Friday, May 8, 2015

Little Ones that Believe

What counts most of all to Jesus? When the disciples wondered who was "the greatest" in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus showed them a little child. Vulnerable, weak, needing direction and care. Yes. And trusting. Do you see His delight as He holds this little person close, looks down into those wide trusting eyes, and says, "one of these little ones that believe in Me"? 

To believe is natural for a child. It is easy to persuade them and teach them. Everything is new and possible. My sister was babysitting a couple toddlers on a hot day and introduced them to a sprinkler for the first time. But instead of calling it a "sprinkler" she decided to call it a "gooby." The older siblings thought it was a great joke and kept up the fun all summer. Now those children still call the sprinkler a "gooby," to the confusion of all their little friends. After all, someone they trusted had told them.

We get older and wiser and stop believing everything we see and hear. Sometimes for good reasons - we've been disappointed or deceived and we don't want to be fooled anymore. But then we miss out, because we lose that powerful connection that God calls "faith." Think about it. We will miss all that Jesus offers us, if we don't believe Him with the simplicity of a child! So what can we do? We must admit that Jesus is worthy of our trust (yes, more worthy than our own best reasoning and self-sufficiency). When Jesus tells us that we need to trust Him in everything, He offers us a Hand that will never deceive us or let us down. When we are told to look at Jesus instead of the multitudes of needs and billows of trouble, the Eyes that look back at us hold the power of unlimited love. We are told to drop our barriers of skeptical reasoning so that the boundless goodness of God may flow out to us. Yes, when Jesus speaks, it is time to believing child again.

Dear ones, here is recent report from brother Lawrence to inspire you to be a "little one that believes." Last winter he and his wife took seven children (ages 6 to 12) into their home to care for. 

He writes:

Ah, these Dear children are a blessing to us. Even when we have no food in the house, it is glorious to hear them pray and testify that they will await the Lord's providence. It was last Saturday that my wife came out of the kitchen with bad news about gas and all the provisions having been depleted. There was no gas and no food except a packet of milk and tea leaves. I was in bed still ill [from malaria, which the Lord healed him of just a few days later], but I heard them pray and sing praises to God. In about two hours, a person called from Mombasa saying she was sending us two thousand shillings by phone for food and other needs. We had not heard from this lady for some time, but it was certainly a miracle for us. Two days previously, I could not travel to Mombasa to fetch two of the children we had sent to my daughter's home to stay for a while. I did not have the fares and the strength to go. But somebody who was traveling to Nairobi brought the children to us without our knowledge and request. Praise the Lord....... These children are a wonderful blessing. We are praying the Lord to continue helping us to bring them up properly till each one of them grows up into a fine saint. Please, pray with us.

Friday, December 26, 2014

As a Tender Plant

"For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground...." (Isaiah 53:2)

This Christmas I've been blessed in considering the great condescension of the Savior to be born as a baby, "wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger." There is no human condition so weak and vulnerable as a newborn baby, is there? And not only that, but a child of the poor working class, with no worldly resources or position to give him any of the "extras" of life. They were hounded by taxation and made refugees by an evil king... certainly not ideal circumstances for anyone to be born into, let alone the Son of God. Jesus could have had a palace... servants... glory and honor. But He took that lowliest of places to show us something that was so much more profound and wonderful. 

Do you see what I see in that manger bed? A baby resting peacefully, under the watchful care of the heavenly host. What all the world might consider neglect, poverty, distress and disgrace is the darkened background that reveals the glory of a life of perfect faith. When all the props and powers of our life are stripped away, the future looks grim, and human help has failed us... God is there. Not only has Jesus experienced it and understands how it feels, but it was the place Divinely appointed for Him to grow up in. "As a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground." In the difficult, yea, impossible circumstances. That's where Jesus grew up. Do you see how much the loving heart of God, our Father, can be trusted? 

Sometimes it can be so easy to think "if only" and give ourselves an excuse for why we are fretful, worried, careworn... perhaps even depressed or despairing. But Jesus walked out in the fields and saw the love of His Father for the wild birds and flowers. He was just as cared for and He knew it. "Freely ye have received, freely give" was a keynote of His life. Do we praise the Giver and honor Him with our faith as we ought to? Jesus stripped himself of every rightful power and privilege to serve us. Did He live a beggar's life or bemoan the drudgery of His existence? No, rather He surprised people by His confidence, peace and joy. He lived as a Son of the Highest, revealing to us what that truly means. How about you and I? 

A recent update from brother Lawrence shares his trust in God's providence for the needs, both physical and spiritual, that they continually face. After expressing the blessing of relying on God's promise to "go with thee, and... give thee rest" after the difficulties he's experienced this past year, he writes:

True to His promise, the Lord has blessed Makindu saints this year and has given them enough rains so far. The crops look very good and if only they get rains in the next week, there will be enough food for them until next season, judging from the wonderful crop in the farms now.  Bro. Dominic Malonza and his wife, Jane, have been raised up by the Lord to take up the ministry here at Makindu, whereas my family has been preparing to go down to Malindi to settle there and minister to the coastal congregations that the Lord has set up. Malindi is central and will serve these congregations best. Please, pray that the Lord provides for us to settle down there. We are prayerfully waiting for His providence. We are praying that the Lord helps us to start a school there for our upkeep, and so that we could earn enough to build our residential house there. Please, pray with us for this need.... The burden for the coast is so heavy on my heart. My wife, too, is very burdened for them....
As tender plants, needing so much, let us look to the bountiful hand of our God and rest all our cares with Him.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The LORD Reigns

Psalm 97 begins, "The LORD reigns." A simple, but powerful fact that should fill our minds with wonder and our hearts with confidence. That is, if we have peace with God. (Romans 5:1) The response of the Psalmist reflects this: "The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice!" Are we rejoicing today in the assurance that God is in control and His ways are just and right? Do we delight in His watchful care and loving interest for our inmost thoughts and desires?

Perhaps you are tempted to doubt such statements. You want to live for God and trust Him... but it is easy to get shaken up. After all, things can go dreadfully wrong. Sometimes it seems like we are forsaken at our most critical hour of need. Where is God then? Is He taking a break - sitting back while the devil has his heyday? Look again. The Bible is full of crisis situations, suffering and evil - and the LORD reigns over them all. He is never defeated. Human plans and hopes often are. So the question really is, are we wanting God's will to triumph in our lives - or our own comfort and plans?

After spending much of the spring in the coastal regions of Kenya, brother Lawrence wrote: "We have been witnessing wonders at Mpeketoni, in Lamu County.... The blessings, freedom and joy God has given us as we minister here is tremendous. We move from home to home, study the word, pray and sing praises to God on a daily basis. ...Glory, glory to God. It so thrills my soul to be where there is this wonderful enthusiasm and joy in the service of the Lord... If the Lord keeps us so burdened, we will have to go down there and settle, but we are still praying and waiting. We started building a school in the area using local material... and will have it running in January next year, the Lord willing and blessing." He went on to describe how "wonderfully blessed" the area was, which has encouraged many to immigrate there with offers of jobs and land. With such favor, it is easy to rejoice in the Lord's reign.

A few days later disaster struck Lamu County, Kenya. The terrorism made international headlines. Mpeketoni had been targeted by a militant Muslim group and death and fear filled the news. But it wasn't just "somebody else" that was killed, as a hurried line from Lawrence revealed. These same rejoicing saints had been faced with sudden life-threatening persecution and several had died in the attack. The concerned minister, just recovering from a bout with malaria up at Makindu, hurried to the coast to offer consolation and to help with funeral arrangements. Destruction... dashed hopes... and opportunity to become offended. (Matthew 13:20-21) The enthusiasm and joy were over. Now it was time to prove where their hearts really were. 

A month has passed. Brother Lawrence's recent update reflects his confidence in God, reigning and triumphant, despite all opposition:
"Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of His holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. God is known in her palaces for a refuge. (Ps. 48). 

Our guaranteed satisfaction is only in Him. After serious illness for nearly two weeks, I am rejoicing in His wonderful love. I am now well again and only awaiting to be revived in strength and resources again to continue as before and even better.

Instability has now befallen the Lamu congregations and fear has gripped so many around the county.... Many have fled the area and those saints left are now gathering together in one congregation. Please, pray that those going forth may be brave enough to witness boldly for the Lord. Truth has to march on while the enemy rages in his wrath. ...Food for them is a problem now that it is hard to get jobs, and even to go to work in open fields, because of the current insecurity and fear. Please, pray for these."
God's Word says that He will have a tested and tried people, who will put their trust in Him (Zeph 3:12, 1 Peter 1:7). It is easy to rejoice when things go well. But when they don't - when God allows our health and finances, our homes and families to be targeted - do we humble ourselves under His mighty hand? Will we look up and say with a trusting heart, like Job, "The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD"? Do we believe in His goodness despite all appearances?

I am glad that God reigns in the midst of the crises of our lives. He is not overwhelmed or outmaneuvered by the enemy. He is not discouraged by the setbacks and disasters that befall us. He is God, and He knows how to carry out His perfect purposes through it all. Because of it all. When we come to the end of our resources and hope, He has just begun. (Matt. 19:26; 2 Cor. 9:12) The LORD reigns. Isn't that a glorious reason to rejoice?

Friday, May 16, 2014

To Be Strong

There is a great need to be strong today. Not just having physical strength to meet the many demands in our lives, but the emotional and spiritual strength as well. Have you noticed how hard and impossible things look when you feel weak? And there are many things that make us weak...
      - poor health
      - poor habits
      - the problems from our past
      - the obstacles before us
      - someone else's failure... or our own
      - the never-ending needs

I'm sure you could add more to the list. But looking at the obstacles just weakens us more. Optimism, determination, denial all may work for the short run. But if we aren't facing the real need, then we will never have real strength. And the reality is that we don't have what it takes – no matter how much will power or positive thinking we exert.

Recent reports from the ministry in Makindu remind us that we all face the same need. Brother Lawrence has faced weakening illness, discouraging failures of others, continuing crises and calls for help... all demanding more need of strength. Yes, we want to solve the problems and see real success. But the reality is that we don't have enough power or resources. 
I'm so thankful for another reality that gives us reason to hope: “...but the people that do know their God shall be strong” (Daniel 11:32). Did you catch the significant “know” in there? We usually know quite a bit about our troubles. We have learned ways to deal with them – and we know where our limits are. But these things don't make us strong. They just inform us about our weakness.

Do you know the God that is strong? Do you know Him as your God? This is the key after all. When I feel a need of strength to face my day, my problems, my impossibilities, do I look to God as my answer? Do I know Him as my answer? Someone has said, “He will be God of all, or not at all” and there is some truth to that. Especially when it comes to us experiencing His power.

God shows His might in the daily sunrise, in the enduring mountains, in the crashing waves. At a personal level, we live and breathe at His command. But to know Him as our God, as the Almighty Answer for today's problems and needs, we must get more involved than that. We must personally turn from all other solutions. We must stop worrying and reasoning. We must be still and know He is God. The All Powerful. The I AM. The All Knowing. The Everlasting Father. The Prince of Peace. The Lord of Life and Light. For me. For you.

“And therefore will the LORD wait, that He may be gracious unto you; and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you. For the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for Him.” (Isaiah 30:18)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Full Net

I'm thinking about the disciples who spent the night out fishing and caught nothing. How often do we feel discouraged when the goals haven't been met, the situation hasn't been changed, and all our efforts seems to be wasted? We can work all night if we are promised that full net of fish. But without any catch...

Then comes a voice across the waters to us. "No success? Cast your net on the right side and you will find." Try again? What difference will it make? 

It wasn't time to argue - just to believe and obey the promise. And as the net filled, it was time to recognize the One they had been seeking all along. The Master. It wasn't the fish they had really been wanting after all, it was the knowledge that their lives had purpose and that they heard Jesus voice once again, knew His approval, and could show their love for Him. 

Maybe you would throw yourself into the sea like Peter, or like the rest of the disciples, drag in the full net of fish. Jesus was pleased with both responses. After all, He has a purpose for both the impetuous and the steady in His work. The question really is, do we love Him most? Are we after the full net - or knowing that we have obeyed His voice and delighted in His will? 

It has been good to hear brother Lawrence's report of how the Lord has blessed their "casting out the net again" in his recent trip to the coast. The call to come help with a funeral service hadn't looked promising - there wasn't even funds to cover his travel expenses and the last news of the Malindi congregation had been disheartening. But the minister felt compelled to go, and God has multiplied the blessings. He shares: 

"Thank you very much Dear Ones for prayers. I am now back at Makindu and gratefully rejoicing over God's gracious dealings at the Coast. [A fallen minister] was at the altar of prayer weeping and asking God to forgive Him. He asked others, too, to forgive him and is now ready to make restitution. Please, remember him, and also his wife, in prayer. Both had backslid and wept as they prayed for forgiveness. 

[North of Malindi] there are other congregations budding up each with an average of 40 adults. Mpeketoni is a small town that has mushroomed recently in the northern coast of Kenya and is closer to Lamu. God has given us a favor in the area and quite a good number are getting saved. The immigrant population in the area is very hungry for more of God... [several] are quick to embrace truth. I have not been in a place so favored with zeal, humility, and the love for God. It is wonderful... Surely the grace of God is enough for me. Praise the Lord. Please, pray for the seekers of the truth in the area. We need to teach and feed these people. Please, pray on."
Do we also know Jesus as the source and meaning of our efforts today? May we leave all our prejudice, our fears, our failings, our cares and trust Him to be the Master of our lives. Then we can cast out the net at His bidding and bring the catch to Him. Does it matter whether we have little or much to show for our labor? Jesus is working out His purposes and what a joy it is to follow Him!

Image courtesy of noomhh /

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ask ye of the Lord

"Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain..." Zech. 10:1

Why should we be asking for things that seem normal and expected? That is a question worth pondering. As I read the following verse, the truth started to sink in: "For the idols have spoken vanity." How often do we really consider how dependent we are on the Creator and Sustainer of the universe? In our modern self-sufficiency, we don't even turn to idols for our answers... or do we? In the basic sense of the word, anything we esteem more than God is an idol. My financial resources, my friends and supporters, my own reasoning and abilities to "make things happen" can easily become my idol. But what they promise me is deceiving. They can't give me what I really need in life. Not even basic, simple things - like rain. How wonderful to realize that it is my privilege to ask God to provide for the common and daily needs I face! And to believe that He will give me what is best. 

 "Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain, so the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field." Zech. 10:1

November is the "rainy season" for the Kenyan savannahs, but this blessing is not taken for granted. At the end of the month, brother Lawrence was thankful to report: "It has been a very busy, but very wet, week here. Even now, as I write, the clouds are heavy with rains hovering over us. Praise the Lord. I have never seen Makindu so favored before. It is a great answer to prayers of a long time.  Please, join us in thanking and praising the Lord for this."

Rain is their hope for food next year - if they can get seeds to plant crops. This need also has been met, as he shares, "God has moved so graciously through some organizations that aid the semi-arid areas [in providing seed] for the brethren at Kitui, Meru south, and even here at Makindu." But planting isn't enough. Past years have brought crop failures because the fields have become parched in the dry spring weather. As the crops grow, let us be asking the LORD for the rains needed to keep them alive until harvest! 

Another need has arisen with the rainy season. Lawrence says, "Bro. Edward's congregation [in the Mount Kenya area] is in a real problem with their roof destroyed by the rains. ...They need [a large sum] for the roofing and pillars for the house of worship. They can fill up the walls gradually when the roof is on and they are safe from the rains. We expect the rains to go on up to the end of December in their area. We are doing all we can to help, but in a very negligible way. If there is any one who can hep in this urgent need, we will be very grateful. But God moves wonderfully in answer to prayer. 

"Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit." (1Thes. 5:17-19).

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


"I'm starving!" It's a common understatement, isn't it? In America that usually means that someone is feeling extra hungry by the time their next meal comes around. We take for granted that our stomachs will soon be full, not to mention our taste buds satisfied.

But when the message comes from loved ones in the barren wastes of Kenya, the reality is that there is nothing left to satisfy their need. Hunger is all too common during the tight famine months. They learn to live with an inner emptiness, hoping their strength will hold out until some food can be obtained. Forget taste buds or being full, they are thinking only about surviving.

We've heard little from Makindu these past months: a ministers' meeting was held in July at the Bible Center, and more recently Lawrence has been called out to minister to some that seem hungry for spiritual instruction in Nairobi. But we've known the famine has been on, and our recent update verifies that.

The dear brother wrote: I cannot write long and much, for now. I am far from home and use a computer only when I can get to it. I have been away for about three weeks now and I am not sure when I go back home. I am in real danger where I am now, but souls and bodies are being touched by the Lord. That is all that matters to me. Please, pray on.

I understand that they are starving in my home and congregation. Please, pray. 

It must have been difficult to hear such news when he was so far away, and unable to provide for them. But when the needs go past our resources, God is not limited. Praise the Lord, it wasn't long before brother Lawrence was able to send back the word that an offering had been given just when they needed it most. What relief to know that there would be something to eat, to keep life sustained and renew hope again! 

Most of us haven't ever experienced the stark prospect of starving to death. But there is more to life than our physical bodies - there are the needs of spirit and soul. How often have you faced an emotional crisis or worried over what to do, feeling deep inside the gnawing emptiness of fear? Or just when you need strength to meet the trials of life, you find yourself crumbling under the pressure? Fear and despair can be just as deadly as living without food. Without peace, our soul starves. How can we survive without it?

I'm so thankful that the One who created us with these basic needs also knows how to provide for them! Recently I felt my lack of peace and started to get a bit desperate feeling. I didn't want to be stressed, but I was. Positive thoughts and disciplined effort didn't change anything. What was my problem? I didn't know, but I knew God did. At first praying didn't seem to change anything, but I set my hope on getting help. And I wasn't sent away empty! "Let not your heart be troubled... believe in Me." Have you ever realized the comfort of those words? Believe in Me, Jesus says, just take My Hand and realize that I am all you need.

The whole chapter of John 14 shows us that our source of peace can never be outside of Jesus. The thought of the promised "Comforter" blessed me especially - the One "beside me when I call" is the literal translation, and that was exactly what I needed. The security of His presence, His ability, His power and understanding. Here is the wonderful fulfillment of Jesus' promise to give us His peace that is unaffected by trouble or fear (verse 27). What a comfort to be filled!  

Are you starving for peace today? There is a full supply in Jesus, if you are hungry enough to seek it!