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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

For how long are we going to provoke God?

The prosperity gospel, or the gospel of the financial seed, has become preeminent in church, alienating the poor and conspiratorially replacing the gospel of fire and brimstone, writes Dennis D. Muhumuza 

In his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” fiery American theologian Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), pleads with Christians to mend their ways and cease provoking God.

The sermon may be 269 years old, but its relevance is still as immediate as it is powerful, for it is evident there is a desperate need of healing and cleansing from the leprosy of sin that has infiltrated the church today and subjected it to mockery. Avarice has overshadowed the real Gospel as businessmen are busy becoming pastors and ripping off unsuspecting congregants for self aggrandisement.

The prosperity gospel or the gospel of the financial seed, has become preeminent in church, alienating the poor and conspiratorially replacing the gospel of fire and brimstone (Revelation 19: 20) that has long been effective in reminding believers about the ramifications of sin.

The non-believers and hypocrites in church circles are on rampage, using their money and treachery to hook up church girls; others are running after fame and riches at the expense of heeding the holy dictate of seeking the righteousness of Christendom by which these things follow by default (Mathew 6: 33).

It is flabbergasting how drinkers of inequity easily quote scripture to justify their straying: “All have fallen short of the glory of God,” “Let him without sin cast the first stone” as they go on amusing themselves in the amusement park of secularism. It explains the latest trend of sisters in church getting married in a hurry to disguise their pregnancies and quite a number dying while aborting.

The Biblical command of handling our salvation with fear and trembling has been ignored; we are living in the fast lane; indulging; replicating the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18, 19), after all God’s grace is sufficient.

One is tempted to believe these are the last days alluded to in 2 Timothy: 3, where greed, hedonism, envy, immorality, pride, disobedience, violence, deceit, recklessness, irreligiousness and all manner of loathsome behaviour had become the only way of life.

Similarly, we have become like the Cretans, who professed to know the Lord when in works they denied Him, “being abominable and disobedient and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1: 16). That is right; we should be guilty! For how long is God going to be “dreadfully provoked” as Edwards puts it? For how long are we going to abuse the liberty that God, in his immeasurable goodness, has granted us?

To think that it is alright to sin and repent afterwards is unquestionably delusional because life is so slippery that none can even tell what happens in the next microsecond. The Bible says the Master will arrive incognito and cut the unfaithful servant in pieces; sharing the fate of the disobedient (Luke 12: 35-48).

For as much as God is indescribably merciful, he resents hypocrisy and disobedience. Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt for this (Genesis 19:26), while Ananias and his wife Sapphira were struck dead for their financial dishonesty (Acts 5:1-11).

Edwards stresses that we are already condemned. That God holds us over the pitiless pit of hell, looking at us as worthy of nothing but to be cast into the fire, yet His hand upholds us from falling into the fire because of His mercy. Should He then be taken for granted? The Israelites crossed the Red Sea under the cloud of God but later desired evil things and sat down to a feast that turned into an orgy of drinking and sex. But in one day, 23,000 of them fell dead as a warning to us that the Lord must not be put to the test (Corinthians 10: 1-9).

The Bible further says straying after testing the righteousness and goodness of God is synonymous with crucifying once again the Son of God and holding Him up to contempt, thereby becoming like worthless land full of thorns and thistles and whose end is to be burned (Hebrews 5, 6).

Wake up, therefore, from your drunken stupor, says the Bible - and do not go on sinning so that the power of God that is constant in our lives can help us win in the daily war between the body and soul as revealed in Galatians 5: 17. Paul himself became a pugilist, punching his carnal self to bring it under subjection and subjugation so as to win the unfading crown presented to all who finish the race of salvation (1Corrinthians 9: 24-26).

It is time to mature from the elementary doctrine of Christ and graduate from milk to solid food in the word of righteousness by learning to distinguish good from evil. That way, we cease dreadfully provoking God, as Edwards put it.

--Sunday Monitor, October 10, 2010

The right door will get you to prosperity

Title: Tapping God’s Blessings
Author: Robert Bake Tumuhaise
Reviewer: Dennis D. Muhumuza

The front-cover picture of a hand unlocking a padlock did not have as much effect on me as the opening lines of the second paragraph of the first chapter: “We stand in the present holding the keys to the future doors of success and failure; it’s we who decide which door to open.”

The realness of those words struck me profoundly, overwhelming me with a sense of guilt; it hit me that had I chosen to open the right door, I would be far ahead on my prosperity journey. But I let life’s hard knocks keep me on the canvas instead of rising up and buffering.

That’s how convicting Tapping God’s Blessings is. Inspirational speaker and author Robert Bake Tumuhaise writes that we are all born to shine; to overshadow failure like light chases away darkness. He argues that it’s all about choice really: refuse to be poor, miserable, sick, barren or even an addict. Choose good health, joy and prosperity.

First released in 2008 and aptly subtitled Keys to Open Doors of Success in your Life, the 126-page book is sugared with real life stories of people who have utilised or blown their chances and of ordinary Biblical figures that tapped God’s blessings and registered extraordinary exploits.

Most people measure success by the number of posh cars they drive or the mansions they own. But the author argues that success in God’s estimation is much more comprehensive than mere material wealth. And it’s this prosperity as prescribed by God that he writes needs be embraced. He shows how, including how dangerous it is to worship money and how ignorance has chained many in poverty, or how misdirected talents keep us struggling and dissatisfied.

Bake stresses that God should be mandatory in our lives as in all our business plans and ambitions; what he calls “seeking the God of blessings before seeking the blessings of God!”

The enviable simplicity, the touch of humour and most of all the believability that characterise Tapping God’s Blessings makes it the best inspirational Ugandan book I’ve read so far and one I strongly recommend for everyone that wants to prosper but is clueless on how to go about it.

--Sunday Monitor, October 10, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The literary volcano that Beverly Nambozo is

If there’s one person that has played her part in the rise of Uganda’s literary industry, particularly in the area of poetry, it’s Nambozo, writes Dennis D. Muhumuza 

Not that she has written a best seller, but Nambozo’s zeal in the elevation and appreciation of home literature is unquestionable. From the day she joined the Uganda Female Writers Association (Femrite) about 10 years ago, she has had a couple of short stories and poems published in journals and anthologies of acclaim in East Africa and abroad.

Her latest story can be found in Talking Tales (2009), a collection of short stories and poems by Femrite members. Titled Paddling, it’s a moving account of a young girl who gets impregnated by a priest and is contemplating throwing herself in a lake after she’s shunned.

Most of her poems, just like her short stories, are irresistibly sad and personal. As she confesses in one of her blog entries, she finds it difficult to write creatively when she’s happy: “Sadness makes me create. Emptiness makes me want to feel full and so I write...”

Bev, as is fondly known to friends, has worked as a teacher at Greenhill Academy and as radio presenter at Power FM but writing has always been her number one love. She quit her job at the East African Sub-regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women to focus on writing.

The effervescent lady had long observed a glaring absence of a platform devoted to promoting poetry for and by Ugandan women. So, she founded the annual BN Poetry Awards that recently celebrated their second anniversary with Sophie Alal’s poem, Making Modern Love, scooping the top prize of $250 and an autographed copy of Dr Susan Kiguli’s poetry collection, The African Saga. 

The 33-year-old was immediately nominated for the August 2009 Arts Press Association (APA) Awards for rejuvenating indigenous poetry. She has since extended the poetry awards project to schools to stimulate students to “push their pens to the pinnacle.”

“The schools project is aimed at meeting the financial and literary needs of both male and female students through linking poetry to financial literacy,” she says. “After several sessions, students will submit poems that speak largely on saving, investment and the culture of money. These poems shall then be reviewed by a panel of judges after which they will be printed and distributed amongst other schools in the region.”

Even more, her initiative has birthed what is called Azania, an inter-university literary platform organised by Lillian Akampurira Aujo, winner of the top prize in the inaugural BN Poetry Awards for her poem, Soft Tonight. 

“My intention is to continue making poetry matter,” says Bev. “There are several individuals and better established groups I’ve met in Uganda and East Africa that are doing a lot of work to promote poetry and I’m humbled to be part of a similar work as theirs.”

A holder of a Bachelor’s Degree in Education with a concentration in English studies and literature, Bev explains her obsession with poetry in an article: “Poets are synonymous with passion. Poetry is part of the thrill of life…most Ugandan poets I know have told me that poetry takes them to peaks of passion; it saves them from stress and heals them from heartache. I agree with it all…and I’m proud of being a part of the growing wisdom that comes with words.”

After coming third in an international poetry competition organised by the UK-based erbacce-press, Bev won the publishing contract, and her first book, Unjumping, gets released in October this year. She also landed a scholarship for a Masters Degree in Creative Writing from Lancaster University, UK.

Inspired by Ugandan poets Dr Susan Kiguli, Prof Timothy Wangusa, Mildred Kiconco Barya and Joseph Kitaka Semutooke, Bev is organising a poetry training workshop for the participants in her previous poetry awards.

In what should pass as an aside, she’s happily married and a mother of one daughter. She’s also a competitive swimmer and dancer and her favourite quote is: “Each one of us is a volcano. Some extinct, some dormant and some active!”

--Sunday Monitor, October 3, 2010