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A Prayer For Malawi and the Fresh Presidential Elections

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Our Heavenly Father, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
The Great I AM who does not change;
Who keeps every promise and does not forsake the work of his hands.
You are the Great King of the universe.
You alone change times and seasons
You alone raise up kings and bring down kings
You alone is the true God
And the universe is filled with your glory and majesty

Father, we thank you for our nation of Malawi.
We thank you for blessing us with peace and freedoms we enjoy
The freedom to worship you and preach the gospel
The freedom to choose our own leaders
We thank you for our people and their hard-working spirit
We thank you for our beautiful country
As we sing in our national anthem, thank you for
“Our own Malawi, this land so fair,
Fertile and brave and free.
With its lakes, refreshing mountain air,
How greatly blest are we.
Hills and valleys, soil so rich and rare.”

As we approach your throne of grace and holiness
We are reminded that we are sinners in need of your forgiveness
So we confess our sins before you
Lord, forgive us for not loving you with all our hearts
For worshipping the idols of this world rather than you
Please also forgive us for not loving our neighbors as ourselves
And committing the sins of tribalism, regionalism, and favoritism
May you forgive us for being unkind to one another
As one politician once observed, forgive us for
“Often judging those we disagree with, whether politically or otherwise,
By their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions.”
For exaggerating their weaknesses while minimizing ours
May you forgive us for slander, spreading lies, and unkind words
Forgive us, Lord, for justifying our hatred for those we disagree with
By claiming that it is righteous anger
Forgive us for harboring bitterness and refusing to forgive
Forgive us for abusing our positions and authority for selfish gain and ambition
Forgive us for corruption that is so rampant in many levels of our society
Forgive us for dishonest gains, theft, cheating, and disregard for the law
Forgive us for sexual immorality and ungodliness in our nation
Lord, our sins are many
And you are justified to condemn us
Only you and against you have we sinned
So we pray for your mercy and grace.
We thank you that with you is forgiveness that you may be feared
Cast us not away from your presence but may you do good to Malawi
We are thankful for Jesus Christ the perfect sacrifice for all our sins.

Father, as we look forward to June 23, 2020 with great anticipation
To cast votes in the Fresh Presidential Elections,
We pray for those entrusted with responsibility of managing them
We pray for all the commissioners of Malawi Electoral Commission,
All the staff, all security agents, and all political party monitors
May you give them the courage to stand up for what is right and just
May they undertake their work without fear or favor
We pray for your wisdom and guidance for voters
As you have created us in your image, we all long for a country marked by
Justice, unity, freedom, order, and opportunities for all
A nation where law-breakers are punished and the “innocent” are protected
We desire a nation that is less corrupt and more prosperous
So we pray that you please give us a president and a vice
Who will help us achieve our aspirations as a nation
As you blessed your people long ago with good and godly leaders
Like Moses, Joshua, David, Nehemiah and others
We also pray that may you grant us upright leaders today
Yet, Lord, help us to remember that no single human being
Can grant what only you is able to give
Hence we pray that help us not to put our trust in princes
In a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
Father, we also pray that when the elections are over,
Malawi will continue to be peaceful and stable
We pray that the winners will celebrate with modesty and grace
The losers will lose with dignity
And honor the will of Malawians expressed through the ballot

Heavenly Father, as we look at Malawi right now,
We realize that our problem lies deeper than politics and leadership
Because we all like sheep have gone astray
Each one of us has turned to his own way
We have fallen short of your glory and no one is righteous – not even one
So we pray for godly sorrow over our sins that will lead to true repentance
Father, bring Malawi to yourself through your Son by the power of your Holy Spirit
That times of refreshing may come upon us
Father, may you also revive and awaken your Church from our spiritual slumber
May there be a great awakening and reformation in your Church
That we may be the true light and salt of Malawi
In Jesus’ name we pray:
Amen!

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Christianity and theology

Three Things That COVID 19 Reminds Us About God and Life

Coronavirus has almost brought the world to a halt. Boarders and airports have shut down; schools and businesses have also closed down. There is fear and panic in many parts of the world and Malawi is no exception. Now how should we react or think of this disease which the World Health Organization has just declared a pandemic? I would like to point out three things that coronavirus should remind us of:

1. THE IMPACT OF SIN UPON CREATION
The impact of the fall (sin) upon creation is real. When our first parents, Adam and Eve, sinned against God their sin had far more reaching effects than we often like to think. Death, diseases, germs (including coronavirus), and suffering are some of the consequences of the fall. We praise the Lord for man’s creativity and the strides that have been made in science, medicine, and technology. However, these advances can never erase the effects of the fall upon creation. Only Jesus Christ can. This is why Apostle Paul tells us that creation is groaning and waiting for its redemption in Christ (Romans 8:18-25). Indeed, a day is coming when Christ will usher in a new creation that will never be affected by sin, death, coronavirus, or any evil (Revelation 21:1-5).

2. THE BREVITY OF LIFE
Coronavirus should remind us how short our days are here on earth. Within a short period of time the virus has spread across the globe and claimed close to eight thousand lives. It is possible that it will claim more. When this year was beginning no one in Malawi ever imagined that three months down the line we would find ourselves preparing against the virus. By then it was only in Wuhan, China. Many thought it will end there. But now it threatens to claim your life and my life. The brevity of life should cause us to always be ready to meet our maker and judge. The psalmist was very insightful when he observed: “O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am. Behold you have made my days a few handbreadths…Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath” (Psalm 39:4-6).

3. THE NEED TO TRUST GOD
But all is not dark and bleak. Jesus Christ calls us not to despair. “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also,” (John 14:1-3).

“Let not your hearts be troubled,” Jesus says. But you might ask: how can I be calm in the midst of a pandemic that is killing thousands? Jesus tells us how: by BELIEVING in God which also means believing in Christ for Christ is God.

• BELIEVE that Jesus is in heaven preparing a place for you, dear Christian. He fully knows what sin has done to this world. He doesn’t want us to live in this fallen world forever so he is preparing us a glorious home.

•. BELIEVE that Jesus is coming again to take you home where there is no coronavirus.

Although not mentioned in John 14:1, somewhere the Bible adds:

•. BELIEVE that Jesus Christ has overcome death. Corona virus can only kill the body but it can never separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. In fact, even though a Christian might die of the virus he/she shall still live (John 11:25).

•. BELIEVE that Jesus Christ is at the right hand of the Father praying for you (Romans 8:34) and nothing will happen to you without him sanctioning it. He is able to keep you and your loved ones safe through the pandemic.

•. BELIEVE that Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords who is in control of all the affairs of the world (Colossians 1:16-17). Even the coronavirus is his virus, and he is making it work for the good of his people (Romans 8:28).

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Christianity and theology

It is Finished: What Christ Accomplished for Us on the Cross

On a Friday like this one about 2000 years ago, Christ was hanged on the cross at about 9 O’clock in the morning (Mark 15:25). From noon to about 3pm, darkness engulfed the land and Christ bore the wrath of God on behalf of his people (Luke 23:44). Theologians call this penal substitution of vicarious atonement. As he who knew no sin became sin for us on that old rugged cross (2 Cor. 5:21), for first time in his life, he experienced a broken fellowship between him and his Father. As one hymn writer once put it, “the Father turned his face away.” And for first time in his life the Son could not call God the Father, “my Father.” The sense of abandonment was so huge that the Son cried out, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). Here one of the Christian Creeds, the Apostles creed, summarizes very well what Christ went through and calls it, hell- “He descended into hell.” It was hell that Christ suffered the last three hours of his life. Of course all his earthly life was marked by suffering but this was the climax of it all. And it was all for our sake. What amazing love! “Love so amazing so divine demands my life, my soul, my all.”

Then after paying the full penalty and drinking the cup of suffering to the final dregs and knowing that all was now finished, Jesus cried out, “It is finished.” It is done! Then he voluntarily gave up his life (for no one could take it from him) and said, “Father in your hand I commit my Spirit.” (Luke 23:46). These were the very last words of Christ on the cross!

That phrase, “It is finished,” is very powerful and means everything for every person who is in Christ.

  1.  It is finished: Expiation is done: By that we mean that Christ has taken away the guilt of our sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).
  2. It is finished: Propitiation is done: By that we mean that Christ has fully appeased God’s wrath; therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 3:25-26; 8:1))
  3. It is finished: Reconciliation is done: By that we mean we have been reconciled to God and God has removed the enmity that existed between us and him (Col. 1:19-20; Romans 5:10-11).
  4. It is finished: Redemption is done: By that we mean Christ has paid his own life as a ransom to redeem us from the bondage of sin (1 Peter 1:18-19).
    5. It is finished: Conquest is done: By that we mean that Christ has conquered sin, Satan and death (Col. 2:14-15; 1 Cor. 15)

Friends, this is why the cross is everything for a Christian. This is why we ought to always preach Christ and him crucified.

God’s blessings in Christ as you meditate on what Christ has accomplished for us on the cross.

 

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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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