EARS BUT DON’T HEAR

Hi Everyone,

Ghana is the newest ITEM ministry field. This is the first time I’ve been here. My trusted assistant, Nathan Chiroma, was here last year and reported back that many of the things we see in Nigeria are here as well. He was right. Maybe I should have been expecting what we have encountered but I wasn’t completely prepared.

THE FEEDING OF THE 150 WHEN 100 WAS PLANNED FOR

Before getting into what we’ve found, I’ll briefly catch you up on some seminar details. We budgeted for 100. Many times less than expected show up This time it is the opposite. There were close to 150 by the time all showed up. The coordinator is going to have to stretch the money. I didn’t bring extra.

DAY ONE LECTURES AND THEMES

The first day of the seminar, four lectures. The goal is to establish the Scriptures as the only resource we use and there it has all that God says we need. We cover a philosophy of ministry which puts the recognition of God’s holiness at the center. After my two lectures, Bill followed with the pastor’s call and his role as servant, example, and steward of God’s Word. And finally, Bill did the lecture on qualifications of leadership from 1 Tim 3:1-7.

Knowing that there are a myriad of false beliefs swirling around us the way we try to expose them is within the context of studying a passage of Scripture. Here are a few examples from day one:

  • Jude 3 says the faith (God’s revelation) was given once and for all so if someone claims to have a revelation from God it can’t be since it was handed down once and for all.
  • Deut 18:18-20 is follow up – If a prophet was ever wrong, they were put to death. If someone claims to be a prophet today and is ever wrong, they’d be put to death if this was the OT. I gave several examples of what I’ve observed.
  • Since the Bible is sufficient (2 Tim 3:16), we don’t need dreams, visions, or revelations to get direction from God. Col 2:8, 18 warn us about letting people mislead us by their dreams and visions and deceptive philosophies and traditions
  • One qualification of leadership (1 Tim 3:2) is that he is a “husband on one wife.” Since a woman cannot be a husband, a woman is not to serve as a pastor.

These are examples of how we deal with unbiblical beliefs throughout the week.

GHANA INFLUENCED BY NIGERIA?

Coming to Ghana for the first time I expected to see some of what I see in Nigeria; church signs everywhere with supernatural sounding names and slogans. It comes across as marketplace marketing. I have not been disappointed.

But I didn’t expect our newly formed team to be in need of serious doctrinal correction. I probably should have.

REVEALING CONVERSATION

I sat down with one member of the team this afternoon and we started chatting. In the course of the conversation he mentioned the phrase “prophetic word.” That phrase is a bright yellow flag. As I questioned him, he explained that we can receive a prophetic word from God. I asked him how he knew it was from God? He had no answer.

EARS BUT DON’T HEAR

But here is the bigger issue. I talked about these things in our orientation team meeting yesterday. I talked about them again in the first lecture today. And it apparently sailed right over his head. But I think here is an even bigger issue. He (like so many others) can intellectually agree with what you are saying in a lecture and even sign a doctrinal statement demonstrating agreement yet, with a clear conscience, continue to do what they (he) have always done. I honestly believe that many have never been taught to “connect the dots.” They have been doing and saying things for so long, and all of those they hear next door or on TV are saying similar things, that when you point out the error, they see it, they acknowledge it, but they don’t seem to see themselves as holding that belief or that what they practice demonstrates that they hold that belief. They don’t recognize the contradiction. You have to point it out for them.

I’ve had different Africans tell me over the years, “The way you teach makes us think and we need to learn to think.” Romans 12:2 says “be transformed by the renewing of your MIND (i.e. by changing the way you think).

NO Q&A TODAY

Normally at this point I’d add the list of questions and answers from today’s Q&A session. But it is getting late and this is long enough already so I’ll add them tomorrow.

Pray for Bill and I as we go through the week. Pray that we touch on the right themes that are outside of the notes. And pray that the attendees will have their spiritual eyes opened to see any contradictions between what say they say they believe and how they live.

Thanks.

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By His grace,

Steve

1 thought on “EARS BUT DON’T HEAR”

  1. Steve,
    What a tremendous opening blog! You never fail to amaze me with how you draw on God’s strength and empowerment to accomplish such vital, biblical training of pastors in some of most challenging and needy African countries! I will try to intercede with you on this Winter mission.

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