A Preacher And The Village – Part 2

This portion of this post ought to have followed the first one quickly; but I got caught up in a new assignment the same day that I posted the first part. Five weeks ago, we started a new fellowship in a neighboring district and on that day I and two of my elders traveled there to see the brethren. But before I go on I need to make something known to my readers.

What the readers and those who follow this blog do not know is that the idea of a blog is simply alien to the people that I live and work with here. I often tell them that I write articles that are read all over the world, and the most enthusiastic gesture that I have ever received is a shrug of the shoulder. Such a thing is alien and therefore completely irrelevant to them. So therefore, although the blog is important to my ministry, yet the people here have very little idea or interest in it. But I have to acknowledge and respect their position since my work on the ground here takes precedence over this blog.

And so today I am back home and I can finish what I began writing two days ago. I was to tell you about a tale that I heard in one of the villages.

It began with the sad passing away of a small child in the regional government hospital. The parents and relatives quickly made arrangements to take the body back to the village for burial. It is not acceptable to transport dead bodies by bus, so they had to consider an alternative method of transporting it. On the other hand, they did not have enough money to hire a truck that they could have used for a hearse. So they arranged for one of the child’s uncles to transport the body by bicycle while the rest rode the bus. They bought a box, carefully arranged the body inside – and the uncle took off.

The uncle pedaled the bike until he had passed three or four villages, and it was at this stage that he felt a strong thirst. Unfortunately, his thirst was not the kind that is sated with plain water. His was the strong kind of thirst. He needed something stronger than water. And so, notwithstanding the urgency of the mission that he was on, the man laid over at the fourth village and entered a certain tavern.

Being on local territory, the man did not think twice about parking his bicycle outside the tavern. Once inside, he quickly downed a few drinks and prepared to leave. The solemn task of his niece’s funeral was firmly tucked in the back of his mind.

Unfortunately, someone was watching this man and immediately he entered the tavern, this other man stole his bicycle and took off on it. This second man was a professional thief who preyed on unsuspecting travelers. He had done this many times. He quickly pedaled the bicycle until he reached a certain village where he entered into one of the houses. Upon his arrival, he was eagerly welcomed by the lady of the house. Once inside, the man directed the woman to take the bicycle into an inner room. The woman did as she was ordered. She then untied the heavy ‘parcel’ that was on the back seat and put it on her bed without opening it and hurried back into the sitting room to converse with her man.

Meanwhile, with time, curiosity got the better of the woman’s children, who were playing outside. After a while they stopped playing and they made their way through a back door into their mother’s bedroom. There they found the gift “uncle” had brought their mother. They wanted to see what their “uncle” had brought this time. Whenever he came home, “uncle” always had a gift for their mother, and sometimes for them.

One of the children pulled back the covering on the top – and that was when all hell broke loose!!

With screams and shrieks the likes of which had never been heard in that village before, the children came pummeling out of their mother’s bedroom and before the mother could do anything, they were all over her and some even under her clothes. They held her tight and she could not move. And they were all pointing towards the bedroom and screaming, “Mommy! The box!”

The man and woman looked at each other in bewilderment and finally the woman managed to get up and rush into her bedroom. The minute she saw what was inside the open box on her bed – a small child’s head, with eyes closed – she let out a scream that would have recorded on the Richter scale. She shot out of the room and bumped into the man, who was following close behind.

Squealing unintelligibly, she in turn held onto the man.

The man walked past her and looked into the box. By that time, neighbors who heard the screams had rushed up to the house…

Meanwhile, back at the village where he stole the bicycle, a search party had organized itself and it was hot on the thief’s trail. It was not hard for them to follow the fresh tire marks that the thief had left behind. A party of five bicyclists was dispatched to go after the thief.

At the exact moment that the epic commotion was going on inside the woman’s house, the search party arrived at the village. And just as the thief was getting out of the house and trying to explain something to the people gathered outside, the men comprising the search party closed in on him and he was promptly arrested.

Thus ended the long, dark career of this professional thief.

The news of this ‘blockbuster’ incident had spread like wildfire, and when the uncle finally delivered the dead child’s body to his village to be buried, he found the entire village waiting for him. But it was not the sort of welcome he would have desired. His relatives and the villagers descended on him like a ton of bricks. He was severely reprimanded for failing to honor the dead child and the entire community.

He was fined two cows and three goats as punishment. One cow was eaten at the funeral and the rest were given to his brother.

Thus ended the long career also of this professional drunkard.

[Evangelizing in the village]

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A Preacher And The Village – Part 1

I just came back from visiting one of our churches in the village. Whenever I go to the village, I go prepared for anything. Not wanting to be a burden to my brethren in the village, I carry everything that I need. In the old days of the charismatic gospel, preachers were taught to expect to be ministered to by their hosts in everything. Not anymore. When the gospel of the cross came into our church, it threw that bossy attitude out.

The only thing I do not carry when I go to the village is food. I never carry any kind of food. I desire to share what the villagers have. In the first place, I love the indigenous cuisine. It is not wide in variety; much of the time it is just maize or millet meal with indigenous greens. But there is also milk and honey, two delicacies that are close to my heart (or, more appropriately, my stomach).

The other reason why I don’t carry food to the villages is because I do not want to bring up the image that I am special species of human being. Even if I am not absolutely ecstatic about the food that my hosts sometimes put before me, yet the Bible says that the Kingdom of God is not food and drink. With me, it is more important to mesh in with my brethren in the Lord than to cater to my refined tastes. The Bible says that was what Moses did (Heb. 11:24-26).

I go prepared for everything and anything. Sometimes I sleep on a mat because there is no mattress. One thing I have never found in the village is a pillow. But for me that is no problem; I use my Giorgio Armani coat for a pillow. (That coat was given to me by a friend and I often wonder how he would feel if he knew the uses that I put it to. That’s the same coat you will find me wearing back in town. Whenever I am invited to a wedding or any other high-class functions, I take the coat to the drycleaners; and no one at those parties has a clue that the coat that I am wearing is the same one that I use for a pillow in the villages. I can attest to the fact that Giorgio Armani are the best in the world. I have used (and misused) this coat for years, and it still looks brand new!)

And then there are the snakes, bugs, bats, rats, ants… I remember I once slept in this man’s house, and unfortunately the man had built his house right on top of a ‘safari’ ant colony. It was raining, and the ants came up at night and encircled me. The whole room was filled with them, right up to the roof! The modus operandi of these fellows is that once they have besieged an enemy and covered him from head to toe, they initiate a signal at which they begin biting all at once. And their bite is extremely toxic and painful. But I woke up, asked the hosts for some fire and fought them off – after which I went right back to sleep. For the next two days, the same thing happened; but for me, rather than it being an inconvenience, it was an adventure.

My first encounter with bedbugs, however, left me wondering whether I was ready to continue with this ‘apostolic’ job. Bedbugs are my worst nightmare, and my body began twitching uncontrollably the minute I realized that I was going to sleep in that bed. But that was some years back. Today it is a completely different story. I am used to every kind of situation. Nowadays, if I am woken up by a bedbug biting or crawling over my body, I just swat it away and go back to sleep. Much of the time, though, I am blissfully unaware of their presence since the minute I hit the sack I pass out, never to return till morning.

In the villages, we walk, at times tens of kilometres in a day. Homesteads are far and apart, and there is virtually no form of transport save for the occasional motorcycle taxi which we hardly ever take since we cannot afford it. The village folks are used to walking and the longest distance you can walk hardly fazes them. But for we townsfolk, by the time you arrive back home you are in a near-vegetative state.

But, despite these hardships, the village is the place where I love to be. It is the place I enjoy life to the extreme. The fresh air, the beautiful scenery, the open sky are things I cannot resist. Memories of childhood adventures in the semi-wild environment and the hint of danger at every turn… The freedom and the thrill that a stint in the village affords me is priceless. Here, I have not a care in the world.

But village life has taught me many valuable lessons too. One of those lessons relates to the love of God. The soil in central Tanzania is particularly hard to farm and the people live a hard and thrifty life. But God has given these people many provisions by which to live, things that you cannot notice if you are just passing by.  They have honey, they have milk; and they have indigenous vegetables and fruits. The “mpama”, which grows only in central Tanzania, is the sweetest fruit I have ever tasted.

And then, of course, there is the local lore – stories of long ago. I have learned, for example, that the Nyaturu people, among whom I work, are migrants from Ethiopia. Indeed, their language is distinctly different from the Bantu dialects of their neighbors.

There are all kinds of ‘incidents’ in the villages. A while back, I heard one that left me speechless…

[Your bed and mattress, all in one]

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A Gospel And A Life – Part 2

1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

When the Apostle Paul set out to write 2 Corinthians chapters 11 to 13, he set out to accomplish the greatest mission of all: to prove how the gospel of Jesus Christ worked in his life. This is the greatest accomplishment that any man can accomplish this side of heaven: proving the gospel of Jesus at work in him. Let us not forget the gospel that Paul preached.

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

Simple and clear. Paul did not preach any other gospel. Paul did not try to bring up any ‘smart’ doctrines or anything to show how clever or intelligent he was. Nor did he try to show how ‘powerful’ he was. Paul wanted to show the power of Christ.

Any other gospel other than the gospel of the cross will produce false ministers of the gospel – the kind of fellows that we talked of in Part 1 – who in turn will turn out unproven Christians under their watch. Paul therefore set out to prove that the gospel of Jesus Christ was at work in his life. He gave the example of his own life as proof that the true gospel of Jesus Christ was working in him.

So how did the gospel work in Paul?

The gospel worked through Paul through weakness!! Hallelujah to that! The gospel worked through Paul allowing himself to become weak. The gospel brought in Paul a broken man. Paul would gladly boast of nothing of himself except his weaknesses.

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

The “infirmities” Paul talks about are his sufferings for the sake of the gospel. The sufferings for the sake of the gospel are the mark of a true servant of Jesus Christ.

This is according to God’s will, for Jesus says in Revelation3:19:

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten”.

Paul rejoiced in the rebuke and chastening of the Lord! It was his only joy. That’s so different from us.

Paul lays out his sufferings in 2 Cor. 12:23-33.

“… in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft… 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness… 32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:  33 And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.”

An apostle let down through a window in a basket!

Paul was hounded and pounded. And here Paul lays down the challenge: “If anyone wants to boast in the Lord, let him boast as I have boasted – in his sufferings for the gospel!” This was proof that Paul was a minister of Jesus Christ.

That seems incredible enough, but what is even more important was the reason for Paul’s sufferings. In Colossians 1:24 Paul talks about the reason he endured his sufferings:

“Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church”.

This life – laid down on the altar of sacrifice – produced the kind of person that God could use, one that could do the whole will of God. Such an one would love Christ’s church as Christ Himself loved it. Such was the man, Paul. He loved Christ church as Christ Himself loved her and gave himself for her.

In 2 Cor. 12:9, Paul writes:

“… Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

What “power” is Paul talking of here. Is it the power to lord it over God’s people?

No, on the contrary, it is the power to give of his life for God’s people sacrificially. The power to do all he could so that others could be built up in the Spirit. The power to lay down one’s life.

With such a man God was well pleased. Need we wonder, then, why Paul was given the mandate to preach the gospel throughout the known world and to single-handedly write half the entire New Testament?

[Recently sighted…]

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A Gospel And A Life – Part 1

Our key scripture for this new series of posts is 1 Cor. 3:1:

1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

As we read through this blog, we should always bear in mind that the message we are setting forth, which is the true gospel of Jesus Christ, is

“Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2)

I.

One time they were interviewing your favorite prophet from down south… Oh, did I say “your”? Sorry about that because he might not be your favorite prophet. But, just in case you dropped in from Mars, here’s the buzz: everyone today has to have their favorite prophet, one who can prophetically bring up images of their kids simply by tapping on an ipad, etc. The southern tip of Africa is heavily infested with these prophets. The interesting thing is that nearly all the top prophets peddling their wares in the south come from outside that part of Africa: they come from Congo, Malawi, Nigeria, etc. It is a virtual invasion of this country. Why this invasion?

Guess what? South Africa has the world’s greatest deposits of gold. This invasion is all about wealth, and it is not heavenly wealth we are talking of here.

In one of our neighboring countries also, they have the most mightiest prophet of God. He has to carry that pitifully slanted title because the English language has failed to provide him with an adjective that adequately describes his powers. This particular prophet would love the whole world to worship at his feet. Most of his countrymen already are.

Initially, it was thought that all this man wanted was a big-sounding title and nothing more. This was because he began by preaching forcefully against ‘pulpit thieves’ and even refused to take up offerings in his meetings. But it has now surfaced that the most mightiest of all prophets is a scammer of the worst sort who has specifically been targeting rich widows. He has clandestinely and systematically robbed widow after rich widow of their inheritances. After the initial daze wore off, some of his victims caught onto the man’s act and are now trying to reclaim their property through the courts.

The truth is that all these so-called apostles, prophets, etc., are nothing more than the worst form of scammers. Why? THE GOSPEL THAT THEY PREACH AND THEIR LIFESTYLES ATTEST TO THIS. The Apostle Paul’s description of them in 2 Corinthians chapter 11 is telling.

Paul first charge against them is on account of what they preach. He says that they do not preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ. He says they preach

“another Jesus, whom we have not preached”;

and that they carry

“another spirit”, and

“another gospel” (v.4).

In other words, they do NOT preach

“Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23).

They preach everything else apart from

“Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:2)

But recall that the Apostle Paul stated what the true apostle and prophet ought to preach.

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

That is the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

II.

Paul then goes on to connect the gospel that these scammers preach with the lives they lead. For one, they

“desire occasion” (v.12).

In other words, they desire to be seen. They seek after worldly glory. These are the folks who love doing their stuff in front of cameras in order to be praised by men. They love titles, and fame. They love being adored by men (and women).

Paul calls them

“false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.” (v.13)

Deceitful workers?

If you thought that everyone who works a miracle is doing a bona fide miracle from heaven, think again. In reality, Paul says, these fellows are ministers of Satan (v.14, 15).

These false preachers

“glory after the flesh”. (v.18)

If you Google them, you will learn about their net worth, the watches they wear and the cars that their wives and children drive. One famous preacher in the U.S. once said, “I am one of a few billionaires…”

They are all about going up and up and up in this world.

Finally, Paul calls them

“fools” (v.19).

How do you view someone who walks on air? Must be very wise. Or a billionaire? Can’t even come up close to them. Another ‘prophet’ in Africa calls his henchmen “wise men” (an attempt to compare them to the true Biblical wise men). All these people appear incredibly wise in the sight of men. But in God’s sight they are fools who are headed straight for destruction. Anyone who subscribes to the flesh is a fool.

Just in case you thought people masquerading as ministers of God are a modern phenomenon within the church, scripture here reveals that it is not. This is a problem that has been there since the inception of the church. Paul himself confronted it.

And Paul tells the Corinthians what these scammers will do to anyone gullible enough to entrust themselves into their hands.

“For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.” (2 Cor. 11:20)

Today, we witness too much of what Paul is saying here to write about it. But, strangely, believers will simply not heed scripture! The fact that these kinds of characters have not two or three but hundreds of thousands of followers attests to this. But it is also foretold in scripture. In 2 Timothy 4:1-5 the Apostle Paul gave his young disciple Timothy a mandate:

“1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 3 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; 4 and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

Notice verse 3. Who are the “they”? It is as if Paul is saying that a time would come when the entire church would be taken in by these false prophets! Sadly, indeed, it appears so today.

But Paul also foresaw in the Spirit long into the future that a time would come when God’s people would cease to have a hunger for the things of God, but would use ‘God’ as a platform to fulfill their fleshly desires.

When the true gospel of

“Jesus Christ, and him crucified”

has been sidelined, people will become everything but spiritual. For this is the only gospel wherein Christ is: where the flesh is being crucified daily. Christ is to be found nowhere else; incidentally, not even in miracles. Christ is firmly settled in the crucifixion of the flesh.

We will see more about that later.

[Have you seen the light?]

The Eminence Of The Cross – Part 2

Firstly, in 1 Cor. 1:17-18, Paul states,

“17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

Notice what verse 18 is telling us. It is making a difference between being saved and taking up your cross and following Christ. These are two completely different things. In other words, you could be saved but not be under “the preaching of the cross”. You could be a believer who panders to his or her carnal lusts. One who is not fulfilling the righteousness of God in their lives. But the Bible declares that to those who have accepted salvation, the cross is “the power of God”!

In other words, when we are allowing the cross to work in us, the power of God is revealed in us! The power to do what? To defeat sin and to work the righteousness of God in our lives.

The Apostle Paul feared lest the cross of Christ should be made of “none effect” in the lives of believers.

Wow! What a mighty revelation!! But Paul goes even further and writes similar words in Philippians 1:29:

“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake”.

The believer has two mandates. Actually, one – salvation – is not our mandate. The work of salvation has been wrought by God Himself; we were dead in sin, and God resurrected us in Christ Jesus. A dead person cannot resurrect himself, so we were not involved in any way in our salvation. Salvation is all of God’s grace (Eph. 2:5).

The singular mandate that we have been given is to crucify our flesh. God calls us, by the Holy Spirit that He has given to us, to crucify our fleshly lusts and desires. Galatians 5:24 puts it thus:

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

Again, this is of grace. According to His great mercies and love, God has decided to make us co-workers with Him. He makes us co-workers with Him in His fight against His enemies. And, pray, how do we fight God’s enemies?

It is not by screaming at the devil, as most believers have been taught. Nor is the believer’s victory in the thousand and one “steps” that fill most charismatic teachings.

On the contrary, there is only one way to defeat the enemy. It is by crucifying the flesh! God gives us His Holy Spirit for the express purpose of crucifying the flesh. Once we have crucified the flesh, we are done. Done, I said. That is what it says in Ephesians 6:10-20. Here, it is well documented how our spiritual warfare is waged solely on the battleground of the flesh. Just look at our armor (vss 14-18).

Truth. Righteousness. Peace. Faith. Salvation. The Word of God. Prayer. All these things require a denial of self.

It is all about crucifying the flesh! Once we crucify the flesh, the devil has nothing in us (Jn. 14:30). The devil fears a dead Christian! But when he meets a ‘live’ believer (i.e., one who is living for himself), the devil has a powerful weapon. We do the devil’s work when we fulfill the desires of the flesh.

Hence the cross. This mandate that we have from God – to crucify our flesh – was the reason the Apostle Paul held the cross in such esteem. You can see in his epistles that the singular thing that the Apostle Paul defended was the cross. Unlike many preachers in his time (but more so today), Paul did not boast in the great works that were done through him; nor in visions and heavenly visitations, all of which he had in abundance. On the contrary, Paul boasted

“in mine infirmities” (2 Cor. 12:5)

What does Paul mean by “infirmities”?

We shall see that in the next chapter of this series.

A Reward Awaits!

Do you know that, right now, as you sit there reading this, something awesome is going on in heaven. In fact, many unimaginably marvelous things are happening in heaven just about right now. Let us read about a few of them.

“1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:1-2)

Wow! Notice the second part of this scripture. It is informing us of an incredible fact. That right now, as we speak, Jesus is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Right now. Wow! How truly awesome! But the reason for this, as we shall be seeing shortly, is due to something that Jesus did while He was here on earth.

But let us read on further about what is going on in heaven with Jesus. Bear in mind this is happening real time.

The Apostle Peter, talking about Jesus, says:

“Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers made subject unto him.” (1 Pet. 3:22)

Wow! Jesus is not only seated at the right hand of God; but angels and authorities and powers have been made subject to Him. As we speak, Jesus wields power and authority over every angel, power and authority, whether in heaven or on the earth.

Wow!

Let us read a little bit further.

In Acts 7:55-56, as the Jews were stoning Stephen, he lifted up his eyes in the Spirit, and the Bible declares:

“55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”

Again, Wow!

Jesus was not only now seated; He had stood up. He stood for this man Stephen.

Who do we stand for, anyway? We stand for those who are worthy of our respect: the elderly; and those who have accomplished something worthy of our honor. In athletics, as the winner comes round the last bend of the final lap, we all stand to cheer. It is what took us there in the first: to experience the thrill of victory. We cheer wildly for the victor. We cheer wildly for someone who has done well.

I remember one time, during a great football match, that the great master of football, Ronaldinho, playing for the great team of Barcelona, played such a fine game against another great team, Real Madrid, that, at the final whistle, not just the Barcelona fans, but all the Real Madrid fans stood up to honor him. They stood up to honor an opposing player. That was the great maestro, Ronaldinho. He and Pele are the greatest pair who ever touched a ball.

But the Christian believer runs a different race altogether. All these great worldly accomplishments by earthly people are nothing when it comes to what we are called to do in the Spirit. Nevertheless, they are there for us to imitate in the Spirit.

As the man great man of faith, Stephen, made his final victory sprint across the finishing line of eternity, Jesus, seated at the right hand of God, could not bear it; and He stood up. He stood up to cheer Stephen, and to honor him. When the Bible says that Jesus stood up, that means all heaven stood up. All heaven stood up to applaud and honor a great athlete in the Spirit.

Back to Jesus. The Bible firmly affirms that Jesus is set at the right hand of God in heaven. But, as I said earlier, the reason Jesus is seated at the right of God in heaven was because of something He did while He was here on earth. Yes, Jesus did something right here on this earth that earned Him such a great reward from God. What, pray, could one do on this earth that could give one such a mark of distinction in the presence of God? The Bible has the answer. It tells us that Jesus:

“… endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

While He was here on earth, Jesus endured the cross and despised its shame. For this reason, He is seated at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities and powers subject to Him.

You cannot have your cake and eat it. That is a worldly saying; but then God has given men the wisdom to coin such sayings, for their own good.

When He was here on earth, although He was God, and although He was Lord of all and had all power and authority both in heaven and on earth (Mat. 26:53); yet Jesus

“7 … 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.” (Phil. 2:7-8)

Did we read the word “humbled himself” there? Yes, Jesus humbled Himself. He made Himself of no repute. He willingly surrendered all He had. He gave His body to sinful men, to do with it as they wished. And they rent all their anger and rage upon that body. He stood silently as they did so. He did not lift a finger to defend Himself.

This is what the cross is all about. That was Jesus, who was God and who was Lord of all. He endured the cross.

How much more we? How much more ought we to humble ourselves under the cross? How much more ought we to count ourselves as dung in this world, that God might lift us up in the Spirit? How much more ought we to confront situations (and wilful men) with grace in our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit in us? For this was exactly what Jesus did.

For this reason God has greatly exalted Jesus.

“9 Wherefore God also hath exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Again, Wow!

What a great calling we have! Yes, right now. What an incredible opportunity we have! What an incredible grace, to be able to follow Jesus in His sufferings and death, that we might enter victorious in heaven, and to be equally exalted?

What is our reward, anyway?

It is to live with Him forevermore. To behold the face of God forever! The Bible in Psalms 16:11 says:

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy: at the right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”

We normally associate the word “pleasures” with the worldly pleasures that we know of. But I sure am glad to read that with God there are “pleasures”; which are no mere worldly pleasures! We have no business pursuing worldly pleasures, which are so temporal. God has in store for us eternal pleasures.

The problem is that when our spiritual eyes have not been opened we do not see these things and we therefore live largely for the flesh and its desires.

But if we see these things in the Spirit, we will deny ourselves as Jesus did. That in effect means we will have no rights to fight for. We will endure the cross, and despise its shame.

[The athlete goes to great lengths to achieve his/her goal]

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Kishapu!

I have been AWOL! That means I left this blog without saying so much as a goodbye. Again! And that was almost two weeks ago. For this reason I feel extremely indebted to ask my faithful readers’ forgiveness. You have been extremely kind to me. These days, though, much of the time I travel without my laptop, which ends any writing plans I might have – until I get back home.

But, that aside, I have been to the most awesome place ever. For one, it is the hottest spot on earth; or, to be fair, certainly the hottest place I have ever been to. Here, the sun comes up earlier than normal and, by 8 a.m. the walls are already hot to the touch. By mid-day, when the sun is supposedly hottest, you are already toast. Everything is white and you cannot see clearly. If someone is coming towards you, say, a hundred meters or so away, they seem to be floating on air. Much like the preacher whose video has been circulating on the net, if you’ve had the misfortune of seeing it.

You would think things couldn’t get worse. But late afternoon, evening and the entire night brings even hotter tidings, and you go to sleep simply out of fatigue.

The town is called Kishapu. It is a small place in the municipality of Shinyanga. It is dirt poor. And it is far from any form of civilization.

But there are God’s people here and this was the reason we chose to host our regional ZGACT ladies’ conference here. Our regional churches comprise those in Shinyanga and Singida. We had ladies from both these regions attending.

We also had an outdoor crusade, which was held late in the evenings. The preachers were Majura and Boni Mkami, both renowned evangelists within our church. Pastor Eli Mpule was the key speaker at the ladies’ meetings, together with the women leaders.

At night, Evangelist Mwakitalu showed Christian films to large crowds.

The conference and crusade ran for a whole week. Far from what you might be thinking, what made Kishapu interesting was not the heat; rather, it was the presence of God. God’s presence was incredibly powerful in these meetings. God was at work, saving and healing people’s bodies and hearts. I, for one, was so blessed I did not want the meetings to end in spite of the unbearable heat.

Every day, during the crusades, people gave their lives to Christ and many souls were added to the Kingdom of God. And the ladies’ meetings were so full of the presence and anointing of God. The teachings were solid teachings meant to bring God’s people to maturity in the Spirit. The key to spiritual maturity? Deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Christ. It was a message meant, not just for women, but for every man and every young person also.

The resident pastor, Pamfile, had also invited the local pastors, many of whom attended the outdoor meetings for every one of the seven days that the meetings ran. On the last day, we had a get-together dinner with these wonderful men of God and their wives, where Pastor Mpule had the opportunity to introduce the gospel of the cross to these great men of God. It was poignant to see such men declaring they had never heard such words in their lives! And humbly pointing to the deep divisions that existed in their midst. It was the first time ever for them to come together. Some were even not on talking terms with each other!

Kishapu was the place we ALL ought to have been!!

Below, in pictures.

  1. The ladies’ conference was powerful and edifying. Pastor Eli and Mrs. Boni ministering the gospel of the cross

2. The outdoor meetings were packed to capacityImage21184

3. And the praise and worship team was simply awesome

4. Many pastors from neighboring churches came to share in the blessingsImage21199

5. The incredibly gifted man of God, Boni, prepares to go to ministerImage21070

6. Every day, souls came forward to receive JesusImage21044

7. All the pastors who attended were at hand to minister to the sick and needyImage21119

8. Sometimes the meetings went way deep into the nightImage21154

9. Only God knows what could have been going in the heart of this little boyImage21113

10. “Let the little children come to me.” Appropriately enough, the children heard the gospel while seated on Jesus’s donkey cartImage20992

11. In the evenings, it was time to watch Evangelist Mwakitalu’s awe-inspiring filmsImage21061

12. The only way to escape Kishapu’s sizzling heat was to stay buried inside the church building… or six feet under