Worship Nugget from my grandfather
By Dr. Comfort Manyame
Hakunavanhu Cassian Manyame is the Manyame I admire the most amongst our men. He was full of God’s spirit and had a prophetic/healing mantle on his life. I remember stories being told about how people would come to our farm in Manyene to be prayed for. My grandfather and others in his inner circle would fast and pray until the sick man was healed. Barren women would come for prayers and God would open up their wombs.
Such was the fervency of the faith of my forefather.
He was an early Christian convert in his family and in our village at large. He was also among the men responsible for planting our local Church, the Apostolic Faith Mission in Zimbabwe ~ AFM in our village. That local assembly still goes by the name ‘Manyame Assembly……’
The most valuable lesson I learnt from him is about worship. Being old school, my grandfather was one among many elders of the church who were against the idea of playing musical instruments in church. This was in the early days when instruments they were just being introduced to the church. It irked him so much as he was convinced that the church was losing its way by introducing the ‘devil’s’ music into the church. In his eyes this was nothing short of compromise.
Like many of his peers he was convinced that true and pure worship was being defiled. Until one day…..
Whilst attending a worship service at an AFM provincial conference in the 80s Cassian was going through his usual inner struggles and conflicts with worship and musical instruments. Then he heard a voice, God speaking to him….
‘Why are you so bothered, are they doing this for you or for me? This worship, is it for you or they are worshiping me?
I need not say more……
The morale of the story is that as worshipers we get so wound up about style, language, genre, tempo etc etc as if the worship is going to our ‘throne’. We actually even get offended if the singer doesn’t have what we think is a good voice fit for leading a song…….
By the way, this is not an excuse for mediocrity or carnal worship.
Worship is for God and God alone. Let him be the judge of what’s acceptable in his sight. We forget that He is the one who sees the heart of man and listens way beyond the natural sound. He listens for and to the heart. He is spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Our part is to worship in spirit and in truth. Ignore the urge to judge….. and JUST WORSHIP!
Comfortable in Disgusting Places
by Dr. Comfort Manyame
There is a lot we can learn from Lot (no pun intended), Abraham’s nephew. Today I just want to share on CHOICES. In Genesis Chapter 13 we read:
So Abram said to Lot, “ Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.” And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar.
Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other. Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom. But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the Lord...
That’s where it all began. Lot chose what he thought was great, based on what he could see in the natural. Our natural vision has a tendency of concealing what’s real…. but FAITH reveals. Here he is, choosing this good looking and attractive plain (which pretty much looked like the garden of Eden). However, we are also told that this happened to be the place where the inhabitants were so detestable in the eyes of our Holy God. Obviously this was a bad place to start with, a very bad choice. Even before Lot got on the scene, Sodom was already wicked…. and our righteous brother Lot chose to plant himself and everything he owned therein.Well, fast forward a few chapters, and in Chapter 18 and 19 we see God visiting Abraham to warn him of the impeding danger coming to Sodom and Gomorrah.
And the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.
Once again, we know what happened. Abraham interceded for the righteous in these unrighteous cities, Lot and part of his family get to escape the judgement.
What scares me most is the fact that Lot being a righteous man (2 Peter 2:7), how could he be so comfortable in a place which was so disgusting to his God? So wicked were the men of Sodom and Gomorrah that our God chose to obliterate them from the face of the earth. We never hear of Lot being uncomfortable (for he would have moved away) or being concerned about where he had taken residence. Was it compromise? Had he conformed to the system or the culture and society he was in? I don’t know that I can accurately answer these questions but still it’s a scary thought.
What are we involved in today that our God is not pleased with? Is it our habits, our worship, our relationships? Obviously for Lot, this was something he had gotten used to, something familiar to him, something comfortable and maybe even something that was the basis of his very livelihood…..
I pray ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.
Like David, may we continuously pray and mean this and indeed be ready to obey when God reveals stuff that’s not right within us. For out of the deep recesses of our heart, our choices flow……. hence our choices are a mere reflection of the condition of the heart. May we, today, choose to not settle and be comfortable in disgusting places…. Be encouraged.
Of Dragonflies, and waiting
One of my favorite things to do is photography, and most recently, macro or close-up photography. I spent the last few months hoping to take a spectacular dragonfly shot, and finally a couple of weeks ago, voila, it happened! After months of waiting and waiting and preparation, reading photography magazines and looking at some of the great insect photos online, I finally got what I was hoping for. I have also included in this post, a gallery of some of my favorite macro photos, pictures I have taken over the past few months, to share my passion with you.... As I WAITED for the shots to come alive, here's a short list of what I found crucial (I think this applies beyond just photography... hint hint hint):
1. Anticipation - This is what will cause you to want to keep waiting even if nothing seems to be coming your way or happening in your favor. For the hope set before you, you can endure the waiting, the delay, the frustration, because you except something good (that magical shot) to happen. If you do not expect anything, then anything (including nothing) goes. For one who has expectancy, they will not exit the race until they find what they are expecting.
2. Pay attention - To get the details (of anything, really), you have to pay close attention. In photography, without any effort, you can capture the bigger objects that are stationary but my experience has been that the smaller objects are usually driven off by the slightest movement and noise, and hence require you to be well prepared and disciplined.
3. Be consistent - You have to be consistent in your pursuit. For the past few months now I have gone to this one spot hoping to capture a photo of a dragonfly. I travel with my camera all the time because I'm anticipating that great shot. Until I get that shot I consider spectacular, my camera stays with me.
4. Stay Focused - If a cute mosquito shows up whilst you are waiting for a dragonfly, and poses for what's supposed to be a dragonfly shot, IGNORE, do not waste your time, do not be distracted, keep waiting for your dragonfly, just in case the dragonfly will show up when you are already being entertained by the cute mosquito and all the preparation and hard work goes to waste. Do not settle for an Ishmael when you are destined for an Isaac! Waiting does not imply inactivity.
Waiting implies pursuit. As long as you have not yet laid hold of what you are hoping for, believe it or not, you're in a state of waiting. Anticipation is key. Just like a hunter in ambush. He waits, spear in hand, or gun ready. This no longer is the time for him to be sharpening his spear or looking for a spear, he awaits the opportunity. The thing about any kind of effective waiting is that one needs to have already taken care of the preparation before positioning themselves for the opportunity.
How tragic it is to have an opportunity present itself and you are not ready for it. In the case of the dragonfly shot, I was not going to wait for the dragonfly to show up before learning macro photography, or better still, before investing in the camera and necessary lenses for close-up photography.
I got that covered when the dragonfly was still just an idea in my mind, way before it physically showed up. The moment the dragonfly arrived, it found me already there, WAITING! Now let's take this deeper.... But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint - Isaiah 40:31 The last time I checked, RUNNING and WALKING were characteristics of an object in motion ... Be encouraged...Wait
Forgive And Set Yourself Free
By Bertha Mukodzani
"You set yourself free when you forgive." Great quote and I couldn't have said it better myself.
Have you ever felt so angry, hurt and disappointed that you lie awake at night, tossing and turning? Your heart races, your blood turns hot as it rushes through your veins the moment you hear their name or see them. You muster a frown or look away to prove a point. And, when they are finally out of your sight, you take a deep breath, feeling pleased and satisfied with yourself. You have, indeed, shown them just how displeased you are with them.
But lo and behold, the feeling does not last. It never does. Before long the anger comes rushing back. Your body goes into a frenzy as it slips back into another whirlwind of emotion. Their actions torment you. Their words keep ringing incessantly inside your head, gnawing away at your soul. Your body has become paralysed and you have been robbed of your creativity because all you can focus on is the object of your torment.
You are angry and you are hurting, it is understandable. But, I have news for you. More often than not, the person you are losing sleep over. The one who has dumped rubbish inside your heart and soul forgets all about you the moment they turn their back on you. They go on to lead their lives and on their terms whilst you are left there, broken and paralysed.
Anger can be a necessary emotion at times. If alerts us to what we do not like forces us to reflect and, in some instances, motivates us to make some changes for improvement. But anger, if not well managed, is one of those emotions whose consequences are truly destructive. Anger leads to bitterness and holding on to grudges which are even stronger emotions.
When you are angry and bitter, you develop reckless tendencies. You spew words without thinking and/or make rash decisions. Often times the words uttered in anger are words best kept to oneself. And, we all know that once uttered, words can never be taken back. Some decisions made in anger once acted up cannot be reversed either. The consequences of these too can be far-reaching and leave a lasting dent. A dent that can be impossible to repair.
Forgiving someone who has wronged you can be the most trying thing one can ever do. More so if the person who has hurt you is unrelenting. They won’t acknowledge your pain and/or show the slightest bit of remorse. But holding on to anger or a grudge will not help you either.
What you are doing is putting your body under a great deal of strain moving from one emotion to the other. Your body has to try and keep up with all the havoc going on inside of you. But the truth of the matter is it cannot. Sooner or later something will have to give. And, in this case, it is your own health. When you hold on to anger and/or a grudge, you do not hurt the other person. You destroy YOU!
Science informs us that anger as a strong emotion triggers that fight and flight response. The body recognises that something isn't right and it releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol to help it along. The gut is compromised as the brain shunts blood away from it and towards the muscles as it positions itself for aphysical attack.
Your blood pressure rises, your heart rate soars, sweat oozes out of you and your temperature rises. And if this happens long enough your body gives way. Disease creeps in. Headaches, digestion problems, stress which leads to depression, heart attack, stroke; I could go on and on.
So how do you liberate yourself? How do you combat this soul-destroying mission?
The short answer is you forgive. Yes, forgive them wholeheartedly. Exhale and let it all go. You don’t have to shake their hand or give them a friendly peck on the cheek. You don’t even have to let them know that you have made the conscious decision to forgive them. Forgiveness is about YOU, not them.
But, there are more steps you can take too, which are:
1) Recognise and realise that you cannot control someone’s actions, thoughts and behaviour. But, you can control yours.
2) Embrace your feelings and thoughts. Allow yourself to feel what you are feeling because you are only human and there is nothing wrong with that.
3) Think positive thoughts about yourself. This boosts your confidence and self-esteem. You will need this to tackle the next stage which is the hardest.
4) Do not give value to hurtful words and actions. By now, they know which button to press and they know you go on a rampage each time they press that button. Why not? You have made it easy for them. You have become too predictable and they are probably being kept entertained at your expense. What you want to do is withdraw their power and you do that by not acknowledging their trivial pursuits. Which ties in with my next point;
5) Modify how you react to things. Turn it around. If it means showing them kindness instead of retaliating, then do so. No mean feat, but doable. That will catch them off-guard and perhaps, just perhaps, it will make them stop to consider the consequences of their actions.
6) Maybe now is the time to work on your negotiating skills. Talk things through and find a common ground if it is something you can agree on.
7) You have a right to say NO to things which leave you feeling resentful. Say what you think and feel, firmly, calmly and clearly. Stand your ground without being aggressive and realise that in life you cannot always avoid conflict. You just got to develop skills to resolve it!
8) Last, but not the least, consider the possibility that you could be wrong about them and their intentions. There are times when people hurt us unintentionally and it is only by approaching them and talking things through that you realise they never meant to hurt us. Sometimes they are not aware of the consequences of their words or actions at all!
As hard as it is, you can do it. It will be hard but recognize that the only person you have any power over is yourself. When you let go of anger and that grudge, you are taking back the reins of your life. They can no longer hurt you because their actions no longer affect you. Do not forget that no one is perfect and people will disappoint you. The most important thing to remember is that you hold the key!