The Perfect Sunday Service 

Sunday Worship

When someone says “church”, what immediately comes to mind would be a traditional Sunday Worship Service. I believe that`s why most folks (about 50 percent of the entire population in many local churches) find it easier to miss weekly services. Services like the Prayer Meeting and the Bible Study Meeting record such low turnout from members. Members don`t feel so bad when they don`t come to church on those days, but will have guilt overshadowing them when they try to miss a Sunday Service.

The atmosphere is different on Sundays. Everyone somehow looks tushed up on a Sunday. Even the members who attend weekly services will dress better on a Sunday. In other words, no meeting that occurs weekly in any local church equals the Sunday Service in importance to the average church-goer.

The controversial topic of service structure is one that I really try to avoid, but is also one that I have been unable to. What should be part of a service? How should a service be ordered? What should come before what? I`m sure you must have asked some of these questions before, except if you have not been attending church services. Now, I have friends who speak against services with such rigid structures that there actually is no space for spontaneity. They Holy Spirit, they argue, can be restricted in such services. Everyone will have their unique views on this. But what really makes a service complete? Continue reading

Advertisements

The 21st Century Minister: The Spoken Gospel [Pt. Two]

Pastor

Man preaching

Note: This is the second post on a series in The 21st Century Minister section. To read the first post, click here.

I was excited. I was very excited. I was going to finally see the man that I respected so much. I tried so hard to get my roommates excited. They hadn’t heard of him before, so their expressions had been indifferent each time I chattered endlessly about the teaching ability of this man. I had stumbled upon his teachings the year before and simply fell in love with the way he taught God’s word. He spoke with such calmness that the authority could be detected in his voice. I respected him. My fellowship was finally inviting him, this great icon in my head, to one of our major programs. I was enthusiastic. I was finally going to see him and listen to him live. My heart was open from the very first day of the Conference. I sang and worshipped God with joy in my heart. I was ready to be blessed. I was ready to receive from God’s servant. Even the devil’s most experienced minions weren’t going to take away my blessings. But what I experienced wasn’t what I had been expecting for long. I experienced what my Dad had indirectly told me to expect years before.

Continue reading

He’s Not God

I love History. There are not so many things that I love to study. However, History is one of the subjects that make me smile. Funny, I’ve never been in a History class. Church History, in particular, can wake me up at any time of the night. I remember chatting with a friend not so long ago and she asked how I could remember all of the names and the dates. Well, you don’t struggle in anything that you love.

One thing that History will fail to give us is a perfect representation of the lives that we study. No historian can re-present events exactly as they occurred and say that everything happened that way. That’s why historians disagree a lot. Regardless of this “lack of accuracy”, we can still learn an awful lot about people, events and nations. So, History isn’t a waste of our time.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been studying the lives of the Wesley Brothers. John and Charles Wesley were born in a time that a revival was very much needed. After the Reformers died, things went stale for a while. The trio of John Wesley, Charles Wesley and George Whitfield introduced open field preaching in England and preached to thousands. Benjamin Franklin calculated that Whitefield’s voice could be heard by more than thirty thousand listeners.

John Wesley outlived the other two, despite being older than them, and shook the world for Christ. He preached more than forty thousand sermons and published more than five thousand sermons, pamphlets, and books of all kinds. Today, the Methodist Church (founded by John, Charles and George) boasts of over 70 million members.

The name John Wesley may sound familiar to you. You may have even sang some of Charles Wesley’s hymns in church. I simply knew them as brothers who founded Methodism before now. What shocked me about my little study was the fact that their lives weren’t perfect. They had flaws, made mistakes and messed up in many ways. It’s really easy to point out faults from this side of time. What we seem to forget is that we’re not perfect either.

A sleek suit during every ministration. Polished English. A nice smile. A well-mannered and hospitable wife. Respectable kids. Sincerity. Honesty. Every good virtue that exists. All that we expect from ministers today. We forget that they are not God.

I remember struggling not so long ago with a habit and wondering how God felt. Will He still use me? With all my silliness, weakness and doubts? I just mess up so many times. I don’t pray enough, study enough, witness enough, fast enough.. I just fall short in every area. Will He still use me?

John Wesley had a troubled marriage. He was an itinerant preacher with a jealous wife. He made mistakes. She made mistakes. His marriage is not one that any living Methodist will want to look to as a model. Despite the respect and reverence that I have for John Wesley as a minister who took the gospel to the poor and needy, I won’t want to ever have a marriage like his. One time when Wesley left for a ministry tour in Ireland in 1758, Molly (his wife) reported that her husband’s parting words to her were: “I hope I shall see your wicked face no more.”

I stumbled upon a website during my little study and I was surprised at how John and the authenticity of his ministry was lambasted and ridiculed because of the terrible marriage that he had. What they forget is that he’s not God. I don’t celebrate his failed marriage. I, however, do not judge him because of it.

When I long for perfection, I don’t look to man. I look to Jesus. What amazes me is how God continually uses the weak, unworthy and imperfect vessels to show forth His glory. And He’ll continually use the weak vessels until the day Christ returns.

He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,

nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.

As high as heaven is over the earth,

so strong is his love to those who fear him.

Ps. 103:10-11 [MSG]

So, don’t expect that man to be God. He’ll fail and make mistakes. Your job is to continually pray for him. Truth be told, if the church will criticize her ministers less and pray more for them, they’ll be involved in lesser scandals. If you want a better report about that pastor, bishop, deacon, etc. then you must pray more and criticize less. They’re not God. Don’t expect them to be God.

For God selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is foolish to put the wise to shame, and what the world calls weak to put the strong to shame.

And God also selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is lowborn and insignificant and branded and treated with contempt, even the things that are nothing, that He might depose and bring to nothing the things that are,

So that no mortal man should [have pretense for glorying and] boast in the presence of God.

1 Cor. 1:27-29

Adìos!

© Eleazar Maduka, 2017

The 21st Century Minister: The Spoken Gospel [Pt. One]

Great Commission

The Great Commission – Mk. 16:15


I stopped by the fourth stall in the market that had what I was looking for. It wasn’t really a stall. The Hausa man in charge of the goods just had an umbrella which shielded him and his goods from the onslaught of the hot sun. This left customers like myself in the hot sun. Just as I bent down to touch the first good that caught my attention, I heard the voice of a man over a megaphone. I was used to the locals advertising their goods with the aid of megaphones, ranging from insecticides to herbal drugs that supposedly cured infertility.

I turned around to see the person who was advertising his wares. It turned out that he wasn’t advertising any wares. I caught a glimpse of him just as he disappeared into the crowd. He was not very tall and I could clearly detect a strong Igbo accent as he talked. He was a street preacher. I couldn’t hear his message clearly. This was due to the fact that the market was boisterous and mainly because the megaphone battery was almost dead. I turned back to the man who had what I wanted to buy and started haggling over an initial price that I had thought was simply absurd. I totally forgot about the street preacher.

Imagine my surprise then when I saw another woman with a megaphone in another section of the market that I had gone to. She was headed toward the same direction that I was. This gave me the opportunity to look at her properly. What immediately caught my attention was the fact that she wore a green jacket. The only church in Nigeria that I knew of that wore green jackets was The Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Ministries International (that’s the name that I know of). Her jacket had somewhat faded, but I could clearly spell the word C-H-O-S-E-N written boldly with red ink at her back.

This woman preacher was clearly Igbo, judging by the way she pronounced words. The battery in her megaphone was also almost dead. But I was able to pick out some of the things that she was saying. “Holiness” and “righteousness” were two words which she used often. In my mind, I said that I wasn’t surprised. I know of many churches in Nigeria that we the younger generation (who don’t attend those churches) refer to as Holiness Churches. Simply put, a Holiness Church is one where Holiness can be preached every Sunday for five years and the pastor won’t feel the need to change the style of his sermons. I currently attend a kind of Holiness Church so I can relate a little with such messages. My uncle is also a pastor in one of such churches.

But what struck me was the way she used words. She mixed present and past tenses, without any obvious regard for the grammatical rules that govern the English Language. I have one big weakness: I can hardly sit down and listen to people make grammatical errors without correcting them. This annoys many of my friends, but I somehow cannot stop. It’s my Achilles’ heel. And I looked at a woman preaching and inwardly mocked her due to her weak command of the English Language.

Just as I was about to leave that part of the market, I was reprimanded by the Holy Spirit.

“At least she’s obeying my command. She’s doing what you’re not doing.”

At this point, I had to ask for mercy. I had been wrong. I had been terribly wrong. The man and the woman were clearly obeying the Lord’s command and I was mocking them. The female street preacher then went on to lead those who had responded to the Gospel through the Sinner’s Prayer. I knew that no one was probably listening, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was her obedience.

How many times have you looked down on those who do ministry or serve the Lord differently from you? Maybe they don’t sing well enough. Maybe they don’t teach or interpret scriptures well enough. Many they don’t even know how to dress well when they minister! Folks, what matters is that they’re obedient.

Dear Minister, the Lord still considers obedience to be better than whatever you think you’re sacrificing that the others aren’t. When last did you obey the Great Commission? 

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Rom. 10:14 (NIV)

I’ll like to hear from you. Have you ever looked down on a minister? Do you think that certain ways of sharing the Gospel are better than others? Don’t forget to drop your contributions in the comment box below.

Adìos!

© Eleazar Maduka, 2017

The Devil Also Dresses Like God

© Google Images

Will you recognize a devil when you see one? Do you honestly think that you’ll be able to spot the differences between the devil and God when you see him? For many, the way to differentiate the devil from God is by their works. While this is a good way, I strongly believe that it is not sufficient. I know of folks who expect only good things from God and never bad things. In the same boat with them are those who believe that all bad things are from the devil.

There’s a little flaw in that theological standpoint. Do we assume that the devil never gives good things? If we’re to recognize the devil only by his works, then we’re faced with a big problem because the devil also gives things that appear as good things. Do we also assume that God never sends trials? Trials never appear as good things. Trials are different from temptations. Temptations are meant to make you fall, not to make you stand. Trials are meant to make you stronger. And yes, trials do come from God. He doesn’t tempt us, but He tests us. So, works is a poor way to sufficiently differentiate between God and the devil.

If we judge simply by sight, we’ll never be able to adequately tell when the devil acts. A lot of folks have mistaken attacks from the devil as tests from God. So, we see believers struggling with certain habits and saying that it’s their thorn in flesh. People take the experience of Paul out of context and make excuses for their struggles. We must learn to differentiate between God’s acts and the devil’s. We must learn to know when Jesus is in the boat and when He’s not. I find this as a very important part of our walk.

While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.

Job 1:16 [KJV]

The servant of Job knew that God sent lightning. He knew that it was part of His many capabilities. But at that moment, he mistook the lightning as God’s fire. He saw what he had been taught to believe as fire from God. There was no way that he would have imagined that the fire hadn’t been from God. The truth, however, had been that the fire had been orchestrated by the devil. Oh yes, the devil also dresses like God!

How many times have men who were full of the Spirit mistaken the fire from the devil as though it was from God. Jesus had even said, “Fake messiahs and lying preachers are going to pop up everywhere. Their impressive credentials and dazzling performances will pull the wool over the eyes of even those who ought to know better.” [Matt. 24:24, MSG]

We’re certain of two things. The first is that false men will surface (and they will look exactly like the real guys). Their works will look like the real thing even. Secondly, note that Jesus didn’t say that these guys might come. He said that they would come. Here again we see the believer faced with the task of knowing who is God’s and who is not. As in our day, when we have so many ministries, the believer is faced with the serious task of discerning who’s right and who’s not.

How will you know when the devil dresses like God? How do you define a move of God? How many times has God left and His children still announced His Presence? How exactly will one know when He’s in the room? These are tough questions for many. And I believe that tough questions need answers. Enough of people being our god. Every believer can know who is God’s man and who’s not. A lot don’t just know how to.

All answers can be easily answered using Scriptures. All, not some. God is not One who confuses His people. No, He’s not. He’s a Father that wants His children to understand Him.

Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.

Jer. 9:23-24 [KJV]

I hope to go on a journey on this blog and share how we can answer some of these questions. Thanks for stopping by. Expect more in the weeks to come. Remain blessed!

© Eleazar Maduka

The 21st Century Minister: An Introduction


For weeks now, I’ve had a strong burden to write about the 21st Century Minister. I guess I could call this a leading, because that’s what it actually is. I’ve tried to shy away from writing anything on ministers. Mainly because of two reasons.

Firstly, I’m not an ordained minister. I have no right to write about ministry. I know nothing about ministry. I currently don’t pledge my allegiance to one specific ministry. I’m just a worker in several ministries. I’m yet to fully pledge my loyalty to any ministry. How would someone like that write on ministers? I’m the most unqualified to write on ministry. I don’t feel one bit qualified to say anything about ministers or ministry.
Secondly, I’ve not been trained in things pertaining ministry. I’m yet to even attend a Bible School. The only training that I’ve ever received in church was the Workers’ Training that I had to undergo before becoming a worker in my school fellowship. I’m more of a self-educated believer. I’m not currently under a discipler. I’m Jesus’ disciple. How can one who’s not so knowledgeable write about ministers? I myself cannot answer you.
Why then am I doing this? Well, I’ve been unable to brush the topic off my heart for weeks now. We were rehearsing one Saturday in church and my friend got me talking about the Deliverance Ministry. Coincidentally, I was to take a class in the next day’s Sunday School. The topic had been Discipline and Deliverance. After talking with my friend at length that Saturday, I’ve had a strong burden to write something, no matter how small it may seem, on the 21st Century Minister.

I find this topic surprisingly interesting. Have you wondered how a 1st Century Minister would have looked like? Have you ever wondered if those guys back then had the special privileges that our ministers today have? Did you ever notice that we have expanded what ministry would have looked like during the time of the Apostles? Did they have Dance Ministries? How about Deliverance Ministries? Did they have Women Ministries? Do these numerous ministries have biblical support? Are they necessary? Who invented them? These are questions that I intend to try to answer in the coming months.
This is meant to be a series. I promised to write a series some time ago and reneged on that promise. I’ll try to be faithful and true this time around. It’s going to be a wonderful time. I hope to learn a lot. I know you do too. As usual, the goal is for all to be blessed. It’s all for my King and His Kingdom.
GOD bless you.


© Eleazar Maduka, 2016.