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Trent Renner’s 2015 Africa Trip (Post 3 of 4…Sunday)

As in the previous 2 posts…the WiFi is still bad in Africa…so please know that I will post pictures when I return to the USA.

My time clock is all messed up.  I keep waking up at 5 am.  But, it gives me time to type out my blog post of the experiences I am having on this short venture.  Thank you for taking the time to read it.  I pray it inspires you to grow deeper and more committed to Jesus and all that He asks us to do.

As I rolled off of the thin foam mattress bed with a mosquito net hanging over it…it was time to do one of the hardest things for me to do on this trip.  It causes me great pain.  I had to take a shower and the electricity has been off for several hours.  The water is freezing!  I’m sure the other rooms could hear the gasps and laughs as I tortured myself with a cold shower.  (Suffering for Jesus, right?! LOL)  But at least I smell good again!

I didn’t bring dress clothes for Church services on this trip.  I have a pair of jeans and a Joy Christian School polo shirt that I sometimes teach my Bible classes in.  Wow…the people of Africa love to dress up for Church.  The colors of the rainbow are nothing compared to the women of Africa in their cultural dresses.  The men get on their very best suits and ties that they have.  I am astonished every time I see the bright white dress shirts on the dark skinned men coming out of the mud hut homes.  I don’t know how they keep so clean…they are very impressive and handsome.

I think the Ugandan people are some of the most beautiful people on the planet.  They have the darkest skin I’ve seen and contrast their super white smiles and it is magical.  Another thing that I notice is how straight the teeth are of the natives here.  On a past trip, I was able to travel with a dentist and she told me that the African people from childhood eat a very hard food plan.  Corn, very tough meat, the children are constantly chewing on sugar cane.  The dentist told me, that hard foods force the teeth into alignment.  Seeing is believing on this one.  I’m jealous of how white and how straight the teeth are for the African man and woman.   Maybe I’ll get Sam to open his mouth and I’ll take a picture so you can witness it for yourself. (that will make him laugh his contagious and unique high pitched laugh!) Better yet, come with me someday and see for yourself! 

The drive to church was only 20 minutes.  Sam, our director has started a Church out of his school facility of mud and sticks.  There were about 100 people in attendance…the men, women and children all sitting/standing together.  The children are very patient through the very long service.  They sing passionate music.  this church group can’t afford instruments yet…but one can’t tell as the voices of the people are so passionate and many melodies are sung, stomping and dancing to the rhythm they create together.  An occasional African woman will send out her high pitched shrill of joy…“lalalalalalalalalalalalal!”

They asked me to speak.  I told them that the older I get, I’m becoming a man of fewer words.  They actually enjoy much preaching.  A typical Ugandan Church service can last for 4 or more hours.  I’m thankful today’s service was only 3 hours.  So…I didn’t preach for long.  I spoke for maybe 15 minutes.  I told the African people that after living in America I have determined that talk is cheap.  I asked them to witness how much I love them by my actions and how much Return Hope International is doing on behalf of Jesus to love and serve them.  Sam preached and then another pastor, named Reno preached as well.

 There are many elderly who haven’t learned english, so there is always a translator.  But, know, most Ugandans speak english.  They did more music, then preached some more.  People came forward to pray and confess their sins and many did.  I was privileged to lay my hands on those who came forward to pray for them and help them understand how much their repentance causes Jesus to forgive them.  There were times the service just broke out in prayer…the whole room lifting their voices to God in prayer.  A man in wheelchair who is struggling with his health came forward and asked the whole church to pray for him.  We laid hands on him and he cried as we prayed for him.  The children watched and engaged the whole time.  More music, more preaching.  3 hours of love, learning, celebration, and so much more.  I enjoyed it tremendously.  I was touched. 

After the service we stood around and shook hands and gave hugs.  I grabbed my camera and used the opportunity to take some pictures.  I will post them when I return to America on Wednesday.  I haven’t shaved in weeks and the children were fascinated with my beard and hairy arms.  It is so thrilling to be amongst a group of people who are so loving and kind and curious.  I am curious about them too.  We learned about each other, from each other. 

It was approaching 2:30 and my stomach was growling, I asked Sam if we could head back to the hotel to grab some lunch.  He agreed.  Lunch was rice and beans, a chicken leg boiled in some fantastic broth, a mix of g-nut paste…(kind of like purple peanut butter), a great banana type mix that has the texture of mashed potatoes and the African staple called porsha…a corn mix…also in the texture of mashed potatoes.  To drink I had an ice cold glass bottle of coca-cola!  Who doesn’t love that?! 🙂

The rest of the day was dealing with the necessary evil I call business meetings.  Nothing to really post about.  When Sam and the RHI Ugandan team live 10 hours worth of time zones away from me…even with the internet…it is a must that we have clarifying meetings.  We compared our account sheets, budgets, estimates.  Not fun…but vitally important.  I vow to use every dollar that you invest in Return Hope with deep integrity and transparency.  If you would like to know any details of the Return Hope budget, I will gladly share them with you.  That meeting started at about 3:30 and went until dark.  It was a good meeting.  I am overwhelmed with all the work we are doing.  I am so inspired by the quality of the facility we are building and how we will use it to train around 1000 students at a time…year after year, and I can’t wait to get home and get back to the work of asking for followers of Jesus to sacrifice and invest this crazy paper thing called money.  When you and I consider how blessed we are, we will be incredible givers.  Are you an incredible giver? 

It’s Sunday.  It was a good day.  I only have a day and half left before I must climb aboard another airliner and fly at 31,000 feet back home. 

I am blessed.  Supremely blessed…and at the same time I am haunted.  Haunted by the conditions that this sin cursed world has created for such wonderful people like Ugandans…and sometimes even the people in our neighborhoods in the USA.  Poverty is not always a money thing.  Return Hope International is not just about Uganda Africa.  I teach the Bible in the US.  I am a Bible teacher at a Christian School and would be grateful to fill the pulpit of your pastor if he/she needs a break.  Return Hope makes this all possible.  God is good. Let’s continue to conquer the entrapment of poverty all around the world.

Is there anything in your life that separating you from God and causing poverty in your life.  Poverty of marriage?  Poverty of physical fitness?  Poverty of friendships?  Poverty of spirituality? Poverty of finances?  Poverty of parenting?  Poverty of emotional health? 

Only Jesus is the answer.  He won’t miraculously make you rich in those areas of life.  It will require you to become a fully devoted follower of Him.  He has asked much from you and me…but not before giving His all for us. 

We can do more for Him.  Your obedience matters.  Narrow is the road that leads to heaven.  I love you too much to just make you feel good, if you are walking down the road to hell.  Please don’t be separated from God for eternity.  I think it would be cool to spend eternity with you.

I pray you will use the tool of Return Hope to grow in your relationship with Jesus and become more like Him. Return Hope is the work of Jesus and the Church. 

It was a good Sunday.  I pray someday you will experience a Sunday with me…here in Africa!

I have only one full day left in Africa before I return.  We are preparing to drill 6 fresh water wells for people in the African bush who have never had clean water to drink. Each well will provide fresh water for approx 10,000 people.  Talk about making a difference in the lives of people! Many of the locals have been told that there just isn’t any water underground.  Wait until we show them what Jesus can do!!  He can do anything!  I am going to visit some of the locations and people, and take some pictures.  I will post about it tomorrow.  A couple of the well locations are deep enough in the African bush that some of the people will have never seen a white man.

Stay tuned.


Why are there earthquakes and climate/global changes? (A faith perspective)

My soul will never allow me to let science overrule the Word of God.

I think that science and the Word of God can work together beautifully.  However, time has proven, that most choose to honor/worship scientific explanation over God’s explanation.

Why is human nature so against the natural way of God?

If God is the creator of all, then He is the “go to guy” when it comes to trying to understand the why and how of things.  While reading the Bible this morning I was reminded of God’s design of things and it made me want to write about what this post’s theme is.  Here is the simple passage I read…

“Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,earthquake
    at the presence of the God of Jacob.
He turned the rock into a pool of water;
    yes, a spring of water flowed from solid rock.”

Pslam 114:7-8

When the earth trembles, it’s an earthquake.  The rocking and rolling of the very foundation we rely so stably on.  I have experienced an earthquake while in California.  It is a strange and insecure feeling when the solid floor beneath your feet begins to rock and roll.  Insecurity takes over when the foundation is moving beneath your feet!   When insecurity starts to rule, we naturally start grasping for answers.  Our culture and nature have taken us to rely deeply on science to give us those answers. Science seems to have stolen the throne from the Creator…the Father…the wold party host, the know all.

People love science, because it seems to give secure answers to questions we worry about.   But, science uses human knowledge to understand the mysterious and difficult things that God has created.  I don’t blame anybody for being curious.  I don’t blame people for desiring security even if its the false kind.

I’m a why guy, so I am always thinking through the “layers of why” that ultimately are the cause of anything.  So, I think God smiles at science.  Why?  Because God is the ultimate parent.   Any good parent loves to see his/her children play hide and seek during a party gathering.   I think it gives our Father in Heaven great pleasure to see his children seeking after the things that He has hidden.  I think He hid things to keep us busy during this giant earthly party we all attend.  The childlike nature in me sees this world as a giant hide and seek game.  Even Jesus said He came to “seek”.

It all seems fun…right up to the point where the Father no longer gets the credit for his masterminded plan for the party.  The party gets going to the point where the party attenders no longer desire the party planner to be a part of the party. This kind of party never ends well.

A hide and seek game can get out of control when the planner, who has the answers, is no longer around to share the hints.  It can become a form of a quiet riot, where the party bully shouts…

“you gotta fight for your right to paaarrrrttt-ay!” 🙂

 Without the party planner and host, the party becomes unpredictably dangerous, and the bully tends to take over. Depending on what the bully believes and does, is what sets the tone for the rest of the party and party attenders.  If you don’t agree with the bully, then you are also asked to leave the party, or at the very least, belittled.  Most people love a party, so they don’t question the bully for fear of being asked to leave.

I am in awe of the Creator of the party, for allowing his creation to push Him out.  That is a loving God who honors the choices of His creation.  God is not a bully.  God doesn’t force Himself on anyone at the Party.

If we ask God, the great party planner, to step out of the party … then He steps out… and then we are left to the mercy of the bully.  Bully’s don’t have much mercy.  It can be brutal to live in the shadow and the dominance of the bully.

Who is the bully in this “One Nation under Godlessness”?  The bully is the one who controls the information outlet.  The bully is the one who has the ability to get the most attention in our homes and minds.  You decide who that currently is.  I think it is obvious.  But I won’t be a bully.

So…here’s my deal…

I’ve never been a party fan.  I would prefer to leave the party early.   Once I have honored the party host and arrived to show the host my appreciation, say hello to some good friends, and catch up a little….I then prefer to leave.

In this great earth party I’m talking about, the host isn’t welcome anymore.  If the host isn’t present at the party, then I have no desire to attend the party and listen to the bull of the bully.  I despise the bully.   I’ll call the police on the bully when the party gets out of control.  I’ll throw the bully under the bus and point out where the party has gotten dangerous and is causing damage to the people at the party.  At my worst/best…I will walk into the party again just to get in the face of the bully and call his bluff.  I hate this kind of party and therefore I don’t get drunk on the bull of the bully.

What about you?

Are you drunk from the bully at the host-less party?  Have you drunk the spiked kool-aid to the point where you won’t even pick up the party manual anymore? Are you so drunk from all the bully’s bull that you don’t even remember the party host?  Have you taken your drunkenness to the extent that you have allowed the bully to attach you to the IV where you now just allow the drip-drip-drip of information, not found in the party owner’s manual, to fill your veins and control your mind?  Have you become a host-less party junkie?  Are you a part of the quiet riot?

I write the analogy above to say this…have you, even unknowingly, asked God to step out of the party and bought the bull?  If  you have questions and curiosity, do you first turn to the drip-drip-drip of the science and the bully, or to the Party planner’s manual?

God, the Party Planner, is so kind and good that when He was asked to leave the party, He made sure to leave the Party Manual behind.  The Bible is the manual to all things life.  If God did the hiding and the creating of the mysteries that keep us so curious, then He also gave us the “secrets and hints” book….The clue book that leads us to the thrilling discovery of truth.  The truth to how this party is supposed to be run.

So, back to  my point about earthquakes.  Can you really give me the why behind an earthquake?  Do you rely on the bully and his/her information to give you the why?  The bully of science is loaded with answers that tease you to thinking you have security.  Don’t buy the bull.  I have no security about my next 5 minutes.  So..I trust in the party planner.  My security is in His hands.  All my answers are in His hands.

Why wouldn’t you seek your answers about why an earthquake happens from the creator of the earthquake?  He gave you a manual with answers to your questions.  Or has the bully got you to thinking that the manual is fiction?   “Drip-drip-drip-drip-drip…  … … … … … … … Please…pull out the IV and seek the owners manual.

According to the passage above, the earth trembles because of the presence of the Lord.

The following passages in Scripture are accounts of actual earthquakes and why they happened.  You read and you decide. (Just click the link to read the Bible verses)  Put science away for a few and just soak in the owners manual.   There are 9 earthquakes clearly mentioned in the Bible…it could be more…but I only picked the very obvious earthquakes.  I will only give the references for you to click on or look up in your own Bible and you can choose to read the individual accounts or not.  I will also share a quick paragraph below that summarizes the why of the earthquakes.

Genesis 7:11

Exodus 19:18

Numbers 16:31-33

1 Samuel 14:13-15

1 Kings 19:11

Matthew 27:51-54

Matthew 28:2

Acts 4:31

Acts 16:26

A review of the 9 earthquakes listed above shows that virtually the entire story of the Bible can be summarized by its connection to acts of God.  If you think about the stories above…I’m sure the scientist of the day tried to explain why the earthquakes were happening….they probably blamed it on global warming! 🙂 LOL  But, only a few knew the real reasons as to why.  We are fortunate to have the historical record in the Bible…the Owner’s Manual.  The specific Biblical events emphasized by earthquakes are Noah’s Flood, the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, authentication of the leadership of Moses, the crucifixion of Jesus in Jerusalem, the resurrection of Jesus, the ministry of the apostles and the church.

Earthquakes have been used by God to highlight some of the most important events of world history.  The three main purposes for biblical earthquakes are judgment, deliverance, and communication. The lesson seems obvious to me—significant things in “nature” happen as an act of God to tell us something important.  God is always speaking and working and demonstrating His power and love.  Are we paying attention anymore?  Have we asked the creator of this giant world/party to shut up and leave the party?

In our fast-paced, man-centered, technology-based society of the twenty-first century, God would have us pause and consider His world party leadership nature.  His purpose…His plan.  Whether you like it or not…whether hundreds of thousands are hurt or killed in these earthquakes…God is still God.  Jesus is still Jesus, and if Jesus is who He says He is…then He is returning whether you like Him or not…believe in Him or not.  He will have the final say.

Are you sure you want to rely on tectonic plates and science as the main reason for earthquakes?

Might God be trying to say some things, while too many are no longer listening?

Are you regularly using the owners manual/Bible to understand how the world, nature, global changes, your personal relationships, and even your very own heart, mind and soul, work? … Or are you going to rely on science and human wisdom?  (I warn you to not rely on human wisdom…The Bible says something about that too…read it here 1 Corinthians 1:18-29

It is possible to use both…but both only work together when they invite the creator of the party to continue to lead the party.

Are you regularly spending time reading the owner’s manual to how this Giant Blue Planet and the little tiny things that live upon it, work?

The creator and His one and only Son want to move into your soul and lead your life and all your understanding.

If you let them in…you will never be the same and you will never view the world the same.

If you have asked God to leave your world…please invite Him back in.

God loves you….so do I.  If I can help you with anything, just ask.  I’ll do my best.

I’d like to end with this Bible passage… Pslams 117 (The shortest chapter in the Bible)…unlike this blog post! 🙂

“Praise the Lord, all you nations.
    Praise him, all you people of the earth.
For his unfailing love for us is powerful;
    the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever.  Praise the Lord!”


Motives Matter

Our motives matter to God.

He’s sees right through our disguises.

For instance, as a Christian it would be very easy to disguise my selfishness and fear as a desire to be in a small, intimate Church. We could hide behind the Bible verse that says “God is love” and excuse our desire for a small church as all about love and knowing everyone, just like God knows everyone.

And, it would be easy to disguise my competitive spirit, greed, & pride, as evangelism and church growth.  It would be easy to have the ends justify the means.  We could say, look how big my church is, God must be so proud of how many people attend my church.  We could excuse our sin by disguising it as evangelism.

Motive pic

It doesn’t matter what people believe our motives to be, only what God already knows our motives are.

I’m a “Why Guy”.  When was the last time you really did a self-aware check?  When was the last time you got in a closet with God and spoke to him about your motives?

Why do you do what you do? God knows, but do you?

We cannot be fake with God.  Someday we will all stand before Him…

intellectually naked    —    emotionally exposed    —    physically insufficient.

Don’t fear it….be ready for it.

Remember that nothing can separate you from the love of God.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”  Romans 8:38

And Jesus said,

“If you love me, obey my commandments.”  John 14:15

Do not forget that Hell is full of people whom God loves.  God didn’t send them to Hell, he only honored their choice to not obey Him. He honored their motives.  Our motives matter to God.  Are your motives about humbly serving, loving, and obeying Jesus?

Let’s triple check our motives.  If you are ashamed of what you find, then never forget that…

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

If Jesus is who He says He is…then He is returning someday…with passion…to settle the score once and for all.

Don’t screw around with Him and your eternity simply because of the shallowness of the temporary.

Motives matter.

Know your motives.

God will not control your motives.

He left that up to your own stewardship and care.

God will honor your choices that are born out of your motives.

Your motives will lead to your choices, and your choices will be extended by God into eternity.

Heaven and Hell are in the balance.  Eternity is at stake.  For your eternity’s sake, check your motives.

 


70 X 7 (a quick reminder about forgiveness)

I am in frustrated awe of how bitterness, hurt, and anger will stealthily try to creep back in my heart, soul, mind, and strength…even after fully forgiving, reconciling, and dealing with it all.  

Might this be why Jesus answered Peter the way He did in this passage?…forgiveness-21

Matthew 18:21-22 “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?’ ‘No, not seven times,’ Jesus replied, ‘but seventy times seven!”

70  X  7 !?

It’s not about the math…don’t get out your calculator!  You and I both know the math is 490.  Some have forgiven the same person beyond 490 times.  Does that mean that Jesus now gives them permission to stop forgiving?  By no means!  Remember what Mother Theresa said, “When you refuse to forgive someone, it’s like you drinking poison and hoping it kills the person who hurt you.”

Forgiveness frees us from the prison of bitterness, hurt, and anger.  I’ve never felt like forgiving someone.  It is a decision made from holy discipline.  Its just the right thing to do. Period.

When the devil gets in your ear and starts whispering to you…, “remember when that person did that to you?”  You only need to respond, “Yes, I remember, and I also remember forgiving them.”  … Go to hell, satan.

Forgive  c   o   n   t   i   n   u   a   l   l   y   .  .  .  .  .  .  .


The Bible vs The Quran

quran-vs-bible-2I can understand the perspective of those who say that both writings have awful verses that demand awful things.

The Quran can only be somewhat comparable to the Bible’s Old Covenant. Only one of the books pictured has a New Covenant.

Jesus of Nazareth ushered in a new way that overrules the old way. Love the Lord AND love thy neighbor.

The Bible teaches us to love even those who won’t convert. The Quran teaches its followers to destroy those who don’t believe its teachings.

I’m so grateful for Jesus.

I wish more of His followers would behave more like Him.


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