Friday, October 19, 2012

Ham-nature? Dealing with a naked father?

We all go through trails and temptations. Most times, we are not in anyway responsible for what happen to us or what happen around us. But we are responsible for how we respond to the situation.

A few years ago I heard a powerful message, which was taken from the book of Genisis 9 (I can't remember what Church I heard it). I'll like to share what I took out of it.

We are most familiar with the story of Noah, the man who built the ark and help repopulate the earth after the flood receded.

In Genesis 6, we are told about a world gone wrong. "The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil." This broke God's heart. We are told God was going to wipe all the human race from the earth... but Noah found favor with God.

"...Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time and he walked in close fellowship with God." Gen 6:9. Wow! at his CV! Impeccable!

The account goes on to narrate how God had a heart-to-heart talk with Noah and instructed him to build a large boat (an ark). When God sent flood to cover the earth Noah, his family and a pair of every animal he selected into the Ark were spared.

After 150 days, five months from the time the flood began, it receded. But the flood did not dry up immediately. It took some additional 12months plus. Then God instructed Noah to leave the boat, along with all others so that they can be fruitful and multiply throughout the earth (Gen 8:15-17).

God kept His covenant with Noah. He blessed him and his sons (Genesis 9:1-3). So they all started life afresh! :-)

"After the flood, Noah began to cultivate the ground, and he planted a vineyard." Yeah he did not sit on his hands waiting for manna to fall from heaven. He took the initiative to farm. He worked hard. What can we learn from this?

"One day he (Noah) drank some wine he had made, and he became drunk and lay naked inside his tent." Okay, someone had too much wine.

"Ham (one of his 3 sons), the father of Canaan, saw that his father was naked and went outside and told his brothers." Sometimes we do this right? We see something and our first reaction is to tell someone. We play amebor. We gossip about it. Easier to do abi?

"Then Shem and Japheth (Noah's other sons) took a robe, held it over their shouders and backed into the tent to cover their father. As they did this they looked the other way so they would not see him naked." (Genesis 9:20-23).

Why did Ham not just do this? Why did he spread the news and humiliate his father when he could have just as well covered his nakedness?

Many of us like Ham have had the privilege of entering our father's tents. We know where he keeps everything, how he lays to rest or rise at dawn. When Ham saw his father drunk and naked that day, he could have as well covered him. Or maybe the shock of seeing a righteous man in a state of stupor was too much to let him think rationally. So he did what we most often do these days- he went and announced the news to his brothers. But those ones took a different, wiser approach. They covered their father up and looked the other way while they did so.

We are told in the rest of the Chapter that Noah woke up and heard what happened. He blessed Shem and Japheth. He cursed Canaan,the son of Ham. Yeah, when I read this portion of my Bible, I was like "why curse Canaan for his father's offence?"

This Ham-nature still exist today. Many of us are quick to react like Ham when we find great men at their weakest point. We are quick to whisper, tweet, blog or broadcast the news about our fathers (or those we meet) nakedness to the rest of the world. After basking in the pleasure of humiliating them, we find ourselves in our own stupidity, which extends to our own sons.

We see a christian sister or brother at the wrong spot and we quickly tweet about it. We are the first to start the "have you heard..." tale over the fall of our brethren or those entrusted in our care.

Are you dealing with a similar situation right now? Are you opportune to have access to sensitive information or privileged to know the weak areas of those who others hold in high regard? What are you going to do? Announce it to others? Use it to blackmail? Be judgemetal? or call the person aside and help them overcome it/cover their nakedness?

We must always remember the fall of a man is not the end of his life. Those we see in a state of stupor today will always wake up. God extends his mercy to the weak and vindicates them. So never glory in a fall of any man.

I write this as a reminder to myself. I need to control my big mouth :-). I hope this blogpost blesses you too. We might not be resposible for what happen to us or around us but may God always grant us the wisdom to respond appropriately. May God help us tame the Ham-nature in us. May God be merciful unto us for times we fall short.

Keep growing in faith.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

God is love vs. the issue of fear

"...Another liberating effect of the love of God on your life involves the issue of fear. Have you been afraid of God or what God might allow to happen in your life? The Scriptures answer your concern with the cross of Christ, the supreme evidence of God’s love for you. “Since he did not spare even his own Son for us but gave Him up for us all, won’t he also surely give us everything else?” (Rom 8:32,LB). Fear surfaces when we feel that we may be harmed or made to suffer. For a moment, imagine someone who loves you. Picture this same person with all knowledge to know what is best for you and all power to allow only this best to take place in your life. Could you be afraid of such a one? Would you fear what this person might be “planning” for you? The nature of God’s love causes Him to always desire what is best for you. The fact that He controls all things enables Him to accomplish His desire. No wonder resting your faith in this “perfect love casts out all fear” (1 John 4:18).

Behold Your God!
By Myrna Alexander

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Learning about "Shadow Mission"...what is your shadow mission?

I woke up this morning excited about going to Church (International Evangelical Church (IEC) in Addis ). But a few minutes before heading out, I decided to change my mind. Church was too far away. The desire to crawl into bed was overwhelming. After wrestling with the thoughts of staying in the comfort of my bed, I took a deep breath and headed out any way :-) And YES!! I am super glad I went because the message was incredibly refreshing. The worship was a reflection of God's grace- just what I needed- a reminder that I am what I am only by God's GRACE.

Then came the word- a video sermon by John Ortberg on "Shadow Mission". Until now, I have never heard of the term shadow mission. 

The text of the message was taken from the book of Esther. 

The pivotal role Mordecai played in helping Esther face her shadow mission of relishing in the luxury of the King's palace in order to fulfill God's authentic mission for her was explained. We all, like Esther, are placed in a position for a purpose. But our shadow mission is always competing with the purpose of God. Are we going to settle for the good (shadow mission) when we are created for the best (authentic mission)?

The pleasure and comfort I anticipated deriving from staying in the comfort of my bed instead of heading to Church this morning was definitely one of my shadow missions! Yes- I have more than one, I am so sure!

May God open our eyes to know the difference, give us the courage to face our shadow mission and the desire to stay true to our authentic mission no matter what!

Here are some of my notes from the teaching:
  • A leader's greatest fear is not something that might happen to us but something that might happen in us. 
  • Leaders sometimes choose shadow mission over embracing their true mission.
  • Except by God's help, ones life can be a model of self-idolatry
  • Shadow mission is so closely related to our gifts. Our calling and authentic mission gets hijacked by ego.
  • who is Mordecai in ur life willing to point out ur shadow mission? do u have regular fearless conversation about ur shadow mission?
  • one sign that u are on a shadow mission is when u have a chronic sense of dissatisfaction. Always wanting "more"!
  • You re who you are. You ve been given what u have for a reason. It might not be as dramatic as Esther &Mordecai but we have to face our
  • Just like a shadow, the depth of a shadow mission can never be satisfied. We deal with it by facing it and not denying it
  • God's purpose for your life is certain, not a shadow mission
  • we all face shadow missions...sometimes we allow it to grow into a public scandal 
  • Too many leaders and mission get dragged in the mud because they are afraid to speak up, face their shadow mission and get help.
After the service, I decided to do a little study to have a clearer understanding of the teaching. Here are some of the things I found:

John Ortberg, the author of Overcoming Your Shadow Mission, writes:
A shadow mission is an authentic mission that has been derailed, often in imperceptible ways. Part of what makes the shadow mission so tempting is that it's usually so closely related to our gifts and passions. It's not 180 degrees off track; it is just 10 degrees off track.

Gordon Pruitt writes on his blog:
I believe that God has a mission for each and every one of us and this mission could be a multitude of things. Competing against our God mission is what i call a shadow mission. A shadow mission could be, television, Internet, a sport, a child, a spouse, popularity, wealth, and even blogging! Your shadow mission has the potential to keep you form realizing your God given mission. Many people go through their whole life only knowing their shadow mission. Many believers go through their life and spend more time, energy, and resources focusing on their shadow mission than they don on their God given mission.

"What's your shadow mission? How do you know when you're slipping into it? Here are some ways to tell" writes Holley:
A shadow mission exhausts you while a true mission energizes you
A shadow mission comes from guilt or insecurity while a true mission comes from freedom and love
A shadow mission is about you while a true mission involves you but also includes God and others
A shadow mission leads to resentment while a true mission lets you serve no matter the response
A shadow mission makes you feel more distant from God (even though you're trying to earn his approval) while a true mission brings you closer to him
Most of all, there is just no joy in a shadow mission while a true mission leads to joy even though it may be hard.

From the back cover of the "Overcoming Your Shadow Mission" by John Ortberg:
The challenges, isolation, and relentless demands of leadership can inspire a variety of fears in the heart of a leader; among them fear of failure, fear of mutiny, fear of criticism, fear of disappointing people. However, the greatest fear leaders face is not something that might happen to them, but something that can happen in them—a degeneration of the heart that robs them of their calling and leaves a deep soul dissatisfaction in its place.

John Ortberg describes this menacing fear in terms of mission and shadow mission. A mission is the highest purpose to which God calls us; a shadow mission is an authentic mission that has been derailed, often in imperceptible ways. Ortberg writes, "Part of what makes the shadow mission so tempting is that it's usually so closely related to our gifts and passions. It's not 180 degrees off track; it is just 10 degrees off track, but that 10 degrees is in the direction of hell."

Every leader has a mission—and a shadow mission. Even Jesus had to battle a shadow mission; it was to be a leader without suffering—to be the Messiah without the cross. Ortberg writes, "If we fail to embrace our true mission, we will live out our shadow mission. We will let our lives center around things that are unworthy, selfish and dark."

Using characters from the remarkable Old Testament story of Esther, Ortberg demonstrates the disastrous consequences of succumbing to shadow mission, and the stunning rewards of whole-hearted commitment to mission. With characteristic humor and insight, the author invites us to follow Esther's example and courageously choose to embrace the mission God gives. Like Esther, we can lead without fear—even in threatening circumstances—because we know God is always at work in unseen, unknown and unlikely ways. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

 Image via Behind the Hills, into shadow blog.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Keeping your options closed

"If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who "worry their prayers" are like wind-whipped waves. Don't think you're going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open." James 1:5-8