The Misunderstood God

Antecedent to ones professed belief in the divine, the inaugural question is: which God does one profess allegiance to. One of the hazards of organised religion, is a god manufactured after man’s likeness. This god is true to human’s emotional capabilities and understanding of love and life. This God is a master, a lord, a creator, a worship seeking, commitment demanding, money hungry God. This God however, is a detrimental God and leaves whosoever subscribes to them fragmented, empty and completely disempowered.

So then, the initial question  becomes who is  God. The deliberate attempt to avade the risk of a misunderstood divinity is for us to ask the often unentertained but fundamental question of the person and constituency of God. There are things we think God is, and things he’s not. There are ways in which we have been socialised  to picture God and relate to him. Many of us when we refer to God we think of a being- A super being; a person like being. Separate from the universe but related to it. All powerful, all knowing, loving. Authority figure. Law giver, who loves us. Occasionally intervenes in lives. This is sometimes referred to as Supernatural theism- God is a being. This understanding of God bears fear.

And still others understand God as- the encompassing reality, or spirit. But not something separate from the world, but within which the world is infused. It is the comprehension that we are in God like the fish is in the water. As the writer of Acts writes, “in him we live, move and have our being”.

But to wholly identity God we have to know what he is like; what are his characteristics. Generally two interpretations emerge:  Some see God as punitive- even though he is love, we cannot take his love for granted. If we don’t obey he punishes us. Again this legitimizes and necessitates the need for fear. Still God is seen as gracious, compassionate, loving and caring. This conceives a loving relation, one based on affectionate emotions between one and the divine.

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

The passage above is known as the ‘Lord’s prayer’. It was taught by the Christ at the request of his disciples. But I believe this text has more to do with the identity of the divine and how we ought to relate to him than a simple prayer. I believe the text can aid us in unlimited ways to unearth the nature and constituency of God. How we understand God, determines how we relate to him. This relation thereafter shapes our lives- our lived reality. An erroneous interpretation of this passage, creates a religious system that creates empty, sheepish, fearful slaves. One only needs to look around them, and observe how organised religion has created an oppressive dominant God, and oppressed enslaved human beings- but no full humans.

What has been christened the ‘Lord’s prayer’ I suppose is not so much a prayer but an ascribed ideological system. It hits at the root of everything weve come to be taught and indoctrinated about both God and prayer. God has been limited to some self-seeking, never pleased, difficult deity who does not accept you unless you are a ‘good boy’ and not rebellious like the rest.

Having been discipled by the Christ; having walked with him, fully convinced themselves that they were of him and he of them. The disciples present themselves to inquire as to a penitent issue in their hearts. They recognized a seeming fragmentation. There’s something that they recognized themselves not to fully understand and thus not appreciate. It is in this state of insufficiency and humility that they approach the Christ and ask him to teach them how to ‘pray’.

But these are religious men. Weren’t they Jews, didn’t they already know how to pray?  They must most have been in the Jewish synagogues, and other religious temples where prayer is practised. So why is it, that they present themselves to be taught prayer by the Christ as if they knew not how?

Now the fact that they are asking to be taught means that they recognized a gap. They recognize that what they know might not be conclusive- it is definitely not all there is to know. Asking to be taught means that they have questioned their prior learning and found it lacking. They must have when observing how the Christ goes about prayer and how they ‘pray’ a distinct dissimilarity. And as such they humble themselves enough to present themselves to be, not ‘retaught’, but to be taught anew how to pray. It is as if they have never prayed before.

Now the reality that they are question their prior understanding of prayer, does not signify that it was wrong or erroneous. It could well be that they realised their prior teaching was not essentially wrong, but incomplete. Something definitely prompted them to ask the Christ to teach them how to pray. I submit to you, the disciples did not know how to pray.

How many a Christian person are willing to question the doxology of their religion? How many are willing to subject their held belief system to scrutiny and radical judgement, and when having proved inadequate proceed to embrace an alternative or accessory conviction? How many are open to question the etiquette of their religious practises and expose them to the light of undefiled scripture, not even to change ideological subscription but test the legitimacy and sensibility of their beliefs?

The truth is, not many are open to any form of questioning, objecting, criticising and rationalising in any form or extent their religious convictions. This is the fruit of prominent teachings within the Christian realm that God despises questioning; that to ask questions is to imply doubt and God hates doubt. This is the result of years of religious indoctrination that faith is the absence of rational and by its nature irrational; that the very reason for the fall of mankind is because the first human species questioned and challenged the initial command by God not to eat of the forbidden fruit, and thus their untamed curiosity resulted in the fall of man.

But I propose that scripture can be questioned. I believe God is not afraid nor threatened when we ask questions. I am convinced divinity cannot be so weak and fragile and avoids any form of scrutiny and rational judgement. One is doomed to death and stagnation when they cease to question their previous subscribed idealizations. Growth, progress and maturity is only realised when one asks, questions, seeks, and searches a heightened level of understanding and discernment- Not when one has succeeded to convince themselves that they have found and there’s nothing remains for discovery.

Every progress in human civilisation has been as a result of man recognising the inadequacy of the former position- and then seeks ways for improvement and betterment. There was a time when people believed the world was flat; it was only when the original assumption was questioned and proved to be incorrect that a new understanding and thus progress emerged. There was an epoch when men believed the rain are teardrops that result from God’s weeping face; further study and inquiry proved this notion to be untrue, and offered new evidence as to the dynamics of weather and rainfall. There was a time when the world believed ones skin colour is reflective of their genetic and reproductive superiority or inferiority. This went further to suggest that the white race had superior mental faculties and the darker races animalistic and mentally inferior. Added to this were the biblical stories that the black race came from the cursed Ham and the white race from the blessed Japheth. But it only took deeper scrutiny and rational judgement of these diabolic assumptions that a new understanding as to the organization of society emerged- one that seeks to be egalitarian and non- racial, although this still remains to be an ideal than the apparent reality.

This is true of every field of study, whether it be science, technology, philosophy, medicine, art and as such religion cannot be exempt. The death of religious progress results when religion has convinced itself that it has all the answers to everything and nothing more remains to be discovered, learnt and adopted. Creativity and development reaches an eternal plateau and regression and rigidity becomes  natural reality.  Robust debates die out.

In the prayer, Jesus stated that those who call on the Father, will be heard of him. The challenge is, which God are people calling. He has an identity, a name. The second line of the prayer states – “Hallow be Thy name”. Which name is this that a lot haven’t bothered to seek. Maybe that’s why some prayers go unanwered. But which God are people calling upon. For me, this is more important than just believing that the is a God.

It is clear from the prayer that the Christ calls us into a relationship with the transcendent. He refers to God as the father. He relates to him in a personal, intimate manner. He ascribes personage and relation to divinity. Now if God is a person, then why are our prayers impersonal? If we have a personal relationship with him, then why do we refer to him as God, master, creator? Our understanding of God determines our relation to him. If then he is our master and Guardian, what manner of relationship does this foster?

Our heavenly father implies an intimate relationship. Many people simply need to begin by looking at prayer completely different from the way they learned in church. This is the point where your idea of prayer must go from the awful religious mentality of “getting answers” to simply “finding intimacy.” Anything less than that is a waste of time.”

Prayer is a relationship; it is a conversation. Prayer is communication with the divine; it is heavily personal. Some have rather demeaned prayer to a method to get their desires and wants met; a simplified formula to be conjured to manipulate God to give you what you want. That is why you would hear others say, “prayer works”. Some describe prayer as a tool, like a screwdriver. What a horrible picture of the beauty of prayer! While it’s okay to discuss our needs with God and to even ask him for the things we need, if getting answers is all that we care about, then we’ve totally missed the purpose and the beauty of prayer.

Prayer is conversation, a sharing of our heart with God as he shares his heart with us. Anything else cheapens prayer and is a waste of time. How would you feel if you were in a relationship with somebody, and every time they you converge they insist on doing the talking and listing all sorts of demands? The more they do it, the less likely you would want to continue in the relationship. I submit this is also true of divinity.

For many prayer is a way to manipulate God to give them what they want. They don’t know him and thus they cant be in a relationship with him.  Religion has taught us to fear God, but fear breeds distance and dread; thus they pray to him and not with him. They fail to appreciate that prayer is a conversation- A dialogue not a monologue. Everything about God is all about intimacy.

True prayer flows from the heart. Prayer lists, all night prayers, prayer groups, & prayer chains fall short of this rudimentary understanding. Instead of prayer flowing freely from a loving heart, it becomes just a moment to mouth words which are rarely a channel of love reaching out to the other person’s heart. However, when we love, prayer is no longer a chore but a joy and every thought we have regarding that person becomes a prayer.

Many people simply need to begin by looking at prayer completely different from the way they learned in church. This is the point where your idea of prayer must go from the awful religious mentality of “getting answers” to simply “finding intimacy.” Anything less than that is a waste of time. I hear Christians saying things like “Prayer works.” If you really think about this statement, I think you’ll be left asking yourself the same question I’m left asking myself every time I hear it. What the heck IS it saying? It seems that rather than experiencing genuine intimacy with our Father, we’ve taken the very avenue through which that intimacy is expressed and we have labeled it as being nothing more than a machine. Works for what? That’s not even something that can be said about prayer. Prayer isn’t there to “work”. Once again we are saying the wrong things, proving that we don’t get what prayer is for.

Quite interesting enough, the first words that came from the mouth of the Christ when describing God is that he is our father. He would have said when you pray say, “our God who is in heaven”. But he deliberately chose that we should understand, adress and relate to God as our Father.

Of course he is God; but he wants you to see him as a father. He says “I’d rather have you relate to me as your father than as your God. Some might regard me as the creator, but I am happy when you are able to know me as your father. At the very rudiment of your understanding of me, is that I am your father.”

He is not an abusive father or a paranoid leader. But the Christianity has given us, a God who is unsatisfied with us until we behave perfectly. We learn about a God who expects us to obey and worship Him even if our heart isn’t in it, a God who uses guilt to makes us behave better, a God who doesn’t want us to shine too brightly, because it will make us proud and draw attention away from Him, a God who will not bless you unless you give yourself and your money to Him, and a God who needs to micromanage every detail of your life.

This God has immature emotions, feeds on prejudice, demands immoral acts, puts up an amazing and dangerous fuss when ignored; threatens those of different opinion or nations of a different God, and generally delights in recognition and praise. It is hard not to see the Christian God as a complex of emotions not often guided by compassion.

Sadly, the gospel message has been affected by this way of thinking. “God loves you; come to Him,” has been turned into, “Jesus got a major beating that was meant for you, so come to Him”. The message is that we owe God, that he wants us to pay because Jesus took a beating for us. This breeds a compelled in-genuine relationship, and certainly one not flowing from love.

But from the perspective that if God is love, and love is patient, kind, etc., then God must have these qualities. Love is incapable of holding grudge; love does not create hell. Christianity is more about “reward and punishment” and  uses fear as a tool to motivate Christians into a loving relationship with God. The God of Christianity is absent and aloof, he is distant and hard to please; hes more like a cosmic vending machine.

Our understanding of love is so upside down that we’ve actually given Him the personality and characteristics of the devil.

We tell others that we want to be “used by God” as if love ever uses people. We boast of our “commitment to Christ” as if the substance of love consisted of making promises. We testify that God has sent us into the wilderness or made us sick to teach us things as if God would ever do such things.

When we say that God wants to “use us” in some way to further His purposes, we are truly saying an awful thing about His heart…The gifts He has given you are never to be used at your expense. He does not want you to be used by anyone, and He will never use you. Your gifts were given to you for the purpose of bringing joy to your life, not for the purpose of serving Him or furthering His cause. Your happiness is His cause

He does not want you to be used by anyone, and He would never use you. Your gifts were given to you for the purpose of bringing joy to your life, not for the purpose of serving Him or furthering His cause.… He wants people to think highly of and respect you. He loves it when folks are drawn to you and when they are amazed at how gifted you are… Christians today have been trained to purposefully cover their light, rather than let them shine for all to see, for fear that God might get angry at how bright they are. How crazy is that?…

His purpose is for us to be His sons and daughters, and out of those relationships, we become the message.… What is the one thing all good parents want for their children? They want them to enjoy life.… God’s love is not concerned with what He can get; He’s concerned with what He can give.

Whatever we believe about love, we believe about God. God is love. If your definition of love has been filtered through our fallenness and twisted by religion, you will inevitably end up with a screwy picture of God. This is the chief reason why so many people who claim to know God are miserable. They have been told that God values us as servants and that He relates to us as a general relates to a soldier. “Relationship” for them is not about enjoying life together but following orders.

Organised religion has taught us that we must love God more than we love people. I am always mystified when I hear people boastfully say, “I love God more than my wife.” The only way to love God more than your spouse is to love God through your spouse. Your husband or wife would be the direct recipient of the love.… The God who is love loves it when we love.… God is never in competition with your love for people! Any time you love a person, you are not far from God.

Then there are those who love their family too little, possibly because they believe that family distracts from some higher calling, such as ministry. Nothing could be further from the truth: Your love for people is the evidence that God is living inside you.… It shocks me to see so many people who honestly believe that God desires a separate and secret relationship with them aside from their family members. Many men will lock themselves in their prayer closets while their wives are in another room watching the kids alone. I call this adultery.

I know pastors who spend six hours a day reading and studying their Bibles.… But when it comes to people, they’re indifferent. They could take them or leave them. These men think they know God’s heart because they have read and studied his book and spent hours in prayer, but what they don’t know is that they’re being grossly deceived. They don’t know Him from Adam! I also know people who read their Bibles about five minutes a week and pray even less. They secretly kick themselves for it, and they’re afraid to approach God because their religion has made them so aware of their sin. However, they happen to love people with all their hearts. These folks have an intimacy with God that’s irreplaceable. They know Him fully because they love and know his children.

Organised religion has sold us a bunch of lies about the love of God. God never envies anyone or anything. He never desires to take for Himself what others have. Instead, He longs to give away all He has… He keeps no record of the wrong things you’ve done because He refuses to call you by the name of your past… God always perseveres, proving He is who He claims to be. He stands through the storm and walks through the fire simply to express His love for you. He will never fail you, never fall short, never fall out of love, because He’s made of love, the very source of it all.

Paul famously prayed that we would know the measureless love of God, for it’s in knowing His love that we truly live. So how do we come to know His love? God’s love is experienced in loving people. When you truly love someone unconditionally… that flame of love inside your heart is God. So the love of God is experienced in loving people, but the love for people only comes when you already know the love of God, that God loves you unconditionally.

Organised religion has taught us that God wants us to be less so he can be more. That God is happy when we debase ourselves and regard ourselves as utter nothingness. You’ll hear many Christians pray “Lord, I want to do whatever pleases you. I want to decrease; you must increase”.

Imagine if you married someone who spoke like that. “I want to do whatever you want to do dear. It’s not about me, it’s all about you”. That would be fun for about a week. “I just want to be used by you. I just want others to know how much I am committed to you” but after a while it begins to be a serious mental illness.

The notion that God would have us put ourselves down to make Him bigger is completely wrong. In fact, from His perspective, it’s heartbreaking. You’ll hear this taking place in worship services across the country. How many of us believe He gets a rise out of our demeaning ourselves? Who do we think He is? What father enjoys this? We’re literally telling Him that what Jesus accomplished on the cross wasn’t worth spit. We didn’t get it; we’re still scum. We deny the very righteousness He freely gave us and choose to proclaim its ineffectiveness in our lives. And we do it in a sense of worship, no less. This is catastrophic! Believe it or not, when you reject someone’s compliment and “give God all the glory,” He doesn’t receive an ounce of glory.… God’s heart desires that all his glory be upon his children. He is not in competition with us; He is our greatest promoter.

We say things like “God wants you to give Him your life,” and it doesn’t even sound bad to us anymore. Over time it actually begins to sound beautiful. We even encourage others to give their lives to Christ because we are certain that this is what God wants. Christ came that you may have life and have it more abundantly. He never asks you to give him your life. It’s your heart He is after. Only an envious God would give you life and then require you to give it back to him. He gave it to you, and He wants you to enjoy it to the fullest. God never envies anyone or anything. He never desires to take for Himself what others have. Instead, He longs to give away all He has, and He’s never tempted to take things back because He didn’t get enough attention.

Our emotional, spiritual and mental health is directly tied to our view of God. Faulty assumptions about God will sabotage your heart and life. Teachings about an angry God, who demands perfect submission, who is easily provoked, and has created an everlasting fire to throw all those who differ with him is utterly devilish. Even human beings don’t do that: we don’t tell a person that we love them unconditionally and should they dump us or cheat us we will throw them into a deep fire of hell where they will be tormented forever. Far it be from it that God is anything like that.

Love is not easily provoked, love is not based on immature imotions. Love is not proud. Love does not create hell. Love does not sent anyone to hell. Organised religion has introduced us to the proud God, the offensive God, the needy God, the angry God; He’s never satisfied, He wants all the glory, He likes it when we cut ourselves down, He threatens to kill our children, He wants all our money, and He’d light us on fire and feed us to spiders if we didn’t give it to him.

This God has rescued us from our sins. We are his slaves. We are nothing and useless without him. Many Christians are even proud to proclaim “we are sinners saved by grace”. But God is not even about that. Certainly that’s not how he sees you. The reason Christianity teaches that is because today, it has become a religion about not sinning; good/bad; right/ wrong. But I submit there’s more to God than laws, commandments and churchianity.

Relationship with God to this generation of Christianity is all about reading the Bible, going to church, tormenting each other about thoughts on hell and debasing each other to empty useless servants. But Jesus didn’t even come to recruit servants but to give us abundant life. He says “I have called you to be servants, but friends”.

After preaching a sermon, I would have some brethen approach me to say that was a good sermon. And I would naturally respond by saying “thank you”. And then the brother would respond by saying, “Give God the glory”. In the past I used to feel uncomfortable about this; I didn’t know what to do or say if a fellow believer gives thanks for my sermon. But now I am happy and comfortable to say “thank you”.

This is because I’ve come to know that God is not self-seeking. He is gratified and fulfilled when you are praised and honored. His eyes are always seeking the best for you, and He’s never worried about what He gets in return. He isn’t provoked easily or ever angered beyond His desire for complete love. He’s not “high maintenance,” and He never wants you to walk in fear of offending or hurting Him. He’s happy when we are praised and appreciated by our fellow brethren, because he only wants what is best for us.

Organised religion has also introduced us to the God who induces obedience by blessing us for good deeds and punishing us for bad deeds. But this defiles the nature of God. He is not impressed or more predisposed to bless you because you’ve come so far in your spirituality. He’s proud of you because you are His child. God does not bless us for being good little boys and girls. God blesses us because God blesses. He sends rain to both the righteous and the unrighteous.

God is not even vindictive or vengeful. During the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, it was quite common to hear our nation’s pastors explain that this was a plague sent by God to punish the homosexuals. Every bad thing that happens in this world gets blamed upon God. We truly believe that God has the character and personality of the devil.

God’s vengeance is never on people; it’s on the devil. God does not delight in getting revenge on people, and He never participates in it. God delights in forgiveness. I’ve seen people actually get excited when they think God has gotten back at someone on their behalf.

The purpose of the Old Testament is to point the way to Christ …the church continues to run back to the Old Testament principles…They prefer to embrace the comfortable rules of religion rather than the confusing, difficult freedom of relationship.

Chris Mhlongo, A short piece as preached at Believer’s Meeting (Cape Town, 2014)

The Now

live_in_the_now_inspiration_(4)It is a common thing that most people live in the past and in the future. Particularly if the past has been undesirable, then one focuses their energy on building a better future. But by living in the past or future, we forfeit the now. This is because one cannot be in the past, present and future at the same time. Thus if one’s life is centred on some unknown future, then the present is a struggle to realise a better future.

It would seem as human people we are taught from a young age to look forward to the future. But this is more than the mere visualisation of the future. We are taught to adore the future, to work for the future, to live for the future. Very little emphasis is placed on the present. The consequence of this is that, there’s very little appreciation and regard for the people and experiences we have now. As such, they are only minimised to instruments for the attainment of that envisioned future.

Children are taught to dream; it is common place that many a parent would ask their offspring “what do you want to become when you grow up?” The children on the other hand, are well trained to respond to this type of inquiries. The answer would normally be spelled as “I want to be a doctor/lawyer/accountant and have a nice car/house in a particularised suburb, with two children and a dog”. The well socialised parent would then proceed to smile and congratulate their enlightened offspring on the adoption of this organised acculturation.

The entire livelihood of the child will then be directed at acquiring this ‘vision’. For it is glorified as life; a complete life. The imminent implication is that the present is not enough; it is lacking and thus warrants no pride or indebtedness. Sayings such as ‘life begins at 40′ can often be heard regurgitated among progressive homo sapiens.  The only problem becomes, when the child- now an adult- arrives at this esteemed ‘life’ it in itself is not sufficient; it is lacking.  What had been pedestaled as the ideal future is itself not complete and thus one proceeds to hope for a better future- an ever coming future, for that matter- until they time on earth expires.

But to live in the future is to lose the now. Most people are comfortable spending their whole lives waiting to start living. When we view the future as the ideal, then the now becomes a pain- and we don’t appreciate pain.The present moment is everything you have and will ever have. Everything else is actually a product of the now. As such the primary focus of ones life should be on the now.

The past has happened,and it will never come back. The future is uncertain, and none of us know what tomorrow will bring us. The present moment is all you have. Even when you choose to live in the past, you can only live in the past now; if you visualise the future, you can only do so now. So both the past and the future come in junction now.

When your attention is on the Now, you feel peace and stillness. You no longer depend on the future for fulfilment and satisfaction. You no longer look to the future for salvation. Neither do you become attached to the results. Failure and success has no power over you henceforth. This is of course easier said than done, when you are constantly bombarded with social pressure to glorify the future and shun the past.

But anything we do not appreciate brings us pain. Anything we don’t work with, works against us. Failure to appreciate the now breeds a life of strife, suffering and unsatisfactory. If our entire existence is channelled towards the future, then the now becomes an obstacle that we want to get over to realise the future. Instead of working with the now, we work against the now and jeopardise the future.

There’s absolutely nothing in our lives that is never now. Everything we need and want is in the now- in this present moment. It is not waiting for us in some unknown future. It is only our belief system that tells us we must wait for it in the next moment, or the next dispensation of our lives. But only if one can make a conscious decision to be fully present in the now, then they would realise that their whole life is in the now. Life is now; reality is now; health is now; beauty is now. Anything that does not exist in the now does not in reality exist.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in his entire splendor was dressed like one of these.” If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Based on the above wisdom, why do you suppose that the flowers and the birds are provided for with no effort on their part? Because they don’t have previously established traditional false beliefs that create fear which blocks what has been provided to them as their birth right. They don’t fear or worry that they will go hungry or without clothing.They do not live in the future, but they are fully in the now. They haven’t been taught that they must work long and hard at jobs that are displeasing to have their needs met. They receive effortlessly and continually year after year because they fully appreciate the life that is the now.

Chris Mhlongo, A short Extract, As preached @ Main Church

The Power of Belief

belief

At the genesis of all human actions, reactions, behavior and responses lie a fixed belief system. Beliefs have power to make one or to break them.  What propels us forward in life, or holds us back are our held beliefs. At the heart of everything we do, or fail to do lies either an empowering belief system or a defeating belief system. Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy. Be careful of what you believe, because it becomes your lived reality.

Beliefs can empower us or cage us forever. There was an elephant at a circus that was chained to a pole as an infant. He tried to break away, but was not strong enough to. Over time, he became monstrous. One day, the circus accidentally went on fire, and the elephant died. He was enormous, and could have easily ripped the pole out of the ground to run away to safety, but there was a self-limiting belief in his mind that told him he would not be able to do it, and so he did not even try.

What you believe shapes who you are as a person, what things come into and out of your life, and affects your overall quality of life. What you observe in the external is sometimes a direct product of the internal belief system. Of course, there are certain occurrences that we have no control over; but there are some manifestations that we architect through our ascribed belief systems.

For instance, if one has trained themselves to believe life is difficult, people will always disappoint you, you have to work very hard to get anywhere in life, being rich is evil- one creates the energy internally that manufactures their outward reality. In this sense therefore, belief is the cause and the manifestation and materialization of the outward reality is the effect. What we believe inwardly reflects outwardly.

A held belief system never leaves one unaffected and untainted. I believe a litmus test of what we truly believe is the way we lead our lives. For instance, one cannot claim to believe in a loving, peaceful, caring, abundant and forgiving God, and yet reflect a life that is stagnant, regressive, negative, fearful, restless, lacking and full of strife and hatred.

Sometimes one has to take a deep look inward to see what beliefs truly drive their lives.  To see which God one truly ‘worships’. There comes times when one has to unreservedly and honestly look at how one lives their life and juxtapose that with what they believe. How we see God, and who we have believed him to be determines our relation to him- either one of enslavement or one of freedom.

There tends to be apparent gaps between what one says they believe, and what they truly believe. For an example if one believes God is with them at all times, and always looks after them, they cannot lead a life full of constant worry, anxiety, panic, and fear. One thing has to be true and the other false. Either one does not really believe in this ‘present, protecting, providing’ God, or this God is not really what he claims to be. It is sometimes possible to claim to believe something, whilst in utter reality one actually believes something else. To judge what one truly believes, examine their very lived life.

Any thought that does not reflect what is (reality) leads to fragmentation and that leads to conflict. Conflict leads to suffering. To believe in something, and not to live it, is utmost dishonesty. For example, let’s say I feel hatred and I want to get rid of it. Getting rid of the hatred is a good thing. But the reality is that the attempt to get rid of the hatred is the source of my suffering- I have fragmented myself. On the other hand let’s say I recognize that I am the hatred (because the observer and the observed are the same thing. Then the conflict ends. The suffering is over.

One cannot experience that which they are internally not. And so to hate, one has to become the hatred. One is hate. Anything you resent and strongly react to in another is also in you. You have to be it first for you to experience it. The problem therefore does not become the hatred but you. Once I have conquered self-hatred, I would have exterminated the hatred I feel for another.

So I should first rather recognise that I am the hatred and then having accepted that reality, hatred will begin to wash through me and pass with less resistance. There is a general principle in life and that is, anything we fight we strengthen and everything we resist persists. So this means as soon as there is any energy of non-acceptance, the thought that something should be changed, we slip into resistance and turn our energy in on ourself – in conflict with ourselves. As soon as we bring in energies of acceptance, allowing, surrender, trust – somehow transformation takes place naturally.

The same is true of wanting but not having. A conflict occurs in the inside which prevents what one wants to manifest in the physical. First of all the fact that you want something implies lack. By wanting a thing means that you don’t have it. That wanting creates a specific emotion within you which emanates energy or a vibration of “I don’t have.” And so inwardly you have convinced yourself and made yourself to believe “I want it” or “I don’t have”. As a result your reality becomes “want” or “not having” because that is precisely what you are broadcasting and “asking” for.

So how can you want it and not have it? When you want something you enter a state of conflict instead of a state of harmony. Wanting creates strife, unhappiness, a state of discontentment, struggle and disappointment. What you want to do is not to want but to have. The first instance is not to believe that you want it, because that implies you are insufficient and lacking. But to believe that you have it. You thus first own it in the spiritual become it manifests in the physical. You recognise that you had it in you even before you thought you wanted it. When you know you have something, the external wanting disappears because we already have it on the inside. Once you have developed the inner knowing it won’t be long until you’re experiencing it in the physical outside.

Jesus says, “Whatsoever things ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them and ye shall have them.” He doesn’t say believe that you will have it, or hope that you shall have it, or pray that it shall come to pass. But he says believe it now, in the present; even in its physical absence and the consequence of that is that you shall have it in the physical.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in his entire splendor was dressed like one of these.” If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Based on the above wisdom, why do you suppose that the flowers and the birds are provided for with no effort on their part? Because they don’t have previously established traditional false beliefs that create fear which blocks what has been provided to them as their birth right. They don’t fear or worry that they will go hungry or without clothing. They haven’t been taught that they must work long and hard at jobs that are displeasing to have their needs met. They receive effortlessly and continually year after year because they have no concept of non-belief.

Belief is restrainful; It creates boundaries. It establishes boulders where there were previously none. Your beliefs become your life, your reality, the energy that moves you and sometimes stagnates you. So choose carefully which beliefs you ascribe to. For instance some believe life is meant to be hard, you cannot find a job without a degree, being broke runs in the family,  money is hard to come by, its spiritual to be poor, the lesser you have the more closer to God you are, money is evil; these self-limiting beliefs then become their reality.

Your beliefs become your God. So before you proceed to claim belief in God- which God do you believe in? Which God do you truly worship? When belief in a specific God is truly consolidated, then one claims a state of oneness with the proposed divinity. It is in this oneness that peace, wholeness and harmony becomes a natural reality.

Chris Mhlongo, A Short Extract, As presented at Khayelitsha Church, Cape Town (2014)

Dancing in the Rain

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Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain. Oh yes, you can dance in the rain!

 You can dance like nobody is watching. You don’t have to find a shelter; you don’t have to wait for the rain to stop. You can dance until the rainbow comes out. Optimism isn’t about not acknowledging the reality of a situation; it’s about trying to find happiness despite its bleakness. For even in the darkest dark, there is the star; in the rainiest rain, there will be a rainbow. For without the rain, there never would be a rainbow. So in the midst of the rain, throw your hands out and dance! Even if you can’t dance, you can jump around laughing happily. That’s the spirit! Until the inner strength overcomes outward adversity by enjoying its adrenalin rush!

It is highly possible to smile in the rain. There is beauty even in the things that we were told where not beautiful; when others only see a canvas, you can see a work of art just waiting to happen. When others cannot see beyond the seed- you can see the tree, the fruits, and the beauty. You can believe, you can dream, you can hope.

You can smile because you know that the rainbow is going to come. For it is the rain that brings out the rainbow. Some want the rainbow, but are not willing to put up with the rain. But moreover, once it has rained, then flowers blossom, dust settles, trees grow, life flourish. For the rain, although seemly as a deterrent and a source of destruction- actually carries with it life. Some people get caught up in the storminess of the rain, that they forget that in the end it brings life, growth, progress, fertility. There is nothing that I loved as a child and continue to love as the smell after rain! The calmness, the freshness, the quietness, the cool air, the relaxed atmosphere. That is why it is important not to confuse your path with your destiny. Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean there won’t be any rainbow afterwards. Just because it’s stormy doesn’t mean you are not headed for sunshine.   The storm is just a path; it’s not your destiny.

The other day I was doing some gardening at my home. I then realized clouds were beginning to collect in the sky. The weather immediately started to change- heavy winds started to blow, it became darker and as I looked up in the heavens the clouds were dark and heavy like coal.  A few hours later, it started to pour- the rain had finally come. As I watched the cold sharp waters falling down and seeping into the fiber of the earth, I questioned where this sudden rain came from did. The point I came down to was that:  It rains because the clouds can no longer handle the weight; just as tears fall because the heart can no longer handle the pain. After the rain, the sky opened up and the sun was slightly beginning to be visible again; the same thing that happens when a saddened heart has allowed itself to shed tears and wail- afterwards the heart feels much better and less heavy and can face the situation with clearer lenses. So crying always end in relief and a sense of disclosure; the same is true of the rain. So when it suddenly rains in your life, it is a sign that your relief is near. Your release is nearer than ever before; you’ve carried the weight it’s enough- ease and lightness is now at your door. Your trouble is about to end.

The magnitude of the rain, and the duration of the storm is determined by the density or heaviness of the waters. The same is true of the sunshine and rainbow that comes afterwards. Have you ever realized where it has not rained for a very long period of time, the hour it rains it is going to be great and prolonged. But afterwards more time for relief is granted and greater lengths of time go on without the rain.

Everything happens for a cause. In the same manner the rain does not come down without watering the ground. No matter how windy or stormy it sometimes proves to be, one can always find beauty in the rain. The life, the providence, the fertility, the coolness and freshness that comes with the rain; moreover the awesome smell after the rain and the dawning of the cool sun. But most importantly, you can’t have the rainbow without the rain. So thank God for the rain! How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain.

Chris Mhlongo: A short extract on Luke 22:32. As preached at  New Dawn Annual Conference 2014

To Whom Much is Given Much is Expected

baby_plant.28104733From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. There is an inextricable connection that exists between giving and receiving- the understanding that one has so that they can become a channel of receiving for others. The other day I was watching Spiderman’s movie, and it was his uncle that gave him this advice: “with great power, comes great responsibility”. It was only after a while, having applied some imagination that I realized that one is not privileged with power, resource, intellection, talent, thoughts for the sole purpose of individual consumption; but they are a limited resource from which others become gracious beneficiates.

There is an honest expectation that is imbued upon whoever is in the position of having or being. To exhaust this point further: the head of a state is afforded particular comfort and security with respect to the immense responsibility of looking out for the wellbeing of the civic; an executive officer of an enterprise is rewarded in accordance with greater managerial authority and workforce skills which they must apply. Every promotion presents with it greater challenges and pressures. And the officer is remunerated to express the magnitude of pressure inherent in their position of authority.

This ideation is highly extensive and can most possibly encompass endless illustrations. But the one thing that is similar in all instances, is the assumption that given any adjustments, the end result will complement if not exceed the initial reality. For instance, a company invests in a deal, project, or initiative that promises to bring even greater profits and advancement. A good employee is induced with greater remuneration packages or experience for them to jump ship; one rarely decides to marry unless they perceive the investment as making them better in the long run (the short run is always herculean).    Parents send their offspring to schools so that they can receive a superior education and can be beneficiates of a better life experience. So expectation is something that is deeply inculcated in facile human systems.

It is within this deep understanding of human cultural systems that the Christ presents this fable. Human people appreciate figuration (saying something about something in which something is compared with something else) just as much as we enjoy illustrations, symbols and tales. Parables are allegorical reserves from which one can extract an elixir of understanding. He thus begins by saying:

A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down

Luke 13: 6-9

Jesus speaks to us in parables and parabolic truths are extremely profound from which we can extract a panacea of wisdom for years to come because they have the fluidity of being used by God to portray many different things; they are idioms of communication that are designed to appeal to our situations at various times. Unlike eschatology, or anthropology, or entomology, which has a specificity of thought and rigidity of content; a parable has a liquidity of wisdom.

So Jesus uses parables as a teaching tool, for example when you look at the prodigal son, and one day you look at the older son and the next day you look at the father’s household, we are able to see for instance the sacrificial lamb that was slaughtered so that the son could be forgiven, and then we see the coat which symbolizes the propriety of our sins, and then the ring  we see the seal of sonship and there is also mention of the swine and the hog pen which characterieses the fellowship that we had with inequity but God who is rich in mercy called us whilst we were fellowshipping with swine, excommunicated us from our past delivered into our destiny and set us free.

The power of parables is so profound, is so prolific, and is so didactic, that every time we look at it we see things that we did not see before. So the Christ is not just playing with our minds when he speaks of the fig tree. The fig tree is symbolic of a profound truth. A truth which has personal resonation with one’s individual person and life. This is particularly true of this parable: it is especially selfish- requiring self-surveying and critical examination of essentia.

And he says “a certain man”, which in direct interpretation has reference to God, “had a fig tree that was planted”.  I want to talk a minute about the thought of being planted.

I am Plated.  This is not a wild tree this is not a wild branch; this is not something that came into existence by happenstance or by incidence. This is not the birthing of a tree that happened to fall to the ground from a fermented fig and started to grow on its own volition. This tree was planted, in a specific place, by a specific time, by a stronger vessel than itself, because you cannot plant yourself. So it would grow in a particular place, in a particular direction so it would produce a particular fruit.

One of the things that are particular to understand at the very rudiment of the text is that you have been planted. This means that regardless of the situation of your birth, regardless of whether your father stayed with your mother, regardless of whether you were born out of a rape, or molestation. Regardless of whether you were adopted, regardless of any circumstance you have to know that you have been planted.

You are not an accident, you are not an incidence, you are not something that just happens or by stance, but you have been plated in a specific place, in a specific time, in a specific gender, in a specific ethnicity, with specific talents and gifts for a divine purpose.

For Such a Time as This- There is a specific correlation between my birth date and my purpose, because I could have been born any gender, any time. But I am handcrafted for the time in which I am living in. I could have been born Caucasian, or Indian or White. But he planned me, prepared me, and chose me for such a time as this. I could have been born during in the industrial age, I could have been born during the Cold War, I could have been born during apartheid- but he set me aside and chose that I should be born in this time, in this generation, in this age. I was born for such a time as this! I am not a mistake. Joseph was born for the days he was living in. He rescued and preserved a nation through the tough time of drought, famine and economic decline. Jonah was born for the time of his generation. Ester was born for the days of his generation. Jesus was born just at the right time, for a special purpose that was specially timetabled for the days he was living in.

He owns me.  What the man planted was his. He owned what he planted. The fig tree was his. It is possible to plant something that is not yours. I am his- everything I am, and everything I am not- I am his. He owned the fig tree before it produced anything worth owning. He owned it as a seed. He owned it as a seed he owned it as a sapling. He owned it when there was no benefit in owning it. When there was no gain in owning it. When it was more of a liability than an asset, He owned it. When it was so small when no unskilled eye could tell what kind of tree or seed it was, he owned it. He saved it and preserved it and kept it, and nurtured it because he owned it. He knew what it could be before it was, because he owned it. He believed in it enough to plant it because he owned it.

The expectations of the owner–  You don’t take care of a seed, prepare a soil, plant it at an appropriate time, in a particular spot, where the weeds will not overcome it, and the rocks will not destroy it, and the various rodents will not kill it- if you didn’t have an  expectation. Expectations are very important. The same thing is true of noble parents. They don’t just feed their young and send them to sleep without expectations. They don’t go to work and enslave themselves just so they could provide for their youth without having some expectations.

Return on Investment– it is clear in the text that the owner has a definite expectation. And periodically he comes around to see his return on investment (ROI). ROI is a business term which means return on investment. You evaluate the worth and the wealth of a business project or a money market account, or anything within which you have made a deposit or an investment based on its ROI. It doesn’t matter the magnitude of the investment if the return is good enough it’s still a good deal. What you don’t want to do is be in a situation where the ROI is less than the investment. If the return is less than the investment then you have to make a decision.

When Justice demanded death, Mercy said No– Justice demands that I collect on my investment. Justice demands that if I loan you some money I have the right to knock on your door and collect. I am not being mean; I am not being unfair; justice demands what belongs to it. It is evident from the text that Justice is frustrated and now says for three years I came expecting you to grow up, and again and again I found you in the nursery of intellectualism, still playing in the playground of foolishness, drunk on the milk, and have a problem of childish ideology.

One More Chance– Now dung is the stinky unpleasant stuff. But it is necessary for the growth of a healthy plant- Nothing you’ve been through will be wasted. God can use the waste, the history, the bad stuff the stinky stuff to bring us to the next level of breakthrough. How many times do we fall short and fail to live up to our calling? It is terrifying to think that we- who are living in the digital age, when there’s so much technology and convenience; when we have bibles in our cellphones, and in every room in our homes; when we can hear a sermon anytime online, and are constantly exposed to so much information- fail to bear fruit. Isn’t it only far, considering the immensity of Gods investment on us, that we should be cut and destroyed for unfruitfulness? But he gives us more grace. He is the God of the second, third and fourth chances.  His mercies are endless and anew each morning. But there’s also a time when divine mercy can be exhausted- God forbid that this should happen to any one of us.

Chris Mhlongo: A Short Extract, as ministered @ Main-Church

Chosen

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 You are Chosen For Such a Time as This!

And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you:and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him. And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither. And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him. And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt? And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded:and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him”

Mark 11:1-11

The triumphal entry was the last week of the Christ’s earthly life, when he made his appearance in Jerusalem as a meek King, riding upon a colt. Such was a crucial point in history and of the entire making of the biography of the Christ. In the midst of such an important agenda, and preparing for the triumphal entry which was to signal that he is the victorious king, the conqueror, the reigning lord; he bid his disciples to go find a colt which has been specially prepared for such a time as this. The colt is nowhere before and after mentioned in scriptural discourse, yet it is such an important actor in the life of the Christ. It was chosen at the right time, for the right purpose, by the right person.

The beauty of the text lies in the understanding that we (just like the colt) have been CHOSEN to fulfill a divine destiny. To each is specially subscribed and attached a special mandate: a song to sing, a move to dance, a text to write, a story to narrate, a part to act. None of us can be described as a mere crash of event, an accidental purpose, an unexpected phenomena. The truth of the text llies in the comprehension that, you have been chosen! You have been picked, set apart, and ordained with a special sacred mandate that only you can fulfill. The mandate might not have been made clear yet, you might not understand where you fit, what your purpose is; but this does not remove nor diminish the truth that you are chosen.

The design of a product always reflects the purpose it will fulfill. The same is true of the colt. The mouth of a bird is designed to allow it to feed upon its prey. The fish is designed with gills so it can breath in water; the bear is designed with thick coat of skin that retains heat so it can survive in extremely cold weather. The eagle is designed with strong feet and claws so it can pick up prey double its weight. The way you are is never far away from your purpose. Your purpose is never far fetched: it is within your abilities, your personality, your likes, your passion, your interests, your inspirations.

Christ knew exactly where the colt was.  Christ is one area, and he speaks of a colt tied somewhere in another area. How did he know? Not only does he know its geographical location, but he knows the exact spot it is situated. Isn’t it beautiful to know that God knows where you are. When others seem to pass you by, when others have forgotten about you. When you see stuck in one place, in one position in one station in life’s cycle- God knows where you are! He sees you, and he is not oblivious to your situation.

Not only did Christ know where the colt was, he also knew its history. he knew that no body had ridden it. God knows us infinitely. He is well acquainted with our past. He knows where we have been, he knows our background; he knows how we grew up, he knows what we struggled with.  The tendency is we always want to shield our history and background from people, because of fear and insecurities. We keep it in closets because we perhaps don’t want the pity, shame, and sometimes the judgement that comes with our past exposed. For many of us, our past is not good, and thus it would make sense why we would want to hide it. But God wants to use your history, your background, your past to bring about a great purpose.

Prepared for a Blessing- the colt was divinely positioned and it was prepared for a blessing. For with divinity there is no room for accident, incidence or coincidence.  This lets us know God is “God of Preparation” and he prepares people to fulfill their purpose. You are more than prepared to fulfill your purpose.  Divinity has invested time and potential in you. Divinity believes in you. God invested in you because he knows you can bring the return. You are more than capable. God prepares people and resources through which to bless us- “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies”.

God has his own timetable- when the time was right; God loosed the colt, sat on it and led it unto its divine destiny. For with God, everything has its own perfect time! The tendency sometime is we want to be loosed too soon. We want to be like everyone. But not all meals cook right about the same time. There are some light meals that only take a few seconds in the Microwave to cook; and then there are solid meals that require time in the heat to boil and cook deep and properly. In the very same sense, when one’s shopping list is long, one relatively takes longer in the grocery store. But one whose list is shorter, comes in and immediately out of the grocery shop. The means, the greater your purpose the greater the time you can be expected to wait. The time waited, is not time wasted. Christ waited for thirty years to prepare for a ministry that was to last for only three years, have generational impact and consequences. Waiting can make you gain the necessary weight to carry your purpose!

If God can use a colt then surely he can use You- “The Lord hath need of him”. How can the Creator have need of the created? How can he need a colt that is ‘all-tied-up’? BUT even the lowliest things have some high purpose, or capacity of glorifying God. They may exclusively or more fittingly express the divine glory. The truth of the matter is, God has a purpose that he needs you to fulfil on earth. He needs you to fulifl that mandate. He has faith in you, and he needs you to take your stand and bestow your gift to the world. A colt can be regarded as a weak thing, a cheap thing. A colt is not worth comparing much with a Stallion of a horse. But even the lowly horse, the lord has use for it. He could have chosen a white horse, but he chooses a rejected, looked down upon despised, seemly useless colt.

Sit on me! – When Christ sat upon the colt, the colt began to move! The word sit in Greek has the idea of taking charge, or command or being in authority- “Heaven is his Throne and the earth is his footstool”. God sits on his Throne, just as a king, judge, or executive would sit to show they are in charge. Before Christ sat on the colt it did not move; but suddenly after he sat on it, it moved to its destiny. If only Christ can sit on you, you will do wonders; if only Christ can sit upon families, if only he can sit upon our churches, if only he can sit upon our children, then everything will align to its purpose. When Christ sits, he takes charge. When the judge sits, it says to everybody that the court is now in session. If Christ can sit upon you, he will ride you to your destiny. 

Christ has chosen us in Him before the beginning of time to fulfil divine destiny. When we meekly submit to him, he will sit on us and elevate us to walk in that destination, unleash our full potential and ride us into the presence of greatness.

Chris Mhlongo, A short Extract as Preached @ Victoria Falls Synagogue

She’s Worth it

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 Give her the reward she has earned; and let her own works bring her praise her in the city gate

Proverbs 31:31

she is not less of a man, just because she is a woman: why women don’t have to outcompete & outperform men, just to get the same recognition that men receive.

The strenuous advocacy of the rights of women by shrill oratory has injured the true cause of women by covering a serious subject with ridicule, and suggesting the unreality of the grievances urged. When extravagant demands are made, people assume that every just right has been conceded; and when the self-elected advocates of women put forth a programme which the great body of wives and daughters repudiate, it is supposed that there is no ground for considering any complaint as to the legal and social treatment of women. But this is unreasonable and unjust. There are women’s rights, and these fights are by no means universally conceded.

The Oriental notion, that women are but idle ornaments of the harem, finds no place in the Bible. Here they appear freely in the world, and, though their first duties are in the home, they are not idle, nor are they wanting in enterprise. The ideal woman in the Book of Proverbs is a manufacturer, a merchant, and a landowner. Woman’s work cannot be wholly the same as man’s, because nature has placed limitations upon her physical energies. But she has spheres for work, and it is cruel, unjust, and selfish to keep her out of any region of activity where she can do good service, by law or by social displeasure. To choose to work as a woman is not some form of rebellion or wayward thinking that needs correction. To choose to prioritise your career as a woman, relative to the pursuit of an immediate family is not a wrongful shameful act that needs to be pitied. Even to choose not to marry, and commit oneself to civil service and the pursuit of human politics is not a lone, sorrowful pursuit devoid of fulfilment and happiness. Women have the right, and even the divine privilege to choose to order the discourses of their lives in a manner that is not essentially in keeping with societal accepted norms and expectations. Two wrongs in particular need to be swept away.

1. The motion that work is degrading to a woman. Surely idleness is more degrading. It is rightly said that woman’s sphere is the home. But it is not every woman who has a home. Surely it is a degrading and insulting idea that the main business of a young woman is to secure a husband, and so obtain a home. There are women who are manifestly cut out for other positions; many women never have an opportunity of obtaining a home of their own except by sacrificing themselves to men whom they do not love. In early life young girls are not the better for being kept in idleness, waiting for the chance that may turn up. Half the ailments of women of the comfortable classes come from want of occupation. It needs to be known and recognized that it is a right and honourable thing for a woman to be engaged in any ordinary occupation that is suitable to her powers.

2. The fear of rivalry with men. There have been professions the members of which have bitterly resented the invasion of their ranks by women. Such trade unionism is most ungenerous. It is an humiliation to have to confess that men could not hold their own unless under a system of protection against the competition of women. Certainly no Christian principle can justify such selfishness.

Give her what she’s worth 

1. In payment. The wife who earns wages has a right to her purse as much as the husband to his. Where there is a true marriage, no thought of separate interests will rouse any jealousy as to the several possessions of the two. But true marriage is not always realized. We see brutal husbands living idly on the earnings of their wives. It is not enough that the poor women are supposed to be protected by a Married Woman’s Property Act, for the husband is still too often the tyrant of the home. We shall only see a more just arrangement when Christian principles are applied to domestic practices.

2. In honour. “Let her own works praise her in the gates.” Women who contribute to the service of society are deserving of double honour, because they have had to work under exceptional disadvantages. Women who have proved themselves wise, industrious, and generous in the home life do not receive their meed of praise. Too much is taken for granted, and accepted without thanks, because the service is constant and the sacrifice habitual. In after years, when it is too late to give the due acknowledgment, many a man has had to feet sharp pangs of regret at his heedless treatment of a wife’s patient toil or a mother’s yearning love.

3. In position. Opportunity should be proportionate to capacity. If women can work, they should have scope for work. It is the duty of Christian society to give to woman her true position. If she be “the weaker vessel,” she needs more consideration, not less justice. Christ gave high honours to women, accepted their devoted service, and laid the foundation of Christian justice in regard to them.Within the job market, there is wide spread job discrimination, paying men and women unequally who have the same job of equal standards and have equal seniority. Although this has been illegal in the United States since the 1963 Equal Pay Act and Title XII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, it does not, however, mean that unequal pay for men and women is a thing of the past. Jobs of comparable work that are traditionally held by women consistently get paid less than those traditionally held by men. Women although diligent hard workers are seen as the cheaper instrument, they are more subservient and obedient, and they rarely dream anything above being an administrative secretary or nurse, but openly and unceasingly fantasise about the idea of marrying the doctor-guy colleague or the manager-boss. It becomes an accepted norm that women rarely dream beyond and above finding someone to love them, marry them and give them children.

Within the job market women are mostly less competitive, and less demanding, and relatively honest and faithful to the company. They will not unlike their male counterparts rise to the boss’ office and demand a raise. They are able to do more with less, and be complacent with a meagre salary, and a fixed lifestyle. Their ideal however is accepted as finding a male partner who will provide financial stability for them, but this is not a duty they perceive as their own immediate responsibility. Many women are happy for instance with a man that pays for dates, and always searches his pockets, as this is viewed as a sign that he can provide security and stability, the same however is never expected of them.

Particularly because of such judgements of women as consisting of aspirations that are limited to getting married and having a family, employers engage in valuative discrimination. Women’s careers are interrupted among many things by pregnancy, marriage and quitting the job or staying off the job market to spend time to rear a family. Thus the male is a much more stable job candidate when considering these regards.

This is especially saddening because the role of being a mother is unappreciated and less acknowledged in this male driven society.In this white male dominated business culture, which alienates and isolate minorities and women, when woman choses to quit their career to become a mother this is seen as a step backward, as a weakness, as somewhat a not so positive thing to the economy- there is in fact a name for this and it’s called, motherhood penalty. Mother’s Work is Not Acknowledged. Whenever economic statistics are taken of the goods and services in the economy, the unpaid services performed inside the household are always left out. Mothers at home are, by definition, unproductive, even though by educating and socializing their children they contribute to the human capital that is critical to economic growth. And because their work isn’t quantified, they disappear from pictures of the economy that are drawn with the data.

Chris Mhlongo, as preached @ Main-Church

Worth More than Rubies

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You are more important than you realise

What beauty a stone a ruby is. It is rare, it is scare and a priced jewel. In many instances, and considering its rarity, it is more expensive than even a diamond. Of such value, the virtuous woman is considered. She is not comparable to the most expensive stone.  You can get a ruby but it still cannot afford her. She is worth more than many rubies. Just as the ruby is scarce and rare so is a woman with virtue.

And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. Such a one is more valuable than precious stones. There may be allusion to the custom of giving treasure in exchange for a wife, purchasing her, as it were, from her friends. At any rate, few only are privileged to meet with this excellent wife, and her worth cannot be estimated by any material object, however costly. You may go to the ends of the earth to find her equal in value, but there is none. She is like a costly treasure not everywhere to be found; no commonplace blessing: an ornament and a joy above all that earth affords of rare and beautiful. A treasure on which the heart of the possessor ever dwells with delight

The Proverbs 31 woman is a wife, she is a mother, she is a chef, she is seamstress, she is a philanthropist, and she is a landowner, an entrepreneur. Many a women do noble things but she surpasses them all. She excels first at home, and she excels in society. In the first instaces she is pictured as existing within the beautiful framework of a home; she is a house wife. But before we go any further let me correct a few misperceptions: it is not wrong to be a house wife; there is nothing shameful, derogatory to be a wife and mother who does not dream of becoming ‘the wolf of wall street’. The problem with modern age feminist teaching is that they assume that every woman is against the idea of being a housewife, and can’t wait to get an opportunity to be liberated and challenge the corporate world. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I have met many women who aspire to be house wives. I have also met many other women who don’t want to be housewifes. Let me make it clear that this is a choice and a preference. Not every woman is cut to be a house wife, and not every woman is all for being a business woman.

The Proverbs 31 lady is presented within the framework of marriage. She is a wife. She is not a virtuous woman because she is wife, but she was a woman of virtue long before she became a wife. One in the like sense does not need to be married to be a Proverbs 31 lady. There is invaluable service for the world which only women who are free from the ties of home can accomplish; there is a noble mission for single women. But there is nothing in Scripture, reason, or conscience to suggest that virginity is more holy than marriage, that the maiden is more saintly than the matron.

Her character which is closely tied with her virtue comes out in quite a striking manner.  This is described in a graphic picture of her life—a picture which is in striking contrast to the ignorance, the indolence, the inanity of an Oriental harem. Observe its chief features.

She is trustworthy. The true wife is her husband’s confidant. She must be worthy of confidence by icing. She does not speak badly about him, or gossip him with her friends. She respects him, serves him, and looks out for his best interests. In short she plays her part in the marriage irrespective whether the husband is living up to his side of the bargain. Her husband trust her, and has no reason to doubt her; her friends can rely on her. Her word is her life. And she considers carefully the promises she makes, and rarely goes back on her word.

She is a hard working woman. Nothing can be more foolish than the notion that a “lady” should have no occupation. The ideal woman rises early and busies herself with many affairs. In old days, when the spinning was done at home and most of the family garments were made by the women of the house, the clothing of husband and children bore testimony to the industry of the wife. Machinery has destroyed this antique picture. Yet the spirit of it remains. The true wife still finds an abundance of domestic occupations.

She is a gifted woman. The wife of the Proverbs is quite a business woman, selling the superfluous work of her hands to merchants, and buying land with the proceeds. Yet by her foresight she provides warm clothing for the winter, and therefore she can afford to laugh when the snow cometh.

She is a strong woman. “She girds her loins with strength.” The idea of being strong is readily and mostly applied to men, but not so with the virtuous woman. She is a strong lady. She cannot be described as fragile, weak, inconsistent, undecided lady. She is strong both in mind and in body. The physical education of women is just now receiving especial attention, and rightly so. It is a woman’s duty to be strong, if by means of wholesome food and exercise she can conquer weakness. No doubt the ailments of many women spring from lassitude, indolence, and self-surrender. But eve, when bodily frailty cannot be conquered, strength of soul may be attained.

She is a charitable lady. The strong, hardworking and strategic, and so would be expected to be hard, cold, and selfish. But the true woman “stretches out her hand to the poor” (verse 20). She has a big and open heart that looks not only for the interests of her own household, but for strangers and members of her community. She is a free giver.

She is gracious in speech. So energetic a woman might still be thought somewhat unlovable if we had not this final trait: “in her tongue is the law of kindness” (verse 26). How much may the tone of a woman’s conversation do to keep peace in a household, and shed over it a spirit of love and gentleness! Words of beauty and consolement proceed out of her mouth. Not idle critiques, negative comments, nasty jokes. She is beautiful in thought and in speech.

It is quite fascinating that no mention is made of the physical attractiveness of the ideal woman. There is no evident connotation to her length, her weight, the width of her curves, and the tone of her skin. It could be that Lemuel’s mother had taught him that outward beauty is fictional and only fading away.

The beauty of the ideal woman is rooted in her virtuous character, who is fully acquinted with matters of spirituality. She is not necessarily a Christian woman, nor is she a Church going woman. She is a woman who fears God. The “woman that feareth the Lord” is to be prodded. Though, perhaps, less beautiful in form and countenance, she has the higher beauty of holiness. The Madonna stands infinitely above the Venus. The grace of the God-fearing woman has its own true attraction for those who can appreciate it.

In deciding how to conclude his narrative, the philosopher, devotes his chapter to the Proverbs 31 woman. She is worth emulating, the perfect example of how a mother and wife ought to carry themselves. Many have dismissed her as an ideal, an unreachable goal, something that only exists in wonderland and cannot be relayed to real practical life. But why would the teacher dedicate his time to a character that cannot at all be emulated? Why teach me how to build a car, when you know I cannot possibly build one?

And although she has to carry all these different titles, she fulfils them all with vigour and passion and fulfils them all well. She is a balanced woman, a visionary, a wise leader, a gracious being who cares for the interests of not only her family but also her community. Many a woman exist around the world, but she outshine them all.

Chris Mhlongo, as Preached at Women of Worth Conference, Cape Town

My Mother

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The oracles which his mother taught him -Proverbs 1: 1

My mother is a woman like no other- she gave me life she nurtured me, she taught me, dressed me, fought for me, held me, shouted at me, kissed me, but most importantly loved me unconditionally. There are no words I can use to describe just how important my mother was to me, and what a powerful influence she continues to be.

The sayings of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him. Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb! Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers! Do not spend your strength on women, your vigour on those who ruin kings. It is not for kings, Lemuel— it is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. Let beer be for those who are perishing, wine for those who are in anguish! Let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more. Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Proverbs 31: 1-9

The words of King Lemuel, the oracle which his mother taught him– the name Lemuel, means, “Unto God”. Dedicated to God. When he was born, his mother dedicated him to the Lord. His life was thus directed from the onset, in this direction. What a beautiful woman, and mother. And how blessed to have been raised by such. How many a mother dedicate their children to the lord, and how many even teach them about deity; how many inculcate on their children a spiritual ideology, how many teach them how to pray.

These are a mother’s counsel to her son—wise and good and eloquent with love and yearning anxiety. Here is a picture to suggest the inestimable advantage to a young man of a mother’s guidance. In thoughtless, high-spirited youth this too often passes unheeded, and precious advice is then wasted on ungrateful ears. It would be more seemly to consider its unique merits.

It springs from a woman’s nature– We have many beautiful pictures of women in the Bible. Inspired women have conveyed to us some parts of the biblical teaching. Deborah (5:7), the mother of Samuel, and now the mother of Lemuel, all help us with great Divine truths or holy thoughts and influences. It is the gift of women to see into truth with a flash of sympathy. The wonder is that we have so small a part of the Bible from the tongue and pen of women.

It is inspired by a mother’s heart– The biblical gallery of holy women does not introduce us to the cloisters. The Hebrew heroines were “mothers in Israel,” not nuns. Maternity completes woman. “The perfect woman, nobly planned,” is one who can think, love, and act with the large heart of a mother.

It is characterised by unselfish devotion-There is nowhere in all creation such an image of utterly unselfish, of completely self-sacrificing love as that of a woman for her child. She almost gives her life for his infant existence. All through his helpless years she watches over him with untiring care. When he goes forth into the world, she follows him with never-flagging interest. He may forget her; she will never forget him. If he does well, her joy is unbounded; if he does ill, her heart is broken. Without a thought of self, she spends herself on her child, and finds her life or her death in his conduct.

It is guided by deep knowledge– The mother may not know much of the outer world; she may be quite ignorant of the most recent dicta of science; some of her notions may seem old-fashioned to her modern-minded son. But foolish indeed will he be if he dares to despise her counsels on such grounds. She knows him—his strength and his weakness, his childish faults and his early promises. Here lies the secret of her wisdom.

It cannot be neglected without cruel ingratitude– The son may think himself wiser than his mother, but at least, he should give reverent attention to her advice. So much love and care and thoughtfulness do not deserve to be tossed aside in a moment of impatience. The wise son will acknowledge that his mother’s wishes deserve his most earnest consideration. It may be, then, that he will be held back in the hour of temptation by the thought of the poignant grief that his shameful fall would give to his mother. It is much for a life to be worthy of a good Christian mother’s counsel.

Lemuel was a king, and these are the teachings inspired to him by his mother. Although he was a high ranking official in his society, he did not despise his mother or even her teachings. He now produces them, as learnt from her bosom. She was no doubt a wise woman, a spiritual woman, an experienced woman, and no doubt a mother who loves her son. She raised him, she taught him, she inspired him, and she guided him. Lemuel could look at himself and say I am where I am, what I am, because of my mother. I am a direct product of her teachings. The duty of teaching children is sometimes thought to be something that the daddy must do; but Lemuel was taught this oracles by her very mother.

These are the words Lemuel sucked from his mother’s bosom, we are not informed of the father. We can speculate as to the position of his father, but as far as we know, his mother was his inspiration, and she taught him valuable lesson on life. He might have been raised by a single mother; but he turned out quite well. Being raised without a father should not be looked at as being a curse, one can be raised and taught by his or her mother, and be a complete being. His mother did not excuse the need to teach his son, by the apparent absence of a father; she took it upon herself to inspire and to teach her male son. She did not push him to the uncles or to the other prominent men in society, but she taught him that ‘my son this is how you choose a wife…’, ‘this is how a man ought to behave’.

His mother not only dedicated him, but also trained him. The early experiences of the mother include much beyond the physical realm; they include the education of the intellect, the training of the Will, and the first imparting of religious instruction, the solemn dedication of her child to the service of God, repeated and earnest prayer on his behalf. Her child is not only her offspring; he is “the son of her vows,” the one on whom she has expanded her most fervent piety.

Give not your strength unto women- don’t spend your life, your energy chasing after women. Don’t let your vigour be sapped and enervated by sensuality. The prayerful, anxious mother would consider rather her son’s personal wellbeing than his worldly circumstances. Women are meant; and the prince is enjoined not to surrender his life, conduct, and actions to the influence of women, who, both by the dissipation and sensuality which they occasion, and the quarrels which they provoke, and the evil counsels which they give, often ruin kings and states. The Septuagint reads, “Give not thy wealth unto women, nor thy mind, nor thy life unto remorse. Do all things with counsel; drink wine with counsel.”

It is not for kings; or, as others read, far be it from kings. The idea is emphasised to signify its importance. Nor for princes strong drink; literally, nor for princes (the word), Where is strong drink? The evils of intemperance, flagrant enough in the case of a private person, are greatly enhanced in the ease of a king, whose misdeeds may affect a whole community. There is no secret where drunkenness reigns. The proverb says, “When wine goes in the secret comes out;” and, “Where drink enters, wisdom departs;” and again.” The Septuagint reads, “The powerful are irascible, but let them not drink wine.”

This gives a reason for the warning. Lest they drink, and forget the Law. That which has been decreed, and is right and lawful, the appointed ordinance, particularly as regards the administration of justice. The Septuagint reads, “Lest drinking, they forget wisdom.” And pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted; literally, of all the sons of affliction; i.e. the whole class of poorer people. This is particularly important because the king and his behaviour affects others. The wellness of the community, is rested on his power, and as such in his actions, he must consider others.

Open thy mouth for the dumb. The “dumb” is anyone who for any reason whatever is unable to plead his own cause; he may be of tender age, or of lowly station, or ignorant, timid, and boorish; and the prince is enjoined to plead for him and defend him. In the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction; literally, the sons of passing away; i.e. not orphans, children whose parents have vanished from the earth, nor strangers from a foreign country, nor, generally, mortals, subjects of frail human nature (all of which explanations have been given), but persons who are in imminent danger of perishing, certain, if left unaided, to come to ruin. Septuagint, “Open thy mouth for the Word of God, and judge all men soundly”. Plead the cause; rather, minister judgment, or do right; act in your official capacity so that the effect shall be substantial justice.

We have not many words from women’s lips in the inspired record, and we may therefore esteem the more highly those we possess. None but the mother can say, “The son of my womb;” “the son of my vows.” These claims are based upon: all that motherhood means to us; upon the fact that the mother has borne her child, has cherished him at her own breast, has watched over his infancy and childhood with sedulous care, has shielded and succoured him, has fed and clothed him; as we say in one word—has “mothered” him. Even though Lemuel is now a grown up man, a king, the mother sees ‘the son of her womb’. To her that’s how he will always be. Many people might see many different thing, but the mother only sees one thing: the child that she birthed. People might see negativity, and might project all sorts of harsh opinions but the mother’s view is not at all clouded. She loves unconditionally, and endlessly. And so she guides him and instructs him based purely and sacred on this relationship. And her words did not fall on deaf ears.

The words of Lemuel’s mother are charged with deep affection and profound solicitude. And it is those who truly love us, and who are unselfishly devoted to our interest, that have the strongest claim upon us. A claim which is only that of natural relationship, and is not crowned and completed by affection, falls very short indeed of that which is strengthened and sanctified by sacrificial love.

Chris Mhlongo

Open Doors

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Wonderful things happen when opportunity meets preparation!

Before anything else, preparation is the key. The most beautiful thing happen when an opportunity finds one prepared. But when an opportunity knocks, and one is not ready, leaves one of the most painful regrets in life. To be prepared is key, everything else is outside your control.

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you:but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage:and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh

Matthew 25

Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity. The beautiful thing is, opportunity is always knocking. How we respond to those opportunities will be decisive of whether or not we receive the blessing. But God’s blessings usually come dressed up in oppositions. But if one can look at the opposition right, what initially seemed as an opposition will become an opportunity. Progress is nothing but opportunity meeting preparation. The parable thus teaches about the need for preparation in order to inherit the blessedness of an opportunity.

The text is set like the usual custom of the Jewish wedding. On the appointed day the bridegroom accompanied by his friends proceeded to the brides house and thence escorted her with the bride maids to his own or his parents’ house where a joyous celebration would be hosted for a full week. In the parable however, the proceedings are somewhat different. Here the bridegroom is not in the town, but somewhere at a distance so that though the day is settled the exact hour of his arrival is unknown. He will come in the course of the night and the virgins who are to meet him have assembled in the house where the wedding is to take place.

The two keywords in our discourse are preparation and opportunity. It is a terrible thing to have an opportunity and you are not prepared for it. An opportunity is nothing but a chance for success! An opportunity is a set of circumstances. How I relate or respond to those circumstances determine where I succeed or not. Without opportunity there is no success, because an opportunity is the window or opening, for success for progress, for growth. Now preparation is part of waiting- as a matter of fact preparation is waiting. To prepare someone is to make them ready or able to do or to deal with something. To make ready requires time. Thus where there is no waiting there is no preparation.

Ten bridesmaids- Yod (Hebrew, ten) is a closed hand. In the bible ten is the number of perfection. Such a number was required to form a synagogue, and to be present at any office, ceremony or formal benediction.

Talmudic authorities affirm that the lambs used in bridal processions were usually ten. The bridesmaids are the friends of the bride who are arranged to meet the bridegroom as soon as his arrival is signaled.

Out of the ten bridesmaids, five were wise and five were foolish. They are categorically called wise or foolish because of their inner characters and how they treat the opportunity granted to them. They were the same in other ways: they were the same outwardly, they wore similar clothing, and they were provided with the same lambs, they were to perform the same office. But they had different characters. How they each responded to the opportunities presented to them exposed their individual characters.

They that were foolish took no oil with them. Two thoughts are present here: either they brought no oil of their own at all, trusting to get their lambs filled by others, or they neglected to bring in an additional supply to replenish them when exhausted. They undoubtedly knew the oil reservoirs were small, and so it was a custom to carry another vessel from which to refill them.

Both parties knew this, but they all responded differently. People might be faced with the same circumstance, but yet come out different- because they respond differently. You take away all the power from a particular occurrence or event in your life when you don’t respond the way it would have you respond. We both can lose employment: I can choose to shut my family and the world out, feel sorry for myself, and give myself off to alcohol; or I can choose to accept what has happened, allow the family to support me emotionally, pray and look for another job. It all depends with the final response.

Their lamps- they all made separate, independent, personal preparation for the meeting. In the same manner each believer must have his or her own lamp. Your lamb is not mine and mine is not yours. The lamps were hollow cups/saucers, which were filled with oil. They were fastened to a long wooden pole and borne in the procession (Edersheim).

While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept–  all wise and foolish began to sleep. The act in itself was not sinful, it was only natural. We all sleep and we all need to sleep. We all tempted, we all get challenges, we all fall, we all sin, we all face difficulties. It’s only natural. We cannot be on top and up all the time, sometimes we will be down. The text suggests that the bridesmaid ceased for a while to think of the bridegrooms coming. Some of us have began sleeping, some of us the zeal for the lord has cooled away.

We all sleep at one point or another. We all lose focus at one point or another, we all fall short of the glory at one point or another. We all make misakes. It depends on how one chooses to look at their mistakes. If we look at them correctly, mistakes are nothing but an opportunity to learn and do things better. They are wonderful opportunity for improvement. None of us is perfect. Even though the other five were described as being wise, they also for a moment ceased being watchful of the coming bridegroom, at one point they thought nothing of him.

At midnight- the implication is that when sleep is deepest and the awakening most unwelcome. When they are most unwatchful. You cant always be on the watch, but you can always be prepared. The wise can afford to sleep because they know they are prepared and have the oil. The foolish slept without the oil.

Trimmed their lambs- when they all heard the cry that the bridegroom had transpired, the wise quickly woke up and revived their lambs. The trimming consisted in removing the charred portion of the wick and replenishing the vase with oil. The one party was ready to meet the emergency, whilst the other was wholly unprepared. Even if the foolish woke up, they suddenly discovered that they had no oil in their lambs; they had brought no further supply with them.

Not so; lest there be not enough- “ Not at all it will never suffice for us and for you”. No man can protect us if our works betrays us, not because he will not but because he cannot. There comes a time you say no persons that don’t want to do anything to change their circumstances. We can only do so much to help persons that have a negligent character in themselves. No matter how much we might help them, because of they refuse to change their character, their way of life, their attitude, their laziness: there will come a time we cannot help them anymore.

But go ye rather to them that sell– the beauty of advice, it is only persons that truly care that will give a wise advice. The wise cannot of themselves supply the lack. I cannot go for you; you have to go for yourself. You have to buy for yourself- everyone must bear his own burden. But the heeding of the advice was too late because while they went to buy the prepared bridesmaid left with the bridegroom. Opportunity meets preparation is success. And when an opportunity comes and finds unprepared, failure is born. When the time was right, they should have gone and bought for themselves.

I do not know you- I do not know you because you were not prepared for me, they were not in the bridal company, nor joined in the festive processions, so the bridegroom had no knowledge of them. Opportunity is life, and missing out on an opportunity is missing out on life!

In many parables, the final thought usually reads, “depart from me you, you cursed ones into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels”. But not this one- “but stay awake and be prepared, because you don’t know the day or hour”. Although the bridesmaid might have been unprepared for this particular wedding, another wedding will come and they can learn of their mistakes and do things better. Opportunities are like buses. There is always another one coming. But when it finally comes, will we be prepared for it?

Chris Mhlongo, A Short Synopsis, as preached @ StellenboschCOC