Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Please Pray for Mwape

Hello, this is Stephanie posting in Steve's absence. I wanted to send this out this morning to ask you to please pray for our friend Lewis Mwape who lost his wife Loveness on Easter morning. Mwape has been our gardener/guard since we moved to Zambia in 2007.
As you can imagine this is a very difficult time for him. I will attend the burial today, and I would covet your prayers. Death is ALL around us. And, no, you never quite get used to it. Sorry I didn't post a picture of Loveness.....my techie husband has stored our pictures somewhere and I have no idea where they are at the moment. I'll try to get one for a later post.

Well, my internet went down this morning before I could send this post so the funeral is already come and gone. But, we would still appreciate your prayers as the grieving for Mwape will continue for some time.

A change of scenery

Nope, Zambia is still landlocked.  No ocean within 600 miles.   I am actually in Orlando for a conference and had a day before the conference began, so I headed down to Daytona Beach to dip my feet in the Atlantic Ocean.  I also  checked out the International Speedway.  Amazing. 2.5 miles around and over 170,000 people attend the Daytona 500 each year. I couldn't believe how big this place was… I'm not and will never be a big NASCAR fan, but it was cool to visit.  I visited the restaurant of chicken restaurants for the first time: Chik-Fil-A… I now finally understand the hype.  Yummy through and through.   So, the conference begins today and I am looking forward to getting going.  Please be praying for those left behind in Zambia, for patience and perseverance for the mommy and perfectness to abound in my five little ladies. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Remember - Learning to live what you already know - Chapter 2

So, the book continues. Hope you are encouraged on this Resurrection Sunday.

Chapter 2
“Do as I say. Don’t do what I do.” It is what I wish I could say to my kids. Don’t yell at your sister (after I just yelled at her). What were you thinking saying that to your sister (after I kick myself about what I said to my friend). I probably would not require a thing of my children if I was not called by God to parent them and was not responsible for raising them. It is just too convicting trying to expect from my kids what I can not seem to do. It somehow does not seem fair that I do not get the same discipline that they do when I am doing the same thing they are doing, but the same is not true of God.
It seems that everything we are commanded to do in the Bible, is commanded because God did it first. Love as I have loved you. Accept one another as Christ accepted you. Forgive as He forgave you. Lay down your life because He laid down His life. Bless and He has blessed you. God does not ask us to do anything he has not already done Himself. He gives us the power to do everything He asks of us. Everything we think, everything we are, everything we will accomplish is purely by the grace of God. John Piper makes this point in his sermon in Romans 1:14 where Paul says he is a debtor, a person under obligation, to the barbarians and Greeks. Piper makes the point that the debt that must be paid is grace. God gave him a grace underserved and that makes him a debtor of grace to everyone else. He owes grace unreserved because grace came to him undeserved. And so when we come to this command to remember, we can rest assured knowing that God has both initiated and will empower you to do what he has commanded you to do.
The first time we see the word remember in the Bible is in Genesis 8:1 where God remembered Noah and all the animals. As a result of this remembering, He sent a wind over the earth and the waters receded. After many long days and nights in the ark, Noah was delivered and set foot onto a very quiet, lonely world. Noah built an altar and sacrificed a burnt offering before the Lord. And a few verses later, God says to Noah in Genesis 9:15-16, “I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
God initiates a covenantal relationship with all living creatures of every kind and he gives a sign of his faithfulness in the display of a rainbow. God promises to remember. And He demonstrates this promise throughout the Old Testament. He remembered Abraham in Genesis 19 and rescued Lot. He remembered Rachel in Genesis 30 and gave her a child. In the book of Exodus, after 400 years of slavery, God hears the groaning and remembers the Israelites and His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. What was this covenant? The one found in Genesis 12:1-3 – “1Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

What He remembered determined how He acted. He doesn’t forget and, thus, his remembering saves and cares for the benefactors in that promise. He remembered the Israelites and the Bible says, “So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.” God shows here that His remembering is motivated by a heart of love and care. He is concerned and then He acts.
But, something shifts in this next passage. God commands something very unusual in a very unusual way. Moses meets Jesus as the fire in the burning bush, and Jesus commanded him to go deliver his people from Egypt. Jesus says to Moses in Exodus 3:15 “ … ‘Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.’”
God declares that His name is “I am who I am or to be”; or in Hebrew, “Yahweh”; or as we know it in its translated form, “Lord.” This name, LORD, is to be remembered throughout all generations. Because He was, and is, and will always be, it is imperative that we remember Him, forever. His name and who He is, shall be remembered for all time. He was, is and will always be, so therefore, because he will always be, he is to be remembered for all time. That was the command. It seems a bit strange in our human thinking to be commanded to remember because of his forever name. It seems a bit egotistical, but as we will see in a little bit, God’s commands are best for us.
I did a little study on the Hebrew word “Yahewh,” and I think you will find it very interesting to also study the Hebrew word for “remember,” as well. The word is “zeker,” which is a verb meaning “to remember, to mention, to recall, to think about, to think on, to be remembered, to recall, to acknowledge, to mention, to make known.” The basic meaning indicates a process of mentioning or recalling either silently, verbally, or by means of a memorial sign or symbol, The Lord, by remembering Him. God is in essence saying, “Think about, recall, think on, meditate on my name.”
The foundation of everything we will talk about from here on out is centered on remembering this forever name of God. So, walk with me for a second down a few verses which use the same Hebrew word for remember. I think you will find it as significant as I did.
Psalm 102:12 – “12But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; you are remembered (zeker) throughout all generations.”
Because He is enthroned forever, He is to be remembered forever. Each generation that lives will remember the greatness and love of God. He never changes, so He will never not need to be remembered.
Psalm 135:13 – “13Your name, O Lord, endures forever, your renown (same word - zeker) O Lord, throughout all ages.”
The Hebrew word “remember” is now explained in the English word “renown.” The word “renown” means fame or reputation. Again, because God’s name endures forever, His famousness will be remembered throughout all generations.
Hosea 12:5 – “5the Lord, the God of hosts, the Lord is his memorial name: (same word - zeker).”
In this verse, something big happens. The idea of remembering, which is what memorial signifies, AND the word name are combined into one, further clarifying that His name warrants a continual remembering.
And it all comes together in this last verse:
Ps 30:4 – “Sing to the LORD, you saints of his; praise his holy name.”
The English word “name” is actually the Hebrew word “remember.” To know His name is to remember His name. The very act of praising His name is the very idea of remembering his name.
This word “Zeker” cannot be contained in one word remember. In the 24 times this Hebrew word is used, it is translated as: commemoration (1 time); fame (2 times); I am to be remembered (1 time); memorial (1 time); memory (9 times); name (2 times); remembered (2 times); remembrance (3 times); renown (1 time); son (1 time); and to be remembered (1 time). The point is obvious: God’s name is to be pondered upon, considered and brought to light in every situation of our lives forever and ever. God’s name, God’s command, and God’s eternity is all wrapped up into the idea of remembering.
It is not that we need to learn more about God. All that God is, He will forever be. Who He is, is all we need to survey and to survive any problem. A remembering faith is the access we must enter through to obtain and understand the spiritual perspective that is enough for all of life. It is no wonder that Satan is continually launching fiery darts to attack our faith in His name, His character, and His glory. Satan’s greatest aim is to get our eyes off our all-sufficient God, who is enough for every situation in our life. Satan did it in the garden, and he does it in our garden. Our Lord, Yahweh, is as great, majestic, and awesome as our faith remembers Him to be. Not really, of course, He is great regardless of whether we remember Him, but in our lives, our actions, and our mind, He will only be as great as we continually remember Him to be. God makes it simple. Just remember me. You can hear him pleading, “Trust me. Remember my name and the rest is easy.”
Do you get it? The God who remembers commands us to remember Him. He does not yet give us a list of things to remember. He starts with himself and in essence, names Himself, remember. Remember Me forever. His name is our command.
Remember that I am good, all the time.
Remember that I am loving.
Remember that I am sovereign and thus I am in control at all times.
Remember that I am faithful.
Remember that I am kind, compassionate, merciful, gracious, gentle, and emotional.
Remember that I am the God of all comfort, the God who hears, the God who cares, and the God who is near.
Remember that I know you, knew you before you were born, and knew/know when you will die, before you were even born.
Remember that I know what you are going to say before you say it. And when you are going to get up and go down.
Remember that I made you. I know you. I love you.
Remember Me. Always. Because I AM, forever.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Birthday to Lanton

We took Lanton out to celebrate his 12th birthday last Saturday. He is
the son of Mirriam, our house help. We had a great time eating ice cream,
watching him go up an escalator for the first time or shout out "Superman"
as he went up an elevator for the first time. He is a super sweet boy. On
the way in to the mall, we asked what he wanted for birthday. He said a
football. Lo and behold, that is what we had bought him! As we were
leaving, we asked, "Would you like a cake, a chicken dinner for your dinner
this evening or pizza?" He paused for a moment and then said with
enthusiasm, "PIZZA!" So, pizza it was. It wasn't nearly as awkward as we
thought it might be with 5 girls to celebrate his birthday with, because as
Brady and he said it best, "We are like brothers and sisters."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Eye am not big on sand camping

And to give you something interesting to look at since you came all this way, I present to you the Allen family 24 hour camping excursion at Gwabi Lodge (and Rhoda's first ever sleep in tent adventure, where she left my amazing campfire story because she just couldn't wait to go in the tent).We camped in the sand and as you will see in the .35 second video, sand and eyes and hands and face and two year olds, don't quite mix...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I ain't Lion

Over the past couple of weeks, I have had two opportunities to be around caged lions. In Africa, they don't have quite the same requirements as you may in the states, so you can get up and close to these huge creatures and appreciate, safely, just how magnificent these creatures are. While at Chaminuka, I was able to listen and then observe maybe two feet away two lions fighting which was loud and scary, even though I was behind a fence. I was videotaping the lion because I thought it was crazy how loud the bone of whatever he was eating was, and then the fighting occurred. Crazy...

And then yesterday we went to Protea as a family and the lion handler let us get up and close to these lions and threw four chickens into the cage for the four lions to eat. It was comical watching them try and spit out the feathers. The father lion was very protective of his chicken and while I was taking a picture of him, attacked the fence where I was up close and needless to say, humbled me scared (awkward English intended) pretty good. So, I thought I would try and give you some pictures and video to share some of the adventure. I thought the picture of the Julia looking at the lion gave some amazing perspective at how close we were to the lions. You could hear them breath and growl. Every time I see them, I am just awestruck at these incredible animals.

Enjoying some family time

Since the quarter just ended, we thought we could use some rest and family
time. So we have been shopping together, eating together and relaxing
together out at Protea Safari Lodge...

Dish Assistants

Because we have no dishwasher, we have assistants who graciously, lovingly,
cheerfully and perseveringly wash, dry and put away the dishes every night.
This night I caught the assistants having assistants.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Trying not to sin

My wife told me the other day that I need to be careful not to favor Patson so much on my blog.  Favoritism is a big sin (see James 2).  I am trying hard not to sin but it is just so easy to favor him because, 1. He lives closer to me than any other pastor, 2. I was giving him a ride home three days a week and every time with Patson is significant, 3. Because he is doing some neat work and 4. Because he is just really blog worthy living.  I'll try to change in the future, but I wanted to share ONE more blog about a visit we had with Patson... Seeing his school in action, hearing about a new vision to have a room for orphans to sleep and stay, and more and more... Amazing guy.  I also included a couple other pictures. One is of Patson’s wife, being prayed for. She has had continual stomach pains. I thought they had been healed when Luke and I went there, but they hadn’t.   The other is his wife cooking Porridge for the children in their school.  Anyway,  I even recorded a conversation where he shared a bit about his heart for ministry and the future. You can find the unplanned recording of his conversation here with questions asked by Patrick, the missionary here, so you can hear it, and you'll see a bit more why I am trying hard not to sin. 

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Class begins...

Paul and Patrick began their teaching on Monday and did a great job. Simple.
Fun. Biblical. Brilliant. The group did skits. They were in small groups
discussing passages. Great times!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

1 Step forward, 300 (chicken) steps back

Zambia has been making some improvements throughout the city to improve its
image and provide stability for investors and new businesses. From nice
hotels to a new shopping mall, wow, Lusaka is changing. So, you'd think
that when dignitaries or important people come from the airport to the city,
you would want to impress them. Well, hmm, I am not sure how I would impress
them, but allowing the large chicken company to sponsor a roundabout with
this HUGE 20 foot chicken as the first thing you see when entering the city
is not exactly what I would have chosen. But, what do I know...

Monday, April 04, 2011

13 and counting...

Happy Anniversary to Stephanie and I today... We celebrate 13 full, amazing,
adventurous, growing, fun, crazy years of marriage. Who would have thought
13 years ago when we said, "I Do!" that we would be living in Africa and
have five kids! Not us, that's for sure... There is a little wall sign
thingie that on our wall which says "All because two people fell in love."
This little sign makes me laugh when the kids are fighting and chaos is
breaking out and smile when hugs and kisses abound. I guess that is what a
marriage journey is all about. Praise God for His grace which is
sufficient and kind and powerful to lead us through all that life has
brought us so far.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

From home office to our home...

Patrick O'Conner and Paul Goodner, two missionaries from the ACTION
International home office are here from the states to teach our pastors for
a week about church planting. This is the last week of our term and we are
looking forward to these two helping our pastors learn how to multiply their
churches through church planting. We have a had a few good days already,
including a Friday class where they introduced themselves and built some
relationships. Today we went to Chaminuka where they rested after a long
busy week in Malawi. Thought you might enjoy a few pictures of our time so
far, including a lion just a few yards away, thankfully behind a fence!