Month: May 2016

Did The Devil Take Over The Schools?

devil-break-inRecently, I heard of an incident in a school. This school operates a hostel for some of its kids, and as things have stood for a while, the kids do not experience much of Christian fellowship while in residence. The young woman who manages the hostel used to take them all out to some church on Sundays, but even that had to be suspended because of security concerns. As an interim measure, a guest minister was engaged to come in on Sundays in the afternoon to hold a worship service with the kids. A couple of months ago, this minister, a woman, came in as usual around noon. In the course of the meeting, while she was leading them in prayers, things got somewhat out of hand. A number of the children began to ‘manifest’ – some collapsing to the floor and a few others going into fits and vomiting stuff.  The minister was taken aback by these apparent manifestations of demonic presence and influence, but with the help of the hostel matron, she was able to bring things back under control after some three to four hours of intense ministration.

An obviously shaken hostel help of a certain school ran one day to her Principal’s office. She wanted to be prayed for, to be ‘born-again’, and safe. Two young girls in her hostel had scared and intimidated her for some time, and when she learnt that her new Principal was a ‘born-again’ Christian, she felt it was time to seek help. These girls had told her that she was their dead grandfather’s wife, and that he usually came to visit and to play with them in the night. They warned her to be nice to them and to keep her mouth shut, or they would punish her very severely. According to them, she was ‘easy meat’, unlike another hostel staff they said had some fire around her so they couldn’t touch her. Our frightened staff took their threats seriously, especially when she noticed the strange influence that these two sisters seemed to wield over other kids in the hostel. Something about them scared her!

Our schools used to be lively grounds for positive spiritual encounters, where vibrant fellowship and discipleship set the tone for committed and fruitful Christian living. Some of us are products of those far better circumstances. I passed through a dormitory system in my secondary school days. From the 5.45 am morning devotions to FCS (Fellowship of Christian Students) meetings several times in the week, we were kept fired up. There was that healthy distinction in those days between the children of God and those who were not, and the light of the Gospel kept the influence of darkness subdued. Things don’t seem to be quite the same now! Find your way into some school dormitory today, and you’re not likely to hear some excited teens singing Christian songs early in the morning or praying out loud at night. Those kinds of activities don’t seem ‘right’ any more. Really, even for excitable youth, it’s not easy to mix these with the more compelling beckonings of experimentations in drugs, sex, music and movie-peddled porn.

What happened in our schools? A lot! From sly government interventions and policies concocted to tactically edge out Christian oversight in most schools, to sheer foolishness on the part of Christians and Christian institutions who couldn’t see the devil’s obvious finger at work in the changes that were sweeping through our educational system: a lot has happened to bring things to where they are today.

Nobody needs sweat to bring on darkness; you just switch off the lights. To varying measures we have all been called to be light in our world. If Darkness has mounted its monstrous canopy over our institutions, it is most certainly partly because the ‘lights’ went to sleep. While atheists and jihadists and gays push and lobby their way into our systems, employing all conceivable tools to sideline the message of Christ, many Christians have lived with visions no wider than tackling personal needs and hankering after new blessings. Many are so coy and spiritual, wouldn’t dandy with carnal weapons, while the godless smartly weave themselves into strategic spots till they can easily adjust laws and policies to lock down the godly and give wings to evil.

While we hope that Christians will get more proactive and vigilant in watching over our treasured institutions against satanic incursions, we must step out with our lights, and find some darkened spots. And don’t you despise the tiniest little light; there’s no telling what the Lord would do with just a little glow. It might well be what some young soul needs right now to save them from the grip of desperate evil. And remember this: The thicker the darkness, the more the impact of a little glowing lamp! If your glow makes no difference where you function now, maybe you have too much light around already: find some really dark spot, and turn it on!

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Keep your lights burning!

God Is Working Things Out

‘Don’t worry about anything,’ says Philippians 4 verse 6. ‘Instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.’

prayer1I don’t know about you, but reading that verse proves far much easier to me than practicing what it says. Am I the only one with this self-excusing feeling that seems to say that worry is something you almost cannot control or keep out? It’s like I’m on the open sea, sailing scared in a creaking boat that moans and trembles at every touch of the mischievous winds. I seem to hear sinister whispers in the constant swish and push against my boat and face, and each time I look around she seems to be right there, like a knowing caring friend, ready to look ahead for me and with me. Worry seems to hang around me always, offering her binoculars of fear, urging me to take a peek, yea, stare and pre-live the dangers that lie ahead.  No, I haven’t done too well at resisting her –she’s so very attractive – and I have even often gone trembling to her at the slightest suggestion of approaching storm. Haven’t I sometimes felt even a sense of companionship with her – as with a friend that seems to be always there? Her presence and closeness prove so very overwhelming, fogging out the actual past and filling my mind with colorful hints of imminent doom.

But the ulcers she brings in my mouth – it took some while before I realized she brought them – are very painful. And every time they sting at the touch of the food she had told me I would not find, I laugh at me again. How long yet, before I learn to say no to her? How long till I learn to shut my mind to her torturing ways?I have known a million winds and storms, just like you, and my swaying canoe keeps on still. I have worried needlessly a million times, when I should simply have lived the Word. Past each point of apprehension I have realized, haven’t you, that God was working things out all along, for our good. I have looked back countless times and seen that worrying only helped me forget that help was on the way. And what amazing help I have seen! Sometimes they’ve come from totally unexpected quarters. Often they’ve come from regular angels who seem to have been specially dispatched along my trail, coursing quietly along and constantly listening upwards for instructions concerning me. So now I sail restfully on in my bobbing boat, trying my best to do what He has chosen me for. I am daily resisting worry’s lure, shutting my ears and heart to her false alarms. Confident of God’s good plans, I choose rather now to greet each day with a thankful heart. I thank Him for so lovingly working things out for me, and I thank you for being a part of it all.

Thank you!

Does Music Influence?

music02In Genesis 1 of the bible, God created. With respect to man the Book says he made him out of the dust and he breathed into him to make him a living soul. Essentially, creating entails not just forming a thing but perhaps more importantly, giving life to what has been formed. The process of transmitting or transferring life (our nature, our identity, our ideas, etc) into the things we make can be regarded as ‘making them in our image’. A thing so made then takes on an ‘aliveness’, a personality of its own, something that identifies it and distinguishes it from other things, and which at the same time reflects the nature and character of its creator. Verse 20 of Romans chapter 1 says that God’s creation shows his invisible qualities and thus takes away man’s excuse for not acknowledging him.

The great diversity we see in nature suggests that God is not just awesome; he loves to create, to make. The ability to create is obviously one aspect of his image that he transferred to man, and like God, man loves to employ his creative powers.

Musical art is one area in which man does a lot of creating. Every piece of music you hear is someone’s creation, and every piece of music has an identity, a personality of its own. Personality generates impression, and impression breeds influence.

Musical personality   

First, let’s examine the nature of the personality of music, or, more precisely, the personality of a piece of music. What could it consist of, or derive from? The lyrics? The beat or rhythm? The melody or melodies perhaps?  Basically, these different aspects of a musical creation combine to give it its identity, exerting their contributory weights to different degrees and in differing proportions from one piece of music to another. In most modern/contemporary creations, the melody and the lyrics stand out as the foremost identifying elements, but these with the beat and style, the tempo, the instruments and the performance skill and style of the musicians all interplay in a rather complex manner to generate what we may call the personality of the particular creation. This personality speaks, in a way not generally restricted to the lyrics. It speaks, not just to the ear, but also more significantly to the heart, to those subliminal parts of our humanity where difficult-to-analyze responses interact subtly to mould us into what we are. This musical personality speaks, often very strongly, eliciting such responses in us as hardly anything else known to man could induce. In other words, as stated earlier, this musical personality makes an impression.


It must be stated early that even though the impression a piece of music makes depends on its personality, it also depends on the condition, position and direction of the listener. We walk a subjective terrain here. It is like when we confront human personalities. One girl loves a particular young man for his boisterous and confident air; her sister just can’t stand the sight of him, for the very same reasons. Similarly, the same piece of music makes different impressions on different people, depending on what they are and on where they are coming from. But let me make an important point here: our differing perceptions (impressions) of a particular piece of music do not alter, define or redefine the personality of the music, just like the differing responses of two sisters to the same young man do not confer on him two different personalities.  A slice of orange has its taste; one defined by the chemistry of its constitution and state, regardless of the possibility that one kid loves it and another does not. Similarly we cannot hope to define the personality of a piece of music in terms of subjective variances in appreciation.

What is of utmost importance here is to acknowledge the fact that a musical work of art makes an impression, an impression that derives primarily from what we have here chosen to refer to as its personality, and an impression that is in turn defined in terms of our individual subjectivity. Therefore, whether we consider such an impression to be negative or positive or good or bad depends on what we are and where we are coming from. And having acknowledged this, we must also understand that an impression, once made, has the potential to generate or define influence. In regard to music, as in almost anything else to which we may attribute personality, impression is a primary means to influence.


From your standpoint as a listener, music that makes a positive impression on you tends to hold your attention.  (The word positive is used here not in the sense of good or bad, but rather in the sense of strength of appeal.) Such music tends to invite you back again; it tends to ask you to identify with whatever it is that it might be saying, and in a lot of instances, it invites you to identify with the worldview and lifestyle of the artist. Your response to these invitations invariably determines the degree of influence the music exerts on you.

To compound things a bit for you, these invitations are often subliminally transmitted, and you are often not even conscious of your own real response! This brings in the point that music, perhaps like other art forms, influences not only by means of the personality-impression process described above, which assumes a conscious response. You do not have to be aware of the process, or to respond consciously to perceived impressions, for influence to occur. If you hear a given work of music long enough, it will affect you, one way or another.

Does it matter?

Considmusic01ering that the average person listens to his preferred works of music not because he seeks influence but for pleasure, shouldn’t the gratification of this pleasure be sufficient justification for going ahead with his choice, no matter what anyone says?  What does it matter if any kind of music is presumed to wield any shade of influence over its listeners? Does anyone possess the standing to decide for others what is good or bad music? What rights does any one have to specify what amounts to good or bad influence?

There is a great din of voices out here, countless divergent thoughts and opinions laying claim to truth and wisdom while floating about in flimsy mists of subjectivity, desperately seeking footholds for themselves in whatever minds would let them. In my view, it is dangerous to seriously open up your mind to the questions above, until you have first of all tackled more basic questions relating to life and eternity. It could be like a lost man in the midst of an apparently seamless forest who simply strikes out without first of all seeking to determine whether he’s facing north, south, east or west. How can you decide what the right path is when you don’t even know what your destination should be? How can you begin to argue about what is good or bad until you have accepted or adopted a standard for judging?

In my view, one should first of all tackle the question of what to do about the disturbing claims of the one called Jesus Christ before going on to babble about what really matters and what does not. The fact is that this person, whatever you think of him, leaves us not many options.  He says we are either in or out, and that he is the only entrance we could find, and that rejecting him amounts to choosing a life in which nothing really counts. Of course, who says he is right? The fact that his claims and teachings have haunted and tormented humankind for two thousand years does not prove that he is right. They only perhaps suggest that it might make some sense to pay a little attention, no?

For those who choose to choose him (that is what it means to believe his claims), everything counts. For them it matters what they do to their bodies and their minds.  They know where they are going, and they are aware that certain trappings would prove quite unhelpful on the trip. They have the navigational sun of their lives in sight, and therefore they can think to avoid certain routes that would only lead them away from the heaven they’ve been promised.

Now if you really want a life in which nothing matters (except perhaps your self-will), then go ahead and reject him. Set yourself free from the terrors of his intimidating claims, and do as you wish with your life.  Pour yourself a full cup of that terrific brew you’ve concocted all by your self, and gulp it down to the very dregs. Strike out in whatever direction catches your fancy, since as it might well turn out, you are heading nowhere.

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Beauty, Art and Us

I will rebuild your foundations with precious stones… your towers with rubies, your gates with stones that glow like fire, and the wall around you with jewels. (Isaiah 54:11,12)

I recall when we moved into a new apartment some years ago.  Spacious  rooms, fine floor. We had the walls scrubbed till they shone.  My sparsely  furnished bedroom took on an airy beautiful look with the lights on at  night.  Such great thrills from just walking in and looking around!  Yet the  floor wasn’t laid with gold, nor the walls with jewels.  The ceiling had no  covering of stones that glow like fire – just plain white Asbestos boards.  And it all looked so very beautiful!  It left me wondering how I shall feel  walking around the streets of Heaven.      What is it in humans being that makes us appreciate beauty so?  What makes us purr with admiration and passion at a glimpse of anything that  bears loveliness, elegance or splendor?
What makes even little children  show preference for beautiful toys and playgrounds? What ever it is, I believe it must be beyond man. Perhaps we need to  look to the hands of the creator to find the answers.  In the first place our  world is dressed up in beauty.  Obviously, the great scientist who  engineered the universe is also a master artist.  And He did not simply set  down an ordered functional universe, but he also chose to tap into his  artistic genius, splashing beauty all over his creation.  He even scattered  shining jewels and precious glowing stones in the bowels of the earth.  Fortunately, he put in man also the ability to appreciate beauty when he  encounters it, to look around ‘at all He had made and see that they are  beautiful.’ (Gen. 1:31)

And beauty, or rather human appreciation of it, is perhaps the only  reason why we have artists..  Where would be all our poets and writers and  musicians and singers and fashion designers and decorators and painters if no one cared about beauty, if no one cared about how anything looked or  sounded or felt?  What would our lives be like then?  So we can say that  beauty begot art, and that the power of beauty lends art the potency by  which it sways and ‘enslaves’ human hearts.

And the truth is that we are more devoted slaves than we realize.  Or  than we usually chose to admit.  The arts exert a strong hold upon our  minds, influencing our lives in such unobtrusive ways that this takes some  reflecting to realize.  By ‘the arts’ of course I
mean that vast field of  creative activity every one knows so well (literature, fine art, music and  dance, theatre and films), especially those works that serve for mere  entertainment.      How much of our thinking, attitudes and belief is actually due to the  influence of the music we listen to, the books and magazines we read, the  plays and films we watch?  In other words, how ‘enslaved’ are we to the  arts and to beauty?

God gave us beauty, and the ability to appreciate it, and thanks are due  Him.  For art that results from this gift, that shows in a sense that we were  made in His image, thanks also are due Him.   But there is a sense in which  we must view art as we view food.  God gave us food — created us to  depend on regular intake of matter for survival;  granted us not just the  quality of feeling hungry but also of enjoying eating. You should thank  God for your taste buds. What an ordeal eating would be if there ever was  no basis for such a word as delicious and the only thing appetizing about  any dish was the hunger in your tummy!  Thank God for the great gift of food  and for the pleasures of eating.  And because food is so very important to us, there  are things we do with or about food.  For instance, we watch what we eat.  Bad  food could kill you.  Feeding consistently on some particular good foods could  make you so fat (or thin!) that living becomes a misery.   Yes, we watch what we  eat.  It makes much sense to ensure not just that our food is colorful and delicious  but also that it contains the basic nutrients required for healthy growth and living.  Like food, art satisfies our hunger, a different kind of God-given hunger that  must be gratified for our souls and minds to thrive and for our humanity to be truly  nurtured.  As it is for food also, our consumption of art needs to be regulated.  Our  enslavement must be checked and controlled.   Good must be done us, not ill.

And here, as I’m very much aware, we begin to step into deep waters.   What is healthy art and what isn’t?   Who decides what?   What criteria should we use to  define and to judge works of art?   You probably have many more questions. Or  answers. Feel free to share!

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