Archive for the ‘Core Values’ Category

When we say that we want to be watumishi wa Neno we are not saying that prayer is not absolutely vital.  Gospel ministry is ‘prayer and the ministry of the word’ (Acts 6:4).  Why is prayer vital to ministry?  Well, for all sorts of reasons but, specifically thinking of ‘declaring the mystery of Christ’ (Col. 4:3), there are three parts of the process that particularly need prayer:

  1. The message.  I need to pray for light and understanding – for the Spirit to open my eyes to spiritual truths that are spiritually discerned.  And I pray for God’s Word to grip me, to change me, to get inside me, to become a fire in the bones that cannot be held in (Jer. 20:9).  So often my preparation goes through a ‘U’-shaped journey of thinking that I know what the passage is about, then finding that I don’t understand at all, that I’m completely lost and helpless, then being forced to cry out for help and light, and then starting to feel the force of the passage, and finally coming out feeling ‘this is the most important and wonderful passage in the whole Bible!’
  2. The communication.  It’s so striking that Paul ask for prayer simply, ‘that I may make it clear’ (Col. 4:4).  That’s what he was aiming at – not oratory or entertainment – just clarity.  And he realised that clarity is very very difficult – he needed God’s help to achieve it.
  3. The hearing.  We are naturally blind to the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.  The door of our mind and heart is naturally slammed shut.  So the other thing Paul asks the Colossians to pray for is an open door (Col. 4:3).  Charles Spurgeon is brilliant on this:

“The gospel is preached in the ears of all men; it only comes with power to some. The power that is in the gospel does not lie in the eloquence of the preacher otherwise men would be converters of souls. Nor does it lie in the preacher’s learning; otherwise it could consists of the wisdom of men. We might preach till our tongues rotted, till we should exhaust our lungs and die, but never a soul would be converted unless there were mysterious power going with it – the Holy Ghost changing the will of man. O Sirs! We might as well preach to stone walls as preach to humanity unless the Holy Ghost be with the word, to give it power to convert the soul.” (quoted in Stott, I Believe in Preaching, 335)

Read Full Post »

Most excellent

In these days of planned obsolescence it is difficult to find anything that is really well built.  And despite company promises of quality customer service, really excellent service is also very rare.  But we seek excellence.  Jonathan Edwards wrote, “The inquiry of the soul is after that which is most excellent.”  And Paul prays that the Philippians will be able to ‘approve what is excellent’.  iServe Africa is committed to excellence.  But what is excellence?  Three pointers:

  1. It is not God, it is worship.  In other words, excellence is not our destination, our ultimate goal, it is not an end in itself.  If we seek excellence for its own sake then we are idolaters and our god will prove a bad master.  We will tend either to pride or perfectionism.  As we study, or serve, or prepare a sermon we are not to worship excellence, instead excellence should be an expression of our worship of the one true gracious God.  We seek excellence not because that is our hearts desire but because we want to do everything we do with our whole heart for our Master and Saviour (Col. 3:23).
  2. It is not evangelism, it is love.  Sometimes we can fall into thinking that if our church meetings and revival meetings have excellent music, amazing lighting and slick presentation then we will impress people into the kingdom.  No.  No-one was ever saved by excellent presentation.  Evangelism (preaching the gospel of Christ crucified) is what saves (1 Cor. 1:21).  At the most, excellent presentation removes barriers to accepting the gospel but it is not the gospel.  We seek excellence because it is loving to answer emails promptly, it is loving to prepare well, it is loving to make people comfortable.  In fact we can turn it around – not only is excellence loving, the most excellent way IS love (1 Cor. 12:31).
  3. It is not defined by the world, it is defined by Christ.  We can learn a lot from the professionalism of the world about how to deliver excellent service but we must be careful that we do not let the world define excellence for us.  It can become an elitist thing.  The world would not consider John the Baptist an excellent preacher.  Where is his smart suit?  Where is his iPad?  Where is his 10,000-seater air-conditioned auditorium?  But excellence is defined by Jesus Christ – excellence incarnate.  In Him, the apostle Paul and later Jonathan Edwards found the most perfect, ravishing, soul-satisfying  excellence (Phil. 3:8).  An excellence of perfect obedience, an excellence of wisdom, an excellence of love, an excellence of self-sacrificing service.  So then excellent preaching is preaching the excellence of Christ and it is as we gaze on this excellence that we are transformed to be (kidogo) like him.

Read Full Post »