All posts by terrymasango

Celebrating Christmas in Zimbabwe

People have been asking me how we celebrate Christmas in Zimbabwe.  Here is how:

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CHRISTMAS CARDS

From the beginning of December, those who can afford, send out Christmas cards to their friends and relatives.

DECORATIONS

Families often decorate only the living/dining room.  Few houses have Christmas trees.

We only sang Christmas Carols during the services leading up to Christmas, and during the Christmas Day morning service.

CHRISTMAS DAY

For most people, Christmas day starts with a Church service.

After the Church service, everyone has a party in their homes and people go from house to house, visiting all their family and friends on the way home!

Many people get their biggest stereo speakers out and put them outside the front of the house and play their favorite music very loudly, while people dance.

GIFTS

Everyone wears their best clothes for Christmas, as for some families the only new clothes they get every year are for Christmas. The parties are a good place to show off their new clothes.  Some of us got new school uniforms for the next school year, ouch!

FOOD

Our Christmas Day special food is roasted chicken, rice, and coleslaw salad, served with a bottle of Coca-Cola or Fanta.

FATHER CHRISTMAS (SANTA)

Father Christmas (Santa) can be seen at some department stores might sometimes arrive at big stores in a Fire Engine. The streets in the big cities also can have colorful Christmas lights.

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The Lost Art of Commitment

Psalm, 27:4, “I’m asking God for one thing, only one thing:  To live with him in his house my whole life long.  I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet.”

Commitment

I. WHY PEOPLE STRUGGLE TO COMMIT

TIME. Commitment requires time.  Fewer people are interested in investing time to commit to something/someone.  Takes too much time to invest.

TIED DOWN.  Some people do not want to settle on what thing/person.  They are not ready to be tied down to one thing/person.  The world has so much to offer.  They do not want to miss the next bigger thing.   The grass is greener elsewhere.

TOUGH.  Commitment is not easy. Commitment is not always fun.  Commitment goes beyond butterfly feelings. Commitment is a decision to stick with it/him/her no matter what.

PERFECTIONISM. Nothing is good enough.  Perfectionists struggle with this.  They are dissatisfied with the status quo; therefore, they cannot commit until they find the perfect person/thing. They might be looking for Mr. or Mrs. Perfect for the rest of their lives.

FEAR. They fear commitment will take away their freedom.  They have a misconception that commitment spells enslavement.

Commitment

II. WHY PEOPLE DO NOT COMMIT TO CHURCH ANYMORE

  1. PRIORITIES.  Church no longer as important.  God is just one of the options.
  2. BUSYNESS.  Good is enemy of best. Too many things competing for our time
  3. AFFLUENCE. Wealth gives people abilities to do other things – vacations, trips, events, experiences, toys, etc
  4. CHILDRENS PROGRAMS. Many families spend weekends driving children, and attend their many sports events like baseball, soccer, football, basketball, and so forth.
  5. BLENDED FAMILIES.  Due to the divorce rates, some children bounce from one parent to another, often in other cities and states.  Such families do not commit to church as they are either hosting the children, or driving the children elsewhere.
  1. TECHNOLOGY. Tablets, computers, smartphones, and other gadgets are making zombies out of many people. Many people are addicted to their gadgets such that they do not have time for church. Or if they go to church, they spend the time surfing the net, scrolling up and down the Social media feeds, texting, and sending e-mail messages.
  2. POST-CHRISTIAN SOCIETY.  Christianity, and religion now looked down upon. Some people despise organized religion.  Some have work schedules which compete with Sunday church attendance.
  3. SLEEPING IN.  Some people do not commit to church because they sleep on Sundays.  They claim they can worship alone at home, watch TV preachers, listen to podcasts.
  4. CULTURAL SHIFT. We must admit, we live in an age where most people do not feel guilty missing church.  Church is no longer the center of their lives.
  5. RETURN ON INVESTMENT.   Some people have been hurt by the church.  Some people have gone to church for many years, but have not seen any life transformation.  Some have not received answers to their prayers.  Thus, they do not think going to church makes any difference.

Decide to commit to God, your family, your vision, your church.

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III. HOW?

  1.   Make up your mind.  It’s not just going to happen.
  2. Set SMART goals. Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Realistic. Time sensitive.
  3. Just Do it. Don’t delay.  Don’t let fear hold you back.
  4. Stick to it. Don’t give up.  Don’t give in. GRIT – Perseverance + hard work.
  5. Seek accountability. Someone to hold you accountable, to encourage you, to check up on you.
  6. Celebrate small victories. Enjoy the small steps.
  7. Wake up. Repeat all the prior steps all over again.

Why Are You Here? 4 Ways to Discover Your Purpose

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A rich man was determined to give his mother a birthday present that would outshine all others. He read of a bird that had a vocabulary of 4000 words, could speak in numerous languages and sing 3 operatic arias. He immediately bought the bird for $50,000 and had it delivered to his mother. The next day he phoned to see if she had received the bird. “What did you think of the bird?” he asked. She replied, “It was delicious.” – Source Unknown.

A. WRONG PURPOSE

  • Sex. Pleasures.  “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified:  that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6
  • Success. FAME. Power. Knowledge.  Mark 8:36, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”
  • Silver. FORTUNE. Money. Materialism. Jobs.  “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” – Matthew 6:24

Why Am I Here

 B. RIGHT PURPOSE

Purpose is the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.

  • Purpose gives meaning to life.
  • Purpose simplifies life
  • Purpose gives focus to life
  • Purpose motivates your life
  • Purposes prepares you for end of life

 

 QUOTES

  • Sign on door: “Gone out of business. Didn’t know what our business was.” – 1963 — University Christian Church. in NY.
  •  Yogi Berra: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re likely to end up someplace else.”
  • “A person without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder–a waif, a nothing, a no man. Have a purpose in life, and, having it, throw such strength of mind and muscle into your work as God has given you.” – Thomas Carlyle.
  • “More men fail through lack of purpose than lack of talent.” – Billy Sunday

purpose

HOW TO DISCOVER YOUR PURPOSE

  1. Listen to God.  Pray, ask God to reveal your purpose to you. Let God be God.  He is good at being God. As the Creator, he is in the business of revealing the purpose for which He created you, His creation! Your plans might be good, but let God show you His purpose.  Proverbs 19:21 states, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
  2. Listen to your heart.  What frustrates you? Often, the issues you see as wrong are the exact areas where God wants you to work.  If you are frustrated by lack of organization around you, maybe God wants you to use your organization skills to improve your surroundings.  Your passion is consequently tied to your purpose.  Discover your passion, you discover your purpose. When you notice what no one else notices; when you are mad about what bothers no one else, you are the right person to fix the problem.

What fires you up?  What is it that when you talk about, your voice is elevated, your eyes become big, and you get excited?  You purpose could be in those areas where your passion lies.

3.   Listen to others.  Ask for advice from others.  Better still, seek the guidance of those who are wise.  Ask honest, loving, caring truthful people what they perceive your purpose to be.  Proverbs 11:14 states, “For lack of guidance a nation falls,
but victory is won through many advisers.”
People see and know your blind spots.

4. Obey.  Follow what God has already been showing you.   Some people think their purpose is not good enough, or not fancy.  You are at your best when you are doing what you were created to do.  You thrive when operating in your purpose area.  You may have failed many times because you are doing what you were not supposed to do.

Try your hand at different things.  Develop your gifts.  Train yourself.  Start practicing to live on purpose.  I Peter 4:10 states, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

 

10 Ways to Ditch a Bad Attitude

AttitudeIsEverything

“Both the hummingbird and the vulture fly over the deserts.  All vultures see is rotting meat, because that is what they look for. They thrive on that diet. But hummingbirds ignore the smelly flesh of dead animals. Instead, they look for the colorful blossoms of desert plants.

The vultures live on what was. They live on the past.  They fill themselves with what is dead and gone. But hummingbirds live on what is. They seek new life. They fill themselves with freshness and life. Each bird finds what it is looking for. We all do.” – Steve Goodier, Quote Magazine, in Reader’s Digest, May, 1990.

Attitude is an established thought pattern or feeling about people or things.  Many people need an attitude adjustment.

WHAT CAUSES A BAD ATTITUDE?

  • Selfie generation. Better than everyone else. No time for anyone.
  • Social Media generation. Comparing yourself to others who tweet their “perfect lives.”  I am not like them.
  • Fast food generation. Busyness and Hurry. I want it now. Rude customers.  Road rage.
  • Unrealistic Expectations. You should have been here. You are late.  They should have …
  • Fatigue.  Emotional.
  • Hunger. You have not yet eaten, or had your coffee.
  • Anger.  Bitterness – Unforgiveness.
  • Pain, suffering, grumpy patient
  • Painful situations, frustrations with life/people/God

 

YOU CAN CHOOSE YOUR ATTITUDE. Numbers 13:30, “Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” Joshua and Caleb chose to see victory despite the obvious. They believed God. You can control how you feel and respond to a situation.  Silence your negative thoughts.  Silence the bad attitude.  You should tell yourself, and the naysayers, We should go up and take possession of the promise.

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll

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HOW TO ADJUST YOUR ATTITUDE

  1. Pray and ask God for help to know, and to have a positive attitude.
  2. Read the Bible.  Read about other people who conquered difficult challenges.
  3. Hang around positive, constructive people. You are the average of the 5 people you spend time with.
  4. Think before you speak. Listen more.
  5. Think positively. Speak using positive, constructive words. I am going to fail.  I am going to die. I am useless.  I can never do that. I am a nobody. The world does not revolve around you.  The world does not owe you anything.
  6. Serve and help others. Look beyond yourself.  Go to Africa or something.
  7. Have someone who kicks you out of your rut.  Someone who says your attitude is changing.
  8. Develop a hobby. Play a sport, go fishing, plant a garden, go hiking. Go do something new.
  9. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Life is too short. Enjoy yourself.
  10. Remember: It could be worse. You have way more than most.

 

Attitude

Does your attitude reflect a vulture or hummingbird?

How is your attitude today?

Do you think the attitude you have now is one that God would be proud of?

Does your attitude need some adjustment?

Have you been focusing on the negative rather than the positive?

Ditch the bad attitude!

9 Ways of Dealing With Anger

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All of us, at some point, deal with situations, people, events, and circumstances which lead us to anger.

Today, you may be angry about the news you received.

You may be grappling with something repulsive you witnessed.

You may be at the end of the rope with your child’s rebellious actions.

You may have had it with a difficult co-worker or your boss.

Maybe your long, dreadfully slow commute drives you crazy.

You may be mad at the devil, sin, or your never-ending struggles.

You may be angry with yourself.

You may be mad at God.

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In Ephesians 4:26-27 we read, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

The dictionary defines anger as “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.” (dictionary.com)

Anger is a justifiable and necessary emotion – to some extent.  It is perfectly fine for anyone to be angry.  In fact, if there were no anger, some righteous actions would not be possible.  Anger drives good people to action.  However, unchecked anger can be dangerous and destructive.

Anger

  • What or who pushes your buttons?
  • How do you feel about them/it?
  • How do you deal with anger?
  • How can you let go of your anger?
  • What is God saying about your anger issue?
  • What are you going to do about this message?

anger 2

God does not want us to remain in our anger.  God discourages us from keeping anger boiling in our hearts.  Here are 9 ways of dealing with anger:

  1. DELAY YOUR RESPONSE. You do not have to respond to every angering email, phone message, or tweet right away.  Give it time.  My uncle used to say, “Sleep over it.”  Often, your feelings ease some the next day.  If you have to respond, respond with finesse and grace.
  2. TALK TO SOMEONE. Talk with someone who is objective and wise. Seek wise advice.  Some people knock some sense into you.  They help you get a different perspective.
  1. WALK AWAY. Sometimes walking away is a sign of maturity.  Take a walk, drive, run!  Cool off.  Think of other things.
  2. EVADE YOUR TRIGGERS. What are the triggers that set you off?  Which buttons, when pressed make you angry?  Identify those triggers, and change environments.  Avoid the areas/situations which caused the anger in the past or which might trigger the anger again.
  3. ENGAGE IN PHYSICAL ACTIVITY.  Physical activity is therapeutic.  Physical activity lowers emotions.  Physical activity cools you down.  Take up boxing, go for a hike, play football, soccer, baseball.  Sweat the anger out of yourself.
  4. UNDERSTAND. Seek to understand, and then to be understood (Steve Covey). Seek clarity.  Ask if you heard correctly.  At times, you may be angry at someone, yet you did not understand what they had been communicating.  They may be expressing real feelings of which you are unaware.
  5. THINK. Think about the undesirable results of your aggressive behavior. You may say or do something you will regret.  Will you be proud of your rapid response when you reflect on it tomorrow?
  6. PRAY. Pray about the situation first. Pray for the person who angered you.  Prayer brings grace and perspective.
  7. FORGIVE. Move on. Let it go. Some people simply need our forgiveness.  An act of forgiveness reflects our character and maturity.

Who is Your Friend?

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Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”

I have over 3,000 “friends” on Facebook.  I have hundreds of “followers” on Twitter.  I am wired and e-connected 24/7/365.  Yet, I still feel disconnected from deep intimate friendships and community.

Most of these friendships are superficial.  As human beings, we are created for community.  We function best in community settings. Our Christianity is best lived in community.  We need authentic, deep, meaningful friendships.  To have a friend is to have someone who understands you, without any judgments.

Friend

In one of His most challenging moments on earth, Jesus chose to bring three friends with him to prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He brought Peter, James and John.  In this sacred moment of His life, Jesus must have counted on the friends to keep Him company.  He must have relied on His friends to pray for and with Him.  He must have hoped they would stay would practice the ministry of presence – be there for Him. But, you know what they did?  They all fell asleep several times!  Their flesh failed them when their Master needed them the most. Despite their glaring weaknesses, Jesus relied on His friends.  He leaned into community.  He relied on His friends, even when it was not easy to do so (Matthew 26:36-46).

  1. Who is your best friend? Why?
  2. Can you identify three key friends to whom you could reach out to?
  3. Why are these friends important? Are you able to keep connected with these friends? If not, why not?
  4. What do you need to do to take these friendships to a deeper level?
  5. Are there some older friendships that you need to restore?
  6. On whom do you when life gets tough?

7 Ways to become more ethical

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  • When you hear the word “Ethics” what comes to mind?
  • How do you define ethics?
  • Can you think of examples of unethical behaviors you have observed?
  • Can you think of examples of ethical behaviors you have observed?

The dictionary defines ethics as “1. a system of moral principles: the ethics of a culture.

2.the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.: medical ethics; Christian ethics.

  1. moral principles, as of an individual: His ethics forbade betrayal of a confidence.” (dictionary.com)

In the Bible, Proverbs 11:3 states, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”

ethics

  • People who behave ethically are guided by the wise teachings and laws of the Lord.
  • People who behave ethically are cognizant of the value and impact of their testimony.
  • People who behave ethically inspire others to seek higher moral standards.
  • People who behave ethically transform people, their families, and their churches.
  • People who exhibit ethical behavior attract respect, trust, and honor.
  • People who show ethical behavior are people of integrity; they are dependable, and trustworthy.

Ethics

How to become more ethical

  1. Give your heart to Jesus. Do not just pay lip service to Jesus. Imitate Christ. Give your whole being to Him.  He will transform you from the inside out.
  2. Set some principles for yourself. Observe your personal, your company’s code of ethics.
  3. Read the Bible. Let God’s Word lead and guide you.
  4. Practice holiness. Holy people separate themselves from the lures of the world.  Holiness enables us to preach what we do, and do what we preach.
  5. Find a mentor. Have someone to walk alongside you.  Have someone who will challenge you, inspire you, and rebuke you, if necessary.
  6. Join an accountability group. Find likeminded individuals and join them.  Thorough authentic accountability groups, you will find wisdom, warnings, and encouragement for the journey.
  7. Read, learn more about ethics. Many universities and colleges are offering ethics classes.  The verdict is still out, but I think learning more about ethics can move the needle more towards ethical behavior.  The more you know, the more you should act more ethical.

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