God’s image through your intellect

Man’s intellect is perhaps the strongest distinguishing attribute, for it sets him apart from https://thestandarducu.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/page-9.jpg?w=1462plants, and other animals. Unlike man, the other animals do not go to school, or undertake courses and programmes of study. They show no propensity to specialize in their knowledge nor do they write examinations.

This superior intellect tells us something vitally important about man’s incalculable worth in the created order.

When the Creator of all things, the Lord of earth and heaven, thought to create something in his image, he made man – male and female! The magnificence of the stars in the universe and the majesty of animals do not display such splendour as you do – created in God’s image. What an unfathomable thought!

This image may be flawed by sin and illness, weakness or disability, but each is no less stamped: “Created in the image of God”. This is true of every tribe and race, of the unborn child, the comatose patient, and the mentally handicapped. C o n s e q u e n t l y , Christians must abhor volitional abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. Even tribalism belittles God’s precious creation. All this is injustice, which dishonors man, who is created in the image of God.

This image is in male and female equally, expressed through our gender categories. Since God is not comparable to our gender categories, imago dei , as theologians call it, is not gender related. To think in those categories is to wrongly infer that God is in our likeness. Prof. Wayne Grudem explains that “imago dei” means that “man is like God and represents God, but is not identical with God”. Churches that claim ‘identity with God’, that we are ‘gods’, propagate a heresy. To be ‘like’ is to show evidence of that likeness. Our knowledge of this likeness will always be partial because our knowledge of God is partial.

However, this image in us is the worth of who we are, our core identity; it is our distinguishing mark. Remove it, and evolution, materialism, pantheism, suicide bombing, and all the religious ‘isms’ make sense! We become comparable to other creation, leading meaningless lives.

Let me explore five ways in which this imago dei is made manifest:

We bear spiritual likeness to God. Man is incurably religious. All cultures have a form of religious expressionism.We pray and engage in rituals to connect with a higher being. The image longs for its divine nexus. It seeks after its life source.

  • Our moral likeness to God, the longing for righteousness and holiness. There is an innate sense of right and wrong, of good and evil, in each of us. Every human community has standards of right and wrong, and breaking them leads to feelings of guilt and fear of punishment.
  • Our relational likeness to God, imaging the trinity relationship, one God, three persons. Our sense of community and social intercourse is superior. Our social dynamics generate shared visions and lead to mutual growth and development. l
  • Physical likeness to God, God is spirit but He is nevertheless visible through our physicality. He is a God who sees; so we see too. We hear as he hears, we speak as he speaks, and express many other attributes of God through our physical members. Besides, we bear children physically in our likeness as he created us in his likeness. l
  • Finally, we bear intellectual likeness to God. Jesus is called the logos, the word of God, for our God knows all things and works through reason. So, man too is endowed with the ability to reason, to think logically, to learn and to create. He grows in knowledge and his creativity is far superior to other animals.

If you observe and study the world around you, you clearly see reason, the mind of God, behind its set-up. He made us in his image to bear a mind of reason like the original! He gave us an inquiring mind with which we study the intricacies of the created order.

We go to the university and spend hours discussing and arguing about complex things to grow in understanding. We want to know as God knows! We create and produce beauty, art, music, and literature, the sciences and technology. We were created in his image to use our intellect to create, as he the Creator, created all things “very good.”

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Our nurses are not fake – UCU

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Graduands from the Faculty of health science on the red carpet (File Photo)

BY ALEX TAREMWA

Uganda Christian University (UCU) has responded to critiques who are labeling the university’s nursing products as “fake” and said that there is no indication that the programme of study was not accredited.

This is after it was revealed that the university admitted students into the Nursing Science programme, who did not meet minimum requirements. In a statement issued last week, UCU admitted that while it is true that the students in question were admitted with one subject less than the minimum requirements (biology or chemistry), there is no indication that their programme of study was not accredited; that they were not taught properly or that they did not acquire adequate nursing knowledge and skills.

The Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council (UNMC) rejected applications from UCU graduates who sought practicing certificates on grounds that they did not meet the body’s minimum qualifications despite having a university degree.

In an interview with The Standard, Jemimah Mutabaazi, the Head of the Nursing Science programme at UCU explained that the university has the best skills laboratory and her students are doing exceptionally well in the hospitals where they are posted as interns.

She also explained that because UCU was started before the National Council of Higher Education (NCHE) was instituted, most of the courses taught were given a blanket accreditation meaning that they could continue being taught as the council examined their respective curricula. After years of no response, the NCHE recently responded about the curriculum of the Nursing programme, copies of which The Standard has seen, recommending some changes. None of the recommendations indicated that the programme was not accredited.

“They (Council members) came here and inspected, about six times. They said that we needed a bus to transport the students to the field; we bought the bus. They said we needed a skills laboratory; we built the best in Uganda. How can anyone say that our graduates are fake?” she asked.

 

Genesis of the problem

In 2007, UCU started conducting a mature entry nursing course, for already practicing certificate and diploma holders. Over the years however, the numbers started to drop drastically.

In 2009, Senate approved a curriculum and a proposal to teach the course to direct entry students. The curriculum approved set the entry requirements as biology OR chemistry, unaware that the two were both a prerequisite.

“By any standards, the students who passed any of the above and had another principal pass qualified for direct entry as per the requirement set by the NCHE so this was not an error,” Dr Ned Kanyesigye, one of the curriculum authors, said.

Admission for direct entry requirements started in 2011. Most of thestudentswhoenrolled coincidentally had studied biology, nutrition, and health sciences, but not chemistry.

In 2013, the professional body that registers nurses and regulates their education, UNMC, announced that both biology and chemistry were mandatory. It was at this point that UCU realised how grave, a predicament it was in.

“We, therefore, stopped admitting students who did not have both subjects, discarded the old curriculum and wrote to the UNMC seeking permission to teach the students admitted in 2010, 2011, 2012 remedial chemistry as compensation for missing the subject,” Kanyesigye, now Dean, Health Sciences explained.

The UNMC rejected this option arguing that; “bridging courses cannot be retrospective.” The students, seeing no solution, raised the issue with the university administration in 2015 and have since sought help from lawyers, the Ministry of Education and Sports, and recently the press and Parliament of Uganda.

In their petition, which was lodged with the office of the clerk to parliament, the former students want Parliament to direct that UCU pays back monies it charged from each of them for the duration of their course. UCU and the three other affected universities, in consultation with NCHE and UNMC, are exploring options to teach a diploma to the affected students but the matter has since been forwarded to the Ministry of Education for deliberation.

Ivan Walukhu, admitted in 2011, told The Standard that he has no knowledge of the diploma and advises the university to work in tandem with the affected students for a better resolution. “To find a lasting solution, the university has to consult with us and our legal representatives,” he said.

The Vice Chancellor, Dr John Senyonyi, was scheduled to meet the Minister for Higher Education last week but The Standard was yet to learn of the results of the meeting by press time

Senyonyi draws thousands to Christ in Lira

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Dr Senyonyi preaches at the youth convention in Lira (Photo by Alex Taremwa)

BY ALEX TAREMWA

Dr John Senyonyi, the Vice Chancellor of Uganda Christian University (UCU) struck through hearts of thousands of Christians, winning hundreds for Jesus Christ.

Senyonyi was guest preacher at the four day youth convention organised by the Diocese of Lango in Lira town under the theme: “Challenged by choices”

The 14th annual event started on Monday, September 12, 2016 and ended on September 15, attracting over 4,ooo students, parents, and clerics at St Augustine, Lira Urban Archdeaconry.

The VC, flanked by the retired Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Henry Luke Orombi, drew from the gospel of Mathew 19:21-22 to deliver a sermon entitled: “A good man who made a bad choice”, in which he warned the faithful about the choices that often attract undesired consequences.

 

“You need prayer to make the right choices. For example, during my university days, I had a filthy mouth and often uttered obscenities. Because my colleagues used to laugh at my utterances, I thought I was popular.”

“However, one fateful evening after supper I decided, not to use obscene language again. We all went ahead to get good degrees. Now I have a PhD and my friends hold masters’ degrees too,” he narrated.

 

“Maybe you too have a habit – you have been drinking alcohol, telling lies, and you do not like it. Bring it all to Christ,” he urged his audience. From the records of the Vicar of Lira Archdeaconry, a total of 816 people gave their lives to Christ.

Orombi gets a hero’s welcome

At the same event, the former UCU Chancellor, Henry Luke Orombi, arrived in Lira on Monday afternoon to a hero’s welcome.

Orombi, the chief celebrant, informed the meeting that although he had also been invited to preach to a delegation, which included the president, he had politely turned down the invitation saying; “the people of Lira are waiting.”

“At the hotel where I are staying I overheard a woman say that the weapon of mass destruction is in Lira, but I destroy the devil and all his powers,” he said. According to Andrew Acobi, the Youth Leader, the youth convention was started in 2003 to mentor young people.

The convention attracted youth from Soroti, Nebbi, Kitgum and other districts of northern Uganda. It was also graced by Bishop John Charles Odur Kami of Lango Diocese, as well as Rev Canon William Ogeng, among other speakers. Beside the evangelism, the convention featured other activities like blood donation and free career guidance from staff of UCU.

Students advised on making tough relationship choices

BY AGATHA MUHAISE

“Is your relationship drawing you closer to God, or drawing you away from God in pursuit for status?”

Pastor Nick Korir challenged students to reflect on the above statement, in his adress during the Advent semester Relationship Week.

Korir, the Youth Pastor at Nairobi Chapel in Kenya, asked the students to step out of fake relationships that plunge them into bottomless pits ofreplacingtruelovefor lust, infatuation and sex.

“The devil has managed to plant a seed of doubt in the youth, driving them to doubt their competence to preserve a relationship with ethics of virginity and abstinence.

This forces them to take on desperate measures, with the lie that the guidelines set in the Bible are limitations to your freedom. Do not believe such lies but commit to making tough choices for your good,”he told the students at Uganda Christian University (UCU), Mukono.

The theme of the week was ‘Tough Choices Galatians 6:7-8’. The focus was on the decisions that youth make in managing relationships in their lives. These included paying attention to one’s inner beauty, lost innocence, sexuality, balancing academics and relationships, and wise living, among others

The vice chancellor, Dr John Senyonyi and his wife Ruth tackled the session on lost innocence in relationships. “Sexuality is a gift from God for pleasure and propagation,” the VC said, explaining that it is

The Agony of Christ

My topic today is common in churches. However, it is among the least understood messages because our knowledge of it is limited. This could be because it is impossible for us to fully comprehend the agony Jesus suffered during His Passion.

How can our human minds grasp the gruesome death of our Saviour and its compelling power? This is an attempt to unpack that mystery. Christ’s suffering is also called His Passion. The Passion of Christ has many angles, the first of which is His anticipated suffering.

As a little boy, malaria attacked me several times. Our town had a medical assistant who ran a treatment scheme out of his home. He was famous for his fearsome ‘needles’, as we called the injections that he liberally administered to young children suffering from malaria.

Our father dutifully took us to him when we were unwell. The medical assistant would promptly take out his ‘needle’, immerse it in water in a saucepan, light a paraffin stove and proceed to boil the water in full view of the intended victim! I would sit there helpless, cringing with fear, anticipating the suffering when that needle would eventually tear through my backside.

My anguish to an extent reflects the agony of Jesus that night when Judas walked out to betray him. Jesus anticipated the physical, spiritual, mental, and social pain He would endure in the coming hours of doom. His perspiration turned into buckets of sweat; which Luke calls “great drops of blood”.

But I think that Jesus’ worst nightmare was separation from the Father! On the cross He cried, “My father, my father, why have you forsaken me?” To make sense of this, consider that eternity has no beginning and no end; eternity is.

The Father and the Son had known unbroken pure, loving, fellowship with each other eternally but on that cross they were parted. As humans, our love is time-bound and it has ups and downs. Even those who pledge the deepest love on earth can never assure unbroken fellowship. They get parted, and we talk of heartaches. The Father and the Son did not know this life.

Their love was deep and knew no end. That was broken for the first and last time on the Cross. The Father and the Son were parted because Jesus was carrying the sin of the world. This is another enigma. The Bible puts it simply: “He who knew no sin took our sin.” And He carried the full consequences of sin. Separation from the Father within Himself and physical death became possible this once in eternity.

Years ago, one of my sons was very ill. His body temperature tested the maximum on the doctors’ thermometers. One night, while my wife was away, and I was in bed with this young boy, his body touched me.

It felt like red-hot charcoal! I jumped up, gripped with fear, and dressed hastily to take him to hospital. I am glad there was no traffic or traffic police on the road. Love moved me.

My eyes welled with tears at the thought of losing a son I love. In a very small way I felt his pain, and I was there for my son. So it was with Jesus. He was there for you and for me. He suffered our pain of sin. Peter says, “He bore our sins in His body on the tree.” The final perspective I want to reflect on is Judas’ betrayal. As Michael Card sang,

“Only a friend can betray a friend.” Jesus washed Judas’ feet, and shared bread with him at the Passover dinner. John reflects on Jesus’ love, saying, “… having loved His own … He loved them to the end.”

Still, Judas betrayed Him and Jesus had to bear this agony too. Jesus went through agony, rejection, separation from the father, and betrayal by His friends, for you and me. The song writer Clay Crosse put it that, “He walked a mile in my in my shoes.”

One Gospel for All Mankind

Dr. JohnJohn 11.25-44: On 2 August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait without any provocation whatsoever. Given the restive situation in the gulf and the economic implications of this act, there was worldwide outrage.

At the time, my family and I were living in the USA. We attended a rather lukewarm church to minister to its hungry congregation. The pastor was a brilliant Phi- Beta-Kappa graduate of Yale University.

However, his messages were a blend of psychology and introspective reflections! His 20-minute sermons normally revolved around the subject of the ‘left brain and right brain’, and an abstract expose of how these impact Christian living.

Admittedly, sermon time attracted the least attention if one cared to follow his opaque discussions.

As the Iraq-Kuwait war raged, the pastor posted to all church members his usual weekly newsletter. In it he had various prayers for peace from around the world. Being the scholarly man he was, he had a collection of prayers from virtually every major religion, including from Animism (African traditional religions).

This matter was disturbing for me. I called him to discuss his unintended insinuations for I concluded that such prayers undermined the uniqueness and exclusive nature of the work of Jesus Christ.

I discovered from his explanation that his theology put all religions at par. He argued that there was enough truth in every religion for the ‘salvation’ of its adherents! I could not disagree more. 

The Gospel of Christ excludes the possibility of salvation in any other religion.

Peter says, “There is no other name under heaven … by which we must be saved.” This means plainly that salvation for you and me is in no one else, in no other person. This was his bold statement to a hostile Jewish Council to alert them that there would be no other Messiah.

Peter’s words certainly disarmed the Jews. Of course, this assertion can be argued convincingly. Nevertheless, suffice for me to present three truth claims, as we find them in the Bible.

Jesus said of Himself: “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Note that by this He offered Himself to be the only one to take us to God, the only one through whom we can know God, and the only one in whom we have life. He was saying, “You either have me or you are eternally lost.”

We may respond to Jesus’ words with one of these options. We may say Jesus was willfully lying, or these were the words of a mentally unstable, maybe a deranged man!

What would be His motive to lie? The liar or lunacy streak is hard to reconcile with the man.

One option remains: He was and is what He claimed to be – the way, the truth and the life, in an exclusive sense. He is what He said He is, and besides, He alone is what He said He is.

In John 3.16-18, we see that God gave His Son, Jesus Christ, for the salvation of the world. These words are the Good News, the Gospel, in a nutshell.

Jesus is God’s unique gift to you and to me that we may be saved. No other religious leader or founder ever made this claim. Instead they claim to be messengers; but Jesus is God’s message in flesh.

Furthermore, the Good News is this salvation is free! It cost God His Son; but it costs you nothing because the full price for your redemption was paid.

Thirdly, the Gospel is one for all mankind. His salvation excludes no one. If you are not saved, it is not because salvation is not unavailable.

When Jesus was on the Cross, you too were on His mind, in His salvation plan. Indeed the whole world was on His mind. 

Finally, God does not and cannot deny you salvation. “Whoever … does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” Condemnation may be chosen by inaction, just as salvation is a choice. Many people do not seem to comprehend the meaning of ‘choosing by not choosing’! Postponing your decision for Christ is identical with not believing in Jesus Christ.

One choice remains: believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.

Now is the day of salvation. His loving arms wait for any sinner to run into His warm embrace.

I believe in prayer

Dr. John
REV CANON JOHN SENYONYI

When I came to Christ, I was taught that God answers prayer, especially prayer offered up in ‘faith’. I witnessed miraculous answers to prayer.

Faith itself was a mystery to me. It sounded like the self-effort to accomplish the prayer. However, I was encouraged to ‘only believe’ and see God answer.

I was exposed to men of faith, usually Pentecostal believers, whose prayers availed much. This was exciting. So, I tried to stretch my own faith to mimic their faith, and to achieve as their faith-prayers achieved.

But alas, my prayers sometimes did not accomplish what I prayed for! Still, I had some evidence and stood my ground to testify that, “God answers prayer,” meaning He gives what we pray for. I thought that effectual Christian prayer is judged by the result!

In time, I asked myself: Why do some of my prayers go unanswered? The explanations I got were varied: sometimes God answers as we have prayed, sometimes He says, “No”, since He knows better what we need. And sometimes we may not have prayed according to His will, or sometimes He says, “Wait.” Or my faith may not be equal to what the Lord desired to act!

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A woman prays during the Peace and Joy Celebrations held at UCU recently

Now, there may be some legitimacy in each of these answers. The problem is all answers left me with more questions. I could not apply any of them with accuracy to understand my ‘unanswered prayers’.

If God has promised and He wills something for me, why are my prayers hitting a stonewall? For example, I have prayed for the salvation of my siblings for 40 years! Their salvation is clearly God’s will.

Similarly, Martha and Mary pleaded for their brother, Lazarus’ healing. Jesus’ immediate comment on his sickness and the end of the story both tell us that Jesus indeed willed Lazarus’ good health. But Lazarus to died!

Did Martha and Mary have the faith that Jesus could or would answer their prayer? Yes, they believed Jesus to heal Lazarus. But they did not have the faith to believe that He would raise Lazarus from the dead! And He raised him all the same without this faith, as if He did not need their faith to raise him from the dead!

Prayer then becomes more mysterious. But Jesus promised, “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” 

Does God answer the prayer of faith or not? Yes, He does, but this does not bind God to our faith either to act or not to act. He remains sovereign.

Martha and Mary believed in Jesus but not in or for the miracle. I obstinately believe in prayer. But I do not believe in prayer because of the miracles or the visible answers to my prayers. This story shows us a deeper reason for prayer, the relationship with Jesus.

Prayer is more, much more than answered prayer. It is about the primacy of our relationship and conversation with a loving God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is the heart of prayer. If our desire falls below the need to know and fellowship with God, our prayers are the poorer for it.

When we come to God we must chiefly seek God for who He is. Christian prayer is not a duty to be performed, and neither is it coercing God to our side; He already is on our side. We pray to a God who is our friend in Christ Jesus.

When we understand this, faith finds a place in prayer. Faith is the language that unites us with our divine Friend. Two friends remain in fellowship as they believe and trust each other. Doubting God, and especially unbelief, tells God that we are not sure of Him, as we walk with Him! Any relationship without faith is untenable.

Approaching Him with a pure heart becomes imperative for us. The Bible says that our God is of “purer eyes than to see (look at) evil.”

Sin is the reason for sending His Son into our world. God the Father and God the Son were alienated in their eternal fellowship because of sin. Sin must never stand between our God and us. 

Similarly, obeying God is necessary to our relationship with Him. Obedience is the expression of our love for God. Without obedience we bring tension to the relationship. We obey Him; He does not obey us. Doing His will assures us of His purpose for our lives. He made us and knows what is best for us.

The greatest treasure Martha and Mary had when they came to Jesus with their prayer was their relationship with Him.

What if Jesus had not raised their brother, Lazarus? I believe they would have still loved Him.