a call to entirely trust in Him and His ways and co-work with Him as He leads.

I choose to give Him His high place of decision making in my life. You?

Totally His,

Virginia

You Are My Best Friend

One of the advantages of growing up among older siblings is that you get to experience grown up things earlier. This is of course only if the older siblings are pursuing and engaging in positive things. I shudder to think of the opposite.

I grew up among several siblings who were way senior in age. Some of them were in highschool, one in college and one employed. There were therefore plenty of memorable experiences albeit in shagz (countryside). One of these was when the college guy brought home a big black, juke box and cassette player. You know, the kind that had lights that would dance to the rhythm of the music. This wonder introduced me to my siblings’ kind of music. They loved country music.

One of the songs I heard then and corrupted to my best English was one by Don Williams- You are my Best Friend. I recently listened to the song and I could appreciate why the song was so enthralling to myself and those teenagers and young adults. The song seems not to wane in its depth and appeal to my now grown up heart. In fact, I can say it features in my top 10 chart.

Here is part of the song:
You placed gold on my finger
You brought love like I’ve never known
You gave life to our children
And to me a reason to go on.
You’re my bread when I’m hungry
You’re my shelter from troubled winds
You’re my anchor in life’s ocean
But most of all you’re my best friend.

Of an interesting fact however, is that as I sing it, I don’t think of my love Patrick. No, I sing to another…. Yes my Greater Love.

Here is my rendition of the song:

You purchased me with your life

You put a seal of ownership on me

You gave life to me and my brethren

And to us a reason to go on.

You are indeed my Bread at all times

You are my Shelter from the stormy life

You are my Rock, my Anchor

But most of all You are my Best Friend.

Christ our saviour is these and more, let us continue learning Him.

Totally His,

Virginia

Sunday Best

Sunday best pinkI grew up believing that Sunday was a special day and that it needed to be upheld as such. Besides being a day of rest from both school and farm work, it was an outing day. It was also such a special day because we had a chance to wear our best Deacons Sunday best clothes. However, this day of rest seemed to be my mum’s more stressful day. One of the things that particularly irked her was we getting dirty after that Sunday morning grooming. How do you do this in the country side? Any activity a young one engages in is literally an opportunity to get dirty. So, as you are preparing the other two children, one is most likely to be getting herself dirty.

Now I am all grown up and a parent, and when I was in the institutional church, I suffered the same kind of Sunday Morning Syndrome. It took a while for the Holy Spirit to reveal to me why Sundays were my most stressful days of the week , while if we look at the Old Testament, the Sabbath was supposed to be a day of rest.

Sunday is the day the husband gets ready and waits impatiently in the car wondering if the wife doesn’t know he needs to go to the vestry, the woman on the other hand is thinking, if that man just helped with the kids, we would all get into the car faster. It is the day the morning breakfast burns, and in my mother’s world that is the morning I would sneak and drench myself in water and then fall on the red soiled paths.  We try so hard to ‘go to the presence of God’ perfectly and we fail miserably at it. We reach the church gate and viola! A transformation happens, we paste a smile on our faces after all we have to enter His gates with praise.

This experience does not limit itself to Sundays only, but affects our overall relationship with God. I believe it comes from a wrong understanding of our relationship with God, mostly stemming from a carry-over of parts of Old Testament interpretation.

The first misinterpretation is that God still dwells in houses and appears on certain days…or is more accessible on certain days, hence the pressure of a day. In the New Testament, God desires to dwell in us and us in Him always, not an in and out kind of set up. The book -of John especially chapter 15 clearly details the kind of relationship God was always yearning for and working towards even before the beginning of time.

The second is still related to how we approach God. We think that of ourselves alone, there is something substantial and impressive we can present to God to appease Him. In reality, Christ has already pleased Him and only Christ in Us can and will please Him.

While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” Mathew 17: 5 (NKJV)

Thirdly, we project our human weaknesses on God. Since we find it easier to accept those who are near our standard of perfection, we think that God behaves the same. No. In Christ we are already accepted.  The Message Bible puts it so well.

How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son. Ephesians 4:6 (MSG)

Finally, we are already known by Him, so let us without pretense dwell in Him and fully allow Him to dwell in us.

No more Sunday Best!

Totally His,

Virginia

 

 

 

 

Stirring Each Other

Stir

We recently and sadly lost a friend whom I had served with in a certain church. I had not met with him for a few years but could still remember the part of life’s journey we had shared. He was a gentleman who went through many ups and downs especially in business but still managed to maintain a joyful attitude and a hearty laugh. May he rest in peace.

In order to give him a good send off, the old friends from that era of our lives and his current friends started a WhatsApp group to raise funds and pass relevant information. The group did an amazing job at mobilizing funds. However, a certain discomfort and feeling of emptiness kept disturbing my heart even as there was excitement of being reunited again as ‘oldies’ and also as there was much pleasure in the timely and generous giving.

I took time to search my heart and find out why something was just not sitting right in my spirit. In that state, I wondered whether I am just complicated or something was actually amiss. Why could I not  just be content with the way things are done?After all when you die while affiliated to an institutional church you are guaranteed a ‘decent burial’.

I understood my disillusionment when the Holy Spirit reminded me something. For a while now, our experience when we meet with Christians is that we usually have a very edifying conversation until they ask which church we go to. When we say we don’t go to church, they are in shock. We discuss our reasons  a bit and sometimes in length. Most of the time the person ends up saying, “well, I see your point, Church is not exactly as it should but who baptizes your children? Who officiates your weddings, and finally who will bury you when you die?”

This was precisely the reason my heart was troubled. As Christians we have come to value the rites and rituals that are performed in the institutional church that it clouds the real purpose of the Body of Christ- The Church. The institution asserts its usefulness further when such occasions arise ignoring the very purpose for which it exist.

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13 (NLT)

I would therefore not equate the goodness of any fellowship to the strength of its social responsiveness and excellence of rituals but to the degree we stir each other to Christ-likeness, living by His life and releasing that same life to one another. This brethren, let us do, while it is still day; for night comes and we can no longer work.

May you have a ‘Christfull’ year 2018.

Totally His,

Virginia