Pastors: Give Your Mornings to God

Serving as a pastor of a local church is a difficult job. Each of us need all the help we can get. No one can help us like God.
A Call to Pastors

In 1980, at an evening session of the Texas Baptist Evangelism Conference in Dallas, I heard the late and great W.A. Criswell challenge pastors to give their mornings to God. The following Sunday, I stood before the small church I pastored, the First Baptist Church of Milford, Texas, and announced my decision to give my mornings completely to God for prayer and study. All these years, I have lived by this firm commitment. I can tell you this: Nothing has ascended my spiritual life and level of leadership more than this allocated time each morning.

Pastors, my call to you is to give your mornings to God. Obviously, the Lord Himself must call you to do this, but I believe firmly that since Jesus rose before daybreak to be with the Father, we certainly need to do so some in our lives.

My Morning Schedule

Over the years, on a typical day, my schedule has evolved into getting up at 3:00 a.m. from Sunday through Thursday. If I am traveling, especially across time zones, this schedule may be negotiated. Friday and Saturday are for family and rest, and of course, Sunday is a very different kind of day.

Sunday Morning

On Saturday night, I usually struggle going to sleep, anticipating the day ahead. My goal is to be in bed with lights off by 10:15 p.m., if possible. My alarm goes off at 3:00 a.m., and I head into my office, stopping first to prepare a cup of strong coffee or green tea, grab my iPad, (on which I keep my prayer list), my Bible, and my journal. I begin in prayer, moving into the Word, interweaving with prayer, and journaling a prayer to God — which I've done daily since January 1, 1990. I am a big believer in having a spiritual journal.

At 4:45 a.m., I jog on my treadmill for an hour, going over my sermon, praying through it, and talking through it aloud. This is where I move to mastering the sermon. After an hour on the treadmill, I call a prayer partner for a few minutes. I have called this man every Sunday morning since 1989, and it is a practice I strongly encourage pastors to develop. If I am not fasting, I then eat a light breakfast and head for the shower.

By 7:35 a.m. I am on my way to church. After touching base with our leaders for ten minutes, I am in my office for prayer and additional study. By 8:40 a.m., I am on my way to greet church members and guests in an informal setting and by 9:00 a.m., I walk into a prayer room with several men who lay hands on me and pray for the service and me. By 9:10 a.m., I walk into our worship center, greet more people, and begin the worship experience. At the present time, I preach two services, one at our Springdale campus and another at our Pinnacle Hills campus. After the second service, Jeana and I greet people for at least 20 minutes, and we usually leave the campus around 1:00 p.m. I may have a luncheon, but whatever the schedule, I look forward to a brief nap in the afternoon.

Monday Morning through Thursday Morning

Again, the alarm goes off at 3:00 a.m. After water goes on my face and I grab a cup of strong coffee or green tea to help me start the day, I head to my home study. The first 90 minutes of my morning are spent in prayer and the Word devotionally. I reference a long prayer list on my iPad, which continually grows and is updated. I always end with my prayer journal, writing a prayer to God daily.

By 4:45 a.m., I am totally into my sermon preparation. I take this very seriously. For a pastor, there is nothing more important than developing your personal walk, followed by preparation to teach and preach the Word of God. From 4:45 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., with the exception of one hour for exercise and personal fitness, I am in study preparation. Sometimes I will respond to emails if it fits into the moment. If not, I wait. By 10:30 a.m., I am in the shower and by 11:30 a.m., I am on my way to a lunch meeting.

Friday and Saturday Morning

I usually sleep until 6:00 a.m. on Friday and on Saturday. If I am in a writing project, I may still get up at 3:00 a.m. I always begin my day with God for at least an hour. For years, my Friday priority has been Jeana and our family. It is the rare exception that Friday is spent in work and ministry tasks. On Saturday morning, I move into sermon preparation, mainly working on memorizing the sermon. I finish around 9:00 a.m. If it is college football season, I may adjust all this to be done in time for my favorite television program, ESPN's "College Game Day." If I need to rest more, I will watch the first hour of their broadcast that day by DVR.

Takeaway for Pastors Today: Give Your Mornings to God!

Giving your morning to God will transform your life and ministry. Nothing, and I repeat, nothing is more important than your own personal spiritual development and walk with God. It will transform your life and ministry. So pastors, devote yourself to a deep study time, giving yourself to prayer and the study of God's Word. You are called to lead, feed, and intercede for the people of God. Doing ministry in the power of God is imperative.

Consider this, pastor: How much more could you get done if you got up just one hour earlier for five mornings of the week? That would be five hours of additional time to deepen your walk with God, enhance your study time for sermon preparation, or practically deal with matters that are always hanging on you. God will use it in your life.

One more time as a testimony: Nothing has ascended my spiritual life and level of leadership more than this allocated time in the morning.

Originally posted at

Why Your Suffering Makes You Stronger

The question of human suffering has led many people to doubt God's love, especially when that suffering becomes personal. When you are the one in the middle of the storm and the pain, you find yourself being driven to the edge. Either your faith deepens to new levels, or you consider blaming God for allowing this pain into your life.

It's only natural for man to blame God when suffering knocks on your door, and then rudely barges into your home and your life.

The alternative to blaming God for suffering is to do what millions of Christians have done over the centuries. And believe it or not, it has allowed them to come through their suffering with even stronger faith in the Lord. I know it sounds illogical, but it has actually happened all over the world in the hearts and lives of believers who endured tremendous suffering.

In terms of trying to wrap your mind around it intellectually and theologically, the apostle Paul wrote that "suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." (Romans 5:3,4)

In other words, God can work through your suffering to make you stronger as a Christian.

You may wonder, "Does one have to be a Christian in order to grow stronger through suffering?"

Not necessarily. There are plenty of people in the world who endure suffering with nothing more than their own will power and determination. And some of them definitely develop strong character through it.

And there are also situations where professing Christians don't handle their suffering the way God would like them to handle it. Rather than relying upon the grace of God to uphold them, they go through their trial without much prayer or dependence upon God. It's almost like they forget about God when "the bottom falls out."

And so it's not as simple as painting all believers or all unbelievers with a broad brush. It comes down to how each individual is handling their personal suffering, regardless of whether they have a relationship with God or not.

Having said that, there is no disputing the fact that God knows a lot about suffering on a personal level. The suffering Jesus endured when He was flogged and then crucified is beyond our comprehension. And the Bible assures us that Christ endured the cross so that His blood and sacrifice would pay for our sins, and we would be able to have a relationship with God that lasts forever.

"Christ suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God." (1 Peter 3:18)

Perhaps you are able to accept this fact on an intellectual level. But what about on a personal level? That is to say, have you ever relied upon Jesus in the midst of personal suffering and experienced a depth with Christ like never before? Have you ever poured out your heart and soul to the Lord, while also trusting Him even when your circumstances seemed out of control and incredibly painful?

When Paul was suffering as a result of his "thorn in the flesh," Jesus told him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

And Paul's response to this revelation? "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." (2 Cor. 12:9)

It is truly one of the mysteries of the Christian faith. How is it that a believer can actually become stronger on the inside when going through a situation that produces human weakness and human pain? How can your soul be so strong when your body is so weak and under such a heavy assault of one kind or another?

The answer seems to be that when man stops trying to rescue himself and instead turns to the Lord, a door is opened for the power of God to fill man's life like never before. As long as we are relying upon our own strength and our own resources, we get what those things are capable of giving us. But the moment we hit rock bottom and give it all to Jesus, we find that there truly is supernatural strength available to those who throw themselves upon the mercy and grace of Christ. It is a "letting go" of relying upon myself, and a conscious decision to rely instead upon the One who endured the suffering of the cross for sinners like us.
It certainly is a paradox of biblical proportions. And it only makes sense when a person is viewing it from God's perspective as revealed to us in the Word of God.

In the realm of mathematics for example, one plus one equals two. And we would naturally assume that in the realm of suffering, any personal suffering we experience is evidence that God has forgotten us and doesn't care about us. We are tempted to believe this lie based purely on rational thought.

But then Scripture bursts on the scene with some late-breaking news. It announces to me that while my suffering may be unexpected and unexplainable, it is nevertheless no surprise to the One who allowed it to enter my life. I may never understand on this side of heaven why God allowed it, but if I will throw myself and my own understanding upon the mercy and grace of Christ, I will receive power from on high to endure it. And I can even come out of it one day much stronger than when I entered that painful phase of my life.
Here again the apostle Paul was inspired to pen insights from heaven so that Christians who are suffering would not lose hope or give up.

Paul wrote, "Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (2 Cor. 4:17)

God allowed Paul to go through suffering as an example that would bring encouragement to hundreds of millions of believers over the centuries. And Paul referred to these earthly troubles as "light" and "momentary."

Now for the unbeliever, these words may ring hollow and provide no comfort whatsoever. But for the believer, these words provide encouragement to keep going, and assurance that God has not forgotten me even though my circumstances may suggest otherwise.

No one has ever felt more abandoned than the Son of God when He was on the cross. Jesus expressed His sheer agony in the midst of His suffering with these words: "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46)

The personal pain and torture shouted at Jesus, "You have been abandoned." In fact, no one knows more about personal suffering and a feeling of abandonment than the Lord.

Some skeptics are quick to opine, "Your God must not be very powerful if He can't even stop all the suffering in the world."

Well here's the deal. Adam and Eve were not created to suffer. There was no suffering in the Garden of Eden prior to man's sin. And there will be no suffering in paradise where all believers will spend eternity with the Lord and with one another. Suffering only happens in this world, and in hell. Heaven, on the other hand, like the Garden of Eden, is perfect in every way.

"But my life on earth is already a living hell," you may say. "Why should I worry about some place called 'hell' as described in the Bible?"

The point is not to worry about it, but rather, to find in Jesus a Savior who will redeem your soul from eternal suffering. And if you do, you will also have a friend in Jesus "who sticks closer than a brother." (Proverbs 18:24)

You probably won't be able to grasp the eternal realities of heaven and hell until you first come to grasp the love of the Savior for you personally. Apart from faith in Christ, you will never love Christ, and you will never have the Holy Spirit living inside you. Without this living water from heaven, you simply cannot see God's plan of salvation and God's eternal love for you. But if you humble yourself before the Lord, even in the midst of any personal suffering you may be going through, you will find that the power and grace of Jesus is more than able to meet you at your point of sin and your point of suffering.

No one is condemned before God because of their suffering, but man is indeed condemned before God because of his sin. It was man's sin that sent Jesus to the cross, and it is man's sin that brought suffering into the world.

Billy Joel released a song nearly 30 years ago entitled, "We Didn't Start the Fire," in which he sang:
"We didn't start the fire
It was always burning since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No, we didn't light it, but we tried to fight it"
In reality, we did start the fire. Man chose to sin. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, and the rest as they way is history.

This leaves each of us with two options. We can either blame God for our suffering and miss out on the grace and power of Jesus forever, or we can cast ourselves upon the love of God and believe that God is greater than our suffering. If we choose to believe that God is greater than our suffering, we have made a wise choice. And if we choose to trust Christ rather than to blame Him, we will find that God's love for us is much higher than our temporary pain and heartache.

God chose to create man. In turn, man chose to sin and thereby "start the fire." God chose to send His only Son to redeem man from sin and suffering. Meanwhile, God allows man to experience pain in this world, and even in the next world for those who reject the love of God in Christ. And each person gets to decide whether to trust God or blame God when life doesn't make sense, and when personal suffering comes barging through the front door of your earthly existence.

When Jesus becomes as personal as your suffering, you will have reached a new level of faith, perseverance, character, and hope. And you will find yourself trusting God in spite of whatever circumstances or people may be telling you that you are a fool to do so.

As missionary Jim Elliot famously said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."

If you will give up control of your life to Christ, you will gain something far better. And if you will give up trying to figure out why you are suffering, you will discover that the love and grace of Jesus is more than able to carry you through your suffering all the way to paradise.

Why not pray these words to Jesus right now from your heart:

"Lord Jesus, forgive my sins. And strengthen me in the midst of my suffering. I give you my sin, my heart, and my struggles. Cleanse me and grant me your strength and the power of the Holy Spirit. I give up trying to save my soul, and I give up trying to figure out why I am suffering. And in so doing, I ask you Lord to bring peace to my soul, both now and forever. Amen."

100 Free College Rides You Don’t Need Daddy to Pay For

Believe it or not, there are many colleges and universities that offer students free tuition. Many of them are funded by endowments, state programs, or even student workers. But they all offer an incredibly affordable way to get a quality education. Here, we’ve listed 100 real colleges and universities where you can go to school for free.

Academic Achievement

Getting good grades and scoring well on the SAT or ACT can help you get a free ride at these schools.
  1. Alice Lloyd College: In Pippa Passes, Kentucky, Alice Lloyd College offers fee tuition to students who demonstrate achievement on the SAT/ACT as well as GPA in pre-college curriculum.
  2. The Cooper Union: The Cooper Union offers academic programs in architecture, art, and engineering. Undergraduates are admitted solely based on merit and all receive full scholarships.
  3. The University of Arizona: Provided that you have exceeded testing standards, you can receive a tuition waiver to attend the University of Arizona.
  4. Union College: Union Colleges grants full tuition to all students who are National Merit Finalists.
  5. Oregon Institute of Technology: National Merit Scholarship Finalists and those with otherwise excellent qualifications can receive full resident tuition and fees from the Oregon Institute of Technology.
  6. Lorain County Community College: At this community college, students can earn merit based free tuition or receive the Diversity Incentive Award, which gives Lorain County high school graduates of specific ethnic groups free tution.
  7. Drew University: Students who have completed the Governor’s School in the Sciences can get free tuition from Drew University.
  8. Cisco Junior College: Texan high schoolers who graduate in the upper 25 percent of their class can receive full tuition and fees from this college.
  9. Arizona State University: At Arizona State University, you can get a full tuition waiver, provided that you have exceeded standards on testing in the state.
  10. Southeast Missouri State University: This Missouri school offers full tuition to valedictorials and those in the top 10% of their class with excellent test scores.
  11. Alfred State College: In New York, this college offers free tuition, room, and board to students with excellent academic achievement.
  12. Temple College: If you’re a valedictorian or salutatorian from an accredited Texas high school, you can get free tuition from Temple.
  13. Dallas Baptist University: National Merit Finalists can get free tuition from this university.
  14. Southwestern University: Students with a 1400 on the SAT or who are in the top 5% of their class can apply for the Brown Scholar Awards program, which awards full tuition, room and board.
  15. Baylor University: National Merit Finalists who select Baylor as their first choice college will receive free tuition.
  16. Spring Arbor University: National Merit Finalists will get a free ride at Spring Arbor University.
  17. Kilgore College: National Merit Finalists receive a 100% tuition guarantee at this college.
  18. Lon Morris College: Students who graduate in the top two percent of their class, or those who have scored in the ninetieth percentile or above on the SAT or ACT will get full tuition at Lon Morris College.
  19. East Texas Baptist University: If you’re a National Merit Semi-Finalist, your full tuition is paid for at East Texas Baptist University.
  20. CUNY Honors College: All students who are accepted to CUNY’s Honors College will receive tuition and many other expenses for free.
  21. Texas Women’s University: You can get full tuition and fees at this university if you’re a valedictorian or salutatorian.
  22. Northern Arizona University: Arizona students who have excellent test scores can receive a tuition waiver for Northern Arizona University.
  23. McMurry University: If you qualify for McMurry University’s honors program, your full tuition and fees will be covered.
  24. Weatherford College: Valedictorians can get free tuition from this school.
  25. Blinn College: Texas valedictorians and salutatorians can receive full tuition and fees from Blinn College.
  26. Southwestern Adventist University: Students who are National Merit Finalists can get 100% tuition coverage from this university.

These schools will ask you to work in order to earn your tuition.
  1. Berea College: At this liberal arts college, you’ll be expected to work for your tuition.
  2. College of the Ozarks: This college brands itself as "Hard Work U," as all of its full time students are required to work with the school in order to pay their tuition.
  3. North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Students who have low income and work on campus can attend UNC-Chapel Hill for free.
  4. Deep Springs College: In Colorado, this all-male liberal arts college offers two year programs with a full scholarship to all of the school’s 26 students, who participate in manual labor as part of their education.
  5. United States Coast Guard Academy: The Coast Guard Academy’s students attend tuition-free and will also receive a monthly stipend while in school.
  6. Webb Institute of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering: Students of the Webb Institute study naval architecture and marine engineering. Tuition is paid by participating in a winter work term, in which students wotk in the maritime industry.
Need Based

Students who come from low income families can get free admission from these colleges and universities.
  1. University of Washington: Washington State residents who demonstrate need may be eligible for free tuition at the University of Washington.
  2. John Carroll University: Families making less than $40,000 per year can enroll incoming freshmen tuition-free.
  3. Texas A&M: Students whose families earn incomes less than $60,000 are eligible for free tuition at this Texas university.
  4. Washington State University: Washington State University has a similar program to University of Washington’s. Washington resident students who qualify for Federal Pell or State Grants can apply for a free tuition program.
  5. Texas Tech University: You can get free tuition and fees from Texas Tech if your family’s income is $40,000 or below.
  6. Claremont McKenna College: Claremont McKenna College will award students with 100% of their determined need. The college also matches full Army ROTC scholarships with a grant for full room and board.
  7. Michigan State University: The Spartan Advantage program offers full tuition coverage for the neediest Michigan students.
  8. Stanford: If you get accepted to Stanford and your family earns less than $100,000, you can go to Stanford for free.
  9. Harvard College Financial Aid Office: Through the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative, students from families with annual incomes below $60,000 will not have to pay for tuition.
  10. Soka University: Soka University, a private college in California, offers free tuition to students whose families make less than $60,000 per year.
  11. University of Texas: If your family earns less than $25,000 a year, you can attend the University of Texas for free.
  12. University of Virginia: As a part of the AccessUVa program, you can attend the University of Virginia for free.
  13. Sacred Heart University: Families with an income of less than $50,000 can send their children to Sacred Heart University for free.
  14. Dartmouth: This elite school will allow students whose families make less than $75,000 a year to attend school for free.
  15. University of Pennsylvania: Students from families who have an income below $90,000 will not pay tuition at the University of Pennsylvania, and students with a family income below $40,000 will not have to pay room and board, either.
  16. MIT: MIT waives tuition for all of its students who come from families that earn less than $75,000 per year.
Professional Demand

These programs are designed to add incentive for qualified professionals to enter the market.
  1. The Teacher Academy: At The City University of New York, exceptional students can receive free tuition, stipends for internships, as well as a guaranteed full time teaching position.
  2. United States Military Academy at West Point: If you receive a nomination to attend West Point, you will be granted admission and do not have to pay for school.
  3. Barclay College: This Christian college offers full tuition to all on-campus students.
  4. Call Me Mister: This program at Clemson University and other colleges recruits black males to become teachers, and offers them free tuition.
  5. The Curtis Institute of Music: Founded in order to train exceptionally gifted young musicians, The Curtis Institute provides merit based full tuition scholarships to the students who are chosen to attend the school.
  6. United States Air Force Academy: Students enrolled at the United States Air Force Academy do not pay tuition, provided you fulfill your service with the US Air Force.
  7. Crossroad Bible Institute: This institute offers a free religious education to those who are in prison.
  8. University of Central Florida College of Medicine: This college offers a free medical education to a very select group of students.
  9. United States Naval Academy: Students in the US Naval Academy do not pay tuition, instead repaying the Navy through years of service.
  10. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering: This college supports the engineering as a creative design, vehicle for human and societal needs, and a creator of value. As such, the college offers free tuition to all that are accepted.
  11. Abilene Christian University: Abilene Christian University gives full tuition to students who have declared their major in computer science or technology.
  12. Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine: Students at the Cleveland Clinic of Case Western Reserve University will receive free tuition.
  13. Master’s Baptist College: This Baptist bible college is a ministry of Fargo Baptist Church.
  14. United States Merchant Marine Academy: Students of the US Merchant Marine Academy do not pay tuition.
  15. New Wine Bible College: This college operates as a non-profit ministry, offering free religious education to students.
Location Based

A number of cities, counties, and states offer free tuition to students who either excel in their studies, or demonstrate a serious need.
  1. J.F. Drake State Technical College: If you’re a high school graduate of specific Alabama counties, you can study for free in J.F. Drake State Technical College’s summer session.
  2. University of California: As a resident of California, you can attend University of California tuition free.
  3. El Dorado, Arkansas: Students living in El Dorado, Arkansas, can get a free ride to college.
  4. Clay County, Mississippi: Clay County students can get free tuition at East Mississippi Community College.
  5. Philadelphia: Students in Philadelphia who have stalled their college degree can get free tuition from Philadelphia in order to finish their studies.
  6. New Jersey: Students who graduate in the top 20% of their class can get free tuition through the NJ Stars program.
  7. Tulsa Community College: All high school graduates in Tulsa County, Oklahoma, can receive free tuition at Tulsa Community College.
  8. Newton High School: Graduates of this high school will receive a four year tuition scholarship.
  9. Highline Community College: In association with Federal Way Public Schools, students can attend the college tuition-free.
  10. West Virginia: West Virginia offers a merit-based program that gives full tuition scholarships to qualified students.
  11. Oklahoma: Oklahoma’s Promise entitles students whose families have an income of $50,000 or less to receive free tuition.
  12. Owens Community College: This community college offers free tuition to select public schools in Ohio.
  13. Brookhaven College: This college has partnered with a variety of high schools to offer tuition-free courses.
  14. The Kalamazoo Promise: Residents of Kalamazoo can get free tuition to universities in Michigan.
  15. Clark University: Students who live in specific neighborhoods or who attend the University Park Campus School will receive free tuition at Clark University.
  16. Akron, Ohio: Children who are residents of Akron can attend the University of Akron or advanced trade schools can get free tuition.
  17. University of Minnesota: Minnesota residents can take advantage of the University of Minnesota’s free tuition program.
  18. University of Georgia: Georgia residents who maintain at least a B average will be able to attend the University of Georgia tuition-free.
  19. Century College: High school graduates with a financial need from select St. Paul high schools can attend Century College tuition free.
  20. California State University: Residents of California can receive free tuition from California State University.

Get free tuition from these online colleges and you’ll truly get a good deal. You won’t even need to pay for room and board!
  1. Biblical University and College of Ministry & Seminary: Take your education anywhere, for free, with this online tuition-free university.
  2. Trinity College of Biblical Studies: Apply to this online bible college to get a free religious education.
  3. The DiUlus Institute: You’ll be able to attend this online research institute for free.

Go overseas for a free education with one of these schools.
  1. Jonkoping International Business School: This university in Sweden promises free education for all of its students.
  2. Free University of Bozen-Bolzano: You’ll be able to study economics, education, computer science, and more in this free, multi-lingual university.
  3. Uppsala University: Uppsala University is a well ranked, free university.
  4. Karolinska University: Study in a hospital setting for free with this medical school.
  5. Ecuador universities: If you become a police or military officer in Ecuador, you will be able to receive a free higher education.
  6. KTH Royal Institute of Technology: You can get a free technological education at the Royal Institute of Technology.
  7. Warwickshire College: Adult students can get free tuition from this college.
  8. Lund University: At Lund University in Sweden, you will not have to pay tuition fees.
Special Groups

These schools and programs offer free tuition to special groups such as veterans and senior citizens.
  1. Wyoming Veterans’ Benefits: Veterans, war orphans, and widows can get free tuition in Wyoming.
  2. North Carolina Wesleyan College: Under the Silver Scholars Program, senior citizens 60 and above can take courses at this college tuition free.
  3. University of Rochester: In a number of the University of Rochester’s programs, veterans will receive free tuition.
  4. Hill College: Hill College offers free tuition to blind or deaf students, foster care students, and students who have graduated high school early.
  5. Disabled Veterans’ Children in Indiana: Students who are children of disabled veterans are eligible for free tuition in Indiana.
  6. Benedictine University: Armed forces veterans can get free tuition at Benedictine University.

Ask Chuck: Does God Want Me to Be Rich?

Dear Chuck,

I find the conflicting messages among well known preachers and financial experts confusing when it comes to whether I should expect to do well financially if I am in God's will and following His plan. You turn on the television, and many of the most popular preachers insist that good times are ahead for the faithful. Are they? 

Pondering Prosperity

Dear Pondering,

There are a lot of financial teachers, preachers and gurus in the world today! It is good to be skeptical about who you should be listening to as each has a very different financial and biblical philosophy.

You are certainly not alone if you are confused. "How much do I deserve?" is a question most people ponder throughout their working life. It's an age-old concern to really know what you are worth and what to financially expect of or from God.

Rather than a blanket statement that you do or do not deserve riches, the answer from a Christian perspective requires an examination of God's perspective.

Our True Identity

First, we deserve nothing at all.
Romans 6:23 reminds us what we have actually earned: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

And yet, God judges that you are worth the very sacrifice of Jesus Christ himself. He offers us all of Himself plus eternal life.

In Romans 8:31-32 we read, "If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?"

So, our true identity is that of being adopted as God's child who has such extreme worth that Jesus rescued us from our rightful condemnation under the penalty of our sin by His priceless mercy and grace. But that does not mean we will be materially made rich as some TV preachers might proclaim.

Two Extreme Financial Teachings

Next, there are two extreme financial teachings in Christian camps today: the Prosperity Gospel and the Poverty Gospel. I believe both are wrong.

Those who believe that riches are a sign of God's blessing advance what is commonly referred to as the Prosperity Gospel. This teaches that you can command God to prosper you financially, that when you give you can expect a larger financial increase in return, and that your spending can be extravagant and carefree. This false theology is in contradiction to the many Scriptural warnings against greed, selfishness, coveting, idolatry, and the love of money.

Luke 16:14-15: "The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, 'You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God's sight.'"

First Timothy 6:10: "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."

You should be on your guard to identify and reject the teachings of the Prosperity Gospel as well as the other extreme, the Poverty Gospel. This false teaching claims that money and possessions are evil, that rich people are greedy and sinful, that being poor makes you more righteous in God's eyes, and that spending brings guilt and condemnation.

Proverbs 30:8 instructs us not to seek poverty or riches. "Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread."
The Bible never condemns wealth and neither should we. The Bible never upholds poverty as the pathway to righteousness, nor should we.

We can know that the presence or absence of money is not the way we measure God's blessing.

"Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all," notes Proverbs 22:2.
In Hebrews 11, often called the Faith Hall of Fame, you can read of heroes and martyrs, rich and poor, who made up the fabric of our Christian history. What made them distinctive were not their bank accounts, but how they used their opportunities to further the work of God on earth and how well they followed through on what God asked of them. In fact, of those who suffered the most, the scripture says in verse 38, "The world was not worthy of them."

We are Stewards

Many people wonder what the Bible does say about money and possessions if the Prosperity and Poverty theologies are both wrong. The Bible is full of financial wisdom — in fact, over two-thirds of Jesus' parables involved money!
Scripture makes it clear that God is the Owner of all things (Psalm 24:1), that we are His stewards (Matthew 25:14-30) and that we are called to be faithful — regardless if we have a lot or a little (1 Corinthians 4:2).
As stewards of God's money, we are called to work hard, to manage well, to be cheerful givers and to spend cautiously. We will not be judged by the amount we accumulate or by whether or not our peers saw us as successful.

Remember Who Makes the True Judgment of Your Worth

When you are tempted to value your success in dollars, remember what Jesus said in Mark 12 about the woman who gave her last pennies to the work of God. "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything — all she had to live on."

Faithful stewardship is not about ordering your finances in a way you can spend whatever you want. It's about positioning your heart in a way that God can spend you however He wants. God sees your heart and values your gift — not for its size but for the love you show with it.

With a careful financial plan in place, fueled by hard work and discipline, you may achieve more financially than you ever dreamed possible. Or you may be asked to live a life of frugality where God's strength is revealed in your weakness. Our primary question should not be how much money does God want us to have, but what kind of witness does He want us to be with our resources? Get inspired by the testimony God is building into your life and enjoy the blessings He sends your way.

Chris Rock Gets Real About 'Damaging Affects' of Porn

Comedian and actor Chris Rock has joined the list of celebrities in Hollywood who are speaking out against porn and the effect it's had on their life and marriage.
While on his "Total Blackout" comedy tour last week, Rock opened up about struggling with a porn addiction that ended his 16-year marriage to Malaak Compton.
According to the Inquisitr, Rock confessed that his addiction to porn created a wedge between him and his now ex-wife. He also admitted to having difficulty making eye contact, often missing social cues and some days not even talking to Compton at all.

"Rock joked about his porn addiction causing him to be 15 minutes late everywhere he went, and how his addiction to porn negatively affected him in other ways," Inquisitr reports.

"My father actually wanted to talk to my mother when he came home," Rock shared of the difference between his and his parents' marriages.

The 52 year old said it took therapy to help him overcome his addiction. Unfortunately that coupled with three extra marital affairs could not salvage his marriage.

Rock, who is now on a quest to "strengthen his faith," as reported by Vibe, joins actors like Terry Crews, who has turned to faith and come forward to speak out against pornography.

In 2016, Crews posted a video on Facebook admitting that his obsession with X-rated content ended his marriage to Rebecca King Crews.

"It changes the way you think about people. People become objects," he said.

"It affected everything," Crews continued. "I didn't tell my wife ... didn't tell my friends. Nobody knew, but the internet allowed that little secret to just stay and grow. It was something that my wife was literally like, 'I don't know you anymore. I'm out of here.'"

"Pornography really, really messed up my life in a lot of ways," Crews added.

In an interview with BREATHEcast in 2014, Rebecca spoke openly about when she first realized that something was wrong with her husband. She said she felt a distance between the two of them and when she confronted him about it, he confessed.

"He was dealing with the burden of the shame of what he was dealing with, and that was a pornography addiction," Rebecca said.

"It was very devastating for me because it had been going on a long time and it had been kept from me," she said. "And then he was unfaithful to me in the process."

Quoting from the Bible, she added: "We understand the Bible says lust is never satisfied, so when you toy with something like addiction to porn it's going to lead you to other places," she continued.

"He begged me, begged me not to leave him," she said. After her husband took his problems before God and did what he had to to get help, she forgave him and took him back.

8 Signs Your Church May Be Closing Soon

We call it the death spiral.

I know. It's not a pleasant term. I can understand if it causes you to cringe.

By the time I am contacted about a serious problem in a church, it is often too late. The problems are deeply rooted, but the remaining members have been blind to them, or they chose to ignore them.

There are eight clear signs evident in many churches on the precipice of closing. If a church has four or more of these signs present, it is likely in deep trouble. Indeed, it could be closing sooner than almost anyone in the church would anticipate.

1. There has been a numerical decline for four or more years. Worship attendance is in a steady decline. Offerings may decline more slowly as the "remnant" gives more to keep the church going. There are few or no conversions. Decline is clear and pervasive.

2. The church does not look like the community in which it is located. The community has changed its ethnic, racial, or socioeconomic makeup, but the church has not. Many members are driving from other places to come to the church. The community likely knows little or nothing about the church. And the church likely knows little or nothing about the community.

3. The congregation is mostly comprised of senior adults. It is just a few years of funerals away from having no one left in the church.

4. The focus is on the past, not the future. Most conversations are about "the good old days." Those good old days may have been 25 or more years in the past. Often a hero pastor of the past is held as the model to emulate.

5. The members are intensely preference-driven. They are more concerned about their music style, their programs, their schedules, and their facilities than reaching people with the gospel. Their definition of discipleship is "others taking care of my needs."

6. The budget is severely inwardly focused. Most of the funds are expended to keep the lights on and/or to meet the preferences of the members. There are few dollars for ministry and missions. And any dollars for missions rarely include the involvement of the members in actually sharing the gospel themselves.

7. There are sacred cow facilities. It might be a parlor or a pulpit. It could be pews instead of chairs. It might be the entirety of the worship center or the sanctuary. Members insist on holding tightly to those things God wants us to hold loosely.

8. Any type of change is met with fierce resistance. The members are confronted with the choice to change or die. And though few would articulate it, their choice by their actions or lack of actions is the choice to die.
Churches with four or more of these signs have three choices. They can embark on a process of change and revitalization. Or they can close the doors for a season and re-open with a new name, a new vision, and some new people.

Of course, the third choice is to do nothing. That is the choice to die.

Thousands of churches will unfortunately do just that the next twelve months.

Originally posted at

Snoop Dogg Creating Gospel Music Album That's Been on His Heart

Snoop Dogg is working on a gospel music album.
The 45-year-old hip hop veteran hailing from Long Beach, California, is known for being a leading voice in the gangster rap movement in the '90s. In an interview on Beats 1 Radio last week, the rap mogul said his heart is leading him toward the gospel music genre.

 "I'm working on a gospel album. It's always been on my heart," he said. "I just never got around to it because I always be doing gangsta business and doing this and doing that. But I just feel like it's been on my heart too long.

"I need to do it now."

Snoop, whose real name is Cordozar Calvin Broadus, already has ideas of some veteran singers that he wants to invite to the project.

"Me, Faith Evans, we talked about it heavily, because she feels like she wants to get down with me," he said. "All the people I know from Charlie Wilson to Jeffery Osborne, whoever I want to get down with. [We're going to] make it right."

Fans of the rapper got a glimpse of what one of his gospel music collaborations could sound like after he remixed gospel music artist Pastor Shirley Caesar's 1988 song "Hold My Mule" into a holiday song called "U Name It Holiday Anthem" last year.

In Snoop's version of the song, he raps over a DJ Battlecat production and uses Caesar's now famous line, "I got beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes" as his hook. The rapper includes spiritual undertones in his rhymes while describing his holiday feast and making reference to gospel musician and broadcast personality Bobby Jones.

"Up early with Shirley in the kitchen on a mission with hams and yams mac and cheese for the chickens/ Collard greens is finger licking, me with the denim. Bobby Jones on the television/ Granny say grace for us and aunty making plates for us," he raps in the song that is available on iTunes. "We're the gift that keeps on giving praise God we keep on living. BC what you want me to say bow your heads for a second take a moment to pray."

The 78-year-old pastor and gospel music veteran enjoyed the Grammy Award-winning rapper's remix of her song so much that she featured it on her YouTube channel.

According to Caesar, even the church accepted the rapper's version of her song.

"I thank Snoop Dogg for doing such a marvelous job. Even the church accepted it," she said on OWN Network's "Where Are They Now" last year. "So thank you Snoop."

Christian Pastor Says Many Indonesians Are Realizing Islam Is False, Finding Christ

Christianity is growing in Indonesia, according to a Baptist pastor from Jakarta. But at the same time, the influence of radical Islam is also being felt, with some districts in the country adapting highly restrictive bylaws.
The pastor, going by the name Kongkin, told The Christian Post in a phone interview on Thursday that his ministry in Jakarta helps persecuted Christians and makes sure their stories are heard across the country and abroad.

"When one part of the body suffers, every part suffers with it," Kongkin said.
He told CP that he is a former Muslim, and that it was the Gospel message itself that convinced him to start following Jesus Christ.

"The call of Salvation by Christ," he described as the main reason for his decision to convert. "The message of forgiveness, which extends to sinners. I realized I was without hope" while part of the Islamic faith, he explained.

"I heard the Gospel from my friend and I saw his family's testimony, [his] walk as a Christian," and the "peace and joy" that came with it, and thought "that's what I want."

"I started searching for the Lord, and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior," he said.

Kongkin noted that his Muslim family "thought I was crazy" at first, that his conversion to Christianity was "part of my rebellious spirit," and even though they first hoped that he would go back to Islam, eventually they realized he was committed to his new faith.

The pastor explained that he did not suffer beatings and was not cast out by his family, who he described as more "modern Muslim," but he was treated differently by other relatives who follow a stricter version of Islam.

He said that while they still wanted to have a relationship with him, they would do things such as refuse to greet him at Christmas, and made it clear that "we are on different sides."

Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim nation, and though Christianity only makes up seven percent of the population, according to the CIA Factbook, Kongkin said that more people are embracing Jesus.

He insisted that he doesn't say that "because I am a Christian, just to excite the Christian body, but this is what I personally see happening."

The pastor noted that as part of his ministry working in the field, he has heard many stories of former Muslims who have decided to come to Jesus.

"The numbers are getting bigger and bigger in many parts of Indonesia. There is steady growth," he said, while noting that there is concern among some parts of the Islamic community over the rise of Christianity.

"Yes, the number is growing. I think a lot of Muslims are realizing that Islam is false; they see the bombings and terrorist attacks done in the name of Islam, and they wonder 'Is this it? Is this what I want?'" he stated.
"They realize there has to be a better way, and then they find Christ."

As Christian watchdog group Open Doors points out, persecution remains high in Indonesia, listing it at number 46 on its World Watch List of countries where believers are most targeted for their faith. Though it has long been considered a model of Muslim democracy and interreligious coexistence, the influence of radical Islam is growing.

Kongkin said that the biggest threat to Christians in Indonesia comes both from the government's laws and from radical Islamic elements, which are influencing and pressing into local government.

"They have more and more influence on policy, not so much the central government, but the provincial government," he explained, noting that hardliners are pressuring local representative bodies to produce bylaws that reflect Sharia law.

One example he pointed to is the Tanara district in the province of Banten, which has issued bylaws that forbid women from walking on the streets alone or with someone who is not their husband or part of their family past 10 p.m.

Kongkin noted that any woman like that "who is found on the streets is considered a prostitute or having moral problems." He said that such women who break the curfew "are taken by the local provincial police and brought to a rehabilitation center," due to suspicions that they are doing something not acceptable in Islamic society.

The women are usually held for an entire month at such rehabilitation centers before they are released.
Other troubling bylaw applications have been the prohibition on drinking alcohol. Even though Sharia law is only supposed to apply to Muslims, in order to seem fair, police have also been punishing Christians and other non-Muslims who drink.

Most recently, what has caught international attention is the blasphemy conviction of Jakarta's former Christian governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok.

The politician, who in April lost his re-election bid, was found guilty of insulting the Islamic faith, stemming from an incident last September where he referenced passages in the Quran, arguing that opponents were trying to use the holy book to deceive people into voting against him.

Although Ahok has maintained that he meant to cause no offense, earlier this week he dropped his appeal against his two-year prison sentence, explaining that he is making the decision "for the sake of our people and nation," World Watch Monitor reported.

Kongkin believes that Ahok dropped his appeal because of his Christian faith, letting God be the judge at the end.

"I respect his decision," the pastor said, noting that it is between him and God.

"He also wants to make the people see that 'I am experiencing this because of injustice. And I am not going to make any appeal, so that everyone can learn from what has happened to me,'" Kongkin said of Ahok.

He claimed that more and more people in Indonesia are indeed seeing the case as an injustice carried out by the court, which has been "influenced by people who have agendas."

Kongkin shared his hopes that this realization will eventually push for the courts to be reformed, as Ahok "didn't do anything to deserve punishment."

"[Ahok] did so many good things for the people — he eradicated corruption, stopped people who like to steal money from government projects; [he] built infrastructure that beautified the city," he said.

"Across the country of Indonesia people are supporting Ahok and are crying that something is done," he added. "We do not want the radical Muslims to eventually take the whole country."

Birthday Celebrations At Orphanage Homes. Let's Make That A Thing.


 I guess we are all still kids then huh?
It was such a joy to be part of something so incredibly gripping. Me and the gang took the celebrations of our friend Aashish’s birthday at a local orphanage home for boys in the city.

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Unfortunately due to technical problems finding the place, we were late. We reached the orphanage way past their dinner time. But as we stepped inside the gate, these cute little kids came gushing towards us as though they have been expecting us  since a decade. We quickly exchanged pleasantries with the lady in control there, “Tai” as the kids would fondly call her. She was obviously not so happy with our punctuality. Errrmm..


We were waiting with a few bunch of boys waiting for the others to conclude dinner. All 20 of them boys looked so radiant and joyful as they tried to test their newly polished English language skills on us. As if they needed validation from us to be “cool”. Heck! they were already so cool!
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We started off with some introductions and went off to play some games we’d decided. These boys were way more disciplined than we expected. It puts me to shame to remember my childhood days when I look at them. The naughty spoiled stubborn kids that we were.
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As it was time to leave, Tai started telling us stories about how these kids come here and about their lives and their background. It hurts to know what these kids have to go through. I couldn’t possibly imagine what it would feel like to be in their place. Certainly couldn’t take all of it with that hole in the soul and smile on the cheeks.


Thank You Aashish, for giving us this opportunity Lets make THIS a trend or whatever!
You can contact the orphanage for donations and help or even pay these kids a visit. They are such a pleasure to be with.
Here are the contact details:
  • Phone/Mobile
    022 – 24130721
  • Address
    No. 16-A, B D D Chawl, B J Deorukhkar Road, Dadar,Mumbai – 400014
    Land Mark: Near C/o Naigum Social Service, opposite Canara Bank
  • Contact Person
  • Working Hours
    Monday – Friday: 10 AM – 5 PM, Saturday: 10 PM – 2 PM

Breaking: North Korea test fires new medium range ballistic missiles, threatens the U.S!

North Korea on Sunday morning launched a new medium range ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan amid U.S president Donald Trump's first international trip to Saudi Arabia.

The missile, is their second missile test in the space of seven days after launching their most successful missile test last week.

The missile flew about 500km and it is believed to have landed in waters off South Korea's east coast, South Korea's military said. New South Korean President Moon Jae-in, reacting to the missile launch, held a National Security Council meeting- this is the second launch test North Korea has had in Moon's short time as president, while the White House said the missile had "a shorter range than the missiles launched in North Korea's three most recent tests".

In a statement, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said they were at "full military readiness" and were "closely monitoring signs for additional provocation by the North Korean military". On Sunday, North Korean state newspaper Minju Joson threatened more missile launches against the United States.

Minju Joson said: "If the US persists in confrontation with the DPRK (North Korea), the latter will show how the crime-woven history of the US is put to an end. "Many more weapons capable of striking the US will be launched from this land. This is the DPRK's answer to the Trump administration."

5 Steps for Finding Freedom From Porn and Masturbation Read

Life would be so much easier if there were a big ole 'recover from porn and masturbation addiction' button lying around, wouldn't it? I know given the chance, many of us would hit that baby so hard it would crush under our enthusiasm. Or maybe frustration is a better word ...
But alas, if it exists, it remains a mystery! That's what brings you here. But, I bring good news, my friend! There is in fact, a big, red button! ... It just looks a little different than you may have imagined.
Instead of slamming down on a shiny hunk of plastic, all you've got to do is be a STARR:
See you're not alone,
Tell someone,
Get Accountable,
Recognise pain,
Restore intimacy.
These are five simple statements that will lead you into finding freedom from porn and masturbation. Let's zoom in on what they mean.

1. See You're Not Alone
The biggest lie addiction feeds you is 'you are alone! If anyone knew, they'd be disgusted!'
 Not true.

 Chances are, someone (well, a lot of someone's) in your life, and in your church are struggling too.
Women are especially vulnerable to this lie. They can feel drained of their femininity and balk in the face of struggling with 'a guy's issue.' But remember, one in three visitors to adult websites are female, and between thirteen and twenty percent of Christian women consider themselves addicted! You are far from alone.
This ministry wouldn't exist if you were the only man or woman struggling. But here we are. Let that sink in.

2. Tell someone:
The Bible refers to Satan as the 'Father of Lies.' He works best in the dark where there is no one to rebuke him. When you confess your struggle, you shed light on that dark place and open a space where truth can be spoken! When you tell someone and are accepted, it flies right in the face of the lie 'You are not worth loving'. It is a taste of the grace of God.

If it were possible to get free on your own, you wouldn't be here, would you?
Recovery is a team effort. As Craig Gross says, 'a good story requires more than one character!'

3. Get Accountable:
You need someone on the outside to speak clarity. Your brain is on autopilot, so you need someone to remind you, 'You don't actually want this, remember?!' in those clouded moments of lust. This means having someone you can text or call at any time (even those crazy hours of the morning) when temptation strikes, meeting regularly (over coffee, Skype or phone) to share victories and struggles, using accountability software or joining a group. Accountability means brutal honesty and vulnerability. But it also means freedom.

4. Recognize Pain:
Sexual addiction is an intimacy disorder. Think of yourself as a tree. The fruit is the behavior you exhibit. But apples don't just grow out of nothing, do they? Their life-force is in the roots. Those who fight sexual compulsion often have their roots in trauma, abuse, abandonment or some other form of ruptured intimacy. Healing comes when you recognize those hidden triggers. It can help to delve into these issues with a mentor, counselor or recovery group. Without dealing with the root, you'll never heal the fruit.

5. Restore Intimacy:
Recovering from addiction isn't about cutting something out of your life. It's about adding to it!
This addition is threefold: With yourself, your community and your God.

Self-intimacy isn't as inappropriate as it sounds! This means self-love and self-care. When was the last time you believed you deserved to be pampered? Be gentle on yourself, nourish your soul and allow yourself a treat!

Community is vital because shame is isolating. It stops you from engaging with the world like you used to. Community is a healing way to re-enter reality. Enjoy sports, hobbies, activities, church or just having semi-regular coffee with some friends. They will start breathing freedom and hope into your lungs.

Of course, true and lasting intimacy is with God. He knows every image and temptation you've faced. And he likes you. He enjoys you! Connect with him however you can, whether that means swearing, running, singing badly, reading theology books or sitting on a beach with him in silence. He longs to come near and hold your heart.

The Bible talks about shining like stars; I'll bet my hermeneutics are off, but you'll sure as heck start shining when you use this process of being a STARR. That big, red 'recovery' button may not be as far off as you think. Get to it.

Originally posted at

Contemporary Christianity in Nigeria and inherent challenges


T is interesting to reason how dynamic Christianity has evolved in the last 100 years in Africa. Nigeria has a population of 170 million people and circa 60 per cent are Christians—25 per cent of this number are nominal Christians. It is therefore not misplaced to use Nigeria as a case study.

At inception of the last century, the colonization of Africa was followed by the introduction of Christianity (Catholics, Angli-cans, Methodists, Baptists etc). It is on record that Christianity (Catholic) was introduced to South/South region of Nigeria as early as the 15th century by the Portuguese. The emergence of slave trade distorted its spread.

The slave trade era witnessed an increase in African practised religion—the African was seek-ing for a true God and ended up taking and accepting the rivers, seas, trees, animals (Snakes, Lions, Elephants, Dogs) as gods.

They worshipped them with great passion and the spirits of these animals possessed them and continued to possess and torment their offsprings even onto the fifth, sixth generations down the family linage.

The missionaries that came to evangelize Africans came along with soldiers and traders: soldiers to protect the administrators and give cover to the traders and missionaries. These clergymen were all from Europe.
The Americans about this period of massive church planting in Africa, were witnessing a fire-brand version of evangelism, spreading the gospel from California to New York, from Houston to Fargo (North Dakota).

Robert Liardon who did a thorough documentary on all the great men and women that he tagged The God’s General, said these men and women endowed with stranger than fiction like miracles literally recreated Christianity, the type practiced in the days of Jesus Christ.

The American pastors continually reminded their congregants that Jesus Christ never said ‘Good bye’ to anyone at the end of his earthly ministries. John 14,12-21; “verily verily I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he also, and greater works than these shall he do because I go unto my father”. In verse 21; “He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me shall be loved of my father, and I will love him and will manifest myself to him.“

The verses tell us unequivocally that Christ’s promise to abide in those that are Christ like, love him and obey the stipulated commandments and above all accept love as the greatest of them all”.

In Nigeria, by the 70s Christianity as was shown to us was going down the drains. Attendance at churches was minimal, pastors had no answer to what was happening and couldn’t do much to salvage the situation.
American pastors sensing a decline in Christianity in the most populous black nation and realizing the impact such a downward trend will have on Christendom and the Afro-Americans (who had commenced changing to other religions) came in strong into Africa. A vibrant form of evangelism came into existence. Bright young African pastors were sent to America to study the act of contemporary Christian religion, they had intensive exposure in America.

On their return to Nigeria a more aggressive form of Christianity came into existence. The recept-ion was incredible and the new brand of worship took all by storm, kick-started a seemingly dying Christian religion.
Pentecostalism was born and they preferred to be called Pentecost-als; what the Americans refer to as ‘evangelicals’.

Benson Idahosa (may his soul rest in peace) was the most outstand-ing of all. He was, to say the least, vibrant in all ramifications. He planted many churches within a very short time which attracted enormous envy among the docile pastors of the conventional churches. The attack came from all angles and different dimensions.

Archbishop Idahosa remained focused, opened several churches that spread all over the south and north central states, trained many pastors and assumed the mentor-ship position. To many Pentecost-al pastors of today, Archbishop Idahosa’s doctrine favored healing, teaching and spreading the gospel.

The vibrant nature of spreading the word and healing which was prominent with Archbishop Idahosa’s followers were absent amongst the conventional pastors. Close to the period following the demise of the Archbishop another dimension was added to the ministry, “deliverance”—this is the act of casting out demons from a possessed body or place and consequently freeing the individ-ual from danger of inherent obstacles that could impede growth in the physical existence.

There appeared to be a clash of doctrine here between the deliverance pastors and the Pentecostals who believed that once a Christian is born again and accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and personal savior, the individual is instantly accepted into the king-dom of God and does not need any deliverance. (John 3:3).

The deliverance pastors insist that until a deliverance is conducted on an individual, no true accept-ance and cleansing can be said to have taken place. They argue that most misfortune ranging from all sorts of ailments, divorce, abort-ions, untimely death, destiny distortions and all manner of manipulations are all conse-quences of inherent unclean spirit that were acquired as a result of association with ungodly things (shrines, idols, etc) and dedicating births of a baby, pregnancies to marine world and sinful lifestyle.

Mark 5:2-13 is very explicit on this issue: A man of unclean spirit approached Jesus Christ, hitherto he was known to be mad and cutting himself with stones. Jesus commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man, and Jesus went further to ask him his name and he answered: “My name is Legion for we are many.” Jesus cast out the unclean spirit which went out and entered into the swine.

My understanding of this pass-age, therefore, is that the madman was possessed by an unclean spirit “evil spirit” contrary to the Holy Spirit. Jesus rebuked the spirit and cast them out. The Legion inside the madman spoke out and answered Jesus. He was instantly delivered from that spirit that tormented him for a long time. The fact remains that there was an evil spirit in him which put him under bondage. He was released and even the unclean spirit spoke to Jesus and not the mad man per se.

The pastors that preached to their congregants that no human being can be possessed by an evil spirit and a situation where someone professes to be evil or has confessed to have acted in an evil way doesn’t exist, and that any such utterance is an aftermath of hypnotism by the deliverance pastor. This assertion has been preached to innocent congregants in most churches where the pastors envy the anointing bestowed on true deliverance pastors.

Ignorance indeed is bliss, for if the so called pastors had an indepth knowledge of the Bible they would have perceived differ-ently. The question in this, in time of great men of God like; John Lake, Smith Wigglesworth, A.A. Allen, William Branham and a host of others, great miracles happened, incredible casting out of demons and deliverances took place in America.

Why didn’t the Nigerian pastors that travelled to USA pick the entire act of evangelism line, sinker and hook. Make no mistake about it, the presence of Holy Spirit that manifests in healing and deliver-ances attract unbelievers to Christ more than any form of induce-ment.

They may have observed quite correctly too that deliverance ministry is the toughest and most intricate of them all and therefore cleverly left it off. The blessing from God bestowed on pastors is multi-faceted. It’s only God Almighty that knows it all and therefore there is need for pastors to share their blessings amongst themselves.

When the congregants they are  supposed to reach see the enorm-ous envy and bickering going on in God’s house; they wonder if the objective in evangelism is actually to win souls to the kingdom of God or to fill and line their pockets and wardrobes with money.

Certain turn of events have commenced: issues that led to the observation of empty pews and churches in Europe are being observed. The youth in their large numbers have commenced ask-ing several questions:
  • Are churches set up to satisfy the families of the founder or have they turned into commercial enterprise?
  • Where is the power that was so eminent in the Bible through Jesus Christ? According to St. Paul (I Corinthians 4:20-21); The word and the manifestation of the Holy Spirit go together.
  • The enormous display of wealth by some pastors is frightening.
  • The youth whose presence clearly portray tomorrow’s state of the Church are increasingly becoming apprehensive of the Church’s ability to give all that they desire.
  • The power and the manifestation of God’s presence appear non-existent anymore in most churches.
  • Questions continuously are asked – when will the promises as relayed in the Bible come to pass.
  • Love that remains the bedrock of early churches or even the evangelical period in America has faded off and are almost non-existent these days in churches or amongst pastors.
  • There appears to be ominous signs, the advanced technology has created access view. Live broadcast of church proceedings on Sundays. Christians prefer to sit in the comfort of their living rooms to listen to sermons, they believe that distance can’t form a barrier against keeping in touch with their faith.
  • Pastors mount the pulpit and openly call fellow pastors un-printable names, arrogate them-selves as if they dine with Al-mighty God, and apparently place themselves as immortals.
True servant of GOD ought to im-bibe completely St. Paul’s advice to the Ephesians and indeed to the entire Christendom (Ephes-ians 4:7-16). “Christians seek not yet repose”.