Thursday, April 23, 2009

Take Heed

By Uvoh Onoriobe
April 23, 2009

When I saw this photo, so many thoughts ran through my mind. I seek a caption.

There are many things "men of God " will not do yet Jesus delights in those things.

In most places the set man seats on a golden chair. These plastic seats are preaching to me big time.

When I see the opulence in which some of our Christian leaders swim some times while countless others are suffering, I wonder.

Many no longer preach "if only in this world we have hope , we are of all men most miserable".

It's 4am and am sleepless. Take Heed is what I hear. I looked some up. Let us take heed. There is another person reading this that needs to make a definite change before it is too late.

Ex 34:12 -
Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:

De 4:9 -
Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons;

De 4:23 -
Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the LORD thy God hath forbidden thee.

De 11:16 -
Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them;

De 12:13 -
Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest:

De 12:30 -
Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.

Jos 22:5 -
But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Jos 23:11 -
Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God.

Job 36:21 -
Take heed, regard not iniquity.

Ps 39:1 -
I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.

Mal 2:15 -
And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.

Mal 2:16 -
For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.

Mr 4:24 -
And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given.

Mr 8:15 -
And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.

Mr 13:5 -
And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:

Mr 13:33 -
Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.

Lu 8:18 -
Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.

Lu 11:35 -
Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.

Lu 12:15 -
And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

Lu 17:3 -
Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.

Lu 21:8 -
And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.

Lu 21:34 -
And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.

Ac 5:35 -
And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.

Ac 20:28 -
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

Ro 11:21 -
For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.

1Co 3:10 -
According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.

1Co 8:9 -
But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

1Co 10:12 -
Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

Ga 5:15 -
But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

Col 4:17 -
And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.

1Ti 4:16 -
Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

Heb 3:12 -
Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

2Pe 1:19 -
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

Take a listen to Kirk Whalum's Lord I want to be a Christian

It reminded me of good days. That is my plea. Make it yours.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mission From Africa

April 12, 2009

PASTOR DANIEL AJAYI-ADENIRAN is coming for your soul. It doesn’t matter if you are black or white, rich or poor, speak English or Spanish or Cantonese. He is on a mission to save you from eternal damnation. He realizes you may be skeptical, put off by his exotic name — he’s from Nigeria — or confused by his accent, the way he stretches his vowels and trills his R’s, giving his sermons a certain chain-saw rhythm. He suspects you may have some unfortunate preconceptions about Nigerians. But he is not deterred. He believes the Holy Spirit is working through him — aided by the awesome earthly power of demographics.

Africa is the world’s fastest-growing continent, and Ajayi-Adeniran belongs to one of its most vigorously expansionary religious movements, a homegrown Pentecostal denomination that is crusading to become a global faith. In the course of just a few decades, the Redeemed Christian Church of God, founded in a Lagos shantytown, has won millions of adherents in Nigeria while building a vast missionary network that stretches into more than 100 nations. “The rate of growth,” Ajayi-Adeniran says, “is becoming exponential.” As the man coordinating the Redeemed Church’s expansion in North America, the pastor spends his days shuttling from his home base, a storefront church in the Bronx, to the denomination’s continental headquarters, a 550-acre compound in Texas, and to mission outposts scattered from Vermont to Belize. This places him at the vanguard of a revolution in worldwide Christianity, one that it is quite literally changing its face, as a faith that was once exported by white missionaries from Europe and America comes to draw its strength from the peoples of the Southern Hemisphere.

Revival is an eternal theme in the history of Christianity. Time after time, evangelical fervor ignites, burns itself out and then re-emerges in some altered and surprising form, in constant cycles of migration and renewal. The ferment of the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation sent Puritans to New England, Quakers to Pennsylvania and Jesuits into the wilds of South America. The missionary movements of the 19th century inspired pious adventurers to travel to Africa and spread, in the famous formulation of David Livingstone, “Civilization, commerce and Christianity.” Today the process is reversing itself, as the population of churchgoers dwindles in Europe, remains fairly static in the United States and erupts in the “global south” — a geopolitical term that encompasses Africa, Latin America and much of Asia. Seven years ago, in a book titled “The Next Christendom,” Philip Jenkins, a Penn State religious scholar, predicted that the global south would eventually come to represent Christianity’s center of gravity. Now it appears that phenomenon is starting to manifest across a broad spectrum of Christian belief, challenging patterns of leadership and notions of religious identity that in some cases have stood for centuries.

Take, for example, the Anglican Communion. Spread along with the British Empire, its membership now tilts heavily southward: Nigeria alone, with some 20 million adherents, makes up around a quarter of the entire Anglican Communion. The church’s recent schism over gay rights, which pits liberal white bishops against traditionalist counterparts from Africa, has upended old colonial lines of authority, leading to the odd spectacle of dissident conservative ministers in America formally shifting their affiliations to authorities in faraway countries like Uganda.

The story is similar within the Catholic Church, the world’s largest Christian denomination. Roughly a third of the College of Cardinals currently hails from the global south, lending support to predictions that someday, perhaps quite soon, they will elect a non-European pope. If that were to occur, it would only echo what is happening in Catholic parishes throughout the developed world. In the United States, where a shrinking number of young men are willing to accept the sacrifices required for ordination, one in six of all diocesan priests, and one in three seminarians, are now foreign-born. The world’s largest Catholic seminary is in Nigeria. When I went to my childhood home in South Carolina for the holidays last year, a visiting Nigerian priest celebrated Christmas Mass at my own family’s parish, surprising his passive audience with an upbeat, stemwinding, almost evangelical homily on God’s glory.

Christianity is practiced differently in the global south, and especially in Africa, where it has been invested with cultural values that long predate the first missionary efforts. During the 20th century, the population of Christians in Africa grew from 10 million to around 360 million, and that could double by 2025, by which time demographers project the continent will be home to a quarter of all believers. These Africans are making Christianity their own, in ways both subtle and profound. This is evidenced in political debates over subjects like homosexuality, which is scorned throughout the continent, or condom distribution, which — despite the current pope’s opposition — some local Catholic bishops have countenanced as a practical response to AIDS. But it can also be seen in a style of worship: colorful, musical and suffused with a belief in the presence of the supernatural in everyday life.

This Africanization is obvious in Pentecostal sects like the Redeemed Christian Church of God. Here again is a story of revival. The Pentecostal movement is said to have begun in 1906, in a rundown church in a Los Angeles ghetto, where a black preacher gathered a multiracial congregation to pray in a fashion that contemporary critics saw as radical and strange, maybe even possessed. Today there are around 600 million Pentecostals worldwide, the vast majority of them in developing nations, and Africa is a hotbed. Pentecostalism is not so much an organized religion — it has no central authority — as a set of beliefs and practices that can be adapted by local entrepreneurs. It is perfectly suited to harness the modern forces of global crosspollination.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Everlasting Love

By Akin Ojumu

April 12, 2009

I’m sitting here, on my lazy-boy recliner, watching this epic movie – an umpteenth time, perhaps, but not in a while. And again, the levee of my heart breaks, and tears, like a torrent, wash over my soul.

As I watch, in my mind, I begin to flip through the pages of the chronicle of His legacy – the Holy Scriptures. From Genesis through Lamentations to Revelation, His lamp guides my feet, and illuminates the path, to His mercy and goodness and loving kindness, through all generations.

As I turn the pages, suddenly I find myself standing on the street of Jerusalem. The Temple of the Most High is but a few yards in the distance. Oh my God!!!! I can see Jesus standing together with his disciples a few feet away. He beckons to me to come and I can’t believe my eyes.

It is a smoldering afternoon in Jerusalem on this fateful day. It is about the 9th hour and the sun pelters the sand with its scorching heat, and the dusts, they rise and fall, as if dancing to the tune of the hot blowing wind. And there I am with the Lord and His disciples – as we sit lounging in the cover of the shadow provided by God’s Temple. Suddenly a multitude approaches from around the street corner. Pushing and shoving and yelling, they drag along a woman clad in torn clothes. Oh my, I know her!!! I know that woman. It is Mary from the district of Magdala!!! She looks shaken and petrified – her eyes darting around and filled with fear, as she pleads with the stone carrying mob for mercy. But they drag her forward, to the feet of the Master, spitting the vapors of hate and anger upon her as they come.

“This woman was caught in the act of adultery.” They shouted at the Lord. “The Law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

Mary cringes at Jesus’ feet – shrinking in fear. She begins to cry – a deep, rattling shudder that racks her entire body. As she bawls, she seems to crawl deeper into her world of shame and self condemnation.

Every eye is now intently trained on the Lord – all waiting to see if He’ll fall into the trap they’ve cunningly laid. But the Lord is not even bulged at all – He looks so calm and appears not to notice the commotion all around. For a long and agonizing minute He continues not to say a single word, only scribbling in the sand before Him.

Then without even raising His head Jesus says,

“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

And again He goes back to writing in the sand. As He scribbles, the crowd seems to be drawn, by an invisible force, to what the Lord writes in the boiling crucible. Each word He writes seems to come alive, leaping up from the sand into the soul of every man holding a stone. And like a sharp two-edged sword, it begins to cut between the soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. The word seems to expose the innermost thoughts and desires of the accusers of Mary of Magdala. The word pierces the souls of men all around, leaving every wicked heart naked, and every sin exposed. No one is able to hide from the word Jesus scribbles in the sand.

So, one after another, starting with the oldest, they drop the stones in their hands. They turn and walk away – fleeing the scene with as little as a whimper.

As the stones drop, all around Mary, each thud causes her to flinch and recoil back in fear – believing the end is near she brazes for the pain to begin to sear her wearied body. But the only thing she feels is the loving arms of Jesus, lifting her to her feet from the place of blame and shame. He wipes away her tears and says to her, “It is okay. It is over now.” “Look around you”, Jesus continues, “Your accusers are all gone and no man condemns you.”

But all she is able to do is peep through her latticed fingers, and nodding her head in agreement, with tears running down her cheeks, she answers nervously, “They are all gone, Lord! Yes they are all gone!!”

“I know you Mary,” Jesus continues to say. “Your past deeds are not hidden from me. You have sold your body for a morsel of bread, and have defiled my holy temple with the life that you live. My child you have carried a lot of burden and have been unequally yoked with all sorts of men. But come now, let us settle this once and for all. Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”

And Jesus, as it were, now turns to me directly, with His piercing eyes boring deep into my soul, and says, “If you come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

“Mary of Magdala, since your accusers have not condemned you, neither do I. Go on your way and from now on sin no more.”

With her clothing hanging about her like scullery rags, Mary clings to the feet of Jesus. She continues to sob uncontrollably. “Thank you Lord. Thank you Lord,” you can hear her say repeatedly. After a long while though, she lets go of Jesus feet. Like a fresh green shoot poking its head out of a hard soil, Mary gathers herself, rising to her feet ever so gingerly, to return to her life – her new life – a changed woman.

Suddenly, I’m back on my lazy-boy and the movie is over.

Why me? Why us? Why does He love us so? We are but mere puny men.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hide as it were our faces from Him; He is despised, and we esteem Him not.

Two thousand-some years later, all around me, things remain unchanged. The world – the very same one He came and died for – continues to live in perpetual defiance of His command and authority. And yet His love for us remains the same.