evangelism

THOUGHTS FROM THE NBA FINALS

The Golden State Warriors, with a game to spare, won its first NBA title in 40 years a couple of days ago. On the team was Andre Iguodala who has a Nigerian father and Stephen Curry, another young black American who is married with a daughter. Both were instrumental in giving the GS Warriors the title. I remember watching Andre in defence against the famous LeBron James of Cleveland Cavaliers. This earned him the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award for the finals. I also watched with delight as Steph (the MVP award winner for the season) kept making 3-pointer shots like it was just a stroll in the park. I took particular interest in these two guys because of their outspoken faith. Steph was quoted as saying “Each game is an opportunity to be on a great stage and be a witness for Christ. When I step on the floor, people should know who I represent, who I believe in.” Andre also once said, “When people see us on the court, we want them to see God’s work. We want to be a good representation of what we believe in …When you go out there, you’re not just representing your country or the NBA, you’re representing your beliefs. You want to play hard for someone who died for you”.

I remember another young man who had a band on his head that read ‘100% Jesus’ when his team won the 2014-15 UEFA champions league finals. Neymar didn’t have to do that. He might not be the most pious Christian on earth but he was acknowledging the Giver of life and making a bold statement as a witness for the Saviour of the world.

I am thrilled by the fact that these gentlemen never shied away from standing up for their faith in Jesus. These men have excelled in their careers and their spaces of influence. I am happy they have a relationship with the Creator of heaven and earth too.

It is good to know that they have made the right decision in that regard.

It is good to know that God still has His witnesses all around the world and that there is no need to feel alone like Elijah did when he thought he was the only prophet of God left in Israel (I Kings 19:10-18).

It is good to know we can serve Christ and excel in whatever field we are.

It is good to know that we can share our faith while we work hard or smart at our jobs or businesses.

It is good to know that we don’t need bigger platforms than what we already have, to be effective witnesses.

It is good to know that in the midst of fear, intimidation and terrorism we can spread the Good News.

We are living in an age where so many voices assault our senses of reasoning and the stand of faith we have chosen. We are surrounded with the mess of same-sex marriage issues, transgender ‘catastrophes’, brutal murders of Christians around the world, legislations in various countries that are anti-Christian, etc. We labour to keep a sane head above the waters of all sorts of ideologies, philosophies and opinions. So it is pleasing to see people who are exposed to the challenges of fame and wealth staying focused and speaking of their faith.

Every one of us has that great commission to be a witness for Jesus. You might not be the one who carries a megaphone on the street calling the attention of people to Jesus but you must be the one whose conduct and speech represent the attitude of the kingdom you belong to. We must be willing to stand for the faith that fills our hearts.

I know God wants us to excel in the works of our hands. He wants us to stand out in business, work, sports, arts, media, education, science and technology, politics or whatever field He has equipped us to thrive in. This brings glory to His name. This is how He fulfils His purpose. This is how His light overcomes the darkness of the world. Let’s stand up and take the challenge to be shining lights and living witnesses of His grace.

Still in His grip.

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2011 AND FOUR THINGS

I love success and I believe you do too. I also believe that succeeding this year would require paying some more attention to the major and minor details of our daily living because they all add up. Having the right focus for the year and starting the right way would go a long way in determining how the year eventually turns out. We may like to try out new things, kick a habit or learn a new skill. There are so many things we could focus on this year but I’ll mention four things worth considering, which I believe would be highly beneficial to everyone.

Firstly, this year endeavor to strengthen and nurture your relationships, particularly family relationships. At the end of the year you should be able to look back and see that you have built stronger relationships. This would involve developing and respecting principles that would protect your relationships this year, especially marital relationships. Set goals concerning your expectations about your relationships at the end of the year and work at it. You might want to see an improvement in trust and commitment or crisis management or even romance in marriage. Yes, I agree that sometimes the most difficult things to accomplish are those things money cannot buy, but focus, determination and discipline are very important here. The state of your most valued relationships would always impact your daily affairs. This means your major and minor decisions would be affected, and ultimately your results at the end of the year would have the colour of those decisions. Don’t be too proud to recommit yourself to that bruised relationship which God led you into and make it work again. But if you are in a relationship that does not have the blessing of God, please get out.

Another thing to focus on this year is evangelism. The World Christian database put the growth rate of Christianity as at 2007 at 1.38%. My research shows that there are other religions with faster growth rates. This could mean more are entering the kingdom of darkness than are coming out. Evidently, there is work to be done. You only need to look around and realize that several folks need the good news you have heard. Please don’t keep it from them this year. ‘Rescued a soul from hell’, ‘won a soul for Christ’, ‘led someone to Christ’, ‘snatched someone from the kingdom of darkness’…however you say it, make sure it is part of your story at the end of the year. If everyone who professed Christianity today led somebody to the Lord in the year, we should have the whole world saved in 3 years or less. Selah.

The third thing is that this year we should show more love and truly live a giving life. Be a channel of blessing rather than a tank that just keeps everything it gets. Everybody has got something to give. Never miss an opportunity to be an extension of God’s kindness to others. The world’s mentality is to think of itself first and only itself but this is contrary to the mindset of the spirit-transformed life. Seek out opportunities to reach out in love. Support a worthy cause that is in line with God’s word. This might require you stepping out of your comfort zone. You never know, your comfort zone might just be limiting your potentials. In actual fact, your comfort zone limits your potentials. Take advantage of the grace He has given you to abound unto every good work. Your giving might stretch you, really, it will stretch you if you actually want to give of your resources, time or energy but God’s blessing is in it.

Lastly, one of the pillars of a strong Christian faith is a sound Word base. Pay attention to more study of God’s Word this year. It is not enough hear great sermons on Sunday and use daily devotionals. Study the bible yourself. I encourage you to take up the noble assignment of reading the Bible from cover to cover. You don’t have to wait for January 1st before you begin. Start now by reading a few chapters every day. You may not finish it this year but if you are committed to it, you would finish reading the Bible from cover to cover earlier than you thought. Memorize some verses as you read. Note that your Word content would give you an edge in life this year. Read more of the Bible, study more of the Bible and meditate more on the Word of God this year.

Working on these things would do us more good than we can imagine. It is bound to produce a domino effect on other areas of our lives. We would feel fulfilled at the end of the year knowing we began well and are finishing strong.

Think about this: What if God gave your spouse an opportunity to review your thoughts over one week, would your marriage be better off or worse off afterwards?

A new persecution

I struggle with evangelism. I also struggle with presenting my faith to others. Sometimes you wonder if it’s the right place or time to do so. You wonder if you would be able to say it right. You are scared of being called a religious bigot or if you are in the right spiritual or mental state to do it. But one thing I have come to realise is that what Paul said in IITim 3:12 (Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.) is actually true and is being fulfilled among us even unknowingly. One of the aims of persecution apart from making us deny our Lord is to keep us from witnessing (both are related anyway). The early Christians had it rough, being burnt alive, fed to lions, sawn into two, etc but we are having it rather subtly but equally deadly. Friends hush us or make fun of us when we sound too ‘Christian’, office and school policies are not too favourable. And equally importantly, our mindset, strongly influenced and shaped by the media, would make witnessing out of place when we try to. Our faith and values are seriously being weakened by the internet and media since most of what is thrown at us is anti-God. So a thousand and one opposing thoughts bombard our minds when one thought about shining God’s light comes to mind.
One of the things the devil does when we try to speak for Jesus or the truth is to remind us that we are not particularly any better. He reminds us about our faults. But I believe that if I do something wrong and realise it is wrong and turn from it; I am justified to tell someone else who is doing the same thing that it is wrong without feeling bad. That doesn’t make me a hypocrite; it only means I don’t want you to make the same mistake I made. I think that is witnessing too.
Let us make a simple decision to change our style of praying. Focus more on praying according to the word of God. Pray that God’s priorities would become ours. Ask God to teach us the secrets of pleasing Him. And remember to always pray for others too. And like I have discovered from personal experiences – sincerely – God would always cover your back. That surely does not rule out warfare prayers because we are still soldiers for Christ engaged in battles.
Also in our present world we must make a very conscious and deliberate attempt to stay connected to God via his word and in prayer. There is so much pressure around us, from work or school, from friends, from the media, etc, that hearing from a pastor on Sundays and during mid-week services is not enough. Satan is very busy at his assignment of stealing, killing and destroying and we too should be busier at growing in maturity and talking to others about Christ. It requires discipline and actually setting goals for ourselves, for example concerning how many chapters of the bible we would read in a day, how long we would pray, friends and places we would stop visiting, etc. Yes you might say it is easy to start but difficult to continue. But I say start first. And each time you stop, start again. Very soon, you would be starting everyday to do what you purpose to do. Catch my drift?