Friday, August 28, 2015

True Knowledge

Titus 2: 11-14
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say, “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self controlled, upright and Godly lives in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

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Reinhard Bonnke, in his book Faith, The Link With God’s Power, says “True knowledge of the Lord transmutes into devotion and worship”

Jesus is the grace of God.   He teaches us to say no and to live Godly lives, while we wait for him to come back.

When this becomes clear to us, this, “true knowledge”;  when we “get it”; when we have that “ah ha!” moment, then our lives, automatically become lives of devotion and worship.

Bonnke also says, “We often pray, ‘Lord, glorify your holy name.’… but the phrase actually means ‘confirm your name.’ Prove what you are.”

When we are sincere in this prayer, we need to hold onto our hats, because God will confirm who he is and we will adore him and dedicate our lives to pleasing him.  When he sees our hearts so open to his will, eager to do whatever he asks, the knowledge of his love and pleasure at our obedience will nearly blow us away!

And that’s the never ending cycle of love; he is pleased with us and pours out his blessings.  We recognize these blessings as confirmation of his goodness and want to thank him by serving him faithfully.  And he is pleased and pours out more blessings and we want to please him because he is so good!  And it just goes on and on.

That’s what “from glory to glory” means; an ever upward cycle of blessing and devotion.

But we don’t devote ourselves to him because of the blessings, but because the blessings reveal how wonderful and loving he is.  How could you not want to devote yourself to a God like that??

Monday, August 24, 2015

Nigeria Journal: Part 7

 After we received our gifts we were entertained by lady dancers who performed several outstanding numbers for us.  They even got us up and dancing with them!
   Ignatius preached a little and then Brett preached and was well received.  After that Darlene got up and declared the prophecy of Nigeria, Queen of Africa.  We didn’t leave the church until after 2:00!  We were there for 5 hours and they just flew by!

Darlene, thanking the church for such a warm welcome
and reminding them that Nigeria is the Queen of Africa
Pastor Brett preaching to the  congregation


Next we drove to Ignatius and Lozie's’ home, met their sons and ate food prepared by Lozie and ladies of the the church.  We ate rice (a staple of almost every meal), something called bean cake, which I had a hard time eating and not gagging on, and 2 little pieces of tough chicken thigh. The helpings were huge!  Mostly carbs and very little protein, I guess that why.    Their living room and dining room were lovely and air conditioned.

The beautiful home and wonderful hospitality of
Lozie and Ignatius Umunna

   After lunch Ignatius decided to take us on a ride to the wealthier part of Lagos.  We left his apartment around 5:00, in 2 vans.  We were trying to get to a section called “The Island” but it was beginning to get dark.  Suddenly we got a phone call from U C in the other van that he’d been stopped by the police for talking on his cell phone while driving.  By the time we located them it was totally dark.  U C had to pay a bribe to not have his car impounded.  Then we drove to Mega Chicken, where we were bought dinner.  I just had a little garden salad with hard boiled egg.  It was mostly cabbage.  We sure are going through the bottled water!  I bet I drank a gallon today!

   We finally got back to the hotel around 9:00 at night.  After being in those tight dresses all day we were so sticky and hot!  So, shower and bed.  Last night we slept with the AC on and poor Penny nearly froze.  So tonight we decided to cool the room off and sleep with with AC off.

This is the banner that was on the wall at the back of the church,
with all of our "mug shots"

The Hotel Demordent, our home base while in Lagos

This is Pastor Steven
(Doesn't he look just a wee bit like Elmer Fudd?)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Absolutely Obtainable!


In a nut shell, this says to me; I want to be perfect, like Jesus,  And I keep on trying.  Someday I  will be!  I know that Jesus sees me as perfect, but I do not see myself as perfect.  The closer I come to the end of days, the harder I want to work at doing what the Lord has laid out for me to do.  He has plans for me that I do not feel adequate to accomplish, but they are his plans, so how can I feel as if I could fail?  

And that’s what faith is!  God wants me to attain perfection!  I believe that!  When Christ returns, or I am called to the throne room, I will be perfect in my own eyes, as I am perfect in his eyes now.  I believe that!  God has given me everything I need to lead a life that is acceptable to both him and me!  I believe that!

So, where is faith lacking in me?  The plans he has for me are mighty big and in my own strength I know I could never achieve them.  But look what he’s done for little me; He’s given me this farm,because he knew I was capable of taking care of it.  He’s given me a music ministry.  He sent me to Nigeria!  He sent me to Italy!  He’s placed me in healing ministry. He’s given me boldness to speak his truth into other people’s lives.

If this is what I’ve already accomplished. how how much more am I capable of, by the power of the Holy Spirit?

Those things which linger on the edge of desire, because my mind says they are far too big for me to realize are absolutely obtainable!  Not by my strength, but by the strength of he who lives in me and has great plans for me!



Monday, August 17, 2015

Nigeria Journal Part 6: Sunday Service at the Rescue Mission Church

Sunday, November 3
   Up at 7:00 with Penny’s cheerful phone alarm and then having difficulty getting ourselves out of bed.  Dressed in our form fitting dresses we ate breakfast downstairs.  We each ordered scrambled eggs with tomato, peppers and spices with fried plantains.  Only instant coffee available.  They don’t call it coffee.  They call it Nescafe.  Better than nothing!  Tea is not tea, it’s Lip TON.  If you ask for tea or coffee they will bring you cocoa mix.  They just don’t know what you mean!  There was some confusion about whether we were supposed to eat then or not because Deacon Andrew and U C came for us before our meals were served.  We ate quickly but were still a little late for the church service at Ignatius’ church, the Rescue Mission Church.  
I wish I could describe to you the level of poverty we witnessed as we drove along the streets of Lagos.  It’s appalling, exciting, colorful, life affirming, all at the same time!  Every street seems lined with little one room shacks that serve as little shops.  Some people seem more prosperous and sell local fruits and vegetables or sundries.  Others look like they are selling whatever they can scrounge up or steal.  some are dressed in rags, others seem better dressed.  It they have electricity there may be a bare lightbulb.  More often there is none.  I don’t know where they get their water.  All streets are lined on both sides with open sewers.  Most little shops have a wooden board gang plank to get from the street, across the open sewer and to the shack.  Everyone dumps all their refuse into the sewer but honestly, I did not notice any foul smell.

Lagos motorcycle taxis

All of the streets in the part of Lagos we were staying in were dirt roads.

Almost every little building was some kind of shop selling something.

   The only things I mostly smelled were gas fumes (no unleaded gas here.), dust, mud, BO and cooking smells.  Of course, our car windows were closed almost all the  time, but when we did step out of the the vans I found no “sewer odors”.

The women danced traditional dances for us

The worship team singers

 When we stepped out of the van that morning the Rescue Mission Church was already booming!  Before we could even straighten our dresses eager faces were smiling and saying, “You are welcome here!”   Eager arms reached out to embrace us.  Such a wonderful welcome!  As we made our way down the isles of the church arms constantly reached out to shake our hands or enfold us in hugs.  We went into Ignatius’ office first to get a rundown on the game plan.  Then we were taken to seats perpendicular to the congregation.

 The group of ladies and one man who served as the worship team, accompanied by keyboard, guitar and  bass were led by a lovely lady who stood on the stage.  I learned later that her name was Silvia and she is U C’s sister.  They were LOUD!  And they were GOOD!  And they were JOYFUL!

Getting settled for the Sunday morning service.
Lozie is lovely in her Sunday dress and hat.

Here we are receiving our gifts.

My wonderful painting on my kitchen wall!

  Ignatius welcomed us and called each of us up on the stage individually and gave us all amazing gifts!  The men received incredible cow hide fans (the sign of a chief) and necklaces and bracelets of large red beads. (signifying power in the community)  The women got white oxtail fly switches (signifying the bride of a chief) and the red beads as well as earrings.  Each of us was also given a painting of a village scene done by a local artist.  I love them all!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Nothing to Fear

Matthew 13:44 
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”

Have I paid everything to buy your field?  When I think hard about it I think, yes, I have.  But I bet deep inside there’s something I cling to.

Job, he says, “Naked came I from the womb.  Naked shall I return from where I came.  The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.  Blessed is the name of the Lord.”

To remember that the giving is good, but that the taking is also good, that’s a key to the kingdom!  If I believe that God loves me as much as I proclaim, then everything is good.  Everything is holy.

When the car needs fixing and it's not in the budget.that’s a good thing!  The Father shows himself to be the grand fixer of all things!  I am taken care of.  He says, “Fear not!”

I struggle with the little things; will I have enough to pay the mortgage, what if the washer brakes down, what if the horse gets sick?

 But I seem to have faith enough for the big ones; am I really saved, will God really keep me safe, does he really love me in spite of my faults?

  I will stand in the shadow of Christ's wings, close enough to hear his heartbeat, where there is nothing to fear.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Nigeria Journal Part 5: Dinner in Lagos and Dressing Like the Natives.

 I don’t remember how long we rode in the cars but by the time we got to the fast food joint where we ate dinner it was dark.  The place was called “Mega Chicken.”       

Ezekial, pastor Brett, and Pastors Ignatius and Lozie at
Mega Chicken

It was a 2 story building.  The bottom floor was split between a side where traditional foods could be bought and eaten.  The other side offered different kinds of rice dishes, pounded yam, chicken and beef dishes, some salads and refreshments.  I had some beef, joloff rice, which was white rice in a red spicy sauce, sticks of pounded yam and a coke.  Pounded yam is not like sweet potatoes that we think of as yams.  They are extremely large tubers that taste more like white potatoes.  They're very high in starch but not sweet at all.

piles of yams, at the market in Owerri

   Next we went to the DeMordent Hotel, where we would be staying while we were in Lagos.  By the time we got here it was around 10:30 at night.  It's quite an opulent hotel, with marble sided walls, deluxe bathrooms, a lovely dining room/lounge and lovely staff.
The Demordent Hotel, Lagos, Nigeria

We were met by Sister Esther, who had sewn outfits for each of us.  We each received 2 outfits. 

Susie, Rod and Darlene in the outfits made for us by Sister Esther

I'm all decked out in my Nigerian finery.

 The men’s were like pajamas; pull up pants with elastic waist lines and pullover tops with embroidery around the vented neckline.  One set was white with a blue design and the other was white with a pink and purple design.  We women each received a loose fitting muumuu kind of dress that was pink and white and grey and had elaborate appliqué at the neckline.   The other was a tight fitting two piece dress.  The top was tailored tight at the waist with short puffed sleeves and a square cut neckline.  It zippered up the back.  The skirt had elastic at the waist but also zippered up the back.  It was tight to right above the knees and then flared out like a mermaid skirt.  It was green with white and red lozenge shapes on it, with black trim at the neckline and sleeves.  I have to say, that although I don’t normally wear tight fitting clothes, it was the perfect size and looked good on me!  But, oh!  It was hard getting in and out of the SUV in it!
   Finally, around 11:30 we dropped into bed!

Friday, August 7, 2015

We Have Been Made Holy

Hebrews 10: 10, 13, 14, 17
And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ  once for all.

Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more. (Jer. 31:34)

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We no longer bear the shame of guilt! He no longer looks down upon us, frowning, and judging our deeds.  Once we have accepted the free gift of salvation we are completely covered by his robe of righteousness.

There is no more, “Shame on you!”
There  is no more, “Why are you so stupid?”
There is no more, “What did I tell you?”

There is only the blood of Jesus.
There is only,  “My child, you are so precious to me!”
There is only, “I never get tired of being with you!”

It’s almost too much to bear!

Image from Google
Almost, but not quite.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Nigeria Journey, Part 4

Saturday, November 2

The Nigeria team from Shore Vineyard Church
I'm the one in the bandana.

   We left the church yesterday in plenty of time to get to the airport.  We all divvied up the bibles, reading material and bottles of vitamins, as well as the watches for the orphans, to stow in our suitcases before we left the church.  Then we held hands and prayed and took some photos and we were off!
   We got to Newark Airport around 2:30 for our 4:00 flight to Houston.  The time flew!  I took my dramamine before we boarded and I did just fine.
My view of the Mississippi River, flying west to Houston
so we fly east to Lagos, Nigeria.

  It still seems silly to fly west so that we could board a plane to fly to Africa.  But just as the sun was setting we flew right over the Mississippi River, which was an unbelievable sight!
Houston International Airport
  When we got to Houston, we checked in our bags and the man who assisted us was from Lagos!  That was really neat!  Then we had quite a walk to the gate that we would leave from  and a transport vehicle drove up along side of us and offered us a lift.  Darlene, Richard and I climbed aboard and we discovered that the driver is from Owerri!  He’s a christian and prayed and prophesied over us.  How cool!  The flight to Lagos was 14 hours long!  I’m grateful that most of if was overnight.  I watched a movie, but I really can’t remember  what it was.  I must have been very tired.  I do know that I slept for a few hours, so that was very good.

   The sun came up and we flew into Lagos International Airport in the early afternoon.  I took a photo out of the plane window of the grass along the runway.  My first glimpse of Africa!  After I’d gathered my carry on and moved off the plane I stepped onto the floor of the airport and thought to myself, “I’m standing in Africa!”  We went down a set of stairs and through some doors to a waiting room that was packed with people, all waiting to get through customs.  There must have been a couple of hundred people waiting in that long narrow room with no AC and very few windows.  We shuffled forward every few minutes but it seemed as if we would be there for hours!  Then, suddenly, Pastor Ignatius was standing by our side and he had some men who looked liked guards with him.  He took our passports and told us to stay in line.  We continued to move forward, but now, instead of feeling like we might never get out we worried that Ignatius would not get back to us before we reached the customs counter.  Just in the nick of time, it seemed, he handed us back our passports, just as we got up to the counter.  The agent went through all our paper work and handed everything back and we were through and standing in baggage claim.  And there was Lozie!  Such a relief to see her smiling face!  As we waited for our luggage to come around, some of us made pit stops in the lavatory.  After a few minutes Rod started asking who had his passport!  No one had his passport!  We all looked through our own papers but his was not to be found.  Suddenly a white man, (imagine that!) came out of the lavatory and asked if there was a Rod Conover among us.  He had Rod’s passport!  Rod had dropped it on the floor in the men’s room!  Yet another miracle!

  We finally got our luggage loaded onto large carts and headed out the doors to the outside world.  As I stepped onto the sidewalk I thought to myself, “I’m walking in Africa!”  We didn’t have to go through a baggage search.  That must have been what Ignatius was doing with our passports.  What a relief!  Not that we had anything to worry about!

   We climbed into a couple of SUVs and headed out of the airport.  We had been warned not to take any photos at the airport but I had to get just one of the outside so I brought my camera down low and pointed it up to take a picture of the outside.
Lagos International Airport.  No photos allowed  

Next week, the adventure really begins!