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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Spiritual authority

Esther respected and honored Mordecai’s role in her life when, as a queen living in the palace, she could have taken on a new “royal” identity and ignored her past. But she did not. Esther still looked to Mordecai for counsel, direction and spiritual protection.

“Being in the kingdom at such a time as this” was all part of God’s plan. Esther had the opportunity to save herself, her cousin and her nation. But that was not going to come easy. It would be a “do or die” moment. She needed God’s intervention. Apparently, she knew where and how to get it.

In our walk with God, “do or die” moments could come along. We will be well prepared to make those hard decisions when we are secure in our relationship with Christ as well as those who give us spiritual oversight. A friend often says, “To exercise authority, one must walk under authority.” May God help us.

~ Ibrahim

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Adoption

Esther or Hadassah, though a cousin of Mordecai, was more like an adopted daughter. Even as a grown up, a queen living in the palace, she still looked to Mordecai for counsel and prayer.

We too have a Father who has adopted us. We talk to Him, worship Him, and serve Him. At times like this we look to Him to show us the way in which to walk.

But there is one problem. Do we, as adopted sons and daughters, find our first identity as members of God’s family?  Is that our main identity?

Are we maybe Africans first, Americans or Europeans first—then Christians? Do we find our primary identity in our tribe, political party, or race? Or are we Christians first? Are others in God’s family really our brothers and sisters?

When we our identity-loyalty is divided, we strain and divide the body of Christ. I believe it is time we find our identify in Christ alone.

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For such a time

“Yet who knows whether you have come to the Kingdom for such a time as this?” These were Mordecai’s words to his cousin, Queen Esther, when they were facing a huge slaughter of the Jewish people. Esther, reluctant at first, rose to the challenge and courageously saved her nation.

What is our “such a time” context? In the thick of a global pandemic, life is rough. Undefined. We don’t know what next year—or even next week—might hold.

Then there is the pervading technology. It is intended, supposedly, to make life easier. Instead, it has increased our pace and multiplied our frenzy. Everything is instant, which means everyone expects “instant.” With information overload, life could easily become shallow. We lose concentration; things are always moving.

Back to Esther. She was the king’s bride. We as the church are also the King’s bride, called to live, serve and extend the Kingdom. Yes, at such a time as this.

Each of us needs to figure out what that means for us. In other words, the first person who needs to answer the “who knows” question is me. Do I know that God has me alive today, in this exact time and place, for a specific reason?

Hopefully, yes. If not, I have some homework to do.

~ Diane

P.S. We will be writing more on the book of Esther in upcoming posts.

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Hardship, Harvest and Heaven on Earth

“The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ. And he will reign forever and ever.”

If you only recognize those words from Handel’s Messiah, be assured that they are also in the Bible. John saw a transfer of kingdoms in his vision of the last days recorded in Revelation.

Yes, we pray it regularly. “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

We are promised that in the end of time as we know it, Babylon, representing the systems of this world, will fall. (Rev 18:1-3). The government or reign of God on earth will always be on the increase. (Is 9:7) In other words, heaven IS coming to earth. It is on the way, even this very minute. And as it is coming, God must get his people out of Babylon because Babylon is coming down! Is that why we are feeling so shaken and disoriented?

I often wonder how to respond to the major shifts of the last several years. Is it to struggle to maintain my grounding in Babylon, or just rush out as Lot did from Sodom?

In this time of shaking, I believe that God is crushing us that He may restore us. He is breaking us that He may rebuild us. I, for one, want to be part of establishing the kingdom of our Lord on the earth today. Does that include asking for more shaking and more breaking? Oooh, the answer must be “Yes, Lord.”

~ Diane

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Hardship and Harvest

Hardships are included in the end-times package. Assuming that Jesus is coming soon, we should be prepared for hardship. Last week in Mozambique, DOVE members were locked in police cells because of gathering in homes at a time when “meetings” are banned due to COVID-19. They counted it pure joy!

Another thing we can expect in the last days is an abundant harvest. John the revelator describes: “Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice … ‘Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’” (Rev 14: 14-15).

Looking at the church (and myself), I see us being more like “Martha” than “Mary” (Jn 13). Always busy. Programs and activities. Committees and strategic plans. Buildings and budgets. The pandemic, in some ways, pushed the pause button on much of that. But remember, anything that will truly bear fruit will flow out of relationship with the Father, out of being “Mary” rather than “Martha.”

When it is said and done, do we really want to go back to ‘business as usual?’ Or do we need to break old methods and embrace new ones? Jesus explained that new wine cannot be contained in old wineskins. If we are going to handle this end-time harvest, we might need to do church differently.

DOVE International’s Director, Larry Kreider, teaches that the “older” a church, the less likely it is to evangelize effectively, reach the lost, or multiply. If a church is more than ten years old, it statistically grows 1% per year. From four to seven years of age, a church grows 14% per year. But in the first three years, a church grows an average of 33% per year.

Maybe you are already in a young, growing, vibrant church or ministry. Alleluia! From my vantage point, I feel that we need to re-think many things and focus on the harvest. It is one of our end-time promises. Are we ready?

~ Diane

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It comes in the package

We often say that we are living in the last days.

So here we are in 2021 with crises erupting around the world! Oh, my. News reports, technology and social media bring them relentlessly to our attention. Life with COVID is rough. There seems to be hardship at every turn.

But if I could dare to ask: what were we expecting? God’s Word makes it totally clear; all this comes in the end-times package. There will be a multitude of troubles in these last days. Hardships. Persecutions. Wars. Famines. Earthquakes. In fact, the days will have to be “cut short” lest we all perish (Matt 24). We are also told that the purpose of all this is to shake that which can be shaken so that only what is unshakable remains.

As much as things have been difficult, if we read between the lines, we might see that God is seeking to empower us for even more difficult days ahead. The pandemic is lasting longer than we expected (or longer than I expected). But even when it settles, the hardships are not likely to go away soon. Maybe not until our Lord returns.

I often have to ask myself what I am really longing for: an easier life on earth or an eternal weight of glory? (2 Cor 4:17)

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!”

~ Diane

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Nothing but Mercy

It can be really easy to think that some of the good things I enjoy are because of me. Or maybe to think that I have done something good to deserve or earn these blessings.

The Word of God says otherwise.

For the third time in just one speech, Moses tells the children of Israel, “Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess.” Then, just in case there was any remaining doubt, “…for you are a stiff-necked people” (Dt. 9:6).

Yes, God gives good things for us to enjoy. Many good things. But I have done nothing to merit all the goodness. Mine is to remember that it is all because of His mercy–and give thanks!

~ Diane

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