KNUST VS Legon?

Beginning this article, I know it will spark a lot of controversies but I still wanna dare. The battle between students of these two institutes has been a battle for superiority: who is the greatest, who is more spiritual (wow), who has better infrastructure, who does better in the job market etc. No logical conclusion has ever been made on such debates. I do not stand as an authority on this but I hope to share my thoughts and concerns on this subject. I have had opportunities to be tutored in these Institutions: first KNUST and then UG. I spent five years in KNUST: as a student and then as a teaching assistant. I spent three years in UG for a master’s programme.

KNUST presents itself as a beacon of hope in the midst of a city with people who though are intellectuals ‘hate’ to speak English. They always produced very good students who never want to associate themselves with the queen’s language. Their motto gives credence to the fact that the school is embedded in ‘chew and pour’ (nyansapo, y3 sane no babadie mo). You can’t pass exams without this; produce the lecturer’s handout on the exams sheet. The story is told of an agric lecturer who once said, “where is the ‘the’ I put in the sentence”. This was after he had marked the student wrong because he failed to include ‘the’ in his answer. Thanks to be God that I didn’t fail this man’s exams.

 

There are six halls of residence; Unity, Independence, Republic, Queens, Africa and University. Unarguably, Unity and Africa Halls are the best with the continental spirit.  When you see cadet corps, think Conti. The fun starts just in front of the hall; Aboagyewaa (where every issue on campus is discussed). When you hear the sound of saucepans, ladles, plates amidst clapping and shout of “k)k)) ooo k)k))”, then it should tell you a lady who is in red is trying to enter the hall. The rule forbids ladies to come into the hall in red attire. Even “Christians” do “k)k)) ooo k)k))”. It’s fun and they don’t even mind if its exams time; it’s a stress reliever. ‘Aboakyire’ festival is celebrated not only in Winneba, come to Conti. If you don’t know how to cook and you were posted to Africa Hall, then you really have to learn because there was no canteen but I hear recently there is a canteen. Sorry for my ladies who resided in Africa and were always buying at Conti. Indece will present you with ‘hot praise’ every Tuesday evening from Harvest Chapel. Their singers are too good. Champion’s league action is never missed, free salsa lessons with hot sausages and khebab on your way inside. What is so trendy with the Mongols is their lifestyle. If you want a ‘chilling’ hall, then it’s republic. They come with the best hall week celebration on campus…it’s enough to make UG, UCC, UDS troop in. Felloooows…chaaarge! Sometimes, I felt like joining their gospel jama but when they switch lines, it’s so ugly. Only strong ladies can walk into Katanga alone. Some of the country’s best gentlemen have come out of Katanga, although they were very rude. Don’t be surprised if you hear a lot of XXX stuff. Sometimes, they decide to walk half-naked, if you per chance notice any of them, it’s normal, it’s their nature…lol

 

The hottest rivalry on campus is between Conti-Katanga. They are all fighting for one lady hall but conti always wins. Football matches between them never end. The hall that scores first probably wins the day because the dispute that comes with the goal might end it that way.

 

If you are looking for good food in KNUST, think ‘gɔbɛ’. It is a saviour! There are experts in the eating of ‘gɔbɛ’, they are found in Unity Hall. There is a course in the study of ‘gɔbɛ’, ask the Chemistry students…‘gɔbɛlism, ‘gɔbɛlisation, ‘gɔbɛlogy, tri‘gɔbɛ’ fructofuranose etc.

 

If you have never being to Mecca, come to KNUST. The road linking the administration and the lecture area is “Mecca Road”. It was an amazing sight where you find people in suit, others in African and traditional outfits. Still, you find the ladies with their big bags hanging on their shoulders while their books are in their hands. I have often wondered what was in their bags. Some walk in pairs, others walk solo and some walk in groups. Altogether, there is only one single purpose on that road. They are not going to pray, but to learn.

 

Life in KNUST is simple and ‘not expensive’. You can decide to live on a low key and you wouldn’t have to spend a lot on your daily living. The ‘affordables’ are there; food, hostels, handouts, friends, joints etc. Eat ‘gɔbɛ’ everyday, go for hostels around Ayeduase, photocopy two pages of your handout on one page, do not make many friends who reside in expensive hostels or eat at popular joints, patronize ‘bushke’, conti market or very remote eating joints and you will be out of trouble. However, you can decide to live expensively if you ignore these.

 

Spirituality is KNUST and KNUST is spirituality. Everything is taken on the spiritual level. If you don’t attend a lot of prayer meetings, the implication is that you are not spiritual. A spiritual person should hardly talk about food or tiredness especially after prayer meetings. You will be branded carnal Christian.

 

You could easily find students speaking in ‘tongues’ as they walk to their various destinations. You need a very deep voice and one that can easily ‘scare’ people in order to lead “spiritual prayer times.” The prayer papa must be well dressed with a big towel hanging on his shoulder. The prayer dances, prayer walks, prayer claps and other gymnastics are typical of KNUST prayer meetings. You dare not complain or critique, you will be ‘binded and loosed’. Church meetings are characterized by lots of prayer times; that makes the service more spiritual. Charley, everyone has to do something crazy for the Lord; pick the offering basket, raise a plastic chair, do some ‘press ups’, marathon races, shout holding the ears and twisting the face (like edey bee k3k3) to look spiritual.

 

Paa Joe or now Paa Kofi or whatever they call it now is a sleeping grounds for some staunch Christians. There is a Church meeting every day of the week. Aside this, there are other non-denominational or inter-denominational activities that will take part of your time. Every hall of residence has a morning devotion session and another one in the evening within the week. Colleges, faculties and departments have their own Christian fellowships. Class sessions ideally begin with prayers and morning devotions. Some lecturers decide to preach before they begin their lectures. Lecturers are found in almost every denomination; either as patrons or as preachers. I don’t know if this practice is still being patronized but back in our days, there was ‘VC Week’ where the week is dedicated to praying for the School and the Vice Chancellor. Somehow compulsory, he has to be present at that Joint Service to address the Christian gathering. Spirituality is upheld on campus KNUST. Could that be the reason why it is called the ‘University for Spiritual Training”? The Moslems are not left out in these at all. There are also those who consider themselves to be of the traditional religion. You can find them in Conti and Katanga. Every campus dining hall is a venue for Christian activities, the royal parade ground, lecture rooms and other open places are all suitable venue for Church activities.

 

KNUST is a nice place to be; there is much learning and less fun. If you want to finish with a first class, start from first year. When your CWA can only be seen with a microscope, then you need to sit up. Just get 70% and you have a first class. Students are only serious when mid-sems begin. The school has a lot of greens, serene atmosphere and a good landscaping to match. Politics in KNUST is still infantile; in a typical paternal community, ladies dare become heads in their settings (SRC President, Denominational Head, Faculty or College President etc).  Although perching is illegal, it is still practiced especially in the male halls. To have the King of Ashanti as your Chancellor is a great blessing. You get to shake hands with him at your graduation. Get a first class and he will stand to shake your hands, not many ‘big-time’ people in Ghana get this opportunity. Enough of Tech; the technical school in Ghana…

 

There is only one University in Ghana; UG and the rest. If you ever attended UG, that will be your song. Let them boast because it is the first University in Ghana. There is much to say about UG: halls of residence, the rivalry, spirituality, campus security, school feeding programme, decongestion, grading system, architecture and many many more…keep your fingers crossed for the next edition!Image

By this, all will know!

Love must show in our words, in our face, in the very way we meet with and serve all those around us. It must be proved in our attitudes and actions. We need a revival of love to sweep through our church till every misunderstanding and every hard feeling against a fellow Christian is forgiven and forgotten. This is the revival we need; a revival of forgiving, healing, all-conquering love in every home, every society.

The greatest testimony we will ever give is the Christlike love we show among ourselves and to others. We must love the unsaved and prove our love to them.

When we meet together, there should be looks of recognition, words of appreciation and encouragement for one another. There should be loving and sincere fellowship, words of loving interest and genuine goodwill for all. No one should be able to enter our Church service and leave as a stranger. We should reach out in fellowship to all.

This was the love that bound the early church together. This was the love that caused the pagans to say of the church, “Behold, how they love one another!” This was the kind of love that Christ knew would be the most powerful testimony to the reality of His grace and salvation.

The hardest thing to fight is love. Lord, flood our church with this love and pour this love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5). “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).

The School of Tyrannus

Some have suggested the school of Tyrannus was a private synagogue, but this seems unlikely in that the text seems to imply Paul reasoned in the only synagogue in Ephesus. Rather, it was probably a private school run by someone named Tyrannus, and Paul was granted or perhaps rented the use of it for the afternoon hours of each day. We have an ancient text that adds information to the end of Acts 19:9, saying that Paul taught there “from the fifth hour to the tenth” [manuscript D Syriac (Western text)]. This was probably something that was written in the margin of a manuscript and ended up in the text itself through a copy error. The point is, the information probably represents either an authentic tradition that those were the hours Paul used to teach there, or those were the hours schools of this kind were normally unused by the owner and could be rented out for other public purposes.

This seems to have been Paul’s normal procedure upon leaving or being expelled from the synagogue of any city. He normally used a large residence offered by one of his more prominent and wealthy disciples or rented an establishment whereby he could reason and persuade people, whether Jew or gentile, that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world. In Philippi, Paul worked from Lydia’s home (Acts 16:14-15), and in Thessalonica it seems he operated from Jason’s home (Acts 17:5-9). In Athens he used the marketplace and the Areopagus, probably because the few believers there may not have owned a suitable place for public discussion, or if they did, didn’t offer it to Paul for the sake of the Gospel. However, when he arrived at Corinth, he used the residence of Justus (Acts 18:4-7), which seems to have had a common wall with the local synagogue there.

These places were used by Paul to discuss freely anything and everything which pertained to the Scriptures. In the synagogue one could do this to a point. Once it was considered offensive, the Gospel could not be preached there. For example, it seems that Jesus could be preached as long as the gentiles were not equally accepted alongside the Jews. Once the Jews understood they had to give up their favored status with God, that is, that men were justified by faith rather than works (their traditions), the Gospel of Christ was no longer welcome. The synagogues in Palestine did not hinder the Gospel, as long as their traditions were not brought into question. In other words, saying one was justified by faith in Jesus, but still practicing the traditions of the elders (Jewish tradition), never really brought those traditions into question, because it was the Jewish culture. It was simply the way all religious Jews lived. This is what is meant when the Scripture says Paul was the apostle to the gentiles but Peter to the Jews. Paul preached gentiles didn’t have to become Jews to be saved. This was not a problem in Judea and Galilee. Most, if not all, believers were Jews, and believers simply practiced the traditions of the elders. It was the Jewish custom or culture. Jesus was not against the practice, unless those traditions of men interfered with the truth or the commands of God. He practiced those very customs, until the Pharisees began blaming some of Jesus’ less kosher disciples for wrongdoing (Mark 7:1-9).

We often criticize the Jewish synagogues unjustly, saying they were against Christ. Actually, this is not true. The Jews most certainly rejected Jesus as their Messiah eventually, but it was not necessarily so from the beginning. The fact is, one could hardly preach or teach in any of our own Christian denominations as freely as Paul preached in the Jewish synagogues of the first century. The Jews put up with Paul’s “freedom in Christ” for two weeks at Antioch of Pisidia, three weeks at Thessalonica, for an unknown number of weeks at Corinth and three months at Ephesus. I hardly think anyone who took issue with any of the traditions peculiar to any one of our Christian denominations would be allowed to preach or teach for a moment longer than the teaching was found out.

We need to understand that Paul was not preaching anything major being wrong per se with Judaism. He believed in the same God that was worshiped throughout Palestine and the Diaspora. He used the very same Scriptures they used and taught the very same things out of the Law and the Prophets. When he was among Jews, he lived as a Jew (1Corinthians 9:20). Jesus was not the problem from the beginning. It was always the traditions of men—the traditions of the elders that turned the Jews against the Gospel of Christ. The same is true today in our own denominations. Many (not all) of our brethren in one denomination are taught and believe that other Christians who don’t worship God in their specific denomination (i.e. those who don’t hold to their specific human doctrines) are not really believers at all. This is wrong. This type of “tradition” is what got Paul expelled from the synagogues, and this human tradition was never taught by him in the “schools” such as the one of Tyrannus in Ephesus.

 

Source: http://smoodock45.wordpress.com/2010/01/11/what-was-the-school-of-tyrannus/Image

The Government of God!

Ministry of Food and Agriculture: I am the true vine and my father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruits (Jn. 15:1)

Ministry of Communication and Technology: Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not (Jer. 33:3)

Ministry of Defence: No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD (Is. 54:17)

Ministry of Education: My people perish because of lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6)

Ministry of Labour: The harvest is abundant but workers are few (Matt. 9:37)

Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning: Gold & silver are mine declares the almighty God (Haggai 2:8)

Ministry of Health: I took all your infirmities and by stripes you are healed (Is. 53:5)

Ministry of Roads and Transport: Am the way, the truth and life, no one comes to my father except through me (Jn. 14:6)

Ministry of Tourism: Go into all corners of the world and preach good news to every creature (Mk. 16.15)

Ministry of Information: But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you (Jn. 14:26)

Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development: For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6)

Ministry of Manpower, Youth and Employment: Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6)

Ministry of Energy: To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace (Lk. 1:79)

Ministry of Environment and Science: And he that is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean: and after that he shall come into the camp, and shall tarry abroad out of his tent seven days (Lev. 14:8)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs: And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace (Jer. 29:7)

Ministry of Trade and Industry: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again (Lk. 6:38)

Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs: Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right (Eph. 6:1)

Ministry of Works and Housing: For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy (Ps. 61:3)

Ministry of Interior: But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19)

Ministry of Justice and Attorney General’s Department: To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice (Prov. 21:3)

Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines: Restore, I pray you, to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their olive yards, and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money, and of the corn, the wine, and the oil, that ye exact of them (Neh. 5:11)

Smile after Stress

Among the most astounding, even puzzling of Jesus’ parables is the story often called the Prodigal Son. It is puzzling because in one aspect we see a younger brother who does not work hard to gain what he had at the first instance. On the other hand, we see an older brother who also complains for not receiving his share of the properties although he had been working hard in the father’s house for a very long time. Which is which? It is that, in the pursuit of our purpose in life, hardwork is not important or that or after toiling so hard we will always be denied of what rightly belongs to us?

Does the story leave us thinking that the father’s generosity does not pay enough attention to who deserves what, that in his rush to show his generosity of love, he had overlooked the work of his elderly son? Did he take the older son for granted? In contrast, I have often come across stories that presuppose there is nothing that comes free in life. There is no such thing as “free lunch”. I have also found stories that claim if you set your mind on something and worked at it, you would be a success, but if you were lazy or sluggish you would end up being disappointed. I read the saying which goes that the heights that great men achieved did not come by sudden flight but they while their compatriots were asleep, they toiled on in the night. Which way are we to go now? 

The whole point of God in the story of the prodigal son is to get us to do the right thing – to work hard so that we can accomplish something meaningful in life. It is to make us understand that nothing worth living comes easy. It relates to us in a way for us to understand that “shortcuts to success are shortcuts to failure”. This means that when we obtain our success through an easy way, it is very likely we will lose it in a short time. Throughout scripture, there are countless examples where hardwork is always rewarded although the “favour factor” can never be ignored. Abraham worked hard to leave his father’s house to a country he never knew of. Jacob wrestled with God so that his destiny was changed. Moses worked hard to liberate his fellow countrymen from the hands of the Egyptians. Joshua and Caleb worked hard to be able to fight the timid opinion of the other ten spies. The story of Ruth is no exception, Esther fought to save the Jews. David did not have it easy in life; the times he worked for something, they lasted but the times he achieved it through shortcuts, they were short lived. Jesus Christ lighted the touch; the Apostle fanned it so that today you and I have benefitted from such dints of hardwork.

Our world today has been surrounded by theories and concepts that inform us that there are “quick things”. There are fast foods all over the city, so instead of cooking we go for fast food which comes without toil. Banking has been made so easy that sometimes you don’t need to go to the banking hall; you can do that in the comfort of your mobile phone or home. Goods can easily be delivered to our doorsteps; we don’t need to go to the market. Nowadays, countries have been so obsessed with the issue of development. Grants, food aids and other assistance packages are been given free to aid in developing “third world” countries. These strategies have not worked because since they come free, beneficiaries do not take ownership of development activities but if they are also made to contribute in terms of their resources, these development assistances can be sustainable.

The most pathetic of all is when people come to church and they are so much in a hurry to leave and be somewhere else meanwhile they can spend more than “church time” chatting with friends either on phone or the internet. Nothing comes easy and the more we want to get things in our own terms and conditions, the more we will lose out. If we can’t spend time enough in the presence of God, let forget it and expect not a blessing from God. I beseech everyone who reads this note, let’s have and spend quality time with God. Whatever we sow is what we will get. If we are so much in a hurry to leave God’s presence, then our blessings will always be quick and not sustainable. Does this even make up for the fact there are so many mighty manifestations in the house of God, yet people are still oppressed and we continue running after miracles? Let’s watch out!

The simple truth that God wants to teach us today through the story of the prodigal son is that, inasmuch as it pains to work, it also pays to work. God worked for six good days to bring this earth that you and I are living on. He is not a lazy God. If our concept or theory of life is built on Darwin’s evolution theory, then we will not value work and how it pays to be rewarded after hardwork. I speak to all who believe not in the existence of God, it is perversion. Resist the temptation to believe in false doctrine. May you receive the love of God and turn towards Him. Life will have no purpose if God is not the One behind it. 

The book of Genesis gives us a biblical view of work. In the beginning, God worked and He created us to dress and keep His creation. God looked at the work of His hands and said it was good. He created us in His own image, so it part of our nature to work as well. Genesis 2:15 says that the LORD God took man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. The two words, “dress” and “keep” does not imply laziness. It speaks of work; it speaks of sustainability that can only be achieved through hard earned efforts. We must work because it is an expression of our created nature and love for God. There is no way around this, and the harder you try to find the shortcut, the longer it will take you to achieve the result that you want. God never meant for us to be involved in “get-rich-quick-schemes”. The shortcut that the younger son used was rather that which prolonged his goal. Just think about this: everything around you which is great is made up of many small things. The problem is that too many of us look at small and “insignificant” actions and the small and “insignificant” results of those actions and assume that they are “not a big deal in the scheme of things.” It is these “insignificant” actions or work which when we gradually develop will put us in great positions. When we ignore them and say “it’s no big deal”, we will find ourselves immersed in a mess of habits that are sabotaging our ability to achieve greatness.

Success and sustainability are the key issues here. You will be able to succeed in so many and also short ways but think of this, how sustainable can these be? God does not want us just to succeed but he requires that which can endure to the end. If our house is not built on the right foundation, the storm will blow it away. Brethren, build a foundation of hardwork. Like the prodigal son, if he had worked for what he got at the beginning, I believe he would have taken steps to use the wealth he had and make good use of it knowing that probably he would not return home again. May God establish your path and keep you in the promise of eternal life.

The Seed of Faith

“For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Gal. 6:8).

This is a kingdom principle. There is a time for sowing and a time for reaping. Whatever seed we sow, we shall reap one day. The seeds we sow in faith today will become the harvest of blessings tomorrow-in due season. Our seeds will not bear fruit instantly, it will take time. It will also not take your own time but God’s appointed time.

It takes time for every seed to first sprout, germinate, bud, grow flowers and then begin to bear fruits. If this is the case, then our seeds that we sow in faith would take time to mature. It can take a day, a week, months or even years. Keep watering, fertilising, pruning and weeding around your seed for in due season it would bear fruits.

Meanwhile, we should honour God’s laws of seedtime and harvest, of sowing and reaping, for “he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. Where we sow our seeds will determine the fruit thereof. If we should sow on a clayey soil a seed that can thrive in a loamy soil, we will lose out. If we sow to our flesh, we will automatically reap corruption but he who sows to the spirit will reap everlasting life. If only we desire everlasting life, then we have no option but to sow in the spirit. Give to your life totally to God, serve Him with all that you have. “In Gal. 6:7-9, God promises us that “in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Have faith, God is saying; keep believing.

Let the dead bury their dead

“But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead” (Matt. 8:22). “Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God” (Lu 9:60).

 

John Wesley once said, “When God calls, leave the business of the world to them who are dead to God”. The issue is that the claims of Jesus Christ to immediate and unreserved obedience are supreme and no earthly connections or engagements can justify any in delaying to give him the homage of their hearts and the service of their lives. Let the dead bury their dead: let the world attend to its own duties. To preach the kingdom rises above every other duty.

 

Jesus sees that such a command was necessary to impress upon that disciple the supreme importance of his service, and the necessity of making every earthly feeling and interest subordinate to it. Compare his command to the rich young man in chap. Mt 19:21. Our obligations to Christ are greater than to father, mother, or any earthly friends; and we should not let our regard for them hinder us from promptly obeying him. Now, this Scripture will form the basis of our discussion.

Funeral Ceremony

The atmosphere is filled with reverberations of grief. Mourners dressed in special black, red and brown garments wail and uncontrollably throw themselves to the ground in sorrow. Dancers sway to the rhythm of pulsating music. Some are quiet and contemplating their fate yet others are eating and celebrating with loud laughter and merrymaking. A few lie on the ground, intoxicated from the free flow of palm wine and local beer while others throw every form of ‘unkind’ word to ‘whoever they think might have killed their beloved. The hired ‘crier’ is hysterically weeping to make the occasion a sorrowful one yet goes around to claim his wages afterwards. Friends, relatives and sympathisers from all walks of life gather for a various reasons; mourn, meet old friends, strike love relationships, share encouraging notes etc. For some, it is their grounds for ‘pick pocketing’; that’s a highly lucrative business venture. The one who organises the best funeral in the community is the most dignified. The family shall receive ‘salutes’ from every corner for a well organised funeral. Preparation for this grandeur could take about a month. This will take every possible member of the family to make due contributions in terms of cash or in kind and pieces of advise and information to make the funeral a “kra b3 hw3”. All family disputes are put aside just for this special occasion. The aftermath of the funeral is a resurrection of all quarrels, disputes and conflicts within the family. Indeed, it is time consuming, mind engaging, money fetching and of course it involved every wit and bit to make it at least good. In some parts of our country, these are typical features of a funeral where hundreds of people gather to say their farewells to the dead.

 

We live in communities where relatives and neighbors are highly superstitious and fearful of the dead. Millions of people believe that when someone dies, he becomes an ancestral spirit with the ability to help or harm the living. In fact, when I was a child, the easiest thought of a dead person is that they are always hiding somewhere in every dark place. This Ghanaian belief is interwoven with numerous funeral customs. Of course, grieving over a person who has died is normal. On occasion, Jesus and his disciples mourned the death of loved ones (John 11:33-35, 38; Acts 8:2; 9:39). Yet, at no time did they exhibit any of the extreme expressions of mourning that are common in our day (Luke 23:27, 28; 1 Thess. 4:13). Why? One reason was that they knew the truth about death.

 

The Bible clearly states: “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all. Their love and their hate and their jealousy have already perished. There is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol [mankind’s common grave], the place to which you are going” (Eccl. 9:5, 6, 10). These inspired Bible verses make it clear that when someone dies, he is no longer conscious. He cannot think, feel, communicate or comprehend anything. How should understanding this important Bible truth affect the way Christian funerals are conducted?

 

Make Your Stand Clear

It is customary for clan elders and relatives outside the immediate family to have a say in the burial of the dead. A faithful Christian must therefore make it clear (probably before death) that the funeral will be organized and carried out by Christians according to Bible principles (2 Cor. 6:14-16). What happens at a Christian funeral should not disturb the consciences of fellow believers or stumble others who know what we believe and teach about the dead.

 

There have been occasions where the customs and traditions performed for the dead person do not align with Biblical principles. When a Reverend Minister is asked to conduct a funeral, the appointed elders of the deceased person can offer helpful suggestions and provide spiritual support so that all the arrangements harmonize with Scriptural guidelines. If some non-Christians desire to introduce unclean practices, it is vital to stand firm and courageously explain our Christian position in a kind and respectful manner (1 Pet. 3:15). But what if unbelieving relatives still insist on introducing unclean rites into the arrangements? Then the believing family may ‘possibly’ decide to withdraw from the funeral (1 Cor. 10:20). When this happens, a simple memorial service may be held in order to share “comfort from the Scriptures” with those who are sincerely saddened by the death of the loved one (Rom. 15:4). Unkind interference from unbelievers may add to the stress and sorrow of the occasion, but we can find comfort in the knowledge that our determination to do what is right does not go unnoticed by God, who can give us “the power beyond what is normal” (2 Cor. 4:7).

 

Keep the Funeral Modest

There is the widespread belief that a funeral must be large and impressive so as not to anger the ancestral spirits. Others use funerals as an opportunity to make a “showy display” of their social and economic status (1 John 2:16). Indeed, others have seen it rather as an opportunity to make good profits. Much time and effort as well as many resources are devoted to giving the deceased a “proper” burial. To attract as many people as possible, large posters bearing a picture of the deceased are placed in different locations, thus publicly advertising the funeral. T-shirts bearing a portrait of the deceased are produced and distributed so that they can be worn by mourners. Elaborate, expensive coffins are purchased to impress onlookers. Taking a stroll along the mortuary road of Korle-Bu will allow you the chance to see coffins constructed to resemble cars, airplanes, boats and other objects designed to exhibit wealth, grandeur and luxury. The corpse may be removed from the coffin and displayed on a specially decorated bed. A woman may be clothed in a white wedding dress and adorned with large amounts of jewelry, beads and makeup. There are cases where the complete body of the deceased is taking out of the coffin and made to stand to the full glare of the public.

 

Mature Christians see the wisdom of avoiding the extremes indulged in by people who neither know nor care about godly principles. We are aware that immodest and unscriptural customs and practices ‘do not originate with God, but originate with the world that is passing away’ (1 John 2:15-17). Great care must be exercised so that we are not drawn into an unchristian spirit of competition, trying to outdo others (Gal. 5:26). Experience shows that when fear of the dead is at the heart of local culture and social life, funerals often become large and difficult to supervise and can therefore quickly get out of control. Venerating the dead can easily inflame unbelievers to the point of unclean conduct. At such funerals, there may be loud and unrestrained wailing, embracing of the corpse, talking directly to it as if it were alive and attaching money and other items to the body.

 

Knowing the true condition of the dead should certainly give us the courage to conduct our funerals without any trace of worldliness (Eph. 4:17-19). Although Jesus was the greatest and most important man who ever lived, he was buried in a discreet and modest manner (John 19:40-42). For those who have “the mind of Christ,” there is no disgrace in such a burial (1 Cor. 2:16). Surely, keeping Christian funerals simple and modest is the best way to avoid what is Scripturally unclean and to maintain a calm atmosphere that is dignified, tasteful and fitting for those who love God.

 

Should There Be Rejoicing?

After the burial, it may be the custom for relatives, neighbours and others to gather in large numbers to feast and dance to loud music. In some parts of Ghana, it is called “gbonyo party”. Well, I have my reservations to the organisation of such. These funeral celebrations are often associated with heavy drinking and acts of immorality. Some people reason that such merrymaking helps to take away the sadness of death. Others feel that this is just part of their culture. However, many believe that such revelry is a necessary rite of passage that must be performed in order to honor and praise the dead and to release the soul of the deceased to join his ancestors.

 

True Christians see the wisdom of the Scriptural exhortation: “Better is vexation than laughter, for by the crossness of the face the heart becomes better” (Eccl. 7:3). Moreover, they know the benefits of quietly reflecting on the shortness of life and the hope of the resurrection. Indeed, to those who have a strong personal relationship with Christ, ‘the day of death is better than the day of their birth’ (Eccl. 7:1).

 

Therefore, knowing that funeral merrymaking is associated with spiritistic beliefs and immoral activity makes it most inappropriate for true Christians to organize or even attend such celebrations. Being in company with funeral revelers would demonstrate a lack of respect for God and for the consciences of fellow worshippers.

 

The Fate of the Dead

I once heard about a funeral service where after the Pastor had preached, members of the deceased family decided to fight him. Reason being that he did not say good things about the dead person. No preaching on that day can ever change the destination of the dead for it is appointed unto men to die once and after death judgement. I believe that the purpose of the funeral service normally have been to call people unto repentance, reflect on their daily walk with Christ, to check if they are in right standing with their maker etc. Most of the time, it has been to highlight the good deeds of the deceased as evidenced by man. But would these ‘re-direct’ a man from hell to heaven? I don’t think so. The dead person has sorted his destination out already, the onus now lies on those who are alive to live such that heaven will not bypass them

 

Let Others See the Distinction

How grateful we are to be free from the morbid fear of the dead that is so common among those in spiritual darkness! (John 8:32) As “children of light,” we express our sorrow and grief in a way that reflects spiritual enlightenment, a way that is modest, respectful and tempered by the sure hope of the resurrection (Eph. 5:8; John 5:28, 29). Such a hope will prevent us from being carried away by the excessive displays of grief often seen among those “who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13). It will give us the courage to take a firm stand for pure worship, not succumbing to the fear of man (1 Pet. 3:13, 14).

 

Our faithful compliance with Scriptural principles will give people the opportunity to ‘see the distinction between those serving God and those not serving him’ (Mal. 3:18). One day, death will be no more (Rev. 21:4). While we await the realization of that grand promise, may Christ find us spotless, unblemished, and completely separate from this wicked world and its God-dishonoring practices (2 Pet. 3:14).

Enoch Kwame Tham-Agyekum

[Credits: Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania]

Homosexuality: Know the Truth and Speak It with Compassion

Homosexuality is here to stay. In fact, it’s becoming more a part of our culture every day. As a result, we need to know the truth and speak it with compassion more than ever. 

The following excerpt is taken from Apologetics for a New Generation: A Biblical & Culturally Relevant Approach to Talking About God, in which Sean McDowell, as general editor, has assembled a group of modern Christian thinkers to help you to communicate the gospel in a winsome way that will win those around you.

It’s not surprising people think Christians hate homosexuals. They see the way we often treat them.  

Kyle’s sad story was similar to others I’d heard. After 25 years of immersion in the gay lifestyle, he wanted out. His choice to follow Jesus meant a day-to-day struggle to stay celibate because simply becoming a Christian didn’t change his same-sex desires. With God’s help, though, he was winning the battle. 

Kyle thought his church would be a safe harbor during the storm. But when he “came out” to his pastor and a counselor, both told him to never speak of his plight again. His church forced him back into the closet. 

Fifteen years of celibacy later, Kyle came out a second time. Surely things have changed, he thought. It must be safe now. After all, everyone has struggles and temptations. This time he hoped his new church would come alongside and pray for him. But he was mistaken. They turned a blind eye to his struggle, discouraged him from serving, and relegated him to attending and tithing. 

Back into the Closet 
Our formula for gays is predictable: Condemn and convert. Rebuke their behavior, blast them with the Bible, and then try to win them over with a cliché. 

“Sodomy is sin,” we proclaim. Then we quote our “clobber passage,” a verse that condemns homosexuals or even commands their execution. “But there’s hope,” we reassure them. “God hates the sin but loves the sinner.” That’s not what they hear, though. They hear one word: “hate.” 

Armed with Bible verses for bullets, we’re locked and loaded, ready to fire at the first sign of a homosexual. But there’s no grace in a gunshot. Instead of offering hope and healing, we inflict more injury. 

We shouldn’t be surprised when gays go back into the closet after they try to come out in the church. Worse, many go back into the lifestyle, sometimes through a “gay church” that shows them the love, grace, and respect they had hoped to get from us.

Predictably, younger people often perceive Christianity negatively. The Barna Group found that young people think Christians are not only opposed to homosexuality but also show “excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians.” Ninety-one percent of young non-Christians and 80 percent of young churchgoers perceive Christianity as “anti-homosexual.” 

More tragically, the Barna study found that younger Christians complained their church failed to help them apply biblical principles to their friendships with gays. Young people lack arguments and tactics needed to maneuver in conversation and navigate moral dilemmas in a thoughtful but loving way. Consequently, young people think they must choose between their faith and their friends who are gay. If their friendships mean more to them than their theology, they will choose their friends over their faith every time. 

Something is wrong here. Clearly, we need a new approach. Our young people think they’re faced with a difficult moral dilemma. But they don’t have to abandon their gay friends just because homosexuality is wrong. There is a third option, but it’s something that’s rarely taught or modeled in church.

Know the Truth 
Our new approach incorporates two key elements: truth and compassion. Truth speaks to the content of our message. Compassion addresses the manner in which it’s conveyed. It’s a winning combination based on principles found in 1 Peter 3:15—defend the truth with gentleness and respect. 

Truth starts with a biblical understanding of homosexuality. Although there are six main passages on the subject, for strategic reasons I recommend using Romans 1:26-27 as your primary text. It’s in the New Testament, so you sidestep the challenge that the Old Testament verses don’t apply to us today. Romans also addresses both male and female homosexuality and outlines the real problem: rebellion against God and rejection of His created order. This makes it difficult to argue that the behavior condemned in the passage is something other than homosexuality. 

Knowing the biblical truth about homosexuality is important because many people deny that God condemns homosexual behavior. Indeed, they go to great lengths to reinterpret those six passages. Although they’re not successful, their claims sound appealing to people who don’t carefully interpret the Bible. If we learn and understand these verses, clearing up this distortion is easy. 

Religious arguments, however, are often immediately dismissed by non-Christians. So knowing the truth doesn’t mean we learn only biblical arguments. An effective strategy also incorporates secular arguments. This includes appeals to natural law, the common good, and public health. If you can base your views on evidence that make sense even to nonreligious people, you’ll be able to speak with anyone. 

Getting them to consider your ideas can be difficult though. That’s why it’s critical to present our views in a conversational manner. We’re not typically trained to do that. Too often we try to persuade by making statements instead of asking questions. This immediately raises defenses. Suppose you’re discussing whether homosexuality is genetic and say, “Even if being gay is genetic, that doesn’t mean that it’s right.” 

Your friend replies with, “Sure it does! I can’t deny how I’ve been created.” Now what? Another statement? Their defenses are up, and the conversation grinds to a halt. 

Questions, on the other hand, are friendly and more engaging. They invite discussion. Rephrase your statement with a question: “I’m curious to know your thoughts on this. Can you tell me why you think if something is genetic, it must be right?” This is disarming. It doesn’t provoke the same knee-jerk reaction. Instead, there’s a give and take. People naturally respond to questions, and the discussion moves along. 

Or you can gently challenge their belief with a question like this: “Do you think any behavior is morally appropriate simply because it has a genetic link?” Notice that even though you’re asking a question, you’re still making your point. Just because a behavior has a genetic component, that doesn’t make it right. Making your point with a question is friendlier. 

Another way to incorporate questions into your conversation is to use the “burden of proof” rule. Applying this rule makes discussions about homosexuality less difficult and more engaging. The burden of proof is simply the responsibility to give proof—credible reasons—in favor of a point of view. The rule is simple: The people who offer an opinion bear the burden to give reasons for it. If they make a claim, it is their job to defend it, not yours to refute it. 

Too often Christians ignore this rule. Someone says something like, “Christianity is a homophobic religion,” and off we go defending ourselves. This is unnecessary. Why should we do all the work, when they made the statement? They made the claim, so it’s their job to defend it. 

Simply ask, “How did you come to that conclusion?” or “What reasons do you have for thinking that’s true?” Then sit back and quietly listen. The question gently shifts the burden back where it belongs—on the person who made the claim. It asks them to give reasons for their view, which is a legitimate request. It also makes our job easier by taking the pressure off us to respond.

Questions allow us to make our points and advance the discussion in disarming ways. When we incorporate questions, our discussions about homosexuality become less intimidating. We can make our points without pushing our views on others. And we spend less time in the hot seat, responding to claims we have no obligation to address.

Speak It with Compassion 
We need to add one more critical element to temper our approach. If we know the truth and know how to help others see it, yet we don’t communicate it in a way that shows we care, we’ll botch the whole thing. We need to be moved with empathy and to express that clearly. It might be difficult for us to relate to having same-sex attractions, but we’ve all been in tough situations and struggled with things we knew were wrong. When we’re not compassionate, we come off as cold and harsh. We forget we’re talking to human beings who have feelings just like us. 

The combination of truth and compassion works. It’s biblically consistent and cultivates healthy relationships with gays and lesbians. This is a delicate balance though. If you come on too strong with your religious views, you’ll be labeled homophobic. If you get too friendly with the gay community, you’ll be tagged a compromiser by someone in the church. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can hold that homosexual behavior is wrong but still have a Jesus-like influence on gays and lesbians by nurturing positive relationships with them. 

What does it look like to speak the truth with compassion? Three principles can help us live this out practically. One, treat homosexuals as you would anyone else. Two, don’t make the gospel more difficult than it is. And three, aim to make a long-term difference, not just a short-term statement. 

Treat Homosexuals as You Would Anyone Else 
This may seem like obvious advice, but many Christians act differently around homosexuals. They get uneasy. Their nonverbal communication, their behavior, and the direction of their conversation all change. 

When gay men and women come to church, we create new rules. I remember teaching at a church that asked a lesbian to change seats because she was sitting next to another female. That’s strange. I doubt this church splits up people who gossip. It’s unlikely they ask unmarried couples living together to sit in different sections. Why treat a gay person any differently? 

The simple answer is, we shouldn’t. We should treat homosexuals as we would any other person. Show them the same dignity, kindness, and respect you would show someone who isn’t gay. Here are two specific suggestions for doing this. 

First, make friends with a gay man or woman. Get to know them personally, their dreams, their fears, and their challenges. Play tennis with them. Go to their social gatherings. Get to know their families and friends. Be vulnerable about your own struggles and failings. When you treat them like your other friends, they’re likely to reciprocate. They’ll be vulnerable too. 

I know this may sound radical to some, but it’s very powerful. I remember one friendship I had with a gay man. Though he knew about my Christian beliefs, I was sensitive not to bring up homosexuality unless it came up naturally in conversation. I simply focused on our friendship as I would with any other person. 

Then one day he brought up his own doubts about the gay lifestyle. He asked me about his options. He asked me about Christianity. That’s when knowing the truth—and how to defend it—really helped. We talked for hours about his lifestyle, the truth of Jesus, and where his life was headed. That kind of vulnerability and honesty is what you can expect from a real friendship. When we treat gays and lesbians like anyone else, we build relationships that create healthy intimacy. This increases our ability to make a difference in their lives. 

A friend of mine made great friendships with two gay men he worked with, even though he was outspoken about his Christian convictions. He never tried to change them, confront their behavior, or hammer them about their lifestyle. Instead, he treated them like his other friends and waited patiently for an opportunity. 

One day his gay friends approached him. “You’re different from other Christians we know. Most harass us about being gay, but you treat us like your other friends. We appreciate that.” From that point on, his relationship with them turned a corner. There was a new level of honesty in their conversation that allowed my friend to share the truth about this faith with them. 

Second, don’t expect homosexuals to change their lifestyle before they come to church. Several years ago, two gay men showed up to a church. They walked in, holding hands, and sat down. People next to them went ballistic. “That’s disgusting,” they snickered. I realize it’s difficult for some believers to tolerate homosexual affection, but they should be grateful those men even came to church. Besides, gay men and women don’t need to come to church after they’re gay, but because they’re gay. We’re all guilty; we all need transformation and forgiveness. Gays and lesbians are no less welcome than gossipers and gluttons. 

By treating homosexuals like anyone else, you create opportunities to speak the truth. This first principle can be put another way: When it comes to homosexuals, our desire for them is not heterosexuality, but holiness. We’re not trying to make gays straight. We’re trying to lead them straight to Jesus, just as we would anyone else. Once they trust Him, He transforms their life from the inside out. So to know the truth isn’t merely about the truth of homosexuality—whether it’s right or wrong—but the truth of Jesus and His power to transform men and women.

Don’t Make the Gospel More Difficult Than It Is 
“The gospel is offensive enough,” Gregory Koukl of Stand to Reason says. “Don’t add any more offense to it.” The basic gospel message is the bad news of sin and judgment before the good news of grace. We all need a pardon. That message doesn’t initially give people a warm, fuzzy feeling. In fact, it’s offensive to most people. That’s a big reason so many reject Jesus. We should never remove the offense that’s inherent to the gospel, but there’s no need to make it more difficult than it already is.

Here are a few ways we can apply this principle. First, let’s stop saying we’re “antihomosexual.” The Bible isn’t antihomosexual; it’s antihomosexual behavior. This is a critical difference. When asked, “Are you antihomosexual?” it’s better to be precise. 

Answer that you have nothing against homosexuals—your concern is their behavior. Christians are not antidrunks. We’re against drunkenness. We’re not antiliars. We think lying is wrong. We’re not against the person who sins. Rather, we oppose the sinful behavior. Following Jesus’ example, we love and care for people regardless of their shortcomings. Saying we’re antihomosexual confuses the issue and compounds an already difficult situation. 

Second, let’s avoid offensive ways of presenting our arguments. A common tactic to respond to the “since homosexuality is natural it must be moral” argument is to offer a counterexample. “Well, pedophilia is natural to some people, but that doesn’t make it moral.” Though this response might be technically sound, it is unnecessarily harsh and often misunderstood. People erroneously infer that you mean homosexuals are pedophiles. An alternative and less crass response might be to ask, “If lying to keep yourself out of trouble were natural, would that make it right?” This counterexample makes the same point without the offensive content. 

Third, don’t treat homosexual behavior as the most detestable crime against God. When we make it the supreme evil, we add unnecessary offense. Gays will conclude that we think all sin is bad, but their sin is the worst. And if their sin is the worst, they’ll conclude they are the worst. But the Bible doesn’t teach that homosexuality is the greatest evil. In fact, it’s listed right alongside stealing, coveting, getting drunk, and lying. 

Next, don’t call homosexuality a choice. It’s not. This is hard to swallow for many Christians. Although homosexual behavior is a choice, homosexual attraction is not. I have no reason to think there’s a “gay gene,” but I don’t believe people choose to be attracted to the same sex. Homosexual attraction is a condition that often begins to develop at a very young age—too early to be a product of choice. 

When you say homosexuality is a choice, this is a tip-off that you don’t understand homosexuality or homosexuals. It becomes obvious you have no idea what gays and lesbians experience. 

“You think it’s a choice?” they ask. “Why would I ever choose to be gay? It’s painful to be gay in this world. I would never choose this for myself.” Not only are they offended, they’ll disqualify other things you say because you don’t understand them. You’ll lose your ability to be an influence. 

Sometimes even saying homosexual behavior is a choice will not get you off the hook because it’s too easily misunderstood. The problem is, the word “choice,” in this context, carries with it the idea of choosing one’s sexual orientation. My suggestion is to avoid the word “choice” altogether when talking about homosexuality. It’s too confusing. 

Finally, avoid the cliché, “God loves the sinner, but hates the sin.” It rarely gives hope to gay men and women. One former gay man confessed that he could never process this statement when Christians said it. Gays don’t see themselves as people who struggle with a homosexual problem. Being gay is who they are, not just what they do. Telling them that God hates their sin strikes at the core of who they perceive themselves to be. It’s unhelpful and produces the opposite effect you intend. 

Now that we know what not to do, let’s talk about our strategy to move us forward. 

Make a Long-Term Difference, Not a Short-Term Statement 
I recently taught on apologetics at a university. My goal was to show how to make our message persuasive and yet gracious. After the event, I stopped at a local coffee shop for a dose of caffeine before the long drive home. 

The barista served up my coffee and then asked about my day. I told her I gave a talk about how Christians can share biblical truth in a more friendly, relational, and winsome manner. 

“Oh! You need to speak at my university,” she insisted. “We’re sick of ‘evangelistic alley.’ It’s a walkway in the center of campus where Christians hold signs and yell at students. Some of them shout that God is going to judge fags. There’s no discussion with them. They just want to be heard. You should teach them.” 

Though my heart sank, I realized the barista was on to something. The Christians of “evangelistic alley” were settling for a short-term goal—declaring that homosexuality was sin that should be “repented” of—while squandering their long-term opportunities. Stopping sin can be worthwhile, but it isn’t the only goal. It certainly shouldn’t be pursued at the expense of making a more critical, long-term impact.

The long-term plan with homosexuals should be obvious: Help them to know Christ. It’s the same strategy we have with other non-Christians regardless of their sin. But it’s not a quick process. It rarely is with any non-Christian, but this is especially true with homosexuals. Yet we often act as if our most important goal is to change homosexual behavior in the short term rather than waiting patiently to make a more significant difference in the future. 

God can give you opportunities to speak the truth with compassion anytime in a person’s life. Don’t try to make a moral statement today if it jeopardizes your chance of influencing people at a more opportune time tomorrow. Think long-term. 
One time when I was teaching at a church on homosexuality, the parents of a 25-year-old gay man asked me 

for advice. “He wants to bring his boyfriend over for dinner,” they said, “but we told him that homosexuality is against God’s design. He can come over, but his boyfriend must wait somewhere else. They need to know where we stand.” 

I’m sympathetic to their moral concern, but making a moral statement today might lessen their influence tomorrow. It’s also unnecessary. Their son already knows their view on homosexuality. Why hurt his feelings and alienate him? There may come a time when their son is disillusioned about his life and more open to hearing the truth. If his parents have been careful not to judge and harass him unnecessarily, he’s more likely to turn to them for guidance. If, however, his parents have burned their bridges with him, he’s not likely to turn to them for advice. 

Once, while I was teaching at a church on homosexuality, the parents of a lesbian woman approached me. They were pleasantly surprised by my emphasis on truth and compassion. As they told their story, it was clear to me they were living out this principle perfectly. 

Their daughter lived at a substance-abuse group home with other gays and lesbians. Every weekend the parents invited their daughter and her gay friends to their home and treated them like family. Their daughter’s friends even called them Mom and Dad. Loving them was only the first step, though. These gays and lesbians needed both love and truth. So the parents invited them to church. After several months, the daughter and her friends accepted the offer because the parents showed them the kind of love and acceptance they’d expect from their own family. There wasn’t a misguided attempt to make a short-term statement, only the parents’ long-term plan to have an influence. 

There may be times when you’re asked a direct question and you have no choice but to respond in a way that sounds offensive. Sometimes that’s unavoidable. But we don’t want to unnecessarily damage our relationship with gays and lesbians. Remember to focus on the influence you can have over the course of their life. 

The Value of the New Approach 
Homosexuality is here to stay. In fact, it’s becoming more a part of our culture every day. Each successive generation is more accepting of the gay lifestyle. Barna’s research found that “people 35 and younger are…substantially more likely to consider homosexuality an acceptable lifestyle; and notably more likely to approve of clergy conducting or blessing gay marriages.” The Barna report concluded that “over the long term, we expect to see a growing acceptance of…homosexuality as Baby Busters and Mosaics, the youngest generation, become more influential in public policy and business policy.” 

As a result, we need to know the truth and speak it with compassion more than ever. Our youth will be our future leaders. They’ll be our doctors, teachers, and lawyers. In 30 to 40 years, one of today’s youth will be leading our country as president. The minds of young people today carry ideas that will affect our world tomorrow. Although the Barna Group’s findings paint a dim picture of our future, we can brighten our prospects by reaching out to young people in the right way. We’ll minimize the drastic changes that are expected in public policy as a result of the influence of pro-gay generations. 

Young believers will also find this approach refreshing. Rather than being faced with the choice of keeping their faith or their gay friends, now they’ll keep both. Their lasting friendships will give them opportunities to graciously share their convictions about homosexuality and ultimately about Jesus. 

The most important reason to use this new approach is this: We know it works. It’s been tried and tested. When we know the truth and speak it with compassion, we see the difference it makes. We build lasting friendships with gay men and women. We improve our chances to communicate our convictions on homosexuality. Gays and lesbians reconsider their lifestyle. And people who thought Christians only hate homosexuals now know we care. 

We still have a long way to go, but our journey now has more direction. Though we’re still locked and loaded, we’ve exchanged our bullets for truth and our clichés for compassion. Once ill-equipped to meet the challenge of homosexuality, now we’re ready to answer the gay community’s need for truth and healing. And though we forced Kyle back into the closet, our new approach will reach in to draw him out.

Source: http://www.str.org/site/News2?id=8779 

Is the Father of Jesus the God of Mohammed?

I want to share with you something on my heart. I have found it so necessary that I can’t keep it than to share it with you. I strongly believe in this age of modernity and dynamism, we (Christians) need to know the basis of our faith and the reason for our existence. I have often heard people say that the God that Christians believe is the same God for all other religions. The answer is ‘YES’ and ‘NO’.

 

When you tell people that we all worship the same God, they respond happily but when you begin to tell them the opposite, you are greeted with acute faces. Such resistances have often come from my brothers in other religions who do not share my second perspective concerning their religion. I believe in the two perspectives but more so affirm the second perspective. Don’t stop reading if you don’t side with my second perspective.

Christianity and Islam are both monotheistic; that is, both are founded on the belief that there is only one God. The Christian understanding of God, however, is immensely different from that of Islam and other religions because of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. The Father of Jesus is the only God there is, and in that sense, He is the God of every person who has ever lived, including Mohammed. However, that bare monotheism alone is not enough. So, although we all believe that God is One, the Christians believe that the essence of the God that they serve is manifested in three personalities (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). This does not suggest that they are different personalities. They IS one; not a bad grammar. The three is one and the one is three. This is reflected in the nature of man: spirit, soul and body. So, just as our three personalities (spirit, soul and body) cannot exist separately, so the Trinity cannot exist separately.

 

The belief in a bare monotheistic God yields a god who is a unit, not a unity. It gives us a Deity that is infinite, but not personal. Thus, although the Quran affirms that Allah loves, his love is conditional, and it’s something he does, not something he is. In contrast, Christians affirm that God is love. It is His nature. God is love and love is God. His love is unconditional and integral to the very being of the one God who is eternally three. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are eternally bound together in perfect love. What makes God God is the relationship of total and mutual self-giving by which the Father gives everything to the Son, and the Son offers back all that He has to glorify the Father, the love of each being established and sealed by the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from both.

 

If God is just a unit, then he created the world in order to fill some deep deficiency within His own being, that is, He needed to be known. The Trinity has no such need. Within the Trinity are love, knowledge, intimacy and relationships. God freely chose to create and love. The doctrine of Trinity tells us that relationship (personality) is at the heart of the universe. God values relationship with us so He came down to die for us. Amazing love! How can this be? Christians believe that although it is amazing, our faith responds positively to it whereas non-believer think that it can never be possible.

 

This is not an argument, neither is it an issue of relativity. I believe in an absolute God who commands all to respond to the gospel call. I see this issue not from a human perspective but purely from Biblical standards. You may say what if I don’t believe in the Bible? Well, no other book promises eternal life than the Bible. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). 1 John 5: 11 says that God has given to us eternal life and this life is in his Son (Jesus Christ).

 

Finally, 1 John 5:12 says that he that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. Do you need life? Do you want to know the truth? Are you in search of the way? There are not many ways to the Father. No one gives life except Jesus Christ. And there is no truth except that in the Bible.

ITvangelism-Harnessing the Power of ICT for Evangelism

Pope Benedict XVI’s annual World Communications address emphasized the importance of a Christian presence in the digital world. There are a range of technologies that are available for Christians. No matter the technology, the overall focus remains the same. Reynolds said, ‘‘How can the Christian church utilize the tools media has given us without being subsumed by them? You don’t want delivery to become everything.” Technology should ultimately be an enhancement, not a replacement, for gathering in persons for worship, discussion, debate and service to others, said Drew Goodmanson, CEO of Monk Development. Goodmanson appreciates that “you can have a digital Bible in the palm of your hand or connect with others in prayer any time anywhere,” yet he cautioned, “Jesus would not have a Facebook page. He wouldn’t be stopping in an Internet cafe to update his status.” After several years of rapid growth, Facebook passed 800 million users in 2011. If we compare Facebook users with country populations, it is the third largest ‘country’ in the world. Many people spend at least half their online time using Facebook and this includes people accessing Facebook via mobile phones. There has been striking convergence between the capabilities of different forms of technologies.

 

Downloadable Bibles, Books and Apps

A wide range of downloadable text Bibles in many languages can be installed on different mobile devices. Thus a Christian can now have access to a Bible at all times because mobile devices are so convenient to carry. You can call up individual verses to share during a face-to-face discussion, or email/text them to others. You can also download and install e-books to read on a growing range of mobile devices. Inquirers may also wish to download Bibles or books onto mobile devices. This may have a particular significance in countries where it is not wise to be seen reading a Bible. In the Middle East, many thousands of online Bibles are downloaded each month. Audio Bibles in many languages can also be downloaded onto MP3-equipped mobile devices.

 

Text messaging

There are many ‘verse of the day’ or mini-devotionals available to subscribe by text message. In most countries, these are currently limited to 160 characters. While Christians are the predominant users of such daily messages, it is also possible people of other faith may subscribe too, especially if the content is positioned to be seeker-friendly and jargon-free. In addition, Christians can share such messages with friends, through their network of relationships.

 

Games

There are increasing numbers of mobile games available for mobile devices. Church or outreach websites can distribute a free game, maybe branded with their name. Games which lead users through life choices, or create questions in their minds, obviously have a low-key evangelistic potential. Of course, few not-yet-Christians will wish to play a Bible knowledge game.

 

Facebook

Anyone can set up an account in seconds. You can create or join ‘Fan Pages’ and ‘Groups’ built around secular topics, and therefore relate to others within a common interest (1 Cor. 9:19-23). It can leverage the power of other online resources such as video clips and outreach websites. Live our lives openly and transparently in front of our friends as we do in the physical world, demonstrating unconditional love and the fragrance spoken of in 2 Cor. 2:15. If many of your friends live within your local community, it may be appropriate from time to time to mention activities at your church. Create or join Fan Pages or Groups on topics that interest not-yet-believers and you and participate sensitively. Look especially at Groups, because these are designed for ongoing member interaction and are superseding the email discussion groups and bulletin boards that used to be so popular. There are vast numbers of groups, choose groups with sufficient members to maintain an interesting ongoing conversation. Many church youth groups conduct all their discussion and news distribution through a Facebook group, because it’s so easy where 100% of young people have Facebook accounts.

 

Other Social Sites

Join a new social network and then invite everyone you’ve ever emailed in your lifetime to the service by submitting your entire email address book when the service requests it. Reading the fine print is wonderful and you should never volunteer your email account’s password to the social site anyway. It’s also helpful to keep in mind that your email account password should not be the same as your social profiles, and that’s not a question of etiquette – it’s common sense!

 

Other Marginal Niche Opportunities

Wallpaper on your cellphone can be a conversation starter with friends. Wallpaper can display a thought-provoking slogan, quotation or cartoon; or a visible URL of an outreach site. A small number of Christian wallpapers are available, some might seem rather ‘cheesy’ or ‘churchy’ in your culture yet work well in another. Unusual or musical ring-tones might occasionally be conversation-starters in a social setting as someone asks you what your unusual ring-tone represents. Another ring-tone opportunity is to offer free tones on a website as an enticement to draw people to the site.

 

With anything that you do on the internet or on social media, think about the consequences of your engagement. Racial slurs, criticisms without warrant, blatant abuse don’t work in real life and they really have no place in the social media channels simply because you are far more anonymous on these sites. If you were living in Ghana and you walked up to a stranger with the same foul-mouthed comments that are rampant on many social media site, you may never make it home. So, consider how your comments would be perceived before you actually post them and think about logic above emotion at all times. Above all, think about maintaining a certain level of professionalism, since people can use whatever you make “permanent” on these sites against you. Before you hit “post,” realize that this will be a permanent reflection of your identity and that it may never be erased. It may even be used against you.

 

Don’t spend too much time on social sites or not use that time effectively. Remember that social media communities are real relationships, real conversations and as such they should be treated like they are real. It’s not about ‘me, myself and I’ mentality. It’s about the collective, the community and the common good.

 

In conclusion, I would like to say that this is not the future. It is here, today. Churches, outreach ministries and individuals can be using some of these opportunities right now. While you may personally identify with the writer of this article, there are four billion ICT users that we can reach through this God-given medium.