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Saturday, 17 November 2012

The Chocolate Cake Chief

               "And Jesus answered and said to him, "It is written, ' You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only"
                                                               Luke 4:8 {NASV}
In our very first weeks of arriving in Africa, it was recommended to us to visit the Chief of the local area, just to introduce ourselves, give our thanks for letting us live amongst his people and to bring a gift to show respect befitting a man of his position.

To be honest I was pretty excited to meet a real Chief  for the first time and had dutifully baked a chocolate cake and wrapped it in foil, because naiively I thought all people groups would be just as enamoured by chocolate cake as most Aussies were.

On one of those hot afternoons where every intake of breath seems to just make ones temperature rise a little higher, my husband and I walked off into the crowded market place, teeming with people, livestock, grains, meat, clothes and yes, more heat. We had to cross the market place to get to the Chief's palace.

After only a few steps we met a man who was an employee at a local school. He very excitedly pointed out the dignified, tall, handsome older man to his left, neither man spoke or understood English and we were no help as we knew very little of their language. I did note the man wore elaborately embroidered clothes, a square hat and curly toed shoes.

And this is where my excitedness and did I mention the heat comes into it. I'm staring at this man and I have one of my light bulb moments and make the only possible connection THIS MAN IS THE CHIEF. I break into the converstion of the men and say with great clarity to my husband, "This man is the chief !!!"
My husband, not at all convinced and throwing me one of those, are you insane? looks, that I know so well, murmurs "Are you sure?"
Utterly convinced "Yes, he is saying he is the chief, look at his clothes, look how regal he is, quick, smile and give him the chocolate cake."
"Jenny, I  don't think so", he protested in vain.
Exasperated now, I grab the cake and foist it upon this man insisting all the while, "It's really the chief".
 The stranger is surprised, smiles and much laughter follows and they turn and leave the market.
I'm happy because the chief got the cake, job well done but my husband still looks confused and possibly a little annoyed.

A while later we meet other men that my husband knows and they tell him the Chief is in a big meeting with all the Chiefs in the area, he cannot be disturbed and he has not stepped foot in the market.

We thank the men and head for home. My husband kindly restrains himself from saying "I told you so."

With head down I mumble quietly, "well I really thought it was the Chief."

No matter how I reasoned out my actions, I had given my gift and payed my respects to the wrong Chief {actually he wasn't a Chief} and this made me think of who or what do we give respect to or follow, who is the Chief of our lives? Have we chosen the right one? Or have we been fooled or side tracked and are we worshiping someone or something other than Jesus?

Periodically even as Christians we need to stop and check that God is still first in our lives and that we have not allowed other things like career goals, holidays, spouses, worries, desire for recognition, successful service, romantic love, intellectual learning  etc, to take the place of God.

The devil even tried to tempt Jesus with this one and wanted Jesus to worship himself (the devil}. Jesus response was that He would only worship and serve God for God alone is worthy. The God of the bible is the one true God, there is no other. None of the things or people we may place before God can save us or bring us to heaven. (John 3;16 - 18}

The happenings of that day spread like wildfire through the village to the merriment of all who heard it and that innocent bystander became forever known as the Chocolate Cake Chief. Perhaps a week after the incident, I was in the kitchen when I saw through the window a very impressive car driving to the front door. Men in red and green uniforms with guns jumped out and opened the back door for an older man to alight. He was well dressed and in regal robes. He knocked on my door and I answered, he smiled at me and introduced himself as the real Chief and then said he still expected me to bake a chocolate cake for him as well. He had a great sense of humour.

We left Africa eight years later and at our farewell we were presented with the chocolate cake that you see in the picture because that story is part of how we are remembered. Through the help of the Holy Spirit may we all be remembered as serving the real God and following Him all the days of our lives and may we not become  distracted by the numerous chocolate cake gods.

Thursday, 1 November 2012


1Corinthians 13:8,10,13
Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever.(8)

But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.(10)

Three things will last forever, faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love.(13) 
                                                  The New Living Translation
  I anticipated greatly the sermon series on I Corinthians that was delivered at our church because of course we would discuss all the different spiritual gifts given to believers and lets face it that's pretty exciting that God would even consider giving us spiritual gifts.

As I listened to the preaching, I think what hit me the most was the following:

* PERSPECTIVE - whatever my spiritual gift, here on earth it will always be delivered imperfectly, everything on this earth is not perfect only in heaven will things be found to be perfect. For me this is an immense relief, as I unfortunately suffer from perfectionist syndrome and I am sure there are others of you out there like me who somehow feel we should do everything without any mistakes. Of course we know in our head that will never happen but we place undue pressure on ourselves to deliver the impossible. I feel encouraged to not hold back because of insecurities but to offer my imperfectness to God for His use.

*  URGENCY - these spiritual gifts will pass away (8) and finish. It would seem spiritual gifts have been given for our time on earth, in order to encourage each other to grow in our faith and bring glory to God. (1 Cor 14:12) We cannot use them to benefit others if we are in the grave. Gods intended use of the spiritual gifts he has given is for now, may we be wise in using these opportunities.

*  LOVE - as the NIV study bible says," love supersedes the spiritual gifts because it outlasts them all". If we don't have God's love, we have nothing and our spiritual gifts if not used in love, amount to nothing. Am I using my gift to display the love of God? May the answer always be, YES
"because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. "( Romans 5:5) Praise God, even in our weakness, He enables us to please Him.