I heard her first cry and it was beautiful I’ve never been happier hearing one cry The agony and the tension was overcome By that beautiful and confused cry Finally she had arrived to make a home with us
Strange how the waiting season vanishes so quickly In the middle of waiting it seems like forever But then it happens and the agony is gone The wounds and the scars witness the miracle And they become marks of joy unending
With every grace and blessing God gives comes true joy Not in the removal of total pain and suffering But in the assurance that we have one who looks after us One who sees beyond what we see And truly cares for us more than we ever will know
Sad that sometimes we still doubt him Even after he’s answered our greatest longings Odd that future longings can make us forget his commitment To think now he doesn’t care when he’s been so consistent Tragic that we might even get bitter with him
We praise you Lord for your unending love and grace For this precious blessing you’ve bestowed on us Thank you for hearing our prayers and the ones we didn’t know to make For your kindness and your gracious sovereign hand Teach us to see that hand and hold more tightly
Though the future is unknown we know we are safe with you We are never happier and safer than in your able, loving hands Lord, teach our feeble hearts to trust and seek refuge in you Turn our countless doubts and worries to trust Give us the joy of a little child who trusts their Father
I was afraid to be an adopted child I feared I might not be loved as others What’s worse? I have flaws I couldn’t change I doubt I could prove my worth in his house But he choose me with my flaws and made me his own
I feared I would soon let him down And you know what? I was right As soon as I settled in I forgot his rules I broke them all and proved undeserving of his love What amazed me is he drew me closer to himself in my weakness
He didn’t think I should be sent away Although I think I would have kicked me out immediately I didn’t help it either as I kept falling back to old habits If he was a human Father I would be rotting in the dungeon But not so with my heavenly Father, his love knows no limits
It causes me great displeasure to fail him Not because I think he would kick me out But because I would love to please and bear fruit for him Great love should be repaid by great loyalty But I’m afraid I have not yet attained this
Lord I pray that you’d conquer this heart Though I belong to you, possess this heart completely Make it your slave daily that I may please you always I’m already yours but I would have everything in me be yours Heavenly Father own my whole being and be alone my Lord
It is in our weaknesses he’s most sufficient In our desperation he gives great comfort And while the world crumbles he’s a sure rock But it’s not always easy to walk up to him At times we find it hard to knock his door Many times we hide from our only helper To do everything but seek him in prayer
It’s not out of ignorance we remain silent No, we know we’ve nowhere else to run Sometimes we’ve tried everything else But the pride in us says I can handle it Tomorrow I’ll pick myself up and fix it I’ll rid myself of this need once and for all Only it never works and we know it, don’t we?
Sometimes it’s the guilt of our self righteousness We judge him by our own expectations How would he receive us back we wonder But he’s no fellow man and we know it He knows us and yet chose to love us in Christ If it was merit that opens his door none would ever enter No, it’s the needy men like us that he embraces by grace
Lord forgive the trespass of seeing you like fellow men The sin to think you only accept me when I do well How low I would bring you to bribe you with my deeds But you see me in Christ and draw closer in my need Help me kill this pride that hides in good deeds Crown me with the humility that prayer requires Show me how desperate I am without you
Teach me to see you as a father not merely a teacher To see I don’t need to earn favor to meet you So often I go back to that old religion of works But I would have the Gospel of grace bring me to you Grant me the spirit of a child to run without care to my father The humility to look to you first in my need And a heart that sees my desperate need of you
When you listen keenly to political analysts debate each other you can hear their master speaking behind them. They’ll use facts and quote the Constitution all while construing and obliquing it in ways that favour the hand that feeds them. Activists are no different though they’d like us to believe they are the neutral custodians of the rule of law and the good of the people. And you know what? We are no different either, as we listen we hear what we want to hear. We are all biased and none of us comes to these issues neutral.
Those who support the ruling class do so because they feed from that table. Those who oppose it because they are denied a share. And we are but the grass upon which the bulls fight. We receive what drops when the masters and their servants have had their share. We are bribed with tokens to shut up as they follow higher agendas. But we are no different. If anything we do the same with our jobs and resources. The natural man is driven by his stomach and when it’s full of food by his hunger for wealth and power.
We admire it though when we hear someone came to the table neutral. That he was driven by the interest of the common mwananchi though we get very suspicious of that. It’s beyond human to lay down ones interests for the benefit of others. It’s abnormal, suspicious and only love; true love, care and concern can lead a man to scale that mountain. It says greater good cannot be achieved unless one pours their heart for another and our leaders for the masses. It’s laying down ones interest, their lives, denying the religion of normal man for the sake of others. It’s godly, the thing you see with real friends and families. Only the man who loves truly serves fully.
We must then ask is that a quality our leaders possess? Do they love Wanjiku? It’s getting too emotional you say. That’s not a quality of leadership, it’s something you look for in a spouse not a governor. I think we would actually get very uncomfortable if the next MP sells a love manifesto. Choose me because I love you. Maybe it’s too much to ask? You’ll not find it in our politicians CVs. That this man has proved a love for the people and that’s his greatest achievement. But it’s the greatest quality for the best of leaders. It’s what we find in God through the Bible, it’s the CV of Jesus. Only he comes without a devious agenda, he comes with a love manifesto and that’s why he could stoop low to save us.
He came to serve and only he was driven by that agenda, see Mark 10:45. And in service he became the greatest leader that we should all emulate. But his service and humility is not the only attribute we should copy and seek in our leaders. He was first driven by love, love for the lost, compassion to a sheep without a shepherd. Only the one who truly loves can pursue our interests. If we want to emulate his strategy we need to be informed by his conviction.
Our hands must be strengthened by his heart. A heart to seek the good of the downtrodden not merely giving them the leftovers of our selfish pursuit. And unfortunately you’ll not find that regularly under the sun. You’ll only see droplets of it where the finger of God has touched the hearts of men. But that’s our eternal reality for those who believe in Jesus. May the Lord help us and anyone who pursues leadership at home and in our society to emulate him.
13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.
It’s not bad enough that Christ suffered on that hill for us. That he was beaten, mocked, chastised and killed for you and I That his justice was denied and the innocent killed for my sin That the most holy God was drowned in the sewage of your sin But he was cast away, ripped from his eternal union to take my judgement
It wasn’t bad enough that he was rejected by those he came to save That the very ones he sought to redeem cried out for his death That his very disciples betrayed, denied and deserted the Saviour But even today his message is maligned and his people twist his Gospel Like our forefathers we reject, deny and undermine his claim on us
It was bad enough that all his apostles suffered for his message That his people were called a cult and cast away from Israel But today his name is used as a curse word, a play word for children His eternal rule is ridiculed and none fears the Lion of Judah Everyone trembles at human rulers but laughs at his face
It was cruel and futile enough for the former governments to attack him But in every age and every state they rebel and renounce his claim The world of today like yesterday treats him the same if not worse They treat his message, his claim and his people the same way None considers the humble Passover lamb is the ferocious Lion of Judah
But it’s worse in his own church and among his own disciples By word, deed and testimony we betray, deny and desert him Some twist his message for their own gain, laying a claim on his people Others claim to hold out his Gospel but by their conduct deny it’s truth And the many forget his very existence, rarely seeking to live for him daily
We may look down on those who killed and tortured our Saviour We may despise the early disciples and the first church But we need to ask, are we any better today or worse? Is the risen Christ alive in our sermons, in our witness and living? Is he the Lord and Saviour, ruler and God of us and everything we possess?
Our world doesn’t mind a full weekend holiday in his name But it must consider the fate of sin as seen on that Good Friday If God didn’t spare his innocent son for the sins of the world What makes you think he’ll overlook yours that fully deserve judgement? Run to him for his Easter refuge or prepare for the judgement of eternal hell
People get into their line of work for all kinds of reasons. For some it’s their talent, passion and gifting, others saw a need they wanted met while for others, well, that was all that was on offer. The dream is when they love their job and find fulfilment in it. They have a reason to wake up everyday and take risks because they believe in what they do. That’s what anyone wants for their pastor. That they love the Lord and his people which makes them ready and happy to go the extra mile.
But quite often people lose the passion that got them through the door. It happens to everyone for all kinds of reasons and it applies even to ministers of the Word. These streets are full of people who rise up early and come home late because they have to. What else would they do? They have bills to pay, children to school and families that depend on them. But we don’t stop to imagine our pastor maybe on the same category. I mean he works for God, he changes people’s lives, he offers hope and has a whole community cheering him on. Surely he must love his job and can’t wait for Sunday.
In truth, and contrary to what a lot of people think, your pastor is a normal human being. He has the same struggle sometimes to get out of bed and preach that powerful sermon. Home visits might not be what he looks forward to. But more to our topic of interest he may not be finding as much fulfilment from the job as you may think. Now we want to start with the assumption that he first got in for the right reasons, that he saw a Gospel need and realised God had given him the gifts and training fit for it. That he couldn’t wait to reach the lost and disciple others for the rest of his life.
But then a few years in things haven’t gone exactly how he thought, there’s the burden he carries for the flock, his own family in addition to the struggle with his own sin. On the other hand, perhaps things are great, the church is growing and his life is stable but he has lost that first fire to wake up everyday, take every opportunity to do his share of Kingdom business.
Worst case scenario he’s been in this rut for quite some time now and he can’t see a way out. Now some of you out there would think well maybe he should quit. But it’s more complicated than that, first what else would he do? What about his bills, family and his own reputation? You see his predicament? Now add that like the many people who don’t like their jobs he has to keep doing it for the foreseeable future. Then you’d have a lot to worry about if you are part of his congregation for his sake and the church.
Now, I know I’m painting a rather extreme picture and one that negates God’s ever present grace, encouragement from the Word, fellow ministers and the congregation. But I’m doing this because when it comes to ministry I find sometimes people don’t see things realistically. They never imagine what happens to so many people in our midst might happen or is happening to their minister as well. We think because God called him he’ll always be firely for the Gospel and passionate about pastoral work. Yet we know even the most fulfilling of jobs have bad weeks and passion can fade with time.
Supposing I’ve convinced you of the possibility of this happening then we ask what should be done. What kind of measures and strategies should we lay down in place to spring the man of God back to the horse. Perhaps a better ministry language is how can we pray, help and encourage our minister to fan the flame, see 2 Tim 1:6? We are in the right territory here and my answer is one the Gospel, second Gospel love and third prayer not in any order. You could easily say the Gospel is the answer.
When calling fails, and I don’t want to debate how extreme that sounds, what will keep one going is a constant reminder why they got in the first place. They got in because God drew them in by his Gospel, he transformed them by the power of the Gospel and gave them his passion for the lost by the calling of the Gospel. The beauty of Gospel ministry is what gets us through the door is what will keep us on the family business. The fire might dwindle and the enemy might get us doubting and despairing but when we come back to the Gospel in the scriptures the power, the strength, the energy, and the motivation is always there.
Paul writes something that I think every minister needs to keep going back to. In Romans he argues out his passion and mission statement and I think the reason he writes this powerful letter:
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1.
In the Gospel we find God’s saving power and that’s what everyone including your minister needs every day. This is also the motivation he needs, to know that through his mundane work of preaching and teaching, God is working to save and sustain his people for eternity. He needs to preach to himself this Gospel everyday and we need to do the same for his sake and ours too. When is the last time you encouraged your minister by something you are reading from the Bible? He needs it and the encouragement is twofold, one for his soul and second for his ongoing ministry.
In addition, the Gospel is founded on God’s love for his people, see the popular John 3:16. The son of God invites us to love instead of judgement and the minister’s work extends that love to others. But the minister needs to know and cherish that Gospel love. To swim and bathe daily in the amazing love of God that brought an enemy to his dinner table. To remember that one died that many may live and he needs to die daily following his master’s footsteps. That’s the job, that’s the calling.
And when hardship comes whether from the congregation, his own life, his sin or from the world, that’s not a barrier it’s the price. But as those who share and benefit from this love we need to extend it to him as well. We need to bear a part of this burden ourselves. We can’t be all receiving and never giving. We need to think seriously about the welfare of our ministers both spiritually and physically.
But none of these works unless God works. The greatest motivation comes from God himself. It’s God working through his Spirit by his Word that keeps his man on the job. So above everything else we need to pray and pray some more for ministers of the Gospel. Pray that the same word they preach bears fruit in their hearts. Pray for protection from sin and scandal. Pray for his contentment and joy in the Gospel. Pray for his family that they’ll be full partners in this work. Pray for his children to believe and be proud of their dad’s work. When Calling fails, the Gospel and our prayers will keep the man of God in office.
One of the amazing miracles from the Gospel accounts is that of blind people like the Blind Bartimaeus receiving sight. Most of us can barely handle darkness for a minute. Imagine living all your life in darkness imagining what is all around you, touching and feeling but never seeing. And then within seconds after Jesus says the words, the world is opened to you like a newborn. Imagine seeing the mountains, people, bulls, insects, trees, rivers… all in your first ever gaze. I’m already feeling overwhelmed imagining it.
You could say every miracle must have been exciting and overwhelming at the same time. I guess that’s what happens when the impossible happens. This is what drew crowds to Jesus and it’s what many preachers crave even the ones who don’t call for the “deliverance service”. If only a miracle happened when I was preaching then people would listen to me more and of course God would be glorified, says the man of God. I think all of us would actually want to see a miracle first hand. Our unbelieving friends insist this would convince them to repent and believe the Gospel. In truth, we see miracles everyday but they don’t seem to excite or overwhelm us as much.
You see behind the spectacular, crowd-drawing miracles was Jesus’ words and behind the scenes bigger miracles were happening that only those whose hearts he touched and healed could testify to. It’s the miracle of spiritual sight. It’s what happens when we hear the Gospel and our eyes are opened to see our sinfulness and our desperate need for salvation. When we understand just how blind we have been all our lives of God’s love and patience with our rebellion and idolatry. And when we first see the light of the Gospel we realize the darkness we’ve lived in and how blind the world is. Paul expresses this perfectly writing to the Ephesians. He says before they heard the Gospel they were so blind in sin and blind to their blindness, they couldn’t even feel and touch like Bartimaeus, they were dead:
1. And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2. in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.
Ephesians 2, ESV.
But when Jesus’ words were spoken to us from the preaching of the Gospel our first ever gaze overwhelmed us seeing God’s love to such wretched sinners like us. It was a greater wonder than seeing oceans, mountains, children, skies, birds… for the very first time. Now we could see God and ourselves clearly than ever before. I can remember vividly that first time when I saw the love and mercy of God and my very clear guilt before him. I couldn’t believe how blind I was before to see how I toyed with God’s judgement on me. And to imagine that a sinner like me could be forgiven and called a child of God, my mind was blown away. That’s the miracle I see every day because like King David my sins are ever before me and yet God’s love and mercy is ever true and all consuming. And what’s more, I’m continually being changed by his Spirit in me through his Word to sin no more.
You see, to the naked eye this doesn’t seem as spectacular a miracle as restoring physical sight or raising the physically dead. But what’s more troubling is that even believers don’t seem to appreciate this miracle and privilege as much. We still crave for what is tangible because we like using our physical eyes instead of this new pair of spiritual eyes. Can you imagine Bartimaeus choosing to close his eyes and cross the street with a stick as he used to before. How outrageous! And yet that’s what we like doing, pack our faith on the side and take a step with the world for old times sake. May the Lord have mercy on us! May he quicken us to see just how privileged we are that we can see him, ourselves and the world around us as he sees it from the spiritual eye of his Word. And may we be overjoyed living in light of this Gospel in this blind world as we look forward to our eternal home.
Spiritual sight, walking by faith not sight, is what we need everyday in the good times and when our ministries are struggling. Because it’s the eyes of biblical faith that distinguish those who make it to the end and those who walk away. It’s what we need when our joy and enthusiasm in witnessing is failing. It’s what keeps missionaries on the field and faithful Christians living for Jesus in a hostile world. Spiritual sight is our unique blessing and dare I say the most important one this side of eternity. It’s what will keep our eyes set on the eternal prize while we are constantly tempted by the fears or pleasures of this world. Don’t forget to carry your pair with you at all times and in every circumstance.
Hi there! My name is Peter Muturi and I would love to share with you how I became a Christian. I grew up going to church all through my primary school and I was okay with it because I sort of believed in the idea of God and honestly my mom couldn’t have it any other way, haha. What I couldn’t get though was the idea that this God was interested in a relationship with me.
To me, God was all-powerful but wouldn’t be at all interested in me. This made it increasingly hard as I grew up to care about church on a Sunday while I could be out having fun with my friends.
Something else that bothered me was that God would one day punish me for my sins. It seemed cruel and trivial for an almighty being who should have more things to concern himself with. In time, I strayed away and stopped going to church altogether choosing instead to hang out with friends and watch movies despite my mom and aunt’s rebuke. In the end, it took my mom reaching out to my pastor to get me back to church. It was embarrassing for all of us but I caved in for their sake and went back to church. In any case, I wasn’t going to have my freedom while still at home so I decided to work hard and try it at uni.
I performed very well and finally, I could smell my freedom. I was a university student in the city free to do anything I wanted to enjoy life. I tried my best chasing a happy life but it didn’t really give me the satisfaction I had craved all those years. In the end, I felt emptier and more depressed.
In my gloom I remembered a friend had always been trying to get me to Christian union so finally I went to attend a Friday fellowship and I got hooked from that day. I kept coming for the company and sense of belonging until one Sunday morning when my comfort seat was shaken again. The speaker spoke from Revelation 3:16 warning those of us who had lukewarm comfortable faith. She went on how you were supposed to be either fully in with Jesus or out and if not, God would spit you out in judgement.
For the first time I realized I had always judged God on my standards and never considered he was right to judge me on his own standards. And looking back to my life I realized God had been very kind to me and I really deserved his judgement for repaying his love with my indifference.
I became very aware of my sins and was trembling in my seat and couldn’t wait to leave. I went straight to find my friend who prayed with me and I rededicated my life to Christ this time willingly. It’s not been an easy journey I must say but that day was the best day of my life and the beginning of a life dedicated to honor Christ with my life as he did with his death. And now I can’t help but speak of him!
When I toss back and forth in my bed
And a hundred thoughts run through my mind
When the night feels like an eternity
And my worries too many to bear
I look to the one who calms my heart
I worry of that which I cannot change
My fears run to a future so uncertain
It looks bleak and feels like the end
So I toss again with hopelessness
And I cannot calm my worrying heart
I could toss all night and change nothing
I wet my sheets with my tears for nothing
Perhaps if I knew the future I could do something
But it’s not mine to know or change
Mine only is to surrender my heart to him
So I give you this little heart and my worries
I offer my pain and distress as a sacrifice
Take it, Lord, as a pleasing aroma of my worship
I surrender this my heart and mind to you
For only you can calm this worrying heart
It’s another night and fear looms in the dark
A new day comes and new problems are born
Where can I run far away to peace everlasting?
I will hide in the arms of my loving Father
The one who calms down my worrying heart