Monthly Archives: July 2022

Rest Stop

We are on our way to the South Coast in our motorhome. The vehicle is heavy, uses a lot of petrol and travels slowly. We tackle manageable chunks. Today’s journey was from Randburg to Harrismith. The advert says, “Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride.” However, after two hours travelling, it is time for a rest stop. It can be dangerous if the driver gets fatigued and he loses concentration. Luckily, nowadays there are One Stop petrol stations with nice, clean bathrooms, a shop to buy groceries and some kind of fast food or sit down restaurant, as well as petrol pumps. We stopped at Villiers.

The Bible talks a lot about rest and refreshing. God knows that in the journey of life, we also need rest stops. He commanded in Exodus 20, “Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work…” (verses 8-10a NIV) When the Pharisees got obsessive-compulsive about it and micromanaged the law, Jesus pointed that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27 NIV) God knows that we need to rest from our labour regularly. In the same way that a mother of a two-year-old will insist on an afternoon nap, God prescribed a regular rest for our good.

The Bible also talks about “times of refreshing” eg Acts 3:19. This is like splashing cold water on your face when you have been driving for some time. In everyday life we can experience times of refreshing by looking out of the window and seeing God’s creation, going for a walk or run, attending a retreat or stopping to smell a flower.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You that You have provided opportunities to rest and refresh myself. Thank You for an opportunity to go away on holiday. May I be a blessing to everyone I meet along the way and at our destination. Amen.

Turkish Carpets

My son spent a week in Turkey before coming to visit us in South Africa. He gave me a mouse pad that looks like a Turkish carpet.

High quality Turkish carpets are made by hand. Wool or silk is used. The long threads are laid side by side on the loom, then the rug maker knots the cross threads around a group of two and between them, cutting the pile to size with a sharp knife. For each square centimeter of carpet, a hundred and forty to a hundred and fifty knots are needed. The whole process takes a long time – two years for a medium sized rug.

We are masterpieces under construction and God uses the hands-on-process. No part of our past is accidental. God has a plan and works towards it slowly. He knots us to different people at different times and to different situations to make the pattern He designed. We are not yet complete. We are growing in Christ and it is not through our efforts but His.

Paul wrote to the Colossians , “To them (God’s people) he has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.” (Col 1:27-28)

My Prayer

Father God, thank You that You treat me as an individual. You are growing me into the person You designed me to be. Please give me patience in the process and willingness to be compliant in Your hands. Amen.

The Number 40

Today, our daughter celebrated her 40th birthday.

As was usual at these events, there were a number of people making speeches. One of my daughter’s friends had taken the trouble to research the number forty in the Bible.

It rained for forty days and forty nights, the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years, Jesus was in the desert forty days. It seems that forty is a number of completion, perhaps completion of training in some aspects. It is never pleasant to be stuck in continuous rain, to be wandering in the desert or to be without food in the wilderness for any length of time. Yet all these periods of hardship were part of God’s eternal plan, some of them for the strengthening and training of God’s people for the next stage of His amazing story.

The friend ended with expressing a sense of excitement. She couldn’t wait to see what God was going to do in the next phase of my daughter’s life.

We often do not understand why God brings hardship into our lives and why He seems not to answer our prayers immediately. It is possible that the Lord is training us for the next stage so we can glorify Him. It may not be forty years or forty days, but our Father knows the exact length of time the programme will last.

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, but his favour is for a lifetime.” (Psalm 30:4 -5 ESV). It goes on to say, “weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (NIV)

My Prayer

Lord God of the Universe, Your ways are not my ways and I don’t always understand Your ways. When I go through rainstorms or desert experiences in my life, please remind me that You are in control and You know exactly what You are doing. Amen.

Washing Machine Woes

Washing machines are wonderful inventions but they have their limitations. Recently, my daughter’s washing machine got tired and decided it was too much effort to spin. The technician is coming tomorrow. My son used our washing machine and one of his shirts came out streaked with navy. It turned out to be navy fluff so was mostly removed with a lint roller. However, I did a load of linen, including a new maroon sheet and my cream bath mat and two bath towels, which used to be a pale apricot, have now become an indescribable and unwelcome colour.

They say “A man is known by the company he keeps.” That is certainly true of laundry that has soaked in the same water for a while, but it is also true of us. We tend to become like the people we spend a lot of time with, or the people we admire. We are tainted by the very social environment we hang around in. The world is under the rule of Satan and the tendency is for us to become conformed to it.

Paul commands, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 ESV)

Interestingly, not all our washing became discoloured. It was only the cotton items. The others, by the nature of their fabric, escaped. In the same way, those with a renewed mind can be in the world but not of the world.

I was very encouraged by the verse of the day from my Bible App, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13 ESV) I was reminded that I don’t have to renew my mind. God is at work in me. This verse was re-iterated at the bottom of the page where I wrote in my journal today. When the Lord brings the same verse to me more than once in the same day, it is time to take note! God is in the process of changing my fabric so that I will be less inclined to pick up the contamination of the world.

But even if I do, the Bible says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV)

I wish there were a reliable way to cleanse my towels and bath mat from all maroon dye.

My Prayer

Father, I confess that I have picked up ungodly habits and attitudes from the prevailing thoughts of my generation, my culture, and the current modes disseminated by social media. Please forgive me and continue to renew my mind as You carry out Your cleansing work in me. Amen.

Scrabble

The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” (Psalm 16:6 ESV)

I can identify with those words. The inheritance I have received from my parents, their healthy genes, the way they brought me up, the opportunities I have had, all combine to make a life that is pleasant.

Not everybody is so lucky. All around us in South Africa are people who were disadvantaged at birth, who had no happy loving family to care for them. Perhaps they were born of alcoholic mothers and suffer from foetal alcoholic syndrome. Perhaps they never learned to read and write, or were abused or neglected. Life does not seem to be fair.

If you think of people as scrabble tiles, some score more than others. All the vowels and most of the letters only score one point, but some lucky letters score more. A “Q” is worth ten. So is a “Z.”

However, that does not mean that the player with the high-scoring letters always wins. There is strategy involved, careful placement. Even a humble “S,” a one-point-scorer, positioned properly, can garner a very high score.

God is a master Scrabble Player. He knows how to put us together with just the right people in exactly the right places to achieve His will. People with a disadvantaged beginning can become game-changers in the hands of a Loving God. Nobody is rejected by Him. Jesus promised, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37 ESV)

My Prayer

Father God, You are in charge of my life and my life is not an end in itself but is part of Your greater plan. Please help me not to look at myself and regard myself as inferior, or to compare myself to others, but rather to trust You to put me in exactly the right place with exactly the right people to bring You glory. Amen.

Eiderdown

My sister-in-law had an old eiderdown that was falling to pieces. It had sentimental value to her so she kept it in a cupboard. Recently she turned seventy and received some gifts of money. She pooled it and went to a shop nearby that restores eiderdowns. They clean and restore the feathers and make new quilts. My sister-in-law is thrilled with the outcome.

It reminds me of a scripture verse from 2 Corinthians. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself…” (5:17-18.ESV)

God does not make the new creation from scratch. He takes the old damaged and disintegrating person and remakes them as something beautiful. This is not instantaneous but is a process, just as the old eiderdown has to be cut up and the feathers cleaned and renewed before starting on the new creation.

My Prayer

Thank you, Lord, that because of Christ’s sacrifice, I have become a new creation. Please continue recreating me into Christ’s image. May my life reflect Your glory and Your craftsmanship. Amen.

The Water of Life

Today I am donning my Science Hat. I am fascinated by water, the substance H2O. It is totally unique. One unique attribute is that it is bi-polar, where the molecule has a slightly positive charge on one side and a slightly negative charge on the other. This enables water to form hydrogen bonds where the partial positive charge of one molecule and the partial negative charge of another are attracted electrostatically. As a result, when water freezes, the hydrogen bonds cause the formation of a lattice which is less dense than liquid water and allows ice to float on water, unlike all other chemical substances which become more dense the colder they get.

Water is also the only substance on earth that exists in its natural state in three phases, solid, liquid and gas. Without water there can be no life. We consist of 60% water.

I like to think of water as a metaphor for the Trinity. Father, Son and Spirit are one substance but can present in different “phases.”

I see the Father as the liquid phase. Don’t think of a placid lake, think of a Tsunami! Water, as liquid, maintains life. It can create. Think of the smooth pebbles on a beach, refined by the constant tumbling and incessant motion of the sea. God’s voice is sometimes described as “like the sound of many waters.” (Rev 14:2, Ezekiel 43:2, Psalm 29:3)

Image by Samir Halder from Pixabay

I see Jesus as the solid phase. We can handle ice. We can measure it. It is the solid, tangible form of water. Jesus was the tangible form of God. John could say, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. (1 john 1 NIV) Jesus was “of one substance with the Father..” according to the Nicene Creed. God became man.

I picture the Holy Spirit as the gas phase. One can’t see water vapour, but nobody can doubt its power. Students used to make little model boats to which they attached a metal tube of water over a candle. With a small hole for the gas to escape, they had a steam powered boat. We only have to see a steam turbine to know the power of the gas phase of water.

God is one but the members of the Trinity are different expressions of His substance. That’s why Jesus could say, “I and the Father are one,” (John 10:30 NIV) and “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9b NIV)

My Prayer

O Lord, You are my Lord. There are so many aspects of You and Your personhood that are beyond my human capacity to understand. Jesus taught that You are my Father, You love me, You give me life. Let me hold on to things I know and not fret about things I do not yet understand. Amen.

We’ve got this

There’s nothing that can happen to me today that God and I can’t handle together.

I can’t remember where I first read this. It is in general use in various forms.

Image by Anja-#pray for ukraine# #helping hands# stop the war from Pixabay

This post is part of One-Liner-Wednesday.

No Connection

My husband is on a cell phone contract without a device. It is a data only package. Although he has more than 9GB data, he has been unable to access it. This was a problem today when we were out and about. He had collected a shoe from a cobbler for a friend and was unable to send a WhatsApp message to his friend. We decided it was time to go to Cell C and ask for their help, especially since we will be going on holiday in our motorhome in just over two weeks and we are counting on having his data to connect to the internet as caravan parks have limited if any Wi-Fi signal for campers.

The friendly Cell C consultant was very helpful. She adjusted the settings but then picked up that there might be a problem with the sim card. In other words, the phone was not connecting because there was a problem with its heart.

Isn’t this a typically human problem? We can’t connect to God because of a heart issue. We have been created with so much potential but we can’t access it. We seem powerless to be able to do the things we know are right and end up doing things we don’t want to do.

Paul puts it thus. “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead I do what I hate.” (Romans 7:15 NLT)

We need a sim swap. A new heart. It is not something we can do ourselves. We need to go to God, our maker. He promises, “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take our your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27 NLT)

My Prayer

Lord, Romans 7:15 describes me exactly. It is not that I do not know what is right. I’ve been a Christian long enough to have a pretty good idea. It is just that I don’t do it. I seem powerless to live Your way. Please give me a sim swap. Take out my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh, powered by Your Spirit to will and to do Your good pleasure. Amen.