Categories
Suffering

Enduring for the Prize

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a famous actor, businessman, politician, and former professional bodybuilder.

He grew up in Austria in humble circumstances and in his teens committed himself to bodybuilding – and to be the best bodybuilder.

At age 20 he won the Mr. Universe title.

Arnold would train six days a week, twice a day when preparing for a contest.  Moreover, he would also train each muscle group three times a week. 

It was rumoured that Arnold would need to train with at least three different training partners because no one could keep up with him.

He is a magnificent example of commitment, dedication, hard work, single-mindedness and enduring hardship for the sake of the prize – and he won the prize.

The Apostle Paul knew that for Christians there is an even greater, grander, eternal prize that motivates them. He knew that we, as Christians, must answer to Jesus and either receive reward or rebuke.

Categories
Suffering

Lord, why am I suffering?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.


2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Affliction and suffering are a God-ordained part of the normal Christian life.

One of the reasons God ordains affliction, suffering and illness in the Christian’s life is that he or she can in turn help others who are going through similar affliction, hardship and illness.

Many Christian groups have dedicated “Healing Services”.  Typically, the pastor calls the diseased, disabled or despairing person to the front and claims their healing in Jesus’ name.

However, in 2 Corinthians 1:3-11, we read that God has ordained that Christians face affliction for a purpose – to help, encourage and comfort others facing affliction.

It may well be God’s will to heal the diseases, disabled or despairing Christian (through miracle or medicine), but that’s God’s work not ours.  We should certainly pray for God to heal people, but it’s always with the caveat, “Your will be done, not ours”. 

It may also not be God’s will to heal as God may have an even greater purpose in mind. 

Pastors certainly do not have the power or authority to claim healings in Jesus’ name.

Categories
Bad Theology

The return of the super-apostles

For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.

The Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:4-6

The lights were turned down low and the music played softly.  The pastor entered majestically through the church doors and immediately all the beams of light were turned on maximum strength and focused on him.

There was an expectant hush in the crowd.  The anointed “Man of God” (as the pastor liked to call himself) had arrived.

His teeth sparkled and his eyes twinkled as he reached the golden pulpit.

God had revealed to the pastor the secret of walking in His favour and blessing. 

The pastor didn’t need a Bible as God revealed his Prophetic Word – sometimes contradicting the Bible – directly to the pastor; but that was no problem as the Spirit was clearly at work.

The pastor’s sermons were awesome: Jesus died for your sins, sickness and sorrow. No more suffering.  No more second-best.  No more sub-standard Christianity. You simply need to have enough faith.

This was real, victorious, triumphant Christianity!

God was clearly working through this Man of God and the church was growing.

Another man, known as the Apostle Paul, had started the church, but it turned out that he was a bit of a loser.  He was constantly suffering, continually facing hardships, not a great orator, not a rich man, always working, and he never even asked for money.

What kind of a church leader is that?  No thank you, not for us.

We want a super-sized Christianity. Not the weak, suffering, faith-without-sight Christianity the Apostle Paul had to offer.

Categories
Suffering

Making sense of our suffering

What has been your most difficult trial in the last couple of years?

Sickness, strained relationships, persecution, isolation, financial difficulties, family problems?

Today, as all through the ages, people have different responses to trials, suffering and hardship.

They may think, “God obviously doesn’t care about me.”

Or, “God has deserted and abandoned me.”

Or, “I must have done something wrong and God is punishing me.”

Or, “Christianity is just a farce.  If God really did love me this would not be happening.”

The Christians, to whom the Apostle Peter wrote the letter we know as “1 Peter”, were also suffering and facing many trials.

Categories
Missions

Gospel ministry probably isn’t for you

Last words are important.

It’s a common and good practice to have a Last Will and Testament where you express how, after your death, you want your assets to be distributed and any other instructions that are important to you.

It was surprising when a Manhattan woman who died in 2015 left R1.4 million to her 32 cockatiels, her cat and her dog, along with specific instructions on how her beloved birds should be fed – which included popcorn.

However, that’s small-fry compared to a German-Shepherd named Gunther (a dog!), who was bequeathed R1.2 billion from his owner, a countess, when she died in 1991.

Your last words can tell a lot about you, your priorities and your concerns.