All posts by Emmanuel Mwesigwa e

Teamwork – Led by the Holy Spirit

 

But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. (Acts 18:26)

There are tasks that are impossible in one’s lifetime except by Team effort. During his missionary journeys, Paul actively harnesses the power of teamwork: he picks up great helps and builds a strong team that propagates the gospel beyond his good personal efforts; this enabled him to go far and beyond borders with the gospel. In today’s passage, we see the couple that accompanied him from Corinth to Ephesus – Priscilla and Aquila. This couple does not rise to leadership prominence like Peter, Paul or Apollos (of whom Corinthian sects named themselves – 1Cor 1:12), but they are faithful disciples who are not afraid of correcting the eloquent visiting preacher. In the passage in Acts 18:22-28, the power of teamwork is exemplified at its epitome: Apollos is not only receptive of more teaching from this couple in the congregation, but goes forth now more powerfully, highly commended by the very disciples that helped him.

The gospel needs teamwork. Yes, we sharpen one another when we discuss and share our Scripture studies and insights; but beyond the message, teamwork in methods and means is necessary as well. This is necessary today and here, as we focus on raising funds for continuation of the Musiime Hall construction project at Kakumba Chapel. It  requires the participation of all who care, bringing their money, and attention. Kakumba Chapel  embarked on the vertical extension of the Chapel Hall to create more working space and the Musiime Hall – a multi-purpose Hall, which will majorly be used as a Teens’ Chapel, and for fellowships, meetings, parties, short courses and University lectures and exams. The motivation of these physical development actions is the Gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ to reach more and deeper, and to equip more people to go and proclaim the same.

Teamwork in gospel work requires one essential center anchor and three desirable facets: The Holy Spirit is the essential center anchor for all gospel workers; led by the Holy Spirit, even the eloquent preacher is humble enough to receive correction and more learning; even the listening disciple is able to discern what is right and what is incomplete. Led by the Holy Spirit, the team grows and its effectiveness heightens, and the church is blessed. Teamwork in gospel work requires the three desirable facets of message, methods and means: God has endowed us differently to be complementary as we study and apply the message, and as we pass on the gospel through different activities and communication skills – the methods. More so, God has provided for his work through our various resources which when we bring together become the means for letting to gospel go to the farthest ends of the earth.

My prayer is that each one of us takes their part in the teamwork under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that the work of the gospel will thrive on in this community and spreading far and beyond. God bless you all.

 

Team Effort – Beyond Borders

A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” … immediately we sought to go into Macedonia (Acts 16:9-10)

We thank God for bringing us to a successful end of Semester, for a successful celebration of the Resurrection, and for a successful Chapel AGM that was held last Sunday. We also welcome back school children who are on holiday after their first term. I pray that the Lord gives us good fellowship as we refresh and prepare for the next stages of our growth.

During his missionary journeys, Paul actively harnesses the power of teamwork: he picks up great helps and builds a great team that propagates the gospel beyond his good personal efforts; this enabled him to go far and beyond borders with the gospel. In today’s passage, we see the young man Timothy being picked up, little knowing he will be a great pastor in future! As we focus on raising funds for continuation of the construction project, we should be reminded that building requires team effort; it requires the participation of all who care, bringing their money, and attention. At Kakumba Chapel, it is again time to rally our efforts in this direction – it is time to build.

Kakumba Chapel embarked on the vertical extension of the Chapel Hall to create more working space and the Musiime Hall – a multi-purpose Hall which will majorly be used as a Teens’ Chapel, and also for fellowships, meetings, parties, short courses and University lectures and exams. The motivation of these physical development actions is the Gospel; we want the good news of Jesus Christ to reach more and deeper, and to equip more people to go and proclaim the same. The gospel liberates and gives life and light. Our teens need deliberate gospel focus as they transition from being children to becoming adults. There has been good progress on the building project, but we still need to do more and go beyond.

At least Ugx 335 million has already been spent (since July 2017), and the foundation, gallery (first floor), second floor and third floor slab structures are up. Thank you for your giving!  Next: we hope to extend the third floor slab to the area over the current offices, then continue the vertical extension. We need to raise more money for the concrete and the next tasks, which include fixing windows and doors in the lower floors, and building walls to enable the completed sections to be used safely. I call upon you to support the physical prosperity through your generous contribution to the building project at hand – the Musiime Hall Project.

Just like the man in the vision called out, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us’, there is a need that demands our response today. Someone needs help. Join and commit to remain on the team until this task is accomplished, and it will be a great blessing.

 

 

Phobia? Do not be afraid… Jesus is risen

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.” Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid” (Matt 28:5-6,10)

The angel said to the women, “me phobeisthe humeis” (Fear not ye). The root of the Greek word that the angel employed gives us a suffix that is widely used to describe various kinds of fear (phobia). The women could have been momentarily gripped with pnuematiphobia (fear of spirits) or kenophobia (fear of empty space), scelerophobia (fear of bad men or burglars), or even isolophobia (fear of being alone) – Jesus gone! What phobia do you suffer? There are many types of fear – in fact one certain website lists over five hundred phobias! Whatever it is, the message today is ‘Do not be afraid’ – μὴ φοβεῖσθε ὑμεῖς·

Some people fear darkness (achluophobia), others fear being single (anuptaphobia), while others dread making decisions (decidophobia). Fear is a hard limiter, which binds a soul in a prison with imaginary walls and robs people of peace and freedom. It brings a terrible shortsightedness upon one’s eyes to only see the would-be short-lived negative likelihoods whose probability is ultra low! Jesus echoed the angel’s introductory statement, and we need to hear it loud and clear today: Do not be afraid!

One story about the death of Judas Iscariot reveals that his suicide was a result of mastigophobia – the fear of punishment; after realizing that Jesus was going to die, yet recalling that Jesus would rise again, Judas loathed the punishment that would be meted by the risen Lord against the betrayer! He thus decided to commit suicide. Indeed some phobias can be grave, requiring therapy, or else resulting in disastrous actions.

And the greatest fear, I suppose, is Necrophobia – the fear of death. Everyone must suffer this to a great extent, hence we treat sickness, we get out of the speeding vehicle’s way, we eat – we take care of ourselves; yet eventually death must come! Because of the assurance by Jesus’ death and resurrection, Paul writes encouragingly:

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed… When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1Co 15:51-55)

The hope for revival and restoration of fortunes, and the hope for life here and hereafter is alive because Jesus rose again. Yes, He conquered the grave; and all who believe in Him are sure to overcome the greatest of all fears. Hallelujah, Christ is risen!

 

Giving your all in worship

And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” 

And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. (Luke 19:33-35)

 Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!
You are warmly welcome.

Today we remember the exuberant event of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. His popularity had been growing in his last three years of public ministry, although in the small highly placed circles people were gnashing their teeth! An expectant nation now had an opportunity of received a ‘King’ after a long spell of oppressive rule under the Roman Empire and their predecessor powers. On one hand it looked serious, yet on the other hand it really looked like a joke – and ‘joke’ it was, for in less than a week, this ‘King’ was annihilated, killed and his movement silenced! Yet that was not the end of the drama; just a gloomy interval before the final scene – and that final one would be the ultimately victorious and most exciting, the reason we are still celebrating today!

Back to the focus passage of the Triumphal Entry (Luke 19:29-40), one repeated phrase demands our attention today: ‘The Lord has need of it’. This was Jesus’ prescribed answer in case a question arose as the envoys untied the colt; and this was the envoy’s answer when they were questioned by the owner as they took away the animal. The quick application is for you to consider what you have and start releasing it for a worthy cause – a development project at the Church, a compassionate outreach to those in need, an expression of worship and thanksgiving at the altar – a worshipful cause: ‘The Lord has need of it’. Of the colt, the Lord had explicit demand; but look at the other givers that voluntarily made their sacrifice…

And throwing their garments on the colt, they set Jesus upon it. And as he rode along, they spread their garments on the road (v.35-36). These actions prompt more reflection on our actions in worship. Yes, they rejoiced and sang and spoke out praise to the Master, but they gave most expressively. Recognizing in Jesus the ultimate Saviour, the King of kings and Lord of lords is not a mental exercise, nor does it just end in academic discourse or emotional praise and worship songs; the most valuable gift of animal or garment is deserving at this occasion; He may demand it explicitly for a purpose – ‘The Lord has need of it’ – give without holding back. Or even without the explicit demand, you are welcome to give your all in worship.

Those that ushered and received him into Jerusalem then still had a limited revelation of who He actually is. Today we have the fuller revelation of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Redeemer, the Prince of peace, the Saviour of the world. Our worship ought to be most heightened. Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!

 

 

Jesus at the Temple: Building Together

 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. (Matt 21:13-14)

 “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” This statement recorded in John 2:19 was really contentious, and was an accusation levelled against Jesus during his trial, as well as a taunt while he reeled in pain on the cross. He said these words while standing in Temple courts he had just cleansed. However, John quickly informs his readers that Jesus was speaking about the temple of his body. In the Matthew passage about the cleasing of the Temple, there are many players – some praising the Lord Jesus and others opposing Him. I take this opportunity to reflect on their roles in building together – building together the physical temple and also the temple of the body of Jesus Christ.

The physical temple in Jerusalem was a monumental piece of Architecture and Engineering. It took forty-six years to re-build it; the first one took King Solomon seven years to put up, even when his father David had collected all the materials required for that project! When the Chapel leadership appeals for financial contributions and support from all corners and from all members to continue building and refurbishing needy sections of the Chapel, it is a task that all should embrace. It cannot be a job for a few people – not even the highly placed like rulers or just the rich. Everyone regardless of position or background ought to lend their hand to a Church project, for all efforts available are really required.

Now to the people at the Temple with Jesus: the disciples were always following and in support of the Lord’s moves; there was also a happy crowd that believed Him to be the Messiah; and there were children who sang ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’ – a song deserving only the Messiah – the highest praise poured upon Jesus Christ; and there are also those who were blind and the lame who had been healed. These four categories of people were building together – building the ‘body of Jesus Christ’ through worship and obedience. These would later become the Church. We are called upon to join them in building together the body of Christ today.

On the other hand, there were people selling and exploiting the oncoming worshippers, then chief priests and scribes who became indignant and annoyed when they heard children singing and praising the Lord. Two categories of people here are spoiling the building process; and we have such people among us even today. Do not join them, and be careful and ensure you are not one of them!

The Scripture Jesus quoted, to justify his rough treatment of the market people in the temple courts, was drawn from Isaiah 56:7, ‘…for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.’ Indeed all peoples are invited into God’s presence and mandated to make a contribution, so we build together. God bless you all.

 

 

 

Generous Worship in Response

A woman in that town who lived a sinful life … came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. (Luke 7:37-38)

  I love God’s economy. Over the years I have discovered that He put into the hearts of people a generosity that is inherent. People give and give – whether in the fear of God or not; some are forced, and others love it; some give little, others much; some give rarely, others give oftenly. God left some assignments that can best be executed using pool funds from generous givers: that is the case with government work that is funded by taxes, donations and grants; that is the case with church work that is funded from offerings of different kinds; that is the case with needy people that are looked after by haphazard resources not their own. It is good and important to know your part in these assignments. In God’s economy, to give is a blessing, and it is human nature.

Before we run for assignments, causes, projects – which, when well presented, move hearts to melt and pockets to open up – there is an important lesson to learn from the woman in Luke 7. Her offering was not inspired by any need at hand; she spent a lot of money on an expensive alabaster jar of perfume to bring it as her offering; her only inspiration was love and appreciation for Jesus and His saving work. This woman had a label that was hard to erase; her actions and Jesus response show that she had reformed – she had been converted and become a follower and worshipper of Jesus Christ; yet she is still referred to as one ‘who lived a sinful life’! Jesus not only defended her generosity, but also gave her a direct and firm assurance: ‘Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’ (Luke 7:48,50).

There is nothing wrong with giving as a result of being moved by a well presented project; nothing wrong with giving expecting to receive back a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over. But the most important motivation to give should be WORSHIP. Generous worship may be in response to what God has done or just who God is – a great and mighty God in whose presence we dare not come without a physical expression of our worship! That woman was crazy – spending all her dignity and her money just to worship the Lord! Yet there could have been demanding projects around.

There are numerous other examples of such givers, who were only worshipping God generously or even extravagantly: Solomon, at the dedication of the Temple, sacrificed twenty-two thousand head of cattle (2Chr 7:5)! Barnabas sold a field and brought all the proceeds to the apostles (Acts 4:36-37)! And there are more examples both in the Bible and in more recent history. Even in our time, and in this Church, in your house – even you can worship God generously. He is a great and mighty God; and He has done great things. Hallelujah!

 

 

What! A Living Sacrifice?

“I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Rom 12:1)”

  One time while on mission outreach in Kotido, we went to preach to one of the village churches on a Sunday. We were surprised to find no building, no shelter – the church would simply congregate under a tree. An old jerrycan whose top had been sliced off was placed near the tree; As people gathered, I noticed each came bowed before an old jerrycan; this surprised me, and soon I would inquire what this ritual was all about. Then I was informed that the jerrycan was the offertory bag/basket, and it represented the altar. In the absence of a building with clearly designated spaces, special seats and a table, the offertory basket was enough to set apart the ‘altar’ space. That shows the importance and centrality of sacrifice in our worship.

Sacrifice is a concept that is well understood among many peoples – whether sacrificing to various gods or to the Almighty Sovereign God, it is the very heart of worship. In one of his books, Prof Edison Kalengyo surveys Sacrifice in the Letter to the Hebrews, where the ultimate is presented. But first let us take note of the counterfeit: in Satanic worship, if chicken and goats are good offerings, then bulls are even better ‘the bigger the sacrifice, the better gods are appeased, invoking greater miracles; when an even bigger prayer must be made, it could call for a living sacrifice ‘a human being! Children’s blood may be shed at that level; but later a more worthy and important person must be sacrificed – one close to your heart like a mother or a brother! I hear some people do these things to get and maintain earthly wealth and power.

In authentic worship, sacrifice is required to make God happy and bring life to the people. In Hebrews, the epitome of sacrifice is presented 􀀀 the ultimate living sacrifice: ‘But when Christ came as high priest… he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption” (Heb 9:11-12). Now that all that could be achieved by sacrifice has been achieved by Jesus Christ, what remains for us?

‘Present your bodies as a living sacrifice’. God continues to demand our hearts and lives, living to honour Him and walk according to His leading. This is the most we can do to appreciate the eternal redemption, but this worshipful lifestyle is also the reason God created us. Joyfully bring your gifts to God; and support all development agenda – there are many projects at hand even now. But most importantly, the Lord needs your life, not just your gifts; he requires full surrender to Him, and He will direct your path. In this season of Lent, may God lead you to recapture the importance and centrality of sacrifice in our lives before God; and so to worship in truth and in spirit.

 

 

Humility in Prayer

 “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)

 Brothers and Sisters in Christ: Since early days Christians have observed with great devotion the time of our Lord’s passion and Resurrection and prepared for this by a season of penitence and fasting. By carefully keeping these days, Christians take to heart the call to repentance and the assurance of forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel, and so grow in faith and in devotion to our Lord. I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.

Lent season began on Ash Wednesday 06 March and ends on Saturday 20th April 2019. There are 40 days of fasting – all days except Sundays. The season may be observed with a partial fast (skipping one or two meals a day) for all the 40 days or selecting some days every week when one fasts; on the day of fasting, one may take only water if it is not a dry fast. Feel free to ask and read more details about types of fasting as you require. In his teachings, Jesus Christ said, ‘And when you pray… when you pray… And when you fast… when you fast….’ (Matt 6:5-6, 16-17); this clearly implies that  prayer and fasting are part of a believer’s lifestyle. Fasting is not for a selected few – perhaps the pastors, intercessors, or leaders; The discipline of prayer and fasting is important for every Christian to cultivate. Lent provides the opportunity for you to try if you have never fasted, and to grow from one level to another. Make it a point to fast every week during this season.

While fasting gives this season a physical feel, remember deeper devotion that must accompany the fasting for there to be meaning: self-examination and repentance, and reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. By these actions, bodily desires that lead to sin are put to death more and more, while one is drawn closer to God.

In Luke 18, Jesus Christ delivers two powerful teachings about prayer: Prayer needs persistence, and prayer needs humility. In using familiar illustrations – of the persistent widow and of the two who went to pray in the temple – the Lord brought home lessons that we ignore at our own peril! It is not a time to show off who is stronger and can fast more, nor is it a time to show who is more ‘spiritual’ than the other(s). It is not a time to look down on the other as weaker or more inferior in faith. It is before God that we humble ourselves, and it is only by grace that we can enter His holy presence. No one can stand and walk with the Lord if it is not by God’s grace. ‘For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.’ And it is in that humility that we trust God even for things for which we are still waiting until He answers. Prayer needs persistence, and prayer needs humility.

 

 

 

 

Character by Character

“By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice and received what God had promised them.” (Heb. 11:33)

The catalogue of the people of great faith in Hebrews 11 could easily sound hard to reach – almost impossible to join. Yet our Lord’s brother James asserts about one of them, that ‘Elijah was a man with a nature like ours’ – he write this to convince us that  we too can walk in great faith, do similar exploits and even join the list! What was the character of these characters? As one individual put it, ‘be concerned about your character and not your reputation because your character is who you are and your reputation is only what people think of you. Whereas reputation usually varies with people’s perception of an individual, character remains consistent with who one is.

On its face, ‘character’ is a morally neutral term. Every person, from the iconic personalities like Field Marshal Idi Amin Dada and Philanthropists like Mother Teresa, had a character. We use the term character to describe a person’s most prominent attributes, it is the sum total of the features and traits that form an individual’s nature. The Bible presents us with the various characters (people) that are relevant to our lives and circumstances we might be facing at the moment. In the way they executed different missions, exercised their faith and obedience, they left marks of reference in their service to God. If we behold them and imitate their faith, we grow in the character that made them great before God.

It as by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. (Joshua 2:1-10). Many would assume that Rahab, a pagan, a Canaanite and a prostitute would never be interested in God; yet Rahab was willing to risk everything she had for the God she barely knew, when she saved the spies.

In 1Kings 17-18, we find Elijah, a man of humble background who delivers God’s messages and stands against King Ahab’s corruptions and idolatries; and he succeded! In Esther 2, we find a Jewish girl of humble background, and now in a foreign land; she climbs via the ladder of a beauty contest to become Queen. Encouraged by her cousin Mordecai, Esther’s remarkable fasting a prayer saved her fellow Jews from being exterminated; these same prayers led to the execution (by hanging) of the Haman, the enemy of the Jews!

“And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets:  who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to fight the armies of the aliens.” (Heb. 11:32-34)

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Prov 27:17). During this forthcoming lent season, accept the shaping of your life by the characters that remained faithful in their service to God and people, amidst challenging times. God bless you.

 

 

//Kakumba Readings:

1Kings 17:1-10

Luke 18:1-8

Rejoice in the Lord always

 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, Rejoice” (Php 4:4)

 The encourager was once rejoicing in this city’s prison after being mistreated! He now writes about rejoicing while in prison in Rome in the dreadful reign of Emperor Nero; he is among strangers, and death is staring him in the face. Paul has all moral authority to tell his hearer to ‘Rejoice in the Lord always!’ Yet in this our world today, we wonder, is it possible to rejoice always? Many times in our lives we can’t seem to find reason to rejoice. All the time, in every circumstance, rejoice! Today, tomorrow, next week, rejoice. In pain, in happiness, in failure, in success, in a heart break, disappointment, job promotion, accidents, healing – rejoice always; always.

You may say, “that is cliché, church language but it’s not actually possible!” Yet the word of God is a lamp to our feet, a light onto our paths, it shows us where we really are in life, who we really are and more than that, the path we ought to take. We neglect it at our own peril. The word calls us to rejoice, not in any other thing, but in the lord. I have come to find that the more we stop looking elsewhere and fix our eyes on the Lord, on the author and perfecter of our faith, the more we will discover great reason to rejoice, in fact, we will rejoice always irrespective of the external circumstance. We ought to pray as the psalmist: “Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. (Psalm 119:3,37)

And even in those seasons when we honestly feel we have reached the end of the rope, let us with the psalmist learn to speak thus to our hearts: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” (Psalm 42:11)

I have been through a season in my life when I was so discouraged. It felt as if my heart was being agonizingly torn into a million pieces daily, my insides being churned out; a time when I dreaded the night for with it came the long hours of fighting with my thoughts for hours… till I eventually gave way to sleep. I seemed to have stepped on an endless spiral path of joylessness, even in the midst of this happy family of Christian friends; until I turned from concentrating on what I seemed to have lost and started looking at who God was, what he had done and what he was and will continue to do. Again, I was struck at how He is a great and mighty God, yet a God of love. I was reassured looking at how much Christ Jesus had done for me; even today He is praying for me. Then I came to the conclusion: whatever happens, I have great reason to rejoice in the Lord, always.

Friend, rejoice in the Lord, always!