Monday, 21 April 2014

I Would Be Good Friends with A W Pink

I read the life of Arthur Walkington Pink almost a year ago now and as far as biographies go I think it is the one I enjoyed the most. I have read the life story of a number of people, mainly Christian men and women because I want to know of their walk with God rather than how some guy made a million dollars or how some other guy split twins who were born with their heads joined together. Don’t get me wrong there is some value in reading such books, I just don’t see the reason to keep reading similar, it offers me little or nothing. But I have digressed. I have read the of the lives of men like John Owen, David Brainard and the man who held the top position before Pink took it, Dwight Lyman Moody.
Best buddies we would be
I had heard a lot about Mr Pink from books that he had written, I have also read a few but I was never in a hurry to read his life story after all the man’s name is Pink. But One day during my frequent perusal in my father’s library I came across the book. Picked it off the shelf and dove straight in. It was an intriguing read for me. At this point I have to add a disclaimer, my taste in books is most likely really different from most hence what I call intriguing to others would be run of the mill stuff, I don’t get why you would gloss over such details though.

Anyhoo as I read through the life of the man I saw a couple of similarities between us, not a thousand but a couple. He was my height and build, I checked. He much like me enjoyed a good meal but had little or no chance to ever get fat, much to my dismay though I’m not too sure about him, but possibly him too. He had an avid interest in books. He had a quirky sense of humour and was quite the secluded individual but his love for humanity was great. The last point is one of those that has gotten him the most criticism.
How can you not like that face, he just looks like a good guy
As I read the book I saw something that was not latched on to greatly by the biographer. This could be me making a ginormous leap in logic but I saw his struggle to reconcile reaching out to his fellow men with the message of his saviour with his secluded, sometimes pensive personality. I got this feeling down to T. I wouldn’t call Pinks persona anti-social, but he had a real struggle reconciling those two aspects of his life. His solution may not have been the best or the wisest but the life of A W Pink is testimony to how God is the master at creating beautiful work from blunt tools.

In the life of Pink that I readily associate with is the need to be spent in the service of the master, God, in whatever way brings the most out of his life to glorify God. I saw a man who was willing to be burnt out in service of God. A man who thought to himself my skills lie not in talking to them, so I will spend myself breaking down the bible in diligent study so that they may have access to the truth in its vast array of colour and in turn search for themselves. This is a man who though frail and sickly in his later years would still make sure he would get his message onto paper that the world may know. This was a man who wrote and broke down key truths in the bible for little or no profit to himself. And when he could not write for himself he had someone do the writing while he spoke, such dedication… such dedication
My ideal first collection of books, now you know what to get me for me birthday
In the life of Pink I see little of what I am and I see a lot of what I want to be, I see the picture of burning it all on the altar of a cause that is greater than myself. An eternal cause. I would like to sit with the man and understand what he went through and what it cost him. I would like to sit down with the man and know the flaws as well as the virtues, learn from a man so similar… a man so similar.

In the life of Pink I see so much of what I want to become and yet I also see so much of what I should avoid. The lessons to be learned from people similar to yourself are not just the good things but the bad things as well. Get the virtue and avoid the vice. In my opinion he should not have isolated himself as much as he did. He could have done more for people in his time if he got out of his room more often.  
Thats me and pink having a chat over coca cola

If I were to meet him I would see us enjoying a cold glass of coca cola talking about his life and his study, I know this because many a time we have done so, me with his book and two glasses of coca cola. Granted I drink his share when Im done with mine but that’s beside the point. I figure I will continue to sit with the man and have more conversations in which he will help me understand my bible and my God more. I figure I will continue to enjoy the work of a man who was burnt out for a cause. I figure I would have been really good friends with A W Pink

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Ambition Without Passion, Whats Wrong With That

Of late my obsession has been work ethic, I say of late because I tend to bore easily and move on quite fast but this whole work ethic thing has had me longer than the usual. I just love it when an individual, especially me, puts in a serious shift to produce great work. This great work should not be motivated by the payday that proceeds/precedes it or the watchful eye of someone over ones shoulder but must be produce regardless of the two. Whether alone or being watched, whether the person receives a lot of money or none at all, whether the job is being done for yourself or someone else, the aim must be to produce great work. Which brings me to my tittle

It is the desire of most of the young people to climb up the financial ladder of society, get that big job at the firm that is top of the food chain and earn a living. The way to do this in the eyes of most is to get all the degrees that you can or get all the A pluses that you can so that you can be picked ahead of the next guy. This is a decent thing to aim for but there is more to the story than just this. I believe that in order for true happiness in ones work the aim should be great work because all follows that. Great work comes as a result of loving what you do the point of constantly trying to improve or better the product. I’m talking about passion. But let me break down passion and ambition for a bit

Ambition is the need/hunger to rise or achieve, my own definition. It is the drive that pushes us to that goal that we fight for. Problem is with a lot of ambition a lot of people do not care how they get there they just want to get there. So if it means breaking the law, taking shortcuts, bringing others down so you can rise, people would be willing to do it. Picture three hungry guys running towards a plate of chicken on a table. At first they will run for it alone but as one notices the other going ahead of him he will use all the tactics he can to stop the other guys from getting there before him. This picture is the story of ambition, it’s not a nice picture

The picture of passion is a better one. Picture a sculptor trying to get the image in his head out onto stone to turn it into a statue. You can see him painstakingly going over details that others would think are mundane and yet the level of work put in on that part is as much as on the more prominent features. You can see him sanding and chiseling, cutting and wiping, clearing up his work area so that he can see his work better. You see diligence you see love for the work, you see passion. Passion is what causes the person doing the work to go above and beyond. I think that passion comes as a result of you appreciating that your work is something that will being delight to someone else and you knowing that your work speaks for you. No one in their right mind wants shoddy work speaking for them.

Combining the two works like this. Ambition is the drive to reach higher and get more but that ambition should be driven by passion, driven by a love for the work. It is only a love for the work that will allow you to produce something that will cause you to step back once you are done and much like God himself say it is good. Having passion tied with ambition causes you to constantly think of how you can make the work better and better even when you have not been asked to. You want to make the best out of everything because you want to the work to be fantastic.

But what’s wrong with just being ambitious? It is a widely known fact that African politics is quite corrupt. One of the reasons for this in my opinion is that people get into it for the sake of their ambition. They want to earn that money or get that name, problem is because for most of them the ambition is not linked with passion, when the opportunity arises in which only they benefit they grasp that. Passion for the work leads you to do the job right, no weird shortcuts because it is easy or it makes you get what you want fast. Passion for the work causes you to think of your work as a reflection of you and most sane people want the reflection of themselves that people see to be good when looked at through a tele or microscope

How does this apply to none artistic work. It’s easy to think this only applies to the art student or the architect, maybe even the engineer but it doesn’t end there. A computer programmer should have the drive to go above and beyond what is asked for. Do the best you can while you can and then some, that should be the goal. The doctor must work with diligence even though he/she is tired or the situation before them looks small and insignificant. The gardener must think of how to make his work look better and produce more than asked for because he wishes to also be delighted in his work. The lecturer should look to trigger interest and love for the course through his instruction not just maintain the usual monotonous approach the lecturing. The engineer must look to improve the process of whatever he is called to do, making the work more efficient, take less time and look really good.

Tons of examples can be given in relation to this but the best part about all this is that diligence in the work is appreciated by all. When you do that fantastic job that you can really be proud of without cutting the corners just for ambition sake you begin to garner respect for the work that you do. In the long run an application of passion with ambition is very good for you. Im not saying it is guaranteed success, no one can assure you of that, but you will be happy with your work, that I guarantee.

What about if I did not want to do what I am doing now, what should become of this passion? There are two options for this. One, quit. Go to what you want to do but keep in mind that you must be sure of that step, a lot of people use this as an excuse to run away from what they think/say is hard. Run from that lazy approach and put in a serious shift, a diligent shift. Option two, apply yourself more and more into what you are doing, you producing good work should not be limited by love for what you are doing. You should be passionate about doing good work not passionate about your ambition, there is a difference.

Lastly we must always seek to fully apply ourselves in all that we are doing. Be it washing the dishes, cooking, cleaning your room, writing notes, working, etc. Always apply yourself with a passion for the work being done. In the long run such application will benefit not just you but those around you as well

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Vendetta Preaching

I am writing this not long after hearing a sermon about the marks of a Christian. It was a breakdown of what Christians should do and live by in order for people to see that they were Christians. A brief overview of it was that since only God sees the heart and man the outside then there must be something that can be done on the outside that will show people the presence of God on the inside. As soon as I heard that I thought, spot on lad, I like to call people lad every once in a while, you’ll get used to it. Two things happened after that throughout the course of the sermon that led to me writing this. The first was the preacher quoting other sources just as much as the bible and the second was the Vendetta.
Might as well be this guy doing the preaching with all the Vendetta's you got Mr. Preacher

First to the quoting of other sources. THE BIBLE IS THE FINAL AUTHORITY. I had to put that in caps because it is the only infallible word of God, all others may be looked at with scepticism but if what is said lines up with the whole bible, not just part of it, it must be true. I say the whole bible because a lot of preachers pull verses out of context and disfigure the truth. For example, Peter when confronted about being a follower of Jesus was, according to the sermon, recognized because of the way he spoke. This is true. Preacher guy went on to say, when he was confronted he tried to disprove them by beginning to curse, ergo believers should not curse. Both statements are true but that’s not what is gotten from the verse because the isolation of just that verse gives us a wrong understanding.

The correct way to phrase it in it’s context would be that Peter was recognized as follower of Jesus because of where he was from which was Galilee. A couple verses back he is actually asked the same. It could be argued that Peter’s cursing was for emphasis, swearing if you wish to call it. Disfiguring of the gospel in my example is the lite version of it but I think it stresses my point.
Verses without their context have as much use as this mess

In terms of quoting other sources, my problem lies in quoting other sources as often as you do the bible. This implies on some level put them on par with the bible, I don’t mind the occasional quote here and there but over reliance on other material is fundamentally wrong. The Bible is the foundation on which all preaching should be done, whether one on one or from a podium. The use of aids to help one understand but the aid must point one to the source not away from it. The aid must give one the reason to go to the source and either confirm or dive in for more.

The main thing that drove me up the wall was the vendetta preaching. Now this is across all denominations even my very own Baptists. Notice I have not mentioned the denomination of the preacher, not because it is obvious but because it is irrelevant, why you ask, because this happens across all denominations. Vendetta preaching is when a preacher targets a group of people or an action that he believes to be wrong but the “attack” is targeted at a pseudo-source and not the source/main problem. For example, if the preacher is preaching against homosexuality, the sermon should be about why homosexuality is a sin in Gods eyes and the redemption of the person found in it rather than the sermon being about how homosexuals are going to hell because they are sinning.

I firmly believe that as a Christian I am to hate the sin but love the sinner. This means that if I see that someone is living in sin I do not go head first into an accusation of the person and push to scare them into salvation but I am to tell them of the error of their ways in relation to it being displeasing to God. The vendetta preacher will speak against the use of makeup and jewellery amongst women, the loving preacher will speak about how beauty is not found in excessive outer adornment but a right relationship with God. The vendetta preacher will speak against the taking of alcohol and getting drunk, the loving preacher will speak of how true satisfaction is found in knowing God through the forgiveness of sins.
Loving the sinner but hating the sin must come together or else no help will be rendered

It must be said that there is a thin line between preaching and vendetta preaching and that is why it is a cross denominational issue. They both speak against sin except the source of the sin is where they part ways. The main problem with vendetta preaching is that it guides the sermon. Anyone who has ever been angry with someone else knows that no matter what the person does, you just see the wrong in it. You will see something wrong in any action however mundane. You will grasp at something as small as leaving the toilet seat up/down and the next world war will begin.

The world is out there looking for answers and if as a Christian you have them, is it not an injustice to them to focus on the wrong issues. So what if I eat pork, So what if I have a tattoo, So what if I listen to hip hop music, So what if I sag my pants, So what if I drink alcohol. These questions are not answered by an endless barrage of vendetta messages against them. They are answered by an endless barrage of messages addressing sin in relation to them with the bible as the foundation.
The truth is hard but it must be taught with love not with a vendetta

The message of the bible at heart is man’s reconciliation to God, back to front, front to back, in part or in whole you can’t miss it. The question is what does the bible have to say about my situation in relation to my reconciliation and if you are a Christian how does my situation get affected by my reconciliation to God. These two questions should be asked about all aspects of life, using the bible as foundation whether the situation be what should my attitude be towards school right down to what do I do with my free time

Monday, 7 April 2014

What I think I will do, What I do now and What I will actaully do

I was having a conversation a week or so ago with a friend about Architecture. For the record I do not talk about Architecture all the time, sometimes I talk about Architecture. Just had to put that in. Anyhoo we were on the bus back to campus from Church and we were discussing my main project for the semester which is a wellness center, for those of you who care. I told him how I had initially gone for circular type shapes but had since scrapped that to go for the more common addition and subtraction from four sided shapes. As you may imagine I was called boring and I was accused of going for the easy way out but that was not my reasoning and the best tittle for my reasoning is actually the tittle of this. Allow me to ethplain.

From the top, what I think I will do. When we go to university/college most of us have this fancy idea of what we want to achieve at the end of the day. For the Architect it would probably be something along the lines of designing some ridiculous sky scraper or the next Guggenheim, I’m using broad strokes here. For the Banker it could be working in The World Bank or the central bank of the person’s home country. For the computer guy it could be making some big program or even hacking into some secret service computer etc. Bottom line is most of us have this vivid picture of the “end product”.
The Guggenheim Bilbao
What I do now. When we arrive at university/college there is a lot of enthusiasm towards what we learn, for some this phase lasts a couple weeks but there are special cases where this lasts only a day or two. I’m not that old but I have seen the latter in action, it’s a sad sight. The enthusiasm is “killed” when the guy, I’ll call him the guy, realizes he’s being taken through the basics. But the thing is the guy wants to learn all the “good stuff” now. The most common thing done at this level is to switch on auto pilot. Auto pilot is the mode that has us doing our work just for the result, in short no learning is done. I have to say auto pilot is triggered by several other factors not just this one, the most famous one  being when things get hard just pass. Back home they phrase it “umuntu ku kliya”. Rough translation just get over the line.

The problem with auto pilot is it’s easier to turn on than it is to turn off. It starts as a potential solution then turns into a habit. Habits are actually harder to stop than addictions. So when the time comes for the so called interesting stuff to come in they rarely become that good at it. They work just to get by. Plus a lot of the work done at this point is improved drastically by the foundation level stuff which the guy does not know because he skimmed right through at that point. Two avenues exist at this point. Either they over reach pushing for attractive work or they go on with the habit and spend the majority if not the rest of their life producing mediocre work, accepted but mediocre work.
It's almost like a theme these days

What I will actually do. This part mainly affects the guys who over reach and produce attractive work. I will use Architecture for this as that is my field of study and it is the one in which I am the most versed. The guy gets into the industry and upon arrival he is given small projects; a two bedroomed house on a ridiculous sized piece of land, maybe classrooms for a school. Problem is he was expecting Guggenheim, where is Guggenheim? After all, he did study for it. Guggenheim, for those who don’t know is a foundation that commissioned the building of a number of modern buildings, the most famous of which are the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. You have seen at least one of the buildings at least once if you look at magazines or even use your phone quite a bit, trust me.

Anyway the guy expects the chance to show the world the designs he was working with in university/college. The fancy circles, the fancy concepts etc. and yet the chance is just not coming. All he is getting is conversions from kitchen to laundry rooms, little joke from the place I did my internship last summer. The result in most cases is disappointment and then he joins the other guy in spending the majority if not the rest of his life producing mediocre work, accepted but mediocre work. As you may have guessed I am anti mediocre work, I hate it with a passion, especially when it comes from me.
The moment you realize the Guggenheim is not coming your way

The reality is that very few of us will ever get to work on the architectural equivalent of the Guggenheim. It’s the truth but don’t get me wrong, this is not a takedown piece of the industry, I love the industry, it has its flaws but I love it. The problem lies in our lust of the explicit and exotic and abandoning the common. The reason we are taught things from the basic/foundation is known but not appreciated. Because these are the principles that allow us to make the common and obvious not so mundane and at a higher level to properly work with the complex at a later stage. A person who is good at his craft should be able to get something simple and go one up on that. If you look at the people who have made advances in anything I think one of the things you will find in common between most is they started off on the simple and did the best that could be done, they went above the normal not just in extravagance but in function as well.

I won’t give example of this because you know a lot. That song has been sung. What I am preaching is to come to terms with giving your all and then some. Produce fine and beautiful work on the simple and so called mundane. What I am preaching is work ethic. What I am preaching is something not common in today’s day and age, in my opinion it has never been common. Being lazy is easy, it doesn’t take a genius. Producing accepted work is doable, maybe not easy but doable. But the thing that gives pride to us is one that after throwing our all into will make us sit back and appreciate the diligence and the result, that’s work. That is what we need to produce