From Interesting Reflections

The Curse of Motivational Speaking


by Conrad Mbewe

Last Sunday, a young man came to see me after our church service.

He is the kind of guy who shows up at church once in a while and then disappears for a season. My guess is that he goes around churches sampling sermons and looking for answers. On this visit, he asked that I help him to overcome a failure in his life, and it was a failure to progress. He said that his greatest problem is that he does not believe in himself. Could I help him believe in himself so that he could become successful?

I asked him whether he was a Christian. His answer was, “Do I really need to be a Christian in order to be successful? Are you telling me that all those successful people out there are Christians?

Aren´t there general principles that I can apply to my life-whether I am a Christian or not-that can catapult me to success?” I challenged him to answer that question himself. After all, I was sure he had done enough rounds among motivational speakers to have the answer.

“That is the problem,” he said, “I have been told that such principles exist and I have tried them. They seem to work for a while and then I am back to my old self again. I want you to help me find that formula that will help me go forward and never slide back to the place where I do not believe in myself.” To cut the long story short, I finally persuaded him of the need for reconciliation with God before anyone can break free from the frustrating rut that God locks unreconciled sinners in.

I gave him a booklet to read, entitled, What is a Biblical Christian?

When we met the following day, he was honest enough to tell me that he was disappointed with what he read because it was not telling him what he wanted to hear. “What I want to know is how I can be successful. This booklet did not say anything about that.”

I repeated what I told him earlier. What he needed was not belief in himself but belief in a Saviour sent from heaven. He needed forgiveness as a foundation for his life.

Yesterday, a church member told me that he met the young man in the local market. He had two booklets in his hands. The first was the one I had given him and the second one was by Joel Osteen. He told our member, “Pastor Mbewe gave me this book but I don´t like it because it makes me feel guilty. I prefer this one by Joel Osteen because it lifts me up. It motivates me.” I am very concerned about this and so I decided to put some thoughts together about the curse of motivational speaking.

Sadly, motivational speaking has become the staple diet of many evangelical pulpits. The message being heard is, “God has put the potential in you and all you need to do is believe in yourself to unlock that potential. Have a grand vision and live out that vision.

You must be a man or woman of destiny and the sky will be the limit for you. Don´t let your past failures get in your way of success.

Look beyond them, as Jesus looked beyond the cross and thus overcame it. You are the head and not the tail. “

In the light of the plethora of motivational speaking, it begs the question, “Is this how Old Testament and New Testament preachers preached?” If I summarise the preaching of Noah, Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, Jonah, Paul, Peter, etc., in the Bible, is this the kind of message that I will find there? I do not think so. Granted, motivational speakers borrow words from these men, but borrowing someone´s words is not the same thing as saying what he is saying. “A text without a context is a pretext.”

My chief quarrel with motivational speaking is that it reduces God to a means rather than an end. Men and women are not made to see that the nature of SIN lies in the letter “I” in the middle of the word. Instead, motivational speaking feeds that same ego and points to God as the one who can spoil it to the point of intoxication.

That is a lie! It is God alone who must be at the centre of our lives.

Christianity demands a dying to self, a taking up of one´s cross, and a following after a suffering Saviour.

Whenever I listen to motivational speaking, I seem to hear the message, “Peace, peace,” where there is no peace. It sounds to me like a doctor assuring a patient who has terminal cancer in its final stages that he should not worry because all will be okay if he only believes in himself. The guy is dying, man, for crying out loud!

It is the height of insincerity if a preacher knows that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and instead makes those heading for the slaughterhouse feel nice.

Motivational speaking makes people feel good, whereas the gospel first makes people feel bad-until they find their all in Christ. True preaching must make people face the fact that they are living in rebellion against God and that they need to repent or they will perish. It is only as people recognise this and cry out, “What shall we do to be saved?” (Acts 2:37, 16:30) that true preaching gives them the good news, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).

Motivational speaking is an attempt at trying to kill a charging lion with a pea-gun, using freshly cooked peas, spiced with the most aromatic seasonings. The aroma may be tantalizing to the taste buds, but it is totally useless in bringing down that ferocious beast.

Men and women outside Christ are DEAD in trespasses and sins.

Exciting their senses with nice-sounding platitudes will not give them life. They need the law to kill their fallen egos and the gospel of Jesus Christ to give them life.

I know that motivational speaking is filling up our church buildings until they look like football stadiums. In this world of misery and gloom, we can all do with some encouragement. But is that all that we were called to do as preachers? What good is it if men feel inspired and motivated, and then go back home to live a life of sin and selfishness? Sadly this is the norm in so many evangelical churches. The churches are filled to capacity with people determined to drink sin like water the whole week.

Motivational speaking is not biblical preaching. It is a blight on the landscape of true evangelicalism. It is filling the churches with dead people who are being told to live as if they are alive. We need to return to the good old gospel that truly gives life to the dead and sets men and women free. Like Paul of old, every truly evangelical pulpit must sound out the clear message of “repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ”

(Acts 20:21). Let us get rid of this curse of motivational speaking!


Desire fulfilled while denying request


2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.

God’s real answers to prayer are often seeming denials. Beneath the outward request He hears the voice of the inward desire, and He responds to the mind of the Spirit rather than to the imperfect and perhaps mistaken words in which the yearning seeks expression.

Moreover, His infinite wisdom sees that a larger blessing may be ours only by the withholding of the lesser good which we seek; and so all true prayer trusts Him to give His own answer, not in our way or time, or even to our own expressed desire, but rather to His own unutterable groaning within us which He can interpret better than we.

Monica, mother of Augustine pleaded with God that her dissolute son might not go to Rome, that sink of iniquity; but he was permitted to go, and thus came into contact with Ambrose, bishop of Milan, through whom he was converted.

God fulfilled the mother’s desire while denying her request. – A.T. Pierson in “George Muller of Bristol.”
– Daily Meditations for Prayer.

Why GOD needs you


James 4:17
To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

When you think in terms of sin, we think of sins of commission, and usually of the more sensual sins. For 21 years I was in the Church of England, and I prayed with my people the prayer of the General Confession: ‘We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.’

I want to suggest to you that when the final tally of your sins and mine is made clear, the sins we committed are not going to be the most serious sins: the things we have left undone that we ought to have done, these are the great sins.

When we could have given, and didn’t give; when we could have spoken and didn’t speak; when we could have prayed and didn’t pray; when we could have invited and didn’t invite.

I would submit that among the greatest sinners in any church on any Sunday are the most respectable citizens in the community. It is not that they have been doing what is wrong: they have not been doing what God has made it possible for them to do.

Are you prepared to get involved? God has given you a personality that is quite unique; there is nobody else on earth like you – for which, maybe, some folk are very glad!

You are quite unique. But there is another uniqueness about you: you have a circle of contacts that nobody else has. You are reaching people that I don’t reach. In fact you are reaching people that nobody else can reach; therefore if you are not reaching them, nobody is. That is why God needs you. – George B. Duncan: Four Essentials for Usefulness 91[1], 1972.
– Daily Thoughts From Keswick.

The absurdity of Pride


Galatians 6:3
For if a man thinketh himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

Romans 12:16
Mind not the high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

“Pride,” says Ruskin, “is at the bottom of all great mistakes. Nor does it require experience of life to prove the truth of the dictum. The worst of it, however, is that pride seems to blind its victims.

They are unconscious of any responsibility for the wreckage around them. The callous self has the eyes of the heart fast closed to what is obvious to the onlooker.

So locked up in steel, the proud soul wounds and knows it not; alienates and wonders at the shrinking; struts through life, losing and unconscious of its loss; instructing, but uninstructed.

For herein does Nature avenge herself upon the man who erects himself above his kind.

– The Christian’s Daily Challenge : E.F. & L. Harvey.

Danger of ungodly alliances


1 Corinthians 16:13
Quit you like men, be strong.

God give us men ! A time like this demands
Strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and ready hands.

Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;

Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honor, and will not lie;

Men who stand before a demagogue
And scorn his treacherous flatteries without winking;

Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog,
In public duty, and in private thinking. – J.G. Holland.

Some are too prudent – rascally prudent !

We have, alas, traveled far from apostolic Christianity. Just imagine the mayor and corporation of Ephesus calling a conference of religion and inviting Alexander the Jew, Demetrius the silversmith, and Paul, to have a friendly conference as to the best method of producing religious feeling and good morality among the townsfolk!

Imagine Paul on the receipt of such an invitation! But of course those benighted days are gone! We are noted “back numbers” unless we are prepared to smile at those solemn words of Paul that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to devils.

Oh, for a breath from heaven that shall scatter these despicable compromises! – Paget Wilkes.

2 Chronicles 19:2
Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord?

The men who move the world are the ones who do not let the world move them.

– The Christian’s Daily Challenge : E.F. & L. Harvey.

Opposition before Victory


1 Corinthians 16:9
A great door and effectual is opened …….. and there are many adversaries.

As soon as a man begins to enlarge his life his resistances are multiplied. Let a man tear out of his soul the petty selfish purpose and enthrone a world-purpose, the Christ-purpose and his suffering will be increased on every side. Every addition to spiritual ambition widens the exposure of the soul, and sharpens its perception of the world’s infirmity and the sense of its own restraints. – J.H. Jowett.

Wesley said, “The Lord increases His work in proportion to the opposition it meets with.”

If you meet opposition, it may indicate that you are doing something that counts. In digging wells, Isaac had no opposition from the Philistines until he struck water.

Did I ever feel so? Yes, I think just as bad as any mortal could feel-empty, inside and out, as though I had nothing, human or divine, to aid me, as if all hell were let loose upon me! But I have generally felt the worst before the best results, which proves it was satanic opposition. And it has been the same with many of God’s honored instruments.

It stands to sense, if there is a devil, that he should desperately withstand those whom he sees are going to be used of God. Supposing you were the devil, and had set your heart on circumventing God, how would you do it but by opposing those who were bent on building up His kingdom? He tries the wilderness experience on every true son of the Father, depend on it. He hopes to drive us from the field by blood and fire and vapor and smoke. But our Captain fought and won the battle for us, and we have only to hold on long enough and victory is sure. – Catherine Booth.

– The Christian’s Daily Challenge : E.F. & L. Harvey.

NEVER give up


Philippians 1:1-6
He who has began a good work in you WILL CONTINUE until the day of Jesus – right up to the time of His return, developing and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.

At some stage in our life, each one of us in desperation have been inclined to give up; throw the towel in and flee to the uttermost parts of the earth.

However, some supernatural strength to carry on somehow manages to beset us and we go on, disregarding the odds that are stacked against us.

Never give up, keep on! Keep on believing in your dreams, aspirations, the goals you have secretly set for yourself, the secret petitions of your heart, even those desires that are concealed from the scrutiny of man’s eye.

Never give up on your children, your loved ones, your family and friends; for this period in your life is but a fleeting moment; merely interim, for in the end it will be as you desire.

God never disappoints, and those that wait upon Him will have renewed strength and the ability to go on; as it is written that His strength is perfected in your weakness. He knows, He understands, He remembers all.

Sir Winston Churchill took three years to complete his eighth grade because he had trouble learning English. It seemed ironic that years later, Oxford University asked him to address its commencement exercise.

He arrived with cigar and cane, and wearing his top hot. As Churchill approached the podium, the crown rose in appreciative applause.

With unmatched dignity, he settled the crown and stood confidently before his admirers and with an austere voice he shouted, “NEVER GIVE UP!”

Several seconds passed before he rose up upon his toes and repeated again, “NEVER GIVE UP!”.

His words thundered in their ears. There was a deafening silence as Churchill left the platform.

His commencement address was finished – but what an impact it had on the lives of those people.

Thomas Edison who after 700 attempts, finally gave us the wonder of the light bulb.

The Colonel who thought he would never make the big time and because he “kept on keeping on”, became the Kentucky Chicken King.

Jesus will continue His good work in you; He will never leave you or forsake you: NEVER GIVE UP!!

Leave no duty undone


James 4:17
Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
Joshua 11:15
So did Joshua; he left nothing undone.

No matter what the form of the temptation may be, he who, when convinced of his duty, yet takes no corresponding action, is on the high-road to perdition. Inevitably this bondage grows stronger and stronger with every fresh trial of its strength.

Every time you are convinced of duty and yet resist that conviction, and refuse to act in accordance with it, you become more and more helpless; you commit yourself more and more to the control of your iron-hearted master. Every fresh case renders you only the more fully a helpless slave. –C.G. Finney.

You will be judged in that great day of accounts not only for what you have done, but for what you have left undone. Your neglected opportunities will be taken into account.

They do the least
Who talk the most,
Whose good designs
Are all their boast.
Let words be few.
They do the most
Whose lives possess
The sterling stamp
Of righteousness;
For deeds are true.

The Christian’s Daily Challenge – E.F. & L. Harvey

The ‘Baby Daddy’ God


From American Thinker.Com

There is a good reason why Jews and Christians set the world’s teeth on edge, and it is not their conservative fashion sense. The spirit of the world is hostile to the message that humanity is the product of Special Creation. Surely, the awe-inspiring reputation of Yahweh is not to be confused with some disinterested watchmaker god who winds things up and retires to a condo in Boca Raton. Nor is He a “baby daddy” style god who spits out a brood of Homo sapiens and dumps them off in Detroit, leaving them fending for themselves without a clue while Mama Gaia applies for food stamps. It is held by many that reasonable people can live with that Newtonian god who demands nothing from his orphans, and in turn can supply them with nothing but mute conjecture and inference from which to construct their ethical universes. Truly, Deism’s God must be quite the busy bee; but even if His calendar is booked solid from now till Doomsday, maybe it’s worth a shot to look up His undergrad T.A.’s: the Four Fundamental Physical Forces, and have them hit up this preoccupied Odin at the faculty lounge for his learned insights on the wise parameters of Right and Wrong. Meanwhile, in the name of all that is quasi-holy, must we break down and shell out that monthly fee for the universe’s upgraded version of in order to get some answers around here?

Is the notion of a distant and taciturn force, hovering beyond care or concern, ultimately explanatory or satisfying as we reach out to the heavens and get only a busy signal in exchange for our anguish?  Or is deism merely an academic exercise in hunting down our Pop who has split the galaxy: a lukewarm middle term separating the absurdity of the self-vomiting cosmos on one end and that spiritual pilgrimage for meaning lying far beyond the pay grade of human reason and emotion on the other? Will this quest for a deistic god ultimately lead to a special two-part episode on Maury; and will the rat get off scot-free after beating the DNA test and producing witnesses that swear He was not in the vicinity 15 billion years ago? Will we or will we not hear the ubiquitous: “You are not the Father?” And even if He cops to siring this Earth’s hot mess after hammering down too many Fireballs at Planet Hollywood, could any of His self-serving mea culpas ultimately provide enough meat for our soul’s table, or just the coldest and thinnest of gruels? Tune in.

The postulated existence of an aloof nearsighted Cosmic Programmer, like television’s Sheldon Cooper, is cool and nonthreatening in a geeky-techie sort of way. However, once we start talking about humanity owing moral obligations to a loving (and an at times righteously angry) Christian God — a Father who laid the Cross upon His Only Begotten in order to commute our richly deserved death sentences, well, that God’s interest in us carries with it more “creepy baggage” than some are prepared to deal with.  As a perceived consequence of the Trinity’s “audacious” claims of command and control over “Their” handiwork, some folks are alarmed and offended at the prospect of surrendering their deeds to the ranch. Moreover, as a result of this fear, they have taken affirmative steps to personally go out of their ways and diagram just why Christianity and its “maudlin fantasy” of a suffering messiah is so damned disempowering and dangerous to the care and feeding of the Self-Creating Man’s bloated esteem. In truth, the whole shebang of Christianity cramps the fierce independence we have gotten used to as unaccountable free quanta of desire. Having tasted the deliciousness of his self-liberation, Spartacus will not be taken back alive.

Face it ya’ll: the “Baby Daddy God,” the god of the deist, may be a deadbeat of sorts: but he don’t mind if you run the neighborhood cuttin’ capers and tellin’ stories. He hasn’t shown the least interest in love, justice, mercy or giving out rules and discipline so that His bastards can avoid stubbing their toes on the world’s rough edges. Conversely, those cosmic control freaks –“Yahweh and Son” — treat us like little kids — like we were “God’s own children.” And for the crime of this unforgivable condescension, this Jesus has earned the contempt of untold millions who have bolted the door shut and just want to be left the hell alone. A personal God has no place in the lives of men and women who aspire to nothing more than returning to their own moth-eaten tents, donning their filthy  bedclothes, and soul kissing their precious autonomy to mutual release. But only after first thrusting a middle finger heavenward and giving that presumptuous Divine Authority a born rebel’s most earnest salutation — from the bottom of his own terminal heart.

Glenn Fairman writes from Highland, Ca. and welcomes your correspondence at and can be followed at and on Twitter.

He shall see His seed


Isaiah 53:10
….. He shall see His seed; He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.

Plead for the speedy fulfillment of this promise, all ye who love the Lord. It is easy work to pray when we are grounded and bottomed, as to our desires, upon God’s own promise.

How can He that gave the word refuse to keep it? Immutable veracity cannot demean itself by a lie, and eternal faithfulness cannot degrade itself by neglect. God must bless His Son, His covenant binds Him to it.

That which the Spirit prompts us to ask for Jesus, is that which God decrees to give Him. Whenever you are praying for the kingdom of Christ, let your eyes behold the dawning of the blessed day which draweth near, when the Crucified shall receive His coronation in the place where men rejected Him.

Courage, you that prayerfully work and toil for Christ with success of the very smallest kind, it shall not be so always; better times are before you. Your eyes cannot see the blissful future; borrow the telescope of faith; wipe the misty breath of your doubts from the glass; look through it and behold the coming glory.

Reader, let us ask, do you make this your constant prayer? Remember that the same Christ who tells us to say, “Give us this day our daily bread,” had first given us this petition, “Hallowed be Thy Name; Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.”

Let not your prayers be all concerning your own sins, your own wants, your own imperfections, your own trials, but let them climb the starry ladder, and get up to Christ Himself, and then, as you draw nigh to the blood-besprinkled mercy-seat, offer this prayer continually, “Lord, extend the kingdom of Thy dear Son.”

Such a petition, fervently presented, will elevate the spirit of all your devotions.

Mind that you prove the sincerity of your prayer by laboring to promote the Lord’s glory.

Evening By Evening – C.H. Spurgeon