‘Foolish’ Faith

None of us want to be a fool. In fact, research indicates that being considered foolish ranks as the ‘number one’ fear among human beings. It is a greater fear than the fear of death (ranking ‘number two’).

God’s wisdom is different than ours. “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak thing of the world to shame the strong.” (I Cor 1:27)

  • What can we say about Noah, telling everyone there would be a devastating flood. He went ahead and built a huge boat on dry land.
  • What can we say about the children of Israel, marching around a thick stone wall with hopes that it would fall down?
  • What can we say about David — going after a giant with a slingshot and a few pebbles?
  • What can we say about Beniah, who chased a lion all the way down into a pit — and came out alive?

Surely none of these acts would be considered ‘wise.’ But they brought the victory.

So why don’t we see more miracles? Why don’t we have more breakthroughs? Sometimes, it is because we protect ourselves from possible disappointment. ‘What if I pray for the guy in a wheelchair, and he does not walk?” “What if I declare a victory and it does not happen?” We are afraid to obey, because we do not want to risk our reputation. We often prefer to do things the way other people have done them, or the way our culture does it. We do not want to be considered foolish.

God has called us to serve Him, and without faith it is impossible to please God. What is faith? Things not seen. Things only hoped for — but evident — through faith.

God is looking for men and women who will not care about what the world thinks, but about what He thinks. God is looking for men and women who will not be concerned about protecting their dignity, but who will walk out in obedience to turn the world upside-down.

Are you ready to sign up for God’s foolishness?

~ Ibrahim

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Jonah

On my knees at 5 a.m., my heart was more full of complaining than thanksgiving. I often console myself by saying, “Even David complained a lot.” In response, I felt God saying, “You are acting like Jonah.” OUCH!

It wasn’t the part about Jonah not wanting to go to Nineveh, but rather the later part of the story, after the people had repented and God had relented. Jonah was so focused on himself and his own ‘needs’ (aka: desire for comfort). . . We should probably read it.

God: Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?

Jonah: I DO! (I can imagine him shouting.) I am angry enough to die.

God: You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people. . . should I not be concerned about that great city?

The lesson is clear. There are things God has given me/ us, totally not based on our own doing or our own making, that we become very possessive of and even worried about. Our view is egocentric. But God has a greater purpose in mind. He has an eternal strategy to bring mankind out of the clutches of darkness and into the Kingdom of Light. To that end, He wants to use us, according to His design and not our own. God is working out everything in conformity to the purpose of His will.

Will I be a complaining vessel or an obedient servant?

“Lord, conform and transform me. My human nature is selfish – but I do not want to be a ‘Jonah.’ Have your way with me.”

~ Diane

P.S. Photo on top: With Daniel and Debbi at our other-side of  Ngong Hills property. We had an amazing 2 days of camping there with the whole family this week.

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Speeding for Life

High-speed driving on bumpy Kenyan roads is not advisable any time. But on this particular occasion, I heard grown-up adults from the medical profession asking “Are we there yet?”

2014 baby LukeSix-week-old Luke was barely making it. As we sped toward the hospital, the ER nurse and doctor ‘brought him back’ with CPR over and over, doing everything they could to keep Luke awake.

It was the end of the third day of medical camps held by IMR (photo to left property of IMR) with a team of 60 medics. Nearly 500 people had been treated in this remote village on the slopes of Mt Elgon in Kenya. We were getting ready to pack up when a young lady, about 16 years old, pushed her way to the doctors carrying a bundled-up baby.

The nurse took the bundle and began to unwrap it. When all the layers were off, she found a severely malnourished baby boy. Then I heard the cry, “This baby may not survive,” as she put the baby on a flat surface to apply CPR.

Soon our rented vehicle became an ambulance. With lights flashing, we sped through the dirt road toward the highway that leads to Cherang’any Hospital in the outskirts of Kitale. The journey ‘should’ have taken over an hour, but we made it in about 40 minutes.

We called ahead so that they would be expecting us. But at the hospital, members of the IMR team took over. After some ransacking, oxygen and an IV were finally in place and baby Luke began to respond. There was hope.

The pediatrician finally arrived and after some checks, confirmed that Luke had severe pneumonia. He also said there was no need putting him in an incubator. Baby Luke was later moved from intensive care to the general ward. With his sucking reflex active and strong, he is now ready to be discharged.

This was just one of the many cases that the team had to handle in their week of medical camps. An average of 500 people were seen daily.  2014 child meds 2We are very thankful to the doctors, nurses, students, hosts, translators and other volunteers who took time to work in these very challenging situations, touching and giving hope to many sick and suffering people who otherwise would not have had a chance to see a qualified doctor. We also appreciate all of those who prayed for this very compact week. There were times when God literally intervened by sending winds to divert imminent rain. Baby Luke and several others have a smile on their faces today because you cared enough. Thank you.

~ Ibrahim

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Just a Beginning

The end of our reading feels like just a beginning. To be honest, if I did not have other responsibilities of “life”, I would just love to do it all over again. The 92 hours of Bible reading were totally amazing. Except for a few hours when the power was out or sound system not in place, it all went through outdoor loud speakers and into the surrounding community.18 anole clinic

It was interesting that none of us thought of sitting down while reading (even though a bench was available just behind the podium). I personally read for close to 5 hours several different days . . . and always wished I could continue! Thank you for many who sponsored one, two, ten or even more hours! The total amount raised for missionaries of DOVE Africa (DMA) was $1,490 and the door for donations is still open. We thank you and thank the Lord.

flood wadingDMA missionaries serve in high-risk, ‘hardship’ areas in order to share God’s love and extend His Kingdom. We are proud of them.

Tremendous transformation has taken place in the communities as a result of their work. Schools, clinics, farms, youth projects, vocational training and churches are available where they did not exist before. 16 z irrigationThrough the missionaries’ hard work and commitment, children have access to education, patients walk a shorter distance to get medical attention, and all these are offered with a heart of love. Local communities have been confident enough to allow DMA missionaries to become recognized leaders, even in Islamic communities!

DMA missionaries face harsh weather, unfamiliar and unappealing food, new cultures, loneliness, opposition and even danger, but continue to serve enthusiastically, trusting God not only for protection but also for daily provision.  The Read-A-Thon was a “double win”; we are excited for the funds for DMA and the impact of God’s Word.

Z Manna line“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching” (I Tim 4:13). Interesting… I never really noticed that verse before. But in a semi-literate society where many do not have Bibles of their own, we sense that was just a beginning of public reading of the Word to be incorporated into our church life and also in the Africa Center for Transformation (Prayer Center).

Yes, the Word of God is alive, active and at work!

~ Diane

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Law and Grace

I have known that the Bible speaks much about the relationship of Law and grace. But the prominence of this theme has been astounding in our reading. Probably we do not often focus on these passages, since we do not come from the background of indoctrination in the Law and the Prophets. It is not a strongly-felt need. Yet obviously it was an issue for the early church.

The New Testament explains that the law is limited; obsolete; it enslaves and it cannot save. However, it is valid, and teaches us so much. It provided a foretaste of things to come. It is given, among other purposes, for examples and warnings. Jesus clearly stated that he came not to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. The Old Testament points to Jesus. Paul used the “Laws and the Prophets” to convince Jews in Rome about the saving power of Jesus Christ.

And what about grace? It provides the ‘bookends’ of most of the Epistles. It is lavished on us, glorious, rich, manifold, all-abundant and all-sufficient. It is the reason for our salvation, source of spiritual gifts, core of our faith, and basis of forgiveness. We are told to stand in grace, abound in grace, be strong in grace, grow in grace, speak with grace and serve God by grace. Totally undeserved, not based on our own efforts, not free, yet wholly paid for by our Lord.

We learn from the Law, but live by grace. I’m still trying to get my head around it. . . .

Grace to you!

Bible Trivia Day Ten: After Paul revived a young man who had fallen asleep during his sermon, what did he do?

~ Diane

 

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Never Again

I don’t know if there is such a thing as a “readers’ high.” But that is the best way to describe what I experienced while reading the final chapters of the Old Testament on Wednesday.

The chronological plan we are following places Joel as the last book in the sequence of prophets, right after Malachi. What a book of victory it is! God really, really WANTS to bless His people. “Never again,” God declares. “Never again will my people be shamed.” It is a pertinent promise for the nation of Israel, even today.

Frequent references to the Old Testament throughout the Gospels have a much fuller meaning now after having read through it entirely: the Law of Moses, instructions to ‘show yourself to the priest,’ Jesus’ issues with the experts in/ teachers of the law, etc. Over and over Jesus upheld the law, but He directly opposed the unjust and legalistic application of “less important” aspects. He moved it from being a matter of outside behavior to a matter of the heart. He highlighted justice, mercy and faithfulness (Mt 23:23).

It seems that Jesus’ 3 years of ministry, according to the record of the gospels, had three main foci: demonstrating and explaining the Kingdom of God in power, diffusing and contradicting the errors of false religion, and consulting His Father in prayer. Probably when we read piece-meal, we focus more on the first: miracles and teachings. It is really good to have a more comprehensive view.

We read the account of Jesus’ crucifixion in four different languages, and of course since the resurrection is also in each of the four gospels, we also read that four times (though not in four languages).

Be encouraged: “The word of God is at work in you!” (I Thess 2:10)

Bible Trivia Day Nine: What distinguished the work of Shallum when the remnant in Jerusalem was re-building the walls under Nehemiah’s leadership?

~ Diane

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‘Then You Will Know’

Jeremiah and Ezekiel each paid an extremely high personal price for delivering God’s message to His people. And their words to the children of Israel were not pampered, by any means. These two prophets, along with several ‘minor’ prophets and the accompanying Kings and Chronicles framework, comprised most of our reading yesterday.

The messages of the prophets often seem contradictory. In one breath, the enemies of Israel are being condemned, and in the next they are triumphing over Israel and devastating them. In one moment, God is promising His people restoration and in another, He is pronouncing judgment.

This verse really helps make sense of it all: “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.” (Jer 18:7-10 emphasis mine). Again, we have to make our choice.

And what is the point of God’s mercy in our lives? God would say “I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake” (Ezk 36:22, 32). It is “not about me.” It’s all about God. We are told at least sixty-five times in Ezekiel (yes, I counted), after all the trials and terror, “Then they will know that I am the Lord.” The sovereign God resolved that He would be revealed and acknowledged.

In our journeys with God, what do we know about Him? What has life taught us about God’s nature?

Bible Trivia Day Eight: How did the Psalmist refer to God’s people in Psalm 74:19? (yeah, look it up!)

~ Diane

 

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