Monday, January 31, 2011

What is the meaning of life?

If there is one question I ask myself over and over is what is the meaning of life? Anyone with an answer? I would love to know. I have met people in their seventies who are still trying to figure out life and what to do with themselves. Yet I have met people in their twenties who seem to know what they want with their lives and are kinda set to go. They seem to have figured it.

Have you ever read the wisest counsel of Solomon? He is recorded as one of the wisest men in the history of the world. But honestly I don't like him. Not like I hate him, it's those feelings you can't figure out, you just no it's not love. How can he say everything is meaningless? Is that wisdom really? That's not the kind of thing you tell people. What's up with this dude? It's like the government telling the poor that they will always be poor unless they learn how to be self reliant. They can't do that, the poor would riot. Or why do you think every day on the news someone is saying.. naomba serikali?

Sometimes we want to be lied to. We at times enjoy lying to ourselves. Who wants pain? Apart from some numb freaks who feel nothing. But an ordinary human being seeks pleasure and avoids pain, yet the truth is said to hurt. And maybe that is why we have no idea what is the meaning of life. Because right down our hearts we are afraid to hurt when we figure out the truth.

Today morning I was reading a very interesting book and the writer was also asking the same question. What is the meaning of life? But I like his thinking. Having grown up in a war torn country, all he knew was hate and violence. He couldn't figure the meaning of life having seen the brutality of soldiers killing innocent people. But one day he picked a broken mirror from an accident scene. As a boy, he smooth-en-ed the edges into a small circle and he would play with it. He would use it to reflect the light in dark places as a game and he learnt the meaning of life. He still have the mirror in his pocket.

He learnt that we are not the source of light, but we are created to reflect light. God is the light and he created us to reflect his glory, his wisdom and his light to dark places. Ours is just to position ourselves right, to tap His light and in thus doing we shall bring forth hope and light to those around us. All we do in life is okay, is brilliant, is great, but it is meaningless if we cannot reflect the glory of God. Let everything you do, not just be a chase after the wind, but rather let it bring people to a place of light, a place of strength and a place of hope.

Arise and shine for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples. But the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Isaiah 60: 1-3 NIV

Friday, January 28, 2011

It’s in the valley I grow

Sometimes life seems hard to bear,
Full of sorrow, trouble and woe
It's then I have to remember
That it's in the valleys I grow.

If I always stayed on the mountain top
And never experienced pain,
I would never appreciate God's love
And would be living in vain.

I have so much to learn
And my growth is very slow,
Sometimes I need the mountain tops,
But it's in the valleys I grow.

I do not always understand
Why things happen as they do,
But I am very sure of one thing.
My Lord will see me through.

My little valleys are nothing
When I picture Christ on the cross
He went through the valley of death;
His victory was Satan's loss.

Forgive me Lord, for complaining
When I'm feeling so very low.
Just give me a gentle reminder
That it's in the valleys I grow.

Continue to strengthen me, Lord
And use my life each day
To share your love with others
And help them find their way.

Thank you for valleys, Lord
For this one thing I know
The mountain tops are glorious
But it's in the valleys I grow!

Author Unknown

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Letters from God

Experience is a bitter teacher, because you are the guinea pig in the experiment. However, example is the best teacher, because you are the scientist to interpret the experiment and you make decisions from the findings. Experiences are part of the package of life and in one way or another our lives are shaped by our experiences.

When I was growing up my mother used to tell me that people are letters from God. This was her thinking. That we can learn a lot of stuff by just studying and observing other people’s lives. She would give me stories of different people. There was this man who used to catch moles for the farmers in our village, and she would say he was once a very rich man, and he misused his treasures, his wife committed suicide, his daughters ran away from home to get married as teens and now I could see the kind of life he lived. She would allow me to observe people in the village and all her stories had a moral.

I agree with her to a larger extent. We can learn a lot about life and God from people. When we consider the bible, most of the stories we read are about people who lived on earth just like us. When we read these stories, we are able to extract principles that guide us in our daily life, even though these people lived long ago. This shows the power of example.

It doesn’t matter whether an example is good or bad, we are still able to learn from them. This is the case in the bible. What the children of Israel went through was both to set an example as well as warn us of the consequences of disobedience. Look at David, he was able to give a testimony when he said “I was young and now am old and I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their seed begging for food”. That statement shows that David would observe the righteous and learn the ways of God.

This means we are letters from God, that people will read and in turn they learn the ways of God. It would be so sad if, because of your casualness with God, or because of your low standard of living, people run away from God. Many people have lost faith in God because the people who are called by his name have become bad letters.

The other day I was thinking about what our children are learning in school, just to be untaught on their way home. In schools, they are being taught of how to obey rules and to be honest and to be kind and to be orderly. But as they step out of the class on their way home, what do you think they learn from the tout who doesn’t care? Or the driver who overlaps? Or the young man who pushes them as he tries to find their way in the bus? And what do you think they are learning from our politicians? and from the news every day?

Of all the people who need to know God are our children. How do you demonstrate God’s faithfulness through your life? Can those who watch your life testify of God’s goodness and might? Do your words match your lifestyle?

People are desperately looking for God, for hope and for truth. Can they find it from your life? What this world needs is letters from God. And you are such a letter. Let the word of God come alive in your life.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Type of Rare People

The hand baggers: 
They burden their shoulders with a pouch of unnecessary accessories.
I know you should carry your own cross.
But never die alone. You are in a community.

The hump bearers: 
Forever carrying burdens in a back pack even to a picnic or a wedding
Even Jesus didn’t heal everyone at the pool of Siloam.
Pretend to be well once once.

The note bookers:  
They jot everything in church and never read those notes.
Don’t statue the living words into a death sentence
Read your notes, you will meet someone we call secondary illumination

The face bookers:  
They read people faces and they sentence on spot
 Even with such proximity you are never interest to share your life
 Why be judgmental? Stop thinking of yourself higher than you ought to.

The Motivators:     
They update very inspiring status on facebook and have a sweet tongue.
Meet them and they are hollow and complaining about everything
Kindly try and be consistent. We can tell the anomalies

The Addicts:         
They don’t drink, hangout, or smoke, they got it figured
They just can’t stop pointing fingers and pitying others
 Self righteousness is like filthy rags before God.

The wankers:      
I call them nonprofit organisms, good for nothing.
They are after everything for self gratification
We are called to serve, outdo mosquitoes and be helpful

The huggers:      
They have perfected the art of embrace and a calculated smile
Once in need, they flee like a flea. Got this and that to do
Give yourself to others. You are the greatest gift to those in need

The chatters:      
They know every dirty laundry about everyone
Now that she did or didn’t do, what’s with you?        
Shut up! Before you spread rumors, receive love.

The suitors:       
They overdress their lives with imaginary fantasies, very spooky
We know and believe we have a great place there someday
Now we are living on earth, dress for the occasion

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Things Don’t Just

Things don’t just happen
Someone is writing with his pen
He’s got the plan and the plot
To bring order out of this lot
Behind the scenes he directs the play
To appeal the unseen we need to pray

Things don’t just occur
Someone is driving us in his car
He’s got the fuel, He’s got the map
To drive us through this lap
With intent, with purpose
We must journey to bring to pass

Things don’t just become
Someone is taking us home
Bringing light, bringing life
Partnering as a man with his wife
He desires to work with partners
Making sons out of beginners

Things don’t just
God is at work

Back in the days 1

My dad was a driver. And he used to enjoy his work or so I thought. I was born in Kibera slum and I didn’t know it was a slum. I knew that is home. I had uncles and aunts and cousins living in the same place. So was my grandfather and once in a while my grandmother would come to visit. Some of the memories I remember then is my mum warming water for dad in the morning using  2 kg Kimbo tin on a stove, and dad going to shower in the communal bathroom. I remember mama Michael, our land lady. They used to cook with cowboy cooking fat and their chapatis were sweeter than ours. I remember Michael who used to shower with lifebuoy soap, and it had a very strong smell. I used to wish I lived with the Michaels. We had a neighbor who had a girl called Lillian. I can't remember much about Lillian, but I remember her going for a long call in a ditch outside our house and I was peeping at her.

I remember going to church to Our lady of Guadalupe in Adams arcade.  The church used to so crowded that people would stand during the mass. I loved the part after church because we would be bought ice. On Sunday I would meet my cousins Martin, Lydia and Boyie. We would go back home playing in the vast playing field between adams arcade and kibera slum. Also remember my mum going to the uchumi supermarket and my mum would get Zesta plum jam. It used to be very sweet on bread. At some point in my mind I could not picture the supermarket and I used to think the supermarket was a dam near the showground where you would go and collect the products you want and you would wipe the water and take home. I have no idea where this notion came from.

I also remember the Gathogo's. They used to live in Ayany estate. Gathogo used to work with my dad. It's here that I first saw a different type of a toilet. And I could not manage to relief myself from the seat because it was high. And I helped myself down there. And my mum was so ashamed of me. But she didn’t beat me. I remember they had a very nice drink, which now I know was a fruit punch. But unfortunately after the visit I had a severe diarrhea and I thought in my mind it's because of the what I took there. I admired their hood so much and I started to realize where we lived was of a lower standard.

I also remember a day it flooded on kibera drive near karanja road and the buses were not passing there. We had to alight at Karanja road and walk home. I used to love the trips to town with the buses. My mum would ensure we sat near the driver and she would make us sit on the coffin. I mean the engine looked like a coffin near the driver. I used to admire the bus driver. And I swore to myself that when I grow up I would become a bus driver. How was it that a thin guy was able to carry a hundred of people in one bus? Again, my dad who was my hero, only drove small cars and he used to brag to me, I wanted to be better than my dad. Driving a bus was much more than driving a small car.

I have a brother, Daniel who is exactly one and a half years younger than me. I don’t have a first distinct memory of him. I just started to realizing we were two. My mother used to hide the house keys under the door and she would ask us not to show anyone apart from dad, incase he came back from work before mum came. One day, our grandmother Shelmith came to visit and we showed her the key to the house. We were so delighted to see our grandmother and we so welcome her in the house. My mother was not impressed by our generosity and opening the house to her. After my grandmother left my mother pinched my cheeks so hard I had bruises. I learnt the lesson. A family is made up of a father, a mother and your brother.

I also remember visiting my cousins; Muthoni. They lived in a very nice house on Karanja road. It had many rooms including a bathroom and a toilet, they had a TV, a cooking gas and when you visit they would buy soda. Muthoni was a little princess. At some point I wished I was a girl. They were light skinned and everything about them was different. I had a lot of questions about our family. Why we only lived in a single room when people like Muthoni lived in a big house. I feared their house though. My mum had told us about a story where a man was left by his master in his house and warned not to open a specific room. But out of greed he open the room and a leopard ate him and his family. When my mum was narrating this story, I would form a mental image and I would imagine my cousins house as the master house. So when we visit I was afraid to go to other rooms lest a leopard eats me.

I cant remember us going shags, but I found us living in our grandmothers house and sharing it with our aunt Lucy. Live here was so different and we had a tap of running water outside the house. My grandmother had a cow called queen and it used to fight people. It had long horns and the only friend was my grandmother, who would milk it and feed it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Where do babies come from?

Children are the most innocent and inquisitive creatures in the earth. Their minds are open to learning and into understanding the world around them. As they grow up, depending on the environment, some tend to become less inquisitive and their minds closes. While others will have an open mind that is eager to learn throughout their life.

The role of training the children has always been on the parent. But with the advancing in the modern family, the teachers have replaced the parents. Actually most of the children, learn very little from their parents. They have their peers to tell them like it is, their teachers to rush through the syllabus and outweigh them with homework and exams, and TV that is the center of conversation in most households, not forgetting we are in the information age, where children can google for answers.

Communication between parents and their children keeps reducing. What remains is when the child is asking for something, and some will even text or send an email to an ever busy parent. But we can't blame the parents, the workplace has become very demanding and the cost of living is also high. So we have to bring bread home.

Nevertheless, there is no greater teacher than a parent. When parents learn to share their stories, frankly and openly. When children have friends in their parents, to confide in and to just share their lives without the feeling of obligation, but because it is a way of life in their family. Sometimes, we protect our children too much, they end up growing crippled. And mind you, most of our parents have a wealth of experience, from social issues, economic issues to every aspect of life. And if only they were able to share with their kids, they can empower them beyond what they are receiving from school.

I am lucky to have had parents who were easy to talk to. When I was in eighteen, my dad actually brought me a pack of condoms to arm me. He could have been late, but I really appreciated his efforts. He was frank with me that things happen unexpectedly even to those who are born again. Especially since I was living alone. And as much as other parents would argue he should have been telling me how to abstain till marriage, he knew better having had impregnated a girl in his teenage life. So, his perspective was from his own experience and his own life not necessary the ideal situation. And honestly, if we didn't  have a close friendly relationship with him, I would have interpreted his good intentions wrongly, as if he didn't trust me, since he knew I was set to keep myself till marriage.

This is just an example of many other things I was able to receive from my parent's lives. Their struggles, their failure and such, and so when they gave an advice, it was easy to take it because I understood where they came from.

I am involved in the teens ministry and at times I feel sorry for some of the teens whose parents live in the ideals and who never share their stories with their kids. I know teenage life is complicated, but a wise parent will keep his or her children closer than try to push them away by portraying a perfect life as if they too didn't have complications when they were teenagers. And it is even more challenging now, because teens know so much than their parents give them credit for. To the parents out there. You have no idea what your innocent looking sweet baby knows. And whether you like it or not, that which you are not telling your daughter, someone is going to tell her.

Most children are tired of all the things money is buying for them. They want quality time with their parents. They want to know and feel that their parents love them, that their parents are proud of them, that their parents listen to them. But nowadays all we do is give our children pressure of what they ought to achieve and in case they are not achieving as expected, we ask them what they are lacking. (Material things). Sometimes all you need to do is encourage them, let them share what is going on and be there to listen without judging and then give wise counsel.

For some reason, children will always ask their parents where babies come from? For some reason, parents always tell their children babies are bought in the shop. The sad thing is, as our children grow, we never update them. And so they get to hear from else where and they lose their trust in you as a parent.

Anyway, my brother and I asked my mother where babies come from. You don't want to know what she told us. Talk about creativity!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Of Pee and Poop

For some reason I have been feeling very guilty every time I flush my toilet. Using three to four liters of clean water to push pee and poop to the sewage drain, yet thousands of family in my continent can’t access clean water for basic use each day. I wish I felt nothing, but honestly it has been eating me up.

When my real estate dream materialize, I will build houses that have a tank that collects used water from the kitchen sink, hand washing sink and the laundry room, filter it and re-use the water to flush the toilet.

Meanwhile, I will have to figure out how to deal with this feeling, or I could recapture my childhood escapades of manure-ing the earth!

In the words of Lord Baden Powell “Let it not be said of you in shame when you are gone, that there was much beauty here before you came. Leave the world a better place than you found it”.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The metaphors of this generation

We like it hot, tight, fly and freakingly casual
We live on the edge, on the chase, like crazy up there
We want it instant, jumbo, coated leisurely
We remember it if it was wicked, wild and left us damaged
We look at it if it’s flashy, artificial, made up and cosmetic
We smell it if it’s meaty, rusty, addictive and juicy
We touch it if it’s velvety, metallic, electric and intense
We wear it if it’s halved, inside out, added on or plastic,
We talk about it if it’s extreme, politically incorrect and pointing to others
We embrace it if it’s liberal, for now, accidental or the in thing
We loathe it if it’s procedural, committal, manual or involving
We connect real time, non physical and in groupies
We are open, pleasure hungry, standalones and independent
We know how to mask it together, copy paste, tag it and forward
We also pity the old, the backwards, the godly and the breastfeeding
And finally, with search engines, navigators, internet and satellite TV
We can never admit that we are confused, lonely, empty, shallow and lost.

Who lost their memory?

I don’t like Christians who don’t think. I just don’t like them. Some folk will laugh at the Muslims for removing their shoes before entering the mosque, yet many Christians leave their minds outside before they enter the church. Something is grievously wrong.

God is divine, sovereign and almighty, but in all His divine initiatives He uses men who cooperate with him. There is a place for human partnership in the advancing of the work of God. And so we must get our hands dirty to ensure the purposes of God come to pass.

Let’s go back to Christians who don’t think. If you have been to some church like I have, you wonder which kind of God they are serving. Like the songs people sing, you wonder whether they are listening to what they are saying. Like this song in Swahili that says.. kuna makofi, makofi, halleluyah, kuna makofi ya ajabu, halleluyah. What do you mean? And that is during praise and worship. Asi?

Call me greedy but I hardly pray before eating food. I believe gratitude is an attitude. There is nothing wrong with praying for a meal before eating, but the kind of prayers people make, I am left wondering. If for some reason God whispers to you after the prayer, don’t eat, would you hear? No, cause we really never engage in such a prayer. It’s more often than not just a ritual. That is not the worse part, the part that irritates me most is when we pray; God, remember those who don’t have something to eat. You mean God lost His memory? Of all the people, would God really forget His children in hunger?

And while we are on the praying part, most folks we just remind God of His work. God, remember those who are in various needs, and sort them, oh God remember the widows and the orphan, oh God remember those in prison. I get it. God has so much work to do, He sometimes forgets what He needs to do and we need to constantly remind Him. Get serious!

Who has lost his memory? Christians, we don’t have to tell God to remember the hungry, we need to share with the needy. That is what we call human initiative. How can you say you love God and you can never share with the needy, the hungry, the naked, the prisoners, the lost and the mourning? 

There is a part for praying, I agree. But there is also your part to do. James 2:14-26 says that faith without deeds is dead. And in James 1: 27 says religion that God accepts as pure and faultless is looking at orphans and widows in their distress and keeping oneself from being polluted by the world.

And finally, I will leave you with a quote from a catholic activist Ammon Hennacy; “Love without courage and wisdom is sentimentality, as the ordinary church member. Courage without love and wisdom is foolhardiness, as with the ordinary soldier. Wisdom without love and courage is cowardice, as with the ordinary intellectual. But one who has love, courage, and wisdom moves the world”.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Life is a big joke

Life is a big joke, lighten up and enjoy the humor.

It has not always been easy to enjoy life, there is school to be done, exams to pass, skills to acquire, money to make, families to raise and dreams to achieve. We have serious things to do with life. And as we pursue those important things, it so easy to become serious and forget to laugh at the joke that life is.

Sometimes in life I detour, but I have learnt, even when am at the worst and I can’t figure out life or when I have lost my way, the least I can do is enjoy the scenery. And as I get inspired by nature, I find myself finding the way again. But I have met people who, when they detour, they become bitter, resentful and angry. It doesn’t help and such vices never move you forward. Who cares if you have lost your way? Haven’t you heard of how one way leads to another? And how life is a circle, a sign of eternity, without an end or a beginning? Haven’t noticed how we always find ourselves in the same place we’ve been all over again. And we wish we didn’t move at all. I find that funny!

And that is my point. You can never take life too serious not to enjoy it. We have to create moments of simplicity; a cup of tea shared in laughter with your wife, a walk with a buddy that sobers you up and reciting silly rhymes with your kids or nieces and be a kid again.
Life is not the things we do, it’s the moments we create. And so when things are tough and not working out, and we have no power over it, we can create moments of joy and hope to defy the prevailing circumstances.

But how do you do it when everyone is busy and life moving fast. I wonder with all the hurry, where are you going? Most often we miss out our moments of life in a rush to reach out a mirage. We have lost the art of stillness, depth and reflection. We cannot enjoy the pleasure of doing nothing. How many of us work even when on a holiday? How many days can you survive offline? No phone, no internet, no media, nothing?

Nevertheless, you must always take care with humor. It’s so easy to laugh at a joke until you realize, the joke is on you!