JUVENILE DISORDER

I have witnessed unruly behaviour among teenagers that has left me wondering about their sanity. I am concerned that we may not, in future, have adults with a strong character and who can be trusted to lead either church or society in general. There are times when I get a feeling that even the church may be taken over by undisciplined young people who cannot guide others in godliness.

However, every time I turn to the word of God, I am assured that Christ is in control. Even though matters may seem worse, I need not allow worry to control me. God has promised that He will never leave me alone. He will bring about stability at His own time and in His own way. He may allow trouble among young people to show that we cannot appropriately manage our lives by trusting our own wisdom and resources. We just have to depend on Him at all times.

Scripture reminds me that instead of worrying about the ugly events, I need to continue praying and witnessing for Jesus. He is able to change the situation and restrain unbecoming behaviour among teenagers that causes them to engage in rape and vandalism and subject others to suffering. The wisdom from the Lord calms my heart over the consequences of the youth’s strange actions.

Whenever a school is burnt, for instance, the damage is huge and parents are penalized for it. It is only scripture that enables me to handle such weird cases wisely. I get the impression that even though some schools have been destroyed, not all will be burnt. Some teenagers may be difficult to handle but not all will turn destructive. I am assured that there will always be humble and obedient ones among them. All I have to do is to keep praying for them and trusting that God will grant me the ability to cope with the troubles.

The Lord has always been faithful and given me a reason to rejoice even amid disturbing circumstances. My worries have proved baseless as long as I have trusted in Him and I have realized that surrendering to Him means ineffable peace in this world and certainty of eternal life. It makes me steady in the face of trouble and encourages me to remain faithful under all circumstances.

ARE YOU FAITHFUL?

According to Numbers 25, the nation of Israel sinned against God by worshipping a foreign deity called Baal and having sexual relations with foreign women. God’s wrath was kindled and He allowed all those who participated in the orgies to be destroyed. A man who was caught during intercourse was also stabbed to death. This was not because God was interested in killing His people but as a proof that sinful acts have their own dire consequences.

God wanted Israel and us today to learn that we are accountable to Him for the gifts and privileges we have. Our accountability to God is seen in the way we use our gifts. Every good thing we have comes from God and if we are not using it to God’s glory then we are sinning. Ordinarily, the greater the gifts, the greater the sin and the greater the judgement when we do not use them for God’s glory. The Lord Jesus said, “But he that knew not and commit things worthy of the stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48).

We are normally deceived into thinking that we can get way with our sinful tendencies. However, we must recognize that the evil one uses this deception to seduce and confuse us. The deception is accomplished by inflaming and magnifying our immediate desires, while minimizing and hiding reality of the horrendous costs of our actions. Again, the deception is that we can get away with it and that we will not be caught. The truth of the matter, however, is that God cannot be mocked.

God’s will for us is to overcome temptation and walk in purity, but we must humble ourselves by submitting to the wisdom that God gives to us. One significant way we can overcome temptation is by pushing aside our selfish feelings and giving serious consideration to how our behaviour would hinder our walk with the Lord, damage the cause of Christ, and destroy our families and the lives of others.

ALL THINGS POSSIBLE

Mary was told by the angel Gabriel that she was to conceive and have a child and call Him Jesus, even though she was a virgin. She was also told her relative, Elizabeth, who had passed the child bearing age, would bear a child and call him John. The angel told her that “with God nothing shall be impossible.”

With God, nothing is too hard: “Ah Lord God! Behold thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee …” (Jeremiah 32:17). If God can create the entire universe, creating everything out of nothing, then how can He not do the impossible? God loves to show Himself strong and to be glorified by doing what the world considers impossible. In fact, the more impossible it seems the more God is glorified through it.

We should learn from Mary to ask God to help us see things from His point of view. Our problems, circumstances or situations may be a gift from God. He is intimately involved with the details of our lives. God owes us nothing; we owe Him everything. He is a God of grace. He makes Himself available to us and will provide all our needs as we serve His eternal purposes. When God steps into our lives we should rejoice and trust that He will do as He has promised. When He calls, He always provides. When we follow His leading, He will always supply what is lacking.

HOW HOSPITABLE ARE YOU?

The Lord Jesus has called us to be welcoming to people. We are His ambassadors and so He uses us to be His welcoming arms to draw people from the outside into His presence. He is the seeker, we are the ones He seeks and sometimes we are the ones He uses to seek others. The central message of the gospel is to love one another. Whenever we see people in need, we are to have compassion on them, bind their wounds, and use our own resources to care for them.

The Lord Jesus didn’t run projects, establish ministries, create programs or put on events. He simply ate meals. We are well aware that people are saved through the gospel message, but meals will create natural opportunities to share that message in a context that resonates powerfully with what we are saying.

Meals bring mission into the ordinary and there we find most people that we need to reach. We tend to think of mission as extraordinary. Perhaps that is because we find it awkward to talk about Jesus outside church gathering. Perhaps it is because we think God moves through the spectacular rather than the witness of people like us.

People often complain that they lack time for mission. But we all have to eat – three meals a day, seven days a week. That is twenty one opportunities for mission and community without adding anything to one’s schedule. We can invite our neighbour over for a meal and use the opportunity to share the gospel with them.  We can also invite someone who lives alone and share our family meal and follow it with board games. This will give our children a chance to serve others.

MAKING A POSITIVE IMPACT

I strongly believe that as Christians we need to uphold our testimony wherever we are. Our faith in Christ should be reflected through our work by insisting on fair price, good products and just treatment of customers and employees. When we notice a neighbour who is struggling with loss, tragedy or illness, for instance, we could share a meal or plate of cookies with them. When engaging in acts of mercy such as mowing the lawn, buying groceries or cleaning the house for some one else, we need to share why we are motivated to do all those things. When people tell us about their troubles (financial crisis, death, illness, divorce, abuse or confusion over an issue they may be experiencing)  we should respond helpfully by listening to them and then sharing how God has carried us in moments of personal struggle.

Whenever we meet new comers in our neighbourhood, we should warmly introduce ourselves and ask if they will be looking for a church to attend. We could then invite them to ours. In the home setting, we could model our faith by taking time for daily devotions and Bible study. We can also model hospitality and stewardship by giving money or food to people in need.

During holidays, it is proper to invite our friends, neighbours or co – workers to worship or to any other special event that we may hold. At such occasions as Christmas and Easter, we get an opportunity to share why the days are important to us and our families. Holidays also enable us to help others reflect on their blessings and give thanks to God for His goodness.

We should remember to regularly pray for boldness and confidence as Christ has taught us. Prayer is the foundation of all witness. It is essential for a Christian who desires to be bold in faith sharing. We can also write our own faith story in a manner that it will evoke conversation rather than debate. It simply needs to come out clearly from our story that God is real and the Bible is our ultimate authority in all moral and spiritual matters; that the resurrection of Christ is the only thing that gives us certainty of forgiveness and hope of eternal life.

SERVE FROM WHERE YOU ARE

How about learning a few lessons from Deacon Stephen in Acts 6?

Stephen was well versed in God’s word and argued its truth excellently because he was endowed with wisdom from above. He did not even shy away from those who disagreed with the truth of God’s word. He also received the strength he needed through faith to stand firm under the most extreme persecution one could suffer as a Christian.

As a Christian, Stephen was prepared to go an extra mile for the Lord. He was truly committed and went further for the cause of Christ. He must have understood that the people who just do the bare minimum never accomplish anything great for God. He wasn’t waiting to be a pastor to do something great. He wasn’t saying it was someone else’s responsibility and he certainly didn’t let someone else take his opportunity to serve the Lord.

As it is always the case with good works, after Stephen demonstrated great faith and accomplished great things, there arose certain men who wanted to fight with him because of his living for God. Persecution will certainly come to all who live godly in Christ Jesus (1 Timothy3:12) and so Stephen was now confronted with followers of Moses and the Law who did everything within their ability to discredit him.

Stephen was well composed all along because he had an intimate relationship with God and knew that God’s grace was sufficient for him. Because of time spent at the Saviour’s feet, he was able to speak with wisdom when necessary and also keep his peace when necessary.

It is significant to note that Stephen wasn’t a pastor; he wasn’t a travelling evangelist nor was he an apostle. He wasn’t a king or warrior; he was a humble, spirit filled servant of God who was used to do great things because he yielded himself to the will of his Saviour.

GOD LOVES JUSTICE

In Exodus 12, we learn of extreme hardship placed on the entire nation of Israel. Pharaoh had turned the Israelites into slave labourers and ordered midwives to kill every male infant at birth. In response, God called upon Moses to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. At first, Moses was reluctant to take up the new responsibility but God assured him of His presence. He then gathered courage and went on to confront Pharaoh demanding freedom for His people. Moses brought God’s power to bear on Pharaoh and finally worn justice for the Hebrews.

Today, we hear cries for justice from all around the world. We want justice for the poor, enslaved, marginalized, and the persecuted. This cry reflects the heart of God, yet sometimes we still forget that justice is God’s idea first. While our demand is often punitive, i.e., wanting those who are wrong to get what they deserve, God’s version is redemptive. God is committed to what is right and best for His children.

In spite of the many organizations and advocates being committed to causes for justice, injustice seems to have adamantly refused to go away. This is mainly because we live in an imperfect world and our understanding of justice is equally imperfect.

True justice will only be seen in the lives of those who fear God because biblical justice begins with holiness: “Justice and judgement are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face” – Psalm 89:14. When a person is seen as righteous, it is not so much that he is virtuous, but rather that he has the approval of his king. In Hosea 10: 12, when God urges the people to sow for themselves righteousness, He is urging them to maintain standards and to live the life that would meet his approval.

In God’s justice, we can find a comfort for all the wrongs perpetuated against us and against mankind. We know that our cruel boss who cheated us for so many years will receive divine justice. The politician who did wrong to gain power will also be treated according to his deeds. The thought of God’s justice for everyone might sound scary to unbelievers but Christians rest their faith in Christ, with full knowledge that they are judged in Christ and their safety is guaranteed.

GREATEST TREASURE

A proper perspective of what the bible implies by treasure goes a long way into helping us understand our security, vision and relationship with God. Treasure refers to many things and may include money, possessions, clothes, homes, power, position, status and even intelligence, fame, sporting ability and good looks. These things do not ultimately satisfy because they do not last.

It is important to realize that our Lord Jesus is concerned not so much with our wealth, but our hearts and affections, i.e., what we think about when our minds are in neutral. He is concerned not so much with money as the love of money, which the apostle Paul describes as the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Jesus forbids the selfish accumulation of money and egocentric covetousness. He condemns materialism and the unhealthy obsession with and trust in possessions. He does not necessarily despise material things.

Christ wants us to understand that the very things which promise security lead to perpetual insecurity. Many wealthy people across the world have confessed the fact that the more money they made, the more problems they encountered in their lives. For example, George Harrison of the Beatles said, “For every hundred dollars you earn you get a hundred dollars’ worth of problems.” We should also realize that materialism tends to lead us away from God because it ties us to the world and thus proves to be a poor investment.

We are called upon to invest in God’s kingdom by putting our time, energy and money into people. We should use our wealth to preach the gospel, heal the sick, care for the weak and lonely and minister to the poor. This is a most secure investment and will last for ever. It is a good bargain to exchange the transitory for the eternal. God has given us an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade and is kept in heaven for us. We need to give generously to the kingdom of God because our hearts will automatically follow our money. Once we start doing so we will become a great more interested in and committed to it.

Technology Is Beneficial

I love my cell phone and the use of the internet. I have acquired some knowledge through various social media networks such as facebook and twitter. I now have more friends than I used to because many have connected with me through the encouraging messages I share on my social media.

Initially, I shared the word of God with my family and colleagues. They got so used to me that they became fed up with me and decided to distance themselves claiming that talking about Jesus was my hobby which they never enjoyed. I took to writing and shared my gleanings from scripture with church members during Bible study sessions. A few were impressed by what I had to say and I realized that many more could be reached through the internet.

My first blog was shut down presumably because the gospel was found offensive to the site administrators. However, I did not give up. I found another site that was not opposed to the Christian message and have continued sharing the gospel with my followers on the blog. I am happy that many find it spiritually and morally uplifting.

In spite of the benefits that have accrued from the blog, I still find continued use of social media a bit too addictive and distractive. I get too much information on the web but can’t remember everything I read and neither do I have time to think deeply about it. I also have an urge to get so engrossed in searching for information from the web that there is little time to engage in face to face communication with those around me. I always want to catch up on the latest news from various parts of the world and lose touch with whatever is going on around the house or at work.

BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS

Our desire to be like God is the root cause of the messy relationships we are currently witnessing all over the world. We all want things our own way and so we don’t put others first. We have therefore become both sinners and victims. We are the subject of other people’s selfishness and we too feel envy towards others. We muscle our way through to look after number one. A bit like a rugby scrum where everyone is trying to claw the ball out for themselves: they get injured by others and they hurt others too.

Friendship is certainly good but when I want to be at the centre, it means I’ll pursue friendships that fulfil my needs rather than wanting to serve others. A friend may flirt with me, not because she likes me and wants to pursue a relationship, but because she wants to feel good about herself. We may use friends just to give ourselves an ego boost in countless ways.

Selfishness affects marriages too. When I want myself to be at the centre rather than God, I will want you to serve my needs. We may, therefore, manipulate our partners to get what we want. We may even engage in Mpango wa Kando – going out with someone who is not your wife or husband – just for security. My need to have that stability and someone to fall back on, is more important than being honest with you about how I really feel.

It is actually our selfishness that draws us into having Pre and Extra-marital affairs. When we push God off His throne, everything else gets messed up. The world turns into a free-for-all, with everyone straining to be at the top.