This year, 2017, marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation that started in Germany in 1517.
There are a couple of things we take for granted in our church services:
- It is in an understandable language
- We have Bibles
- The Bible is read and explained
- We pray together, sing together and take part in some way
- The gospel is explained
If we were attending a church 500 years ago in Europe, none of these would have happened. Europe in Medieval times was a spiritually dark, superstitious place. The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) ruled supreme. All roads led to Rome where the Pope ruled over all things religious. The Pope was (and still is) believed to be the spiritual successor to the Apostle Peter and the Vicar of Christ i.e. Christ’s representative on earth. Without Father Pope there could be no church, without Mother Church there could be no salvation.
Continue reading Why I am not a Roman Catholic #REACH500
According to body- image surveys, most girls are overly concerned about weight and body shape. They strive for their “perfect” body and judge themselves by their looks.
Most boys are also concerned with their body, their size and strength. Boys live in a culture that showcases males as glamorous, “macho” figures, who build muscles and sculpt their bodies – if they want to fit in.
The media plays a big part. Surrounded by photo-shopped models, teenagers and adults are presented with an impossible goal. A female should apparently look like Barbie and a male should look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. In our image-dominated world, image is everything and we are taught to hate any imperfections or deficiencies.
This creates depression and anxiety, because very few of us look like Barbie or Arnold – nor were we meant to. How do you think about yourself? Do you have a low self-image? Perhaps you have a glaring imperfection, disability or limitation, that causes you to think less of yourself? Perhaps you even think you’re worth less to God?
Continue reading You don’t have to be Arnold Schwarzenegger (or Barbie)
Last year Tanzania elected a new President, John Magufuli. He is unlike all the presidents before him in that he is not interested in being a strong man with a lavish lifestyle, but rather a servant of the people.
Soon after his election, he declared there would be no celebration of Independence Day because it would be “shameful” to spend huge sums of money on the celebrations when Tanzanians’ were dying of cholera.
Instead, he has said everybody should pick up their tools and clean their backyards. After his first official visit to the Muhimbili Hospital, he ordered over 200 million shillings marked for “parliament parties” be used to pay for beds for people lying on the floor and sharing beds. He dismissed the hospital’s governing board and within days the broken MRI was fixed.
Three days into his presidential term, Magufuli announced a ban on all foreign travel by government officials. He said that’s what ambassadors were employed for. Instead, government officials have been instructed to make regular visits to rural areas to help solve problems facing everyday Tanzanians.
At the National Assembly, the President sent out the message that it will not be business as usual and now has an unprecedented 90% approval rating.
We love leaders who are willing to serve the people. We dislike leaders who think they are above us, think they are high and mighty and travel in blue-light brigades.
Continue reading How do we deal with differences of opinion in the church?
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, (and by implication, sisters) by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship… (Romans 12:1)
The apostle Paul wrote to Christians (he calls them brothers, and by implication, sisters) and used the word “therefore” in Romans 12:1. Paul said, “As a result of all that I have written in Ch. 1-11 about the mercies of God, I urge you – as a necessarily consequence, present your bodies as a living sacrifice”.
Continue reading Why you don’t go to church to worship
We are familiar with the idea of separation. We’ve all experienced it at one time or another.
Jesus taught that at the end of this age there is going to be a separation. According to Jesus, this world is not going to continue forever. There will be a supernatural end, a cataclysmic event, a universal conclusion to this present age. Jesus called this “the Son of Man coming in his glory”. Jesus, who first came into our world as a baby born in humble circumstances, will return again as the all-powerful King, who sits in judgment over the nations of the world. Then there will be a separation between what Jesus refers to as goats and the sheep. Those that belong to Christ, the sheep, the King welcomes them into his kingdom. To the goats, those who have rejected Christ, the King says the exact opposite: to depart from him “into the eternal fire” of “eternal punishment”. (cf. Matthew 25:31-32, 41, 46)
Continue reading The horror of hell and planting churches
Romans 8:28 may sound like a cliché, but it’s profoundly true. In times of turmoil and tragedy it is the Christian’s great comfort and solid ground.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
The Apostle Paul writes, “And we know”. He assumes the Christians in Rome would have been taught this foundational truth about the sovereignty of God.
Continue reading All things for good
I’m sure you also enjoy watching the home renovation shows on TV. The family goes away for a few days, a specialized building and renovation team come in, and when the family turns they can’t believe their eyes. There is a new, improved, better house and everyone’s happy, crying and hugging.
The Bible tells us that this is what’s going to happen to our world and universe. At a time in the future that only God knows, our present world and universe will be set free from its bondage to corruption and be totally renovated, renewed and transformed into what God intended it to be.
Continue reading Wait, don’t emigrate