Money is neither Everything nor the Only thing!!!

Every time money is mentioned, and especially in Christian circles, many become restless. I don’t know if you do. Sometimes, I usually do! To many of us, we want our clergy to speak of anything else, any other sin, but not on our love of money!

money 1We all wake up every day and our minds are programmed that it is a new day to make more money. What a bad motivation in life! We walk far and wide more than we do for God, hold meetings for long hours more than we do with God, planning out on new ways of making more money.

Rick Warren, a Senior pastor of Saddleback Church and a popular author, in answer of a question of what motivates him to wake up every day, he had this to say;

“When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don’t get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better.”

What a good motivation for a new day. May God help us to be oriented in knowing Him more and not in amassing more wealth or money to be specific!

Mark in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 10:17-27) tells us of a Rich Young who ran to Jesus and wanted to know what to do so as to be able to inherit eternal life. This man according to what we see him tell Jesus was perfect in keeping the law. …all these (commandments) I have kept since I was a boy,” he told Jesus.

The Bible says that Jesus looked at him and Loved him, knowing one thing that riches are not bad, but for this man, one thing he lacked…Keeping trust in Jesus and Instead, he kept his trust on his riches. Jesus telling him anything to do with his riches, made him to go away sad!

Am thinking of this, the man must be saying in his heart as he went away, “Tell me of anything else, but not on my riches and my hard-earned money!”

One thing we need to note here is that even Jesus disciples were amazed by Jesus statement on those who love their wealth ( Mark 10:24). Money or wealth in general, is one of stumbling blocks to many of us to receive eternal life.

In his parable of the Sower, Jesus had something to say about what riches can do to people even after they hear the Word of God, the riches makes people unfruitful.

But the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. (Mark 4:19)

In another instance, Jesus cautioned;

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. (Matthew 6:24)

money 6In my reading of epistles of Paul, I have realized that he did his best in handling money matters. In one of them, he tells Timothy that in the last days, people would become lovers of money (2 Tim 3:2).

It is sad that most of the friendships we have are based on money. But this is not similar with Paul, this is what he tells Corinthians,

Now I am ready to visit you…, what I want is not your possessions but you…” (2 Cor 12:14)

I remember when I was an intern in one of the Media House in Kenya; my supervisor would always constantly remind me that News is about Sex, Power and Greed. He would constantly remind me that the three revolve around money.

In his book, Sex and Supremacy of Christ, John Piper brings about a very interesting pointer to all of us about life which I think will help us on issue of Money;

“I have a picture in my mind of the majesty of Christ like the sun at the center of the solar system of your life. The massive sun, 333,000times the mass of the earth, holds all the planets in orbit, even little Pluto, 3.6 billion miles away. So it is with the supremacy of Christ in your life.”

John Piper adds,

“All the planets of your life—your sexuality and desires, your commitments and beliefs, your aspirations and dreams, your attitudes and convictions, your habits and disciplines, your solitude and relationships, your labor and leisure, your thinking and feeling—all the planets of your life are held in orbit by the greatness and gravity and blazing brightness of the supremacy of Jesus Christ at the center of your life.”

As a pointer to all of us, he says this;

“If Christ ceases to be the bright, blazing, satisfying beauty at the center of your life, the planets will fly into confusion, a hundred things will be out of control (Including your wealth and money), and sooner or later they will crash into destruction.”

 Rick Warren in an interview explaining how he has handled the huge wealth that came with the sale of more than 2 million copies of his books, He said

The wealth brought me fame that I could not handle. But I think God does not give you money or fame for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease, but for his Glory!”

To conclude this, I have this verse for you by the Preacher to ponder on:

Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10)

May God help us to love Him more than money and to always remember that money is not everything!

money 2

By Kenneth Irungu

iServe Africa Apprentice.

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IS YOUR GOD RELIABLE…OR IS BURDENSOME?

One of the worst notices or directives I am constantly coming across in the buses as I travel is “NO PREACHERS, NO HAWKERS…” I do not want to talk of the latter, but I am really distressed when I see the notice barring preachers from preaching about God. It is sad that some Word peddlers, who are after making money out of the gospel, may have led to this directive by bus operators hence affecting even genuine preachers who preach Christ.

As I was thinking on this, I was shocked by the news this week that the atheists’ society of Kenya was at it again. They want preachers stopped from preaching in all the buses. They argue that their rights are violated! They really don’t want to hear anything about God. They believe there is no God, and just as the Bible says in Psalms 14:1 for sure, “The fool says in his heart, there is no God

It is just weeks ago when news broke out that a self-proclaimed god in western Kenya had died. Jehova wanyoMikaili Jehovah Wanyonyi was leader of a religious sect commonly known as “Lost Israelites” and lived near Mt Elgon, which was said that he considered it Mt Zion. What kind of a god that dies? Though his followers stood their ground that he was out of the village to undisclosed hospital for treatment, the fact is that this god gets sick…or else he has gone to be with himself!

The big question that I want to pose to you is simple. I do not want to ask you if you believe in God. No, I want to know from you who is your God? Or to put it clear, what do you not like about your God?

It is sad that in most of our sermons and evangelism, we assume that we all believe in one God. This is a big lie for sure! Some people hold on to a god who is burden to them. Others believe in a god who is unreliable. The god of other people cannot save, Too sad!

For sure, no one can sufficiently define God. Dictionaries just give few words which are not satisfactory in understanding exactly who He is. One of the definitions that I have come across about God is that

God is Himself in Himself, by Himself and for Himself.

That sounds rather confusing, but in simpler terms, it means that He is a deity whose the reason for His existence is in Himself.

You know what, all other things exists because someone made them to exist. We live because we were created by God, and so are plants, natural features, man-made features…name them! The Bible says in Psalms 24:1 that “The earth is the LORD’S and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it… ” Then, who make God to exist? That must be He Himself! God exists by Himself, for Himself! A thought-provoking thing, isn’t it?

Every time I read Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created heavens and the earth…” I am always left wondering, and who created God? The Bible by telling us of creation story and what God did tells us more of God being self-existent. He has lived forever. Just pause and Praise Him for that!

To help us understand God more, this is the question that Isaiah poses,

Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding?”(Isaiah 40:13-14).

One of the chapters in the Bible that I have read, read and reread several times in the last one week is Isaiah 46 that talks of Gods of Babylon. Allow me as I conclude this article to point out several things about God from this text:

  • God is never Burdensome

For other gods, they are burdensome! As evident in this text, Bel and Nebo are borne by beasts of burden. People give gold and silver, then hire goldsmith to make them to an idol, then carry them…isn’t this burdensome? An interesting thing about them, they cannot save themselves, they are taken into captivity together with their worshippers.

  • God is ever reliable

Imagine of this, having a god who cannot save even himself. Other gods as Isaiah puts it, they themselves suffer and are taken to captivity. Too sad. I wonder what exactly I may hold too special than God!

How can they be reliable? Some of us may have relationships, business, riches, technology, families, knowledge, money…name them, as our gods. The big question here should be Is that your God reliable?

  • Ever with His people

Note this here, God says that He upholds and sustains His people from childhood to old age. The gods that we may be holding too may fail to see us through in all ages! Many may be relevant today and irrelevant tomorrow. Our God knows the end, before the beginning! (46:10). To make us even fellowship with Him, Jesus our Immanuel (God with Us) through incarnation, – came to the world.

  • Not made/created, He is self-existent

For the idols, people give gold and silver and thereafter hire goldsmith to make a god. Too much work, to unreliable god! After all this, the god can only be carried, it cannot walk by itself. Our God has lived for ages. Even long before creation, He was!

  • He saves

The best thing about God, He saves! If you want to know this, look at Jesus. Jesus is God-sized and God is Jesus-shaped. Unlike other gods, God saves all those who believe Him. Let’s praise Him since even when we were sinners, Christ died for us!

Joseph Prince, a renowned televangelist, says that we all need Christ for salvation adding that many people these days are anti-Christ but not anti-God. The Bible in Acts 4:12 says, “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”

In his commentary on Isaiah 46, Matthew Henry says,

The false gods will certainly fail their worshippers when they need them most!

Just as Dagon as seen in an interesting story in 1 Sam 5:1-5, other gods created by men are unreliable, cannot save even themselves and they are burdensome.

When Jehova Wanyonyi becomes sick and of old age, he becomes a burden to his followers! He can’t heal himself, he becomes unreliable. After dying, those of his followers cannot be with him in this present age. What kind of a god who cannot save himself?

May God help us to know Him more. My desire is that we will always Praise Him and Worship Him for who He is.

I know you can add more attributes of Godplease do!

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By: Kenneth Irungu

iServe Africa Apprentice

DOES YOUR PASTOR PREACH GOSPEL OR GIVES MOTIVATIONAL TALKS?

Nowadays, many preachers are no longer preaching Sermons But only give motivational talks.

Woe unto me if i preach not the Gospel.

On Monday, my curiosity led me to enter to one the most renowned churches in the streets of Nairobi led by a famous ‘Man of God.’ The pastor is a long time televangelist who reminds me of my childhood days when I used to skip lunch on Sunday to ensure that I will not be late to watch him preach on TV.Preacher7

If you think we owned a TV set, then you are wrong. Every Sunday afternoon, I used to jump over the fence to the home of our neighbor who was the lucky one in our village to own a TV set, a Great Wall Black and White TV. I really enjoyed watching him preach, his passion and vigor in preaching attracted me a lot.

It was the above reason that I could not help passing by his church on Monday. After all, I was in town, with few free minutes at my disposal. I thus got a chance to attend a lunch hour fellowship at his church.

On getting in, I was surprised by how the building was fully packed. Wow, I was happy with how many people are really looking for God even during lunch time. I sat strategically at the last row of the fully packed church to catch a good view and the message of the Lord through the ‘Man of God.’

Time does not allow me to comment much on the worship that I experienced here. It was really good. The Praise time did a commendable job, bringing the heavens down. Instruments were great too.

At about half past one, the ‘Mum of the church’ entered elegantly with a fashionable dress…by the way, where did this term ‘Mum’ really came from? Too sad that the modern congregants call their Pastor ‘Dad!’ and the wife automatically becomes the ‘Mum!’ Or is it modernization such that even an old man, the age of my grandfather, is subjected to call very younger people than them by these names! OK, its well!

Pastor’s wife was on stage to carry out the noble task! To ask people to offer to the Lord! Please get me right, I am not against offering, after all we should offer. But the emphasis that she said we offer and the direction she took left me wondering if really people should be enticed to give! Ushers were everywhere with large white envelopes with banner inscription, “TITHE AND GIVING” and some verses beneath it.

After giving our offerings, it was the time for the Word. Soul soothing songs were sung as we waited for the speaker to come. In few minutes, the ‘Man of God’ vanished from the side pocket of the big church building carrying a large white handkerchief and a microphone. To my surprise, he had no Bible!

Reaching to the podium, he took a Bible that was on the self of the pulpit and perused through it as the praise team led us with several songs. He must be looking for a good verse to read, I thought to myself.

After a few minutes on his eyes fixed on the Bible, he thundered….AMEN! We were all ready for the Word. I took my notebook, ready to inscribe few points to take home with!

Preacher 4The Pastor read through a single verse in Genesis 16:1, Now Sarai, Abraham’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar…

With this verse alone, he started his preaching which lasted more than 30 minutes. Throughout the sermon, he talked of more than 10 characters in the Bible who had problems and the Lord blessed them! I guess…A good sermon, isn’t it?

The pastor talked on us getting blessed. Getting more money! He also started talking of our enemies!. “They will all die, those who hate us. They will clap at us soon! Just wait and see!” added the Pastor.

Sincerely, I was frustrated by such a message on the pulpit. I felt out of place, I tried to figure out any enemy I know and I could not get any! The devil is my enemy, I know that! After all, if I had any, the Bible tells me to pray and Love my enemies and not to pray for them to die!

The sermon was getting sweeter and sweeter as many hands were going up in encouraging the man of God to preach it! Others shouted louder and louder as the pastor changed his tone and the pitch of his voice. Others could not sit while such a powerful Word was preached! They stood on their feet clapping, moving from few steps right and left.

I was disappointed myself by the sermon! I had very many questions that I was grappling with in my mind! When will people hear true gospel in church? Did sermons came to an end with martyr Stephen and Apostle Paul? Is self-esteem talks or presentations what people want to hear from the pulpits?

For sure, the whole sermon had nothing to do with Jesus. It had nothing to do with our sinful nature and the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. The sermon was after earthly blessings…a good house, a good car, a good job….

Who on earth does not want prosperity? None of us want to suffer! It is sad that people today view blessings as material possessions. It is thus becoming easy for rogue pastors and Word peddlers to lure congregants to give.

Just as the book, “How to Read the Bible for All its Worth,” by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart stresses on putting every verse in the right context and content, we need pastors who will remain faithful to scriptures! Preaching nothing else but the Gospel!

Enough is enough, let Pastors remain faithful to the scriptures! Too sad that people get motivational talks from their pastors in church. Sermons have nothing to do with Jesus and Sin and nowadays, If anything comes close to this, it only talks about the devil!

My prayer for all Pastors is just like what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:16, “…Woe unto me if I preach not the Gospel.Preacher6

By KENNETH IRUNGU

iServe Africa Apprentice.

 

FELLOW CHRISTIAN, WHICH BOOK ARE YOU READING?

Africans hate reading. This is a common phrase to many and especially in this century. booksThere is a common joke that if you want to hide precious items from Africans, you hide it in the books and for sure, they will not find it.

Few days ago, I came through a quote about books that left me ashamed of myself. Interestingly, it was well printed on one’s T-shirt and addressed to me directly. I can’t help thinking about it in the last few days. The quote was none other than;

It is bad manners to have more clothes than books!

I give no apology if this makes you ashamed as I became. Don’t worry, All is not lost. We have time to enrich ourselves by reading more books that will not only add to our knowledge but also will nourish us spiritually and help us in having rich and solid foundation in our faith in Jesus.open book

Actually, it is good to note that the anti-reading habit is slowly invading our society in that there are many people who rarely even read through large texts with more than 200 words. Most people only skim through the message or the article to get the feel of what the sender says.

Worse is that among many people who do not read are the Christians and believers. Actually, some staunch Christians think that reading is a waste of time. The only thing they want is to sit back, relax and enjoy their salvation, without necessarily reading the Bible, its commentaries, expositions among other helpful Christian literature.books 2

It’s sad that most Christians do not read at all. Some Christians, far away from reading several verses of the Bible, they do not read anything else. They say that the Bible has answers to every question, which in deed is true, but they barely finish a chapter far away with a single book in the Bible. They thus end up grappling with thousands of unanswered life questions.

Few days ago, I was stunned during an exposition during iServe Africa Training Ministry Course when our Expositor of 2 Timothy read Chapter 4 and verse 13, where Paul pleads with Paul to do something to him…

When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. (2 Tim. 4:13)”

Think of this, a man in prison and yet he asks for Books! What for?

Charles Spurgeon, a renowned Baptist preacher commented on this by saying that “…even an Apostle must read!”

Charles adds the following about Paul the Apostle and of him asking for books:

“He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a man to utter, yet he wants books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books!”

What a great thing to hear of Paul. In fact, as Justin Taylor notes on his reflection about the verse is that what Paul exactly tells Timothy here is this:

“Give thyself unto reading.”

The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own.

The challenge for us today is that we need to read. We need to join Paul in his plead with Timothy “Bring more books!”

If you are not reading a book for now, look for one book that is idle on the shelves of the nearest library; borrow from a friend who has several book.books lib

As Gordon MacDonald puts it in his book “Ordering your Private world” there is book that has never been read and only has been used for other purposes! Let’s join the list of great brains in the country who read. Gather more knowledge from reading Christian literature.

As author John Ng’ang’a puts it, we need to read even newspapers. He says “A good preacher holds the Bible on one hand and a newspaper on the other hand!” How will this help? It will help the preacher to be updated of what is happening in the country and in the world so that he or she can pray and preach accordingly.

I am yet not there too but am working towards it. The last few days have been the best for me as I dig deeper and deeper in books. The experience I get in reading the books is indescribable.

Join me in this, let’s Read, and Read, and Read.

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Article By Kenneth Irungu

iServe Africa Apprentice 2015/16

FIRST DAY IN MISSION FIELD

The first day in primary school, my first day in high school, my first day in Campus! Also, my first day to enjoy salvation! Something common about these days is that I can remember them so well… I guess that I will remember my first day in marriage…

Beginning the Race...looking forward for the statement,

Beginning the Race…looking forward for the statement, “Well Done and Faithful Servant!”

To get in history of important days and weeks is this very day, Monday of September 7, 2015 and this week.

Today marks my first day in ministry and my first week in a year of volunteer work. What guides me at a time like this is the goodness of God and his faithfulness. Starting means there is an end somewhere to come someday. A long journey starts with one-step for sure…

What I desire at the end of this year of Apprenticeship is that at the end, God will look at what I have done and say the words that everyone would like to hear from laboring in this life for long

Well done, my Good and Faithful Servant.

As Jesus gave this parable of Talents in Matthew 25: 14-30, one clear thing was that the ability of the three servants was different. It is the difference in their abilities that led to the master giving them varying number of talents. I know well the number of talents the Lord Master has given to me.

In a similar way, the Lord has entrusted several things to our hands. He does not give us similar responsibilities for He knows that our abilities varies. The main thing that He wants from us is to remain faithful in the little he has put under our trust.

In addition, My motivation at this time is similar to what Apostle Paul says in 1 Cor 9:16,

Woe unto me if I do not preach the Gospel

In this Year of Mission, I am confident that the Lord will teach me, guide me and shape me. I believe that this a chance to be mentored, trained and equipped concerning missions.

One thing am confident of is that Suffering awaits me.

During the one week of Ministry Training at iServe Africa, it was evident that Gospel

Running this Race to Finish...

Running this Race to Finish…

and Suffering are inseparable. Listening to the Words of Expositor Daniel Odhiambo welcoming us to the Suffering World, It dawned on me that suffering would be part of the year.

Nevertheless, I will endure until the end. I will soldier on like a good soldier not involving self with civilian affairs, run like a good athlete by keeping rules of the game to get the prize and prepare the farm well to get good harvest like a good farmer just as Timothy is encouraged to do by his mentor and friend, Paul in 2 Tim 2:3-7.

May God help me to Endure until the End and to end the Year of Apprenticeship well. AMEN.

By Kenneth Irungu.