30 July 2014

Great getaway to Nyahururu; exploring the countryside and 'following our nose'

The last time I was in Nyahururu, I saw elephants on these hills (near Thompson Falls).

Hannah and I decided to 'follow our nose'
and do a bit of exploring on our own.

We crossed a bit further upstream than this cow-herder.

We didn't see any elephants, but we had a wonderful time enjoying the beauty of our surroundings!

I love spotting stunning splashes of color and beauty like this!

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After a wonderful time in Nyahururu, we headed back to the big city of Nairobi via matatu (mini van).
We then arrived in Ngong town via bus. And finally, we hopped on two motorbikes for the last leg home.

Hannah pays our drivers after they delivered us to our gate. 

29 July 2014

Great getaway to Nyahururu; hiking and hanging out with the hippos

Top two photos taken from a watch-tower overlooking the town and surrounding area

John happened upon us and did a great job as our guide for the day.

We spent a fun 30 minutes watching 7-8 hippos frolicking in the swampy pond.

What did you do today? 'Oh... I hung out with John and the hippos.'

Never mind that they're the most dangerous animal on the planet! Yikes!

28 July 2014

Great getaway to Nyahururu; relaxation and recreation with good friends

Myself plus Mary (a new friend from Canada), Joanie, and Hannah

Hiking to the bottom of Thompson Falls

Hannah getting a good shot of the falls, with Mary in the background

Surrounded by blue-uniformed school kids, everyone of whom wanted to greet us and shake our hands!

After our hike, we had a fantastic meal at Thompson Falls Lodge. I had delicious whole Tilapia.

Requisite photo at the equator :)

We attended a church service - with 200 pupils - at a boarding school.

We had wonderful chats, played games, prayed for one another, ate lots of popcorn plus guacamole and chips,
and thoroughly enjoyed the cool evenings in front of toasty fireplace.

21 July 2014

Planned neglect; saying 'no' to good things so we can say 'yes' to the best

I was asked recently -
"So... what are you busy doing?"

I'm not sure he really understood my answer - -

"Well, actually... I have no desire to be busy. And I would rather be, than do."

This article addresses the issue much more eloquently than I did.

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How to Plan Neglect: Saying No to Good Things So We Can Say Yes to the Best
by Randy Alcorn

There are times when I’m overwhelmed with seemingly endless opportunities to do good things. I have to weigh what I can or should say yes to against what I need to say no to.

I hate to disappoint people, but in those times it becomes clear that I have to be carve out time to fulfill my most basic commitments and do what I believe God wants me to.

I have to make sure I am living to please God, not everyone else.

We shouldn’t say yes to something just because it’s a good thing or even a great thing.

I must say no to people concerning the vast majority of good things they invite me to, in order to be available to say yes to God concerning that small number of things He has truly called me to.

Sometimes we tend to say yes to too many of the good things, leaving us exhausted and unable to bring our best to those relatively few God-things.

There are only 168 hours in the week no matter what we do (and during a third of those we should be sleeping!)

If we have X number of people to make time for, they have to come out of the same small pie of available time, and pretty soon the slices of the pie get smaller and smaller. You end up having dear friends who no longer get a sliver, because it’s been divided so many times.

Ask God for wisdom as to who these should be, and God will give it (James 1:3).

This is planned neglect.

We need to neglect doing the things that countless people want us to do, so that we will be available to do what God wants.

And sometimes He speaks in a still small voice, while people speak in a big LOUD voice. We have to make sure we’re listening. To do that, we need to put our ear to His Word and pray and seek His face.

I want to be available to listen to God and follow Him when He gives me those totally unexpected divine appointments.

But if I’m booked so tight there’s no room in my schedule for unanticipated God moments, I’ll miss them, and thereby miss some of life’s greatest joys and opportunities and occasions for gratitude.

If you don’t give yourself room to breathe, you won’t give God room to move.

Instead of exhausting ourselves doing many secondary things, may we do a few primary things well.

And that begins with our daily time with God.

When Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet soaking Him in, and Martha was mad because Mary wasn't doing what she wanted, Jesus said to Martha, “Only a few things are necessary, really only one; Mary has chosen the better portion, which shall not be taken from her” (Luke 10:42).

Decide what you're going to neglect this week in order to pay attention to God.

I saw this article by Randy Alcorn on Ann Voskamp's website.

03 July 2014

Definition of knowing God: Do good by defending the cause of the poor and needy

Do it today
Never walk away from someone who deserves help. Your hand is God’s hand for that person. Don’t tell your neighbor, ‘Maybe some other time,’ or ‘Try me tomorrow,’ when the money is right there in your pocket.
~Proverbs 3:27-28, Message

Use encouraging words
One of Job’s friends, Eliphaz, reminded him that he had ‘strengthened feeble hands and faltering knees. He went on to say that his ‘words had supported those who stumbled’.
~ Job 4:3-4, NIV

Learn it!
Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.
~ Isaiah 1:17, NIV
We are to practice a religion of obedience to God, focusing particularly on justice toward people who are exceedingly vulnerable and without ordinary social protection.
~ Study note from New Revised Standard Version, Isaiah 1:17
Our good works will be rewarded
I, the Lord, search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.
~ Jeremiah 17:10, 32:19, NIV
[See also: Psalm 62:12; Romans 2:6; 1 Corinthians 3:8; Ephesians 6:8]

Definition of knowing God
‘Josiah did what was right and just, so all went well with him. He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?’ declares the Lord.
~ Jeremiah 22:15-16, NIV
To love God fully includes serving those in need.
~ Study note from New International Version, Jeremiah 22:15-16
What does God want?
For I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
~ Hosea 6:6, NIV
Mercy (Hebrew 'hesed') can refer to right conduct toward one’s neighbor.
~ Study note from New International Version, Hosea 6:6
God's requirement
What I require of you is to act justly, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with me – wherever I lead.
~ Micah 6:8, NIV

God made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love.
~ Micah 6:8, Message
This is the most memorable statement in the Old Testament defining a proper relationship with God. Acting justly and loving mercy or kindness is the kind of obedience God expects from his people.
~ Study note from New International Version, Micah 6:8

Don’t look for big things
Jesus took a towel and began to wash the disciples’ feet. 
~ John 13:3-5, NIV
This was a menial task normally performed by a servant.
~ Study note from New International Version, John 13:3-5
The great hindrance in spiritual life is that we will look for big things to do.
~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
God's command
This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. 
~ John 15:12-13, Message

Persist in doing good
God will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, he will give eternal life.
~ Romans 2:6-7, NIV
Persistence in doing good is proof of genuine faith.
~ Study note from New International Version, Romans 2:6-7
Faith expressing itself
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
~ Galatians 5:6, NIV
Faith is not mere intellectual assent, but a living trust in God’s grace that expresses itself in acts of love.
~ Study note from New International Version, Galatians 5:6

Do not grow weary
Let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. Don’t give up or quit. Every time you get the chance, work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith. 
~ Galatians 6:9-10, Message

Created to do good works
We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
~ Ephesians 2:10, NIV

We are to join Jesus in ‘the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing’. 
~ Ephesians 2:10, Message
Works are to faith as exhaling is to inhaling. Good works are not what we do to win salvation; they are what we do to demonstrate and enjoy it.
~ Study note from New Revised Standard Version, Ephesians 2:10

Pour yourself out for others
Get out there and run on the road God called you to travel, steadily pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love. 
~ Ephesians 4:1-2, Message

God’s extravagant love!
Keep company with God and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. The good, the right, the true – these are the appropriate actions. Figure out what will please Christ and then do it. Make the most of every chance you get.  Make sure you understand what the Master wants. 
~ Ephesians 5:1, 9, 10, 16, 17 (Message)
We are to live for the sake of others.
~ Study note from New International Version, Ephesians 5:1

Prefer others
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
~ Philippians 2:3-4, NIV
Christian love sees others as worthy of preferential treatment.
~ Study note from New International Version, Philippians 2:3-4
As our hearts and minds are directed away from self and toward others in the practice of attentive, humble service, we begin to identify with one another.
~ Study note from New Revised Standard Version, Philippians 2:3-4
Be zealous for good works
Jesus gave himself for us that he might purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds. 
~Titus 2:14, New Revised Standard Version

  • zealous of good deeds, King James
  • eager to do what is good, NIV
  • real enthusiasm for doing kind things for others, Living
  • totally committed, New Living

Real religion
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: To look after orphans and widows in their distress. 
~ James 1:27, NIV

Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight.
~ James 1:27, Message

Faith and good deeds go hand in hand
Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.  
~ James 2:15-18, NIV
Genuine faith will produce good deeds.
~ Study note from New International Version, James 2:15-18
You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove. 
~ James 2:18, Message
“We shall be judged according to our works. This is why we are exhorted to do good works. Grace and active obedience are complementary. There is no faith without good works, and no good works apart from faith.”
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German pastor and theologian (1906-1945), The Cost of Discipleship
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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I've been using a reading schedule to read through the Bible again this year. Many themes stand out - one of which is ‘doing good’. The scriptures above are included among those I've collected so far. 

I hope you'll take a moment to listen to this classic song. The lyrics are based on Ephesians 2:10.

If You Love the Lord, by Keith Green
    (sung by Jason Jacobs)

If you love the Lord, you will love His will for you.
Instead of questions why, there'll be praise for all he brings you through.
And if you love the Lord, you will love His holy commands.
Delight yourself in them, and everything you do will surely stand.

We are His workmanship, created for good works in Christ.
He calls us to offer up ourselves a living sacrifice.

Well if you love the Lord, his discipline you won't despise.
Cause it will prove to you, that you're a child in His eyes.
And if you love the Lord, you'll seek His face with all your heart.
And even when you're old, from His Holy place you won't depart.

We are His workmanship, created for good works in Christ.
He calls us to offer up ourselves a living sacrifice.

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It's my desire, Lord, that my life will be characterized by good works.
Good works that flow out of my love and obedience for you!
Good works that will bring you glory and honor!

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The only thing that exceeds right-doing is right-being.
~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

In light of Oswald Chambers' comment, see this post on 'Planned Neglect'.


01 July 2014

A visit upcountry - Kakamega, Kitale, Nzoia Scheme, Eldoret

Several buses, including mine, were stopped by the police. After parking alongside the highway
for a while, we were told to drive to Gilgil police station. In total it was a 2.5-hour delay.

I had a lovely visit with Elaine, who lives in the Malava area (not far from Kakamega).
I also had lunch with Masudi, but didn't get a photo of him.

Buying a chunk of beef - the Kenyan way - at Kitale

Mary Alu and Pastor David

Joseph is one of the boda boda (motorbike taxi) drivers I use frequently.

I had a nice visit with Agnes and her boys. Click here to see more photos from this visit.