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.