A peep into life in Africa, through the eyes of an African Reformed Baptist pastor.

Water, water, water, everywhere. What else do you expect? I am a Baptist, and I live in the land of the mighty Victoria Falls!

Monday, February 29, 2016

KBC 30th anniversary and missions conference—Day 5

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The final day of our 30th anniversary celebrations and commemorative meetings was here. The meeting began at 09.00 hours with a Q&A session with all our missionaries lined up in front of us as members asked them very pointed questions about our role in their lives and their work out there in the field. Mr George Sitali moderated this event.

Mr Charles Bota leading the church in worship

Then at 10.30 hours our normal worship service began, led by Mr Charles Bota. Apart from the songs and hymns that we sang, we enjoyed one of the most animated songs I have ever heard from our music ministry. It was very well sung. Then during the collection of the offering, Mr Logan Nyasulu took us through a summary of the last seven-year period of the history of KBC (2010 to 2016). This comprised the period when the youth camps and conferences and the pastoral internship program grew by leaps and bounds. It was also the period when KBC called its second pastor, Chipita Sibale, who brought the number of current serving pastors at KBC to two. It was also in this period that the African Christian University project started together with KBC’s campus outreach ministry. The report ended by stating that KBC now had a payroll of 51 individuals and the Lord continued to supply the funds to remunerate all of them.

The music ministry singing their song with exuberant joy

After the historical summary, Logan interviewed Mrs Monde Mulunga who recalled how an invitation from a friend caused her to visit KBC for the first time in the Kabwata Community Hall. She said after that visit she never went back to her previous church and has been with us since. She also spoke about a series that Pastor Sibale was recently preaching on the life of David that really ministered to her after her eye surgery and her car accident. She urged the members to be grateful to God for what he has done among us and to faithfully serve him in the church.

Mrs Monde Mulunga testifies about life at KBC

It is on this final day of the conference that KBC members take a collection (and pledges) towards a missions project or projects that the elders choose. As stated in earlier blogs, our goal was to raise K150,000 towards the construction of a “majestic entryway” to our ACU Chisamba campus. At this point the collection was taken.

Mr George Sitali invited the current missionaries together with the elect missionary (Emmanuel Komba) to come forward and be prayed for them. After he prayed for them, we went into the ordination of Emmanuel Komba as our latest missionary to Sierra Leone. Mr Sitali read the charge to Emmanuel and then invited the rest of the elders to come and lay hands on Emmanuel. What a glorious occasion this was!

Elder George Sitali prays for the current missionaries

“Yours truly” was the preacher yesterday. My subject was, “The resurrection and glorification of the bride of Christ.” I preached from 1 Corinthians 1:30, “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” I argued that the redemption being spoken about here is not what took place at Jesus’ first coming but what will take place at his second coming (Romans 8:23 and Ephesians 4:30). That was why it came at the end of the string listed by the apostle Paul and not at the beginning. By using the picture of the redemption or liberation of a slave, I went on to look at this theme under three heads:

Missionary elect Emmanuel Komba responds to the charge

What we will be redeemed from. I stated that we would be redeemed from the curse of the fall. To begin with it will be all that everyone goes through—whether saved or not. Then added to this is the persecution that the bride of Christ suffers from the non-believers. Lastly, it was the remaining or indwelling sin in our hearts that often leaves us in tears and sorrow. We long for these sources of misery to come to an end perhaps more than a slave longs to be liberated from his chains and enslavement.

The KBC elders lay hands on Emmanuel Komba as an act of ordination

When we shall be redeemed. I stated that we would be redeemed at the second coming of Christ. That is “the day of our redemption” mentioned in Ephesians 4:30. On that occasion, we will be changed in the twinkling of an eye and our earthly bodies will become like his heavenly body.  The effect of the fall will be over. The persecution of the world will also be over. We will be taken by Jesus and will forever be with him in glory.

How life will be after that redemption. I stated that the life after our redemption beggars our imagination. We will live a life that is totally free from sin. External sin will be no more because all sinners will be consigned to hell. Internal sin will be no more because our very natures will be totally transformed into the absolute holiness. We will be reunited with our lost loved one in Christ. We will worship God with an unsinning heart. And above all, we will see our Saviour face to face.

Newly ordained missionary Emmanuel Komba thanks KBC

This was how I captured “the resurrection and glorification of the bride of Christ”. After the sermon, we sang

“Jerusalem the golden,
With milk and honey blessed,
Beneath thy contemplation,
Sink heart and voice oppressed.
I know not, O I know not,
What joys await us there;
What radiancy of glory
What bliss beyond compare.”

We spend the next hour in a fellowship meal. How the ladies managed to feed the 300 to 400 people is beyond me but they fed us well. After lunch we gathered for what is called “the grand announcement”. This is always the last event at our missions conferences where the funds collected are announced. For me, as the church pastor, I am always anxious while I wait for the deacons to tell me how much the people of God have given. Yesterday was no exception. How much have KBC members given or pledged to give towards the ACU entryway? I announced the amount. It was K151, 086. I was relieved and full of thanksgiving to God for the generosity of his people. Dr Ken Turnbull came forward to respond to this. His tears told us what was in his heart. It was an emotional moment for all of us. He prayed for KBC and on that note we were all dismissed!

Teary-eyed, Dr Ken Turnbull thanks KBC for its generosity


Sunday, February 28, 2016

KBC 30th anniversary and missions conference—Day 4

Saturday, February 27, 2016


Our 30th anniversary celebrations and commemorative meetings entered the fourth day yesterday. The meeting began with a luncheon. The attendance looked a little lower than usual in the auditorium but this was because the children had a separate conference where they were being taught about missions at their own level. Bobbline Cheembela, one of the church deacons, led the main meeting.

We again began the afternoon with presentations from our missionaries. The first presentation was made by Pastor Kenneth Siwale, who was ordained in 2013 to take over the planting a church in Sinda, in the Eastern Province of Zambia. He spoke about the progress in the membership and in the building of their pastor’s house. He was grateful for the boreholes that were sunk last year with the help of KBC in both Sinda and Kaluba.


The second missions presentation was made by Pastor Kasango Kayombo, who was ordained as a missionary in 2012 after being a deacon at KBC for a while. He was sent to plant a church in the Ibex Hill area east of Lusaka. He spoke about their various outreach efforts in the Ibex Hill area and the number of people that have become consistent in attendance. He asked for prayer for the acquisition of land for them to put up a church building.


The third missions presentation was made by Pastor Manasseh Kaonga, who was ordained as a missionary in 2010 and was sent to plant a church in Kapiri Mposhi. Manasseh spoke of the increase in church attendance and one or two men he was now discipling for leadership in the church. He also reported that they had begun to construct the foundation of their church building. Bethel Baptist Church in Kabwe was now sending a team of church members to help them with ministry over weekends.


“Yours truly” was asked to cut the 30th anniversary cake with Mrs Mbewe. It was a total surprise. I was not dressed for the occasion. Mrs Mbewe was in even greater shock and after a lot of hesitation finally opted to come with one of our daughters, Mwila. As you will see from the photo, the cake was truly a work of art.


Logan Nyasulu read the fourth seven-year period of the history of KBC (1993 to 2009). This comprised the period when KBC went through a period of unprecedented growth and at the same time its most difficult period due to the disintegration of its eldership. It was also the same time when KBC sent out its first international missionary and started its play park outreach programme. The church also started its missions conferences.


After the historical summary, Logan interviewed Mrs Gladys Mposha who clocked 20 years as a member of KBC this year. She spoke about her experience of the elders at KBC and the church’s missions work. She also spoke about the sobering effect of the multiple deaths that took place in the church in 2008. Logan then interviewed two of the church elders, Mr Charles Bota and Pastor Chipita Sibale. They spoke of how they found themselves at KBC and how it has been for them working among their fellow elders in the midst of their other demands (for Mr Bota) and young age (for Pastor Sibale).


The preacher on this fourth day was Pastor Isaac Makashinyi, from Emmasdale Baptist Church. He preached from 1 Peter 4:12-19. He was dealing with the sacrifice and suffering of Christ’s bride. Pastor Makashinyi bemoaned the teaching of the prosperity gospel preachers who make sacrifice and suffering look sub-normal to the Christian Faith. From his text, however, he dealt with the following:

Pastor Makashinyi began by asserting that our sacrifice and suffering for Christ is a normal and expected part of the church’s life on earth for Christ (v.12). Peter urged the people of God not to be surprised about the suffering that had come upon them. He also urged them to rejoice in their suffering (13-14). This is humanly impossible but the grace of God enables his people to do this. God is sovereign over all the circumstances of our lives, including all the details of our suffering.


Pastor Makashinyi emphasised that suffering leads us to deeper fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. False believers fall by the wayside when suffering comes, as Jesus so clearly taught in the Parable of the Sower. Suffering will give us a deeper level of rejoicing at the second coming of Christ. Suffering will lead us to a deeper present experience of the Holy Spirit. As Christians we should entrust ourselves to God in our sufferings (v.19) the way one entrusts his valuables to another for safekeeping.

Pastor Makshinyi insisted that suffering is our common lot. We must be prepared to lose our comfort zones, safety, security, and convenience. To think that God will only send us where it is safe to serve him is unbiblical. Risk and danger are part of the package of Christian service. Pastor Makashinyi ended by quoting Adoniram Judson’s letter to the father of the lady he wanted to marry. The letter clearly spoke of suffering and sacrifice. Oh for such spirituality again!


That was how our fourth day at these commemorative meetings ended. In closing, we sang,

“What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear;
What a privilege to carry,
Everything to God in prayer.”

Saturday, February 27, 2016

KBC 30th anniversary and missions conference—Day 3

Friday, February 26, 2016


Our 30th anniversary celebrations and commemorative meetings entered the third day last night. Attendance continued to grow. The meeting was led by Musopelo Chilongoshi who is one of the newest church members and has already found a place to serve in the church—in the work of missions.

We again began the evening with presentations from our missionaries. The first presentation was made by Pastor Lackson Mudenda, who was ordained in 2015 to plant a church in Sesheke, in the Western Province of Zambia. He spoke about the place of worship that the church had been offered, which was easy to find. They have also found a plot of land on which to start erecting their church building.

The second missions presentation was made by Pastor Curtis Chirwa, who was ordained as a missionary in 2008 after being a pastoral intern at KBC for a while. He was sent to plant a church in the Kabanana area north of Lusaka and this year (2016) the church has been constituted as an independent local church. His report was, therefore, a farewell. He spoke about the conversions they had seen in the last year, the baptismal service as a result of this, and the progress on their building project.

The third missions presentation was made by Pastor Emmanuel Komba, who is scheduled to be ordained as a missionary this coming Sunday. He spent January 2014 to September 2015 at KBC as a pastoral intern. He will be sent to Freetown, Sierra Leone, to plant a Reformed Baptist church there.

Logan Nyasulu initially called upon Mrs Daisy Nawa to speak about the missionaries’ wives conference that took place earlier in the week. I was thoroughly impressed with how she went through all the teaching that they received without using any notes!


Logan Nyasulu read the third seven years of the history of KBC (1996 to 2002). This comprised the period when KBC moved into its current building and adopted a new constitution reflecting its new Reformed Baptist position. This was also the period when the Eagles Nest School started and KBC started doing outreach work at the Agricultural and Commercial Show. And finally it was the time when KBC entered into partnership with HeartCry Missionary Society who have become our main partners in missions.

Logan Nyasulu went on to interview Dr Phanuel Mweemba who was a member in the days that were covered by the earlier narrative. He talked about how he found himself at KBC and the impact that moving from the Kabwata Community Hall into the current premises made to him and the rest of the church members. Dr Mweemba also talked about how he benefitted from the missions work of KBC when he moved to Botswana to work there. He was a leader in the church that we were planting in Francistown.


Dr Ken Turnbull, the African Christian University (ACU) vice chancellor, was available this evening to speak about the ACU. He thanked KBC for its role in the establishment of the ACU, together with its sister churches. He also presented a slide show that had the 150 acres of land in Chisamba and the proposed entryway. Finally, he gave a few prayer requests, including that of getting the licence to begin operations. We are almost there!

Before the preaching of God’s word, I welcomed all who were present and very briefly this time mentioned the K150,000 that we were working towards raising for the construction of the “majestic entrance” to our Chisamba campus of the ACU.


The preacher on this third evening was Pastor Ronald Kalifungwa from Lusaka Baptist Church. He preached from 1 Timothy 3:15-16. He was dealing with the church’s doctrine and worship. From this text he dealt with the following:

(1) The church’s identity as the foundation of the truth. Pastor Kalifungwa asked the question, “What is this truth for which the church is a pillar and ground?” He proceeded to answer this by saying that this truth relates to God and his execution of his purposes through Christ and the duty of man in response to this. This has been formulated into confessions of faith across history. He later asked, “What does the Bible mean by the church being the pillar and foundation of the truth?” He said it meant that the church had the job of preserving the truth because it was constantly under attack. It needed to be passed on undiluted to the next generation while blessing the current one.


(2) The church’s identity as a worshipping community. Pastor Kalifungwa said that when Paul wrote, “I write these things to you,” he was referring to the prescriptions he had spoken about with respect to the worship and order of the church. On the subject of worship the apostle Paul was saying that it must be regulated by the word of God. The worship must be an expression of the truth that the church preaches. This is the regulative principle of worship. This is referring to worship “in the house of God”. The fact that it is in God’s house suggests that God must have the final say on what we do in that worship. This is a worship that must be energised by and inspired by Christ.

Pastor Kalifungwa ended with three exhortations. We must hold fast to the form of sound words that have been entrusted to us through the apostles. We must identify ourselves and worship with the church as a truly worshipping community. We must do deeds that are appropriate to this community.


That was how our third day at these commemorative meetings ended. In closing, we sang again…

“O Jesus I have promised,
To serve thee to the end;
Be Thou forever near me,
My Master and my Friend.”


Friday, February 26, 2016

KBC 30th anniversary and missions conference—Day 2


Thursday, February 25, 2016


Our 30th anniversary celebrations and commemorative meetings, under the theme: “The church—Christ’s glorious bride,” entered the second day last night. The church auditorium again was almost full. We also had some visitors from sister churches. The meeting was led by Graham Chingambu who was converted while in Sunday School at Kabwata Baptist Church (KBC) many years ago, and is now a civil engineer, a married man, and a family man. A lot can happen in thirty years!

We again began the evening with presentations from our missionaries. The first presentation was made by Pastor Poniso Kuyumbana, who was ordained in 2013 to plant a church in Senanga, in the Western Province of Zambia. He spoke about how the church attendance had grown in the last one year from about 55 to 90 people, including children. He also talked about 2 ladies who were recently baptised on profession of their faith and the moulding of blocks that they had started on their new church plot.

L-R: Pastors Curtis Chirwa, Brian Mutale, and Poniso Kuyumbana

The second missions presentation was made by Pastor Curtis Chirwa, who was ordained as a missionary in 2008 after being a pastoral intern at KBC for a while. He was sent to plant a church in the Kabanana area north of Lusaka and this year (2016) the church has been constituted as an independent local church. His report was, therefore, a farewell. He spoke about the conversions they had seen in the last year, the baptismal service as a result of this, and the progress on their building project.

The third missions presentation was made by Pastor Brian Mutale, who was ordained as a missionary in 2010 after spending a year at KBC as a pastoral intern. He was sent to Monze, in the Southern Province of Zambia, to plant a church there. He expressed gratitude to the church for its support and also spoke of the trip that “yours truly” made recently to Southern Province and how helpful it was to the church in Monze.

The music ministry sang a song entitled, “Mwe Lesa Wandi” [“You, God, who are mine”]. It was a hot favourite when it was first composed and released as the lead song in a CD that our music ministry produced a few years ago. I had not heard it for a long time.

Hearty congregational singing

Logan Nyasulu came onto the podium and read the second seven years of the history of KBC (1989 to 1995). This comprised the period when the KBC compiled the Grace Supplement hymnbook, adopted The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, started hosting the Zambian Reformed Conferences, had its first fully fledged eldership and delinked it from its diaconate, turned its ministries into outreach organs, acquired its current plot of land and built its church pastors house, and took its first steps in the work of missions.

Logan went on to interview Emmanuel Matafwali who was a member way back in those days that were covered by the earlier narrative. He talked about the impact of the Grace Supplement on their worship, how the church processed the adoption of The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. He also recalled those days when the KBC ministries were turned into outreach organs and the change that this brought into the life of the church.


Before the preaching of God’s word, I took time to welcome all who were present. I also talked about our goal at these commemorative meetings and missions conference to raise K150,000 towards the construction of the “majestic entrance” to our Chisamba campus of the African Christian University (ACU). This will be a daily announcement.

The preacher on this second evening was Pastor Kabwe Kabwe, from Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Ndola. He preached from 1 Peter 1:13-22. He was dealing with the church’s holiness. He pointed to four incentives for holiness in the text:


(1) Verse 15—The character of God. God is holy. The apostle Peter said, “…as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.” If we are to live holy lives we must never forget this. One reason why there is so little holiness in the church is that we have forgotten God and his essential holiness. He is holy! The Christian life is not about conforming to the world but transforming into the image of Christ, the Son of God.

(2) Verse 17—The discipline of God. The apostle Peter says, “…[God] judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile”. We must live a life that is conscious that the eye of the Father is on us throughout our lives here in earth. God engages in relational discipline and he does so impartially.

(3) Verse 18-19—The price paid by God. The apostle Peter says, “…knowing that you were ransomed…with the precious blood of Christ”. It cost the life of the Son of God. This speaks something of the value that God has over the lives of his people.


(4) Verse 20—The eternal plan of God. The apostle Peter says, “[Jesus] was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times….” God loved us and planned every aspect of our salvation even before Adam sinned against God. From eternity God committed himself to making us holy and he will achieve this.

Pastor Kabwe ended by saying that when we do not live a holy life as God’s people we insult God and we undermine the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, let us pursue and preserve holiness. That is why church discipline is essential to the wellbeing of the church. There should be no partiality to the exercise of corrective discipline. We need a holy church!

That was how our second day at these commemorative meetings ended. In closing, we sang…

“O Jesus I have promised,
To serve thee to the end;
Be Thou forever near me,
My Master and my Friend.”

Thursday, February 25, 2016

KBC 30th anniversary and missions conference—Day 1


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Our 30th anniversary celebrations and commemorative meetings began last night, under the theme: “The church—Christ’s glorious bride”. The church auditorium was almost full, which being the first day, was a great encouragement. We also had a few visitors from sister churches in Lusaka. The meeting was led by Michael Chelelwa who was a member of Kabwata Baptist Church (KBC) many years ago, but moved on when his employers transferred him out of town.

Since we were combining our 30 anniversary meetings with our missions conference, we began the evening with presentations from our missionaries. The first presentation was made by Pastor Kennedy Kawambale, who was ordained in July 2015 to plant a church in the Chamba Valley area east of Lusaka. This is an area where there is a new housing development. He spoke of an attendance that is now around forty on Sundays.


The second missions presentation was made by Pastor Oswald Sichula, who was ordained as a missionary in 2008 after being a pastoral intern at KBC for a while. He was sent to plant a church in the St Bonaventure area south of Lusaka and this year (in 2016) the church is being constituted as an independent local church. His report was, therefore, a kind of farewell because next year this time he will not be our missionary.


The third missions presentation was made by Pastor Monametsi Bahudi from Gaborone, Botswana, who was ordained as a missionary in 2012. He took over the church planting work that was started in 2004 by missionary pastor Kapambwe Nsenduluka who is now in India. Pastor Bahudi was excited because after being the only Reformed Baptist pastor in Botswana, his church ordained Pastor Michael Legodi last year as their missionary to Francistown.

The music ministry sang a song entitled, “Through the flame”.


Logan Nyasulu read the first seven years of the history of KBC (1981 to 1988). This comprised the first five years when Lusaka Baptist Church was planting KBC and ended soon after the church called me as its pastor in 1987 and the church elected its first fully-fledged eldership comprising Dr Duncan Mugala, David Toka, Wishard Yenga, and “yours truly”.

Logan went on to interview George Samututa who is currently one of the three longest serving members of KBC. George came with copies of the minutes of a church members meeting in 1985 (31 years ago!) where members were being urged to pray for a pastor.


Before the preaching of God’s word, I took time to welcome all who were present. I also talked about our goal at these commemorative meetings and missions conference to raise K150,000 towards the construction of a “majestic entrance” to our Chisamba campus of the African Christian University ACU). This is our university. Its main campus is strategically located along the Great North Road as you head out of Lusaka. We want to construct an entrance there that will testify of what the ACU is all about.


The preacher on this first evening was Pastor Lawrence Lama, from Bethel Baptist Church in Kabwe. He preached from 1 Corinthians 12. He asked whether we were still holding on to the biblical standards of the church. He also warned us against the danger of contentment. Then he proceeded to ask and answer three questions:


(1) What is the biblical truth that the apostle Paul emphatically affirms in this text? Pastor Lama said that the truth being affirmed was that the Corinthian believers were the body of Christ. This truth emphasises the close organic union between Christ and believers. Christians do not exist for themselves; they belong to Christ. That truth must be applied to today’s church and to KBC in particular. We are the body of Christ.

(2) How does one become a member of Christ’s body? Pastor Lama said that you become a member of this body by repentance and faith in Christ. The Holy Spirit baptises you into Christ’s body. Putting it negatively, church membership or being born in a Christian family does not make you are member of Christ’s body. Then positively, everyone who has truly trusted in Christ, whether he is a Presbyterian or an Arminian or a Charismatic, is part of the body with us as Reformed Baptists. We must accept that.


(3) How do we relate to the head of the body and to its members? Pastor Lama said that we are obligated to enter into relations with all those who are members of this body because we are one with them. The apostle Paul used this to re-establish proper relations of believers with one another despite their differences. We must have mutual dependence, mutual affection, mutual respect and appreciation, and intimate fellowship. With respect to Christ, our role is that of submission. We are his.

That was how our first day at these commemorative meetings ended. In closing, we sang…

Revive Thy work, O Lord!
Thy mighty arm make bare;
Speak with the voice that wakes the dead,
And make they people hear!




Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Eisegesis gone wrong...awfully wrong


Eisegesis—which is the practice of reading your own meaning into someone else’s words—is always wrong. In the Christian Faith we normally use this word to talk about preachers who tend to go to a passage of Scripture and read their own meaning into the passage. It is the opposite of exegesis, where you seek the meaning of a text from the text itself.

So, if it is always wrong then why am I speaking of “Eisegesis gone wrong…awfully wrong”? It was because of my recent experience. I was driving home when I turned on the car radio and found myself listening to a sermon on Luke 15:8, which says, “What woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?”

A sermon gone wrong

The preacher was seeking to persuade his hearers to bring candles when they come to church on Friday for their overnight prayer meeting. His first point was “the loss”. This woman lost one of her silver pieces. He asked the question, “What have you lost? Is it your husband or wife to someone else? Is it your job or your business? Is it your pregnancy or your reputation? Is it your health through disease or an accident? What have you lost?”

The preacher’s second point was “the candle”. This woman lit a candle when she lost her piece of silver. The preacher went on to say, “Have you lit your candle? That is what you must do on Friday. Bring a candle and I will anoint it with powerful prayers, and then you can light it.”

The preacher’s third and final point was “the seeking”. This woman sought what she lost diligently. The preacher appealed to his listeners to come to the prayer meeting and together with him they would seek what they had lost through persevering prayer. He pointed to this woman who sought until she found what she had lost and appealed to those who would come to make sure they pray until they have a breakthrough.

By this time you can well imagine that I was feeling like punching the car radio. Yes, eisegesis is always wrong but when it reaches these levels of wrongness then it has gone awfully wrong. Surely, even common sense should make people see the error of this kind of preaching. The woman lit the candle in order to see better in dark places in the room. In fact, some versions use the word "lamp". It was simply a source of light. And yet I could not believe the many “Amens” I was hearing. You can be sure that many people went to church that Friday with candles hoping for anointed prayers and a breakthrough so that they could get their spouses or jobs or health or reputations back!

Context! Context! Context!

The first principle of the interpretation of Scripture must be adherence to the context. If this man or his hearers had adhered to this principle they would have been saved from jumping off the cliff. In the context we are told that the reason why Jesus spoke these words was because the Pharisees and Scribes were murmuring against him for fraternising with tax collectors and sinners. He then gave them three parables. The first was about a shepherd who lost one of his one hundred sheep and left the ninety-nine to find the missing one. The second is the one about the woman losing one of her ten pieces of silver and going to look for it. The third is about a father who loses one of his two sons and throws a party when the lost son returns home.

What is Jesus teaching in these three parables? He is teaching his hearers about God’s love for the lost—for sinners. God does not wait indifferently until they sort themselves out but rather he goes out of his way to get them back into the fold. And when they show any initial signs of repentance, he goes after them and covers them with kisses. So, between Jesus and the Pharisees, it was Jesus who was representing the Father’s heart. That was his message.

How can we apply this text today? It is not by challenging believers to come with candles to the church prayer meeting. It is by challenging believers about their attitude to sinners. Are we willing to leave behind the warmth of Christian fellowship in order to reach out to those who are lost in sin? And when those who are conspicuous for their wickedness show up at church, do we go out of our way to draw them to God or do we keep them at arms-length lest they morally contaminate our children? That is the appropriate application.

There is nothing in the context about losing wives, husbands, jobs, health or reputations. There is nothing in the text about us going to church on Friday evening with candles. There is nothing in the text about us praying until there is a breakthrough. Nothing! Nothing! Nothing!

Where have we gone wrong?

I am very concerned with the way in which this kind of erroneous preaching has become so commonplace in evangelical churches. Where did our teachers go wrong? I doubt that they taught us eisegesis in Bible College. We were all taught how to do faithful exegesis. Then how come what I heard on the radio is no longer the exception to the rule? I hear it literally everyday, especially on radio and television. It has become an epidemic.

What we preachers need to realise is that when anyone speaks he intends to communicate something. The way we find out what he was trying to communicate is not by the immediate words alone but also by the context in which those words were spoken. If I said, “God is like a chicken,” that statement alone can either be very offensive or heart-warming depending on the context. If we were talking about a chicken in terms of a bird that is very fearful and quick to run away at the scent of trouble, surely that would be offensive because God is not like that. He rules the universe and is in absolute control.

However, if we were talking about a chicken in terms of the way it covers its chicks under its wings to protect them when a vulture gets close, surely that would be comforting because God is like that. The Bible actually uses that picture about him. Psalm 91:4 says, “He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.” So, instead of being offended by that statement we would be encouraged.

Scripture is like that. When the Holy Spirit spoke through the various prophets and apostles, there was a message he wanted to communicate. Our first task before we attempt to preach on those words of Scripture is to discover what the Holy Spirit was seeking to say to the original hearers or readers and then seek to apply what he was saying to today’s hearers. We have no right to take a piece of it and make it say what we want to make it say to achieve our own end. No! That is a serious misrepresentation. It is criminal. We must never do that.

So, let us all be, first and foremost, Bible students for the rest of our lives. Let us study the Bible, not to prepare sermons, but to hear the voice of God speaking to us through a faithful exegesis of Scripture. Let us slowly but surely build libraries by acquiring books that help us to understand the books of the Bible. Yes, books are expensive. But if we are going to avoid the kind of eisegesis that I alluded to earlier, we had better sell a shirt or two in order to buy one or two very good commentaries. We owe it to our people to teach them God’s word faithfully. If we do not do so, sermons about “candles” will continue to be the regular diet in our pulpits. The result being that we will continue to send into the world believers who are suffering from spiritual malnutrition and thus vulnerable to every heresy that comes into town.

(Banner photo, courtesy of www.preaching.org)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Pray for your pastor


We need our pastors to pray for us and preach to us. Yet, what we often forget is that a pastor’s relationship with his flock is one of mutual benefit. We minister to one another and one of the most important benefits a pastor has from his flock is their fervent prayers.

Let me give you a quick list of some of the prayer items you can keep before the Lord...

1. Pray for your pastor’s godliness. This is the most vital need in your pastor’s life…his walk with God. Out of this his heart will yearn to see godliness in the flock. The day your pastor begins to fraternise with sin is the day he bids farewell to true effectiveness in ministry.

2. Pray that your pastor will be a man of the Word and a man of prayer. Ask God to so fill him with the Holy Spirit that the Word of God will first affect him before he seeks to see it affect his hearers. This will only happen as he spends much time in secret with Jesus alone.

3. Pray that your pastor will be a humble man who works with other elders and church members as equals, no matter how much success he may have as a preacher. Pray that he may be so conscious of God’s glory that it will be all that matters to him—and not his own glory.

4. Pray for your pastor’s family life. What happens behind the closed doors of a pastor’s home is often what breaks him or keeps him going. Pray that he will love his wife and children and that their family devotions may be sustained and lively, nourishing their spiritual lives.

5. Pray for your pastor to be surrounded by the right friends. Many pastors make a shipwreck of their lives simply because they hang out with the wrong crowd. The Bible says, “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33) and your pastor is not immuned to this!

6. Pray for your pastor’s physical health. We are in a world of diseases and ailments, and so every so often your pastor will be unwell. Pray that God will enable him to make the right decisions about health so that he may live long enough to bear fruit in the lives of many.

7. Pray for your pastor’s wisdom. As church members you will often call on him with all kinds of perplexing situations in your life and you will want godly answers right there and then. Pray that whenever he opens his mouth, God will give him the right words for your souls.

8. Pray for your pastor’s sermons. Christians are quick to criticise their pastors’ poor sermons. If only they spent as much time praying for their pastors’ preaching as they did criticising, perhaps God would have heard their cries by now and helped their pastors to preach better!

9. Pray for your pastor’s emotional and spiritual strength so that he can withstand trials. False accusations, betrayals, and a sense of in adequacy and failure cause discouragement and depression in the hearts of many genuine servants of God and your pastor is no exception.

10. Pray for your pastor’s ministry to be fruitful in an ever-increasing measure, so that more and more souls may be saved through him. You want your pastor’s ministry to be described “like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day” (Prov. 4:18).


11. Pray for your pastor’s financial needs. He not only needs to feed and clothe his family, he also needs to educate them and prepare for his own retirement when you conclude he is a spent force. Here is one area you must not only pray about but you must also do something about it!