Mending Altars

“…its smell was pleasing to The Lord.” Leviticus 8:21

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A lot was on my mind this morning as I prepared for a time of reading and meditating on God’s Word. I was grateful to God. Tomorrow marks a year since the mild stroke that attacked me about a year ago. How I was doing – what I had lost and what I had gained. I was thinking about my weight, which I struggled to loose, in which God had granted me victory over in the first five months, and over which, I was now experiencing painful defeat. What was the use of fighting anymore? Nothing had really changed. I was singing, presumably to God, but my heart was elsewhere.

“Jesus answered, unless I wash you, you have no part with Me.” John 13:8

Suddenly a vision split through my mind as out of a terrible horror movie. I saw a woman, a ghostly woman with an upturned face as in worship, hands held before her, she opened her mouth as though to sing, and instead, a cloud of flies, black flies, hundreds of them streamed out of her. I was rebuked, I repented. I was raising unholy fires before God, and He had shown me exactly what He thought of it.

“You are not to do as we do here today, everyone doing as they see fit, since you have not yet reached your resting place and the inheritance The LORD your God is giving you…Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offering anywhere you please. Offer them only in the place The LORD will choose…” Deuteronomy 12: 8, 13-14

We read through the books of Deuteronomy, 12 and 13 today, and what I got from God, was that He takes the lead in worship. I must present myself, in totality. He is not impressed by anything else, even if we are thinking of Him in a grateful way – He will show us where, and how to love Him and adore Him, by The Holy Spirit. God had been talking to me about repairing broken altars – His in my live, and in the lives of those around me, in His Kingdom. Many other things were taking His place in our lives, primarily the chase after the cleverly elusive Shilling. We were hungering for this more than for God. We felt that having it would solve all our problems, and the lack of it, was blamed on God, and for the many aches we were experiencing – just like last year, same time.

Then the entire family gathered before God at the end of the day. And as we would have it, God led us again to the theme of sacrifice, this time in Leviticus 8. I wondered what this sweet smell was. God taught me through my children. My life, our lives are an act of worship…one continuous act. Sometimes we worship God, in the best of times. But many times… God narrowed in particularly to the way I give. He has emphasised to me, that a man can only receive what is given to him from heaven. But His ‘challenge’ was, what happened with the messenger. How do we handle being message bearers from heaven to the man or woman. This broke me.

“But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Luke 15:2

Much of the time, our altars are so broken, and we perceive the errand on God’s behalf as an injustice. The person we are being sent to is undeserving in our eyes, they do not conform to our ideals of what they as servants of God and recipients of His grace should. Sometimes we create stories about them, stretch threads, pick at these, to convince ourselves that God will overlook our half-hearted at best, and no hearted service to Him…because after all…they are offensive to us. So we give only part of what we have been sent to give, with a thorough put down to the recipient, that makes them weep and not rejoice over the gift they have received. Because it was wrapped in hateful insults to their integrity. And we turn away, and try to worship God, but we are like rotting flesh, giving off a stench that has cuddled into vermin that flows incessantly from our bellies.

“Our offering to God is this: We are the sweet smell of Christ, among those that are being saved and among those that are being lost.” 2 Corinthians 2:15

This message has been, for me, long. And I have a hunch, a strong one, that God is not done with it yet. But as I share what He has given me with someone, I hope that we would take time to go before Him, like Elijah did on Mount Carmel, and repair God’s altar in our lives. That His Fire would come from heaven and consume both us and our giving, because we have been found pleasing to Him, and that we would give off, a sweet smelling aroma to God in heaven, and the world around us.

Shalom.

vipslit@yahoo.ca

“So brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as living sacrifices to Him. Your offering must only be for God and pleasing to Him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship.” Romans 12:1

Trembling at The Word God

DSC08973This morning as I took a walk, my conversation with God was basically me shouting “I give up – I think I heard wrong – this is too, too painful, shameful and exhausting!!!!” and He kept saying “Trust in Me, do not give up, I have this.” But it was too hard, had been too long, it was getting darker and heavier instead of better…A friend, [a new bride who is in crutches after an accident that crushed her foot a month after her wedding], had just ‘WhatSupped’ me to find out about a certain situation in my life over which she was praying…and I had told her, and my pastor friend [who I woke up this morning] that I was quitting. She – they both said, “we will pray even harder.” Two other friends texted me from Isaiah 43:19 and John 16:33 [these had/still have no idea the import of their messages to me this morning]. And another to tell me that being low is not my portion.

Suddenly I sensed a desire to just LISTEN to one of my oldest and dearest friends. So to quiet the battle within me, I called her as I walked…for no particular reason. I was glad she was getting on fine…but she told me something that just stopped me, because it is a confirmation of what God has been telling me this past weekend “Vip, God is taking us through a time where we must honor His Word above our emotions.” Basically “Word over Emotion.” I have awesome friends! Thank You Lord – I still feel like quitting, but I WILL tremble at Your Word as You have assured me that You Who began this thing in me, are Faithful and You WILL complete it._NIK5654

Someone else is about to give up on a situation that has been sustained for a while by only The Word of God…It’s hard…makes no sense any more…That Word is enough. Please, lets not give up. I look forward to sitting next to You in Glory, and hearing the testimony you almost aborted today. Don’t Quit – Tremble at the Word of God.
Shalom

“But this is the man to whom I will look and have regard: he who is humble and of a broken or wounded spirit, and who trembles at My word and reveres My commands.” AMP

““The people I value are not proud.
They are sorry for the wrong things they have done.
They have great respect for what I say.” NIRV
Isaiah 66:2

vipslit@yahoo.ca

My Life – An Errand From God to God

DSC09497Where are you today? Do like being there? Would you prefer being somewhere else? Are ‘they’ treating you right? Would you wish they treated you, just a little bit better. I was thinking just the same of the place I was. But I have a Loving, Powerful, Gentle, Awesome and EXTREMELY WISE HEAVENLY FATHER.  His Words…they make sense out of what may seem senseless today. What if..just what if…my being where I am today, is a matter of life and death for someone…someone I am too self-focused to see right now?

Just so that THEY would KNOW FOR SURE that GOD IS PRESENT where you are, God may send YOU through humanly unconventional means, sometimes as a slave – well, almost. His Way may be humbling even ‘horrendous’ but I do myself well to remember that the entirety of my life is an errand from God to someone/people and then back to Him with fruit, that they may KNOW He cares about them and their situation. Your/my ‘small’ voice raised in love and truth may unsettle kings and kingdoms to turn their focus back to God. May He open my eyes to Who needs Him this day, that I may send them to Him, for the breakthrough that they need. Hear this, my prayer, Heavenly Father. Amen.

vipslit@yahoo.ca

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“The Syrians had gone out in bands and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid, and she waited on Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy. [Naaman] went in and told his king, Thus and thus said the maid from Israel…

And he brought the letter to the king of Israel. It said, When this letter comes to you, I will with it have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of leprosy.When the king of Israel read the letter, he rent his clothes and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends to me to heal a man of his leprosy? Just consider and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me. When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, he sent to the king, asking, Why have you rent your clothes? Let Naaman come now to me and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel…

Then he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, as the man of God had said, and his flesh was restored like that of a little child, and he was clean. Then Naaman returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and stood before him. He said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel.”
1 Kings 5

The Forgotten Unforgetable

DSC08973Its been a hard week and am tired. And yet I am strangely energized. As I sat listening to God, I heard a voice say ‘go read Exodus 3’. I had been thinking about God hardening Pharaoh’s heart and setting him up for his eventual fall, as He delivered His people, so I thought Exodus 3 was about that. But God is not predictable. He had a new lesson to teach me.

The scene is set, a former prince, sits forgotten in the wilderness of Midian. A wilderness that had accepted him as its own, and even provided him with family. He sits as a son, tending his father-in-laws flock. Self-exiled, murderer, rejected by his natural and first adoptive people. Its interesting to note that God did not run out of options in terms of providing another family to accept Moses, take him as their own. He sits and then sees a sight and goes to investigate it, and we are told that God noticed that he noticed, and therefore spoke to him. Of cause God already knew Moses would.

Moses probably wanted to forget his name and his people. Something that is bound to happen when we are disappointed with our birth family and nation. But God had a purpose for all this, and time came for this old man to manifest His growth and maturity in relation to God. it was time to go back, and be the answer that those who had turned their backs on him last time he did them a favor, needed. ‘Why isn’t it someone else’ responsibility LORD – someone who is more favorably disposed towards them? Someone they hold in regard? Why me? I am forgotten – and if anyone remembers me, its probably not really a pleasant memory.”

There may be times when you and I feel hunted down, hidden or forgotten. When God speaks a Wondrous Word to us, we wonder if He has the wrong address, or if it could be possible, that just this once, the All Knowing, All Wise, Almighty God could make a mistake with us. Worse, you have so forgotten where God had you before, and with that, your own ‘name’. I thank God that He NEVER forgets His Name, and our ‘namelessness‘ is irrelevant to where He is taking us, and what He will do with us, in His time. The TRUTH and FACT that He is with us, gives us all we need for the journey. Your wilderness experience has a timing, held in The Hand of Him Who is Above the Law He created – and is Holy – APART from us. Let us go with His Thoughts…that is the only way, we will get anywhere. Look what He did with Moses – the forgotten became UNFORGETTABLE.

Shalom

vipslit@yahoo.ca

“And Moses said to God, Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?…And God said to Moses, I Am Who I Am and What I Am, and I Will Be What I Will Be; and He said, You shall say this to the Israelites: I Am has sent me to you!”
Exodus 3

When God Answers Prayers

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This year has been beautiful. As an individual and family, we have gone through life in its extremes, a little bit of the terrible, but so much to be thankful for. Its true we have had reasons to weep, but many of those tears have been changed into powerful lessons and foundations for unending tears of joy. As the world gears to again celebrate my Lord and Savior, I do not want to be left behind. I want to be the one that came back to say “thank You.”

This is the year, that my pillars fell off. I realize that there was much that I was holding onto, in terms of relationships, strengths, giftings and abilities, experience that I believed would carry me through the next 45 years of my life. But because I call Jesus Lord, I needed to be true to that. I can not have other things share His Throne in my life. And He helped with that, by allowing things that I thought myself immune to, to catch up with me. I am grateful for that. Those were times of terror, helplessness and such deep dark silence that I wondered at His ability to keep His promise to me ‘and lo, I Am with you, till the very end of ages.’I held on to His word, though, to be honest, most of the time it felt as though I was lying to myself. I felt abandoned by The Greatest Love of my life, and nothing else mattered. He seemed to have led me on…into the wilderness, not to woe me back into loving Him fully, but to abandon me there.

Then came the stroke…and I realized that even though I felt more alone and abandoned by God, He had left me with too much to loose. My inability to speak went for a day…and my loved ones, who I thought I had lost forever, stood with and around me, willing me to come back to life. People I don’t know and some of those I know, prayed for my family and I, and though many had no clue, they fed us in the days to come. [for in the day before the stroke, our house had been the barest I had ever seen it in my entire life].

I asked God to give me back my ability to speak, to say more than ‘Why?’ which I did with great difficulty. By the time I went to sleep that night, I was able to say ‘Thank you’ with difficulty to the hospital staff, and then ‘Jesus’ :). I was not even aware at that time that I had lost a lot of mobility on the right side of my body…it seems that though my heart had filled with fear – that God had packed up and left, He had in truth bunched me gently in His Hand and Held me in His Heart…cushioning me from what was factually happening to me. In the ambulance I tried to talk to the staff, as in the place for the scan, to the doctors, my cousin Dennis and his wife, my brothers Richard and Spencer, my sisters Galaxy and Irene, my daughter Shukurani, and to the love of my life, my best friend this side of Heaven, and my eternal life-mate who stood around my bed that first night [and has been responsible for the initially painful job of getting back full use of my right side and keeping me fit].

Waking up to find my auntie Mama Greg and my uncle Baba Greg by my bed in the morning reminded me that they had always been my parents too, then there was our bff Manyara who sat by my bed until I got up and then fed me while encouraging me and making me laugh…then my aunties Mama Irene and Mama Lily, my Mum Cucu Rose, Sisters Jackie, Carole, Trudy, Millie, Susan, Michelle, Grace, Jane, Caren…so much of God around my bed. Then auntie gave me the phone to talk to my Mum who was upcountry taking care of my Dadi who was also bed-ridden…she had been crying I could tell…I have lost two aunties to a stroke in the recent past…and when I said ‘Mamana’ she cried and cried and told me to rest that all was going to be well. So much of God around my life…so much more came…God was there.

We went back home to a house that was full of food. We had no fridge so we dispensed of so much of it, and stood in awe of God Who is True – in lack and in plenty. I cannot say we have not struggled since then, I would be lying. But God has been with us. He has come through for us. There was the time we lost the house that was literally killing my neighbors and I…and God made sure that He had a place for us to run to. And not just any other place. But a place twice as big, for the same price…a price that He paid through His chosen agent. I face the end of this year, with similar challenges, new friends, lost friends, but God has come through for me.

This praise session has been inspired mainly by the three supervisors I have had for the work God has allowed me to do in November and December. They have been my answered prayers. Two of those jobs have had challenges, and I can not complete the last one at the moment due to cash flow and logistical issues…but it is for that that I am grateful. This morning, my supervisor called me and encouraged me to keep believing. He reminded me of the giftings that God had placed in my life, told me that he valued my dedication to excellence and my overall attitude to work despite the challenges that had arisen in funding both on his end, and in mine. He reminded me, knowing that I had hoped that this particular work would provide fees for my son and daughters college in January, that even if this did not turn out the way we both hoped, that it is to God that we look to for provision. He said that we, he and I, would continue to do what God allowed us to do, and do our best at that, and wait for Him- our Eternal Father to provide the rest, when He chose to. I was awed at this unexpected beginning to this week. And especially from him. But in his voice, I heard God. God has given me the ability to see Him, hear Him even in the darkest of times. He has revealed Himself to me ‘in a dark cloud’ and I am truly grateful. I share this, that He may be exalted. That someone He loves, who is feeling a lot like I have known to feel, may know the truth…That God is Faithful, He never leaves when someone/people or something/s do…He IS Faithful.

Shalom

“Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” So the people stood at a distance, while Moses approached the DARK THICK CLOUD WHERE GOD WAS.” Genesis 20:20-21

“…The LORD has said that He would dwell in the thick cloud.” 1 Kings 8:12
“The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; Let the many islands be glad. Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.” Psalm 97:1-2

vipslit@yahoo.ca

One Day….

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It had been a hard day. I had been to a service in my old church. A funeral service. That was hard.

I looked around and recognised familiar, much loved faces. Some pointedly ignored me. I mused about that for about two seconds and then the business that had brought me here, took over. To stand with a friend who had been widowed. There were many people around; I was grateful to God that she had these. But I took my place on my knees as it were, though still seated and prayed. It was a hard service. Beautiful for all the love that was shared…and yet really hard. But that is not what this day was for me.

This day, was not a particular 24 hour circuit, but something that had weighed me down for a while. Something only this place could bring out for me. I sat next to my sweetheart, and it was not difficult to see, how shabby we were compared to everyone else. When time came to give, and we were urged to give generously, he took out a 200 shilling note, and held it openly. I knew how much he had in his pocket. And it was not a whole lot more. I whispered to him that it was not proper for anyone to see what we were giving. And he bundled our note in his hand, and then when the basket passed in front of him, he put in the note. I noticed that his laces were too short and kept coming undone, his socks sagging and loud, and that my own shoes were peeling and a little bit muddy at the heel. Thought about it for a second, and then went back into the reason I was there.

After the service, we were to line up to view the body and condole with the family. The line was long so we, my sweetheart and I stood aside for a while, then he melted away. I went to the couple who had been our ride from home and thanked the husband, saying we would find our way home. I was already feeling faint. He smiled and said it was okay. Then I decided to walk over to the other side of the line, and say hello to some old and much loved friends. I was well received. Hugs, laughter even in this place. And that was nice. But again, that sense of being alone came up. And I looked around but could not find my sweetheart. I stepped into line and an old friend chatted me up before another got hold of his attention and he left the line. I was joined by another who walked with me till body, talking as we went. Then I stood by the casket. And I looked in. And I couldn’t move, and I couldn’t cry. I just stood there, perhaps longer than appropriate. And then my feet began to move. I went to my friend, she was worn out from weeping. And I held her awhile. I was not sure she recognised me but I thought I heard her whisper my name. I had no words…no words for this place. But I prayed…God…Your Strength, Comfort, Presence…and then I walked away.

I felt like someone had blown away the back of my head. I clutched onto some chairs to pray for stability, not willing to draw any attention to myself. I reminded God, as though He could ever forget, that I was not going back…my own resurrection was for a purpose. Then I looked into my purse, found my phone and called my sweetheart. He was outside, had made some friends. I stood a while and listened to another old friend, widowed, who had survived a stroke after her own husband’s passing. Hugged her and then went out to join my sweetheart. We walked away, as he talked to me, he was as moved as I had been, but he kept his conversation light and easy. Walking with him, I was home.

We went to our physical home, where we live with our children. And I looked around. We did not have money for food that day. Much of what we needed had run out. Including tissue, since I had suffered severe food poisoning that week. We had had not money for my medication. My sweetheart hid a cough, and I prayed. ‘God heal him, please.’ I sent a text to a friend to ask if she had boiled some beans and she told me to meet her at her place. I told her I would send, Leroy, my son. Oh I had passed by the bank that day, and my balance was still at 0.1/-. It was my pastor’s 10th Wedding Anniversary, and I wanted to surprise them with a gift. Sigh.

I went to bed and at 3:30am, I woke up to go to the bathroom. Unstable. Feeling funny. I came back and picked my phone again. 3:33. Three threes. God, God, God. Call unto Me. I called. Jesus. My sweetheart shuffled in the bed beside me. Jesus I called again. Then, and I will tell you marvelous things. I am listening LORD.

What is it about my old church that unnerves me? Weighs me down, It is situated at my old campus, and symbolises all my broken dreams. Both of Career, and  Ministry. It is at the site of my primary school. Most of those I know, who went through these paths, succeeded in them. At their Careers and Ministries. Even as I went through those roads, I must have always known, that I piece from another jig-saw puzzle that had somehow found itself inside this box. And no matter how much I tried, I would never fit into this pattern. I was a failure because this was not my world, this was not home.

My mind went to my family. Children born ‘out of pattern.’ A husband married ‘out of pattern.’ Not in conformity with most other lives. Not the lives I had dreamed mine would be like. I looked in my mind’s eye at my Bible Study Group, our pre-marital class, these had become my inner circle of friends. Some were still trying to fit into a world that may eventually receive them. That was their portion. I had failed in that respect. For the first time, I was grateful for the much loved ‘friends’ and ‘well-wishers’ that had slandered me mercilessly, because they would not help, and could not stand seeing anyone help me survive, even the world that I had been pushed into, that they had no wish to live in. A wilderness. And even there they had pursued me. Loving God thoroughly, hating me and mine in spite of themselves. Inadvertently, coveting even the fact that God refused to remove His Breath from me and mine, so that their discussions of me would be justified in my death. I was grateful, they were right. I was dead to their world. I was like a ghost, who would visit from time to time; sent and on an errand, making all and sundry really uncomfortable, but belonging to a world that could not be patterned by their standards.

I did not live by those standards. I did not want to. I came to the realisation, that the thing that stressed me most, was that I was expected to live up to a standard that most were still trying to master and understand, and made them desperately unhappy; for they were trying to justify their living, and validity, by things they could not take away. My world was not superior, I had needed them. Their validation, their assistance…at one point at least.  They had closed their hearts and hands to me…because they were unable to open these. God had closed those doors. They, like myself, did not understand what I was made for. Besides they were busy understanding their own purposes…and their silences, pointed snubs and putdowns, excruciating to me, were justified because they could not hold the spin of my patterning, as they were too busy figuring out their own. I was from another world. Living according to another pattern. And that other world, in that place that God Himself had put me and mine, He had provided all that I needed, in terms of love, sustenance, and yes, my resurrection and success, according to His, my Manufacturer’s Pattern of who He made me to be. And that is all I was ever meant to be. Strange. Peculiar. Bigger than I ever thought I could be. And He had enough Might in Him, to raise and validate me. Talk about Marvelous things…I rest.

vipslit@yahoo.ca

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