Friday, February 3, 2023

Reflections from Sickness

The last few months have been a season of health challenges for our family. All five of us have struggled with one thing or the other. Sickness comes with kinds of challenges and frustrations. It disrupts your life and wears you down. Then you get tired and frustrated with feeling lousy. However, sickness is a forced opportunity to press the pause button, step back from the routine of life and reflect on your life. Let me share a few points of reflection.

Our bodies are frail.

The human body is a complex organism. Its mechanism has been the source of study for centuries, yet this complex machine is frail. It is incredible how strong and energetic bodies can be rendered weak and powerless by a bout of sickness to the point of failing to stand and walk on their own. This frailty ultimately leads to our death as our breath eventually gives way.  It is this frailty that led Job to exclaim, “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble. He comes like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not.” (Job 14:1-2)

Sickness makes you appreciate health.

Ideally, we all should be grateful for good health, but unfortunately, we take it for granted and just assume that we will wake up and go about our day without a fuss. Because we presume good health, we are rarely grateful for it. Sickness, therefore, can knock us out of our comfort zone; it reminds us that sound health is not a guarantee. Something about being bedridden makes you thankful even for the slightest bit of good health. 

We are dependent and vulnerable beings.

The irony of human beings is our desire and attempt to be independent. In our pride, we even entertain the illusion of independence, but the reality is that we were created to be entirely dependent on God and interdependent on fellow people. God created us to be dependent, and God alone is the all-sufficient one, and in Him, we are made complete. He also created us as social beings. No wonder we are born into families and live within a community; even the church is designed to be a family, a community of believers living together. There is a blessedness to biblical dependence on God and the community. Sometimes, it takes sickness to remind you to appreciate the community.

Being weak and bedridden makes you vulnerable and in desperate need of help. Being needy is in the nature of imperfect, dependent beings. Granted, a person can be abused by other people, but the truth still stands that dependency and vulnerability are a part of the package of God’s creation of man. This vulnerability gives other people a chance to minister to you as they sympathise and empathise with your situation and show kindness to you. It is self-centeredness that will cause someone to abuse this blessing, and it is pride that will cause one to pretend and appear self-sufficient.

Psalm 103 has greatly encouraged my soul. Hear the words of David:

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.



Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Five things to Pursue in 2023


Dear Christian,

As you begin your journey into 2023, here are some practical resolutions for you to consider applying this year as you walk with the Lord and relate with others.

Pursuing people persistently

Loving others requires intentionality. Whether it is edifying believers, restoring the lost or evangelising the lost, resolve to pursue the people in your life passionately and persistently. They may look disinterested or unappreciative of your efforts but pursue them anyway. It helps you with accountability; consider writing down the names you will pursue and pray for them and over them.  

Reading regularly (use a reading plan)

If the Christian is to grow and progress in their walk with the Lord, reading is an absolute necessity. Christianity is the religion of the book. And those who grow in it, read! Consider following a reading plan for your bible reading and other Christian books. If you read four bible chapters a day, you will read the entire bible in a year. You could also consider reading one book a month that is, twelve books in a year. Ask other Christians for recommendations of books to read.

Hosting frequently (your home is for hospitality)

The home is a wonderful avenue for ministry to other people. Consider drafting a plan of how frequently you will host and whom you will host. Host a variety of people, families, couples, singles, young people, children, family, friends, neighbours, visitors at your church etc. Do not overthink or overdo it. It does not have to be a buffet. A simple meal, a cup of tea or coffee will do wonders. 

Restore broken relationships (life is too short)

It is very common for people to have unresolved conflicts with friends, family, churchmates or workmates etc. It is unhealthy and unhelpful for you to continue living in bitterness and hatred. If ever you need encouragement to restore broken relationships, remember Christians are called to love their enemies and seek their good!

Increasing your giving to God's work

Generous, cheerful and sacrificial giving should characterise Christians. Giving is an act of love and worship. As the Lord blesses you, consider increasing your giving to your local church. Give regularly and consistently. It is more blessed to give than to receive.

One problem with resolutions is that they are often vague and impractical. Consider these five practical points and encourage others as well. Onwards and upwards! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Members who tear down the body


Healthy churches are a powerful and attractive witness. In the last article, I described members who build up the body. Unfortunately, even in a healthy church, not every member pursues unity.

What kind of members wound our witness? What kind of members do not build up the body of Christ? Consider these four:

1. The member who loves to be an armchair critic.

These days, cynicism seems cool. In a world dominated by social media and self-expression, cynicism is easily mistaken for wisdom and enlightenment. In Christian circles, people build entire ministries on cynicism; their purpose is to tell you what’s wrong with everyone else. And in our self-deception, we manage to veil our critical spirits as wisdom.

Armchair critics are bent on finding fault with what others are doing while doing nothing themselves. They’re apathetic to things that are going on and are disappointed when you succeed. They’re quick to condemn and slow to commend. They falsely place themselves as judge, and you never hear them admit wrong. Cynics can never be pleased or satisfied.

More often than not, cynicism hides the wounds of bitterness and even hatred. This type of member can destroy the unity and joy of the church.

2. The member who never attends.

It’s amazing how many people are eager to be “members” of a local church without also being eager to faithfully attend. It’s far too common for churches to have vast discrepancies between the membership roll and actual attendance on Sunday. Most churches have far more members on paper than in reality.

The New Testament encourages believers to gather weekly to worship God and serve one another (1 Cor. 11; 16:2); it even warns believers about the dangers of non-attendance (Heb. 10:23–25). This invariably means that non-attending members are willfully disregarding the Lord’s command to fellowship with other believers and pursue discipling relationships. Granted, there are some valid reasons for not attending.

Non-attending members are an oxymoron. They don’t want to serve and use their gifts to edify other believers, and by not attending, they actually remove themselves from the platform where they can minister and be ministered to. Over time, they harm the unity and mission of the church.

3. The member with a divisive spirit.

Divisive people are often driven by a desire to be in charge. They want their opinions heard and implemented—with near total agreement from everyone else. Divisive people expect you to consult them about an issue, and if you don’t not consult them in particular, they rise and lash out.

The ironic thing about people with a divisive spirit is that they sometimes have a sincere concern for the church’s well-being.  Jamie Dunlop sums it up perfectly: “We rally support to get people to see things our way. Behaviour like that, no matter the virtue of the original concern, quickly causes factions and dissension within the church, something Paul lists alongside idolatry, witchcraft, and fits of rage (Gal. 5:20). We must address discontentment carefully because it so often bears the fruit of discord.”

4. The member who loves to meddle and gossip (a.k.a., the busybody).

Meddlers often gossip. They’re in the business of gathering information about people and their affairs with the purpose of sharing it with others. They have an inquisitiveness masked as care and concern when in actual fact, they simply cannot mind their own business.

Such people make healthy discipling relationships very difficult because you have to be guarded around them for fear of your issues being shared with someone else. Busy-bodies cause strife between saints and always find themselves in the middle of a conflict between others.


The armchair critic, the non-attending member, the divisive member, and the busybody. They all have a common thread: self-centeredness. They’ve missed the very essence of salvation; they’ve failed to love God and love people with every ounce of their being.

Furthermore, they forget that the church of God doesn’t exist for their comfort and happiness but for the glory of God. And in God’s design, that means loving people with diverse preferences and opinions—and yet still loving like Christ loved us.

What’s the result of this kind of love? A unity that displays the power, wisdom, and glory of God, a oneness that becomes a powerful witness to the world.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Members who build the body

            Every local church is comprised of a diverse group of people who have been radically transformed by the power of God through the person and work of Jesus Christ. These diverse people have no reason to live and work together, let alone care for each other—and yet, they choose to live in love and unity together, to the praise and glory of the Lord’s name.

Healthy local churches make a powerful and attractive testimony to a watching world. This means that every member has to be devoted to building others up.

1. The member who attends.

Attending is the most basic way members build each other up. It’s the most obvious way to show commitment to the body. There’s something encouraging about knowing a brother or sister is simply going to be present at a church service, and you are going to worship God together.

The writer of Hebrews tells the believers to “stir one another up to love and good deeds” and to “encourage one another.” How are they to do this? By “not forsaking the assembling of the believers” (Heb. 10:23–25). You cannot build others up if you’re not meeting with them regularly and faithfully. It’s no wonder that those regularly absent from the gathering often stagnate in their faith or become members who primarily grumble and complain.

Dear church member, church meetings are not about you or your convenience. Build others up by faithful attendance.

2. The member who encourages.

Consider Paul’s words about Tychicus in Colossians 4: “I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts” (Col. 4:8). Why does he send his friend? To encourage the Colossians. We should follow Paul’s model.

The encouraging member commends, recommends, praises, thanks, comforts, urges, supports, and compliments other members. We often think of encouraging as merely giving praise, like a spectator on the terraces. However, biblical encouragement is more than that; it’s a fellow teammate urging you to get to work.

Furthermore, encouragement is not mere flattery. It’s not just being nice or telling people what they want to hear. Rather, true encouragement is honest and sincere. It commends those who serve well, and it also urges those who are struggling in their walk with the Lord. Such a kind of member is a great blessing to the body. Strive to be one.

3. The member who confronts without indulging in gossip.

Churches are full of sinful people, which means church members sin against each other. This challenges the unity of the church, and it requires members to confront one another in love and gentleness.

The confronting member is the opposite of gossip and slanderer. They obey the charge of Scripture to confront and restore people who are living in sin (Matt. 18:15–18, Gal. 6:1–2). What motivates the confronting member is not just that someone’s sin has offended them but that the Lord is offended by sin—particularly sin that is unresolved and left to fester and grow (1 Cor. 5). The confronting member confronts out of love for God and love for other believers.

4. The member who prays.

I’ve always been struck by Samuel’s statement to David: “Far be it from me that I may sin against you by not praying for you” (1 Sam. 12:23).

We have a responsibility to pray for each other. The best church members are devoted to prayer. They’ve learned to depend on God, so they highly value praying to him. Typically, praying members to learn to talk less to people and more to God about people. They’re a church’s unsung heroes. If prayer drives the church, then the praying member is essential to the health and growth of the church.

5. The member who serves.

Attendance is necessary, but members should do more than just attend. They should serve. They should  “do the work of ministry” (Eph. 4:12). They use their gifts to serve God and other members, building up the church in the process.

Great encouragement comes from knowing you’re not the only one on the team. Great comfort comes from knowing you have teammates fighting with you and encouraging you as you go. People who can but don’t serve in the church tend to discourage the rest of the body.

6. The member who shows patience.

Patience is vitally important both for the individual believer and the congregation as a whole. After all, the Christian life isn’t a sprint but a marathon. Our walk with the Lord is a process, and we won’t noticeably grow overnight.

All this means we must learn to endure each other’s weaknesses and shortcomings. We must learn to forgive without grudges and disciple one another with all patience. A patient member graciously puts up with other people’s failures. They realise that no church is perfect—and as a result, they are joyfully patient. A church with patient members is a church where members confront one another, encourage one another, confess sin to one another, and forgive each other.

Dear church member, pursue these qualities in your life and encourage them in others. Pray for yourself and others. Pray that you will build up the church as faithful and patient members who attend, encourage, confront, pray, and serve. This builds up the church of Christ.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Ten Random Thoughts on Missions

In recent months, I have found myself engaged in several conversations about missions with a number of dear friends and some strangers who are doing remarkable work for the Lord all over the world. The conversations were provoking & heartwarming, and they challenged my thinking and attitude. My heart was encouraged to see what the Lord is doing throughout the world to draw many souls to himself. Some of the works will never be heard, but the results will be seen when God's people gather around the throne from every tongue, tribe and nation, worshipping the Lamb who is worthy! Let me share some random thoughts with you from these conversations. 

  1. Awareness about missions is not the same as action. It is possible to talk about the need for the gospel and to go and give, but that awareness must not be mistaken for action.
  2. We need more believers willing to count the cost to take the gospel to places in desperate need of the good news. An estimated 3 billion people in the world have never heard the gospel and live in the most unreached areas in the world.
  3. Christian families must be committed to praying and giving to the work of missions generously and regularly. To build a culture of missions in our churches, we must start in the home.
  4. Christians must be intentional about sharing the gospel with those around them. One cannot be committed to the gospel to far places if they do not have a lifestyle of sharing the gospel with those they live and work with.  
  5. Churches must send qualified and capable men to plant churches. Unqualified and incompetent leadership is dangerous and unhelpful to all involved.
  6. It's unwise to send someone to church plant cross-culturally when they have not gained or received some practical ministry training and exposure in their local context. To move someone straight from the classroom to cross-cultural church planting is potentially careless and dangerous for the person and the ministry. The potential damage is great. And while the wounds may heal, the scars will remain.
  7. Churches must have a clear strategy to take the gospel to the unreached people groups. We need to study, be on the lookout for new places developing, and be aware of where gospel preaching churches are most needed.
  8. Some missions curriculums and textbooks in bible schools need some revision. A lot of the places that were considered frontiers are now doing missions. Going into these places and serving effectively will require a change in mindset and approach.
  9. The west needs to know and learn from the church planting endeavours of churches in Africa. 
  10. The African churches need to learn from the good and bad of several years of mission effort from western churches. Our brothers and sisters have led and set an example for us. There is much we can learn and emulate; there is also a lot we should avoid and keep far from us.

Onwards and upwards, dear Christian, onwards and upwards!