Insights From The Bible
A True Story
on Mar 21, 2021
A few years ago, I went through some reviews of the Bible on Goodreads - a social networking site for book lovers. Some of the reviewers gave the Bible a 5-star rating and extolled it as a wonderful source of wisdom. But others condemned the Bible using unprintable language and gave it a 1-star rating. That some people find the Bible valuable and others see it as useless does not surprise me any more because I have discovered that's how people are.
My dear reader, if you think you are going to be liked by everyone and become the most popular figure that ever lived, you are deluding yourself. Like the Bible, you will be liked by some and loathed by others. As one ancient sage said, "Some will love thee; some will hate thee." Or to borrow the words of my friend Rocky Mbithi, some will pray for you and some will prey on you.
While going through the reviews of the Bible on Goodreads, I came across an interesting one which read as follows:
The Bible is a dull, ridiculous collection of nonsense. But when read with the supernatural guidance of its author, it becomes a complete revelation - a word of encouragement, insight, guidance, reassurance and amazing insight into life. With revelation, it becomes completely different ... one that is alive and living and more powerful than anything seen in a Harry Potter movie. That's why it has changed lives, countries and destinies. When read with a relationship with its author, it's definitely a 5-star.When I first read the above review which I have edited for clarity, I at first disagreed with it, but as I read on, I agreed with it. The Bible can sometimes get deadly dull but with more understanding, it can be a marvellous source of wisdom, assurance and encouragement. And its insights can help us lead happier and more fruitful lives.
I have now read the entire NIV Bible, from the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation. And in every book of the Bible, I have found at least one verse that has spoken to me. Recently, I was confident that I could open any book in my Bible without referring to the table of contents. That's until I tried finding where the book of Philemon is.
At first, I thought Philemon was one of the minor prophets. But alas! When I perused through the Old Testament looking for the book of Philemon, I didn't find it. How surprised I was to discover from the table of contents that the book of Philemon is a short epistle in the New Testament! And imagine I had read it and highlighted a few verses in it.
That experience of forgetting the location of the book of Philemon has taught me that there is always something new to learn in the Bible every day, especially when we read from a variety of versions. And it has come to my knowledge that some versions of the Bible are better than others at expressing some verses.
Of all the books in the Bible, I find the book of Revelation to be the most difficult to understand. Even after having read that book in full from two versions, I still don't understand it deeply enough.
Some time in 2018 when I read the book of Revelation, I tried memorizing the names of the seven churches that the author talks about in the first few chapters. But guess what! The only church I managed to recall was Philadelphia. And I recalled that church because there is a city in the United States named Philadelphia where a high school classmate of mine called Wilson Chira pursued his undergraduate degree.
On reading about the seven churches, I realized that Philadelphia was the only good church. The other six churches had some flaws that displeased the author. That must be the reason why the city in the United States was named Philadelphia. And I am thinking that the Christian names that people use today are similarly borrowed from persons in the Bible who were of good character. Such Christian names as John and Mary. I mean, have you ever heard of someone in today's world called Herod or Judas Iscariot?
Some Biblical characters such as Moses, David and Solomon were imperfect. Moses had a terrible temper that made him commit murder; David slept with another man's wife; Solomon was led astray by women. Yet despite their imperfections, they are venerated as heroes of great faith and people still name their children after them. That teaches us that there is nothing wrong with being imperfect. So we ought to embrace our imperfections as part of being human instead of feeling guilty and worthless.
Now, the Bible is full of stories of supernatural miracles such as a snake talking to Eve, the Red Sea parting to allow Israelites to pass through, the sun stopping in times of Joshua, Jesus walking on water and so on and so forth. I am sure those tales of supernatural happenings make some people doubt the veracity of the Bible.
As for me, I deduce from those supernatural miracles in the Bible that I worship a God of wonders - one who wishes to prove in us that He can do something supernatural and divine if we allow Him into our lives. That makes me trust Him with every detail of my life. And I believe God still does miracles these days just as He did in Biblical times. Well, maybe not by stopping the sun but by connecting us to the right people at the right time.
When I read the account of Israelites leaving for the Promised Land as narrated in the first five books of the Bible, I came to wonder how the Israelites could turn away from God in spite of the many miracles He did for them. He parted the Red Sea for them to pass through, gave them manna to satiate their hunger and water to quench their thirst. He guided them with fire at night and with a cloudy pillar during the day. Wasn't it foolish, I thought to myself, for the Israelites to rebel against the same God who met their needs?
Yet when I examined my life, I found out that I have been very much like the Israelites. Despite God meeting my needs and doing some wonders in my life, there have been times I have turned away from Him, rebelled His commands and did something contrary to what the Bible says. I have worried about some things, erupted in anger over minor provocations and told lies in what I have said. Does that sound like you as well?
NEW! NEW! NEW! If you missed my social media update three days ago, let me take this opportunity to inform you that I have produced a new hymn that is available in the videos' section of this blog. Just click on the "videos" link on the menu at the top of this blog to listen to the hymn.
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A True Story
on Mar 16, 2021
There was this schoolmate of mine at Starehe Boys' Centre named Cyrus Mugo who was a year ahead of me academically but a dozen more years ahead when it came to radiating confidence. He was among the starting six players of the Starehe volleyball team that made it to national championships for three years in a row. Owing to the aura of confidence that he radiated, Cyrus Mugo was promoted to be the captain of his house at Starehe. And he managed to balance sports and leadership activities with academic excellence because he scored an 'A' in the mighty KCSE exams.
Given all those impressive qualities that Cyrus Mugo possessed during his years at Starehe, I have always wondered why he was never promoted further to be the school captain of Starehe - a leadership position that opened doors to getting accepted in such elite universities as Harvard, Yale and Stanford. Anyway, that's none of my business and I am happy for Cyrus Mugo that he is now a qualified doctor after he pursued a demanding five-year degree course in Medicine and Surgery at the University of Nairobi - the Harvard of East and Central Africa.
I have narrated those details of Cyrus Mugo after remembering a question he loved asking in Sheng' to inattentive volleyball team-mates while playing games. He would ask in a commanding tone, "Mbona unazubaa like a zombie?" - which loosely translates in English as, "Why are you idling like a zombie?"
While I can't recall Cyrus Mugo ever directing that question at me when we served in the volleyball team together, I have found myself remembering the question again and again not only for its poetic alliteration but also for having found it pertinent to our day-to-day living. I mean that in life, just like in a volleyball match, we ought not to idle like zombies. Instead, we need to be active and alert lest we risk becoming poor, getting conned, falling sick, succumbing to accidents, having moral lapses or being taken advantage of by others.
When I talk of idling, I am reminded of a time in 2007 when I visited Mr. Chris Walters, a helpful gentleman from England who was then volunteering as a Music teacher at Starehe Boys' Centre. As I settled on a seat in Mr. Walter's house, I saw a poster on the wall that said, "Don't just sit there; do something!"
That poster had such a huge impression on me that I later on printed a notice with a similar message and hung it on a wall in my room here at home. Its message explains why I strive to keep myself busy these days. Like I always carry a book with me when going for a trip or visiting a barbershop just in case I am told to wait. I have taken to heart the observation of Stephen King, the best-selling novelist who said:
Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn't carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life.And keeping my mind active has on most days improved the quality of my sleep at night. I intend to continue staying active not only by reading but also by engaging in such hobbies of mine as writing, singing, walking and playing the piano.
Don't get me wrong - I don't mean to say I will always be on the move. No! I will also carve some time for relaxation. And I will not consider it idleness so long as I am relaxing while having beautiful thoughts flow in my mind like River Nile towards the Mediterranean Sea.
My dear reader, I urge you to also strive to be active during the day, especially mentally because thoughts create our lives. Let us avoid idleness, for as the saying goes, an idle mind is a devil's workshop. So as my Starehe schoolmate Cyrus Mugo would put it in Sheng, "Tusizubae like zombies!"
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on avoiding idleness, you might also enjoy another one I wrote two years ago on "Benefits of Physical Exercises". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.