Ben-Hur and the stars

I saw a movie recently, Ben-Hur. It’s had a lot of do-overs because it is one treasured fictional story of some lives that were impacted directly by Jesus when he walked the earth.

This particular 2016 version of the story of Judah Ben-Hur featured a captivating musical piece at the end, nicely done with a compel voice and thoughtful lyrics. So I ran a search to find the artist and did a little more to find her disposition to Christ and the lyrics she sang.
I found this interview on a website credited to GOSPEL LIGHT MINUTE BROADCAST.

She is a singer and songwriter signed to Warner Bros. “Cheers to the Fall”, her debut album released in 2015 was met with critical acclaim, and peaked at #48 on the Billboard 200 chart. At the 2016 Grammy Awards, her album was nominated for Best R&B Album and the album’s primary single “Rise Up” was nominated for Best R&B Performance.

In an extensive interview with Relevant Magazine, she describes how a low point in her life led her to faith in Jesus Christ.

She said, “My mother converted to Christianity when we were very young. When I got into my teen years and into my younger adulthood it was, ‘Yeah, yeah, I believe.’ But I was smoking weed, drinking heavily, into promiscuity—cheating on whoever I was with—just doing things selfishly, and doing music for my own sort of vain persona. I ended up moving out to New York … but my conscience just started to catch up with me. I told [God] everything I had done, I told my family everything I had done. Dealing with the guilt and the shame, you know, it was a very low point in my life. I didn’t have a job, completely broke, sleeping on my mom’s couch in her tiny little apartment. And any deal I had at the time basically fell through. It was a low point, but it was the greatest point in my life.”

She continued, “I rededicated my life to Christ. I was like, ‘I’m not playing games anymore, I’m not lukewarm, I’m not doing that anymore.’ I regret hurting someone, but I’m grateful for who I have become and how close I’ve been able to grow in Christ, because of all of that. I always say ‘those years were formative years. When I came back to San Diego, I literally told God, “God if you want me to do this, I’ll do this. If you want me to teach, I’ll be a teacher. If you want me to panhandle on the corner for you, I’ll do that.

“From there, that’s when the door with Stevie Wonder opened. When things that weren’t supposed to be there came through. Eventually, he introduced me to the producer I did the record with, Adrian Gurvitz.

And so from that moment we met and I got into the studio, I told myself, ‘Tell the truth, talk about everything. Talk about the heartbreak you inflicted, talk about the heartbreak you experienced. What you’ve learned, how you’ve grown, how you continue to try and grow.’”

When asked about her very personal album, she said, “It is Christ who empowered me to be able to say those things. You’re not trying to prove yourself anymore. All you are doing is being obedient, and that really lifts the burden and the worry of people’s opinions.”

When asked about the inspiration for her hit song “Rise Up” she replied, “You know, I pray about everything, and this song was no different. So it was kind of like, ‘God what do you want to talk about today?’”

And when asked how she connects with her audiences on stage, she said, “My band and I pray every time before we go on stage, that “His will is done.” Really, my desire is to communicate how powerful and how life-changing the love of Christ is. Without knowing Christ, you don’t know your potential—how big you really are, how powerful you really are. And I talk about being vulnerable, because you can’t be at His feet without being vulnerable.”
Her name is Andra Day.


Of course, the original page included an invitation to faith in Jesus but I edited that part out because that’s not my direct objective here. 

My mission here is to point out one more Christian artist to those who feel they must listen to secular pieces in order to get quality music and vocal skills entertaining them. Of course, music done by Christians are not always suitable as praise or worship songs meant for use in church.
As I always say, they are our there, you just have to want to find them.

These were the lyrics that started the search:

The Only Way Out

by Andra Day

LYRICS

If you could look inside my life
And use my eyes, would you pity me?
Would you see the desperate nights
And all the lies that brought me to my knees
I keep thinking that I have to make you fall
The way I fell from your betrayal to bring me peace of mind
I will let you move along, just walk away
And wear a cape like you’re some hero

[Chorus]
I can’t hear love cause we’re at war
And revenge is so loud and the drums are so proud
But oh, I’m in a cage and I hear mercy say “I’m here now”
And it’s the only way out
I can’t hear love cause we’re at war
But revenge is so loud and the drums are so proud
But I’m still in a cage and I hear mercy say now
It’s the only way out
[Verse 2]
I used to hear my father say, “Counterplay ends in defeat”
And I said I’d never be that way
Tried to make you pay cause it would cost me
But you owe me so much more than what you gave to this
I guess every story twists
People tell me let it go, oh, and forget

[Chorus]
I can’t hear love cause we’re at war
And revenge is so loud and the drums are so proud
But oh, I’m in a cage and I hear mercy say “I’m here now”
And it’s the only way out
I can’t hear love cause we’re at war
But revenge is so loud and the drums are so proud
But I’m still in a cage and I hear mercy say now
It’s the only way

[Outro]
Mercy’s the only way out
Mercy gave me my way out

You might want to check her out for yourself, just thought to let you know.

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ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC … PT 62

Lessons from the Book of Joshua

Joshua 24:13 … multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac … 

Okay, as I was saying before I got sidetracked by a side note, I never saw this before but thank God I see it now and more importantly, thank God for the lesson I learned from it.
I, perhaps you too, used to think that because the manifestation of the promises of God was Isaac first then the vast nation of Israel, occupation of the promised land and, even further, the numberless children of faith … I used to think that was the order in which God made the promises to Abraham and that they manifested for us to see in that order because that was the order in which the Patriarch believed and thus received them; but boy, that is sooo incorrect … so incorrect. Believe me, I had to read through the journey of Abraham’s faith again to be sure.

Here is the correct sequence of things. 

Genesis 12:3b … in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. 

This refers to Jesus Christ who was born through Abraham’s bloodline and by whom, through faith, all families of the earth are saved and connected back to eternal life. Abraham must have believed God because he moved at God’s invitation.

Next, 

Genesis 13:15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. 

God promised Abraham the land he was then looking at and Abraham must have believed because, once again, he moved through the land at God’s invitation.

Then, 

Genesis 15:4 … he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. 

Both Abraham and Sarah concluded that it referred only to Abraham having a child and so they made their own move which, not surprisingly, yielded quick results. Our way always seems quicker because we always have to wait on the Lord with faith and patience for His own promises to deliver in His own way. 

So, God cleared things up, washed Abraham’s eyes with a second touch when he said, 

Genesis 17:16  And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be [a mother] of nations; kings of people shall be of her. 

Genesis 17:17 Then Abraham fell upon hisface, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall [a child] be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? 
This was the first time some components of the promises God had been making dawned on Abraham because he fell down laughing. We often give Sarah a tough rap for laughing but Abraham fell over in laughter. 
Anyway, later God showed up and washed Sarah’s eyes a second time with his promise and she laughed because it was the first time she considered it was still possible.

Genesis 18:12  Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have [sexual] pleasure, my lord being old also? And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? 

Well, she and her husband eventually got along with God’s program within a space ofthree months. I say three months because a year from that day, Isaac was born.

So that was the sequence of promises made and promises believed. However, in the sequence of manifestation of those promises was in the opposite order. Isaac was born, then his people multiplied, then they occupied the land and now, all the nations of the earth have been blessed through the spiritual seed, Jesus Christ, and the number of Christians alive on earth and in heaven is as the sands that cover the earth.

The lessons I have thus learnt include the following:

First lesson: Once one has believed, truly believed God’s promise and word over a particular thing, it has come into reality already at that same moment, even if it is not yet visible. The fact that God respects the flow and process of time doesn’t mean the receiver has not believed God. 

The invisibility of a thing does not take away from its reality except for those who do not have the first of the six senses we have called faith and quite often, even those who do live by faith may not see this invisible thing because they were not involved in that transaction with God that the primary receiver was. Therefore, no one can believe God for you like you; stop waiting for a faith club to determine what you can or cannot receive from God. And on the other hand, don’t try to claim to be in faith like someone else is when you have not received the word that that person has received. You can’t copy faith. 

Second lesson: I have often said that doubt is impossible without faith. If we know what faith truly is, then we would realize how true that statement is. Faith is born once a man has believed what God said, as we have seen in the foregoing; we know that now. Well, I also know that it is the typical way of the devil to come with a doubt sowing concept after a faith growing word has been received. 

See, if I may share on the devil briefly, I have to point out that that Satan is not an originator or creator of anything; nothing ever starts with him; he is merely a twister, corrupter and thief of what already existed. Quite often, he steps in close to the beginning of the origin of a thing and corrupts it so that with the passage of a little time, one is persuaded by history that things have always been that particular way. But only God knows how things were in the beginning. That’s why Jesus could say “In the beginning, it was not so.” (Matthew 9:18b). 

For example, the devil tempted Eve based on what she had previously heard and received as an instruction from God. Prior to receiving that instruction, there was no temptation. In the same way, it was after the declaration, by God, that Jesus was His much beloved son that Satan came around to ask Jesus to “turn these stones to bread if you are the sonof God”. 

So, every time we receive a word from God, Satan comes around to harass us and most times we don’t realize what he is after. His coming is always … always after we have received a word and his objective is to either snatch up that word before we understand it (steal), cause us to get offended over the stand the word makes us take (kill) or render it unproductive by many and varied distractions (destroy). Please read the Parable Of The Sower in Mark 4:14-20 and you will see that every negative thing that happened came after the incidence of the word and came specifically against the heart that the word was sown in. He cannot come against the word and survive, he knows that but he can come against us for the sake of the word. Why does he do this? 

1Timothy 1:18-19  This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck

It is because that very specific word we received, the Rhema, is what we needed at that particular time to conquer the difficult situation he would rather we remain in. His aim is for us to drop that weapon so he can knock us out. But if we hold on to that same word, we will, with it, knock him out.
Now, back to Abraham. If we apply what we have just discussed, we will see that the reason some of Abraham’s problems arose was that he started believing God. Once he did, he got tempted.  Examples?

Genesis 12:7-10  And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him. And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, [having] Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD.  And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.  And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine [was] grievous in the land. 

How come there was famine only in the land God promised to give to Abram?
Genesis 15:3-6 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.  And, behold, the word of the LORD [came] unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.  And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.  And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. 

And what happened next?Genesis 16:2-4  And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. 

The point is faith attracts doubt because the devil must come to try that faith; you can’t have a test of faith unless there is a faith to be tested. The fact that you are going through a hard time right now on the way to your promised land does not mean you have no faith; you’re simply being tested. If however, you examined yourself to see whether you’re still in the faith and you found out that you’ve exchanged the faith from God for the doubt from the devil, then thepresence of the doubt proves there once was faith; make the switch. You can get back to the faith building Rhema again … like you first believed, and if you’re having problems finding that faith again, get back to where you got that Rhema from – the presence of God.

Third lesson: God always helps our journey of faith with tokens of the covenant He has made with us in the form of some promise manifestly fulfilled. We refer to them as testimonies of God’s faithfulness and such testimonies seriously came in handy for Sarah. (Hebrews 11:11)

The birth of Isaac was a token ahead of the coming multiplied seed who would inherit the land, birth the savior and bless the earth.

Looking at it all, God set the big picture before his man, Abraham … a grand view of a grand scheme of a pursuit that was more than life long – a sort of long term goal. But then, he followed up with things that would benefit the man directly and then his immediate descendants – a sort of short and intermediate term set of goals. This way, while the man worked to fulfill the grand design, he didn’t forget what was in it for him personally and anytime his focus drifted to focusing on his personal benefit, it didn’t hurt the big picture because his personal benefit was part and parcel of the big picture and fulfilling his personal dreams assured him that the big picture was as real to God as his own dreams of having a son was real to him.

So, whether in terms of nation building or leading a smaller group of people, the lesson for you, and I, is that you learn how to set your big picture of the grand design and vision before the people from the onset. But then you must realize that it is equally important to make your people see what’s in the big picture for them; help them see that their big dreams are integral to the grand design and, that way, they can get to work either from the point of view of fulfilling a grand design while they fulfill their hopes along the way or they draw their motivation from pursuing their own goals within the larger design realizing that as their goals get met, the grand design is being fulfilled at the same time. 

Very importantly too, make sure you generate results along the way to serve as tokens of promises yet to be fulfilled to maintain the confidence of your people in the existing arrangement.

And if you happen to be a team member, find how your personal goals in life help drive the corporate objective or the other way around and you will never lack drive and job fulfillment.

Does God Have Only One Specific Partner for Me?

Q:Is there a particular God’s will for us in marriage that if we miss we have missed?

A: Interesting question.

The simple answer is no. 

Ideally, any Christian can marry any Christian. This would mean we all know all that God wants us to know 100%, we are all of Christlike character 100%, and we are all fully submitted to the will of God 100%.

But the reality is that we are all a work in progress. We have all been shaped uniquely by our upbringing, experiences, training and temperament. And when it comes to Christianity, there are many different brands. 

So, for example while some Christians are right handed, others are left handed, it means if you’re a right handed type Christian, to balance things out, you will need to be bonded to a left handed Christian. 

Remember, God brought all the animals for Adam to choose and then He brought the woman as well. The only thing God had as a parameter was and still is suitability of companionship. 

True, God made the woman for Adam and He made only one so there were no ladies to choose from but by that time, it had become obvious what Adam was looking for and so only one copy was necessary. If God has made two women, then He would have had to make another male man for her. Would He take a rib from her and upset the divine chain of command and make it difficult for us to follow Him as He has no clear pattern? Or would He go back to the mud to form another man and create another father of mankind and then have two first Adams when there could only be one last Adam? 

God could not have destroyed any of the beings He created. Anything God does is permanent so any being He made like Himself cannot cease to exist just because it is dead or invisible to our 5 physical senses. If God had made any other human being not connected by blood to Adam, that being would be outside the redemption plan because the Last Adam was coming after the manner of a kinsman redeemer to save those connected to Him by blood. That extra human being would have the same fate as Lucifer – irredeemable.

So, be careful when you apply the principle of Adam and Eve to yourself, you have to use the counsel of the whole scriptures.

Once again, if you heard from God about someone and the person does not agree with you, go back to God to ask what next. 

Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.

Peace to you in Jesus’ name. God will lead you if you are willing to follow.

ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC … PT 61

Lessons from the Book of Joshua

​Joshua 24:13 … multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac … Prelude

This study of the book of Joshua has been really humbling for me; you’d think because you’ve read the whole bible a few times you know it all but then you read it again and you think, “How come I missed this before now?” I have said a few times that the eyes cannot see what the mind does not recognize. I believe that the more we study the word of God, the more of it we understand and the more we understand the more we see when we study through the next time around. It’s like the previous time washes your eyes to see clearer to see better next time you come through. This is part of what the bible means by renewing of the mind and the washing of water by the word.

Interesting … a particular miracle of Jesus comes to mind of a certain blind man whom Jesus healed. This particular one needed to be touched a second time because after the first time, he was seeing men as trees. Things got cleared up after the second touch. 

Sometimes, we think we understand things completely only to find that, if we sincerely assess ourselves, our understanding might have been incomplete. The unfortunate part of this is that we often go about pushing our assumptions as beliefs to be relied on without question and sadder yet is that someone who looks up to us would accept our partially clear view as the visions of God.

As I write this, I remember a portion of a hymn I used to sing along with others in primary school days on the assembly ground:
Day by day, dear Lord, 

                For these three things I pray:

To see thee more clearly,

Love thee more dearly,

Follow thee more nearly,

Day by day.
I think we all, teachers and students alike, would do well to emulate the Christians in Berea, in the days of the Apostle Paul, who went to do their own word to study, to establish as doctrine for personal daily application or to refute as errors, the things they heard Paul teach.

1Thessalonians 5:21  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 

Furthermore, those of us who are seen to be teachers should always endeavour to establish what we put out there is based on the scriptures and scriptures alone. It’s so much easier to just take on public opinions and think of a way to biblically justify or counter them. Ensuring that the interpretation of scriptures by scriptures is what leads us to whatever insight we have gained is the way to keep our sight clear. 

1Timothy 4:13-16 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. 

Wow! This was meant to be a side note or like an introduction to what I was to document today but it has evolved into a full length note of its own. It’s a “PS” that’s not so “PS” anymore. I’ll have to save what I meant to write on the specific verse for later.

ISRAEL: SECOND REPUBLIC … PT 60

Lessons from the Book of Joshua

Joshua 24: … your father … 

In his final documented speech to the nation, Joshua as God’s spokesman, retraced the steps of the nation and not just that of the current generation. He went all the way to Terah and then to Abraham, the one to whom the promise was made and told the story all the way to the present. 

This impacts me in a number of ways.

First, by doing so, he made his particular audience realize that they were part of a legacy of the faith of their father Abraham and that the promises they saw fulfilled weren’t just made to them but were actually a product of a covenant with someone long dead and buried… but one very much alive. 

This gives a sense of grandeur to the whole deal of settling in the land of promise. It makes them realize that this is more than just finally escaping the desert alive rather it is a culmination of legacy. It made them feel they were a priviledged people for being part of something that great.

Secondly, it highlights the fact that whether we are alive on the earth to see it or not, God is faithful to keep his promises. There they were, finally in a land they’d heard of all their lives and grew up looking forward to claiming and it’s quite easy to think it was merely the dogged determination and the ambition of the people that was finding fulfillment. But in truth, this was the fulfillment of a promise that was at least 600 years old.

So my take home is that every time I seek to motivate people to move forward, I should take the time to help them look backwards to that which gave birth to all of the current activities so they would realize that they were part of something great … something great that is based on someone who’s great and can be counted on to keep His promises.

1Thessaloninas 5:24  Faithful [is] he that calleth you, who also will do [it]. 

Ladies First?

Q: Must my wife always come first … if I have to choose between wife and purpose.

A: Theoretically and rhetorically, we will magnify our purpose above everything and we will sound and look very spiritual. Is this really correct? 

I prefer to consult the word of God on everything as much as I have the understanding so let’s see where purpose and marriage were first mentioned in the Bible.

Gen 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Gen 1:27 So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Gen 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Man’s purpose involved dominion, not over the garden but over the whole planet. One physical man could not have done it by himself and God said, it is not good for the man to be all by himself. He cannot multiply all by himself. 1×1 is still 1. So in order to accomplish his purpose, man needed a suitable companion.

My point? Choosing a wife and fulfilling purpose are like hand in glove. They work together to make things work. One chases a thousand, two chase ten thousands. Whatever two of you shall agree on the earth, it shall be done. All it takes is Two, three is optional if you have it. Now before you say two means God and I, read the verse well; God is the one doing the heaven part. You need two human persons on the earth for the earth part.

Then, look at what happened because Adam temporarily lost control of his wife to the enemy. The messed up world you and I live in today is a derailment of the purpose of God for man to dominate the earth. 

Rom 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

Rom 8:20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected [the same] in hope,

Rom 8:21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

This is not definitely not what God intended. 

Even if you have come to full awareness of your “gloooorious” purpose in life and you have a crystal clear vision of this purpose, if you pick someone that is wrong for your life, that purpose will also be derailed. 

Bear in mind, no matter what you think is your purpose, you don’t marry purpose, you marry for suitable companionship. The suitable companionship will help fulfill purpose. Do not put the cart before the horse.

With all the foregoing, it makes sense, following the law of first mention, Purpose comes before everything, then the man identifies himself in line with his purpose, then chooses a suitable spouse, then they together fulfill their intertwined purpose.

If you’re already married, you have to realise that you are first a man before you are a man of God. God told me years back, “Of all the callings you will ever have in life, the calling to be a man came first. Therefore prepare yourself to be a good husband and father first before anything else.” So, if you’re not married yet, you have the chance to get it right before you wed.

In case you don’t believe God spoke to me, let’s look at the final authority.

1Tim 3:1 This [is] a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

1Tim 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

1Tim 3:3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

1Tim 3:4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;

1Tim 3:5 ( For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

I would think it is obvious that God’s wisdom is that you put your house in order before trying to put your purpose on it. 

Identify your purpose and commit to it in all you do, including the selection of a spouse. Don’t select just any woman that suits your fancy and try to get her to comply or conform to your vision which she didn’t previously know neither should you now drop her in the name of “putting purpose first”. 

Put your wife first, with your purpose clear in your mind. In order words, select a woman for a companion who will, together with you, put God’s purpose for your lives first.

The caveat to this is that if God has called you to be celibate. In that case, you have no wife matter to even consider.

PS: Note that we are talking about wife, not girlfriend. They do not have the same weight of consideration in this matter.

De-Flower Girl

​Q: Sir, please I have been nursing this fear that the drugs given to one having toilet infection (the one to be inserted using a tube-like syringe) makes one to lose her virginity since its something inserted into the Vagina. Please sir help clear this🙏

A: The biological marker of virginity is the intact hymen. It often mistakenly thought that it is a sheet of tissue that completely blocks the reproductive system in a virgin.
If that were true, then the virgin would not be able to menstruate and would be in pain on a monthly basis as menstrum would gather behind the hymen. Thankfully, this is not the case.
There is a small opening in the hymen that takes care of this. It is this opening that those medications pass through. However, no one expects you to push it that far up. Apply it as far as you can and when it melts, it will flow to other parts as much as possible.
You have no cause to worry. Stop nursing this fear.