James 1:1-4 Refining faith God’s way.

Zach was telling me the other day that the first couple of weeks at the Gym are particularly busy this time of year but that quickly trails off as people begin to realize the perseverance it takes to retain never mind grow healthy muscle tone.

Those muscles don’t happen over night.  Sometimes people try to take shortcuts to make that happen but that can often lead to very negative results.

Shortcuts like anabolic steroids taken to make those muscles bulge and produce a temporarily increase in strength.  In the short run, steroids may produce the looks that one hopes for in lieu of the pain of persevering at the gym.  But in the end the folly of taking steroids produces infertility and impotence.Continue reading

Mark 1:40-45 The Least of These?

To see all of today’s study questions, click here.

That passage in Matthew has always caused me great concern.  I’ve wrestled with it for years now.  Especially every time I walk by a street person or drunk out begging or get accosted by the guy who stands at the corner of Channel Parkway and Eckhardt Avenue.  Lately though I’ve wondered are these the least of these that Jesus is speaking of?

So tell me.  Are people like the ones pictured here the ones that Christ was talking about in Matthew 25? Why or why not?  Are these the least of these?  What do you think?

(Zach wrote down the answers on the screen.   See the video above if interested in how we grappled with this question.)

Slide1
As I came to this morning’s passage I chewed on this story in Mark for more than a week before sitting down to write out my thoughts. And as I did my mind would keep coming back to that passage in Matthew 25, back to “in as much as you have done it to the least of these you have done it unto me” (40).   Are these stories intertwined?  Do they complement or antagonize each other as it seems.

I looked at all my commentaries and many different versions of the Bible itself to see if I could better grasp why this story is included and what practical applications I can draw from it.  But every time I started to write I kept coming back to just a few questions.

  1. Are there people you find particularly uncomfortable to be around?

I don’t know about you but I find those who are physically disfigured be it through disease or accident at least somewhat uncomfortable to be around.    Now I’m not exactly sure why.  But I think it may stems from my morbid curiosity.

I find I want to really take a good look and examine what has happened that caused this disfigurement.  I want to look at  them from different angles and get right up close.  In fact I find some things fascinating that way.  But I also know, that more often than not, that starring would make the person really uncomfortable to be around me.  So for the main part I restrain my curiosity at least until I can get to know the person and hear their story.

Slide2I found that getting to know part particularly difficult when I was in Kenya though.  Since I did not know the native tongue it was often hard to even begin a relationship.  Never mind getting to know someone well enough to ask those awkward questions that would allow me to satisfy that curiosity.

And there were a few totally cool looking people that I would have been interested in finding out what happened.   I so wanted to hear their story.  Like my friend Pastor Wyjonji the bigger man pictured here.  His head and hands were truly amazing to see.  As I talked with him I found out that it was some sort of heart defect that caused some hormonal imbalance which in turn caused this wavy growth on his head and unusually big hands and body size.

When I first met him in 2011 I wasn’t sure I’d get to see him again as the heart issue seemed of major concern to him and those around him.  We prayed together and God saw fit to keep him around and a part of every visit to Fafarol since.   He is a truly amazing man, gentle and very loving!

The man next to him, pictured here, is a stock photo I got of what leprosy looks like according to some info I found.   I’ve never met him but again I’d love to hear his story.  I can’t begin to imagine what life has been like for him, can you?

Leprosy is a disease mentioned often in the bible.  In fact leprosy would from a biblical sense actually describes both of these men.  It was  used to describe many skin ailments from severe rashes to unusual deformities.  So it was not limited the same definition as Leprosy today is.

Today’s leprosy has much fewer strains and scientists now believe it all started in East Africa and spread throughout the centuries and across the continents following trade routes.

The characteristic loss of fingers and toes, facial deformity and even blindness is due to the nerve damage that the disease inflicts on its victims.  Since the nerves no longer send pain impulses to the brain, those with leprosy often don’t know that they burned or cut a finger or toe which eventually becomes infected and if left untreated falls off or requires amputation.  And though leprosy was fairly common in Biblical times this disease is still very active in our world today.  In fact in the last year or so 121 countries reported new instances of this terrible disease which is caused by a germ, or bacteria, called Mycobacterium leprae.

Even in Canada 2-10 new cases are found each year.  It is treated quite effectively today with multi-drug-therapy that takes from six months to a year to complete.  But once started this therapy quickly makes the person no longer contagious.  So Isolation is no longer necessary as it was practiced Biblically and especially practiced throughout the middle ages until about 1960.

Slide4This Island was once connected to Crete but according to historians it was dug around and eventually fortified in the 1500’s.  Being well fortified and separated from the peninsula  made this the perfect place to put people, to isolate them from the rest of the population.  And in the early 1900s to 1953 the island was used as a leper colony having housed many people with leprosy at times.

In Biblical times often the leper was simply put out of the camp, town or city and forced to live away from family and friends.  In fact it wasn’t unusual for these poor souls to lose all human physical contact if the disease was not cured.

Once the priest pronounced the person unclean, according to Leviticus 13:45-46, “Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as they have the disease they remain unclean. They must live alone; they must live outside the camp.” 

So not only was the deformity debilitating but depression must have been rampant for these social outcasts.

Which makes our Bible story today all the more miraculous and touching once you realize what this poor man had been going through.

So if you have a Bible with you open it to Mark 1:40-45 and let’s look at this passage together this morning.

 “A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”  Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”  Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.  Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning:  “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”  Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere” (Mark 1:40-45 (NIV).

 “If you are willing you can make me clean!” – As this man comes and kneels before the Lord the one thing that is not said by him is “I’m not sure if you can help me but give it a go”.

Slide6There was no doubt that Jesus had within him the power to heal this deadly, deforming, disease, called leprosy!

Where did this man get such faith?  How did he know that Jesus could heal?  Had he heard about all the people outside of Peter’s house that found that Jesus not only heals the sick but casts out demons?  We can only assume he did because his earnest plea was full of faith!  you can make me clean” (40).

And yet having been subjected to isolation for who knows how long, and having not had the simple pleasure of a hug in ages this dejected man did express some doubt.  Didn’t he?

It appears from what he said that he wasn’t so sure that Jesus would chose to help him.  That’s what this “if” is about.  Why is it that,  It is sometimes easier to believe in God’s power than in his mercy ?(Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary – Volume 8: Matthew, Mark, Luke, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 630) 

Have you found yourself there?   You believe that God can do what you need Him to do but you just aren’t sure He’ll do it for you?

Why is it that we can believe in His power but not His mercy and grace?

Slide7Somehow this man had faith that healing was in the realms of possibility.  And he certainly knew there was nothing he himself could do to get rid of leprosy.  But I believe he also knew that emotional sting along with the stench of this disease.  The sting of isolation had created doubt.  And that isolation caused him to doubt that anyone cared enough to help him at all.  But that doubt was short lived.

You got to love our Saviour’s response!  And His compassion even at a time when Jesus was trying to avoid the crowds… it speaks volumes about our wonderful saviour.

If you look back just a couple of verses (Mark 1:30-39) you’ll see that Jesus had tried to escape the growing crowds of people wanting miraculous healings.  He even snuck out under cloak of darkness to a secluded place so he could have a talk with His father uninterrupted (cf. Mark 1:36).   And when the disciples finally found him and told him everyone is looking for you he said “let’s go somewhere else!” (Mark 1:38)  But when this poor dejected man knelt before Him compassion welled up inside of Jesus.

And then He did the remarkable.  He did what no one else had done since the day the man was sent away from that town.  Jesus actually reached out …and touched the man!  That’s the miracle here.  He reached beyond his comfort zone, beyond the cultural taboos and touched a disease ridden man.

 

Now, scientists today are pretty sure that leprosy spreads through contact.  Particularly through sneezing and coughing because of direct bodily fluid contact like most infectious diseases.   And I’m sure when Moses, who was inspired by the Holy Spirit, set forth the laws concerning leprosy, God already knew it spread by contact.  So there was good reason for social isolation.  So when Jesus reached out and touched this man it was not the thing to do humanly speaking.   It was the beginning of a miracle!

The fact is most of us might even find being in this man’s presence uncomfortable, never mind actually reaching beyond that discomfort and touching him.  Even though today we know that the chances of actually getting leprosy from casual limited contact are slim indeed.   And yet the stigma is still there big time.

But can you imagine for a moment the eyes of the disciples?  Of Peter, James and John as they watched what Jesus just did?  It would have been priceless to see their expressions as Jesus hand actually made contact.  Since anyone who touches something unclean becomes unclean until evening at minimum according to the laws of Moses they would have been aghast!  The Law which guided their thoughts and at convenient times even their actions was in them from childhood.   They knew that no one was to touch a leprous man!

Yet that didn’t stop Jesus, he not only reached out, touched the man but answered that man’s question, “I am willing!  Be clean!” (41).

Slide8Alexander MacLaren writes,  “People tell us that to believe in sudden conversion is fanatical. This is not the place to argue that question.” (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture – St. Mark 1-8, (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1906), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 48).

Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured!(42)  It was over in an instant!  A few words of instruction and the Master was on his way.  It has taken me much longer this morning to speak about this event then the event itself took!

But do you think, even for a moment, that this man, once the leprosy was gone, wanted to do what Jesus asked of him next?

We read in verses 43-44, “Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning:  “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them” Mark 1:43-44 (NIV).

Funny isn’t it?  He told that man, don’t tell a soul!  And the man immediately told everyone he came in contact with.  Warren Wiersbe so eloquently puts it,

“Jesus told this man to keep quiet, and yet he told everybody. Jesus commands us to tell everybody—and we keep quiet! (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary – New Testament, Volume 1, (Colorado Springs, CO: Victor, 2001), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 114).

Jesus specially said to you and I, “… as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give…Go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you until the end of the age…(Mat. 10:8, 28:19)…

But know this!  “…whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”(Matthew 12:50). 

Those who go and tell the Good News, who make disciples…those are Jesus’s brother’s, and sisters…  You mean like some poor leprous man who was healed but couldn’t follow the Master’s immediate orders?

But wait, doesn’t that make him one of the least of these?  As well as one of Jesus brothers? Hmmm?

Slide9

Why do you suppose Jesus said, “don’t tell anyone” to this once leprous man?  Especially if He knew that the man wasn’t capable of keeping this secret between them?   Why was that included in this passage?

Well some say that Jesus was using reverse psychology on him.  You know, if you tell someone they can’t touch something they will likely prove you wrong quite quickly.

But other scholars seem to think it was because Jesus didn’t want that kind of publicity.  He wasn’t looking to become the best magic show in town.  Jesus had come to bring salvation from God, to restore wholeness to broken humanity not just heal disease, but something far more important.

But to this man who was isolated and hurting physically, emotionally and spiritually, the sudden release from the prison he was in was overwhelming good news!  There was no keeping that a secret!

That kind of good news is just too much to keep inside!   So that man “went out and began to talk freely, spreading the good news.

There were consequences to his actions though!  It’s right there in the text.  Verse 45.

As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere”  Mark 1:45 (NIV).   

“Surely you can see how Jesus took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows …” Isaiah 53:4 (NIV)?

Slide10Did you notice?  Did you notice Who was then the one on the outside looking in?  Did you notice Who was now in a sense the outcast, the one in forced isolation?

Mark says,  “Jesus could no longer enter a town openly…he had to stay outside in lonely places!”  Could that be why He asked the man to keep it to himself?  To do as Moses commanded, and give glory to God the old fashioned way?

And yet that’s our Saviour!  He was willing to trade places so that the very illness that separated us from God could be remove once for all.  And it cost Him His very life on the cross.  And that was only the beginning as we saw last week.  He has risen!

Jesus still answers our prayers of desperation with those words that brought healing and comfort to that leprous man.  “I am willing, Be Clean!” (41).

And that kind of takes us full circle to where we started today.  Back to Matthew 25.  Back to the least of these.  Who are the least of these?  Is it the poor, the imprisoned, the outcasts?  Well, actually the answer is right there in what Jesus said.

Slide11I don’t know how I missed it for so long.  It’s not talking about those who are goats, who Christ said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ …they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matthew 25:46 (NIV).  They are the ones who mocked the Master and persecuted His brothers, and sisters and even His mother!    These goats are NOT “the least of these”.

The least of these are you and I and everyone who, having been set free by the master and having gone out and, talked freely, spreading the good news, even if it meant we went hungry, thirsty, or naked!  And trust me there are plenty in foreign lands who fit those descriptions.   Many who are forced into isolation or imprisoned or beaten and murdered because of Christ’s name on their lips.   Jesus says to them as well as you and I:

 “… ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Matthew 25:34-40 (NIV)

They are the ones that Christ said is our brothers and sisters to whom we had the privilege of feeding and clothing, visiting and even giving a cup of water in His name!  AMEN?


 

Read Mark 1:40-45 in several versions. Then read Matthew 25:31-46 and begin the lesson.
1.  Are there people you find uncomfortable to be around? Why is that? What makes you or them uncomfortable to be around?
2.  Who is Jesus referring to in the Matthew 25 passage as “the least of these”?
3.  What do we immediately find out about the man in Mark 1:40?
4.  What do you know about his infirmity?
5.  How would you define his disease Biblically? What does the Bible say about it?(see also Lev. 13:1-46; Num 12:10-15; Deut 24:8-9; 2 Samuel 3:29; 2 Kings 5:27; 2 Kings 7:3-4; 2 Kings 15:5; Luke 17:12-19)
6.  Do people today still suffer from that disease? (Ask mr. google for statistics, you may be surprised!)
7.  What did the man do when he met Jesus? (Mark 1:40) Why is it easier for us to believe in God’s power than in His mercy and Grace?
8.  How did Jesus respond to the man’s faith and doubt? (see also Mark 6:34; Luke 7:12-13; Heb 1:3; Heb 4:15; Ps. 33:9)
9.  There was more than one miracle mentioned in verses 41 and 42 what were they?
10.  Why did Jesus strongly warn the man in verse 43? (Mark 7:36; Matthew 9:30; Luke 8:56)
11.  What did Jesus tell the man to do? (Mark 1:44; see also Lev. 14:2-32)
12.  What did the man actually do? (Mark 1:45) What is so funny about that? (See comment in my notes)
13.  Who actually are “the least of these” according to Matthew 25:40?
14.   Is there a person that makes you uncomfortable that you need to help this week? Who should you see in them?

Week 1- Gen. 3:1-15 Christ in the Garden?

Do you know your history?  Do you know where you came from?  What makes you, you?  Why do you do or don’t do the things that you do? 

We’re told by those who study such things that much of it can be traced back to the environment that you grew up in but certainly not all.  Scientists use the word genetics a lot these days to explain some of the interesting differences between us humans.  But do you know your history?  What’s your story?

Long before computers with digital imagery, HD Video, even before the printed word, telling the story of mankind is how the Bible spread.  It was HIS way from the very beginning.  “God, in the beginning, spoke, and the heavens and the earth were created” (BW: Gen. 1:3).   This is a simple paraphrase of Genesis 1:1-3. 

I’ve told the story of the beginning in just a few words.  The reality was that God only used two words according to the Hebrew tradition.  “Haya Ore”.  The best we seem do with that one act of God is four words, “Let there be light” (New International Version:Gen. 1:3).  But the moment we speak those four words our minds immediately imagine what just happened.  

It was the darkest of darkness.  Those times when you wonder if your eyes can see or not.  And it was eerily quiet too, not a sound could be heard.  Then suddenly, “haya orb”.    The darkness dispelled and we can see!    …cockroaches fleeing in all directions!  We’re standing in a pit of snakes slithering around our feet! Oh that the light had never turned on we think to ourselves.  I was doing fine in my ignorance. Even happy not knowing what that gushy feeling was under my feet. 

What we don’t know can’t hurt us right?

Like just Who it was that turned on the light? Who said, “haya orb”?

gen3-Slide2

Of course since our imagination is no longer pure we may begin uttering weird and odd things into those two words and can come up with a horror flick and or even a space thriller.  This is actually because of the faulty rewiring of our imaginations.  It wasn’t that way in the beginning.  But something that happened long, long ago, well before we were born caused the perfect circuits to short out.  It is a part of our history, some would go so far as to say our genetics. short3This faulty wiring, this mutant gene began to warp HIS Story to the point that we make up fantastical stories to explain it away.  The purity of light dispelling the darkness.  The wonder and beauty of His creation is lost and becomes less attractive the more we listen to those warped stories and give into their perversion of history.

Now I’m not pointing a finger at them, who they may be.  I’ve read HIS Story and I think I know what happened to pervert our story throughout the ages.  It is found in the book of beginnings, Genesis. 

Genesis 3:1-15 if you have your Bible open it up and let’s read this part of HIS Story.

 “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”  The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,  but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'”  “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.  Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.  

But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”  He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”  And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”  The man said, “The woman you put here with me–she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”  Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”  

So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.  And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”  Genesis 3:1-15 (NIV)
Skip to questions on today’s passage or Read on for hints to answer the questions and learn more about this passage.
And so began man’s spiral into the abyss of sin and slavery and strangely wild imaginations! This passage of Scripture needs to be the first story for us to know and understand even before the wonderful story of creation.  For what preceded this story in Genesis 1 & 2 was perfect and frankly now unknowable to the unsanctified human mind.  Unknowable because everything in those first two chapters was affected by what happened in the third chapter.  Everything had changed!  The perfect world, perfect place to live, perfect food, perfect temperature both day and night even perfect sex and procreation was altered until the promise of 3:15 was fulfilled.

But I’m getting way ahead of myself.  So let’s back up one step into perfection to Genesis 2:25 as there is a play on words that one does not pick up without the help of a Hebrew Scholar…or in my case a Hebrew to English concordance and commentaries. 

gen3-Slide8 “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame” (Genesis 2:25 (NIV).

The Believers Bible commentary puts it this way: “Genesis 3:1 is connected with (the previous verse) Gen.2:25 by a Hebrew wordplay: Adam and Eve were “naked” (??rûmmm); and the serpent was more crafty (??rûm, “shrewd”) than all.”

“Their nakedness represented the fact that they were oblivious to evil, not knowing where the traps lay, whereas Satan did and would use his craftiness to take advantage of their integrity” (BBC:Genesis 3:1). 

Like little children who often are naive and unaware of the dangers that exist this first couple were naked not only physically but environmentally and perhaps even spiritually.  Their knowledge base had no effects of evil only good all the time.  They were naked on that glorious sunny day and they didn’t even know what sunburn was!

You and I on the other hand are not born with this level of nakedness.  Sure we come out physically devoid of clothes and without the ability to survive without help from other beings.  But unlike Adam and Eve who “were naked and knew no shame”, deep with us the seeds of sin, sown in the garden, are like dormant weeds that await optimum growing conditions to spring forth uninvited. These sins are planted deep within our hearts and everywhere in our environment as well. Mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually sin has corrupted everything to some degree. 

Adam and Eve, our genetic parents, had no idea what that crafty snake was up to.  They had no street smarts.  They only knew the perfection of walking with their Father in the Garden.  They only knew His love and protection, and that He had created them for perfect fellowship both with one another and a Master who only wanted what’s best for them.  Even nature itself that was created to be subservient to them!  Including that snake in the grass!

They were, quite frankly, easy marks as con men would say today.  Given to deception.  Like the people who respond to spam thinking they will get something for nothing only to find out they got taken.Slide9

Or like people that think that their phone is their castle and private domain until they get to the border and the customs officer demands their password and looks at all their content.  Or some hacker breaks in and shares their private thoughts all over the internet.  Deception is one of Satan’s favorite weapons.     

That crafty snake, who by the way is not named in this passage, is only personified by this slithering shrewdness.   Biblically, we can’t actually prove that it was Satan until well after the fact when John the Revelator tells us in Revelation 12:9,  “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”   

But that’s getting way ahead!  And this interesting word play of Genesis 2:25 to Gen. 3:1.  (??rûmmm); and (??rûm), nakedness and shrewdness. Which you know is much the same today.  You and I are somewhat naked and unaware of Satan’s shrewdness because of the good genes that we inherited from Adam.  Yes we inherited some of Adam’s naivety but also the ability to trust others, even strangers.  We inherited enough to often have spiritual blinders over our eyes but not enough to claim genetic innocence as a defense of giving into sin because of the snake’s shrewdness. 

 Again the BBC states, “That quality of shrewdness or subtleness is not evil in itself (I might add) (indeed, one of the purposes of the Bible is to make believers (shrewd), according to Prov. 1:4, where … shrewdness, is trans. “prudence”).…” (BBC:Genesis 3).   

Jesus sent His disciples out with this encouragement and authority, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Mat 10:13) Behold, I have given you authority to trample on snakes…” (Luke 10:19).

So this shrewdness is also in our genes and is not wrong of itself.  But the snake in the Garden didn’t use it to instill prudence in Adam.  Though I suspect after God intervened the outcome of Satan’s deception produced some of the fruit of prudence on Adam’s part. 

Hindsight always seems better than foresight doesn’t it?  But then again Adam was the prototype so he had no hindsight to draw on.  All he had was History with the master of Garden.  The same one who told Adam, and him alone I might add, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;  but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17 (NIV). gen3-Slide11

I say Adam alone because Eve wasn’t created until Gen. 2:22 five verses after the prohibition.  So Adam had HIS Story that made him entirely responsible for what follows in Gen. 3.    The Apostle Paul confirms this in Romans 5:12 (NLT), “When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.”

Yet even knowing the prohibition and the consequences of sinning against God didn’t prevent the outcome we read in our story today.  It only solidified Adams guilt and total responsibility for his actions, and of course his need for a Redeemer or Savior.  Someone to rescue him from the consequences of his sin.  And not just his sin but for both Eve and all of their offspring who are effected by that sin.  

That’s you and I genetically speaking.  This also makes us like Adam entirely responsible for our sin that separates us from the fellowship that can be ours in God’s Garden.

Just like Adam couldn’t claim hereditary factors.  After all if you are the prototype, the first one built, there is no other human history.  And yet in the midst of this all there is HIS Story!

Adam actually walked in the garden with a Christophany! He walked and talked with God according to what we see in Genesis 2:16-17 and again in chapter 3:8 and what follows.  A Christophany is the technical term for a sighting of the Messiah prior to His embodiment in Bethlehem as the son of Mary. 

Adam knew better!  Not should have known better.  He had HIStory with God prior to the fall!  And yet he went along with the deception that was played on Eve by the snake.  Why do you suppose that is?  

Have a look at these and other questions at the end of this post and discover for your self why you do the things you do or don’t do the things you do.
One thing is for sure Adam sinned and he had an accomplice in Eve.  They were both to blame for what has become our genetic propensity to sin.  You can’t blame one over the other though if the buck has to stop somewhere then it was entirely Adam’s fault for not protecting his wife from the serpent’s deception and actually going along with her delusion that it would be ok.  But as important as knowing about this genetic sin is, there is: 

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HIStory tells us that God, not man, made the first move towards reconciliation after the fall.  We read in verse 8, “…the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.  But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”  He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”  Genesis 3:8-10 (NIV)

My slightly sanctified imagination sees God saying something like,  “Hide from ME?  Right!  “So, “who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”  Genesis 3:11 (NIV).  

The man said, “The woman you put here with me–she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Genesis 3:12 (NIV)

“Oh you little devil!  Blaming ME and your wife are you?   I know it will be thousands of years before you understand what I mean but “be a man!”  Own up to your mistakes!  Confession and repentance finds forgiveness but this blame shifting stuff doesn’t cut it with ME!  Did you think I wouldn’t notice?  Did you think you would get away with it?  Just who do think I AM?   Besides, Adam, I didn’t tell her not to eat from that tree, I told you!   But let’s see what she says.

“Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Genesis 3:13 (NIV).

Again, my somewhat sanctified imagination sees God answering her:  “That’s the way you want to play it eh?  Clearly your husband told you what I said about eating from that tree!  Got to give Adam that much credit.   Confession and repentance would have saved a lot of suffering, especially when you go to give birth.  But clearly sin has already found its way into your heart and that will have to be dealt with.” 

You see, according to the BBC, “The effects of sin are punishment and provision. Whereas the man and the woman had life, they now had death; whereas pleasure, now pain; whereas abundance, now a meager subsistence by toil; whereas perfect fellowship, now alienation and conflict.” (Believers Bible Commentary: Gen. 3:8). 

Sin carried and always carries an awful price to be paid.  

But God knew where the motivation to sin came from too.  Just look at how He spoke to the snake.  He didn’t ask Satan if what the woman said was true nor did He need to ask what Satan had been up to or why he did such a thing.

God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.  And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:14-15 (NIV).

Gen-Slide13

Basically verse 15 says, “I, myself, AM coming for you! You snake in the grass.   And just when you think you have won, MY CHILD will usurp your authority even as you have usurped MINE today with Adam and Eve”.   For through the offspring of Adam one who is as “shrewd as a snake yet as innocent as a dove” (Mt. 10:16) will write the final chapter in HIStory

Of course God was already showing He was shrewder than the snake.  Because He didn’t tell Satan where or when or how He intended to right this terrible wrong.  He just stated a fact that this wasn’t the end of the matter only the beginning.  Jesus Christ would reign victorious in the position the snake so coveted.  Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega the beginning and the end of HIS story.

This Story is seldom understood in our society because people don’t tell HIStory, they are inundated with ongoing deception that keeps them in darkness.  But as we tell HIS Story and renew our minds with it something beautiful, even wonderful happens.  We begin to understand that He wants us to be with Him eating of the tree of life and living for eternity in the city of our God. 

Jesus said, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.  “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.  Revelation 22:12-14 (NIV)

Let’s look at HIStory again:

Slide15

  1. What was it that God commanded Adam?  (Gen. 2:16-17)
  2. What 2 trees play a role in this story?  (Gen. 2:9, 17, 3:1-2,6,9,22)
  3. What was the original sin? Are you sure?
  4. Why did Satan ask Eve the questions he did?  (Gen. 3:1-3) 
  5. Was it the remarkable shrewdness of that serpent or the gullibility of Eve that caused the sin?  Or just curiosity? (Gen. 3:1-3)
  6. Where did Eve get her response from? (Gen 3:2 compare with Gen. 2:16-17)
  7. What was the purpose of the snake’s response in verses Gen. 3:4-5? Whom did he undermine?
  8. Who was standing right next to Eve the whole time?  (Gen. 3:6)
  9. What immediately happened when the two ate? Emotionally? Physically? Spiritually? (Gen.  3:6-7 compare with Gen. 2:16-17)
  10. How had sin effected their relationship with God? (Gen. 3:8-9)
  11. Who immediately took action to minimize sin’s consequences?  What actions were taken?  (Gen. 3:9-15, 22-24)
  12. Why was it necessary for Adam and Eve to leave the Garden of Eden? (Gen. 3:22)
  13. Who or what is effected by Adam’s sin?  How?(HIStory – Gen. to Revelation)
  14. Who would restore Adam’s kind to the Garden of Eden?  How? (Gen. 3:15; Rom. 5:8,15).   
  15. Who is the offspring spoken of in verse 15?  (Romans 5:12-19)
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TIME to GtGtG

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 Each annual meeting we celebrate what the Lord has accomplished through Grace in the Heart of Penticton.  It’s been an amazing year!  More than 100,000 visitors have come through the doors at Grace.  Most through  our virtual church.  Our congregation has pretty well stayed the same size in Penticton.  About 100,000 people have stumbled across us on the internet thanks to Google, Bing, Yahoo and the other search engines that directed them our way.  But we know it is not by simple chance or computer logic alone that people have found Grace in the Heart of Penticton.   God can even use technology to bring himself glory and touch people’s lives with His Grace.  All we need to do is be faithful and willing to try to bless others.   We have a unique church in that regard.  No 20% of the people doing 80% of the work.  We’re running about 100% -1 or 2 who are still learning to trust in Jesus and exercise their gifts.  (Actually we are all still learning in that regard.) But everyone is someone at Grace.  Someone with a unique witness that God is pleased to use to grow his Kingdom.    And grow it did this year!    We all grew to know – T.I.M.E.

My Annual Meeting address to the congregation begins here.  But if you prefer to watch the podcast:


As I’ve said before,  our annual meetings are generally celebrations of what God has done through the previous year.  And this year has been no exception.  Against the odds God has seen us through another year and we came out in the black!  Ahead of budget! Is that amazing or what?  And it isn’t that we’ve just hung on as a church by the skin of our teeth…you know… kind of on life support …waiting to die.

To His glory, we have been blessed, to be used of Him to help lead souls to Christ.   And He didn’t stop there.  Each step T.I.M.E. got in the way.  God gave all of us the opportunity to experience T.I.M.E. …experience where True Intimacy Must Exist.  He focused our conversations and even our thoughts focused on growing deeper in love with Him and helped us to express that love through our relationships with others.

The video showed us some of those special occasions where we drew together to celebrate and grow in intimacy with one another.  Events like, 300 years plus of marriage!  Now there is a milestone of intimacy!    Care groups that actually care about one another!  And a new level of drawing closer through worship as our teams grew in greater intimacy with the object of our worship.  We had Awesome! T.I.M.E.!

Let’s not let go of that for 2014.  Let’s continue to draw closer to God and fellowship with His servants.

 T.I.M.E. for L.I.F.E. as we W.O.R.K.    B.E.G.I.N. to G.t.G.t.G.Slide2

Wow is that too many acronyms to remember?

What does T.I.M.E. stand for? True Intimacy Must Exist

8  Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. James 4:8 (NLT)

How about L.I.F.E.?  What did those initials stand for?   Loving Intentionally For Eternity

And who can remember W.O.R.K.?   Worship Our Real King

Ok keeners!  What do you think B.E.G.I.N. stands for?  You’ll see Next week!

Anyone care to guess G.t.G.t.G.?   

This year let us continue to draw closer to God and fellowship with His servants.

I believe as we do we will find that He draws closer to us and as He does miracles will continue to happen!  But even in this we must be mindful of Lucifer’s downfall, for pride can bring an individual down very quickly as we’ll see in today’s passage of Acts.  Let us learn the lesson that Herod didn’t so that we can continue to grow in T.I.M.E.B.E.G.I.N. to G.t.G.t.G.

Turn with me to Acts 12:19-25.

 19  After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed. Then Herod went from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there a while. 20  He had been quarreling with the people of Tyre and Sidon; they now joined together and sought an audience with him. Having secured the support of Blastus, a trusted personal servant of the king, they asked for peace, because they depended on the king’s country for their food supply. 21  On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. 22  They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” 23  Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. 24  But the word of God continued to increase and spread. 25  When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark.”  Acts 12:19-25 (NIV)

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As you’ll remember from last time Peter had been miraculously delivered from jail and out of the grasp of King Herod who had in mind to publicly execute the leader of this new Jewish sect.  This King Herod, like his grand-father before him, was a ruthless dictator who would stop at nothing to get his own way.  When he saw that killing apostles and disciples gained him favour with the Sanhedrin he grabbed Peter and had him thrown in that jail with plenty of guards around him should those of the Way seek to free Peter by force.  But Herod wasn’t ready for the spiritual attack that God had in store for him.  God’s people were praying!  They were on the knees urgently petitioning the Lord of Lords.  And Peter was miraculously set free!

You and I have hardly begun to know the power of prayer!  We have witnessed it over this past year.  We have been blessed to see how our Kenyan outreach set aside massive amounts of time to pray and even how awesomely God has answered that prayer.

It seems to me for every hour that they earnestly prayed the greatest miracle ever… happened in someone’s life.  And when they had their Kasha’s and had 20-30 people praying all night, sure enough, hundreds of their brethren committed their lives to Christ in meetings throughout that weekend.

Now, don’t think I’m trying to give you some magical winning formula here.  It’s just an observation of one looking from the outside. Perhaps God would have saved all those folks without any prayer at all?  But prayer happened and it was followed by miracles happening in my observation.

GtGtG- Slide13 Sometimes I think we really don’t want to make those connections though.  We want to connect our human efforts at evangelism, whether it be door to door or crusade style events as the key to soul winning.  We like to put people like Reinhardt Bonke and Billy Graham up on a pedestal and treat them as “God’s gifted evangelists”, which they are by the way, but we associate the results of those massive meetings with the key individuals who led them.  Yet Reinhardt & Billy would tell you face to face, Give to God the Glory.  He did it through His people!  All they had to do is be faithful to their part and tell the people where to begin a relationship with God.  God does the hard part.  I confess these two guys are my heroes!  I love what they have accomplished for the Kingdom.

I have a theory as to why we make almost “super heroes” out of the soul winning itinerant evangelists.  But you may not like my conclusions.

I believe it is because we don’t really believe our prayers make a difference and so the average Christian in N. America prays less than five minutes a day.  The average Christian is so consumed by other things  that their prayer life is sadly lacking.   So we need those “super heroes” to come and lead the masses to Christ.

But you know how Reinhardt & Billy do it, right?  Again this is my observation.   I think it’s because they get a critical mass of believers praying for the event around the clock.  And in my observation the greater the mass of praying people the more results they see.

 

The fact that we don’t truly believe that our prayers do make a difference is nothing new.  Look at the household of Mary in the first part of Acts 12.  They had been praying and when the answer to their prayers stood at the door and knocked, they thought the servant girl was out of her mind or perhaps seeing an angel and wouldn’t let Peter in until he persisted in knocking.  But at least they were praying!  Praying long into the night!  And Luke associates their prayers with not only Peter’s release but the down fall of Herod Agrippa.  So pray, knowing that it makes a difference!  Then G.t.G.t.G. as you see the answers to your prayers.

The fallout the next day back at the jail was sad indeed!  Luke tells us that the guards went crazy trying to figure out what happened to Peter.  One minute he was there between two of their finest the next he’s gone never to be seen by them again.  They went crazy!  And for good reason too!

Verse 19 says, 19  Herod Agrippa ordered a thorough search for him. When he couldn’t be found, Herod interrogated the guards and sentenced them to death”.  Ruthless I tell you!  Blood thirsty and ruthless!

Those soldiers swore an allegiance to Herod Agrippa.  They placed their own lives in jeopardy daily just being occupying soldiers in a foreign land and Herod had the audacity to treat them as traitors for losing someone they could not have kept.   Clearly it was not their fault!  And yet it was.  For they had been given charge of the prisoner. There was no grace there.

Luke tells us that the cowardly King then withdrew to Caesarea.  Did you notice that?  Not wanting to take the heat from the Jewish Sanhedrin for having lost the prisoner, Herod himself left Jerusalem.   Some god he was, eh?   He had the power to kill his own soldiers but it seems he was afraid of the tongue lashing and ridicule that would have ensued over the bungled job.

Sometimes we may feel like, “what’s the use, evil is winning the war, there are more non-believers than ever”.  And who can blame us as we see fewer people in churches here in N. America?  In fact more people shop at Costco and Walmart on a Sunday mornings then go to church in all of Penticton.  So it may seem like we are losing the war.

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But would it surprise you to find out that according to an article in Mission Frontiers  the ratio from Peter’s time of Christians to non-Christian was 360 non to 1 believer.  Whereas by 2010 that number had dropped to 7.3 non-believers to every 1 believer.  And at Mission Fest last year I heard that we are at 6.2 in 2013. God is winning the war!  And the battle at hand is in our favour.  But Satan would sure like to make you think he has the upper hand.  Rest assured that as you pray and do what God is calling you to the powers of darkness flee.

Evil is like that.  When the light shines the darkness flees.   Herod couldn’t stand being in Jerusalem having lost Peter.  But his evil plotting didn’t stop in Jerusalem!

Luke tell us Herod was angry with Tyre.  Tyre was another seaport city up the coast from Caesarea.   There is no historical evidence as to why Herod would have been angry with that city, just what Luke wrote here.  But I have a theory. Ok…so I almost always do…

Herod was like any bully who doesn’t get his way.   He just refocused his bullying elsewhere.  He couldn’t save face with the Jews by bullying the Christians so he took it out on Tyre.

Have you ever got in the path of a bully enraged?  It can be terrible!  He’ll strike out at anything without provocation.  I remember my nemesis in junior high.  I did about everything I could to avoid him but he was the school bully.  And one day when a teacher caught him bullying a student he ran off to the part of the sports field where I had chosen to avoid him.

I had managed to avoid him there for weeks! But now he was coming straight at me. And he was some mad, let me tell you!  He took off some boot laces and started whipping me with them.  I hadn’t even said a word to him.  Soon as I saw him I just knew he was trouble coming my way.  And I was between a fence with no gate and him.  The sting of the lace and his fists pounding on me made me want to seek peace at any price.

I knew this guy was into weed.  So I offered to get him some if he left me alone.  Instantly we were best friends!

The problem was I had no idea where to find pot for him.  I hadn’t ever tried the stuff.  Didn’t even know what it looked like.  But if I didn’t have some the next day at recess I better not show up to school.  Know what I mean.  Well the next day came way too soon.  And so I improvised.

Earl Grey tea if memory serves me right.

I gave him my stash.  He took one look at it and a big smile was on his face.  The bully had won the war, so he thought.  I was safe for the time being until a few days later when I got another real good beating from him.  Apparently when you smoke tea it makes you quite ill.  Who knew?  He had been sicker than a dog.  And he wanted his pound of flesh.

So ended my weed selling days.  After that failed attempt, and with the bruises to prove it, I went to the teacher and told him what happened.  When he stopped laughing he said don’t worry about my nemesis, it was his third strike and he was kicked out of the school permanently that very day.

Slide18

Herod thought he was really something when the delegation from Sidon and Tyre came before him grovelling to make peace.   His ego was only slightly smaller than his crown.  Like most bullies he thought he was ultimately in control of those whom he bullied.  And when that day came he even dressed up in royal robes and sat upon his throne.  The crowds went wild with an ovation fit for the King of Kings.  This stroked Herod ego and he just loved the attention.   Loved it so much that when the crowd called him a god, he just lapped it up.

Luke wrote, “Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people’s worship instead of Giving the Glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died” Acts 12:23 (NLT).

Bullies come in many forms in life and cause grief and distress to those whom they touch.  We hear about the bullies around the world that have imprisoned Christians for reaching out and caring for people. Some Christians are under daily threats from the local and state authorities while others are much more subtly bullied.

Financial bullies can cause you to tighten your belts another notch.  The big bully Cancer can threaten to shorten your life.  Overbearing managers or bosses can constantly badger you until you can stand it no more.  Even old age itself can seem like a bully who constantly limits your enjoyment in life.

Whatever bullies or battles you face in life, you can be sure of this, God sees them and He cares and will see you through them for His own Glory.

Yet know this too, when it comes to people, God even cares for the bullies but if they don’t soon change their ways they will eventually be expelled and their reign of terror will come to an abrupt end.

The thought of which, I am fully aware, doesn’t help in the midst of the battle you may find yourself in.  But the promise of which is assured and even born out in our passage today.   God allows bullies to help sort out who will Give to God the Glory.  And He never forgets His own!  If you are a bully learn from Herod before you become filled with fish bait.

Paul writes, 13  Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God”  Romans 6:13 (NLT).

Through it all, aim to Give to God the Glory and you will not follow in the ways of the bully but rather gain freedom through Christ who will make you more than a conquerors.  Like Paul in Colossians 1:11.

11  We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, 12  thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.”    

Luke ends this chapter with, “Meanwhile, the word of God continued to spread, and there were many new believers” Acts 12:24 (NLT).

The bully was neutralized and the church ended up stronger for having overcome through the adversity.   The word of God continued to spread, and there were many new believers.

That is what I hope to write again a year from now concerning Grace in the Heart of Penticton.

Blessings!

Pastor Blake

The Job of Saints and YOU! A study in Psalm 145:1-12

  1. What things do you usually talk about with your friends when you meet?

  2. Are spiritual issues difficult to talk about with your friends?

  3.  How does it make you feel when you’ve shared what God has done for you?

Let’s look at the first part of Psalm 145 and see what advice David brings us. Read Psalm 145:1-12  then read and answer the following questions.  Remember to look up the verses that follow the questions before you answer them.  

  1.  What does it mean to extol or exalt? – Ps 30:1, Ps 68:4;Ps 71:14-24; Ps 103:1,2;Dan 4:37;

  2.  Who was the object of David’s exaltation? Ps 145:1 Rev 19:16;

  3. Is it reasonable to believe we can praise the Lord everyday? Ps 119:164; Rev. 7:15; Eph 6:18 ;1Thes 5:18

  4. Do you understand God more today than you did 40 years ago? Job 5:9-10;Job 11:7-9; Job 26:14; Isa 40:28; Rom 11:33; Ps 139:6

  5. What does David mean commend your works (4). Ps 44:1-2 ; Ps 40:10; Ps 71:117-19; Ps 78:3-7; Ex 12:26-27; Ex 13:14-15; Dt 6:7; Jos 4:21-24; Isa 38:19 ; Mt. 12:34-35; Php 3:7-9

  6.  Many of these verses mentions fathers passing on the faith, what about mothers? 2 Tim 1:15

  7. How does showing generosity reflect god’s character? (Ps 145:8) Ps 86:5;103:8; Nu 14:18 2 Cor 9:11-12; 1 Pet 2:10

  8. Is God good to all or just those whom call on the name of the Lord and are saved? (Ps 145:9 ) Ps 65:9-13 ; Ps 104:27; Na 1:7; Mt 5:45; Act 14:17

  9. Who are the saints of today? (Ps 145:10) Eph 1:1, 1 Cor 1:2; Phil 1:1

  10. What’s the job of the Saints? (Psalm 145:10-12) Ps 30:4; Ps 32:11; PS 97:12; Ps 135:19-21; Isa 43:21; Heb 13:15; 1Pe 2:5,9 ; Rev 7:9-12; Rev 19:5-6

  11. So what are you waiting for? Get to work!

Be Blessed!

Pastor Blake

Getting to Know Jesus – A Ten Day Biblical Journey of Faith and Discovery

Getting to Know Jesus – a ten day biblical journey of faith and discovery.

Getting to Know Jesus is a ten day biblical journey of faith and discovery, it was developed by Brian Bird a now retired Anglican priest living in South Africa.

Our life today is dependant on relationships and what better relationship to develop and nurture, than one with God, our Creator. This booklet can be used to gain an insightful perspective on what this relationship means to us and also used by more mature Christians, to refocus our relationships and priorities.

We have Brian’s permission to publish this on the site to extend Christ’s Kingdom.  So we present it here for your use…… be Blessed!”

Kapenguria and West Pokot and Adventure in Ministry

Heading up Mt Elgon we were in for a treat and some suprises.  In Pokot is a lovely little village over the shoulder of the mountain into the dry ‘desert’.  Long before we got there we were unexpectedly stopping at a little Bible College, and Blake spoke to encourage the students, and pray for them.   One student is also a nurse, just arriving from a night shift, and she wreathed Catherine and Betty with dainty bead necklaces and  thanked them for coming.  These folks all are so glad to see the visitors.  Back into the van, on and up into the hills,  tiny church with enthusiastic worship waited eagerly for us to arrive.  The banging drum served several purposes, including letting the villagers know we had arrived. Gail spoke to the gathering about marriage, family and menfolk who were strong in the Lord and able to raise up the next generation of leaders.  The church had all adults seated in the first few rows, and the back rows filled with “watoto’s”… the Children!!  Once again off we went into the van and up over the crest of the hill…down down down to find a valley church.  The van was pretty hot by the time we arrived, and so to aid cooling, we parked in the shade of a great tree next to the 10-12foot tall ant hill!!!  Folks had been waiting for us so they quickly arrived.  There were about13 pastors who had travelled from the outlying north and west Pokot district churches especially for today.  Again, the drum calls to worship, and the music and dancing begins.  There were 3 languages present-English, Kiswahili and Pokot…so Gail spoke in English with a Swahili translation, while the pastor took copious notes and then he paraphrased and gave a condensed message in Pokot.  Then on to sermon #2!!!  Blake spoke of LIFE…Loving Intentionally for Eternity, with the translation I think into Pokot.  LUNCH!  wow, we were spoiled, with chicken, rice and beans.  A lovely and necessary tradition is the pot of warm water and the washing bowl that is offered to the hands of each guest.  After lunch all the formal introductions happened and we were delighted to be gifted with carved wooden ‘bowls’!  AMAZING!

Kapenguria Pokot