Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Years Resolution

This year I am resolving to doing everything right. By that I mean the following:

1. I am going to slow down and think about the things I am doing.

2. I am going to take life one moment at a time. Some things more time than others. I want to enjoy those moments that are enjoyable and proceed cautiously with those that need more attention.

3. When something goes wrong I am not going to freak out about it. If it's a mistake I'm going to admit it was a mistake and find a way to correct it. If it's something I want but can't have I am going to accept God's providence and be thankful for His way, not mine.

4. I am going to spend more time with my children. I want to find more ways of being a positive influence for my children without killing them in the process. Emotionally, that is.

5. I am going to learn how to love being with people and not find ways to avoid confrontations. I want to work through those really hard times when people don't see eye-to-eye and find God in between us.

6. I am going to learn how to appreciate cats, dogs and other animals that I don't really have much interest in.

7. I am going to find a way to help my brothers and sisters in Africa. My preference is to be there in person, but if God chooses to do something else I am going to refer number three.

8. I am going to pray more, read more, spend more time with God and learn how to teach others to do the same.

9. I am going to help people with their businesses and make the ones I have a vested interest in profitable.

10. I am going to be thankful for everything I have, let God and others know I am thankful by saying cheerful things to them and looking for the good in everything and everyone around me. (Thank you Polly Anna)

There may be others I think of but for the most part, I will work on these first. I'll let you know how things go. Maybe you can provide some suggestions. Maybe you can make you own list of resolutions. Nows as good a time as any.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Holy Boldness

I once wrote a song called Holy Boldness. There was a time in my life where I wrote over 150 songs, mostly about God and His wonderful life. I wrote about how His life affected me and things it made me think and feel. I remember the boldness that filled my soul when reading the scriptures and being filled up with the expectations of seeing Christ return to retrieve His bride. It gave me a sense of worth and value that I had a place in His heart. I gave me a boldness to speak of Him to people I worked with and met on a day to day basis. 

I remember a young man coming to the church I attending for a while in Florida. It was the early eighties and this young man spent a week of revival messages that stirred me up to be bold in the Lord. We went out on the streets to witness to people who were on the Miracle Strip in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. We were excited and bold to proclaim our faith to strangers. It was a miracle that some of us were not arrested or injured.

That led to a group of us learning how to become disciples and taking up the visitation of those who visited each week at the church. We would meet together Sunday mornings to memorize scriptures, pray and learn what the Twelve did to follow Christ. Each Monday night at 7pm we would meet again and take the visitors card, pray over them and go out to look up these visitors. We were suppose to be encouraging them to come back to the church there but we spent our time visiting with them about a man called Jesus. We were more concerned about their salvation than talking them into coming to the church building the next week. I was asked to leave that church after that.

So, we started meeting in my house. We were bold in following God. Those small upsets were not enough to cause us to give up or quit being bold. We boldly went out and shared out faith with many more people. There were more than a hundred people that passed through that little house in Florida. Many I have lost touch with, some I have reconnected with and they have moved on, some I have the pleasure of living with on a day to day basis now. 

But I don't think I'm as bold as I used to be. You see, I sometimes feel like I have a really cool place to live in where disciples are all around me and there is a unity of spiritual fellowship everyday. I don't have to be too bold around those who love me with the love of the Lord. Or do I? I am thinking there is some level of boldness still around me. Maybe it's unreality. In comparison to what I used to think and do I would call it passivity. I used to teach, now I listen. I used to write music and sing the songs God gave me, now I harmonize in the congregation of the Saints. I used to pray for an hour or more at a time, read the scriptures for even more. Now I can fall asleep reading and my prayer life is minimal at best. I used to stand up and share deep things of God in front of a whole building full of believers. Now I shake at the thought of getting up in front of a small group in a household meeting.

What has happened to my holy boldness? Where is that spiritual man I used to know? How in the village did I get to where I am now? Why am I not able to find that holy boldness? What is wrong with me? 

The scriptures tell me that "God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power" (2Tim 1:7) "The righteous are bold as a lion" (Prov 28:1) "the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits" (Dan 11:32) Brothers grew confident and were "much more bold to speak the word without fear" because of Paul's imprisonment. God’s servants were secure in their identity in Christ. And they stood confident in Jesus’ righteousness. Therefore, they had nothing to hide; they stood before anyone with a clear conscience.

It is to my detriment that I forget just that reality. To know who I am in Christ and move in the confidence of Jesus' righteousness. Not my own righteousness, my past failures or weaknesses. There is a work I must do and that is a work of consecration. I have to dedicate myself completely to the love and life of my Lord and Savior. I have to rise every morning acknowledging the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the Love of the Father. Why? 

Because that is reality. Not my pathetic unrealistic view of who I am not. I have to see me as God sees me. I have to draw my strength and boldness from a close knit relationship with God. If I don't sense the boldness then I am not fostering a close relationship with my Lord. And I had better find out what is getting in between me and God. I had better get that thing out of the way. It is imperative that my relationship be right at all times in order to be able to do those bold and confident things like I used to be able to do. Not that I can brag about anything, for bragging is all about me if I do. If I brag on anything it is the love and grace of God for me.

Holy Boldness only comes through a deep and consistent walk with God. A relationship that is filled with prayer, time in the scriptures, keeping myself unspotted from the world and worldly things, consecration to God and an open, humble and learning mind given to following Christ every day. I have to start with today and then move on from there. One day at a time. One step at a time. One act of obedience at a time. Time and space filled with the things of God will bring about that Holy Boldness.

I'm starting anew today. How about you?

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Nature of Sin

Over the past few days I have been reading Oswald Chambers devotionals on the Nature of Sin, Redemption and Reconciliation and there is such a richness about this, I couldn't help but write about what I am reading. Forgive me if I have said any of these things before. This is a new spiritual year for us and I think it is good to remember the foundational things of God in our lives. Our salvation hinges upon the things he writes about here.

I think it is important to understand what the "Nature of Sin" is. We have to come to terms with where we are at in our agreement with God. Sometime, somewhere, there is a time for us to examine ourselves and see where we stand with God. Whether you have done that recently or sometime in the past, it must be done. There is a day of judgment and you will be required to account for your words and deeds.

Everything we do is based upon the one point of whether we are in agreement with God or not. Either God is the creator of our life and we submit ourselves to His control or we don't. That decision and the living out of that decision determines our destiny. It is a decision that confronts us every day, several times a day. We are in perpetual motion towards that day of reckoning with God. It is inevitable that we will arrive at that time and place. No one can escape this place in time.

So there are some things we need to understand. One of them is what is the "Nature of Sin". What makes me do what I do? Why do I sin? What can I do about it?

Three days ago Oswald's devotional talked about the origin of that "Nature of Sin" and it was plain to see that we can be easily deceived into thinking we are the gods of our own lives and the destruction which follows after. We tend to live our lives without thought of what we are doing, as it pertains to the whole picture of God, and who He is. We get up; go to work, start our day and live our lives based upon what we were taught to do. We barely think about the things we habitually do each day. Our lives are filled up with what we want to do and most often that does not contain the mind of God. It contains our mind, our will and our abilities to decide things for ourselves.

However, that thinking and habit  is the "Nature of Sin".

Oswald says that the "Nature of Sin" is "my claim to my right to myself" and that the attitude of “I am my own god” is what separates me from a relationship with God. I desperately need a saving relationship with God. I am condemned when I refuse to be in reality and see God, recognize that He is Lord of my life and try to hide from all that is revealed by Him. We call a right relationship with God "walking in the light" because He is the light of the world. He says, "Condemnation comes when I realize that Jesus Christ came to deliver me from this heredity of sin, and yet I refuse to let Him do so".

In order for me to be saved from this "Nature of Sin" I inherited, I have to be redeemed. I cannot redeem myself. I can't work my way out of it because I have no control over it. I can try to fight it, grit my teeth and be as good as I can, but it will never be good enough to redeem myself. Even if I could, it would eliminate the need for God and especially Jesus Christ. His whole existence would be nothing but a waste of time if I were able to redeem and save myself. 

No, there is no getting around the fact that there is a "Nature of Sin" in which I "... had no say or decision; I am not holy, nor am I likely to be; and if all Jesus Christ can do is tell me that I must be holy, His teaching only causes me to despair." He must do a work in me of redemption. He is the only One who can replace that "Nature of Sin" with "His Nature". I must agree with God that the "Nature of Sin" has been judged and dealt with on the cross. 

Once I am reconciled to the fact that I cannot change the "Nature of Sin", I can then agree with God that it must be redeemed in me. I can then see my need for reconciliation and redemption. Unless there is that need burning within me, I am not able to be redeemed. A hopelessness of changing on my own must come to light. I must be able to see, in the light of God bringing me to reality, that I am desperately lost and in need of His very life. His life, the very essence of God himself, must replace that "Nature of Sin". It is my act of obedience to believe, trust and hold on to the reality of redemption working life in me through faith in Jesus Christ. The life he possesses becomes the redeeming power, I need, to change me into a new creation. (Romans 5:12-19)
Redemption means that I can be delivered from the "Nature of Sin". Through Jesus Christ I can receive a pure and spotless heredity, namely, the Holy Spirit.

It is a wrong relationship that condemns us and keeps us in sin. It is our "deliberate and determined independence from God" that keeps us trapped in the nature of sin. That relationship is what Jesus dealt with when He walked this earth. It was the "Nature of Sin" He looked at and said repent and follow Me. Repentance was the key to redeeming the relationship and being reconciled to God. It was through Jesus Christ that reconciliation was completed.

The power of the Christian gospel is weak in that we forget that the "Nature of Sin" must be dealt with and not just sinful actions or deeds. Sinful actions and deeds are the result of having a "Nature of Sin". Jesus identified Himself with us and the "Nature of Sin" in order to redeem the entire human race. He completed the work that He was sent to do on the cross and took with Him the "Nature of Sin" to death. The "Nature of Sin" died with Him on the cross. We were set free from that nature and given the opportunity to receive a new nature. That nature of Life through the work of Jesus Christ as the sole basis of our redemption.

We can now experience reconciliation with God and become one with Him. A place in our spirit had to be emptied for us to receive such a reconciliation. The "Nature of Sin" filled it before but now it can be filled with the Life of God. We can receive grace to live the life of Christ and be holy. What an awesome work! What an awesome God! 

What is your response to all that? Can you believe that and receive that new nature of God? Or will you dismiss it and choose to remain in control of your life? Either way you have a decision to make. Every day when you wake up you have to decide what you will do with that fact. You can flee evil and follow Christ or you can flee from God and follow your own opinions and thoughts. Each one has it's own reward. Each one is available for you to choose. The choice is yours. Life or Death.

And so you don't deceive yourself into thinking that you have all the time in the world to make that decision, consider that while you are in the process of deciding to choose God and Life you are living in the decision and choice of the "Nature of Sin" and Death. Just saying . . .

Saturday, October 1, 2011

ATTENTION: Choose Wisely

In a recent post by Shammah [CLICK HERE] a statement he made about the Communist underground movement reported by a congressman was this, "Today, however, no one is shocked at such awful advice. It’s now the American way to live, ...". This statement was made in regard to the way people were living in California and how Americans in general live today.

When I was growing up in the 50's and 60's this communist agenda was going on and we did not know that it was even an agenda. We were impressed with information from newspapers, magazines, radio, movies, television (B&W) and what we were taught in school. It never crossed our minds to check out what was being said. We trusted that our parents and teachers, the media and all those in higher places were being careful and taking care to direct us in a moral and righteous way. 

It is obvious to us now that even though we thought those things and those who were influencing us were not as aware as we thought. I can't directly blame them for what influenced me but they are responsible for what they passed along to us. They will be held accountable for what they knew. I hate to think that most of them were not paying attention to what was going on or even knew at all what the communist party was doing in America.

Understand that I am not a patriot or flag waver, I am concerned about what my children and others around me are receiving with regard to the truth. The truth is that many things are happening under our noses that we are not aware of. These things are spiritual in nature and are manifested in the physical realm through the actions of those that are either purposely carrying out this agenda or unconsciously passing along what they believe to be true.

So, what am I saying? What is the point of this raving?

I'm saying we need to pay attention! We need to be serious about what we take in and consider to be true. We need to look more carefully at the information we accept from the news, Internet, email, TV, radio and in general, everyday conversation and rumor. I'm also saying we need to be careful how we communicate information as well. We are guilty of passing along false information without even knowing it is false. We do this by not being careful with what we receive. We react to an emotion created from the information we see or hear.

There is nowhere on this earth, that I know of, that we are not influenced by false information every day. Even our own mind will deceive us into thinking things about people and events that are not true. We trust what we perceive to be the truth. Our perception is not always what is the truth. It's just our perception of the truth. Think about how your mind thinks that a scary movie scene is real and you react with an emotional response. Your mind perceives the scene to be real and you respond. But, you know it is a movie yet you accept that the images and sounds on the screen are real. Shouldn't we pay attention and check out what we perceive to be the truth before going forward and acting upon it? 

YES! We should prove all things. But we don't.

As men and women of God we are especially needful of sound judgement. We have a responsibility to God as his children, to follow after those things he commands us to do. We have a responsibility to share those things of God that are honest and truthful to others as we evangelize, teach and shepherd those who need to give their lives to God as the body of Christ.Teachers hold a position of accountability for what they teach to others and will be judged for it. It is a wise things to prove what is true before teaching it to others.

We should be like the Bereans who "... received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." Acts 17:11. They called upon God and were sensitive to His Spirit to check out the truth and reality of what was said about God. Paul wasn't offended but encouraged by their diligence and prudence as responsible people of God. What a great example for us to follow.

Paul says to the Romans "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Are we any less in need of this advice for today? I think we should be sober minded in things of such great importance.

When we were in Africa, we experienced the effects of well meaning Christians who were taught from evangelical missionaries many years ago. Their traditions were passed along to the people of that country and they gave them an evangelical gospel. However, the people needed a full gospel of God, in a sense that would equip them for the work of sharing their lives with one another and caring for those around them. They needed to see an example of how the church functions and not just a salvation message. Their traditions of loud boisterous shouting, charismatic singing, dancing and prayer left the indigenous people of that area with a partial picture of what they were to do. They were not able to enter into the fullness of Christ and his body.

Kingdom Hikers

When we shared several truths from the scriptures, their reactions were, "We thought that was true but we were not sure. Thank you for helping us understand what that means." They were excited and elated that God really did mean what was recorded and not what someone had dismissed with liberty to twist and traditionalize  the truth. They saw for themselves what God had said was true and found a new freedom to live out the life of Christ in a much fuller way.

Today, there are many who teach a false doctrine, a watered down, socialistic, greasy graceful gospel and call it the truth. There are many who bring prophesies about the end of the world, the rapture, the unconditional salvation of God and many more things which need to be proven. Don't just sit back, relax and enjoy the show. Get up and prove what is said and done. Be an active participant in the living out of this life we have. There are principalities, powers to be in spiritually dark places and demonic things that have captured the minds and wills of many people to do their bidding. We need to guard ourselves against them and turn our attention to walking in the light of the Truth.

As one radio celebrity used to say, "WAKE UP AMERICA!" and I follow with, "WAKE UP SLEEPER, ARISE FROM THE DEAD..." because your time is at hand to be delivered either into the hands of the enemy or into the hands of your Lord and Maker. It's your choice. 


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rosh Hashanah and Teshuvah

Rosh Hashanah 

Rosh Hashanah (in Hebrew)

Significance: New Year
Observances: Sounding the shofar (ram's horn trumpet)
Length: 2 Days (Some: 1 Day)
Customs: Dipping apples in honey; Casting off "sins" into a river

Greeting: L'shanah tovah! (For a good year!)

...In the seventh month, on the first of the month, there shall be a sabbath for you, a remembrance with shofar blasts, a holy convocation. -Leviticus 16:24
Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first and second days of Tishri. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, "head of the year" or "first of the year." Rosh Hashanah is commonly known as the Jewish New Year. 

Ingathering 2009 at Rose Creek Village
We celebrate a new beginning of our spiritual year as well. We call it Ingathering. There are significant similarities with our Ingathering celebration and Rosh Hashanah. Just like Americans start their New Year with celebration we celebrate also. Ours is not a celebration of party's, noise makers and football but we do celebrate the spiritual aspect of a new year with physical representations like the Jewish festival of Rosh Hashanah.

NOTE: Rose Creek Village is not a Jewish community or a representation of a Jewish religious following. We may see that God has given us a heart for celebration and remembrance of His wonderful life in ways that the Jewish nation celebrated but we are not holding to any and all of the traditions represented here or otherwise. We believe that the Spirit of God can use many things to bring us closer to Him in our pursuit of living this life, together, in Christ.

Tishri 1 (Rosh Hashanah) is the new year for years (when there is an increase in the year number. Sabbatical and Jubilee years begin at this time). The similarity between the Jewish New Year and the American one is that many Americans use the New Year as a time to plan a better life, making "resolutions." Likewise, the Jewish New Year is a time to begin introspection, looking back at the mistakes of the past year and planning the changes to make in the new year. You can read more on this concept can be seen below or at Days of Awe.

At Ingathering we take time to reconcile ourselves to God in many different ways. On the first night of Ingathering, we assemble ourselves before a fire and cast those things that are actual or representative of sin or sinful ways, that God has revealed to us, into the fire. We desire to rid ourselves of anything that would keep us from experiencing Gods life and walking in honesty and clarity before God and one another. It is a time of releasing and turning away from sin. The fire represents the burning away and cleansing that comes from God. His fire removes the effect of that sin in those things that we repent of. God is also an all consuming fire who burns away everything that is not of Him.


Shabbat Shuvah literally means "Sabbath of Return," but it is also a play on the phrase "Shabbat Teshuvah" (Sabbath of Repentance). It is the Shabbat that occurs betweenRosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and is a time for reflection leading up to the atonement of Yom Kippur. Shabbat Shuvah has two special haftarah readings, one dealing with the importance of heartfelt repentance (Hosea 14:2-10) and one praising the Creator's mercy (Micah 7:18-20). [See verses at the bottom of this post for reference]

Among the customs of this time, it is common to seek reconciliation with people you may have wronged during the course of the year. The Talmud maintains that Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and God. To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs you committed against them if possible.

The month before Ingathering seems to naturally follow the reconciliation period of Yom Kippur for us. It is a time of looking at our lives and reconciling them to God and one another. Those who have offenses with each other take steps to be reconciled and find forgiveness from God and each other. This is especially important as we celebrate the Lord's Table on Friday night and we want to be clear with each other and God before we do this. Following this we will be spending time together at our "Love Feast" which is a sweet time of fellowship and breaking bread together.

A popular observance during the Jewish holiday is eating apples dipped in honey, a symbol of a wish for a sweet new year. Bread in honey (instead of the usual practice of sprinkling salt on it) at this time of year is done for the same reason.

Tara's Baptism 2009
Each year on the day after our "Love Feast" we take time to baptize those who are wanting to enter into Christ and His Body here with us. It is a time of covenanting our lives together as the Body of Christ with those who are interested in being joined to this local body of believers. We gather together and celebrate our new lives in Christ and renew the tie that binds us together as the family of God. 

Another popular practice of the Jewish holiday is Tashlikh ("casting off"). A walk to flowing water, such as a creek or river, on the afternoon of the first day and emptying  pockets into the river, symbolically shows a casting off our sins. Small pieces of bread are commonly put in the pocket to cast off. 

The casting off of sin, baptism, forgiveness and reconciliation are all elements of our Ingathering each year. It is a very effective way of remembering why we are here together and choosing to live this life we live in Christ. 

Days of Awe
The ten days starting with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur are commonly known as the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim) or the Days of Repentance. This is a time for serious introspection, a time to consider the sins of the previous year and repent before Yom Kippur.

One of the ongoing themes of the Jewish Days of Awe is the concept that God has "books" that he writes our names in, writing down who will live and who will die, who will have a good life and who will have a bad life, for the next year. These books are written in on Rosh Hashanah, but our actions during the Days of Awe can alter God's decree. The actions that change the decree are "teshuvah, tefilah and tzedakah," repentance, prayer, good deeds (usually, charity). These "books" are sealed on Yom Kippur. This concept of writing in books is the source of the common greeting during this time is "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year."

Chamley Family Ingathering
We don't follow or hold to this tradition or belief but we do recognize that God does know what we do and remembers when there is no repentance or forgiveness. It's important that we understand and know that there is a day when all we have done in this life will come under review for judgement. The Book of Life is a real thing and we want to be remembered in it. We want our names to be found written in it for life everlasting with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The Sabbath that occurs in this period is known as Shabbat Shuvah (the Sabbath of Return). This is considered a rather important Sabbath. Reference the Jewish Virtual Library. This Sabbath of return reminds me that there is a day when Christ will return to earth and begin a new reign on earth. There is an expectancy of meeting the Lord at Ingathering time here. Not we come to be blessed by Him but that we come to remember and bless Him for all He has done for us this past year. Also to honor and worship Him for He is worthy of all our worship and praise.

The name "Rosh Hashanah" is not used in the Bible to discuss this particular Jewish holiday. The Bible refers to the holiday as Yom Ha-Zikkaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah (the day of the sounding of the shofar). The holiday is instituted in Leviticus 23:24-25. We use shofar's to announce the beginning of our Ingathering. We also announce events with the blowing of the shofar during the Ingathering.

Shofar: Click to hear it blow!The shofar is a ram's horn which is blown somewhat like a trumpet. One of the most important observances of this holiday is hearing the sounding of the shofar. There are four different types of shofar notes: tekiah, a 3 second sustained note; shevarim, three 1-second notes rising in tone, teruah, a series of short, staccato notes extending over a period of about 3 seconds; and tekiah gedolah (literally, "big tekiah"), the final blast in a set, which lasts (I think) 10 seconds minimum. Click the shofar above to hear an approximation of the sound of Tekiah Shevarim-Teruah Tekiah. 

The Bible gives no specific reason for this practice. One that has been suggested is that the shofar's sound is a call to repentance. We use the shofar to announce the beginning of our Ingathering and a call to repentance also. We proceed in a large processional to the gathering place where we cast our sinful elements into the fire as a repentance from those things and ways.

Several men own shofars and can actually blow them with quite beautiful resonance. The sound is awesome and a bit eerie as the resound throughout the village on Friday night. There is an excitement in the air as they announce the time of our gathering together.

Ingathering 2010
Well, I hope this gives you a little insight to what we do each year at this time. I'm not as familiar with this celebration as those who have been here longer than I, but I am as dedicated and plugged into the delightful presence of the Lord as any that are here. It is a blessing to be surrounded by those who love God and are walking in the life of Christ each day. No, we are not perfect, nor do we do everything perfectly, but we are together and we are walking with our Lord each day. 

We are a local assembly of believers that have chose to stay together as the body of Christ here at Rose Creek Village. I love that we can do this together. I love that we can celebrate the life of Christ each year like this also. I love how God meets us in all of our trials, fears, struggles, sadness's, separations, pruning, and losses in order to bring us freedom, love, joy, peace, unity, cleansing and salvation. May our God and Redeeming Lord Jesus Christ show you, as He shows us, a life filled with all the joy and love he has to give.


Leviticus 23:24-25

24 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. On the first day of the appointed month in early autumn,[a] you are to observe a day of complete rest. It will be an official day for holy assembly, a day commemorated with loud blasts of a trumpet. 25 You must do no ordinary work on that day. Instead, you are to present special gifts to the Lord.”

  1. Leviticus 23:24 Hebrew On the first day of the seventh month. This day in the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar occurred in September or October. This festival is celebrated today as Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.

Hosea 14:2-10

2 Bring your confessions, and return to the Lord.
      Say to him,
   “Forgive all our sins and graciously receive us,
      so that we may offer you our praises.
 3 Assyria cannot save us,
      nor can our warhorses.
   Never again will we say to the idols we have made,
      ‘You are our gods.’
   No, in you alone
      do the orphans find mercy.”

 4 The Lord says,
   “Then I will heal you of your faithlessness;
      my love will know no bounds,
      for my anger will be gone forever.
 5 I will be to Israel
      like a refreshing dew from heaven.
   Israel will blossom like the lily;
      it will send roots deep into the soil
      like the cedars in Lebanon.
 6 Its branches will spread out like beautiful olive trees,
      as fragrant as the cedars of Lebanon.
 7 My people will again live under my shade.
      They will flourish like grain and blossom like grapevines.
      They will be as fragrant as the wines of Lebanon.

 8 “O Israel,[a] stay away from idols!
      I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you.
   I am like a tree that is always green;
      all your fruit comes from me.”

 9 Let those who are wise understand these things.
      Let those with discernment listen carefully.
   The paths of the Lord are true and right,
      and righteous people live by walking in them.
      But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.

Micah 7:18-20
 18 Where is another God like you,
      who pardons the guilt of the remnant,
      overlooking the sins of his special people?
   You will not stay angry with your people forever,
      because you delight in showing unfailing love.
 19 Once again you will have compassion on us.
      You will trample our sins under your feet
      and throw them into the depths of the ocean!
 20 You will show us your faithfulness and unfailing love
      as you promised to our ancestors Abraham and Jacob long ago.

Friday, September 23, 2011


I've been told by reliable sources that it takes two weeks for the re-entry process to be completed after being gone overseas on a mission trip. I am into this process about half way and I will concur that this is a true statement. It is a most disorienting feeling. Sort of like being spun around on a merry-go-round and then quickly getting off and trying to walk a straight line. There are a lot of falling down sessions until you get your footing and start waling a straight line.
Tara and I at the Crater Rim
The first obstacle that I had to overcome was the waking up at 3:00am in the morning and not being able to go back to sleep. This happened after traveling to Africa as well. Seems the re-entry process is also a reversal of the entry process first begun 8 weeks ago. The waking up portion of this event has progressively lessened and I now am able to get a full nights sleep from 11:00pm till 6:00am. This is a constant variable for me at any rate. I am not one who sleeps a solid 8 hours at any time. A normal nights sleep for me is between 5 and 6 hours.

The second obstacle was and still is to some extent, going to work. I literally have no motivation for going into the office and working. It is not that I don't want to eat (there is some bit of reservation there due to lingering health difficulties) but just that my habit has not been getting up and going to work. So, I find myself wandering into work about 8:30 - 9:00am with no sense of direction and disoriented with thoughts of "Where am I again?". It's getting a little better but I am working on the timing and motivational issues more each day.
George's Bathroom

Thirdly, I am facing the obstacle of lingering health issues. (I mentioned that in the previous paragraph.) I have thought about writing a blog on Hemorrhoids and facing all the life choices of living with or without the conditions which become a permanent part of your discomfort. I'm just not sure if I can tactfully write about it without offending someone and embarrassing myself in the process. See? There is what happens when I try to write something that does not have anything relative to my condition. I may have to employ the assistance of someone a bit more tactful than I to do that with me. Any volunteers?

My last big challenge for re-entry has been finding what God wants me to do here, now that I am back in the village. I'm looking to start computer lessons for the kids here and wanting to be more involved in some of the industries we have on the land. I'm looking to see where God would have me and what he will allow me to do. Meantime, I'm working part-time for the building company and listening to what God has to say about all that.

Us in the Hotel Parking lot
I've taken up a course for Bible study currently. I need to review a lot of things that I've been seeing in my life and feel God has a lot to say to me. I'm a definite piece of work that needs a lot of shaping and refining. I'm OK with that but I don't want to become complacent in my re-entry process and miss what God has for me. Ingathering is at hand also and there is so much more that God can show me about who I am in this body of believers as well. I love it here. I love Kenya, too. I'm just one happy camper trying to get my feet back on the ground and walk a straight line again.

Pray for me, if you will. Especially for physical healing. Could it be that all I need is already there and I just need to meet it face to face? Could be. Probably is. All I know at this point is that I need to get through this re-entry.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Week Seven in Nakuru

The last week in this beautiful country has been a different experience than all the rest of the time I have been here. Mostly because I have been fighting a series of unfortunate events. Those events should not shadow the rest of what we have been up to but they definitely cast a shadow on my last week here.

The pastors conference was on Thursday and it was a great turn out as well as a great time of seeing and hearing pastors from around Nakuru, soak up God's words as Noah shared his heart about what and how God wants us to minister the Word of God. Their eyes were opened to many new thoughts about who God is and how to care for those He has entrusted to them. At the end of the day, every person there had a chance to share their heart about what they had learned that day and the previous Wednesdays we had met. Every one of them was excited to begin a fresh walk with God. They have committed to working together for accountability and encouragement for one another. What an awesome experience it has been for us as well!

Last weekend before last I was able to share what God put in my heart for my our friends and family here. Noah was visiting another church of one of the pastors we had been meeting with on Wednesdays. (Pastor Ben) It was  the day before that I fell victim to the dreaded cold which lasted most of this past week. With a medicated body and heart full of love for our Nakuru family, I shared my heart. I heard it was good but I just know that I felt hindered by the cold and cough I was trying to deal with at the time. Noah had several standing ovations and I think they would have kept him there had they the opportunity to do so.

This week was a week spent mostly in bed and recuperation for me. I did manage to make it through the important days with medication. The most painful part of all that was the stomach bug I caught. Very painful cramping and then driving for several days. The driving has stopped but it left me with very painful hemroids, which I am in serious contemplation over seeing we will be sitting for HOURS during our trip back. Pray for me that this trip will be memorable and eventful in a good way. Thank you Shammah for being an example of faith through times of difficulties similar in region. No pictures are available for this paragraph.

I feel like I have not been able to complete some of the things I would have liked to finish this past week. Mostly in reference to assisting George and Nellie with financial scheduling and starting his website. I know that we can do that on-line though so I am not overwrought with concern. Also the computer students only got minimal time and I so wanted to finish our coursework with them. They are very special to me in more than just a "nerdy" way. They are so excited to learn something new. There is a freshness there that you don't often see.

So once again, "Our bags are packed. We're ready to go."

We leave in a couple hours for Nairobi and will spend the day doing some shopping for gifts and saying our goodbyes to George. Our plane leaves at 2:50AM in the morning and we get to hopefully sleep for 6 hours before arriving in Istanbul, Turkey. Then we have a 12 hour flight to the US (Chicago) after a 2 hour layover in Istanbul. We have our seats close together coming on both those flights so hopefully we can talk and reminisce about our time here and all the great things that are to happen at Ingathering.

This has been a great trip for me. One that I am hoping to do again soon.

We will be seeing you all real soon now. Can't wait to see my boys and friends back home.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Week Six in Nakuru

Time is coming to a close now. We have two weeks left here and there just seems to be more we want to do than there is time to do it. I’m hoping that is a good sign. A sign that God is blessing what is going on and we are going to have fruit from the labor all of us are putting into this work of God.

This work we do here is not just those who have traveled to Nakuru but all those who are in support of the work that goes on here. Like prayer sent up from all those who are prayer workers and those who are given a burden for Nakuru here and there. Money that has been and continues to be given to cause the supplies needed for the church and other needs that are a part of the church. The grain distribution, Kingdom Hikers, and many other important things that are needed here are more of those needs. The friends, brothers and sisters, who take up the tasks that we have left behind for work, planning, and caring for those we love. There are numerous others who are unseen and unheard that contribute to the caring and well-being of the saints here in Nakuru. Thank you for loving this people and this work.

Tired travelers at George's Parents
The old house that George built.
We were able to visit George’s parents on Monday and after a long and grueling ride through the everlasting diversion we made it there safely. The land is beautiful and the people are more beautiful. For a full version with details and comments, please see Tara’s Blog.

We are continuing to move forward on the computer training and getting websites and blogs set up for the church and the Kingdom Hikers here. Our goal is to hand over the responsibility and care of these two sites, with blogs and email, to a group of young men and ladies for updating and writing about the things that are going on here. Be watching as they fill out their sites and blogs. Click Here for the “Amazing Life Fellowship” church blog and Click Here for the “Kingdom Hikers” blog. You can email the church or Kingdom Hikers at and respectively.

The church here is growing spiritually and learning how to be one with one another. They are learning how to discern between the traditions of men and the commandments of God. They are learning how to become the disciples of Christ and lay down their lives for Him. They are learning what it means to really see each other and care for one another. All these things are taking root in their hearts and beginning to grow, changing them into the character of Christ Jesus.

As well the local pastors of Nakuru churches are growing in the character of Christ also. Abba has been teaching about the principles of being a disciple and the pitfalls of human, cultural traditions, filled with emotionalism and unscriptural ways being used to draw and hold people instead of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God. They love everything they are hearing. Our last meeting with them will be a small (the term small may not be accurate) conference for the pastors, held in one of the local hotels. We will be there all day and Abba will be teaching on “Ministering the Word of the Lord”. They are ecstatic!

Our days continue to be filled with meetings, occasional outings, and training. The ladies are constantly on the go for food, household needs, supplies for people and events, cleaning, blogging and taking care of the men. Be sure to ask for a double blessing for them and an abundance of grace for their daily tasks. They are great and the men couldn’t do this without them.

Next Monday we are taking a little time off and going on Safari. George has promised a great day of chasing rhinos, baboons and lions. Well, maybe not chasing but running from is more accurate. We are looking forward to the break and being able to relax and see some of his Africa while we are here. Tara got a Safari hat so she is ready to go. The rest of next week will be visiting homes, training and the other daily things we are doing here. This coming Sunday Abba will be sharing at another church and I will be sharing at Amazing Life Fellowship. Pray for us that we will deliver just what God wants said and in His power and not our own.

We can’t wait to see you all soon. Less than two weeks now. We are excited about Ingathering. This is such an awesome life we have been giving to live. Thank you Lord!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Week Five in Nakuru

So many things have happened so quickly it is now becoming a task to keep them all in my mind. I’ve found that I have to rely on reading my wife’s posts to remember what has happened in the week. That seems to help jog my memory and then I can put words to paper, or electrons to images as it might be.

I am beginning with today as it is freshest in my mind, and thinking that the day was good because of the men. The men have begun a work as brothers and they are beginning to experience the great joy of doing things together. We know that joy because we live it every day. They are not used to being together like we are so it may take some time for them to fully understand or appreciate what we mostly take for granted.

We ate and worked together after the gathering here. Eating was Ugoli, Greens and Goat. This is best eaten with clean hands, since you do not use utensils to eat this food. Fingers are the utensils of choice and so we shared in the washing of hands together. Next there is the passing out of the food and eating together. This is very primitive and special as men eating with their fingers and digesting meat and veggies with ugoli balled up into the works. 

After eating and consuming some filtered water, there is another washing of the hands before embarking on the work at hand. This involved cutting grass, digging up stones, picking up garbage, burning it and then grooming the area with rakes and brooms. Now the picture you are forming in your mind is completely wrong. There are no powered tools involved in this process, hand sickles of sort, flat blade madix’s, machete’s, toy looking grooming rakes, brooms that look like a long tuff of stiff grass and a small fire to burn the rubbish we picked up. Everything done by manual hand and back labor.

Earlier in the week we made a few trips into town for shopping, eating, coffee, Stoney’s and such. Wednesday was the weekly pastors meeting at Kokeb and growing closer to those men who are caring for the people of God. They are such interesting men and very intent on hearing what God has for them. We are two weeks from the pastors conference that we have planned. I have the programs ready made so they will have an outline of the 4 sessions we will present to them. We have just to lock down the timing. That is a great undertaking here as hardly anyone is on time for anything. I heard a few guys here we actually late for their funeral.

I spent a couple days at home (Tue & Wed) training Kingdom hikers on computer skills and then again on Saturday for another group of Hikers. They love to learn. I don’t know how to say that with more emphasis but they actually like being trained to learn the computer skills I am showing them. It’s like I said, “Hey, who would like to eat banana splits and go to the amusement park?” It clamps my brain, as George would say.

Tara fell ill this week but has recuperated well. She was suffering from terrible stomach cramps and driving. (That’s Swahili for diarrhea) We believe it was brought on by a bacterial infection from the water or some food. Anyway, Dr. George brought medicine to help with the illness. She is doing much better today. She made it all the way through the gathering and then came home for a short nap.

Tomorrow we go to visit Georges Dad and Mom in the village George grew up in. It’s quite a trip there as it will take us 5-6 hours of driving to get there. George promises that it is well worth the trip and we are looking forward to being there, not so much the ride there. Along the way back we will stop and eat fresh fish from Lake Victoria for supper. It should prove to be quite the experience. But, that's a whole 'nother blog.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Week Four in Nakuru

Summer Camp Extreme

Summer Camp was always a time of the year I enjoyed as a young boy growing up. Maybe you had an experience like this as well? Maybe not, but it was a time that concentrated things I really enjoyed into a short amount of time, but left memories for a lifetime. Things like camping, cooking, making new friends, outdoor activities, campfires, singing, swimming, and hiking were all things that touched my soul. Add to that the time we spent centered around God in prayer, worship, scripture study, singing, crafts and activities and I felt like I was in heaven. I believe Heaven will be filled with those things we love so much and cherish in our hearts.

Compared to those years of summer camp, both as a camper and then as a counselor, our stay in Kenya is very much like that time. Yes, I am older and admittedly less in physical shape for strenuous activity, but many of those summer camp feelings have returned. I am feeling like this is a time God has set apart for us to get closer to Him and experience the things He has for us. But, this is not just an experience centered on me. It is a time for giving of myself. I love giving of myself to others in the many things God has enabled me to do. I love it because I know it pleases God and there is a blessing inside for everyone, every time.

The most special part of summer camp was meeting new people and making friends. Friends are the most important part of living this life of God, no matter where we are or how old we get. It is important to God as well, since he has a great investment in us, to be our friend and for us, to be his friends. Our friendship with others is a gage for us to see where our friendship with God is. How we make friends and treat friends is an indicator of our well being in relationship with God. John says, "If we don't love our brother or sister, we don't love God." So loving those who are walking in this life with us and loving those God brings into our lives is primary in our learning process of loving with God's love.

Once you met new people you start developing friendships through all the activities you do together. 

Guys bunked together in a cabin or tent while the girls bunked together in separate areas. There were several cabins or tents and we were all grouped together by group names. Sometimes we had tribal names, woodland names or names of elements, spiritual or earthly to define us. The week was divided into thematic chapters for Biblical study and the end of our stay was highlighted with the overall theme and a large celebration. There was never a boring moment as we were deeply involved in each others lives throughout the day and sometimes through the night. Slipping out of the cabin and raiding the girl’s area held a certain unique interest to boys. The girls enjoyed retaliating as well. Each person had a part of the cabin group and held a value as part of that group.

Games and activities were always filled with some competition, bravery, tests of strength and some level of foolishness. You had to show off until you were satisfied those you were trying to impress recognized you. Of course, that happens out of summer camp as well. Do we ever grow out of that?

Eating together was another enjoyable and memorable event. Not only did we get a chance to cook, wash dishes and server others, we got to learn how to slurp Jello squares in one swallow and blow milk out of our noses as we laughed and joked with each other. Memories like that are quite endearing. And there was the occasional bean sucked up the nose as well. It was a time for connecting with others outside of your cabin or tent group and aligning your self with everyone else. Daily schedules and event announcements were made and the whole of the summer camp staff and campers were together in one place.

There were talent show moments around the campfires at night. Most often a recap of the day and stories were told of events that transpired while the occasional “ghost story” slipped in from time to time. Sitting by the fire, singing songs, leaning against your friends and listening to people share brought closeness you felt designed by God. It had to be a special time for the disciples and Christ as they traveled and sat around the fire to eat and talk each night.

There were occasions where we got real serious and sad also. Like the time one of our friends might have been injured or even killed. Accidents of life don’t have a defined time in our daily schedules but when they occur they demand our attention.  There were moments like that, both as a camper and especially as a counselor, where you struggle to understand the purposes of God. A deep inspection of those spiritual matters inward and outward takes place. It causes us to get closer to each other and God.

When the time to leave grew close at hand, we were saddened at the thoughts of leaving our new friends and wondering if they would be there next year. An exchange of addresses and phone numbers transpired the morning of our departures. Plans to get together again were chatted about. Crying was the common sight. Hugs, kisses and handshakes were exchanged as we piled into our respective vehicles. The ride home was a long and reflective one. Hearts ached and thoughts whirled through our minds as our hearts were torn a little from the separation of those new friends we made during the week. It was a hard thing to do. It was a bitter-sweet experience that embedded memories for a lifetime.

As I write about summer camp there is the sound of kids playing outside, hammering of nails, sawing of wood and people entwining there lives together through the activities of daily life with one another. It’s the daily living together that I experienced at summer camp that propelled me into this way of living I now live. I have my best loved friends around me, all wanting the life of God and living it with me. I have new friends who are going to tear holes in my heart when we have to leave. I have memories built on the activities we have shared together and God has changed my life forever with the opportunities He has given us to blend our lives together inside of Christ.

Three more weeks and we will be crying, hugging and saying goodbye to one another. We will be piling into the vehicle, speeding off to the airport and spending hours riding back to our homes while we reminisce about our new friends and the time we have had together.

Our hearts will be thoroughly tenderized as we meet our life-friends at home and are welcomed back into the lives and homes of the village. Our children, friends and housemates will become the main emphasis of our lives again and God will have changed them as well. We will walk with God together and look towards the time where we will all be together in Heavenly places for all time. Until then, we will have to suffice with this summer camping experience to get us by.

And then there is next year . . .