Dear ITEM Partners,
The Lagos seminar has ended. It was a fun day and a good day. After excitement on Tuesday, followed by questions and concerns on Wednesday, God provided clarity, I believe, today. But the real fun was a belated 70th birthday celebration!
TODAY’S LECTURE LINEUP
Joel started the day with a lecture on the Power of Preaching from the book of Jonah. I followed with The Pattern of Biblical Preaching, using Nehemiah 8 as a model (Ezra read the Law to the people. Then explained it so there was understanding.) Joel was next up with Passion for Biblical Preaching from 1 Tim 4:13-16. I took the fourth hour of the morning; Expository Preaching Defined and Explained. We as a ministry are “sold out” and uncompromisingly committed to the systematic teaching of Scripture week by week from the pulpit. We believe it is highly critical here in Africa where there is so little actual knowledge of what the Bible actually teaches.
After the fourth lecture and before lunch, they brought out a birthday cake for me and there was a HUGE celebration with about 1000 pictures taken with individuals, with groups, and just me.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME
From what Joel told me, what turned this into a big bash was that I just turned 70 (January 2). Birthday’s are celebratory anyway, in this culture, but those ending in zero especially 50, 60, 70…get very special attention and the larger the number is before the zero, the bigger the deal.
So, they brought out the cake and made me put on the huge “coat” over my shirt and trousers. (See the picture album.) Then they started singing happy birthday and it seemed like they sang it one time for each year…70…they sang it over and over and over. Then I posed cutting the cake (See the picture album.) And people wanted to be photographed with me. And that went on. . . . well, a very long time.
Then there were speakers who honored me with kind words. The seminar organizer read the history of ITEM from our website. Then I was presented with a financial gift, their birthday present to me.
After 30-40 minutes of celebration they asked me to speak. I told them that if this is how they treat those who turn 60 and 70, then I am coming back when I am 80. They laughed and cheered.
GOD PROVIDES CLARITY
After Tuesday, I was considering giving additional attention to Nigeria and even Lagos in particular because of the impact Nigeria and Lagos has on Africa and increasingly to the world.
Then after seeing to content in the spiritual warfare book that our seminar organizer wrote, I felt like I had stepped into a very cold shower and had to take a step back.
Well, today, while Joel was lecturing, I looked (again) at the potential lecturer exam Michael (seminar organizer) took after our first seminar here last July. For the most part, his answers were right on. Honestly, some were almost too good, like he was just quoting out of ITEM’s notes. BUT I will assume he was answering on his own.
Then I considered that he has signed the ITEM Agreement for team members which has a long list of things he must affirm and deny (all doctrinally related). So, in the big picture, the only current concern (assuming his signature is good) is his book on spiritual warfare and his tendency to lead a Pentecostal-style prayer time.
If we are committed to leading pastors to preach and teach the Bible in context and systematically, then they will need to know how to study effectively to discover the meaning of a passage that they will preach from.
So, I asked how many had attended any classes on how to study the Bible and less than 10% raised their hand. No wonder there is so much bad preaching. If you don’t know how to study the Bible, you have to rely on what others tell you. The result? Bad preaching and bad theology keeps getting handed down.
The next step now seems obvious. Bring in men who are serious about wanting to bring the believers in their church to maturity and teach them how to study for a sermon and create and preach edifying, faith building growth causing sermons. We have already started the discussion.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q: Does the Holy Spirit leave a believer that backslides or continues in sin? ANS: In John 10:27-29 Jesus says that He gives His sheep eternal life, they will not perish, no one can snatch them out of His had or His Father’s hand. In Romans 8:29-30 Paul writes that those whom God foreknew He predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ, He called them, justified (saved) them, and glorified them (brought them to heaven) all in advance. And vvs. 38-39…NOTHING will separate us (believers) from the love of Christ. I also took time to explain passages like Heb 6:4-6 and 2 Peter 2:20-22. I could have gone on to Mark 4 (souls) and John 15 (vine and branch) but didn’t want to take the time.
Q: 1 Tim 4:1-4 and 2 Tim 3:1-8 describes people’s behavior in the end times. Are we in the end times? ANS: Yes. In fact, we have been in the end times since Paul wrote these verses because he was describing people Timothy was dealing with.
I will stop here. There are still a few questions I have not passed along. Tomorrow is an off day (sort of) an I’ll pass on a few more tomorrow.
IMPORTANT MEETINGS FRIDAY
Tomorrow, I will be meeting with Michael and talking about the future of ITEM here in Lagos. I need to talk to him about our very different views of spiritual warfare and a couple of other things. He is already referring to himself as ITEM’s SW Nigeria Coordinator but we haven’t affirmed that. He is a great organizer but he we need to be compatible doctrinally and philosophically (ministry wise). I hope to hear that tomorrow. PRAY FOR THAT PLEASE.
The second meeting is with Gary Maxey, founder of and prof at West Africa Theological Seminary, Nigeria’s largest non-denominational seminary in Nigeria, and the school’s provost. I will be seeing if there is some way we can work together, combining their formal training with our non-formal training. PRAY FOR THAR ALSO PLEASE.
THANKS FOR PRAYING
I want to thank those of you were remembered to pray about my health. I think I mentioned that at the end of the sessions yesterday I was very light headed, feeling slightly dizzy. I was hoping it was the extreme heat and maybe a lack of nutrition. I improved during the night. The put a fan near the pulpit today. I had them buy some nuts I could snack on during the morning. And things returned to normal, best that I can tell. THANKS for praying and THANKS to God!
By His grace,