Friday, 24 December 2010

Celebrating the Saviour and the supporting staff

Yes we do have the saviour and we must celebrate his life. But the people God chose to collaborate with are very interesting people. I don’t think we celebrate them very much as we should. I think the wise men (Magi, Joseph and Mary are very amazing people.

I wonder why God did not break the news of Christ’s birth to the political leaders or even the religious leaders. They must have forgotten those prophesies- they did not see it coming at all.

Why the Magi or the wise men?
Until they received the visit from heaven the shepherds were nobodies. Notice the haste and the manner they went to visit the new born king Jesus. “…for we have seen his star in the East and have come to worship Him.” They made a long journey to go and worship the Lord. It’s also interesting that after seeing Jesus they did not keep it to themselves. They went and spread the news. Imagine if all those who have come to know Jesus decide to spread the news about Him? They also refused to fall for the treachery of King Herod.

Mary- the favoured one.
She could have replied I think you have come to the wrong Mary. There is another Mary on the next street when it was said to her that she is to give birth to the Lord. And what should I say to Joseph? She finally responded Lord let it be to your servant. She conceived by faith before conceiving in the womb. When God speaks there is no what if or buts. If you feel like nobody, Mary’s life tells that no one is unimportant to God. No matter your village, or upbringing God can reach you.

Joseph- the role model for the 21st century fathers.
How does it feel being told that the lady you have engaged is pregnant with another man, oh no the Holy Spirit? The manner in which Joseph handled this issue is of great relevance. Many of us would hit the roof. A very adventurous man- with only the words of Mary and the words in a dream to guide him, he took Mary as his wife. He puts his own wellbeing on the line for the sake of the wife and the child. Mary was down already and he needs not to stomp on her. There is great lesson in what Joseph did. When faced with a moral problem; reflect deeply as long as it takes, ask what the word of God says about this situation, act with compassion, be adventurous with God, and listen to God in whatever medium he chooses to speak to you.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Why do People Love Laws so Much?

This week I have been asked to stand-in for a preacher who isn't able to fulfil his preaching appointment. When I checked the text for the day, (Sunday 22/08/2010), I realised it's about the exchanges between a Synagogue leader and Jesus Christ about healing on Sabath, Luke 13:10-17.

There are 5 episodes to the story;
1. The woman and her condition
2. The intervention of Jesus
3. The Synagogue leader's intervention
4. Jesus's second intervention
5. The reaction of the crowd

Of all the 5 episodes, the one thing I find fascinating is the Synagogue leader's intervention. He's found desperately defending the Law, thus reminding the congregation that there should be no activity on the Sabath.

The Synagogue leader is not desputing that Jesus has power of healing nor is he doubting that the woman has indeed been healed. So what is his concern, that the healing has happened on the Sabbath?

For the 18 years that the woman has been in this condition, it's obvious that she's been observing the Sabbath. Has the Sabbath healed her? Imagine if Jesus had told the woman, I am sorry I can't help you because it's Sabbath today. She would have gone home very disappointed and probably wouldn't turn up again.

Come on people! Whilst admitting that laws are important for humans, it's also worth noting that laws are made for the people, not people made for the Laws.

Friday, 13 August 2010

An Interview with the Apostle Peter

My name is Kobina Adoko, from Gtv News. We have a very important personality in the studio today. I will be interviewing him very soon about a very important topic, The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ. The story can be found in (Matthew 17:1-9, Luke 9: 28-36, Mark 9:1-9)

Today we're fortunate to have in the studio one of the disciples who witnessed the event. He's no other person than Apostle Peter.
Peter, good morning and welcome. Thank you for joining us today.
Response: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Question: Why is it that your two friends, John and James couldn't join us?
Answer: They're granting interviews to other media houses.

Question: Some people accuse Jesus of discrimination for not taken the other nine disciples with him to the mountains. What do you think?
Answer: I think Jesus took the three of us with him because we were amongst the first to be called as disciples. I must say though that I wasn't actually called by Jesus. I was invited by my brother Andrew, and I think Jesus liked me so he allowed me to say. Also, you will remember when we went to the house of the Jairus to heal his daughter the three went in with Jesus. Again, the same three of us were with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. I guess Jesus trusted us more than the other nine.

Question: For what reason did Jesus take you to the mountain?
Answer: You remember the day Jesus called me Satan? Hmmm! I'll never forget that day. Jesus called a meeting that morning and told us he was going to Jerusalem to suffer and be killed. In fact, I didn't want that to happen so I called him aside and rebuked him. Also, he had asked us about what people think of him so I guess he wanted us to see what he is really about.

Question: What really happened when you got to the mountain?
Answer: When we got there the three of us fell asleep and suddenly we were woken up by a powerful light and we saw Jesus face shining like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light. Then all of a sudden Moses and Elijah joined Jesus and the three were having a conversation.

Question: What do you think Jesus was talking about with those two gentlemen?
Answer: I think they were talking about His dying which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem.

Question? What did you do when Jesus was conversing with the two gentlemen?
Answer? How stupid I was! I was confused and afraid so I said something like... Jesus this is fantastic, let's build three shelters; one for you, one for Moses and the other one for Elijah. Before I could finish speaking a big crowd covered us and we heard a voice saying "This is my son, whom I have chosen; listen to him". Then we found out that the two gentlemen had left.

Question: I understand Jesus warned you not to say anything about what you saw at the time.
Answer: Yes! He warned us not to say anything about it until he's dead and risen. So we only spoke about it after his death. I wrote extensively about it in my two letters (1&2 Peter), and John made it even clearer when he wrote in John 1:14b "we have seen his glory, the glory of one and only, who came from the father, full of grace and truth.

What a fascinating story. Thank you for sharing this with us.
Peter: Thank you for inviting me. God bless you.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

The Giving Pledge

In the morning of Wednesday 4th August I sat down to look at the readings for the Sunday 8th August as I am preaching on that day. I read the bible passage out to the hearing of my wife and when I finished reading, we both agreed it’s a difficult text to preach on. Methodist Church discourages preachers from choosing to preach on themes other than what the Lectionary has provided. This means I will have to stick with the so-called difficult text. The text in question is Luke 12:32-40. “Do not be afraid, little flock; your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom”. This little word fear has done a lot of havoc to humanity. Therefore, the admonishing from Jesus to his disciples and all of us that we should not be afraid is a welcoming one. But the fear factor isn’t why I felt the text is difficult. The reasons why I said the text is difficult is the two commands found in the text. Command 1- (v33) Sell all your belongings and give the money to the poor. Command 2- (v35) Be ready for whatever comes, dress for action and with your lamps lit. For the purpose of this article I will only discuss the command 1. In the 21st Century property grabbing society how best can I relay this text to the congregation that they should sell their possessions and give to the poor? I usually relate my sermon with contemporarily issues so while reflecting on this, there was breaking news which I thought I should consider. The breaking news was that - Thirty-four U.S. billionaires have pledged to give away at least 50 per cent of their wealth to charity as part of a campaign by investor Warren Buffett and Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Among the billionaires joining the campaign are New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, entertainment executive Barry Diller, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens, media mogul Ted Turner, banker David Rockefeller and investor Ronald Perelman. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1300336/The-greatest-charity-giveaway-history- Interestingly, each individual giver has to write a letter of pledge stating why they wish to give such fortune to the charity. It’s worth checking www.givingpledge.org. “The giving pledge is an effort to invite the wealthiest individuals and families in America to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to philanthropy”. Following therefore, from Luke’s gospel (Luke 12:33-34), 33Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. There is no much difference between selling your possessions and giving to the poor, and giving part of your wealth to the poor. My question therefore is would those billionaires giving the majority of their wealth to the poor means they have provided for themselves purses that won’t wear out, and have saved their riches in heaven? They have done almost exactly what Jesus requested haven’t they? Would the billionaires’ gesture therefore mean that they would be in good books of Christ? Moving on- what does Jesus mean by sell your possessions and give to the poor? What! That I can’t even own this laptop computer to write this blog? Still pondering over the command for the sermon on Sunday.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

You can be rich but don't be a fool

The media have blamed everyone from greedy bankers to naive home-owners, and in UK, Gordon Brown for the current economic melt down. In fact, Gordon Brown lost the last election partly due to the recession. Many believed he was in charge of the economy for over a decade and should have seen this coming and sorted out long before it got out of hand.

For the purposes of this article I will stick my finger out to the greedy bankers for the cause of the recession. They are no different from the man in the passage, Luke 12:13-21, popularly known as the parable of the rich fool. The bankers like the rich fool had stashed away enough money to put their feet up ,enjoy expensive holidays and take life easy whilst majority are struggling for ordinary things in life.

The story in the passage was prompted by a dispute about an inheritance- an individual asked Jesus to mediate between himself and his brother in a matter of family inheritance. Jesus refused to get involved in a family dispute, and rather gets to the heart of the matter-Greed.

The thrust of the passage is in v.15, and summarised in 21. In Luke 12:15 Jesus said, “Watch out and guard yourselves from all kinds of greed; because a person’s true life is not made up of the things he owns, no matter how rich he may be. If you read the rich man’s story in the passage, from the beginning it appears to be a good business model- something we all aspire to. I mean come on who wouldn’t like to be a millionaire; enjoying yourself, taking luxurious holiday and taking life easy?

The desire to create wealth is what gets us up early in the morning. We will want to be able to stash enough cash not only for ourselves, but our children too. Had it not be the pursuit of wealth I would not have left my lovely coast town for a city that the last time I saw sea was about four years ago, and I had to pay money to join a group of church members on a trip to sea side.

Of course there is nothing inherently wrong with being wealthy. After all, wealth and riches, especially in the Old Testament, is a sign of God's blessing, and we should not be embarrassed about the wealth that God has given to us. Jesus did not have any problem with the man’s wealth. The story got twisted when it was later realised that the man had made a false sense of security and had invested in ONLY things of this world, and NOTHING in the life to come. It’s sad isn’t it? When his earthly investment is wiped out the man will be left with nothing.Prior to September 2008, many people were hailing investment bankers for their ability to create wealth for individuals, businesses and government. They received huge bonuses for being genius. The world economy was booming, and we had great prospect ahead. Little did we know that we had bought into their greedy life style. When the recession brought its ugly head in 2008, and many businesses collapsed, and company shares registered its lowest prices, many learnt that we have been doomed.

There is nothing inherently wrong with wealth creation. It’s about how we create it and manage it that matters. Let us not only invest in this world. Let’s invest also in the world to come. Don’t be like the rich fool in this passage. Let us also be rich in God’s sight.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Why Fishermen?

One could understand why Jesus did not choose the Pharisees as his disciples. But could you tell why Jesus chose fishermen amongst his disciples? What was Jesus thinking when He chose those ordinary fishermen as disciples?


I am offering some suggestions based on my five years experience in the fishing business. Many will be surprised about my fishing experience. Born and raised in Abuesi, a very popular coastal town in Western Region, Ghana, I couldn't have let that opportunity go by. I spent most of my Secondary School holidays learning the fishing trade. It was great joy and with some financial reward. 
From my experience I believe these are the reasons why Jesus chose the fishermen?

  1. It was His plan that many come to repentance, not just a few. No fisherman goes to fishing just to get few fish for dinner. So far as there is fish they will load as much as the canoe or the boat can take. That is the kind of thinking Jesus was excited about. In the same way we must do all we can to bring more people to come to know Christ. There are lots of “fish” out there.
  2. Jesus was not na├»ve to think that evangelism was going to be success at all times. There will be times when there will be no result which could be very frustrating. In Luke’s gospel, we learn of fishermen often getting frustrated when they worked for hours and don’t get any fish. Therefore, Jesus wanted people who can cope with lack of result.
  3. Evangelism is as difficult as fishing.  Jesus needed people who can handle a difficult job. We too must understand the difficulty with evangelism. But if we are determined we shall prevail.
  4. Jesus was looking for obedience. We read from Luke’s gospel that Peter obediently let down his net upon Jesus request and immediately had a huge catch so great that he had to call for help to bring all the fish in. There are times when we have to put aside our professional ability and listen to some other authority. Jesus knew the fishermen are professional but they will be willing to listen to Him.  We too must learn to listen to the voice of God in everything we do in the ministry.


Saturday, 17 July 2010

What sort of disciple are you?

When the word disciple is mentioned many just assume you’re talking about a disciple of Jesus Christ especially when used within the context of a church.

I have come across two types of disciples in my Christian life- a religious disciple and a true disciple of Jesus Christ.

Too often people think that becoming a Christian involves first becoming Religious- first joining a denominational church. Rather than becoming a follower of Jesus Christ, we misguidedly become a Methodist Christian or an Anglican Christian or some other religious denomination.

Religious disciples are very good at reading and following the instructions of their denomination than the bible. Religious disciples become the police officers of their church enforcing the Do’s and Don’ts. I saw a typical religious disciple in a movie called “The Fighting Temptations.” She was insisting that people had to be baptised before joining the church choir. What is wrong with allowing people to join a choir before deciding to be baptised? Again, when the choir was about to perform in a choral competition she insisted that individual members confess their sins before going on stage.

Religious disciples are very good at riding on the moral horse at the least opportunity. They are like “Thank you Lord that I’m not like this tax collector sinner”. Another character trait of religious disciples is that the word change is like a dirty word to them. A mere mention attracts strange stares. What is wrong with the way we have always done it? They would argue. They will tell you that they have been in the church for such a long time and that is the way they have always done things.

I am not in any way suggesting that churches shouldn’t have rules and by-laws. My concern is when such rules are administered much to the detriment of the kingdom of God.

There will be more joy and blessing to the church and society at large if many people don’t sign up to become religious disciples. Their attitude keeps many away from the doors of the church, thus preventing them from coming to know our Lord Jesus Christ.

A true disciple of Christ on the other hand, is one who learns to think and acts like a real follower of Christ. A true disciple of Christ looks beyond the church walls. Such people do not exist to serve the institution church; rather, they serve the community in practical ways to convince people of God’s love for the world. Such people put Christ first before the church. True disciple of Christ are not denominational or church bound, i.e. they will be ready to team up with like minded people in any way that will bring glory to Christ. Therefore, in making a decision their main concern will be whether God will be pleased with that decision and not whether it fits in with the church rules. Instead of being tied up with rules, true Disciples of Christ use their conscience and the power of the Holy Spirit in making decisions.

A true disciple of Christ is what our society needs today. Our Lord Jesus Christ will be delighted to see you sign up to be His disciple.

Friday, 9 July 2010

What makes a person suddenly become a "dangerous" person?

Are all human beings created in God's image? Are all human beings "evil" sometimes?
I ask because in June this year, a taxi driver, Derrick Bird sparked a massive police manhunt when he went on rampage in West Cumbria, England, shooting dead 12 people and injuring 11 others.
Just last week a 37 year old Raoul Moat after his release from prison where he served 18 weeks for assault calmly walked into his ex-girlfriend's home, shot his ex-girlfriend, her new partner who was killed, and a police officer. One week now and the father of 3 is on the run and he is being sought after by armed police officers with £10.000 reward for any one with information leading to his arrest.
Before the attack started the suspected gunman's Facebook status was changed to read: "Just got out of jail, I've lost everything, my business, my property and to top it all off my lass has gone off with someone else. "Watch and see what happens." Is the above quote enough justification for this kind of action? It appears the lost of his girlfriend is his greatest concern hence he chose to deal with it the way he did. He also shot the police officer because he believed his ex-new boyfriend is a police officer. In the last few days he had widened his targets to include the general public.
I would have thought it would be much easier for a 37 year old man, 6ft 3in tall and of muscular build to find a new girlfriend. Many girls would like to go out with a man of such stature. His past conviction would not be a problem at all.
Surely something substantial might have gone wrong with this man rather than just a revenge. I started this article hoping to offer some answers, but actually I haven't got a clue. I leave it to you out there to offer some answers as to why a person can suddenly become a "dangerous" person.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

The Fellowship of The Believers

“All those who had believed were together and had all things in common.” Acts 2:44 .

I wonder if the same can be said about the Church today. What do we believe and have in common? Is the Church today just a bunch of people gathering for fellowship, or a group of people with common beliefs who will do everything to uphold those beliefs?

Some say they are Conservatives, others say they are Liberals. Go to a church today and you will find that members are divided along these lines; creation versus evolution, pro abortion versus anti abortion, pro gay versus anti gay, pro war versus anti war, pro immigration versus anti immigration etc.. So what does the Church really believes in? What belief systems binds us together?

The “free society” bandwagon- freedom to choose what you want means we can pick and choose at our own desire. We therefore become more “individual” (each one for himself/ herself) rather than a “body” (people with collective beliefs). We lose being loyal to ourselves and the institutions we belong. That is why many have the same “faith” but different “beliefs”.

What you are is implicated in what you believe. Our believes must reflects our faith. Many are picking and choosing at the least change of circumstances. Are you a Christian? If you answer yes then think carefully of what you believe. If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.

Try something new today

According to the Chief Executive of Sainsbury's, Justine King, "Try something new today" campaign was developed after research showed that customers wanted supermarket to help them with simple but effective recipe ideas.
I observe similar phenomenon in the church, most notably in the traditional churches. There is a research which suggest that most people are becoming more spiritual, but don’t think the church in its current state is the engine of fulfilling their spirituality. Many people have not only moved out of church, but from a theological roof altogether. Some in the church believe there will be a time when we shall see mass return of the "prodigals". Certainly not if we continue to do church the way we do.
We live in an age when more people are connecting with people through the use of youtube, facebook, twitter etc.. The church must surely have a rethink of its mission methods, structures and rules. We have to move away from church being a building where people go once or twice a week. We must look for new ways of translating God's message in this rapid changing society if we want the church to continue to make impact in generations to come. The "one size must fit all" approach is not helping. So come on, try something new today.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

WORDS ARE NOT ALWAYS NECESSARY

Preach at all time, use words if necessary. In other words, your life is speaking to people. Every one of us has a ministry. Yours might not be standing in a pulpit to preach. Your pulpit is your life. You may not be able to preach but at least you can be friendly, kind and offer words of encouragement.

Not many people are reading the bible these days, but many are reading our lives. We are ambassadors of Christ. (2 Cor. 5:20). We need to ask ourselves am I representing God the best I should? We are preaching every day with our lives. We are preaching to every one we come into contact with. What message are we sending out?

When people see us they must feel love, joy, hope and encouragement. Let your light shine. Let people love being around you. Facial expressions and body language are very important in our daily interactions.Words are cheap. Action is better. I would rather see a good sermon than hear one.