Monthly Archives: September 2010

Goat’s Meat and Beatitudes

With a new blessed mindset, I’ve been studying the beatitudes that I might truly take to heart a new attitude concerning the blessings of Christ.

hunger

neighbor boy in Beni, Congo

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they shall possess the earth.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

And in thoughtful discussion with a new-found friend, I processed that passage (Matthew 5:3-12).

Like tough, fried goat’s meat, I had to chew on. And chew. And chew. Until finally, it was broken down enough to swallow, be digested, and nourish my body.

“Blessed are the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers.” Pretty straightforward. And though my character has not yet mastered any of those qualities, I understand them.

But I was still stuck on the very first bite of this goat-meat: “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

What does it mean to be poor in spirit?

I don’t think it means lacking in spirit. We’ve got spirit, yes we do; we’ve got spirit, how bout you?

To my interpretation, it might be phrased, “Blessed are the people who have a spirit like the poor.”

I’ve spent some significant time living among poverty throughout East Africa. And here are a few general observations:

  • The poor will never, ever decline food.
  • The poor wait in eager anticipation for their next meal.
  • The poor are always hungry; they can always eat more.

So what if my spirit was like that?

What if my soul was always craving, always wanting more of God?

What if my soul had an insatiable hunger to feast on His Word?

Oh, that my soul would be as desperate for God as the poor are for food!

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Blessing or Curse?

I realized I’ve been complaining quite a bit.

You were thinking the same thing, you’ve just been too nice to say it.

Complaining is to the enemy is what praising is to God.

Who then, am I serving?

Its time to stop viewing the difficulties I encounter as curses.

Do we all battle the temptation to think our lives are full of curses?

I imagine some of us more so than others. Its easy to assume curses when we or someone we love suffer from a fatal illness, an immense failure, a natural disaster, or a violent war.

But Jesus came to bless us, not to curse us.

Do I believe that?

Do you believe that?

Can we, by faith, trust that what appears to be a curse has the potential to be a blessing?

Choose to receive the blessing, rather than the curse.

And for those of you who have been following, no further update on the malaria situation…other than trying to accept it as a blessing rather than a curse.

Do You Have A Learning Disability?

When it comes to spiritual matters, I’m SLOW to learn.

Seldom can I learn the lesson God is trying to teach when He first instructs me.

So I wrote a poem about my issues after I realized I’ve been caught in a terrible cycle of stubbornness…

Seems I’ve got a learning disability when it comes to spiritual lessons.
Doesn’t matter how loud or strong His voice, nor how painful the repercussions.
My mind just will not learn until the Teacher makes it clear,
Teaching once, twice, even three times, till I hear

The instruction that He’s giving
Is the one I need for living.
So He repeats it from the start;
Writing His Word upon my heart.

Patiently He waits, willing that I understand;
This lesson is not easy but its part of His great plan.
Yet I seem to have forgotten as I stumble and I doubt,
That His plan is for my good, that He’s working all this out.

And every part of my life story
He wants to use for His glory.
So He repeats it from the start;
Planting His Word deep in my heart.

Lovingly He waits, that as I seek His face
This lesson will take root for He sustains me with His grace.
And should my soul remain in such a prideful, stubborn state
That I still refuse to learn, then please don’t hesitate…

Remove from me this heart of stone,
And if you need, crush my bones!
Then humble me, Lord, with a brand new start,
Pouring Your Love till it overflows my heart.

My most recent lesson has been about TRUST…

Do I trust God enough to follow where He leads? Do I trust that God will keep me safe? Do I trust God to provide for my needs? Do I trust God to never leave me? Do I trust that there is purpose amidst the pain?

Please tell me I’m not the only one struggling with a spiritual learning disability.

What about you…what lesson has God been hitting you over the head with?

Malaria Malady

Yesterday I was diagnosed with malaria. Again.

I know this sounds incredulous, especially since my last bout with malaria was less than one month ago.

But unfortunately, its true.

Malaria is like that lousy boyfriend that keeps coming back. And just when you think he’s gone for good, he’s looming round the corner waiting for you.

So how do I feel?

Oh, apart from the typical aches, pains, nausea, and headaches?
At first blush, I’m glad it was caught early before the disease is fully manifest. But when I ponder it further, I’m frustrated. Disturbed. Disheartened. Unsettled. Grumpy.

Why does God continue to allow this, when I have been so diligent about sleeping with a mosquito net and drenching myself with deet?

Why does Satan insist on tormenting me, stopping at nothing to ensure that my final days in Africa are miserable?

Here’s the scoop:

The doctor believes I may have a resistant strain, considering the number of times I’ve had it in the past few months.

The alternate theory includes that I may have developed a form of “recurring malaria”. (Not certain what this means, but that’s the best translation/explanation they can give me.)

What now?

Well, I’m resting at the house while receiving a course of intensive treatments.
My blood will be retested in a few days. If the malaria remains, I anticipate traveling to Nairobi to receive more acute medical care.

Trying to remain optimistic despite the disappointing drama of this soap opera.

Begone, Unbelief

At church last week we sang an unfamiliar (to me) hymn. In the hymnal, I noticed the original English title listed alongside the Kirundi. I found the complete translation online.

Smiling at the storm. Striving to live these words now etched on my heart.

Begone, Unbelief

Begone, unbelief,
My Savior is near,
And for my relief
Will surely appear;
By prayer let me wrestle,
And He will perform;
With Christ in the vessel,
I smile at the storm.

Though dark be my way,
Since He is my Guide,
‘Tis mine to obey,
‘Tis His to provide;
Though cisterns be broken,
And creatures all fail,
The word He hath spoken
Shall surely prevail.

His love, in time past,
Forbids me to think
He’ll leave me at last
In trouble to sink:
Each sweet Ebenezer
I have in review
Confirms His good pleasure
To help me quite through.

Why should I complain
Of want or distress,
Temptation or pain?
He told me no less;
The heirs of salvation,
I know from His Word,
Through much tribulation
Must follow their Lord.

Since all that I meet
Shall work for my good,
The bitter is sweet,
The medicine, food;
Though painful at present,
‘Twill cease before long,
And then, oh, how pleasant
The conqueror’s song!