This was a spectacular three days! SPECTACULAR! That is not just my evaluation but the Chairman of the ECWA district, and Williams Burga the conference organizer. I mentioned yesterday that we need to be aware of the “mountain-top-enthusiasm” the pastors are feeling right now won’t die when they come down off the mountain top. You know what? Driving away today and back to Abuja, where I am right now, I realized I am on a mountain top also and I don’t want to come down!
PREPARING THEM TO CONTEND FOR THE FAITH (JUDE 3)
I mentioned yesterday that these men didn’t need to be persuaded about what they should believe. Their denomination has taught them. They need help with being prepared to contend for and defend the faith. Every chance I got today, I pounded on this point: “You need to know how to answer the questions your church members ask you about the church down the street that has apostles and prophets, that has healing services, and tells us we need to speak in tongues to be Spirit filled. Pastor, now will you answer those questions? Where will you turn in the Bible to answer their questions? You are the shepherd, the guardian of God’s flock put under your care. You have a responsibility to protect them from the “savage wolves” who want to steal them away (Act 20:29).
Throughout the first lecture on the pastor’s preaching ministry, the second on spiritual warfare, and the last on the prosperity gospel I was able to hit on that theme.
I am pretty confident the message came across.
The ECWA District Chairman had words expressing deep gratitude… DEEP, SINCERE GRATITUDE! He acknowledged how each lecture hit on things they were struggling with, as pastors, RIGHT NOW. A pastor or two said the same thing during a break. He said the three days had re-awakened them to what ministry is all about. One pastor came up to me during a break and thanked me and confessed he had been conducting ministry the wrong way and would correct what he is doing.
Williams Burga, the conference organizer and a former ECWA pastor, had this to say when I asked him to describe the week: “The pastors were enthusiastic, teachable, eager to learn, and could relate to everything you were saying. You (Steve) connected with them.”
Men and women, this was a SPECTACULAR WEEK and my prayer is that it is only the beginning. Let me explain.
IS IT TIME TO SPEND MORE TIME PREPARING THE TROOPS TO DO BATTLE?
I have made a point in my posts to explain how strategic Nigeria to Africa and increasingly to the world. By 2060 Nigeria is projected to be the third largest Christian populated in the world and 6 of the top 10 will be in Africa. And it is not too much of a stretch to say “as goes Nigeria, so goes the Africa.”
IS IT ME, LORD?
For years I’ve been trying to recruit an ITEM Associate to become ITEM’s point man in Nigeria. It hasn’t happened and now that Nigeria is requiring people under 65 to appear in person to get a visa, it will be even more difficult. I am beginning to wonder if I’m the one. I just got a two-year visa (thru June 2021). I’m over 65 so I can get a visa just by sending in the paperwork. AND I have a great burden for Nigeria. I’ve told others that it almost like walking into a spiritual “lion’s den” when you are doing serious Bible ministry in Nigeria. And there is no other place where you have the potential of impacting so many. ECWA alone has 1500-2000 pastors in Nigeria. For years, YEARS, I’ve been saying Nigeria needs its own Martin Luther. What an honor it would be to help raise up an army of Luther’s in Nigeria as I head down the home stretch of my ministry years. NOTE: This will not change anything ITEM is doing in Africa generally. It will just put a specific focus of mine on Nigeria.
Friends, the dreams I’m having on this mountain top right now are pretty exciting. I’ll try to remember to share them with you Saturday. (Tomorrow is a travel day and there will be no report.)
Q: (After my lecture on spiritual warfare) Is it proper to pray and cover our houses, cars, families, and members with the blood of Christ? Some evangelical people are praying in the blood of Jesus to cover these things. ANS: Ask these people to please show you in Scripture that we are supposed to do that. I do not know of any example.
Q: (After the lecture on spiritual warfare.) Does God inflict diseases, poverty, disabilities, accidents, etc, as punishment for sin in the life of a believer? ANS: How many of our sins were forgiven when we became a Christian? (ALL, past present future). No, God does not punish believers who sin. But the Bible says He disciplines those He loves. That’s us. He disciplines us like a father disciplines his children. He does it out of love so we’ll become more like Christ.
Q: (After the lecture on spiritual warfare.) You said we do not have the right to rebuke or bind Satan. What about the passage that says we have been given authority to cast our demons? How can we cast them out without rebuking and binding Satan? ANS: Nowhere in Scripture are we told we have authority to cast out demons. The verses that are normally pointed to are at the end of Mark 16. But those verses did not even show up in any of the gospel of Mark manuscripts until 800 years after Mark wrote his gospel. It seems someone added them about them. Regarding binding and rebuking: No person, not even the angels rebuked the devil in the Bible. And nowhere are we told to bind Satan. The verses that speak of binding are in the church discipline context.
Q: Explain the Scripture that says that “an evil spirit came upon Saul from the Lord.” ANS: An evil spirit was given to king Saul by the Lord.” God is ultimately in charge of everything and he gave king Saul an evil spirit for His own purposes.
There are two more I’ll save. 1. What are at the root of the decline of the gospel in the Western world and how can the church in Africa avoid such pitfalls? 2. It has been said that Africans are more oral learners rather than literal learners. If this is true, how can expository preaching appeal to them?
Remind me to tell you about Muslims and Christians cooperating. I saw some things I’d like to remember to pass on.
Remind me to mention this Saturday.
Tomorrow is a travel day. I fly 5 hours to Ethiopia. Have a 3 hour layover then fly to Nairobi. I’ll arrive there about 1:20am Saturday. 3:20pm Friday PST.
Thanks for praying. The three days in Jos were SPECTACULAR!
By His grace,
Pictures added today have no captions. They are pics I took driving from Jos to Abuja. I don’t think they need explanation.