Monthly Archives: June 2015

The gospel as it was translated from the greek – Ezra 2015

As Ezra conference seeks to instill passion for the word of God among delegates, one of the ways Ezra conference uses to add a fresh approach to the Bible is manuscript Bible study.

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Because of a level of familiarity with the Bible, some Christians think they have already plumbed the depths of the Word. In reality, however, there is no limit to what the Holy Spirit can reveal to us through the words of the Bible. Manuscript Bible Study remove all chapter and verse numbers, section headings, and footnotes from a passage in an attempt to eliminate all distractions. The desire is to see the passage in its original form.

In this Ezra conference 2015, participants have been introduced to Manuscript bible study, and through small groups, they did manuscript bible study on the book of 2 Timothy. The book of 2 Timothy which is actually the second letter of the apostle Paul to Timothy, revealed to be a letter from an experienced minister of the gospel Paul who after realizing that his time is near, writes to his young companion, who is also a pastor telling him what needs to be done in order for the ministry to carry on.

The study of this book, proved to be more than worthy, as this particular book addresses issues that GBUs are facing nowadays, among which false teachings, the study of this book has helped participants to know how to deal with false teachings, since in this letter, the young Timothy was also facing the same problem and Paul gives clear instructions of what he should do to keep the ministry going.

Studying the bible using the manuscript method, has proved to be a helpful tool for small groups for a number of reasons:

  • It provides a fresh way to look at Scripture.
  • It forces readers to search for themes and deeper meanings in the biblical text.
  • It allows a reader to take ownership of the text, literally making his or her marks on the page, as well as drawing his or her own insights.
  • It is an excellent way to build community among different individuals as they deeply engage the Scriptures together.
  • It guards against heresy and false teaching as the members help each other to see what the text actually says and keep from over or under emphasizing one aspect.
  • It makes the Bible the teacher.
  • Finally, in many respects, it’s just fun!

 

Living for God in a compromising world – Ezra 2015

Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God -what is good and well-pleasing and perfect. -Romans 12.2

Christians are called to live according to the standards of God in a world that has its own standards, and the truth is, it’s not easy but there is a good news: we are not alone, a number of other Christians before us have done it, and successfully made it.

In this Ezra conference 2015, with the exposition of the book of Daniel by Pastor Mike, participants have been exposed to one of the faithful who managed to live for God, not only in a compromising environment but also in difficult time, Daniel!

Referring to the book of Daniel, living for God in a compromising environment, requires some resolution and particular conducts; As we studied the book of Daniel, we have come to realize a couple of things that helped Daniel to make it and live for God in a compromising environment without giving in to temptations of being like the world around him.

Make a resolution

As we study the book of Daniel, we see Daniel resolving not to do things that are prohibited by his faith (Daniel 1.8) in the first chapter and latter on we see him also resolving not to stop doing things that he knows are not only necessary for his survivor but also pleasing to God (Daniel 6.10). For a Christian to survive this compromising age he/she needs to make up his/her mind that he/she would not defile him/herself.

Surrender all to God

As we study the book of Daniel especially in the first chapter we realize that no matter how bad Daniel’s situation was(his country had been defeated, his God and his temple dishonored and his friends and himself taken into captivity), as he surrenders all to God / submits himself to his will, we can see God acting (Daniel 1.17). This life is full of compromising situations with which Christians are tempted to give in and do what others are doing but no matter what, as we resolve to honor the Lord, if we surrender all to Him, he will keep us safe, because He reigns above all forever and ever!

Stay humble

throughout the book of Daniel we see God, dealing with different persons, to bring them to his submission(Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, etc.) while those who choose to humble themselves before him, God rewords them with more (Daniel 2.27-28).

Ezra conference participants have learned much more from the exposition of the book of Daniel than I can put in a single article, but these were written to make an invitation to you to join Ezra participants as they resolve to live for God in this compromising generation!

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Studying God’s word – Ezra 2015

“Many are the Christians who can spend hours singing and dancing how much they love God but can hardly find 30 minutes a day to interact with their lover in his word, yet their lover himself is the word (John 1.1)” -By Simon Kande

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“I wish God was like this or To me God should be so and so” this is a common saying and the search for a god that suits me has caused many to change churches, others to change life style, etc. Some may even go beyond and search through scriptures for verses that support their version of God and come up with their own heresy.

In this world where everyone is running for something that requires less effort, everyone’s belief is at risk, but how should Christians continue to follow the God of the universe not the one that suits them? Is reading the Bible a guarantee?

Many of heretic beliefs we see today in the church of God uses the bible and most of them started with the study of the bible, so how did they come to this and what is it that we can do to ensure our safety? GBUR has spotted the problem and through Ezra generation conference participants are equipped with the most valuable and accurate method to study the scripture that leads to genuine interpretation as of the day it was written.

In opposition to the most error prone bible study method, deductive bible study, which consists of working out a truth from things already known where one comes to the text with a thesis and then seeks out passages to support the thesis, participants have been equipped in Inductive bible study method which is a method of studying the bible where your conclusion evolve out of what you have observed, seeking to lay aside preconceived ideas, this approach seeks to let the scripture speak for itself and studies scriptures in their context.

As the inductive bible study method aims at staying faithful to the original meaning of the scripture in its context, it uses three main activities: (1)Observation :asking what does the text say? (2)Interpretation: asking what did the text mean when it was written? (3)Application: asking how does the truth of this text/book apply to me today?

Bible-study

Biblical perspectives on contemporary issues – Ezra 2015

As long as we have to live for God without withdrawing from the culture in which we are living; Ezra generation conference seeks to teach Christian doctrine and to help delegates develop Biblical perspectives on various contemporary issues. in this Ezra 2015, Speakers with reliable experience and ability have been called out to give seminars on contemporary issues that are facing christian life. Following is a summary of what is being covered in different workshops.

 

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Time management; (Busyness & Tyranny of the Urgent)

We all have 24 hours a day! How comes that some people achieve more than others? How can good time management help in developing a devotional life to Christ? What are the key principles in this are? How we can prioritize what you are involved in according the time and your personal relationship with God is not affected.

Scriptural Evangelism

Evangelism is a key element not only in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ but also in every Christian’s life. However, it has been abandoned to the “called and gifted Evangelists”. What does the bible say about Evangelism? Is every sermon from the Bible and Evangelistic one? What are the key elements of an evangelistic message? How to bring back the evangelistic lifestyle of the early church in our daily life today?

Developing a reading Culture

May be you heard the saying that if you want to hide something an African put it between pages of a book. They will never find it since they don’t like reading. Most of Rwandese people don’t have the culture of reading books, newspapers. Even Christians don’t read their Bibles and other good literature available. What is the use of reading different books? How to develop and sustain this reading culture in one’s life. This workshop will encourage participants to develop the culture of reading.

Prosperity Gospel

Prosperity Gospel: a biblical response: the gospel of seed for prosperity and health were introduced in the church of Africa which as expected, was hungry for riches and health. Whereas the Bible has a lot to say on prosperity and health it is a biblical truth that has been twisted to make some individuals achieve personal gain. This workshop will provide the biblical basis of prosperity and at the same time counter every half truths and lies that have been propagated.

Simple lifestyle

The gospel of prosperity does not leave a room for simple life. The world in its endeavor to make life better and world safer, have complicated things but life as God intended should be simple and enjoyable to all who trust in Him. How do we cultivate the discipline of simple lifestyle for the of the Gospel?

Social media and the gospel

Social media is no longer what we do but something part of us. How can media be better use by the church to propagate the gospel especially in reaching younger people? what are the opportunities available in media that the church can use as strategy to spread the gospel.

Agent of Godly Transformation in the Market place

Majority of believers spend most of the time where they work or study. They interact with their colleague in the office, classroom, staffrooms, workshops and in many other similar forums. How does one minister to his colleagues without jeopardizing the work place? How much one is supposed to do ? when and where should one do the actual reaching out?

The Cost of Discipleship

The cost of following Christ has the component of denying, taking their cross and following Him. Explore with the participants how on daily basis, we are asked to count the cost of following Christ. What is the place of suffering and facing want in making us more and more disciples of Christ and how does this play in an era of prosperity and name it claim it “gospel”

Nurturing an new believer

We often preach to people to receive Christ we put a lot of efforts in reaching them  but very little in nurturing them to maturity. The objectives of this workshop is to clarify what nurture of new believers entails, its importance the practical way on how to go about it

Crossing Borders

Today about 40% of the worlds population is unevangelized. Meaning that this population has never heard the gospel, and will never, unless the of church of Christ, those who know Him and are called by His name, deliberately seek to take the light of the gospel to them. Otherwise, they will continue to live and die oblivious of the fact that Christ ever came to the world or even died for them. What is the responsibility of the average Christian student and graduate in Rwanda to the above fact? How can we consciously develop a people that will think of becoming a light and salt of the world? The call of Christ still is to make disciples of all Nations. Facts show that the remaining missionary task of taking the gospel to a world still in darkness requires career missionaries but people who are bi-vocational and strategic. How does the Rwandan student, and university graduate, fit into this?

Spiritual disciplines: Devotional life

Discipline is defined as “training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior.” Discipline is not part of the sin nature, but it is a natural component of the Christian life. In fact, almost nothing of any significance in our lives ever accomplished without it. spiritual disciplines can be described as those behaviors that augment our spiritual growth and enable us to grow to spiritual maturity. This process of spiritual growth and development begins to take place the moment a person encounters the risen Christ and comes to him for salvation. What can you do to continue to grow spiritual? What are the essential disciplines that can help a believer to grow?

Unity and reconciliation

The most obvious case of societal breakdown base non negative ethnicity is Rwanda. The genocide of 1994 killed almost a million people in a nation that was thought to be more than 80% Christian. However there is a an untold story, which is that Rwanda today is an expression of God’s grace and witness to the possibility of forgiveness even the most impossible situations. Knowing that the process  of Reconciliation is an overarching process that includes the elements of healing and forgiveness, how can we help Christians experience inner healing of their wounds and find grace to forgive or repent?

The gospel of grace

Today as some believe in salvation by works, whereby eternal life is a merit of one’s works and righteousness, others on the other extreme believe in salvation by grace where grace is misinterpreted and abused. This new gospel of grace preaches that your deeds, your behavior do not matter at all, you can even go on sinning provided that you have faith in Jesus Christ. Thus, making salvation an engagement without any implication or responsibility. Is this the real salvation by grace taught by the Bible? What is the real place of our deeds if we are saved by grace? How can we go about our salvation by grace?

Christian in community development

Someone said “if you give aid -when it runs out, that’s it. But if you help people through a process of self directed change, they will continue and teach others.” Community development has evolved over the past few decades into a recognized discipline of interest to both practitioners and academicians. However, community development is defined in many different ways. Most practitioners think of community development as an outcome while most academicians think of it as a process. How does Christians become Salt and Light in the community to the level of bringing holistic transformation?

Workshop on Social media by Pr Didier HABIMANA

Workshop on Social media by Pr Didier HABIMANA

Ezra Generation Conference 2015 – Opening day

“It happen more than once in history and it can happen in Rwanda, the preaching of the word lived out by Christians transforms a country” -Pastor Mike Mc Gowan

GBUR general secretary MABASi S. Albert addressing delegates

GBUR general secretary MABASi S. Albert addressing delegates

After months of preparations, Ezra generation conference 2015 has reached its opening day. It was on this Monday, 15th June at the University of Rwanda Huye Campus.

Ezra generation conference 2015 (Ezra 2015) is the 4th conference since the first one 2005, and Ezra conference falls under the second objective of GBUR which is discipleship, where we seek to nurture our GBU members and graduates to be mature disciples of Christ living a life based of biblical principles and biblical values. For most believers, reading and studying the bible is the task of pastors and preachers. Thus they do not grow in their Christian lives, hence they have no impact on the society. At the Ezra generation conference we seek to raise a generation that is passionate for God’s word after the pattern of Ezra by studying it, practicing it, and teaching it so that the church of Christ might be thoroughly equipped for every good work and therefore make an impact in our society. we seek a generation that desires to be agents of Godly transformation and this can only be found in a generation that is founded and rooted in God’s eternal word. -Said the General Secretary Mabasi Albert in his word of welcome to the participants.

The opening day of Ezra 2015, was marked by a series of activities to instill the passion of God’s word among delegates, to equip them with skills in bible study, expository preaching and to develop biblical perspectives on contemporary issues.

Bible expository

After being briefed about what it takes to understand the book of Daniel. Through the study of chapter 1 with Pastor Mike Mc Gowan (From France) , delegates have come to understand (1)Daniel’s dilemma as his country had been defeated, his God and his temple dishonored and his friends and himself taken into captivity. (2)Daniel’s reaction in such a compromising situation as he resolve to live for God with out withdrawing from the culture that was surrounding him. (3)The result of such a life that resolves to commit to God the king no matter the situation.

Studying God’s word

A lot of Christian can spend hours singing how much they are friends of Jesus but they hardly find a minute to interact with their bible, yet their friend himself is this word(Jn 1.1). with Simon Kande from Focus Kenya, delegates have come to understand the need for studying God’s word.

Manuscript Bible study

Through small groups, delegates were also introduced to manuscript bible study, where a copy of a biblical passage/book with no chapter divisions or paragraph divisions is inductively studied, which help to come to the bible with a clear perspective and a focus on a text itself.

Workshops

During the afternoon different workshops were scheduled and each delegate had to choose only two of his choice, in these workshops delegates had a chance to develop biblical perspective on various contemporary issues.

Growth point groups

Ezra generation conference aims at raising a generation who not only have studied the law of God but also who have devoted themselves to the practice of that law and the teaching of this one, After spending the whole day studying, delegates meet in small groups to discuss about the application of what they learnt in their lives and pray together for what they learnt to become a life not a knowledge.

Ezra Generation Conference 2015, has started this Monday 15th June and will be continuing till Friday 19th and gburwanda.org will keep you updated.

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The Mission of the Church in Rwanda is now found!

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It has been more than 2000 years when our master and Lord, Jesus Christ, gave the last words to His Disciples before He went back to His Father. He was not teaching them a new thing but giving them His last words in form of a Command. Different writers of the gospels including Luke, in Acts , stated those words differently but the Church in history has considered Matthew 28:18-20 to be more specific. The word of God says:”18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

In this passage it is clear that the Command is not to do anything else but “To make disciples of all Nations” others things mentioned are means and promises to fulfill the command which is known as “The great Commission”.

The disciples didn’t obey immediately as we see in the book of Acts and the church in history didn’t obey promptly but in all generations God has raised different people to obey His command. The first person that Jesus called in unusual way is Paul who later became the Apostle to the gentiles. His focus was to preach where Christ was not yet mentioned or known (Rom 15: 20). Throughout church history the Lord continued to raise many missionaries who went to other nations with or without the support of their Churches.

Again in our generation God is doing an unusual thing where “The whole Church is being mobilized to bring the whole gospel of Christ to the whole lost world” and the church of Rwanda is not left behind. There are prophecies brought to Rwanda that God wants to use the Church of Rwanda to be a blessing to other Nations, there is no surprise about it, because it is clear from the scriptures that it is His will.

In Recent years God has chosen to use GBUR in partnership with other institutions inside and outside the country to be the agent of mobilizing the body of Jesus in Rwanda to actively play a role of taking the gospel where it has not yet reached.

GBUR mobilization for mission is more focusing on students and graduates through Mission Conferences, Mission awareness Seminars and exposure cross-cultural mission trips to the least reached people of Kenya and South Sudan.

The students and graduates are being mobilized and inspired to live for a greater and noble cause beyond their dreams and to put Jesus at the center of their lives and the worship of God by all nations the number one priority.

The tool that GBUR is using is Kairos course on world Christian movement which is a training, designed to mobilize, educate and inspire the whole church to take the gospel of Christ to the Unreached people of the world (Those who have no viable church among themselves to evangelize its own people). This course is being used in more than 70 countries in the world and God brought it in Rwanda through GBUR to awaken His Church for its purpose.

As the late John Stott once said “We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God” Let us pray and trust together that in this last days where God is awakening His Church all over the world to go back to its primarily purpose, the church of Rwanda will obey and take its role in God’s big agenda.

APPROVED BY GOD ? Rightly Handling God’s word

 

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Nowadays, with so many different denominations and so many churches present now and more opening, there are many types of preachers too and there is currently much debate about which ministry is authentic and which is not. Eventually this question has to arrive at this: do all people who hold the Bible and preach remain faithful to God’s message – at the Sunday Pulpit, Bible study groups, in prayer meetings and every occasion where the opportunity presents itself?

To come to terms with what Scripture says about authentic ministry, we look at Paul the great preacher as a good example and we learn that there only two types of preachers/ministry, one approved by God or one disapproved by God.

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2Timothy 2:15 (NIV)

At the heart of being a preacher/workman/minister who is approved is correctly handling God’s Word. This is so because the Bible is GOD speaking! God graciously revealing Himself to us through stories that we can understand and know what He is saying and know who He is and how to live with Him. Therefore handling the word incorrectly will only be a tragedy (a biblical tragedy) for all those who will hear such a spokesperson. They will worship a false God, base their lives on the false faith and remain in darkness as they are led astray.

Let’s take an example of how such a tragedy actually happens even while the Bible is open and someone is supposedly “preaching the Word of God”.

MAKE UP OF A TRAGEDY

Let’s look at some of the common examples.

  1. As simple as it may sound, simply failing to read a whole chapter/book can lead you to misunderstand and preach a wrong message. Is this not absurd?
  2. Also detaching the details of the letter from the context and purpose of the book/letter may give a very wrong conclusion.

Let’s take the Gospel according to John as example.

John’s introduces the big story with the Word (Jesus), and how this Word was God and Creator, how the Word became flesh, how He came to reveal the Father, some believed in Him and some didn’t and how all those who believed in Him He gave eternal life. John develops the story of Jesus throughout chapters 1 – 21 developing these points mentioned above and concludes by saying “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:30-31 NIV).

John has a big theme, a purpose for which he takes pen and paper. To tell his hearers all of Chapters 1 – 21 and that after reading they will believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that by believing in Him they will have life in His name.

Now, how does the Biblical tragedy happen in this example OF John’s Gospel?

 

EXAMPLE 1: THE WEDDING AT CANA

Let’s consider Chapter 2, the story of the wedding at Cana of Galilee. Most people will read this story, and come to conclusions like -Jesus made wine, so it’s okay to take wine. Others may go to the conversation of Mary and Jesus and say, we need Mary so that we may also get our requests to Jesus. But the question is why did John write this story? Well, He just told us; so that we may believe that Jesus is the son of God and by believing so we have life. Failing to connect the stories in John to the purpose, we will give our own conclusions as to what the stories may mean. If one preaches John 2:1-11 and does not come to the same conclusion as John, that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God and by Believing in Him there is eternal life, I can say he or she will end up tragically handling God’s incorrectly.

The above example shows us how the purpose helps us get the meaning of the details.

Well as said before, the most absurd way that the Biblical tragedy happens is simple not reading a whole passage/chapter. Reading a whole passage/chapter helps give us context and thus the meaning. If one may think simply knowing the context (i.e. what was said before and after, who was being spoken to, under what circumstances) is irrelevant then I have warn with certainty that such approach to scripture will only lead to a wrong understanding of Scripture. Let’s consider one more example.

 

EXAMPLE 2: THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE

John 8:32: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free”

Without context, “truth” can mean anything and also “freedom” can mean anything. One can preach about lifestyle tips from this verse or even use scientific facts as truths a Christian should follow to make his life better and gain financial freedom and so on. But surely to get what Jesus meant by truth we don’t need take time for a prayer retreat to look for inspiration to come but rather all we simply have to do is to read the whole passage

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:31-36 NIV)

In this passage, knowing the truth is knowing Jesus and believing the message about Him and being set free is being set free from the enslaving master, Sin!.

If you look at verse 32 in context you will come certainly to the conclusion that John gives; Jesus is the son of God and by believing in Him you have eternal life.

Remember what is at stake, God is speaking and are we saying what He is saying? Or are we speaking our own message?

Whether it’s a Sunday pulpit, prayer meeting, Bible study group or any opportunity for the preaching of God’s Word, I can hear God commanding us to be approved workmen and women who will handle His word correctly and thus be approved of Him.

Daniel LEDAMA

GBUR (Groupe Biblique Universitaire du Rwanda)