Sim-plic-i-ty is Always Beautiful

Being more aligned to the ICT world I know for a fact that for any mobile application to be adopted it’s got to be user friendly in a sense that the navigation is very simple that it can easily come naturally. In the world of ‘User Interface Design’, simplicity is the rule of thumb, I had a friend who did architecture and they always told me that simplicity is one very important requirement in his line of work which is why am convinced that this world would be a much better place if things were just simplified, most likely God even had it in mind when he was speaking the universe into existence.

The Gospel( Too Good to be True News) has taken on a whole new dimension in our generation, so much that to some people it has been presented as a complicated way of life or belief system and yet at its core Jesus intended that the gospel be simplified to the lowest level, more so to us who profess to be saints( Colossians 1:26) because only then can we be able to simplify it to the unbelievers in the hope that they’ll see what we see and come into the light but let’s face it, many of those who say they know Christ can’t present him in the simplest of ways, there’s no admiration of their lifestyle ,so at the end of the day  it  instead drives away the very people we want to minister to, just because we’ve made the gospel complicated.

The few years I’ve spent in relationship with God have given me an opportunity to experience a couple of ways in which the gospel has been presented as difficult and burdensome, again our generation has seen so many “Men and Women of God” rise up to take on the challenge of preaching the gospel, some of them are truly well intentioned but they struggle with approaching the gospel from their own experience rather than preaching it as it is in the Bible which is why in the long run the fruits of what is peached manifest in those that choose to sit under their ministries and mind you those fruits are not admirable at all.

We see so much of the same things that the secular world is known for crop into the body of Christ, some of our leaders have come with ‘Ten steps to….., 40 days of……..77 days of… “ (You get what am referring to, right?). These are all wonderful ideas but then to the simple human mind, it’s like a whole other list of things to do as a means to get right with God or get closer to him (Forgetting that he never leaves nor forsakes us). The mind behind this approach is not evil but it does more harm than good given that it places an unbearable burden on the flock. Even when we think we may have escaped the burden of religion, some of the same practices have been wrapped in different titles and presented in exactly the same form as what religion proposes.

We have complicated salvation and made it a very unattractive lifestyle yet to the world we’re supposed to present salvation as an abundant life full of joy and yet some of us are as miserable and unhappy as the same people we’re supposed to be ministering to, when the unbelievers look at our lives, there’s nothing they can possibly admire or reason that they would need to make their lives better than they already are. Majority of the Christians out there have simply been sucked into the mold of the either the world or modern religion which by all means requires the exact opposite of ‘simplicity’ to live by.

In Colosians 2:6 we’re instructed to continue in the same manner by which we received Christ, so if we say that it is by grace that we have been saved, then why do we then place a burden of a couple of good works to do after we’ve been born again? We get caught up in so much church activity and business that sometimes we think that this activity will somehow achieve for us a certain reward from God but I can sum it all up in this; ‘The same way that a couple of good deeds couldn’t earn you a place in the kingdom of God, even when you get saved, your good deeds will still not secure you a spot in heaven”. The activities may add value and get you closer to God in a sense that they’ll build your Faith and help you overcome unbelief but outside of God’s grace, they’re not the ones that save you, we can choose to call them fruits and not the roots of salvation, you now understand that you just don’t have to go to church but rather you get to go to church and even always look forward and are excited every time you get to go to church. When you approach salvation from this angle, it allows you approach the Christian life from a much simpler perspective, so simple that many would find reason to reject it at fast glance but given time, it’s very contagious and attractive that It’ll minister to the lost very effectively.

 

My Audience Of One(Birthday Tribute)

As creatures of this world we always have that inborn desire to be accepted, loved and cherished by society, we practically survive on compliments of other people and it matters a lot what people say about us-this is the typical thought pattern of everyone until they’re truly born again and can confidently say that their approval lies only in the hands of the creator as they grow deeper in the understanding that they’re not only human but also spirit, not just any spirit but that same spirit that Jesus had, operating in the exact same power although now limited by the level to which one is willing to yield to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

1 John 2:20 says,

But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.

If that doesn’t blow your mind, then add 1 Corinthians 2:16b which says that

But we have the mind of Christ.

Now before you start looking for a theologian or ‘Man of God’ to explain the revelation here, just keep at the back of your mind that the 2 verses refer to your new regenerated spirit and not your physical body. Thanks to this attitude, my life has now taken a whole different path as my pleasure is derived from the understanding that as Christ is, so am I in this world (1 John 4:17) and so I don’t need to seek the approval of anyone else apart from Him, In fact to make it even seem to be ‘To Good To be True’, I don’t require God’s approval because he’s already given me my stamp of approval, he did that as soon as I allowed him into my life over 10 years ago. Now my life is simply an adventure with my father in heaven as I make him famous on earth.

A few days ago it was my birthday and as opposed to normal practice I choose to keep silent about the day and just go on like it was on ordinary day (Which it was), that was until 2 awesome friends thought otherwise and instead orchestrated an unusual surprise party of sorts, I can’t say I was very excited but then I would be deceiving if I said I was unhappy, let’s just say I had mixed feelings but non the less, the day ended and we all moved on-I had planned to write a couple of things about that day but then I couldn’t get myself to do it so I gave up the idea and just waited for when the inspiration would come, that  happens to be today 19th August 2016.

Back to where I started from, before you get lost in the confusion of the blog post’s  introduction and  my birthday, I’d like to help you connect the dots and if you still don’t get the connection, It’s okay-at least I’ll have tried. At the start of the this blog post, I needed to point out the need for us to only live to perform for the audience of one, Jesus as he is undoubtedly the priority, I see very many people thriving on compliments on their birthdays, changing their profiles, making sure that everyone in their circle of friends gets to know that there’s a birthday wish to send out even when they don’t necessarily care about the person or even know then that well, for other people, birthdays are so much of a big deal that traditional customs of sharing gifts and throwing parties can’t fail to make it to the list of activities on that special day, not that the day shouldn’t be special but at least we could find creative ways of going past the normal trend and seeking to celebrate in a ‘Not so obvious’ way, just as if we only had one person in the audience to celebrate with or to primarily appreciate for our presence in this world. My birthday this year nailed the ‘Audience Of One’ idea into my heart-so much that I couldn’t help but keep telling my friends that it ought to be a very personal affair between very few people and whether or not anyone says ‘happy Birthday’, it doesn’t make any difference.

At 24 Years if Age(Yes I’m Old and Unashamed), I’ve understood that when your focus shifts from the audience of everyone else to the audience of one, it lifts the burden off your shoulders and allows you to genuinely thrive, people’s opinions cease to influence your life(of course excluding Godly council from genuine critiques). Every aspect of life just becomes clearer and easier when you know that you don’t have to live up to the expectations of people in such a way that they inform your every move, mood, feeling and expression. There’s a lot I’ve learnt over the years, and that’s what I initially wanted to write about, but then I figured, what better lesson to share other than that of My Audience of One, Ohh! And the title of this blog post is not entirely originating from my head, it is inspired by an African gospel song I listened to at the beginning of this year.

Abundant Blessings to all the August Babies out there (For this blessing to come to pass, you have to declare it over yourself and believe that it’s your new reality, it’s not magic or wishful thinking).

10 Thoughts On Speaking (And Not) In A Digital World By Kevin DeYoung

I recently stumbled upon a very resourceful website that has for the last 1 month taken up most of my time as I try to sip through the large volumes of articles, blogs, videos and books but one the blog posts on the website that resonated with me especially considering the generation in which I’m privileged to be, Kevin DeYoung who is the senior pastor of University Reformed Church (PCA) made some important points about our use of social media and how it has been overly abused, he does a very good job of describing to the reader how he has managed to digitally stay relevant while at the same time being effective in his calling. I thought the Blog post was awesome so I will not attempt to add or extract any information from it, All Credit goes to The Gospel Coalition where you can be able to find the original post ‘10 Thoughts On Speaking (And Not) In A Digital World’

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For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. . . .a time to keep silence, and a time to speak. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7)

I say things for a living. From preaching to praying to parenting to counseling to teaching to leading meetings to writing books to crafting emails and blogs and texts and tweets, my work is largely with words. I am talking (in one form or another), or preparing to talk, most of my waking hours. I understand there is a time to speak.

I’m also learning that it’s okay to be silent, especially when the “silence” is much more digital than personal.

I don’t keep a meticulous tally of things, but I bet a day doesn’t go by when I don’t see someone online decrying the fact that “no one has said anything” about whatever is bothering them today. I don’t want to automatically make light of this cry. Sometimes it comes from a genuinely hurting heart wanting desperately to know that someone is there and someone is on their side. But too often the cry is impossibly vague (“where is the outrage?”), emotionally manipulative (“the silence is deafening”), and ultimately unproveable (“no one of any significance has dared to speak out”).

And yet, anyone with any kind of “platform” (and that’s pretty much everyone these days), has faced the accusation of not caring or not listening or not engaging or not properly denouncing. When it comes to our brave new digital world, it appears Qoheleth was wrong: there is only a time to speak.

The issues are complicated. No two people will approach the online public square in the same way. But many of us need to spend more time thinking through our own digital parameters. And all of us would do well to cut each other some more slack.

For what it’s worth, here are 10 things I think about when thinking about what to say (and not to say) in the world of social media. Perhaps these musings will help my readers (both friend and foe) understand how I think about my online task and help young pastors stick to what is most important. If nothing else, it helped me to get these rattling thoughts out of the brain and into words.

  1. Most of the things I write about arise out of pastoral ministry.I don’t go looking for controversies. I don’t feel compelled to weigh in on every passing cultural controversy (from Miley Cyrus to Duck Dynasty to dead lions and dead gorillas). I’m not faulting those who have a hot take on What Everybody’s Talking About, but I’m not trying to be a professional pundit. My first calling is as a pastor. That doesn’t mean I refuse to weigh in on presidential politics or the Supreme Court or the latest trending topic. What it does mean is that I don’t go looking for those issues, and I don’t feel compelled to comment just because everyone else is.

When I think back on my most “viral” posts, they all got their start from issues or questions in my own church. I wrote about Love Wins because virtually everyone in my church knows someone at Mars Hill (Mars Hill being next door to my hometown and me living next door to Bell’s hometown). I wrote onJesus Hates Religion because a college student from my church wrote me an email saying all her friends were talking about it and she wondered what I thought. I wrote the piece on 40 Questions because I saw a number of people who used to attend our church celebrating the Supreme Court decision on Facebook. I thought I might be able to help my congregation in knowing how to respond. Similarly, my book ideas come from questions I hear people asking, clarity I think I can provide, or content I wish were available for my people.

  1. Twitter is a different animal.I understand everyone approaches Twitter a little differently. When I reluctantly jumped into the Twitterverse several years ago I decided it was going to be a “get to” not a “have to.” That is, unlike my blog, I don’t tell myself “I better tweet something today.” My tweets boil down to three things: snippets from past Sunday’s sermon (big thanks to Barry Peterson for pulling those together every Monday), whatever silly (or sometimes serious) thing I happened to be doing when my phone is nearby, and the occasional link.

There are some things people do on Twitter that I almost never do. I don’t retweet compliments. I don’t retweet insults either. I don’t link to my own articles more than once. I don’t have public conversations with friends. I don’t engage with critics. I rarely check my mentions.

  1. Which leads to a related point: social media is, for me, one-way communication.“Well then, Kevin, you live in a narcissistic echo chamber!” That would be true,if the digital world were the only world. But it’s not. I listen to my wife, my friends, my co-workers, my secretary, my elders, the members of my church, the members of my presbytery, and on and on. I think if you got to know me you’d find I’m pretty easy going and eager to seek input from others. Some people may start a blog or get on social media in order to have a robust conversation. That’s not my goal. To be sure, I want to be teachable, and I read widely on the internet with hopes of learning and being challenged, but I might as well be up front and tell people that my digital output is not about dialogue.
  2. Along the same lines, I don’t think it’s rude when people write about me online and I never respond.To clarify, I don’t thinkthey’re rude for writing about me (provided they do it in a respectful way), and I don’t think I’m rude for ignoring what they say, or else reading their post privately and moving on. Anyone to whom I owe a response knows how to call me, text me, or send me a private email. I work hard to respond to emails right away. I write back my friends and people who know me personally. I’m available for staff members and family. I try to be available for anyone in my congregation (or at least get them to another elder or pastor if my schedule is booked for several weeks). I’ve never written something publicly thinking that anyone I mentioned in the piece owed me a response. It would feel manipulative and self-absorbed for me to insist otherwise.
  3. Some of my Hot Takes have never seen the light of day, and that’s a good thing.Whenever I write on something controversial I’ll send my post to some combination of my associate pastor, an editor at TGC, or one or more of my friends outside the church. On occasion I’ve sent an upcoming blog to my elder board to get their permission before posting. My personal assistant, who is not afraid to share her opinion, reads all of my posts before they go live.

I’ve still regretted some posts, and no doubt I’ve said some dumb stuff, but this networks of “checkers” have spared me a lot of self-inflicted heartache. They will challenge my tone, poke holes in my logic, and sometimes encourage me to scrap the whole piece. I’m all for dialogue, when it’s from the right people on the right side of the “publish” button.

  1. We all inhabit a social location that affects what we see and when we speak.I’ve almost always been surrounded by people more liberal than me. I grew up in public schools. I went to a middle of the road Christian college. Until recently, I was a part of a mainline denomination. I live in a very liberal university town. My kids go to the public school. All of this means I write more about liberalizing tendencies because that’s what I see around me.

Recently I was at a gathering of conservative, evangelical pastors and the subject of Muslims came up. Some of the brothers were talking about how some Christians they knew would freak out if they saw a woman in a hijab in their town. This prompted a good discussion about defending the rights of our Muslim neighbors and correcting Christian attitudes toward Islam. Good stuff, but not something I think to write about. I see women in hijabs every day when I drop my kids off at a school. I’ve served on local committees with Muslims before. This doesn’t mean I’m a great hero of diversity, but it’s one example of certain topics I don’t think to write about because they don’t feel like issues where I live.

  1. The more I feel badgered to respond, the less likely I am to do so.Maybe this is obstinacy, but I think there is wisdom at work too. I have not generally been a “stay above the fray” kind of guy. Anyone who is familiar with my books or my blog or my denominational labors know that I’m not afraid to get into a scrap. And yet, increasingly I don’t see internet debates as very fruitful. There is always someone out there with more time than you, someone whose time for blogging seems impervious to the necessities of sleep, water, food, and bathroom breaks. You will never get the last word. And when you bow out of the conversation, you’ll be in no better situation than when you started (“See, this guy can’t take the heat. He turned off the comments. He won’t respond to me anymore.”).

I know it doesn’t have to be that bad. I’m probably missing out on some genuinely edifying exchanges. I’ll have to live with those losses. What I won’t have to live with is the mistake of handing people my microphone for their solos and the indecision of constantly wondering if I should say something or not. Life is much simpler and happier when you don’t read your comments, your mentions, or Google search your name.

  1. I am wary of the cheap points won by virtue signaling.This is a tough one because there is value in weeping with those who weep. I know a tweet or a post lamenting a verdict, a shooting, a death, or some painful event can be a reassuring comfort to those in the midst of grief. I posted one comment/tweet on Sunday about Orlando–a simple statement that there is a Savior and he calls us to love our neighbors. Because it I have written often against homosexual behavior, I at least wanted to register–as many other Christians were doing–that there is absolutely no place for violence against our homosexual neighbors. I don’t think all digital outrage and sympathy are out of place or manufactured.

And yet, so much of it seems unhelpful–like moral grandstanding mingled with conspicuous indignation and false apologies. I can’t judge the hearts of others, but I can tell you what goes through my head and heart: “I heard something about a Stanford swimmer who got off way to easy for a really gruesome crime. I bet if I wrote something about that it would get a lot of hits. But what do I really have to say? I read one article and have spent three minutes thinking about it.  Maybe I should let everyone know I think the sentencing was terrible. Then again, I haven’t heard anyone say anything except that. Does the world really need my opinion here? If I tweet something am I just trying to prove my moral bona fides by showing forth the appropriate outrage? There are a thousand sad things in the world right now, why must I comment on this one?”

So sometimes I say something. Usually I don’t. It’s not because I don’t care. It’s because I don’t think caring has to be accomplished in 140 characters for it to count. Oftentimes, I don’t feel that I know enough about a given brouhaha to respond in a meaningful way. Other times, I don’t have anything new to say. And sometimes I am just plain tired of the implied ultimatum that says: tweet your outrage or else! If the measure of our character can be proven in a status update, it’s not character that we are really measuring.

  1. I’d rather write something that might still be helpful six months (or six days!) from now.We have to wrestle with our own hearts. I’m not faulting anyone for providing a steady commentary on the day’s news. We need a few Christians engaged in this work (like Al Mohler), but only a few. I’m all too aware of the temptation in my heart. What gets hits? Not theology, not book reviews, not wisdom from pastoral ministry. The hits come from controversy and current events.

But here’s where I feel my calling: I want to focus most of my time on what is most timeless and most trans-cultural. Am I done with cultural commentary or intramural theological debates? I’m sure not. But whenever I travel overseas I return home more committed to write about basic issues that Christians all over the world wrestle with. I don’t want my online output to be held hostage by the 24-hour news cycle. Twitter is ethereal. Blogs and periodicals have some lasting power. Books are where the lasting influence still lies. I’d like to spend my energies writing things that can be helpful most anywhere and for more than a week. Preach and publish: those are my “output” priorities.

  1. Time is precious, and I want to use it wisely.In the past year I’ve remarked to several friends that the Christian blogosphere is no longer (or was it ever?) well-populated by pastors. This is not a complaint, let alone a critique of my many good non-pastor friends whose digital output is excellent. It’s just an observation. More and more it seems that if you are to gain a social media following you need to says things that are contrarian or controversial, or be ready to say things very quickly. I sometimes joke that if a big story breaks on Tuesday morning a pastor might have a chance to write about it, but once Thursday rolls around, Sunday’s coming, and there ain’t no time for nothing but the sermon.

Pastoral ministry allows for a lot of flexibility, but it also allows for frequent interruptions, a steady stream of local crises, and the unrelenting deadline of Sunday morning. A pastor does not have time to be a professional pundit. And even if he did, it’s fair to wonder whether he should be.

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Into His Rest I Lay

Burdened by a nature of the fallen state of this our world,
I seek to get a grip of something out of this world, something no man has yet to comprehend,
I get lost of  a place upon which my head can return to solace, discomfort is second nature now,
Even with brightly visible  oncoming rush of peace, my mind has been taught to fear,
The sound of a snare and the lustre of the glare so easily blinds my already  heavily populated conscience,
There at the center of it all, is a love that thrives in the dread for an infinite being.
There by the sides, I see a cloud of anguish set upon my sorry state of sorrow.

The answers to all that my senses can behold lie in understanding from within,
I fear that my heart will be drowned to a state of death knowing that life has departed,
Allowing myself to think just for a split second I grasp to an idea from beyond my reasoning,
I see an illustration of beauty beyond what my memory can afford to absorb,
The wonders of his glory stub  my already wounded heart as it shred to bits,
My fool-proof idea of an everlasting peace is suddenly interrupted by yet another foreign idea,

Even when I’m reminded that I’m forever yours, the noise of my universe sits on the throne,
I seek to make an exchange but my offer evaluates to nothingness compared to what he offers,
He is the one we call Jesus, much about whom has been written since before the dates of time,
He rose to such an honorable place of might that we can’t find a definition for his stature,
Our choice of description stands limited only to what nature chooses to identify him by,
I find that my exchange is now far too easy now that all that I need is to simply rest in his work.