Monthly Archives: June 2013

No Cloning!

NO CLONING!

John 14:6

John 14:6

 I have in the course of my life made the comment to a family member or friend: “When God made me He threw the mold away!” Do I hear a loud sigh of relief coming from my readers?  Scientists will tell you that each snowflake that falls is unique in its distinct pattern. There are no two snowflakes alike; the creator of the Universe isn’t into cloning!

The same principle applies in who we worship; there is only ONE TRUE God. Within the heart of every human being is a God-given desire to worship; the problem arises when “false-gods” are the object of mankind’s worship.  The Israelites were commanded not to make any “graven image” of God. Why? Because God created man and woman……mankind did not create God.  A god made with hands, is a god that can be controlled and made do whatever its creator wishes.  The ancient Greeks had a host of gods, all created by men. Some demanded human sacrifice; others permitted prostitution, and even promoted it in their temples.

When we reverse the order and start to create God in our own image (according to our own imaginations) it results in the following things: 

Firstly: A god who’s liberal or conservative, a hawk or a dove; a god who politicians conveniently pull out of a box at election time to garner votes even though they don’t truly serve him.

Secondly: A flexible god who permits his followers to do whatever they want, which gives them the self-promoting excuse to say, “I just felt led to do it.”  

Thirdly: A god who promises to bless his children but never disciplines them, so they become undisciplined in all areas of their lives.   

Fourthly: A god you can “keep in his place” until you need him, then take him out and shake him like a baby shakes their rattle.  

Fifthly: A god who is not supreme, but merely one of many deities offering many ways to heaven.

NOT SO……. MY DEAR FRIENDS!!  

God says: “I…am the Lord, and besides Me there is no Savior.” Isa 43:11 NKJV

God cannot be cloned!

In another passage of scripture, Jesus said:  “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6 NKJV). 

Our God, the one and only True God, doesn’t need a “makeover” to bring Him into alignment with the Internet, the space age or the modern world system!

He is Lord!  Indeed, if He is not Lord over all, He is not Lord at all!

 

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Balance Between Prudence & Paranoia

Balancing Rocks, Rhodesia

Balancing Rocks, Rhodesia

BALANCE BETWEEN PRUDENCE AND PARANOIA

Part of the rugged beauty of Rhodesia, is the great granite rock out-crops. Just outside of the capital city of Salisbury (Harare) is Epworth Mission where some beautiful rock formations are found. One particular formation probably has had more pictures taken of it than most. It is known as the “Balancing Rocks”. Centuries of wind, rain, heat and cold have gradually eroded these boulders away until they are balancing on each other in such a fashion that one could easily imagine a giant had teetered them on top of each other. In a sense these beautiful creations of nature typified the way many during the turbulent years of the terrorist war, lived their lives. There was much carnage and suffering to all races during this era of upheaval. Many days it seemed we walked a fine line balancing on a tightrope between prudence and paranoia.

For the purposes of this Nugget let me paint a “word picture” showing the subtle difference between Prudence and Paranoia.

The step between prudence and paranoia is short and steep.

Prudence wears a seatbelt; paranoia avoids cars altogether.

Prudence washes with soap; paranoia avoids human contact altogether.

Prudence saves for old age; paranoia clings to every penny.

Prudence prepares and plans; paranoia panics.

Prudence calculates the risk and takes the plunge; paranoia never enters the water.

This describes the dilemma many Rhodesians faced all too frequently – choices that could have long lasting consequences or could even mean the difference between life or death!

Such was the situation my husband found himself in one crisp winter’s day in 1975.

We had moved from Hartely and were now living in Salisbury to teach in the Mission Bible School. We still were in charge of a large district including Rufaro Mission, which was between the town of Umvuma and Fort Victoria. On this particular day, Glyn had to leave just before dawn to maximize his time. He planned to complete his tasks at the Mission and try to make it home before dark. We had heard on the evening news the night before that there had been an attack on a farm in the area of Rufaro Mission. He could not delay his trip as school children needed fresh supplies for food and the staff needed their wages. So he chose to travel alone as he did not want to put me or our two year-old son in danger. He also carried along with the supplies, his 30-30 Winchester rifle, which lay on the seat beside him. He made a “prudent” decision; he knew there was danger involved in the trip, so he equipped himself for the unexpected instead of being controlled by the paralyzing fear that paranoia produces.

The early morning mists began to lift as the sun rose sending a soft warmth across the fields; all seemed to be well. The road dropped gently down to a dried gully that had a culvert over it and then rose back up a slight rise. As the vehicle was about to cross the culvert a disheveled man stumbled out followed by a second and a third man – they were dressed in tattered, dirty, faded blue overalls. Obviously they had been sleeping in the drain pipe under the culvert and the sound of the approaching vehicle startled them. They scrambled over a farm fence running for the tree line. Glyn stopped his vehicle on the rise of the hill, jumped out with his 30-30 Winchester rifle at the ready. By now the three men had reached the tree line but had stopped and were watching Glyn intently, then when they saw his rifle they turned and fled into the bush.

About five miles from the incident he encountered a Security check point. Glyn told the officers what had just transpired and they responded that they were looking for those three men. They also told him that he could thank God that he came upon them while they were asleep, otherwise they might well have ambushed him. They had already raided a farm in the area. The final result was these three terrorists were caught later that morning because the Security Forces had been alerted to their whereabouts.

Did this experience cause us to become paranoid about carrying out our missionary work even in the face of danger? No….a thousand sunrises……NO! We trusted God for His Divine protection while at the same time making prudent choices! We would take care of the things we could control and God would take care of the things we couldn’t control!! By the same token we didn’t ignore advice from the Security Forces – we took every precaution to protect ourselves leaving the final outcome firmly in God’s Hands!

You see my friends in the circumstances of life; after we have prayed, planned and prepared, there comes a point where we have to take the plunge and leave the results in God’s Hands.

Is it scary? Absolutely!

There are two kinds of people. Those who leap before they look; they are driven by impulse. Then there are those who look, and look, and look but never leap; they are controlled by fear.

The Children of Israel are a good example of this very principle. To get to the Promised Land, Israel had to cross the River Jordan at flood tide. It must have made the strongest heart skip a beat. God had promised that when the feet of the priests carrying the ark stepped into the water it would roll back. Can you imagine their thoughts? “Couldn’t we wait until the tide goes down? Why do I have to go first? What if the waters don’t roll back and I drown?”

They had to put their feet into the water before it rolled back for them to pass through. It took a step of faith! So it is for you and I as we travel the journey of life – be prudent in our choices knowing that God will work out the details and not allow paranoia of the unknown path to dictate our choices.

So stand on His promise: “I have loved you; therefore I will give men for you, and people for your life. Fear not, for I am with you” (Isa 43:4-5 NKJV).

No Safety Net – Part 1

Victoria Falls, Rhodesia -Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls, Rhodesia -Zimbabwe

NO SAFETY NET – PART 1

It has been a while since I shared a “Nugget” from my heart. The past three weeks have been a whirlwind of emotional highs and lows along with necessary activities that took me away from my cherished time to record my thoughts!

Once again my thoughts turn to Rhodesia, Africa. The land of my birth; the land of my first love; the land which sands still grind in my shoes while the call of the bush still beckons me on the whispering winds!

Such a land of contrasts: breath-taking beauty with pristine wilderness areas untouched by man; a refuge and sanctuary for wild life to roam at will; pockets of primitive tribes still living as they did a century ago. Mixed in with this unadulterated beauty are the trappings of modern civilization in varying degrees of growth or decay!

Those early pioneer years to which I was born, certainly were not for the faint of heart but for those who had a vision, a call to the wild, an adventurer’s heart then this was the land that dreams are made of! During my childhood and subsequent adult years, there were occasions that caused us to feel that we had “no safety net” in the situations we were thrust into. Come walk with me as I tread softly through the mists of riveting memories! For the sake of brevity in this Nugget I will share but two!

The majestic Victoria Falls stood in its virgin beauty back in the days we visited it when I was as a child. There were no fences, no hotel with luxurious accommodations; no tourists guides vying for your business. There was simply spectacular beauty carved out of jagged rock, with roaring water from the mighty Zambezi River tumbling over the precipice and plunging into a deep gorge and narrow ravine. These mighty falls are one of the “seven wonders of the world”; the African name for them is “Mosi-oa-Tunya” which means “The smoke that Thunders”. Without question, these are among the most spectacular waterfalls in the world and raise an iridescent mist that can be seen more than 20 km away. Thus accounting for the reason of the name; “The Smoke that Thunders”.

On one particular visit an incident happened that forever will remain with me. We had donned our raincoats and followed the very wet path through the “rain forest”. The dense bush along the edge of the precipice was like a tropical rainforest caused by the heavy spray. As we stepped out into the clearing the view of the cascading thunderous water was almost more than our visual senses could take in. There were no fences and the grass and rocks were wet and slippery, so we stood just beyond the tree line drinking in the view in total silence and awe. It seemed like a sacred moment in time but a few minutes later a noisy group erupted from the rain forest just to the right of where we were standing. Cameras were clicking, lots of laughter and then a couple of the men decided to show their bravado by gingerly walking from rock to rock until they stood a mere couple of feet from the edge of the jagged precipice. To this day I still wonder what prompted the next move; the one man decided to take ONE STEP CLOSER to the edge but the rock was so slimy from the spray that he slipped and fell, sliding for the precipice. It was only the quick thinking of his friend who grabbed his arm and literally pulled him from certain death, which enabled this foolish man to live to see another day. THERE WAS NO SAFETY NET so only the fool-hardy would do what this man did. My Dad used this man’s disregard for prudent wisdom to teach us children a valuable lesson in not taking unwise chances, especially when there was no safety net!

The years passed; I was a grown woman, married to the love of my life and we had two precious children. My husband and I had answered “the call of God and the wild” and followed in our parents footsteps, serving as missionaries in Rhodesia. Other Nuggets will be written about our years as missionaries but for the purpose of this Nugget I want to recount what happened when it was time for us to return to the States. We needed to report back to the church congregations that had so lovingly supported us. The political situation in Rhodesia had deteriorated badly; it was the height of the terrorist war. We had to notify the appropriate government office plus Barclays Bank that we needed an export permit to allow us to leave the country. This was necessary as we were not returning to the States for a “holiday” but would be gone for at least a year. The permit was granted with these conditions attached. We were allowed to purchase one way plane tickets for the family, plus we would be allowed to take out one thousand Rhodesian dollars but not one penny more! The only personal belongings we could take had to fit in the two suitcases that each member of the family was allowed.

SHOCK #1……….a few days later we received SHOCK #2. All our Bank accounts were immediately frozen along with our money from our Retirement Fund, plus funds of a paid up Life Insurance policy. The condition attached to this wrinkle was our money could not leave the country but would be ours upon our return. There was another condition attached……to prove we intended to remain, we would have to live in Rhodesia for six months BEFORE any funds would be released to us!  Basically we had to walk away from our entire lives!  We could not touch our support funds in the Bank as they were frozen, except for airline tickets and our one thousand dollar allowance!  So we did the only thing we could do. We sold our two vehicles and immediately invested the money in several congregations under our care, to help them finish a church building they were erecting. Then we sent word to many of our Pastors and their wives to come to our house on a particular day very close to our departure date. When they arrived we told them to go through our home and take anything they needed as our gift to them. Literally everything……..the furniture, dishes, kitchenware, bedroom furniture, curtains and carpets. We wanted the house to be bare by the time they all left. One young couple had recently had a baby and had nothing for the baby to sleep in and we had the joy of giving them all the furniture from our baby daughter’s nursery. That day with its tears, laughter and bitter sweet good-byes will be etched in my memory for eternity!

The day our little family walked through the gates at the Salisbury Airport and boarded the plane to catch our connecting flight in Johannesburg, we knew we had NO SAFETY NET waiting for us in the States. There was no home waiting for us, no secure plum job, not even a vehicle, just the waiting arms of loving relatives and friends!

So my dear readers what is the answer to this Nugget. Does the trusting child of God have a SAFETY NET when life rips everything you have and turns your life upside down? I am happy to tell you the answer comes as a clarion call down through the annuals of time……..YES, THERE IS A SAFETY NET IF WE TRUST OUR LOVING HEAVENLY FATHER. God has promised to walk this journey with us!

Isaiah 46:3-4 (NKJV)  “Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, And all the remnant of the house of Israel, Who have been upheld by Me from birth, Who have been carried from the womb:  Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.

There have been so many times in our life’s journey when it seemed that we had no safety net but in each case God has proved Himself to be faithful and He has been our safety net. Those memories will be told at another time in another Nugget!

 

Lessons from Three Legged Pots

Three-legged Pot

Three-legged Pot

Lessons from Three-legged Pots  

In a couple of weeks I will be celebrating sixty nine years of life on planet earth! It is hard to believe that way back on June 23, 1944 a feisty red-headed daughter was born to missionary parents living on a remote Mission station in Southern Rhodesia, Africa. My parents travelled 90 miles to the town of Bulawayo where mother stayed in the home of a “mid-wife” who would assist in my delivery.  My first crib consisted of a dresser drawer in the bedroom that Mom was sleeping in! Some would consider this a rather “in-glorious” start to life but actually it was very fitting considering the trails my life has followed. From the beginning I managed to prove to be a survivor no matter what life threw at me. Lack of earthly luxuries while growing up on isolated and primitive Mission stations did not dampen my zest for life. If anything it actually made me all the more determined to soak in the wild, pioneer environment I was growing up in. I was and still am a true child of the African bush! I would happily trade a modern home with all its conveniences for a rustic shack and three legged cooking pot, in a heart-beat!

Today’s world is so filled with hatred, violence, corruption in governments, businesses and moral depravity, escalating at warp speed. Looking back to my formative years on Gobatema Mission in 1944 and subsequent years, life might have been rough but it was uncomplicated in its simplicity and many valuable lessons were learned in the classroom of daily experiences. We learned to “live off the land”, to accept and live at peace with the African tribes whose villages dotted the rocky landscape surrounding our Mission compound and to serve God with every ounce of our strength. The lack of being fluent in the tribal languages was no barrier when acts of kindness were extended.  We shared out of our poverty just as the tribal villagers shared with us out of their poverty. Many idyllic hours sitting on a grass mat, beside a campfire while eating “sadza and a vegetable stew” from three-legged pots are etched in my memory. The “life lessons” gleaned while we satiated our hunger have stayed with me to this day, influencing me in my life choices, my instinct to fight for what is right and determination to survive!

Why three-legged pots; what possible lesson could be learned from these humble vessels?

Firstly they represent the simplicity of an uncomplicated life.  In the Rhodesian bush all one needed to satisfy their hunger was two pots –one for “sadza” (stodgy maize porridge) and one for the “relish”  (vegetable stew with or without meat). Our modern world so crowds our lives with “obsessions” vying for our attention that we burn ourselves out in our feeble attempts to appease our need for acceptance. We end up with so many “pots on the fire” that we are unable to choose which one will truly satisfy!

To satisfy the longings of the soul we need to shut out the clamoring voices and keep our focus on two simple things; a knowledge of God’s Word and a vibrant relationship with Him.

Consider the words in: 1 John 2:15-16 (NKJV) “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world.”

Secondly the three-legged pots represent unity and stability. A pot which only has two legs will not sit well on a bush campfire – it will be unstable. It needs three legs all of the same length!

Do you see where I am going? The body of Christ (the church universal) consists of people from every nation, every language, and every nationality.  Unity in the “church” is vital to bring about stability! There is no place for rivalries, jealousies, competiveness or bigotry! In order for the Body of Christ to feed the spiritually hungry of the world there has to be unity and stability flowing from heart to heart. WE NEED EACH OTHER; each one has God-given abilities that enrich those around them.

Finally the three-legged pots represent fellowship. Among the many memories from my childhood is the one of sitting by the bush camp-fire under the dark night African sky. Listening to the tales being told, feeling the joy of the laughter and finally being lulled to sleep in the arms of my father, by the songs of those gathered around the fire. Our skin color made no difference in that time and place – we were sharing of ourselves in a remote but beautiful part of a country then known as Southern Rhodesia.

Friends it is time to get out our three-legged pots!

1 John 4:7 (NKJV) “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” 

Sure-footed like a Klipspringer

Zimbabwe Ruins

Zimbabwe Ruins

SURE-FOOTED LIKE A KLIPSPRINGER  

In certain rugged terrain in Rhodesia it was not uncommon to find a small antelope known as a Klipspringer. This is actually an Afrikaans word meaning “rock jumper”; referring to this antelope’s amazing agility.

Reaching approximately 22 inches at the shoulder, Klipspringers are smaller than most other antelopes. They stand on the tips of their hooves and can fit all four hooves on a piece of cliff the size of an American silver dollar coin! My readers from Africa will know that I am not exaggerating about these antelopes feats.

Klipspringer

Klipspringer

They are able to leap from one craggy precipice to another and land without as much as a “wobble”!  Male Klipspringer horns are usually about 4–6 inches long. A thick and dense, speckled “salt and pepper” patterned coat of an almost olive shade; helped Klipspringers blend in well with the koppies (rocky outcrops) on which they are usually found. Their agility on rocks and crags is totally amazing due to their sure-footed abilities.

As a child while living on Rufaro Mission, the family would drive to Zimbabwe Ruins for a day’s outing. These ruins are an architectural phenomena; many believing they date back to King Solomon’s era. An intricate design of walls, passage ways, a cone-like tower, all built from hewed rock squares. These were fitted together so perfectly that many walls have survived the winds of time. It was a test of strength, endurance and being sure-footed for visitors that wanted to explore all the facets of the ruins. Parts of it required climbing steep, rocky, narrow paths obviously designed originally to make it easy to defend from intruders. I spent many happy hours exploring this architectural monument of History. One thing I quickly learned is that I had to watch my footing on the paths as many rocks were loose and unless I was sure-footed it could easily result in a nasty fall. I needed to mimic the skill of a Klipspringer in some of the areas I would explore.

Zimbabwe Ruins

Zimbabwe Ruins

Has the path of life that you are walking become like a rocky obstacle course that requires sure-footed steps on your part?  Do you wonder if the rocky climb is too hard, too dangerous and too unforgiving for your waning strength? I know Glyn and I have grown weary of late with the “rocky obstacles” we have had leap over. Aaah…..but we have not negotiated this rocky path alone; the Lord has become our source of strength as we have negotiated the precipices before us.

“The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hind’s feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.” Hab. 3:19 

Think of it: the Almighty God Himself becomes our strength!

Note: that the Lord promises his children sure-footedness when Habakkuk speaks of “hind’s feet”. The hinds (Klipspringers) leap over rock and crag, never missing their foothold.

Take heart my friends; the Lord will give us grace to follow the most difficult paths of our earthly journey without a stumble. He can fit our foot for the crags, so that we shall be confident in our steps knowing that it is His strength that is preventing us from falling.

 

Tough Day

TOUGH DAY.

Orange Breasted Bush Shrike

Orange Breasted Bush Shrike

Today has been a tough day for me emotionally! I struggled all day with the reality of the cruel injustice that was done to Glyn two weeks ago – leaving us without a sustaining source of income. The “red-head” is me badly wants to “fight back” and demand justice but that means stooping to their level and that is not God’s way. I make no bones about it…. for me, sitting and “waiting” is far HARDER than having a good old knock down fight with those who have harmed us! I have gone through the whole gambit of emotions today; anger, sorrow, questioning God, even resigning myself to becoming homeless!  I failed miserably at being a “woman faith”; trusting God did not come easy in anyway shape or form! I struggled to shake the over-riding feeling that God had abandoned us even though His Word promises He has not forsaken us. The reality of our situation; staring the age of 70 in the face, totally overwhelmed me.

Then about an hour ago Glyn came in from working in the garage on a project and turned the TV on and the Gaither Vocal Band in concert, happened to be on the Channel he had selected.

Larnell Harris began singing ** “His Eye is on the Sparrow”……WOW…………….TALK ABOUT GOD GETTING MY ATTENTION!

I can’t say I am doing a “happy dance” just yet but I AM drawing comfort from the words of this song……let me share them with you. Maybe someone reading this Nugget also needs encouragement today!

Why should I be discouraged and why should the shadows fall?

Why should my heart be lonely and long for heaven and home?

When Jesus is my portion, my constant Friend is He,

His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.

His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy;

I sing because I’m free;

His eye is on the sparrow

And I know He watches me.

Let not your heart be troubled; these tender words I hear;

And resting on his goodness I lose my doubts and fears;

For by the path He leadeth but one step I may see;

His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.

His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted; whenever clouds arise;

When songs give place to sighing; when hope within me dies;

I draw the closer to Him; from care He sets me free;

His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.

His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.

** HIS EYE IS ON THE SPARROW – Published 1905, Writer  Civilla D. Martin, Composer Charles H. Gabriel

God’s Ambassadors

Standing in the Gap

Standing in the Gap

GOD’S AMBASSADORS 

Have you ever wondered what qualities God is looking for in His Ambassadors to this generation?

Consider with me these qualities:

God is seeking men and women who are not for sale.

He is seeking those who are honest, sound from center to circumference, true to their heart’s core.

Those who have a conscience that is as unwavering as a needle in a compass.

He desires those who will stand for the right even if the heavens totter and the earth reels.

Those individuals who tell the truth and can look the world right in the eye without flinching.

God is searching for those who can have courage without bragging about it.

God is seeking individuals in whom the courage of everlasting life runs still, deep and strong.

He desires those who know the message of the Gospel and are not afraid to proclaim it with boldness.

He is seeking men and women who know their place and fill it with great contentment.

Individuals, who will not lie, shirk their duty or dodge the truth even if it brings persecution.

Those who are not too lazy to work, nor too proud to faithfully complete any tasks God sends their way, no matter how menial they are.

God is seeking people who are not ashamed to say ‘No’ with emphasis and who are not afraid to declare; “I will not compromise the truth.”

God is looking for men and women who live in unity — who can join hands in a common task — and who have come to the kingdom for “such a time as this”.

May God give this generation these kinds of Ambassadors to stand strong to the end!