Monthly Archives: August 2014

Consider The Heavens

African Night Sky - Zimbabwe

African Night Sky – Zimbabwe

CONSIDER THE HEAVENS

For those of us who have been privileged to live in Africa and had the joy of living in the pristine wild bush; there is one thing we all agree on; the African night sky away from all the trappings of civilization is glorious beyond words. On a clear night the stars fill the heavens like millions of lightening bugs on a midsummer night’s dance. The Milky Way meanders across the expanse of space, lighting the way to galaxies beyond. Sitting in the darkness, listening to the night sounds of the bush while gazing up in wonder at the splendor of God’s celestial signature is an experience never to be forgotten!

From a child I not only had a love for the wild animals we lived among but also for God’s inimitable creation. His divine fingerprints can be seen where-ever one looks!

I think David must have been reflecting on God’s creation when he wrote the words to this “song” where he exclaimed:

Psalm 8:3-5 (NKJV)  “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,  What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?  For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor.”

David must have been gazing at the starry night sky when he penned those words but even more noteworthy is he was admiring the same beauty that we enjoy now……. centuries later.

David was so moved by the enormity of creation that he put pen to parchment to record his praise to his Divine Creator.

Even more amazing is that David had no idea just how vast the heavens really are!

He had no knowledge of galaxies beyond his own.

He knew nothing of black holes or light-years or supernovas. But what David saw was enough to convince him that God is truly amazing!

Reflecting on God’s greatness made David keenly aware of his own weakness. Looking at the stars in the sky helped put David and his importance into perspective! It astounded him, as it should astound us that a being as powerful as God is would bother with mere creatures like David and all of mankind.

Even more incredible is that God would choose to “crown us with glory and honor!”

Even though modern day Astronomy still has much to learn, it certainly knows a lot more about the cosmos than David did.  This means we have a greater reason to be enthralled at the unfathomable greatness of God!

We also have even more reason to ask God the same humble question that David asked: “What is man that you are mindful of him?”

Take a walk this evening and study the night sky. Remember, the same God who put every star in its place wants to have a close, loving relationship with you.

It’s mind-boggling, isn’t it?

Crushed By The Master’s Hand

Roses among my elephants.

Roses among my elephants.

CRUSHED BY THE MASTER’S HAND

My unexpected departure from our Sunday school class on Sunday, to be rushed to the Emergency Room and subsequently admitted to the hospital; has left me reeling with more questions than I have answers. It was a relief to be discharged last night even though we have no concrete answers to what is causing the chest pains.

In the solitary hour of this morning I am “attempting” to follow Glyn’s strict orders before he left to “be good and rest”! (Hopefully he sees this Nugget!!) I hate to admit though, my mind is screaming at me to take care of some much needed housework that is waiting for my attention!

Thoughts of uncertainty keep invading my trust in the Lord as I still do not have a clear diagnosis of what is causing the chest pains, other than it is not a heart attack, which is wonderful news. I see my own doctor on Tuesday and we will take it from there.

In the meantime I am “trying really hard” to “rest in the Lord”. Those of you that know me well; the word “resting” is NOT PART of my vocabulary!!   🙂

Yesterday I had a sweet friend, Sarah Bottarel, visit me in the hospital. She brought me this beautiful bouquet of roses. Roses are amongst my most favorite flowers as I see so many spiritual lessons in them. Sarah had no idea what these delicate blooms mean to me! Thank you my friend!

This morning I placed the bouquet among “my elephants”, another of my great loves!

Sitting looking at the roses and meditating on the Word, I asked the Lord why it seems that I have had a life of physical adversities that I have had to fight through. I asked Him if it was a sign that I truly lacked the “proper faith”.

In His sweet gentle way the Lord reminded me that none of us will escape tribulation, hardship and adversity of all types, while we walk this earth. His whispers of love assured me that even when we are “crushed” by heavy trials, this is the time His fragrance is the strongest in our lives, which in turn strengthen those who are touched by the fragrance around us, thus helping others.

Then I came across this poem which I KNOW the Lord directed me to read and I want to share it with you:

“Beside my cottage door it grows,

The loveliest, daintiest flower that blows,

A sweetbriar rose.

“At dewy morn or twilight’s close,

The rarest perfume from it flows,

This strange wild rose.

“But when the rain-drops on it beat,

Ah, then, its odors grow more sweet,

About my feet.

“Ofttimes with loving tenderness,

Its soft green leaves I gently press,

In sweet caress.

“A still more wondrous fragrance flows

The more my fingers close

And crush the rose.

“Dear Lord, oh, let my life be so

Its perfume when tempests blow,

The sweeter flow.

“And should it be Thy blessed will,

With crushing grief my soul to fill,

Press harder still.

“And while its dying fragrance flows

I’ll whisper low, ‘He loves and knows

His crushed briar rose. (“Streams in the Desert.)

Over the past month, so many of our friends have experienced deep waters of grief and adversity. Be encouraged; the Lord “walks these dark hills” with us and He will bring us through victoriously!

Acts 14:21-22 “And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must go through many tribulations to enter the kingdom of God.”

The Unchangeable God

THE UNCHANGEABLE GOD

Photo by Michael North Imagery. (Used with permission)

Photo by Michael North Imagery. (Used with permission)

 Hebrews 13:8 (NKJV) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Yesterday I was challenged, mocked and berated that Glyn and I had wasted our lives sharing the Gospel with the African people that we ministered to in Zimbabwe. The individual inferred that we were imposing the “white man’s God” on African tribes who neither asked for nor needed to hear about God, as they already had their own “gods”. This individual was well educated, living in a modern country where the Gospel is freely available but had made a conscious choice to scorn God in his own life. Sadly this individual, even though intelligent was showing his total ignorance of the nature and heart of God.

I refused to be drawn into a worthless debate with this individual as their mind was already made up and their life’s goal was to tear down anyone who stood for righteousness.

I came away from this exchange, feeling sad for this individual because if they could but open their eyes and see what God is “really like” it would be a life changing event for them!

Do you think it is possible to know what God is like?

Let me share my understanding on what the Word teaches us about God and who He is.

The Bible declares that God is Spirit. He is not limited to a body or shape as we are.

God is not limited to force of any kind, no matter how powerful man tries to create an indestructible force, God’s power is greater.

He also is not limited to boundaries; this means He is Omnipresent and is capable of hearing the cries of His children across the globe.

God is absolutely immeasurable. Thousands of people have tried to limit God to certain spheres, and relegate Him to certain categories that are the product of their own speculation.

Let me shout it loud and clear………

There is no limit to God.

There is no limit to His wisdom.

There is no limit to His power.

There is no limit to His mercy.

There is no limit to His grace.

There is no limit to His mercy.

There is no limit to His eternal love.

You see………….

Men change.

Governments change.

Fashions change.

Life’s conditions and circumstances change.

BUT GOD NEVER CHANGES

My encouragement to my readers today is, recognize who God is; trust Him with your life and share His love to those who cross your daily path!

My rebuttal to the individual that took it upon themselves to castigate Glyn and me for “daring to think that the African people we ministered to needed helping”; is that God is not willing that ANY should perish but that All should come to repentance, (2 Peter 3:9), INCLUDING this individual!

Live Until You Die

Century Plant in bloom at Sedona, Arizona

Century Plant in bloom at Sedona, Arizona

LIVE UNTIL YOU DIE!

The other day our phone rang and it was one of these “scam artists” trying to extort personal information out of us. The thing that amazes me is these devious individuals prey on the elderly. I guess they are “assuming” that the elderly have lost the sharp mental ability to recognize warning signals of someone that is being deceitful. HOW WRONG THEY ARE!

The older you get the more “life lessons” you have taken and passed!

Let me tell you about an amazing plant that is part of the Aloe family and thrives in desert conditions. It is called the Century Plant. For twenty to thirty years the century plant stands six feet tall and produces no flowers. Then in ONE YEAR, without warning, a new bud sprouts. The bud, which resembles a “tree-trunk-sized” asparagus spear, shoots into the sky at the fantastic rate of SEVEN inches per day, until it reaches an eventual height of twenty to forty feet. Once it reaches this lofty height it crowns itself with several clumps of yellowish blossoms that last almost a month. People travel long distances just to see this amazing plant when it is in bloom.

Don’t listen to those who tell you you’re “too old” to produce fruit or flower in the “Kingdom of God”!

Some of the great leaders that we read about in the scriptures were far from “spring chickens”, many were men and women of advanced years!

Actually many of God’s OLDEST are among His FINEST!

Even the scripture validates this thought:

Psalm 92:12-14 (NKJV)  The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.  Those who are planted in the house of the LORD Shall flourish in the courts of our God.  They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing.

The older, mellow, Abraham was wiser than the brash, younger man we read about in the scriptures.

Caleb was still defeating giants and climbing mountains at eighty-five.

Anna, an elderly widow serving in the Temple, didn’t just pray for the Messiah, her spiritual vision kept her alive until Jesus was born. She saw him with her own eyes when his parents brought him to the temple; according to Jewish custom and she magnified the Lord with great joy!

In his nineties, imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos, John wrote the Book of Revelation.

All these individuals did not lay down their spiritual armor just because they were old!

We can approach life in two ways: protect it or pursue it.

The voice of caution says, “Protect your life, build a fire in the hearth and stay in where it’s warm.” Sadly if we heed that voice, we grow cold and useless when the fire and its embers die.

On the other hand the voice of faith says, “Pursue God’s leading”!  When you do this, you will build a “fire in your soul” and go out and pursue your vision with a passion, bearing fruit until God calls you home!

Consider this my friends:

What matters are not the years in your life, but the life in your years!

May it be said of you and me that the devil trembles when our feet hit the floor each new day!

SO LIVE, UNTIL YOU DIE!

 

An Innocent, Child-like, Faith

Orphaned baby elephant making a friend.

Orphaned baby elephant making a friend.

I see such a spiritual lesson in this picture of the baby elephant and the little boy! The orphaned baby elephant was rescued and is being cared for at a sanctuary in Africa where once she is able to be integrated slowly into a wild herd, will be able to live wild and free again.

What this pictures shows me is the implicit trust of “child-like” faith. You don’t see any fear in this picture, just a bond of loving trust between the baby elephant and the little boy.

As I looked at the picture it reminded me of Jesus’s words:

Luke 18:16-17 (NKJV) But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”

Jesus is teaching here that we need to have that child-like faith and trust in Him, in our daily relationship with Him. We need to trust His leading in our daily walk; in our decision making; in all the circumstances that life throws at us, whether good or bad. Our total dependency MUST be in Him.

The human nature is such that it always wants to be “in control” and this is where a quantum leap in faith is needed.

Questions such as:

>How can I have faith and trust in a “being” that I cannot touch and see?

>With all the diverse interpretations of scripture in this modern age, who is to say which one is accurate?

>There are so many “gloom and doom” proponents filling every feasible avenue of communication in today’s world that their hysterical voices “seem” louder than God’s promised “still small voice”, so do I listen to the loudest voice?

>Where is the peace, the protection and the provision that God promises His children, especially for the thousands who are being killed for their faith in war torn nations?

Oh, the questions are endless and this is why as children of God we NEED AN INNOCENT CHILD-LIKE FAITH.

True faith doesn’t question the “seemingly” contradictions of God’s promises that we experience in life. The reason I used the word “seemingly” is that we only see the here and now but God sees the WHOLE picture. What would appear to us to be the act of a very uncaring God actually is God orchestrating His Divine eternal plan for the ages to come.

Last night after Glyn and I had prayer together before settling down to sleep, I commented to him that my soul was weary of all the calamitous rhetoric that is filling our every waking hour from a variety of sources. There are prophets of doom parading their depressing facts of worldwide annihilation; preachers instilling fear instead of hope in the hearts of people; political pundits predicting worldwide economy collapse and basically mankind’s focus is on the negative and not the positive.

If one feeds on a diet of this type of rhetoric it will not be long before their spiritual well-being becomes jaded and fearful.

I said to Glyn that these individuals need to stop wringing their hands and wailing that the world is coming to an end and JUST READ GOD’S PROMISES to His children and draw comfort and hope knowing that God is in control of the events of this day and age.

This is where a “child-like” faith in God and His Word is VITAL to our spiritual health. The Bible clearly teaches us that God’s love becomes our strength and hiding place even during unexplainable times of trouble and adversity.

Hide these verses in your hearts today my friends:

Romans 8:35-39 (NKJV) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”  Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Norma’s Transparent Heart

Birchenough Bridge, Zimbabwe in 1966  Taken by Glyn Davies

Birchenough Bridge, Zimbabwe in 1966 Taken by Glyn Davies

I let my spiritual guard down one day this past week. I allowed the cacophony of hysterical voices lamenting how the world is doomed and on a self-destruction free fall to steal my peace.

I allowed the political “talking-heads” with their prognosis of gloom for the world economy and its effect on the poor and elderly. The moment my spiritual guard was down the devil made sure that I felt that everything around me was spinning out of control.

Oh yes, I failed miserably in re-focusing my thoughts to God’s promises and it resulted in a very anxiety filled day. All those “what if” questions gnawed at my quivering heart the way a hungry dog veraciously gnaws at a discarded bone.

Satan made sure he reminded me that Glyn and I had no real retirement “safety net” apart from a very small Social Security check. I was bombarded with thoughts of fear of what will happen to us, how we were going to survive in a society that is not very compassionate to the less fortunate and elderly!

I bought into the boatload of lies that Satan was feeding me and by evening anxiety was crashing in on me until a sense of total futility filled my being.

Thankfully I am a creature of habit! I like to read from God’s Word before going to bed and then again when I awaken in the morning. Out of habit I turned to the Word and God was waiting in the “shadows” of my anxious heart with a promise that unmasked Satan’s deception in no uncertain terms.

2 Chronicles 20:15-17 (NKJV) And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the LORD to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s………..You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you.”

The comforting light of God’s Word rushed over me like the waves of the ocean hitting the beach at high tide.

This battle of the ages is being fought by God; He will orchestrate the events of my life! Glyn and I were secure in God’s “retirement plan” for us! Somehow, someway He will provide for us in these last dark days of time!

My friends this truth is what we need to remember if we are to prevent the Devil from bringing us into a state of mental distress (as I was); not merely that things will finally end right, but that God’s plan is UNFOLDING NOW.

Ray Stedman, an American Bible teacher, made the observation; “History is not a meaningless jumble of events but a controlled pattern and the Lord Himself, is the One who is directing these events.”

You see the attack of Satan on the mind takes a different approach. He says to us:

“Just look around you at the state of the world.”

“God seems powerless to put things right.”

“He has given lots of promises that things will one day get better, but none has come to pass.”

“Hadn’t you better give up this foolish idea that it’s all going to work out right?”

Once we let our minds dwell on that kind of satanic argument, we soon find ourselves in the dark abyss of anxiety and distress. Satan plants seeds of doubt which once believed will cause us to reap a harvest of unbelief!

So how do we “shore up our spiritual guard” that Satan cannot penetrate?

The promises in God’s Word become our “Iron Dome” that will thwart the attack of the enemy of our souls.

We must remind ourselves that things are not as they appear.

The battle is not ours, but the Lord’s.

We may be individual soldiers fighting in the army of God, but the ultimate cause is sure and the end is certain.

We need not be unduly troubled by what is happening in the world today, for our Commander is not just winning………….He has already won!