LEARN FROM A MOVIE (SCHINDLER’S LIST)

Movie Title: SCHINDLER’S LIST
Written by: STEVEN ZAILLIAN
Produced by: STEVEN SPEILBERG, GERALD R. MOLEN, BRANKO LUSTIG
Directed by: STEVEN SPEILBERG
LEAD ROLE: LIAM NEESON

“HAS GOD MADE YOU A PROMISE?”

I look at them, one moment they were men, women and children but in the moment that followed they appeared to be rats, spiders, cockroaches, flies, fleas and all manner of pests that hundreds of enraged men were scrambling to get rid of.
Stamp them under your feet! Beat them with brooms! Crush them with a spike! Smoke them out of their holes! Don’t let any of them get away! Grab them all! Seize them all! Kill them all!

As l watched Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List”, I marvelled. I go into shock, I come out of it and go into anger, I come out of that and go into shame. The children of promise were stripped of glory. Each time German soldiers opened fire and dead bodies of Israelites piled up on blood soaked earth; God’s promise to Abraham was threatened. (See Genesis 13 verses 14-16)

It was war but why was Adolph Hitler particular about exterminating the Jews? 2 chronicles, chapter 36 talked about the fall of Jerusalem, was it a case of history repeating itself? Was God angry at His people? Did He deliver them into the hands of Adolph Hitler? I don’t know. But from bible history I know that nobody got to strip Israel naked unless God allowed it. They went through four centuries of darkness and horror in Egypt because God allowed it, (see Genesis 15 verses 13-14). Fresh out of Egypt, Balak tried to get Balaam to curse them but God didn’t allow it, (see Numbers 23 verses 1-11)

God promised Abraham He would love His children long after he was gone but in Genesis 32 verse 9, God was so angry at Israel that He wanted to destroy every single one of them. It was Moses who interceded for them, and reminded God of the promise He made to the patriarchs. Because of that promise, God “relented from the harm which He said He would do to the people”, (Genesis 32 verse 14). I believe that it was also because of that promise that Hitler did not succeed in exterminating the Jews.

Oskar Schindler, German born and breed was used by God to save a remnant of Israelites from the hands of his brutal brother. Imagine that? Just who was this man, Schindler? He was not a godly man; he was a ladies’ man. He loathed the war but he didn’t see anything wrong with exploiting it. He was a German but he loved Israel. Before the war, Schindler was a failure, with the war, his luck suddenly changed. Or so it seemed. He successfully seduced high ranking German officers such that they were always ready to grant him favours. He presented himself to the distressed Jews as a saviour and they gave him their money to start a business as well their lives to run it in exchange for security. Security was high priced, there was a war, and nothing was certain but as it turned out, it was better to be a Schindler’s Jew than an ordinary Jew.

Who was a Schindler’s Jew? He or she was an Israeli working in Schindler’s factory and making money for him. Schindler’s factory was approved by high ranking German officers so workers were more or less privileged. However, when the heat of the war intensified and Schindler’s business and the lives of his workers became threatened, he made a selfless decision. He took a large chunk of the fortune he had made and paid for the lives of one thousand one hundred Israelites and moved them away to his home town where he thought they and his business would be safe. But the war ended shortly after that with the Russian army crushing the Germans.

The highest point for me in this movie was when a Russian soldier, riding on a horse, announced to Israelis, “You have been liberated!”

Just like that, the nightmare was over. Six million Jews had been murdered in the war, but a remnant was saved to keep the name of Israel alive on the surface of the earth. God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac and Israel did not fail after all.

Dear FOJ,

God bends forward, backwards and sideways to fulfil His promise to someone He loves. Has God made you a promise? He will fulfil it. The storms of life may blow but nothing can stop God from proving Himself faithful to you.

Yours truly,

Moni.

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WHEN DISORDER IS IN ORDER

How much power do we have over a relationship to keep it from falling apart? We may not know but we could vow to do anything within our power to sustain a relationship that is important to us.

If we are in a certain relationship and we are observing signs that are not so good, and instead of walking away, we are hoping that the bad signs will go away, is there any guarantee that the bad signs will go away? One major factor that determines the fate of any relationship is the foundation. How did the relationship come to be and to what purpose? The answers to these questions can determine whether the bad signs plaguing a relationship will go away or if things will keep on deteriorating until an inevitable end is reached.

Let us take a case study; the relationship between King Saul and king to be, David. In the beginning, it was a love relationship for Saul. 1 Samuel 16 vs. 21 & 22 says: “So David came to Saul, and stood before him. And he loved him greatly, and he became his armour bearer, then Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “please let David stand before me, for he has found favour in my sight.”

But what led to the meeting of Saul and David? Saul had a distressing spirit from God tormenting him and sometimes it got so bad that he needed help. His servants told him music could calm him down whenever he was in distress and a skilful harp player would be of great use. They found David, a skilful harp player, who was also handsome and brave. Saul had eye for quality, so when David stood before him, he liked what he saw and of course when the young man played his harp, Saul experienced amazing relief. Saul had two for the price of one, he was in luck! David must have felt honoured and his father Jesse must have felt proud. But beyond all that was happening, seemingly, by chance, God was at work.

Saul had a distressing condition because he sinned against God and God had rejected him. God was not interested in Saul finding relief, his fate was sealed. But God was interested in showing off David to Saul, making him understand that surely, he has been replaced. Saul was a smart man, it didn’t take long before he understood that the Lord’s anointed stood before him and his love for David, inevitably, turned to hatred. (See 1 Samuel 18 verse 11). And he didn’t just hate him, he was afraid of him. (See 1 samuel18 verses 12 &15). All of a sudden Saul was less concerned about fighting off the distressing spirit tormenting him, destroying David became his priority.

It must have troubled David to see the king’s love for him turn to hatred suddenly, and he must have felt some relief when Prince Jonathan showed concern and tried to get things back to the way they used to be between his father and David. The prince didn’t succeed; in fact, he almost lost his life in the attempt. (See 1 Samuel 20 verses 30-43) And from then on, the king didn’t bother to mask his hatred for David anymore; David was declared his enemy publicly. David fled from the presence of the king but he had no rest because the king tirelessly tried to hunt him down. David didn’t stop running until Saul died in battle in the hands of the philistines.

The relationship between King Saul and the Lord’s anointed, David, was for a purpose. God arranged it and allowed it to prove to both Saul and David that He is God almighty who can declare a thing and perform it. That relationship was not about enduring love and commitment; it was about the move of God, which is unstoppable.

Dear FOJ, if you are struggling with a particular relationship then you should pause to check the foundation of that relationship and analyse its purpose. It is possible that its purpose is fulfilled and it is therefore a closed chapter in your life. Or, it is possible that its purpose is not yet fulfilled and the relationship needs to heal and become strong again. Whatever the case may be, if you pray about the situation God will speak to you and open your eyes to see how things stand and what you need to do.

Yours truly,

Moni.

SURVIVING CONSPIRACY

“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;” – 2 Samuel 22 vs. 2b

If you ask me, I might tell you that what I learnt from the story of Joseph and his brothers is this; it’s wise to keep your dreams to yourself. Umm, let’s see, if Joseph had applied this wisdom, then he would not have told his brothers about his dreams. There would have been no cause for envy and they wouldn’t have needed to get rid of him. And that means no journey to Egypt, no Pot’i-phar’s house, no prison and oops! No royalty.

It’s good to be discreet, nothing wrong with playing safe but there are times when you will not be able to hide what God is doing in your life, keen observers will just take one good look at you and they can tell. When God rejected Saul and told Samuel to go and anoint David as the next king of Israel, Samuel was scared and God encouraged him to apply wisdom. But at the end of the day, Saul took one good look at David and knew that the ruddy faced, master harp playing, goliath slaying boy was the next king of Israel. It was slated for the future, so it was like a dream, God’s dream and Saul wanted to crush it. Saul made one desperate move after another to take the life of David but he couldn’t make it happen.

One of the biggest dreams of God is for man to walk before him blameless. Not many people are able to make that dream a reality for their maker but there are some remarkable success stories in history, one of them is Daniel. He loved God and he was full of faith even in captivity and because of his excellent spirit, God rewarded him with favour. Many times, people have to deny or hide their true self in order to please great men, but not Daniel, he was always true to himself and kings loved him the more for it.

The favour of God provokes the envy of men. The conspiracy of envious men sold Joseph into slavery, sent David running around the wilderness for fifteen years, flung Daniel into the lions’ den to be torn to pieces. But we all know how these stories ended, instead of loss of lives; these men received honour, because God stood with them as the rock of their salvation.

Seven zealous men took an oath; they would not eat or drink ever again until Apostle Paul was dead. I’ll tell you what, it is dangerous to conspire against a man running with God’s dream or vision especially if the conspirators are foolish enough to lay the foundation of their conspiracy with a vow that forbids them to neither eat nor drink again until the job is done. I wonder what eventually happened to those men when Paul escaped with his life and lived many more years to preach the gospel of Christ which they desperately wanted to stop him from doing.

Dear FOJ, all it takes for you to survive conspiracy is to have God solidly behind you. You may not be able to stop the wicked from ganging up to conspire against you, but neither can they stop the Lord from showing up to comfort, encourage, deliver and reward you. He is your rock of salvation!

Yours truly,

Moni.

LEARN FROM A BOOK (Julia’s Hope)

Book Title: Julia’s Hope.
Author: Leisha Kelly

HOPE PRODUCES RESULTS THAT SURPASS EXPECTATION

If one encounters great misfortune in life, and still try to carry on in whatever way possible in anticipation of change, I would call that hope.

In the biblical book of Ruth, Naomi lost her husband and two sons, Ruth lost her husband, both women needed a new beginning and they embarked on a journey together. All Naomi wanted after her great loss in Moab was to return home to Israel and be with her own people. And Ruth just wanted to be with Naomi, I’m not sure she knew why she felt that way, but she did feel strongly that the future for her meant sticking to her mother-in-law, no matter what. Ruth felt this way because God had prepared a future for her in Israel; a new home with Boaz, a relative of her late husband, and a child of her own, for the very first time. The child was not just a comfort to Ruth but also to Naomi. Neighbouring women called the child Naomi’s redeemer; they prayed that baby Obed would be to Naomi “a restorer of life” and “a nourisher of her old age”. Wow, hope produces results that surpass expectations.

In Leisha Kelly’s “Julia’s Hope”, Samuel Wortham and Julia, his wife needed a fresh start. They had lost everything in the heat of a national economic crisis. With no work, money or roof over their heads and two children to provide for, the future looked bleak but God, whom they both loved and trusted had it all worked out.

While trying to relocate from Harrisburg to Illinois in search of greener pasture, the Worthams stumbled on a farm house belonging to Emma Graham, an old woman with a fragile health. They had not reached Harrisburg but Julia and the children felt they had arrived at their fresh start.

Emma wasn’t clamouring for a fresh start until something that smelt like it was suddenly up for grabs. She was just an old woman who had had her fair or unfair, if you like, share of losses in life. She had lost her husband, her son and the use of her legs and was now living in a care facility. It was a reasonable arrangement, she had trained people to care for her and there was a doctor within reach, should she have an emergency. But she was lonely and she missed her farm house, the only thing left to remind her of the good life she once had with her late husband and late son.

Julia wortham told Emma she could live in her house again after she asked her to lease the house to her own family, for free. It was preposterous; to live in a stranger’s house, and use her things, all for free. Samuel didn’t like it, and neither did Emma’s age long friend, Miss Hazel Sharpe. Samuel kept insisting on moving his family on to Illinois even though he knew there was nothing out there for them. On the other hand, Miss Sharpe kept threatening to run them out of town if it would take the last breath out of her old but apparently agile, bones.

I don’t blame Samuel; he was a husband and a father, one who believed in working to provide for his family. And I don’t blame Miss Sharpe, she was just trying to be… sharp! For all she knew, the Worthams could be a bunch of skimming vagabonds out to prey on an old, sick, helpless widow. But Julia was hopeful and that hope sparked faith in Emma’s heart. Leaving the care facility and trusting herself in the hands of strangers was a brave decision that Emma boldly took and she didn’t regret it. Each day she spent in the company of the Worthams on her farm house made her feel she did the right thing. She saw a son in Samuel, a daughter in Julia and grand children in little Sarah and her brother Robert. God was working in mysterious ways for Emma, she had lost a family and now, she had gained a new one. Emma Graham would not die a lonely, old woman.

Naturally, people inherit property from parents or some other relatives, but when God is moving, things happen in a supernatural way. One moment the Worthams were homeless and the next, Emma, a total stranger, was offering them the deeds to her house and land. What a miracle, such favour, shocking. It was shocking for Samuel, who never could imagine that Emma would even consider leasing her house to them free of charge. And it was shocking for Julia, who for all her high hopes, only could imagine being allowed to stay in that house until God made a way for her family to move on. Hope produces results that surpass expectations.

Dear FOJ, hope is a wonderful thing, it is a powerful thing, and it is a gift from God. It is God’s way of telling us that the best is yet to come when it looks like it is all over.

Yours truly,

Moni.

THE BLESSING OF GOD

God loves to bless us.

“I will make them and the places around my hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing. Then the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase…..” Ezekiel 34 vs. 26 & 27.

Permit me to liken God’s blessing to a beautiful garden. Now, in any beautiful garden that the Lord plants for his children, the tempter might sneak in to spoil things. Adam and Eve were in paradise, they had a great relationship with God, they had a fantastic job of tending a beautiful garden, and they had each other, to love and to hold. Life was good but all of a sudden, they lost everything. They lost their innocence which protected them from the poison of sin. They lost the favour they had with God. They lost the awesome garden which was their work place as well as their comfortable home. Their stress-free life became stress-full.

Satan has diverse names; the deceiver, the tempter, the thief, and so on. He delights in turning the joy God’s blessing fills our life with into sorrow. He turned Adam and Eve’s joy into sorrow but he didn’t do it without their help. Adam and Eve were already richly blessed but Satan gave Eve the impression that she could have more; she could have the rest of the blessing which God was depriving her of.

The bible says that we get tempted when we get carried away by something we lust for. (See James 1 vs. 13-15) When Satan told Eve she could eat from a tree God warned her and Adam not to touch, the bible says Eve looked at the tree and lusted for its fruit. Her lust for the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, made her eat it and not strictly the enticement of Satan. In other words, we can’t run away from being enticed to do something we shouldn’t once in a while, but we don’t have to yield to the temptation. The temptation to get more when we have been given all we need is a set up to make us lose all we are already enjoying.

Joseph was sold into slavery by his envious brothers. In the house of Pot’i-phar, he was in paradise, because he was not treated like a slave or a servant but like the manager of a great estate. Joseph was blessed, for someone in his predicament, life was good. Satan smelt it, and he sneaked in, looking for an opportunity to mess things up.

Joseph was blessed with good looks; Pot’i-pher’s wife found him attractive and longed to have sexual relations with him. It must have looked natural to her, how she was feeling, but the tempter was at work. Thankfully, Joseph looked beyond the natural, the realm of feelings; he understood that it would be an act of wickedness to betray Pot’i-pher’s trust by sleeping with his wife. And he understood that it would be a sin against God. Turning down lady Pot’-pher’s advances got Joseph framed and thrown into prison, but the good news is that, in that particular garden, Satan was unable to find delight.

When Joseph was thrown into prison, it seemed he had lost his blessing because he was trying to obey God, but as it turned out, he gained his blessing, the original, authentic blessing for which God brought him to Egypt. We should not be afraid to obey God, when it looks like we will lose something good if we do, then we must realize that God has something better in store for us. The blessing you need to keep is not the one that requires you to sin because the blessing of God makes us rich and adds no sorrow.

Dear FOJ, God loves to bless the work of His hands and so He is constantly blessing us, but the tempter’s main preoccupation is to try to make us lose our blessing. But can we stop him? Yes we can. Remember he can’t take away what you have without your help. Jesus told his disciples to watch and pray so that they will not fall into temptation, you could call that the winning formula and it hasn’t changed.

Yours truly,
Moni.