Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Power of Habit

Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer. (Hebrews 10:25 GNT)

Isn’t it interesting that bad habits are easy to make and hard to break but good habits are hard to make and easy to break? I suspect it has to do with the fallen nature of Man. It seems like the natural trend is downhill. There is even a word for it in science, Entropy. The rule says entropy increases. This can be illustrated by organising a jar of marbles with all the blue marbles at the bottom and the red marbles at the top. One shake is all it takes to cause them to mix (disorder) and all the shaking in the world will never get them ordered again. There has to be some intervention.

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Paul talks about the habit of meeting together. Certainly it is a privilege to meet with other believers, to hear the word and to worship the Lord. However, sometimes if the kids have kept us up all night or we feel a cold coming on, it is really hard to even get out of bed on a Sunday morning. On those occasions the power of habit can get us going – especially if the rest of the family is in the same habit. If we skip one week, then it is easier to skip the next and before we know it we are out of the habit.

This principle applies to other aspects of life. I am not fond of exercise. In my mind I can still remember when I played in the second hockey team at my high school. The first thing we had to do was run around the field. I hated that. If we were late, we had to run several times as punishment so I associate exercise with punishment. However I am convinced that exercise is good for me and I tried to make it as easy as possible for me to get into the habit of going to gym four times a week. I found if I changed into my gym clothes when I have just woken up and am still half asleep, it is easier to go to gym before work. However the mornings are not my best time and I still have to fit in a quiet time. I promised myself that if I was running late, gym had to suffer, not my time with the Lord. As a result it sometimes happens that I only spend five minutes at the gym. This is better for the habit than to say, “O well, it is too late to go to gym now.” At lease I am reinforcing the actual drive to the gym routine.

One thing that has really helped a lot is the reward programme we have joined. If I go to gym fourteen times a month, my gym fees are refunded. This is quite a powerful motivation to keep in the habit.

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They say it takes 21 days to make a habit. I have even come across little printed pads where you write down the habit you want to make, tick it off each day and reward yourself at the end of each week if you met the criteria. Using this method I have tried to make myself more tidy, eat more healthily and be more organised. Sad to say, although I did manage to do some of these things for three weeks, I didn’t keep it up and now I am back to untidiness and eating things that I know are bad for me.

So we come back to the  question. Isn’t it interesting that bad habits are easy to make and hard to break but good habits are hard to make and easy to break? The problem is my fallen human nature.  I need intervention.

24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans &:24-25 NKJV)

Prayer

Dear Lord Jesus, Yours is the Power and the Glory. Please strengthen me through your Holy Spirit to be able to form good habits that glorify you and to break the slavery of bad habits which bring me down and do not glorify you. Thank you. Amen.

Reflections

In response to this week’s Flash Fiction challenge by Priceless Joy.

The challenge is to write a flash fiction story of 100 – 150 words. I am trying to limit myself to 100.

This is the prompt photo by Priceless Joy

I see her everywhere. If I look up into the sky, the clouds arrange themselves into pictures of little girls – little girls playing, little girls sleeping. Sometimes just a face. Her face.

In the bath I lie and stare at the tiles, mottled and marbled. More pictures emerge. Babies turn into toddlers. Very rarely I can make out an older girl – a teenager who will never be.

Reflections in the rain-spattered surface are in technicolour. Surely that’s Amy! I turn around, tears mingling on my face with rain. She died a year ago, the day before her fifth birthday.

Leaving the boat

In response to Friday Fictioneers and the following prompt.

© Jennifer Pendergast

Leaving the Boat (100 words)

The boat belonged to my father. It is my inheritance as the oldest son. It is my empowerment, my calling. I smell the stench of fish, my livelihood.

As a Jew I had, of course, gone to Temple School. Only the best of the best got to study further. The best of those studied to become Rabbis. Then they hoped to be called to follow a leading Rabbi. I was not the best of the best. That’s why I am a fisherman.

Here comes that new Rabbi, walking along the shore.

“Follow me,” he says, and changes my life forever.

coffee with Wings#3

Today I am going to attempt something new. Instead of posting a Bible verse for you to read, I am going to try to get the message across with music. The text comes from 1 John 4:7 and 8                                     Beloved, let us love one another 

What are some other verses about Love that speak to you?

Cullinan

In response to Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers and the photo prompt by Louise of the Story Teller’s Abode

 

For her 50th birthday she organised a 100km steam train trip to the historical town of Cullinan for her ten best friends. Marcelle was included even though val suspected that her friend was having an affair with her husband.

It was a great day out. Lunch was a lavish affair in the Cullinan Diamond Inn. Everybody drank too much. After all, they weren’t driving home. There was an organised trip down the old mine. At one stage all the lights were switched off to give atmosphere. Someone screamed, then giggles.                                                                                                                 At 4pm it was time to come puffabillying back to Pretoria.

“Anybody seen Marcell?” Val asked. (106 words)DSCN0406

 

The Window

In response to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields Friday Fictioneers challenge for this week.

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This story is based on 2 Samuel 11

He couldn’t settle. The room was stuffy. The battle was over. His men had won. Blood was galloping through his body. It was spring-time, the time for lovers and yet, here he was, the most important man in the country. Alone.

It was cooler on the roof. He looked down on the Officers Quarters. She stood wrapped in a towel in front of a window. The towel dropped and time stopped. No past. No future. Only now. The longing took over his mind, his body, his soul.

He gave the command. A king can have whatever he wants.

Bathsheba came.

 

God’s fingerprints

Sometimes the Lord orchestrates events so that looking back you can see His fingerprints. We are in the middle of such events.

Our adult children don’t go to the same church as we do. My husband is the son of a Methodist minister so for a long time we were all Methodists. My older son and daughter left first when they were late teenagers as the youth in the church dwindled. My husband and I joined a larger, non-denominational, missionary -orientated church more recently and our youngest son has linked up with the same young, relevant church as his sister.

I have been a helper at the recent Alpha course run by our church, Rosebank Union. I missed one Tuesday night when we went away during the school holidays to the warmer South Coast. The Monday evening we got back, my son’s car wouldn’t start. The battery was flat. He jump-started it to go to train a client and then had to have it jump-started on the way back again. On the Tuesday he decided it needed a good run so I suggested he take and fetch me from the Alpha course as it was a reasonable distance away.

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While he was waiting to fetch me again, our group was chatting too much and going over time so we finished 15 minutes later than I had told him to fetch me. To pass the time, he read all the pamphlets in our church’s information stand. One of them was about upcoming missions, including one that caught his eye to a closed country to be involved with running winter sports and generally helping out the missionary couple that the church has recently sent there.

The upshot of it all, is that he is going on the mission. The organiser said he was an answer to prayer. He is the only male in a team of four and he is passionate about sport in general and is a sport scientist. The mission is in November which means that passports have to be quickly checked and applied for or renewed. My son had got his passport in 2002 to go on a cricket trip that year with his sports club and then used it again in 2004 for a school cricket tour to England. Theoretically it would have expired in 2012. However, when he checked, it turned out to be valid until 2019.

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Then he remembered. We were robbed at gunpoint in 2009 when three men gained entrance to our property when we arrived home. They forced us to go into the house, disarm the alarm and open the safe. Among all the jewelry they stole were our three passports. We had to get replacements. That is why my son’s passport is still valid.   God can use even armed robbery for His purposes… and flat batteries.

This is not the end of the story. There are a number of obstacles to overcome. One is the fact that my son will probably have to take unpaid leave which means losing a third of his monthly salary. The other is the finance. He needs to find sponsors for the R20 000 that it will cost.. However, the God who left his fingerprints all over the previous events is not stopped by obstacles like these. We only have to look at the nativity story to realise that.

Think of the star. How many millions of years does it take to create a new star? Yet it appeared in the sky to people whose culture included interpretation of the heavens at exactly the right time.

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Isn’t it interesting that Caesar Augustus chose exactly the right time to decree a census so that Mary would be sufficiently pregnant so the baby could be born in Bethlehem according to the prophecies? I could go on and on. Simeon was at the temple at the right time to see the new baby being dedicated. So many events had dovetailed according to Gods wonderful purpose.

Yet not all the events were good from a human point of view. Many baby boys were slaughtered. Because of Herod’s command, the young child, Jesus, had to flee to Egypt, again to fulfill prophesy. Sometimes things happen to us that are bad or even tragic.

God’s ways are often a mystery to us. Mostly we can’s see any good in the bad things that happen to us at the time. Often we can only look back in awe at what He has organised. Sometimes we might never see the purpose in our lifetime but I firmly believe “ that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” Rom 8:28 (KJV)

Put your money where your mouth is.

God has a sense of humour. On Sunday Audrey Cunningham published a guest post that I wrote,  Red Car. In it I admitted that I battled to regard my time and money as actually belonging to God, not me.

My husband and I belong to the Gideons. They are the people who place bibles in hotel rooms, doctors waiting rooms, schools, prisons and a couple of other highways and byways. Last night was our monthly dinner meeting. The whole theme of the meeting and the main business was the upcoming Faith Fund lunch. Our target is R90 000. The money is used to buy bibles for people beyond our borders who can’t afford bibles. It was suggested that we invite people with a heart for mission to buy a box of 100. If each of the ten members got five donors, we would have R75 000. If we then each bought a box of 100 ourselves, that would make the goal.

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I was getting more and more uncomfortable. My husband and I are not typical Gideons who are usually successful business and professional  people. He retired from the bank a couple of years ago and is now a pensioner. I work as a laboratory assistant at a school where I earn about half of what a teacher does. I thought this was a really unfair demand to put on us all.

I caught myself. Here I had just blogged about everything I have belonging to God and already I was complaining.

Overnight the decision was made. Next month I get a birthday bonus. Although the amount required is more than the 10% traditional tithe, I will regard it as such and buy the box. I am sure the Lord is smiling, if not laughing. I backed myself into that corner. As always, His timing is impeccable.

This morning my husband was running a little late in getting ready to take the older two grandchildren to school (or his watch was not synchronised correctly.) We had a four year old and his little one and a half year old sister walking down the garden path to our front door yelling at the top of their voices “Grampa, its time to go!” and “Bumpa, Bumpa” respectively. I had been just about to start my quiet time but what with all the walking up and down the garden path and interacting with the three grandchildren, I only had five minutes left. However, I said to myself, “It’s God’s time anyway and he knows all about the interruptions.” Maybe I am learning slowly.

up the garden path