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Sunday, August 7, 2011

CREAM YOUR DREAM

Most people take to heart anything they see in their dreams. Now, please don't get me wrong. Though it's a means God chooses at times to communicate or reveal to us secrets & mysteries, doesn't mean all dreams are from the Lord. Therefore, how do you respond to a bad dream, a nightmare that totally negates God's provision & promises for your life? A man dreamt driving a beautiful car, then the car took off like a plane in the air, amazingly when it landed it became a bicycle. Another man also saw himself arriving in the U.S. & met all these wonderful people. When they led him to a room, he found himself back in a small room in his village. A pregnant woman also woke up crying because she dreamt her child had died when she was at the hospital. You've got to learn how to cream your dreams. You say how? Take the best part of your dreams; dwell & mediate on that instead. If your car becomes a bicycle, tell the devil, "Devil the car is mine the bicycle is yours." If you find yourself back in the village say, "Devil, the mansions in the States are mine, the cottage is yours." If you're that pregnant woman, say, "Father, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth I reject that stupid dream!" Become word of God conscious...knowing what you're entitled to in Christ Jesus by His death. We are not led by dreams but rather by the Spirit of the living God (Rom. 8:14). Therefore, go ahead by the GREATER ONE in you who has made you more than a conqueror & cream what's in line with His word—cream your dreams!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Love, The Key to a Healthy Church Growth



            Jesus in the Gospel of John handed to His disciples the key to creating a dynamic church—one that exemplifies the culture of heaven on earth. He said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). The attractive force of this magnet called love is far stronger than anything known to man. Any environment that emulates the Christ-like qualities of love makes for itself rooms that welcome the masses. An environment void of prejudices, condemnation, hypocrisy, backstabbers, gossipers, complainers, and the rest always attracts people. The key to any church growth is love and it must begin at the core and soul of each individual. The historical roots of Church growth movement defines church growth as “that discipline which investigates the nature, expansion, planting, multiplication, function and health of Christian churches as they relate to the effective implementation of God’s commission to ‘make disciples of all people’ (Matt. 28:18-20).”[1] There are three (3) ways that a church can grow: (1) biological growth—as church members give birth to children; (2) transfer growth (or church hopping)—as people moves from one church to the other; and (3) Conversion growth—people get saved and begin to fellowship with other believers. The first two are quite ideal but Christendom growth is mostly attributed to conversion. This is what happened in the early church and if we want understand the how of growth we ought to visit it. Those came to believe the gospel “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42-47). The brotherhood of men, a heaven like community where unity, friendship, hospitality, joy and laughter, kindness, and etc. abided. We can have all the gadgets, strategies and plans of all of sort but if we neglect the number one basic rule of love in action, then we’ve truly lost the purpose of why we are on earth in the first place. If we want the Lord to bring addition and multiplication then the love shed abroad within us by the Holy Spirit needs to be on display.   


            [1] Church and Ministry Module 11: Church health.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

CHRIST OUR PROPITIATION



By Kwaku Gyamfi
             
            The mystery of God’s love for humanity to rid of us the sin that so easily ensnares us is something that the canal mind cannot conceive. The Bible in Ezekiel 18:20 says that, “ The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” This scripture (on its own) when read out of context becomes problematic and in comparison with the subject of grace, it raises lots of ambiguities and misconceptions. I remember getting in a dialogue with a Muslim friend at work and in trying to represent the love of God in Christ Jesus, the above scriptural reference became a foundational ground for rejecting salvation. When something is read without first examining pretext and post-text, it’s easy to conclude on fallacy and pretense. What Ezekiel talks about is of the sin of omission and negligence. The text affirms that an un-repented sinner will definitely suffer the consequence of his crimes; however, if the sinner forsakes his ways and turns from his wickedness, God’s love is forever ready to embrace him with forgiveness and restoration.
            The infinite nature of God’s holiness and character so demanded that sin be dealt with; but unfortunately for man, all have sinned and fall short of God's glory (Romans 3:23); there is none that does right, not one. Mankind by an ill choice has moved from being sinless to being sinful. And therefore any compensation he offers to God for his dilemma can never satisfy the infinite appetite of God for holiness. “Hence, either humanity would have to pay for their wrongs by suffering eternal hell, or God himself would have to pay for this wrong. This is what God did by becoming a man and dying on the cross.”[1]So in Galatians 4:4-5 the Scriptures says, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Christ became our substitute that He might propitiate (appease) our sins toward God’s holy judgment. So Isaiah said, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth.[2] “Hence, Christ’s death appeased God’s wrath toward sin because Christ received the punishment God’s holiness demanded.”[3]Christ became our reconciliation to God—our sacrificial lamb—because only He could shoulder such a burden as sin.  
    

        [1] Gregory A. Boyd and Paul R. Eddy. Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology. 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009), 124.
            [2] Isaiah 53: 6-7.
            [3] Gregory A. Boyd and Paul R. Eddy. Across the Spectrum, 129.

Agent of Change (Eternal Affairs)


Saturday, January 29, 2011

THE RADICAL NETWORK OF LOVE



   “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-5).

            If you were to summarize the entire Bible upon one verse of Scripture, which verse would you have epitomized it? On what solid foundational ground can such bold declaration be situated? Given its level of difficulty, this very scripture keeps resonating in my spirit: “For God so loved the world (mankind) that He gave”(John 3:16a). The Apostle John in his epistle gives us a sneak peek into God’s divine nature and characteristic. He tells us: “God is love” (I John 4:8,16). John didn’t say that God “has” love but rather that He “is” love. If God is love, then His actions would naturally or supernaturally be revealed by the nature of love. One obvious qualities of love that we can attest to is that it “gives and shares itself.” Giving and sharing of itself means it cannot dwell in a vacuum. Therefore, the very nature of God Almighty would be to desire to share His sovereignty and power. In essence, love is fulfilled when it gives and shares itself—the reason and totality of Christ’s passion for the cross.
            Our world is mourning and wailing, searching for that precious gem of love. Just look around, pick up a newspaper or turn on your television set. The unveiling of history everyday is as a shattered beautiful mosaic. With all of our great universities, cyber-space technology, World Wide Web, media psychology, G-8 meetings, immigration reform and policies, medical revolution, religious conferences, democracy, cease-fire and peace marches, mankind is still his “own worst enemy.”[1] The undeniable facts of blood-shed, rape, poverty, starvation, violence, genocide, bombings, corporate corruption, moral decay, sexual revolution, human trafficking, terrorism, theft, substance abuse, divorce, racism, and so forth are evidences etched on the archives of history, evident that the human soul is still in mourning. There is a hunger in the human spirit that food cannot satisfy; it is a thirst that mere water cannot quench. This desire emanates from a “vacuum created by a loss of something man use to possess.”[2] Driven to pursue answers, “generations [from yester years up-to-date] have attempted to [fulfill this desire by means of] superstitions, sophisticated [religious] rituals, customs and practices that seem to defy logic and reason;”[3] however, all have come to no avail. If anything, they’ve actually escalated and intensified the problem(s).
            Just look at our world as we continue to make progress. We’ve actually become “smarter but not wiser, healthier but weaker, [we save] whales [and dolphins] yet kill our own children”[4], our public schools once a place of prayer and moral values has become a haven for demons.[5] The United States expenditure on drugs annually has exceeded that of oil. How did this happen? How did the land of the free and home of the brave become the world’s number one addict? We have money and class, but are losing our children to drugs and gang violence. We have the best security systems in the world yet, our schools are under serious scrutiny as mass murders and killings continue to ravage our campuses. “The average 12-year-old girl is sexually active;”[6] and a mother’s womb, once a place of safety and comfort has now become a holocaust for innocence. And with marriages ending in tragic divorce, children have become the innocent casualties of a war within the home. While television has become the official day care system, video games are deceitfully applauded as the new childhood drug.[7] We have more baby-daddies and babe-mamas than we have fathers and mothers. We can live with our pets longer than with spouses, our cars last longer than our marriages, our children shoot their teachers, and our kids murder their friends. What kind of world are we living in? The 21st century man is nothing more than a sophisticated caveman. He doesn’t carry a club he carries an automatic weapon. And though he can change his environment, he cannot change his nature. He is still the same since Genesis chapter three.[8] The search for knowledge and understanding without God has left him (man) with a spiritual cancer—frustration.   
            To solve this bull of a problem, we need to grab it by its horns. We are made in God’s image and if that image is love, then I believe we’ve just found the solution to our problem(s). Upon accepting Christ, the Spirit of love (that nature of God in man that was lost due to sin) comes back to have residence in our abode. And “because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5) we are chosen to go forth and radically dress the wounds of a hurting world with the antidote of God’s infectious love. Jesus said, “By this [network of love within the cluster of believers] everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). For three straight years Jesus sowed in their hearts the seed of love. When the seed germinated and came to fruition on Pentecost, it wasn’t a surprise that three thousand plus hungry souls were fed. The Bible went on saying that they were so fulfilled that, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2: 42-47). When the world sees the love network among us (believers) in how we reach out to one another, encouraging and supporting each with care and compassion, the bridge of hope will be extended to give others a new way of life. As we continue to fan the flames of this magnetic love of God, many would be sucked in by its attractive power. We are God’s network of love; therefore, be radical.    



           





       [1] Munroe, Myles. Kingdom Principles: Preparing for Kingdom Experience and Expansion. (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., 2006), 11.
            [2] Ibid., 13.
            [3] Ibid.
            [4] Munroe, Myles. Rediscovering the kingdom: Ancient Hope for our 21st Century World. (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., 2004), 8.
            [5] Lagerquist, Ron. Foundation to all Freedom: Beyond Self Control. (Ontario: A Renewed Health Publication, 2003), 26.
            [6] Ibid.
            [7] Ibid., 27
            [8] Munroe, Myles. Characteristics of the Church, message on DVD

Saturday, January 22, 2011

HE HUMBLED HIMSELF

By Kwaku Gyamfi


              Charles Templeton, a beloved friend of Billy Graham, who abandoned his faith wrestling with doubt, skepticism and uncertainty at questions that objected the Christian faith asked: “Why is Jesus the only way to God? And, how could a loving God exist if there is evil and suffering in the world?” If we venture further, I believe we can find ourselves either to have asked a similar question or have had the opportunity to hear or read of one been asked. A man who lost his son to Cancer held his fist to the heavens in agony, with a grin of hatred toward God yelling, “Where was God when my son suffered and died? Where was He?” On one of the darkest days in American history, I found most Americans asking, “Where was God when terrorist regime flew planes into the towers on September 11, 2001? Similar question have been asked concerning the Jews, “Why did God allow six million Jews to die in the Holocaust?” Is there a God and if so, does He care?   
            These questions resonates with each one of us. However, the reading on the doctrine of God by Alister McGrath, I believe shed some light on the subject as he speaks concerning “a suffering God.” It made me wonder: does God suffer? Does He understand what it means to be weak, poor, destitute and hungry? Does the pain of Cancer, AIDS, and the like touch Him in His soul as it does us? On the subject of the crucified God, Jurgen Moltmann said it so well:
A God who cannot suffer is poorer than any human. For a God who is incapable of suffering is a being who cannot be involved. Suffering and injustice do not affect him. And because he is so completely insensitive, he cannot be affected or shaken by anything. He cannot weep, for he has no tears. But the one who cannot suffer cannot love either. So he is also a loveless being. [1]
Moltmann, I believe nails the subject right on the dot. When I ponder on the subject of association, my mind goes back to Paul’s letter to the Philippians on the humility of Christ. “And being found in a fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8 emphasis mine). Jesus, God incarnate, descended to the hole of the human condition and took upon Himself the form of a servant meaning His glory, majesty, power, fame and wealth were all compromised. He literally stripped off Himself His omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience and became limited and finite. In coming down, He bypassed the castles, mansions, and houses and came to a barn. He was wrapped in milk rugs and laid in a manger. Until He poured out of Himself and took the form of a servant, when we prayed telling Him we were tired and needed sleep, He didn’t feel it—for God has never known fatigue and exhaustion—He never sleeps nor slumbers. When we told Him that we are tempted, He wasn’t touched. He just didn’t understand by experience. But when He became a man and was tested above and beyond even to death on the cross, now He could identify with us—now we could have better conversations. Because He humbled Himself, now He knew what it meant to loose a love one, be tired, hungry, sick, homeless, hated, mocked at, and betrayed. And that’s why he’s a better mediator because He Himself has endured those trials and know by experience how it feels. So when someone asked where is God in all of this? I tell them, “He’s right there in the midst of it.” He has never left nor forsaken us, and by His wisdom what the enemy meant for our demise, He'll use it to bring glory to His name as He ushers us into victory. We have hope, all because He became one of us by humbling Himself.    

            [1] McGrath, Alister E. Christian Theology: An Introduction. 5th ed. (UK: Wiley-Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 2011), 206.

FAITH VS. WORKS

By Kwaku Gyamfi


            In the second chapter of his letter, what the Apostle James (the brother of Jesus) brings to the text I believe is the practical pragmatic dynamics of faith. It’s the kind that I believe first Corinthians thirteen was speaking about that, “If I speak with the tongues of men and angels, or have the gift of prophecy, knowing all kinds of mysteries and knowledge, and even have faith to remove mountains, yet, has no love, I am nothing” (I Cor. 13:1-2). In Romans chapter four Paul stated, “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God” (Romans 4:2). Our best works before God in our un-regenerated state would be as filthy rugs before Him. When dealing with God the only currency that is accepted is faith—it’s the only thing that pleases him. However, when we read James’ letter it seems we find a contradiction or is he just coming from a different perspective? Let’s take a look at the context in its entirety:

 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.  You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone (James 2:14-24 emphasis mine).

What I conclude from these various scriptures is that salvation is not based on our works. What Father God requires of the sons of men to qualify for righteousness is faith (right believing). If an individual believes on Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior, confessing and acknowledging that God has raised Him from the death he shall be saved (see Rom. 10:9). This is what Paul talks about, that it’s your faith (right believing) that determines your eternal abode. However, we all know the story doesn’t end there. If anything, it is the beginning of new way of life. At this stage of the redemption process, we become what Isaiah calls “trees of righteousness” (Isa. 61:3) and as trees we must bear fruits. So Jesus in John 15:5 said, “I am the Vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” It is this bearing of fruits that Apostle James is referring to. For the fruit of the Spirit in which the recreated or regenerated man must bear is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (see Gal. 5:22). Therefore in looking at the above scripture it reads, “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” In other words, you prove your works to God by your faith but to men you prove your faith by your works. The faith of a believer is invisible. To manifest or materialize that faith, it must be demonstrated by deeds. So if I say that I have love in my heart then naturally I ought to give freely unto those who are disadvantaged. In the same way when Abraham believed and trusted God and was tested to see how committed he was, the Bible says he withheld not his only son but gave him up to be sacrificed. Abraham backed up his belief with a demonstration. He didn’t just talk the talk, he also walk the walk.   

Friday, January 21, 2011

IN JERUSALEM

By Kwaku Gyamfi

            In the district of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus declared to the disciples upon Peter’s confession and acknowledgment of the revelation of His deity that, “Upon this rock (meaning the revelation of the realization of who Jesus is) I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matt. 16:18). In the process of fulfilling that promise after His resurrection, He said to the disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until the promise of the Father is come or revealed. For “you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8 emphasis mine). As I was going over the principles of edification [Gk: oivkodome meaning the building up of an individual or a people or the promotion of Christian growth] this text of Acts 1:8 kept resonating in my spirit on the section that states: “in Jerusalem.” I ask the Holy Spirit why Jerusalem? Why is it so important? What is the significance and essence of Jerusalem in relation to edification? He brought to memory how Jerusalem literally is the city of God, where His glory and presence dwells. And that it is also the heart of Jewish culture. However, Jerusalem figuratively also symbolizes the church, a family’s house or home, or an individual. If the gospel of the kingdom is going to spread like wildfire it must first begin in the Jerusalem (the heart) of the individual.” The scripture read, “And you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea.” Judea is the region or district in which Jerusalem is its holy city. You could say Jerusalem is Judea’s downtown in contemporary terms. Figuratively speaking before the disciple began to build up Jerusalem with the kingdom message they had already worked on themselves. Before you can build others up, you must be sure you are already covered.
            In I Samuel 30, the Amalekites came to Ziklag, where David and his men lived and raid their home, taking their families as captives. When David and his men returned to the city and found it burned they wept until they had no strength. Afterwards, the Scripture records that, “David strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (I Sam. 30:6). Strengthening meant that he encouraged himself, that he build himself up in the Lord. In other words, he edified himself. And by doing that he was able to stir up the courage of his men into pursuing their enemies. David’s victory wasn’t set until he conquered himself.    
            Jerusalem means the City of peace. Before the gospel can spread to remotest part of the world, Jerusalem had to be edified first and foremost. Therefore, before you can conquer the enemies beyond your territory, first conquer yourself by building yourself up. The Prince of Peace must reign supreme in city of your heart before you can be a peacemaker out there. Before you edify Samaria make sure Judea (your family or the church) is taken care of, and in the same way before you move to edify the world make sure Samaria (your community) is edified. Edification follows the principle of love. Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” My question is, “Do you love yourself?” Because you can’t give what you don’t have. Edification has to begin with you as the individual. In other word, “Edify your neighbor as you edify yourself.” To do so, begin in Jerusalem.


Agent of Charge (Eternal Affairs)