Love Believes All Things!

(Love)… believeth all things… 1 Cor. 13:7

One of the most incredibly precious people that God has placed in my life is a young man by the name Elinty Ibrahim. Recently when I was in Dar es Salaam, this brother came to visit me in my house, and we spent the better part of the evening reminiscing about the first few days when our paths first crossed.

In the course of our conversation, this young friend said something that opened my eyes to see a very astonishing aspect about our God. What God revealed to me through Elinty’s words astounded me beyond belief. It is incredible how we can be saved for decades and somehow think we know God and then one day the Lord opens our eyes to see something so ‘basic’ about Him which we had no idea about! That was exactly what the Lord did with me. Elinty (or ‘Ibra’, as he is popularly known) said something that opened my eyes to see something that had been under my nose all along, but which I had never seen clearly in my spirit.

But before I continue let me first provide a background of sorts…

Three years ago we at CTMI began publishing Brother Miki Hardy’s teachings about the cross and the grace of God in a local Christian weekly called ‘Msemakweli’. Soon after people began reading our articles, a young man in Dar es Salaam called me on the phone and asked to see me. We met at a busy intersection in the city and we just stood there with the traffic swirling about us and I opened my mouth and started sharing the gospel of the cross right there with him. Our meeting was so powerful that none of us contemplated the thought of moving even an inch from where we were standing. I could feel the presence of God all around us.

The young man’s name was Elinty Ibrahim, and he was an undergraduate student at a local university. He was also a member of one of the biggest charismatic churches in the city. Soon after we met, however, he began attending our church services and hearing the gospel of the cross. But his experience was akin to that of a drug addict who is trying to kick the habit. He had been raised on a constant diet of high-powered charismatic teachings (his room was filled with Christian books and publications); and although he now could see something in the gospel of the cross, still he struggled to accommodate it in his heart.

He struggled so much that on more than one occassion he walked up to me after service and told me he would not be coming to our church again. But I loved ‘Ibra’ dearly and I could not bear the thought of losing him. I knew since the day he called me that he had grasped something of the precious treasure to be found in the gospel of the cross.

Throughout this very shaky period of our relationship somehow the Lord gave me grace and I clung to Ibra in every way possible. Sometimes he would claim he did not have bus fare to attend the next service; I would make sure he got the bus fare. Other times I organized for teams of young people to go visit him at the single rented room he was living in. He was my prized possession and I had no intention of losing him.

Today, thankfully, all that is history. The Lord proved faithful and and Ibra finally saw things clearly, and when he did, it was full steam ahead! Today Ibra has grown in his perception of the gospel and he has become one of the most dependable young people in the church. This was demonstrated to me recently when I was in Dar es Salaam and I learned that the local church board had selected him to represent the youth in the upcoming East African regional CTMI youth conference to be held in Mugumu, in the Serengeti. He has become an indispensable part of the church.

I have written all this as a background to what I intend to write in this post, because it is so important…

On this day that he came to visit me Ibra said, “During the days when I was struggling with the gospel what I remember above everything else is your trust in me. You believed in me completely. It was like you could see something in me which I could not see. I had never seen anyone put so much trust in me, and because of that I purposed in my heart that I would not let you down! I know you are not aware of it, but that was the reason I held on.”

Now, my readers must understand that this post is not a PR stunt on my part, nor am I trying to raise my popularity ratings. Actually, I had never even considered the issue in the light that Ibra saw it. I cannot recall ever “believing” in anyone to the extent that Ibra spoke of; I probably did things very much out of a formal routine!

But it was what God revealed to me through Ibra’s words that truly knocked me over. The thought came, ‘If old, rotten me can believe in someone, how much more does God believe in us?’ I had never seen it this way, but on this day I saw it clearly: God believes in us. But I also saw something else. I saw that God does not believe in us the way we believe in people. On the contrary, God believes in us the way a child would believe – with absolute trust. In other words, God has child-like faith in us. And the really awesome thing about it is not that God is stupid, no; but God has faith.

The more we get to know God the more God surprises us – by His simplicity.

In 1 Corinthians 13:7 the Bible says that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. What an absolutely incredible scripture! What incredible strength this love has! Here I can actually see God believing in us fully despite our weaknesses and our failures.

Did you ever realize how difficult it is to believe in people? In fact, the more ‘enlightened’ and the ‘stronger’ we become, the less inclined we are to trust others!! We get to know their weaknesses and their failings, and our trust in them sort of begins to fade away. That is how weak the flesh is. In our human strength we are the weakest of men!

But God is nowhere close to that scenario. Though infinitely much more knowledgeable and stronger than we, yet God comes down to our level, He even gets beneath us and favors us with this incredible trust which we do not even come close to deserving.

And even after He comes to check on us and finds we have blown our chances, He does not say, “How stupid can you get?!”

Instead He says, “Don’t worry, I will clean up the mess. Let’s try this once more.” And He will do that a million more times, as long as we keep out hearts open.

This is grace! This is spiritual maturity. This is love. And that’s who God is because God is love.

I would give anything to be able to have the simplicity – the grace – of God in me. That’s true liberty, that’s true strength. The truly strong man is the man who can believe in all things, as God does, even the weak things.

No wonder the Apostle Paul would preach no other gospel than the gospel of the cross (1 Cor. 2:2). For it is at the cross that such grace can be found. At the cross we learn to put off our body of the flesh, the single stumbling block to living the God kind of life. At the cross we get to know Christ more – the crucified Christ. That is how we get closer to true freedom and true spiritual victory.

[Below: I am proud that Ibra (to the right) is a part of our family]

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Hurray For The Gospel!!

On the same day that I visited Cucu S.D., I also visited one of the pastors who have recently joined CTMI. About 2 years ago Pastor Eldad, upon hearing the gospel of the cross, realized the futility of the flamboyant but ineffecual charismatic gospel that he was preaching.
The Lord miraculously opened his eyes to see the revelation of the cross, and today he is one of the keenest preachers of the gospel of the cross in Musoma Town. His church, without losing a single person, hungrily embraced the gospel. Actually, that’s putting it mildly; that church’s response to the gospel could be best described as a revolution. (You couldn’t blame them, they had been battered almost to death by the false gospel of prosperity that the pastor and their denomination had been pounding them with for years!)
Behind every successful man, though, there is a woman. (That’s why the Bible says that a bishop must be the husband of one wife; in other words, a bishop must be a married man. But that’s another topic, for another day.)
Eldad’s wife has a heart of exquisite beauty – and that’s for fear of overstating it. Hers is another compelling story which we might find time to share in the future.
[Below: Eric (in red shirt), one of our local pastors, was he who took me around on his motor-bike]

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Slaves… Of God Or Of Men?

My church denomination, Zion Gospel Assembly, is affiliated with a ministry called Church Team Ministries International (www.ctmiword.com). CTMI is a ministry located in the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, off the East African coast.

The head of this ministry is Brother Miki Hardy. It is through this ministry that we in our humble church happened to hear the gospel of the cross many years ago. I thank God exceedingly that He enabled us to open our hearts and to receive this gospel. Since then, this gospel has continued to become a revelation in our hearts, and increasingly we see that the plan of God for His church is for the born-again believer to die to sin through identifying our lives with the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Hence, the gospel of the cross: “We preach Christ and Him crucified”.

Recently, I was talking to one of my church members here in Singida about CTMI. Being new to the gospel of the cross, the brother does not know much about CTMI, so now and then I keep filling him in on its details and workings. On this particular day, as I was talking I mentioned that CTMI, unlike other ministries, does not give financial support to the pastors who work with them.

CTMI does support its affiliate pastors and churches in many ways, including giving specific financial support where necessary, but I was telling him about how it does not, as a ministry, give its affiliate pastors a monthly stipend or something of the sort as a way of ‘working’ with them or as an incentive for them to stay in the ministry. Nor does it conform to the ministerial norm of the rich giving to the poor.

“Actually”, I said, “CTMI quite often asks us for contributions for the various ministry needs it has.”

“Well”, the brother said after a long pause, “Miki has raised you well.”

I was stunned. I had never looked at this issue in that light. I had never thought of it as being “raised”. True, it is not easy for a poor Third World pastor to work with a ‘Western’ ministry that does not give out money. But I had simply considered it a necessary part of the gospel we have been called upon to live, no more. Certainly not in the light this brother has seen it.

Now this brother says, “Miki has raised you well”! In an instant I saw the depth of revelation that this brother had received. He should have been my pastor, not I his! I was truly humbled – and grateful to God that He has given me such a man to be by my side.

It is no secret that the money bug has bitten and harmed the church, and in more ways than one. Many African preachers I know of are not free to serve God in total freedom because in one way or another they are into unhealthy financial relationships with Western ministries. In many cases it becomes a case of he who holds the purse-strings has the gospel, something which is totally unscriptural.

That is why there is a problem within our churches here in Africa: you find in many churches the board of eldership is composed of the rich and well-to-do. The poor are simply ignored.

The church has failed to take note of the fact that money is the god of this world, and that it would be inconceivable for Satan not to attempt to use it to undermine the church of Jesus Christ. Having thus slept on the job, the church has allowed Satan to create complex relationships where the receiver becomes no longer a servant of Jesus Christ, but of men.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with giving and receiving. The Apostle Paul in exhorting the Corinthian church to give to the poor saints in Jerusalem writes:

7 Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also… 13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: 14 But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality”. 2 Cor. 8:7-14

And John the Baptist defined the gospel in this manner: “He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.” Lk. 3:11

Giving is the heart of the gospel.

But money is a veritable breeding ground for evil motives. And today it is not a matter of there being bits and pieces of evidence regarding this. In many of the environments where the gospel should have sounded out with much power, there is hardly so much as a squeak! Unhealthy relationships have been built between the giver and the receiver, and the power of the gospel has been stymied.

But God can only work in an environment of true freedom.

When poor pastors begin expecting gifts and stipends from their rich Western brethren without the revelation of the cross in their hearts, it is the beginning of the end for the gospel to shine in their lives. They are no longer free. Whatever deposit of the gospel that God had put in their hearts is held at ransom by the unscriptural attitude of both the giver and the receiver.

We need to be free in giving as well as in receiving.

I remember many years ago I was in Musoma and an American preacher was coming to preach in town. All the church leaders quickly gathered together and drew up a budget which in my naiveté I thought we would be contributing to. But, alas! the entire budget was for the American preacher to meet. It ran into a few million shillings, and within the budget there were pastors’ and even ‘prayer warriors’’ daily allowances!

When the American preacher arrived, a kilometre-long convoy went out to meet him some miles outside of town. That was almost the entire church leadership in Musoma. Not knowing any better, I was there too. Of course, it is good to welcome a visitor in every good way possible, but it is the motive that was all wrong here.

We escorted him into town with dance and song, and that very evening we began to ‘eat’ his money.

I am glad I am working under CTMI and I am daily learning to be free to serve God, and not men. You realize, of course, the context in which I am using the phrase “not men” here. There is a sense in which we serve men and not God, and that is not good.

Certainly a death is required there and I will gladly partake of it. I will do it as much for my own sake as for my friend’s sake, the brother whom God has given to be such an encouragement to me here in Singida.

[Below: Brother Miki and his wife, Audrey]

Miki & Audrey

The Revelation Of The Cross

There is something that we all as believers can safely agree on: that God wants us to grow spiritually; that He does not want us to remain babies forever. And in order for us to grow spiritually, we will need to feed on a proper diet. That means we will need to hear the right doctrine or teaching.

There are some congregations which are based on praise and worship, which is not a bad idea, except that the prescription for spiritual growth is in a teaching – a teaching of the right doctrine. Jesus spent much of His time in ministry teaching proper doctrine; so did the early apostles. The Apostle Paul says that “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Cor. 1:21). When you read verse 25, you realize that the ‘foolishness’ he is talking of here is actually God’s wisdom. Foolishness to the carnal man, but wisdom and power to the spiritual.

And what, pray, is this right teaching that the Church needs to hear? When you look carefully at the teachings of Jesus, you notice that they are not so soft, after all. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus provides the Church with a blueprint for the kind of lifestyle it ought to live. It is a tough calling. When you realize what is expected of the Church, you also acknowledge that it can only be achieved through the power of the Holy Spirit.

And in Matthew 10:34-39 He says, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”

Jesus called Peter “Satan”. He called another lady a dog! You try that kind of ‘teaching’ with any of today’s rights-conscious Christians and you will end up in jail. Literally.

It is obvious that the charismatic gospel that the Church has been fed on for the last 2 decades or so cannot provide us with spiritual growth. It simply does not have the ingredients for bringing the Church to spiritual maturity. On the contrary, today God’s people are being taught to look out for No.1 (self); others are taught to live in self-pity.

The gospel that Jesus and the apostles preached is not a gospel you are likely to hear in our age, and for that reason the Church remains immature: it is fighting, envious and engaged in every kind of stuff that does not please God.

We need to hear the right gospel that will make us to rise and fight the good fight with joy and assurance of victory in our hearts.

In two instances in the Bible (1 Corinthians chapter 3 and Hebrews 5) we see Paul rebuking the churches for failing to grow spiritually. On both occasions, he says the reason for this lack of growth in their spiritual lives is because they have not been able to eat ‘strong meat’, instead loving to partake of only milk.

Mother’s milk is wholesome; but it will never bring baby to mature. Baby needs to reach a place where he can eat tough food!

The ‘strong meat’ that Paul is speaking of here is the gospel of the Cross. That is the revelation that he received from Jesus Christ; and that is why in all his teachings Paul echoes the words that Jesus spoke in the Gospels. Inherent in all of Paul’s teachings is a thread that never breaks: the importance of the Cross in a believer’s life in crucifying their flesh.

But it is equally true that the Church needs a revelation in the spirit to understand Paul’s doctrine concerning the Cross.

This is the gospel that Jesus had kept hidden throughout the ages, the gospel that He purposed would be preached to every creature to “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Col.1:28). The preaching of this ‘tough’ gospel does not make us to question whether God loves us or not. A child who questions their parents’ love for them must have psychological problems on the side! We have no doubt that God loves us. But here, it is about growing up, becoming mature in our spirits. Which means we should not doubt God’s ways.

I am well aware that when you begin mentioning names in such a forum as this people are likely to think you are advancing cultic teachings. However, personally I am grateful for Brother Miki Hardy and the many elders of CTMI for the revelation that God has placed in their hearts for the restoration of the Church.

I would encourage anyone who reads this blog to check out CTMI’s website (www.ctmiworld.com) to see for themselves whether there is not something new and challenging for the Church.

I wish you all a lovely weekend.

The Neglected Narrow Road

Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. 2Co 11:1-4

The Apostle Paul was addressing the Church here. He tells us that it is possible to have another Jesus, another spirit and another gospel preached to us. in other words, not everything that comes under the name of Jesus is of God.

We live in an age of brazenly false doctrines.

There’s only one way to heaven. That is the way of the Cross, the narrow road that Jesus spoke about. It is a road where the flesh is dying daily. When people do not want to take that road they will look for another, simpler – a short-cut – to heaven. That means a ‘gospel’ will be preached, but it is not the true gospel. It is a gospel of the flesh.

That is what we see in today’s church. The flesh is not being confronted. On the contrary, it is being promoted. There are ‘other’ gospels being preached. Chief among these is the gospel of prosperity; prosperity in worldly, material terms. Every preacher makes as if he wants to take the road of the Cross; but then he suddenly takes a detour and makes sure to say he believes in ‘prosperity’! What a contradiction!

That is not the only false gospel being promoted today. Even a mundane topic like healing turns carnal all of a sudden. The ministry of healing has been turned into a billion-dollar business! In our country, if your church does not have the word ‘Miracle’, ‘Deliverance’ or ‘Healing’ appended to it, nobody is interested in such a church.

The Church must turn back and embrace the Cross. The Church must be willing to pay the price to become the true Bride of Jesus Christ.

I thank God so much for the ministry of CTMI, where the gospel of the revelation of the Cross of Christ is being preached. Here, one learns that they have only one option in their Christian life: to lose their lives. Hallelujah! That is tough – but has sweet fruits, which is the changing of our character to be more and more like Jesus.

A Vision of the Church – Part 2

There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid. Pro 30:18-19

You would think that the most profound statements would come from a man like the Apostle Paul; but here we see this barely-known Biblical character, Agur the son of Jakeh, catching a glimpse of something “too wonderful” but which, alas! was hidden from him. He says of it, “…which I know not”. Probably, when he says “I know not”, it is not that he does not know the thing he is talking about; more likely it is that he is overwhelmed by the wonder of what he sees in the spirit.

Whatever the case may be, I want us to briefly consider two things in these scriptures. The first thing to consider is that Agur here is talking about the Church. Yes, God granted this man the wisdom to see into the mystery that God had kept hidden since the beginning of the ages.

What tells us that Agur is talking about the Church is the deeply spiritual description he gives to the things he saw in the spirit. Did you know there is a spiritual language just as there are natural languages? In these scriptures Agur is speaking in some of the most profound spiritual terms you are ever likely to find in the Bible. And what is he saying? What is he telling us about the Church? He is saying, simply, that the ways of the Church are inscrutable to man. Man in his natural state cannot know the ways of the Church. That is what Agur is talking about here. “A serpent upon a rock”. The movement of a serpent upon a rock is pure magic. Agur the son of Jakeh is saying that you cannot try to tell the movement, or operation of the Church by looking, or feeling, or seeing – or through any human or worldly faculty. The Kingdom of God has nothing to do with the natural.

Jesus echoed these same words in John 3:8 when He told Nicodemus: The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

In today’s world, human wisdom has increased and we tend to want to grasp spiritual things by our intellect, logic, etc. We are pragmatists. We want things we can understand, and probably touch and see. But the spiritual kingdom we are called to has nothing to do with any of the above.

When our church first came into contact with the five-fold ministry through CTMI we were casting out demons out of people – church members – in every service. The CTMI ministers who came never talked about demons but, in a way that I still cannot comprehend, demonic activity never again manifested in our church. That is a fact.

I feel so free in the knowledge that I do not need to know everything about what is going on in the spiritual Kingdom. All I know is that things are happening – because God is in control!

The Ministry of the Apostle – Part 1

1Co 14:33  For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

The keyword here is ‘confusion’. Let me first set a background to this. In Ephesians 3:15 Paul talks about “the whole family in heaven and earth”. He is talking about God’s family, the Church. The Church is a family. In every family, it is the ministry of the father to maintain order. In the Church the apostle is the father.

Unfortunately, not everyone who has the title ‘Apostle’ is a real apostle, or even understands the ministry of the apostle. I will go even further and say that a true apostle would most likely not put the title ‘Apostle’ before his name. The five-fold ministry is not about titles. You will notice that even though Paul introduced himself severally in his epistles as an apostle of Jesus Christ, he never once calls himself ‘Apostle Paul’. When Paul says he is an apostle of Jesus Christ he is making a spiritual statement. Titles are meaningless when it comes to the things of the Spirit. A title is important when someone has nothing of the Spirit in him. He feels he needs a bulwark of some sort and titles are powerful tools in the flesh.

In these last days when God is restoring the Church, Satan is also raising counterfeits. The ministry of the apostle is the most important ministry in the Church and Satan knows that. That is why today there is a glut of ministers carrying the title ‘Apostle’.

But we must be serious and understand why God put the ministry of the apostle in the Church. He put this ministry so there would be order in the Church. No other ministry had the spiritual authority to write what Paul wrote to these churches.

The apostle is the father of the Church. Where the ministry of the apostle is at work, there will be order in the church. There will be sound doctrine in the church. Where there is no sound doctrine there is no order; and where there is no order there is confusion.

That is why Paul, through the anointing of the ministry of the apostle that was upon him, was able to put order not only in the Corinthian church, but in all the churches that he ministered to. He says: “as in all churches of the saints”.

Paul talked about how different ministries ought to operate in Church; he taught about the place and role of a woman in Church; he talked about the relationship between husband and wife; about widows; money; he confronted sin in church and showed how to deal with it. Paul even talked about how people ought to sing and pray in church! He talked about how people ought to behave in Church and how things ought to operate in Church.

The Church needs order. The Bible says clearly that God is not the author of confusion. But today even a blind man can tell that there is so much confusion in churches. If one were to list the things that are disorderly in church, that list would be endless.

Confusion means that everyone does whatever they feel they need to do. There is no spiritual direction and no single Godly vision. Each one thinks they have the ‘Vision’ and they go ahead and do whatever they feel they are called upon to do. Everyone is doing their own thing in church “in the Name of Jesus”.

Needless to say, in that kind of atmosphere, the flesh has a field day! You will find every kind of the manifestations of the flesh in Church. And, since the flesh is the door for Satan to control people’s lives, there will be all kinds of strange doctrines in Church, even demonic ones. In one church in our city, the lead actor is a popular local TV comedian. That is the state of the Church today.

I thank God so much for the ministry of CTMI. Through this ministry I have come to understand about the apostolic ministry, the revelation of the Church, law and grace. Grace, not law, is what came through Jesus Christ’s death on the Cross. Most important of all I have come to experience the life-changing power of the gospel through the five-fold ministry, which is only found in this gospel of the revelation of the Cross. I may still be weak and struggling on the road of the Cross, but that is of little consequence compared to the fact that I am, at last on the right road. I praise my God for this grace. The revelation of the Cross and all it entails is the foundation of the Church.

A Life is Required

During his first meeting at the Nairobi Leaders’ Conference tonight Brother Miki Hardy spoke about relationships, drawing from the fact that this was a leaders’ conference, and there is no way we can talk about church leadership without there being true, solid relationships.

He read from Philippians chapter 1 verse Php 1:3-7 “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,  Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.”

Miki said he would be talking on Paul’s words, “Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all…”

Paul could not have carried that kind of heart if he had a judgmental, critical attitude. It was not as if the Philippians were perfect. But Paul had faith for them, even if they were weak. He could see ahead and have patience with their weaknesses, trusting God for them. It was the same with his relationship with the Corinthians. Most striking was Paul’s attitude towards the Galatians who had backslidden completely and for whom he had every reason to despair. But we see him willing to start with them from scratch as he declares in Gal 4:19: My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you”.

As Miki spoke the Holy Spirit quickened me and I saw clearly why Abraham was called the father of faith. The faith of Abraham had nothing to do with material things! It had a lot to do with his Godly character. It had to do with his being a patient man, as we see him in his dealings with his nephew Lot. He surrendered all his rights to Lot. Abraham’s faith also had much more to do with how we see him sacrificing his life by going to rescue Lot from his captors.

That is what Biblical faith is all about! It is about laying down our lives so that others may gain life! It has nothing to do with material prosperity at all – for those who harbor such thoughts about Abraham’s faith! Personally, I would hate to think that God would consider someone a great man of faith simply because he owned a herd of smelly camels!

I prefer to think that there was something else, much more profound, that made God to consider Abraham a great man of faith. And since God is spirit, that means that Abraham’s faith was spiritual. It had to do with matters of the heart, not material things. Otherwise, scripture would contradict itself!!

I could see that it was for the same reason that Paul, too, became a spiritual father to many, including Timothy. It was not just because he preached to them the gospel, but it was due to the manner of life that he lived among them, being an example himself of the Godly life.

If there is one thing lacking in Church today it is men and women of God who are willing to lay down their lives and be an example for others to follow. There are too many “servants”, but few “fathers”. Fathers give their lives. In many of the cases where preachers decide to become examples it is all in the wrong things: prosperity, success, etc. But Paul became an example in the things that pertain to Godliness. He says in 2Ti 3:10-11: “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured…”

If there is a preacher today who can stand up and claim the words of Paul for himself through the life that he lives then we can begin to see the beginnings of the Church of Christ.

Of Proclamations and Our Worship of God – Pt. 2

I haven’t read anywhere in the Bible where God is upbraiding His people for not praising Him loud enough. On the contrary, I have read many Scriptures where God tells His people, both in the Old and New Testaments, that He does not actually need their praises. In fact, in one scripture in the Old Testament, God has a particularly nasty reaction to the Israelites’ songs and their ‘empty’ worship of Him.

The reason God was so angry with them is because they were walking in sin but at the same time praising Him.

The Christian world today is outdoing itself in its efforts to praise and uplift God. Many beautiful new songs are being composed, old songs and hymns are redone and presented with ever greater passion; singers with the most beautiful voices are being discovered; piano chords and guitar strings are tweaked to the highest levels of creativity – the whole spectrum is a sight to behold indeed. There are churches which have been set up solely on the praise and worship theme. I think all this is good, but at the same time I believe things are not as rosy in the Spirit as they appear to be on the outside.

There are also what we would call new age ‘Christian’ artists and preachers and songs that I would rather die than listen to or watch. I once went to Youtube and they were singing a song about “crying holy” or whatever, and it was the most revolting thing I have ever seen. There are thousands of these artists, and regrettably Christians are going absolutely gaga over them. I have never understood why we need to identify with the world in order to preach the gospel of Christ. Most likely, we misinterpret scripture.

I have not seen a preacher wearing earrings yet (I mean the male preachers), and probably they are there, it’s only that I have not seen them. But our choirs today are awash with male singers touting Rastafarian hairstyles and all decked out in gold chains and earrings, etc. I do not know what to expect next, but it is clear Jesus has quite a band coming His way…

Christian proclamations and declarations from the pulpit all the way to the street present a picture where the Christian world is one of total victory over the devil and all his works.

By now you probably are thinking that if I am not the Anti-Christ himself then I am a major pessimist who has failed to find joy and fulfilment in his Christian life. Don’t even consider the thought. I am as happy as Jesus Himself. And don’t get me wrong. As I said earlier, I have no problem with Christian worship when it is done in the right spirit. What I am pointing out here is that God is more interested in the state of our lives than our vocal proclamations. There are far too many Christians today walking in sin, and yet their mouths are full of proclamations of the glory of God. And God’s real problem with us today, just as with the Israelites, is sin. God loves praise, but He hates sin and He would rather deal with the latter first.

If I am playing with my children and I see a snake, I will kill the snake first then continue playing with my children.

We Christian believers should not therefore put a smokescreen of praise before God. God can see the sin that is ravaging the Church today. It is open secret that Christianity in our generation has a major problem with sin. Sin is rampant among lay Christians and preachers alike. Even big-time preachers who have been known to raise the dust on TV and some who served God faithfully in years past have been hit by scandals…

Something is wrong, and we should stop praising and listen.

It is time to go back to the basics. Let us go back to the Cross, where Christ was crucified. Therein is the power to defeat sin in our lives, the gospel of the revelation of the Cross of Christ. Paul preached this very gospel, and even if his ministry was not inundated with miracles as today’s gospels appear to be, it had the power to set men and women from the power of sin, and we see from his epistles that this was Paul’s chief concern: to set God’s people free from sin.

That gospel, though unproclaimed in similar terms, has always been there in earlier generations, and the men and women who walked in it lived a victorious life over sin.

I remember that in the 1970s and the early 80s, at least in the small world that I lived in, a saved person was a threat to sinners, who evaded them like the plague. My elder brother was the first to get saved in our big family. Whenever he would begin praying an overpowering Presence would fill our home and we would all run away – dad would walk staidly towards the village beer hall but clearly a man on the run! We would come back only when we were sure John had finished praying. Then, my mom, who had been a beer brewer, gave her heart to Jesus. Then followed two of my brothers, then my dad, who was the village champion drunkard. Many years later, I too accepted the Lord. I am assured we are all the fruit of not only the prayers of my brother, but also the victorious lifestyle that he led. In those years Christians lived a victorious life over sin, and we saw it, and it affected us.

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same thing even for many of those same Christians today. Something has gone awfully wrong somewhere. We talk a lot, but there is a power that is simply not there. There is song, yes, but not the power.

Nowadays a preacher divorces their husband or wife then they come on TV and, to the accompaniment of a ‘powerful’ praise session, they begin talking and justifying themselves. Where is the power of the gospel in that? And there, in the auditorium, are thousands of Christians cheering him/her on. If you multiply that number with that of the faithful who are watching at home on TV and assenting to this preacher’s doctrine, you realize this truly is a big church, but then you begin wondering “What kind of ‘church’ is this going to turn out to be?” The answer is: a defeated, sinning church. I once saw a homosexual ‘church’ on TV in South Africa, complete with a homosexual pastor, and they were praising Jesus! But we ‘straight’ sinners cannot disassociate ourselves from this abomination if we are divorcing and remarrying in church and continuing with our praise and cheering sessions.

In all this chaos, it is not that people are not praying as before, or that they are not reading their Bibles. Rather, it is simply that wrong doctrines have been allowed into the Church, and have taken the place of the pure doctrine of Jesus Christ. Wrong doctrines which simply have not the power to deal with sin.

Jesus came to earth to deal with sin and all its works once and for all. And He did that by crucifying the body of the flesh. If there is no crucifixion of the flesh, if the Christian is not having a daily revelation of that work of the Cross, there is no way he is going to live a victorious spiritual life. The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:31: “…by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily”. In order for Paul to rejoice in his labors for Christ, he had to crucify his flesh daily. It means he partook of the sufferings and death of Christ. Now, if you cheer when all this is going on, God has no problem with that because after this there will be victory. Unfortunately, many Christians today are cheering while there is so much defeat in their lives!

The gospel bequeathed to us from Jesus Christ through the Apostles states that just as we were sold into sin, we have now been sold to righteousness. How? By dying to the body of the flesh. After which, by the working of the same Holy Spirit who resurrected Jesus from the dead we too are resurrected into the glorious life of victory in the spirit, victory over sin.

This is the gospel that needs to come back to the Church today, and which the Church needs to accept. I believe it is coming back, through true Apostles and ministers of God whom God is reinstating in our day. But is the Church willing to accept it? Or we will continue dancing while sin ravages the Church?

The Bible warns of a falling away of many believers just before the return of Christ. At no other time do we need to heed Christ’s and the Apostles’ warnings than in the days we are living in.

Heaps of Teachers!

Ezekiel 33:4 Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.

It is a time to take Scripture seriously. In my next few posts I want to take some time to talk about the Apostle Paul, and the gospel that he preached. You might want to ask, why specifically Paul? Well, simply because the Apostle Paul had the true revelation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, a fact which even the Apostle Peter affirms. If Peter could affirm something, we should be considering it doubly.

But before we talk about the life of Paul and the gospel that he preached I would like to discuss a word that is found in his writings. The word is “heap”. In order to get the right perspective let’s read the scripture in 2 Timothy chapter 4 verse 3 where this word is found: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine;  but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;  And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

You can see that word “heap”, right in there. That means that in the days that Paul was talking about that this state of affairs would occur, there would be not one or two or even three preachers scattered here and there who would be teaching these false doctrines; no, Paul says there will be ‘heaps’ of them.

I am sure that if you begin counting from the top-of-the-range televangelists to the unknown preacher way down the rung, there are literally millions of preachers of the gospel today. I wonder how many of these are in that group of ‘heaps’ of false teachers, which is what Paul is talking about here – an accumulation of false teachers in the last days.

But it is clear from the strange doctrines coming from the pulpits today that there is an incredibly large percentage of preachers who are in that group.

But Paul says something else, that it is God’s people who will be encouraging these false preachers simply because they cannot endure sound doctrine! When you sit there and  someone is telling you to give because it will be given back to you, good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, and you are thinking in financial terms, what a lovely sermon!

It is no secret that in today’s version of Christianity, men and women are in it for their own personal gain – and the levels of lust after material gain are incredible. Just recently a pastor of a large congregation in my town bought himself a Hummer. This is a Third World country I am talking about. And don’t think I am being personal or subjective here. We are talking reality.

As Christians we should be very, very careful not to flow with the current. Christianity is not about masses… “Oh, y’know, I worship in a 5,000 member church, etc.” Jesus proved just that when one day He turned upon the Jewish masses following Him and fired one shot at them and they scattered like flies. Even His own disciples left Him. You can read about this in John chapter 6. The once-popular miracle-worker was left with 12 men who hesitantly decided to “endure” Jesus’ hard but sound doctrine. A few brave hearted women were there also, praise the Lord!

Now in our day we are witnessing a dangerous trend where there is only one message: God loves you and He will take care of you, and He wants to do you good. Today’s general Christian message is an adaptation of ‘Welcome to America’. Preachers filled with carnal lusts have dug into the Bible and found there are thousands of promises in there, all ripe and ready to be picked. People are listening to these teachings and they are jumping all over their seats in ecstasy, simply because preachers are promising them financial and material prosperity, good health, safety from all danger, etc., etc. Psalm 91 has been read to shreds, just because God’s people fear to die!

Can you imagine Jesus or the Apostles jumping up and down in their seats because a preacher has promised them financial prosperity? It’s not bad to be blessed financially, but after that, then what? The Apostle Paul says 1Cor. 15:19 that “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”

People are itching for this kind of life, that’s all they want to hear. It is a poor Christian world indeed we are living in today.

Let us be mature and realize that God is not against material or financial blessings. He is not against us living a good, prosperous, healthy, and trouble-free life. He is not against us enjoying life. It requires maturity to acknowledge that and move on. The issue for the Church is: Is that the crux of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Is that the core of this mighty gospel? Is that the bottom of the matter? Was that what Jesus came on earth to die for? Was that the message He brought? Was that what the early Apostles preached? Is this what we find in Paul’s letters?

We are living in dangerous times and it is time for Christians to take hold of their lives and locate the right place to put them in. Ezekiel’s words have more meaning to us than they did to the Israelites.