Archive for the ‘Speeches/Sermons’ Category

On my Soapbox – Forgiveness

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

So I was asked to give the ‘sermon’ for morning devotions last Thursday (1 week ago). We have a morning ‘devotion’ monday through friday at 7am. Fairly short, less than 20 minutes. Usually it’s just a couple songs, a short “sermon” or talking point that someone gives, and announcements for the day.

The subject I chose for the devotion was on forgiveness. Props go to Mr. Mike Saia for giving me my initial teaching on this. I didn’t do it justice in 4 minutes, but hey, the basics are easy enough.

But anyways, let me get on my soapbox and get all “into yo’ face.” I gave my devotion on Forgiveness because I think understanding forgiveness is huge. Especially for areas where violent behavior and tribal warfare is occuring. With the way some Kenyan’s treat eachother, no one forgiving anyone, generationally not forgiving others, it’s easy to see how tribal violence could escalate from a stupid election. The key point I gave was that is is equally important to ask for forgiveness as it is to accept forgiveness. If one doesn’t ask for forgiveness, you can’t be forgiven. And you can’t forgive someone without them asking you for forgiveness and repenting.

Some people disagree with that conclusion, that you can’t forgive someone unless they ask. But whether you agree or not, I am not saying that it is okay to be bitter and hold it against someone. But to be like the Lord as quoted in Psalms, “ready to forgive”. God doesn’t hold things against me, He isn’t bitter about what I do, I have consequences for my actions, but by asking for forgiveness, mercy is available.

Psalms 86:5
For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.

Forgiveness is huge I can’t express how big it is. I believe unforgiveness is one of the root causes of the violence in Kenya, one of the root causes of tribalism, racism, and many other ‘isms’ and such bigoty that seperates man from man, woman from child. When you don’t forgive, and aren’t willing to forgive, you do no harm to that person who wronged you. That is another key point. Worth repeating.

When you don’t forgive, and aren’t willing to forgive, you do no harm to that person who wronged you. People often don’t understand this. They think, “they hurt me, I’m not going to forgive them”. Makes me laugh. They hurt you, so what do you go and do? Continue to hurt yourself? Idiot. What does it matter to the person who wronged you? If they repent, then they’re in the clear, it helps them significantly if you accept their forgiveness and repentance, but if you don’t, they’ve done their part. They can go about their life. They’ve repented and are now back on track with life and improving it therein. Yet you’re stuck with this unforgiveness which creates all kinds of unpleasantness in you. You hold on to unforgiveness and you’ll be a bitter old rocking chair man, or a bitter old hag. Don’t be.

Maybe not even a hag or old bitter man, maybe instead you transfer your bitterness towards one man to your son, and he applies that to that man’s tribe/race/color/fingernail size/whatever. It’s common enough to hear about something that so and so did to your father’s father’s aunt’s cousin. So you want to kill their entire tribe.

Seriously, following Christ’s example of forgiveness will cure you of your hate. And for those Christians out there who practice such bigotry, shame on you. Re-read the Bible.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
-Matthew 6:14-15


My First Sermon

Sunday, December 9th, 2007

I was ‘nominated’ to give a sermon today. I think this is my first Sermon ever to a church. Not my first public speaking stint, but first Sermon. So below is what I came up with. It’s not word for word of what I said, but I wrote this as my study so I knew what I wanted to say; so it’s close. Plus I used this to write my sermon notes. Beware, for those of you who aren’t Christians, heavy Christian content to follow! scary! 😉

Oh, and before I started I gave a short shpeel on how fast I talk when I speak in public and that I was aware and would attempt to slow down. I told them that if I got going to please let me know and slow me down otherwise no one will understand me and their wouldn’t be a point of me talking. I get an adrenaline boost public speaking which while nice as it quickens my thoughts, it also causes me to unknowingly talk faster. Afterwords I was told that I still talked fast but if they concentrated they could understand. Oh, and I’m the only native English speaker, for everyone else on the compound it’s English is a 2nd or 3rd language. Which doesn’t help when it’s ME talking. Native speakers have a hard enough time understanding me! 🙂

Oh, and actually for this sermon there was a native English speaker in the audience. We had the pleasure of 2 visitors, one gal from North Carolina one from Germany. (They were doing AIDS research and the German gal had heard about the farm from a friend of hers).

An elder Kenyan was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me. It is a terrible fight and it is between two lions. One lion represents fear, unjust anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, and ego. The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.” “This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too,” he added. The grandchildren thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, “Which lion will win?” The old Kenyan simply replied: “The one you feed.”

Of these lions, we all know which one we want to win. The one who fights for peace. No one in their right mind wants to always be experiencing War or Anger or Fights between friends. Speaking of Friends, we all want the lion that represents Friendship to win, not envy and regret, which destroy friendships. Unfortunately we often feed the lion we don’t want to win. The one that tells us we are weak, stupid, less of a man/woman than everyone else. The one that causes us to go into ourselves and take pity on ourselves. Pat yourself on the back and say, I know I know, I’m weak, their strong, I’m dumb, their smart. If any of you have seen Lord of the Rings, and I believe some of the young boys have, there’s a part of the movie where Gollum, a very self tortured man, does just this. He pats himself on the back, rubs his back, pities himself, tells himself all the lies he wants to hear. Gollum’s Lion that represents Self-Pity is very strong. Lots of food. Ultimately Gollum is lost. Killed by his own, corrupt desires.

So how do we feed the lion we want to win? How do we, unlike Gollum, kill our corrupt desires, instead of be killed by? Like I said, often we can’t. We need help. And let me tell you friends, Jesus has food that only 1 lion likes. The lion that is Love. The enemies food is worthless to this lion, it is stinky rotting monkey carcass! However, the food we feed our lions is usually mixed. Good but tainted. Corrupt goodness.

Gen 1:26-27
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

So God created us, in His image, our human nature resembled God’s Nature. And what did he say after he created us? Vs. 31 “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good”. Not just good, very good. And I’ll have to admit, Very Good to God is a kind of good that I can’t even imagine… but something happened. Something changed. Something, someone sinned.

Gen 3:22
“Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat and live forever”

We sinned and corrupted our Nature.

Romans 7:9
“I was once alive apart from the Law, but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died.”

We all know we are not perfect human beings. Christ is, but we aren’t. We are corrupt shells of what we are intended to be. We do good, and we do evil. We feed both Lions. And throughout human history, it’s been apparent that while we can feed both lions; the food is really only fit for one lion. we’ve seen that this Lion, the one who represents Lies and Fear usually wins, and continues to win more and more.

Luke 2:10-11
“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord”

As a gift to a fallen mankind, God became flesh and blood. Bones and marrow. So that HE might defeat the Lion that represents Guilt. We are all guilty are we not? I am.

Romans 3:23
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

I’ve lied. I’ve lusted. I’ve been unjustly angry. I’m prideful and have a rather large Ego. And I’ve acted on my lies, on my lust, on my anger. I’ve fed the wrong Lion. Many times. But through Jesus, because he chose to be born as Man, that birthday which we will celebrate later this month, that Lion in me can be DEFEATED. In fact, it already has. He just doesn’t know it yet.

Philippians 3:12
“Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus” I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:14
“For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

Back to Romans 3:23, but this time include verse 24.
Romans 3:23-24
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;”

That Lion, the Lion of Judah, Christ, has already staked his Claim on me. and on you. And there is nothing that other lion can do about it. Only I can choose to feed it. Only I can choose to not feed it. And Through God and with the Lord’s guidance, grace and mercy I’m not feeding it. I’m dealing with or have dealt with parts of that Lion; I’m dealing with my issues. And I’m positive the same is with many of you.

Ephisians 2:10
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them”

Someday, before I die, I hope to stop feeding him my unjust anger, my resentment, my lust, my envy and my ego, and whatever else cannot survive God’s presence. With God’s help I’ll get there. With God’s help, WE will get there. Me and Him. You and Him. US and Him. And I’ll be able to feed my other Lion, my Love, my compassion, my friendship and my faith. And simply acknowledging what Christ has done for me, through His birth, his life, his death and ultimatly his resurrection, I am infinetly closer that I ever could have been on my own.

Course that’s all fine and dandy some say. But where’s the practical?! How do I feed the right Lion? I want to feed the Lion of Judah! Well the answer is the same. Jesus, the Lion Himself! Because God created us in His image, we have Free Will. The ability to choose rationally, disregarding the animalistic instinct. God does not infringe on our Free Will very easily. So what do you do? You ask!

Revelation 3:20
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

He’s knocking, He’s saying “Hodi”! You gotta welcome Him in. You gotta ask him! “Jesus, please come in, come in and change me, refine me, perfect me!” I warn you though, being refined is not easy. To refine precious metals, like Gold and Silver, you have to heat them, very hot, and then sift off the impurities. Are you ready to have it hot? You wanna change, you wanna stop feeding that lion of Anger, it’s gonna be work. Do you think God just automatically changes you? Changes your personality? No! But he will give you an opportunity. He’ll bring you food. Which Lion do you feed? Say your anger has destroyed another friendship and you are tired of it. You want to give it up to God and have him refine it like Gold. you pray to God to help you control your anger. Will God then keep all things that make you angry away? No no no, he brings them close. Gets them hot. You pray. The next day something happens that normally makes you Angry. God helps and you don’t get angry. Rejoice! Praise the Lord! Thank Him for his Grace. But then He bring’s something else, and something else. Soon, we are no longer getting angry at the litte things that used to make us so mad. We’re being refined. It’s not easy, with God, there are growing pains. But the pain is nothing compared to letting the other Lion devour us.

I ended with praying that God would bring to mind things he wants to refine, and that we would in turn offer those up to Christ for refining. I didn’t get anything, but I was also hyped up on adrenaline, sweating and very hot; which is normal when I speak in public.

Posted in Kenya, Miwani, Speeches/Sermons |

Week 1 Events, Kakamega

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

So like i said prior, I visited a place called Kakamega. Now, one point of clarification before i start, when I say Kakamega, I could be referring to the Church OR the town. I’m sorry, it’s just habit now to refer to the chuch as Kakamega. I’ll attempt to utilize the term “church” but I make no promises.

So the Kakamega Church (see! told you I’d try) is loosely connected to my home church, Westside through work we’ve done with them and some financial help. Through that connection I am meeting up with these guys. I just stayed the night there and got back late the next afternoon (a bit before men’s bible study); and in that 25 hour period, a couple key events:

Trip Over to Kakamega
I was picked up late due to a mechanical issue with the car (break line finally broke) so I got to see first hand the Kenyan mechanic shop! or rather, lane. It was a street of old cars everywhere, people everywhere, parts strewn everywhere. Pretty awesome. Dr. George showed the bad peice and off the guys when on a quest to find the part. 20 or so minutes later we got the part, they haggled for a bit, I was able to pick up that they were fighting between 5 to 6 hundred shillings for the line (8-10 bucks); and ended up with a happy 550.

We also stopped by one of the guy’s parents or sisters house for some Chai and Ugali. Apparently Kenyan’s just drink a tea called Chai. No other flavors. In fact it was directly mentioned that he didn’t understand why so many flavors. Chai with a couple scoops of sugar is apparently the way to go. Ugali was pretty sweet though. Kind of a doughy, heavy bread that you squish in your hand and scoop up some boiled, spiced greens. First taste of authentic Kenyan food!! Then they brought out the milk; to which I was happy about. Sounded good at the time. Then they mentioned that I might not like it as it was fermented. Ever seen chewable milk? whoooooa there. While it actually didn’t taste too bad (I could stomach about half a cup) it was one of the more ‘odd’ things I’ve seen. Pretty stomach turning to a Westerner, seeing milk slop into your cup! hehe. Like I said though, tasted alright. Like a mix of plain, unsweetened yogurt with the consistency of watered down cottage cheese.

Simon’s Cell Group / Small Group:
Let me tell you, these African guys know to give an intro. When Simon introduced me to his cell group, I have to admit, I sounded pretty awesome! Hehe, just kidding… kinda. Seriously though, most of you know how I dislike being the center of attention but here I was crowded into a very small room with about 13 people where I was the center of attention; and then to have a pastor (Simon is one of the pastors at the church so he’s a practiced orator) talk about me or at least a solid minute. Can we say awkward? No worries though, I thought I made a pretty good comeback, err… introduction and thanks, when it was my turn to say something. I don’t remember what I said, but it’s one of those times where God helps me out because I was not only articulate but had a solid message/greeting. And you all again know that’s not me! That’s one thing I do love about missions, God always seems to be a little more obvious in the simple things. Maybe it’s that way normally, or maybe I just depend on Him less. but that’s some spiritual thoughts for later.

“African Shower”
Slept at Simon’s place. Nice house. But I found out later that their plumbing wasn’t fully finished. I actually started to suspect when told “We’ll make the preparations” when I accepted his offer of a shower. Huh? Preparations? His response to my look was a smile and something about experiencing an African Shower. About half an hour later I was led outside to their latrine/shower where one room had a hole in the ground (a good 40 feet deep) and some toilet paper; and the other room had a candle, a bucket of water (warm!! whooo hoo) and soap. So picture this if you dare! Me, bucknaked, crouching over a bucket of water holding soap. wait, actually I don’t know if I want you to picture that. Bucknaked crouched men are not the best to have dangling in ones cerebral cortex. …. hehe, sorry, I never stop when it starts to get inappropriate… and i love it…. anywhoo, I started to wash but cut it short when I got the water soapy and then realized that with soapy water it would be difficult to wash off the soap on my body. I made do with what I had and ended the shower. Next time, avoid the soap in the clean water. Note taken.

Detention Center
I posted a number of pictures that describe the place pretty well, check those out for visual and text. I got to give a couple speeches there; let’s hope I get good at this before God does the ol’ “push the bird out of the nest”.

And that’s roughly it for Kakamega! oh, and politically, Obama is from the area I guess, so everyone there want’s Obama to win. and yes, it was hard for me to “keep out of a political discussion” but I did it. aren’t you proud?

Upcoming Events!
Awesome Farmer’s Tan in the Making! Wait till you see how my sandle tan is turning out!
December 9th I get to give the Church sermon! my that’s getting close…..