Thursday, June 15, 2017

In the Absence of Faith

In the Absence of Faith
 
In Luke chapter 22, verse 31, we have a record of Christ predicting Simon Peter’s denial of our Lord by saying that “Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat.” [By the way, the ‘you’ here is plural in the original Greek, but in English that aspect is lost.] More fully interpreted, it means “Satan wants you for him to sift you like wheat.” Plain and simple, Satan’s desire for us is not that we may be his friend so much as it is that he may destroy us and take us from our rightful Lover, Jesus Christ, of whom he is extremely jealous. But why would Jesus ever allow His enemy to do that with someone whom He loved and counted among those that loved Him back?
The answer may well be found in another gospel, that of Matthew, in chapter 16 and verse 18, where Jesus says of Simon, “you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades [hell] shall not overpower it.” Jesus allowed Satan to try and sift Peter like wheat because Christ had a great task for Peter to perform and Peter had to learn that he could not do that in his own power, but only through his faith in God.
And what exactly does “sift you like wheat” mean? It’s difficult to say, but we can relate its meaning somehow to what Jesus says next: “but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail”. Satan wants to destroy our faith – he wants to put us through his sieve of suffering and challenges to shake us around until we shed our faith and fall through the sieve as “faithless”. That has always been his number one objective.
But let us rejoice that Jesus and His Father and the Holy Spirit are right now strengthening our faith just as Jesus asked God to do whatever needed to be done in order that Simon Peter be preserved, that is not fall through the sieve of Satan and being destroyed without his faith.
But as always, Jesus seems to help us understand why He and His Father and the Holy Spirit do that very thing for us when He says to Simon, “and you, when once you have come back again [converted], [you will] strengthen your brothers.” God wants us to hold on to our faith; we need our faith; and we need to share our faith.
This morning I was reading a devotional from C. E. Cowman’s Streams in the Desert on this verse which added some other interesting perspectives to the topic of faith. She writes:
  • Christian, take good care of your faith, for remember that faith is the only means whereby you can obtain blessings. Prayer cannot draw down answers from God’s throne except it be the earnest prayer of the man [or woman] who believes.
  • Faith is the telegraphic wire which links earth to Heaven. . . But if that telegraphic wire of faith be snapped, how can we obtain the promise?
  • Cowman also quotes Dan Crawford, who says, “We boast of being so practical a people that we want to have a surer thing than faith.But did not Paul say that the promise was by FAITH that it might be SURE? (Romans 4:16)”
And so, let us continue to live by FAITH.

-- Ken Godevenos is President of scainternational.org and accordconsulting.com .

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Filling A Much-needed Dearth In Christian Drama

The Bread of the Servant:
An Easter Play in Four Acts
Playwright: Elizabeth G. Honaker
Publisher: WestBow Press, Bloomington, IN, 2011                                                                     

It has always surprised me why more local churches are not involved in using a medium (i.e., the intervening agency or means through which impressions are conveyed to the senses) that can reach out creatively to today’s multi-generational audiences they have access to.  If one of the reasons for not doing so is the lack of good material, let it be said that Elizabeth G. Honaker continues on a mission to change that.
This play is her first of several that can provide a church, a school, or any Christian drama group with some excellent material with which to reach the world. You can learn more about her plays by googling her name “Elizabeth G. Honaker” and taking it from there.
The edition of The Bread of the Servant I read was much more than the plot of the play itself, with accompanying instructions for directing it.  What pleasantly surprised me was Honaker’s introductory part of the book where she covers some critical issues with respect to drama in the church.  She explains how this play (and others that followed) came about.  She deals with the issue of Sacred Imagination, something C.S. Lewis recommended as a tool for explaining the Gospel to a jaded world.  She helps any potential church drama directors with the issue of Getting Started.  She tackles the major topics that are potentially controversial with respect to drama in the church, and those are, the Place and Time of any production. I mean can we really have it replace a sermon and hold it on Sunday in the sanctuary?  The Intro also includes much needed and standard information on gaining Performance Rights and very helpful Production Notes. It ends with Honaker’s views on the importance of intention with respect to Christian drama. In summary, she says, “We want to glorify God in all we do; props and scenery, even acting, are all secondary to this purpose.”
The play (the star component of the publication) itself is most interesting. The main plot “revolves around the sacred memories” of the disciple John late in his life and a servant girl named Diana, who brought him his food.  John recalls scenes from Christ’s life, and as he does, the focus of the stage falls elsewhere and that scene is acted out by various other characters, many of whom are well-known Bible names – Lazarus and his sisters, the apostles, Mary Magdalene, Roman soldiers, etc.  The playwright has very creatively tied the story in the past that John was relating to the present in his effort to convince Diana to accept Christ as savior. I will leave the detailed link for readers to discover. Suffice it to say that this is the kind of stuff which makes for an interesting play.
This is a drama well worth reading for its face value and I highly recommend it to all who normally enjoy reading plays. But more than that, it is a great drama that can launch or re-launch the drama ministry of any church.  It will ignite the interest in the historical truth of Jesus Christ’s existence for many in the audience – both committed Christians and those that are invited to attend by them.

·      Ken B. Godevenos, President, Accord Resolutions Services Inc., Toronto, Ontario, June 13, 2017. www.accordconsulting.com

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For ‘Bioentrepreneur’ Read Organizer, Operator, Risk-taker

A Walk With Purpose:
Memoir of a Bioentrepreneur
Author: Michael D. Becker
Publisher: Self-published, Lexington, KY, 2017                                                                     


If Michael D. Becker can be characterized at all, I would say it is his disregard for any felt need of security in his life, much to his wife’s chagrin at times. The reason being that he learned early to walk with purpose – a task that has no need of, or capacity for, safety.
I read this book without utilizing my usual approach – that of highlighting every key thought so that I could write about it afterwards. I did so partly because one page just flows into the other and chapters seem to do the same. It is a fast read.

Becker starts his ‘memoir’ (very appropriate word) with his discovery of a lump on the right side of his neck. We are then introduced to several medical specialists that saw him and treated him, some of them individuals he had met through other contacts made during his very diverse career.
As the treatment for his diagnosed cancer began, Becker “started to ponder (his) own existence and how it might very well be coming to an end in a relatively short period of time.”  I have always been fascinated with the way different people face death. Becker’s approach was, like that of each of us, unique.  He reflects on the many near-death and reckless experiences he had made it through to get to this point, and shares them.  His experience with the drug LSD was both informative and entertaining.
Early in life he had to face his parents’ divorce and ultimately became a difficult teenager, moving out of his mom’s house and dropping out of school. On the positive side, he had discovered his love for computer programming and ended up working for the same investment firm his father and before him, his grandfather, worked, starting at the bottom. From there he never looked back, moving from investment advisor to financial communications guru, to chief executive officer of a biotechnology company. And more recently, a photographer with a most interesting website and several photo-publishing accomplishments. But the journey had its up and downs. His integrity faced challenges, as did his trust in people. And then of course, came his own experience with cancer.
Becker has a unique way of covering all aspects of his life – his challenges with his daughter due to her health, his wife’s need for him to have a regular paycheck yet her unfailing faith in him and support for him, his desire to help others, to enjoy adventure and nature, and so much more. Each reader can identify with him in more than way.
But one also learns a lot from reading the book. For me, it was gaining so much insight into how several types of organisms work in our world: investment firms; PR firms; biotechnology firms, etc.  And I was amazed by how many times the author was willing to start something new, long into his career – a growing trend these days.
Ultimately, Becker writes of his hope to have contributed to the world through his career. He writes of “only one true regret in life” and of having “made peace with that and any other demons.”  And in many ways, that makes his story, though unique to him, “also universal and [one that] will resonate, hopefully, for many people fighting against cancer and other diseases.”  And I would add, one that will challenge even those of us not diagnosed with anything at this point in life, to reflect on our own contribution to society, our legacy for our family, our fears of death, our regrets in life, and more importantly on how to address each of these to the point where we can find peace and meaning in living the time we have left.
A recommended read for the high-flyer business person who seeks balance in life while trying to understand life (and death) beyond the C-Suite.

·      Ken B. Godevenos, President, Accord Resolutions Services Inc., Toronto, Ontario, June 11, 2017. www.accordconsulting.com

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Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Read This Before You Donate Another Dollar For Africa

Read This Before You Donate Another Dollar For Africa

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Rescue Thyself:
Change in Sub-Saharan Africa Must Come from Within
Author: Sylvanus Adetokunboh Ayeni
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield, New York, NY, 2017                                                                     

I must admit over my many decades of life, I have indeed donated considerable amounts in time and in charitable dollars to improve the educational and poverty conditions of Africans, and still do. I have made two trips there to participate in some of these projects and chaired charities that are involved in the process. But something has always concerned me about the whole thing. Ayeni’s book confirmed my suspicion. The rest is up to me, and you, and the kind of African leaders which may or may not emerge in the days ahead.
Dr. Sylvanus Adetokunboh Ayeni was born and raised in Nigeria. He is a retired neurosurgeon, living in the U.S. and has for years been involved in the education of children in Africa as well as in attempts to improve Africa’s healthcare sector. If anyone knows about the ins and outs of Africa’s decades old problem of little to no progress, it’s Dr. Ayeni.  He delivers his message with incredible doses of passion, love, logic, and statistics.
The book opens with a quote from Roman Statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero that reminds me of the attitude of a recent American President. I was hooked.
The author divides his work into three major sections.  The first one sets out and debunks some detrimental misconceptions both Africans and the rest of the world may have about Africa and Africans.  Here he deals with misconceptions related to the creation of mankind, the purpose of life, and the essence of nationhood.
Part II deals with some fundamental requirements for change, including visionary leadership, production vs. consumption (especially of natural resources), solid infrastructure, and meaningful education programs.
In Part III, Ayeni talks about some other things that need to change if even all the requirements he identified in Part II were to somehow miraculously appear.  These conditions he says are “inward” ones implying they must come through the heart and through the mind.  They include a change in beliefs, desires, and behavior (especially of leaders); a change in governance and the how the Rule of Law is achieved and adhered to; and a change in the roles of exterior donors and NGO’s.  With respect to beliefs, desires, and behavior, Ayeni engages ancient material involving Socrates and ‘the Ring of Gyges’, which I thoroughly enjoyed and learned much from. A main idea that emerges is the need for leadership to start thinking about the masses and not themselves.
The reader reaps a lot of knowledge about each of these areas as he/she works his way through the book. Admittedly, for some of us who are more type A in our personalities, there is some repetition but the author feels, and helps us understand, how one cannot overstate what is obvious and yet no one has been willing to tackle it head on – perhaps as he himself often says, “it won’t be easy” and “there are no simple or easy answers”.
For me personally, Rescue Thyself not only taught me much, but I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s knowledge of literature and history, and his careful use of both. His quotes from many sources are appropriate and well placed. And many of his own are also worthy of being cited elsewhere.  One memorable one for me, when he debunked any excuse Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) might have as to why it is still in trouble was “Except in the Garden of Eden, no society started out rich.  Another one is: “The color of the skin does not determine the quality of the output of the human brain.” I have underlined much of the book for future reference on various topics.  Clearly, his focus is SSA and he explains exactly what countries are included in that designation. He very succinctly tells us what was going on in SSA while the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution were taking place elsewhere.
His use of statistics alone is worth the price one may pay for the book. One could prepare many a presentation from what Ayeni gives us through statistics.
He goes where others have feared to tread and this is to ask the question, “Is democracy the appropriate form of government for the nations of the SSA?”
But the bottom line of the good doctor’s message is this: it is time for the foreign-aid community to rethink its strategy.  That includes global organizations like the U.N., individual countries like the U.S. and Canada and others, NGO’s, missions, denominations, churches, and individuals. And if you think your support of “digging wells” in SSA or supporting foreign schools is the way to go, Ayeni will cause you to think again.
In his last chapter as well as his epilogue, the author gives some very practical suggestions as to what can be done now. And he also warns us of what may well happen if these things are not done. Scary.
This is a must read for anyone working with NGO’s in Africa.  It’s also a must read for pastors and mission leaders, and of course the individual who cares about helping his or her less fortunate brothers and sisters in the world.  Well done, doctor.


·      Ken B. Godevenos, President, Accord Resolutions Services Inc., Toronto, Ontario, May 22, 2017. www.accordconsulting.com

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.