Thursday, December 28, 2017

A Christmas message from John the Baptist

The Christmas holidays are in full swing. People all over the world are in the celebration mood, and businesses are pulling out the stops to make money with all sorts of deals. Similarly, churches are aware of the season and carols have been sung and sermons have been preached on the birth of Christ (and hopefully the purpose of His coming). There is a growing number of sincere Christians who are voicing discomfort over the celebration of Christmas; some have gone as far as calling it pagan worship and hence idolatry. And while there is a place for a healthy discussion about the issue time, space and purpose do not allow me to venture into that debate. The words of Al Mohler on Christmas will suffice:

The Christian celebration of Christmas brings essential truths into clearer view. The central fact of the incarnation of the Son of God looms before us as the dividing line of all human history and the fulfillment of God’s promises. Priests and prophets and kings had long awaited the coming of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. At Christmas we declare what the angelic host announced to shepherds on a Bethlehem night: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” [Luke 2:14].[1]

In talking about the Christmas account, John the Baptist and his message rarely shows up. Can you imagine receiving a Christmas card with John the Baptist on the cover, with his garment of camel’s hair, a leather belt in his waist and eating locusts and honey? And then when you open the card, the message inside says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand…You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance…His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” That was part of the message John preached as recorded in the first 12 verses of Matthew chapter 3. So what makes the message of John the Baptist so unpopular such that you rarely hear a Christmas message from it? Let me offer two reasons why his message and Christ’s message was and is still unpopular.

It was a call for sinners to repent
John was a forerunner of Jesus Christ; he was sent to prepare the way and straighten the paths. His message was as dramatic as his appearance. He boldly called all to repentance. A message of repentance is a message that acknowledges people’s sinfulness and their inability to find a remedy for their sins. John was not a motivational speaker neither was he a prosperity preacher. He was a preacher of the gospel, which called people to turn from their sinful ways and humbly turn to God for forgiveness of sins.

It was a warning of coming judgement
His winning fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his own into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire—this is a graphic warning of the judgement to come. The coming of Christ was good news as it fulfilled God’s promise to send a messiah to save his people, but it is a warning that God is serious about sin and will not relent until it is fully punished. In the Bible times, a farmer would wait for harvest to separate the wheat from the tares. At harvest the farmer would pick the plants with a fork and toss them into the air; the wind would blow off the chaff and the wheat would fall to the ground. The point is unmistakably clear, God will judge the unrepentant sinner! Christ’s coming and eventual death was clear evidence that God is serious about sin and will not let it go unpunished.

No wonder John and his message were not popular. He preached a God centered message, a message that revealed the sinfulness of man, the holiness, goodness, mercy and glory of God. And that is really what the Christmas message is all about—the sinfulness of man and the greatness of God. It is no wonder that when the angels appeared, their cry was glory to God in the highest and on earth peace. Merry Christmas from John the Baptist.


Friday, December 22, 2017

Lessons I have learnt from my mothers

This is a third installment in a series on the lessons I learnt from the women who raised me at one point or the other. You will soon notice that there is an overlap on some of the lessons, and as I highlight what I learnt from each one of them, it does not mean that’s all there is to learn about them. It is a summary of my observation about them and what I particularly learnt from them. The third person who played a role in my upbringing is my auntie Elina Kambanji.

A heart to help people
Mrs. Kambanji is mum’s elder sister and second born in their family. She in many ways was a mother to many when growing up.  She opened up her home to her younger siblings and their children at different times throughout their growing years. There was always someone in the Kambanji’s home that they kept. Even the workers became family. Some of them even helped with education and eventually getting a job. In fact, we nicknamed them the Lombados after a famous Mexican soap opera that was popular in the 90’s on national television. The Lombados were wealthy people living in a mansion with a lot of relatives. The Kambanji’s residence was definitely like the Lombado’s residence in that regard, full of people.

High levels of tolerance
My dear aunt is a live wire! That is to say, she is not shy to speak her mind, and as you would expect she has over the years rattled quite a number of people just as she has equally been rattled as well. When you think of the things she has been told, and the names she has been called over the years by both young and old, intentionally or unintentionally, you would expect that she would hold grudges for life, but alas, she has developed a thick skin over the years and has learnt to move on or better yet to be tolerant. On several occasions, she narrated an argument and laughed at the insults that were thrown at her!

Being industrious
When you think Mrs. Kambanji, busy comes to mind, not aimless busy but productive. She knows how to work with her hands and get things done. What is said of the woman in Proverbs 31:13-21 is probably the best description of her.
She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.  She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. 

The sanctity of marriage
The Kambanjis have been married for 39 years. That’s almost 4 decades of unbroken marriage. In a family of a few faithful marriages, these two have stood as a pillar and an example to many of what an enduring marriage looks like. They have lived out the vows “for better or for worse, in health and in sickness, for richer and for poorer…” and they are still going and that without scandals. Although they are from the older generation one thing that particularly stands out is their oneness and closeness. Their marriage is unlike most where the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. It is actually quite hilarious to hear them narrate their escapades even in their old age. What a breath of fresh air! The is a lot couples can learn from the Kambanji's. 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Lessons i learnt from my mother(s) Part 2

In my early years I used to call my grandmother mum and my actual mum by her name, Asedi. This was partly because everyone (mum and her sisters) called her mum, and I kind of figured that was her name, and they all called my mum Asedi (with her being the last born). Anyway, Dorase Phiri (my grandmother) was quite instrumental in my growing up. I spent three to four of my early years with her, and they were quite essential in laying a foundation. Here are a few lessons she taught me.

God comes first
From a tender age, my grandmother made sure I knew that God came first in everything and the importance of worshiping him and going to church. She always took me to church, and I remember watching her reading her Bible and singing hymns to God. When I was seven years old, she told her friend that I was going to be a pastor one day! That was way before I was even saved. And when I decided to answer the call to ministry, she was the first person to respond with excitement.

God blesses us so that we may bless others
In her village Dorase Phiri was among the high-class people; she had a higher standard of living than most. But one thing that stood out to me was her willingness to share what she had and help out those in need. As a young boy her generosity was quite annoying; I wondered why we could not keep what we had for ourselves. After all we would have more! For her, being privileged came with great opportunity and responsibility. God blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others.

Children should be disciplined
Dorase is a legend! She had no problems instilling discipline. She had very high expectations of those under her, and she made sure that children understood that they are to obey and submit to the authority of their parents. And when one crossed the line, she made sure she reminded you where you belong, and you stayed there. Two incidents come to mind. There was a day I disobeyed her and decided to run away from her. She simply picked up a whip and started following me at her own pace. She then told me “I will follow you until you get tired and stop”. After a while I realized it was in my best interest to stop because the distance covered running away, would be the same heading back! On another occasion, my friends and I bullied a young girl at school and grabbed her food. Her mother came and told my grandmother, and she decided to come to the school! She asked for permission from the head teacher to address the entire school during assembly. I was called out in front, and she asked me to point out my partners in crime; she walloped us in front of the whole school and gave a lecture about good behavior and manners to everyone.  One thing is for sure, she did not spare the rod neither did she spoil any child.

There is no substitute for hard work
There is something about the older generation and their love and attitude towards work. My grandmother finds satisfaction from a hard day’s labor. Farming season meant work. We would spend the whole day working at the farm. I hated it, and she loved it. While I was complaining, she was singing away joyfully. Whatever she got involved in, she did with all her might. She never did anything halfhearted, and she expected it of everyone else. Even today when she is advanced in age and struggling with health, she stubbornly wants to work.

The Lord has blessed my grandmother with long life, and she has been able to see a number of her great grandchildren. She has seen her own daughters become grandparents and has even out lived some of them. For all her shortcomings, Dorase Phiri has a legacy, and she has set some pretty high standards for all to emulate. Particularly in her love for God and her parenting. Like Timothy I am grateful for my grandmother.  

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Lessons I learnt from my Mother(s) (part 1)

I love my mum! We have not always lived together, but we have somehow been quite close. In fact we are so close that people think she is my elder sister—partly because we relate like siblings and partly because I am taller. I have had the privilege of being raised by several uniquely different ladies in my life (aunties/grandmother) and in the coming weeks, it is my goal to share what each of them has taught me. I begin this series of blogs reluctantly because it has the potential of going south quite quickly (family politics!). Nonetheles here is the first one, four lessons from my own mother- Asedi Chibuye.
Hard work is a good thing
My mother is a hard worker and is a firm believer in giving your best in everything you do. She is also particular about getting your hands dirty and doing manual work. I remember struggling with my school work in my second and third grades and not caring at all. After a term was over, she called for a “press conference” and made it clear to me in no uncertain terms that things had to change. And change they did, she became my tutor and made sure I put in my absolute best.
Laziness was not tolerated when I was growing up, and no work was beyond me. You were expected to clean up after yourself and do it well. And though I do not always put in my best in what I do, I am grateful I was taught to work hard because the Lord expects it of us.
Live at peace with all men
In my third grade, a classmate stole my first ever watch and cut off the strips. I loved that watch! A few weeks later, I caught him with it, and I was ready to beat him up before one of the teachers stepped in and asked us to call our parents. I wanted pay back! He needed to replace the watch and then had to be suspended. That to me, was justice! After the discussions, my mother was more concerned about the guy being helped out so that he can change, and so she offered forgiveness. I was livid! As we walked back home she explained to me that the boy’s character was more important than the watch and besides, we can always replace the watch.
One of the verses that was stuck on the bedroom wall was Romans 12:18 “if possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” In a family with wrangles aplenty, where people not talking to each other is common place, mum always told me not to get caught up in the petty drama and live at peace with all men. Easier said than done!
Singing is good for the soul
Mum loves singing. I grew up hearing her sing. She sang when she cleaned the house; she sang when she did the cooking; she sang when she was just sitting. My wife wondered why I randomly break out in song and often loudly, then mum visited us; she had to contend with two people who sing anytime, anywhere and for no apparent reason. I learnt a lot of the hymns from her as I heard her sing them with joy every day I lived with her. And I must add singing is good for the soul. There is a reason we will do a lot of it in heaven☺
Discipline is not negotiable

Mum has always been close and open with me. We laughed, teased and watched sports together. In fact, she is partly responsible for me being a soccer fan. All that did not stop her from instilling discipline. She loved order and set clear boundaries and would not hesitate to let you know who was in charge. She also made sure you recognized and respected authority. I see young people go at it with their parents and I shudder. I tried on one or two occasions to raise a one man rebellion, and it was crushed before it even started. I was sorted out for even entertaining the thought! Manners and order were important to her, and she drilled it in me. My shortcomings are a reflection on my character and not her parenting.
I love my mother, and I am very grateful to her for all the sacrifices she made to ensure that I turned out a decent person. There were times that I did not understand why she was being hard on me, and now that I am a parent, I grow more appreciative of the work she did and continues to do. I will be glad to be half the parent she was.


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Groups of people the church mocks (Part 3)

In my last two blogs I suggested two groups of people that fall prey to the mockery of the church namely singles and barren couples. Today I want to discuss yet another group that we more often than not are guilty of mocking and not showing the love of Christ to. This group is the brethren who fall in public sin. Christians can be the most unforgiving and ruthless people around. It is often true that when a brother falls into sin we are more than eager to pick up stones and stone him instead of extending a loving hand that seeks restoration.
Now do not get me wrong, sin is a mess that affects all involved with the sinner, and many times it can be quite complicated. It is also clear that the Bible exhorts us to confront sin and discipline people who refuse to repent of their sins as their lack of repentance is a serious indicator that they might not be saved (Matt.18:15-19, 1 Cor. 5:1-11, Gal. 6:1-2). So yes we are to hold one another accountable and be each other’s keepers; it is true that we should not tolerate sin in our lives and the lives of others otherwise we risk being guilty of participating in their sins. We however need to remember that the goal of confrontation is restoration. We do well to heed the exhortation in Galatians to restore sinning brethren with a spirit of meekness. The temptation to be unkind and treat such people in the church without grace is ever high. Here are three ways we mock sinning brethren.
We mock fallen brethren by gossiping about their sins
It is amazing how news flies, particularly negative news. It seems there are Christians who have exceptional “journalistic” skills that they pick up information about people’s lives and spread it to everyone and anyone who has ears! This tendency to spread information about people is nothing more than malicious slander. Gossip and slander proceed from a corrupt and filthy heart and hurts the fallen brother. Just because it is true does not mean it is necessary to share, and if it not going to build up the brethren, do not share it. When brothers fall, do not gossip or slander them, lovingly confront and pray for them.
We mock fallen brethren by treating them with contempt
When we become aware of the sin in our brothers’ lives and see them go through the shame that comes with sin, we are tempted to think we are better than them and holier than them. I remember in my primary school days when one of my teachers would ask the class to shame and openly embarrass any pupil who broke the rules. So at the signal of the teacher the entire class would break forth in a chorus of “shame” and mocking laughter. Going through that experience made you feel alone and unloved. Sadly that can be the tendency of the church at times. We can easily be guilty of shaming instead of confronting and embarrassing instead of restoring. And we make sure we hold the sin over the head of the sinner for as long as they live! At times it’s almost like we are hoping others fall and do so scandalously and without repentance so that we can have something to hold over their heads. We should remember as we deal with other people’s sins that we are equally capable of committing any sin if it weren’t for the grace of God.  
We mock fallen brethren by refusing to forgive and welcome them back in the fold

In line with treating the fallen brothers with contempt is the refusal to forgive and welcome them back in the fold. The Bible commands us to bear with one another and to forgive one another (Col. 3:13), and the standard of forgiving is as much as God has forgiven you. Elsewhere Christ exhorts—blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy (Matt. 5:7). We are often guilty of the sin of the steward after being forgiven much by his master, refused to forgive a friend for much less and actually had him locked up! Even when we offer some superficial forgiveness by mouth, our actions actually reveal the truth because we sideline and distant ourselves from the same brother we claim to have forgiven.

Brethren, beware of the attitude of the prodigal son’s elder brother. While the father was rejoicing at the repentance of the son, showering him with extravagant forgiveness and welcoming him back in the fold, the elder brother was sulking and bitter not willing to forgive and embrace his brother back into the fold. Brothers who fall into sin and are repentant should not be distanced from the church because of the unloving and humiliating mockery from the members of the church.  

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Groups of people the church mocks (part 2)

Two weeks ago I began a series of blogs aimed at highlighting how the church is often guilty of following the society’s thinking in mocking groups of people for what may be perceived as disadvantages or even curses. This mocking behavior and attitude towards people who may be at a different stage of life and have a different calling is contrary to the commands of Scripture, as we are commanded to love, serve, be gentle, kind and compassionate to our brethren and their needs. Last week we looked at the singles as a group of people that is often a victim of mockery; the second group of people the church often fails to minister to in love are barren couples.

In our culture, having a child is a sacred thing and a must for everyone. Children are viewed as the goal of marriage. A childless marriage is considered incomplete and can never be God’s plan or will for your life. A lack of children is grounds for termination of the marriage, and those who stay do so at the cost of facing insults and humiliation. Sadly, Christians are not immune to this mockery and unloving insensitivity toward barren couples. Our response to it often ranges from awkward silence to outright abuse and mockery. In what ways do we act this way? Let me offer two suggestions.

Assuming every couple must have children
When God instituted marriage (Gen. 2), husband (Adam) and wife (Eve) were fully satisfied, and children were not part of the picture. Now it is true that God expects us to be fruitful and multiply, and He himself blesses us with children. It is also true that God in His sovereign wisdom and for reasons unknown to us allows some couples not to have children, either for a season or for the entirety of their marriage. So, while it is perfectly fine to ask God to bless a couple with children, it is biblically unfounded and very insensitive to claim that couples need deliverance. A childless couple is not demon possessed nor are they lacking in their faith. Children do not come from the devil but from God himself, and if the Lord purposes to bless a couple with a child, no amount of demons will hinder that blessing. You know a lot about people’s Christianity by how they respond when God says no to their earnest prayers. 

So, let’s stop the idea of applying pressure on newlyweds, wondering when they are going to have children and what they are waiting for. A marriage is perfectly complete even without children because children are not the goal of marriage!

This is also true with the advice we give, often unsolicited. Who says it is a must for a childless couple to seek medical attention or consider adoption? It is perfectly fine if they chose to do any of them, but even then the reasons must be right and not simply doing it because every couple must have children! At times we need to learn to keep quiet and listen to people particularly people who might be hurting or going through a trial.   

Treating barren couples like they have it easy
Married people think, singles have it easy; couples with children behave like childless couples have it easy. And so it is often common to find childless couples treated with condescending attitudes because they have no children to take care of, so their homes must be neat at all times, and their marriage must be heaven on earth. However, the Bible says God gives us the grace for every responsibility and season of life. So, a family of nine has no excuse for not living the way God intended it to be. Yes, a childless couple will not have the same responsibilities that parenting couples have but that does not mean they have it easy. It is the irony of discontentment that the singles envy the married, while the married envy the singles and the childless couple envies the parenting couple while the parenting couple envies the childless couple. A mark of a healthy Christian is that they are content in whatever state they are in.

The big picture
This is a broken world. It was broken by the fall of man. It is broken and passing away. And while we are on earth, we feel and bear the effects of the fall. That means pain, sorrow and suffering are part of our lives. Our own Lord and Savior experienced and endured this suffering and promised us that we like him will face the same. The suffering this side of eternity makes us long for a better life, it fuels our hope for the glory to come.

“Those who follow the pierced feet of the Savior bear their own scars. Those struggling with infertility might not bear the physical scars of childbirth, but they do bear the emotional and spiritual scars of painful wrestling with God (Genesis 32:24–30). And God has given them his church, and his church to them, to care and comfort and carry them in the pain.”[1]


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Groups of people the church mocks (Part 1)

Mockery is a vice that is fun to dish out but terrible to be a recipient of. The dictionary defines mockery as “teasing and contemptuous language or behaviour directed at a particular person or thing.[1]”  Granted there is a place for good old banter among friends, so that we can laugh at our folly and idiosyncrasies. There is however a rather unhealthy form of mockery that belittles others and is not in the spirit of love. Unloving mockery is common even among believers and is targeted at particular groups of people. I intend to show in the next three blogs how we who are in the church are guilty of being unloving by mocking particular groups of people. The first group of people who are victims of our mockery are singles.

In Zambian culture, marriage is sacred and highly honoured. Children are from birth raised with marriage as the ultimate goal and rightly so. Marriage is God ordained and is an honourable thing. In our culture however, we not only expect you to be married, we demand it! Marriage has social, economic and religious implications. The marriage of an individual brings honour to the entire family and the lack of it brings shame. We have no place for singles who want to remain single. If an individual becomes of age and they are not getting married, the conclusion is either they have serious problems, or they are promiscuous. There may be other conclusions, but whatever the case our conclusion is that something is wrong with that individual. Here are a few ways in which the church mocks single people.

We assume a single person is incomplete without marriage
One of the common phrases and misconceptions about marriage is that your spouse completes you. And therefore people who are single are incomplete. We quickly run to Genesis, where God says it is not good for the man to be alone (Gen. 2:18). The question we need to ask ourselves is was Adam incomplete before Eve? And the answer is a clear no; Adam was perfectly complete to live a joyful life that carries out God’s purposes. The Bible tells us that those who are in Christ are complete in Him (Col 2:8-10). The notion that married people are complete comes from the false premise that marriage will solve all your problems, make you a better person, and make you happy. Consequently, people go into marriage with all these false assumptions and end up with false expectations of their spouse. If a person is not happy, the problem is not their marital status, it’s their walk with God. Those who walk with the Lord learn to be joyfully content in whatever state they are in, be it single or married. It is because of such false notions about marriage that we expect our spouses to satisfy us in ways only God can.

We add marriage to the qualification of church officers
It is common for churches to demand that a person be married in order to be considered for a church office. Now there is obvious wisdom in preferring a married person to serve in the office of pastor or deacon, but it should be stated as exactly that, a preference! It is not a biblical requirement. Churches even place marital status before godly character and in the process many biblically qualified singles have been overlooked on account of their status. The qualifications to the offices of deacon and pastor (elder, bishop, these terms refer to the same office) are stated for us in the Bible and marriage is not one of them. Demanding marriage as a qualification is in fact adding to the Scriptures.
Many of us would clearly have issues with the Apostle Paul’s view of singles in the church and their service to God. He says singles are free from relational worries and distractions that marriage brings and have the gift and opportunity to spontaneously serve the Lord with undivided commitment (1 Cor. 7:32-35). Paul is no way suggests marriage is not honorable; he is simply acknowledging that while it is a good thing, a high calling ordained by God, it is also a demanding calling.  

We assume married people are wiser and more responsible
When discussing matters of importance, it is a common consensus that singles must keep quiet and listen. When advice is sought on matters or responsibilities need to be taken up, the married almost always take first precedence. Now that in itself is not necessary wrong, and you cannot deny the fact that people who are married and manage homes have generally speaking picked up a level of know how that one who is single may not have. The problem comes in when there is a deliberate mockery of people and their ideas on account of their singleness, or sidelining them from roles of responsibility.

If we are all honest, some married people are not wise neither are they responsible. It is illogical to assume that a change in marital status will make a person wiser and more responsible. There are plenty of examples of people who have entered marriage and their irresponsibility and foolishness simply got worse after marriage. And yet there are quite a number of people who are single and yet are wise and responsible. The reason this is possible is because biblical wisdom comes from above and is evidenced by righteous living (James 3: 15-18, Psalm 1).

We need to remember that God designed the church so that every member may play their role to build up the body regardless of their marital status. Married people have a lot to teach single people, and at the same the married have a lot to learn from the singles as well.

This mockery of people who are in a different phase of life than us actually reveals a deep seated pride that refuses to acknowledge God’s grace for who we are and thank Him for what He is doing in other people’s lives. As a result, you will have married people in the church who fail to see the singles as fellow workers for the cause of the gospel and partner with them in discipleship relationships to the glory of God.

We should thank God for His wisdom in not making a church full of married people or full of single people. He instead made a diverse body with different parts in order for it to function effectively.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Church is no place for Superheroes

Christians have different notions of what church is. We also have more views on how a church should operate and look like. When you do some serious probing you will find that a lot of our views of what the church is and how it should function are often unbiblical. In fact, in a number of cases, those of us who have solid doctrinal statements of the church on paper do not practice what we write, and our true belief is hence revealed in our practice.
One biblical truth about the church that we fail to practice is the reality that the church is the body of Christ (Eph. 4:12-16, Col. 1:18-21, 1 Cor. 12). If you think about it that is a rather vivid and powerful analogy. All one has to do is think and look at how their body functions, many parts with different roles but one body working in unison towards one purpose. This has implications for how we view and do ‘church’.
Christ is the head of church
The church is the body, and Christ is the head. The Bible makes this very clear (Matt. 16:13-19, Eph. 4:15, Col. 1:18). The church has only one head and shepherd, and that is Jesus Christ; every leader in the church regardless of title(s) is a mere instrument in the hands of the chief shepherd and will be answerable to Him on the day of judgement. That Christ is the head of the church means that He is the one who builds and grows His church. No human being is capable of carrying out such supernatural work. But it also means He guides and directs the church. It is important to realise that we do not have to manufacture clever ways of growing the body or clever methods of drawing in the lost, we simply follow what the Head has prescribed, namely preach the Word and live by the Word.
Everyone has a role (you are you for a reason)
Every member in the church is significant in that they have a role to play. Just as every part of the body is significant and plays a role for the whole body to function properly, in the same way, every member of a church has a role to play for that church to function properly. God has placed every one of us where we are for a reason. At a time when partiality, tribalism, racism and all forms of segregation are ripe it is important to remember that no member is more important than others. Regardless of one’s financial and social status, Christ died and saves us the same way. Therefore, no one should think they are indispensable, and on one should think they are irrelevant to the body.
I have heard of people who in their pride would refuse to give as the Lord has blessed them, claiming if they did so the church would suffer after they left because they happened to be the richest person in the church. The Lord has placed you where you are for a reason; serve Him with your all and to the best of your abilities. Stop this nonsense of church politics! If the Lord moves you, He will still build His church.
The body is designed to be interdependent
No one part in the body can do everything. God in His wisdom made different parts with different roles to serve in order for the parts to be interdependent. God designed the church in such a way that its members serve each other. The young and old, the rich and poor, the single and married, the men and women, the parents and children, the couples with children and those without, the mature Christian and the recent converts, the different cultures, tribes, tongues and races blending together as one serving one another—that is the Church of Jesus Christ.
Not only do the different statues in life help us to serve one another but the different gifting as well. No one person can do everything. People who behave like the survival of the church depends on them have a serious level of pride that even my charismatic brethren cannot deliver you from! On a serious note; however, God does not gift anyone to do everything.

This also means that we all should be humble enough to let people serve us. We all need to be ministered to, we all need to be exhorted, encouraged, rebuked, comforted, corrected and helped in time of need. We should be humble, vulnerable and let others serve. As my dear wife constantly reminds me “you are not superman.” I would go further and add, the church has no place for superman or any other super hero for that matter, unless of course they humble themselves and appreciate the beauty of interdependence.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Independence, Patriotism and the Christian

Zambia celebrates her 53rd independence anniversary this week. Like every other year, 24th October brings about all kinds of reflections among us and this year is no different. Suffice to say the reflections are mixed to say the least. What has caught my attention in the last few years is the fact that Christians have become more active in voicing their opinions about national matters. One tune that has really been played is the need to be patriotic to mother Zambia and being proud of who we are and what we have. The right response to that rallying call is a resounding Amen! We should indeed be “proud and free under the flag of our land” as the writers of our national anthem rightly put it.

My only cause for concern is what one may call a lack of objectivity in this call and desire to be patriotic which has at times simply fueled strife among believers and at times made Christians embarrass themselves before the watching country. This lack of objectivity I believe springs from a lack of clear definitions i.e. what it means to be a patriotic citizen. In our country patriotism has come to mean supporting the characters and polices of the ruling party without questioning or debating anything. To disagree with people in power is therefore deemed unpatriotic. No wonder it is common practice to have politicians jump from party to party depending on who is in government. In fact I know of very few politicians who have stayed in the same political party (but that’s a discussion for another day). The reason is simple, our patriotism is not tied to values but personalities. And because rulers change, our patriotism follows suite. However if someone’s patriotism is tied to unchanging values and principles, they will hold on to them regardless of who is in power! As Mark Twain put it “patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it”.

Patriotism is a funny thing, two people can claim to be patriotic to the same country and yet be at loggerheads with each other. For instance, in the USA, Obama rallied people behind him and called them to patriotism with his “yes we can slogan” Trump equally rallied the people to patriotism with the “make America great again” slogan. Both claim to be patriotic and called others to be and yet they are polar opposites in character and policies. Hence, the only objective way you can judge patriotism is by the values a person holds on to, not the people they agree with or support. This is why I particularly like the pledge of allegiance that the pupils at our primary school recite;

 “I pledge allegiance to the Zambian flag and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice all.”

These are the values we should all stand for and fight for at all cost. It is for these same values that our freedom fighters were willing to sacrifice their lives. We dare not belittle their sacrifices by making patriotism about partisan politics and tribalism! Henry IV of England once said “patriotism must be founded on great principles and supported by great virtue”. The pupils also recite another pledge which has far greater importance and eternal value. This is a pledge to the Christian flag;

 “I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag and to the savior for whose kingdom it stands, one savoir crucified, risen and coming again with life and liberty for all who believe”

The ultimate independence is freedom from the power and captivity of sin, which only comes about through the life, work, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. And those who believe in Christ need to realise that they are Christians first and therefore citizens of heaven. Our Zambian citizenship is temporal for we are only passing through this land. Yet while the Lord keeps us here, we are called to be salt and light and to make such an impact that on lookers will say, ‘these Christians have turned Zambia upside down with the gospel!’

 Happy independence to all. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

When Christians fight to be worldly

My good friend Sandala Mwanje posted on his Facebook page the other day saying “[it] seems there's a generation of young Christians who are on a mission to bridge the gap between Light and Darkness. Good luck! i.e., if you come out alive!!!”[1]

His observation struck a chord with the feelings of my heart. Maybe he and I are just doomsayers and need to lighten up a bit (or as we young people would say “take a chill pill”). But the truth is the line between light and darkness gets thinner by the day. Christians seem to be on a mission to outdo the world in living sensual lives. Or as they would put it, become like them to win them over. What is even worse is the desire to justify the worldliness and to attempt to do so with the Bible (at least by abusing it). Others have simply resorted to waging war against the Bible itself and denying what it teaches or trying to discredit it, in an effort to simply not live holy lives. This trend reveals a serious lack of understanding of what the Scriptures teach. Particularly the meaning of salvation and its implications.

Let me begin by making a proposition and then show it from Scripture. Anyone who has been saved from their sins will live a transformed life such that they will be distinct from the world they live in. Regardless of your worldview, traditions, or culture, obeying the words of Jesus sets you apart from the world you live in. And no I am not talking about isolation (isolating yourself from the world, if it is even possible is not biblical either), nor perfection (none of us will ever be perfect while on earth) and neither am talking about taking up another culture (every culture is sinful). However, the Bible calls us to holy living (set apart, distinct) because the God who has saved us is holy (1 Peter 1:15-17).

We need to understand that before salvation we are lost, sinful and under the wrath of God (Romans 1:18-19, 3:10-18). We were enemies of God and hostile to him and his ways (Colossians 1:20-24) because as the Bible describes us, we were dead in sin, totally unable to please God (Ephesians 2:1-3). But thanks be to God, he made us alive, and saved us from our sins through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now if you ever needed an example of radical transformation, a dead person made alive is as good as you will get! In Romans 12, the Bible commands us, in light of our salvation, to not be conformed to the world (do not pattern your life after the world) but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (consistently changed into the likeness of Jesus Christ).

In other words, those who have been truly saved from their sins will not continue living in their former lives. They put off their sinful (worldly) ways, they renew their minds (cleanse and change way of thinking), and they put on the new man (take on Christ like virtues); this change makes them distinct from the world. It is in fact this distinctness that brings about persecution from the world but also serves as a powerful testimony to them.

To be saved and remain worldly is to claim you are dead, and yet remain buried in the cemetery. To be saved and remain unchanged is to claim God’s work of salvation is not effective and does not bring about change. To be saved and remain in sin is to call God a fraud because he boldly declares that he will wash us white as snow (Isaiah 55) and further tells us we are no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6). Furthermore, it is illogical for believers to want to win unbelievers by acting like them; how exactly are you supposed to win someone to a different way of living, if you yourself are not living in a new way but are living exactly like him? Like I said, I am not talking about perfection; Christian’s do sin; however, when they do they humbly confess the sin and repent of it, no explanations, no justification, just humble, honest acknowledgement of sin.

Hear the words of Scripture exhorting us to holiness before the watching world, so that we may glorify our Father:

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. 1 Peter 2:11-12.


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


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