Christianity and Society

The Man Named Epaphras

Lately, I have been studying the Epistle to Colossians and one character that has caught my attention in the study is the man named Epaphras.

Epaphras got converted when he went to hear Apostle Paul preaching in Ephesus.  Thereafter, he went home in Colossae and planted a church. Later, the Colossian church was faced with the problem of false teachers and Epaphras immediately went to Rome to meet Paul and seek assistance on how to address the problem (1:7-8; Acts 19:10).

The interesting thing with this man, however, is that he still remains a little known figure despite “working hard for the church at Colossae” (4:13). Unless, you take you time to critically study the epistle, you will never know how important Epaphras was to the Colossian church.

This is how things can go in our service for the Lord sometimes. We might give out our best and keep things moving by the grace of God but still remain little known figures. This should never discourage us since it is all about Christ and not us.  All the glory should go to him alone. As John Baptist once remarked, “Let him increase while we decrease” (John 3:30).

Therefore, never be bothered so much about getting a credit for your service unto the Lord because the truth is that you will not always get it. All the same continue to serve the Lord faithfully and seek to bring all the glory to Him like Epaphras the unsung hero did.

 

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Christianity and Society

Christian Leadership is Not for New Converts

A couple of years ago, I was privileged to be part of a Christian group that conducted Bible studies every week and also encouraged one another through God’s word. One summer, the group organized a retreat at the lake and we were joined by two other friends who had just been converted to Christianity.

For some reasons, unknown to me, the leadership of our group entrusted these newly converted brothers with some leadership roles at the retreat. This was a great mistake as we will later realize. During the retreat, various teachings were programmed. But trouble came up when it was a turn for a teaching that had to deal courtship and marriage.

Ten minutes into this teaching, the two brothers felt it was not ‘spiritual enough’ so one of them  stood up while the teacher was speaking and told him in the face: “Sorry sir, but as one of the conveners at this retreat, I see that this is not what God wants. We can’t come all the way here to hear about courtship and marriage. God is telling me that we should spend more time in prayer not unnecessary teaching like this one.”

Boy! I couldn’t believe my ears. The brother was very zealous for the Lord but had little knowledge. The speaker was evidently embarrassed.  But thank God that despite being offended by these remarks, the speaker handled it very well  and we continued with our program.

Later as I reflected on this scenario, 1 Timothy 3 came to my mind. In this chapter, Paul discusses qualifications for Christian leaders and one qualification he lays out is that a Christian leader “must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6).

I, strongly, believe that the leadership of our group was wrong in entrusting leadership roles to these newly converted brothers. They were supposed to grow first in the faith as well as learn from other mature Christian leaders before they could provide leadership. I don’t think that someone who’s grown and continues to grow in their faith would regard a Biblical teaching on courtship and marriage as unnecessary and unspiritual.

This is just one of many examples of challenges the church faces as a result of entrusting leadership to new converts. Please get me right, I don’t mean to say that new converts are of no use in God’s Kingdom. This is not what I am saying and meaning. Rather, basing on Scripture I am arguing that new converts should be taught first and enabled to grow in their faith before they can lead.

It saddens my heart to see a person getting converted today and in no time he is pastoring a church. No, this can’t be! What kind of pastorate is this brother going to provide. Also, get me right. I don’t intended to underestimate the gifts and power that God gives out even to new converts. However, these gifts need to be nurtured over a period so that they can be used in a proper way that glorifies God.

In this part of the world, where many Christian leaders hardly make it into seminary, Bible or theological college due to lack of resources and inadequacy of training institutions, I would not argue that every new convert should be trained in such institutions before he leads a church; nevertheless, I would suggest that if one cannot make it into to a training institution, he should learn under a mature and godly Christian leader or leaders for some time before he can venture into leadership of God’s flock.  Timothy never went to seminary but he learnt from his spiritual Father Paul. Even apostle Paul, himself, before he ventured fully into Christian leadership on his own, he partnered with Barnabas and in the process he learnt some lessons of Christian leadership, I believe.

As somebody said, “Every Timothy needs Paul and every Paul needs Timothy” I would like to encourage our mature Christian leaders to identify young people, probably, those who have just been converted to Christianity and train them in Christian leadership. Young people should also be humble enough to sit down under mature and godly men and learn from them how to lead God’s flock in a way that glorifies God.  In this way, the church will never give leadership responsibility to a recent convert who may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.

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Christianity and Society

BUILD WISELY, BUILD ON THE ROCK

Sand Dunes

Not knowing Christ as the Savior is building on sand

Life is described with many similes. Some have described it as a drama; some have said it is like a journey. Those who are acquainted with roller coasters have likened it to roller coasters. Others have preferred to describe life as a race. These and many other similes are given to life depending on how one views life.

Christ also has his own metaphor of describing life. In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus  likens our day to day life with the art of building. As a matter of fact, he says that all of us are builders. He also goes on to categorize the builders into two namely wise and foolish builders.
This is what he says,
“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it has its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house and it fell with a great crash.”
On sand. This can mean many things, but to sum it up, we would say that anything that controls and drives our lives apart from Christ is sand. Anything that stops us from making Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior of our life is sand. To some, it might be fame. There are people today that are driven by fame. In everything they do, they value fame more than anything else, and this in the end leaves Christ having no room in their lives.
To some the sand can be wealth and riches. To them nothing, not even Jesus, matters more than riches and wealth. Different philosophies and ideologies that you hold dear to but oppose God’s Word are also sand. The list is endless. Those who have built on this sand should know that a day is coming when the rains will fall, streams rise, and the winds blow against their houses, and the houses will be crashed into pieces.
On the rock. The rock is none other than Christ. Those who have built their house on the rock are those who have believed in Jesus. These people can be assured that all will be well on the day when the rain will come, streams rise, and the winds blow against their buildings. Their houses will remain unshakable, and they will gladly sing: “On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.”
Finally, the day when rains will fall and the streams rise, and the winds blow against your building. This is the day when each one of us will depart this earth and stand in front of the great judge, the God of heaven and earth, and give an account of what you did with Jesus Christ. One important question will be posed to each one of us: Do you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and does Jesus know you as his? Our response will reveal whether we built our house on the sand or on the rock. So, build wisely, build on the rock and His grace is sufficient to enable us build on the rock.
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Christianity and Society

Reflections on Independence Day

Today, we celebrate 48 years of independence in Malawi. As we celebrate this day, I am also  reflecting on ‘spiritual independence.’  It has dawn on me that, spiritually, independence from God is not the  best thing because the Bible encourages us to lean more and more on God than on our own.

God in Proverbs 3:5, 6 puts it: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”

Christ also says: “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me,” (John 15:4).

Therefore, while in other areas of our lives independence is encouraged, in our spiritual life, it is otherwise. Whilst in other areas of life independence is a sign of progress, in spiritual life, independence from God is a sign of troubled and miserable life.

So, as we celebrate that  Mother Malawi has been independent of its former colonial masters for 48 years, as individuals let’s ensure that we are not independent of Christ but that we are leaning  more and more on him . Only then can we count ourselves as wise and successful people indeed. God bless Malawi. Long Live Mother Malawi!

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Christianity and Society, Uncategorized

The Fifth Chosen Generation Missions Conference 2012

It is that time of the year again, when Joy to the World Ministries organizes missions conference with speakers from all over the world. This year’s conference begins on Wednesday, July 4 and ends on Sunday, July 8, 2012 and  under the theme: “Give Us Our Daily Bread”

God has been gracious to me and I will be one of the speakers to this conference. I have been given two sessions. In the first session I have been asked to speak on the topic: “The Sufficiency of God’s  Provision Through His Word” taken from Deuteronomy 8:1-20  while “The Sufficiency of God Provision Through His Church” taken from Acts 4:32-37  will be the next  topic I will tackle in my second session.

Others speakers to this conference are: Rev. Fletcher Matandika, Founder of Joy to the World Ministries, Dr. Charles Morris, Dr. David Reimer and Rev. Stephen Roberts from USA, Mr. Hussen Latif,  Mr. Elliot Khembo and Mr. Joseph Matandika from Malawi.

I pray that you will join and remember me in your prayers and not only me but also all the speakers to this year’s conference. Most of the attendants to the conference are usually students from various colleges and secondary schools in Malawi.

Let’s pray that there will be faithful proclamation of God’s  Word and that  God in  His grace will use the conference to teach, rebuke, correct and train in righteous all the attendees as well as the speakers.

Also join me and pray for those who will come to the conference but have not received the True Bread of Life, Jesus Christ in their lives. Let’s pray that if it pleases Him, God will use the conference through the work of the Holy Spirit to reach out to these friends.

For more details about the conference please visit this link:  2012_Chosen_Generation_Conference_Bulletin-A4

Indeed, All men are like grass and their glory like the flowers of the field. The grass withers, the flowers fall but the Word of God shall stand forever. Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria! To God alone be the glory forever and ever!

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Christianity and Society

Great Lesson from the Life of Apostle Andrew

How should we react to our fellow Christians who are more gifted and God, out of his grace, chooses to use them more than us? This question lingered in my mind as I reflected on the life of Andrew one of the twelve apostles of Jesus.

According to the Gospel by John, Andrew and John were the first people to join Jesus’ ministry. Later on Andrew brought his elder brother, Peter to join the ministry too (1:35-42). In no time, Peter acquired a leading role among the apostles of Christ. When Jesus decided to form his inner circle, he opted for Peter John and James leaving Andrew out.

Apostle  Andrew could have been bitter and developed resentment toward the chosen three.  He would have even also challenged Jesus: “What’s wrong with you Master? Why leaving an old-timer like me and picking up younger James who has just joined the ministry recently to be in your inner circle?”

Surprisingly, however, Andrew was content to serve Christ in whatever capacity despite being the first person to join Jesus’ ministry. We don’t even read a lot about Andrew in the Bible. It seems that what  mattered most to Apostle Andrew was serving God faithfully. He cared little who got the credit or prominence.

This is what we need in the Church today. Sometimes, we fight for positions and roles of influence forgetting that it is not the positions that matter most rather it is our faithful service to Christ that pleases God most.

We also learn from Andrew that when people more gifted than us come from behind and acquire leading roles, we ought not to fuss about it. As long as Christ gets the glory, all is well.

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Christianity and Society

When Christians disagree…

Some people find it strange when Christians disagree. However, I tend to differ. Honestly, most of the times, I am not taken aback to see or hear Christians disagreeing except in a few cases when one clearly sees that God has been completely thrown out of the whole issue.

Christian squabbles don’t surprise me much because although Christians are saved and forgiven there are not perfect and there shall never be in this world. This is in no way condoning sin. God hates sin and we ought to hate it too. I strongly believe that Christians should always live a godly life. Nevertheless, it is a fact that sometimes we don’t. Let me not digress too much. The main issue here is about disagreements among or between Christians.

The story of Apostle Paul and Barnabas will help deliver my point home. These two Christians were greatly used by God.  They first met in Jerusalem when Paul had just become a Christian. While some were running away whenever they saw Paul because they could not believe that Paul had really changed, Barnabas accepted him and brought Paul before the Apostles and assured them that Paul was indeed a new creature in Christ.

The bond of friendship between the two grew stronger and even God was happy. No wonder the Holy Spirit chose the two to go and preach the gospel together in various countries outside Jerusalem (Acts 13:2). During their first trip on this mission, Barnabas took his cousin, John Mark along. As they continued to preach Christ in various countries, John Mark decided to return home before the trip had finished. Probably, John Mark could not stand the challenges that were being met in preaching Christ like being stoned or ridiculed or imprisoned. This act of young Mark did not go well with Paul.

Later on, when they decided to go back and revisit the churches they had planted in their first missionary trip, Paul advised Barnabas not to take John Mark with them again. But Barnabas insisted. This created a disagreement between the two. The Bible puts it that the two had “a sharp disagreement” (Acts 15:39) hence they parted ways. Not good for Christians, uh?

I am sure the people who witnessed or heard about this commented like: “How can Christians disagree?” It is indeed sad that the two Christians failed to agree. But wait a minute! This is not the end of the story.

In 2 Timothy 4:11, Paul writes, “Get John Mark and bring him…because he is very helpful to my ministry.”

Can you please come again, Paul. Have I heard you right? I thought you disagreed and parted ways with Barnabas because you didn’t like John Mark. Why this change of heart?

Of course, we don’t have a record of the reconciliation between Paul and Barnabas anywhere in the Bible, but I have no doubts that the two reconciled and buried their differences. I hope you have now got my point. Christians are not perfect but when they disagree, you can be assured that reconciliation is inevitable.  Ask Barnabas Paul, and John Mark.

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