Monthly Archives: November 2021

The Backpack

This post was inspired by Trudi.

In the Old Testament God gave His Chosen People the Law. This was the moral code His people should live by. They tried to keep it. And failed. Miserably.

By the time Jesus came, He said of the Pharisees, “They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” (Matthew 23:4 NIV)

The Pharisees were the religious leaders. They considered religion as things one does, acts one performs.

We all instinctively know the difference between right and wrong. The problem is, in our own strength we are unable to keep God’s Law. The burden of trying to be good is like a heavy backpack on the shoulders of a hiker tackling a steep hill. We cannot please God in our own strength.

Image by Pixabay

But God promises, ” I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Ezekial 36:26-27 NIV)

Now the contents of our backpack, which were mostly food and drink, once they are inside our body, become the source of energy to enable us to continue our journey of life in a relationship with Jesus.

Peter says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3 NIV)

My prayer

Lord, thank You that You have provided everything I need for this journey of life. Thank You for Your Spirit who empowers me to will and to act in order to fulfill Your good purpose. Amen

Thanksgiving and Halloween

Thanksgiving and Halloween are typically American. Neither is part of the South African history or culture.

Many South African Christians of the older generation are against Halloween on the grounds that it is a celebration of evil. I heard a talk about twenty years ago by a policeman who told us about the increase of certain crimes on the 31st October, including rape and cruelty or dismemberment of domestic animals.

Others, perhaps younger, see Halloween as a harmless bit of fun for children. Children love dressing up and this is a great opportunity. Perhaps these younger people are more global citizens and have been exposed to international standards.

Thanksgiving is another American event, in fact, a public holiday. It is a time for families to get together and give thanks to God for all His blessings. Festival foods like roast turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie are enjoyed.

One would think these American events have nothing to do with South Africans. Yet, come mid October, shops are full of skeletons, witches hats, evil masks, spiders and webs with plastic jack ‘o lanterns scattered about.

Come November, there are no great sales on turkey, no specials on cranberry sauce, no pumpkin pie, not even tinned pumpkin to make pumpkin pie. There are no thanksgiving events in shops or malls. Thanksgiving is not mentioned in any advertising. Families do not make special plans to get together to give thanks to God.

I find this disparity odd. Why does one American custom spread and another not? Could it be something to do with our fallen nature? Do we find it much more fun to indulge our darker side and dress up as something evil than to focus on God? Could it be that there is no commercial advantage in advertising gratitude?

Perhaps giving thanks to God need not wait for a special day. Being thankful, not only to God but to others, is a habit well worth cultivating. Every day.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17 NIV)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thes 5:16-18 NIV)

My Prayer

Thank You, Lord, for all your blessings. I know that all good things come from You. Thank You for the wonderful people You have put in my life. May I never take them for granted. Truly, the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places and I am forever grateful. Amen.

Black Friday

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday. The prompt for today is “golly gee.”

We were having problems of our own and gave no thought to Black Friday. Our plans had been disrupted on several levels. We had been without electricity for more than a day. Our initial plan to go to the Gideon National Service Centre in Pretoria had been cancelled when we heard the Service Centre had been closed because two employees had tested positive for Covid. The plan had been to look at the journals with a view to getting my Christmas present from my husband, as well as fetching New Testaments.

Instead, we decided to go to Cresta, our closest mall, and have a look at the selection of journals at Cum Books. We first remembered Black Friday when we saw the fullness of the parking lot.

Golly gee, was Black Friday indeed black! The power outage, which had affected us, had also affected the mall and, according to the saleslady, after working non-stop for more than a day, the generator had decided to give up.

Light came into the front of the shop from the huge glass dome which was close by. However, we had to peruse the shelves by the light of our cell phones. The selection of journals was good and I am very happy with the one I finally chose (and there was a 20% discount because of Black Friday.) We couldn’t do much else though. My data had been used up because our internet had been down. I couldn’t get more from the Autobank because of the power outage. The cell phone shop was closed so I couldn’t get data there either!

The only illumination came from the glass dome on the top right hand side of the photo.

This was an aptly named Black Friday!

But wait!

There was another aptly named Black Friday about two thousand years ago. It was the day of the greatest miscarriage of justice this world had ever seen; the day the innocent Son of God was crucified by proclamation of a weak Roman court intimidated by political threats from leaders who wanted to remain in power at all costs.

The sun itself was darkened for three hours on that black Friday. There was an earthquake which tore the dividing curtain in the temple from top to bottom.

Amazingly, that day is not remembered as Black Friday, but rather as Good Friday because it commemorates what John 3:16 says,

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (NKJV)

My Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Thank you so much that, for love of me and for the joy set before you, you endured the cross. When things look black all around me, please take my hand and lead me in the path that leads to the resurrection life where I can be with You. Forever. Amen.

Building a House

In my assignation with the Lord this morning, I read Psalm 27. Having just blogged yesterday about allowing God to do things His way and not trying to struggle on in my own strength, I was struck by the first two verses.

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat for he grants sleep to those he loves.” (NIV)

I am a great believer in energy efficiency. To build in vain seems such a waste of energy.

I am going to apply this principle to my vague plan to publish a collection of my better blog posts. If the Lord organises it, then I will not labour in vain.

My Prayer

Father God, if this vague plan of mine is of You, please will You take over. If not, please show me how to use my time to glorify you. Amen.

The Tomato Plant.

I may have mentioned before that I have brown thumbs – the opposite of green fingers. The idea of growing my own vegetables is very attractive but my success has been meagre. When I planted tomatoes, they looked healthy for a while – even gave me five tomatoes to eat. Then they developed some kind of fungal disease and the plant died even before the last six tomatoes ripened.

In winter I bought a packet of tomato seeds and some of those compostable planting pots and some growing pellets. As soon as Spring arrived I planted them. When they were big enough I cut off the bases of the pots and planted them suitably spaced in my vegetable garden. Now, two months later, five of the nine pots contain living plants. One is about 20cm tall but the others are still about 10cm. I’m not feeling too optimistic.

About six weeks ago I noticed a tomato plant among my clivias. It already had flowers so I knew it wouldn’t be long before there were some tomatoes. Now it is producing fruit. Abundantly. They turned out to be baby tomatoes. My favourite kind. Three or four times a week I can collect upwards of 20 tomatoes – enough for a salad for lunch.

This tomato plant I had nothing to do with. I didn’t plant it. It just grew. God planted it.

What this says to me is that if I start a new endeavour in my own strength and wisdom, the results are not amazing. If God starts something and I keep my grubby paws off it, it will work out exactly according to His plan. I have to learn to be led by the Spirit, not my own imagination or good ideas. Perhaps I also need to examine my motives. If my motive is purely to glorify God, then it is a worthy endeavour. If my motive is to make money or get fame or recognition or to impress others, the results are in no way guaranteed.

Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God. Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. (Psalm 143:10)

My Prayer

Father God, I find it difficult to discern when my thoughts and ideas come from myself and when they are from You. Please help me to live so closely to You that my default is to be led by Your Spirit. Teach me to hear Your voice and obey Your commands. Amen.

Black and White

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday The prompt for today is “black,” “white,” or “grey.”

An old song goes, “White is black and black is white for no good reason that I know, Only that my baby says it’s so. Night is day and day is night The moon at noon is all aglow Just because my baby says it’s so.” (From the film “The singing Marine” 1937 sung by Dick Powel)

Adapted from Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

This is not the only occasion when our perception of truth is confused by people we admire. Picture the teenager who has been taught by his parents and teachers to avoid drugs because they can harm him. His friends in the popular crowd tell him something quite different. “They will expand your mind,” they say, “surely you don’t subscribe to such an old-fashioned set of values?. Everybody who is anybody is doing it.”

Later in life it is “the smart thing to do,” to lie to the insurance or to cheat on your tax return.

The question is, whom do we want to impress? Does the teenager want to appear cool to his friends or obedient to his parents? Does the opinion of our colleagues matter more to us than the opinion of God?

God says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20 NIV)

Opinion is swayed so much by social media, by movies and music, by the general perception of “Everybody is doing it so it must be right.” There are fashions and cycles to what society believes. I’ve been reading Jane Austen at the moment and it’s fascinating to read how society of the day viewed things. How can we know the Truth?

Jesus prayed for us.

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one… Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:15 and 17 NIV)

To those who had believed him Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32 NIV)

My Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life, You promised that if we hold to Your teaching, we will know the truth. So I ask in confidence, open my eyes to the truth that will set me free. Amen.

In an Orange Mood

Every morning, my husband prepares oranges for our breakfast. He cuts them in half and uses a grapefruit knife to loosen the segments. Then we use serrated spoons to scoop out the flesh.

Once I’ve savoured each segment, I go around again, getting the last bit of juice out of the delicious fruit.


This reminds me of reading the Bible. Even though I’ve read a section before, I can go over it again and get more “juice” out of it.

Oranges contain vitamin C which has long had the reputation of strengthening our immune system and helping our body fend off germs – those invisible enemies. I believe that is is more beneficial to get our vitamin C fix daily as a matter of routine rather than suddenly taking a massive dose when we feel a cold coming on although I am sure that helps.

In the same way, reading the Bible every day can help us ward off the invisible enemy of our souls. This practice refreshes our spirits and helps us grow strong in the faith.

Oranges are not the easiest fruit to eat. Unlike a grape which you can just pop in your mouth, an orange takes a bit of effort to prepare and eat, whether we peel it, soften it and suck it out of the skin, or cut it into segments. Likewise, reading the Bible regularly takes a bit of effort. Somehow it seems that social media, news and messages on our cell phones take precedence and seem easier to read.

I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word... Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. (Psalm 119:15-16,18 NIV)

My Prayer

Lord, teach me to delight in Your word. Please open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. Amen.

When the CAMera Phone is just a CAMera

I bought the phone for the camera. Leica lenses and all. It was wonderful – until I dropped it. Since the fall, nothing’s been the same. I had to have the screen replaced so outwardly it now looks the same as it was. But inwardly…

I’ve taken it for repair three times. The first place said it can’t be fixed – it needs a new motherboard. The second place put in a new motherboard. This didn’t fix the problem so they decided the motherboard was defective and put in another one. The problem is no better.

The issue is a matter of connectivity. The phone can connect to the internet via WIFI – for a short time. Then it drops the signal… sometimes in the middle of playing music on You Tube. Most times I can reconnect if I go back to settings, scan the WIFI networks and click “connect.”

Trying to navigate on Google maps is a nightmare. The phone keeps losing the GPS signal for long periods of time, usually as soon as I start my journey. On one occasion when visiting my hairdresser who had just moved to working at home after Covid, she had to fetch me because I was so lost. The Bluetooth connectivity is just as bad. That makes my Covid app useless.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely phone. The camera takes stunning photos. I can play games like Mastermind, the torch is fine and a lot of apps half work if I make sure the internet is connected.

This is a parable of the human condition. God made Humankind perfect. He looked and pronounced His creation very good. After the Fall, our connectivity was broken:- not only with God but with our fellow humans and even the earth. We can still function. In our own power we can accomplish much. The talents God gifted us with can make a difference. But deep down, we know we are broken. We know there is something missing. We know we are functioning below our potential. We try to connect to God, our source of All, but it takes effort and the connection doesn’t last long. We can’t keep it up.

Our only hope is Christ. “The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory.” (Col 1:27 MSG)

Through His Holy Spirit Christ comes into our lives. The Spirt is connected to the fullness of God and He can reset our natural inclinations or settings to automatically connect to Our Father.

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday. The prompt for this week is cam or any word containing it.