Walking in His presence

This morning on my usual walk, I became aware of a unique presence. For a stretch of about one kilometer, the butterflies started fluttering as if responding to an unseen command. They created colorful zig-zag circles around me.

My heart quickly connected to our Creator in adoration and praise. In that fresh morning breeze, when everything else is silent, the leaves and branches swaying back and forth and different shades of butterflies dancing in the wind, my spirit leapt for joy.

But how could I qualify for such delight and peace in a world full of turmoil, fear, death and destruction? I believe that God still wants to communicate with us, even in these days. I could hear Paul’s words to the church in Philippi: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”

There seems to be a paradox here. We are in this world but not for this world. The pain and suffering are pressing in, yet at the same time we are treated to an out-of-this-world walk in fellowship with our Maker. It is a privilege that only sons and daughters of His kingdom can experience.

That explains why Paul so boldly says, not when things are good, but always: “Rejoice!”

~ Ibrahim

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Happy 2-2-22 Day!

I love numbers and the patterns they form. If you want to plant optimistic expectation in my soul, just tell me that the groceries cost 33 dollars and 77 cents. Or give me 337 shillings in change after a purchase.

The number 2, according to biblical numerology, represents harmony, kinship and cooperation. It also speaks of integrity – an integrity provided by God. God united man and woman, 2 persons, into one marriage union. Number 2 also symbolizes the joining of Christ and the church.

The Bible is made up of two covenants, the Old and the New. Jesus, as the second Adam, brought eternal life and salvation to humankind. Fulfillment of the second Covenant is found “Adam number 2”: Jesus Christ.

One more good thing. Today, I don’t have to worry about whether I am writing the day and month in U.S. style or Kenyan style. It’s all the same!

Happy 2.2.22!

~ Diane

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The Promise of Prayer

How many times do we tell someone, “I will pray for you”? Do we remember to pray? Hopefully, the answer is yes.

But my own experience is that I often go away and forget – or neglect – the promise to pray.

How about developing the practice of praying on the spot? The moment you hear someone’s need, take it to prayer. Right there. Right then.

You can still come back to this prayer request, but at least the pledge to pray has been initially fulfilled. Having prayed over the need once could even help you remember to pray the next time.

This simple practice has helped me keep the promise of prayer.

~ Diane

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The Place of Prayer

We are creatures of habit. Have you ever noticed how you can find the same people seated in the same place week after week on Sunday mornings? Or at the same desks in your college classroom? No one has assigned them to sit there, but they just naturally do it.

Of course, we can pray anywhere and at any time. Yet, it is great to have a specific place for personal prayer. Having a special place that is set aside helps to reinforce the habit of having a special time set aside as well. The converse can also be true. When we are travelling and I don’t have a specific spot for prayer, my prayer life tends to falter.

Luke 11:1 reads, “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place.” Was this “certain place” a frequented, special place? Jesus also seemed to like out-of-the way places for prayer. Going away to the wilderness or mountains is mentioned more than any others.

Where is your sweet place for prayer?

~ Diane

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The Privilege of Prayer

Have you seen prayer as one more duty that you need to take care of? Have you been plagued with guilt for not waking up earlier to pray? I have!

Jesus told His disciples that when He would leave, they would be given the privilege to pray directly to the Father. Prayer is not something we are obligated to do. It is something we get to do! It is a unique opportunity to open our hearts to the Creator and Sustainer of life itself–and to listen to His heart in return.

In some large churches, getting an appointment with the pastor can be quite a task. What about having audience with the President of a country? Most of us never will! But we do have the privilege to talk to the King of kings any day, any time. Every day – every time. Wow!

Besides that, He listens. And responds. I don’t want to miss this divine opportunity.

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Here we go!

Twenty twenty-two is actually here. There were no great plans to welcome it. It just came rather unobtrusively. We still don’t know what it will bring, given the experiences of the last two years. Should we be excited or sad? We are not sure yet.

However, compared to 2021, this New Year was well received. Driving to church at 10 p.m. for our all-night prayer vigil, the road was comparable to Monday morning traffic. It looked like everybody was going somewhere. The parking lots of a shopping mall near our home were overflowing as city residents waited in expectation of the midnight fireworks.

Last year, we were under a curfew and could not gather. This year’s vigil was well attended, mainly by young people who were ready to dance the whole night.

So, what can we expect this year? In Nairobi, we have been praying for revival. If last night’s full tent is anything to go by, I believe that God is already doing it. There is such a hunger and thirst for God in these young people. Oh, that they would not be disappointed; that God would visit us again; that we would witness a time of refreshing—and that 2022 would be the year that spurs revival.

Yes, COVID-19 and its Omicron variant are here. The statistics in Kenya are approximately 40% positive for those who are tested. The good thing is that the cases are mostly mild. Our prayer is that this too will pass as the world recovers from this pandemic.

So, welcome to 2022! May you experience God’s presence like never before. May we have open heavens as He showers us with a freshness of His Holy Spirit.

That is our prayer for 2022.

~ Ibrahim and Diane

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Shut the door

Why did those words, scribbled among many pages of notes, jump off the page at me? Obviously because I needed to hear them – again.

As Christ-followers, we absolutely need to block OFF time to spend with God and block OUT all the distractions. Intentionally.

Matthew 24 warns of increased persecution in the end times and says that “the love of many will grow cold.”

Sometimes I feel that part of the persecution, perhaps self-inflicted, is all the technology that makes us 24/7 accessible and distractable. Or, the schedules that run us ragged until time alone with the Lord slips through our fingers.

Our friend Steve Prokopchak tells in his blog of the National Radio Quiet Zone, designated by the U.S. government to house the largest, fully-steerable radio telescope in the world. The dish, located in West Virginia, is larger than a football field. The use of cell phones, Wi-Fi, microwaves and wireless speakers within a ten-mile radius is prohibited. The “quiet” makes it possible for scientists to hear infinitesimal signals from outer space.

We also need an intentional “quiet zone”—especially as so many voices lure us to listen to them. Lord, help me learn better to shut the door and enter the secret place of your presence.

~ Diane

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In the midst of everything, give thanks!

We are honored to be in the U.S. for Thanksgiving for the first time in many years!  Across the country, turkeys are roasting while roads and airports are jammed full. Even though its inception was perhaps on faulty grounds, Thanksgiving is such a wholesome holiday. (That is, without the “Black Friday” madness that seems to have taken over in recent decades.) It is about family, coming together, being grateful, and celebrating the abundance of life.

We have been blessed to be with friends and family during this three-week stay. So precious. Issues that are encroaching on the stable fabric of this society did not hinder our rich fellowship and candid moments.

It was unsettling, however, to see that one can be put into a political camp—in some settings—because of wearing a mask. (Even if only 5% effective, I want all the protection I can get from that virus!). It was troubling to touch the separation of one group from another, and feel like you are deep inside an ever-widening chasm that separates the two. Trying to touch both, but losing out because the distance is too far.

Often, a group unites when attacked the outside. We are praying that no “outside enemy” will be needed for Americans to see the need to forgive and unite, lest the “united we stand; divided we fall” adage be realized. Regardless, our position is to offer humble prayers and genuine thanksgiving.

“And in the midst of everything, be always giving thanks, for this is God’s perfect plan for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess 5:18, TPT).

Blessed Thanksgiving to all!

~ Ibrahim and Diane

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Loyal disobedience

Was it really a disloyal spirit that kept Mordecai from bowing to Haman? I don’t think so.

Mordecai was absolutely loyal and ready to do whatever it would take not only to show respect to the king and his officers but also to protect the king from any possible harm.

This was well demonstrated in the incident of Bigthana and Teresh, the two eunuchs (probably of Jewish background) who were angry with the king and wanted to kill him. Mordecai reported this to Esther, who then reported it to the king in the name of Mordecai.

When an investigation was carried out, it was found to be true and the two were executed. This was recorded in the chronicles. Who, then, could have been more loyal than Mordecai?

But when it came to worshiping Yahweh, Mordecai would not trade that for anything, even if it killed him. For this, he was willing to be disobedient. He would not bring himself to bow down to or worship the mortal being Haman, or an idol for that matter. This had nothing to do with loyalty to the king.

May we be people who will never worship any other being. Totally loyal and totally disobedient.

~ Ibrahim

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A quick rise to power

Haman the Agagite, in the book of Esther, was indentified by King Ahasuerus for quick promotion. He was set above all the princes. That would have been fine, except that he was a bit immature and maybe not quite prepared to manage the favor and privilege that came his way.

Haman savored every moment imagining how other mortals would bow before him. However, Mordecai would not do it. Such an act would go against his faith and allegiance to the Living God. Soon, Haman was made aware of Mordecai’s decision.

Haman let himself be corrupted by the immense power that was now readily available to him. He purposed to not only get ride of Mordecai, but also to eradicate Jews all over the Empire. He quickly got the king’s legal backing for his evil plans.

Rising to power is not in itself wrong. But when you see yourself as a god and let yourself be deified, it clearly does not end well.

Pride comes before a fall. When we do not walk in humility and in the fear of God, we can easily get corrupted and start to bow to our fallen nature.

So God, please, keep us humble, broken and contrite as we walk with you.

~ Ibrahim

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