Monthly Archives: February 2019

Shoes

I am packing to go to Cape Town for my step-mother-in-law’s memorial service. It is an un-budgeted trip and our budget tickets only include 7kg hand luggage. We are going for five days and I’m debating which shoes to take. Something smart for the funeral, something comfortable for site seeing, something warm because Cape Town is cooler than Johannesburg at present, something to slip off on the beach……  The Roman soldier had no such dilemma.

Ephesians 6:11 tells us about the armor of God. We must have our “feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of Christ.” (vs 15)

Roman legionaries footwear was not designed so much for protection as for surefooted-ness on varying terrain, for speed and for comfort.

Romans 10 vs 15 says “How can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’

The readiness in Ephesians is to be sent. Imagine a soldier, kitted out in full battle gear, running against the enemy on his own. Without the instruction of his commanding officer, he is doomed to failure and probable death.

We need to be prepared every day to be sent, to share the good news. However it’s not something we do in our own strength. All we are called to do is to be ready. Let’s pack our shoes!

Taste Test

Taste and see that the Lord is good. (Psalm 34:8)

Every baby knows that one can’t tell what a thing is like unless one has tasted it for oneself. Unlike sight and hearing, where one can experience something in a big crowd, taste is very personal and has an element of risk. Anybody and everybody can admire a glorious sunset but, while it may be uplifting, there is no direct interaction. A rousing  overture can be heard by thousands of people at once but they are not personally involved. Smell is indiscriminate. Nobody has a choice regarding what smells might waft in and out of our nostrils although we can move our bodies to get closer or further away and we can breathe in deeply or block our noses.

Taste is normally a choice. We can choose to interact with something by putting it in our mouth or, if we are more cautious, putting a tiny bit on our finger and transferring it to our tongue. There is always some degree of faith required. Do we trust the person who is inviting us to taste something, or might they be trying to poison us or play a practical joke?

What we taste cannot be tasted by anybody else – it is changed in the process. There is real interaction. We make ourselves vulnerable to possibly find something that we never knew before and is really delicious.

The psalmist exhorts us to not rely on other people’s experiences of God to know He is good. Taste and see for yourself.

Prayer. Lord, I am willing to take a chance. Please interact with me and show me how good You are. Amen.

man holding ice cream cone under cloud

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on Pexels.com

X rays and Conditions

When I was in my early forties, my mother’s doctor suggested that I go for a bone scan to see if I had osteoporosis like she did. What a ridiculous idea! I was still young. I couldn’t possibly have an old peoples’ disease! Nevertheless the scan showed that I had, indeed, suffered from loss of bone density. I have a condition that I didn’t know I had and would have staunchly denied while I laughed.

person holding x ray film

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

My daughter also has a condition. A different condition. Last week she took her three children to check if they had inherited it. They had.

We probably all have conditions. Or syndromes. Or illnesses. Or weaknesses. Many of them we inherited. Although they are many and varied, we all suffer from one hereditary condition. We will refuse to believe that we have this condition although it is usually obvious in others. The global expert will tell us we have this condition but because we don’t think we have it, we might not accept his opinion.

This condition is called Human Nature. God calls it SIN. We inherited it. It is in our DNA. None of us in immune. “All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned – every one- to his own way.” (Isiah 53:6a ESV)

Those of us who go to church and maybe read our bibles think we are immune. We are not. God’s X ray of our heart will reveal it. I was reminded again of my condition this morning. I had slept very badly and, twenty minutes before my alarm was due to go off, I was woken by my husband’s footsteps. He asked if I wanted coffee then of after seven. I felt grumpy and irritable. had not slept well. My sleep had been interrupted.  needed my sleep. A couple of minutes later when I did wake up, he brought me cappuccino and a rusk. He could not have coffee with me because he had to leave to do a Gideon Bible placement at a school. Later I found his coffee cup with a spoon of coffee powder.

burst

I had not thought of him, had I? Only of me, me, me. This is a symptom of my condition. Total self focus.

Fortunately, God has provided a therapy for this condition we all suffer from (or ignore.) Isiah goes on to say in verse 6b, “And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Jesus had paid the consequences for our condition and, if we are willing, will give us a transfusion of divine nature that will slowly change us to the image of Jesus if we submit to his regime. That does not mean that our human nature disappears. It is still alive and kicking and only with God’s help can we tame it to some degree. I long for the day when my first waking thought can be Good morning , Lord rather than Good Lord, it’s morning.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that you died for me. By your Spirit, please transform me into your image. I submit myself to Your authority. Amen.

Bunnies don’t purr

My grandchildren have got baby bunnies in the garden as well as kittens in the house. Bunnies are very soft and cuddly and the kids enjoy holding them and snuggling them.

baby bunny 2

However, my grandchildren spend longer cuddling the kittens. Both kittens are also soft and cuddly but they purr when they are picked up and cuddled. There is something very special about a cat’s purr. It warms the cockles of my heart. It tells me the cat is happy and is enjoying being with me. (I also cuddle the kittens whenever I get the chance.)

Psalm 9 says, “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all Your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in You,” (ESV)

I think the kittens are exulting in being cuddled. They make their pleasure known. I am sure that our Father loves to hear our thanks and our happiness in him, just as I enjoy a cat purring.

As grandparents we always try to choose presents that our grandchildren will like. We don’t always get it right. I know of a number of neglected dolls that I thought my granddaughter would love. Last Christmas we gave our grandson a Cat Boy Watch. Just before he went to bed that night he came downstairs just to tell us, “Granny and Grampa, I love my watch.” It made us feel wonderful. We felt like good grandparents who know how to give good gifts.

I am sure God loves to hear our thanks and appreciation for all His wonderful gifts to us. I am sure he revels in our happiness. Maybe we should purr a little more often.

Hope and Load-shedding

The following is an extract from an article from the Jesuit Institute. I found the whole article profound and insightful.

“Spiritually, this experience of the return of load-shedding is one where our tempers are tested and our patience practiced (or not?) But could we use this time of frustration to reconnect with those we love and model what grace under pressure looks like?”

The full article can be read HERE. 

Worry, worry, worry, worry

“Why worry, worry, worry, worry, when you can pray,” ended the old Sunday school song.

Paul put it more maturely, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7 NIV.)

Notice what Paul does not say. He does not say all your requests will be granted. Rather, he says you will have peace. Is peace the opposite of anxiety?

Jesus also had something to say about anxiety and worry. In Matthew 6:31-33 he says, “So do not worry, saying, ‘what shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ for the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Seeking God’s kingdom is no light thing. It means putting yourself under God’s kingship, letting Him reign in your life. As I have discovered from my attempts to be a servant, it is not easy and it does not come naturally.  Jesus emphasizes that God is our Father and he knows what we need.

When I was a little girl, sometimes on a journey home at night in our little car, one of my parents would say, “I think we are lost.” Being lost is a terrifying thing for a child, yet my brother and I didn’t worry. We knew Mom and Dad would find the way. We just went to sleep in the car. I think that is how our Father would like us to trust Him. Sure, bumps come along in life and sometimes we seem lost. But our Father has enough power, wisdom and love to get us home safely. So let’s not worry, worry, worry, worry when we can pray.

sleeping girl

Load shedding

South Africa is undergoing load shedding at the moment. That means that for four hours at a time, electricity is switched off in a certain area. It is staggered so that yesterday it was 4 pm to 8 pm and today it is 8 am to 12.30 pm. Sitting in the dark with candles and torch light got me to thinking about the references to darkness and light in the bible. They didn’t have electricity in those days.

The obvious ones came to mind. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path,” Psalm 119:105

or “Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick….” (Math 5:15 KJV)    Of course the NIV translates a bushel as a bowl. Last night I lit a candle just so we could see what we were eating for dinner. I can’t imagine putting it under a bowl or tall vase.

 

But the verses my mind lingered on are from John 1.

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it……..

“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own and his own did not receive him.” (John 1:4-5 and 9-11 NIV)

What particularly struck me was the contrast between the darkness and the world. The darkness had to submit to the light. It had no choice.  However the true light came to his own and his own did not receive him. They had a choice. They could accept him or reject him.

The choice is still there today. We can accept the Light of the World or reject him. Verse 12 tells us “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…born of God.”

Love Sonnet

This month’s challenge for my writers’ circle is to write a love sonnet after the style of Shakespeare. This is my attempt.

SONNET 1. The Rising Sun

The rising sun in all its radi’nt light

Is but a shadow set besides thy face.

The panoply of stars, all blazing bright,

Is merely trim thy glorious robe to grace.

 

When all the birds on earth with song rejoice

And waters roar and thunders clap with glee,

Combin’d they’re just the echo of thy voice,

My ear is dull ‘till thou addresseth me.

 

Thy touch upon my skin is dearer, far,

Than first sweet sunbeams after days of rain.

In thy embrace my heart glows like a star,

And gathers strength to conquer every pain.

 

When hearts forget to pump, or eyes to see,

This truth remains. Thou died for love of me.

Foreign Currency

My son is working on a contract in Russia. He phoned us last week to tell us that, because of tightening of restrictions and legislation, his bank can no longer transfer money into his South African bank account. It reminded me of a time when I was a student at Rhodes. An engineering students organisation arranged exchange working trips to Germany for two months. The only time I met the other international students in our group was during an organised tour in Berlin for a couple of days.

One of the trips organised was to East Berlin. In those days East Germany was a communist country and we had heard stories about people being shot while trying to escape. We all went through Checkpoint Charlie with some apprehension. We had  to exchange a certain number of West German Marks for East German Marks and we were not allowed to exchange any money in the opposite direction. It was a matter of having to spend everything in East Berlin. You couldn’t take it out with you.

Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:19-21)

I battle with this command because it is not specific. What is the currency of heaven? How do I lay up treasures? Is it by doing good deeds? Improving the life of others? Building strong relationships? Loving God above all else? I would welcome other people’s input.

Bottom line is clear. I am not to set my heart on money. I can, after all, not serve two masters. I can’t take it with me, unlike Charles Obang who tried.