Monthly Archives: November 2016

Christ the King: Who?

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matt 16:15-16)

Calendars: Just like the Calendar Year begins on 01st January and the Financial Year begins on 01st July, the Church Year begins on Advent Sunday which will be 27th November 2016. That means today is the last Sunday in this year, which began on Advent Sunday of 29th November 2015; we started by ‘waiting for the promise’ during Advent, then celebrated the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ during Christmas, and then rejoiced at His revelation to the Gentiles during Epiphany; this was followed be Lent that culminated in the commemoration of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection during Easter; we then celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Day, and this ushered in the long Trinity Season in which all aspects of Church life are discussed with a view of pointing the world to God, the only God, who saves us through Jesus Christ our Lord. Having come full circle, as we end the year, we are celebrating Christ the King!

The question of ‘Who is Jesus?’ was asked before, during and after Jesus’ life on earth. In the gospels we often read people asking, ‘Could this be the Messiah?’ The words Messiah, Christ, and the Anointed One mean one and the same thing (just from different languages) – they mean the long awaited great King that would perform better than King David, and return Israel to its superpower position or even greater. Indeed Israel was the world’s superpower in the times of King David, but had now degenerated to being ruled by various gentile empires, from Babylonians to Persians, Medes, Greeks and then Romans during whose reign Jesus lived. Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles took turns to ask the question of Jesus identity, with some acknowledging without a shadow of doubt that He indeed was the long awaited Anointed One. When Simon Peter made the great confession ‘You are the Messiah’, Jesus did not deny but instead affirmed this and promised to establish a Church that would live through the times – as is alive today.

John the Apostle in the Revelation writes of having heard ‘loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.”’ (Rev. 11:15-19) To celebrate Christ the King at the end of the year is symbolic of the ultimate end that John describes when indeed the Messiah will reign over the entire world forever and ever without competition and without limitation. The enemy and all opposing forces will be judged, condemned and destroyed while God’s servants the prophets and His people who revere the Lord’s Name, both great and small will be rewarded. We may not know when this end will come, but it surely will. Your answer to Jesus’ question will determine your destiny: “But what about you, who do you say I am?” There is overwhelming evidence that Jesus our Redeemer and Friend was so prophesied, lived on earth and lives forever, and is ultimately Christ the King.

God bless you as you all.

 

 

 

 

 

By Prayer .Part 2

Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.” (Acts 10:4)

Prayer is not incompatible with influence. Prayer is not incompatible with industry. Influence means power, clout, command and control, and political leaders occupy the highest levels of this mountain. Industry means business, diligence, trade and commerce, and tycoons swimming in dollars seem to be at the peak of this mountain. Nonetheless, the desire and exercise of power exists even at lower echelons, down to leaders at village level and leaders of small groups; even among youth and children, the yearning to become the leader, and the resultant pomp can be noticed. Likewise in business, the drive to grow and make it big exists in market vendors and hawkers whose total stock can be carried with one hand; a business mind also resides among youth – sometimes trading dangerously in betting and lending money they do not own, hoping to get more. How can you succeed in leadership and in business? There are several plausible answers.

Does prayer really work? Stephen Covey gave us the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and many other good writers of books and articles have similarly counseled. The role of prayer is my focus – to answer the question of how to succeed in life. This has been attested to by leaders of our time and in history, although others claim the glory for themselves. In the Bible, Daniel is a book and a name of a high ranking leader and civil servant in Babylonian governments in the 6th Century BC. Daniel’s example in prayer is encouraging: he prayed for himself, for his friends and for his nation; he ‘stood in the gap’ and interceded with knowledge and understanding, fully aware that prayer was much more effective than his position (Dan 9). Through prayer he deciphered and interpreted several dreams and visions, he survived the den of lions, and received visions about the future of his nation and the coming Messiah. This was much more success than the promotions and salary.

Cornelius was less likely to depend on prayer; he was a gentile – a Roman soldier! In Acts 10 and 11, however, we read of an angel visiting this outsider and announcing news from God that prayers and gifts to the poor by Cornelius had been recognized in heaven. Truly prayer is not incompatible with power; prayer is not incompatible with business. No matter who you are and what your occupation, the place of concerted prayer with fasting is paramount in the struggle, in the fight against injustices and their effects all around us. Perfect peace and justice come from the LORD. Like that stubborn demon in Mark 9, some of the violent responses are catalyzed by evil spirits stirred up by the idolatries prevalent in our land from historic times. We need justice, yes! Yet to seek justice without fighting the spiritual battle is to seek in vain. The Lord has called us to prayer and we have seen good results. We can do more and see our nation change for the better bit by bit to full transformation.

God bless you as you all.

 

By Prayer.Part 1

After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” (Mark 9:28-29)

The question asked by Jesus’ disciples in the Scripture above can as well be asked today, regarding many situations around us: The persistent strikes, the endemic corruption, the incessant immorality, the deep rooted idolatry – and the list goes on; yet there are disciples of Jesus Christ around even today. Why couldn’t we drive it out? I recently had a meeting with guild leaders and we enlisted the challenges facing our University, and the counter efforts from different quarters.

Injustices on students: Some Lecturers come to class rarely or not at all, do not return coursework and test papers, and finally many students fail – this injustice can incite negative response! Some students are targeted for favours by Lecturers, to the point of being threatened with retakes if they do not give in; the favours range from sex to money; others are targeted and threatened because they speak up (as leaders) and demand for justice on behalf of others. The inadequate facilities which force large classes to be split end up stretching inadequate teaching personnel who try to combine the classes again – a scuffle that is difficult to solve! When it comes to government sponsored students, apart from some receiving less allowance than others, even getting what has been agreed becomes a hassle.

Injustices on staff and community: On the other hand, some Lecturers (especially part time) have not been paid for many months running; the distribution of responsibilities and promotions is often said to be met with some injustices. Other service providers cry similarly about delayed payments. Some processing and paying officers are said to be so hungry for kickbacks that vouchers that do not leave ‘something’ behind are put at the bottom of the queue and could go unpaid for months or even years! Space does not allow me to list more injustices, yet I do not claim to know it all in adequate depth. There is so much, the result of which are perennial strikes that cripple otherwise growing institutions of higher learning – not only Kyambogo. Makerere University seems to be suffering the greatest blows, requiring our ardent prayers in this season.

Why couldn’t we drive it out? The place of concerted prayer with fasting is paramount in the struggle, in the fight against the above injustices and their effects. Perfect peace and justice come from the Lord. Like that stubborn demon in Mark 9, some of the violent responses are catalyzed by evil spirits stirred up by the idolatries prevalent in our land from historic times. We need justice, yes! Yet to seek justice without fighting the spiritual battle is to seek in vain. The Lord has called us to prayer and we have seen good results. We can do more and see our nation change for the better bit by bit to full transformation.

God bless you as you all.

 

 

The Lord’s Great Love

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lam 3:22-23)

We had a great Kakumba Home Coming last Sunday, with many people gathering and calling to mind the mutually enriching friendships and growing together in the progressive life of this Chapel. In the last Lent season I wrote about one discipline that is mandatorily required if life is to be meaningful – and that is love. The things people do for love – it’s amazing: regular visitations – whether it shines or rains, regular communication – no matter how much distance separates them, regular giving and receiving of gifts, regular fellowship – quality time together, defending each other – including going with him to court when he is being charged, the list goes on. Is this what Jesus meant when He said, ‘love one another’?

Well, since He said, ‘as I have loved you’, we must check what Jesus did for love, in order to follow the example. Yes, there is sexual love between people the opposite sex, and there is love for family (fileo love), but what is indispensable in all relationships is the love Jesus calls us to. The two types above remain inadequate; neither can stand alone. The two are not the ways Jesus called us to love, although he did not condemn them; rather he explicitly called us higher to love as he loved. Even in the absence of the two types above, the love Jesus called us to will stand and enrich those who possess it. It is unconditional love. This is God’s great love which even prophets of old testified about.

Indeed the shortfalls of our loves are not few: there is a hurting mother whose husband does not know details of what goes on with his children, and therefore cannot support them enough; there is a hurting man whose lover left without reason and moved in with another man; a picture of lovebirds is published when one has killed the other for some petty reason – and such stories go on and on. The five love languages are several times forgotten. The failures are given propping reasons, but the consequences are dire and damaging. We need Jesus’ love, no matter what kind of relationship.

For our Lord, love was his discipline, it was his lifestyle. He stooped low and left all his glories and called his followers friends (who were really his servants); he loved them patiently and drew them close without looking at their inadequacies. He did not throw them out when they fought or when they failed in some tasks. He laid down his life and gave the ultimate sacrifice. And yet he would not get back anything significant – material or otherwise! As a believer, determine to follow the example of our Lord, and build a bond of love that will stand the test of time. Make love your discipline and you will be blessed indeed.

God bless you as you all.

Welcome Home!

Fight the good fight of faith. … In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1Tim 6:13-14)

 

Today we stand at a gate opening into the next chapter of Kakumba Chapel Kyambogo with new memories being created. Many people from all over the world are associated with Kakumba Chapel owing to their participation at different times. Looking back, some remember the days when the Chapel was a little room with meager income, while others remember the Musiime Revolution that opened up for expansion and growth, to house Children’s Church and later to cater for increasing University population. Rev. Musiime only presided over the affairs, but there were many people working together then, and later. At the end of it all, many of us can well say, God Almighty has led us safely through it all. Today we celebrate an eventful journey and look forward to a greater future in view of the emerging needs in the Lord’s vineyard.

As he closes his first letter to Timothy, Paul encourages this rising leader to fight the good fight of faith until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. This fight involves fleeing, pursuing and giving: Fleeing tempting vices, immorality, the love of money, and all such godlessness that wears different jackets as times change; pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness; the fight also involves compulsory generosity in recognition that it is God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. The Chapel continues to respond to mission needs, and we are currently embarking on an ambitious extension project, which is an opportunity for our generosity.

Every believer is called to these three disciplines, and so to continue unfailingly until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. Apostle John wrote this Revelation:

Behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes…, Then one of the elders … said to me, “These are the ones… They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. And he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.” (Rev. 7:9-15)

The promise is sure and the hope is alive. There will be great celebration and it will last endless ages. The Lord himself will receive us and say, “Welcome Home!” The joyful feast today is a foretaste.

The result of fleeing, pursuing and giving: As we celebrate and enjoy the fellowship, it is my prayer that we will be encouraged to keep these disciplines and attract many others to the same – looking forward to the ultimate. God bless you all.

Guided by the will of God.

Therefore, since the Messiah suffered … arm yourselves with the same determination, so that [you] can live the rest of [your] mortal life guided, not by human desires, but by the will of God. (1Pet 4:1-2)

We congratulate Rev Chrysostom and Stella Akwech upon the arrival of their baby girl on Tue 11th Oct; and congratulate James and Grace Tebyasa upon receiving a baby boy on Fri 14th Oct. For both these couples, this is their first born.

As we look forward to the Kakumba Home Coming and Thanksgiving, we should expect the Chapel leadership to share development plans and encourage us to support them by our increased giving. We thank God who has enabled us to come this far from really humble beginnings; and He is taking us even further – for He is the Lord of the harvest, and the harvest is plentiful. On the other hand, I am reminded of the instructions from our Lord Jesus Christ, “if you are presenting your gift at the altar and remember there that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and first go and be reconciled to your brother. Then come and offer your gift” (Matt 5:23-24). Following this level of righteousness strictly, I wonder how many of us would offer regularly! We need grace and power over evil.

Apostle Peter invites us to a determination that condones suffering in the mortal body. The flesh is the engine supporting sinful life – living in sensuality, sinful desires, drunkenness, wild celebrations, drinking parties, and detestable idolatry; and when the body really suffers, these issues diminish because they lack the engine to run them. Apostle Paul in fact takes the suffering of the body further – he prefers the body dead! He therefore refers to determined believers as ‘dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus’. This is the only way to overcome indulgences that have crippled many lives, many youth, many marriages, and caused frustrations, depressions, separations, curtailed careers and miscarriages of all sorts.

By the grace of God we are forgiven, and we are accepted. He freely pours out the Holy Spirit to those who ask, to give power over evil by suppressing (putting to death) the desires of the flesh. We all need this power if we are to get ready not only for this homecoming and thanksgiving, but also for the ultimate – the return of our Lord Jesus Christ who, at the end of the age, will gather to himself all those who overcome to the end, to live and reign with him forever. May the Lord give you grace to enjoy the discipline, suppression, suffering and death in your mortal body so that you can live the rest of [your] mortal life guided, not by human desires, but by the will of God.

God bless you.

It all belongs to God

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Rom 11:36)

In this special month, the Jews will observe the third feast of compulsory pilgrimage – Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles, also known as the Feast of Ingathering) which will end on 23rd October; in this feast, the journey from Egypt to the Promised Land is celebrated, especially the grace of God that sustained them while they dwelt in tents during the wanderings in the Sinai desert. In the same spirit as a nation, Uganda celebrates her 54th independence anniversary today
09th October. It is good to remember that the God who uprooted the Israelites from their Egyptian slavery and made them an independent nation is the same God that formed Uganda out of the former British Protectorate. More important to remember is that God does all this for a purpose: He is the God of people and the God of nations too. That is what the psalmist means in part when he writes, ‘the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it’ (Ps 24:1).

How do you observe such a season? As Ugandans gather in Luuka District for a national assembly to commemorate Independence Day, many of us in churches are offering special prayers for the nation; in fact many of us have spent a season in prayer with fasting – for the families in our country. But do all celebrants and officials recognize that it is God to whom our nation belongs, and everything in it? Then they would not abuse and embezzle for selfish gain without impunity; then public services would not be delayed by lengthy processes that have been necessitated by thieves and dishonesty; then they would not lie lazy and just look on at bare land in great climate and claim to be poor! As a nation, we need to call upon the LORD to awaken us into responding to the knowledge that it all belongs to Him, and we are simply stewards.

As the Chapel community, the Kakumba Home Coming being organized will be a partial re-enactment of the age-old worship pilgrimages – to remember God’s faithfulness and to celebrate our journey, even as we look ahead with hope. I have seen pictures of the little Chapel that has greatly expanded; I saw pictures of little girls and boys that are now married men with children; we also remember some youth falling from grace and rising from grass – all this is the grace of God worth celebrating in a big way. Pastors and Council Members of various gifts have made their contributions to this journey in their seasons; what a journey!

The bigger journey – these ‘wanderings’ in the world (not my home) will culminate in the ultimate feast, the Feast of Ingathering when Jesus returns to usher his own to the ultimate Promised Land of eternal life.

God bless you.

Excelling in the grace…

Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose. No one should appear before the LORD empty-handed: Each of you must bring a gift (Deut 16:16-17).

This is a new month and the beginning of the last quarter of the year; it’s time to start taking stock of the year’s performance: in school, students are warming up for decisive exams, while choirs and worship teams have begun preparations for Christmas celebrations with drama, dance and music. In this particular month, the Jews will observe their holiest day – Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), and also the third feast of compulsory pilgrimage – Sukkot (the Feast of Ingathering / Tabernacles) which will end on 23rd October; in this feast, the journey from Egypt to the Promised Land is celebrated, especially the grace of God that sustained the Jews while they dwelt in tents during the wanderings in the Sinai desert. In the same spirit, Uganda celebrates her 54th independence anniversary. We also have the Kakumba Chapel Home Coming, to celebrate our journey and look ahead with hope. It is a new season indeed.

How do you observe such a season? Seasons come with challenges and opportunities, thus demanding spiritual alertness; enter this season with special prayers for direction to avoid needless panic. Some of you will take stock of your achievements and check where you are excelling and where you are lagging behind; there will be areas where you desire to excel. In his second letter, Paul describes how the Macedonian churches were excelling in their generosity in spite of their limitations. He observed on the other hand that the Corinthians were excelling in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in enthusiasm for the gospel, and in love for the servants of God and for one another. He then encouraged them to also excel in the grace of giving (2Cor 8:1-7). They had an opportunity and reason to be generous in that season.

Seek to excel in the grace of giving and generosity. This is another important way to observe this season, for many reasons: for the far God has brought us in the year, for our progressing children, for growth in career and the hope for more; and most importantly, for ultimate salvation that we access through Jesus Christ who visited us in body – full atonement achieved! And that’s not all; these ‘wanderings’ in the world (not my home) will culminate in the ultimate Feast of Ingathering when Jesus returns to usher his own to the ultimate Promised Land of eternal life.

God bless you.

The Testimony

Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” (Rev 19:10)
We have often heard someone say, ‘keep your testimony’. The stable and progressive man who keeps good morals and attitudes attracts people to his motivation and faith. This is what Paul meant in Titus 2, where he particularly speaks of sound doctrine, and then goes on to list people groups who need specific encouragement and teaching for the purpose of maintaining the Word of God above reproach: ‘so that no one will malign the word of God’ (v.5); ‘so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us’ (v.8); ‘(to) make the teaching about God our Savior attractive’ (v.10).

Does your life make the Word of God attractive to your spectators, including those who would love to oppose you? Your testimony comprises three parts: your life (morals and attitudes and overcoming sin, the world and the devil), your thanksgiving in recognition of God’s hand in your affairs, and your acknowledgement and faith and witness that Jesus is Lord and Saviour. The three are interdependent and work together. While Paul, in his Titus 2 admonitions, dwells mostly on the first part, John in the book of Revelation dwells mostly on the third part.

In Revelation, ‘the testimony of Jesus’ is an essential part of the definition of God’s people. The apostle John himself uses this word to describe himself (1:2,9) and the reason for his incarceration at Patmos. He then describes the martyrs as ‘those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained’ (6:9, 11:7); the good news is that there is clear hope for their eternal life in what John saw; their testimony brought them pain but not in vain. More so, those who triumphed over the devil and the dragon did so ‘by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony’ (12:11,17); and finally the angel at the great Wedding of the Lamb describes believers as those ‘who hold to the testimony of Jesus’ (19:10). It is therefore vitally important to hold fast to the Testimony of Jesus – it is the Testimony.

The first person to testify was John the Baptist; he pointed his followers to Jesus and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ Many others before him testified thus prophetically, while many others after him have the opportunity to follow and hold fast to the Testimony. May the Almighty God empower you to always keep your testimony, to give thanks and proclaim His wonders in the congregation and to spread widely the Testimony of Jesus.

God bless you.

Teaching the Church

You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.
(Titus 2:1)
In such a young country with children comprising more than 50% of the population, teaching is major business. Another 25% are youth, leaving only a small minority of adults to teach all these young people. When we turn to observe the doctrine and conduct of these few adults, more shockingly, just a small percentage can stand confident with moral authority to teach virtues. How can we then pass on sound doctrine to the generations to come? What we teach today is what our nation becomes tomorrow. Unfortunately, our children are exposed to all sorts of substitute teachers – they observe examples in the news, in the television and movies, in video games, in animated magazines, and many other media and technology overflows that the overwhelmed adults are not even aware of. Simply put, we have a crisis of good teachers.

St Paul taught in congregations and also mentored individuals, and clearly instructed his mentees to teach. Letters he wrote to Timothy and Titus have clear imperative commands to raise leaders by teaching them not just as consumers but as those who would in turn teach others. In Titus 2, he particularly speaks of sound doctrine, then goes on to list people groups who need specific teaching for purposes of maintaining the Word of God above reproach: older men, older women, younger women, younger men, slaves – all these have lessons to pick from Paul and Titus for purposes of living in such a way that the gospel becomes attractive to those among whom they interact, at home and at work.

President Museveni recently gave a lecture in Nairobi on bottlenecks to Africa’s development; he passionately advocated for integration into a larger market to support the increasing production; on another occasion in Tanzania, the President termed integration as a ‘matter of life and death’ to Africa. He was warmly applauded by his colleague presidents and his paper adopted for expansion into a blue-print to guide Africa’s development. While he continues to shine on the continental stage, Ugandan children can hardly understand his teachings because of the inadequate teachers as well as the noise of moral decadence and corruption that drowns down good ideas. Sound doctrine is therefore difficult to pass on to a generation that has only a handful of examples to emulate.

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to teach the Church and to teach the nation; first by exemplary lives above reproach, and then with words that are sound doctrine. May the Lord increase determination and strength in you to teach and build the next generation for a better country here and for the Kingdom of God.

God bless you.