Previous month:
February 2009
Next month:
April 2009

Zimbabwe Situation

I received an update today from my friend in Zimbabwe, who will remain anonymous to you.  Here is the latest that this person had to report to you and me:

Internet is so slow this side of the world. I hope you are now aware that we using multiple currencies.  You can go into any shop and use South Africa Rand, the Botwsana Pula, US$ and British Pounds.  Unfortunately you can't use the Euro. The disadvantage though is that the currencies have a permanent rate. It's only in Zimbabwe where the pula and rand have the same value of US$1:10 of either.  Somehow we have managed to devalue other countries' currencies.

The Zim dollar is no longer an "official currency".  The only Z$ in circulation are the 50 billion notes that are used mainly to pay for public transport.  We do not have enough of the foreign currencies to circulate, to the extent that other companies are paying their employees in vouchers that are redeemable at some shops, but not all.   We do not have enough coins, so when you go into a shop, you really have e to round off your purchases.  If you have change due, sometimes you only get change vouchers only redeemable at that shop.

Most people are finding it very hard to make a living.  All those who thrived on changing money which was known as “burning the US$” have found themselves with no jobs.  Even the employed person is finding it hard to make ends meet.  Accommodation is where most people are suffering.  In Harare CBD most people are paying US$ 200 for bachelor’s flat and US$500 plus for a two-bedroom flat or house. There are some people who are really making a killing and making money by either printing fake US$ currencies and making it even harder for the faithful ones to make a decent living.

Banks are laying off people as is so many other companies.  Yes, the dollarization has its advantages as well as disadvantages.

I was able to send $200 to my friend in Zimbabwe from The Sophia Fund to feed her orphans, but we need more.  Can you make a contribution today?  Just $5 will go a long way toward relieving someone's suffering.  Remember, every penny you give goes right to the poor and hungry with no overhead whatsoever. You won't find a better deal than that!

You can use the "Chipin" widget on this site to contribute, go directly to my website to contribute there through PayPal, or send a tax-deductible check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 91099, Pittsburgh, PA  15221.  Make sure you let me know it is for The Sophia Fund. Don't delay; give today.


Direct to Birmingham

I flew over to the UK last Friday, this time out of Newark directly to Birmingham instead of London. What a great way to go! There were no lines at customs and I was the first one out to the arrivals hall at 6:30 AM.  My host picked me up and I was at my hotel asleep by 8 AM.  Although I flew over via Continental on a Boeing 757, my least favorite aircraft in the world, it worked out for the best.

Yesterday I spoke at two local churches, one in Burton on Trent and the other in Walsall, where I am staying.  The former was at Christian International Family Church, where Steve and Jen Watson are pastors.  To my surprise, Steve and Jen remembered me from 1994 when I was traveling with the Integrity Music teams and came to Birmingham.  It was just another encouragement that the Lord seems to be sending my way frequently these days.  I guess I need it.

Steve and Jen have done a super job leading their church.  I sensed a lot of love and servant-leadership in their work.  By the way, their church building burned to the ground last November and they are meeting in The Guild Hall in Burton on Trent, which happens to be the venue for Coors Brewery in the UK. And that reminds me, when we had communion in the church, they used real wine.  I haven't had wine in communion for probably 20 years.  I resisted the temptation to go back for seconds.

We had many good laughs while I spoke and the people were gracious and patient as I rambled on and on.  Then 22 of us went out to lunch afterwards.  On the way back to my hotel, I said to Dave and Pam, my hosts, "I think we just had fellowship." It was a great time.

Then last night, I spoke at The Rock Church in Walsall, pastored by Ian Evans. I was so impressed with the work the Lord has done through Ian, who started the church three years ago. He had a nice Sunday night crowd and the people were very receptive.  Afterwards, we ate Caribbean chicken (I think it was "jerk" chicken) and I signed some books and chatted with the people about purpose.  All in all, it was a great first day in the UK.  Once again, I found someone in that church in Walsall who remembered my visit in 1994.

Now I have some more meetings leading up to my live television appearance on Revelation TV's World in Focus show on Revelation TV this coming Wednesday, April 1, from 9.15 to 10:30 PM.  If you live here, you can call in your questions from 10:00 to 10:30.  So today will be a writing day until my meeting tonight. Let's see how much I can get done between now and then.


UK Meetings

Below are the scheduled meetings and events for my upcoming UK visit next week.  If you happen to be in the area, stop by and hear me speak.  Or tune into Revelation TV next Wednesday, April 1, at 9:15 for my live interview.  Here is what I have so far:

Sunday 29 March

10.30am Christian Life International Church, Bass Museum, Burton On Trent - tel 01283 534375

18.30pm Bethel Chapel, Hall St, Woollescote, Stourbridge DY 9 8Tl - Tel 01384 892137

Wednesday, April 1

9.15pm to 10:30pm  World in Focus Live -Revelation TV; you can call in your questions from 10:00 to 10:30

Sunday 5 April

10.30am Ambelecote Christian Centre, 102-104 Brettell Lane,Stourbridge DY8 4BS - tel 01922 492099

I will keep you posted as more meetings are finalized.


Encouragement

I am facing some tough meetings this week on top of a load of school work. I am not soliciting sympathy, just stating fact. For the first time in a while, I was discouraged, or at least a bit somber.  Then I had three calls yesterday, out of the blue, that encouraged me.  None of the callers knew what was going on in my life. God prompted them to call to explain and thank me for some role I had played in their life, because He knew I needed to hear from them,

Last night in the class I teach, I read the students one of my online studies from the book of Revelation. I was having a peer evaluation from one of my fellow profs and he said to the class, "Dr. J is a good teacher and writer."  Another encouragement!  On top of that, I had an encouraging lunch with a friend. 

This morning as I write, I am reflecting on the day and God's goodness.  In between the encouragement I was receiving yesterday, I had two purpose meetings in which I hope I was able to dispense the same encouragement that meant so much to me yesterday.  I hope to do the same today.  I want to say "Thank you" to those who are working. I want to observe those with whom I come in contact and lift their spirits.

I hope and pray that God sends you the encouragement you need today.  When it comes, make sure you recognize and receive it for what it is.  If it doesn't come, then do what David did when he was at a low point:

When David and his men came to Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. David's two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God (1 Samuel 30:3-6).

The King James Version states that "David encouraged himself in the Lord his God."  How do you encourage yourself?  You remind yourself of the good things that God has done for you.  You call back to mind those things in which God gave you success.  You may think back to a difficult time and how you survived and maybe even prospered.  You can even ask a friend or mentor for some encouragement; it would be no different than asking them for a glass of water when you are thirsty.

I had a friend one time who called encouragement the "oxygen of the soul." I like that.  Without oxygen, your body will die, and without encouragement your inner life will shrivel to nothing.  Don't only seek encouragement today, but also look for ways to give it away.  My encouragement bank account is full today, so I plan on making some withdrawals to others, free of charge. Freely I have received so I want to freely give. It was so good for me that I know it will be good for other people. I wonder who they are?


IF

I was doing some reading the other day and ran across my favorite poem, Rudyard Kipling's "If."  I had not read it in a while, but it was good to read it and reconnect with its message.  Here it is for your reading enjoyment:

If

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!


Boston Garden

I started following Boston Celtics basketball when I was a freshman at a prep school in Stamford, Connecticut. So last week when I had a chance to go and see them play for the first time in the new Boston Garden, I jumped at the chance.  My friend, Pastor Jeff Williams, and I took a train from Providence and then took the subway to the Garden for the Memphis Grizzlies versus Celtics game.

Garden 2 We were in row 14 of right center court (don't ask how much the tickets were; I ordered them off a site that  season ticket holders use to sell unwanted tickets). I am attaching two pictures I took with my phone of the action on the floor.  I admit that I bought a t-shirt and a hat as my mementos of the big Garden 1 event.  But then we missed our train going back to Providence and had to wait 90 minutes until the last train at midnight.  Oh well, it was almost a perfect evening. The Celtics have lost two straight since we were there, but they did win against the Grizzlies, so I did my part to cheer them on. My other favorite NBA team, the Orlando Magic, is right behind the first-place Celtics in the standings, so I am having a good year where my NBA teams are concerned.


The Purpose Craze

Last night I spoke at the Practical Truth University meeting at the Cathedral of Life Church in Providence, Rhode Island, led by my friend, Dr. Jeff Williams. We had a great time, but I had inadvertently sent the wrong set of notes to be copied and distributed. The title of my message was The Purpose Craze, but we made it through the presentation with no problems.  I promised to post the completed notes on my blog for those who were present to access.  Feel free to help yourself as well.  This will be the basic outline for my next book and my D Min project to complete my degree.

Gotta run. After I spoke, we signed people up to have one-hour purpose sessions with me, and I am booked solid until 10 PM tonight! 

Download The Purpose Craze B


Voyeur TV

I went to bed early last night and watched, for the first time, some of the show called The Bachelor.  This just happened to be the season's finale and Jason, the bachelor, was going to pick his lucky bride.  If I were those girls, I would have run the other way.  They seemed pretty interested in this loser, however, so I thought, "Oh well, it's your life."

So Jason chose his girl, Melissa, which prompted great rejoicing by the victor and tears from the other girl, Molly, who was rejected. But wait, in the show following the show, we learned that all was not well with Eric as he was having second thoughts.  At that point, I turned it off, but I have learned that "poor" Jason dumped both girls. But alas, all is not lost, for Jason has now reunited with Molly and they have gone off to live happily ever after.  Oh please give me a break.

One claim to fame is that I have never watched what is called reality, but what I call voyeuristic, television (I use voyeur in the more righteous sense of the word: a prying observer who is usually seeking the sordid or the scandalous). I have never seen an episode of Survivor or American Idol.  I am guilty, however, of watching World Wrestling Federation from time to time, which can never be confused with reality television.

All right, I am not quite telling the truth.  There is one reality show that I watch and I love it.  It's on the TLC channel and it's called What Not To Wear (WNTW).  In that show, Stacy and Clinton, fashion consultants of sorts, choose one woman who has been nominated by friends and family because the poor nominee is considered to be the queen of frump.

Stacy and Clinton offer the woman they select a $5,000 allowance toward a new wardrobe and a trip to NY City where they will try to help her understand how to dress for success.  The only catch is that the woman chosen must discard her entire wardrobe and be subjected to snide comments by the hosts as she models what she has worn up to that point in her life.

By the end of the show, the woman chosen has done a total makeover, including makeup and hair, and is re-presented to family and friends where she extols the virtues of her born-again fashion experience.  What's the difference between What Not To Wear and the other reality shows.  WNTW shows someone doing something for someone else; other reality shows have people doing things to others.  I like the spirit of WNTW and think it would be cool to do a show like that offering a purpose makeover to the person.  I would love that.

So Melissa, you will live without Jason, but Stacy and Clinton, keep up the good work.  In the meantime, I have to get back to work. I have enough reality to deal with that I don't need much more from television.