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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Salt and Light

We would “normally” be in the States this time of year, enjoying time with dear friends at the annual DOVE International Leadership Conference. The conference IS going ahead this year – albeit with only a few out-of-country attendees. The theme: “For such a time as this.”

Yes, you and I are divinely placed, exactly where we are placed, for such a time as this. We are alive in this day and season, alive when over 3 million people have died from coronavirus in just over a year, because God has work for us to do.

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. You are the salt of the earth.”

Salt makes the food go down. As I am writing, there is a large bowl of boiled cassava in our refrigerator. It has been there for three days. Plain. Boiled. Starch. Believe it or not, when cooked with enough salt, it is really delicious and gets eaten up quickly. But someone forgot the salt this time, and I doubt if anyone is going to eat that cassava.

As salt, we should be the ones that make “life go down” for everyone around us. Bearable to consume—even tasty!

Light is required when darkness is thick. Light says, “This is the path. Step here next. We will get through the darkness by going this way.” Light shows us where to go.

The world needs salt. The world needs light. Will it come from me?

~ Diane

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Heroes

Today is Mushujaa Day (Heroes Day) in Kenya. While Kenya has many notable heroes, I want to honor the missionaries of DOVE Africa as heroes of courage and faith in our generation.

As we continue to pray for a people movement, we known that every individual relationship, conversation and decision is of great value. How can we see it happen? We discussed this with our missionaries during a recent visit to “the field.”

M: “It is so exciting to be discipling several young men. But village elders are not happy; they have threatened us. We take Jesus’ words at face value: For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.’ You can’t love your life and be a frontier missionary.”

Mangoes provide income for the work of missions.

O: “Our cybercafé attracts a steady flow of customers. In this culture, a ‘customer’ comes to sit for a while, have a chat, and just share life. We talk and talk. We share the gospel. Someone might actually agree that faith in Jesus makes more sense than faith in their gods. But—when pushed to make a decision, it is just very hard. That decision does not come easy.”

M&G: “When depending on the family and community for everything, it is very difficult for someone to make a decision for Christ. But if a person is independent, educated, or having a source of income, it could be easier. We have seen this in the case of several who made that decision and are now mature in faith. For those who are genuinely seeking, we need to be sure to befriend, engage, and empower.”

Continue to pray with us for God’s love to be seen and His offer of salvation to be accepted among these communities.

~ Diane

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What is in a seed?

At close to 90 years of age, my mother, Rispah Grace, has had her share of health challenges. When my dad passed away in 2002 due to prostate cancer, my mother already had been suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure. For all these years we have been praying for her, and have liberally used herbs to clean her kidneys, liver and keep her blood pressure down. We are so grateful that we don’t have to be running to the doctor’s office every now and then, as had been the case before.

I attribute this to God’s grace, His healing power, and His way of working through the provisions He created that are all around us in the natural environment.

Besides Prunus Africana and the simple concoction of corn silk tea, another useful remedy is papaya seed.

Most of us scoop out the papaya seeds and throw them away, then enjoy the fruit. Instead, we now collect the seeds, clean them off and dry them in the sun or in a dehydrator. Once they are dry, we put the seeds in a blender and reduce them to powder. The powder can be sprinkled on your food (it has a peppery taste) or put into capsules. There are recipe ideas online for a variety of sauces that include dried papaya seed.

What are the benefits of papaya seed? Among many, these are a few.

  • Treats liver disease (cirrhosis)
  • Kills bacteria and heals viral infections
  • Helps prevent kidney disease
  • Alleviates skin problems.

So, as we pray for good health, we do not have to spend a lot of money and time in the doctor’s office. Some of our issues can be addressed by these readily available natural ingredients.

~ Ibrahim

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