Wednesday was my day

This past week at Westside Church, I was teaching through Paul’s prayer in his letter to the Colossians.  One of the key themes Paul was praying into the life of the Colossian church was endurance.  He knew better than anyone the Christian life is no walk in the park.  It comes with challenges, persecutions, and requires a great deal of perseverance on our part.  God sustains us.  God gives us his grace, but it is on us to endure.  I was inspired by a story I heard this week from Pastor Simeon Obayo.  He’s a personal friend and the pastor of Kakamega Pefa church in Kenya.  He recently gave his testimony to a group of Pastors:

“When I was 7 years old my mother sent me to school.  She could not afford a uniform so I went to school without one.  All I had was a torn shirt and a pair of ripped shorts that showed my bare buttocks to the whole world.  Every Wednesday we stood for inspection.  Wednesday was my day!  It was the day I was caned in front of the whole class for not having a uniform.  Week after week I was caned, but I came to school anyway.  I learned to take it like a man!   I would pull my shoulders back and refuse to cry, so they caned me harder.  When I came home with welts on my back my mother could only hug me and pray for me.  We had no other choice.

I now look back on those days as the days when the Lord put strength in my soul to endure the trials of life and never give up.  That is the reason I am what I am today.  No one ever had faith in me, but I never gave up.  No one ever helped me, so I helped myself.  I showed up and refused to go away, so they gave me jobs.  I went places without money and I learned that God always makes a way.  I was a poor boy who never had shoes until he was 19, but today I am a pastor and a Bishop over many Churches.  Faith for me was something that made me persevere and dare to do the impossible, a gift from God that has given me courage through my entire life”.

What an amazing story!  Hopefully this puts the struggles you are facing in perspective.  And for those of you who are in the midst of a trial, here is the prayer Paul would pray for you.

Be strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience…

-Colossians 1:11

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Holding it together

Today I’m reading from Colossians 1. I came across a simple phrase in verse 17 that has made a big impression upon me, “in Him [Jesus] all things hold together.” Have you ever experienced a season in life when you felt as if everything was falling apart? Professionally, relationally, financially everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Maybe you are in the midst of one of those seasons right now. You can hardly catch your breath before something else comes along and drags you back down under the water again. How do you hold yourself together when everything seems to be falling apart?

A few months ago we finished packing up all the Christmas decorations preparing them for another year of storage. Perhaps the most meaningful decoration of them all is the ceramic nativity scene we have. We’re trying to preserve it, so that it stays with us every Christmas and provides that nostalgia every time the kids pull it out of the box. This has proved challenging as we have four kids in the house. My son Judah thinks the Holy family is an action figure set. Needless to say, every year, before putting the nativity scene away, we need to perform super glue surgery. After twelve years of intense action, virtually every head, limb, and accessory is held together with super glue.

Our little nativity scene is a great allegory for life. Let’s face it, stuff happens. Life can often leave us broken and bruised and whether we’ve been the cause of our own pain, or someone else is responsible, we could really use some super glue surgery from time to time. It’s during those times that you want to crack open your Bible to Colossians 1 and speak these six words over your life – “In Him all things hold together!”

In Colossians 1:16, the previous verse, Paul says, “all things have been created through him [Jesus] and for him.” Have you ever thought of yourself as being created for Jesus? You are of inestimable worth to Jesus Christ. He paid the ultimate price by dying a bloody death on the cross in order to redeem your life. The next time you catch yourself thinking that your life is beyond repair, your marriage is impossible, or your future hopeless, remember that you are a treasure to Jesus Christ. It’s his desire to present you as pure, spotless, and unblemished before God the Father. And so, there’s my metaphor for the day “Super-glue Jesus.” It’s in his best interests to present you before God in one piece. I hope this inspires you!