Hope of Dying

It was a stormy sea and the two men stood on the rail of the ship. The ocean waves kept crashing over them leaving their bodies soaked, salty, and shivering with cold. The younger of the two was ‘puking his brains out!’ His elder counterpart tried to comfort him. However the young man was trying at least to keep his saliva down. He had already vomited up the last several meals of the week. It seemed all that was left was for his tips of his toes to migrate up with the next ‘heave’ and be forcefully ejected from his throat.

‘There, there, young man, spoke his companion. Not to worry you will get better, I assure you.’

To which he replied, ‘oh no, I think I may die I feel so sick.’ He turned and gave a vigorous but empty heave. The toenails were next.

‘Oh now, don’t be so melodramatic the old man shot back. This voyage will not lead to your death, I assure you.’

He knew the old man was trying to comfort him, but it was not helping. He looked back at him, and though his face was drenched with sweat, he was pale and clammy cold. He spoke. ‘Oh no! Please don’t say that. The hope of dying is the only thing that is keeping me alive.’

I can imagine that the hope of dying would have been preferable to staying on that ship forever, sick with no healing in sight. I have often felt that way about the challenges I face in mission work. No, I am not depressed about the work, nor am I suicidal in any way, shape or form. But nonetheless it is an emotional and spiritual challenge to see my way forward in the midst of so much suffering.

I cannot begin to really explain just how I feel other than to say that it is only God who could keep me doing what I do in the way I do it. I do get tired of caring and feeling. One more incurable tumor, one more lethal infection, one more untreatable, un-diagnosable swelling, one more orphaned child, and one more victim of domestic or civil violence, none of whom seem to have money and look to me expecting I can find the resources they desperately need.

I break out in a cold sweat like the man on the deck of that rocking ship. Indeed the hope of dying is what keeps me alive. I know that there will be an even greater hope in death, than in life. So I hold on to life, knowing that I can’t, and should not even try to hurry death. Besides, life is so much fun when you get to help others live and live so much better. It is even more fun when you get to spend other peoples’ money doing it. However, if I thought this was an endless cycle of pain and suffering I am seeing, I would surely have died a long time ago, if not in body at least in spirit.

I believe the apostle Paul had a similar slant on life when he wrote: Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Paul had given his life to making Christ known. It was his sole purpose for being. Paul had choices. The choices of making Christ known and knowing more of Christ. The more he knew of Christ, the more he wanted others to know. And the more he wanted others to know, the more he himself wanted to know. In order to know the most, meant he had to die. But if he died, he could not continue to make Christ known. What a chicken and egg mess that is!

So the hope of dying was what kept Paul alive. He knew that death was inevitable and so he must accomplish what he could while still alive and so living was absolutely necessary and hoping to die made it…, well now we get complicated!

Suffice it to say, what we have in Christ far exceeds anything we can have on earth. That great hope is that I will one day be with Him and see Him as He is. That is what keeps me living…, the hope of dying in Him. John wrote: 1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

No matter what you are going through, remember there is hope in Christ and that is reason enough to live today. And there is also hope in Christ in death and that is reason enough to die. Enjoy living…, knowing Christ and making Him known. Don’t fear death, neither hurry it. Stay on the ship! It is only a brief voyage to make Him known and in the end, you have all eternity to know Him.

Porous of the Poor

I have been spotted! The black face trick is not working. I am surrounded by dozens of other faces with as dark a hue as mine, but somehow, I still seem to stick out. I am dressed in the same inconspicuous, casual attire as they wear. However, it does not work. A voice cries out my name; ‘Michael! Michael! Over here! Come over here!’

Without thinking I look up, unwittingly confirming my identity. After that, the rush is on. The seemingly quiet stroll through the market place has now become a mine field for me. The merchants and beggars have taken notice. ‘The rich American has arrived. Let’s go sell him our wares, or at least tell him our woes. One way or another, Michael will part with some money today.’

This may seem a bit of an exaggeration, but it is actually right on the mark. I have found it almost impossible to befriend the common man here in Kenya, without being…., well actually on the mark. I am marked because no matter how I look at it, I live a life of a multimillionaire compared with 90% of the Kenyan population. I don’t have to worry about water, food, clothes, electricity, and transportation, health care or even entertainment. I have two dogs that ingest greater than twice the caloric intake of the average child, and they never have to work for it. I hire guards to keep watch at night over my accumulation of ‘stuff’. They lose sleep and could potentially lose their lives, just so I can have the luxury of the internet and a variety of pizza toppings.

So why do I complain when I am confronted in the market with other black faces who track me down with the accuracy of an implanted computer chip? Why don’t I just give as they ask of me? Why don’t I just give ungrudgingly, without expecting in return? Why don’t I just give generously and gregariously?

The reason is that I don’t really know how to give. After 18 years of service in missions I still struggle with giving. How do I help the ‘Pourous of the Poor’? I coined this phrase to mean, no matter how much I give, it seems to never fill the gap. My own cup of material wealth is literally overflowing, into the saucer, onto the table and staining the table cloth in the process. It spills on my shoes and on to the nice clean carpet which serves to comfort my well heeled feet.

I have more than enough and yet, the more I give, it seems the more they want, need and have now come to expect. The vessel into which I pour my overflow seems to be full of holes, truly porous. It never fills up.

I know I will always be a mark. I can never know who is a friend, foe or fan. In fact the only true distinction is made when I am welcomed into a home and generosity is extended towards me and nothing is asked in return. Because this is so infrequent, I have become ‘paranoid’ when it comes to making even casual comments about the nature of my work, or my education.

I refer to myself upon entering a home or marketplace as ‘Michael’. This is not solely out of humility (though I am very humble!?!). You can stop laughing now. It is my best attempt to hide amongst the poor so that I can learn of their true desires, without the guise of being the ‘learned, enriched and enlightened one’. It is a feeble attempt to say the least because I really know no matter how I try to identify, I can always leave. I can pretend to be poor, but it is only like playing house as a child. We would make mud pies because it was fun. We would pretend to go to work. We would pretend to own a business. If we lost the job, or the business failed, we always knew we would eat that night. The mud pies were not for eating. However here, food is so scarce and expensive, just as in Haiti, who knows just how far people will go. They could muddle through a meal of mud.

That is why the poorest of the poor call me ‘Michael’ and not ‘Doctor Johnson’. I recognize that very few professionals, dignitaries or politicians in this country would allow themselves to be treated with such indignity as to be called by their first name. They would most certainly not forego the half dozen handles denoting their titles; e.g., B.A. M.D., FACS, Dip. ABS, CDEFGHIJ.., etc.

Just how do we satisfy the longings and fill the needs of porous of the poor?
Jesus had this very same problem. I think He may have invented it. He recognized that the ‘porous’ you will have with you always. He knew for certain that people in the market place would chase Him down, seek Him out, no matter how He tried to blend in with the crowd. He was well known to have everything they needed or could ever desire. Healings could be had from the hem of his garment, or the spit from His mouth. Thousands could be fed, just by placing in His hands the lunch of a little boy. A word spoken from Him could raise the dead from their graves and pay the taxes from the mouth of a fish. He had power. Yet He decided to go in the guise of the common man.

That is where I must start to meet the needs of the porous of the poor. Right now I give from what I can stand to waste from my wealth. I am giving from what I carefully measure so that I don’t miss it. I dare not commend myself as generous.
Giving starts with giving ourselves. We must allow ourselves to be marked. We must allow ourselves to be vulnerable. It is a difficult balance: to be vulnerable yet vicious. That is to be a peaceful as doves, yet harmless as serpents. Knowing how to say no and do so because I don’t want to feed into the cycle of dependency and patriarchal, feudalist, neo-colonialism is a very fine balance. I don’t know the answer.
I do know that we must allow ourselves to be amongst the porous of the poor. We do so because ultimately we are amongst the porous of the poor. God recognizes our poverty of spirit and He calls us to sit face to face with those who know poverty in a way we will never know it. When we submit to this call, we will understand how to fill the longings and true needs of the porous of the poor.

Rich Rats and Poor Dogs

Our storeroom is designed for non-edibles. Things like spare car parts, essential power tools that I brag about, but never use and old fishing gear that I faithfully take out for my alternate decade outdoorsman activities. We are typical Americans. We collect stuff. In 32 years of marriage we have amassed a fortune of things which we can neither evaluate objectively, give away nor sell. We hope our kids want it, but they have no doubt begun their own collection of American treasures. The prospect of no future generations laying claim to this mountain of wealth made seeing the rats run through our treasures in the storeroom even more distressing.

In 2002 Kay discovered that the snake which had been living in the storeroom had been killed by the gardener. So the rats having no predator to inhibit their productivity obeyed God’s commandment to be fruitful and fill our storeroom. Rats were everywhere.

Kay and Keturah had returned to Kenya several weeks before me that year, and were charged with the responsibility of getting the house in order and initiate the ministries prior to my arrival. It was a big task, made even bigger by the invasion of hundreds of furry critters. Kay tells me that as she opened the doors and saw the first varmints scamper across her valuable furniture she promptly slammed it shut and used my name in vain. I thought I felt my ears burn.

Time has passed. This is 2009. We have now fumigated the boll weevils; flea bombed for fleas, ‘eliminated’ the rats and are ready to stuff the storeroom all over again. This year we are set to use it for keeping the foodstuffs purchased to feed hundreds of children in orphanages. We will purchase maize, beans and porridge mix. Prices of these essential food items have skyrocketed due to drought and that deadliest of all diseases ‘GREED!’ Highly placed officials in the grain industry have somehow been able to manipulate the prices and availability of commodities to insure that the only well fed are the very rich people and the rats. The very rich have no problem in purchasing food at any price. As for the rats, they know how to fit in to every small hole in every large storeroom no matter how secure it may seem. They laugh at the poor dogs.

A ninety kilogram bag of beans (about 190 pounds) has doubled and tripled in price to about $70. To keep this in perspective, one child can eat a minimum of 250 grams of food (about one half pound) daily. For 90 children that means one bag of beans will last four days. We currently provide food for 700 plus children. As our supporters gave us $5000 to purchase food, we will acquire 70 bags of beans. 70 bags at 90 kilograms per bag will give us a total of 6,300 kilograms of food. For each kilogram we can feed four children. That means for the total of 6,300 kilograms we can provide 25,200 feedings of beans. For 700 children these beans will last about 36 days. That is, if the rats don’t get it first. In order for us to feed these children with a healthy basic diet, we really need a minimum of $60,000 per year, if the price of food does not go up. Ask yourself. What are the odds food prices increasing this year?

The rats eat will eat well if we don’t secure the storeroom. They could swarm our storeroom. That is why I have termed them rich rats. When compared with the poor dogs in the slums where we will distribute some of the food, the rats have it made. The dogs have it worst of all when compared with other members of this food chain. The food chain looks like this in Nairobi. At the top are the middle class people, like us who have enough to eat and even enough to throw away. We don’t live in, or near the slums. We just drive by and marvel how the raw sewage trickles down the streams into these semiprivate abodes.

These dwellings of mud and sticks are designed to house 16 people in 40 square feet of space, with headroom of six feet. Bend down to enter. Hold your nose if you plan to stay. There is no electric lighting, but your eyes will adjust to the dark because the smoke from the charcoal stove and kerosene lamp will make you squint. We could accommodate two such families in our storeroom, but we would have to sell some of our treasures first.

Lets’ look at the food chain again. The rich and middle class carry in their mounds of food and have their bags of rubbish hauled out to piles in the streets. This upper crust composes about 10% of the population of Nairobi’s 4 million people. The other 90% have access to their discarded excess. Their discards make up the essential nutrient source for many of the poorest slum inhabitants. From the crumbs of their tables, there is a rapid descent into desperation.

Along the streets, men sleep face down in putrid piles of warm, wet refuse as comfortably as on beds of sweet clover. They are not bothered by the swarms of flies. They are narcotized by sniffing glue (gas is too expensive) and are oblivious to their still awake foraging and hungry companions who are looking for something digestible and least likely to cause diarrhea or vomiting.

The poor dogs survive on the left over scraps that chickens won’t eat. As roaming cows rummage through garbage and litter, the dogs fend off wandering goats, which are defending their turf from the muddy ducks. The edibles are contaminated further with animal waste supplemented by the elimination of children and adults who find it easier to relieve themselves on the less trodden paths than the crowded pit latrines. The dogs eat the rotten corn meal mush, moldy kale and rotten fish bones. It is a real study in urban survival for domesticated animals.

The rats in our storeroom are the super rich, but after all, they aren’t man’s best friend. Come to think of it, neither are the urban poor. It is all in perspective. I guess that is why the dogs don’t mind. It was after all the dogs who licked Lazarus’ sores.

Lu 16:20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, Lu 16:21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

God Flips Coins

His arms and legs were about as thick as the IV pole. That may be an exaggeration, but for sure he was weak and the pole was just thick enough to support his frame from falling as he leaned on it from the edge of the bed. He teetered and tottered so I moved quickly to avert being hit by him and the pole. Then suddenly, it hit me. An idea that is, not the pole. It was revealed to me what all the theologians, thinkers, the prophets and priests have been unable to discern. I realized that God flips coins.

“Why me, he asked? I have never drunk liquor, I am faithful to my wife and I don’t smoke. I am a good church member and I work hard to support my family. Why me?”

I did not want to reveal to him my new found revelation, no matter how profound and true it might be. He was obviously not a deep thinker (as I am) and just dealing with his terminal illness was enough for him. So I thought of a different tact. I would not tell him that God flips coins. Instead I would tell him “God lets you pick a card out of His almighty hand.” No that won’t work. That is too easily associated with smoke filled rooms. Let me try “God lets you guess which shell the nut is under as He shuffles them around.” Hmmm! This was going to be harder than I thought.

How could I explain to him and his family members that at 27 years of age, he had an unresectable, untreatable, incurable illness? Why not just tell him the truth? The truth is; I don’t understand God and never will. God chooses to allow each of us a particular illness at a particular time based upon His infinite wisdom. It is actually written somewhere in the book.

Ecclesiastes 9:11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all.

God has chosen me to be the bearer of bad news in many lives every clinic day.

One day if I am blessed to be alive to hear it, God will send someone to give me some bad news about my own body. If it so happens, I pray I will not begin to think that the Almighty has a two headed coin, a stacked deck, or that there is no nut under the shell. I pray that the Holy Spirit gives me the grace to say “Why not me? After all, you have blessed me with many years of good health, strength, wholeness and joy. I would rather you choose me this time and let someone else experience some of the abundant life I have had.”

Ecclesiastes 9:12 For man also knows not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them.

James 4:13-16 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.

Life is not a game of chance. God has intricately ordered every step of my path. If I want to take advantage of all that He has to offer me, I should start with surrender to His will. After all, He is in control even if I hold the cards up my sleeve.

If I Sell My Last Cows

If I sell my last cows, I can afford the surgery.

My mind drifted as he spoke to me. Well it did not really drift. I intentionally let it wander away. I was hoping he would quickly relate this yet another sob story. He went on to elaborate how he had sold his crops and now was selling his cattle to get his surgery performed. It looked like it was going to be a long day.

Yes indeed, here I was in yet another clinic day. Today was actually lighter than most days. I only had 55 patients to see. The day is only heavy when you reach 80 and overwhelming when it gets 100 or more. With such a paltry number as 55, I was confident that if I could avoid talking to them, I might get finished by 6 p.m. If I did not examine them, I might even break for lunch.

Six in the evening is the usual quitting time and if I am really smart, I can send many of them for laboratory and x-ray examinations that will keep them in those lines for at least half an hour. Those diagnostic results pending, I could tell them they have to come back the next day and see one of my colleagues, hence relieving me of the burden to hear another ‘last cows’ story.

Well I called my mind back to face the old man in front of me. His illness was not so bad, just a hernia. This is a relatively simple operative procedure which we perform frequently. However, this man was making it complicated by somehow trying to compel me to feel some of his pain. I have learned over the past 19 plus years of working in Kenya, ‘don’t go there!’ Don’t begin to listen to stories. Before you know it, you will start to have compassion and that could be dangerous.

It appears this old man was a subsistence farmer. I would describe that as a person who grows just enough food for the boll weevils to eat. If his cattle look anything like those I saw in recent travel, selling half the herd of 20 would fetch just enough money to pay for the x-rays, ultrasounds, laboratory tests and medicines I just ordered.

I have to financially triage my patients as well as sort them by the stage and severity of their illnesses. Is the 6 month old baby who was born with AIDS and now stricken with meningitis resulting in blindness from the increased pressure from the swelling on his brain, worth investing money in to put a shunt in his brain in hopes of regaining his sight? Wow! That is quite the conundrum. How many cows will that cost?

Which cancer is biggest and which should I offer to pay the deposit for treatment? Two of the women in my clinic had breast cancers so large it appeared they would explode if I did not get them out of the room in time. Who would clean that up? They had both delayed coming to the clinic because they had no cows to sell. Then of course there is always the option of saying; ‘ I don’t care how sick you are, I can’t help you!’ That comes in very handy when there is no money left in the account to help them. That happens more often than I like. Not feeling makes it easier or at least it seems so.

I am of course being extreme in my description of my reactions, but not of the severity of the illnesses, or the choices my patients must make. I am also being quite honest in expressing the emotions I feel. I really don’t know how to feel without feeling. I don’t know how to care without caring. After having two patients cry, I can’t tell the third one ‘I have had enough. Go cry somewhere else’ even if I want to say that.

That is why praying with my patients is always so comforting. I can take them to the one who never runs out of cows. He knows the answers when I don’t. When things don’t make sense to me, I just have to turn it over to Him and expect that somehow He will sort it out.

When I can’t listen and care, I find God can listen and care. After I sell my last cow, I remember;

Ps 50:10 For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.

Swimming in Stool

Keturah was just about 5 or 6 years old.  Quite naturally, her understanding of the microbe world had not matured.

The septic tank needed to be drained just behind our house at Tenwek and as my friend Hal Burchel who was also our neighbor at the time, relates the story, Keturah was rather dangerously close to the open manhole cover.

“Be careful that you don’t drop in Keturah!”  That was the advice Hal gave.

Keturah looked up at uncle Hal and exclaimed: “It’s okay uncle Hal, I can swim!”

So it is with my own naïve nature about life.  I can be in the midst of some very dangerous situations, and rather than cry out for help, I pretend that the water is fine.  “Jump on in and grab one of these life preservers!”

I have been told that the best way to get out of a hole is to first stop digging and then climb out.

My pride will most often prevent me from stop digging.  “This is no hole, I exclaim, only a small pit within which I will find the true treasures I am seeking.”  Then I will insist that it is not that deep and those floating things are actually life preservers.

We must all recognize our desire to save face at all cost and how that negatively impacts the logical, lifesaving choices we should take.

Swimming in stool eventually gets rather disgusting, so I must eventually climb out, clean up and admit that the choice to look into the manhole cover was not very bright at all.

Keturah recognized it even at her young age.  I must remember it even now.

Psalm 40:2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock and established my goings.

She Ordered Chicken

A desperate African man walks into a room of very content and smiling missionaries.  He is desperate because he is trying to find a source for food for 300 school children whom he feeds and educates by donor support.  They are content and smiling as each of them has just started in on their second slice of a variety of pizzas and the grease and cheese illuminates their smiles.

It sounds like a joke.  It is not.  It actually happened.  The only person who did not have a pizza grin on their face was my wife.  She ordered chicken.  This aberrant behavior delayed the delivery of our pizza, but that is a story for another day.  Suffice it to say, we were very hungry, or ready to eat at least and we did not openly display our dismay to the delivery man and certainly not to my wife.

As I went on to explain to the man that we were very short of support because of the economic meltdown, I was at least courteous enough to offer him a slice of pizza.  He was deferential enough to decline.

I wiped the grease from my face, took a swig of cold Coca Cola and escorted him to the back door, continuing to advise him of the dilemma faced by Americans as they are forced to make decisions about downsizing their cars, cable television and even their favorite vacation spots.  I assured him that we would take his request under advisement and find a way to help feed the children.  He explained to me that the price of food had doubled over the last year, where it now cost about $50 to feed 300 children for a week, as opposed to $25 one year ago.  I had to use my napkin to wipe.  Not the tear from my eye, but the tomato paste from my mouth.  Bad form to say no with lipstick.

One of the men in our group was much wiser than I. He promptly reached into his pocket and gave a crisp $100 bill to the man.  He then went on to say that he would make sure we took this under immediate, not careful, later consideration.  This, he assured our visitor, would make sure that the children ate the next day.

I gulped.  It was actually a burp.  Cold soda can do that when mixed with the thin crust pizza.  I should have ordered chicken.

James 2:15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

James 2:16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

Protectors and Predators

She had the nerve to get pregnant before we had sexual intercourse!  Now she expects me to marry her.  I have my reputation to uphold.  My family will not hear of it.  How do I know if she will stop these sexual exploits after we are married?

I would guess those are some of the thoughts that went through Joseph’s mind those 2,000 plus years ago.  If Joseph would have asked me, I would have advised him to leave that harlot, slut, hussy of a woman.  I would tell him to leave her to her own devices.  However, Joseph saw himself as a protector.  He would refuse to show up on T.V. asking for a paternity test.

Most families lack a protector.  Many families, in fact, are headed by predators.  The difficult thing about a protector is anticipation and vigilance.  It is not good enough to meet the enemy once it is in the door.  It is best to keep the enemy from even gaining access to the threshold.  It is not good enough to just let those in their care ‘get what they deserve’.  A protector always protects, even when they are rebuked by those in their care and rejected by those watching from outside.

Protectors, who do their jobs well, anticipate.  They see dangers where those of the household see only friends and comfort.  Protectors, who do their jobs well, are vigilant.  They awaken early, and sleep late.  That is not the literal sense of what I mean, it is the spiritual sense.  They spend time with the Father asking for strength, guidance, and protection so they themselves will be able to provide the same for those in their charge.

It is not easy being protector.  That is why so few men do it well, or at all.  Many more men are predators than protectors.  They pillage the family for its resources.  They take and never give.  They allow any enemy to invade, and often invite the enemy in to the lives of those whom they are called to protect.

Pray for your protectors.  Pray that God will infuse them with the wisdom, stamina, diligence and commitment to do their jobs as it pleases Him.  If your protector pleases God, rest assured, you are protected.  Joseph was such a man.  He pleased God, and God brought protection to Mary and the baby Jesus.

It is the protector who anticipates things going bump in the night of your lives, and then goes to see what it was.  Joseph spent time with God.  God would awaken Joseph in the night and advise him where to go and when.  We need men, husbands and fathers like Joseph.

Matt 1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

Matt 2:12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

Disturbing Prince of Peace

I give you a disturbing peace.  The peace that won’t let you eat too much while you know others have too little.  You will recognize that as you loosen your belt, others are tightening theirs.

I give you a peace that interrupts your quiet time, with the sights and sounds of wars and rumors of wars.  You will become an advocate for reconciliation.

I give you a peace that won’t let you buy your children the latest fashion while you know other children have not clothing at all.  You will take on the challenge of orphans.

I give you a peace that disturbs you.  This peace won’t let you watch pornography as you recognize this industry exploits women and young children for the sake of pleasure.  You will pursue holiness in your own entertainment and a strong influence for those around you.

I give you a peace that won’t let you sit still as you know others are running for their lives from mercenaries, militias and mad men.  You will no longer shy away from bad news.

I give you a peace that convicts you as you put on each diamond and piece of gold, knowing that men and women are being slaughtered to keep the trade in precious minerals alive.

I give you a peace that makes you consider that the very drop of gasoline you buy is produced by nations that exploit its own, especially the women and the poor.  You will conserve.

My peace will convict you of your own sin…, and help you show others how to keep from sin.

I give you peace that disturbs you until you pursue the peace that comforts others.

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.

Mt 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

I Scraped My Plate

I scraped my plate.  I should have eaten just desert, but I needed a balanced meal.  So, I scraped my plate and stacked it on the other half empty one.  I was not full.  I was not even satisfied.  I just wanted to eat another variety of Buffalo wings, some ribs and top it off with some more sushi before eating something sweet. 

This joy of eating was interrupted by pictures on the overhanging television.  Something about some disaster in some god-forsaken place with some god-forsaken pagan people who deserve the wrath of god because of the evil in their lives.  They deserve what they get!  Their just deserts!  Speaking of desert, the variety was mind boggling.

Fruit salad, ice cream, donuts, bread pudding, brownies and that very essential cherry pie with whipped cream on top were just the beginning.  I left my plate on the table this time.  This is a buffet and they hire people to pick up and clean up after me.  Ain’t God good!

Proverbs 30:8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:

Proverbs 30:9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.