Interfering with God?

Interfering with God?

For a compelling novel, a good writer will keep reversing the outcome to create suspense. Setbacks and turnarounds build emotional intensity. The goal is to bring a climax or what some call, “the dark moment.” Who doesn’t enjoy the roller coaster ride of a good story?

However in our real lives, we don’t like it. We want the happily-ever-after thread in our circumstances.

Still, desperate times often bring profound turning points.

iStock_000008065336SmallFor example, by 1999 AIDS had ravaged Uganda, East Africa. Studies predicted by the year 2000, 30% of Uganda’s population would die from AIDS and another 30% would be infected. The remaining people, mostly children and the elderly, could not work leading to an economic collapse.[1]

Things had become dire.

On New Year’s Eve, 1999, President and First Lady Museveni joined over 45,000 people in Mandela National Stadium to make a public proclamation. They committed their nation to the purposes of God under the Lordship of Christ for the next 1,000 years.[2]

A shift was underway.

photo-4In August 2003, my family traveled to Uganda. My husband had recently started Uganda Orphans Fund to rescue orphans. With the pall of death still prevalent, our family prayed for a woman nearly expired from AIDS. After several months, she miraculously recovered. Many wonders were starting to happen.

Prayer Meeting in UgandaThen on December 26, 2003, the largest prayer gathering in Uganda’s history was held. All through the night for 12 hours, 25,000 pastors mobilized three million Christians to pray in 50 stadiums—one in each district of the nation.

The outcome was astonishing! Read the full story…Continue reading

Why God Uses Children

Why God Uses Children

Akiane's angel, drawn when Akiane was four years old

Akiane’s angel, drawn when Akiane was four years old

“Today I met God,” (A four-year-old girl whispered to her mother one morning).

“What is God?” (The atheist mother was stunned.)

“God is light—warm and good. It knows everything and talks with me. It is my parent.”

“Tell me more about your dream.” (The mother felt concerned. To her the word, “God,” sounded absurd and primitive.)

“It was not a dream. It was real!”

“Why did you think it was God?”

“Just like I know you are my mommy, and you know I am Akiane.”[1]

Oprah's favorite Akiane painting, "The Planted Eyes." Painted when Akiane was eight years old.

Oprah’s favorite, “The Planted Eyes,” was painted when Akiane was eight years old.

* * * * *

Akiane was born in a shack in Illinois, into an impoverished Lithuanian family. Her name means “Ocean” in Russian. In her childhood, she became a world-renown artist with paintings that sold for $100,000. Also honored as a celebrated poet, she appeared on Oprah’s show. All this by age ten.

Akiane with her brother

Akiane with her brother

She had no formal art training and was homeschooled. Growing up, her brothers were her only friends. The family didn’t own a TV. Her parents were atheists and never talked about religion. How did she find out?

From God, Himself!

When Akiane was ten, The Museum of Religious Art in Iowa invited her to have an exhibition that her mother later said, “proved to be an unforgettable event.”

Questions from viewers came at her from all directions:

“‘What church do you belong to? What denomination?’ someone from the crowd asked loudly.

‘I belong to God,” Akiane responded.Continue reading

Of Puzzles and Mysteries

Of Puzzles and Mysteries

I’ve come to learn some important distinctions in my life.

Things like the difference between discernment and judgment.[i] When we experience hurtful situations, it’s not like we don’t see flaws in difficult people.

But God looks at our response.

Discernment shows you have love in your heart, when it comes to understanding others. You can choose to pray instead of gossip. With discernment, we make better decisions.

Judgment carries the tone of condemnation and usually signals very little love. It leads to harsh words, name-calling and stereotyping.

If we resist judging others, God seems to increase our discernment—and not just the earthly kind. Rather, wisdom from above.

Funny how two words like that are used interchangeably. In my life, knowing the difference resulted in a new spiritual discipline—flipping negative thoughts into positive prayers.[ii] Though I still have to work at it, the effort changed my perspective.

iStock_000001825454SmallRecently, I learned a new and important distinction—the difference between puzzles and mysteries. Malcolm Gladwell wrote about this idea in his book, What The Dog Saw.

For example, he said that national security expert Gregory Treverton famously pointed out that Osama Bin Laden’s whereabouts had been a puzzle. We couldn’t find him because we didn’t have enough information. We needed more puzzle pieces.

In contrast, what would become of Iraq if our military removed Saddam Hussein from power? That would be a mystery. “It wasn’t a question with a simple, factual answer.”Continue reading