Monthly Archives: February 2022

Love is Not a Feeling

The song with the above title by Don Francisco starts with the following:

“So you say you can’t take it
The price is too high
Your feelings have gone
It seems your river’s run dry

You never imagined
It could turn out so rough
You give and give and give
And still it’s never enough”

The world gives us a definition of love that is all about feelings – slushy, sentimental emotions that can change with circumstances or even the state of our health.

Love is an action. It is putting the need of somebody else higher than your own. It is saying no to self. The exhausted mother does not feel like getting up in the middle of the night because her screaming child has thrown up all over her bed. She does not feel like cleaning her up, changing the bed clothes, mopping the floor and soothing her back to sleep. Her actions have nothing to do with any sentimental slushy feeling. If anything, she is more likely to feel resentment or irritation. Yet, her actions are love.

My mother is old and frail and hardly gets out of bed. My brother and sister-in-law live on the same property, and every day they bring her food, feed her dogs and generally look after her, taking her to doctors when needed or sometimes hospital in the middle of the night. My mother is not an easy person. A doctor told her she is a very difficult woman. She did not contradict him. So it is out of no fuzzy sentimental feeling that my brother and sister-in-law are acting. They are loving our mother. Feelings have nothing to do with it.

John says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. (1 John 3:16a NIV)

The song ends:

“Jesus didn’t die for you
Because it was fun
He hung there for love
Because it had to be done

And in spite of the anguish
His work was fulfilled
Cause love is not a feelin’
It’s an act of your will
Love is not a feelin’
It’s an act of your will

Now I wouldn’t try to tell you
That it’s easy to stand
Satan’s throwin’ everything
That’s at his command

But Jesus is faithful
His promise is true
And the things that He asks
He gives the power to do

You know He didn’t die for you
Because it was fun
He hung there for love
Because it had to be done

And in spite of the anguish
His work was fulfilled
Cause love is not a feelin’
It’s an act of your will
Love is not a feelin’
It’s an act of your will

Love is not a feelin’
It’s an act of your will”

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Don Francisco

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, You commanded me to “Love one another as I have loved you.” You know that is impossible for me. As You live in me, please love through me. I surrender my puny efforts to try to love. Amen.

A Time for Everything

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (ESV)

Wise is the man who can discern the times. If we do the right thing but at the wrong time, it is as good as doing the wrong thing. Gardeners know this. Some times are easy to discern. Nobody questions there is a time to be born and a time to die, nor that there is a time to weep and a time to laugh. The NIV talks about “a time to search and a time to give up.” (verse 6) How do we know when it is time to search and a time to give up? Who gives the order for the search party to leave?

I battle with knowing when it is time to keep silent and when it is time to speak. I suppose that is where the gift of wisdom comes in.

I would never have thought that a time would come to refrain from embracing. Yet during Covid, that was the right thing to do. Our church had a sign up:- “No handshakes. Fist bumps or elbow bumps only.”

When I was a little girl, I learned the basic rules of hygiene. Flush the toilet every time you use it, wash your hands after you’ve been to the toilet, touched an animal or played outside in the sand. You must bath or shower once a day and brush your teeth three times a day.

We’ve been to Port Elizabeth on a number of occasions during a 10-year drought. Then the rules changed. “Shower every second day (5 minutes only.)” “If it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down.” The situation had changed and so the right thing to do had changed.

Life changes so fast that we can’t always be sure that what we think is the right thing is still the right thing.

Let’s lean fully on God who is never late, never early, but always on time.

My Prayer

God of all time, Please keep me close to You and give me Your wisdom to know when it is the right time to do what. Give me the graciousness to accept others whose view of time is different to mine. Amen.

Giving and Receiving

We live in a Granny Cottage on the grounds of our daughter, son-in-law and three wonderful grandchildren. About two weeks ago our grandson first started feeling ill – sore throat and fatigue. Then his sister came down with similar symptoms but they included a headache. They both seemed to rally over the weekend. On the day after Valentine’s day my granddaughter did not feel well enough to write a cycle test. Her brother, meanwhile was able to play a cricket match in the afternoon.

The school required a doctor’s note and it ended up with a Covid test that turned out to be positive. Meanwhile our grandson took a turn for the worse after the rigours of the cricket match. Then our daughter got sick and, on Saturday afternoon, after the aborted hot air balloon ride, our son-in-law came down with a fever.

Between going to bed last night and getting up this morning, I developed a sore throat, slight cough and a strange feeling in my respiratory passages. It doesn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to deduce what’s wrong with me.

We decided to isolate and spent some time giving our apologies for various activities.

It wasn’t much after ten when a food parcel arrived from a member of our fellowship group. It was so timely because Tuesday is normally our shopping day and there was not much in the house.

Another member of our group offered to bring us a cottage pie. I feel so overwhelmed and blessed. I almost feel like a fraud. I’m not feeling that sick. In pre-Covid years, I would have gone to work feeling like that. I would have taken medication but still put in a full day’s work (maybe with taking short naps with my head on my desk in front of the computer.) I feel like I want to pay back the kindness. But then I stop.

It is true the Bible says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35 ESV) However, Christians need to be able to receive gratefully. If we cannot receive gratefully a gift of love, which blesses another person more than it blesses us, according to Jesus, how can we accept God’s indescribable gift without trying to earn it or pay Him back?

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15 ESV)

So, to my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, Thank you. And to all other Christians who bless each other and support each other in time of need, thank you. I am sure a time will come when I can bless somebody else.

My Prayer

Jesus, my Master and my Friend, Thank You for all Your gifts to me, including the gift of eternal life, the gift of Yourself. Thank You for friends who show their love in practical ways. Teach me to accept gracefully. Amen.

The Deflation of Disappointment

On Saturday morning I got up at 3.30am. I had been invited to take my daughter’s place on a hot air balloon adventure. The flight, which had been a service award to my son-in-law, had been scheduled for some time ago but had been called off when the party was already in the basket, due to wind issues.

I had been conflicted by the invitation and had taken almost an hour to accept it. I have a mild fear of heights but I have managed to force myself to look out of an aeroplane window once or twice. I have always had an issue with standing for long periods. In church I usually stand for the first worship song then sit for the rest. It’s easier now that I’m almost seventy. People expect old ladies to have some difficulty. My third issue was the easiest to overcome. I am not a morning person. For a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I was prepared to overcome my issues with the Lord’s help. In the back of my mind all this time was the knowledge that again the flight could be postponed. (The weather forecast had predicted a 40% chance of thunderstorms.)

We assembled on the launch site and photographed semi-inflated balloons.

The balloons are much bigger than I thought.

We stood around waiting for our crafts to be ready. I lay down my jacket on a grassy edge and sat on it. No use standing unnecessarily I would need all the stamina I could get.

I knew at once when the decision was made. There was a sudden silence as all the fans were switched off. There is nothing as sad-looking as a deflating hot air balloon.

Turns out the visibility was the issue this time; and the fact that there were electrical storms in the vicinity.

My disappointment was tinged with relief. Now there would be no need for a burst of courage and by the time the rescheduled flight takes place, my daughter will have recovered from Covid.

Consolation prize was spotting a baby giraffe.

James says, “Come now, you who say ,’Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15 ESV)

That is not to say we should not plan. I had to plan to get up early, to wear comfortable clothes, to take a camera. It means we should not cling too tightly to our own plans but allow the Lord to change our schedule without consulting us. I could cope with the disappointment of losing my once-in-a-lifetime experience because I had known from the start that cancellation was a high possibility. May I approach all my plans in that light and trust the Lord with the outcome.

My Prayer

Father God, thank you that you have given us opportunities for excitement, be it meeting up with family after a long break, a holiday, a leisure trip or a new opportunity to serve You. Please help me to make plans but hold them loosely, giving You the freedom to change them according to Your will. Amen.

Lost in Translation

My husband gave me a beautiful journal for Christmas. Every page has a different scripture verse at the bottom.

The other day the verse was, “If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him , and he will gladly tell you.” (James 1:5.) That verse spoke to me. I did want to know what God wanted me to do. Funny, I didn’t remember having seen that verse in James before. I thought I’d check it out in my default version which is the NIV.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” That I recognised! I hadn’t realised that wisdom and knowing what God wants me to do are the same thing. I thought I’d check out other versions.

The Message: If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it.

ESV: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Amp. If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance] he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame and it will be given to him.

Philips: …if any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem, he has only to ask God – who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty – and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him.

In the end I found the version my journal had used. It was the Living Bible. Through the whole process I felt my mind had been opened to that particular verse. I should try that exercise more often.

Image by Pixabay

My Prayer

Thank you, Father, for the richness of Your Word. Please give me wisdom because I sure lack it. Thank You. Amen.

You Prepare a Table Before Me

Monday was Valentine’s Day. My husband and I knew it was going to be a busy day and there wouldn’t be much time to spend together. We started well with giving each other chocolates (and I got a card), then my husband had to rush off to be at a school in Cosmo City at 8am to join other Gideons in handing out testaments to all the grade 8 learners (700 of them.) At 2pm he had to be back in Cosmo City at another school but that placement didn’t happen. It seems the grade 8’s decided, because it was Valentine’s Day, they weren’t going to stay after school. In between times, we just had about an hour to go to Medicross together and even to sneak in a cappuccino and a rusk.

Fortunately it was a Monday night when we are scheduled to have dinner with our daughter and family. My husband was trying to catch up on paperwork and reporting the outcomes of the placements, when we received a WhatsApp message on the family group. “Mom and Dad your valentines dinner will be served to you in your gazebo at 5.45pm”

At the appointed time we were called by our seven-year-old granddaughter. She had dragged the outdoor aluminium table to a position where we could watch the birds on the bird feeder. The table was covered with a red cloth and decorated with several candles and a rose. There were hand-made place names which were also Valentine cards. A glass of wine stood at my place and a glass of diet cola at my husband’s. Soft romantic music played on our daughter’s cell phone. Warm dinner rolls were wrapped in a red serviette in a bowl. After ten minutes our daughter arrived with our main course, fillet steak, roast potatoes and vegetables.

Our pudding arrived later, a piece of apple pie and cream for me and ice cream for my husband, beautifully decorated with a strawberry.

We were able to take time off from a busy day and just enjoy a scrumptious meal together. I felt so loved. Our granddaughter had obviously enjoyed helping with the surprise and her little loving touches were all over.

I thought of Psalm 23. “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

If this is how our family can prepare a table before us, how much more will our Heavenly Father? “He brings me to the banquet hall; his banner over me is love.” (Song of Solomon 2:4 CJB)

I can’t wait.

My Prayer

My Loving Father, thank you so much for human love: – the love of a husband, the love of family, the love of friends. Each of these is just a shadow of the love You have for me. Help me to abide in Your love, to rest in it and to trust it. Amen.

It’s All About Love

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Inspired by my post for Streams of Consciousness Saturday where the prompt was the word, “fortune,” I got to thinking about Fortune Cookies. Our Community Group meets on a Monday evening and I decided to try to make valentines fortune cookies using Brandy Snap dough instead of the proper recipe. I thought I would insert Bible verses about God’s love for us. My experiment was not particularly successful. Mostly the biscuits cracked rather than folded over. Then I tried cooking them over the side of an upside down cake pan so they were already semi-folded when I took them out the oven and that worked somewhat better. Finally I hit on the idea of folding the message inside the cookie before baking and that worked best although the message got slightly oily.

The following were the verses I used. If you don’t get to enjoy the Brandy Snap Fortune Cookie, at least you can enjoy God’s messages of love.

Ephesians 3:17 . And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Zephania 3:17 “The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

1 John 3:1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 

Romans 5:5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

1 John 4:16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear,

Jeremiah 31:3 I have loved you with an everlasting love.

John 15:9 Just as the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in My love.

Is your favourite included in this list? Let me know in the Comments.

My Prayer

Father God, You are Love. Please pour Your love into my heart by Your Holy Spirit, according to Your promise, so that Your love may flow through me to others. Amen.

Fortune Cookies

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday

A fortune cookie is a sweet pastry containing a message, usually something wise or encouraging. They are often served as a desert after a Chinese meal. The pleasure is not only the physical one of enjoying the sweet cookie, but also a spiritual or emotional one of contemplating the message.

For the Christian, there are fortune cookies all around us with hidden messages, if we only have eyes to see them. For instance a beautiful rose can say “God loves you. He made this for your enjoyment” or perhaps a scripture verse, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord,”( Psalm 150:6) comes to mind when we hear a bird song. Let us go on a treasure hunt today for fortune cookies and try to read the messages from Our Father that tell us of His love for us, His creativity, His wisdom and, even, some times, His sense of humour.

My Prayer

My Father, thank You for all the little demonstrations of Your love that You have put all around me. Open my eyes to the message they tell me about You. Amen.

Please feel free to share what “Fortune Cookie” you may have found today and what the message was.

A Wink and a Nudge

Most of you know I’ve been trying to practice the presence of God in my everyday life. I have come to realize that I can never do it as well as Brother Lawrence who had been doing it for forty years when he wrote his book. I’m happy with baby steps.

On Wednesdays, my husband and I go ten pin bowling. We belong to the pensioners league where the emphasis is rather on having fun than racking up a good score, although there are some good bowlers in our ranks. (Out of my three games I only crept over a hundred in one.)

Image by Pixabay

This week, my husband bowled straight after me so we had very little interaction with each other. One has to concentrate to make sure one doesn’t miss a turn and then there is the fun of encouraging other members in the team and watching them bowl. At one stage he was standing in front of the chairs in the next lane, about three metres from me. He caught my eye and winked.

It occurred to me that that is one way we can be aware of God. We need to concentrate on what is going on around us and the task that engages us, but every now and then we can just lift our thoughts to Him and wink. Just an acknowledgement that He’s with us, we are aware of Him and things are good between us.

Later, as we were walking side by side to the car, I was aware of a touch on my arm, a nudge. My husband was warning me that a car had turned and would pass in front of us. I think sometimes God comes closer to us and we can feel His nudge. Those times when we just had an uneasy feeling about what we were about to do and we didn’t and we realized later that it would have been a bad move if we had done it. Or the times when we felt an overwhelming urge to contact somebody and what a blessing it was to both of us when we did.

If we remain mindful of the things we see, hear, taste, feel and sometimes smell, we can’t but be aware of God’s presence with us in the ordinary things of life:- a grandchild’s hug, a beautiful sunset, a fragrant rose, a refreshing drink or a relaxing bath.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 NIV)

My Prayer

Father God, may I never be so caught up in my own thoughts, plans or concerns that I miss out on appreciating your everyday gifts of pleasure or opportunity. May my thoughts turn to You at every possible moment. I love You and I am so grateful You are with me even when I am unaware of You. Amen