Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Erick Raymond’s observation is spot on when he says “it seems that sometimes we deal with sin in the church with the same approach that the government deals with terrorism: It is impossible to remove it completely so we just kind of have to accept it and do our best to keep people safe.”[1] Gossip is spreading information about someone in a malicious way (negative way) to people who do not need to know with the obvious goal of trying to tarnish their character or personality. And wherever there is gossip you are almost guaranteed to find slander, malice, strife, lies and dissension.

While gossip is obvious in most cases it can also be dangerously subtle as it comes out in many “spiritual” ways. As a result we no longer call it gossip but confiding, consulting, sharing, showing concern, venting, seeking counsel, I want to hear you opinion and in some cases sharing a prayer request ETC. Now while there may be a place and time for each of those things, in many cases what we are basically doing is sharing information about others in a negative way to people who do not need to know. And because of this subtlety it has become harder to identify and deal with gossip in churches. So how do you stop the cancer of gossip? Dan Phillips offers five questions[2] to ask people who are sharing things with you as a way of curbing gossip.  

  1. Ask, "Why are you telling me this?" Often, that in itself is such a focusing question that it can bring an end to the whole unpleasant chapter. It has the added benefit that it can help a person whose intentions are as good as his/her judgment is bad.
  2. Ask, "What's the difference between what you're telling me and gossip?" See above; same effect, same potential benefits.
  3. Ask, "How is your telling me that thought, that complaint, that information going to help you and me love God and our brothers better, and knit us closer together as a church in Christ's love?" Isn't that the goal we should share, every one of us? Won't it take the working of each individual member (Eph. 4:16)? Isn't the watch-out for harmful influences an every-member ministry (Heb. 3:12-1310:2413:12-15)?
  4. Ask, "Now that you've told me about that, what are you going to do about it?" While the previous two are subjective, this is not. If neither of the previous two questions succeeded in identifying gossip/whispering/sowing-dissension for what they are, the answer to this question will do so. Tip: if the answer is "Pray," a good response might be "Then why didn't you do that and leave it there in the first place?"
  5. Say, "Now that you've told me about that, you've morally obligated me to make sure you talk to ____ about it. How long do you think you need, so I can know when this becomes a sin that I will need to confront in you?" The least that this will accomplish is that you'll fall of the list of gossips'/whisperers' favorite venting-spots. The most is that you may head off a church split, division, harmed souls, sidelined Gospel ministry, and waylaid discipleship. Isn't that worth it?
I believe the reason gossip thrives in churches is because it finds fertile hearts and minds that are ready to listen and spread it further. For gossip to take place there are three parties involved. The victim of the gossip, the gossiper and the person receiving the gossip. If everyone in the church refused to accept or entertain gossip, the sin will be totally cut off. Believers need to heed the warning of the wise man in proverbs.
There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him: . . .
one who sows discord among brothers. Proverbs 6:1619

[1] https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/erikraymond/2015/05/04/how-to-shut-down-gossip/
[2] http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2013/02/how-to-shut-down-gossip-and-its-nasty.html

Friday, July 21, 2017

Dear Christian learn from John the baptist

John the Baptist is a fascinating character. He plays an essential role in the narrative of the gospels and yet so peripheral we often do not pay attention to him. In fact every time John speaks, he is pointing to Christ and deflecting focus from himself. Interestingly Jesus called him the greatest man that ever lived and yet at the same time the least in the kingdom (Matthew 11:11). John the Baptist was always humble in his ministerial perspective. Notice the phrases used to refer to or describe the man: “he was not the light”, “I am not the Christ”, “I am not Elijah”, “I am not the prophet”, “a voice in the wilderness”, “I must decrease”, “he ended up in prison and beheaded”. It is not a glamorous ministry and neither is it one you want to crave for, yet John by Christ’s estimations was the greatest. What lessons can we learn from the life and ministry of John the Baptist?
Ministerial platforms come from God
And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. John 3:26-27
This perspective of life and ministry will save many of us from envy of other people’s ministry and success and also from jostling for attention and praise from people. Ministry platforms and opportunities come from God and they are to be used for Him not self-promotion or exaltation. This perspective will also ensure that you are content with your ministry whether it is celebrated or little-known. This is so because you can always be assured that you are where God wants you to be at any given time.
Ministerial platforms are meant to point to Christ
John the Baptist understood that he was just meant to prepare the way and stay out of the way. He was merely a pointer and not the point. The point was Jesus Christ! Someone rightly said “if all people see is you and your efforts to build a platform then you are stealing the show.” The clamor for praise and people’s attention among us ministers is an ever present temptation. With the rise of social media the temptation is ever real. Where does one draw the line? On one hand it is a wonderful tool for ministry, while on the other hand the dangers for self-praise are ever present. At the end of the day every man knows the motives behind their action. Ada Whiddington’s prayer should be every minister’s.
Not I, but Christ be honored, loved, exalted,
Not I, but Christ be seen, be known and heard;
Not I, but Christ in every look and action,
Not I, but Christ in every thought and word.
Oh, to be saved from myself, dear Lord,
Oh, to be lost in Thee,
Oh, that it may be no more I,
But Christ that lives in me.
Ministerial platforms can only be enjoyed when used to the glory of God
Whenever I am involved in a wedding, i make it a point to have a word with the bridal party. I remind them it’s not their wedding and it is not about them! They are simply the supporting cast. I even go as far as saying if they decided not to show up on the actual day, the wedding would still go ahead. The reason i give this talk is because I have seen some bridesmaid act as though it’s their show, they whine and grumble and make silly demands and they want things done their way. Such bridesmaid or grooms men forget it is not about them and their behavior is totally unacceptable. I have also noticed that such people never get to enjoy the wedding.
That is often the case in ministry. People who miss the point and fail to understand their role do not have the joy of serving God. Their joy is often tied to results. They are happy when the numbers are high and they miserable when the numbers are low. They rejoice when they are invited to speak at conferences and camps and are downcast when it is another who is invited. They go home smiling when someone praises their preaching and are bothered when no one does. All these and many other examples simply reveal wrong focus in ministry. It is not about us, we are mere instruments in the hands of our maker and our joy comes from the fact we have made our God known whether people listen or they do not or whether they praise us or they do not. Listen to John’s perspective
You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:28-30

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Cultic Tendencies among Baptist

I am proudly and unapologetically Baptist. In fact I have the privilege of pastoring a Baptist church that is committed to planting Baptist churches! In other words I am highly persuaded that what we believe is true and biblical. However, there seems to be an increase in cultic tendencies among Baptists of all kinds and conservative evangelicals in general. When you are part of a system you are often oblivious to the problems within your own system as they tend to appear normal. One aspect we seem to be blind to, is the increase in cultic tendencies. Let me offer three tendencies that are a danger to us.
Suffocating rigidness
Baptist have always been known for their strong and unwavering doctrinal convictions, a good trait to have, since the bible admonishes us to hold on to sound doctrine. However, often times instead of being unwavering on doctrine, we are unwavering on traditions and in most cases preferences such that we are willing to fight tooth and nail for our preferred tradition. So, when it comes to changing structures or practice to set the sails in order to catch the wind for the cause of the gospel, unrelenting opposition develops. Usually the logic is, if others are not doing it, it must be wrong and that is regardless of the cultural, economic and political dynamics in a village, city, town or country. There is nothing wrong with a group of people having and insisting on a tradition, it becomes a problem when we equate the tradition to absolute truth and anyone doing things differently is wrong! Such people will often defend their positions with verses quoted out of context all at the expense of pushing a preference. When we hold to our traditions and preference we should be wise and humble enough to acknowledge that they are simply that and be gracious and kind to others who may hold a different tradition. So while we should have positions on things like musical instruments, order of service, styles of worship, dress code of church meetings, frequency of communion etc. We should never equate them to essential doctrines and rigidly hold on to them that it becomes embarrassing when you chose to change.
Unbiblical exclusiveness
Another area we show cultic traits is in unhealthy exclusiveness or separation. The bible commands us to separate from unrepentant Christians (1 Corinthian 5, Matt 18:15-19), from worldliness and from false teachers (heretics). We however seem to add to the bibles list to include people who are different from us. We no longer draw the line between evangelicals and liberals but Baptist and those who are not or between ones millennial views or whether or not they can explain TULIP or not. Now do not get me wrong, all those are important and there is nothing wrong with clearly identifying what we each believe and be clear about areas of differences and not shy away from acknowledging the differences. But I have met people who the first time you meet them in the first few minutes of the conversation you are arguing about millennial views! Again its healthy to have these discussions on matters we differ but we need to be careful that we are not separating from people we should be embracing simply because they do not cross their T’s and dot their I’s like we do. We do well to heed the advice of the little known German theologian Rupertus Meldenius who penned down the famous words “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”
Exaltation of men
Baptist have spoken out about the man of God syndrome that is rampant among Charismatic churches and rightly so. The man of God phenomena is nothing more than proud men exalting themselves to the place of God. While generally speaking Baptists are not as extravagant as charismatic in this area, we too have developed our own celebrity pastor (man of God) syndrome. We have our own men and literally everything they say, do or write is taken as gospel truth. People are no longer been transformed to the image of Christ but to the image of their favorite pastor(s).
Spirituality is equated to whom you have read and can quote, relevancy in ministry is judged not by your faithfulness to the word of God but your association with celebrity pastors or how big and glamourous your ministry is. The sad outcome is we have many ministers who forget that they are in ministry in 2017 in a town in Zambia and not 1756 Zurich Switzerland.
God in every time and season blesses his church with uniquely gifted leaders who rise up to be a prophetic voice and example to many, that does not mean they should become our idols and cause us to forget that the scripture alone is our standard of practice and doctrine.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Christians Politics and the gospel

Whatever your views on politics or wherever your political party affiliations lie, we all cannot run away from the fact that the political atmosphere in the country leaves a lot to be desired. The talk and thinking along tribal lines, the hatred which is been portrayed through insults and violence. To add insult to injury both parties keep pointing fingers at each other and yet the hatred, tribal talk and malicious slander is ever on the increase and people feel the need to pick a side and have their say. A number of Christians have correctly been disturbed by the state of affairs and have sought to do something to help the situation. So what is a Christian to do in such times?
Submit to the governing authority
This is probably a truth you know and have heard several times in your Christian life but do not be deceived into thinking that you obey it by the mere fact that you know it. We should appreciate the fact that when the bible calls believers to submit to authority the rulers of the day were in many cases persecuting Christians. Refusing to submit to human authority is in essence refusing to submit to God’s authority. Hear Paul’s charge to the Romans:
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.  For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Rom 13:1-3
Love your neighbor and enemy
When political lines are drawn and sides are picked we get so charged up and set our minds on winning, whether it is an election, an argument or in worse cases a fight. In fact not only do we want to win but we want to do so in a way that shames the opponent. We become obsessed with been right that anyone with a differing view is in our mind a stupid fool whom we cannot stand. Such attitudes may be expected of non-believers, it should not be so for Christians. Not only are we to love our neighbors, we are to love our enemies as well and do good to those who harm us and overcome evil with good. The hate speech, malicious slander, tribalism and violence should definitely not be found among Christians who claim to be in the likeness of Christ. Christians should be filled with love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control and humility. We need to learn that it is possible to disagree with each other and yet still live in harmony with each other. It’s not only humane, it is Christian.
Properly diagnose the problem
It is interesting that everyone is agreed we have problems as a country, but we are not all agreed as to what the problems actually are and worse still on what the solutions should be. Part of the reason there is confusion among Christians as to what their responsibility should be is that there is confusion on how to diagnose the problem. Our country has many issues ranging from poverty, unemployment, corruption, poor health services, lack of proper infrastructure, bad roads, bad governess etc. However, our biggest problem is a moral one. Sin in the human heart is the biggest challenge and problem we face. It is because of sin that people are corrupt and self-serving. It is because of sin that people will steal and kill. It is because of sin that people abuse authority. It is because of sin that lies, fights, slander, hatred, tribalism and violence exist among us. Therefore unless sin is rooted out of the human heart any other solution is temporal and bound to fail as it simply removes the fruit and leave the roots.
Believe in the power of the gospel
If sin is our biggest problem as the country, then the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only solution. Paul cries out “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation”. Elsewhere he says “woe unto me if I do not preach Christ and him crucified” Paul lived in a time when Christians were persecuted by rulers, inequality was on the rampant, hatred and tribalism and yet he preached the gospel. Many think this is a political problem that will not be solved without a political strategy. There are many Christians who think the only and best solution to dealing with the problems in our country are through political means i.e. lobbying, demonstration, press releases and boycotts. However Zambia’s problem is not political, it is a moral one and the only lasting solution is the gospel.
We are in a spiritual battle against worldly thinking and ideologies, and we achieve victory over them only with the weapon of Scripture. Paul says: "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). The moral bankruptcy in our country is an indictment on the church of Jesus Christ. While evil and darkness is raging where is the light of the gospel? Where is the light of Jesus shinning in Christians in our society?
John MacArthur is spot on when he says “we must reject all that is ungodly and false and never compromise God's standards of righteousness.We can do that in part by desiring the improvement of society's moral standards and by approving of measures that would conform government more toward righteousness. We do grieve over the rampant indecency, vulgarity, lack of courtesy and respect for others, deceitfulness, self-indulgent materialism, and violence that is corroding society. But in our efforts to support what is good and wholesome, reject what is evil and corrupt, and make a profoundly positive impact on our culture, we must use God's methods and maintain scriptural priorities.”
Trust in God

Guard your heart against despair and discouragement. God is not dead. He sits enthroned and He is in absolute control of all the affairs of the earth. Rulers come and again but God remains constant and His reign is from everlasting to everlasting. Why are you downcast? Trust in God. Hope in the living, all powerful, loving and all wise king or kings.