A Heart of Stone


I was a man with ears but I never listened
I saw what was before me yet I was still blind
I would wrestle with hard concepts but fail at his word
There was enough to convince me but I still wouldn’t believe
I wanted to believe but my heart kept me away


These days when I look at the sun I can’t believe it
Was it always there before me?
The great wonder of creation speaking of him
Everything around bowed to this master
Yet I lived like a blind man deaf to his voice


But my eyes were not the problem
My ears could hear and my brain comprehend
But my heart refused to accept the obvious
In the eyes of the world I was brilliant yet foolish at heart
That stony interior made me dead from inside


I was a hopeless case, a dead man walking
Though I fooled many with my knowledge
I couldn’t fool God or myself and yet I did fool myself
I thought I could get away with ignoring him
But I rejoice that he didn’t follow after my indifference


He rattled my nest of ignorance with his powerful word
He lit through my blind eyes with his mighty works
He spoke in my ear with his compelling voice
He gave me a new heart of flesh destroying my stony one
He breathed life to my brain so I could know him as he is


I would never understand the Gospel with that stony thing
I wouldn’t yield to God’s word with my dead conscience
But with this heart of flesh everything seems so clear
On this other side I want to obey and to please him
This heart of flesh longs for it’s maker


The Tragedy of Good Men

The power of the Gospel is clearly revealed when a man who lived an evil life turns around to follow Jesus. This is why we love apostle Paul’s story. We love hearing those kinds of testimonies that say I was a completely different person before I met Jesus. I was a drunkard, a murderer, a corrupt police officer, a prostitute, and a womanizer. These are the people we call in open-air meetings to show what the Gospel can do.

But what about those who were generally considered to be good people? Those of us who were good boys and girls? Was the Gospel less effective? I meet many people who find it hard to share their stories of conversion because it doesn’t seem as eventful. People already thought they were born again. I bet there are unbelieving friends in our lives who we have not shared the Gospel with because we can’t see what difference it’ll make. They are already good people and better than most Christians. We probably think God will reconsider them and be moved by their “goodness”. But is that right?

The Bible says All Men are Wicked

The Bible has a different view of such people. It still calls them sinners desperately in need of the Gospel. And not only them even the little innocent children we call angels. It says all men, and that means all men, are wicked, see Romans 3:10-12. That the hearts of unregenerate men manufacture evil even from the best of us, see Mark 7:20-23. Can you believe that? What’s wrong with the Bible? Do you mean the Mother Teresas of this world have not done enough to earn salvation? What about that guy who never hurt anyone and always provided for his family? That man who rescued many homeless children. That woman who served his family wholeheartedly while living with an abusive husband? She too won’t be reconsidered? She too is evil?

The truth is at first many people seem good when looking from a human perspective. The reason we struggle to share the story of that good fellow who became a Christian is that we don’t see his heart. We cannot see how he too should be classified with other wretched sinners. But if we did a moral scan of his heart we would see his self-centeredness, his pride, anger, evil thoughts, and pure hypocrisy. The problem is we value people by what they’ve done outwardly and judge them as good. We use the litmus test of our society not what God sees and says in his word. Because of this many cannot accept that God will send good people to hell. They might be convinced the corrupt politician deserves it but not the philanthropist who rejected the Gospel. Surely God cannot judge them the same way.

What about Good Christians?

It is worse when Christians believe this lie. When we think that now that we have believed especially after we were already good people we no longer need the Gospel. When we convince ourselves to be okay and only think of the Gospel in light of the obviously wicked men out there. I’m always amazed at how lacking we can be in our self-awareness. Many people honestly don’t think they need the Gospel. But the man who cannot see how short they fall before the grace of God is a man who doesn’t know himself and doesn’t know God. It should be the case that as we read the word we see our own sin even more profoundly and the need for the Gospel more clearly. I think more Christians should come out of a Gospel sharing broken by their sin however small it seems to the public eye and overjoyed by the mercy of God who died to save sinners like us.

The tragedy of good men is that they are gods to themselves. They judge themselves and render themselves worthy in front of their own eyes. They are self-righteous men who don’t believe they need salvation. When the Gospel is preached they think about other men seeing that they don’t need such a desperate rescue. They prepare sermons for others, they do discipleship with others in mind and when the call to service comes they think you should speak to another as they are doing well already. If our Gospel sharing doesn’t have these people in mind in a country that is largely Christian then we’ll have missed the dark forest for the obvious bad tree. Good men need the Gospel like everyone else and we need to work even harder to show them this need.

Need for Self Introspection

In a world full of distractions and voices that tell us exactly what we need to hear it’s hard to do a regular self-evaluation of our lives, our motivations and the reality of the world within us. We can very easily come to believe in a better version of ourselves than we really are. The stories people tell us about ourselves especially if we are in positions of public ministry become the stories we believe about ourselves. Soon we start believing the lie that we have arrived, that God is lucky to have us on his side, and when we read the Bible we don’t hear the Spirit convicting us of our respectable sins. We become blind to who we are and what we need. We forget that we still have sin within us and the sanctifying Gospel is still our greatest need.

I pray that the day will never come when I outgrow my need for the Saviour and his Gospel message. I would rather I have too much Gospel, a constant reminder of my shortcomings than to fall on the pulpit of a good name. Can you imagine what a tragedy that would be? That my tomb reads here lies a good man only for my name to miss in the book of life? What a tragedy this will be? To build a profile with the world and yet miss the darkness of sin within. To stumble on respectable sins with the applause of public ministry. May the Lord help us because it’s very easy to miss this. May he quicken us to agree with John Newton that we are great sinners but Jesus is a great Saviour. Only then will we keep the word of God closer to our hearts and working in our lives not just being a tool for our ministry.

The old man of Darkness


When I walked in darkness it was my imagination that led me
I saw things dimly but got used to this world of darkness
I heard others whisper around me and knew I wasn’t alone
We were in this together and somehow that brought comfort


So we walked trying to figure out the way
But the more we stayed shut in the more we got used to this
Soon we knew how to live without light
We had become like bats and were okay with that


You’d have been struck hearing us plan the future
We had forgotten our greatest need for light
And we were content figuring life on our own
I dare say we now hated the light and rejoiced in darkness


When the flashlight lit the room our eyes couldn’t bear it
We were used to the darkness, how were we to handle such light?
But more importantly how were we to live in this new world?
Before we knew what we wanted but now everything had changed


If he didn’t hold my hand I doubt I would have come out
Many are those who chose to shut their eyes ignoring the light
So often I find myself going back to that habit
Choosing the darkness instead of his marvelous light


Now I am a child of the light but I live in a world of darkness
Lord if you didn’t hold my hand I would quickly shut my eyes
Teach my heart to love the light of the Gospel
To walk this new life with the torch of your Word


Hold my hand Lord for my heart is prone to wander and hide
The old man of darkness keeps knocking at my door
I would have him totally destroyed yet he seems to resurrect daily
Grant me the grace and strength to also kill him daily


I long for that day when the darkness will be no more
When my eyes will close and never see that old man again
I crave for the world above where your light rules the day
Lord, keep my gaze on that day when I see your light forever


Give us the gratitude of the Gospel


When I find myself wanting what my neighbor owns
When I crave to outdo my friends in everything
And to be the one everyone talks about
I miss a deep wound in my heart for my ambition
I need that Gospel that says you already have everything


Why do we so often miss the blessings the Lord has given?
Why do we murmur and complain when we are so privileged?
We get so angry that God has refused us our craving
We walk bitterly when he seems to bless others more
We need that assurance that says we are deeply loved


It’s not once that we celebrate others with a bitter soul
Wanting to look happy but dying with jealousy within
Our friends gets married before us and we hate them for it
They get that car or that job and they become an enemy
Dear Lord please grant us the joy of the Gospel


Help us remember what we already share in the Gospel
The great spiritual blessings we own together in Christ
Give us a genuine desire to celebrate with our brothers
Kill the the lust and craving to outdo each other
Give us the gratitude needed to genuinely rejoice with others


Rid our hearts off the bitterness of competition
Cause us to rejoice in the prosperity of others
Remind us the wealth we own in your heavens
Help us outdo each other in good works down here
Give us the gratitude of the Gospel in all circumstances

The Gospel strategy picked up by Coca-Cola


The greatest and most well known companies of the world still spend so much on advertising and they do that in the most prime hour. You won’t watch the news to the end before seeing an Ad from Coca-Cola even though when we say soft drink in any event that’s all anyone thinks. Why? Because even if the whole world knows they exist, even if you’ll find their bottles across the globe from Kalahari to Kazakhstan, they believe still more people would do with an extra soda. It’s not a question of how well known but how much more they can sell and remain relevant. They understand something that we don’t seem to get clearly within the church business. That what gets you in is what keeps you on and you don’t need to change the product only the marketing strategy. Believe in your product and speak of it like your believe it at every opportunity is the old skill in the book.

More than Coca-cola though Christianity has indeed gone out to the whole world with an even longer history. But our problem is we get easily comfortable whenever our small local community seems to believe in our product. For the most part we think all they need is some sense of association like going to church and we can take a back seat in the marketing business. So for the prime hour we let others have a say or get ourselves something new, something seemingly appealing, something we think the people need. But we all know if Coca-Cola did that they’d be dead within a generation.

But Coca-cola doesn’t let the change in the market deter them from their business and belief that more people should purchase their product. Instead they approach that culture, the new trends and preferences and show them why Coca-cola is the answer. They know something else we don’t seem to get, that though brands change and culture moves the needs are fundamentally the same. You’ve just got to reach the people where they are at and show them why they need your product. Same old Coca-cola, might take a new bottle and a more niche marketing strategy but the product remains the same.

Why is it that we let competitors convince us that our product is old news and irrelevant? Why would we give up our prime hour for something else other than the Gospel? We’ve got a product far better and more promising than Coca-Cola. For nothing changes people and offers what we truly crave than the Gospel. We’ve got a free audience every Sunday infront of our pulpits. A people hungry for the hope of the Gospel. If Coca-Cola ran a weekly church you can bet what their weekly message would be. Why do we deviate from ours?

I know there’s a lot more that fights the spread of the Gospel and things are not as easy as advertising. I know more forces visible and invisible are at play here. And there’s an offence the Gospel draws unlike Coca-cola. But still there are three things we can drawn from the world of advertising. One, we’ve got to believe in our product and say it like we believe it. Second, however relevant and widely accepted it is still we must keep sharing about our product to those who know and the many who don’t. Third, change in the market doesn’t mean we have to dump or change our product, we just need to reach the market where they are at. Coca-cola reaps as much as it gives to the marketing industry. Christianity would reap a great more if we invested everything we’ve got to the tested and proven product that is the Gospel. And especially if we valued the prime Sunday hour and reserved it for nothing else but the Gospel by teaching though the Bible story and pointing people to Jesus.

Now, in Gospel sharing there’s weakness with every illustration we pick and this is no exception. But I do honestly believe we do a great deservice to ourselves, our generation and our future when we hold loosely to the teaching and practice of the Gospel within our churches and Christian communities. If we believed half as much as Coca-Cola believes in their product and what they think of the market, we would never depart from the teaching of the Gospel even for a single Sunday. We would test and ascertain everything we preach and commit to by the Gospel litmus test.

You know what blows my mind away is that the Gospel product is not only what every man needs to hear. We are told it’s the very manifold wisdom of God that even the angels tap into to know our God. Imagine that! For you guys that love mysteries and big revelations the Gospel should be what you are all about.

12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. 1 Peter.

See also Ephesians 3:10.

In other words the Gospel of Jesus is so powerful, so relevant, so central that the universe revolves around it. If angels were on earth they’d be all about the Gospel. They would sit as many times to learn from the Gospel as told in the story of the Bible. Why do we substitute it for something else? The world of yesterday, today and tomorrow is united by this central message. That man is desperately sinful and hopelessly guilty and ripe for God’s wrath. But that by the Gospel of Jesus wretched man has a place in the holy kingdom of God. By faith in Jesus man who is born dead in sin is rescued to be a saint and a son in God’s kingdom. The enemy of God is brought home and made a son of the family of God by faith in Jesus. That’s the product the world needs. There’s the hope for humanity. And it never gets old or irrelevant.

That message is what we need here and now. It’s what gets us in through the door of faith and what we need for the journey. Yes we can’t teach through Gospel tracts every Sunday that would be boring. Yes we must think about what our congregation face everyday and rightly apply this Gospel, faithful preaching demands this. Yes we cannot ignore the needs and the culture around us, we are here for a reason. But like Coca-cola and better we’ve got one product that has proved to work, the Gospel, and it’s what people need more than anything.

We have one arrow in our quiver but the only one we need for all the wars of this life. For all arrays of our needs, wants and preferences only the Gospel has the cure. Everything else only calms the symptoms but the Gospel truly heals. We must believe this like Coca-cola believes in their product. We must say this like we believe it. We must share it regardless of how many associate with it. And even within our camps we must still teach and hold to it by teaching the Bible that teaches the Gospel as oftenly as is possible. Forget all those new trendy topics, if you want lasting relevance land with the Gospel. Give me the old Gospel message as taught in the Bible applied to life here and now.

There can never be enough talk of the Gospel within our churches and Christian communities. We may not call every sermon, every fellowship and mission trip a Gospel crusade but that’s what they should be. We should be known if ever for anything that we were a people drunk of the Gospel. We fail many times but we should rejoice whenever rebuked by the Gospel. Yes we enjoy all kinds of talks and humor goes a long way but without the Gospel we always leave empty. May the Lord help me never to tire, never to get familiar or presume I need anything more than the unadulterated preaching of the Gospel. The Gospel according to Coca-Cola is here’s more Coke for you. And our Gospel is that we need more Gospel teaching.

The World is Changing, One man at a Time


I don’t know whether it’s ingrained in us

Perhaps it’s because of our environment

But there’s a desire in most of us for change

There’s a cry in our hearts to see a difference

A craving to turn the world upside down


It’s in my dreams, it consumes my daydreaming

I see it everywhere, the cry for something more

Some call it activism, they call for a revolution

But leaders alone can’t bring the change we want

We need more, we need a complete overhaul


Leaders can only do so much for us

First of all we need to get them right

But even the best of leaders won’t do

The problem is far much deeper

The system is completely broken


Education, activism and being woke

Growing new leaders, voting right

All these might help for the time being

But if we want true change we need more

We need a people changed from within


We will never taste the change we so crave

Not until every one of us is changed

Changed from deep within us, made anew

Changed to value others more than ourselves

Changed to lay down our lives for others


We need real lasting change and it’s happening

We need change from within and you can see it

Where you ask? Everywhere the Gospel lands

Everywhere hearts are won for Christ change is happening

For the Gospel is changing the world one man at a time


It’s slow and almost unrecognisable but it’s happening

For every man who receives the Gospel is made new

Made new in the likeness of the best of men

Born again in the likeness of the new Adam

The Gospel is changing us, One man at a time


The Underrated Miracle

*****

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.

*****

The Gospel is a Person

*****
I recently had an opportunity to preach through Romans 1-3 and it struck me how obvious the Person at the heart of the Gospel message is and yet how easy it is to miss him in our preaching and testimonies. That the Gospel God promised through the prophets, the Gospel he preached through the apostle Paul is the Gospel about his Son, Jesus Christ:

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 1:1-4.

It’s surprising how sometimes even well-meaning Christians can miss this as they try to emphasize a particular aspect of our conversion or Christian living. Some will want to stress the prayer on conversion while others go for the transformed life they lived after. All the while missing the one who did it all, Christ and him alone. I don’t think we would miss this if we saw the tragedy of human sin for what it is as portrayed here in Romans 1-3.

Why does this matter?

But one might ask isn’t this a mere quibbling with semantics, questions of language and communication? I think it shows what is closer to the heart. It also misses the point of the Gospel when it puts all the weight on me; my prayer, my achievements, and accomplishments.
And before long the Gospel becomes all about me and what I do for God. It’s the same old lie, a “gospel of works” packaged in good Christian lingo.

Before long we start using this criterion to judge our Christian health and fitness and the status of new believers. Are they coming to church regularly? Are they committed to weekly meetings? How is their giving? What about their prayer life? We use the results of the Gospel as the foundation of our faith, not Jesus and what he has done to undeserving wretched sinners like us. We see our merits not his own.

Shouldn’t we judge them by their fruits?

It’s a good thing we want to see change and the Gospel will produce this in time but our problem is we want to see transformation instantly forgetting that this is not achieved easily by grit and human will. True transformation is what results from hearing the Gospel constantly; being encouraged and rebuked by the Gospel and establishing firm convictions in the Gospel that consequently affect one’s lifestyle. Behavior change must start from deep within otherwise it’s fake.

This is why we need to keep hearing the Gospel message. We shouldn’t be surprised then, that Paul was preaching the Gospel to a church whose faith was known throughout the world, see Romans 1:8. And this is what Paul does in all his letters; reminding churches about the Gospel of Jesus which is what the church of Christ in Kenya and all over the world needs.

We also need to understand that transformation is a slow, messy and a lifetime process that can only be achieved by Christ’s work through the Spirit in our hearts as we keep hearing and believing his Gospel message. Our words and structures are powerless without his work in people’s hearts.

Preach the Gospel and let God do the work

I think it’s our attitude that needs changing before we think of changing the Gospel message. We don’t need to beat up people demanding a particular result. Rather, we should preach the Gospel clearly by teaching the Bible faithfully and let God do his work in his people.

Remember God is the first preacher and Gospel worker and ours is simply to point people to him and his Gospel. It’s only him who can give life to the spiritually dead and conform them to the likeness of his Son.

The only weapon therefore in a Gospel worker’s quiver is the true Gospel as preached by God in his Word. It’s what everyone needs; the young and the old. It’s not well crafted motivational and charismatic speaking. Rather, ours should be to preach his true Gospel clearly and boldly, the Gospel that points people to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Because there’s true life-changing power in this Gospel:

16 …I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith. Romans 1. 

*****