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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Christianity and Society

Pray for Malawi

Dear friends,

I would like to request you to urgently pray for Malawi. In the last couple of years, people living with albinism in Malawi have been attacked, murdered, and their body parts removed. It is believed that those perpetrating this despicable crimes believe that the body parts of people with albinism when used with other charms can bring fortune or make one rich (And we know that this is a dangerous superstition from the pit of hell). As I am writing now, this evil has worsened and many people living with albinism are scared for their lives. Just last week, a boy aged 14 was abducted.  A body close to where he was abducted was found with some parts removed.  The police are yet to identify the body.

While government, politicians,  and other stakeholders are working to address this evil, I believe, the greatest need of Malawi is the gospel. Please pray that the gospel of Christ will be preached in power of the Holy Spirit and souls will be converted. It is very disheartening that a nation that claims to be Christian can be marked by this cruelty. But in the midst of this darkness, I hope for the light that will shine and open the eyes of those blinded by the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:3-6).  As the Lord promised Solomon, I believe, we can stand also on the same promise, and as his people pray that God will heal Malawi, protect people with albinism, and more importantly, destroy this evil, and  revive his Church (2 Chron. 7:14). Thank you for praying. 

 

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My Review of Walking Through Infertility by Matthew Arbo

I was drawn to read and review Walking Through Infertility: Biblical, Theological, and Moral Counsel For Those who are Struggling by Matthew Arbo because my wife and I have a number of friends who are experiencing infertility. Furthermore, for the short time that I have been in ministry, I have come to discover that this is not uncommon problem among God’s people.

The book is primarily written for couples who are not able to have their own biological children and secondarily for those who desire to minister to them. Its main purpose is “to address biblical, theological, and moral questions surrounding infertility. The aim is to instruct and inspire the church, especially, those couples with personal experience with infertility” (p. 21).

Walking Through Infertility is divided into four main chapters. The first chapter surveys the biblical stories of infertility and how God proved his faithfulness to his people. The second chapter focuses on following Christ despite the trial of not being able to have your own biological children. The third chapter centers on the church and how a childless couple can find help and comfort from fellow believers. The last chapter analyses various ethical and moral considerations regarding modern methods of helping infertile couples to conceive and give birth.

I would say that the book’s greatest strength lies in the last chapter. Arbo goes into detail to explain the modern reproductive technologies and the ethical dilemmas they pose to Christians. In as much as we should thank God for the advancements in modern medicine and medical innovations, we also need to be aware that not all of them are without moral quandaries. Arbo’s discussion of intrauterine insemination (IUI), intro vitro fertilization (IVF), and surrogacy is outstanding. I would greatly recommend any Christian who might have questions or considering these reproductive technologies to prayerfully read this section.

IUI involves a medical expert taking a man’s sperm and inserting it into a woman’s uterus during ovulation to increase chances of conception while IVF is very complex and involves a medical expert taking a man’s sperm and woman’s eggs and fertilizing them in a laboratory and later implanting the embryo in the woman’s uterus.  Surrogacy entails a couple contracting with a woman to carry their biological child to term and surrender it back to them at birth. As you might see these methods raises a number of ethical and theological concerns. Should or can a Christian use any of these methods with a clear conscience?

Arbo does not leave the couple struggling with infertility to answer this question on their own. Instead he biblically and pastorally challenges them “to consider whether the relation between conception and sex is sacred and the manner of procreation as designed by God is open to amendment?” Towards the very end of the book, he encourages a couple experiencing infertility to consult, do the hard work of listening, thinking and praying for God’s wisdom. “Speak with others you trust—family, friends, pastors—and do the hard work of listening and thinking and praying. Wise is the one who heeds a sound word of instruction. In Christ are the riches of wisdom, and if anyone lacks wisdom, ‘let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him’ (James 1:5).”

This is why I say that the last chapter is the best part of the book. Not only because of its biblical and pastoral approach to these ethical issues but also because it explains very complex reproductive technologies in an easier to understand language for less scientifically sophisticated Christians like me.

Disclosure: Crossway has given me a courtesy copy of the book for this review.

 

 

 

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Christianity and theology, Uncategorized

Christmas Reflections: God’s Gracious Choice of Mary

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.  And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.  And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus,”(Luke 1:26-31).

Why did God choose Mary to be the mother of Christ? What did God see in Mary that moved him to choose her to be God-bearer? The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) responds and says that by God’s grace Mary was born sinless that is why she was chosen by God. RCC calls this the doctrine of Immaculate Conception. However, basing on the evidence of Scripture we see that there was nothing so special with Mary. Mary did nothing to deserve the honor of bringing Christ into this world. It was purely God’s gracious choice. Consider the following:

First, Mary as a descendant of Adam was a sinner just like every one else born in this world (Romans 5:12). In fact just like Jesus’ great grandfather, David, Mary was also brought forth in iniquity and in sin did her mother conceive her (Psalm 51:5).

Second, Mary was from a poor background. In her song of praise also known as the Magnificat recorded for us in Luke 2:46-55, she confesses of her humble estate and says: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant” (46, 47). Later she adds, “For he who is might has done great things for me…he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate (49, 52).

John Calvin comment on these verses observes, “This was not the loud cry of a pretended humility, but the plain and honest statement of that conviction which was engraven on her mind; for she was of no account in the eyes of the world, and her estimation of herself was nothing more.”

Third, Mary was from a very little known village of Nazareth.  She was neither from the capital of Israel nor any of its big cities. The insignificant village of Nazareth was not even mentioned in the Old Testament or other Jewish literature of that time. It is also believed that it was a popular saying in those days in Israel to ask the rhetoric question, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). Yet it is to this obscure village, which nobody expected anything good to come out of that God went for the choice of the mother of his incarnate Son.

Mary’s story resembles the story of our salvation. God chose to save us through Christ not because he saw anything special in us to move him to act in our favor. Apostle Paul reminds us: “For consider your calling, brothers (and sisters): not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;  God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,” (1 Cor. 1:26-30).

This, friends, is the heart of Christmas. God “tabernacled” with us not because we were lovely, righteous or friendly. To the contrary, God came to dwell with us despite being lowly, sinful, and with rebellious hearts. He came to save us from our most pitiful and hopeless state and to enable us sit with him in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). Praise the Lord for his gracious and sovereign choice!

 

 

 

 

 

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