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Emmanuel: June 22 Update

It’s good to see your message again [see Steve Phillips’ article, Judgment, Jesus, & Jihad] which is really timely for the community in which we find ourselves and the people we are dealing with at the moment.  I have printed it and will share it with the brethren here.

As you know our fellowship meeting place is situated in the midst of a strong Muslim community with almost 85% Muslims. But in all this, the Lord has continued to prove Himself through the teachings of His Word to the people in this community.

In as much as we are faced with numerous challenges and opposition, yet God continues to show the true Power and authority in his Word as the fellowship continues to grow from strength to strength. We are not only proud of you, but we are also proud to show you and share with you the things that the Lord has done and is doing in our midst.

Through your quality time spent with us sharing the Word of God, I am happy to let you know that I am personally discipling 7 brothers who have really captured the truth and are at present positively  affecting  their surroundings. One of them is a Muslim brother who is presently staying with us in our house. He really faces serious persecution from his family members who rejected him and threw him out of their entire family for the sake of accepting Christ and being baptized in the name of the Lord.

I am also happy to share with you and the brethren out there that 12 brethren here have gone through baptism, including 4 Muslims; the eldest among them is 47 years old.  I have attached photos of the persecuted Muslim brother on the day of his baptism together with the other brethren.

I have also attached Teaching info which I have prepared for the 7 brothers I am discipling at the moment [see Emmanuel’s Christian Maturity Series on his posts].  I meet with these guys to study the Bible together twice every week in a separate meeting from the general fellowship meeting.  As you were meeting with me privately to spend time in teaching, so I am also meeting with them.

The Lord has really been merciful to us as He protects and guards us day by day.  At present we are desperately looking for a place as our present residence is seriously congested and has become an eye sore [problem] for my family at the moment.  We can’t drive anybody out, but will pray until the Lord makes the way possible for us to secure a bigger place that will accommodate a family of twelve, with room for strangers.  

[Note: Steve and Patti have slept in the Freeman’s current rented home several times.  It is about 330 sq. ft. consisting of two rooms and a parlor, having a charcoal fire on the porch to cook on, outside shared community bathroom, and no running water in the neighborhood.  They house several young men and one mentally handicapped young woman besides their own children.  Apart from the Freeman’s love and hospitality, these ones would have no where to stay].

Thinking on some of these issues and their prevailing challenges especially with issues surrounding some of these guys like Kenneth (Alpha), James, Patrick, Joseph and Daniel that are supposed to be in the University, having gotten all their requirements but who lack the financial means.  This strikes my heart strongly and keeps me thinking a lot.

But in all these things we give thanks to God, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, to whom be glory, honour, praise and adoration.  Please remember us and the work here in your prayers.

Give our love to mum and the brethren out there, we love and cherish them all.

With much love to you, 

Emmanuel and Liz.

Emmanuel: Christian Maturity Series – Jesus Christ

Christian Maturity



 1. The Character of Jesus 

 The Scripture passages clearly show us that:

 (a) Jesus is God: Jesus is not only with God, but He is God.  See John 1:1.  He is part of the Trinity: God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit.

 (b) Jesus has always existed.  Scripture affirms that Jesus has always existed, even before the beginning of time.  See John 1:2.

 (c) Jesus is the Creator of the World.  The World and everything in it did not just ‘appear’ or ‘evolve’ from nowhere.  Jesus was at the beginning of Creation and all things were made through Him.  See John 1:3.

(d) Jesus is Supreme in the Creation.  Jesus has the supreme place in the created order, above anyone or anything that has ever or will ever live. He is also Head of the Church, God’s people on Earth.  See Col.1:18,19.

(e) Jesus, the man, was God in human form.  Jesus was born as a human being in Bethlehem, and lived on Earth among us. See Mt.1:21-23

Jesus is the Word and the Word is another expression for God. In the Hebrew Scriptures the Word is an agent of Creation (Psalm 33:6), the source of God’s message to His people through the Prophets (Hosea 1:2), God’s law, and His standard of holiness (Psalm 119:11).  John’s description of Jesus as the Word clearly shows that he was speaking of Jesus (especially in John 1:14), a human being whom he knew and loved, but who was, at the same time, the Creator of the Universe, the ultimate revelation of God, and the One in whom all things hold together (Col. 1:17).

Though He was God, in His human life Jesus never demanded nor clung to His rights as God.  He took the humble position of a servant.  See Phil.2:5-11.

Through the way He lived His life, Jesus showed us God’s Glory. 

Jesus lived His life full of unfailing love and faithfulness.  See John 13:1. 

2. Memorisation: It often helps us to understand what the Scriptures are saying by memorising key verses. The following verses are taken from The Good News translation:

1.  “Before the world was created, the Word already existed; he was with God, and he was the same as God. From the very beginning the Word was with God.”  (John 1: 1-2)

 2. “Through him God made all things; not one thing in all creation was made without him…the world was made through him.” (John 1: 3, 10)

 3. “He always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to become equal with God. Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became like a man and appeared in human likeness.” (Phil. 2: 6,7)

 3. Questions

 1. St. John said that Jesus brought light to this world and the light shines on all people.  Have you allowed the light of Christ shine into your life?  What does this mean?

 2. God created all things, including you and me. Because we are created beings, we have no basis for pride. Remember that we exist only because God made us, and we have special gifts only because God has given them to us. What does this mean to us as Christians? What special gifts has God given you? (See 1 Cor. 12: 1-11)

 3. The passage in Philippians 2; 5-11 was probably a hymn sung by the Early Christian Church. Although it doesn’t say everything about who Jesus is, what main things does it say about Jesus?

 4. Further Reading.  Please look up the following passages:

 Isaiah 52:13 –53:12                  Colossians 1: 15-20                  1 John 1: 5-10



 1. Scriptures: Look up and read the following Scripture passages. They will help you understand what Jesus has done. Think and pray about the passages, and note down any thoughts and/or questions you want to share with the Group.

Isa. 53: 1-6                  Acts 2: 22-24               Acts 10: 34-43             Rom. 1: 1-6                                          

2. What Jesus did: The uniqueness of Jesus Christ can be seen in the way He lived a perfect life and the wonderful things He did. This is an example to us all. His death on the Cross was an offering for us and His resurrection from the dead is a proof that He is the Son of God. Jesus fulfilled what the Scriptures had forecast.

1. He lived a perfect life: He lived a perfect life, without any sin, conceit nor deceit. Unlike us, Jesus committed no sin. Unlike Adam, He chose to do the will of His Father (1 Peter 2: 22).

2. He did wonderful things.  The life of Jesus was an example to us all, for He went around doing good.  As a man, in order to do God’s work, Jesus needed to be anointed with the Holy Spirit (Acts 10: 38).

 3. He died for our sins.  When Jesus died on the Cross, an exchange took place; Jesus, who had never sinned, became an offering for our sins, and God laid upon Him the iniquity of us all. In turn, we have been given peace with God through Jesus. His punishment brought us peace and His wounds heal us (Isa. 53: 5-6; 2 Cor. 5: 21).

 4. He rose again from the dead.  It was impossible for death to keep its hold on Jesus because He had committed no sin. His resurrection from the dead is the greatest proof that He is the Son of God (Acts 2: 24; Rom 1: 4).

 3. Memorisation.  It often helps us to understand what Scripture is saying by memorising key verses. The following verses are taken from The Good News translation.

1. “He committed no sin, and no one ever heard a lie come from his lips.”    (1 Peter 2: 22)

 2. “God poured on him the Holy Spirit and power. He went everywhere, doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, for God was with him.” (Acts 10: 38) 

3. “Christ was without sin, but for our sake God made him share our sin in order that in union with him we might share the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5: 21)

 4. “But God raised him from death, setting him free from its power, because it was impossible that death should hold him prisoner.” (Acts 2: 24)

 4. Questions:  After reading and thinking about the passages of Scripture, try and answer the following questions.

 With regard to the life and work of Jesus:

 1. What is God saying to us about Jesus?

 2.  How should we reply to God?

 3.  What can we do in response to what Jesus has done for us?

 4. Further Reading:  If you want to undertake further study on this topic, please look up the following passages:

John 8: 21-29               John 20: 30, 31            Rom. 6: 20-23

2 Cor. 5: 16-21            Heb. 4: 14-16              Heb. 7: 26-28

Judgment, Jesus, & Jihad

Judgment, Jesus, & Jihad

From heaven the righteous God executes judgment upon wickedness among the sons of men; it is His prerogative.

He may do so directly as in the days of Sodom when fire rained from His throne upon the perverse and deviant [Gen.19:24]; or when myriads of Assyrian soldiers were slain in one night by the Angel of the Lord [2 Kings 19:20]. 

Means may also be employed in the discharge of His righteous sentence against sin.  Stormy winds compelling swirling clouds of thunderous lightening may be the executioners of his wrath [Job 37:10-13].  Swarming troops of voracious locusts may be mustered to ravage the wayward by Divine summoning [Joel 2:25].  Plagues may decimate populations according to Almighty decree [Deut.28:27,28]. 

Even men may justly serve as God’s agents in executing judgment upon individual or national iniquity.  Capital punishment was instituted from earth’s earliest days: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man” [Gen.9:6]. 

Government has been ordained by God to effectively punish evil and reward the good.  Civil authority “does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil” [Rom.13:4].  

Even wicked regimes serve Sovereign purposes in curtailing the spread of national wickedness through invasion, conquest, and annihilation – witness the overthrow of Babylon in one night by the Medes [Dan.5:30,31] and the Lord’s calling of Pharaoh Neco of Egypt to join Assyria against Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in order to cripple Egypt and destroy Assyria [2 Kings 23:29; 2 Chron.35:20].

How the Lord can engage the unrighteous to perform His will is a mystery to any spiritually sensitive heart.  The prophet himself found it distressing that the terrible Chaldeans would be raised up as a destroying scourge against many lands, the very Israel of God included [Hab.1:5-7].  Yet he had to confess: “O Lord, You have appointed them for judgment; O Rock, You have marked them for correction” [Hab.1:12]. 

There are many times when we must conclude: “The war was of God” [I Chron.5:22].  And it is in this capacity that Israel was brought into Canaan; to judge a specified group of people in a particular place at a designated time. 

But quite in contrast to Islam, God did not ordain His people as a general force against unbelief, immorality, and idolatry wherever they may be found.  He commanded Israel to annihilate only the Canaanites and possess that land alone as He had promised to Abraham some four hundred years prior [Gen.15:18-21].  The following clearly testifies to this.

“It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations [Canaanites] that the Lord your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” [Deut.9:5]. 

Why had God not destroyed them and divested them of their land in the days of Abraham?  Because, “the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete” [Gen.15:16].  Four hundred years passed in the mercy of God while their abominations abounded until judgment was the only recourse.  “Every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods” [Deut.12:31].

They were wholly given over to sexual immorality and perversion along with idolatry, witchcraft, and child sacrifice. “When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations.  There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, [or] one who…practices witchcraft…because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you” [Deut.18:9-12]. 

And thus it was that the Lord sent Israel to execute His judgment upon the wicked Canaanites.  “You shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech [an idol]…you shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.  Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal…For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants” [Lev.18:21-25].

Yet the Lord did not thereby establish His people as agents of subjugation and slaughter to any who did not embrace their religion.  No, rather they were commanded not to detest or seek to harm their surrounding neighbors though they, like the Canaanites, were corrupt idolatrous enemies. 

Edomites and Egyptians were not to be despised [Deut.23:7] and Ammonites and Moabites were not to be pursued and destroyed even though Israel was not to seek their peace or prosperity [Deut.23:3-6].  Joshua chapters 10-21 detail the specific regions captured and occupied by Israel at the time of their Divinely directed conquest; all within the boundaries specified at the time of God’s promise to Abraham.

This is in absolute contrast to Islam’s agenda of JihadAllah preaches a message of submission or slaughter.  The Kafara [unbelievers] are to be converted or eliminated.  Islam must be embraced world-wide or populations who refuse are to be exterminated.

This is not extremism; it is faithful devotion to the Qur’an [quotations from the Qur’an will appear in italics and the references will follow.  “S” stands for Surah, similar to a chapter].  Islam was begun by a Jihad led by Muhammad.  Those who do not engage in Jihad are not true Muslims at all, but are no better than other Kafara.

Jihad is not optional if one would reach the Paradise of God and be saved.  Those engaging in Jihad who have the highest rank in the sight of Allah; They are the people who will achieve salvation [S.9:20]. Truly Allah loves those who fight in his cause in battle array, as if they were a solid cemented structure [S.61:4]; who fight unyieldingly, whether with words, the pen, politics, wealth, or the sword; yes, and the sword.

How is the “faith” to be propagated and defended?  Is error to be fought with truth or by physical force?  The Lord Jesus answers, “With the Truth.”  Allah replies, “By Jihad.”      

Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers in fight, smite at their necks; at length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind the captives firmly: therefore is the time for either generosity or ransom: until the war lays down its burdens.  Thus are ye commanded: but if it had been Allah’s Will, he could certainly have exacted retribution from them Himself; but He lets you fight in order to test you, some with others.

 Therefore when ye meet the unbelievers in fight, smite at their necks…But those who are slain in the way of Allah, — He will never let their deeds be lost.  Soon will He guide them and improve their condition, and admit them to the Garden which He has made known to them [S.47:4-6].

 What is it that the faithful Muslim is called upon to do in the cause of Jihad?  The Qur’an answers this frequently so that there can be no mistake.  Fight in the cause of Allah…and slay them wherever ye catch them…and fight them on until there is no more persecution and the religion becomes Allah’s [S.2:190-193].

 I [Allah] will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.  This because they contended against Allah and His Messenger [Muhammad]: If any contend against Allah and His Messenger, Allah is strict in punishment [S.8:13,14].

 Fight and slay the Pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, and beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war [S.9:5].  Fight them and Allah will punish them by your hands [S.9:14].  It is not ye who slew them; it was Allah [S.8:17].

 Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who reject Faith fight in the cause of Evil (Tagut) [Tagut is anything other than Allah, the one true God]: So fight ye against the Friends, of Satan: feeble indeed is the cunning of Satan [S.4:76].

Let not the Unbelievers think that they have escaped, they will never frustrate (them).  Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know [S.8:59,60]. 

This is not the Gospel of God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  It is not what the Lord Jesus practiced, nor what He taught His disciples to practice.  Christianity is the true religion of love and forgiveness.

God Himself in the final Day of Judgment will righteously execute punishment upon all unbelief.  It is His prerogative.  But true believers in the Lord Jesus are never to take vengeance, much less take up the sword.  Regarding this, the Scriptures are clear.

Jesus said, But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you…treat others the same way you want them to treat you.  If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  For even sinners love those who love them.  If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners do the same [Lk.6:27,28, 31-33].        

In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets [Mt.7:12].

But they did not receive Him…When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”  But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” [Lk.9:53-56].      

They crucified Him…but Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” [Lk.23:33,34].

When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they said to Him, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?”  And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear.  But Jesus answered and said, “Stop! No more of this.”  And He touched his ear and healed him… Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword” [Lk.22:49-51;   Mt.26:52].       

Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.  Respect what is right in the sight of all men.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.  Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.  But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good [Rom.12:17-21].       

This is Christianity.  It is completely opposite of Islam.  They are not the same religions because they do not have the same God.        

Love, forgiveness, blessing, peace, and kindness flow from the Father in heaven to His own people who display the same to others.

Submission to Allah displays his qualities.  Allah is another god.

Yinnkah: Church at Ore Meji First Meeting

Blessed be God for His work of grace.  Yesterday, 15th of June, we all (about 20 in number) assembled at bro David’s house at Ore Meji for our first gathering there.  I continued my teaching on the church and the breaking of bread with the use of the “In the NT Church” and “Breaking of Bread” lessons in Workers Unashamed [one of Steve’s books].


The one and a half hour session of teaching led us into our worship as we all rejoiced in the Person and redemptive work of our Lord and Savoir, Jesus Christ – breaking bread with understanding!  Bros David, Demola, and Oguniyi and their wives were encouraged by the turn out of the Agbowo brethren who joined us to lend their support at this first meeting.


As I prepare to journey to Benue on Wednesday [for gospel outreach and teaching], bros Kunle and Tobi [two of Yinnkah’s disciples] will be assisting in bringing up and establishing the brethren in the faith here.  Pray for us.







Yinnkah: New Church


I’m glad to inform you that come next Sunday, 14th of June, we will be starting a new church meeting at Ore Meji [a district in the city of Ibadan whose estimated population approaches nearly 20 million].  Bro David and bro Demola with their wives have requested to be guided in also meeting on Sunday evenings to worship and break bread.  I started a “crash” Bible study on the nature and pattern of the church and breaking of bread with them yesterday.  


One brother Oguniyi whose house we meet in on Wednesdays also indicated his intention to join us with his family at the worship.  The Agbowo church will be joining us to encourage the Ore Meji brethren.  Wao!  Our weekly Bible studies are about to give birth to a church of Christ whose building will be according to the pattern shown us on the mountain!





William: June 10 Update

It is a shame that I have to share this with you, that one of my lecturers called Mr. ____ openly in his man-made thinking, declared that our class is cursed [In the West African context this means that he has invoked evil spiritual powers to ruin others] because all the ladies in the class have refused to sleep with him.  In fact, he gave us an assignment but is refusing to provide the information so we can do it; and this is to be part of our final assessment!  A fool indeed; what a shame. 


He actually has in mind to fail us [Often students are pressured to bribe instructors with money, sexual “favors,” or initiation into ritual secret society cults], if not me in particular, because for some reason he knows I believe in the Lord.  I’m not threatened though, because I know I’m not under the Law and I’m free from its curses; just to let you know how the prince of this world has blinded the eyes of people and made their hearts gross.  May the Lord deliver him.  Love, William.



Titus: Trip to Benue and Enugu-Ezekeh

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.  For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.  To one, we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leader to life.  And who is sufficient for these things?  For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ  [2Cor 2:14-17].


Here is the report of my last trip to Benue and Enugu-Ezekeh [These are neighboring states in central Nigeria, about 700 km from brother Titus’ home near Ibadan in the southwest].  I got to Benue very late that day.  Therefore I stayed with Bro Emma at Eke and traveled to Igah-Okpaya [brother Solomon’s village] the following day and then back to Otukpo where we visited brother Amos [the brother that Yinnkah wrote of in his “2nd Missionary Journey” report] and encouraged him to stay with God in the midst of opposition. 


I came back to Eke after 10pm that day [Most all travel in Nigeria is by public transportation that has no fixed schedule, departing only when a vehicle designed to seat four passengers has a minimum of six].  It was the following day that I went to Enugu Ezekeh and spent a week of Bible study with the brethren there everyday. 


I was able to teach on the book of Joshua, chapters 4–9.  They were so happy that God was so good to them in revealing His mystery, and there was great joy.  Two old women gave their lives for Christ and two men also were restored back to the church.  Since then, they have been calling me on the phone to tell me of their experiences with God and their fellowship with one another. 


Therefore, by the grace of God, I will like to be with them by July if God provides.  My brother, do you know that I visited some families at their homes in their village and I want to tell you that they were encouraged with the coming of Titus.  Brother Oliver [who had been taught by brother Steve] is back to the village and God is helping him as he works among the brethren.  The two groups are now joining together in one fellowship, serving God in unity and faith and with a single mind breaking bread together [There had been serious contention among them in years past which was on the mend during Steve and Patti’s last visit there in April of 2008].


I came back after a week long visit to bro Emma at Eke.  The Lord helped me to bring peace to his family after many months of misunderstanding between the man and his wife.  Then I had fellowship together with them and gave him a photocopy of the Discipleship Experience [one of Steve’s books].  There is a brother at Edumoga community, Abel by name, who needed a bicycle in order to come to fellowship at Eke and I gave him money to repair the old damaged one since we cannot buy him new one.


At Ugbokolo [in Benue State], we want to start a new fellowship centre at a new place, and that is one of the reasons why I want to go back come this July because many of the brethren whom you worked with in the past are not willing to do anything presently.  Some of them meet at different places every Sunday for less than an hour’s discussion on politics and other carnal things, read a passage from Bible, pray and go back; not studying the Word of God and not discipling anybody.  I wish you will address all these problems in Benue for nothing to speak of is on ground for now. 


We need your prayers as we travel up and down, that God may give us an open door and open our mouths to speak forth the mystery of Christ always.  I hope you will visit us very soon.  Greet all who love Christ in His second coming.  Love you, Daddy and Iya [a Yoruba name meaning “Mother of the house”].


With all our love, Titus and Dorcas, Disciples.



Emmanuel: Thanks June 6

Dear Daddy Steve,


Good to receive your letter on Lacking Leaders [see Steve Phillips post of June 6] to us as brethren.


It come to me as an iron sharpener and support to the work we are doing here.  I was able to read it and share it with the brethren in our Thursday Bible study meeting.  They were well moved and happy to hear a word of knowledge and wisdom coming from you to us all.


Though all the words and expressions made are all challenging and encouraging and express the true heart of a father that cares for his children, but there stands out a peculiar statement which I believe touches our hearts and the brethren here which reads, REMEMBER THOSE WHO LED YOU, WHO SPOKE THE WORD OF GOD TO YOU, AND CONSIDERING THE RESULT OF THEIR CONDUCT, IMITATE THEIR FAITH – HEB 13.7.


We are captured with these words strongly and we cherish them so much; more especially when we are receiving it from somebody who has spent time with us in sharing the word of truth, slept with us in one of the most neglected communities in the eastern part of Freetown just for the sake of the gospel, and has been faced with persecution in the hands of our religious leaders of the so called high places.  


We are proud to imitate you as you imitate Christ, which you have demonstrated times without number during your time spent with us and your family.    We are expecting more challenging statements from you as time goes on.


With much love from us all to your entire family and the brethren out there.




Emmanuel and Liz.


Lacking Leaders

Lacking Leaders


            Beloved brethren, Follow the man who follows Christ.  Listen to him who hears from God.  Serve alongside with the one who serves Christ and the saints.  Fellowship with those who are in fellowship with the Father and Son.   

            In this communion, there are no appointees to posts or successors to perpetuate a ministry, only a fellowship of like-minded brethren.  Even among the closest associates, there are no assignments by compulsion [I Cor.16:10-12].  Gospel ministry is a fundamentally spiritual matter that can only be maintained by individual godly integrity.

Brethren, we must not be surprised or stumbled by departure.  The Galatians had to be admonished, “You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?” [Gal.5:7].   Though one’s labors have been tirelessly mingled with tears, there will yet arise men to draw away disciples after themselves [Acts 20:30]. 

Do not forget that there are both rocky soil and thorny entanglements in the kingdom of heaven [Mt.13:20-22].  Even among the zealous and doctrinally sound Ephesians, first love had declined [Rev.2:2-4].  It pained the heart of the aged apostle that all who were in Asia had turned away from him [2 Tim.1:15]. 

Peter denied His Lord and Judas betrayed his Master.  A beloved co-worker noted in Philemon 24 later deserted Paul because of his love for this present world [2 Tim.4:10].

Some in times past have been with us and are no longer.  There are those who have drifted [Heb.2:1], others have departed [Jn.6:60,66], a few have turned aside [2 Tim.4:10], and at least one has even slandered and betrayed [Ps.55:12-14].

The pattern of Christ, that great treasure of sound words, can only be maintained by the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God [2 Tim.1:13,14].  When a man’s spirituality wanes, his status as a leader is immediately compromised regardless of his previous attainments; witness Peter in Gal.2:11-14.  Do not allow esteem for a man’s prior godliness blind your eyes to his present failure: Remember, it was Christian who led Hopeful astray onto By-Pass Meadow and into the clutches of Giant Despair.      

“Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.  For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things” [Phil.3:17-19].

Lest any misconstrue my intentions, I am not promoting myself as Paul was worthy of imitation.  I am acutely aware of my failings and inconsistencies and do not recommend that any follow in those footsteps.  I do, however, commend to you Christ and the gospel that I preach to you.  With them you can find no fault. 

“Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith” [Heb.13:7].   

Have this read to all the brethren.  “I speak as to wise men, you judge what I say” [I Cor.10:15].

Love, brother Steve

Patti: To the sisters June 4

Dear sisters,

     I pray that the Lord will transform your hearts, minds, and souls to be like Christ, and that your strength would prove to be as strong as your spiritual maturity in Him.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

     One thing I would encourage you in is to read your Bibles, or have someone read the Bible to you every day.  Read more than one chapter, read more than two chapters.  When you read, think about the details by asking yourselves questions of who, what, where, when, why, and how the Scriptures are written for us.  Write down the answers to these on paper to keep what is there, how to apply it to our lives, along with a prayer from your heart to the Lord.

     Always give the Lord Jesus Christ and His Father first place in your life (Genesis 1:1a; Rom. 11:36).  Some day your own desires will cause you to wake up and sing a song of praise to Him (Psalm 108:1-4), pray (Colossians 4:2-6), read (Ephesians 3:4), and study (2 Timothy 2:15); then pray again (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  I am sure that your day will be full of loving service to our (yours and mine) God and Savior (1 Timothy 5:10). 

     You will be thinking of others as more important than yourself (Philippians 2:1-5). So your life will be a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-3) acceptable to our God.  This is my prayer for you; please pray for me also, that I may preach the gospel boldly, gently, and clearly to others here and to live as Christ lived also.

     Do not visit each other to talk about unnecessary things, to gossip, or be idle (1 Timothy 5:13, 14).  When you visit, encourage each other (Hebrews 10:24,25,36) to know the Lord, hear His voice (understand the word of God), and follow Him.  He is our example, and He has given us many examples of godly women in the Scriptures (Sarah, Ruth, Esther, Mary, Martha…). 

     Trust in Him and His word (Proverbs 3:5, 6).  Do not listen to or follow any other teachings or ideas (Luke 14:26).  That is why we must study the word of God to show ourselves approved to God. No one’s desires or ideas should be more important than the Lord’s.