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Archive for the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ Category

daisy-in-a-field-of-lavenderI am currently recovering from a terrible bout with the flu and pneumonia and ensuing dehydration that laid me out for a few weeks and from which I am still recovering. During that time, it felt like I was on a journey to some distant, dark region of my soul; at times it felt like my very bed was hell. But the Lord was in the midst of it all with me in such wonderful ways that I would be remiss if I did not give Him glory and public praise for what He did in my heart during this time!

I’ve been sick before, but I’ve never experienced anything like what I went through these past weeks. Maybe it is because I’d never been this sick and all alone before. In the past, there was always someone in the house with me to help me think, check up on me, give me water to drink, get me medicine. This time, there was no one, and I was too weak to figure anything out or think clearly, which is why I ended up so dehydrated. (I did have friends calling from time to time and later in the sickness people began bringing me all kinds of things–but I am talking about the first days of it in which I was still very much unaware of how sick I really was and trying to be tough and telling people I would be fine).

Anyway, the point of this blog is not to talk about how sick I was or get people to feel sorry for me, but instead to share the wonderful ways God met me in my sickness! There was so much more than I can share here, and some of it very personal, but there are a few stories that I think are worth sharing and I hope will encourage you. I can honestly say, He ministered to me so much during these past few weeks, that I wouldn’t trade that time of being sick for anything!

The Stench

Early in my sickness, I went through a period of time in which I was sweating intensely. (Later, I must have been too dehydrated to continue sweating). For days I was in the same clothes, sweating and then drying out and then sweating again. After about 4 days of this, I stunk so bad, I could hardly stand myself, but I was too weak to change clothes or take a shower. What I really wanted was to soak in a hot bath, but my house has no tub. As I lay alone in my bed, in all my stench, feeling like a shell of a human being, I began to think about and pray for all the other people on earth who were also suffering physically, and all alone–even more alone than I was. People who literally had no one to call to help them in time of need. People who were as sick as I was and didn’t even have a bed to lie in, but were out on the hard street. As I considered this, I had a visionary experience I will never forget.

homelessIn my vision, I found myself laying on a piece of cardboard on a filthy sidewalk somewhere in a 3rd world city. I was dressed in my same stinky, damp clothes and was engulfed in the same stench. I was exactly myself. I was not another person…and yet, I was one of them-—those people we all know are out there but somehow can never relate to. The people who haven’t bathed in months or years. The ones who chronically stink, the ones with matted hair and sunken eyes. The ones who dig through dumpsters and city dumps for food and clothing. The ones that somehow get relegated to a sub-human status in the perceptions of the affluent Western World. And in my vision, I was one of them—but only I knew that I was a human being worthy of dignity and respect. I was me–Mercy! And yet, I wasn’t. At least no one else seemed to think so, for people were coming and going on the busy sidewalk but no one seemed to notice me. I was only a stinky, ugly, sick person laying on cardboard on the dirty sidewalk; bones and body aching, thirsty and in pain and liable to infect anyone who came too near.

I could see the feet of people as they passed by–all kinds of feet. High heels, tennis shoes, business shoes, flip flops. Occasionally a cold coin would land on my body or the cardboard–but I never saw the ones who casually flipped the coins my way and nor did I have any use for them because I was too weak to get up and buy anything with them. In this vision, I felt incredible loneliness and began to accept the fact that I must be less a human being than those who walked by me with such strength and purpose. Only a complete loser in life would end up where I was, and yet here I was–a forgotten, overlooked, uncared for, suffering shell of a human being without the tiniest bit of hope.

And then…I felt a cool hand on my burning forehead. Someone was reaching down to me! Someone was touching me, not in fear or revulsion, but in love. I felt strong arms draw me up off my cardboard bed, and hold me close. Gentle hands were smoothing my hair and a sweet old voice began to tell me that everything was going to be OK. And when I opened my eyes, I was looking at Mother Teresa.

mother-theresaShe was looking into my eyes with genuine love and humility. I didn’t feel one trace of condescension in her gaze or her tone, not a trace of pride in her kindness to me. In fact, everything about her demeanor told me that she wasn’t thinking about herself at all, but her thoughts were totally centered on me! Her thoughts were all about my recovery; about bestowing dignity on me and recognizing that I was person worthy of love and care.

And in my vision, this strong lady picked me up as though I was a little child, and carried me back to her center where I was given a bed to lay in and lovingly tended to in such a way that I felt a sense of dignity returning to me. Dignity. Yes, real dignity; that quality that the devil works so hard to destroy in every human being. That quality that we must all be more conscious to give one another, by virtue of the simple fact that every single one of was made in the image of God and loved enough by Jesus that He was willing to lay down His life for us.

Through this experiential vision, the Lord powerfully reminded me of how much that sort of ministry means to Him–how close it is to His heart to care for the powerless, the sick, the forgotten, the rejected, the unlovely, the dying–in a way that doesn’t further strip their dignity, but bestows worth and honor on them. How His heart burned as bright as a city on a hill through His servant Mother Teresa, and shines as an undeniable testimony still. And how those who “are about their Father’s business” in such a manner, great or small, bring such joy to His heart, whether they are lovingly ministering to one or multitudes. For days after this vision, I felt the love and strength in it sustaining me as His lovingkindness washed all through me. (And I was able to get a bath at a friend’s house which also ministered to me much).

The Sweetness

Some days later, after pneumonia had settled into my lungs, I began to have trouble breathing at night and was plagued by coughing and bubbling and gurgling in my lungs that also prevented me from sleeping. Someone had brought me some cough syrup, but it didn’t have an expectorant in it and wasn’t helping at all. I’d tried Nyquil, Dayquil, aspirin, chloraseptic, and now this new cough syrup, and all I had experienced was hallucinations and other bad side effects. In desperation, I went to the internet to look up natural cough suppressant and expectorant remedies. Somehow I made myself a small jar of grated garlic in raw honey, which immediately began to help. And I also discovered the sweetness of lavender oil as a natural cough suppressant. (I was so glad I happened to have a bottle of lavender essential oil in the house with me). If you’ve never tried lavender oil for a cough remedy, let me tell you that it is a miracle worker!

I put on some soothing instrumental worship music and climbed in bed with a bunch of pillows behind my head –and holding the jar of essential oil under my nose, I experienced an amazing and intense time of healing that seemed to wash in and through me—body, soul and spirit. The lavender seemed to embody all the gentle kindness of the Lord as the aroma went deep into my lungs and soothed me from the inside out. I relaxed into what felt like the first true rest I’d had for days. I felt like I was floating in some heavenly place, just breathing in that healing fragrance which seemed so real and alive, compare to all the other so-called medications I had been taking—bottles of unnaturally colored syrups with poison warnings on their labels.

lavender_fieldsI began to think about how God made the lavender with such a wide variety of uses and purposes and how He did it deliberately, with great care and foresight. I saw all the thought He put into the lavender plant and I could feel His love through it as I breathed it deep inside of me. I could feel His delight in the lavender; His very joy as He fashioned it. I began to think of all the healing properties He put in so many plants and foods and how everything He made was good and how much all of it delighted Him. I saw clearly that He didn’t create one plant in an offhand way, but with great care and thought and love. He knew all the things we would need and He put everything right here for us. He put miracle-working properties in everything He made and He did it all for us.

I’ve always sought out and preferred a natural cure to a pharmaceutical drug, but during my “lavender moment” it hit me in a deeper place of my heart than ever before. I saw that to use the medicine He provided was a form of honoring Him and submitting to His wisdom. It was a way of loving Him back, of worshipping Him, of showing Him gratitude and thanksgiving. It was a way of acknowledging His love and wisdom. This all became crystal clear to me as I lay in bed, inhaling the sweet, clean, sun-soaked living scent of the lavender oil. And I saw all the more clearly, how running off to the doctor and taking some man-made drug, some chemical concoction, some dead syrupy slop made in a laboratory was like a slap in the face to God. I understand that sometimes drugs and antibiotics save lives, and I have no condemnation towards those who’ve used them to stay alive. But I also saw all the more clearly how these “medicines” almost always have negative side effects and how they are a poor substitute for the genuine healing power that He has put into the plants.

lavender_field_blur_sharpenAs I lay there, breathing the lavender and falling in love with God all over again, I thought to myself that I never wanted to even spray another chemical perfume on my body. Perfumes are known to contain toxic chemicals and yet I that was one area I never took seriously because I love a nice scent. But as the Lord ministered to me through the lavender oil, I began to feel revulsion in the core of my being at the thought of every spraying a toxic cloud of fragrance over myself again. Why should I, when there are perfectly natural ways to smell nice, through all the fragrant essential oils that people have used for centuries?

Why use anything fake or toxic, when there is something real and healing that could be used in its place? I mean really–WHY? There is no logical sense for it! Sometimes the obvious is just too plain in sight to be seen.

After a night of non-stop breathing the lavender oil and putting it directly on my chest and throat, I noticed that my chest didn’t feel quite as heavy, and that which I was coughing up was lighter in color. The lavender oil was a turning point in my sickness and stopped my fits of coughing better than any other medicine I tried.

Healers versus Drug Pushers

In closing, I’ll say that I had the opportunity to go to a local clinic towards the end of my sickness, in which I waited for 40 minutes past my appointment time, was ushered into a cold room and left alone for another 10 minutes as the lady who performed my initial check-up was called out of the room. Then I was taken to the doctor’s room where I waited another 40 minutes. The slippery, paper covered “bed” was set in such a way that I could not lay down on it and the room was freezing cold to me. There is no way I could have handled it if I had gone in when I was at the height of my sickness. I would have had to lie on the floor while waiting for the doctor.

Anyway, this whole experience has left me more passionate to see real hospitals and real houses of healing being raised up in our country. As a culture, we are in desperate need to connect with the natural healing methods given to us by GOD HIMSELF, and we are in dire need of people who are skilled in such healing methods and can minister them to the sick (body, soul and spirit) with love and dignity and faith and prayer. We are in desperate need to return to eating real foods and drinking real water and getting real sleep…and of course, we are in desperate need, most of all, to connect with GOD and to honor and respect Him by receiving of His ministry and His love in every way that He offers it.

I urge you to educate yourself on how to eat and live healthy according to the healing principles that God has put into creation itself. If you haven’t been to mercola.com, naturalnews.com (and many others), I encourage you to read the sites and sign up for their newsletters. The Internet is FULL of helpful information to help us live healthier lives, just on a natural, physical level. There is no reason for anyone to be ignorant of these matters and to suffer unnecessarily.

Here’s to healing and the restoration of true dignity to each and every one of us.

Here’s to the lovingkindness and thoughtfulness of our God who is past wonder, and worthy of all praise and love and honor; who is worthy of respect and thanksgiving; who is worthy of worship in ALL of our actions!

Yes, here’s to the God who can take a selfish, indifferent person and transform her into someone who walks the dirty streets and is not afraid to hold a leper to her breast or minister grace to a dying man covered in his own stench.

Here’s to fields of lavender, alive in the breeze and sun, sending out a healing fragrance into the world.

Here’s to the coming of the kingdom of heaven; the beautiful principles and precepts and laws of God which always lead to life, which are real and lasting and eternal and can never be overtaken or erased or disregarded or exchanged for something better–because there IS nothing better or higher or truer or purer. Nothing else works. His ways alone lead to life.

Yes, here’s to the kingdom coming to earth from the inside out!   ~Mercy Aiken

mother teresa lonliness

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I have been leading a daily bible study with the EERC teachers since I have been here. We are currently studying the Kingdom of God through the context of the Beatitudes. I have been really enjoying it–as I was telling a friend of mine, each beatitude becomes my favorite one until we move on to the next one!

Right now, we are on “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.” Mercy, is of course, a subject that I have been drawn to study–for obvious reason, I hope! For years, people have told me that my ministry and calling was one of “mercy.” This used to annoy me, because in the way that it was first presented to me, it seemed that the ministry of mercy was not very powerful or effective—but at least it was “nice.” (Very early in my walk with God, I had been told by someone that my calling was “mercy” whereas theirs was “prophet,” and that mercy and prophetic giftings were exact opposites. The prophet would help someone get to the root of their problem, whereas the mercy person would comfort them through the difficult process by doing things like bringing them a cup of tea). Because of this, whenever people would tell me that my name was my calling, all I felt was a bit of irritation…until God began to teach me about true mercy.

Mercy-Truth

He showed me that rather than being the exact opposite of a prophetic ministry, mercy is the heartbeat of any true prophet. Mercy, by its very nature, wants to get to the heart of any situation where there is bondage and deception and bring deliverance and healing.

"Mercy and Truth have met together." Little "Truth" and me. We call her "Truthy."

Truth is not opposed to mercy and mercy is not opposed to truth. The two are forever united in God; two sides of the same thought, two letters in the same word, two facets of the same jewel. They are incomplete without each other. Alone, neither has the power to bring forth true righteousness or justice. Truth is not fully true without mercy, and mercy certainly is not mercy unless it is founded in truth. It is not a matter of being too soft or too hard–it is a matter of caring enough to do whatever it takes and say whatever it takes to bring salvation, healing and deliverance to all. That’s what Mercy-Truth does. This is the ministry that Jesus revealed in breathtaking beauty and perfection.

Mercy and truth are linked together 44 times in my NKJV, almost always with “mercy” mentioned first. It is interesting how “righteousness” and “justice” are often used in conjunction with these two qualities, and how often they are associated with the Throne of God or the throne of the king. Mercy-Truth is truly a kingly quality and is at the center of the kingdom of God; the kingdom made up of king-priests.

“In MERCY the throne will be established; And One will sit on it in TRUTH, in the tabernacle of David, Judging and seeking JUSTICE and hastening RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Isa 16:5

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face. Ps 89:14

Mercy and truth preserve the king, And by lovingkindness he upholds his throne. Prov 20:28

In mercy and truth atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil. Prov 16:6

Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed. Ps 85:10

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

The Hebrew word for “mercy” by the way, is “chesed” and can also be translated as “lovingkindness.” One definition I remember reading years ago said that it means something to this effect: “The earnest, fervent, passionate, unrelenting desire to good to someone and to bless them.”

The biblical phrase used to describe God far more than any other is, “For His mercy endures forever,” or “His lovingkindness endures forever.” It is as if God is saying, “If there is just one thing you know about Me, just one feature that you remember of me, let it be this: ‘I AM good and My mercy and lovingkindness endure forever.’”

That phrase is powerful. It was what those who were designated to praise the Lord sang, when David brought back the Ark and established his tabernacle (1 Chronicles 17:41).

It is what the trumpeters and singers were singing at the dedication of Solomon’s temple, when the house was filled with a cloud and the priests could not stand to minister but fell on their faces before the glory of the Lord. It was what they continued to sing, faces to the ground, at the end of the dedication, after fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering.

We all know the story of how the singers in Judah went before their army, and how “the Lord set ambushes against the people Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, and they were defeated.” For years, I heard that story just in the context of praise, but I find it interesting that I never remember anyone teaching us WHAT the singers were singing day–it wasn’t just random words of praise, but a very focused and simple thought: “Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever.”

I wonder what the melody sounded like? Was it fast or slow? Was it sung in minor chords? Were the ladies playing their tambourines? Did they kick up a trail of dust as they danced and sang?

According to David’s instructions, the Israelites sang this phrase responsively after returning from Babylon in the days of Ezra, when the foundation of the Temple was laid:

“Praise the Lord, for He is good and His mercy endures forever towards Israel.”

Jeremiah records a wonderful promise in chapter 33 of his Word of the Lord:

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Again there shall be heard in this place — of which you say, “It is desolate, without man and without beast” — in the cities of Judah, in the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man and without inhabitant and without beast, the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who will say:

“Praise the Lord of hosts,
For the Lord is good,
For His mercy endures forever” —

and of those who will bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord. For I will cause the captives of the land to return as at the first,’ says the Lord.”

And of course, Psalms 100, 107, 118 and 136 are filled with the phrase.

Suffice it to say, I think God really likes it when we sing and talk about His mercy enduring forever! In fact, I think He wishes that we would sing about this subject a whole lot more and that we would meditate on His lovingkindness every day. This should be the “theme song” of our lives, for it is only to the degree that we are beholding a God of mercy that we can become those who give mercy. Mercy and truth.

Upendo (Love) with her little sister, Truth

Since seeing this concept so powerfully in the Word, I often now sing these words as I walk into any new situation. I sang it as I came to Africa. I sing it before I walk into a situation that I know will be stretching for me. I sing it over people facing difficulties. I sing as many variations of it as I know, and some that He just gives me for the moment. I see the song moving before me, clearing the path for me, filling everything around me with His presence–His light and glory and kindness…His mercy and truth.

As I sing, I see God’s heart filling with joy, to be known as HE longs to be known, as He is in reality–a God of mercy and lovingkindness.

The Rain-Sermon

On that note, I wanted to share a very special time that He gave us yesterday. We were just beginning our evening Bible study on “blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy” and I had just laid out a few introductory thoughts concerning the mercy that is in the heart of God. How He is good to all and sends rain on the just and the unjust. Anyone, even crooks, are kind to their friends or those they can get something back from—but to be kind and merciful to the unthankful and those who hate us is to be like God Himself.

At that moment it started raining, just beating on the tin roof, so that I had to begin to yell my message to be heard over the din. It took less than a minute for me to realize how dumb that was. The message of mercy in the rain could speak louder than anything I had to say. It was almost like God said, “I’ll handle this one. Just be quiet and let ME be the voice today that tells about My mercy.” So I suggested that we just spend some quiet time in the presence of the Lord and begin to pray and release mercy to others in need of it.

For a few minutes, I could hear the muffled sounds of people praying and some singing softly, but then the rain suddenly doubled its intensity and it was too loud to even hear yourself think. There was nothing for us to do but just sit in absolute silence and listen to the pounding, thundering rain-sermon falling above us and all around us.

I thought of Jesus standing at the door of the church and knocking. Through that rain, I heard Him knocking at the door of our heart with all the passion and thunder inside of Him…asking us, CAN YOU HEAR ME? CAN YOU HEAR MY HEARTBEAT? ARE YOU LISTENING? DO YOU GET IT? No, really–DO YOU UNDERSTAND THIS? DO YOU GET ME?

He so longs to be known as He really is, to be seen in truth, to be beheld by the ones He loves. For us to come to Him and receive–and then give–His mercy. This is what kings do!

The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown…
–Shakespeare

In closing, I will share the lyrics to one of my favorite Dylan songs, which just seems to fit with the feeling of the crazy rainstorms we have been having–for the chimes of freedom are indeed the chimes of Mercy-Truth.

Chimes Of Freedom

Far between sundown’s finish an’ midnight’s broken toll
We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing
As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing
Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
An’ for each an’ ev’ry underdog soldier in the night
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

In the city’s melted furnace, unexpectedly we watched
With faces hidden while the walls were tightening
As the echo of the wedding bells before the blowin’ rain
Dissolved into the bells of the lightning
Tolling for the rebel, tolling for the rake
Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned an’ forsaked
Tolling for the outcast, burnin’ constantly at stake
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail
The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder
That the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze
Leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder
Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind
Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind
An’ the unpawned painter behind beyond his rightful time
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Through the wild cathedral evening the rain unraveled tales
For the disrobed faceless forms of no position
Tolling for the tongues with no place to bring their thoughts
All down in taken-for-granted situations
Tolling for the deaf an’ blind, tolling for the mute
Tolling for the mistreated, mateless mother, the mistitled prostitute
For the misdemeanor outlaw, chased an’ cheated by pursuit
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Even though a cloud’s white curtain in a far-off corner flashed
An’ the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting
Electric light still struck like arrows, fired but for the ones
Condemned to drift or else be kept from drifting
Tolling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail
For the lonesome-hearted lovers with too personal a tale
An’ for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Starry-eyed an’ laughing as I recall when we were caught
Trapped by no track of hours for they hanged suspended
As we listened one last time an’ we watched with one last look
Spellbound an’ swallowed ’til the tolling ended
Tolling for the aching ones whose wounds cannot be nursed
For the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones an’ worse
An’ for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

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I haven’t been feeling well the past few days, with swollen tonsils/throat and low energy.  It was a combination of things that brought this on, but mostly because I was too cold for several nights.  (I’m such a wimp in the cold.  I am a bit envious of people who are warm or hot all the time…In the same way I am in awe of people who can fix cars and know how to make money and so on.  They are like a whole other breed of person!) 

Anyway, this little sickness coincided with the anniversary of my one month arrival, which has led to a lot of time of prayer and reflection as I have been resting. 

All the schools around here are getting ready for their April break, due to planting and harvesting certain crops.  We will finish up the lessons on “One Thing” this next week and then shortly after that, Ann Fyall, who started the Dominion Home will be visiting from the States. She will be here for 3 weeks.  The Kenya schools also take off the month of August, but continue through the summer. That leaves May through July as my remaining months to effectively pour into SILA/Dominion through teaching classes for the teachers and kids.  During those three months, I plan to teach a course on the Gospel of the Kingdom…the Kingdom of God. I am really excited and have been thinking about it a lot.

The other night I woke myself up from a dream in which I was explaining the Gospel of the Kingdom.  In my dream, I was talking about the rock that Nebuchadnezzar saw that crushed the statue in Daniel 2 (the image of antichrist with Babylon as the Head…too much to get into here) and brought it to chaff, so that it was found no more!  And then the Stone became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.   The Stone that struck the Image is David’s stone that struck Goliath…the Stone is none other than Christ (head and body), and the Kingdom that fills the earth belongs to Him…and us. 

It is a kingdom that will never pass away but will continue to increase until all creation (from the inner workings of every heart, to every cell in every body—to the farthest reach of every star) is “righteousness, peace and joy” which is found in the Holy Spirit…Till every man is a Tree of Life…till neither root nor branch nor fruit remain—anywhere in creation—of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Or you could say it this way: Until death is forever swallowed up in life!

The Stone that strikes the statue also strikes each man (a mini-Babylon in himself).  Do you see it hurtling towards you?  Or have you already fallen on It?  The Rock will fall on us or we can fall on the Rock. Either way, the Rock wins.  This Rock is Violent Love.  The word of the Rock is “grace, grace!”  And the Name of the Rock is Jesus Christ!  His Kingdom is upside down and inside out from the way the kingdoms of this world operate.  And yet, it is His Kingdom that was before and is the Kingdom that remains after everything else has been shaken.  It is the truest reality. And its increase is inevitable!

In this Kingdom, blessed, happy and to be envied…are the meek…are the merciful …are the pure in heart…those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.  This is not the culture of earth.  But it is the culture of the kingdom that has come to earth and will one day fill the earth.

Wise are you if you set your heart to learn the ways of the Kingdom now and to unlearn every other way of thinking and being; painful as it might be.  Wise are you if you learn to turn the other cheek, forgive and bless when you are wronged.  Blessed are you if you learn to live before the praise and esteem of God, rather than the praise and esteem of man. Wise are you if you learn to let God put to death within you that which is puffed up and rotten to the core.  Happy are you if you see the rottenness within yourself and mourn because of it….for most certainly, He will then comfort you and cleanse you and continue to lead you in the Way; establishing His own nature in you. Blessed are your ears if you can hear His words…and wise are you if you actually put them into practice and DO them! 

There IS a Kingdom coming, and a Kingdom that NOW IS…indeed a Kingdom that always was and evermore shall be. The more we learn to live joyfully under the authority the King, the more kinglike we become…In fact, there is no other way to become a king.  For there are many kings in this Kingdom; indeed the Kingdom is a nation of kings and priests!  But the man parading around in lawlessness to the ways of the Kingdom; the man who acknowledges no King, is certainly no king himself.  The mark of a true king is that he has a KING. The mark of a true lord is that he has a LORD. (This is easily seen in the lives of Saul and David…the very apparent differences between a king without a King and a king with a King). True Royalty recognizes and honors Royalty!  Royalty stoops down to wash the feet of Royalty. True Royalty also stoops down to wash the feet of that which is not royal!

Entering into and living in this kingdom has very little to do with dreams and visions and all other “super spiritual” experience.  Some people are more spiritually attuned than others (and some just have fertile imaginations or great intellect), but NONE of these are qualification for entering or living the Kingdom of Heaven. (In fact, these things most often work against us.  It is very hard for the “rich man” to enter the kingdom…and he is often drunk on the “old wine” leaving him with no taste for the new).  The door is open to everyone to everyone who is childlike, who is poor in spirit, who thirsts, who knocks.  (I am speaking from a human perspective here).  It is also true that no one can even see the kingdom unless they are born from above.  

I love how Clarice Fluitt says that the things of the Kingdom become ours by reason of use.  As long as the ideals of the Kingdom are nice concepts sitting on a shelf, the kingdom will never be manifested in our life or the world around us—regardless of what we believe (or say we believe) or how many years we have sat under “kingdom teaching.”

Many dream of the perfect Kingdom after they die, but learning to walk and live by its principles right here, right now, is a whole different story.  But this is what we are called to! Hold your tongue.  Apologize.  Give.  Draw in the outsider, the lonely, the broken. Do when it doesn’t make you look good.  Do it when it kills everything inside you and your own justice is denied. Do it before the eyes of God alone.  Learn to let HIM be the judge. 

I hear the Lord saying to all of us, “To be found faithful in a small thing is no small thing before My eyes!”   For he who is faithful in the smallest thing will be faithful in the great things. All He is looking for are faithful people to whom He can entrust greater treasures…so that greater righteousness, peace and joy can be made manifest now and into the ages.

Whatever small things He has committed to your hand, beloved; whatever light He has given you to see with…WALK in it.  Put it into practice.  Share it. For Jesus said there will come a time when the light will be taken.  At that time, we will walk by the Light that has been formed in us as we have submitted to it and lived by it.  “Walk in the light, while you have the light, that you may be SONS OF LIGHT”  He said.  And if there is no light within us at that time, it will be because we refused to walk in what was shown to us.  “If the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” said Jesus.  “He who does not have…even what he has (or thinks he has) will be taken from him!”

Sobering words, but the message of the Kingdom is not all fun and flowers.  The Kingdom is not just a concept or a distant ideal.  It is the heart of God expressed; His very purpose for creation.  Sharp as a double-edged sword, it will certainly circumcise every heart.  And the Door into this Kingdom?  I remember years ago when I was talking to God about His purpose and plan for the ages.  He spoke words that have never lifted from my heart, and I pray by His grace never will be.  He said, “Just remember this, Mercy.  NO ONE enters the Kingdom of Heaven apart from the Cross.”  Elementary words to most Christians, but weighty in their outworking.  And certainly words that many in the so-called Kingdom would do well to remember. 

This Cross—yes, this TREE— at the center of Creation is a profound mystery that I know I have only begun to plumb the depths of. While there is much yet for me to learn, there is one thing I KNOW.  The Cross is the Love of God expressed in the most powerful and meaningful way that He could possibly reveal it. 

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s GOOD PLEASURE to give to you the Kingdom.”    And He thirsted as He hung on the Tree, thirsted for true fellowship in His Kingdom with the many sons who He would bring to glory even as He was in glory. A family who will restore the face of the earth; a people with His own nature, character and ability.  A holy nation of kings and priests. What was He thirsting for? He was thirsting to drink of HIMSELF in US! THIS is the Kingdom, and THIS is the price that was paid for us to enter into it and become a new creation.

If there be those who deny the cross and the King who gave His life upon it, you can rest assured of this: They are NOT “kingdom,” regardless of what they might say.

At the center of the Kingdom is a Man on the Throne, and He has nail-scarred hands and feet.  Let us never forget!  The hands that fashion us, the hands that discipline us, the hands that wound us at times…are Hands that were wounded for our iniquities, the very Body that bore away the sins of the world.  And as the Potter works at the wheel, every pot that is fashioned by Him will bear His signature; the marks of the Lord.  This is the imprint of His nail-scarred hand into the soft clay of our own hearts and how could we refuse it?  It is not a proud and haughty hand that seeks to fashion us, but One who understands. This is the proof of every king in the Kingdom: does he bear in his body the marks of the Lord?  For every pot that is stamped with this inimitable signature is a vessel of honor and will be treated as such by those who have eyes to see.

I remember how my mama would cry whenever we sang “The Old Rugged Cross” in our family worship time which we had every night when I was a child.

I am reminded of those words as I write, though I find myself changing them around just a bit.  If you know it, won’t you sing with me and thank Jesus for what He did for you?  For all us!

“On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross; the emblem of suffering and shame.

And I love that old cross, where the Dearest and Best, for a world of lost sinners was slain!

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, as my trophies right now I lay down;

I will cling to the old rugged cross, and trade it today for a Crown!”

Yes, there is a future crown to come (Paul entreats us to run in such a way as to win it!), but there is a crown for us now…a measure, a down-payment on the one to come.  If you are in the Kingdom, put on your crown (the mind of Christ) and step out into the world to serve it, as all true kings and priests do; with that rare mix of humility, compassion, wisdom and kingdom authority which brings heaven to earth.  

And if everything I am saying is new to you, I entreat you to surrender your life to His Lordship.  Repent, believe and receive the Kingdom! You will start small, and it will cost you all….But if you keep pressing on and do not quit, He will make something magnificent out of your life that will bring glory to Him and fill your heart with joy unspeakable.

Let us all continue to change our way of looking at the world and how we live in it; because the Kingdom is here and within our grasp.  That is just another way of saying, “Repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

Whether we are in Africa, the US, or anywhere else in the world, God is looking for people who are radical enough to believe the Kingdom and live by its principles…so utterly impossible to fulfill, and yet so easy for the new creation.  His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. Better to live by these principles, even if it costs us our life, than to evade them and be found in outer darkness.   

Radical, I say– not just for a day or a year…but for a lifetime.  It is one thing to start radically, or to run with passion for short spurts…but another thing to run this way year in and year out.  The most radical and inspiring people I know are the old saints who have run the race with passion and perseverance for a lifetime. Paul said that if you see someone really doing that, to imitate them…and you will be blessed. 

Please pray for me for these next 5 months in Africa, that God will reveal His Kingdom in fresh ways in our midst and that many blind eyes would be open and deaf ears would hear His words of grace and truth.  That His love would be demonstrated among us in power!  That we would be found in Him and He in us.  There is nothing else worth living or dying for.

Mercy

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Before I start this blog, I feel like I owe a quick apology to some of you, in regard to the way I have presented some things. I don’t want anyone to worry about my safety here. I have definitely been on a huge learning curve since I have been here and several of you have told me that you are glad that I have decided not to take that trip up to Kakuma.

The thing with Kakuma, is that many muzungus do go there all the time, (ie international aid agencies, etc.). You just have to go with the right group. Of course, even then, nothing is guaranteed. Diane wanted me to go with a group that she knew would be safe, and David and the SILA group are as safe as they come.  However, it might be that if I was with them, they could be at a greater risk.

Even so, as I said earlier, I don’t think I am going to do it (this time at least) because God has given me a different assignment—to focus on the children and SILA. Every time I go out to the home, I have the greatest measure of joy and peace that I have experienced since being here. I know that is where I am supposed to be, and where the greatest blessing is.

Part of my adventurous spirit comes from living in Mexico as a kid, and while in college. During that time, our family, and later myself, did many things off the beaten track. Even as a child, I found myself embarrassed by the other Americans travelling there—their loud voices, their clueless attitude, their fear to touch anything on the street. I suppose a resolve was born in my heart way back then to never be like that. I enjoyed the “real Mexico,” or at least as much of it as I could get my hands on. I travelled by myself down there when I was in college, stayed in many homes with Mexican people, and though I had a few scrapes (a few of which were genuinely frightening), I felt mostly very safe.

I was entering Kenya with the same frame of mind, but have since been awakened to the fact that the culture here is totally different than Mexico…I cannot think just in terms of Kenya alone, but the whole region. So anyway, please rest assured that I will be focused on what I was sent here to do and will not do any side trips at all, unless I really know that the Lord is leading me to do so.  Thanks sooo much for your prayers!!

After hearing many stories about the sadder side of life here, the violence, the shams and corruption, etc., I went to bed the other night feeling really stupid about the title of my blog, “ordinary daisy.” I felt like the quintessential naieve little…daisy…and I felt I should have chosen a stronger, more appropriate sounding title or theme…Something like “God’s glory manifested in Africa” or “flaming sword” (spiritually speaking of course!), or something that had a little more muscle to it!

Honestly, what good is a daisy in a region of the world where it is not uncommon for emaciated babies to be discarded into pit latrines by their own mothers? (One of Moira’s sons, and many of the orphans at Testimony Homes were found that way). So, I was feeling stupid and telling the Lord about it. And then, He reminded me (again) that HE had called me daisy—it was not something that I had chosen for myself. And He reminded me (again) that to just be who He made me to be is the most powerful thing I can do…And that it is through the seemingly “weak and foolish” things of this world that He displays His glory.

Most of all, He reminded me of the necessity of keeping my Eye (the eyes of my heart) focused on the sun (on Him) at all times, like the daisy. More than ever, I needed to be reminded that He wants my eyes to be continually filled with light, and to focus on the light, even as I behold works that were wrought in darkness. He reminded that those who keep their heart open to Him and their eyes on Him at all times, are the ones through whom He will change the world…And in fact, the only way that the world will ever be changed. Jesus demonstrated this perfectly, leaning on the Father and doing only what He SAW the Father doing and speaking only what He HEARD the Father saying.

I think of Jesus beginning His public ministry at a time in Israel’s history that was filled with religious confusion, corruption, and violence simmering just under the surface. He could have started out with so many more “powerful sounding” messages, but instead He delivered the most powerful message of all; one that still sounds strange to our ears today: “blessed are the poor in spirit…blessed are the meek…blessed are the peacemakers…don’t worry about tomorrow…rejoice when you are persecuted….turn the other cheek…forgive everyone…don’t fear man, but fear God alone…you are worth more than many sparrows….don’t do things for the outward show or praise of man…seek first the Kingdom of Heaven…be TRUE in the secret place of your heart…”

Jesus knew that this is what we needed to hear. Either this message is true everywhere and anywhere, at any time, or it is not true at all. But if it is true, then it is what Kenya needs, the United States needs, and I need.

I have been drawn deeply into prayer the past few days; in fact it seems like I cannot stop praying and singing. I am probably going to wear a circle in the grass of Diane’s front yard! (It is quite nice to pray out in the sunshine).

Once again, I’ll just say that I am sooooooo glad to have my guitar. I learned a few Swahili worship songs yesterday, which I have already sung with the children. (This was after my first lesson in Swahili yesterday morning…Jina langu ni Mercy! Jina lako ni nani? Mimi nina upendo Yesu).  (My name is Mercy!  What is your name?  I love Jesus).

We spent some time at Dominion Orphanage and school yesterday. I went into all the classes and met all the kids (many more in the surrounding community attend the school). The rooms are tiny cement rooms without doors—still under construction. Big clouds of dust blow in sometimes. The kids are all dusty, in dusty little blue school uniforms. The “school house” is actually on loan from Kweli, and in the future it will be a dormitory. But for right now, it functions as a school house.

The classes are “Baby Class—3 and 4 year olds)” “Top Class—5 year olds” and Standard 1st through Standard 3rd, with the oldest kids being 10. (There are only three kids in standard 3rd; Standard 1st is probably the biggest). I had fun just getting to know them all. They were so polite and all took turns shaking my hand and introducing themselves. I practiced my Swahili with them and we counted to 100 in Swahili and sang the ABCs in English, and played many other games. The teachers were also very polite and warm. I am really going to enjoy working with them. Afterwards we went back to the Home and helped the kids with their homework and hung out and played.

 Today, I am going to meet all of Moira’s orphans. She is bringing them into town (she has about 11 kids living in an orphanage outside of town, and several more living in the house here in Eldoret). We are going to have a fun day of songs, games, lessons, and so on. Diane and I are making a big batch of chocolate chip cookies for them–an unusual treat in Kenya!

I can see that part of the reason I am here is for the Word to go a deeper place in my heart.  Now is the time to see the reality and truth about all the things we talk about behind the cozy walls of our churches in the sheltered United States.  Here is the place of the touchstone for me; for God to test, refine and approve me.  Back home, I threw myself into prayer and worship, believing with all my heart in the power of “sowing to the heavens” and letting the Lord sow back into the earth through the vapor (prayers and worship) that we release from our mouths.  One of my friends had a dream of me playing my guitar and just singing and singing and singing…singing the word of the Lord over this whole region and over the children…Declaring the answer, and not the problem.

And so, I am keeping my single eye on the Light of Life—on HIM—and singing for the grain, new wine, and oil to spring up from this land. Like Elijah, praying until the cloud comes, and the heavens open and the rain comes down.  For He has fashioned us in Christ to be like a cloud, dropping down water from the midst of the bottomless well of Himself within us, moving in heavenly places by the winds of His Spirit; even the quickening breath of His mouth. 

“You who bring good tidings, get up into the HIGH MOUNTAIN…You who bring good tidings, LIFT UP YOUR VOICE WITH STRENGTH!  Lift it up, be not afraid; say to the cities of Judah, “BEHOLD YOUR GOD!”

I have been rather stuck in Isaiah 40 for the past few days. I recently discovered that there are only three places in the Bible where the phrase “the mouth of the Lord has spoken” is used following a prophecy, and they are all in Isaiah. 

“Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:4-5).

The mouth of the Lord has spoken—and all flesh shall see it together….This is His word, and has become mine as well.  The grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.  Blessed be His name!

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March 1

One week ago tonight I landed in Nairobi!  It is a beautiful, sunny morning here in Eldoret with blue skies and soft winds blowing.  Temperatures have been in the 70’s ever since I got here…maybe occasionally the very low 80’s. The rainy season should begin this month, though some are predicting that it will be delayed because of the ongoing drought in this region.  Rainy season is “cold” season.  They do not think in terms of summer or winter, but in terms of rainy or dry season.

I spoke this morning at the Bible study that the teachers have out at SILA’s EEC (Eldoret Educational Center).  We spent a long time singing, which was wonderful.  I was only able to share a part of the study I had prepared on being a person of “One Thing,” like David, Mary of Bethany, and Paul (Psalm 27:4, Luke 10:38-42, and Phil 3:7-15). I will probably share more along the same lines this weekend.  We will be having meetings all weekend long, with many different speakers.  I am really looking forward to it.

Since I have been here, I have felt the desire and heartbeat of God to bring people out of religious ritual and into a living relationship with Him.  We were created to experience a dynamic, fulfilling adventure with God.  Our hearts were designed to be exhilarated in His presence and to revel in His love and the knowledge of His delight in us. I can tell that many people here (as everywhere) are bored with God and bored with their faith. My heart’s desire is to help people come into a deeper, more vital walk with Him…to know His presence; to enjoy Him, and to know they are enjoyed BY HIM.

I am especially excited to have a part in helping the orphans at Dominion Home to grow up in the knowledge of the fatherhood of God…that they will no longer see themselves as motherless or fatherless, but they will be so confident in His love and care for them, and be richly fulfilled with a new identity as whole-hearted lovers of God and man–and be nation-changers.  The verse that has been in my spirit so strongly as I have prepared for this trip is 1 Sam 2:8 “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the beggar from the ash heap, to set them among princes and make them inherit the throne of glory.”   I can hardly read this verse without weeping, as I think of the little smiling faces out at the orphanage–some of whom would probably be dead right now, if they had not been rescued.…and the many others that have caught my eye and heart in the short time that I have been here. 

Blessed are the poor….the poor in spirit….those who know their need and are open to God—for theirs is the kingdom of heaven….their inheritance is the throne of glory!  Not just pie in the sky, but right here, right now.  As Jesus said, the kingdom of heaven is near you—even within your grasp (at hand).

Thank You Lord, for Your kingdom coming to Kenya, Africa, and all the world!

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