Focus Africa Theological Gleanings From Around The Globe

Focus Africa: Theological Gleanings From Around the Globe (February 18, 2017)

Focus Africa: theological gleanings around the globe is a highlight of curated articles. I try to give an African perspective on these articles to help you understand what it means to follow Christ in the 21st Century as an African.

This is probably my last post after blogging for 6 years. I failed to raise the money required for self-hosting. In a couple of days, I will be leaving for a closed nation in East Asia for the next 2+ years. Thank you for the support.

Focus Africa Theological Gleanings From Around The Globe

How to Understand Extreme Numbers

Most people can’t intuitively understand the vast difference between 1 million and 1 billion. However, 1 million seconds is 12 days and 1 billion years is 32 years. This example brings the numbers into perspective. It’s hard to understand things that are far removed from your daily experiences: theological traditions, racial injustice, refugees, poverty or numbers.

Gospel Motivations for Gospel Ministry

I love writing so I’m always reading books and blogs. I want to write like Tim Keller and blog like Tim Challies. Maybe I should change my name to Tim Sangah. But I agree with Nick Batzig, “There is a fine line between learning from others and competing with others.” However, if I want to become a better writer, I need to cultivate Gospel faithfulness, contentment, humility, diligence, and love. There’s no substitute for these five.

Immigration: A Biblical Perspective

The Bible has a lot to say about refugees but interpretations on what it means remain wider than the chasms at the Grand Canyon. Franklin Graham says the US should not accept Muslim refugees. Ralph Drollinger argues foreigners should not be allowed in the US. And Rondell Trevino says the church should love and care for the immigrants, legal or illegal. So then, what is the sound biblical theology of immigration?

The Anatomy of Charisma:What makes a person magnetic and why we should be wary

People love charismatic speakers. They can win a difficult audience with their charm and can make them drown in tears if they will. But students exposed to charismatic speakers remember far less than those exposed to the non-charismatic speakers. I guess that probably answers why biblical illiteracy has become endemic to the US despite the growing number of impressive Christian speakers and authors.

Don’t Tell Your Friends They’re Lucky

Have you ever followed someone’s advice on success and it never worked? “The whole process of constructing life narratives is biased in ways that almost guarantee that people won’t recognize the role of chance events adequately.” As a result, no one credits luck for their success. After all, the worst enemy of the American dream isn’t communism or socialism, it’s acknowledging luck.

The Problem with Climate Change by Tim Challies

There’s a song by a popular Zimbabwean musician, Alick Macheso, that I love. Alick Macheso said some people were warned about an encroaching war by a mentally ill person and they ignored. He added, do not despise the messenger but listen to his words – usashore mhumhu, terera mashoko.

“I wouldn’t say I’m a climate change denier as much as a skeptic, at least as it pertains to the seriousness of the problem and the effectiveness of the proposed solutions,” wrote Tim Challies in his Final Call and he added, “I just haven’t been convinced.” The reason behind his skepticism, he said is the ‘hypocrisy of many of its foremost advocates’ and ‘pantheistic worldview behind so much of it.’

Let me listen to Alick Macheso, usashore mhumhu, terera mashoko.

This is why a true believer can never have a spiritual husband

If you are having a serious marital problem, then you probably heard people say you have a spiritual husband. Behind your back, in your face or behind the pulpit. You need deliverance, they said.

 

What is a spiritual husband? A spiritual husband is an evil spirit that possesses a woman with the aim of raping her and disrupting her marriage.

I once met a woman who was in great distress. She had been in numerous relationships. But in all cases, the guy would dump her after promising to marry her. Hopeless, she sought help from a prophet.

Society taught her a 35 year old woman should be married with kids. As a result, she believed she had a spiritual husband. The evil spirit was jealous and didn’t want her to get married. Hence, the misfortune. She was told.

But your story might be different. You actually wish you were never married. It seems the spiritual husband doesn’t want you to enjoy your marriage. And it’s unbearable.

You lost a dozen children before you could hold them in your weary hands. Then finally you did, but it was a stillborn. Wounded and confused, you spiral into depression. Your only wish is for someone to deliver you from this spiritual husband.

You strongly believe the spiritual husband is coming between your marriage. At night you dream having sex with a stranger. The guilt is crippling. Above all, you’re always fighting with your husband for no solid reason. And you’re now tired of life.

Is there any hope, in Christ, for a woman who believes she is troubled by a spiritual husband?

A Brief History of Spiritual Husbands and Wives

spiritual-husband-marriage

Sir Edward Burne-Jones (British, Birmingham 1833–1898 Fulham ) The Love Song, 1868–77 Oil on canvas; 45 x 61 3/8 in. (114.3 x 155.9 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Alfred N. Punnett Endowment Fund, 1947 (47.26) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/435826

You probably think beliefs on a spiritual husband or wife are exclusive to Sub-Saharan Africans. That’s not true. Stories of spiritual spouses are common across different cultures from America, Europe to Asia.

1. Shamanism – a spiritual husband makes you a god

However, in other parts of the world a spiritual spouse is a sign of a divine call. They believe the spiritual spouse is a god or goddess. Importantly, sleeping with a deity ensured you’re always protected. And this is the basis of shamanism.

2. Spirit medium – a spiritual husband makes you a priest

When I was around 10, a woman visited my mother. People said she had a spirit medium – mudzimu. She had a cunning ability to speak with the dead. But the magic came with a cost – at old age she had never been married. The spirit that possessed her claimed her as a wife.

3. Vengeance spirit – a spiritual husband makes you a ransom

But in most cases, a spiritual husband is believed to be due to a vengeance spirit – ngozi. When a family member kill a person, the family offer a girl child to appease the spirit of the dead. And it is believed that spirit may continue haunting even the great great grandchildren of the murderer.

4. Witchcraft – a spiritual husband makes you a reward

However, in some instances it is believed that a spiritual husband is caused by witchcraft. A witch in the family pledges you as a wife to her goblins. The goblins would rape you at night and sometimes leave you in a state of confusion. Sadly, women with autism, down syndrome or schizophrenia are thought to be victims of a spiritual husband.

What does the Bible say about spiritual husbands and wives?

The Bible has a lot to say regarding marital problems. Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, and Elizabeth were barren. Hosea’s wife was a prostitute. And Rebekah caused conflict between her two sons. Yet, there’s no mention of a spiritual husband causing those problems.

As a result, Conrad Mbewe, a respected theologian in Africa, argued that belief in spiritual husbands and wives is nonsense because:

  1. It’s not in the Bible
  2. It’s based on an unbiblical view of dreams
  3. It encourages sexual immorality by blaming sin on the evil spirit
  4. It’s a result of ignoring the value of a Christ-centered marriage counseling

But just because the Bible has no explicit account of a woman troubled by a spiritual husband, does that mean it’s unbiblical?

In the Book of Genesis, we’re told of the ‘sons of God’ who had sexual encounters with women (Genesis 6:4). As a result, it made some people to wrongly claim that the Bible implicitly talks about spiritual husbands. And they named these spiritual spouses Incubus and Succubus.

A more Biblical approach to spiritual husbands is acknowledging our ignorance. Christ met several people who were troubled by evil spirits. But for most of them, we don’t know how the demons really manifested. Maybe for some it was through a spiritual husband, but that’s mere speculation.

Is a spiritual husband really ruining your marriage?

If you’re a child of God, then the simple answer is no. When you received the life of Christ you became a new creation. As a member of the body of Christ, you’re the spiritual bride of Christ. For that reason, you can’t be possessed or oppressed by any evil spirit.

It’s impossible for a child of God to be troubled by a spiritual husband.

So then, why do you have dreams being raped by a stranger, if you don’t have a spiritual husband? What about the miscarriages or the barrenness? And the constant conflict in your marriage?

Demystifying nocturnal arousals

When you dream having sex with a stranger it could be due to lust or nocturnal arousal. Nocturnal arousal is an important biological phenomenon that preserves the vitality of the male and probably female organs. However, lustful thoughts could also lead to these crazy dreams.

Demystifying sleep paralysis

Furthermore, sleep paralysis can occur when you have anxiety, insomnia or narcolepsy. What is sleep paralysis? This occurs when you feel like there’s someone restraining your movements while you’re asleep – madzikirira.

Demystifying sex in dreams

Sleep paralysis may make a convincing case for spiritual husbands when it partners with nocturnal arousal. Because sleep paralysis is often marked by hallucinations. Hence, as a believer you need to guard your heart against sexual impurity. And you also need to seek after God’s peace (Isaiah 26:3).

Demystifying marriage conflict

Marriage is hard-work. Your husband is a sinner in love. And you too. No spiritual husband can cause conflict in your marriage. But your sinful tendencies can do that. So instead of blaming a spiritual husband you need to start working on building a Christ-centered marriage. Pray. Repent. Read. Love. Pray.

Demystifying miscarriages

Miscarriages can be caused by several things such as abnormalities in the uterus, diabetes, stress, and hormonal imbalances. If you lost your child you need to seek help. You need to talk to a fellow believer who can share in your grief. It’s not your fault that you lost a child. And it doesn’t mean you have a spiritual husband.

Demystifying barrenness

God gives his gifts as he wills. Children are a gift from God. And he will give you how he wills and when he wills. I know of a couple of people who went for many years without a child and later did. And I know of a lovely woman who died in her late thirties without a child. You need to believe more in Christ and not in spiritual husbands.

Final Thought

Here’s a fact. If you’re a born of God, then your marriage problems aren’t caused by a spiritual husband. You need to take ownership of your marriage and allow Christ to be at the center.

Focus Africa Theological Gleanings From Around The Globe

Focus Africa: Theological Gleanings Around the Globe (February 11, 2017)

Focus Africa: theological gleanings around the globe is a collection of hand-picked articles from around the world. I hope to encourage conversation on theological matters pertaining to Africa.

A lot has been going on in my life over the past month. I am excited to tell you that I got a research job outside Zimbabwe. And I will be leaving at the end of this month. I am grateful for your love, prayers, and constant encouragement.

Focus Africa Theological Gleanings From Around The Globe

Taking Responsibility of The Reformation

A trip to Zurich, Switzerland opened me up to a world of brokenness and division – the Reformation. But as an African, I should have known better; tribalism is an enemy of progress and it’s more real than the PizzaGate. The church is not immune to tribalism. “Some of us have overemphasized unimportant points, and others have not adequately reformed obvious abuses.”

African leaders are much older than their country’s median age

https://www.theatlas.com/javascripts/atlas.js

Before you start throwing stones, consider this Barna Group survey: 1 in 7 pastors in the US is under 40, yet most of the pastors are only six years younger than the retirement age. There’s no problem with having leaders who are older than their followers. After all, wisdom comes with gray hair. However, “Pastors 50 and older, on the other hand, admit engaging younger generations is a challenge for them.”

7 False Teachers in the Church Today

Reading Tim Challies’ article, I realized I am susceptible to being a false teacher. When I publicly rejected Christ as my Savior I was a heretic. Teaching people to give so that they could receive, I was a classic charlatan. I became an abuser when I selfishly manipulated people using God’s word. As a divider, I fanned division among God’s people. Seeking to please men through persuasive writing, I became a tickler. And when I obsessed with something new, I transformed into a speculator. I am still yet to be a prophet. I only find solace in this; Christ once called Peter satan, and Peter betrayed Christ, yet Christ called him a friend.

10 Things You Should Know about Biblical Theology

Every worldview is really about identifying what story we live in. Our lives, our hopes, our plans for the future are all rooted in a much bigger story. Biblical theology helps us understand the story of the Bible clearly. If our story is a cycle of life, death, reincarnation, and rebirth, this will affect the way we treat others around us. If our story is part of a larger random pattern of unguided naturalistic evolution and eventual decay, this story will define the way we think about life and death.

Pastor Grieving Over Mystery Woman Drinks Poison, Streaming Video Of His Suicide Act On Facebook

I recently wrote about a good friend of mine who committed suicide. His name was Richard Nhika. A wonderful man, loving and caring. He was always the one who listened before he spoke. In this article, Christian Today reports about the circumstances surrounding his suicide. The problem of suicide is real, depression is real. But we do not have a word for depression in Zimbabwe, we call it kufunganya – thinking a lot. And the church simply calls it demonic oppression.

The Book of Exodus Will Make You Love Immigrants. This Is Why

You probably agree the Book of Exodus is a story about immigration by immigrants. It honestly shows the struggles, the fears, and the pains of living in a foreign land. Above all, the Book of Exodus will help you understand what home means to people like me.

I come from a long line of immigrants. My grandparents were born in Mozambique. About 80 years ago, Grandpa left his home country in haste. Probably because of marital problems. But in a twist of fate Grandma found him in the then Salisbury, Rhodesia.

My grandparents were Chikunda. The Chikunda were “an obscure and impoverished people living in the shadows of history.” They were slaves that became an ethnic group when the prazo system fell.

I grew up ashamed to be a Chikunda. Most people in Zimbabwe despised Mozambicans, in general. We were considered dumb, dull, and backward. Back then, Zimbabwe was the breadbasket of Africa and Mozambique was torn apart by an unending insensible civil war.

I often tried to hide my heritage in fear of ridicule and shaming. But my surname always betrayed me. It was obvious, there was no way a real Zimbabwean could have a surname like ‘Sanganyado.’

In the end, I grew up without a true sense of being home. I didn’t know where I truly belonged. And being fluent in two of the local languages didn’t help. Going to America at a time when immigrants were considered suspicious and dangerous only made it worse.

But reading the Book of Exodus introduced to me to a God of immigrants. A God who calls people out of their home countries into foreign lands. And a God who beckons those who don’t belong, the outcasts, and the oppressed, “Come home.”

What The Book of Exodus Teaches Us About Immigrants

 

I once was a temporary immigrant in the US. They were several families that accepted me as their own. And I had a church family I belonged to. But I will be a liar if I say life in America was a second honeymoon.
I left Zimbabwe because I wanted to advance my studies. And I was fortunate enough to receive a Fulbright scholarship. And unknown to me, that was a huge problem.

My first day in the USA, I shared an elevator with a couple of white people. One of them said, “Do you know it’s our taxes which are being wastes to pay for these people coming to our country?” Of course, she was wrong. But it did wound my heart.

I came to the US for cultural exchange, to share with the people in Riverside about my culture. While I learned the California culture. And the goal was for me to take home all the positives I discovered. Senator Fulbright, who came up with the idea thought it was a win-win situation. But he passed away on my tenth birthday.

This is the same situation that the children of Israel had. A Pharaoh came along who had no idea why immigrants were treated with respect and honor. He cared more about his own people and began to oppress the immigrants. Yet, Egypt survived the seven years of drought because of an immigrant.

History teaches that nations are built by immigrants. Different cultures, different traditions, often lead to new practices. But the resulting development is always stopped by fear, uncertainty and doubt.

The new Pharaoh was afraid of the growing population of the immigrants. He was not sure of their dreams, desires and plans. Therefore, Pharaoh had serious reservations regarding the innocent immigrants.

What Is Home? A Place You Belong and Become

In a few weeks, my family will be leaving Zimbabwe. I found a job in another continent. Different cultures, different languages, and different people. And the question that is burning in my heart is: will I be able to call that place home?

More than 30 years ago, on this day, I was born in Bulawayo. Home was a small house in a military camp. But before my 9th birthday, we moved to a village in Hurungwe. I learned to call that village home. After all, that’s where my father was buried 7 months later.

I only lived in Hurungwe for less than 2 years. My mother bought a house in a local town. And I had to learn to call that place home. I lived in that house for 7 years and left for college. My mother passed away 3 years before.

Home is a place where you do not only belong, it’s the place where you become. Living in America the tension of belonging and becoming was real. The laws in place, and a few ignorant people, reminded me that I was just an immigrant.

In Becoming Curious, Casey Tygrett observed, “Love gives us roots, develops a sense of belonging, and places us in relationship with ourselves, with others, and the with world at large.” My crisis in calling America home is because of the Americans who genuinely loved me and my family. They made America my home.

The Book of Exodus opened me up to a new understanding of what home is. Home is a place you belong and become through an incessant worship in God’s faithful presence. God called Israel home, a place he had promised Abraham, a place he had set apart for them.

When Immigrants Are Called To Be A Nation

The Book of Exodus taught me that even though I’m in this world, I am not of this world. I am an immigrant. My true home is in the faithful presence of God.

At Passover, God reminded the children of Israel that he watches over them. He’s the God who loves them enough to grant them life by imputing their sins on an innocent lamb. Home is a place where forgiveness abounds and mercy resides.

But importantly, home is the place where the character of the head of the household is revealed. God called the Israelites out of the Egyptian oppressive government to be a royal priesthood – a reflection of Christ the lamb and the Lion of Judah.

I guess that is why Robert Mulholland said, “Identity and value are found in a vital and living relationship with Christ as Lord. This relationship liberates Christians from dependence upon their little systems of order and fragile structures of control.”

Sadly, the Israelites were too comfortable in their adopted systems of order and structures of control. While Moses was in the mountain talking to God, the riveted to the old Egyptian governance. They created an idol. God called them to himself so that they could belong and become. But they chose to be liked and to be like others.

Where do you belong and who are you becoming?

12 Ways Being A Good Listener Will Make You A Better Friend

What would you do if a friend asks you to buy him bottled water for taking pills yet they’re carrying 5 liters of water and they have just bought a piece of chocolate?

You will probably buy it. But in your heart you will be livid, “She’s a crook. And she doesn’t know how to prioritize. Why can’t she use the money she had to buy water instead of chocolate? I’m done calling such a low life a friend.” 😤😤😤

But there’s much you don’t know. What if the water she’s carrying is not hers? Even if it could be hers, did you consider it might be for her children who get stomach problems whenever they try municipality water?

Why did she buy the chocolate? She could use the money for the water, right? But did you check what pills your friend is taking? Maybe the doctor recommended eating dark chocolate before taking the pills?

The most important lesson I learned about friendship is a good friend is someone who listens. And good listeners are curious people. They are people who want to know more about others. Above all, a good listener knows there’s always a story behind a story.

A friend is someone who listens to you more than they give answers. After all, even the most intelligent answer is useless if you do not understand the problem.

But as a friend, you do not listen to identify the problem only. You listen to give a friend a shoulder to lean on. And you listen because you want to experience their pain, their fears, and their struggles. That’s what being a friend is all about.

12 Biblical Tips On Becoming A Better Friend And Good Listener

 

12 Ways Being A Good Listener Will Make You A Better Friend

I will never forget the two men from my church in Riverside, California. They listened to me as I poured out my fears and problems. I had received an ultimatum from the people who sponsored my visa: get a job or get out of the country. I did everything to secure a job, 1,000+ applications and failed.

But these two wise men didn’t give me any solutions. They just asked me how I was doing, how unemployment was affecting my family, and if there was anything they could do to help. And we prayed for God’s will. Six months later, I finally got a job that I love in a country I never thought I would live in.

But how can you be a better friend, a friend that is quick to listen but slow to answer? I believe we can find help from the 59 instances in the New Testament the phrase one another or each other is used.

1. Love one another

13 times, the Bible encourages us to love one another (John 13:34, Romans 13:8). Because love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful (1 Corinthians 13:5). And love covers a multitude of sins. Hence, a friend who truly loves you will listen to you.

2. Be at peace with one another

Anyone or anything that fails to meet your expectations disturbs your peace. Peace is simply living in harmony with others (Romans 12:16). If you attack a person’s decisions without listening to them you are a fanning conflict. But to be a good listener you need to be peaceable and peaceful (Mark 9:50).

3. Honor one another

I once asked for help and a certain guy said I had misplaced priorities. That was disrespect. Period. He could have honored me by just listening to my story. And if he really wanted to know about my priorities, he could have asked. Hence, Paul advised (Romans 12:10), “Honor one another above yourself.”

4. Do not judge each other

The person who said I didn’t know how to prioritize judged me unfairly. But they didn’t help me. I honestly believe they thought they were helping me. When you shut your ears, you shut your mind, and you better shut your mouth because you will hurt people (Romans 14:13, James 1:19).

5. Be equally concerned for your friend

What does being equally concerned mean? Philippians 2:4, shows that you’re equally concerned for others when you do not look to your own interests only, but also to the interests of others. You can only do that if you truly understand the love of Christ.

6. Accept one another

We need to accept each other as Christ accepted us (Romans 15:7). How did Christ accept you? He accepted you when you were a hopeless sinner. Jesus spent time with the sinners, listening to their stories, and experiencing their deepest fears. Being a good listener sometimes means being willing to sit in the murk.

7. Carrying each other’s burden

The men who helped me to pray for a job did not just give me answers. They listened and shared in the weight of unemployment. Although I did not get the job immediately, but the miracle was in knowing God gave me friends who I could count on.

8. Be humble

When you’re conceited, you provoke others to anger and envy them (1 Corinthians 11:33). When you think your friend shouldn’t buy chocolate but water, is it because you care about your friend or it’s because you wish you had chocolate? And if your friend heard what you thought, will she be wrong if she gets angry?

9. Encourage one another

7 times in the New Testament, the Bible encourages us to encourage each other daily (Hebrews 10:25, 1 Thessalonians 4:18). As I searched for a job, there was one person, I met through this blog who never stopped to encourage me. They would send Bible passages, share their stories and even pay for some stuff I needed. I am forever grateful.

10. Pray for each other

No, I don’t mean those prayers that are backbiting (Galatians 5:15), slander (James 4:11), grumbling (James 5:9) or lies (Colossians 3:9). You need to pray honestly. But you can only pray for me if you know my story and care enough to listen.

11. Forgive each other

Confession. There are some friends who recently betrayed me. It was painful and it still hurts when I think about it. But I have to forgive them. Not because I am morally superior, but because I am a worse sinner. Yet Christ forgives me, daily.

12. Wash each other’s feet

We do not need to submit to each other only, we have to serve one another. Epaphroditus became Paul’s servant when he was in jail. If I want to be a good listener and a friend, I have to be your servant first. I have to be willing to touch the sole of your feet with the hands I will put in my mouth.

How To Read 100 Christian Books A Year

I have read more than 100 Christian books in a year since 2006. Actually, 100 books. But most people think it’s impossible. And they think I don’t watch TV or spend time with my family. How could you possibly read 100 Christian books without sacrificing time with your family?

I love books but I learned earlier on in my marriage that I will never let a book, no matter how good it is, to come between me and my family. Not only that, I can afford to watch Zootopia, The Good Dinosaur, Finding Dory or Star Wars with my kids. And I still find time with my books.

You probably think I have a lot of spare time in my day. That’s not true. I’m a college professor teaching process engineering. And my degree is in environmental toxicology. I teach for 15 hours a week, spend at least 15 hours preparing course material, and 10 hours grading, administrative work, and office hours.

Above all, as you probably know, I enjoy writing. That’s why it hurts me that I might not be able to keep this blog since I failed to raise $191.78 for web hosting. Yes, on February 18, Pew Theology might be gone. But I will not stop writing. You can make a contribution using the PayPal button below.

With my packed schedule people always ask me two questions:

  1. Where do you find the time for keeping a Christian blog and writing Christian books?
  2. Where do you find the time for reading 10 books a month, when most people can’t even read 10 books a year?

Let me show you how I read at least 100 Christian books a year.

Why should you read 100 Christian books a year?

 

how to read 100 christian books a year

You probably agree with Martin Luther, “The multitude of books is a great evil. There is no limit to this fever for writing.” I agree, too. The fever for writing has produced work such as 50 Shades of Grey, Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, Jesus Calling, The Prayer of Jabez, and The Shack.

I guess that’s why the preacher said:

Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Ecclesiastes 12:12

Sadly, if you’re like most people, you probably used Ecclesiastes to justify your slackness in reading. But have you ever considered that this verse is not isolated?

This is what the Preacher wrote (Ecclesiastes 12:11), “The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd.” And he continued, “The end of the matter; all had been heard.” Then he added the popular quote.

Nowadays, you can find the ‘words of the wise’ in some Christian books. But the words of wisdom are like goads – a stick with sharp end used to guide livestock. And these collected works secure us in Christ’s faithful presence like a nail.

I enjoy experiencing, exploring and expressing theology through good Christian books. As a result, I read books from authors from different theological traditions and with diverse backgrounds. Reading more than 100 books a year helps me grow in Biblical curiosity.

How to read 100 Christian books a year

It takes only 40 minutes a day.

Shocked? Yep, it’s true. Here are the numbers.

An average Christian book has only 40,000 words. Of course, theological textbooks average 100,000 words. But let’s start small, hey. So, if you want to read 100 books, you’re going to read 4,000,000 words. That’s a lot, right?

Not really, Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables and Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace have around 600,000 words. And most people take 3 weeks to read these volumes. At that rate, it should take you 1 month to read 10 Christian books.

How do you read 100 Christian books a year? Simple, you only need to read 11,000 words a day. That’s a lot, right?

Not really, an average reader reads 320 words a minute. Therefore, you can finish at least 100 books by spending 40 minutes a day reading slowly.

40 minutes a day = 100 books a year

Guess what? The 40 minutes include 6 minutes for reflecting on what you read, praying, or taking notes. You can do this!

Check your reading speed here.

ereader test
Source: Staples eReader Department

6 smart tips that will make you read 100 books in 2017

Again. It’s not about how many books you read. But experiencing, exploring, and expressing theology in your life. A good Christian book is simply a goad and a nail in the hands of Christ, the Chief Shepherd.

Not all books are equal. They’re some books that are not worth your time. Reading them will only make you grow weary. Yet, some books are gems that you cannot afford to neglect. Joe Thorn’s Life of the Church and Character of the Church come into mind.

Before you can read 100 Christian books you need to know where to find them and what to do with the books. So, then how do you find good Christian books?

1. Avoid your local popular Christian bookstore

It’s sad but it’s true. Bookstores sell books that sell. Don’t blame them; they want to survive. But the cost of survival is sometimes stocking prosperity gospel and heaven tourism books. Trust me, you don’t want to spoil your goal to read 10 books in a year with these books.

2. Be careful of some publishers

When I started reading 100 Christian books a year, I only read from Harrison House, Harvest House, and Destiny Image. Not anymore. God delivered me from the lies of the prosperity gospel and the dangers of neo-Pentecostalism.

3. Avoid books on the same topic by the same publisher

It’s always wise to read books as clusters. But you run the risk of reading similar material thus wasting your time. It happened to me in 2015 while studying preaching. Books by one publisher said the same thing and even shared the same stories. I wasted my time, I should have read Bryan Chapell, after all, they were his students.

4. Be intentionally diverse

In January, I read one New Apostolic Reformation, two theology, two biographies, and two fiction books. And two female, two African, and one Latino author. I wanted to experience and explore theology in different cultures and theological traditions. But this also meant I had to be extra careful.

5. Listening is not cheating

So is throwing away a book after only three chapters or skimming through a book. Again. You don’t have to punish yourself reading a book that clearly ended after the introduction. Sadly, this describes most Christian books. Furthermore, you can sign up for Audible and listen to the books instead.

6. You can start with my book

No, I’m joking. I’m just trying to market my book. After all, I want more people to read it. And I believe it’s a good book. I’m reading it for the fourth time. The book is called The Secret Place, you can buy the Kindle or paperback version on Amazon.

Summary

I will repeat.

40 minutes a day = 100 books a year

And if you find the articles I write useful, please do not hesitate to help me pay for web hosting ($191.78). Send anything you can afford to this PayPal account.

10 Christian Books That Will Make You Love Life

They’re some books you will probably never consider to read; even though they’re Christian books. There’s nothing wrong with that. But I believe such selective reading sometimes do us a great disservice by narrowing our views.

I normally don’t read fiction, biographies or books by authors pushing a false teaching. Honestly, I find most of the fiction sold in Christian bookstores rather boring. The best work of fiction I ever read had questionable teachings on the person of the Triune God.

The first biography I read was about Hudson Taylor. I loved the book. But I got caught up in the success coaching trail. And I began reading biographies by famous people like Jack Welch, Thomas Edison, Donald Trump, and the like. Such biographies taught you could succeed without Christ.

After finding my life in Christ, my heart was lured into health and wealth gospel. I soaked in every word written by Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, Richard Roberts, etc. And as a Pentecostal, I read C. Peter Wagner and anyone from the New Apostolic Movement.

During my success coaching days, I only read biographies by successful people. And when I was in the prosperity teaching, Harrison House and Destiny Image were my publishers of choice. It took God’s grace for me to discover I was in error.

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. Hebrews 2:1

The Christian books you read can become a gentle breeze that blows you away from the coast of God’s faithful presence. For that reason, I resolved to read books beyond my comfort zone in 2017.

10 Christian Books I Read in January

10 Christian books you should read

1. Dumpster Dicing by Julie B Cosgrove

What can a couple of old ladies living in a retirement home teach about life? The friendship of course. Janie, Betsy Ann, and Ethel investigate the death of a neighbor. They found his body diced in the dumpster. Although I am not a fan of fiction, I enjoyed this book. Probably because it reminded me of the lovely families I left in the US.

2. The Battle of Seattle by Douglas Bond

Ever since Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, like most people, I became suspicious of historical fiction books. Douglas Bond redeems the genre in this retelling of the events that shaped the US. Through an engaging narrative, The Battle of Seattle explores the paradox of faith and war.

3. Rescuing the Gospel from Cowboys by Richard Twists

This is the first book by a native American I ever read. And I got it from a great friend as a graduation gift. Twiss drew me, through his unapologetic writing, into the challenges faced by native American Christian. If you have never been called as a pagan and idolater because of your cultural dress, then read this book.

4. Tethered: Breaking Free from the Past by Baz Bhasera

Baz Bhasera’s Tethered is not just heartbreaking, it’s a masterpiece. This is a story of a man who endured the worst life can offer. Abandoned by a physically abusive father, and tragically losing his wife after a short illness. Most people would have quit God but he didn’t. I know you have more questions; read this book.

5. Sons in the Son

My grandmother had two adopted children, but all the grandkids and neighbors didn’t know. No wonder, I find it appalling when people say, “I have two kids and one adopted child.” Sons in the Son explores the nuances of our adoption in Jesus Christ. A poor view of Christian adoption will make you belittle your justification, sanctification, and redemption.

6. Katharine and Martin Luther by Michelle DeRusha

I have always viewed Martin Luther’s marriage as a mere political statement rather than a commitment to love. But Michelle DeRusha proved me wrong. Using the few available accounts on Katharine, Michelle DeRusha offers a compelling picture of Martin Luther’s love interest. But she does more, Katharine and Martin Luther illustrates how their theology formed and grew before they finally exchanged wedding vows.

7. Making Marriage Beautiful by Dorothy Littell Greco

The premise of this book is simple: you cannot love your spouse without being transformed. After all, the first step to a good marriage is accepting you’re a broken sinner,  and God is righteous, just and gracious. But what are transformed from? Wounds, expectations, and preferences. I have read several books on marriage, Dorothy Littell Greco’s Making Marriage Beautiful has won my heart.

8. Among Wolves: Disciple-Making in the City by Dhati Lewis

Here is a man, like any other African American, had a dream of becoming an athlete. That dream got dashed when no top college offered him a football scholarship. In that moment of despair, Dhati Lewis discovered his call to reach the inner city with the Gospel. In this instructive Christ-centered book, Dhati Lewis shows that making disciples is about finding your identity in God’s story, family, mission, church, and work.

9. The Whole Message of the Bible in 16 Words by Chris Bruno

Are you interested in biblical theology but find current books boring and hard to read? Chris Bruno’s The Whole Message of the Bible in 16 Words is perfect for you. In this 150-page book, Chris Bruno traced the ‘progressive development of a cluster of themes in the Bible.’ Reading this book helped me experience and explore the life of Christ in my Bible readings.

10. This is Our Time: Everyday Myths in Light of the Gospel by Trevin Wax

Your faith in God is affected by what you believe about possessions, positions, and people. And these three, if unguarded, may construct in you a secular worldview. This can ultimately lead you into deception. Trevin Wax challenges our views on technology, success, relationships, sexuality, and belonging. Get ready to have your worldview challenged.

And if you find the articles I write useful, please do not hesitate to help me pay for the web hosting ($191.78). Send anything you can afford to this PayPal account.

Focus Africa Theological Gleanings From Around The Globe

Focus Africa: Theological Gleanings From Across The Globe (January 31, 2017)

Focus Africa: theological gleanings around the globe is a collection of hand-picked articles from around the world. I hope to encourage conversation on theological matters pertaining to Africa.

Focus Africa Theological Gleanings From Around The Globe

Will You Help Me? Second Call

I need your help. The web hosting of this blog is expiring on February 21. And I’m currently not in a financial position to renew it. Besides, it’s hard for me to make online transactions from Zimbabwe at the moment. I need help with the payment of $218 for renewing the hosting until 2020. You can contact me on WhatsApp using +1 (909) 362 9364 or email edsanganyado (at) Gmail (dot) com. Consider backing me up using Patreon.

How To Write A Book

In this article, Peter J. Leithart outlines five essential stages of writing a book: ambition, contraction, panic, obsession, and wonder. I’m now at the wondering stage, having just completed my manuscript – Pew Theology. I wish more Africans would have enough ambition to write good theology books. Would you support an African author, and how?

What Is Sound Doctrine?

I have heard at least 20 people preach ever since I came back to Zimbabwe. And only two people really taught from God about God and directed me to the glory of God. Sadly, without sound doctrine, the church easily fall victim to false teachings. What can the church in Africa do to cultivate sound doctrine?

The Spiritual Crisis of the Modern Economy

‘The modern economy privileges the well-educated and highly-skilled while giving them an excuse to denigrate the people at the bottom as lazy, untalented, uneducated, and unsophisticated.’ Replace modern economy with modern Christianity and you have a summary of the sad state of some churches in some parts of Africa. Is prosperity gospel the Christian version of meritocracy?

The Guardian view on American Christianity: change and decay

“Traditional American Christianity was shaped by British experience in the 17th and 18th centuries: it was Protestant, patriotic, and providential, but not much concerned with doctrine.” I believe this is in sharp contrast to traditional African Christianity. Sadly, ‘a market-driven religion gives rise to a market-driven approach to truth.’

We went in search of the world’s hardest language

I have been married to a Venda lady for more than 6 years. It has crazy words, for example, there’s the sentence vhana vhana vhana vhana. Vhana can be four, boys or babies. Your tone determines the meaning. I think TshiVenda is the hardest language. They actually have a letter that sounds between an r and an l, ll.

Focus Africa 3

10 Lies That Will Make You Hate People Leaving Church

Don’t stop talking to a person because she is leaving church. Yes, she’s your church but cutting communication is immature, unloving and foolish. You should continue loving her because Jesus Christ still does.

10 Lies That Will Make You Hate People Leaving Church

Be humble. You’re not more special than Jesus Christ. He actually died for the lady leaving the church.

Remember this. No one leaves your church without a good reason. Let that sink. And I’ll repeat: no one leaves your church without a good reason.

It doesn’t matter if you think the reason is stupid. Respect that reason. It’s their reason and it deserves some respect. Is that too much to ask?

So, what should you do when someone is leaving the church?

10 lies about people leaving church most Christians believe

What are the myths that are stopping the love of Christ to flow through his body?

1. People leaving church are backslidden

It’s true they’re some people who left your church as returned to a life of sin. But they’re some who returned to a life of sin and are still paying tithes monthly in your church. Just because someone left your church doesn’t mean they have backslidden.

2. People leaving church are immature

I agree some people who leave your church are immature. Aren’t we all? We all want to grow fruitfully and effectively in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Leaving your church is not a sign of immaturity – it only means they left your church. Period.

3. People leaving church love sin

I heard someone bragging on a pulpit that they will never stop calling sin ‘sin’ because people are leaving the church. To him, people were leaving the church because he preached against sin. It’s called arrogance. Not everyone who leaves your church does so because they love sin.

4. Your church has the best doctrine

Here is a fact. All churches believe they have the best doctrine. Even Jehovah’s Witnesses, African Apostolic sects or neo-Pentecostals. People don’t leave your church because they love bad doctrine.

5. People leaving church are biblically illiterate

If you think you know the Bible better than people who left your church, you’re probably wrong. People who leave your church and those who stay have the same biblical knowledge. Church-leavers are not always simplistic, ignorant and gullible. Sometimes, they are sophisticated, Bible believing and faithful Christians.

6. People leaving church only seek miracles and wealth

With the advent of health and wealth preachers, many traditional churches are now fighting for survival. But does that mean all the people who left your church want miracles and riches? They are looking for something more than that. Probably not, they’re looking for meaning, satisfaction, and purpose.

7. People leaving church lack commitment

You probably wouldn’t want to hang around someone with commitment problems. No wonder church leavers are shunned like a blind man with an infectious skin disease. But have you ever considered that some people leave your church because they think you lack commitment?

8. People leaving church are mainly young people

You probably read the books and heard the sermons: young people are leaving the church in droves. Young people are unstable, they are not grounded in sound teaching, therefore they go with the wind. That might not be true. Young people leave church like any other demographic group.

9. People leaving church are victims of rationalization

One preacher tried to hammer me on the pulpit because he assumed I believed in evolution. Possessing an advanced degree in biological sciences doesn’t mean I believe in evolution. If I left that church people would have assumed it was because of my education. A college degree doesn’t push someone away from the church.

10. People leaving church are hurt people

Yes, people leave the church because of people. That is normally not the primary reason. It’s a good excuse, that’s all. But you will never know the reason why they left of you shut off all the people who left your church.

Why I left the church

I have been a Christian for exactly 15 years. And in that period I have been a member of at least eight churches. Before you label me a church hopper, listen to my story.

4 times I left a church because I was leaving the town for school or work. Twice, I left the church because I was leaving the country. I loved these churches but I had to leave.

There’s a church I left because I was the only person in his twenties. Everyone else was retired or looking forward to their retirement. The church was good, but it wasn’t for me.

I have only left one church because of some theological differences. I enjoyed the worship, the people were friendly. But I didn’t understand where we were going. So, I did the only sensible thing I could. I left.

But I have friends who left a church because they didn’t feel like the church was sufficiently nourishing them. They wanted to be part of the church they grew in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. And they left the church.

Here’s the thing. We all want to be part of a local church where we experience, explore and express theology. It’s a basic Christian need. And when that need is not met, whether, in truth or perception, people leave.

Instead of shutting off a person who left your church why not show love. You can spend time with them and genuinely ask them these questions:

Are you experiencing, exploring, and expressing sound theology at your new church? In what ways can I help you experience the life of Christ? Are there any areas of your life you need prayer? How can I show you the love of Christ?

Church dropouts don’t need your backbiting, rumors or unwarranted judgments. They need one thing – Christ’s relentless love. Even if they have backslidden, remember the parable of the lost coin, the parable of the lost sheep and the parable of the prodigal son.

You’re your brother’s keeper.

I Just Lost A Friend. He Committed Suicide And It Hurts

I first thought about writing on what the Bible says about Christians who commit suicide in October, 2016. But I did not know how to persuasively, clearly, and convincingly share my thoughts on the issue. As a result, after titling it What Happens to Christians Who Commit Suicide, I abandoned the article.

I am glad I didn’t write the article.

You probably can tell from the title that I was writing about a faceless, nameless and unknown Christian who commits suicide. And the article was more on how much I knew about what the Bible says about suicide. It was about me. Not the men, women, and children who lost a father, a brother and a friend to suicide.

But as I am writing, there is a sharp pain on my left side. My head is spinning around like a broken ferris wheel in an abandoned amusement park. An avalanche of questions is hammering my peanut brain, and I can’t take it. I can feel my body crumbling inside me with each thought and memory.

My question, what happens to Christians who commit suicide was rather naive and childish. I do not know it; I can feel it. And the question what does the Bible say about Christians who commit suicide? It is self-righteous and arrogant.

Suicide doesn’t only take away unceremoniously those we love. Leaving behind a tonne of unanswered questions, it hurts and leaves a wound on the hearts of the bereaved – a wound no amount of rationalization, biblicism or self-righteousness can heal. My heart is wounded.

What do you do when a friend commits suicide?

I rarely read the news these days; it’s negative, depressing, and often fake. But today was different. While doing my research on my next post on Focus Africa: Theological Gleanings From Around The Globe, I saw a headline that caught my attention:
Gospel musician kills self on video after fight with girlfriend

I was angry. And I was pissed. What kind of gospel musician does this dumb thing? Was this girl really worth dying for? This guy was probably a foolish, self-centered and attention-seeking moron. And he called himself a Christian?

I was angry because I thought his actions brings the kingdom of God into disrepute. And I was angry because I believed God hired me as his PR manager. His suicide makes people reject the power of the gospel to bring life where there’s death. Of course, I was a jerk.

Before I could read the article, my heart melted seeing a familiar smiling face. I knew the guy who had committed suicide. And that is an understatement; he was my friend in Bible college. We actually sat together in class.

Smart, soft-spoken, humble, my friend was far from being dumb, egotistic, self-centered, and attention-seeking. He commanded the room when he entered, and everyone loved him. I still remember listening to his debut album with my wife and we both marveled at his talent.

But beneath the smiles, lay a tortured soul. And I bet no one knew it. I only discovered today that the time he didn’t come for class for two weeks he was actually in the hospital. He attempted to commit suicide and was fortunate enough that someone rushed him to the hospital.

When we asked him about where he was, “I was sick.” That’s all he could say. We prayed for him and forgot about it. I could have done better; I could have offered my ears, just to listen to him pour out his heart. Maybe it could have helped him deal with the problems.

If you’re wondering what happens when a Christian commits suicide, this is what happens this side of heaven:

  1. You’re angry at yourself for no apparent reason
  2. You blame yourself for not being there for your friend
  3. You’re filled with guilt because you’re convinced you could have helped if you knew
  4. You’re filled with shame because you think people now believe you’re a lousy friend
  5. You have dozens of unanswered questions that you know might remain unanswered

What does the Bible say about Christians who commit suicide?

The Bible does not say much about Christians who commit suicide. Only six suicides are recorded in the Bible, five in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament. Interestingly, besides Saul’s armor bearer, all the other five were notable of their wickedness; Judas, Saul, Abimelech, Ahithopel, and Zimri.

But that doesn’t mean all people who commit suicide are wicked. Even the great apostle, Paul once considered committing suicide (2 Corinthians 1:8), “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.”

Before you get judgemental on people who commit suicide, you need to remember you don’t know what they went through. I agree with Lewis B. Smedes:

I believe that, as Christians, we should worry less about whether Christians who have killed themselves go to heaven, and worry more about how we can help people like them find hope and joy in living. Our most urgent problem is not the morality of suicide but the spiritual and mental despair that drags people down to it.
-Lewis B. Smedes

I agree with Lewis B. Smedes, “Loved ones who have died at their own hands we can safely trust to our gracious God. Loved ones whose spirits are even now slipping so silently toward death, these are our burden.” And I will add, loved ones who are burdened by guilt and shame after losing a relative or friend to suicide need the liberating Gospel.