Monthly Archives: October 2020

Trick or Treat

This post is part of the Saturday Streams of Consciousness where we are required to write without editing whatever comes, prompted by a word. This week’s word is “trick”

Whenever I see stores decorated for Halloween, I have a negative gut reaction. This stems from the era in which I was born, my country of residence and my Anglican origens. The church celebrates All Saints Day on the 1st November to honour all the saints and the night before is regarded as the night where the evil spirits are loosed to cause havoc on earth. This probably arose from the Celts who believed that the spirits of the dead roamed the earth that night, destroying crops and harming people.

Therefore I regard Halloween as a symbol of evil.

The South African Police know to expect a spike of violent crimes on the 31st October, including murders and ritual sacrifices, including torture of animals. Some say it is the Devil’s holy day and Satanists celebrate it as such. I have no personal knowledge of that except for a lady who came to talk to a group of kids at school a very long time ago. She used to be a Satanist but found Christ.

This morning my son in Russia sent me a photo of a light in a pumpkin he had carved. I had to overcome my gut reaction. After all, it’s a piece of craftmanship. I have tried carving a watermelon with indifferent results. After all, a pumpkin in itself has no intrinsic significance as a symbol except as a gift from God. The most important thing to see is that the light is the hero of the picture, not the pumpkin.

Jesus is the Light of the world and while it is true that Satan is the ruler of the world at this moment, Jesu’s light can’t be extinguished.

Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. they don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.” (2 Cor 4:4 NLT)

So let us not be blinded by the trick of Satan, but open our eyes to the treat of being in a relationship with Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.

With Jesus

Sometimes I wish I was with Jesus in the flesh, like those early disciples. Think how exciting it would be!

Image by emilycavins from Pixabay

However, if I think carefully, I don’t think I would have been that comfortable after all. They had given up everything to follow Him. They had no life of their own. They had to go along with Jesus’ plans and couldn’t really plan their own time. They couldn’t decide to look for a new mat for their house or put in a load of washing. Not that I think washing wasn’t done. I’m sure everyday life had to go on. I can’t imagine Jesus and His disciples arriving at a dinner in dirty smelly clothes and unkempt hair. And somebody had to buy groceries. And cook. And clean up afterwards.

The discomfort would not only have been doing household chores without modern appliances, but more on an emotional and personal level. I imagine that, if I made a critical comment about another disciple, or maybe only thought it, Jesus would look across at me and He’d know. I’m sure I’d find plenty that was critical to say about the others – they were a mixed group, coarse fishermen associating with a tax collector and other people I might not trust. I’d be expected to get on with them, even to love them and in time I’d probably learn to.

The disciples were with Jesus, but not in Him. As Christians, we are in Christ and Christ is in us through the Holy Spirit. Jesus said He would not leave his disciples as orphans but would send His Spirit to be with them. E Stanley Jones puts it thus. “The ‘with’ had to end so that the ‘in’ might begin. He withdrew His presence and gave them His omnipresence.”(In Christ 106)

I have Christ’s presence in me. If I am serious about my discipleship, I should also have given up my life to follow Him. I should also regard my time as not my own and rather follow His plans. Yes, they do include ordinary life like paying license fees, fixing broken things and partying with people. Many times God uses exactly these events to carry out His plans. He even uses the bad things like flat batteries or cancelled appointments.

All I have to do is yield to the Holy Spirit as the indwelling, risen Christ, to manifest Christ’s presence to the world. It will be uncomfortable and maybe that’s what prevents me being fully committed. I can only cast myself on His Love and cry, “Breathe on me Breath of God, till I am wholly Thine.”

Aha Moments

You know those Aha moments – like when I first realised the line in the song Picnic Time for Teddy Bears was “Watch them, catch them unawares,” rather than “Watch them catch their underwear.” I’ve used the word “encourage” most of my life to mean support but I recently realised it means to imbue with courage or to talk courage into.

I had another such epiphany this morning.

Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 12:3, “…No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”

I used to think this was some neat little test to find out which spirits or influences were from God and which were from the enemy. Now I realise that it is not a matter of saying “Jesus is Lord,” but rather making it true in my life.

I’ve been meditating recently on the difference between accepting Jesus as Saviour and accepting Him as Lord. The latter is a decision of the will and a commitment of my whole life. It is the act of putting myself, past, present and future – into God’s hands to do with as God pleases. (Adapted from Maxie Dunnam – The Workbook of Abiding in Christ.)

It means giving up the things I regard as mine: My life, my time, my abilities, my body, the money I have earned, the children I have brought up. Do you know how hard that is? in fact, I regard it as humanly impossible. That’s where the power of the Holy Spirit comes in. Nobody can make Jesus Lord of their lives except by the Holy Spirit.

My Prayer

  1. Breathe on me, Breath of God,
    Fill me with life anew,
    That I may love what Thou dost love,
    And do what Thou wouldst do.
  2. Breathe on me, Breath of God,
    Until my heart is pure,
    Until with Thee I will one will,
    To do and to endure.
  3. Breathe on me, Breath of God,
    Till I am wholly Thine,
    Until this earthly part of me
    Glows with Thy fire divine.
  4. Breathe on me, Breath of God,
    So shall I never die,
    But live with Thee the perfect life
    Of Thine eternity. (Hymn by Edward Hatch 1878)

When a Good Friend Dies

Yesterday a good friend died. She hosted our fellowship group which will never be the same again. It wasn’t Covid. It was leukemia and it was sudden. We got the first message saying she was in hospital with some weird blood disease on Saturday. She started chemotherapy on Monday, Yesterday morning we got the message that she was unresponsive and by 3pm she had gone to her Lord.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I was shocked out of comfort into stark reality. Death is so final and so disruptive to our everyday life! Could I have been a better friend?

I realised again that we should tell the people we love that we love them, while they can still hear, that we must forgive while it is still possible, that we should always keep in mind that we, too, can be taken suddenly in the midst of living.

Our possessions, home, car, pets are only ours while we are alive. One day somebody else will sort out our freezer, make plans for our animals, donate our clothes, close our bank account.

Stephen Covey recommends that we start with the end in view. I am going to die. What would I like my friends and family to say about me once I’m gone? That my house was always tidy or that I dropped everything to enjoy an outing with a friend? That I published a book or made memories with grandchildren? That I brought encouragement or pointed out mistakes?

These and many more questions I need to think on in the coming days. The advice in Philippians 4:8 is always helpful.

Finally, Brothers and Sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

Goodbye, Pat, I will always remember you. You were a hostess who cared about each individual guest, even the ones who didn’t like curry or pork. You knew our favourite drinks and made sure you had them. You noticed the quiet members of the group and encouraged them. Your love for life inspired me, your unwavering trust in the Lord I strive to attain. You will be missed by a large circle of friends. I feel honoured that I can count myself one of them.