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Wednesday, 14 April 2010

What's Wrong With Sin? - By Ishta Nandi

A few weeks ago, I watched a BBC3 documentary titled 'The most dangerous place in the world to be a woman.' My stomach churned as I listened to this Congolese woman recount the horrid way in which rebels had tortured and murdered her husband. Then it hit me: this is why God hates sin. Killing, rape, robbery, witchcraft, everything that's wrong with our world today, all the pain people go through and inflict on others, it's all stems from us not living in accordance with what God wants for us. People like saying "listen to your heart," but really there's no end to the mischief and evil that the human hearts and minds can come up with. If you're human, you know what you're capable of. It's this simple; God loves us. Just think, if we being human can feel the way we do about our children, how much more does He who created us care about us? Keep in mind we don't "make" our children anymore than the soil "makes" the grass. From the moment that embryo is formed; the parents have no control over how that child is going to be formed, they can't influence what that child will look like nor what type of personality they'll be born with. But God can, and He does, no one else knows the number of hairs on each individual's head. (Luke 12:7)It's because God loves us so much that He cares what we do and how we do it, and when we ignore His love for us we end up hurting ourselves and other people. God doesn't want you to steal because He cares about that person you're stealing from as much as He cares about you. He doesn't want you to hate anyone because He loves that person you're hating, so He wants us all to live in harmony. This is why it's so imperative for us to live focused on God and not on doing wrong if we are to go to heaven. When this life is through with all its struggles; there's going to be an eternity of either love, compassion and understanding in heaven, or rage and torment in hell. The kind of life you lead here on earth shows which side you value more, and thus decides which atmosphere becomes your permanent home.People often wonder why God, who loves us, would even create hell. The simple truth is that hell was not made for human beings. It's a place created to punish the devil for rebelling against God. (Isaiah 14:12-20) People choose to follow the devil there by rebelling against God during this life, by having the same attitudes as the devil has. (e.g. "Why should I obey God, I know better than Him!," "I'm bigger than God is, I'm my own god!") Such attitudes are harmful to us in eternity, and here on earth because by following the devil to hell instead of following God, we embrace darkness, violence, depression, confusion and death, the complete opposite of what God wants for us.
Is there anyway to live above all the wrong?In following God's love for us into heaven, the Bible is so important because it is how we know what God wants for us, as well as how to obey Him. Words have always been significant to God, ever since He spoke the world into existence by saying things like "let there be light" and "let there be land." It is through the written word that He has chosen to reveal His character and His will to us, and this isn't something we're in a position to complain about any more than we can complain about why He made the earth round. God is bigger and higher than us, He made us, we didn't make Him, so it is not up to us to decide who He is or what He wants. Lions are born carnivores, and since we're not the ones who decided that lions should crave meat, there's no way we can decide that they're going to start eating grass all of a sudden. If you don't think is true, try and force a lion to go vegetarian, and if you're still alive, do let me know how it goes.Realizing that there is a God and you need to know who He is is the first step in living your life focused on Him. This first step of faith is vital because the Bible says "It's impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that He exists and that He cares enough to respond to those who seek him." (Hebrews 11:6) When we have such an encounter, we are confronted with the fact that we often live our lives focused on other things, and not on God. So thank God that He already made a way to save us from a life contrary to His love for us, as well as its consequences in eternity, and He revealed the way to us in Jesus Christ!Previously, I have written about how the Jewish people expected God to fulfill His promise of salvation to them, as well as how that promise necessitated the death of Jesus Christ. It's impossible to know the salvation Jesus Christ came to offer if we don't believe what He did for us. Once we believe, we face a decision to either accept it or reject it. In accepting what God did for us, we acknowledge that Jesus was not a normal human being like we are, but the very spirit of God embodied on earth because how else would He have been able to raise from the dead? (1 Corinthians 15:42-47) If we accept that Jesus truly is Lord, and the only one who is able to save us from hell, we must bow before Him as He is, and not as we would like Him to be. (Romans 10:9-10)Over the years, people have tried to save themselves by defining for themselves what it means to follow God. If we want God to save us from a life contrary to what He wants for us and from an eternity separated from His love and mercy, we must obey Him. Much like taking a firefighter's instruction and leading in order to get you out of a burning building. Believing that God exists and that He has revealed His will through the Bible is necessary for us to realize what a contradiction our lives are without Him, and it is only the beginning. Once we believe, we need to obey Him because how can I believe that aspirin can take away my headache and not take any? The things we believe are defined by the actions we take, and you won't act unless you believe something the same way you won't believe something and not act on it. The Bible likens this to telling a naked and hungry man, "Be warm and full!" without giving him clothes and some food, it's quite useless. (James 2:14-17)
How will believing in God save me from the bad stuff?So once we believe that there is a God and there is a heaven, there are specific things God instructed us to do in order to focus our lives on Him. After believing, the first action we have to take is to repent of living our lives without acknowledging how God wants us to live. (Acts 3:19) Repenting means asking God to forgive us, and changing our attitude and behavior from that point on. If you apologize for something, without intending to not repeat it, your apology isn't very sincere.This isn't to say everyone whose ever asked God to forgive them never wronged Him again, but that repentance entails a change of heart and mind as well. Once you acknowledge that there is a God and ask His forgiveness for ignoring or rejecting Him in the past, you have to make a conscious effort to never forget Him again. We need God to help us each step of the way, and Jesus instructed us to pray for forgiveness daily. (Matthew 6:12) If you have ever said a 'sinner's prayer' at one point in your lifetime, you should make an effort not to ever get tired of praying a prayer like that everyday that you live.
So after I ask God to forgive me, what happens?Upon determining to turn from sin and live our lives completely for God by repenting, He forgives our sin, and again it is up to us to fully obey Him by getting baptized in the name of Jesus for our sins to be removed or 'washed away.' (Acts 2:38) Baptism is something very specific in the Bible, and unfortunately people have tried to do it their own way over the years, i.e. tried to save themselves. The word we translated as baptism in English is the Greek word baptizo which means to fully immerse something in water. The method of sprinkling young children was invented when the Catholic church was founded by order of the Roman emperor Constatine. This way, they thought, we'll be safe because we'll have covered everything that God asks us to do. Unfortunately, we can't save ourselves let alone anyone else. As much as some of our parents wanted to help us be "safe," they were only following the traditions that had been handed down to them and not necessarily the word of God. Baptizing someone who doesn't have the consciousness or belief in God is really of no effect because its our hearts that God is concerned with. The outer actions don't mean much without the inner belief, and Jesus said that whoever believed and then got baptized would be saved, and no one can believe something for you, belief is a personal decision. (Mark 16:16) Everyone in the Bible who repented was then baptized, they were dipped in water as the name of Jesus Christ was called upon. (Acts 2:41, Acts 8:12-13, Acts 8:35-39, Acts 10:47-48, Acts 16:30-33, Acts 18:8, Acts 22:16) Father, son and Holy Spirit are the roles God takes, and not His names any more than daughter, sister and friend are my names. The name Jesus has been revealed in the Bible as God's identity and power, and it is in the name Jesus that we are saved. (Acts 4:10-12) In fact, even those that had been baptized by John the baptist got baptized again in the name of Jesus, after Jesus resurrected from the dead and ascended into heaven. (Acts 19:3-5) Faith in the name of Jesus and obedience to His word is what cleanses us from our sin, so the water you get baptized in is not some special mystical water. However, the water is significant to God for our purification so all we must do is obey Him. The Bible says that we identify with Jesus' death and burial in repenting and being baptized because in repenting, we 'die' to sin and in baptism we are buried with Christ. (Romans 6:2-4) Thank God that we also get to identify with Christ's resurrection by being filled with the Holy Spirit! (Romans 6:4-5)
How will this change my life?God's spirit in us enables us to live a new life focused on loving God and obeying Him, because on our own we are weak. The Bible promises that whoever repents and gets baptized will be filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38-39) Everyone in the Bible who accepted Jesus to be their Lord and savior was filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-6, Acts 18:14-17), and God has not changed, He is still filling whoever wants Him in their lives. After we believe that Jesus died, was buried and rose again, He seals our faith with His spirit so that we know we are His. (Ephesians 1:13-14) Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit in our lives would teach us what is of God and what is not, lead us further into truth, revealing to us things that haven't even happened yet and directing us in doing what God wants. (John 16:13, John 14:26, Luke 12:12) Without God; we can't live how He wants us to, it is God's spirit in us which gives us freedom from sin (Romans 8:1-2), enables us to develop a relationship with God (Ephesians 2:18-19) and works in us, giving us the strength and revelation to live for God. (Ephesians 1:17-19( The Holy Spirit changes us from the inside, and these changes become visible in the things that we do, much like when you plant a mango tree, you're going to start seeing mangoes. (Galatians 5:22-23) It is because of God's spirit in us that He can work miracles such as healing and prophetic words through us. (1 Corinthians 12:1-11)Jesus promised His followers that they would receive this spiritual power after He had ascended into heaven (Luke 24:29, Acts 1:8), and His instructions to them were simply to wait in Jerusalem until they received it. They were doing just that during the feast of Pentecost when the promise of the Holy Spirit was fulfilled. (Acts 2:1-4) This is why to this day people call themselves Pentecostal to identify that they are filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus' followers knew that they had received the Holy Spirit because they spoke languages which they had never been taught, and everyone who heard them was amazed and some even thought they were drunk! (Acts 2:6-13) However, it had been prophesied before that God would fill people with His spirit after Jesus had been crucified. (Zechariah 12:10) It had also been prophesied before that by filling them with His spirit, God would supernaturally empower people (Joel 2:28-30) and that He would use strange languages to communicate to them. (Isaiah 28:11) Which is why Paul knew what to say to those that thought they were all just drunk, he told them that speaking an unknown language was God's spirit in us, a gift and a promise to all that would believe in what Jesus did for them! (Acts 2:14-36)Jesus promised His disciples that whoever believed in Him would speak a language that was new to them (Mark 16:17) and in the Bible, the disciples would know that God had filled someone with His spirit when they would hear them speak in languages they hadn't learned. (Acts 10:44-47) It is important to note that they didn't all of a sudden become fluent in these languages, but while they were praying everyone who could understand the languages they spoke said they were saying things to praise God. This experience is a gift from God's love to fill us with His strength, so that we can live our lives with the knowledge of who He is and how much He loves us! (Ephesians 3:16-19) Jesus promised that if we believed in Him, our very being would emanate the abundance of His spirit in us. (John 7:37-39) So once we are filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking in a language we don't know isn't something that will happen only once. We shouldn't confuse the initial sign of receiving God's spirit with the prayer language whereby believers who already having been filled with the Holy Spirit pray in an unknown language (1 Corinthians 14;14-15). Nor should it be confused with the optional spiritual gift whereby sometimes God gives a message in an unknown language through a Spirit-filled believers to other believers when they are gathered together in prayer or worship, followed by its interpretation in a language that they understand. (1 Corinthians 12:10, 1 Corinthians 12:30, 1 Corinthians 14:6-13)
I pray this note has helped you understand what's so bad about sin, and inspired you to want to live above its influence! God wants us to choose to live for Him, so that we choose to go to heaven. He will never force us to do anything, neither will He force us to spend eternity with Him, and I'm just hoping you make good choices. Photo by Alex Quest

Saturday, 3 April 2010

The Cross +

The cross the most readily recognized of the Christian symbols, and there is significance to it. As a symbol, the cross is a reminder of the sacrifice of our Savior over two thousand years ago.
Easter is mostly know for the Cross, a symbol of Jesus’ crucifixion,it is simple in its design but complex in its message we cannot ignore its significance . It looms empty, bare and isolated but it is full and overflowing with compassion for the often forgotten ones. It is the place where things turn around for the better.A place where: heaven and earth, God and man, sinner and saint, outsider and insider, fault-finder and forgiver, greed and grace, rejection and redemption, punisher and penitent, exit and entrance all come together, the meeting place where we reach up in order to reach out to one another. The Question is What will you Turn around and Who will You Reach out to?

I Must Remind you the cross itself did not effect our salvation, but it was the shedding of blood of the perfect, sinless, spotless Lamb of God on the cross that has made it so that our sins could be forgiven. As we Celebrate Easter we Must Remember mostly what Happened on the cross, personally i think all my Sins & debts were left and paid there in exchange for salvation, the sins had to be left some where. And i dont have to physically Carry or wear the Cross but have it in my heart and understand that My salvation is through Christ who carried the Cross and was crucified on It in order for me to have life through him.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

A Moment With Myco Chris

I first saw Myco Chris in 1999 at Kansanga Miracle Centre as he performed R. Kelly’s hit song, “I Believe I Can Fly.” I was amazed by his singing and performing acts. Over time, I have seen him metamorphose from a regular gospel singer to an established international artist.
After several failed attempts, I eventually met this singer, song writer, producer and entrepreneur at his home in New Addington, South London where he opened up to me about his music career.

[Ivan Kyeyune] Myco tell me about your early life?

[Myco Chris] I was born in Kampala, Uganda, on 12th Jan. I am now 27years old and I am the last born of 10 children. I am the only boy left right now; I lost a few of my brothers. I grew up in Mengo and went to Mengo Primary School, Namilyango College, Ndejje SS and then Old Kampala S.S.S before coming to the UK for my higher education at Croydon College (Diploma in Sound Engineering). I later went to Westminster University College for a Bachelor of Science in IT Engineering.

[IK] Who were some of your influences?

[MC]My Mother has always been my biggest Influence from the young age of seven. She never stopped me from going into music and always encouraged me. Others from the music world are Joe & Michael Jackson. I have listened to their music for a long time. From Africa it has been Philly Lutaaya & Frank Mbalire. However I didn’t fall so much in love with music from my country. I preferred to listen to Jodeci and H-Town.

[IK]When did you realise music will be your career?

[MC]I think at the age of 13 when I formed my first group. We went to different schools. I could write to my band mates and tell them how to dress.
The first time we stepped on stage we were young but we had dressed up like Boyz II Men. After getting ourselves oversized suits from Owino market, we found ourselves in the news papers the next day.
A week later when we returned to school, I was like a celebrity. Everyone was talking about me; I said to myself I am going to do this for the rest of my life.

[IK]Is the music paying off?

[MC] I have more love for music than for the money. Ivan put it this way I have been married to music for three quarters of my life. I have been feeding this music so much that it hasn’t paid back as it would but I just do it for the love. It is in me even, after going to school I just can’t escape it.

[IK]Describe your journey from obscurity to fame.

[MC] I started singing at the age of 9 in St Paul Namirembe Cathedral. I became head chorister at 11. After the leadership changed in the choir I quit church music and I started singing secular music with Shanks Vivi Dee. I then formed a group called Extra Grim with Chagga, Omwana Isaac, Rutty Martin but we disassociated in 1997 and went into our solo careers. I hit Sabrina’s pub where we did Karaoke.
I became born again in 1999 as I went to bid farewell to my friends in Kansanga Miracle Centre Choir who were coming to the UK, I was challenged by the way I was received by the Senior Pastor Kiwewesi.
Then I found myself singing in the choir before I confessed, I literally got born again on the pulpit
When I came to the UK I always had a dream of finding someone who could produce my music but no one could. I then signed a 5 year contract with EMI as a songwriter because I needed work to do and they needed people who could write world music.
The contract had a clause that stopped me from singing mainstream music. After my contract ended I bought my studio equipment and I started producing my music but because I didn’t have a proper record deal I ended up selling the songs to groups like Big Brother, Skillz, Deburg.
When I didn’t have a deal I embarked on an African project and I was going to do a song “Zino Enaku” with Nice from Nigeria which I ended up doing with Radio and Weasel after accidentally coming to my studio to do another song.

[IK]How do you describe your music to people?

[MC] My slogan is music from the soul or music from the heart. I don’t write from imagination. Anything happening in my life or people around me I put it in the song. Zino Enaku was written in 2002 after staying with my friend whose wife had given birth and they asked me to leave as they didn’t have enough room for me.
I tried a few people but I was let down and being spring I ended up sleeping in Charlton Park for 9 nights. I could stay on the Bus 53 until midnight then walk back to the park and sleep on the benches with my bed sheet.
On the 5th day I was heartbroken when I rang up my cousin who is married to a pastor and narrated to her my experience in the park. She refused to take me in despite having stayed with my family while in Uganda. So I started writing “Zino Enaku”

[IK] What’s the story behind Kabitte Wange?

[MC] “Kabitte Wange” was written for someone who is very special to me.

[IK]What are your music career goals?

[MC] Right from the age of 15 when I first watched the Grammy awards, I have dreamt of winning one. I have been nominated at Beffta (Black Entertainment, Film, Fashion, Television and Arts) awards 2009, Africa awards UK based 2009 and UK unsigned awards 2008.
I would also like to have an impact on Ugandan Music, My music is much influenced by the west, but I had to turn Western RnB into Luganda. I want to press on until i get into the Real Main stream of music.

[IK]As an already an established artist, How do you define the term success?

[MC] I don’t think I have attained success as yet. My journey has just started and I believe am just laying the foundation.

[IK] What has the music industry taught you both personally and professionally?

[MC] I have been able to meet important people in my career. One of the most humbling moments was when I met Nelson Mandela at his Birthday Party 2009 in Hyde Park London. Although on this function I met other celebrities like Will Smith, Amy Winehouse, Chris Trucker, Leona Lewis it wasn’t as massive as meeting Mandela.
I learnt the journey of Mandela and learnt humility is the key to success. The more humble you are the more successful you can become. The problem with today’s upcoming artists is that they think they are mini-gods or gurus.
I have learnt music is just an office you step in but you must remember that you don’t live there. It should be separate from home. I have worked on separating the two and not let one get into another.

[IK]In this era of social media, as an established artist, you are perceived as a sex symbol, with hordes of young female fans. How do you deal with this pressure?

[MC] I only go out on purpose; I just don’t go out for fun. I believe fun is in me and not out of me. If I want to have fun I come home and play video games on my Play station. Secondly I don’t surround myself with anyone. Thirdly I have people I report to or account to.

[IK]Like your Parents?

[MC] Not really, but my Pastors.

[IK] With fame, comes responsibilities as a musician you are automatically termed as a role model. How are you trying to influence the coming generation?

[MC] First and foremost I don’t curse in my music, in my studio if any artists want to record music there they should not curse, no smoking no drinking and no honeys.
I have always tried to pass on information to the youngsters who come my way. In my new single “Nyikira “I encourage the young generation to work hard. No matter what status you are, you can always be what you have always dreamt to be.

[IK] Don’t you think is there a conflict between your faith and the music you sing?

[MC] I took my time to read the Bible and I didn’t come across anything that condemns singing about love. If you read the book of Songs of Solomon it has more love stories than any other book ever written. It describes love and the problem in church is that we think being a Christian musician implies singing about gospel music only. I think otherwise.

[IK] Do you have plans to ever release Christian themed music?

[MC] My next album is called Phase Two and it has so many Bible related songs and it is basically my experience with the Almighty.

[IK] What do you think of the scandals that are rocking the Ugandan music industry e.g. Bebe Cool's shooting, Weasel and Radio fighting with Chameleon Etc?

[MC] It is the motive and who you want to be. People choose who they want to be. The bible says even a fool is judged wise when they speak less. But a fool can put himself in danger when they start talking.

[IK] How have u managed to stay out of trouble?

[MC] God. I have worked on myself according to what the bible says. I believe that without obeying the word of God I would have been something else.

[IK] Which African country do you think has the most vibrant music scene and why?

[MC] Definitely Uganda and not because I come from there, I think we have tried to experiment different types of music from the World. However Nigeria can’t be missed out as well

[IK] Do you ever plan to go back to Uganda and settle there or at least have a concert?

[MC] I have sent studio equipment to Kampala and I have plans to set up a music school for people who want to produce music. Together with my friends in Europe I am sure it will be one of a kind very soon in Kampala.

[IK] Which musician would you love to do a collaboration with and why?

[MC] If I work harder it would be Stevie Wonder or Joe Thomas.

[IK]What about in Uganda?

[MC] I would prefer singing with the friends I started with when I was young.

[IK] Do you have a crush on any celebrity? If so which one?

[MC] I had a serious crush on Halle Berry way back but not anymore.

[IK] Are you dating, engaged, or married?
He is very shy while answering this and gives me no straight answer.
[MC] I am off the shelf

[IK] What is your opinion of the gay rights debate going on in Uganda?

[MC] It is hard as you know we live in the Western world, but I do believe everyone has flaws.

[IK]Give me your Christian point of view Myco.

[MC] I don’t necessary think two wrongs make a Right. Killing one because of their sexuality is a Sin as well. The Bible says “Don’t Kill”. We all have flaws the best thing is to love those people with the love of Christ because of their weakness. Jesus came for the sinners and I do believe in the eyes of God sin is sin and there is no greater sin. I don’t have issues with anyone as long as they acknowledge that there is God who will reconcile. It is only God who has the power to change lives and by killing gay people I don’t think we do ourselves or God Justice.

[IK] Finally what’s your message to your fans?

[MC] If you have a heart, love someone and if you have a heart bigger enough love everybody. Love can change this world and if we can love each other then we can create an atmosphere we desire to live in.

Interview by Ivan L Kyeyune – Photos by Alex Quest

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Does God have a Plan B for us?

For as long as I can remember, I was taught to have one.
When selecting a certain field of study in school, have one.
When pursuing a particular path of employment, have one.
When researching a new savings or investment plan, have one.
Even when it comes to deciding on the woman I want to marry, I was taught to have one.
(Although am still “waiting” on God to show me if the person I have in mind is the one and she is “waiting” on God as well..)
Through the sincere and heartfelt counsel of parents, teachers, friends, co-workers, and at times, even our pastors, many of us have grown up our entire lives listening to the value and importance of having a Plan B. We are often taught that it is through an abundance of options, and not the lack of, that a sense of security and self-assurance in this life can be obtained.
In an effort to minimize our fear of doubt or lack, we surround ourselves with alternatives, just in case the path we have chosen for ourselves has turned out to be one with unfavourable outcome. And while for many, the ability to always have a Plan B to 'fall back on' may seem to be a wise decision, when it comes to matters of faith, it can be a very unhealthy habit to maintain.
As believers, many of us live out our lives like we have a remote glued to our hands.
As soon as we see something we don't like, we quickly reach to change the channel, simply because we believe we have an option to do so. When we encounter difficulty at our jobs, we begin looking for opportunity elsewhere. When we have a disagreement with a spouse, we begin looking for agreement elsewhere. And as soon as we think our churches can no longer 'give' us what we're looking for, we begin looking to 'receive' somewhere else.
As believers, we must be very careful when our individual pursuits of a Plan B are a direct result of not knowing or believing in God's Plan A. There perhaps is nothing that displeases God more than a believer with a closed fist - one who decides that holding onto his or her Plan B is much safer than letting go and trusting in God's Plan A.
I have always been amazed at the incredible faith Abraham displayed in Genesis 22.
Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." Then He said, "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."
So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar of.
And Abraham said to these young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you." - Genesis 22:1-5
Now here is a man who God basically told to take his son, his only son, a son that he loved and cherished, and sacrifice him as an offering on a mountain. Seems like if there were ever a time someone would have had the right to ask God for a Plan B, it was Abraham.
However, instead of complaining and making some alternative suggestions to God, Abraham followed God's Plan A and took his son Isaac to the mountain as he was instructed. But check out verse 5 again.
"And Abraham said to these young man, "Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and WE will come back to you."
Now I have to admit, when I first read that passage I thought Abraham was just saying that to perhaps provide some form of comfort to the men he had brought along with him. I can only imagine how confused they had to be as to why Abraham was walking up a mountain with his son, his only son, a son that he loved and cherished, with some split wood as though he was heading to an offering without a single lamb in sight.
And as we read later in verse 7, they perhaps weren't the only one confused. Isaac himself was looking for some answers from his father as well. The kind of answers many of you reading this devotional today may still be seeking God for now.
"God, where is my spouse? Where is my promotion? Where is that new business you promised me? I've followed your Plan A, but where is that lamb for a burnt offering? Where is my Plan B?"
But watch how Abraham, the father of our faith, answers his son in verse 8.
And Abraham said, "My Son, God will provide for HIMSELF the lamb for a burnt offering."
Not once in the first eight verses of this chapter did God tell Abraham that He was going to provide Abraham with a lamb to sacrifice. Not once did God let Abraham know that there was all along a Plan B that he could rely on. Not once.
So how in the world did Abraham know to tell those young men that both he AND his son would come back down from that mountain? How it is that Abraham could look his son in the eyes and with unwavering faith, tell him that God will provide the answer to this test?
Simply because Abraham was already all too familiar and perhaps sick and tired of coming to God with a Plan B. Flip back and read Genesis 16 and you'll see exactly what I mean. Abraham gave up being in control, and decided to lean hard into God's Plan A, regardless of how ridiculous it may have sounded.
Are you and I really prepared to demonstrate that kind of faith today?
Remember this: Having a 'ram in the bush' is not the result of having a successful Plan B, but rather following God's Plan A. When you have no other alternatives, God then provides better choices.
Photo by Alex Quest

Pastor Kiwewesi pulls Ugandan crowd in London.

‘Not my Size but my Source,’ was a two week empowerment conference held in London, mostly attended by hundreds of Ugandans in the Diaspora. It was hosted by Bishop Mary Lwanga of Tower of Prayer Church in West ham London, one of the towns chosen to be a village for the 2012 London Olympics. The conference was held from 4th to 18th October, 6pm- 10pm daily. Services usually began with praise and worship led by Ugandan Gospel artists including Fiona Mukasa, William Kyobe, Martha, Myco Chris, Florence Rukundo, Esther Nalule, Barbra Musoke, Tower of Prayer Choir and Agape Mass Choir among many others.
Although he was not the host, Pastor Isaac Kyobe Kiwewesi of Kansanga Miracle Centre from Uganda was the main celebrant. He attracts a big fellowship in London each time he visits. As in his Church in Kansanga, Pastor Kiwewesi preached in Lugganda, interpreted by his spiritual son Pastor Gladson Kayanja, a senior pastor of Muyenga Miracle Centre.
It is amazing that God would empower a regular man like Kiwewesi with the ability to impact people around him in meaningful ways, and use him to speak a relevant word so his people might be changed .The Pastor asked people to repent and encouraged them not to give up fighting as long as they are still alive. This man of God had a way of putting courage in souls that had given up. Full of testimonies from both his church and his own life, he told people that God had not forgotten about them, and as a church they had a job to do in order to fight the enemy who oppresses every area of their lives. He challenged people to not only attend church, but to be involved in the body of Christ in one way or the other.
It’s clear the experiences he had come through, though wearisome, had made him stronger and enabled him to then translate that knowledge into a pathway for others to find their way. The servant of God was fired up and didn’t seem to have been shaken by the negative publicity which he received in the Ugandan media exactly a year ago. When I asked him why he didn’t respond to the reports that almost tarnished his image, with a smile on his face he looked me in the eyes and said “Ivan, I never answer to criticism because it’s not my calling.” Kiwewesi added “People will always talk about you bad or good, but that doesn’t stop you from doing the work our Lord Jesus has asked us to do”

Kiwewesi also led people in agreement when he received disturbing news that one of his spiritual sons, a Ugandan Gospel Musician, was facing deportation and had already been put on the plane. The man of God contended with the news and if I had ever thought prayers could not be answered instantly, I can honestly say now that I saw the hand of God as He answered the prayer of the faithful. With only minutes until the plane was supposed to take off, the musician miraculously was asked to step off the plane with his family. In a few days, we heard them testifying in the conference how they had already given up hope but thanks to the Pastors and the conference that called on the heavens and prayed, a miracle had been seen in the eyes of the British Immigration laws. There were other testimonies of people who received deliverance and miracles one Patricia who seeded and saw her harvest in 3 days through a cheque in a mail. Another Lady who was due for a liver transplant claimed she had felt the power of God during the conference and got healed.

In the second week of the conference, Rev. Jerome A. Barber of the Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Temple arrived on the invitation of Pastor Kiwewesi. Barber, a humble African American who has a T.D. Jakes style of preaching, pastors a 5,000 member church in Hampton, Virginia. He taught and preached on various subjects, but notable was “The Pit is not forever” and “Your Condition is not your Conclusion.” In these texts he was able to relate to the conditions most attendees were going through, and found a word of encouragement for the people. He often spoke a few words in Swahili and Luganda that he had learnt on his numerous trips to Africa, and used demonstrations to deliver the word of God, showing us that our source was bigger that the size of our troubles. The Reverend’s powerful preaching uplifted and encouraged us through the word of God and he asked people to have faith in God as did David in his battle with Goliath. He highlighted David’s faith in face of great adversity. Despite the disparity in size, David was able to overcome Goliath due to his faith in God.

Rev Barber compared the timing of gifts from Heaven to “African time.” He said that they take time and are not instant like most people wish they would be. He beseeched brethren to have patience when seeking from God and stop waiting on “microwave miracles.” After every service he updated his fellowship back in Hampton with status updates on facebook. This also encouraged Pastors Kiwewesi and G. Kayanja to join facebook.

God’s work indeed operated in these men. The few nights I spent at their rented flat in South East London over looking River Thames interviewing them for a future article, I was able to understand why these men of God are different from the usual church saints. They woke everyday at 4am for prayers and never left me to sleep. Although I could not hold a prayer for 10 minutes without falling asleep and kept repeating the same words, I greatly admired and was comforted by these three generals of God. Pastor Gladson made sure he shook me whenever he didn’t hear a word out of my mouth.
The last day of the conference was particularly one to remember, with all the performances by various gospel artists such as Grace Morgan, Myco Chris and his wife Gwendolyn who shared an emotional testimony coupled with a song “mercy said no”, to mention a few. Reverend Jerome once again delivered a powerful message titled “Keep on fighting”. Pastor Kiwewesi led the congregation into yet another powerful time of prayer and topped it off with 2 upbeat songs of praise which got the crowd sweating from all the dancing. Overall it was an emotional moment for me, knowing that next October seems so far away, it will very much be anticipated all throughout the year.
At the end of the conference I caught up with Fiona Mukasa, a gospel artist and wife to Pastor Godfrey Mukasa, who I had the privilege of driving home. She said she had felt the presence of God in the conference and that she had begun to pray more often.
Other people who were able to comment included Ronnie & Noel Gibbs, who praised the pastor for inviting Rev Barber to London. Bishop Mary thanked the Londoners for attending in such large numbers.
Olga Katumba of Tower of Prayer had praises for the youth who attended the ‘Not my Size but my Source’ youth day that was held on the seventh day of the conference.