Author Archives: Fuzzy Panda Barista

About Fuzzy Panda Barista

I am a wife, a mother, a Grandmother, a Christian and a writer. My mission is to achieve my full potential and to enable others to achieve theirs. I am interested in Girl Guides, the environment, parenting, inspiration and books. I believe that God has a plan for my life.

Mushrooms and Dandelions

It had rained for two days in Gqeberha. Our hosts were driving us to visit friends of theirs and we drove past a nearby park. It looked fresh and green after the rain and I thought I saw mushrooms.

As we went on, I saw they were dandelion flowers. When I went back the next day to take photos, I realised they were not even dandelions but other small yellow flowers. My eyesight, which is not wonderful, limits my knowledge of the truth. My husband wears hearing aids. He doesn’t always hear the full story in a conversation. We can only know as much truth as our senses let through to us and we often filter even that through our own misconceptions.

I am reading a book by Francine Rivers called Leota’s Garden. One of the characters lived with bitterness against her mother as a result of lies she was told, and incomplete conversations she overheard as a child.

Jesus said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. Nobody comes to the the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). We can know the Truth if we know Jesus. “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32.)

I know I am not perfect. My eyes are not perfect, my memories are not perfect, my conclusions are not perfect, my ideas are not perfect. The sooner I acknowledge this, the sooner I can be free of my own version of life.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Truth. Forgive me for thinking I know the truth. Please soften my heart to consider other viewpoints besides my own and other interpretations of words and events to the ones I cling to. Please guide me always into Your Truth. Amen.

Lifeguards

It is the middle of winter. Only visitors from Gauteng would want to go down to the beach and wet their toes in the sea.

At first the beach seemed deserted.

Kings Beach Gqeberha

First I saw the children. Ten or twelve of them swimming in the cold water. Then I saw the lifeguards. They were fully dressed and no doubt hoping that they would not be called upon to dive into the waves to rescue anybody. But they were there.

A lifeguard is not the same as a swimming teacher. A swimming teacher is somebody who enters into an agreement with her students or their parents to teach them to swim. In the beginning she goes into the water with them, supports them and then gradually teaches them how to swim without her help. The Lord is often like our swimming teacher. He comes alongside us and helps us learn new things. We have entered into a covenant with Him and we do our best to listen to His instructions and try to do things His way.

A lifeguard has no relationship with the person he rescues. He sees somebody in trouble trying to attract his attention, and goes out to save them. Sometimes God acts like a lifeguard. Many people who have no relationship with Him will pray when they are in trouble. God always responds.

Praise be to the Lord, for he showed me the wonders of his love when I was in a city under siege. In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy. (Psalm 31:21-22 NIV)

God knows exactly what we need in the various stages of our life and walk. He will not give us a swimming teacher when we need a lifeguard nor a lifeguard when we need a swimming teacher.

My Prayer

Father God, You know exactly what I need today. I trust You with my current circumstances, knowing You can be all in all to me. Amen.

Landmarks

“…be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.” (Psalm 31 2b-3 NIV)

This is the Psalm I read this morning. I wondered what rocks and fortresses have to do with leading and guiding. Then an image came to me of a large rock, big enough to serve as a fortress, sticking out from the terrain around it.

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Even if you are in unfamiliar territory, as long as you can see the rock, you know the way to safety. The rock acts as a landmark. You need only to go in the direction of the rock to be sure you are on the right path. If the trail deviates, or obstacles block the way, you can re-orient yourself towards the rock once you have passed the obstacle.

On occasion, my husband and I have visited a shopping mall that is unfamiliar to us. My sense of direction is terrible and I am always afraid that I will get lost and won’t be able to find the way back to the car. What works for me is to spot a memorable shop where we emerge from the parking area. Then when we are in the midst of side passages and different floor levels, we can follow signboards to the shop we noted or even ask for directions.

In the same way, if we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, we can see the way to safety and shelter. Sometimes obstacles do come along and obscure our view and we might find ourselves heading in the wrong direction. When that happens, we need to get a clear view of our Rock as soon as possible, even if it means following signposts or asking for help. Paul says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the crossConsider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrew 12:2-3 selected verses NIV)

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, I have a fear of getting lost. Please help me to have a clear view of You, even when obstacles impede my progress and distractions fog my view. Be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Amen.

It’s All About the Heart

It was in the newspaper.

A woman left home to look for her poodle which had gone missing. On the way she saw a pit bull mauling a little girl. According to onlookers, she did not hesitate but threw herself onto the child/dog maelstrom thus saving the little girl’s life. The woman is badly injured, recovering in hospital.

Would I have done a thing like that? If I am honest, the answer is “no.” That is because of what is in my heart.

Proverbs 4:23 reads, “Above all, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (NIV) What is important to us determines our actions and words.

The first commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…” really makes the rest of the commandments unnecessary. If God had His rightful place of first in our hearts, we would want, above all, to please Him and glorify Him.

So why would I not throw myself onto a vicious dog to save a stranger? Because other things take first place in my heart. First in line would be me, myself and I, followed by my plans, my family, my comfort. I am not prepared to risk my life and skin for another.

But Jesus is. While we were still His enemies, He gave His life for us, enduring excruciating pain before He died. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this. while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NIV)

Would Jesus have saved the little girl? Of course. So I am still very far from being in the image of Christ. I can’t even keep the first and most important commandment. I am an idolater.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, I realise I am a sinner. I am not even capable of keeping the first commandment. I confess You do not have first place in my life. Please forgive me and grow me by Your Spirit to a point when I can love You with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. Amen.

Watch Out for Low Branches

Last week when we were returning from exercising the dogs, I walked into a tree branch. It was a low branch and I had been distracted by the dog in the garden next door. He was paying no attention to two people walking past his domain with two dogs.

It is not only low branches that can be hazards when we are not focusing. My husband has walked into the clear glass door twice because he didn’t see it. Other invisible hazards include pot holes hidden by a pool of water, holes or spikes in the grass and furniture that sticks out just that little bit too much.

In the Christian life there are also hazards. Some can be avoided if we keep alert, but others are invisible and we don’t see them coming. Recently I made a remark that revealed to me (and probably everyone around) that I was judging another person and looking down on him. Where had that come from? I had been distracted by unimportant things. I realised that my attitude was not what the Lord would want it to be.

It is so easy to slip into sin. Peter tells us to “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NLT)

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, forgive me for judging others. May my attitude be like Yours. Teach me to see others through Your eyes and with Your love. Amen.

Hadedas and Hoopoes

Hadedas and Hoopoes in the Rain

Wednesday was miserable, cold and rainy in Gqeberha. From the dining room window we saw cold birds. The hadedas sat hunched like buzzards. The hoopoes were intermittently sheltering under the hedge to get out of the rain. What a blessing to have shelter when it rains.

God wants to be our shelter in times of trouble. The Bible says “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” (Psalm 91:4 NIV) It sounds so cozy, like being tucked under a down duvet in winter.

However, God will not impose His protection and shelter on us against our will. Jesus said of Jerusalem,  Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. (Matthew 23:37 NIV) God created us with free will and He will always respect it. He offers protection, shelter and comfort but it’s up to us to accept it.

My Prayer

Thank You Lord for Your sheltering hand over me. Please keep me from stubborn self-reliance and pride. May I rest in Your comforting embrace like a little child on her father’s lap.

Air Plants and Missionaries

While my brother and sister-in-law are away, we walk my Mom’s dogs every morning. This morning, on our way home, I found clumps of an air plant growing in a tree.

I’ve been trying to cultivate my own air plant. They are totally independent. They don’t need soil, they don’t tap into the plant they are on, they photosynthesise to make their own food and absorb water from the atmosphere. They might be more successful at that in Gqeberha which is on the coast than in Randburg where we live.

Air plants remind me of missionaries. They are taken from their home clump and placed somewhere geographically different. They are exposed to all the weather conditions of the new location but retain their dependence on the water in the atmosphere and not on the tree or construction that supports them.

Our church supports a number of missionaries in different countries. They have to learn the language and culture of their new home, sometimes before they even leave South Africa, yet retain their distinctive Christian identity in their mission country, relying on the Lord to sustain them.

Sometimes God organises His own mission and it is usually on a much bigger scale. I was reading Daniel 1 today and that is exactly what happened.

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia[a] and put in the treasure house of his god.

Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.” (Daniel 1:1-3 NIV)

We all know the amazing way God saved Daniel from the lion’s den and his three friends from the fiery furnace. In each case the pagan king involved realised that the God of the Hebrews was far greater than all other gods and decreed that the people of Babylon recognise Him as such. Quite a significant outcome for a mission!

On this occasion, the language learning and integration took place at the expense of the mission country, not the sending one. Daniel and his friends did not compromise their faith although they remained respectful to the Babylonians they encountered.

When God transplants us to a different location or situation, it is up to us to retain our identity as children of the Risen Lord and to rely on His Spirit for all our needs. “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

Thank You, Lord, that You sustain me when I am out of my comfort zone and away from my support system. Help me realise that You are all that I need to live a godly life. Amen.