Thursday, 24 November 2011

Be careful of waiting fatigue

We've all had to wait for something. It could be waiting to pick a friend from the airport or for a home appliance to be delivered. It could be waiting for a child to be born. The expectant could arrive earlier or later than expected. Anxiety sets in when the expected time passes and there's no sign of them. Doubts begin to set in. Will he/she come? Your mind keeps wondering and all kinds of negative thoughts set in.

In some African cultures it is said that if a woman spends too much time during labour it means she had done something wrong. The people around her will begin to encourage her to think deep if there's something she might want to confess. The point is no one wants to wait more than expected.

There appears to be waiting fatigue surrounding the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Several years ago while on evangelism with a group of students, a young man said something about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ which I've still not forgotten. The young man told us that if Christ was being pushed on a shopping trolley from heaven to earth he would have arrived by now. He told us it's complete false that Jesus will come gain. Sadly, many people share the views of this young man.

You can call Jesus all kinds of names you like, but a liar wouldn't be one of them. Therefore, I believe when Jesus said "...people will see the son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory. He will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens". Will you be one of his elect?

The anxiety of waiting can be distressing and sometimes impatience can cause us to make a decision that we'll regret later. After waiting for your home appliance to be delivered and no sign of it's coming, you might decide to storm out in frustration only to come back in few minutes to find a note saying, sorry, we missed you. Don't storm out yet lets Christ come and find you've disappeared.  Just as people find something useful to occupy themselves while waiting, Christ knew the anxiety of waiting hence he recommended that we occupy till he comes, Luke 19: 12, 13.

Some of the things you could do while waiting for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ are;

  • Hold firmly to the word of God
  • Submit to his Lordship
  • Accept his moral standard
  • Depend on his strength
  • Live in constance relationship with him.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

B&B appeal: Christians have human rights too, says QC
Where do we draw the line? Where your rights end is where my starts. This is an interesting case. Christians have been taken for a ride for far too long. It's about time we claimed our rights. Christians aren't second class citizens.

Friday, 4 November 2011

You can't gatecrash the Kingdom of God

As we approach Christmas I believe many have prepared for the festivities. Many have bought all their presents. Those who haven't bought anything yet might have decided where and when they'll get their stocks for the festivities. Many have budgeted for how much they would spend on presents, food and drinks, decoration etc..  It is called preparation. It is much easier to prepare for something when you know the day or the hour of the event. It's very difficult to prepare for anything when you don't know when that event will take place.

That is the situation we find ourselves when it comes to the second coming of Jesus Christ. The disciples had sought to know when that event will take place, but all they had were some clues. Signs of the End Time. Christ gave the disciples several hints to warn them of what to expect of His second coming. He specifically referred them to Matthew 24:36, 42, and verse 50. Christ assured the disciples that His second coming would be sudden and unexpected, and then concluded the discussion with The Parable of the Ten Virgins . The parable is to teach us the suddenness and the unexpectedness of the second coming of Christ and call upon us to prepare in order not to be caught in an unexpected moment. Christ was making sure that what happened at His first coming doesn't happen again so He gave ample warnings.

The key point in The Parable of the Ten Virgins is that Christ will come again at a time when no one expects; and He would come just once and that is it. Once the door is shut you can knock as much as you like and He will not give in. He would have no concern whatsoever for those who remain outside the door. You can't gatecrash the Kingdom.

Christians are like the 10 girls who profess to know the bridegroom and promised to wait as long as it takes for when the bridegroom finally comes they would join in the celebration. They know the prize of their waiting- celebration with the groom. They had prepared very well for this day. They had shown physical signs of commitment- well dressed and eager to wait. So are we the Christians. We like showing off to people about our level of intimate with Christ through outward appearance.

No wonder Christ said let both grow together until the harvest. The way all the 10 girls had dressed no one could have distinguished between the fools and the wise. Only the searcher of the heart knows. Outwardly they looked like they were all prepared- they all had the wedding garments on, they all had their lamps, and they were all ready to wait as long as it takes. Outward appearance can be deceptive. Many of us just want to show that we're religious. It wasn't their beauty or ugliness that distinguished them. It wasn't their upper or lower class that distinguished them. It wasn't their excellent speech that distinguished them. It was their level of preparedness that separated the fools from the wise.

The 50/50 number is staggering. Imagine if only 50% of your congregation could only make it to the Kingdom. That would be a shame isn't it? You would want more of your family members, colleagues and some facebook friends as well as those you follow or follows you on twitter.

Give us some of your oil. No way! Go and get yours. This is not about being selfish. The point is that salvation is not transferable. Each and every one of us will continue to work out your salvation. The fact that you go to a mega bible believing church doesn't mean that you will enter the Kingdom en bloc. It's an individual affair.

Once the Master shut the door no amount of knock can persuade Him to open again. No matter the persuasion and explanation, the answer will still be I know you not. Don't be caught unaware. Get prepared.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Africans also have human rights

  The British Prime Minister, David Cameron last weekend took his gay rights crusade to the Commonwealth Summit held in Perth, Australia, where according to him he lectured a number of African countries that Britain will block aid payments to countries which fail to over turn bans on homosexuality.I'll cut aid to countries that have ban on homosexuality He said Britain want to see countries that receive aid “adhering to proper human rights.” Is David Cameron really saying there are despicable human right abuses in Africa than in countries like China, Saudi Arabia, and Russia?

  So why has Africa become the target for David Cameron’s threat? Is it because African countries have weaker leadership? Is because African countries are so poor that they rely on donor aid to balance their budgets? People are quick to quote figures of how much Britain gives to African countries as aid, but no one cares to know how much Britain gain from Africa.

  If in the books of David Cameron legalising gay is “adhering to proper human rights” in Africa then the man has misplaced priority. I don’t know what kind of agreement he had signed with the gay right groups but he should be told that he will be wasting his time and energy with his gay right crusade in Africa. David Cameron should be told that Africans too have human right which includes the right to have cultural values, norms and belief systems. To say that countries should let go of their cultural values in exchange for some donor aid is an insult to the Africans. Britain caused a lot of damage to African cultural values and norms in the past under the colonial rule but that cannot be allowed any more. Africans have now woken up from their slumber.

  If David Cameron really cares about human right in African then these are some of the things he should be concerned about: child labour, malnutrition, environmental degradation, lack of access to education.

  I will end with some response from Ghana to Cameron’s threat. Christian leaders condemn UK gov't tying gay rights to aid

Monday, 10 October 2011

David Cameron's gay rights crusade hit Africa

Having announced at his Party Conference this year that his coalition government would legalise gay marriages, David Cameron  is now seeking to persuade those African countries where homosexuality is still a taboo to follow his lead, or else he would reduce aid to such countriesOne country which has already suffered the cut in aid is Malawi, and the report mentions Ghana as likely to be the next to suffer the cut in aid. As usual the weaker ones have been targeted. 

Friday, 7 October 2011

Come just as you are

As we ponder over the wedding banquet this week, I'm wondering whether all the people who turned down the invitation did it solely on the usual mantra, I'm busy? Of course some refused to attend because the timing was wrong, or the place was wrong. But could it possibly also be that others refused to honour the invitation because they thought they don't deserve to be invited to such a prestigious banquet? 

The Excuse
Is yours the usual mantra, I'm busy? Many of us believe we already have too much on our plate and can’t accept any more responsibility, not God’s work. We should be guided by the disciples; they were full time fishermen, not some gap year students on holiday to kill time or some couple on retirement having a nice time in some sun city. It is said that if you want a job done, give it someone who is busy. It is the busy people whom Jesus want.

Is your excuse I'l love to do it but the timing is wrong? I've just got this job and I need to be on top of the game to move up the promotional ladder. Or just got married or have got a young family? Nothing wrong with coming with the family; wife/husband and children. Those disciples were with their families when they accepted the invitation to follow Christ.  

Is your past haunting you? I think some of us by looking at our past mistakes, upbringing, stature, educational background, class, place of abode, etc. we've arrived at a conclusion that we have no use for Christ. And if that is ever true then Christ wouldn't have chosen those Twelve with varying characters. "For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many might, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence". 1 Corinthians 1:26-29. 

When Jesus chose the Twelve to be His official representatives, and to carry His message, not a single of them was a Rabbi. He didn't choose a Scribe. He didn't choose a Pharisee. He didn't choose a Sadducee. He selected twelve simple, ordinary working-class men. Worthless nobodies are just the kind of people God uses. So I say to you, come just as you are. The transformation is in the hands of the Potter. 

O Lamb of God, I come, I come. 

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Local Preachers' Meeting Agenda

In my few years as a local preacher I have attended about 98% of the Circuit Local Preachers’ Meeting. I have always resisted the temptation to allow the agenda for the day to influence my decision to go or not to go. Honestly, I regret attending about 60% of the meetings. When I once suggested that more items be added to the agenda to make the meeting more educative and informative I was told there was nothing wrong with the agenda as it always follows the Connexional guidelines.

 I’ve always felt that something is missing in the conduct of the local preachers’ meeting. I haven’t really benefited much from all those meetings I’ve attended, and recently I over heard another preacher agreeing with me when he said “that’s why I rarely come, it’s always the same”

Why must I spend a maximum of 2 hours in a meeting when the very thing we must focus on i.e. preaching very little is talked about? Of course it’s important to hear reports on preachers on note and on trial, but its unfortunate when the greater per cent of the time is spent on just that. After all a very small number of those present have made inputs or have observed the services conducted by those on trial and on-note. What am I supposed to say when I haven’t observed the service or haven’t received the reports in advance? In this case many of members present at the meeting become mere observers.

 There’s so much happening in the world today which we must discuss and see its implications for worship and preaching. Are there new ideas, initiatives, concerns, fears, anxieties in local churches, the circuit and the larger society which affects our work? Are there news articles in the local media outlets worth noting and may be responding to them? It’s very OK to hear reports and review those on note and on-trial but what about the continuing development of the accredited preachers? One study day in a year is simply not enough to nourish, equip and challenge us for the very important task we've taken.

 Continuing development activities must be encouraged and discussed at all meetings. One must come out of the local preachers’ meeting and feel learned, nourished, encouraged, motivated and challenged.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

New Year Resolution

New Year’s Eve has always been a time for looking back to the past, and more importantly, forward to the coming year. It’s a time to reflect on the changes we want or need and resolve to follow through on those changes. This is a ritual most of us do on every 31st December, even though most resolutions are broken at earliest in February and at latest by June. But I wonder how many of us lay or clergy sit down to reflect on 31st August and make resolutions for our local church or circuit at the beginning of the Methodist year.

In fact I would welcome the idea to have two covenant services, one in January and the other in September. This I believe will help us to take our new year seriously. Collectively at church council meeting or circuit meeting some decisions have been agreed to be implemented in the New Year. Aside the collective decisions individual members of the church as well as the clergy should take the New Year seriously. How about those leading services in September asking the congregation to make New Year resolutions? Chances are that some members would realise that they have sat on the fence for far too long and decide to join the action.

My local church has made some resolutions for the New Year which include; 10:30am prompt start time, praises as part of Sunday morning worship, regular tea/coffee, and liaise with other faith groups in the community. I hope and pray that these would not be broken in few months time. There are few more ideas floated around that I believe as we go through the year we will have the opportunity to discuss and if agreed implemented. I can say that the new year look good.

At circuit level the year look very challenging. Our budget is still not clear, some unresolved issues from the past, review report to discuss, and a new Superintendent. We’ve agreed in principle the total expenditure but the last circuit meeting couldn’t agree on the assessment each church is supposed to pay. While on this I would welcome ideas from other circuits as to how churches are assessed.

We’re also yet to heal old wounds carried from old circuits to the new enlarged circuit. Perhaps some thought by leaving it for a long time the wound will heal by itself but it hasn’t. We’ll need pragmatic measures to heal those wounds once and forever, and I hope the circuit stewards and the CLT would make that their New Year priority.

Then we’ve the long awaited circuit review report to discuss and implement the various recommendations. Some one told me that the review report has vindicated those who opposed the circuit merger, and that a review ought to have been done before the merger. I hope whatever challenges we face we can trust the Holy Spirit to guide us through the New Year.

Talking about New Year resolution, I would hope that this year members of the circuit meeting would put the needs of the circuit first rather than always fighting for their local church. We must resolve that at circuit level we are one body and we’ve a duty to reason and act for the betterment of the one body. If the mother is healthy the children will be healthy. Entrenched positions on issues will have to stop.

One resolution I would very much welcome is for the circuit meeting not to rush into decisions. It appears to me that in the past we have rushed into certain decisions that on hind-sight we wouldn’t have done so if we had had a sober reflection on the matter and perhaps prayed over it. It is my hope that this year we would seek clarification, have an open minded discussion and get all facts before making a decision. This I believe would go a long way to strengthen unity and progress.

The Methodist New Year is very important hence the decision to receive or welcome new Ministers into their new stations in September. This year my circuit will receive two Ministers (one is the new Superintendent). I haven’t met the new Super so I can’t say anything about him in this article. I had to Google his name to see how he looks so that I could recognize him if I see him around town but it could be a wrong person I saw. I must say that one thing that has already impressed me about the new Superintendent is that looking at the preaching plan, I realised that by the end of the first quarter he would led services in 6 out 7 churches in the circuit. I applaud him for that and I hope he will continue to move around the circuit to conduct services.

Often times Ministers come with very laudable ideas but translating it into action becomes a problem. Either they face opposition from the church/circuit or they soon become involved in church politics and those ideas are left on paper forever.

There are challenges ahead- a new Superintendent to get to know us and for us to know him, a review report to see to its implementation as well as some unresolved issue. I would pray that both the lay and the clergy would work together and support our new Superintendent to make our circuit live up to its expectation.

Monday, 15 August 2011

A Little “God Doing” Would Help

The post-mortem has already begun to find possible causes of the recent riot and looting in London and other cities in England, and to find possible solutions. Several causes have been mentioned on the air-waves by the politicians and the general public.

Some put the blame on the education system, arguing that schools have lost control of discipline. Others put the blame on lack of parental responsibility- arguing that parents have failed to tell their children the difference between right and wrong. Still, others believe its just greed which has taken hold of today’s society. Others still argue that the cause of the riot was an expression of anger and alienation. The list is endless. I will sum it by saying Britain’s society is broken.

In the past few days politicians both in government, and opposition and the police have all unveiled measures they believe will help tackle the social problems which exploded in our face in the past week. Some of the measures unveiled to tackle the broken society include; plans to make all 16-year-olds carry out National Citizen Service, ending the “chilling effect” of the human rights culture in Britain and health and safety rules that damage society, programmes to encourage good parenting, war on gang culture, more police on the street.

Whilst I agree with most of the measures suggested, one thing missing, although not surprising, is the mention of God or anything to do with religion. It appears as if religion has no role in 21st century Britain. Are the actions and inactions of the religious bodies to be blamed for this sad conclusion? Many of the most challenging issues that we face in this country have a religious dimension and yet it appears the religious bodies are voiceless.

It’s a fact that many politicians and the population in this country “don’t do God”, but given what we are faced with, I will say a little bit of “God doing” would help. Therefore, I will put God on top of my corrective measures. In many ways religion continues to define our lives and it is very important that our social policies reflect that.

It’s also a fact that the few who claim to “do God” actually do very little. How many people of faith actually live out their faith – by way of exemplary life at work, family homes, and in public? By our actions and inactions we have caused great grief to some members of the society. Within the church itself our contribution is minimal. Many have adopted the Me, Myself, and I mantra much to disadvantage of the church and society at large. Many just come and go without caring what happens in the church or the neighbourhood. It’s about time we paused and reflect how we are “doing God”. Very few people invest their time in church activities and roles. They will rather stay on for few more hours at work to get extra pay or bonus than to volunteer to help the Sunday school, or Boys and girls Brigade. If we can’t invest our time, ideas and expertise in running the church can we invest our time in helping the neighbourhood youth club or the Scout group?

I believe faith has much to say about challenges facing our society today. We must really live out our faith. The Methodist Lectionary last week gave a very classic example of how we can all help to reduce the inequality in our society. In Genesis 45:1-15, we have a perfect example of how we should live if society is to survive and thrive. Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, suffered sexual harassment under Portiphar’s wife, falsely accused and put into prison, Years later, when famine struck Israel it was Joseph who came to the aid of the family by proving them food and a place to live. Today many will say I suffered alone to get what I have got why must I share? Famine has struck our society- majority are the have-nots.
If we want society to survive and thrive we must have the spirit of sharing, and as people of faith we must be the ones to lead.

Friday, 12 August 2011

God often brings wonder out of disaster

Life is full of challenges. There are times when you go through a lot and you may ask why me? But how does it feel when later on you’re made to understand that actually you went through all that hassle for the sake of others? If you’re Christ Jesus then that is understandable, but not when you’re Joseph, the eleventh son of Jacob.

His brothers made a choice for him and though it initially looked like a disaster it later turned to be good news, not only for the young man but the entire family. His brothers decided that he would not live under the same roof with them to be pampered by their father. Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, yet rose to become the most powerful man in Egypt next to Pharaoh.

Are you going through lots of life challenges? Be careful what you do during this period.
Joseph was sold to serve Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard. Joseph found favour in the sight of Potiphar and so he became his personal servant. After some time, Potiphar’s wife began to desire Joseph and sought to have an affair with him. As young man on a foreign land he could said what do I care? It was my own brothers who put me through this and succumb to pressure.

Despite her persistence, he refused to have sex with her for fear of sinning against God. Joseph fled the sexual demands of Potiphar’s wife. He was later falsely accused and charged of sexual assault and put into prison.

Do you see how God can pretend He hasn’t seen what you’re going through? First, he was sold into slavery by his own brothers, and now he’s falsely accused of sexual assault and put into prison. The young man had fled the sexual demands for the sake of God. Doesn’t that alone warrant some intervention by God? The same way we’ve given up so many things for the sake of God yet life battles us left, right and centre. Does what you’re going through come closer to what Joseph went through? Couldn’t God have intervened in your situation? Take heart. The bend road is not the end road. God sometimes allow us to fall into a situation when we have no choice at all to prove a point. You might be in that situation for the sake of others. It sounds crazy isn’t it, that God can allow us to face difficulties for your own good, family, or a community. God is the porter, we are the clay. God can do anything to the clay. When our lives are dislocated wonderful things can happen. Everything happens for a reason.

It’s worth noting the attitude of Joseph when he had face to face encounter with his brothers. Many people can’t bring themselves to forgive their family members for something they did years ago. After all what they put him through Joseph was able to forgive and welcome the family into his household. He allowed them to enjoy from the numerous wealth he had acquired. Are your family members beneficiary of your wealth or even your household is out of bound?

Riots: Where are the fathers?

Everyone is talking about it- where are the fathers?

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Dealing with “outsiders”

Sometimes I find myself laughing when I read certain scriptures. One such scripture is Matthew 15:21-28. The Canaanite woman had come to Jesus to plead for mercy on behalf of her sick daughter. For some reason Jesus decided to ignore the lady, and after persistent call by the disciples on Jesus to send her away, Jesus answered her “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel”. This isn’t the Jesus we know of who goes about doing good. So what is he up to here, discriminate? No! Jesus was trying some tricks to see how deep is the faith of the woman that He Jesus could heal her daughter as is recorded later in the verse. It was also a life lesson for the disciples. The woman finally got what she wanted after she persisted. I will come back to that persistence, but the behaviour of the disciples got me into thinking.

The disciples had pressured on Jesus that the woman be sent away for disturbance. Of course the disciples knew that the woman wasn’t one of them (i.e. non-Jew), and it is pretty obvious that it was for that reason that they wanted her to be sent away. So just how do we deal with people who are “outsiders”? What is our attitude towards people who are of different nationality, different faith, race, cultures, views? What influences our decision to help? Do we listen to their concerns at all or we just don’t want to know? Are we influenced by race, appearance, views, nationality or we look beyond those things? As always Christ rise above discrimination, and whenever he saw exclusion, he had sought inclusion and this is a challenge for us as followers.

As for the Canaanite woman it was her deep faith that did the trick and saved her daughter. I get two lessons here- faith and patience. To have faith isn’t just simply saying it. The real faith is thinking in your mind, praying and believing in your heart that it will be done. For the lack of faith many have wandered from the truth. How deep is your faith? It’s time to widen your faith.

Many have given up on their Christian life because of lack of patience. Christianity is not a quick fix thing when we can just clap our hands and everything falls in place for us. A lady friend tells me everything she’s had in recent years are things she prayed about several years ago. Don’t storm out yet. Keep believing. Keep trusting. Persistence will surely yield result one day.

Comment: London riots are a sign of moral breakdown

Comment: London riots are a sign of moral breakdown

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Have you met him yet?

The other day out of the blue I asked a lady at work the above question which sent her in a state of confusion. Are you talking about our new boss? No! Mr. Right? No. My boyfriend’s dad? No! I allowed her to make few more guesses but she was still not getting my point. Are these the only important people in your life? I encouraged her to think about other important people other than her boss, Mr. Right or Mr. Right’s dad. She still didn’t have a clue. Who are you talking about then? She asked.

I am talking about the young man born to the peasant woman in Bethlehem. His name is Jesus. Oh that one, my colleague said. Yes that one. We spent some minutes talking about him, Jesus. His first job was in Carpentry. He switched to Preaching when he was 30. Though never had any formal education, his preaching was inspiring, challenging and powerful.

He never had any gadget like a mobile phone or a computer. Though he never sent any text message; befriend any one on facebook, had a website, wrote a blog, followed any one or any one followed him on twitter, his message and teachings spread across the globe. He was doing several works at the same time; healing, teaching, preaching, pastoring, counselling. He loved his work so much. He never took a day off from work, not even on the Sabbath.

His own people did not like him. But he gave many the rights to become children of God. He is very good at knocking and mending peoples’ heart. He works 24/7. As you read this he is knocking and mending people’s heart. You can let him in now. Don’t worry if you’re not ready. He can come again another time. But don’t leave it for too long for you never know.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Time for absent fathers to be more responsible

Yet again we are confronted with another ill effect of fatherlessness. I read the father of Anders Behring Breivik, the 32-year -old charged with carrying out last Friday’s deadly attacks in Norway had long estranged from his son. Mr Jens Breivik, a former diplomat who now lives in Paris has expressed shock at the crime.

Mr. Jens Breivik divorced Ander’s mother, a nurse, when their child was one year old, moved to Paris and married again. From then on he had limited contact with the boy. Some men will go all the way even to the high courts to claim custody of their children, and yet some men can’t be bothered to be responsible for the children they bring to the world. What is that make some men so irresponsible? As a former diplomat you will expect him to be more responsible. It’s not as if there was a court order restraining him from contacting his son as in the case of some fathers.

Many men have forgotten the important role they play in their children lives. Too many young men and women grow up without the experience of a loving father. We are told the relationship between the father and son broke down when the boy was a teenager, and the two haven’t spoken since. The crucial time when a child needs a father in his life is during his teenage years. So many families have broken down as a result of fatherlessness. Being a father is not all about providing food and shelter; it’s about nurturing, support, guidance, showing interest, it’s about providing the best role model that a man can. When these important things are lacking, it can lead anti-social behaviour, youth crime and extremism.

In the long run it is the society that suffers as a result of absent fathers. Something has to be done about this increasing trend in our society.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Parable of the pencil

Very challenging. Hope we all learn from this.

The Pencil Maker took the pencil aside, just before putting him into the box. There are 5 things you need to know, he told the pencil, before I send you into the world. Always remember them, never forget, and you will become the best pencil you can be.

One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in someone’s hand.
Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, but you’ll need it to become a better pencil.
Three: You will be able to correct mistakes you will make
Four: The most important part of you will always be what’s inside.
Five: On every surface you are used on, you must leave your mark. No matter what the condition, you must continue to write.

The pencil understood and promised to remember, and went into the box with purpose in its heart.

Now replacing the place of the pencil with you; always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best person you can be.

One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in God’s hand. And allow other human beings to access you for the many gifts you possess.
Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, by going through various problems, but you’ll need it to become a stronger person.
Three: You will be able to correct mistakes you might make and grow through them.
Four: The most important part of you will always be what’s on the inside.
Five: On every surface you walk, you must leave your mark. No matter what the situation, you must continue to serve God in everything.

By understanding and remembering, let us proceed with our life on this earth having a meaningful purpose in our heart and a relationship with God daily.

Author Unknown

Monday, 4 July 2011

Going back seems to be the hardest thing

“………if you’re displeased, I will go back.” (Numbers 22:34.) Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose. Now if you’re displeased, I will go back.” That sounds easy isn’t it, but doing it is the hardest thing for many.

When we realized that our mistakes in the past have come to roost and thus stopping us from progressing, the obvious thing to do is to go back and put it right. Many times we mistakenly tend to take the easiest and quickest way to fix the mistake. By the time we realized that the quickest and the easiest option wouldn’t help the situation we find that the mistake had worsened so much so that going back to it wouldn’t be an option. We will like to carry on any way.

This doesn’t only happen with our relationship with God, but also partners, family members, friends or colleagues. We all have said or done things in the past that on hind -sight we’re ashamed off. It’s easy to identify the mistake but going back to fix it is the problem. Sometimes we feel we better not visit the old wounds. Rather some wounds will be better healed when it’s opened, and examined well and then patched.

It’s not only individuals who find going back to make things right difficult. Institutions are equally culprit when it comes to going back to put things right. One such institution is the church. The church is in the state it is today because of certain actions and inactions in the past. So many decisions have been made in the past that on hind-sight we will wish we haven’t made them. Many of these decisions either to do with our constitutional practice, theology, ecumenical relations, worship procedures have caused our progress.

In our various levels of meetings some decisions have been made that today when we look back we can’t believe we passed them. Should we revisit them? Why not if they’re standing in our way of progress. If the church will play its rightful role in the society then it should be humble to admit that it’s got certain things wrong, and be prepared to put it right.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Ethnically distinct worship- why the church must encourage it.

I have just checked the agenda for the Methodist Conference taking place from 30th June to 7th July 2011 at Southport. One thing that caught my attention was the Statistics for Mission 2008-2010. Of particular interest is the statistics for the ethnically distinct worship or congregation.

The ethnically distinct congregation or fellowships are groups which uses other languages instead of English or Welsh. Nearly a third of ethnically distinct congregation (EDC) are located in the London District. Of the three main groups reported by churches, the one reported most frequently was Ghanaian (33%), followed by Zimbabwean (27%), and then Nigerian (22%).

Using the Ghanaian Methodist Fellowship as an example, the group which has been in existence for nine years meets every second Sunday from 2.00pm to 4.00pm at Westminster Central Hall. The congregation are generally members from various local Methodist churches who wish to express themselves in the Ghanaian Methodist traditional style of worship. In as much as they try to learn and adapt the British Methodism, there is some belief that worship is much appreciated when done in one’s own language. The language used in conducting the Ghanaian Fellowship worship is Akan/ Twi. The singing, drumming and dancing are very important ingredients of the Ghanaian worship. These are not common to find in most British local churches.

Apart from the style of worship, there are other important functions ethnically distinct congregations’ offers. For instance evangelism is much easier with people of the same ethnic background. Various groups within the Fellowship such as Men’s Fellowship, Women’s Fellowship, and Choir are all tools for evangelism.

Ethnically distinct congregations are helping to reduce the "missing generation"- the 18years to 30somethings. There’s a very strong desire on the part of some immigrants to introduce their culture to the children born in the Western world. One way of doing that is to take their children to ethnic distinct worship. As they get the exposure many tend to stay in the church. By way of exposure the Ghanaian Fellowship for example have in the past years been organizing exchange programme between the youths of UK and Ghana. This has had positive effect on some youth from UK especially their attitude to church.

Ethnically distinct congregations offer some spiritual needs which aren’t common or popular in the British local churches. Activities such as prayer meetings, retreat, breakfast meetings are very popular amongst African immigrants. A recent breakfast meeting organized by the Ghanaian Methodist Fellowship was attended by over 150 members. I don’t think my 7 churches circuit could have managed that number if the circuit organized one.

Had it not been the existence of such ethnically distinct congregations many immigrants would have left the Methodist church to join the Pentecostal churches. It is therefore important that every necessary support is given to such groups to thrive. Ministers who have some immigrants in their churches should encourage them to start ethnic worship or join the already existing ones.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Has the Holy Spirit left the church?

A week ago on Pentecost Sunday so much was preached or written about the Holy Spirit. We say without the Holy Spirit there would have been no Christianity. Christ would have said good bye at Easter for good. The Holy Spirit as promised by Christ did come on the Pentecost. In fact, Christ knew the impact the Holy Spirit would make in their lives hence He told them to remain in Jerusalem until they receive the Holy Spirit. It was the power of the Holy Spirit which made the apostles and the early church who they were.

The fellowship of the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and prayer. Many wonders and signs were performed by the apostles. And by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Some people believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were exclusively for an apostolic age, not for today. John Wesley clearly believed that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were relevant for the church in any age. In his sermons and journals; He defined them. He described them. He experienced them. He defended them.

To what extent does the gift of the Holy Spirit influence the church today as they were in the days of the first apostles? Is the gift of the Holy Spirit still relevant in the church today?

If they are then how does the gift of the Holy Spirit impact in our church today? The statistics of church today is indicative of the evident of the Holy Spirit in our church. Many have described the Western world as post Christianity, like a product which has passed it sell- by date. Where is the eagerness to preach the gospel? Where is the prophesy? Where are the visions? John Wesley was commuting from Bristol to Brixton to preach the gospel. He used every opportunity and location he got to preach the gospel. That is how the Holy Spirit enabled him.

Just how does the Holy Spirit influence the church today? Is it in administration? The church is no more driven by the Holy Spirit. It is rather driven by knowledge and power. Try putting your self up for a responsibility in the church today. The first thing people will be interested in is your qualification and experience. Its appears the power of the Holy Spirit has been deactivated.

What role does the Holy Spirit play in our church discourse? Try defending an idea or a project in a church council meeting or a circuit meeting by saying you’ve been convinced by the Holy Spirit. You’ll be looked at as if you’ve just landed on the planet earth.

Have we grieved the Holy Spirit? Is that why it has left the church in this state?

My Minister has said we shall use the next four weeks bible study to learn about the Holy Spirit. Good luck to him and all those who will be attending.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Local or a Circuit Minister?

One thing I admire about Methodism is its itinerant ministry. All Ministers are appointed by the Conference to preach and exercise pastoral charge in the Circuits on behalf of the Conference as set out in the Standing Order 700 (7). In so doing they shall exercise their particular responsibilities in conjunction with those of the appropriate courts and lay officers in the Circuit to which they are appointed and in the constituent Local Churches of that Circuit. In simple terms, Ministers are first and foremost appointed to the circuit.

I am in a Circuit of 7 churches. It became 7 churches after the Conference decided few years ago that we should join with other nearby circuits. After lots of protest we agreed to this enlarged circuit. Prior to the enlargement, 2 of the 7 churches were one church circuit. It was quite obvious that we will have some difficulty along the way but we were prepared to take the bull by the horn.

I knew there were some tension but I was shocked by what I witnessed at one Circuit Meeting last year. We had met to discuss the recommendation for the extension of one of the Ministers. This was the first of its kind in the new enlarged circuit. The support from the Minister’s local church was great and so was the opposition from some other churches. Most of the objections were put down to the Minister not known by the other churches. They complained that the Minister had always been in his local church, and not preached in the other churches. To them they have not had first hand experience of his ministry and therefore they can’t vouch for him and vote for his extension. This was happening after the second birthday of the new circuit. In presence were two new Ministers who have joined the circuit. In the end the Meeting voted for the second motion which was reduced years of extension.

When calm was restored, many people including myself suggested and in fact well recorded that to prevent this agitation happening again, Ministers should be planned widely across the circuit for every local church to get to know them. In effect, they should not become one local church Minister.

Sadly, it appears those laudable ideas haven’t been put into action. Any time a question is asked about it, the answer has always been “some churches prefer to have their Ministers around”. That is why by the end of this quarterly plan, i.e. August 2011, we would have some Ministers in the circuit who have never preached in some churches at all for a whole year. I bet the Methodist Conference would never vote for individual churches to decide on who becomes their Minister or their length of stay. It will still be the business of the Circuit Meeting.

Are we sitting on a time bomb ready to be exploded in 2-3 years time when these Ministers extension times are due?

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The Joy of Pentecost

Many of us have had to wait for something. It could be waiting to pick up a friend from the airport; a baby to be delivered, exam result or a home appliance to be delivered.
Recently I had to wait for a refrigerator to be delivered. You know they can only give you a time slot say between 8.00am -13.00pm. Your item can be delivered either too early or later than you expected. It is that wait which can drive you crazy. While waiting for the refrigerator to be delivered, I decided to pop into the shop to buy something quickly and come back. Just when I opened the door I saw two men coming with my refrigerator. They had come 1 hr and 45 minutes before the deadline time. Imagine if I had stepped out 5 or 10 minutes earlier. I would have missed them. There’s some excitement when what you’re expecting arrives.

There’s other aspect of waiting when you begin to have doubts. What if it doesn’t come; if it comes and is not what I expected; or some part is missing. What if there’s a fault? That is exactly what I went through when I had to wait for an engineer to come and fix the phone line so that I could have an internet service in my new home. Waiting can cause your body temperature to rise.

Jesus once told his disciples to remain in Jerusalem and until they receive the Holy Spirit. Can you imagine what the disciples went through? They weren’t supposed to do anything. Just wait!

Try saying good-bye to your partner, or a child at the airport and see how it feels. The likelihood is that both of you will go away sad having left the other. Despite promises from both of you to keep in touch, you will have several negative thoughts. What if something bad happens on the journey? What if I never hear from him or her again? No wonder the disciples were sad and confused.

Contrast this with the feeling you will get when you hear the person who had said good-bye to you on the other side of the phone or he/she suddenly comes back to say hello. Excitement galore! That is what happened on Pentecost. Christ had said good-bye at Easter with the promise to send the Holy Spirit. We thought Easter was satisfactory because Christ had risen, but He said that isn't enough. Wait for more to come. It was all joy when this promise was fulfilled.

Without the Holy Spirit there would be no Christianity. The disciples had feared for their lives and locked themselves up. Some had contemplated going back to their professions. It was after they had received the Holy Spirit that the real work begun. Without the Holy Spirit, Jesus would have said good-bye at Easter for good. There would have been no Christianity. On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. (John 20 :19-22)
Wow! I love hellos. Thank you Lord Jesus for the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The Unlikely Messenger

“Come and see the man who told me everything I have ever done. Could he be the Messiah?” (John Chapter 4 vs. 29) What a powerful message from an unlikely messenger. This is the message the Samaritan woman with dodgy past went and shared with her fellow country men and women after she had met Jesus. Wouldn’t it be nice if all Christians adopt this invitational attitude?

Just tell people your experience with Jesus and invite others to come and experience it themselves. That won’t be difficult. Would it? Except of course you haven’t really experienced anything after encountering Jesus. And in that case many would question what sort of encounter you’ve had with Jesus, bearing in mind that no one encounters Jesus and remain the same.

Two enemies whose worlds would ordinarily never connect discover at the well that they needed each other. They ended up having a mutual benefits; Jesus had the message of the kingdom being delivered to the people His people hated, and who hated them. The Samaritan woman on the other hand had her past guilt and shame gone. Yet this meeting wouldn’t have happened at all if Jesus had kept the status quo. The status quo is you are a Jew and I am a Samaritan. And we’re enemies. Jews and Samaritans don’t meet let alone talk, and if the Samaritan is a woman that is even worse. Sometimes the only way to see the glory of God is to tear down the long held rules, customs, traditions and history. In other words, we need to challenge or question the status quo. Though both Hebrews the wall that separated the Jews and the Samaritans is comparable to what in our present day separates the Israelis and the Palestine.

It is therefore quite strange that Jesus and the disciples decided to travel to the enemy territory. It’s hard to imagine that this all a chance encounter. Was Jesus up to something? His intention was to break down the “barrier” between the Jews and the Samaritans. Jesus intentionally crossed the enemy line to be the bridge between the Jews and the Samaritans. In their conversation, the Samaritan woman was quick to mention the negative (what separates them) i.e. a Jew and a Samaritan. Jesus was focused on the positive (what brings them together) i.e. both ancestors of Jacob. He then gradually hammered home his kingdom message and in the end the woman got it. The woman was surprised that Jesus knew everything about her. Even more surprised is that despite Jesus knowing all her past he still accepts her. Do you get the lesson here? Come as you are.

It must be the duty of all Christians to break down “barriers” wherever we find them. That is what our Lord Jesus did and so must we. So much opportunities and blessings are missed because we are busily erecting barriers along the lines of friendship, families, tribes, communities, and nations. I can’t do this with you because you’re of different; nationality, tribe, or a race. It’s quite surprising that some Christians can’t do anything in common because they are Evangelical, Charismatic, or Orthodox. As Christians our role is to build bridges not create barriers. For healing and peace to prevail we have to do all we can even if it entails crossing the enemy lines. Jesus shows us that we need one another. We must constantly seek to bring people together not to separate them.

The meeting of the two had profound positive effect on the Samaritan woman. In haste she forgot about the water she came to get from the well and went to town with this message “Come and see the man who told me everything I have ever done. Could he be the Messiah?” (John Chapter 4 vs.29). Was she not the same woman who has been ostracized and shunned from society? Before she met Jesus she couldn’t even come to the well to get water with her peers for fear of ridicule let alone have conversation in public. After she met Jesus all her guilt, shame and fear are gone. She could now stand in public and talk about the Messiah. Indeed no one encounters Jesus and remain the same.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Follow and share in Christ’s Ministry

A lady at work was talking to me about her Christian life and how she enjoys going to church. When I asked what she does at church she replied what do you mean? I explained what I meant which is how has her personal relationship with Christ and her long presence at church impacted on others. In other words, how has her Christianity contributed to the society?

I asked her to state the powerful words Jesus said to the first disciples when walking by the Sea of Galilee. She quoted quite clearly, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19. I pointed out to her that we are not just to follow, but to perform certain tasks. As the conversation progressed, my lady colleague realised that in fact she hasn’t given much thought to her role in the church in particular and the society at large.

That is the situation most of us find ourselves. We have passed the first hurdle i.e. decided to follow Christ, but struggle with the second hurdle, i.e. to play our role in Christ’s ministry. Many are only happy with just turning up for one or two hours of worship Sunday after Sunday. We can’t all be observers. We have to take certain roles in the church. I am not suggesting that any Christian who only turns up for Sunday worship without playing any role in the church will not inherit the Kingdom of God. My point is I believe when we become Christians Christ enables us to do much more. That is the case with several people who came to know and accept Jesus. As we come to know Christ, we are enabled to do much more. The problem is that we are either haven’t identified the gifts given to us or we think we are busy with our own life.

Think about this! Peter and Andrew could have had a perfect excuse for not joining Jesus in his ministry. Jesus actually met them at work; they were busy mending their nets when Jesus saw them. They could have said to him, look young man, as you can see we are very busy. Almost all the people Jesus called as disciples were busily working. Therefore, our work is not a good excuse for not sharing in Christ ministry.

Despite our busy life there are bits and pieces that we could all do to help the ministry. Not all of us are called to be “fishers of men.” Christ is still walking by the road or street near you calling on people not only to follow but to help in his ministry. Your calling might be; to sing praises to God, to help the Sunday school, organise the youth, help the men or women ministry, become a prayer warrior, or to clean the church. Nothing is too big or small.

As we begin to manage small things soon bigger things will be given to us to manage. We will not only be playing a role in the church but in towns and cities, and nations. That is the story of David. He was just a shepherd caring for animals but later became a King. Don’t just become a follower. Be a partner in Christ’s ministry.