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Through the Westminster Shorter Catechism – Q & A 1

The Westminster Shorter Catechism Question one asks: What is the chief end of man? Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.

The catechism here asks a very important question which I believe every person has considered at some point. Why are we here in this world? Why did God create you and me? The catechism gives two main reasons: first we were created to glorify God and second to enjoy him forever. Let me briefly expound on these two points.

In simpler terms, to glorify God means that we were created to live our lives for God and God alone. Whatever we do in this world we should do it to bring honor and praise to God. This is why Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.” Even in very small details of this life like drinking a glass of water or a cup of tea or coffee we are to do it with the purpose of glorifying God.

As we seek to glorify God we in turn enjoy being creatures of God in this world as one of the great African theologians, St. Augustine of Hippo also noted,  “O God you have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.”

I know that the word “enjoy” can sometimes be used sinfully.  However, here the catechism has in mind the real joy that comes as a result of a good relationship with God as we read in Psalm 144:15: “Blessed or Happy are the people whose God is the LORD.”

Friends, when we live our lives for God we quickly realize that there is nothing outside of God that can satisfy or make us happy. The Psalmist was right,  “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever,” (Psalm 73:25-26).

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Through the Westminster Shorter Catechism – Introduction

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Let me begin by welcoming you to  “Through the Westminster Shorter Catechism.” This is a series of posts in which I will take us through the Westminster Shorter Catechism and give a brief commentary to the questions and answers that we find in the catechism.

But before we begin with the commentary,  I thought that it is important to give a brief introduction of the catechism. The Westminster Shorter Catechism was written in 1647 by a gathering of pastors and theologians also known as the Westminster Assembly in England.  The purpose of the catechism was to be a tool for biblical instruction both for churches and families.

Ever since then the catechism has been used by Presbyterian and Reformed churches all over the world. So, what are some of the ways you can use the catechism? Let me suggest two: first use it for personal devotion. Read the questions and answers prayerfully while also checking the Bible to confirm that they are true. Second, use it to shepherd and teach the little hearts of your children. Just a brief personal testimony on this point:

When I was a child, my grandfather bought me the shorter catechism and taught me God’s word from it. I memorized its truths with an innocent zeal of a child. But later in my teenage years I wandered away from the faith. However, the Spirit of God continued to use those truths I stored in my mind and heart to convict me of sin and eventually bring me back to the faith.

Therefore, I would like to encourage parents who have little children to faithfully teach and encourage their little ones to memorize the catechism. Believe you me you will never regret doing it. I can’t agree more with Charles H. Spurgeon who  once observed, “I am persuaded that the use of a good Catechism in all our families will be a great safeguard against the increasing errors of the times.”

So, may he Lord bless you as we go through the catechism together and may he bless your children as you labor to teach them God’s truth.

 

 

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Christ Presbyterian Church is Here!

“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!” (Psalm 90:17).

In June last year we made announcement that we were coming to Blantyre. We are thankful that the Lord fulfilled our plans. On September 15, 2019 we officially began our church planting efforts with our first Bible study meeting. Up until the end of December we have been studying the book of Ephesians. It has been a great blessing to go through this epistle that has a lot to say about our salvation and walk with Christ.

As a church planter I was greatly encouraged to see the Holy Spirit applying his word to our lives powerfully. One instance that stood out to me was when we were studying chapter 4.  Towards the end of the chapter, Apostle Paul writes: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (4:31, 32).

These two verses spoke strongly to one of us who was harboring bitterness and anger against a family member. At the end of the Bible study, this person asked us to pray for them to overcome this sin and to be helped to forgive and seek reconciliation. It was very beautiful for us as a God’s family to come together, surround a fellow saint, and pray that God by his grace will help them accomplish what is possible only with the power of the Holy Spirit working through his word. What a blessing!

This is one of the reasons why Christ Presbyterian Church exists. We strongly desire and pray that God will ground and root his people strongly in Christ. When members of a family seek forgiveness and reconciliation due to a conviction wrought about by God’s word, Christ is glorified. It is also a great testimony to the world of the power of God’s word. We pray that God will continue to work in the lives of his people through Christ Presbyterian Church. As the Psalmist prayed, we also pray that the Lord will establish the work of our hands.

This month we have just begun studying the Gospel according to John. We are excited and looking forward to wonderful times as well. If you are in Blantyre,  consider joining us this Sunday and every Sunday from 2pm-4pm.

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Christianity and Society, Sound Teaching

Christ Presbyterian Church coming soon to Blantyre, Malawi

 

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“Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth…For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:7, 9).

I am excited to begin the work of planting Christ Presbyterian Church (CPC) soon, Lord willing. My family, friends, and I have been praying for this work for so many years and we praise the Lord that he is now establishing it. We will  start with a Bible study in September 2019. We have a few families that will form the core group of our study. We are praying for more to be added.

We also have three pastoral interns that will be joining us. We desire to invest in these young men and prepare them for pastoral ministry in the coming years. One of CPC’s major goals will be  to see more confessional churches planted across Malawi. We trust that the Lord will use these interns to help us accomplish our goal.

Looking ahead the following are major events coming up:

  • June 2019: My family and I attend a church-planting training in Europe.
  • July 2019: We arrive in Malawi.
  • September 2019: Our interns begin their pastoral internship.
  • September 2019: We begin to meet and study the book of Ephesians in our home.

So may we ask you to pray for us. Also if you have friends in Blantyre let them  know that CPC is starting soon. If you would like to know more or attend our Bible study do not hesitate to contact me or visit our website http://www.christchurchmalawi.org

 

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Christianity and Society

The King Who Can Always be Trusted

 

Today, Malawians have voted for the president, members of parliament, and councilors who will lead and govern our country for the next five years. This hopefully brings to an end the campaign period. As this period sinks into the annals of our republic’s history, one thing it has revealed or confirmed is that we all long for something better than what we are currently experiencing. All candidates who campaigned had one common message: making Malawians’ lives better and more satisfying.

Now this should not come as a surprise. It is part of us being created in the image of God. We long for justice because God is just. We desire to see all people treated equally and with dignity irrespective of their tribes or regions they come from because God created all people equal and he is no respecter of persons. We hope to see nothing but truth in government because God is the truth. We hate to see corruption in the government because there is no tiny grain of corruption in God. So when politicians promise us these things, we get excited and hopeful because that is exactly what the image of God in us longs for.

But here is the bad news. No person in this world will be able to satisfy our longing for justice, truth, fairness, dignity etc. Many can promise but none will deliver. This is why we should never look to the arm of flesh to grant what only God in his Son, Jesus Christ, can give. Only Christ can truly satisfy our hunger for justice and truth (Isaiah 55:1-2; Matt. 11:28-30). The great African theologian, St. Augustine was right “O God you have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.”

By this I don’t imply that human governments do not matter or that Christians should ignore their civic duties. No! It is God who establishes governments and kingdoms. He calls us to submit, honor, and pray for our leaders (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Tim. 2:1-3). But God never points us to our leaders as sources of satisfaction or meaning. Instead, he points us to his Son. Therefore, we should not be shocked if it happens that those we have trusted and voted today with the hope of making Malawi better dash our hopes into pieces soon. They are the arm of flesh and as prophet Jeremiah warns us: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD” (17:5).

Thus let’s pray and support the leaders we have voted for as they seek to improve the lives of Malawians, but let’s be careful not to lean on their arm of flesh. There is only one King who can be trusted unreservedly and always, the King Jesus.

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Briarwood PCA Conference: Leading the Nations to Christ

This past week I  attend a mission conference organized by Briarwood Presbyterian Church (PCA) under the theme, “Leading the Nations to Christ” taken from John 12:21.

It was a wonderful time. The keynote speaker, Rev. Dr. Neil Stewart of Christ Covenant Presbyterian Church (ARP) in North Carolina, exhorted missionaries to constantly look to Christ and depend on him in our work. Through a series of sermons under the title, “A Master Class with Jesus” from Luke 5:1-32, Dr. Stewart reminded us of our call to man-fishing, Christ’s power to conquer the strongholds of sin, Christ amazing love for sinners, and the importance of us being worshippers of God first before we are servants. He warned of that subtle temptation to be consumed with the work of the Lord  and forget the Lord of the work. We are first and foremost created to worship Christ and draw our power for service from him. The words of Charles Simeon summarize it well: “No amount of homiletical technique can make up for the won’t of close personal walk with God.”

Briarwood family was also amazingly hospital and generous with their time and resources as they cared for missionaries who came from at-least fourteen countries. I have lost count of how many times I have been prayed for or being promised to be constantly prayed for as we embark on God’s work in Malawi.  It didn’t take me long to realize that Briarwood is a praying church and understands that one of the great gifts they can give to missionaries is prayer.

Interacting with other missionaries was also a huge blessing. It gave me an opportunity to hear great things the Lord is is doing in all the continents including the closed countries. The promise of Christ that he will build his church and the gates of hell will never prevail against is ever true. What a blessing to hear that a church in one  of the closed countries is is one of fastest growing churches in the world. It was a good reminder of the truth that is regularly emphasized in the book of Acts that despite the persecution of the church, the word of God increased and the church grew in numbers.

The organizers of conference also organized a cake baking competition in which children, teens, and adults were challenged to bake a cake for a missionary and the best cake in each of these categories will receive $500 which will go to the accounts of the missionaries. I was humbled to see love for missions even from children. About 30 children baked cakes for missionaries. The icing on the cake for me was to hear that the cake that was baked for my family as missionaries to Malawi was the best in the teen’s category. I am very thankful for Emma Grace. This girl has great love for missions and great baking talents. She is also excited about our work of planting confessional Presbyterian churches in Malawi. She gave her all and managed to win for me and my family $500.

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I also enjoyed making presentations to a group of college students, high school seniors and juniors. The young people were excited to hear what God is doing in Malawi. I am very thankful for Briarwood’s commitment to Great Commission and to the work of making Christ known not only in Birmingham but the rest of the world. Their mission statement fully captures it all: “To equip Christians worship God and  to reach Birmingham to reach the world for Christ.” This, I can say without the fear of contradiction, is what really makes the heart of Briarwood beat. To God alone be the glory!

 

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Walking on the Highway of Holiness: A Tribute to Rev. John W. Chinchen

I have just received the news of the passing of Rev. Dr. John W. Chinchen also fondly known by many of his students as Rev. Jack. Dr. Chinchen was the founder of African Bible Colleges (ABC) in Liberia, Malawi, and Uganda. He was also my professor of homiletics (preaching) when I studied at ABC Malawi over a decade ago. As I reflected and thanked the Lord for Jack’s life, three fond memories of him stood out in my mind. They all begin with the letter, H.

First is Holiness. Jack preached and encouraged his students to pursue holiness without which no one will see God (Heb. 12:14). His Exodus sermon series titled, “The Highway of Holiness” remains one of impactful sermons on my life. As ABC family mourns his passing, I am comforted to know that he is now walking on this highway and beholding the glory of the one who is Holy, Holy, Holy.

Second is Humility. Jack demonstrated true humility of a Christian leader in a number of ways. One example that remains vivid on my mind is watching him caring the lawns of ABC Malawi campus. During the day, and sometimes during the night, one would see him going around the campus repositioning sprinklers. This other day, one of ABC labourers told me that Jack put on gloves and helped him repair a broken sewer line. As the president of the college, he did not have to do it. But he gladly chose to do this menial work, probably with the intention to demonstrate to his students and the workers that godly leadership is never void of humility and service.

Third is Homiletics. Jack was a man who loved and preached the gospel with passion. I recall the Tuesday mornings during my time as a student at ABC when Jack stood on the pulpit of the Kirk of the Hills Chapel and took us through various books of the Bible: Exodus, Nehemiah, Ezra, Colossians and impressing upon our hearts the truths of the gospel. I will remain grateful for one time when he spent about an hour with me in his office critiquing and guiding me in writing and preparing my first sermon series from the book of Jonah.

Some years ago, I was invited to speak during the ABC chapel service. I preached from 2 Timothy 3:16-17. After the sermon, Jack came to me and said something like: “Son, I am sorry, I have hearing difficulties, and I could not hear every word of your sermon. However, I heard you mentioning the word “scripture” many times. Thank you. I love to hear my students preaching scripture. Keep on preaching scripture.”

Jack is now with the author of Scripture. He no longer needs to hear a preacher like me expound it. As he rejoices in the presence of the Word, I will continue to preach the scripture as he encouraged and charged me until the day I will meet him again in the glory of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

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