Thursday, March 30, 2017

Dear Christian are you involved in missions?

It goes without saying that the work of the Church is to spread the glory of God among the nations through the proclamation of the gospel. And ultimately this should result in the planting of local churches. This should be every church’s heartbeat and passion. Doing the work of missions is however not easy. It requires the sacrifice of our human, material and financial resources, and it can only be done if there are healthy partnerships. We learn a lot from Paul and the early church believers on how to partner in the work of missions. For instance, Paul writes to the Philippians and says:
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. (Phil. 1:3-5)
A study of the word, which is translated “partnership” and sometimes translated as “fellowship,” reveals that it has a richer meaning than the English words. It is a very practical and intimate word, bringing with it the idea of interaction, communion, partnership, participation, sharing, contribution, etc. It is the idea of a business partnership where all parties put in all the necessary resources and sacrifices in order to achieve the same goal, in this case, the furtherance of the gospel.  
This means that there are people who are going and are being sent into the mission fields. Churches should be ready and willing to send men, women and families to areas where the gospel has not reached with the goal of planting churches. By implication it means people should be answering the call to go to the mission field. It is concerning how as Christians we simply want to group ourselves in one place and have numbers instead of sending men to plant churches. For gospel partnerships to take place, missionaries have to be sent.
As missionaries are sent to various places, they will need a team to work with. Paul had an ever-growing team working with him, comprising individuals like Barnabas, Silas, Luke, Timothy, Titus, Sosthenes, Tychicus, Mark, Demas, etc. There were couples like Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18), and ladies like Tryphena, Tryphosa, Lydia, and Phoebe (Rom. 16:12-13). The ladies helped with hospitality, finances, communication, follow up work, etc. In our time, there could be IT specialists, builders, nurses and doctors etc. Different people could use their skills to partner with those on the ground to ensure the smooth spread of the gospel.
Yet, the partnership that Paul was referring to in Philippians is at another level. It is the sacrificial financial and spiritual commitment to support the people on the ground. As we send missionaries, they need sustenance, and those who remain should be faithful to praying for them and giving so that their livelihood is taken care of. It is here that believers reveal their true commitment to the work of missions.
Such partnership should also exist between churches of like faith. The work of missions is such a huge task that it should be a combined effort of churches. A particular work may be the initiative and responsibility of one church yet done with the support of sister churches. So while some churches may not have the capacity to plant churches, they can still be involved in the work by supporting a church with the capacity. As such no church has an excuse for not being involved in the work of missions.

The church must be engaged in the work of missions. In order to do so effectively, there is need for practical and strategic partnerships between those who are sent and those who remain and between churches of like mind. Are you playing your role in the work of missions?  

Friday, March 17, 2017

Families in Disarray

Absent, irresponsible and ungodly fathers/ husbands, worldly, non-submitting wives/mothers and wayward, disobedient children is generally the state of the family today. Many of us men are spoilt, entertainment driven, gadget acquiring over-grown children. Gone are the days when men were the spiritual fortresses of their 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 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.
The world teaches that parents have succeeded as long as their child has all the right papers and certificates even if that child lives like the devil himself. It further tells us that you are successful if you own the material things of the world; for example, it common for parents to encourage their daughters to accept marriages proposals from a man on the basis of the man’s wealth regardless of how scandalous the guy is. As a result we have a lot of families that are thriving financially and can afford the best money can buy, yet their lives are ungodly and far from God. I am not in any way suggesting that being wealthy and having the best things is sinful, but there is a difference between having things and things having you.
The Lord through Moses instructed the children before entering the Promised Land on how they should live, and in the sixth chapter, 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. Duet 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 Lord like no other.
We are naturally a self-centered people so 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, 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 a “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.
Beware of the dangers of prosperity.
The last thing God warned the children of Israel is to be weary that they do not let God’s blessings lead them away from God. The dangers of loving the gift more than the giver is ever so real as the Lord prospers us. Examples of families who loved the Lord in times of little and forsake him in times of plenty are way too many.

I cannot remember who said it or how exactly they said it, but it was something like, the kingdom of darkness should be terrified of your family when you wake up because you are a family fulfilling God’s purpose for the family.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Dear Christian you need Doctrine

People often cringe whenever the words doctrine or theology are mentioned. It is common for many believers in churches to believe that doctrine is not only dull and boring but not for them at all. It is also common for preachers to shun doctrine claiming they simply teach the word. This false dichotomy ignores Paul’s instructions to Timothy to teach sound doctrine when he says:
As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. (1 Timothy 1:3-4)
On the other hand, we have a group of overzealous Christians who have read some theological books and assume that being able to throw around theological jargon is equal to being spiritually healthy and theologically grounded. In throwing around jargon, this group exposes their pride and causes the untaught mind to shun doctrine altogether.
I do believe, however, that the lack of grounding in doctrine is the biggest reason our churches are shallow and suffer from spiritual malnutrition. It is also the reason false teachers have found fertile soil for their damning teachings. Cults and the prosperity gospel have swayed millions on the African continent because the true church of Christ is not holding on to sound doctrine, and they are not holding on because they do not know sound doctrine (Ephesians 4:13-16). This I believe begins in the pulpit. If the people in the pulpits are not consistently, deliberately and systematically teaching sound doctrine, the people in the pews will be aimless and shallow. And by teaching sound doctrine I am not talking about dry lectures without application but impressing the truth on people so that they live it out. So why is it important that every Christian knows what the Bible teaches?
The health of any meaningful relationship in life depends on how much you know each other. A Christian cannot have a healthy growing relationship with God without a growing knowledge of God. Arthur Pink famously wrote in his book The Attributes of God “An unknown God can neither be trusted, served, nor worshiped. God is only truly known in the soul as we yield ourselves to Him, submit to His authority, and regulate all the details of our lives by His holy precepts and commandments."
Daniel proclaimed “the people that know their God shall be strong and do great exploits” (Daniel 11:32).
The common claim is that truth/doctrine divides. And we are often encouraged to lay our doctrine aside and love one another. Such a claim cannot be further from the truth. The Scriptures teach the exact opposite. Biblical unity comes as a result of oneness in biblical doctrine. Separation will invariably come as a result of differences in the essential doctrines.
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine,by human cunning,by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (Emphasis added; Ephesians 4:11-14)
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! (Psalm 100)
The call to worship the Lord in this beautiful psalm is followed by a reason or explanation why we should worship the Lord, namely our knowledge of God! A proper knowledge of the majestic splendor, glorious power and unceasing loving-kindness of the Lord will lead you to extravagant, respectful knowledge of Him, meaning you do not enter His presence carelessly like your cousin’s bedroom nor do you approach Him in a lifeless dry manner. Unbiblical worship is a result of shallow doctrine.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
People who have a proper knowledge of God cannot help but testify of Him to everyone they come across. They will seek to teach the truth (doctrine) that they themselves have been taught. The major reason we do not share the gospel and plant churches is because we do not have a proper view of who God is and do not see the need for others to know Him.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Birthday Reflections

On Sunday February 26, I celebrated my birthday. My birthdays have had a whole new meaning now that I have a lovely wife who pulls out all the stops to make the day extra special, an all action daughter who could not make sense of the candles on the cake and some truly special friends and family whose love is beyond doubt. I am actually writing this from a customized office in our home designed and arranged by my thoughtful creative wife (yes I had to throw that one in somewhere).

A few years ago however, my birthdays became a point of serious reflection on my life. February 26, is now a day I take stock of how I am living and what I am living for. It also is a day when I think about my impending death. Yes! You read right. It dawned on me that while I become older on my birthday, I also get closer to my death. Now I understand most people are terrified of death and would rather not think or talk about it and some think those who do talk about death are pathologically morbid.

To such people, I offer first the words of Mark Twain who stated “the fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” A life well lived is a life ready to die. Then second and most important the words of scripture;

Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble.  He comes out like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not. And do you open your eyes on such a one and bring me into judgment with you? Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one. Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass- Job 14:1-5

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment. Hebrews 9:27


For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:9-12
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:13-17

It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. Ecclesiastes 7:1-4


Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. Ecclesiastes 11:9

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24