Fathers… And Children – Part 1

Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. Col. 3:21

This scripture is straightforward enough. It is the easiest thing in the world for Godly parents to discourage their children. But first…

The first thing we notice in this scripture is that it is addressing fathers. It is not addressing mothers; or parents in a general manner. This goes to show that God has put upon the father the responsibility to raise his children in the ways of the Lord.

We cannot put “mother” where the Bible says “father”.

With all due respect, there is much wrong with single-parent families and, in particular, where the parent happens to be the mother, as is so commonly the case. The question must of necessity be asked, Where is the father?

But we must remember that this scripture is addressing the church, not the world. We cannot take this challenge to the world, for the world is free to do as it sees fit. But in church, there is everything wrong if the father (if he is in church) is not taking the lead in raising up his children in a Godly manner. If a father is an absentee father and he claims to be saved, he should be confronted and be told that his assertion is just that: a claim. In actual fact,

“… he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (1 Tim. 5:8)

It is no less severe if the father is present at home but does not take the lead in instructing, correcting and raising his children. There are some men who consider it their wives’ responsibility to talk to and to warn the children. Such fathers will come from work, put up their feet on the table and read the newspaper. Not a thought, not a question and not a comment about the children. As long as they are putting bread on the table, they feel they have fulfilled their responsibility.

But this is a totally wrong approach to parenting. In fact, the spiritual father’s No. 1 responsibility is to raise their children in the ways of the Lord. Provision of bread is secondary. The father, not the mother, has been invested with authority from God to lead the family. Biblically, a woman does not have that authority; and even when she takes it upon herself to discipline the children, whether it works or not, still, it is not God’s plan for the family. God’s will is for the man to lead the family. The father is also the prime example to the family in Godly conduct and in showing the fear of the Lord.

In other words, therefore, it is God’s will for every God-fearing family to have a father to lead it.

There must be a Godly standard in church in our approach to these things. A woman (or man) can join the church while a single parent. In other words, she comes in from the world already a single parent. This is understood by the church and she ought to receive support and encouragement from the church. And if she stays faithful to God, God will grant her many favors, both spiritual and physical.

The same goes for a widow (or widower).

There are many reasons for the single-mother family. But any other “single mother” reason other than the above is simply unacceptable in church. And I think the worst category here is the modern fab where women want to live so-called independent lives, marriage-less, but still have children. This cannot be allowed to happen in church and the only ‘remedy’ for such an aberration is for the woman to repent – and get married, if possible. That is how the church is run.

[If a man is meandering all over the place away from his family he cannot be a competent father to his children]


The Family

18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.

21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:

23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

4:1 Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven. Col. 3:18-4:1

We should be extremely wary of the flesh, especially in relation to our families. You notice in this scripture that Paul is not talking about relationships within the church, but within the family. And here the Apostle Paul makes it clear that even a servant is a part of the family.

The reason for this need for vigilance is because it is the easiest thing for us to cast ourselves into a mould, where things become ‘normalised’ and we are no longer running the race we have been called to. The whole concept of salvation, including our relationships, is a daily race, and a gritty one. It is a race of the Spirit vs the flesh. But it is with the family that God is most concerned and it is with the family that this race must begin.

My son is a slow learner, and much of the time (at least, according to my estimations) he does things contrary to the instructions I give him.  I am well aware that there was some delay during his delivery and this was what caused his condition. But this knowledge does nothing to calm my high-strung calibre and much of the time, the things that my son does have me clawing up the wall, literally.

And so it was that one day I was watering my garden and I asked him to carefully move the hose for me between the young plants. Instead of picking the part of the hose I had shown him, he picked the wrong one and in the process he ended up breaking one or two of my precious plants.

To talk of a sonic boom here would hardly do credit to the bellow I let out. If you ever saw Disney’s animated “Beauty and the Beast”, well, the Beast’s roars there are a downgraded version of what occurred that afternoon. My son stood still as I went on the warpath and blasted him into Neverland.

But the Lord is good and I thank Him for His mercy towards me. After my son had left the crime scene, the Lord quietly came to me and showed me the rot that was in my heart. As I lay on my bed that the evening, I called my son.

“Joe”, I said, “I want you to forgive me for what I did to you this evening. I am truly sorry and please know that I love you.”

I was sorely tempted to add, “But please, please try harder at doing things right”; but with all the effort I had I bit my tongue and held my peace.

Notice the Bible says, both in Colossians above and in Ephesians 6:4, that fathers should not provoke their children to anger. The Bible here is not talking of the small children that we in our selfishness are wont to spoil. Rather, when children reach a certain age, when they are in their teens, it is the time that their independence begins to assert itself, and it is here that parents need to be very careful to not to stamp out that independence. It is this independence, nurtured in the love of God, that will lead your child on to maturity.

There are any number of scenarios with regard to our lack of vigilance. It is the easiest thing, for example, for the wife or husband to enter into an adulterous relationship with another person, not for any other reason than that they have not been vigilant in their relationship to their spouse. But it requires a daily death to the flesh for that relationship to stay renewed in the Spirit.

The same goes for every other relationship within the family. The parents need to die for their children; and the children, likewise, for their parents. The servant needs the death of the cross to work in him for him to serve his master as he would serve Christ; likewise, the man and woman of the house towards their servant. If the work of the cross is not in them, they can easily look down on or mistreat their servants.

It is the easiest thing for the pastor to run about pastoring everyone else except his family. He never spends time with his wife or children! It is no wonder, therefore, that many pastors today stand accused of having adulterous affairs with other women, because they were unable to pay the price needed to take time with their wives.

It is the easiest thing for the mother to be busy, oh! inviting over and welcoming all those beloved brothers and sisters in Christ – but never having a thought for her children. And the children become rebellious and she wonders why!

It is the easiest thing, as I said, for us to allow the flesh in its various forms to take over control of our families. It is the easiest thing for us to become selfish and to look only to our own interests: the father, to his own pride; the child, his/her own independence, etc. But the Bible in 1 Peter 5:8 says:

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour…”

It talks about the devil there, but it might as well be talking of our flesh. The flesh is always lying in wait for us, ready at any moment to step in and take control the minute we lose our vigilance. That is why we need to be very vigilant in our relations with our family members.

The church setting is meant to overflow with the love and selfless sacrifice of Christ. And it has to begin with the family. As one of my friends used to say, you cannot jump to No.2 before you are done with No.1. The family is the Number One place where we are required to deny ourselves, to take up our cross daily and to follow Christ.

[My family. The highest responsibility I have is both to my wife and children, to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” – Eph. 6:4]


The Grace Factory

1 Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer…

10 I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds:

11 Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me:

12 Whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels” Phm. 1:1-12

Just to make things clearer here, the word “bowels” as used in this scripture means “heart”. Paul was therefore telling Philemon, “Receive Onesimus, for he is my own heart. He is as I am. He is a reflection of my heart.”

What powerful words, as we shall see! Paul had the heart of God, and it was this very heart that he managed to nurture, or put, in Onesimus. What an incredible accomplishment!

I live in central Tanzania, and the local people here have an animal called the “mbojo”. This animal is half lion and half man. It runs, it roars and it attacks like a lion. The “mbojo” is the most fearsome creature in all the land. It is used by its handlers to ambush and kill people. If you happen to meet the “mbojo”, you are gone. “Mbojos” are very rare, but even in this modern age they are still around.

The “mbojo” starts out as a human baby. Witchdoctors abduct a baby and take him to their lair where, over the course of many years they slowly turn him into a lion. It is not clear exactly how they manage to turn a human being into a deadly killing machine. But they have their skills, and they do. Thereafter they send him out to kill their perceived enemies.

Not everyone can turn someone into a “mbojo”. The people who do this are people who are specialised in this “art” and it is rumoured that they use powers of darkness to accomplish their mission.

There is so much to tell about the “mbojo”. But the reason I have written about the “mbojo” is to use it as an analogy of the Apostle Paul and the accomplishments of his apostlehood.

The Apostle was a man of incredible grace. It is clear from Paul’s letter to Philemon that, while in prison, Paul met Onesimus, a servant of Philemon. Onesimus was a worthless fellow and he probably had been imprisoned for his criminal activities. Paul must have preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to Onesimus. By God’s grace, Onesimus hearkened to Paul’s words.

But Paul did not just lead Onesimus through the motions of salvation. The Bible says that Paul begot Onesimus in his bonds (v. 10). That means that what happened between Paul and Onesimus was more than a casual encounter between a preacher and a sinner. On the contrary, it was something that was deeply spiritual. It must be also that Paul did some things towards Onesimus, a few of which we can be certain of. We can be certain that the following happened:

  1. Paul took Onesimus under his wing and patiently, day by day nurtured him in the gospel. His love for Onesimus was such that the young man was able to open his heart fully and allow Paul to invest the deposit of God’s grace in him.
  2. In ordinary, practical matters, Paul gave his life to Onesimus. Paul, the aged, shared his life with the young man. He did not consider his age, nor his position as an apostle as anything. On the contrary, he put all these aside in order that he might gain a worthless young man.
  3. Finally, Onesimus must have seen Paul’s great patience and humility in the way he coped with his imprisonment. Paul, full of the grace of God, bore everything that was directed against him. So much so that Paul himself writes the Philippians:

“12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; 13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; 14  And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” (Phil. 1:12-14).

So much happened through Paul’s patience and love in imprisonment. His life touched so many people. With Onesimus, Paul took the young servant and, by the grace of God that was in his life, he turned him into a man of true spiritual value. Paul, by the grace of God, did such an incredible work in Onesimus to the extent that he declares to Philemon, “Receive him, for he is as I am.”

Onesimus became as Paul! In heart, in character, in everything, Onesimus became like Paul. He became “profitable” both to Paul and to his master, Philemon. He became profitable to the church, the Body of Christ.

What an incredible achievement by Paul! This truly is the Good News!

In my lifetime, I have met preachers who preach like the Niagara, but who wouldn’t care whether you lived or died. All they are concerned about is their ‘ministry’.

But it was not so with Paul. Paul went the extra mile. Just as Christ did, Paul gave his life for men, and he birthed men in the Spirit. This is the greatest challenge that faces any preacher. Paul achieved it well.

[I am glad to introduce to my readers my spiritual father, Eliya Amas. He begot me in the Spirit and, over the course of 20 years, he has continuously given his life to me to the end that I may carry in me the heart of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I love him with all my heart, and may the Lord bless him]


Free To Live!

11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:

12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.

13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.

15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.

16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,

19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:

23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:

24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.

26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.

27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.

28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.

29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:

30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.

31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.

32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found. Lk. 15:11-32

One of the most horrible nightmares that plague my life is the fact that I find I am still a man of law. It’s a nightmare, and it’s real. To be fair, God has helped me in many ways, and I know I have changed in many areas. But to find myself entirely free from the spirit of law in my heart is a challenge that I have yet to fully surmount.

And yet… I believe the worst person in the world is a person of law. The person who carries law in their heart, I believe, is the person who displeases God more than anybody else.

On the other hand, I am convinced that the person who carries grace in their heart pleases God the most. Grace is an attitude of heart. It is not something that we can crank up through our own effort. In fact, to put it in even better terms, grace comes about only through a work of the Holy Spirit in a man’s heart. Only the revelation of the cross can bring grace into a man’s heart. Grace is not something natural; it is spiritual.

Law is also an attitude of heart. Law resides in the heart of a man who has not encountered the work of the cross in their heart. When we find ourselves exercising law in our lives, either towards others or towards ourselves, that is a sure sign that we are not carrying our cross and following Christ.

Neither law nor grace can be measured by what we do in the natural. I could invite you into my house and have you sit on my best sofa, and serve you from my best china – and I would still be a man of law.

On the other hand, I could rebuke you and still be a man of grace. Jesus often rebuked His disciples severely, and yet He embodied grace. The law in our hearts shows up in our attitudes, not in what we do or not do. That, as we shall see, is what happened with the elder son in the above story.

But before we get to the elder son, let us a take a glimpse of the father. The father in the above scripture epitomizes grace. This man was rich in grace. He had so much grace he was ready to lose!

When he “divided unto them his living” and allowed the younger son to go his way, the father was losing not only his son, but his property, and his pride. Pride is who we are, and when a man loses his pride he has lost his very self. But the father allowed the son to despise and to trample upon all that he represented to him.

He was willing to give his son all the freedom he needed. Maybe, this gracious father reasoned, maybe my son will one day come to his senses and return home.

And we see that was exactly what happened. The boy went into the world and, after he had suffered terribly, he finally came to his senses; the Bible says he “came to himself”.

What does it mean to “come to himself”? Surely, something must have touched his heart. The soft voice of the Holy Spirit spoke to his heart – and he heeded. He repented and went back to his father. He was now a changed man. He knew what it was like to be far from the safety and comfort of his father’s arms.

I wonder what would have happened if the father had prevented him from leaving home. The boy would probably have stayed on, but his heart would still have yearned for the world. He would have lived and died at home, but his heart would long have wandered elsewhere.

But by giving him all the freedom he wanted, the father allowed God to work on the young man, and when God confronted him, he came back to his father on his own accord.

The father’s attitude is what we need to have as people of God if we really desire to bring the life of God into the church. In retrospect, we see that this particular father carried his cross and in doing so he gave life to his son.

When we are men of law, we stifle people by trying to hold them back by our own strength. Because there is no work of the Spirit involved, and because there is no grace, the day they break free they will never come back.

Back at home, the father still lived with his elder son. This son apparently did all that his father commanded. At no one time did he fail to obey his father. More importantly, he never left home.

And yet… this son was a man of law. He had never come into contact with the revelation of the cross and he had never opened his heart to the working of the Holy Spirit. He was still the old man of self.

So it was that when the younger brother returned, and he was received in such glorious fashion by his father – instead of being punished, as the law demands – this action was the catalyst needed to unleash all the pent-up frustrations of the elder son. He had stoically held in his anger and condemnation; but now his heart was finally exposed. He had no revelation of the cross, and his heart was full of every kind of spiritual debris.

There are many such Christians in church today. They are always in church, good people, obediently doing all that the pastor asks of them. But if they have no revelation of the cross, they are still their old selves. They will never become people of grace, and they will never change.

All they do is obey the letter. When push comes to shove, they crack!

Being good is good, but God demands we be spiritual. True power is in taking up our cross and following Christ.

The person who carries grace may miss it here and there, but you will always feel the freedom in their hearts, which very freedom is the single ingredient that is necessary for the Holy Spirit to continue working in them. These are the kind of people that God is happy with.

I love the father in this story. At no one time did he exhibit a lack of grace: neither with his rebellious younger son; nor with his grace-less elder son. In every situation, this man was perfectly full of the grace of God. He must have lived a life full of inner joy and peace.

[Below: Are you free?]

The Apostolic and Prophetic Ministries

The father figure is God’s greatest creation. There is no bigger tragedy than for a child to grow up without a father. I know people who will point to so-and-so to try to prove that you can achieve so much without being raised by a father, but I am not talking about achievements here.

Whatever way one looks at it, God certainly had a purpose in putting a man in the house. A father in the house carries authority. That is what he was created for above everything else. And authority brings order.

To be honest, I personally cannot claim to have accomplished even half of what I know I need to accomplish in my house. I cannot even claim to be half the idea of what some people regard as a man (After these two submissions, I am sure my enemies can now sleep in peace).

But one thing I have stone-cold accomplished in life is that my children know that there is a father in the house. Of that I have no doubt. They know the meaning of authority in our house. There are times I have gone to extremes, sure, but it has served in them knowing that there is something called authority in our house.

My wife can scale Mt. Everest and come back, but she can do nothing when it comes to authority in the house. That is my office and even if I am not there she cannot usurp it.

I have been away from home many times and there are times when my wife thought she could “control” our teenage kids. But every time she would try such a stunt, it always back-fired, and she had to call me from wherever I was, even when I was far away in a neighboring country. And all the kids needed to hear was my voice – and order would return to that house.

I am not saying they became angels or anything. Nor am I saying that my children will succeed in life because of that. But my children have always known there is a father in the house. And that has always brought order back to that house even in the worst of situations. If my children refused for me to chastise them, they would become bastards. The Bible says so in Hebrews 12:8.

Today people fear the term “order”. But it is a spiritual term.

(It is in connection to these issues that the Bible says that every woman must be under the authority of a man, and that every man must be under the authority of Christ (1 Cor. 11:3). Anything outside this order is unbiblical.

That is why also there can be no woman in the five-fold ministry because these are ministries of authority within the church. The Apostle Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:11-12: “11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

A woman can minister in many other areas within the Body of Christ, but not in the five-fold ministry.)

A lack of a father in the church has brought about all the chaos and disorder that we are witnessing in the church today.

And the Apostle Paul, speaking with regard to the ministry of the apostle, he writes the Corinthians, “14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. 15 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” 1 Cor. 4:14-15

Paul was telling the Corinthians that he was their father. He had begotten them in the true gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of the cross (1 Cor. 2:2). He had preached the singular gospel – the gospel that tells you to deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Christ – that only could produce mature sons and daughters in the Spirit.  As a result, they were now his bona fide “sons” – but sons of God’s Kingdom also because Paul was under the authority of Christ.

Paul therefore could “shame” them if it came to that, as he does in 1 Cor. 6:5 and elsewhere, he could warn them; indeed, he could do anything with them to bring order into their lives.

No other ministry can beget sons in the gospel of Jesus Christ except the ministry of the apostle. He alone has been put by God in the church to bring the revelation of the cross in the church. All other ministry are dependent on this ministry together with the ministry of the prophet. Upon these two ministries is the church built (Eph. 2:20). People may beget many other things, I don’t know; but the Bible makes it clear that it is only the ministry of the apostle that can beget sons in the gospel.

Indeed a lack of this ministry within the church, or a lack of submission to it, has brought about so much destruction to the church of Jesus Christ.

I doubt any book exiting would suffice to list all the different things that are going all wrong with the church today. Every one of us is a witness of at least something that is wrong with the church.

The root of this problem is that there is no father in the house. There is no man in the house to bring order.

That is why, if you look carefully particularly on many Christian TV channels, you will find many young preachers today. (In Africa nearly all of them dress the same way). You will find these young men saying and doing the most abominable things in their “churches”; and if you follow them up they will tell you they have their own independent “ministries”.

They have no one they are subject to. They do not know anything about authority, nor submission.

But with the early church, if you saw a young man preaching or pastoring a church, he always had a father behind him. The Bible is replete with these examples. We find Timothy and Titus, for example, and many others.

You wouldn’t have found these young preachers telling their congregations to eat grass, for example, or to bring in all their money so they could live like kings.

No; these were young men (notice, not women) who had been raised the hard way. There was no spiritual frivolousness about their lives. They had a father, and there was order in their lives.

It is high time that the church woke up and acknowledged that it desperately needs the five-fold ministry, and to allow the ministry of apostle and prophet to have their true place in church – that there may be order and growth in the Body of Christ.

As long as this blog exists, it will be dedicated to bringing out the singular apostolic revelation that Christ bequeathed the church, and which the Apostle Paul so ably set forth in his writings and without which there is no true church.

[Below: the twin ministries of the apostle and prophet are the foundation of the true church]


Grace Reveals the Father’s Love For Us.

24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. Gal. 3:24-25

Recently, I was watching my favorite documentary, “Seconds from Disaster”. In this particular incident, a chartered plane was travelling from Moscow to Barcelona with about 50 school children who were going on holiday in Barcelona, Spain. The trip was their reward for doing well at school. Separately, a mother with her two young children had managed to squeeze themselves into the plane. Her husband was waiting for them in Barcelona. He hadn’t seen them for almost two years. His heart desperately yearned for his children, and all he wanted was to see them, to be with them.

“It was hard not to see my children for such a long time”, he said. “We were finally going to see each other, and we were going to have fun together.”

That was all this father wanted.

But he would never get to see them. Just as it was nearing the end of its journey, the plane that carried this man’s family and the school children, suffered a mid-air collision with another plane, and everyone on both planes perished.

The father was so distraught that, many years later, he took matters into his hands. He accosted the air traffic controller who was on duty the night his family perished, and when an altercation occurred between them, he stabbed him with a knife. The air controller died instantly.

This father loved his family so much that he would go to such extremes.

God our Father also went to extremes because of His love for us. But, unlike this earthly father, God gave His Son for us instead.

The scripture we just quoted above is very important for the church. It talks about the Father’s love for us. Let us take time to look at it closely.

Notice the phrase “the law was our schoolmaster”. Anyone reading this post has attended school in their lifetime, and we all know that school is not the “coolest” place to be, and the schoolmaster is certainly not our best friend. He is there, above all, to discipline us. In school there are rules and regulations to enforce this “discipline” upon us.

Law dictates things. If we fail to follow the laid-down rules and regulations, the law will beat us to our knees. The law is there to enforce things, and it has the clout to do so.

That is why when people graduate from school, they do all kind of crazy things because they have been under pressure/law all those years!

When my kids were young, and I understood very little about grace, I put a lot of law on them. I was hard on them and they had to do things my way, by force if necessary. But today it is a different story. I may be weak, but I now understand I have a responsibility to handle them with grace. I came to understand that you can discipline your kids, including giving them the rod, but with a heart of grace.

So, before Christ came, we were under a schoolmaster. We were under law. But it was never God’s will for us to be under law. The law had no joy or freedom in it, and what father does not desire for his children to be just happy? God certainly does!

So God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to set us free from law.

The gist of what I am saying here is that law has no place in church. Not an iota! But when we lack a revelation of grace, we have nothing but law! We can offer nothing more. That is why the church today desperately needs a revelation of Christ’s grace.

When we do not have a revelation of grace in our hearts, we place law on people. But notice that the law takes us nowhere. Before Christ came, at least, it was of some use. It kept us in a holding area till grace would come.

Now that Christ has come, the law is of absolutely no use to us or to anyone. In fact, if we allow law into our lives, it will destroy us. It will bring us into bondage. We will lie there in the dust with the law’s foot on our throat, and if somehow in our lifetime we are unable to come out from under law, we will die with all the anger, bitternesses, unforgivenesses, lusts, hatreds and all the carnal nature bound up in our hearts. I have heard of people who went to heaven and they were surprised at all the hands, feet, etc. that were simply there at the disposal of God’s children… No, I believe the greatest surprise that we will find in heaven is the grace that was available to us here on earth, but which we simply did not partake of!

We need a revelation of grace. If we somehow manage to get ourselves from under the law, if it is not through a revelation of the grace of our Lord Jesus, we will go back to the world and get wild, like those college graduates.

That is why we need a revelation of grace. When we have this grace in our hearts we are free to serve a holy God and we can set others free. Grace comes to the jail of law and opens the door and tells us, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (Jn. 8:11). That is what Jesus told the woman caught in adultery.

Show me a man whose joy and excitement in the Lord has grown exponentially since they got saved, and I will show you a man who is walking under grace.

But it is not so with many believers. Many quickly lose their first joy, and their first love for Christ. They easily tire of church and begin doing things by rote, but the light and enthusiasm has dimmed in their hearts.

That is a sure sign that soon after they got saved, they fell into the arms of law, not grace. The law quickly took them into the quicksands of nowhere, and they died there. The spirit of law in church is a death knell for the believer.

That is why we cannot ignore the Pauline doctrine, the doctrine of the cross. I repeat, we cannot ignore it. The Apostle Paul was a man of immense grace. But this grace did not come easily. It came to him as he carried his cross and followed Jesus.

The church cannot escape the narrow road. We may run all over and all around the world, but that narrow road is awaiting us. We would rather choose, right where we are, to gird ourselves in the spirit and purpose to walk this road instead, for the sake of grace.

[Below: We love our children to be happy. How much more God we!]


The Ministry of the Apostle – Part 2

I visited a brother the other day and immediately I sat down he turned on the TV. He told me he had 70 Christian channels. I watched in fascination as he flipped from one channel to another. It was obvious that he had no favorite station; he would watch whatever program appeared most titillating at that time. As he turned from one station to another I could not help noticing how Christianity had gone clearly overboard. So many other things appear to have replaced the true ministries that Christ set in the Church “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” Eph 4:12

Because of a lack of the ministry of the apostle in the church today there is so much deception, folly and even outright witchcraft going on. Now in Christian churches there are things like:

‘Business Breakthrough and Financial Increase’;

‘Receive Undeniable Favor and Breakthrough as you Partner with Us’;

‘Our U.S. Dollar Account No.’;

‘Counselling/ Deliverance Ministry’;

‘Anointing Stickers’;

‘Duplication of Anointing’;

‘Enforcing Redemption: Taking Back What The Devil Has Stolen’.

Needless to say, the list is endless.

The Church should be made aware that the devil is able to transform himself into an angel of light and his servants are able to transform themselves into ministers of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:13-14). That means that in these last days there is going to be deception of enormous proportions from the enemy. Paul calls these ministers ‘deceitful workers’. Workers of what? No doubt, workers of miracles. Therefore, through powerful spiritual manifestations it will be possible even for the elect to be deceived. That is why it is so dangerous for Christians to swallow anything and everything that is thrown at them “in the Name of Jesus”. It is also very dangerous to seek after signs and wonders, for therein many will be deceived. The Apostle Paul says: “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:23-24

The true ministries of Jesus Christ within the Church, under the fatherhood of the apostle, will confront and deal with the flesh. This is where many Christians diverge off to something else because they do not want to be confronted. They want to hear sweet things. But the apostle is a father. Under his leadership and authority these ministries will not misuse people, nor trample upon them as men seek after their own glory. On the contrary, they will edify and build up the Body as one, holding onto the Head, Jesus Christ Himself. Men and women will learn to surrender their lives and allow a deep work in their hearts so their lives can be changed to reflect the true character – the life and love – of Christ. That is what constitutes true spiritual maturity.

Father Is In The House!

Many times in church we hear the phrase: “Jesus is in the house tonight!” I am sure many of us would be surprised to hear a pastor say: “Father is in the house!” We most likely would think, ‘That is cult language!’

And yet it is truly the spirit of fatherhood that we need in Church. The Apostle Paul, talking about God’s family, puts it this way: “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named…” Eph 3:14-15. The Bible says clearly that Jesus came to earth to reveal the Father to us. It is the voice of the father that we need to hear in Church. It is the presence of the father that we need. Fatherhood is the most important institution on earth and in heaven!

One of the biggest curses that today’s generation is burdened with is the fatherless family unit. Many factors lead to this – fathers who abdicate their responsibilities, early pregnancies, divorce. Sometimes, the father dies early; but here the Bible gives the option for the widow to get married (1 Tim. 5:14).

Another contributing factor is that today’s generation is simply a rebellious generation and for some, single motherhood is actually a fashion statement! It is their way of saying ‘No’ to God’s order for humankind.

And yet it is a fact that a family without a father is simply a broken family. The father is the voice of authority in the family. The father brings stability, direction and security in the family. My wife is a strong woman by any standards, but once in a while, when I have been away from home for a long time she will call me and say: “Please talk to your daughter, she’s become too much for me to handle!” And I will speak a few words into the phone – probably of warning, or beseeching – and there will be order in that house until I return home.

There is no meaning to the word ‘family’ without a father. That is the way God made things to be. We cannot substitute God’s ways with our vain human wisdoms.

During the just-ended CTMI Leaders’ Conference in Nairobi we heard the voice of the father. Personally, I was challenged, warned, rebuked and given direction. Brother Miki talked to us about the importance of relationship within the Body of Christ. He clearly showed us that there cannot be true relationships when we are not each taking our proper place in the Body of Christ, something which can only happen through a revelation of the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.

Most important of all, however, was that Brother Miki confronted us in the many areas that we had begun slipping back since we received the gospel of the Cross, some 10 or 20 years ago. He reminded us how our lives had been when the gospel first found us – we had many things on the outside, but little life on the inside. The revelation of the Cross and what it came to do brought light and life into our hearts and lives. Initially, when we heard the message of the Cross, we surrendered our lives and allowed that work in our hearts. But, Miki said, many of us had drawn back from that surrendered life and had begun walking as if we were our own masters, without a father. Our lives had reverted back to being our own.

Paul’s rebuke to the Corinthians was clearly ours today: “Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you”! (1Co 4:8)

The result? Our former manner of life, the old man of the flesh, had crept back into our lives. Slowly but surely, there were now murmurings, dissensions and warrings amongst us. Not far down along the road, every kind of sin will soon find its way into our midst.

Brother Miki reminded us that we have to go back to the Cross, where Jesus will reveal the spirit of the Father to us.

The conference message was a bittersweet experience for me – tough on the flesh, but music to my spirit. I needed to hear that!

I went back home refreshed, chastised and humbled. I had seen, once again, God’s plan for my life and I had been given reason again to lay down my life and allow Christ to reign fully in me.

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.