Just another ordinary slave of King Jesus in yet another time to preach his Gospel
Author: A life in time to Preach
I'm Peter Muturi Kimotho. Christian. Kenyan. Ministry Training Facilitator at iServe Africa. Passionate about studying and teaching God's Word. Seeking to preach the Gospel and raise faithful Gospel workers in Kenya. Blogs at timetopreach.com
It was among the pigs where he found us We were outcasts driven outside the city Thinking we had it all but ours a kingdom of dirt Garbage was our fortune and dung our treasure Until he found us in this mess we called the good life
He didn’t wait for us to look for him In truth we thought we had it all He couldn’t send his highborn servants for us No he walked down the dumping site And embraced us despite our foulness
Why did he care about the rot of society? Why would the son of God walk among thieves? To love and die for a smelly people like us? Surely it wasn’t for something special we could offer We were helpless, blind and lost without knowing it
I would love to say mine was a better story That among the street urchins I was the best But what could a street boy offer the king of kings If I was any better it was the zeal of my treachery It was the multitude of my sins that begged his mercy
Ours is a story of rags to riches Not that we’ve nailed the good life here and now But the good Lord has bought us for himself He’s clothed us with his robe of righteousness And made us sons and heirs in his eternal house
Lord forbid that I should lose the wonder of the Gospel To see a sinner so wretched forgiven and loved so dearly A self righteous man made aware of his filthy rags Teach me this Gospel everyday for I forget it daily
When the Word falls from my heart The comfort of this globe sets in so quickly When my eyes forget to look to you daily My ears are drawn to the noise around me easily
When daily devotion is not my normal habit The old man of sin sanitized in Christian activity takes control I become a very sick sinner who looks okay I say the right words but murmur inside
Forbid that in the frontline of ministry I should forget what I need That I should teach others the Gospel but forget my need of it Help me to kill the man of sin, the proud man within Give me the humility to see my great need of you daily
Teach me the wretchedness of sin even of my little sins Give me the gratitude of the Gospel to stand amazed daily Forbid that I should make my good works my hope Give me the assurance of the blood that paid fully my debt
Take back this life you gave and conform it to my saviour Though my will and desire fight you yet I know your will is best Teach me to kill sin daily and to abound in your good works Forbid that the comfort of this life would rob me the joy of service
Teach me the Gospel everyday for I need it like the first day Remind me daily of my great sin even as I grow older in salvation Forbid that a day will come to think I’ve graduated from this need Peg my heart to your Word to see my great Saviour everyday
I’m always amazed how easily we can miss things that are right infront of us. When something is so obvious to everyone else except us. Later on you hear friends say they can’t believe you didn’t see that. It was so obvious, how could you not see it. Many times we miss details about ourselves and it takes someone else to show us what should be plain to us. How is that possible? Are we just bad at reading ourselves and situations around us? Is there something wrong with our eyes.
I want to suggest there’s something else at play here, that the eyes of our hearts dictate what we see and sometimes undermine what should be plain to all. That we tend to see what our minds tells us and our hearts can blind us to the reality infront of us. Our eyes zoom on what our heart dictates and we miss what we don’t want to see. It’s no suprise that two people looking at the same situation can come out with different and sometimes contradicting interpretations. So if you go through life informed only by the desires of your heart you’ll be as blind as a bat. You’ll only see what your heart craves and undermine what challenges your lifestyle.
When it comes to the question of faith this is what we forget. That it’s really not a just question of evidence infront of us. It’s more a problem of the eyes within, it’s the inner man that calls the shots here. A man born blind and the one who enjoys the light of day are no different in this. They are both slaves to their heart desires until the strong light of the Gospel shines through. You listen to them argue vehemently like passionate intelligent men but it’s just the heart fighting to keep the status quo. They don’t want to change and therefore they aim at anyone and anything that challeges this. You see if the question of faith was merely a matter of evidence no one who’s ever looked at the sun would be a non believer.
Paul speaking to the Romans says creation testifies loudly about the creator. The morning breeze whispers his breath. The high mountains scream of his power. And from the lips of children comes his praise. Our eyes and ears testify against us because we see and hear the testimony of our maker every second we breath. And yet we remain so blind to not only ignore him but undermine this testimony. We overturn every pointer to him and live like it wasn’t there to our condemnation. The Bible says:
19 …what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Romans 1 NIV
The desires of our hearts overcome our eyes and we declare God has no say in our sphere. Our hearts wage war against his plain testimony. We see the wonder of creation but nothing about the creator. We feel the breeze but our conscience stops at the mere enjoyment. We enjoy the masterpiece of creation but either stop at that or go as far as saying it’s all an accident. Our eyes stop where our hearts decree and it doesn’t matter what reality dictates. It sounds outrageous but when you realise it’s the heart that sees it makes a lot of sense.
So we ask, is there a way out? We surely don’t want to go through life unaware of what should be obvious to us do we? I mean how can we call ourselves men of science and technology when we can’t trust our own eyes? How can we claim to be in control of our lives when we miss what should be obvious to us? And what’s to protect us from danger if we won’t even see it coming? And if the Bible is right, danger coming like a thief in the night. We might be meeting our maker tonight with nothing to defend us from his just wrath.
But the Bible says there’s a way out through the Gospel. And what I love about the Gospel is that the same God before whom we stand condemned, the one we’ve been denying and undermining all these years is the same that rescues us. There’s a way out if we’ll stop ignoring what God says and hiding our heads in the sand. It’ll start with confronting the eyes of our heart with the truth of the Gospel. For once we need to come out of hiding, to stop the blame game and be men enough to accept our guilt so we can seek his salvation. We need to be saved from the lies of our hearts so we can see life and this world plainly from the eyes of God as his Word shows us.
Many have come before us and left blinded by the eyes of their heart. Hell is full of people who cannot raise a finger against God that he didn’t make himself known. Sure we don’t get to see everything perfectly not but from his viewpoint we’ll see everything as we should. Don’t wait until it’s too late to see what should be plain to all. Don’t wait for fate to tell you how could you not see what was so obvious. Don’t be like the Pharisees who saw Jesus and his works but refused to see the truth that pointed to him as the Saviour they were waiting for. Come to him today for the salvation that only he can give. To receive new sight and a new identity.
11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
Given a choice between heaven and this world many choose what they can see. They’d rather have the bird in the hand that 9 in the bush. This world and it’s promises seem tangible. And nothing is more appealing and trustworthy than what we can see and touch. We want to live life to the fullest here and now because tomorrow is unknown. Why deny yourself for life on some cloud when you can enjoy things here and now? We are realists and we go with what makes sense to us.
But let us unpack this realism. How much of this world really is in our hands? COVID has shown us more clearly than ever that we are just one pandemic away from want and disaster. One job loss from poverty. That all you need to bring you down to your knees is a disease. Add economic breakdown and our realism changes. You are one serious illness away to hating the offer of this world. And the reality of this world is that you can’t have this world. You can only lease its temporarily joys before nature rudely interrupts you.
YOLO philosophy forgets that you can barely live down here. That what the world offers it quickly takes away. That in truth what’s before us is a mirage and as soon we get near it goes further. The world dangles life before us but it can barely breath. We spend all our lives seeking a life that is taken away in a second. We try mitigate risk, build stamina and eat well. Then one day out of nowhere the pandemic of death comes without knocking. Everything you held dear is taken away with no apology or notice.
It’s then that we revisit the earlier offer and realize we only have one true choice. That this world can’t be offered because it can’t be given. It’s already on the expiry date. Here we only get a land lease for a short while. It’s heaven and hell that is truly on offer. And the mirage of this life says we should reconsider this. That what looks far off is actually very near to us. That before the next breath the after life could be our reality. And however long it takes we will be confronted by that choice sooner or later.
When we get our reality right the offer of heaven makes a lot of sense. It becomes the reasonable choice. The one land we can get permanently to establish our roots. And because the marker of the world is trustworthy we can depend on him however unlikely it seems to the naked eye. It’s actually outrageous to stand on the ground we stand, to breathe the air we breath and delight in the blessings of this life yet term heaven too good to be true. It would seem we doubt the carpenter while in his workshop.
But where nature provides only suggestions about the reality of heaven, the Bible affirms and confirms that we can call it our home. In the eye of scripture nothing is more real and material than the future ahead of us. The call of faith isn’t at all blind for we get more than enough reason to trust in God. It says we can be sure of his faithfulness more than the rising of the sun. What he has said he will do and those who believe are already the citizens of heaven. This world is passing away and with it all it’s promises. But our future is with God and in his eternal city.
1 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
One of the fears we have as a people is to imagine that either our leaders don’t know our situation or they simply don’t care. It’s double tragedy to imagine they’d careless about our fate and instead only favour their peers. It’s painful, it makes us angry knowing we put them there but hopeless when we realize we can’t change things.
So when one finally walks down our path and says I know what you are facing that in itself is great news. It says they see our plight and all they need is to show they are genuine. To make us believe the era of the Messiah has come with them. That with them in office our pain will be a sad history. That finally something will change and however big or small a change we all want it.
To know we are known and someone cares is the greatest asset for a human heart. To know our leaders knows our plight and will do something about it sells us hope and what’s more precious than hope? But critics will ask, how many times have we had this narrative before? And what makes us think this time it will be any different? Was there a politician who didn’t seem to share our plight and promise change?
Now here is where things get tricky. You see a good portion of us will lean on hope no matter what history says. It’s the last coin in our pockets and we have to treasure it. If we lose it we’d have to kill ourselves. The instict of survival in us holds on to hope when everything else fails. And if the other side isn’t selling a better deal to us then we have no other choice.
Unfortunately if we looked back we’d know better and that more blown out promises have been made by many politicians before. That a man who wants an office and desperately so will say anything our ears want to hear. A man who wants a girl has no problem going down their knee. And our history is full of the promises of politicians both those in government and in opposition.
I’m not trying to use this post to discredit a certain party or favour another candidate. I don’t want to make us feel hopeless if anything I hold to hope like there’s nothing better. But I would always say be suspicious of politicians because in truth all of them actually do know our plight. Don’t be deceived they don’t know what’s happening perhaps they may not be as invested but they all know. They’ve got foot soldiers on the ground and honestly it doesn’t take a genius to know our suffering. You just need to turn on the news. The question is how genuine is their proposal?
Unfortunately I don’t trust the ruling class or even the opposition blindly because I wouldn’t trust any man blindly not even myself. I want to look back and see consistency of care and concern. I want to see there’s some shred of honesty in a manifesto not merely inflated promises. Sometimes I think going against the grain and playing the long game instead of blindly replacing the status quo might be the key to change.
But there’s always a risk in politics that any one leader however well measured will ultimately fail us. Power has a way to blind and change people and man is not that trustworthy either. In the end we need more than someone who seems to identify with us and appears genuine. We need someone without the disease of all men that in the end cares for their own welfare. Here’s where democracy fails us because we need more than one of us for a better leader.
It’s the one who came down to face our plight with us that can truly say they know us. But it’s the one who is unlike us in our selfishness who can actually help us. One who sees our plight, puts down his pride and washes our feet. We need one like us but better than us. One who sympathises with our weaknesses but can truly help us. One who’s proved genuine and trustworthy.
Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll find him in the next election but it means our future is guaranteed either way. It means we can still lean on hope though our choices down here are likely to fail us. We have true hope in him not in the lies from every election year. In him there’s no risk of corrupting power. We have hope in one who walked the earth and rose to rule in the heavens. One who truly saw and acted for the plight of the oppressed and is concerned with the least of us. We have Jesus who is God and man, a leader we can truly trust in. He says,
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
I heard a voice walking down the planet A tune that drew me close to listen It felt like a cheer but also like crying I think it was both,the echo of distant voices Some wailed while others rejoiced greatly It was like the noise of battle won and lost But both camps took turn to rejoice and mourn
I turned aside and heard a beautiful voice It resounded across the globe It spoke of beauty, love and celebration It preached about hope, peace and joy But then it stopped and it burst into wailing It cried of loss, danger and death I couldn’t understand this place
I listened to their music and it was amazing It told of the wonder of man and his beauty The songs of men addressed to their daughters They had the sweetest words of the world But on the other side a father cursed his son A mother was troubled by his daughters There was sadness, rage and despair
What’s wrong with this place I wondered One time I’m loving it then I’m dreading it One sings of joy the other of pain I longed that the echo of sadness would end That for once the music of joy would last I wanted a good song to play until the end But every time it was interrupted by sad news
It was a longing shared across the planet People wished for once wars would cease That pain and suffering would end And joy be the music of our days But the dream was always cut short Someone was too greedy Someone always put themselves first
So these days I dream of another world My eyes close and the cries cease I’m taken to a distant land where peace prevails I sit quietly and listen to a good song end When all the reality of sin fades music lasts Not a cry of a child abandoned or a people lost I listen to the end of beauty and celebration
I long for this land and country I dream of walking down it’s streets To be called a citizen of the land of peace Take me away from this corrupt nation Give me the joy of everlasting peace Oh! How I rejoice knowing it’ll be mine one day I dream of a better country, I long for heaven
Many times when we criticize preaching and call out false teaching we have the preachers in mind. We think if we rid the country of false teachers our churches will be sound and our theology right. But there’s a great contibutor to false doctrine that we let go easy. We forget the supply is only available because the market demands it. Our minds don’t pause to imagine that the people on the pews are shaping the man infront as much as he purports to. We think the direction of flow is God to his servant and from pulpit to the congregation. In truth it works both ways and sometimes it’s what the preacher thinks the congregation wants that dictates the Sunday sermon. It’s the congregation to the pulpit and back without God in the picture. Paul warns of this in 2 Timothy 4:3
3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
2 Timothy 4 NIV
People will come to the preaching hour with a craving not to hear from God necessarily but to hear what their minds desperately crave. They come with an urge not always for false hope but whatever makes their hearts skip a bit. Some want to hear mind blowing mysteries and conspiracy theories. A great service for them takes them around fantasy kingdom where they wrestle with demons and leave with secrets only they know. Others want to be blown away by the genius of the man of God. These might fool you with a love of the Word but they are mere intellectuals in a lecture hall. For some it’s another Churchill show and they want to laugh their lungs out. They want a sense of emotion, someone who gives them the feelings. The man of God is easily deceived by these as they seem to flow with him. In truth they are all junkies thirsty for one more jab.
But even when we value God’s Word and want the preacher to point us to the text and context we can also have unrealistic views about preaching. If we expect every sermon will be top notch however we define it, we are no different from these guys. We are still driven by the itch of our ears not what and how God wants us to leave church that day. Yes we should celebrate great preaching that points us to Jesus and keeps our nose on the text of God’s Word. But if we expect it every Sunday we demand a standard the man of God can’t meet and it says much about us not him. In truth, it’s not the best sermon every Sunday that is the mark of a faithful ministry. It’s not the best meal in a great restaurant that keeps us growing and healthy. Sometimes we need some ugali, some omena and once in a while some veggies. It’s a people committed to God and his Word even when the church next door sounds like the Spirit has come in person. It’s when we choose to wrestle with the word and sometimes get it wrong and don’t deliver the best talks that we show we are truly committed to it.
I don’t want to say we should excuse boring preaching. I don’t say we put up with mediocre preachers as long as they quote the Bible. And we shouldn’t think a church can’t be faithful if it’s lively and growing rapidly. But we need to be careful we don’t set a standard for preachers that makes them aim at pleasing us more than God. If we do that we risk the man of God answering to our itching ears and that is neither right nor healthy. Preachers on the other hand shouldn’t be removed from the congregation or merely sing by their tune. Paul advice to Timothy is to both preach the Word all the times whether people like it or not, even when it leads to persecution but also to be invoved in the life of his congregants. To know when they need encouragement or rebuke.
2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
…5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
2 Timothy 4 NIV
The mandate comes from above but it has in mind a people easily tempted, easily discouraged, oftenly forgetful and who mostly prefer the world around them. The preacher needs to remember the medicine of the Word is what they need but careful also to make the right diagnosis. But the congregation needs to be careful lest they make the Lord’s servant doubt his tools of trade. We need to ask ourselves, if the sermon was not what we expected, is it possible we had the wrong expectations? Is it possible we have a wrong view of preaching and we expect it to be a daily meal outside? But when a preacher does his job well it won’t kill us to appreciate him as much as it is his job. That man is a man like any other and there is a lot that would easily discourage and deceive him to follow in the world’s steps like everybody else. Believe you me he’s no different from you. And if you are the kind that easily falls for one criticism imagine how he’d crumble with a thousand. For faithful preaching to work the congregation needs to be on board in the good and the not so good Sundays.
Death has a way of reminding and awaking us to the reality of this life. That any of us and every one of us whether big or small, rich or poor, famous or infamous has a date with the small box. Death meets us all and most of the times it’s not well mannered to book an appointment. The man of God, the good statesman, the witchdoctor and the rebel all have one sure destiny under the sun. They will die. Sure their deeds will make that a day of mourning or celebration depending on who you ask but in the end they’ll be dead. It’s the thing that reminds you that men however powerful and influential are mere mortals. Death sets apart the creator from creation; the clock of life unravels man’s weakness.
We can all agree death is brutal, a ferocious enemy that attacks without warning. It leaves rampage, distress and broken lives behind. But it also tells us that how we live matters because we are not here for as long as we imagine. We need back that Gospel message that said tonight could be it for you because many have been caught unaware without it. As much as we don’t like negative vibes I think we might do with a dose of reality in our modern day. As we motivate people to live their fullest, exploit hidden potential, walk like the boss let’s remember we are here only for a while. Actually the Gospel tells us our best life, our longest life is in the future beyond the grave.
Order your house today by ordering your heart. The Bible says only those who die in the Lord are blessed that is happy and safe. For them it’s more like retirement as they finally rest from their labours. Those who lived in rebellion on the other hand, those driven by human sin, the grave is the beginning of their troubles. I know this is uncomfortable, old fashioned and you’d rather we do a better and more appealing Gospel message. Meet people where they are, pick what they love and entice them in to buy the Gospel message. But if talk of death is not relevant to us perhaps it’s because we’ve slept in for too long. In this country you can’t go past a news bulletin without it. So we may as well look into the Gospel’s verdict on the matter and do so more oftenly.
13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”