Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Antidotes for a Discouraged Soul


I recently noticed that I was becoming disinterested in the events of life, my responsibilities, church meetings and people. I further noticed that I was getting mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually tired. So there I was busy with life and work, yet tired, disinterested and wondering why I should keep going. And the fact that everything was by and large going well simply deceived me into thinking all is well. However, the restlessness and the disinterest was not ceasing. Then one morning it hit me, I was discouraged! When I did a diagnosis, I found the cause was a combination of little things (i.e. persisting illness, failed plans, unmet needs/wants, etc.). I prayed to God and quickly reached out to a few godly friends and mentors. So here are some antidotes that began the healing for my discouraged soul.
Repent of Pride
One brother called me to enquire what was going on, and after hearing me out said to me “you need to remember that you are dust and if you drop dead today, this world will go on just fine.” In another words, do you part and rest. There will always be something that needs to be done, but just because it has to be done does not mean I am the one who has to do it. Christopher Ash in a sermon preached at a pastors conference on burn out says, “There is only one savior in the world and it is not you.” He later says, “God has already appointed his messiah and it is not you.” In my pride I was beginning to think I am the god of my life, and if I did not get things going or get things done then the work will fail. I was rebuked to repent of my pride. As my dear wife likes to say, “stop thinking you are superman and rest!”
Remember and Savor the Goodness of God
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 136:1-3
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Psalm 42:1-5 (Emphasis added)
Meditate on the Gospel
We are often guilty of a narrow view of the gospel. Preaching through the book of Romans has given me a greater appreciation of the wonder and power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Through the gospel we (condemned sinners) are saved from the penalty of sin and the just wrath of God. Through the gospel we are reconciled to God and have peace with him. The gospel liberates us from the power of sin and the law and secures us in Christ Jesus. Paul then asks, if God gave us his son what else can’t he give us by his grace? He ends chapter 8 by assuring us that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Even those times when trails are raging, the love of God is ever with us.
Take time to Sing
I love singing, and I find meditating on the great truths of the Scriptures through song can be quite encouraging for my soul. Jonathan Oatman’s old time classic was a song in season. Listen to the first stanza.
When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The sermon I needed to hear

The last few days have been quite challenges in many ways. And I found my faith in God wavering, as doubts began to settle in. Even though I knew the truth about God I wondered if He truly was a God who sees and provides, whether he is indeed good and kind. In short I was beginning to doubt the wonderful promises of God in His words and anxiety crept in as. Thankfully my dear wife was having none of such nonsense! She sat me down and gave me a good talking to. She batted away all my arguments and reminded me of who God is and what His word tells us.

Providentially it so happened that the passage I was preaching on this past Sunday was dealing with the nature of Abraham’s faith! God truly has a sense of humor. I preached a sermon that I totally needed. Let me quickly share a few thoughts from the passage that reminded rebuked me and encouraged me at the same time.

Biblical faith trusts the revealed word of God
Abraham believed in what God had promised and trusted that the God who promised will indeed fulfill his promises. This meant that Abraham had to recognize his own inability. To truly trust God is accept that without him you can do nothing. And yet at the same time, it is to recognize His power and acknowledge your total dependence on Him. Louisa Stead put perfectly “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, and to take him at his word; just to rest upon his promise, and to know, "Thus saith the Lord."”

Biblical faith does not waver
God had promised to make Abraham a father of many nations through a son that God was to give him. When Abraham looked at his age and that of his wife Sarah he knew they were passed the age of conceiving and yet his faith did not waver. He had a confident expectation that God will deliver what he has promised. In fact the scriptures tells us that even when God asked for Isaac to be offered, Abraham was confident that God would raise him from the dead.

In the midst of obstacles, this faith still trusts in the God who saves.

Biblical faith brings glory to God
The dead do not get credit when they are brought back to life. Those who are totally unable and desperately in need do not get credit for been delivered. The deliverer gets the glory. God saves us by His grace though we are undeserving so that He may receive the glory. He justifies us in such a way that it is to the praise of His name.
The same is true of our lives after justification. We are to live in such a way that our lives are a pleasing sacrifice that glorifies our God.  

Biblical faith results in obedience
We are saved by faith and we live by faith. Biblical faith results in justification and obedience. Those who truly believe in God produce works. Those who trust in God will obey Him. A faith that does not produce fruit is a dead faith. Those who walk with God learn to trust and obey.

But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way

To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

WHAT THE TEENAGE SEX PARTY SAYS ABOUT OUR SOCIETY

NOTE: My dear friend Vincent Zgambo features on the blog today. The write up was initially posted on his facebook page and he was kind enough to let me post it on the blog and I simply added a biblical solution to the problem he addresses. Vincent, thank you very much man!

Those 70 kids didn't go to the party that night. We did (meaning the society). Children don't do sex parties. They are children! Right? Right?! That sex party is not even the problem, it is the belated result of a moral decay that has been growing with time. It's not sex they were after. It's meaning, it's identity, it's a sense of belonging; they were searching for themselves. The party is just a tip of the iceberg. The iceberg is us. It is an indictment of the 21st century parent. The parent who won't allow their child to 'suffer' because they themselves suffered (by suffering meaning learning the principals of hard work and that life does not come on a silver platter).

Children are a product of their society. They mirror their environment. They become what they see. Those kids are a product of broken homes and absent fathers. Parents who gave them everything they wanted, but nothing they needed. Parents who were chasing a dream while unwittingly breeding a generational nightmare. Busy parents. Parents who are busy building houses while neglecting their homes; who have time to chat and debate on social media but not to talk to their children. Parents who can no longer take their children to Sunday school because they either have golf with 'the boys' or are nursing a hangover. Parents who're chasing after contracts and promotions while losing touch of their homes. Parents who'll soon realise they didn't raise children, they raised strangers. While we take our children to expensive schools and pay for tuition, we're churning out intellectuals without morals.

We gave our children their names now we want to call them lost? We are looking for values in our children that they were never taught, we're expecting them to live by morals they don't see. We have no idea what they read, what they watch and who their friends are. Their heroes are celebrities who glorify sex and to whom Jesus Christ is merely an exclamation.

We have sacrificed our own children on the altar of modernity. We have fanned the flame with vanity, with logs of narcissism. And now we stand by watching with hollow hearts and exaggerated grief at the embers of our handiwork. Next time we look in the mirror, we should hang our heads in collective shame. Shame.

More specifically the state of the family is a huge indictment on men- husbands and fathers. The men who are meant to be leaders and spiritual guides are generally spoilt, greedy for money, entertainment driven, gadget acquiring over grown children. Gone are the days when the men where the spiritual fortresses of the homes, churches and nations. The women on the other hand are generally known for either their slanderous, malicious speech, their immoral behavior, dressing (or lack of), or simply their career advancement (nothing wrong with it) rather than their godly character and faithfulness to whatever God has called them to. The effect are children who are a product of the television and social media and families in disarray. Whenever Christians let the world tell them how they should do what God instituted the results are disastrous.  

What is the solution?
The Lord through Moses instructed the children before entering the Promised Land on how they should live and he gives them principals for families.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy  6:4-9

Remember there is only one true God
Knowing that they are entering a land where the people had gods for everything, the Lord reminds them that He is God who is everything, he is God all by himself. Therefore God should be number one and main priority. The worship of other gods is ongoing and we equally have plenty of gods usurping the almighty God’s place in our lives. You have the entertainment god (movies, sports, music, and games), the education god, the relationship god, the material things god etc. Hear O people the Lord our God, the Lord is one!

Love the one true God like no other
We are naturally a self-centered people that life easily becomes about us. This is so evident in our relationships. We have believed the lie that other people exist for us and our happiness. And we have falsely believed that we are the center and focus of the world, taking the place of God. People who get in a relationship convince themselves that life would be better if they just ran away to some far place just the two of them and live happily ever after. Just as husband and wife convince themselves that if their spouse simply loved or cared for them they would be happy. The Lord says we should have one focus and priority in life to passionately and whole heartedly love the Lord. Any time I am more committed, focused and dedicated to something else other than God then I have an idol.

Teach and obey the word of God

The third principle of a biblical family is that they will be teaching and obeying the word of God. Every Christian home should be bible school in the sense that they study the bible and live it out. The Christians home should be an embassy of God’s kingdom as it were. Everything done in that home is guided by the principles of the word of God.

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Portrait of an Outreach Minded Church


Every Christian will tell you, it is important to evangelize. And a church worth the name will tell you at least on paper that their mission is to reach the lost to the glory of God. However, saying is one thing and doing a completely different matter. There is a reason the scriptures urge us to be doers of the word and not hearers only (James 1:19-22), we are a people whose lips and lives often do not match. So the last few weeks i have been doing some soul searching and asking myself whether we are really an outreach minded church. This reflection lead me to ask the question, what does an outreach minded church look like. I jotted down a few practical signs of a church that is outward looking.
Knowledge of the gospel
Such a church will know the gospel. They will know the facts and person of the gospel. They will know the true gospel. They will believe in the gospel as God’s only means to salvation to all who believe. One of the reasons people do not share the gospel is because they do not know the gospel and do not truly believe in its saving power. A church that is grounded in the truth of the gospel and its power will proclaim it to others.
Pursue Holiness
One result of knowing and believing the gospel is that you become a new creation. You were once dead in your sins and your very nature was sinful but by the grace of God you are radically changed and transformed. If Christians are to have an effective outreach ministry in their communities, the transforming power of the gospel must be clearly evident. You really cannot call people to repent and forsake their sins when you have not done so yourself. That is pure hypocrisy. An outreach minded people pursue holiness.
Interest in the lost
We love our holy huddles and clicks in our church. And it is absolutely imperative that we meeting with other believers and building each other up. However we need to have meaningful and intentional gospel relationships with non-believers. Notice that it is “intentional gospel relationships” meaning the purpose of relating with them is to share the gospel. That also means we do not wait for them to come to us, we actually go out to them. To be outreach minded is to love the lost.
Follow up of visitors
One result of having interest in the lost is that we will be diligent in welcoming, hosting and following up visitors. How often do we have visitors and they simply fall through the cracks? How often do we have to crank ourselves to welcome and host visitors? And when get round to hosting them it is rather mechanical. Brethren we have a glorious opportunity to show Christian love when we have visitors. We should show genuine interest in them, cheerfully greet them and even give them information they might find helpful. We can show hospitality by inviting them to our homes for meals and follow them up afterward. It is one thing to offer juice to someone when they have visited it is a different level of commitment to follow someone wherever they stay.  An outreach minded church diligently follows up its members.

Giving and using of resources for the furtherance of the gospel
As you engage in outreach, you will soon discover that it will demand of your time, your energies, your possession and your money. While the first two are often obvious and easy to part with the last two quite hard to part with. But outreach will at one point or the other require that you use your home and your food as you host people, it might require that you give up or use your car and fuel to pick people or visit them. Outreach will also require that you give money to support the various outreach activities that the various ministries of the church might have. A church that is outward looking gives generously.
Ministry involvement & use of gifts
The best platform we have to reach out is through the ministries of the church. Church ministries give every member an opportunity to use their gifts to build believers and reach out to non-believers. Those who are zealous about reaching out will do so in the context of the ministries of the church. There is a reason the church is called a body of Christ. A solo Christian is like a part of the body lying in the street on its own. It is a rather disturbing site! An outreach minded church will have full ministry participation from its members. Members who are not using their gifts in the ministries of the church are missing out on an opportunity to reach out to the lost.

I pray God may grant us the heart and perspective of our savior the Lord Jesus Christ who when seeing the lost, he was burdened for them and indeed laid His own life for their sake. 

Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.“Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” Matthew 9:36-38

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Church's biggest need today


Today’s church is crying out for men and women who are burdened for God. We are in desperate need of people who have a single passion and will be dedicated to pursue their God with all of their being. The eyes of the Lord are roaming the earth; they are searching for those who are resolved to stand in the gap behalf of the nations. In other words the Lord is searching for burdened souls.  The world needs men and women who are burdened for God, His word and His glory. People who are burdened about the gospel and lost souls. People who will with a sense of urgency proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to the perishing world.

Is the church of Jesus Christ full of burdened people? Are we as Christians passionately pursuing our God and His glory with all our hearts, minds, soul and strength? Are we moved with compassion by the millions who do not know and therefore worship our God that we are desperately pleading with them to turn to Christ in repentance? These are the questions that have been disturbing my soul lately because I fear we have become double minded as Christians. I sense a Luke warmness in the church today towards God, His word and His glory. I sense a casualness with the gospel and the plight of sinners. Indeed I fear that one will have more success finding an oasis in the desert than finding people with a real burden for God. I fear that Bible Colleges and Seminaries are more concerned about producing students who have conformed to a system of theology than are passionately burdened about God’s work, lost people and God’s glory. I fear that the church is more burdened about investing in more, bigger and fun programs than we are investing in knowing God and proclaiming the gospel to lost people. I fear we are more burdened about our entertainment and social media such that we are more concerned about the next football match, next series and updating Facebook and our twitter feeds than we are about pleasing God with our lives so that He may be glorified in all things. Oh that God would raise up an army of burdened Christians who will passionately be zealous for Him among us.

What does the bible say about the need for burdened people? There is no better place to begin than the amazing account in Ezekiel 9 where the Lord is abhorred with the idolatry of the people and priest alike and in the midst of all that he looks for those who “sigh and groan” over the wickedness of the nation. This chapter and the preceding one say at least two things; God wants his people to be burdened about his glory and he takes the absence of a burden among his them seriously. It was this same burden that made Nehemiah do great exploits for God (Nehemiah 1:4).  The oracles of the prophets are referred to as burdens (Isaiah 13:1, 14:28, 15:1, etc., Nahum 1:1, Habakkuk 1:1, Malachi 1:1).  It is the same burden that lead Paul be passionate about lost souls to the extent that he was willing to tread his own salvation (Rom 9:1-3). We also see Jesus’ example in Matthew 9:36 were His burden for the people moved him with compassion.

If a burden for God is essential why is it that some people lack the burden and others have lost it? The first reason people are not burdened is a lack of an eternal view. They are only consumed by the affairs of the world and all their energies are directed at amassing wealth, being entertained and getting more educated that they soon lose sight of the majesty of God and forget the reason for their existence. In other words they are living as though the things of this world are all that matter in life. They do not store treasure in Heaven. The second is a sinful life. When you are living in sin you lack the desire to know God and do His work nor do you have the enablement to carry it out. And all you do is go through the motions like a lifeless corpse. The third is when people are detached from the work of the ministry. Whenever someone is not exposed to the needs, frustrations and blessings of the ministry, they lack the burden. When all you have are theories in your head of what should be done, and lack the exposure of what actually on the ground, you will lack the burden that comes with such exposure.

What does the church desperately need today? Conrad Mbewe summed it up perfectly in a lecture he gave on ministry.  

“Men of the time, who discern the signs of the time, the possibilities of the time, the potentials of the time, as well as the seasons, movements, and dangers of the time become God’s prophets to His people and the world. Instead of being cast into the mould of history they make history. Instead of being frustrated by the storms of the times they ride the crest of the waves triumphantly for God and His cause. Thus the question is whether we are tradition bound or anchored fearlessly in such a time as this. Men of the time are urgently needed. While others may survive, these will triumph and lead the cause of Christ in the triumphs of our Lord”[1].



[1]               Mbewe, Conrad. Church based ministries and missions. Seminar address. 2012