Category Archives: Trends and the Bible

THE LEADER AS SERVANT

Serve

There is voluminous literature out there on leadership. Some of the leadership principles and values propagated in these books are Bible-based while others are research based. It is also worth noting that some of these values and principles on each side of the divide have points of convergence and points of divergence (this is for another day).

But the Bible provides rich metaphors that depict the nature of spiritual leadership that is to be exercised in and by the church. Believers in Christ are to embody these biblical values as foundational values for their actions, reactions, and convictions. In this short write-up let’s focus on one leadership motif presented in the Bible: servant.

Leader as Servant

A leader is a servant.

The servant motif traces way back to the OT whereby priests, prophets and kings were seen as servants of God. Like the nation of Israel, they were God’s vessels in which he accomplished his divine purposes on earth.

In the New Testament Jesus referred himself as God’s servant. He came to serve, and to save the lost. He exemplified service by washing the feet of his disciples; performing a typical work of a slave (Lk. 22:27; Jn. 13:4-11). He served the poor, the sick, the despised, and embraced the social outcasts of the society.

A leader who is a servant goes right to where people are. It models leadership from below. Jesus exemplified humility, obedience, and servanthood through his incarnation “but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness “-the kenosis concept (Phil. 2:7-8).

Servanthood is an attitude of the heart. It takes humility, a selfless spirit and a transformed heart for a leader to be a servant. This attitude was in Christ. Therefore, Jesus becomes our example. He redefines what greatness is (Mk. 9:35).

Those who lead should lead by serving. They should not by serving their own interest but the interests of the people they oversee. Those who fail to meet this threshold should never be considered leaders.

Read here for an example of servant leadership.

Read here for another Bible metaphor on leadership.

servant 2

THE LEADER AS SHEPHERD

leadership.jpg

There is voluminous literature out there on leadership. Some of the leadership principles and values propagated in these books are Bible-based while others are research based. It is also worth noting that some of these values and principles on each side of the divide have points of convergence and points of divergence (this is for another day).

But the Bible provides rich metaphors that depict the nature of spiritual leadership that is to be exercised in and by the church. Believers in Christ are to embody these biblical values as foundational values for their actions, reactions, and convictions. In this short write-up let’s focus on the shepherd leadership motif as presented in the Bible.

leadership 2

Leader as Shepherd

A leader is a shepherd. And as a shepherd, he has a flock under his care.

But more importantly, it should be noted that this is a communicable attribute from the divine. The shepherd motif presented in the Bible is derived from the character of God.

In the Bible God is revealed as the good Shepherd who leads, feeds, disciplines, and protects his flock (Ps. 23; 100:3; Isa. 10:1-11). Specifically, the sheep in Psalms 23 admits that his Shepherd: satisfies him-makes him lie down in green pastures and quiet waters, restores his soul, guides him, protects, comforts and disciplines him.

Jesus referred himself as the good shepherd (Jn. 10:11,14). He showed through his incarnate life that a good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A good shepherd does not abandon the sheep and run away when he sees a wolf coming. Instead, he protects. He does not allow the flock to be scattered. He gathers and embraces. A good shepherd knows his sheep and his sheep knows him. He always leads from the front. He has good interest of the sheep/followers at heart.

By implication, those who serve on behalf of God, at any leadership position, are also referred to as shepherds (Jer. 23:1-4; Ezek. 34:2-10). They are supposed to shepherd after God; to shepherd in the likeness of God. Shepherds should not be preoccupied with taking care of their own (self) interests but the interests of the flock. Good shepherds strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind the broken, bring back the straying sheep, seek the lost, and rule gently.

Leadership is a noble thing. Jesus commissioned Peter, and by extension the other disciples and believers today, to feed his flock (Jn. 21:15-19); with an ultimate promise of a reward. Apostle Peter later wrote that when the Chief Shepherd appears he shall reward, with unfading crown of glory, all those who have taken good care of his flock  (1 Pet. 5:2-4).  A good shepherd like Jesus leads, directs, nurtures, heals, and guards even sacrificing his life if need be for the sheep.

And so any leadership position should be seen as an opportunity to shepherd God’s people; “not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock (1 Pet. 5:3).

leadership-bubble

WHAT THE LIFE OF MOTHER TERESA REMINDS THE CHURCH IN AFRICA

mother Teresa

Mother Teresa of Calcutta has been canonized, formally declared a saint, by the Roman Catholic Church on 4th September 19 years after her death. Mother Teresa (1910-1997) founded the Missionaries of Charity,  that requires its members to subscribe to four vows: chastity, poverty, obedience, and to give “wholehearted free services to the poorest of the poor”. The award winning figure, a Catholic nun, has been hailed by many for what she stood for and for the impact she made in the lives of many poor people in India.

In my opinion, the life and work of Mother Teresa (MT) has a lot to remind the Body of Christ today.

  1. Ministry of the church to the poor– Mother Teresa’s life is a reminder of the biblical mandate that the church has toward the poor. Not only to the poor but also to refugees, sick, strangers, migrants, orphans and widows. To all those that are vulnerable to any form of suffering and exploitation. In her we see, true love at work. She sacrificially served “the poorest of the poor”. Her legacy of service to the people of Calcutta remains exceptional. Ministry to the poor is a worthy cause for the church today; the early church practiced it (Acts 6). The apostles, both to the Jews and Gentiles, put special emphasis on the plight of the poor as they preached the gospel: …They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do– Gal 2:9b-10.
  2. Incarnational Ministry– MT was totally sold out to the work among the poor. Her model takes after Jesus’ incarnation model of “coming down” to where people are. It is not easy to effect change when we stay aloof from people’s realities. With compassion, she literally went down to the people and suffered with them. She left her comfort and all her prerogatives to live and serve among the poor. Teresa was not a mother but became a mother to many.
  3. Leadership from below– I must say that we live in a world that strongly believes that for one to bring change (in the society) you have to be at the top. And so many people struggle to “be leaders” so that they can use their positions to right wrongs and straighten the crooked. But like Jesus, Mother Teresa’s life shows that the opposite is true, possible, and effective! You can lead from the bottom. Mother Teresa led by serving and served by leading.
  4. Simplicity– Trapped by materialistic culture around you? Mother Teresa’s life story is a down-to-earth life and lifestyle. Her life revolved around sharing and giving. She gave her life to selflessly serve God’s people. I wonder what Mother Teresa would say about the prosperity “gospel” that has become so prevalent today. But I guess, like Apostle Paul, she would perhaps say it is “no gospel at all”.
  5. Fervent spirituality– Her zeal and perseverance to serve “the poor of the poorest” was certainly informed by her intimate relationship with God. She must have learned her incarnational approach and what it means to surrender from Jesus. Her devotion to God and commitment to God’s people shows that the gospel is livable. Mother Teresa’s life is a good example of what a life surrendered to the hands of Jesus is able to achieve. Fervent spirituality will definitely lead to action.

Below, I leave you with some quotes attributed to Mother Teresa.

We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop. Mother Teresa

Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness. Mother Teresa

Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love. Mother Teresa

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one. Mother Teresa

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway

Mother Teresa

SATAN’S THESIS STATEMENT, JESUS’ OFFER

offer

We live in a world that is both physical and spiritual; material and immaterial. It is good to be always aware of this reality. As disciples of Jesus, we need to know the “flaming arrows” of the devil but more importantly what our Master has accomplished for us. Jesus is constantly on a mission of saving and giving life to many; but Satan on the other is engaged on a mission that is disastrously against all that has been established by God.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” ( John 10:10).

Satan’s thesis statement from the beginning is simple, focused, and clear: to steal, kill, and destroy. And so, practically, what are some of the things (that God gave/wanted us to enjoy) that we have been robbed of by the devil?

He has robbed many individuals their God-given: joy, peace, health, hope, integrity, humility, patience, intimacy with God etc. Families are also not spared; the thief has robbed many families of their: love, faithfulness, values, and unity. He robs our nations of: security, unity, sexuality, freedom, lives, culture, love for others, resources/prosperity, justice, truth and many others. He is a real thief!

Surprisingly, it does not stop with stealing. He also kills. He kills people’s potential, dreams, lives, and hopes. He has done this through lies; that is, planting in people’s minds and perceptions a false belief about oneself, others, and God. The thief doesn’t even stop there; he destroys what he has stolen and killed! As a matter of fact, he has destroyed precious lives of many young people with the allure to drug abuse and slavery to immorality in the name of freedom. He has destroyed others with pessimism. So sad. But that’s exactly what the devil has been up to. He is indeed an enemy.

But the most encouraging promise is found in the second part of the verse. Jesus makes an offer, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”. If that does not bless you, I don’t know what else does. Jesus is your true friend, life-giver, and redeemer. He has come, not to subtract or rob the little you have but to give you life and life in abundance. Satan takes but Jesus gives. He has come to restore what has been stolen and to lift you even to a higher ground. He has come not just to restore what had been stolen but to lift you up to a level of abundance. He will do it a hundred fold. What a good news!

The Bible declares that Jesus, the one you believe in or you should believe in, has entered into the strong man’s house (Satan’s realm) and came with spoils of victory. “… How can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house” Matt. 12:29. Jesus was able to bind the “strong man” on the cross. It is at the cross of Jesus that we find victory. We are able to achieve this victory and redemption by believing in Jesus, the One who is all-powerful to seize and tie up the “strong man” and to restore all that is due us.

Because of Jesus, don’t let the enemy rob you (again). Refuse to be robbed. No more robbing. It is a time of restoration. The thief might have stolen from you for a long time holding you hostage,  but come to Jesus, the redeemer and restorer of your life and soul. He will give you a gift, eternal life.

 

5 Biblical Principles on Work

hapa

A significant fraction of our lives is spent working or at workplace.  A typical 8-5 routine is simply a third of a day. And so this is important to learn from God’s word on how we can maximize this sizeable portion of our time that is spent working. We need to continually seek to know how to integrate faith and work. We need to glorify God in all things-including work.

The creation story in Genesis 1-2, presents God as Creator and Worker. For six days, he created the earth and all that is in it. He fashioned and creatively brought meaning out of formlessness, emptiness, and darkness. He brought beauty out of nothing. Creation reveals the wisdom, power, and creativity of God.

After he had created, he blessed all that he had done.

More important was the position and role of man in the entire created order. Man as God’s creation, bearing His image, was mandated to take care and name the creation: “to work it and take care of it” (Gen. 2:15). He was to give names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field (Gen. 2:20). This was quite some work! God also created a suitable helper for man. And so from the beginning work has an intrinsic value. It is a blessing. Work is a gift from God.

However the fall of man in Genesis 3, brought about curses on work. Man was now to “sweat” in order to meet his daily needs.  The reality of “painful toil” started to set in, right from the sad experience of Gen 3.

But all is not lost.

We can still experience meaningfulness in work especially in light of the redeeming work of Christ. In our modern society, we direly need a biblical understanding of work not only to challenge the false notions of work but to lead us into working meaningfully in the areas and professions/careers/vocation God has placed us in.

faith-work

Here are five biblical principles that can help us today on how to glorify God in work: 

  1. Embrace hard work as a means to prosperity

The Bible not only highlights the value of hard work but also emphasizes the need to shun laziness. The book of Proverbs has a lot of references to a sluggard/lazy person. Let’s first sample some verses from the OT wisdom literature on laziness.

The lazy will end up in poverty (Prov. 10:4); lazy people are lazy to eat even their own food (Prov. 26:15). They are married to their beds (Prov. 26:13-14)- “The lazy man won’t go out and work. There might be a lion outside!” he says. He sticks to his bed like a door to its hinges.” (see also: Prov.  6:9-11; 22:23).

The desires of a sluggard will go unfulfilled; but a hard worker will get everything he wants (Prov. 13:4).

Corruption is (thus) a form of laziness.  It is reaping from where you did not sow and acquiring what is not rightfully yours. It is sad that a recent survey among Kenyan youth showed that majority of youth have no problem amassing wealth through tax evasion and corruption deals as long as they do not get prosecuted. This is a sad story. My generation should embrace hard work as a means to prosperity.

A sluggard is a liability to his/her employer Prov. 10:26. Such people have immense power to sink your organization in a day. A sluggard is useless and expensive to anyone who must employ him. They omit/neglect their duties. They overburden others in work.

Lazy people hate the dawning of a Monday; they wish every day is a Friday afternoon and a weekend. They consistently offer excuses. They lack energy and enthusiasm that is needed to get a job done. Needless to say, the idea of work is troublesome to them.

Laziness is a serious disease. It is more than idle hands and mind. It is also a heart/spiritual problem. A lazy person has a heart that is only comfortable receiving than giving or blessing.  Such a heart manifest its spiritual problem through laziness on spiritual aspects like reading of God’s word and prayer.

Therefore a sluggard needs a conversion of heart. A heart trained in priorities, passion, and godly perspective on work. He must take a decisive action to work (2 Thess. 3:7-11).

On the other hand, hard work should be celebrated. And hard working people should be celebrated.

Hard work or diligence brings prosperity. It brings a profit/wealth (Prov. 14:23; 10:4). We need prosperity that is derived from hard work. The riches may not come quickly but it comes with God’s blessings and peace.

Godly people must embrace hard work as a means to prosperity.

2.Work as unto the Lord

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. The attitude with which we approach work matters a lot (Col. 3:23-24).

There is a world of difference when you wake up each morning knowing you are working for the Lord not for men (or for promotion or recognition, overtime, or other allowances). Doing what you do for and with God gives your life and toil a meaning. Those who work as unto the Lord are not bothered by the presence or absence of their supervisors.

Your see, the career/profession/vocation you currently hold, whether in the corporate world or in Christian organization, is not a coincidence or chance. You may have perceived it before as a means of purely earning money; but you know what? as we grow in Christ our perspectives should change- including on work. We should see what we do as a calling. We should see it as a blessing; as a gift from God to serve His purposes. And so, God commissions you each morning to go and serve him in whatever you are doing. In that manner, you will be rewarded for your service to God.

In that specific area you are involved in, God wants you to declare his excellencies.  Undoubtedly, your specific area of work is also your battlefield. It is where you face tough choices, trials and temptations (to look this way and that way-Exo. 2:12).  It is where you learn how to love people as you encounter complex situations and hard-to-deal-with people. It is a God-given opportunity for you to grow and be transformed into Christ’s likeness; to pursue righteousness godliness, faith, peace, love, endurance, gentleness (1 Tim 6:11).

As I mentioned earlier, working consumes more than a third of our lifetime; and so, don’t think God’s purposes are not embedded in that significant fraction of your life.

Serve as unto the Lord; people may be not see your sacrifices (they often do not see/reward), but know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord who sees.

Eph 6:7-8- Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.

  1. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might– Eccl. 7:10.

Do the work that the Lord has blessed you with wholeheartedly. Love the Lord your God with all your heart (passion), with all your soul (emotions), with all your mind (intelligence), with all your strength (energies).

God wants us to serve him wholeheartedly.

I know I’m writing from a context where unemployment among young people is so prevalent. Idleness is a choice. My call to many young people is, at least, get something constructive to do and do it with all your heart and strength. You have always been told to think outside the box; why don’t you try thinking without the box.

The trap we always fall into, perhaps a result from the fall of man, is despising some kinds of jobs. We in turn transfer the same attitude to people doing the same jobs. Certainly, this leads and promotes the unending narrative of ‘there are no jobs’.  (Swahili speakers are familiar with the expression-Kazi ni kazi). Remember, whatever your hand finds to do, do it will all your might.

Young people need to be advised to start small and not to despise their small beginning. ‘Starting small’ in this case means considering a volunteer position, or beginning a small business, etc. Delight in what you do.

Create something.  In any given opportunity, set a high a high standard of excellence and integrity. Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Magnify Christ in your work.

  1. Take a rest after work

After creating, God rested (ceased to work) on the 7th Day. He also created Sabbath for rest and made other provisions for rest in the Law. Therefore rest must be important component to consider. Our bodies need rest after work. Laziness is resting before you get tired.

Resting gives you time with yourself, family and with God.

A time of rest can also be a good source of energy, direction and inspiration in what we do.

We should not succumb to the obsession of wealth at the expense of our bodies or our relationships.

True wealth and prosperity is a gift from God; You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me,’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth (Deut. 8:17-8; see also 1 Chron. 29:12).

  1. We work so that we may have something to share with those in need- Eph 4:28

In the above passage, Paul exhorts the brother who has been stealing to steal no longer. Stealing or corruption is not God’s way of creating wealth or meeting personal needs. Paul instructs that he must work so that he may have something to share with those in need.

God blesses us not only to meet our needs but more importantly to be a blessing to other people.

Jesus gave. On the cross he sacrificially gave his life as a ransom for many.

God blesses us with the expectation of making us vessels of blessing to the world. We should therefore be rich in good works.

In any challenging areas of your work, remember to involve God because he is at work in you and through you even now!

work

Leadership Motifs from the Bible

There is voluminous literature out there on leadership. Some of the leadership principles and values propagated in these books are Bible-based while others are research based. It is also worth noting that some of these values and principles on each side of the divide have points of convergence and points of divergence (this is for another day).

But the Bible provides rich metaphors that depict the nature of spiritual leadership that is to be exercised in and by the church. Believers in Christ are to embody these biblical values as foundational values for their actions, reactions, and convictions. In this short write-up let’s focus on two leadership motifs presented in the Bible: shepherd and servant.

#1 Shepherd

A leader is a shepherd. And as a shepherd, he has a flock under his care.

But more importantly, it should be noted that this is a communicable attribute from the divine. The shepherd motif presented in the Bible is derived from the character of God.

In the Bible God is revealed as the good Shepherd who leads, feeds, disciplines, and protects his flock (Ps. 23; 100:3; Isa. 10:1-11). Specifically, the sheep in Psalms 23 admits that his Shepherd: satisfies him-makes him lie down in green pastures and quiet waters, restores his soul, guides him, protects, comforts and disciplines him.

Jesus referred himself as the good shepherd (Jn. 10:11,14). He showed through his incarnate life that a good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A good shepherd does not abandon the sheep and run away when he sees a wolf coming. He protects. He does not allow the flock to be scattered. He gathers and embraces. A good shepherd knows his sheep and his sheep knows him. He always leads from the front. He has good interest of the sheep in his heart.

By implication, those who serve on behalf of God, at any leadership position, are also referred to as shepherds (Jer. 23:1-4; Ezek. 34:2-10). They are supposed to shepherd after God; to shepherd in the likeness of God. Shepherds should not be preoccupied with taking care of their own (self) interests but the interests of the flock. Good shepherds strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind the broken, bring back the straying sheep, seek the lost, and rule gently.

Jesus commissioned Peter, and by extension the other disciples and believers today, to feed his flock (Jn. 21:15-19). But it is a commission with a reward. Apostle Peter later wrote that when the Chief Shepherd appears, He shall reward those who have taken good care of his flock with unfading crown of glory (1 Pet. 5:2-4).  A good shepherd like Jesus leads, directs, nurtures, heals, and guards even sacrificing his life if need be for the sheep.

And so any leadership position should be seen as an opportunity to shepherd God’s people; “not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock (1 Pet. 5:3).

#2 Servant

A leader is a servant.

The servant motif traces way back to the OT whereby priests, prophets and kings were seen as servants of God. Like the nation of Israel, they were God’s vessels in which he accomplished  his divine purposes on earth.

In the New Testament Jesus referred himself as God’s servant. He came to serve, and to save the lost. He exemplified service by washing the feet of his disciples; performing a typical work of a slave (Lk. 22:27; Jn. 13:4-11).

Jesus exemplified humility, obedience, and servanthood through his incarnation “but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness “-the kenosis concept (Phil. 2:7-8).

Servanthood is an attitude of the heart. It takes humility, a selfless spirit and a transformed heart for one to be a servant. This attitude was in Christ. Therefore, Jesus becomes our example. He redefines what greatness is (Mk. 9:35).

Therefore those who lead should lead by serving as Jesus did.

Remember that leaders after God’s own heart are shepherds and servants.

 

ALL OVER THE WORLD THE GOSPEL IS BEARING FRUIT AND GROWING

apple fruit

The evil schemes and plans of the enemy, the god of this world, has been constantly working to permanently thwart, oppose, destroy, counterfeit, distract, and to hinder the gospel. But with no success. The gospel continues to grow and bear fruit in different soil, all over the world. The gates of Hades has not succeeded to overcome the gospel. That is, the message of the life, the dead, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The gospel has been and is even today transforming lives across social, racial, economic, political and cultural backgrounds. Apostle Paul in his ministry noted that this gospel was finding home everywhere it was preached. Along the road it found a good soil in the heart of the Ethiopian eunuch; in Philippi, it found a home in the life of Lydia (a rich dealer of purple cloth), and in the jailer. In Berea it found a place in the hearts of many Jews and many prominent Greek men and women. In Athens a few men believed, while in Ephesus many believed. The gospel was establishing roots and fruits among both the Gentiles and the Jews. From Jerusalem to the ends of the earth, Paul could confidently attest that the gospel was bearing fruit and growing (Col. 1:6b).

God’s story of the power of the gospel is not yet done. It is still ongoing. Sometimes our physical eyes and our environment can deceive us; because they cannot give us the complete story. But the fact is, all over the world many people are finding hope and rest in Jesus. In Him, many are experiencing the divine love that has warmed their hearts and transformed their lives. All over the world- From Albania to Zimbabwe; from the Global South to the Global North, from the towns and villages of Africa to the biggest cities of America and Europe, the gospel is bearing fruit. All over the world, God is using his people to reach out to the lost.

The kingdom of this world and all those who preach a “different gospel- which is really no gospel at all” are being defeated. Darkness is disappearing and God’s light is taking over. The word of God is multiplying and many people are committing their lives to Christ (na bado!). Even in contexts where persecutions, afflictions, and tribulations are rampant, the word of God is growing each day. And all those who believe in this gospel in all ages, the church, are part of a big family- God’s oikos; moving and triumphing toward new Jerusalem.

Therefore, to all those laboring in God’s vineyard, keep on the good work of service and witnessing. It is not in vain. Scatter the seeds of the gospel in and out of season, it will sprout, He will make it grow and bear much fruit.

SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO PRAY IN LIGHT OF TERRORIST ACTIVITIES AND GROUPS

SOMALIA MILITIA
                                                                                                                                                                (AP Photo)

We live in times when terror activities are happening at escalating rates in different parts of the world. How should we respond as Christians? The Bible teaches us to pray for our enemies (Matt 5:44), and focus on the Sovereign God. The answers to the challenges we face today can only be found by focusing not on ourselves but on God. And so like the disciples of Jesus we need to ask God to teach us how to pray, Lk 11:1. In our prayers we need to praise God for who He is, give thanks for the things He does and promises, confess our sins, and present our petitions to Him.

PRAISE THE LORD GOD

  • Praise the Lord of Hosts who commands armies of the heaven.
  • Praise Him who is the great Warrior; for his great power to subdue his enemies.
  • Praise him for the victory he gives to his servants and the church.

GIVE THANKS

  • Thank God for the hope he gives even in the midst of confusing times.
  • Thank God for he is accomplishing something new to those who love him even through terrorism; Rom 8:28.
  • Thank God for the remnant saints in those terrorist stricken areas; and the fact that despite numerous challenges and persecution the gospel is growing and bearing fruit everywhere in the world.
  • Thank God for the victory he promises to his loved ones.
  • Thank God for those heroes of faith who have courageously stood strong till the end.

CONFESSION

  • For the times the church has not lived up to its mission to the world as it should.
  • Ask for forgiveness of sins- Many times a talk on terrorism generates a lot of emotion toward particular groups. Some negative emotions can lead us to sin in our speech, thoughts, and views by expressing hate and resentment.

SUPPLICATION-

Pray for the defeat of these terror groups– Pray the lament (like Ps 28, 70) prayers and imprecatory (like Ps 35, 109) Psalms. Don’t fear to pray for God to judge and repay the wicked for their evil. Pray for the defeat of God’s enemies as promised in scriptures (Ps 2).

Pray for ‘Damascus experience’ to the terrorists– Terrorism is a problem of the heart. No one was born a terrorist. Terrorism is a deception of the devil and zeal without knowledge. Pray that the light of Christ will shine upon the individual terrorists destined for salvation.

Pray “Your kingdom come” and “your will be done”– In Christ’s incarnation and inauguration of the church the kingdom is come in part. Pray Maranatha, for the full revelation of Gods kingdom- a kingdom that is characterized by justice, righteousness, joy, peace, and justice. Pray that God’s will be done even with the immigration situation today.

Pray for the universal body of Christ– Pray that the church will continually be strengthened, grow, faithful to its mission, and have endurance.  Pray for the unity of church and believers.

Pray for the government (s) to assume their divine role– Pray for that the government in its efforts to stop radicalization of young people, and bring to justice criminals and terrorists. Pray for the government as it seeks to accomplish its God-given mandate as an, “agent of wrath to bring punishment on the evil doer” Rom 13:4.

Pray for security forces in our cities and countries– Pray for their protection, effectiveness and more so their families. Pray for true security from above, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain” Ps 127:1.

Pray for the victims of war– Many innocent lives suffer while others perish, families are separated, property destroyed, vulnerable people displaced and forced to be refugees in foreign lands. Pray that in hopelessness that they will find hope in Christ.

Pray for missionaries and other humanitarian workers in “risk” areas– Pray for protection and sufficient grace to those who have risked their lives to serve in war zones.

Pray for young people– That they will not be lured to the Islamic radicalization. The evil one always seeks to establish a stronghold among the young generation.

Pray for our love as Christians to increase- Jesus commanded us to love our enemies, Matt 5:44. Obviously, it is easier to pray for a friend than an enemy or someone who derives joy from murdering innocent people. Pray that the love of believers will abound more and more in knowledge and deep insight.

Pray for spiritual wisdom in understanding the times– Pray for Christians to have knowledge of the times (evil times, Eph 5:16) and understand how to respond; to be like men of Issachar who, understood the times and knew what Israel should do, 1 Chron 12:32. Pray that our inner eyes be opened to see the things God is accomplishing amidst prevalence of evil. Pray that God fills his people with the knowledge of his will. Pray that believers will continue yield to the Spirit and live lives worthy of the Lord and please his in every way.

Pray that Christians will pray– This sounds out of context but it is important. In perplexing times, it is very easy to respond with fear, unbelief, worry, and pessimistic attitude and forget the role we ought to take. Pray that the church will be vigilant in prayer. “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil4:5-7.

Does Jesus care about poaching of wildlife?

ivory

The current situation and the rate at which wildlife is poached in Kenya and other African countries is quite disturbing. The situation is accelerated, day by day, by consistent silence and inaction. Every week ivory is seized by authorities, and poachers arrested; but the problem is not solved.

It is now a fact that the last male species of white rhino in the world is in Kenya. This one instance proves several cases of extinction of animal species. Today, Kenya burned the biggest ever stockpile of ivory of 6,000 illegally killed elephants- 105 tonnes of elephant ivory and 1.5 tonnes of rhino horns. This leads to the question does Jesus care about poaching of wildlife or ivory trade? The answer is a resounding Yes, he does care. Take a look.

The Bible, from Genesis to Revelation is very clear on matters of creation. God created all things good-whether plant or animals. God’s creation originally reflected what he wanted. There is a godly purpose and intrinsic quality in wanting animals to be animals. They reflect the greatness, goodness, wisdom and they declare the glory of God.

The problem of poaching not only demonstrates the reality of the fall of man but is also a failure to be God’s stewards over his creation. It is clearly an expression of self-centeredness and disobedience of man before God.

In God’s design, at no time should man attempt to eliminate other creation. Rather, humanity should respect the existence of every creation, preserve it and make it flourish. Creation mandate requires man to be a steward not an exploiter. For he is not at the center of all things, God is. Humanity is part of God’s creation, and knowing its rightful role and place in the entire creation is important in allowing other creatures (like elephants and rhino’s) have their rightful place.

Despite the fall of man, creation is hopeful through the reconciling work of Christ on the cross. Christ promises to restore all things at the very end of age. He cares for all creation. All things include every single creation. God’s creation, like humanity, is hopeful and therefore looking forward to that promised glorious future. Christian eschatology is not only about human salvation but also includes the redemption of the entire creation.

Humanity shares a lot with other creation. They live in the same “home”, the earth, with the rest of God creation. But man as the only creation in the image and likeness of God, is given mandate to accountably rule over the rest of God’s creation. Therefore mankind, in the Bible, is not justified in destroying wildlife.

Today, the massive loss of elephants and rhinos can be attributed to negative human action. The problem of poaching can be narrowed down to human greed. The insatiable greed to “quick riches” through ivory trade is quickly terminating our wildlife. It is selfish of humanity to put priority on self-centered interests and gains over stewardship of God’s creation. The fact that some animal species are facing extinction tells us that they are not enough in number for our greed.

The worth and value of elephants and rhino’s among other animals is not depended on man but God. Their existence should not be dependent on what value they are to man.

For every Christian, participating in conservation of wildlife is a worthy cause, for it is related to the purposes of God. There is some amount of righteousness and justice that comes with becoming faithful to God’s mandate of taking care of his creation. Advocating for elephants ‘rights’ and other wildlife is worth our time attention, money and support. It is an exercise of stewardship over God’s creation.

It is fine to be motivated by the gains we earn from tourism in order to promote conservation of wildlife; it is also good to do it for posterity but it is even greater if we do it because it is the right and godly thing to do. If Jesus cares, which is the case, his followers should. This involves joining hands with other relevant bodies and policy makers in ensuring that the future of wildlife is safeguarded.

Each one of us has power in our hands to do something or to influence for the threat is real. When we participate in protecting wildlife God is glorified!

What God has promised and what he has not promised in his word

Last Friday, the Supreme Court in US ruled that same-sex couples can now marry in all the 50 states. Quite alarming, but the trend and debates in the recent years vividly pointed to the ruling. Of great concern is the rippling effect to other nations of the world because often what is cooked in the West is also served in other parts of the world. Generally it is not an easy time for the church.

But while the world deteriorates into darkness in its values, believers also find an opportunity to shine brighter and brighter for Jesus in such a context. It was in the context of pagan Greco-Roman culture that the early church treasured the words of Jesus and boldly proclaimed the gospel. Knowing what God promises and does not promise is of importance for our spirituality and ministry. Here are some highlights on what God has promised:

  1. God never promised us the absence of strange and confusing times but promised his enduring presence; I am with you always, to the very end of age, Matt 28:20
  2. God has not called us citizens of this world but called us aliens and His ambassadors; we are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us 2 Cor. 5:20
  3. God never said that he is making the world a better place but promised that he’s gone to prepare us a place; And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am Jn 14:3
  4. God never promised that things around us will not grow from bad to worse but promises to make all things new; I am making everything new! Rev 21:5
  5. He never promised us power to legislate morality or overturn Court rulings but promised us the power to be witnesses; But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses…Acts 1:8
  6. He never guaranteed a world devoid of trouble but spoke comfort saying, “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jn 16:33
  7. God never promised a Christendom in this world but promised a kingdom of people called unto himself, the church; But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light, 1 Pet 2:9
  8. God did not promise the comfort of religious freedom but warned of hate, persecutions even death. If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own Jn 15:18

Irrespective of what happens in our world, God is at work; and in him all things hold together Col 1: 17.