On Critics..

​It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually try to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

Excerpt from Courageous Living by Michael Catt, Senior Pastor, Sherwood Church, Georgia.

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

I Slept With Tamar

Crying Man

I remember the first day she smiled at me
She had tied my heart with strong reins
And I became a willful captive, bound by
The simple thought of my mistress

Her voice became my very bread, I
Would wake up everyday hoping to hear
The voice that made me come alive inside,
The words that could set me on fire

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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