Michelle Williams, one third of the multiplatinum record-selling R’n’B/soul/pop group “Destiny’s Child” has recently recorded and released a track named “Say Yes.” Since the track’s release on June 2nd of this year, it has rapidly grown in popularity. Like many others, I certainly found it quite infectious as the catchy tune, sampled from a traditional Nigerian gospel chant, is one very hard to forget after listening to it the first time! You can listen to it here:
In addition to its dance-style beat, this gospel/pop genre hit has quite affirming lyrics. “When Jesus Say ‘Yes’ Nobody Can Say ‘No’” provides this repetitive chorus. With such lyrics, listeners are encouraged “not to worry about a thing” for the Lord is “guiding me.” The track easily draws the ears and hearts of the vulnerable. It really is an affirmation for the insecure, the confused, the unsure as well as the praiseful. A feel good song when you need one. There is also plenty of truth in this song: in Jesus there are no longer boundaries or limitations (i.e Philippians 4:13 - “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”; Isaiah 41:10 – “Do not fear, for I am with you”; Romans 6:18 – “You have been set free from sin.”). This song will be a great encouragement for many in years to come!
After reflecting on this song and its lyrics, it has highlighted for me, another important truth: Jesus also says “No.” Does He? Well, there are clear boundaries Jesus sets for himself – boundaries that are set as examples for us to follow. Despite being in the privileged yet very hectic position of ministering to large crowds, often for long periods throughout the day, Jesus identified the need to rest (Luke 5:16; Mark 6:45-46). For Jesus, his withdrawal from the busyness of ministry was in a sense saying, “No.” Jesus’ earthly ministry after all, meant that he too, would experience the physical and mental impact of the demands of work. Jesus was also clear to say “No” to the unsuccessful attempts of the Devil in the desert (Luke 4:1-13).
We can be misled to believe that Jesus enables a “YES” attitude in all aspects of life. Yes – Jesus brings renewal, forgiveness and reconciliation. Yes – Jesus enables eternal life to those who will believe. Yes – Jesus has provided the Way to the Father. Jesus says “Yes” we can do ANYTHING. But, Jesus also says, “No” we can’t do EVERYTHING. Yet, we still find it difficult to say “No.” Jesus says “No” to temptation. Yet, we still say “YES.” Personally, I know my schedule can sometimes look like a messy crossword - yet I still say, “YES” to people. Before I know it, I have let someone down – or failed to show - as a result of not learning from Jesus – and being able to say “No” where “Yes” is not needed.
And YOU? When Jesus says, “NO” – are you still saying “YES”? It’s not healthy. If Jesus set boundaries around his own well-being – what makes us think we don’t need to?
Rev. Gary Mauga
Greetings in Jesus’ name.
Last week, I was sitting in my barber’s seat having a conversation with the local barber. Since moving to West Auckland, I have become a regular at this barber shop. The young Fijian brothers who work there are very friendly. Over the past year we have become comfortable talking about our faith among other things and the differences and challenges within our cultural contexts. They both enjoy our conversations I can tell. Even when customers are queuing, awaiting a haircut – with me, they take their time. One reason being, that the younger of the two, has just married a Christian woman. So they have asked questions and where possible I have offered advice which they have appreciated. Jesus often walked in. He would sit on the long black leather seat alongside those awaiting their turn in the chair. His hair was shiny, and combed slickly back. He was very well-presented and had a trendy tanned-brown coat which he would always wear. He wasn’t there for a haircut though. He often walked in just to have a chat with the barbers whom he knew well. This was a regular occurrence and each time I sat in that barber’s chair, in the reflection of the huge mirror in front of me, Jesus would walk in smiling and chatting. I never said anything to Jesus – but we did exchange a smile one day. That day, I was the only customer in the shop and once again Jesus came in. He shared with the Fijian brothers how so much was going on in Henderson. He was concerned. I wanted to join the conversation but chose not to. Jesus went and came back a few minutes later. He left again – and he returned. I wanted to talk to Jesus, but I couldn’t bring myself round to it (strange for someone who enjoys meeting people). After a year and a half seeing Jesus – I couldn’t say anything to Jesus! The young brothers eventually shared with me that Jesus worked in the dairy right next door to them. I should’ve said something to Jesus.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, while Jesus was opening his dairy for business as usual, two teenagers attacked him and he was pronounced dead hours later. The grieving local community has shared of the friendly and funny nature of this young father who loved to meet people. And my friends at the barbershop who knew him well were in a state of numbness as I visit them yesterday.
My brothers and sisters in Christ: Life is short and can be cut even shorter unexpectedly. Health issues, accidents, and senseless acts of violence, can take away the most important people to you - in a single moment. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to say something important to someone e.g. “Nice to meet you; I forgive you; I love you.”
You may never get that opportunity again. What will your last words be?
In memory of Arun Kumar and the Kumar family.
Rev. Gary Mauga
Talofa lava and greetings in the name of Jesus our Lord and Saviour.
I met up with my friend Jesus on the road to Mangere one evening and I felt like some company so I invited him over, “Please come and join me for dinner and a chat. Tell me what you’ve been up to.” “Sure,” he replied. Jesus and I sat in the lounge just catching up. He shared about a situation he was currently in and how as a result, hostility was following him around – people were not happy with him. He was being accused falsely and no one believed his story. Jesus was a wreck. We talked and talked … and on a couple of occasions I disguised my looking at the clock ticking well into the night. I may have stopped listening for a bit. But I don’t think Jesus knew. I was nodding anyway despite my not really hearing him. My calendar for the next day suddenly sprang up in my mind. Hmm…what do I need to do tomorrow? All the while, I’m nodding “yes” but not hearing a thing. It was a relief when at 10pm, Jesus finally said, “It’s finished. It’s over. We’re done.” What? Who? Where? When? I remember asking myself, “Did I miss something?” Those words caught my attention. Turns out that Jesus was talking about his marriage. I had no idea. “Thanks my brother – I really needed this,” he said as he left in tears. I felt bad. I should’ve paid more attention. How could I invite Jesus into my home and not listen? I need to work on my listening.
As Easter passes us, it’s easy to stop listening to the promises of God – as for some of us, “it is finished” becomes the end of the story. In fact, Jesus’ use of the words “it is finished” (John 19:30), were in many a sense the beginning of God’s redemptive work – a gift to all humankind. A resurrection followed. New life followed. A life forgiven. There is much more of the story to listen to and hear. We, believers have a part to play in this story as it unfolds before our very eyes. Are we still paying attention? Are we just nodding in rhythm with the story of Jesus without really hearing it? Have we missed something? Don’t be one who invites Jesus into your life only to hear the parts you want to.
How much of a listener are you? I now ask myself this question every day!
Rev. Gary Mauga
Advent greetings to you all in Jesus’ name!
My computer is soooo slow! It takes a good six minutes to heat up once I’ve powered it “ON.” And then, it takes another three minutes to remind me that I need to renew my subscription to an “anti-virus.” By the time I am presented with the option of “logging in” I have already counted how many spiders there are in each corner of my office ceiling! Loading... loading... loading... I can’t stand waiting too long – and I can’t wait standing too long either. I think I have what John Ortberg describes as “hurry sickness.”
The world we live in today, is a world where almost everything we want can be obtained with the click of a mouse. Dining, no longer requires sitting down around a table – we can now order at a window and eat in our cars while making our way to the next appointment. Such are clear symptoms of “hurry sickness.” We’re all in a rush! Shortcuts can be time-saving, but we often lose much experience and learning when we live with an “I want it NOW” attitude. What we need is to SLOW DOWN.
We are in the season of waiting and anticipating! Advent provides for the Christian communities worldwide a time to reflect and expect as we journey toward the day God came to live among us – incarnate in Jesus Christ. Christmas should be more than a shopping rush or a single Day of gifts and celebration. The story of Christmas begins with its anticipation toward the arrival of the greatest gift the world will ever receive – Jesus – our Salvation and our Messiah. The anticipation and waiting provides space to notice the particular detail. Waiting enables our eyes to be open to see things clearly. I never knew how many spiders I worked with!
Is Christmas going to be a rush for you? Just another day? There is much more to learn about Christmas when we rid ourselves of “hurry sickness.” The birth of Christ is a great example of the beauty of an “unhurried life” – there is a delicate process involved in bearing a child before birth inaugurates the gift of life. Good things take time. One of my favourite sayings inspired by Matthew 6:26-34 is this: “Nature never hurries; yet everything is accomplished.”
My friends, take your time this Christmas.
Rev. Gary Mauga.
Rev. Gary Mauga
Thoughts and comments by our minister, Gary.
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Rev. Gary Mauga