Monday, 14 October 2013

The Attitude of Ingratitude

You would probably have said thank you several times today. Whether you say thank you, "meda ase", or "merci", it is important that we give thanks when due. It is uncultured not to say thank you.

At one time Jesus who had many times asked people to keep quiet after healing them was rather disappointed that only one out of ten people he had cleansed from leprosy came to say thanks (Luke 17:11-19) Jesus Heals Ten Men With Leprosy

It is interesting to note that simple words "Go and show yourselves to the priests" was so powerful to heal ten men of leprosy. Thankfully, we don't live in a society where we have to ban people because they have certain sickness. However, there are many people who are suffering as direct consequences of some illness. Such people are hoping and praying that one day Jesus or indeed Holy Spirit will pass through their hospital wards or homes for them to request Christ's mercy on them.

                                Where are the other nine?
A very important part of the text is why the other nine failed to come and say thanks to Jesus. I am sure the only foreigner (Samaritan) who came to say thanks might have tried to convince them to come with him with to thank Jesus.

                          Why did they refuse to say thanks?
I can only think of one reason- they focused so much on what they were going to get not what they had to give. By they seeing the priests and declaring them fit, they would then have their former status restored. They will now become normal citizens just like others. They can now seek employment, earn an income, seek positions, and get married. They thought they have lost so much fun and all other entitlements and couldn't wait to have those things back. What they had to give wasn't on their mind at all.

                           Godlessness in the last days
Paul was right when he predicted Godlessness in the Last Days. Many people only care about what they can get not what they can give. The attitudes Paul mentioned in his second letter to Timothy are so evident in our society today. The one tenth statistics wouldn't surprise many people today. If all we care is what we can get then what society are we building? If as children, parents, congregation, partners, citizens all we care is what we can get then we are building a situation which can't be sustained.

                         What should I thank God for?
Do you look at yourself and think there is nothing really in your life to be grateful to God? May be you haven't really thought of counting your blessings. If you count them one by one you will be surprised what God has done for you. Have you or a family member in the past few years had to;
  • die of starvation?
  • go hungry so that your children could have food?
  • flee from war or poverty only to die in a capsized boat on the Mediterranean sea?
Do you realise that all the above are regular occurrence in some people lives?

                        How should express my thanks to God
You can thank God in many ways including the following;
  • Worship and prayer
  • Praise
  • Giving (money, time , skill)
                       Anything to gain from thanking God?
Note the two "conditions" of the Samaritan who thanked Jesus. At the time he was returning to thank Jesus he was "cleansed" of leprosy. After thanking Jesus he was declared "well". The other nine went away cleansed. The only who came to say thanks went away a step further, being made well. Will you only be a receiver or a giver?

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Jesus the controversial dinner guest

                                           Sermon Notes
                                          Date: 01/09/2013
                                       Text: Luke 14:1-14 Jesus at a Pharisee's House

                           Anything wrong with healing?
If Jesus could heal even at a dinner in someone's home then it's not out of place to heal in a church building. So I say shall we have a healing service today? Seriously, shall we ? Does our law allow healing at church or not?

At the mentioning of a healing service some of you might be having these thoughts: I would have gone to a Pentecostal church if I wanted a healing service. This is Methodist church and we don't touch people during church service. Any healing service would have to be organised and notice served so that those who wish to attend can do so. No spontaneous healing here please. Just like the audience of Jesus, you can't say it loud.

What was Jesus supposed to do after seeing the predicament of the man? To tell him now is the time or place for healing? It's not just about rules regarding healing. By Jesus' action, he is telling us to think deeply about application of rules. We should show grace and mercy in applying our rules.  Is such law to please God or humans?

By strictly following rules, procedures or guidelines, we are limiting the glory of God. You often hear people in leadership complaining bitterly about rules and regulations. You would hear someone saying, I know the rule doesn't make sense but I can't help. Rule is a rule and must be obeyed. They are scared of the repercussions that would follow should they break the law.

Our hands shouldn't be tied by rules. Our rules should free people from bondage, hunger, sickness, hatred etc. If for example our rules, procedures and guidelines have prevented some people from joining us today, then such rules are harming the growth of the gospel and the kingdom of God.

                             Picking up the good places.
Let's now turn to the discussion Jesus had with his fellow guests. Jesus turned round and saw that people were scrambling for the high table, and he said to them, "when someone invites you to a dinner, do not take the place of honour, for a person more distinguished than you might have been invited. If so, then the person who invited both of you will come and say to you "Give this person you seat". In some well organised wedding feast, tables are labelled before the guests arrive. Even that you will still see people swapping places either to be closer to friends or some VIP's

Note the audience Jesus was talking to- Pharisees. Their Jewish heritage made them considered themselves first in God's consideration. Many Christians today think the same. For the fact we're here and the rest are out there we think we're better than them. Some denominations think they're better than the rest. Some pastors and preachers think of themselves so highly. Some churches/fellowships wouldn't invite others to their programmes because they're not their "class". Our leadership roles, church attendance, friendship with some prominent people in society or within the church shouldn't be construed to mean we're better than others. Jesus' warning is- do not elevate yourself else you will be humbled. Humble yourself. Take the lowly place and God will lift you up.

                              And you too-Mr host
Having finished addressing his fellow guests, Jesus turned to the host of the dinner. Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

When did you, family, group, or church have anything to celebrate? Who did you invite and why? What was your motive for inviting Mr A and not Mrs C?  Some of us wouldn't invite friends or families let alone total strangers.

My local church has been having BBQ for the past 5 years. This year we decided to invite others to join us. Guess who we invited? Another local Methodist church. Why? We have lots in common- we share the same Minister, we have many friends and have similar nationalities. Guess what they said when they were leaving- Be our guest next year. Exactly what Jesus is talking about. We have been repaid if indeed they do invite.  Nothing wrong with us inviting them or they inviting us back. The point is- what's special about that?

Jesus isn't necessarily saying we should not invite; friends, relatives or neighbours at all. His worry is the exclusive nature we go about it. If we invite our friends and they invite us back, what's special about that? Even atheists do that. Jesus is therefore asking us to go beyond the usual family and friends when we send out invitation. What about the other people; different denominations, faith, race and social class? Wouldn't it be great if my local church decide to invite our immediate neighbours to our BBQ next year?

What Jesus is saying is this- extend your benevolence and hospitality beyond the "normal" people. We give gifts and presents to friends and family members and many of them never get used. There are many people in our church, block, and across the road who can't afford the basic necessities in life, and Jesus wants us to think about them when we sit down to have our meals, and when we're wrapping our presents. He wants us to think beyond the normal box. There are many people suffering in silence and Jesus is asking us to think about them. Their smiles as a result of our hospitality will release blessings from heaven.

Jesus might have been invited to the dinner for a wrong reason but he made good use of the occasion. The host provided the physical food, and Jesus offered the spiritual food. The guests were full. They had more than they bargained.

May the Lord help us to look beyond the immediate family and friends.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Compassion vs Law

Sermon by Tricia Hemans- Methodist Local Preacher in Training
Texts: Isaiah 58:9-14, Luke 13:10-17

I read a story about a man who sat down for a dinner with his family and said grace, thanking God for the food, the hands which prepared it, and for the source of all life. But during the meal he complained about the freshness of the bread, the bitterness of the coffee, and the sharpness of the cheese.

His young daughter questioned him, "Dad, do you think God heard the grace today?" He answered confidently, "Of course"." Then she asked, "And do you think God heard what you said about the coffee, the cheese, and the bread?" Not so confidently, he answered, "Why, yes, I believe so." The little girl concluded, "Then which do you think God believed, Dad?

The man was suddenly ware that his mealtime prayer had become a rote, thoughtless habit rather than an attentive and honest conversation with God. By not concentrating on that important conversation, he had left the door open to let hypocrisy sneak in. Perhaps this was the same kind of realisation that came over the synagogue leader from the gospel story when Jesus pointed out his hypocrisy.

In this story of a crippled woman healed on the Sabbath we see Jesus acting in a loving and compassionate way to someone who had been crippled by a spirit for 18 years! She was bent over and could not straighten up. Presumably she was in a lot of pain too. Jesus healed her. He set her free. When challenged by the synagogue ruler for healing on the holy day, he responded firmly and directly. You hypocrites!

In Jesus' day, the standard belief was that no work should be done on the Sabbath, including the work of healing. Jesus, by healing on the day of rest challenged this belief. He was critised by the synagogue ruler who used his position of power to condemn this act of mercy. By healing the woman Jesus demonstrated that on that day of rest, she should rest from Satan. After all the Jewish people untied/freed their animals on the Sabbath to allow them to drink water. The woman was also bound, not with a rope- but by her condition. So in begrudging this woman her healing the synagogue ruler was a hypocrite. Once Jesus pointed this out we read that his critics were silenced in shame and the crowd were pleased with Jesus' response.

So why is this story relevant? What can it teach us about being loving and compassionate today? After all we are unlikely to be faced with an identical dilemma today as few Christians observe the Sabbath as the Jews did in Jesus time. But we should try to look beyond the immediate situation to the underlying principles Jesus is teaching us.
Jesus was addressing a particular religious convention whereby no work should be done on the Sabbath. And today we see that each faith community has its own expected religious code of rules and conventions. From communion, to dress code, or who can/can't be baptised. We have our own laws. In the passage from the Gospel this morning, Jesus in his words and actions is teaching us that sometimes convention must give way in the face of genuine need. At times it is obvious when this must happen. For example, I would imagine that if an elderly collapsed during worship, first aid would take precedence over ritual. But other times it can be more difficult. 

Truth be told, we regularly agree with the synagogue leader. Perhaps not about the Sabbath, but most of us have rules/laws that we think are particularly important and we get nervous if we see people not respecting them. It could be things like, our children's bedtimes or refusing to take any phone calls on our day off. Or maybe it's a much bigger issue, like traditional gender roles or human sexuality. Whatever it is, there are some laws we feel should just be kept. Full stop. And if they aren't, we fear what will unravel next? And that's what this well-intentioned, law-abiding leader of the synagogue believed. But his isn't the only perspective.

                        Compassion vs Law
Christ teaches us to value love/compassion above law. And this must have been as unsettling for his audience then as it must be for us now. It raises difficult questions of when to insist on law and when to suspend it. Or if things will fall apart if we get it wrong? But that's the way it is with love: no guarantees, no assurance of having it turn out the way you thought it was supposed to, no absolutes. Except this: the God who gave the law out of love continues to love us and all the world, no matter what.

Jesus challenges the religious community to think about what keeping the Sabbath really means. He isn't abolishing the Law of Moses, but helping the people in the Synagogue to have a better understanding of how to apply the law. And in the same way I'm not saying we should do away with all church traditions, or not to take a stance on matters of importance. But when asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied that we should love God with everything we have and love our neighbour as ourselves. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Matthew 22:36-40). Therefore, if we are hanging onto some rule, law, or doctrine which prevents us from loving God or loving our neighbour, then we need to reassess our lives and align ourselves with Christ. Matthew 15:7-9 reminds us not to break the command of God for the sake of tradition.

                    The Challenge
Are we guilty of such behaviour? The image of believers as hypocrites  is one which is popular in the world today. An image which portrays Christians as preaching good deeds but not wanting to get their hands dirty. To some extent we might deserve it. It is often very easy for us to preach at those who are living with completely different realities from us. Like the synagogue who knew nothing of the woman's 18 years of suffering. It is all too easy to withhold aid to anyone we see being outside our own circle. We are instructed, however, to be gracious to one another. Romans 14:1 "Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters". And yet too often for the sake of tradition and practice we isolate others. We render the church irrelevant because we are holding on to traditions made by man rather than scripture inspired by God

One example that comes to mind is dress code. It has become a tradition in some churches to wear your best clothes on a Sunday for church. In churches across the world it has become a barrier to those outside our faith community. If someone comes to church who doesn't know the protocol or the dress code, and they are turned away or made to feel uncomfortable because of some judgmental stare from a believer, then we are missing the way. We should look at those people and go out our way to welcome them, to make them feel loved. We should never keep people from Christ. We should always be drawing them to Christ.

This example should give us all cause to think . To think about our actions both inside and outside of the church. Are you a bridge or a barrier to people coming to Christ? Are we loving in the way Christ is? We are all examples, whether we want to be or not. The question is, are we good examples or bad ones?

It is interesting to see that in the Gospel story the woman did not ask Jesus to heal her. Christ saw her, recognised her need and took action. And in today's world there is an urgent need for us, as believers to do same. Too often we regulate compassionate service to "charitable organisation". To Oxfam. That's their job. To benefits agency. That's their job. To Ministers and church leaders. But we are called to serve wherever we can. In whatever way we can. Big or small. To work for love, justice and peace wherever God has placed us. 

In the first reading from Isaiah 58 we heard that as Christians, we are called to serve our brothers and sisters who are hungry and oppressed. If we do then verse 10 says that our light will rise in the darkness, and our night will become like the noonday. It is our heavenly mandate to love. Not to be inward looking and focus on ourselves. Not to leave the work to others but to think of our fellow man. Jesus didn't wait to be asked. He saw a need and he acted. We should do the same.

                 The Power of love/hope
Jesus came preaching the kingdom of God, and while the law helps us to make sense of and get more out of life, it must always bend to the love and grace that constitutes the abundant life Jesus proclaims. Law helps order our world, but grace is what holds the world together. Law pushes us to care for each other, but grace restores us to each other when we've failed in the law. Above and beyond all the laws ever received or conceived, the absolute law is love. Love God and love your neighbour. Or, perhaps, love God by loving your neighbour. 

Brothers and sisters, there is a real need for God's people-US - to be real, to be open, and to let our lights shine. We need to pray for God to come and change us and challenge us, as individuals and as a church. We need to wait on Him for directions and guidance. We need to ask Him to use us to bring people to Jesus. We need to love people with the love of Christ. To resist the urge to assume we know the law better than others like the synagogue ruler, and to sympathize with those who are living with very different realities than we are.
Jesus is inviting us, even now to release others from bondage and set them free, even if it means suspending or revising our sense of the law in favour of love.

Friday, 16 August 2013

You and God- It's got to be more than Sunday worship

A year ago I saw a Starbucks advert- "You and Starbucks-It's got to be more than coffee". I concluded that what they mean is yes Starbucks is noted for coffee but we actually could do more.

With that advert in mind, I suggested to my local Ghanaian Methodist Fellowship anniversary committee that we should have the theme- "You and God- It's got to be more than Sunday worship" for our 10th anniversary in September . The committee members were intrigued and asked for my thinking behind the theme. I share with you my thinking behind the theme.

Christians are very much noted for their gatherings on Sundays to worship, though some gather on different days. What we do outside the church halls by way of Christian virtue is a private matter. There appears to be greater attention on what we do by way of worship than anything else.

What could Christians do other than worshipping God? Quite a lot. And how are we doing?
For some Christians the best they could do to help someone in need is to find them contact numbers of a charity or a government department. They're somehow passive in meeting that need personally. The vast number of charities and NGO's across the world tells me that Christianity has failed. We appear to have surrendered our Christian acts to the charity organisations. There are charities specialising from A-Z.

Some will say many of the charities are set up by Christians or Christian groups and are sponsored by many Christians. That's all well and good. How many percentages of Christians have set up charities or have financed them anyway? The point is if we have been good practising Christians and neighbours, many of these charities wouldn't have been around. We would be at the point of need straight away to be actively involved in its solution. We would be all over in our blocks, estates and neighbourhoods.

Jesus said "I was hungry but you would not feed me, thirsty but you would not give me a drink; I was a stranger but you would not welcome me in your homes, naked but you would not clothe me; I was sick and in prison but you would not take care of me." Matthew 25:42-43.

Many Christians see what Christ talked about in their daily lives but do nothing about it. Christianity has been reduced to Sunday worship. All other things that happen around us are not our business. We have lost all the practical things that make us Christians.

There are many Christians who make financial or time contributions to charities but when come face to face with the very same thing they give money to, they wouldn't bother about it. Shouldn't charity begin at home?

I am very much sure the discourse in the text didn't end as presented by Matthew. I bet Christ challenged the people to tell him why they didn't do anything about the situations described. And I bet some of the answers would include the following;
  • But I gave them some charity contact
  • I thought that was the responsibility of the state
  • I thought the church would help
  • I thought they were lazy and don't want to work
  • I thought they brought it upon themselves
Some of the above reasons might be right but still the question is can you help?

Let's do more than Sunday worship or charity giving.  Yes we can!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

If My Church was a Retail Store

If my church was a retail store, it would have the following characteristics
  1. It would have been established in the 18th century after it branched out from another establishment.
  2. John Wesley was credited the founder
  3. The "store" was first established in England and spread across the world
  4. It would be classed as the Protestant Christianity "business"
  5. It's slogan would be "helping the poor and average person"
  6. Common "product" in all our "stores" is music in the form of hymns. The founder and his younger brother, Charles contributed a lot to this "product" and would wish we keep that tradition.
  7. Our "brand" had major impact in Britain in early decades
  8. These days the "brand" name isn't as popular as in the past 
  9. In England most "customers" are mainly older generation
  10. Profit margin is generally good
  11. Some of our "stores" are used by other "retailers in the same business". This contribute lots of income in most of our "stores"
  12. Most of our "check-out and line staff" are of older generation
  13. We rarely do any "advertisement"
  14. Our circuit reps meet quarterly but very little time is spent talking about our "customers". Most time is spent talking about maintaining our "stores" and "managers homes"
  15. Our District reps also meet at least twice a year but is mainly debating on policies and procedures which has little impact on our "customers"
  16. Our "managers" spend more time in their offices than on the "shopping floors"
  17. Most of our "stores" are open for business for a maximum of two hours on a typical shopping day. Actual "selling" last for about an hour.
  18. Most of our "products" are the same all year round
  19. The "modes of selling" in most "stores" are the same as in the 70's
  20. In England some of our "stores" are closed down or merged. Some of the "stores" closed down are rebranded as pubs under new management
  21. In some "stores", "customers" will come ckeck the "product", read the labels and would not return
  22. It is encouraging to note that most of our "stores" in other countries are doing very well.
  23. Our "brand" has about 70 million "customers" worldwide
I am particularly concerned about the state of our "store" in England.
1. What can we do to attract "youthful customers" into our "stores"?
2. What product can we add to our "lines" to attract more "customers" into our "stores?"

Any ideas?

Saturday, 9 March 2013

6 Reasons why he became a prodigal son

The prodigal son has received lots of criticism for leaving the father's house to go and squander the wealth only to come back and plead for forgiveness. We judge him badly. Do we know the treatment he had in the house before he left? We don't know whether his needs were met or not. We also don't know his emotional and psychological state of mind.

Therefore, before you cast your stone, pause and reflect on the possible reasons why he did what he did and compare that to your own life. The followinfg 6 factors could have informed his decision to move out.

1. The behaviour of his older brother. The reaction of his older brother when he returned home should give us a hint that all wasn't well between the two of them. It's quite possible that his older brother managed to push him away hence his strange behaviour when he returned home. Like the older brother, there are times when as brothers and sisters in Christ our conduct falls below the standard expected of us. In my local church where I've formed the habit of doing what I call "exit interview"- finding out from people the reasons for their leaving, somethimes the things I hear aren't pleasant. Therefore, while blaming the prodigal son, we should also examine our conduct which could push people away.

2. May be he was a poor man living in a healthy home. Everyone is concluding that because the father was wealthy he must have had a good life. Don't we have millionaires whose children are poor? May be he wasn't made to feel that his father was wealthy. I used to date a millionaire's daughter. All my friends were very excited about it and when I asked why they were so excited about the relationship they pointed to the fact that her father was a millionaire. I reminded them that it was the daughter I was dating not the father. There are some millionaires whose children are living ordinary. In fact some millionaires children enjoy the wealth and others don't. In some instances wealthy parents would spend their wealth on others rather than their own children. May be it was only when he threaten to move out that he got some inheritance. On that score I agree with him. There are times when the only way to get what's due you is to shout. He possibly shouted father! I've served you all these years yet all what I get is the crumbs whilst my brother enjoys the real wealth. I am moving out! I agree with him here. You don't sit down thinking oh God knows my needs. You've got to petition God.

3. He might have thought he could do better by himself. He might have thought that with all his share of the inheritance he could do much well with his life. He didn't need any help from the father or indeed his brother. How true for us humans. We think we don't need God and that we can manage on our own. If that was his motivation then it backfired badly.

4. It could have just a desire for freedom. May be he's had enough of the father and brother telling him what he can and can't do. What he could eat and can't. He's had enough of his father telling him the friends he could go out with and even telling him what fashion style he could have. He thought his father was too strict and wanted his freedom.

5. Comaprative analysis might have compelled him to move out. May be he compared his life to some small mates, colleagues, and others in the community and thought they're much better than him. He looked at other's houses, cars, expensive holidays and all the good living and he wanted similar. Yes, there are times when the statement "seek ye first his kingdom and his righeousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" becomes a mockery. After years of submitting to the father, you turn round and ask, where are the things which will be added? You become aware of others who haven't really sought the kingdom let alone his righeousness yet but have received the "other things". Few years ago I bumped into an old coleague. He offered to drive me to my destination. When I sat in the car the first question he asked was you don't have a car after all these years of going to church? Ouch! I used to argue with him about Sunday work. I insisted going to church. Such thoughts could get into one's head and heart. Its possible that despite the abundant wealth, the young man lacked these material things.

6. His personal guilty might have pushed him out. It's possible that his past and present offences were haunting him and couldn't bear to live the same houseld with the father. He couldn't forgive himself of his past mistakes. Very true of humans. We feel so ashamed of our past or even current life style and we think we better moved out. We might have prayed for forgivness but still not sure of ourselves.

Do you still have your stone or stick ready to lash out? Here's the checklist:
  • Have you not left or considered leaving because of some people's attitude?
  • Have you not felt poor in spite of the "father's" abundant wealth?
  • Have you not felt you could make it on your own?
  • Have you not wished you could have the freedom to do whatever you like without feeling any guilt?
  • Have you not compared yourself to others and felt bad about it?
  • Have you not felt ashamed of your guilt and lifestyle?
Where's the inheritance the father gave you? What have you done with the inheritance of love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, service, caring, guidance, counselling, friendship and money?  Have you squander all of them?

We're all prodigals (wasteful), and it's about time we went back to the father and asked for his forgiveness and reinstatement.


Monday, 4 March 2013

Catholic Church Again?

Following the resignation and confession by Cardinal Keith O'Brien that his "sexual conduct" had fallen below the standard expected as a priest, I can't help it but join the clarion call that the Catholic Church needs reform. After a week of denial that he had had sexual advances to four men- three priest and one former priest, the former Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh who is also the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland has admitted the offence and asked for forgiveness.

I've since been asking myself whether there's any organisation religious or otherwise which could call the Catholic Church to order. The World Council of Churches came to mind. Could such a body intervene to put some sanity in the Catholic Church? My checks indicated that the Catholic Church isn't a member of the World Council of Churches. I wonder why?

I am very much aware of Christ statement; he who has no sin should cast the first stone. I know there's no individual or a religious denomination which hasn't sinned. However, if there's any denomination which has damaged the Christendom then it's the Catholic Church. The blow that the latest scandal has caused transcends the Catholic Church. The whole Christendom suffers from the Catholic Church's scandal. No one knows what more is yet to come. The solutions of the scandals aren't far-fetched.

                                         Why Celibacy?
What is it about sharing the gospel of Christ that one can't do while married and enjoying sex, and raising children? Many others in similar vocation are married and can in some cases do the work much better than the so called celibates. Isn't marriage a creation of God, and which church promotes marriage than the Catholic Church? So why speak well of something and abstain from it? And I am curious as to why when they want to enjoy sex they tend to the males. Are those people gay and only entered the priesthood to cover up?

                                       Why Rome or Vatican?
The Catholic Church is one of few churches I know which has worldwide headquarters. Many other have gained independence from the founding base. The Methodist Church Ghana attained full independence from Britain in July 1961. Why can't the Catholic Church allow individual nations to have their freedom to do what they wish? What are they afraid of? How can a Church with such bureaucratic office ensure effective leadership?

I pray that the new Pope would realised the huge damaged the Catholic Church has caused not only to itself but the Christendom. He should have the spiritual courage to call for wide range of reforms in the Catholic, and I hope abolishing the celibacy rule would be high on his mind. It's been proved over and over again that the soul and the body aren't on the same level. The soul might be willing but the body might not.

Reform and save the Catholic Church and the Christendom from the continuous shame. 

Monday, 25 February 2013

How would Christ want His Church?

How do you want your tea? The first time I was asked this question my mind went blank. I had no idea how I should respond. After waiting without any answer coming from me, the person doing the tea went you want your tea with/without sugar, with/without milk? All I knew then was add hot water, sugar and milk and there you're with your tea. I now know that while some people want the tea bag in the mug others don't. Also, you need to ask how many spoons of sugar they want in their tea. One mug of tea doesn't fit all.

My son loves his sandwich, but not any sandwich. He's particularly interested in what goes in his sandwich. Currently, his favourite filling is chicken slice on butter or cheese. Knowing he likes butter and cheese doesn't mean I can just go ahead and do any of them. Any time he asks for sandwich I've to ask him how he wants it. I've tried him my best fillings like tomatoes, cucumber and sardine but he always says no.  He insists on getting what he wants and that's what he gets.

Imagine we run the church that way when we have to go to the founder, Jesus Christ, and ask how he wants His church to be run. Many would argue we do that any way but do we really? We might have asked Him few questions in the early stages but how often do we ask His views about how we should run His church?

Church is pretty much run like a government department. When there's an issue we sit down, brainstorm for a while and a few minutes later a decision is made. Christ has been relegated to the role of a chairman. The real show is run by the CEO's- the Pastors, Revds and the church leaders. It's only when things get really bad before we call in the chairman. It's only then that the word prayer is highly recommended.

Democracy is much cherished in church than prayer. So far as people voted at a meeting the decision is carried regardless of whether that's what Christ would want or not. We just make the tea for Him according to our taste. The founder doesn't get a say in how His business is run. Is that fair?  Many think they have the knowledge and power to deal with anything and don't need the help of the founder. How many of us really pray before we take part in very important decisions in church? We were only supposed to act as caretakers but have assumed full responsibility. We don't want to seek the face of the owner any more. No wonder the church is in such a state.

We have tried all we want and don't seem to be working. A time will come when the owner will take his keys from us for not running the business the way He wanted. It's not too late to admit to the owner that we have run out of ideas and seek His wisdom and guidance. It is His church and only He knows how He wants it.

If we're so much concerned about getting a mug of tea right as possible, how much more church decisions. It's about time we found out how He wants His church.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

How did Christ manage to keep His cool?

One wonders what Christ was thinking when he assembled those 12 as his spiritual brethren. They were of course very ordinary people, but out of their ordinary were very strange characters. Among the 12 were aggressors, extremist, zealot, confused, doubtful, rebellious, notorious, unbelievers, fanatic, timid, impatient, traitor, denial etc.

Would you have such characters as friends? Would you invite such people for dinner and wash their feet? I bet you wouldn't invite them even to a breakfast which takes less time and effort to prepare. Yet these were the people Christ had as friends in his 3 years evangelism on earth.

They were mostly chosen by Christ himself. He taught and trained them how to "fish for men". Their training manual included topics such as forgiveness, prayer, miracles, healing, Holy Spirit, service, repentance, fellowship, humility.

Thier performances were mixed. Some were extraordinary good and others very poor though that's not the essence of this blog.

I want to single out one apostle i.e Peter, and imagine having such character as a family, friend or a church leader. You would probably have disowned Peter as a family, dumped him as friend and might have been suspended as a church leader.

 Peter, a man who Christ called him two names interchangeably (Simon, Peter, or Simon Peter), depending on what he had done or said. When he had behaved well Christ called him Peter, and when behaved badly, it was Simon. The apostle Peter was bold, outspoken and a dominant character which is good. But the man was also a double minded person. Peter often "put his foot in his mouth"- saying things without really thinking through the consequences. He was also sceptical and impatient person. Remember he was the first to announce that he was going back to fishing after the crucifixion of Christ (John 21:3). When it matter most Peter would disappoint as he did when he slept at the garden of Gethsemane when he was supposed to be praying with Jesus. He was often in trouble with Jesus over something he had said or done. He was rebuked more than any other disciple. He was the one who courageously confessed Christ as Messiah, yet Peter, was the one disciple Christ called Satan.

The worse of it all was Peter's denial of Christ. He assured his friends that he would never deny Christ, he denied him 3 times and with curses. Who would want a family or a friend who would deny you like that? Christ knew all that was going to happen yet remained with Peter. How would you handle a family or a friend who's sceptical, impatient, promises a lot and delivers little, and is always "putting his foot? Dump him or her you would say. Well, Christ didn't.

Despite Peter's inadequacies, failings and shame, he preached at Pentecost and three thousand people were saved (Acts 2:14-41). He became the Rock and great leader of the early church. Be careful who you dump in your life. It might be frustrating sometimes but people learn from their mistakes. Peter leaned a lot from his mistakes and failings. Have patience and keep praying for the person as Christ did for Peter and all other disciples. You never know.


Sunday, 3 February 2013

I missed church but not God

For the first time in years I found myself sitting on a bus on Sunday morning not going to church but work. I've tried everything I could possible do to avoid working on Sunday and have succeeded in the past but not any more. The economy has been so "stupid" and one has to do with what you get. If I don't want it some one will take it and the consequences would be felt when I pick my pay cheque at the end of the month. Indeed its been hitting my pocket so hard and so this first Sunday in February I took up the chalenge to go to work.

I've been grumbling about it all week and friends have urged me to cheer up since its not every Sunday I have to work. Indeed its not every Sunday; only once or at most twice in a month. I've been thinking about my role, the worship and the friendship that I would miss.

As I stepped out about an hour before my starting time, I was thinking about what I could read or listen to draw me closer to God. Thanks toTuneIn Radio I managed to listened to Faith radio on my phone. Today is the first time I've listened to that radio. The music was so good and soon found myself shaking my heard and tapping my feet as I travelled on the bus. I was amazed the number of people on the bus all going to work. What can we do "anoma enntua ogyina ho" unless a bird flies it has no food.

With 10 minutes to spare I got to work full in "spirit". I've enjoyed the music on faith radio so much that I wanted more. Thank God I could listen to radio while at work. With the computer on I removed the ear piece from my phone and listened to faith radio on the computer. I joined in the singing as I work. In a big building with many stairs prayer was much easier. Each level of stairs had its own prayer topic.

I had planned to go to the shop to get some breakfast. That was skipped as I enjoyed what I was listening and doing and didn't want any distraction. It soon dawned on me what Christ said that we would worhip Him in truth and in spirit. Worship doesn't only have to take place at a church premise. In fact we can worhip any where, any time.

On reflection, although I wouldn't like to make Sunday work a habit I must say I've enjoyed today. In fact my role at church sometimes make me not able to enjoy worship the way I would want. Perhaps once in a while I'll need this break from church where I could worship the way I or God would want it to be.

So what did I miss this Sunday? I can think of 5 Methodist hymns and friends chat, but did I miss God? Absolutely not.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

What 21st Century Jesus Christ Would Do

If Jesus Christ was on earth today with us I believe He would do all of the following:

  1. Service will still be His mantra. He would serve, serve and serve. The "I have come to serve" (Matthew 20:28) wouldn't change to I have served you enough and now is the time for you to serve me. And He would serve all not just a few.
  2. He would welcome all. Jesus Christ would still welcome all no matter their background, status, age or colour. 
  3. He would have relationships. Christ would develop relationships thereby sharing peoples thoughts and feelings. When the doors of the church are closed Christ would still be reaching out to people at all places.
  4. He would seek holistic being. His events/programmes wouldn't be confined to the spiritual life. Christ would care about the social, economic and political well-being of a person. He would therefore have events/programmes aimed at uplifting the total well-being of a person.
  5. Christ would be innovative. He would dismiss "this is the way we have always done it" notion. The fact that He once drove on a camel doesn't means He would always do that. If convenient and efficient means of doing things become available, He would adopt them.  
  6. Christ would still evangelize. I don't mean encouraging those already in a church to move to another church.
  7. Christ would be a firm disciplinary. He would ensure the right thing is done and would crack the whip if need be. 
  8. Jesus would commute. He would travel to where the people are not sit in His comfortable office and expect people to come to him.
  9. Christ would build a team.  He would always make sure He equips people who will take over when He isn't around. 
  10. Christ will embrace the social media. Jesus wouldn't be flying frequently from Argentina to Zimbabwe when He knows He could do a live broadcast, or record and upload on you tube. He once boarded a boat so that many people could hear Him. He would take every opportunity that would enable Him to reach out to many people. He would know He can't speak to everyone before or after church so at home or on the move, He would engage people on the social media; blogging His last sermon,  checking peoples status on facebook and make comments, tweeting up-coming events and sharing useful links.
Are you a church, ministry, or fellowship leader? If Christ would do all of the above why ain't you doing them?