Friday, May 26, 2017

A Missionary God with a Worldwide Agenda

I have been reflecting lately on God’s agenda in drawing people for himself from every tribe, tongue and nations for His glory. It is actually interesting to see how God’s agenda in bringing a people to himself from among the nations is presented throughout scripture from Genesis through to Revelation. Another interesting reminder is that God has ordained to achieve these purposes through his people. It is therefore very refreshing to see an increase in churches in Zambia that are committed to missions and are sending and supporting faithful men to plant churches. May we strive to outdo ourselves in this endeavor because the God we worship is a missionary God with a worldwide agenda as we can be seen from a sampling of scripture. 

He called Abraham with the promise of making him a father of Nations
Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-2

He reminds His people that His name will be great among the nations
Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts. Malachi 1:10-11

The great commission is a call to make disciples of all nations
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

We are charged to be salt and light to the nations
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:13-16

John tells us that in the end God will be worshiped by people from all nations
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:9-11

Implications for the church

Missions should be central to every true New Testament Church
"The mark of a great church is not its seating capacity, but its sending capacity." — Mike Stachura
"People who don't believe in missions have not read the New Testament. Right from the beginning Jesus said the field is the world. The early church took Him at His word and went East, West, North and South." — J. Howard Edington
"If the Church is 'in Christ,' she is involved in mission. Her whole existence then has a missionary character. Her conduct as well as her words will convince the unbelievers and put their ignorance and stupidity to silence." — David Bosch

Missions demands great sacrifices from churches
“Christ wants not nibblers of the possible, but grabbers of the impossible." — C.T. Studd
"All the money needed to send and support an army of self-sacrificing, joy-spreading ambassadors is already in the church." — John Piper
"You can give without loving. But you cannot love without giving." — Amy Carmichael, missionary to India

Missions reveals a church’s relationship with God
"Missions is the overflow of our delight in God because missions is the overflow of God's delight in being God." — John Piper
"If missions languish, it is because the whole life of godliness is feeble. The command to go everywhere and preach to everybody is not obeyed until the will is lost by self-surrender in the will of God. Living, praying, giving and going will always be found together." — Arthur T. Pierson
Dear Friends God is a missionary God with a worldwide agenda and He carries out His mission through his people. As John Stott proclaimed "We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God."

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


I woke this morning reflecting on the many blessings the Lord has showered upon my Kunda and I as we celebrate another anniversary. I could not help but heed Johnson Oatman’s call to “Count your blessings; name them one by one. Count your blessings; See what God hath done.” And when I started counting and naming the Lord’s blessings, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for His steadfast love that never ceases and His mercies that never come to end. They are new every morning. Each passing year presents plenty of lessons to be gleaned. Let me share a few I have been reflecting on.

Marriage has revealed my self-centeredness
Before getting married I was so convinced of my own selflessness and tolerance that I often gave myself a pat on the back. After getting married, the Lord exposed the selfishness and impatience that ruled my heart. He began to show me that marriage and my wife did not exist to simply please me but for my holiness to the glory of God. And each passing day brought in the realization that the command to love my wife as Christ loved the church was a daunting task, and when I look at my selfishness I simply wonder if anyone is sufficient for this task.

Godliness is essential in marriage
Jay Adams in his book The Christian Home gives three non-negotiable traits he looks for before recommending single people for marriage. He asks first if they are saved, second if they are faithfully serving and growing in their church, lastly if they are able to solve problems biblically. His reasoning for the third is that since problems are inevitable in marriage, a couple that cannot resolve problems biblically is headed for disaster. I think Adams is right, and I could sum up the three points in one word -- godliness!

While there are many things that we need to invest in as a couple, godliness is a priority. At the end of the day, the only way two sinners can live together in peace and love is if they are submitting to God and pursuing Christ. This will be seen in faithfulness to learning the Scriptures in the home (failing terribly right now), praying together and for each other, reading Christian books, and using the home as a platform of ministry. It will also be seen in the faithfulness to church meetings and serving not just as individuals but as a couple as well.

I have married a gem
Kunda and I are polar opposites. She talks and I am quiet (trust me it is true); she loves working in the background (you have no idea, how many things are her ideas or many things are actually done by her) while I am often in front of things; she is super creative and I am definitely lacking in the creative department; she is a rigid detailed planner, while I am a flexible big picture guy (too free spirited if you ask her); she is a cautious decision maker and I am risk taker. These differences can be a point of friction or misunderstanding, but they also make us a perfect team.

In Kunda, I have both my biggest critic and greatest supporter. No matter what I do and where I go, I am assured she is praying for me. She keeps me accountable and often asks me those questions I would rather not answer. She is my fiercest competitor when we are playing games (we currently have a scrabble game waiting to be finished because we dozed off playing) and my best teammate. Though truth be told we prefer being on opposite sidesJ. Most importantly her desire to know and please the Lord in all she does is what I love the most about her. And that is desire has translated to the way she wants our daughter to grow up and the time she invests in training her in knowing God.

Happy Anniversary Kupe!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Can you really marry a Spirit?

One question that does not seem to go away on the radio program I participate in is on spiritual husbands and wives. So today when someone called in to ask whether it’s true you can be married to a spiritual husband/wife, I decided to do a bit of reading on the teaching. This was because while I have head the teaching and I have been asked questions about it I always brushed it off as ridiculous and another consequence of African Traditional Religion in the church. However, it has now become clear that this is a very popular teaching among many Christians, particularly in the charismatic/Pentecostal movement. So what is the gist of this teaching and what is ridiculous and disturbing about it?

The teaching about Spiritual Husbands
The best and fair way to understand and represent a teaching is to let the people who believe in the teaching present and explain what they teach.

Erica Joseph is widely quoted by many proponents of this teaching as does Dr. Itiola in an extract from his book saying “Sexual experiences with demonic spirits are very real even in this day and age. I have personally taken both men and women through deliverance, that have experienced this and some became bound by the spirits of Incubus and Succubus. I have personally taken both men and women through deliverance, where the witch or warlock has actually, through the use of astral travel, seduced them, having sexual relations with them as they slept, with them thinking it was only a dream. This having been done through the utilization of "Familiar" spirits.” The said demons even have names! They are called Incubus and succubus. [1]  

On another site the author eloquently exhorts the readers to be weary and alert about these spirits.
“Are you experiencing difficulty in your life, marriage, or relationship? Has God revealed to you the root cause of your problems? Do you see or have you seen snake(s) in you dream?  Have you seen yourself swimming in the river or dreamed about sleeping with someone? Do you eat in your dreams? Do you have sex in your dreams?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, your problem is most likely rooted in spiritual husbands or wives also referred to as marine spirits. These spirits are the most destructive, very wicked and hate union, marriages, progress with perfect hatred.”[2]

Furthermore, we are told by Sam Udoubak in an article titled “What to know about spiritual husbands and wives” gives us the signs of spiritual husbands and wives and states things like “sexual relationships in dreams, hatred of marriage, being jilted by serious partners, missing one’s menstrual period in the dream, pregnancy in the dream, breast-feeding a baby in the dream, having a family in the dream, shopping with a man/ woman in the dream, seeing a man sleeping by one’s side in the dream, sudden Hatred by earthly spouse, serious gynecological problems, having a miscarriage after sexual dreams, dream marriages, constant wet dreams, late marriage or no marriage at all”[3]

What is their biblical basis?
As far as my research went, I only came across one verse in the articles I read that was used to argue for the biblical basis of spiritual spouses namely Matthew 13:25 which says
“…but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.” It is important to note that Matthew 13:25 is a verse in the middle of the parable of the wheat and the tares which when read in its full context will say:

He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn” Matthew 13:24-30

Now at face value we can at least agree that this passage is at least talking about the kingdom of heaven since verse 24 clearly tells us “he put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared….” and that it is talking about some form of punishment and reward for those who do evil and good respectively. Another thing worth noting is that you need some serious creative ability and mental gymnastics to notice spiritual husbands and wives from verse 25.

What is disturbing about this teaching?
What has become very clear to me is that this teaching is based on African Traditional Religion (ATR). This is so because ATR strongly believes everything that happens in the physical is the work of spirits (good or bad). Therefore if you have a dream it is not just a mere dream, there is meaning to it. If you are barren, single, miscarriage or whatever difficult to a mind raised in ATR it is the spirits. For example if you have a dream where your grandfather is telling you something, you take whatever he said to mean his spirit was passing you an important message. In the event that evil spirits are attacking you, the solution is to go see some form of medium who will intercede on your behalf to deal with the spirits.

This is the teaching that has now come in the church where everything is blamed on all kinds of spirits and demons. It is no wonder that this teaching has caught fire because it is our playground as Africans. In this instance the medium is not the witchdoctor but the man of God who will deliver you from the spirits.  

The other problem with this teaching is that it rejects that authority of scripture. Instead of letting scripture be the rule of faith and practice it has instead elevated the experiences of people. So what you find in most writings is one verse with a lot of testimonies of people who have been “delivered” from such spirits and nothing of the bible says. And when they actually quote a verse it the most scandalous abuse of a passage taking place.

Furthermore, some of the symptoms for knowing if you have spiritual husbands/wives are actually sins the bible addresses and by blaming them on the spirits, you are actually refusing to take responsibility of your sins. If a couple is constantly fighting for instance it because of sin in their hearts and not because of some spirit under the sea. While some of the symptoms are natural issues that are really beyond you and are in God’s hands. I.e. having children, miscarriage and singleness etc.  

The teaching of spiritual husbands is biblically unfounded, logically inconsistent and totally disturbing. It is the fabrication of deceptive false teachers who are workers of the devil and we need to heed the warning of Paul to the Colossians when he says;
“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.” Colossians 2:8-10