I was reading the other day in the Lusoga Bible as I occasionally still do, and think and pray for you. I’ve been reading in the Gospel of John to prepare for writing a book with friend, Randy Harris. The passage I read that I wanted to discuss with you today is John 9:1-2. I’ll quote the text below and give a discussion question and you can write comments if you wish and forward this to other’s on Facebook. Who would have known in the 1990s that we’d be keeping track of one another by Facebook till we meet again on earth or in the New Creation!?
Those of you in Uganda or Soga speakers elsewhere can use this text and discussion question for Bible studies with non-Christians and Christians both. Those who don’t read Lusoga can look up the text online, whereas it’s harder to get the Lusoga text online or in books. We were so happy to celebrate with 1,000 partiers the first ever Lusoga full New Testament being published in history in 1999.
Here’s what John 9:1-2 says, “Yesu bwe yali atambula yaabona amusaadha eyazaalibwa nga mutulu. Abeegeresebwa be baamubuuza bati: “Mwegeresa, omusaadha ono okuzaalibwa nga mutulu n’ani eyayona? Mwene oba bazaire be?”
In English, “n’ani eyayona?” of course means “Who sinned?” but the slang of American English would be translated something like, “Who screwed up?” This is not a nice way to talk really, because screwed is also a sexual term in English, but it can be used informally to mean, “Who made the mistake?” For English only speakers, the Lusoga word eyayona is a word for sin.
What I want to propose for discussion is Jesus’s response. In verse 3, Jesus says, “Mwene ti n’eyayona waire abazaire be.” So, right away Jesus says it’s neither choice the disciples gave Jesus. The disciples gave Jesus a multiple choice test: Was it A. The blind man himself screwed up, sinned, and so was struck blind or B. The parents of the blind man screwed up and so their kid was struck blind
Jesus tells his disciples neither one is the right answer.
OK, so read the rest of the story below in Lusoga from Yoanne 9:1-12 and answer the following questions:
1. What do you like about this story?
2. What do you not like about this story?
3. What is this story saying to the audience that originally received it and to us today?
4. What is this story calling us to believe?
5. What is this story calling us to do?
6. Would you share this Jesus story with one person this week?
Yesu yaabairamu ati: “Mwene ti n’eyayona waire abazaire be, aye yatuluwala amaani ga Katonda gamweyolekeemu. Tutweekwa okukola eby’oyo eyantuma, nga bukaali musana, kuba obwire buli kwidha nga ghazira aghanga kukola. Nga ndi mu nsi muno, ninze ekimuliikirira eky’ensi.”
Bwe yamala okwogera ebyo yaafuudha ku itaka [katogo — ha!], yaakola ekisoodo mu matanta n’enkungu yaakibaka ku maiso g’omusaadha. Yaamukoba ati: “Ja onaabe mu maiso mu kidiba ky’e Siloamu,” (eriina eritegeeza, “atumiibwa”). Kale yaaja, yaanaaba, yaira ng’abona!
Ab’oku lulaalo lw’ewaibwe n’abantu abandi abaamubonanga ng’asabiriza, beebuuzagania bati: “Ono ti n’omusaadha eyatyamanga ghale ng’asabiriza?”
Abandi baakoba bati: “N’oyo.” Ate abandi baakoba bati: “Busa, ti n’oyo, kumufaanana bufaanane.” Agho omusaadha mwene yaakoba ati: “Ninze.”
Kye baava ni bamubuuza bati: “Kiidha kitya okuba nga buti oghanga okubona?”
Yaabairamu at: “Omusaadha ye beeta Yesu akoze agho ekisoodo yaakimbaka ku maiso, era yankoba nje nnaabe mu Siloamu. Kale, naaja, naanaaba era naatolera okubona.”
Bamubuuza bati: “Oyo ali luuyi gha?” Yairamu ati: “Tiidhi.”
I’m proud of my son, Jacob, winning the first-ever Run to the Well 5K March 28 with a time of 18:52.
The run benefitted The Kibo Group and communities in Uganda needing good water sources and community development. At a Kibo Group, God moves us to partner for transformed lives through sustainable community development.
Big thanks to Mary-Margaret Watson and Jordan Smith, race coordinators who registered more than 300 participants in Run to the Well 5K and 1 mile fun run.
Anne Lamott to ministers: “We don’t need hassled bitter ministers. We don’t want you to talk the talk about this being the day the Lord has made and rejoice and savor its beauty and poignancy when secretly you’re tearing around like a white rabbit; we need you to walk the walk. And we need you to walk a little more slowly.”
The moment captured in this photo is seconds after Jacob ran his first Tulsa Run, a grueling 15K race that I ran when I was his age. OK, I ran the two mile fun run in about the same time he ran the 15K. I was so proud of Jacob that day to see him appear on the last sprint to the finish line minutes before expected.
I was so startled that pleasantly surprised doesn’t describe it. I was proud enough to run down the sidewalk yelling wildly, “That’s my son! That’s my son!!”
When I got to him, Jacob was ragged and worn but so happy he’d completed his longest race to date. Jacob’s running began in 2011 with a 5K our church held to raise funds for our kids camp. I thought I’d hang with Jacob, who was 12 at that point, but the race started and I couldn’t catch him. He ran with Steve Martin and Jeff McIlroy, and those guys will always have my admiration for the way they’ve encouraged Jacob’s running (and still run with Jacob, even as recently as last night!).
Jacob’s life, however, is not about running. Jacob’s life is about pleasing God, learning to be like his savior and Lord Jesus Christ, and enjoying family and friends. He knows that running is not for himself but to glorify God. He is using his gifts and working hard to develop them.
Happy Birthday, Jacob. I’m very proud of you.
After speaking with our nephew, Drew Taylor, about a horrible accident he was in, my brother and Drew’s uncle Bubba (Brent) wrote a much better account than I could have written, with some memories I had forgotten at least to correlate. Brent, thank you for using your gift to share what is a important perspective: that we can’t explain what happened at 1:15 am on a Kentucky interstate, but we can “explain” — as Bruce McLarty put it — what the body of Christ does when we can’t reach our loved ones. We rally and come together in the great love the Father has for us.
Sunday morning during communion while the church sang, “How deep the Father’s love for us,” I sat and listened unable to sing, because I had a softball stuck in my throat. I had just read a text from my brother Toby, “Played a little chess Drew is beating me without even looking. Washing his hair this morning. The truck on top of the car dripped oil all over him…he is still hurting. On IV pain meds.”
While the church sang…
“How great the pain of searing loss, The Father turns His face away, As wounds which mar the chosen One, Bring many sons to glory.”
…I thought about not being able to reach my own son, of Toby not being able to reach Drew, and of my own Father God, who could have reached his own Son, but used Divine restraint and only watched and saw the pain of searing…
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Recently my college roommate, Uganda teammate, friend and brother in Christ John Barton gave this talk at Rochester College. John and his wife, Sara, have radically committed their lives to Christ. They were the first of our friends to huddle us up and call a play that would change our lives. They said, “We’re going to Africa to do mission work. We’d love for you to come. But we are going with or without you.”
None of us could bear the thought of them going without us, and John in particular would surely need some help paying for several basketball courts in our future home. So we decided to go along.
Since that day, John and Sara, have continued that “play” and have been blazing a trail that others have followed. In particular, John is interacting in the U.S. and encouraging our Ugandan friends through Kibo and other ways to interact in loving, honest, and humble ways with Muslims and others who do not share our same view of Christ and the cross.
In this talk, linked below, you will find a view of Christ and the cross that is a powerful contextualization for today of these words of Apostle Paul: “but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.” (1 Cor 1:23-25)
Eugene Peterson’s Eat This Book inspired — of course — the title and some of the content in the following two sermons. There is more in the series that we’ll be posting at www.garnettchurch.org.
Eat This Book 1
Eat This Book 2
Jill and I are teaching our third and maybe last person to drive. We’ve taught each of our children to drive with AAA’s Parent Taught driver education system. They study the book, we sit in the passenger seat and help them get 55 hours of driving experience before taking their test.
We originally latched on to AAA because this reduced expenses for the driver’s ed and lowered our insurance premiums when we got insurance through AAA. With a teenage boy driving now, our insurance premium is sure to go up.
If I had a chance to do it over, I’d repeat the same process. There is nothing like being right there for each moment of your children’s learning to drive. This is a huge rite of passage in our culture, getting your license, and these captive moments are often some of the key places our pre-driving teenagers are still listening intently to soak up what they can about how to be safe and make it from one place to another.
Half way through the training, you can actually begin talking about something else besides the driving, with only the intermittent, “Yeah, there was a curb there, and you found it, yes” comments from the parent. Walking along a path, jogging, driving, the act of going somewhere together prompts us to talk, and I don’t know all the reasons why. I do know that I want to be there for these times with my children, when they realize what they’ve been watching us do is not as easy as they thought, takes much practice and eventual muscle memory that must proceed being full-enough aware to achieve frogger (that’s an old parent reference for you) status when turning left into a busy street.
If you are considering teaching your children to drive and weighing this versus sending them off to a driving instructor, consider this: who would you rather teach your children to operate the most deadly invention since the dawn of creation? I know there are some experts who can do better at the techniques or know the road rules better, but there is no one who cares more for your child than you do. Do you have the patience, the fortitude or courage to watch without sucking all the oxygen out of the inside of the car every time your child has a close call, or flat out screaming? You’ll never know until you try it.
You will have to be in the car for some of the practice hours of driver’s education anyway. You might as well be called the teacher as well as the parent.
My brother, Brent, wrote as always poignantly about our most recent guys weekend.
I once saw a list of things Dad’s should teach their sons. How to balance a checking account, how to ask a girl out, how to change a tire, and so on. But as I think about my failure to teach my son these skills, I realize how much nurturing help I’ve had.
Saturday I was playing golf with a group of Dads who have met annually since October 4, 1997, when we prayed prostrate under the shadow of the Washington Monument at a Promise Keepers rally along with half a million other men gathered near the Capitol of our country.
We prayed for our children, those born and unborn, and prayed for fatherly perseverance. We’ve met every autumn since 1997, except the year of the 9/11 attacks in 2001. We eat, laugh, and play, like when we were boys. We pray for our families, reminding ourselves of the stone…
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A few years ago I filmed Richard Bozanoona and his daughter making chapatis. First, you make a bread-like dough from flour, water, baking powder, shortening. Second, you make balls and let them rise. Third, you roll them out into round tortilla-shape. Fourth, put a tablespoon of oil on a hot skillet (in this case a “sigiri,” a small charcoal stove). Fifth, turn back and forth until golden and not doughy; if your hands are made of asbestos you can flip by hand or with a piece of the flour bag paper as Richard’s daughter is doing here. As Deron Smith says, “the only way to eat a hot chapati is hot.”
The Mizira is a distinctive trilling yodel that Soga women do when they’re happy. You can hear me laughing at the end, and it still makes me laugh every time I hear it.
In Uganda, hitchhiking is right as rain. But don’t picture a hippie with a joint in the 60s. Think of an old lady with creaky joints in her 60s. A lady of this description flags me down one Sunday on a rural dirt road. We greet each other through a cloud of rolling dust. “How did you sleep?” I ask.
“Fine. Take me to the church!”
“The church up there.”
“There! UP THERE!” she points with her lips and hits every syllable hard.
“Huh? Wha? Wher–? Ok, just get in and show me.”
She’s not sure how to open the door to get in. One time a Ugandan tried crawling in my driver’s side to get in. Seeing that she wouldn’t fit between me and the steering wheel I suggested she use an alternate route.
We drive a quarter mile ahead. “Here’s the turn to my church,” the hitchhiker exclaims, pointing to a road which leads to the Catholic Church.
“Why don’t you go where I’m preaching today?” I ask her.
“You mean you’re not the Catholic priest!?? I thought you were my priest!”
“No.” I nonchalantly pass the turn to her church.
“I thought you were taking me to my–” she protests.
We drive another half mile to a mango tree, where I have been meeting weekly with a group to teach them about Christ.
Faced with sitting through my sermon or walking back, the hitchhiker sits on a woven mat under the mango tree while I begin the sermon on the Passion of Jesus.
The meeting ends and the lady asks, “What do you call yourselves anyway?”
“Call us by whatever we preach most,” I tell her. “If we preach politics, call us ‘Politickers’. If we harp on church buildings, call us ‘People of the Building’. But if you hear us preach Jesus Christ, call us ‘Followers of Jesus’.”
“Yeah, yeah, I get your point,” the hitchhiker sniffs, as if to say, ‘I’ve got your number, smart aleck.’
The host serves beans and rice to the old lady and me.
“Want me to give you a ride home?” I ask the lady. She nods approval.
The hitchhiker didn’t know what she was in for when she thumbed a ride with me. She likely returned home telling stories about the crazy white preacher who hijacked her church plans.
I hope she also tells her friends about the followers of Jesus.
1998 in Jinja, Uganda