Travel Diary 9: PRIORITIZING THE PRIORITIES

Dear ITEM Partner,

Our schedule is packed each day with six lectures, a 30-minute tea break (a non-negotiable in Kenya), 45-minute lunch, and a time for answering questions. We start at 10:15am (or we try) and finish by 4pm (or we try). That is not even six hours for all of this, including a few breaks between lectures. We have to prioritize the priorities. So, what are those?

LECTURES

Preaching
Nathan started the day with the lecture on the pastor’s preaching ministry. We, of course, try to point them to “exposition,” preaching through passages, explaining the meaning in the context, and then applying the principles “today.” We also suggest going through entire books or in the case of narrative passages, we encourage them to preach through the entire story, not just a portion.

Paul’s Advice to the elders of Ephesus from Acts 20:28-35
Henry covered this and it talks about caring for yourself and the church which includes warning them about false teachers. And more.

Purpose of the church
Henry did this also. We define the purpose in three directions. UP: Glorify God OUT: Lead unbelievers to Christ by words and your lifestyle. IN: Edification and Purification of the church.

Spiritual Warfare
There is much misunderstanding here because of their traditional religions. We are never called to rebuke, bind, or cast out the devil. We are to put on the full armor of God and then stand firm and resist. There is much more to this also.

Church Discipline
Nathan covered this. It is the method given by Jesus to the church by which it is to be as pure as possible. It is spoken of in Matthew 18.

Old Testament Theme: Kingdom of God
I finished the day of lectures with a flyover of Old Testament history showing how God was and still is preparing His kingdom, which is spiritual now but will become physical when Jesus returns. (Note: There are various views of the current and future state of God’s Kingdom. I am only mentioning the one we hold to.)

 Any of these lectures could take a full hour, easily. We used to do that when we put the seminar into four days. But to same expenses and require less of the participants, we pack it all into 3 days now. And instead of taking a full hour for each. We try to limit times for lectures to just 40 minutes. Why? To leave some time for answers to their questions.

 

Q&A: THE PRIORITY
Our lectures can come across as “information dumps” and in most cases they are. But we give them a complete set of notes that they can study later. The lectures, as much as anything, gets them thinking and generates questions. Their questions demonstrate what their issues are. 

DROUGHT YESTERDAY FLOOD TODAY
There were no questions yesterday. So, as the day ended, I implored them to write down questions and submit them because they are a very important part of the seminar. Well, they came through big time! We were flooded with questions.

Qs: I was handed several after the spiritual warfare lecture. There were various questions about binding, casting out, and rebuking, plus a question asking me to explain verses where Jesus was casting out demons.

ANS: I answered them all at once. Avoiding too much detail, here was my answer. First, “binding.” It is mentioned in Matt 18 but it is in the context of church discipline and speaks of Rabbis authority to “bind” the sin to a sinner and “loose” a sin from a repentant sinner. Same idea is in John 20:23 but there the words “retain” and “forgive” are used. The New Testament mentioned on one time when Satan will be bound. That is in Rev 20 when Jesus binds Satan for 1000 years. Next, “casting out.” In the New Testament, only Jesus and the apostles are seen casting out demons. The “common” man never does. We do not have that authority. But we can pray that God will cast out a demon. What about “rebuking?” It’s interesting that we read that the disciples “rebuked” Jesus but never the devil. In Jude 9, even Michael the arch angel didn’t do that. He said “the Lord rebuke you.” And in 1 Pet 1:10-11, it tells us that false teachers claim to do that but the angels, who are even more powerful, don’t. The false teachers are claiming that they have power they do not have.

Q: What about Mark 16:17 that says these signs will follow believers. They will cast out demons and speak in tongues.

ANS: Those who ask this question always seem to stop at this verse. The next verse talks about handling poisonous snakes and drinking poison and living to talk about it. “Any volunteers now?” Also, those verses in Mark are not in any copies of Mark’s gospel prior to the 800s AD. This seems to indicate that these verses were not in the original gospel of Mark. 

Q: How can I be involved in confronting sin in my church and not lose any sheep? (My paraphrase.) (Henry answered this one.)

ANS: (My brief paraphrase.) Pastor, you can only do what you can do. Even if you love that person and show compassion when confronting them, they may leave the church. That is part of being in ministry. Br sure that you remain faithful. 

We only touched the tip of the iceberg of questions we received today and there will probably be more tomorrow. Be sure to check back then.

BETTER “MASK UP”
There is a mandate in Kenya that everyone wear a mask when in public. PERIOD. And that includes when in a car. I am not very obedient in that regard. Nathan warned me (nicely, with a smile on his face) that there are undercover police who walk through traffic jams to see if everyone is “masked up.” If they catch you without a mask on, even in a car, you are subject to a fine that they deem appropriate. And someone with white skin will probably receive a bigger fine. I guess I’ll to better. 

That’s it for today.

Praise the Lord that my left side sacrum/resulting back agony is under control and not causing any major problem. Praise the Lord for cooler weather that allows us to plow through lectures with very short breaks. Praise the Lord that Henry was able to get his final covid test in less than 30 minutes this afternoon coming home from the seminar. Results are supposed to be sent to him tomorrow for his Saturday night flight.

PLEASE pray that the nice compliments we are receiving will translate into some changed ministry habits and behavior. Pray for the last day and that there will be more comprehension of the “truth” being presented from the Scriptures. Pray that we will handle the topics well. Pray for continued health. PRAY for my preparation of the apologetics talk I will be giving Monday morning. This is a HUGE opportunity for me as I am attempting to introduce this topic into ITEM’s ministry in the years ahead. THANKS.

By His grace and for His glory,
Steve

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1 thought on “Travel Diary 9: PRIORITIZING THE PRIORITIES”

  1. May God give you the wisdom and patience as you deal with the issues raised and even as you present the risen Christ in Scripture with faithfulness, I have constantly been amused on handling those controversial question, how you keep calm and sober in your approach, Indeed every sacrifice is worthy and as Dr. Nathan Chiroma puts it with a big smile always says it “changing one pastor at a time”.

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