Tortoise Or Giraffe Meat?

11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:

14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,

16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus…

21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;

22 And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:

23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.

24 And they glorified God in me. Gal. 1:11-24

The people amongst whom I live eat tortoises. Or at least they used to eat in former times, for the story I am about to narrate is of long bygone days. Tortoises, though, were eaten as a last resort, when there was no other meat available. The story goes that one day, a man was walking in the bush when he came across a large tortoise. He immediately caught it and put it on his head and headed home. As he walked along he met two men going in the opposite direction. The men asked him, “What is that you are carrying?”

“It’s a tortoise”, replied the man.

“Throw that away”, the men told him. “We just received news that a giraffe has been killed in the valley and you can go take as much as you need.”

The man quickly threw away the tortoise and headed to the valley with his two friends. There they found the dead giraffe and all the vllagers were taking away as much meat as they could.

In a related development… Two years ago, myself together with a team of five other pastors were travelling to a neighboring country to attend a conference. These were pastors who had recently ‘converted’ to the gospel of the cross, and they were eager to hear more about the cross.

A few hours into our journey, one of the men received a call. After the initial greetings, the conversation proceeded as follows:

The caller: “Where are you?”

The pastor: “I am on a bus.”

“What bus?”

“I am travelling to Nairobi.”

“What?! What are you going to do in Nairobi?”

“I am attending a conference.”

“What conference? You mean you will no longer be attending our classes?”

“Er, not exactly, but for the next few days I won’t.”

“If that’s the case, then we need you to hand back our books, how do we get them?”

“Unfortunately, you will have to wait until I come back”, said our man.

We were all seated on adjacent seats, so we all could hear our man’s side of the conversation. In any case, there are people (myself included) who, when on the phone, have an undefiable inclination to talk in a loud voice. The reason for this propensity to talk loudly on the phone is another story altogether which I shall reserve for later. And our man was talking as if he was in a shouting match.

After he had hung up, the pastor seated next to him asked him, “What was that about a class and books?”

“Oh, it’s a class on discipleship that I have been attending.”

“What discipleship?”

“Well, y’know, becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ.”

“Do you have those books with you here?”

“I have one”, replied the pastor.

“Let me see it.”

At which the pastor pulled out from his bag a medium-sized Christian manual.

Without even opening it, his fellow told him, “Throw that tortoise out the bus window. How can you still be carrying a tortoise when we are going to eat giraffe meat?”

Ever since that day, our team has fashioned many anecdotes based on the story of the tortoise and the giraffe.

But, on a more serious note, such a conversation can tell you immediately the man whose eyes have seen in the Spirit and one who has not; the man who has caught the revelation of the true gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the gospel of the cross, and one who has not. The one who has caught this revelation talks like the Apostle Paul:

“But we preach Christ crucified…” (1 Cor. 1:23); and

“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

The first thing that happens when a man or woman receives the revelation of the cross is that they think and talk differently, not just from the world, but from the charismatic gospel. The cross is always on their lips. They talk a language you cannot hear in the charismatic gospel.

In his epistles the Apostle Paul talks about the revelation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This revelation was the basis of what Paul preached. He preached “Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23); an assertion which, as we just saw, he repeats in 1 Corinthians 2:2.

But this revelation was not a burst of light nor some form of inspiration. On the contrary, it was a work of the Spirit in the inner man, as he tells us in Galatians 1 above:

“23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. 24 And they glorified God in me.”

As we see here with Paul, we live the gospel that we preach. Our lives transform and we change. In other words, we live the crucified life, where the old man in us is daily crucified to this world and the new, who is formed in the image of Jesus Christ, is daily formed in us, unto perfection. As the Bible says in Galatians 5:24:

And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”

These people heard about the transformation that had taken place in Paul’s life!

[Children playing in a village in central Tanzania]

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God’s Kingdom – In Us!

20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:

21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. Lk. 17:20-21

The inspiration for this post came from a conversation I had this morning with an elderly neighbour. I was out sweeping my front yard when my neighbour showed up and asked me, “Pastor, are you not going to church today?”

“No, madam, why?” I asked.

“Today is Good Friday!” she answered with surprise in her voice.

“Well”, I told her. “I know it is Good Friday all right but today I am not going to church.”

“Doesn’t your church hold a service on Good Friday”, she asked, clearly taken aback.

“No, we don’t”, I said simply.

“How come.”

This lady and I are very good friends, so I took the liberty to preach to her a proper Good Friday sermon. In as few words as I could, of course.

“Lady”, I said, “ever since Jesus came into this world, there is only one religious observance that we are called to and it is the purity of our hearts.”

Today, Good Friday, there will be so much activity going on in churches all over the world in honor of the crucifixion of Christ. I even know of people who will not be eating meat today as part of their religious observance. There is nothing wrong in all these things. The only thing we could fault them with is that the Kingdom of God is not found there.

The Apostle Paul preached one singular thing: the cross. Notice his words in 1 Corinthians 1:17:

“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.”

But I probably am getting ahead of myself… There is still much to talk about this religious observances.

When Jesus said, “Lo here! or, lo there!” He was referring to the entire spectrum of religious observances that people carry on with in church. And when it comes to religious observances in church in general, they are too many to mention here.

I remember one time, many years back, Pastor Amas and I had gone to a certain village to preach the gospel. In those days, unlike today when even in the most impassable routes there are motorcycle taxis, in those days much travelling into the villages had to be done on foot. So, on this particular occasion, after we had dropped off the bus, we had to walk for a full hour and a half to reach our destination.

As we were walking along the road we saw afar off a man approaching us. From afar we noticed he was wearing a suit and tie. Deep in the village! Even before we had got anywhere near him, I said, “That’s a pastor.” And true enough, when we finally met him, he was carrying a Bible. He was probably going to preach in the city.

Yes, wearing suits was once – and it still is in some circles – considered a religious duty, just as wearing a gown and crucifix is considered a fulfilment of some religious role in some denominations. There are churches where one cannot preach without wearing a suit and tie.

The list of Christian religious duties and observances, as I just said, is too long to write down here. People are looking for God in every nook and cranny. There are some who are looking for Him in form. Many more are looking for Him in miracles and signs and wonders. But the Kingdom of God is not found in these things. Jesus told us exactly where the Kingdom of God is to be found:

“…behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”

What did Jesus mean by these words?

He meant that the Kingdom of God is the life that we live. We as the church should be very careful that we do not get carried away by all the “star-spangled” (to borrow a phrase) shows and goings-on that men can put out in the natural. Nor even in signs and wonders. Instead, our sole duty is look deep into our hearts and to make sure there is a work going on there – the work of the cross! The Apostle Paul said,

“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

To which he added,

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.”

Are we crucified to the world and is the world crucified to us? Have we become new creatures, not in name, but in truth and fact? Do we live transformed lives?

These are the central questions that we need to ask ourselves, not whether we can do a little gardening on a Sunday afternoon or not.

[Water geese at the Musoma pier]

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The Gospel – A Responsibility (Part 2)

And the children of the Levites bare the ark of God upon their shoulders with the staves thereon, as Moses commanded according to the word of the LORD. 1 Chr. 15:15

In his epistles in New Testament, the Apostle Paul brings the light of the gospel to bear upon this saga between God and David. In 1 Corinthians 1 verses 17-18, Paul writes:
“17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”
And, in chapter 2 verses 1-5 he writes:
“1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”

Both these scriptures indicate that the gospel of Jesus Christ is to be carried in the lives of men. It is to be demonstrated in the lives of men, not in fabulous teachings and programs of men. In other words, we bear a tangible responsibility in carrying the life of God in us. God does not dwell in men’s teachings, ability, plans, or even traditions, however wonderful. Nor does God dwell in our beautiful songs and dance. These are today’s “new carts”. These are the things that Paul talks of when he talks of
“excellency of speech or of wisdom” and “enticing words of man’s wisdom”.
But, on the contrary, God dwells in the hearts of men when their lives have been crucified. The Bible tells us that. You cannot come up with a new program for God. God always depended, and He still depends on His original program: crucify the flesh!
Hence, the significance of the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross it is that comes to build an abode in our lives for God to dwell in. It crucifies the old man of the flesh and allows the character of Christ to be built in us. Actually, the gospel is all about character – the character of Christ in us. This is the significance of this account of David and God.
Today, we have men who are serving God. The manner that they are going about serving God is what concerns God most. God wants men to serve Him with their lives, not with their wonderful teachings and theologies. If you are not willing to give your life, you will only bring death to those you minister to.
It is for this reason that the Apostle John writes in 1 Jn. 3:18:
“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”
He is talking about serving God with our lives, not with our teachings or our programs.
And when the Apostle Paul says:
“And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power”;
he is giving an account of how he served God with his life. Paul’s life among the Corinthians is laid out here: it was
“in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.”
You don’t find that in many men of God today. Today, many men of God will demand this and that. I recently heard of one who would not sleep in a hotel room that does not have air conditioning. I don’t see much weakness, fear or trembling there. Just someone who wants to be treated super-special.
But you can read a lot about how Paul demonstrated the character of Christ in his life in 1 Thessalonians chapters 1 through 3.
Where is the responsibility of the cross in God’s people’s lives today? When David put God’s ark on a new cart, where were the priests and Levites? Where was Israel’s responsibility? God punished David and the entire nation of Israel when they thought to carry His ark on a “new cart”.
In the same manner, God will punish the church for thinking to carry the gospel through teachings alone. Teachings and programs, however “anointed”, will only bring death to God’s people if their carriers have not crucified their flesh with Christ. Today, there are all kinds of wonderful teachings going on in church. But God is looking for the crucified life.
I hear there are even so-called new age teachings… “God will take you into a new dimension”, etc.
Look, there are no “new dimensions”! The gospel has only one dimension: Jesus said if any man would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me. It is only when we carry the gospel of Jesus Christ in the right manner by denying ourselves that we can please God and bring Him into people’s lives.

Bigger Seed, Bigger Fruit!

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 2 Cor. 9:6

It is hard not to contextualize this scripture. In the charismatic gospel that I grew up in during my early years of salvation, this scripture was automatically interpreted in shillings or dollars – or material things. Give more and you shall receive more. 2 Corinthians 9:6 fits the money lovers’ agenda like a glove. It is a prized favorite with them.

But the Apostle Paul, who is the writer of this scripture, was not a money lover. Paul was a man of the Spirit. He could hardly have been smitten with the dollar sign. So, why would he write such words?

As I said in a recent post, I raise chickens for a living and, through this enterprise, I have learned many valuable lessons. Simple lessons in the natural, but profound in the Spirit. I have learned, for example, that an egg will hatch a chick that is equivalent to itself in size. The bigger the egg, the bigger the chick that will be hatched from it and, once fully grown, the bigger the chicken that chick will eventually become. Likewise, the smaller the egg, the smaller the chicken it will produce.

In other words, the bigger the seed, the bigger the fruit!

In like manner, Paul is saying here that we shall reap a harvest equal to the seed we have sown. But Paul is talking in the Spirit, not in the flesh. He is saying, therefore, that in the same measure that we sow in the Spirit, we shall reap in like measure in the Spirit.

How do we sow in the Spirit? We sow in the Spirit by dying to the flesh; by denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Christ. You can argue your way to the farthest galaxy and back but that principle remains unmovable. It will only be done away with when Jesus comes back to end this present world.

What does it mean to deny ourselves? Denying ourselves in the Spirit means finding joy in the things of the Spirit rather than in the things of the flesh. It means casting away the things that would profit our flesh – the “me” attitude – and looking beyond self to the will of God. God’s will includes looking outward to the interests of others rather than inward, to our own interests. And this attitude must of necessity come with joy and a free will. That is why, in the following verse Paul states:

“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (v. 7)

The word “cheerful” here talks of joy in the Spirit; and this joy can only come about when we have denied the flesh.

The more we sow our lives by denying ourselves, the more we will become profitable to God and to others in the Spirit – and the more we will add to our spiritual and heavenly account. As we give of our lives more and more, we create a tornado-like effect of profit – for God, for the brethren, for unbelievers even, and for ourselves. This is exactly what Paul says in the subsequent verses:

“8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: 9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. 10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) 11 Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. 12 For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; 13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; 14 And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” (vs. 8-15)

Let us now consider the reaping part. Notice, in verse 10, that it is “the fruits of your righteousness” that God is looking to. What is that talking of? It is referring to the fruit of the Spirit. The more we give of ourselves in the Spirit, the more the fruit of the Spirit will increase in our lives. Peace, joy, thanksgiving and such-like things will be found in greater measure in our lives as we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Christ.

Wherever the idea came from that this scripture refers to us prospering in the natural? God is not looking to us to prosper in the natural. Whether we prosper in the natural or not is nothing with Him. Increasing “the fruits of your righteousness” is what truly concerns God, and whatever it takes to arrive at that goal should be our concern also.

The greater our giving through dying to self, the greater the joy and thanksgiving to God we create in the Spirit. And these are the activities that please God.

The sowing/reaping principle is all-encompassing. It involves our ministry also. We will become effective in ministry to the extent that we die to self. The Apostle Paul says:

“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (1 Cor. 15:10)

Is God a respecter of persons? Hardly. God’s grace is there for all of us to acquire. But there was an increase of grace in Paul’s life for him to become more effective in God’s labor fields to the extent that he received that grace “not in vain”. How did Paul receive God’s grace “not in vain”? Paul received God’s grace not in vain by sowing his life. He shut his eyes and presented his flesh as a living sacrifice to God. In that regard, the grace of God worked more in him.

That is why we need to not look to the flesh if we are to bear much fruit in the Spirit; fruit that will abound far beyond our personal frontiers even to God, and to others, both saved and unsaved.

[Below: “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work”]

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Looking to Others’ Gain

Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. Phil. 4:17
If you gave me a gift or came to my help in any way, I would feel extremely thankful to you. The reason for me being grateful is because you would have gotten me out of a jam. In other words, I would be thankful for me.
But, clearly, it was not so with the Apostle Paul. When the Philippians came to Paul’s financial and material need, he thanked them. But he thanked them, not for his sake, but for their sake. He had already stated:
“11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (vs. 11-13)
The Apostle Paul was a true servant of God. He looked not to his own profit, but to the profit of others. He looked to the profit of those whom God had placed him over. And, even more importantly, he looked to their spiritual profit, rather than their material profit.
“Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.”
The “account” Paul is talking of here is the heavenly account, not an earthly one.
Most high-profile preachers today are looking to their own profit – material and financial. I have heard of preachers whose congregations have “rewarded” them with Rolls Royces, multi-million dollar mansions and even private jets. The reason these preachers grab at these “gifts” is because possessing them justifies the gospel that they preach – the prosperity gospel. They have, of necessity, to provide the prime example of the gospel that they preach through their lavish lifestyles.
How so noble of them!
In like manner, Paul also became the paramount model for the gospel he preached. But, praise God, Paul’s gospel was not the prosperity gospel. On the contrary, it was the gospel of the cross of Jesus Christ. His was a gospel that required total denial of self.
Total denial of self… This reality tops the list, of all time, of things that are easier said than done, by any man anywhere on earth. The fact that Paul could deny himself to the extent of not wanting to receive things from his flock for his own gain speaks volumes about his spiritual character. That is not what a natural man would do.
But, even more astounding is the fact that he saw and desired for the Philippians far into the Spirit, that their fruit might abound in the Spirit on account of what they did in the natural.
“Not because I desire a gift…”
How so telling of the character of a true man of God! But, even more significantly so,
“… but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.”
Where are such men of God? Even amongst we who have shunned the false gospels of worldly men, where are the men and women who can run such a distance in the Spirit? Whom among us can deny themselves to such an extent? Where is such love to be found?
Paul’s words are rare indeed in this present world, and they present us with a challenge – a challenge to know and to walk in the true revelation of the cross of Jesus Christ.
Then, the church will have a reason to praise and thank God for the rare gift that such men and women are to the church.

CTMI East Africa Youth Camp 2016

This year’s youth camp was held in Tanzania, in the town of Musoma, which is situated on the shores of Lake Victoria. The campsite was located in a resort situated at the extreme end of the Musoma peninsula.

The camp ran for five days, from the evening of 13th to the morning of Sunday, 18th December. More than 700 young people attended the camp. They came from all over East Africa; but we also had delegates from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mauritius and the UK.

The key speaker for the conference was Pastor Lenny Boy from Mauritius. His central message was two-fold:

  • a love for the cross, and;
  • becoming bearers of the spiritual inheritance.

Reading from the Book of Numbers chapter 21 verses 4 to 9, Pastor Lenny emphasized the danger of turning our backs on the cross especially in this rebellious generation.

“4 And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. 5 And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. 6 And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. 7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. 9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.”

East or west, north or south, our only hope of redemption is in the cross. The children of Israel had began to cultivate a love of (or, a return to) the world. They murmured against the way that God was taking them through. They did not like the long and difficult road one little bit, so they complained. Above all, and most displeasing to God, they “loatheth this light bread.”

But that “light bread” was Christ Himself! It had been given to them by God Himself, direct from heaven. But in their souls, they loathed this bread. In essence, they loathed Christ. They did not love the ways of the Lord. They wanted the bread and water of this world. God was deeply displeased with them, for they wanted their ways – the ways of this world – rather than the ways of the Lord.

In His anger, God brought fiery serpents in their midst, and many, many people died. When the people cried out to God, He gave them an antidote for the snakes’ poison; He instructed Moses to make a brass snake, and to set it up on a pole in the desert. Whoever got bitten and looked at the snake would live.

Brother Lenny told us that, in this adulterous generation, we are not to loathe the Christ who has been revealed to us, who is the crucified Christ. Our souls should not loathe the ways of the Lord. We should not tire of the cross. When we tire of the cross, sin quickly bites us.

But God is still merciful, and He has put a brass snake in the desert. When sin bites us, we can still turn to the cross and there find salvation and redemption when we repent and turn again to the Lord.

If we want to live in this rebellious and adulterous generation, we have nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. East or west, our only hope of redemption is in the crucified Christ. If we fail to accept the ways of the Lord we shall die.

During the second part of this conference, Pastor Lenny also spoke of the need for the youth to desire to inherit the positions that the elders are leaving behind; not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. Lenny spoke about “passing the baton”, referring to the 4×4 relay race. He spoke about the readiness and anticipation that the one who is receiving the baton has to have.

The youth, he said, need to have that same readiness in the Spirit. It is a preaparedness of the spirit. When the youth are thus prepared in their spirits, the elders can walk away into the twilight of their lives in the firm assurance that the gospel will continue to abound and prosper.

The real enemy against this preparedness is a love for the world. Pastor Lenny spoke about how today’s youth are keen on the ways of this world. They are extremely tech-savvy. They boast in how easily they can master every new technological app!

But God does not want us to be carried away by these things. He wants us to know His ways, which are the ways of the cross. To have a readiness in our hearts to suffer with Christ, and to be a light unto the world. That is the only way the youth can be prepared to take the baton from their elders.

The meetings were extremely charged with the power of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, on the last day, Sunday, there was a special session of prayer for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Hundreds of young people came forward and got baptized in the Holy Spirit.

On that same Sunday, immediately after the morning service, there was a water baptism for those who had not yet been baptized. After all, we were right by the lake and there was much water!

Many young people came forward to be baptized, and there was much rejoicing.

And with that note, the camp came to a powerful ending. There was joy all around. But of even more importance, there were new resolutions made, new hope imparted and a true revival in the Spirit in the hearts of the young people.

God bless Pastor Lenny, God bless Pastor Stephen, God bless all the elders, God bless the youth!

[Below: The camp meeting in pictures]

Many traveled to the camp by bus:

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Lenny preaching the gospel:

God was at work in many young people’s hearts:

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A section of the large tent meeting:

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In the afternoons, it was time for games and recreation. Here, the young people prepare to go out to play…

… with the elders close in tow:

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In the playing fields, there was a wide variety of games:

In the meantime, the elders took time off to relax:

The scenic landscape of the Musoma peninsula…

… and a lovely sunset:

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The beautiful cottages of the Matvilla Beach Resort, where the camp was held:

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On Saturday evening, Brother Lenny made a special prayer for the sisters from Malawi:

And Pastor Stephen ministered briefly:

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The brethren who attended from Mauritius and the UK:

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The IT crew:

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The youth receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit!:

Scores of youth were also baptized in the waters of Lake Victoria:

And Bishop Elly Mpule was there to witness the occassion:

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Joe and I in a photo-op with Lenny:

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And, finally, the team from Singida…

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… who brought along some very original photo-shooting styles:

Carriers of God’s Plan and Purpose

11 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree.

12 Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it. Jer. 1:11-12

In this scripture, the rod of almond tree stands for chastisement. In other words, God was telling Jeremiah, “I will chastise you.”

The rod stands for chastisement.

But it is God’s last words to Jeremiah that are of interest to us here. God tells Jeremiah,

“Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.”

In other words, God was telling Jeremiah, “I will chasten you all right. But it is not the chastening that I will be considering, It is not the pain that you will experience that is of importance to me. What is important to me is my purpose.”

God’s purpose and plan supersedes our lives, much less our comfort, or our comfortable lifestyle. The Psalmist said,

“Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights.” (Ps. 119:143)

We are mere vessels – albeit living ones – in the house of the Lord. Vessels are made by men. In the same manner, God moulds and shapes us to fit his purpose and plan. It is the height of presumption for a man to think that he knows the ways of God. But God has His ways, which He desires to teach us.

To carry God’s purpose in our hearts, the flesh in us must be crucified. We must die to our ways of sin. That is why if someone desires to carry God’s plan and purpose in his life, he must be willing to suffer much. God told Ananias concerning Paul,

“15 Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15-16)

In our human weakness, we are very concerned with our suffering. When God started dealing with Saul (who would later be called Paul), Saul “kicked against the pricks” (Acts 9:5).

But a time came when Paul lived only for God’s purpose and plan. Then, he realized the wisdom in God’s chastisement of him. He writes:

“9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Cor. 12:9-10)

Paul gave himself completely to be destructed for God’s plan and purpose to be fulfilled in his life.

The Bible also says of our Lord Jesus Christ:

8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; 10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec” (Heb. 5:8-10).

We will never amount to much in the Spirit if we are not willing to be chastised by the Lord. The Lord has only one instrument to shape us with: the rod, the cross. If we are to become true vessels in the house of the Lord, if we are to accomplish anything in the Kingdom of God, we must stop moaning and complaining when God applies the rod to us. We must see in the Spirit and see God’s hand of chastisement upon us, moulding and shaping us to fit His plan and purpose.

For, ultimately, our lives are of no value if they are not fitted into God’s divine plan and purpose.

At the end of the day, we are carriers of God’s plan and purpose. It is only be God’s grace that God esteems us so much higher than the donkey that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on.

[The MV Sengerema, one of two ferries that ply the Mwanza-Sengerema channel on Lake Victoria. Nowadays, these ferries operate 24/7]

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