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.”

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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.”

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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!

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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.