No Longer After The Flesh – Part 1

“Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh…” (2 Cor. 5:16)

I do not know of many rich people who have any spiritual depth, and that’s a fact. The reason for this is because money has a way of blinding people to spiritual things. So does fame, worldly status, etc. That is why many of today’s Christian leaders are as blind as a bat. They allow themselves to become attached to their titles, soaking in the power and worldly esteem that comes with these things – and they go blind.

God has arranged it so that there is no man or woman who considers the things of this world who will see into His spiritual Kingdom. In fact, the Bible commands in 2 Corinthians 6:17:

“touch not the unclean thing”.

What do you think the unclean thing is?

We do not know sin as God knows it. With God, anything that is not of the Spirit is sin.

In order to have the things of God’s Kingdom, you must surrender this world.

But I digress. I was talking about the rich man. Not many have spiritual depth.

Am I the only one saying this?

Hardly. The Bible in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 expressly says,

“26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

If you want to glory in any way in the Kingdom of God, you must glory in Jesus alone.

This is one of the most difficult things to penetrate our hard hearts. We are so twisted we have no inkling of how God operates. That is why, however hard we try, we keep coming back to glorying in men in the natural.

But God has not ordained it to be so. In fact, God has ordained it to be the exact opposite. We are to glory in the Spirit. The Apostle Paul says,

“Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh…” (2 Cor. 5:16)

How powerful could scripture get?

We know no man after the flesh. Who are we? What do we have? Do we have any knowledge?

We are nothing, we have nothing; and we know nothing. The Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12:11 states of himself,

“I be nothing.”

The only reason Paul wrote those words was because it was fact. He knew he had to empty himself of self in order for Christ to be in him.

If you, a man or woman of God, have anything, it can only be

“Christ in you” (Col. 1:27)

So how does the Apostle Paul present Christ?

He presents Him as

“Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23)

In the natural He was weak.

And what does Paul say of himself?

“… of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.” (2 Cor. 12:5)

That is what it means to know God. That is why, as a rule, God denies the men and women who have something to hold onto in this world the heavenly things. It is too easy an opportunity for the flesh to exalt itself.

But God is merciful. He always has a remnant. Therefore there will always be men who are rich, educated or of high societal standing, who will be able to see into the things of the Spirit. As with everything to do with God, these are chosen as a matter of God’s mercy.

No man is ever allowed to say that they are where they are in their standing with God outside of God’s express mercy, choosing and grace.

This understanding brings God’s grace to a man’s life. It did with our Lord Jesus, and with the apostles.

[As unassuming as babes]

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Dar es Salaam Youth Camp 2018

Normally, youth camps are feisty affairs with a myriad of events including outdoor games and different other activities. But this year’s annual ZGACT youth conference was molded on an entirely different format: it was unofficially labeled a “Word tsunami”. Everything else was put aside and the youth were inundated with the Word of God.

The youth camps were held in 12 different locations all over the country. I, together with Brother Boni from Mwanza, were scheduled to minister at the Dar es Salaam camp.

And so it was that, by the grace of God, for five days we engaged the Dar es Salaam youth in the Word and in prayer. The young people left the conference thoroughly refreshed in their spirits, and ready to face new challenges in the Spirit.

Here, below, in pictures.

  • The small auditorium was packed to capacity
  • The greatest praise and worship team ever!
  • With our host, Joshua Goodluck
  • My co-worker, Brother Boni
  • Some of the young people shared their testimonies
  • There was great fellowship all around
  • After the conference, an early morning trolling of the beach…
  • … And we encountered some fishermen hauling in their catch
  • Finally, at the bus terminal ready to travel back home

 

 

Count Your Blessings

Hi everyone. Shouldn’t we be grateful to God always for the littlest good that He does for us? But He does far more good than that for us.

And, pray, shouldn’t we be thankful even when the cross seems difficult to bear?

When we have the right (i.e. spiritual) eyes, we can see the good that God is always working on our behalf in every situation; and we can thank Him.

Count your blessings one by one, and you will have reason to praise and thank God.

The Battle Against The Flesh – Part 2

25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.

30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. 1 Cor. 1:25-31

Although we are particularly thick-headed, yet verse 25 is trying to tell us something. In the natural state of affairs, everything, man included, wants to go only up. We grow up, not down! But in the Spirit, we are to take the opposite route. We are to go down. We go down with Jesus. We are to accept to be weak and foolish in this world. Philippians 2:5-8 says:

“5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Now, we cannot hope to fathom the weakness and folly that attended Jesus’s actions here. The folly and weakness – the denial of self – that He exhibited here is incomprehensible to the human mind. But we are to follow Christ in worldly weakness and foolishness.

Notice, now, verses 27 and 28. Why would God choose the foolish things of this world, and the weak, and the base and despised? And why does the Bible expressly state that

not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called”?

Maybe God does not like problems. And, in the natural course of things, educated people and the rich and those with positions are, to say the least, a bit of a problem. They know things; they have things. It is very difficult for man to humble himself, so these kinds of people tend to be a bit dificult. Scripture declares:

“Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.” (1 Cor. 8:1)

It is no secret also that most white people have a superior view of themselves against other races. Whether rightly so or not, that sort of thing ought not to happen in the church. But the cold fact is that the minute natural man latches onto something, he wants to use it to elevate himself. The Bible says so.

That is why, when the authority of Christ is not in the church, men bring titles and everything else of the world into the church. But where the authority of Christ is at work, no one wants to be recognized for who they are. Rather, God’s people will desire only to reveal the fruit of the Spirit through the cross working in them. This was the singular thing the Apostle Paul desired to have in his life.

“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” (Gal. 6:14)

Paul counted anything he might have had in the natural as dung! In Philippians 3:7-8 he writes:

“7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ”.

Paul had a lot to lose in the natural. But he realized that these things are of no value in the Spirit. But the fruit of the Spirit matters!

Is God really against the wise of this world, and the moneyed and them who have positions?

The answer, unfortunately, is yes. God wants the people He has called not to glory in these things. God does not want you waving your Ph. D in church. Go throw that in the dustbin and bring your circumcised heart into the church!

God wants us to glory in the things of the Spirit. But the flesh craves the glory of this world.

But… are we really weak when we accept to follow Christ in His weakness?

No, we are not. The Bible says of the exact moment that Jesus died on the cross,

“51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” (Mat. 27:50-53)

Great power attended Jesus’s shameful death.

It is the same with us. Great power attends a righteous man’s death. In weakness, we release great power in the Spirit. And in worldly folly, we become wise in the Spirit.

It has been one of the greatest privileges for me to minister amongst people who have little worldly education or wealth in central Tanzania.

It is wonderful to see how quickly faith builds up in such people, and to see the humility of their hearts.

[One of the purest sources of joy in my life is working with these humble men of God]

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The Gospel vs The Flesh

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers… 1 Pet. 1:18

The story goes that an Englishman, a Frenchman and a Ghanaian were flying on a plane and they were required to jump out when they arrived in their respective countries. When the Englishman saw the Wembley Stadium, he jumped out. When the Frenchman saw the Eiffel Tower or the Seine River (can’t remember which), he also strapped himself and jumped out.

The plane crossed the Mediterranean Sea and, upon sighting land, the Ghanaian put out his hand. A short while later, he announced to the pilot that he had reached his country. The pilot asked him what he had seen.

The Ghanaian replied that he had seen nothing; but his wristwatch had just disappeared from his hand.

Sadly, it is true that you can have your watch popped off your hand or your pocket picked at any minute in darkest Africa; and you should be thoroughly shocked.

In a related issue – to put the icing on that story –  the U.S. president, President Donald Trump, has directed that only 15% of aid will go to African countries because they don’t know how to manage resources.

Is he rrrrrrrrright on that one? Of course he is right. The African’s ingenuity in some arenas of life excels even himself.

These are not just stereotypes about the African; these are facts. Broad generalizations, given; but facts nonetheless. I know there are people who will burst a vein when they hear such things. But everything we are hearing from Trump & co. about the African is hardly news.

Notice that in our story there is nothing unbecoming written about the two white men. If you are thinking they are angels, you couldn’t be more wrong! I have never been outside Africa, but I do not need to travel beyond my house to know that the white man is as rotten as the African is. Indeed, in God’s eyes, every race under the sun is equally rotten. The Bible tells me so.

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

The only difference between the white man, the black man, the Chinese, the Indian, the Arab and any other race that might be on this earth is the diversity, or variety of rot. But it is all rot nonetheless. Whether they are white, black, brown or yellow, we all know what man is capable of. Since this is not a competition, I am not going to write down a list of the evils these other races excel in.  But, given the genetic factors that they possess, it is a given that, in their particular realms, some of these races are infinitely much more dangerous than the African.

These racial and tribal tendencies in men the Bible calls “vain conversation”. This “vain conversation” is who we are. And when the Bible says that we have received it by tradition from our fathers, it means that we have inherited them from our fathers’ gene pools.

Scripture makes it clear that each race/tribe has its own peculiar brand of rot. When the Apostle Paul left Titus in Crete, he warned him,

“12 One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. 13 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith” (Tit. 1:12-13).

The spiritual language for culture is flesh. Man is a product of the flesh. I see “vain conversation” all around me – in my own life, in the lives of my wife and children and in the lives of those who surround me.

Man in his intelligence has tried various methods to try and suppress his cultural tendencies and in most cases it appears as if he has won the battle. But “vain conversation” runs deep. Deep in our subterranean consciousnesses, the flesh reigns supreme.

But I love what the Bible says in Colossians 3:9-11:

“9 … seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” (Col. 3:9-11)

That ought to suffice. There is only one weapon that can defeat the flesh: it is the cross. We cannot undo the flesh in us; only Jesus can, through the cross.

Through “Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23), the Bible says we have put off our old man and put on Christ. That means we have put on Christ’s character. That’s why it is not enough to say “I am saved”. We need to go ahead and realize the mystery of “Christ crucified” in our lives.

Putting on the character of Jesus is the greatest miracle that can happen to a man. May we (the church) humble ourselves under the cross of Christ and allow it to break us and to form Christ in us. That way, we will not exhibit the works of the flesh. Instead we will bear and show off in our lives the fruit of the Spirit.

“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 meekness, temperance…” (Gal. 5:22-23)

[We reveal the character of Christ in us when we crucify the flesh]

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The Call Of God – Part 2

God, He is God. He is I AM. You do not need to add “great” there because there is no adjective that can even begin to describe God. He is indescribable.

When Moses asked Him what name he would give the Israelites concerning the One who had sent him, God told Moses, “Tell them I AM has sent you” (Ex. 3:14).

He is THE EXISTENCE. We are not. Nothing is. He alone IS.

The Jews so reverenced God that they gave Him a name written only in consonants, so it would be un-pronouncable. They called Him YHWH.

God is also unsearchable. You cannot even attempt to search out God. The Bible in Romans 11:33-36 declares:

“33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! 34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? 35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? 36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”

Jehovah God is the I AM. He alone is THE EXISTENCE. In other words, He is LIFE.

Jesus told the Jews,

“I am the resurrection, and the life” (Jn. 11:25)

He also told them,

“Before Abraham was, I am.” (Jn. 8:58)

He was telling them His real Name. And the Jews picked up stones to stone Him.

There is nothing that man can do for or against I AM. When He therefore calls, no man can prevent that call from reaching the intended subject. The Bible in Romans 11:29 says,

“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”

Notice the finality, or authority, with which these words are stated. When it comes to AUTHORITY, we have not even started to understand the authority that God has.

In one of the pastors’ mini-conferences that we held in our town last year, I was surprised to see a heavily garbed woman weaving her way towards me inside the meeting hall. Upon reaching me, I realized it was Mama Zulfa.

My first words revealed the shock I felt at seeing her at the meeting.

“Mama Zulfa!” I exclaimed. “You’ll get us all killed!” I meant it.

“Oh no”, she countered. “But I just had to come and see the men of God.” She was all giggles. She was thoroughly enjoying herself. But she was in a hurry. She would not even be sitting through the session.

We introduced her to the men of God who had come to minister and it was an incredibly wonderful experience for all of us. They now have her in their sights and in their prayers.

But it was another introduction that took place on the sidelines that blew everyone involved away. Just as Mama Zulfa had made another historic mad dash across town, on this day also another piece of history was to repeat itself.

One of the pastors we had invited to the meeting was the pastor who many years ago led Mama Zulfa to Jesus. He had traveled from afar to attend the meeting. Now an elderly man, still he could not but remember the young girl who had cried out, “I am one of you!”

The man was wonderfully surprised. They stood facing each other, his face a block of shock; hers full of wiggles, wriggles and giggles. It was the sweetest homecoming for both of them. And for us too.

I would have loved to end Mama Zulfa’s story here, and I will. But hers is a story that simply refuses to end. There are just too many incredible events connected with her to narrate in one sitting. But the even more incredible fact is that hers is a story that will endure unto eternity, for

“the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”

[I worship You, Lord]

The Call Of God – Part 1

Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called… Rom. 8:30

The lady seated in front of me picked up her ringing phone and spoke into it.

“Asalaam aleykum!” she said.

At the other end of the line I heard another female voice faintly echoing the same greeting.

The lady seated with me was one of our church members and I was intrigued to know whom she was addressing in the standard Islamic greeting.

After a few minutes of conversing, I was surprised to see her handing the phone to me.

“It’s Mama Zulfa, she wants to greet you”, she said.

“Oh”, I said in astonishment. Mama Zulfa was a secret disciple in one of our churches. She was married to an Arab Muslim. We rarely talked, even on phone. But it was I, rather than her, who feared the most. She was an intrepid soul, and she came from a family of equally fearless people. Her sister had also converted, even though she was also married to a Muslim. And both her two children were also believers, albeit secret ones.

But the journey leading to this state of affairs had began a long time ago. It had began with the call of God upon a little girl’s heart. A long time ago, when she was just a little girl, Mama Zulfa’s family lived across the street from a pastor’s house. It so happened that this pastor, his wife and two daughters would always come out onto the verandah of their house at a particular time of the day and loudly sing Christian hymns.

The girl was entranced by this spectacle. But it was the songs that captivated her most. A deep longing grabbed at her heart whenever she heard the pastor and his wife singing the Christian songs. It reached a point where, whenever they came out to sing, she would be there, waiting. She recalls that her worst nightmare was when any member of her family would call out to her at such a moment! At those times she was lost in a different world altogether.

Because her family was Muslim and the pastor’s Christian, the two families did not interact in any way. But one day, she was all alone at home when the pastor’s family came out to sing. As they were winding up and preparing to go back inside, she could bear it no more. Without thinking, she burst out from the house, dashed across the street and hurled herself into the pastor’s wife’s arms.

“Please don’t leave me!” The cry came from the depths of her heart. “I am one of you!”

Shocked and unable to comprehend what was happening, the pastor’s wife quickly opened the door and let the distraught girl in. And there, inside the pastor’s house, the young girl heard the gospel and hurriedly gave her life to Christ.

But that was as far as the honeymoon would go. She was never to step inside that house again for, soon afterwards, the pastor and his family left the neighborhood and moved elsewhere.

Time moved on and it came time for the girl to get married, and she got married in the traditional Muslim fashion. But the call of God never left her heart. A Hand stronger than any force held her firm in her faith. But she would not dishonor her husband by joining any church. But one day she crossed paths with one of our pastors and that was how I would find myself talking on the phone to this incredible woman of faith.

By the time Mama Zulfa joined us, she had secretly preached the gospel to nearly half her family members! After she joined with us, she preached the gospel to her sister-in-law (the one seated in front of me), who also gave her life to Christ.

Now we have a thriving underground church who would never have known the wonder of salvation were it not for the call of God upon a little girl’s life.

But this story just has no ending. In a strange twist of events, Mama Zulfa would meet again with the pastor who led her to salvation…

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