A Piece of Peace

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I’m sinking. I just want to stop. These truly are the deep seated cries of a woman in dire straits.

“Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him.” (Matt. 9:20)

You can imagine her angst in seeking a solution to this chronic physical condition. All she wants is a piece of peace.

“She touched the fringe of his robe, for she thought, if I can just touch his robe, I will be healed. Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well! And the woman was healed at that moment.” (Matt. 9:21-22).

Our personal issues can also put us in that same dark prison of hopelessness with our back against the wall and no place on earth to go.

“The void is almost unbearable. Our love story lasted over forty-three years until cancer took my beloved husband.”

“The catastrophe of my drug addiction has taken my house and so much more. The way my children look at me just tears me apart.”

“That ominous call was like someone just punched me in the gut. I could hardly breathe. My voiceless screams were the same sentence over and over again. My son cannot be dead!”

Yes, it is true that we are drawn closest to God at our lowest moments. When we are stripped of our human defenses like pride, arrogance, self-centeredness and with nothing to rely on except God we surrender. It is at that moment night dissipates and a new dawn emerges. We will discover that Jesus, son of man and the Son of God, freely and willingly extends to us not just a piece of peace but PEACE. It’s global, comprehensive and a creation of heaven.

“I have told you all this that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Jesus  (John 16:33)

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I’m Going Home

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It’s ending. I’m not serving pig slop and I’m not eating pig slop anymore! I will not go on living like this. I AM GOING HOME. My concept of living has radically changed. That arrogant, foolish person that demanded, debated and denounced has diminished so substantially that a whole new world view has come into focus. Enlightenment has led me to experience sorrow over my wasted life and grief over how I squandered what my Dad worked so hard to achieve. I have had my fill of me on the “throne.” Humility now is the engine that drives me back to make things right or at least throw myself on my father’s mercy.

“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)

In order for imperfect families, made up of imperfect individuals to withstand the strain of mistakes and sometimes outright rebellion, a vital ingredient must prevail. FORGIVENESS. This begins with those most in control, parents whose commitment and lifestyle is to heavenly love. This is not the human conditional love, but God’s unconditional love that is wholly intentional, influential and infinite.

“Love is hard work. It is the hardest work I know of, work from which you are never entitled to take a vacation.” Ravi Zacharias

“But his father said to the servants, “Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast for this son of mine was dead, but now is found.” (Luke 15:22-24)

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My Worldview

sunset-1938198_1920As soon as you read this initial passage you will have me pegged. “The Lord is my Shepherd . . .” (Psalms 23:1a). I am in the care of someone else. I am not the one in charge. I have surrendered my principality to the kingdom of God. By the way, this process has been completely voluntary and as time has progressed increasing joy has engulfed my life.

Am I free from failure, heartache, and stress? Not one of us escapes any of that while we are on this earthly journey. But a life without fear: Amazing.

“Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me . . .” (Psalms 23:4). Living in the presence of God 24/7 is a life that is always rising. It is at this juncture that my worldview comes into full focus. I am cognizant to the reality that I have an intimate heart and mind unity with God. This heavenly connection is vital to my fulfilled earthly existence. No “progressive” approach advocating a godless existence will sever my intimacy with my Lord. The continual message from my heart and lips will unwaveringly be that Jesus Christ is not an opinion.

“For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made.” (Psalms 139:13-14)

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Love the Truth

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“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.” John 1:1-3

“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

Robert Morey says that in order for anyone to believe we are an accident there are 7 leaps they have to explain.

How everything ultimately came from nothing
How order came from chaos
How life came from non-life
How harmony came from discord
How reason came from irrationality
How personality came from non-personality
How morality came from amorality

Ravi Zaccharias illuminates our insight and therefore gives us a deeper understanding of our existence with these observations. “The questions in life are not just in the sciences. They are not just of mathematical or empirical measurement…One discipline may answer “HOW” in a material explanation, but the most important question is the “WHY”. Why is it that we are here in the first place, and who will see us through the anxieties and pains of life itself?”

“In a secular age where God is increasingly deemed irrelevant to truth, we fear the truth, and we abuse the truth because truth and love are disconnected. Truth has become something it was never meant to be – impersonal, offensive, a burden. But because of Jesus, we never need to doubt whether truth is on our side, we never need to doubt whether the truth loves us. Let us love the Truth, because the Truth loves us.” Vince Vitale

If we are just matter then nothing really matters, but God’s truth enlightens us to the reality that we are not just matter and that we really matter to Him.

“Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 24:4-5

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Home Away From Home

I love living here. The innumerable experiences are amazing. From hiking in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee to body surfing at Half Moon Bay on the Caribbean island of Antigua. From sailing around Seal Island off the coast of South Africa to having a tire blow out among a pride of lions in Swaziland. From picking fresh grapefruits off lush hillside trees in Dominica to smelling and witnessing the boiling sulphur of a volcano on the tiny island of Montserrat. From tasting Vegemite on toast in Australia, to standing in front of the Mona Lisa in Paris. These snippets of global adventure are just a few reminders of the rich life I live on Earth.

My heart aches at the slaughter of rhinos and the plastic pollution that engulfs parts of the rivers and the oceans of our planet. My heart rejoices when polar bear expert, Susan Crockford, reports that their populations are thriving. And to read of the discovery of the super colony of penguins (1.5 million) discovered in Antarctica.

My heart aches when God’s most precious creation suffers and dies unnecessarily through lack of food and clean water. Children all over the world should be able to have access to these necessities. My heart rejoices when I can join with others to alleviate some of this heartache and share with them the love of Jesus. This, of course, is my greatest purpose for living on Earth–sharing a message that points beyond this temporary, earthly environment.

You see, this is my home away from home. My eternal residence is Paradise. It is where my heavenly Father resides. It is His home and as His child my space has been prepared. The resurrected Christ comforts all of his disciples with these words:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My father’s house has many rooms. If that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)

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Eutychus and Us

Remember it was Sunday, the day of resurrection. The room was packed. It was Paul’s first contact with the new church family of Troas and most likely his last. He would be off to Jerusalem the next day. I know he had much to share and preached until midnight. Picture the atmosphere. Probably multiple torches in the third story room creating a stuffy atmosphere, Mediterranean heat, and the possibility of the lack of oxygen. My personal opinion was that drowsiness had to be a factor.

A young man named Eutychus, who was sitting on the window sill, drifted off to sleep. He fell headlong onto the pavement like a sack of potatoes and was dead on impact. People began to cry being overcome by the shock of what had happened. Paul reacted immediately and did what those prophets of old like Elijah and Elisha did. He went down, bent over him and took him into his arms. “Don’t worry he said. He’s alive.” (Acts 20:10)

This was not a Sunday any one of them would forget, most of all Eutychus. He fell asleep while the apostle Paul was preaching, unfortunately, sitting in a third story window. And to add insult to injury, Luke was there to record the whole thing. This is the first recorded incident of someone falling asleep in church. Might I add that there have been thousands of successors, but Eutychus is the only one named. Actually, I have great sympathy for Eutychus and many who have trouble staying awake during worship. You see, some have worked long hours, others are on strong medication and several are experiencing sleepless nights struggling with tremendous loss.

The truth is that some of the most committed children of God have fallen asleep during worship. That doesn’t concern me much. What does concern me is that we do not let our personal relationship with Jesus meander aimlessly, but are always pursuing and strengthening our intimacy with Him. “. . . we will hold the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ . . .” (Ephesians 4:15)

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The Joy of Moses

MOSES

Travelling with Moses to the Swaziland lowveld assured me the opportunity to gain insight into this extraordinary character. Once he began sharing his life’s story I was not about to interrupt. He had me captured.
“I grew up in western Swaziland and as students we walked to school some 10 kilometers. When the river flooded during the rainy season, two things would happen. First, there would be no school for those who lived on the other side of the river, while the remaining pupils continued their classes. Some years the river was impassable for up to a month. Second, when the water level subsided parents would form a human chain and help students across the flowing water.”
He then changed gears by sharing his love for soccer. “Sometimes our opponents’ field was 20 kilometers away, but it didn’t matter. We ran there excited, played the game and ran back. Sometimes we even got back the same day.” I chuckled knowing that where I lived this is beyond our comprehension.
This next revelation really grabbed my heart strings. “God has blessed me so much. I have a lovely Christian wife and three beautiful children. We did have five, a daughter 8 years old was run over by a car walking home from school. We also lost a son at 11 months due to cholera. Through those difficult times our faith in God and the comfort and strength we received from our church family was amazing. My life is filled with abundant joy because God has given us purpose and fulfillment to live this life no matter what comes our way. Added to this is the assurance of eternal reunion.”
In stark contrast are some in my culture who have the completely opposite approach to living. Woe is me! I am a victim. They go through life chained to the negative past. (Whether real or perceived). Even though, compared to the developing world, we live engulfed in affluence, wealth and safety nets. All this is supported by multiple resources that serve the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the human condition.
Listen to the Holy Spirit’s insights into how we are to embrace vibrant, victorious living. “Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy meditate on these things.” (Phil. 4:8)

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My Way

I am living “My Way”. Nobody is going to dictate my lifestyle except me. This is truly the moral progressive mindset, self absorbed and inwardly focused. I am god of my life. Maybe you think me harsh when I say that too many today sit around, expounding on how the world should be, but in the end do nothing but serve themselves.
Wally is a rugged former rugby player who participated in his last game at the age of 56. Beneath that rough exterior is a servant heart that is exposed by his love for the elderly. He visits the old-age and retirement homes throughout greater Bulawayo encouraging all. For those that have no family or anyone to care for them Wally acquired a cemetery for them to be buried when their time came. 97 have been laid to rest and he has performed many of their funerals.
“In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas) she was always doing good and helping the poor. About that time she became sick and died…” Acts 9:36, 37a. The Bible tells us how widows who were brokenhearted came to Peter an showed the robes and other clothing she had made for them. In imitating Jesus Christ the apostle Paul wrote, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” Philippians 2:3.
Only in surrender before an Almighty God can true humility be realized. It is the vital component needed to possess the servant mindset. It produces a lifestyle where “God’s Way”  becomes “My Way.”

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Dorian, Cheri, Wally and twin sister Aileen

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Destination

With great excitement and anticipation, my wife and I arrived yesterday in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Our “adopted” children and grandchildren were overflowing with loving embraces, warm smiles and verbal expressions of joy!  Many destinations are blessed places because it is the uniting of people with mutual love and mutual purpose. In southern Zimbabwe, it is the common effort of family to share the love and promises of Jesus.
In stark contrast, I can’t help but think about those who live in such a depressing realm. They are convinced that humanity was an accident. They believe our destiny is 70 or 80 years on earth, die and become extinct. We know that some only live 2 years, 16 years, or 21 years. For them that is their total existence.
“Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your heart on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-3
For the child of God, the final destination is totally celebratory. You see, it is the culmination of a journey ending with the ultimate homecoming. Earthly destinations always have time constraints. But the heavenly? None.IMG_9116[1].jpg
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Ointment of Devotion

Her life was constantly rigorous and taxing. She was consumed by a tedious daily grind. Truly a member of the poorer class because she had to get her own water from the local well. Wealthy people had others to do that for them. Worst of all she was broken inside.  Multiple failed relationships with its heartaches, bitterness, and distrust.

But what a monumental life-changing day at Jacob’s well. She meets the infallible refuge, the source of eternal refreshment and the One who would fulfill her lifelong hopes.

He said, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who I am you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” John 4:10

We all have a past with its history of successes and failures. Once this woman discovered that Jesus not only knew her, but accepted her she became secure. Her healing and ours begins through the “ointment of devotion.” Embracing the one who is the Great Physician. The Messiah rejuvenates, revitalizes and revolutionizes our repetitious, mundane, dysfunctional existence. Its the dawning of a new day for this Samaritan. “The woman left her water jar beside the well and went back to the village and told everyone. Come and meet a man who told me everything I ever did. Can this be the Messiah? So the people came streaming from the village to see him.” John 4:28-30

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