Category Archives: parable

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

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.

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.

nfd

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.

Blooming Where we are Planted.

I enjoy certain aspects of gardening but I have brown thumbs. However, one joy I have discovered is taking slips and planting cuttings.

My mother’s gardener works for different people on different days of the week. He takes cuttings or leaves from one garden and transplants them into another. My mother often notices plants that are new to her garden.

I’ve only had success with rock roses and geraniums so far. It’s easy. I cut off a leaf or a short piece of the plant and stick it just like that in some soil. It has no roots or anything and the environment is different from what it is used to. Nevertheless, given water and sun, it develops roots, grows, and will eventually bloom bringing all the beauty of its parent plant to a new location.

What started off as a couple of leaves stuck in the ground is now a lovely pot plant

Sometimes we are transplanted, be it through our own plans or circumstances beyond our control. Either way, God is the gardener and He prepares the soil where we are to be planted. Our job is to merely settle. We explore, meet new people, and slowly grow roots. It takes a long time to grow enough to start blooming but that is ultimately our Father’s desire, that we bloom where we are planted. That we bless those around us with a bit of the culture of our homeland.

Sometimes it’s not even a change of locality that stresses us. Sometimes it’s just a new set of circumstances. Sure, we mourn for what we have lost but God still desires the same thing for us – that we bloom under the new circumstances that have come into our lives.

When the Israelites were captured by the Babylonians, this is what the Lord said to them through the prophet Jeremiah< “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there, do not decrease.” (Jer 29:5-7 NIV)

My Prayer

Father God, sometimes I feel so alone, as if I don’t fit in this place and I long for things as they were in the past. I feel like a shell tumbled and tossed by waves of circumstance beyond my control. Please help me to trust You implicitly, to know that You have a plan for me right here, right now. May I trust Your plan and settle in to Your provision, knowing that growth and root-making are the result of Your work in my life. May I bloom where You have planted me. Amen.

“Pearly Shells from the Ocean…”

When my granddaughters get to the beach, they like to collect shells. They sort them and arrange them, show them off and admire them. Some of this enthusiasm must have rubbed off on me because when my husband and I went for a walk on the beach recently, the little girl in me surfaced and I decided to collect shells. It is amazing the colour and variety one can find!

Found on Scottburgh Beach

They also come in all sizes. At the shell shop in Shelly Beach there is a shell almost one meter across! It is not for sale. I found shells small as my baby finger nail!

The creativity of God never ceases to astound me. Sure, I can categorise my shells into rough families but even within those groups there is so much variety.

How much more individuality can be found among people! Again, we can roughly group people according to country and heritage but within those groups there is endless variety. If we learn to treat people as individuals, made in the image of God, our interactions with them would be so much deeper.

Our Father created us all and He has a unique plan for us all. I love Psalm 139.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. … Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”(vs 13,14,16 NIV)

My Prayer

Father, please open my eyes to Your wonderful creativity all around me. Help me to treat each person I meet as an unrepeatable masterpiece made in Your image. Amen.

Windy Wanderings

Yesterday we met a couple on the beach. The wife was arranging her husband and little dog on a log to take a photo. I asked her if she would like me to take a photo of both of them. Later she came over to take a photo of my husband and I.

We got chatting. They live in the area and this was only their second visit to the beach in five months. She told us about a lovely nursery within walking distance that we hadn’t known about.

Today was a windy, overcast day. Instead of going to the beach which we usually do, we decided to take a walk and look for the nursery and a little shop not far from it.

What a lovely day we had. We found the nursery.

Illovo Nursery

Besides the nursery itself, there was a restaurant, a second-hand book shop, a scratch patch, a pet shop, an art gallery and a lake with benches at strategic viewing points.

After nearly three weeks, mostly confined to the caravan park, I was sorely in need of a sit-down tea. We ordered a cappuccino each and apple crumble to share.

After tea, we wandered around. I bought a book at the book shop and a cup of shells. We drooled over huge pots and trays of flowers at very good prices compared to our usual shopping haunts. We admired the colourful plants in all their variety. One looked like it had painted finger nails and we named it the finger-nail-plant.

finger-nail-plant

I felt like I had stumbled into a treasure trove. Afterwards we explored further and found the little shop then decided to see whether we could return along the beach. Armed with directions from a lady who worked at the little shop, we made our way to the Illovo station and across the railway bridge. The station itself was almost in ruins which was very sad to see.

Returning along the beach might not have been such a good idea because we had forgotten about the wind, which was much stronger on the beach than in residential area.

Nevertheless, a lovely day and a satisfying long walk.

I think this is a parable of life. We can stay in the same old routine, stuck in a rut and not even realise the wonderful sights and places that may lie around us. Sometimes we need to step out of our comfort zones (yes, it was a challenge walking into the wind with sand smashing against our legs) and explore beyond our everyday life. Who knows what treasure we might stumble upon.

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV)

I believe that the abundant life includes being able to appreciate the wonderful nature God has created, as well as the works of man inspired by His Spirit of creativity.

My Prayer

Father, give me the courage to venture beyond the familiar and taste the abundant life You have given me. Amen.

O, the Vastness

Today we took our chairs, the makings of coffee, biscuits and ourselves across the railway bridge and on to the swimming beach. We weren’t the only ones there. There were a number of families and we watched the children jump in the waves or dig deep pools.

I was struck again by the vastness of the ocean. If I turned my head in both directions, there was surf as far as I could see.

I was reminded of a song we used to sing when I was a teenager.

Wide, wide as the ocean,

High as the heavens above,

Deep, deep as the deepest sea

Is my Saviour’s love.

I, though so unworthy,

Still am a child of His care,

For His Word teaches me

That His love reaches me,

EVERYWHERE!

It was so awesome to be reminded again how vast God’s love and power are. Paul writes in Ephesians 3:

And I pray that you…may…grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”(Selections from verses 17-19 NIV)

My Prayer

Father God, may I know Your love and power that are endless. Please fill me to the measure of all Your fullness. Amen.