Wednesday, December 23, 2015

How Scrooge Got It Wrong

The Sheep and the Goats
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

❅   ❅   ❅   ❅   ❅   ❅   ❅   ❅    ❅   ❅   ❅   ❅   ❅   

But!  The thing is, it’s a joy to provide for those in need!  Because we are all needy ourselves, and you, dear Lord, take such good care of us.  How can we not, out of the overflow of our gratitude, not willingly run to help others in need?

Ebenezer Scrooge probably tithed to his church, as I’m sure he felt required to do.  So he did take care of those in need through that contribution.  But he had no joyful gratitude in doing it but saw it as a grinding chore.  He said he contributed to the prisons and the workhouses.  I wonder if he really meant it or was just being smarmy. 

But when he received his second chance he overflowed with gratitude!  And when we are truly grateful, in love with the One who has shown us mercy, we are overwhelmed with the compulsion to do whatever will most please that Person.

That’s what makes a joyful life!
Thank you for joy!
Thank you for provision!

Thank you for the means to bless others!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Detestable Shepherd

public domain image

Genesis 46:33,34  
“When Pharaoh calls you in and asks, ‘What is your occupation?’ you should answer, ‘Your servants have tended livestock from our boyhood on, just as our fathers did.’  Then you will be allowed to s settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.”

♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱    ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   

Goshen must have been pretty far removed from the general population.  They were not assimilated into the citizenship of Egypt because they were detestable.

But I guess that was also the reason, after the time of Joseph, when no one remembered him anymore, they were enslaved.  They were seen as other, different, unclean, country hicks, uneducated.

And it does make me wonder about how, in the Law of Moses, shepherds were declared unclean.

Were they viewed the same way as lepers?  They could not participate in worship or bring sacrifices without ceremonial cleansing.

If a son was born to a  shepherd and he chose to be something else; a baker, a carpenter, etc…., could he break out of his “caste” and do that, and then be welcomed into the temple courts?

Wouldn’t it be neat if that was Joseph, Mary’s husband’s story!”  After all, he shepherdeded the Lamb of God, who became the greatest of Shepherds, who became the most unclean man in all of history so that we could enter in the courts of the temple and dwell in the most holy place!

♡   ♡   ♡

Jesus, my constant companion and dearest friend.

Lord Jesus, thank you for coming as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Thank you bearing my sins on the cross.

Thank you for making a way for me to enter into the Holy of Holies and stand face to face with Abba.

Friday, December 4, 2015

He's That Close

Psalm 16:8
I have set the Lord always before me.  Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

It’s a choice.  The scripture says, “I will set the Lord always before me.”   It doesn’t say, “The Lord is always before me.” (Although He is!)

It’s my choice and my goal to always set Him before me, so that He is always the first thing I see.  My whole life needs to be informed by the fact that my Lord is always before me.  I have to look around Him to see what’s behind Him.  Sometimes I ignore Him or even wish He was invisible, but I don’t think I could ever wish He wasn’t there.  How can I turn my back on him when he’s always before me?

And what is the significance of Him being at my right hand?  

To be seated at someone’s right hand means to have the place of honor.  So, I guess it means that I choose to give the Lord the place of highest honor in my life.  

And being that close, less than an arms length away, my rescue from any circumstance is assured!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Nigeria Notes part 14: November 7, 2013 - A Day in the Capital City of Abuja

Thursday, November 7, 2013
We got to sleep in this morning.  We didn’t get up until 7:45.  The hotel room we were in was in such a shambles!  It was almost laughable!  It seems to be the general state of things in Nigeria, once good and solid and right but now falling into decay.

There was an AC unit but it didn’t work very well.  This hotel also uses low watt bulbs… to mask the conditions or conserve energy?  The bed barely fit in the room.  Penny had to sleep against the wall.  The comforter was pretty; a fluffy gray with a black floral design  on it.

But the bathroom!  The door didn’t fit the opening.  It was a little way too big, or was hung crooked so that it never could be forced shut.  There was a shower hose in the tub but it didn’t work so we used the buckets for water, conveniently placed in the tub to take bucket baths with.  There was a window just outside the enclosed tub that had a very flimsy curtain that made me feel unsafe.  But Penny wasn’t concerned and with my kind of tired, I conked out pretty quickly.

Breakfast was a delightful surprise!  On the menu they had “Cornflates”.  A welcome taste of home.  bob had bowl too.  IG had an egg and salad club sandwich, like the one Bob had had the night before.  They said it was really.  What was really good was those cornflakes!  

Corn "Flates"

We found out that our flight to Owerri was pushed back from 11:00 to 2:00.  IG was quite upset as that meant that we’ll be considerably late for the crusade.  He tried to contact as many pastors who would attend as possible but people will certainly be left waiting a long time for us.

In the meantime we drove into the center of Abuja to go to a branch of IG’s bank.  Nan Jankowski had money grammed him $1400.00 and he was able to get the cash in Niara.  Penny and I went into the bank with him, which was pretty culturally stunning. We parked on the road and only Penny and I went with him into the bank.  We had to go through a large metal gate that opened onto the road.  It was heavily guarded by armed officers in black uniforms.  Then, when we got to the door of the back we were confronted (I wish I could say we were greeted, but they were quite fierce looking!) by 2 more officers with more rifles. (AK47s)  The one officer looked to be about 20 years old or maybe younger and had a scary scar down his right cheek.  There was nothing friendly about them, their eyes being cold.  We each had to be wrung into the building, first going through one door that was remotely unlocked and door closing behind us before we could ring for the second door to open.  Once inside we were treated to blessed air conditioning!  There were long lines of people waiting to get to tellers.  We climbed up a flight of stairs to talk to tellers on the second floor.  It took quite a while, while IG spoke to a woman behind a counter.  Penny and I didn’t mind a bit!  We sat in the cool and enjoyed a little people watching and conversation.  Once our business was concluded we went down the stairs and out the door, which, once again had to be unlocked remotely.  I smiled at the young man with scar, thanking him for his service and although he did not smile back, his eyes did.

A Nigerian Policeman

We drove to the airport, arriving quite a bit early.  Poor Darlene!  She had to climb three flights of stairs to get to the waiting area!  Then when it was ever time to board the plane she had climb back down those three fights and up the steps to the plane door.  I think we all suffered for her.
The stairway poor Darlene had to climb up and down.

In the meantime we waited.  I bought 2 large bottles of water and box of McVitties Digestible Biscuits. (Quite nice!)  I think I got took, though, as they seemed awfully expensive.  but I didn’t haggle.  I should have!

We sat for a couple of hours.  I got some knitting done.  There was an adorable little red haired girl sitting near us, maybe 3 years old.  We wondered if her distinctive hair would make her a treasure or an outcast.  She sure seemed loved by the adults who were with her.

We also met 2 German nuns who help run an orphanage nearby.  They were on their way back to Germany.  I can’t remember why.  They both spoke good English.  We asked about their work and offered to pray with them.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Saving and Stumbling (Guest Post by Robbie Schneider)

Hi everyone!

My new friend, Robbie Schneider, has written a guess post for my blog.
And I wrote one for her blog; Use Resources Wisely
a blog of wonderful tips and links for volunteers who work with youth.
If you're involved with Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Awanas, Royal Rangers, or any other youth organization, this is an excellent resource.


Here are her insights on walking with Jesus...

Saving and Stumbling

Hiking with my family is always something of an adventure. We always seem to find glimpses of God's blessings in His creation along the way, but it isn't without its share of challenges. Unexpected twists and turns. Inclines. Questions of which way to go when the trail is not clearly marked. 
It's the way it is with our walk with the Lord. Sure we know the end result - if we are faithful, with God's grace we will be saved, but the twists and turns along the way are a challenge. 
But, sometimes we stumble. Sometimes more than others. Sometimes we take a wrong turn. Sometimes we just want to turn around and head back. But, more often than not, we persevere. 
I'm grateful that our saving grace is not a one-time event. I'm grateful that when we stumble, our Lord is there with open arms to catch us and comfort us. And the times we feel we cannot take another step, our Lord is there to carry us through the trial. 

Thank you Robbie!

Friday, November 27, 2015

No Fear

1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears has not been made perfect in love.

♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   

How many times have I heard a person say, 

“I wanted ‘this’ (pick your this) so badly!  I was so sure it was going to happen! What did I do wrong?  Why is God angry with me?”

Or even,

“How could God have let this horrible thing happen?  I’m so angry with God!”

In either case punishment is involved.  Either he/she perceives that God is punishing him/her or he/she decides to punish God by being angry with him.

But if you stand in the light of Christ, believing in his death and resurrection, then there is no punishment.  There is no anger.  Once you’ve crossed from darkness to light he no longer sees the things that we think might make him angry.  All he sees is the blood of Christ that covers all our failings.

So, if a person becomes fearful, what is the lie that he/she is believing?

Is it, “God won’t take care of me.”?
“God isn’t paying attention.“?
“God can’t take care of me.”?
“God doesn’t really love me.”?

What is the truth?

God isn’t angry. 
 He doesn’t even see what you think might have made him angry.
God promises to take care of you.
Has God ever broken a promise?  Ever?

God is very real and very active.  God, and the relationship he wants with you,
 is the very definition of love.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Nigeria Notes Part 13: November 6, 2013 - At the Confluence of the Niger and Benue Rivers

When our boat finally pulled along side the other one Darlene decided to stay seated in our boat.  Everyone else got out and we assembled on the spit.  The very point of the spit was sandy with grassy headland above and farther back, as it widened out behind us.  We could see maybe 200 yards back and 100 or so yards at its widest point.

Dancing in the joy of the Lord!

A discarded fishing net on the spit of land at the
confluence of the Niger and Benue Rivers
The first thing we did was sing.  We stood in a circle and one of the pastors introduced a song that was one that I had learned many years ago, “We bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord”  What a gift!  To sing in this foreign land, as foreigners with these brothers a song that I know so well and love!  After that we sang and danced, me in my orange and black caftan, with my red bandana and Bob’s solar shield sunglasses and all these distinguished looking ministers in their expensive 3 piece suits!  Next we walked and prayed over the entire sand spit, claiming for God.

participating in repentance and forgiveness.

Next we made a circle, holding hands and we began to pray for the reconciliation, repentance and forgiveness of the tribes of Nigeria.  Before too long we were all on our knees.

I’m telling was at least 110F on the spit with no noticeable breeze.  I think it was the hottest I’ve ever felt and there was no shade.  Praise God I had remembered to put on #30 sunscreen!

Glorifying God in 110 degree heat!

Holy Spirit came and settled over us as we listened to each other repent for the sins of our forebears and received forgiveness.  At first it was just the representatives from the three tribes that asked for and received forgiveness.  But then I felt compelled to speak up.  I said I was an American but needed to also repent for my ancestors from Ireland, Scotland, Germany, France who had mistreated the black man and did so much to intentionally make the black man small.  I declared that the black man is not small, but mighty and straight and tall!  And great in God’s sight!
And forgiveness was freely given.

Then we all just glorified God!
By this time everyone was back on their feet except me.  I had rolled over into a sitting position.  I knew the sun was too hot for me to remain standing.  I raised my voice in worship, sometimes in English and sometimes in my heavenly language.  It was as if the air around me became white, and then whiter and all around me fell golden rain!  Never, in my whole life have ever felt such a heaven coming down to earth!  I was sitting in the Shekinah Glory!  I will remember those moments for the rest of eternity.  At one point I heard a “click” and looked up to see the photographer snapping me.  It didn’t interfere with my worship and I’d love to have a copy of that image.  I think I may try to paint it.

Well, our time in Heaven passed and we hugged each other.  (I even hugged one of the officers with an AK47!)  We got back into our boats and flew across the surface of the of the Niger toward the police station.  But not before I filled a water bottle 1/2 with water from the Niger and 1/2 with water from Benue!  They are a beautiful shade of blue green, completely blended!

Racing back to the station.

On our way back to the police station

Poor Penny nearly fainted from the heat and I had trouble getting my legs to move when I finally got out of the boat.  Bob had to help me up the bank to the bench under the tree.

As we sat discussing what we had just experienced someone pointed the significance of the location of the the police station.  The building, 200 years ago had been the holding place for slaves that were captured inland and were waiting to be loaded onto bigger boats to be taken to the sea and far away to the new world.

The Marine Police Station in Lokoja
before the 2012 floods

When we heard this we went into the police chief’s office and asked if we could pray for him, his staff and building.  When he said yes we began to bind evil spirits and cast them out.  Then we repented for all the atrocities that happened at the hands of white people and black people alike.  We prayed for the well being of the chief and all his staff.  He actually got down on his knees as we laid hands on him.  He was so humble and ready to forgive and accept our blessings over him!

We came away feeling very full indeed!  Curses and strongholds had definitely been broken.  (Two weeks after we returned home a police station in Lokoja was attacked muslim terrorists and more than a dozen people, including police men were murdered.  But not the marine police.  They were protected by our mighty and loving God.)

My bottle of Benue/Niger River water

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fear: Revelation 14:12

image courtesy of google

Revelation 14: 12

The words of three angels precede this verse; (Revelation 14: 6-11)
The first one proclaimed that now is the hour of God’s judgement.  We are to fear, glorify and worship him as our Creator.

The second angel proclaimed the fall of Babylon, the wicked city who enticed all to drink her wine of maddening adultery.

The third one proclaimed damnation to anyone who bears the mark of the beast.

Then comes verse 12;
“This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.”

♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱  ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱   ♱

Times could get hard before Jesus returns.  In the face of want and need we will have to remember that the Creator of the Universe is always good and always providing.  But we must also never forget that Jesus is the reason that we fear, glorify and worship.  Without the testimony of Jesus there is not righteous fear or point to glorification and worship.

image courtesy of google

In the face of this truth, what will the fall of Babylon mean?  Is it a place or an ideology or a government system?  Is it Russia?  Is it Europe?  Is it the USA?  All are guilty of drinking that maddening wine.  Will this fall bring rejoicing to God’s people or weeping?  Or both?

People have questioned the mark of the beast for 2000 years.  Is it the tefilim worn by the observant Jews?  Is it the world system of credit?  Is it the micro chipping of our children or retina or fingerprint identification?  Is it in place now or should we still be on the lookout for it?  Will be subtle?  Is it now subtle?

image courtesy of  google

Here’s what I know that I know that I know, Jesus is my Savior.  He made a way for me to come before my Father.  His Holy Spirit dwells in me and because of that I am perfect in the eyes of my God.  There is no need to fear God the way we should fear Babylon and the mark of Satan.  

Holy fear is knowing what we deserve and glorifying God in worship 
because of his immeasurable gift to us!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Nigeria Notes Part 12: November 6, 2013 - Lokoja

We arrived at the Lokoja marine police station in the  early afternoon.  I think it was the hottest day yet!  We were given our life vests and sat on bench under a wonderful ancient tree.  There were cunning little lizards (8 inches long?) that ran up and down it trunk.  A lady officer came out with a spackle bucket of water and plopped hte cutest little toddler boy into it!  He was adorable!  He just sat and played in that bucket, splashing away, until finally his mother came and took him out and led him back inside.  And he never uttered a word or a sound!

While all this was happening, other men were arriving and joining us on the benches.  Some were dressed in traditional clothes.  Others were wearing beautiful expensive looking suits. That’s not to say that the traditional outfits were not beautiful!  They were lovely!  But there was such a contrast between the two!  The men in the suits were certainly much, much warmer than those in cotton.  

Underneath the giant tree outside the
Marine Police Station in
Lokoja, Kenji State,

James and Kingsley, from IG’s church were there in their “PJs”.  Two of the men in suits were pastors who work in the Governor’s houses of their states.  One was from Koji State.  Once as a representative of the Housa tribe region in the north.  One represented the Ebo tribe, and one represented the Yoruba tribe.  There was also a photo journalist who came with us and took lots of photos.

Big boat! (the one in front)

The Marine Police boats were quite large
and each had an outboard motor.

But just in case, they each had a groovy paddle
that looked like it had been hand carved!

On our way to the sand spit

The sand spit was probably about a mile away.  We couldn’t see it from the police station but as we approached, it came clearly into view.  

This is where we were going.  This sand spit divides the Benue and Niger Rivers, splitting Nigeria in two.

In this arial view, you can see that the Niger River is brown and the Benue River is green.  And very strangely, when they reach the confluence, they do not mingle, but continue to run side by side.
This is seen as a symbol of the division among the people groups
who reside in Nigeria, the reason we came all this way;
To pray for unity.

What happened next was strange and the only frightening thing that happened in our whole time in Nigeria. The other boat made it safely to the point of the sand spit but our boat kept on going, heading for the far shore on the Benue River side.  It was eerie, as we passed from the brown Niger to the blue green Benue.  That was when we noticed what we had been told; that the two rivers do not mix, but flow side by side, brown up against blue green without mingling.

We couldn’t understand why the other boat had landed on the spit but we were continuing on to the other shore.  As our boat acame to rest on the bank, and the police officer jumped out, grabbed the rope and stared hauling us in, Darlene loudly asked, “Why are we separated from the other boat?”  The officer said not one word.  Again Darlene spoke up, “Why are we not with the other boat??”  Still the officer was silent.  He continued to haul our boat in.  Everyone else was silent too.

Our friendly, AK47 bearing police man who
scared the daylights out of us!

I can only imagine what was going on inside Penny, Darlene and Bob’s minds, but my stomach was sinking.  There was a scraggly looking village on the top of the bluff above us and I began to think that we were being kidnapped.  This was more of an adventure than I had bargained for!  Then, suddenly, the officer threw the rope back in the boat, jumped in and started to pole us back out into the current.  Bob grabbed a paddle and helped and we were once again headed to the sand spit.

Darlene, grateful, indeed to back on track!

And there were Richard, IG and the rest waiting us.

We found out later that it was an innocent mistake.  When our police man heard that we were going to pray he automatically assumed we were going to the church in the village on the top of the bluff!  Those were an incredibly scary three or four minutes!

What's an adventure without a little heart stopping action, after all!