The show must go on

If you are a frequent reader you’ll remember I was posted to Iran a few years ago you can read it up here. Well I’m back and I encountered most of the concerns I had. Incidentally the experience I had isn’t peculiar to just me. I had a conversation with a dear friend a few days ago and it was the crux of our conversation. In her words the resident pastor of her Church was stepping down from pastoring the Church and she was heartbroken, thankfully she wasn’t in Church the day the announcement was made. I had been away from my local Church for almost two years and mid-way I found out one of my “favorite” pastors was leaving and I was equally heartbroken.

Now you see two of us had every reason to be heartbroken, these Pastors dropped the Word like it was hot, we admired the way they treated their families especially their wives at least the little we were opportune to see. While reading this you may remember that Pastor that had to leave your Church either cos’ of death, relocation or planting of a new Church and how sad you felt. In fact there have been countless cases of members who left their Church to follow a Pastor to a new Church. In the midst of all of these heartbreaks and “Churchtrotting” by members we fail to realize one practice that has unconsciously crept into the Church. It’s the practice of esteeming the created more than the Creator. I’m sure you’re shaking your head in disagreement but let me ask you, would you stay back in a Church if your favorite pastor left?

  • What makes that particular pastor your favorite?
  • Is it the Word?
  • If it’s the Word, what is his source?
  • Is his source Jesus Christ who is the Word?
  • Do you have access to that source which is Jesus Christ?
  • Does that pastor of yours point you to Christ or do you have to go through him to meet his Jesus?

I hope these questions are causing you to reflect on your position as a Christian or a member of a Church. A few weeks ago we had a men’s conference and normally my “favorite” pastor would end the conference with one of those drop it like its hot message. It always left women screaming in affirmation and the men doing a thorough introspection on their views about fatherhood and their role as husbands and priests over their homes. But you know what, he wasn’t there this time around, he had left the Church but Our God is never taken by surprises. He always takes care of His own, another Pastor preached and it was amazing and it did drop like its hot on both the men and the women.

That episode was a reminder to who was really in charge and behind the scene. If God gave one pastor the opportunity to be a vessel to reach out to His children, He’ll definitely raise up another one. I remember T.D. Jakes saying the only thing he can give his congregation of over 10,000 was the Word. He can’t physically reach out to everyone and he won’t be around forever, he went on to say he could even backslide.

Now at Lystra a man sat who was unable to use his feet, for he was crippled from birth and had never walked… and Paul looked intently at him and saw that he had faith to be healed,  and said with a loud voice, “Stand up on your feet.” And he jumped up and began to walk.  And the crowds, when they saw what Paul had done, raised their voices… “The gods have come down to us in human form!” They began calling Barnabas, Zeus [chief of the Greek gods], and Paul, Hermes [messenger of the Greek gods], since he took the lead in speaking…  But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard about it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting,  “Men, why are you doing these things? We too are only men of the same nature as you, bringing the good news to you, so that you turn from these useless and meaningless things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything that is in them. Acts 14:9-15 AMP

Have we unconsciously started equating Pastors to God? Can we have more Pastors who will act as sign posts to Jesus Christ and while they are at it, remind their congregation like John the Baptist said, I’m not the Way, his job was to prepare the way for others to meet the Way. Can we repent from this practice, are you a fan or follower of your pastor, and are you a pastor who has raised an army of fanatics unconsciously? We all need to turn around. OH!!! With or without your favorite pastor, God will always raise a man or woman but the “show” must go on, the church of God is marching on.

Love always

JMAD

 

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My account from the witness box

Justice

If you are a regular reader on this blog, you might have read my experience in prison, it indeed changed my perception to life. Thankfully I’m not in prison today but I am in court to defend myself. Just before I let out what happened, can you guess the crime I committed? This is one of those moments I wish I can get into every reader’s mind to know what they are thinking of at the moment.

It was Friday night and I had just boarded the Coach heading to Manchester for Festival of Praise, the coach was almost full cos it was a connecting coach so I had to make my way to the back to find a seat. Fortunately there was an empty seat with a guy sitting by the window. We greeted each other and somehow started off a conversation. In the course of the chat I found out he was going to the concert too; it was some good news cos my friends and I are not conversant with the city. Since he was going for the concert I assumed he was a Christian so I told him ‘I take it you’re a Christian’ and he says NO. That definitely made me curious and I asked him why he was going since it was a Christian event and he responded, he wanted to see what it was like. When I went further to ask if he had Christian friends, he said yes but said he hasn’t become one cos none of them have been able to convince him to believe.

While I was digesting it, he asked me if I believed in God. I told him yes and he didn’t end there, he asked me why. This became a case of me defending what I believed in, just like taking a stand in the witness box. Isn’t it amazing how we are taken unaware in life’s journey? We all prefer a detailed life, everything is prepared and happens accordingly, a manifesto to read out during a campaign, presentation slides to amaze the audience and get a standing ovation or even a well structured sermon for the congregation. But here I was tired, hoping to catch some sleep before getting to my destination and I’m asked why I believed in God and did I mention I didn’t have a sermon with ten reasons why I believed in God.

witness

The good thing about our Christian walk is this, just like there’s Google to help us with almost all our question, we have the Holy Spirit to direct us all the time. I clarified from the outset that Christianity isn’t a religion but a relationship and talked of how intolerant i was before but I’m a lot better now. I told him many other religions acknowledge Jesus Christ although some of them believe Him to be a prophet and I said there has to be something about this particular person that others; regardless of their belief still recognise His existence. I told him my manual as a Christian is the Bible using the coach as an example citing the driver’s ability to drive the coach as an indication that he understood how the coach functioned and that information came from a manual. I didn’t read out many Bible verses but I spoke about the love of Jesus Christ. The highlight was when I told him of Jesus’ relationship with Judas, even when He knew He was going to persecute Him, He still washed his feet at the last supper, healed the soldier’s ear Peter caught off and even prayed a prayer of forgiveness over the people who crucified Him. I told him, to me that is what Christianity is all about and that’s why I believe in God.

During this whole episode I was nervous cos I wasn’t sure I was making any sense to him, but when we were done with a couple of other questions, he agreed to say a prayer with me. Just when we finished praying, he said I should promise not to get mad at him and when I told him I’ll try he said he was a Christian. He only said that at the beginning to know if I really believed in the God I professed and how convincing I was with my belief. While I smiled at it and almost punched him for making me give an unprepared sermon, I was extremely glad I didn’t shy away from it. Funny enough I wanted him to write a guest post on the blog but I never saw him again after the concert, maybe I just met an angel (lol).

A whole lot is going on in the world. It’s getting more difficult to take a stand for what you believe in; in fact it’s getting old-fashioned. But the truth is, the world needs to hear us speak up for what we believe in, it may not be popular, you may lose some friends or even positions but it shouldn’t deter us. As Christians, we have been called to bring light but the question is, how do we light up a place if we remain hidden? How can we still make a difference in a world with contrary beliefs to ours? My mentor told me, just preach the message of Jesus’ love and not condemnation. Christianity rises and falls on LOVE and a pastor told me, express your belief but don’t impose it.

Are you a Christian reading this? Be a living example of the love Jesus talked about in the Bible, that is your tool. Do you want to become a Christian, then say this short prayer with me, Dear Lord Jesus I thank You for a day like this, I thank You for the opportunity to be called your Child, I acknowledge I have sinned against you and I ask for forgiveness. I believe You died for me and you rose again that I may have eternal life. I receive your free gift of salvation and I thank you for accepting me just as I am. Welcome to the family, you can only cultivate this new way of life by studying the manual to life which is the Bible and look for a Bible-believing Church to join, or send me an email ccogbogu@yahoo.com

LOADS OF LOVE

JMAD

N/B The series on #Imagine will continue tomorrow.

Picture Credit : Google

My posting to Iran

I recently got back from leave and my welcome message was a letter stating I was going to be transferred to Iran; my company is building a team to set up a branch there. You have no idea how I felt. A million and one questions ran through my mind but there were two that lingered on – family and church. I don’t have the perfect family but when all our differences are brought to the table, you’ll never have a dull moment. I’ve grown to appreciate the gift of family by having each of them in my life. Guaranteed I’m not in the same location with them but a journey of one hour by air or eight hours by road can get me to them. Iran is 3318 miles from Nigeria and will take approximately 7 hrs. by air.

Church is definitely important to me and I’ve grown so used to my church, the mere thought of changing location freaks me out not to talk of a country where the Christian faith is threatened. While I was engrossed in this thought a question I had asked someone in the past popped up in my head and I’ll ask you the same question, if you are transferred to another location and there’s no church I’m not saying a branch of your local church I mean no church at all, how long will you last as a Christian?

Few weeks ago Social Media was flooded with the story of a Pastor who had an affair with a lady, a whole lot was said, some became virtual soldiers for the pastor, and some took to name-calling of the lady while others pledged their support for the lady for the bold step she took. In all of this we forget it’s really not about a particular church rather the entire Christian community. We have become so religious that we are gradually losing the essence of Jesus’ death on the cross. We should have all (Christians) covered our heads with ash and put on sack-cloth to cry that such a thing was mentioned in church; do we love church more than God? I was in a leadership meeting in church, our Senior Pastor called out all the Pastors of the branches and asked anyone to indicate, if there had been any sexual relationship with any of them, while some people found it funny my heart bled. These are men and women who have been anointed to lead God’s sheep and we are having integrity issues. What spirit are they passing onto us when they stand on the pulpit to minister?

I learnt something and I hope to apply it in Iran. Beyond the lifting up of hands to a good choir rendition or shouting halleluiah or amen to the pastor’s sermon; we need to know God for ourselves. When Paul and Silas were in jail they had church there, they knew God was limitless, boundless and existed everywhere at the same time. Granted the believers were praying for them but they still called out to God. A pastor in my local church said “In the Anglican church, we have the Liturgy to guide public prayer but in our closet there’s no Liturgy rather we are to pour out our lives to Him” and another pastor said “Our leadership is not to take advantage but to give advantage”.
A few questions are going through my mind and I’ll share it with you:-
• After Sunday service is my behavior consistent throughout the week?
• Can I have worship in my room when the choir isn’t singing?
• Can I open my Bible on my own without a Pastor?
• Can I have fellowship with God alone without a gathering?
• Who does God mean to me and not just the God of my Pastor or Church but I mean a personal encounter?
• If I don’t have a Christian sticker on my car, carry a family-sized Bible can anyone tell I’m a Christian?
• How often have I discriminated other churches because their order of service was different from mine?


Truth is we have played church for too long and it’s time to come back to our first Love Jesus Christ who first loved us in our sinful nature. Let us arise in unity and stand for the gospel of love Jesus preached. At the end of this world I’m not standing before God as a church member rather as an individual.
LOADS OF LOVE
JMAD
N/B The story of going to Iran was inspired by some random thoughts of Church and Relocating; not to worry I’m still with you

Photo courtesy : Truthforlife.org