Tag Archives: bible

I am an Arms Dealer

Image by Alexander Lesnitsky from Pixabay

My husband and I belong to the Gideons.

The Gideons International is an Association of Christian business and professional men and their wives dedicated to telling people about Jesus through associating together for service, sharing personal testimony, and by providing Bibles and New Testaments.

While we are often recognized for our work with hotels, we also place and distribute Scriptures in strategic locations so they are available to those who want them, as well as to those who may not know they need them.

The first school term is the time to distribute testaments to the Grade 8’s at all the schools in our area. Because of the Covid restrictions, instead of visiting schools, addressing the learners and handing out testaments individually to those who are willing to accept them, my husband has to drop boxes of testaments at the schools for them to distribute.

In the same way, the ladies used to visit clinics and doctors’ rooms and hand out testaments to the medical staff. We can’t do that anymore. Recently I left a box of testaments at the security station of the Windsor clinic.

Paul refers to the Word of God as The Sword of the Spirit. (Ephesians 6:17)

The Bible says “…the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV)

It occurred to me that we are arms dealers. We put swords in the hands of teenagers, we arm nurses, doctors, policemen, even prisoners. How outrageous! How daring! How dangerous! If opposition comes, it is not that surprising. However, in South Africa, most people we come across are happy to receive their weapon. They value the Word of God and treasure it.

On Sunday we joined Dare to Love at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg. It is the largest hospital in South Africa. We distributed over a thousand gift packs containing a Gideon’s testament, a pen, biscuits, chocolates and other goodies. When those ran out, we distributed packs containing the goodies and a Gospel of John booklet. This was meant as a gesture of appreciation to the heroes who serve on the front line.

It was an exciting morning. We are honoured to be allowed to do this work.

My Prayer

Father, thank you for the Bible, the Sword of the Spirit. Teach me to handle it aright. You know that many of the Gideon members are getting old and even dying. Please send new, younger members to help us with this work of distributing Your Word. Amen.

Image by azboomer from Pixabay

Close Eyes and Point

This post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday as well as Just Jot it Saturday. The challenge is to just write as thoughts come without overly editing or changing. The prompt is “close eyes and point.” I am going to use the Bible, open it up, close my eyes and point. Then I need to write about whatever my finger points to.

Could be dangerous. I heard of a man who did that when seeking guidance from God. His first point was to “And Judas went and hanged himself.” He didn’t find this very helpful so tried again. “Go thou and do likewise,” he read in dismay. Deciding to give it one more try, he closed his eyes and pointed again. “What you do, do quickly,” was the sentence.

So I’m understandably a bit nervous. Here goes…

My word is “money” from the sentence, “He scattered the coins of the money changers.”

I am going to bend the rules a bit and write about money changes. This can be considered in many ways: money changes hands, money changes everything. money changes down the years: what cost 50 cents once upon a time is now R10.

When I was a little girl, I got one-and-three for pocket money. That was a shilling (12p) and a ticky (3p) or metrically, about fifteen cents. With that I got to go to matinee movies on a Saturday morning and buy myself a chocolate bar. Nowadays it’s not even enough to offer a beggar.

Although Jesus overturned the money changers’ tables, money is not seen as evil in itself. It is the love of money that is the root of all evil. (1 Timothy 6:10) We see this in our society – opportunists who have used the Covid crisis to make money off PPE equipment. No thought at all to how many nurses may die in hospitals earmarked for that equipment. Much more profitable to sell it and get rich.

That is what is behind all corruption – the love of money.

Jesus warns us, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)

Money is neither good nor evil. It is merely a tool. It can be used for either purpose, to help others and promote the kingdom of God or to sqander on selfish wants and insubstantial pleasures.

Let us never make a tool our master.

My prayer

Father God, please help me to keep my priorities in line with Your will and to serve no other master. Amen.

Assignation

First thing in the morning, I am never at my best. Don’t ask me to make any decisions until at least 10am. My husband is the opposite. He’s a lark. I’m an owl.

The Bible says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35) If I did such a thing, I would fall asleep praying.

There have been books and sermons preached on what has come to be known as The Quiet Time. It is the time during which we read a portion of scripture, maybe with the help of a Bible-reading aid, we pray and possible meditate. I don’t like the term Quiet Time. I prefer to call it an assignation or a tryst. An appointment to meet Somebody at a specific time at a specific place.

This is not to say that we can’t pray at other times, and I do, mostly just SMS prayers or a quick word of thanks.

I believe it is an important habit for Christians to get into a routine of such an assignation. I have tried various methods and various guides during the years. They all work and at different times different ones are more meaningful. Sometimes I just go through the Psalms, one a day, or sometimes more than one if I find the first ones unhelpful for where I am at. At the moment I’m reading through the Bible in a year, thanks to my YouVersion Bible App.

One thing is almost indispensable and that is my journal. I write my thoughts, sometimes prayers, sometimes drawings. At the back I keep a prayer list so I can tick of prayers I have forgotten about when God answers. A journal doesn’t work for everybody though.

Another indispensable thing is a cup of coffee. Although it is not first thing in the morning, my assignation is usually before breakfast so a cup of coffee, or lately tea, helps in the gradual wake up process.

Then, after breakfast, I am ready for the day.

This post is part of SOC Saturday and JusJoJan.

Love Letter

I am not only an introvert but slightly socially inept. I find it difficult to express my feelings. That’s why I love letters. On occasions when I wanted to communicate something that was difficult for me to express, I wrote letters. Letters are not like e mails. E mails can be read and deleted and forgotten. A letter can be carried around in a pocket to reread or kept under a pillow to give comfort. Especially love letters.

Image by Susanne Jutzeler, suju-foto from Pixabay

I met my husband a week before he moved away to Bloemfontein from Pretoria. In those early days we spent a lot of time writing letters to each other. How I watched the post box for each new letter. When a letter came I would read it over and over, taking it with me in case I would have a spare minute through the day to read it again.

“The Bible is God’s love letter to us, telling us not only that He loves us, but showing us what He has done to demonstrate His love.” (Billy Graham)

Tomorrow my husband and I, as well as my best friend, are going to the Botanical gardens for a “mini retreat.” We will take our Bibles and spend time quietly with God, committing the year to Him, asking for guidance and hoping for a promise or word to take us into this uncharted future. I am going to consider whatever I read in the Bible as part of God’s love letter to me and I will write a letter in return as my prayer.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16)

My Prayer

Dear Lord, please open my mind and my heart to see Your Word as your love letter to me. Amen.

This post is part of JusJoJan

Sunday School Songs

There’s a lot of theology packed into the old Sunday School songs I used to sing.

“Jesus bids us shine with a pure, clear light, Like a little candle burning in the night; In this world of darkness, so we must shine; You in your small corner and I in mine.”

That describes exactly what yesterday’s blog post was about.

Karl Barth, the famous Swiss Reformed theologian, was at Rockefeller Chapel on the campus of the University of Chicago during his lecture tour of the US in 1962. After his lecture, during the Q and A time, a student asked Barth if he could summarize his whole life’s work in theology in a sentence. Barth allegedly said something like “Yes, I can. In the words of a song I learned at my mother’s knee: ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.'” (www.patheos.com>2013/01)

Can anybody reading this think of any other children’s Christian songs that contain sound theology?

My Prayer

Lord, may I never disregard the simple in my quest to know You better. Amen.

This post is part of SoCS as well as JustJoJan

Lockdown Day 19 Birthday Picnic

Today was the long-awaited birthday. There was much present opening and celebration. The children have been sleeping in the art studio in their tents and a special breakfast was brought to the birthday-girl’s tent.

At 10.30 we all had tea and cake. The cake was an experimental one that my oldest granddaughter and I adapted from a quick-mix chocolate cake. Instead of adding cocoa, we added food colouring to different batches of batter then spooned in the different colours in a random order to make a marble cake. It was not quite how Granny would have made it but it was proclaimed a success.

More celebration at 12.30 with a birthday picnic with the bunnies. Recently the bunny pair had (another) litter of babies and they are now at the very cute stage. They are let out onto the grass in a mobile enclosure and then put back in the hutch overnight and when they are not supervised. (We have owls in the neighborhood.)

Special treats were crisps and coke-floats! This will be a picnic to remember!

There was another picnic that nobody will ever forget – when Jesus fed over 5 000 people with only five loaves and two fish. (Matthew 14:13-21)

The situation was dire. Time was running out and there were no resources. Philip estimated that it would take six month’s wages to buy enough bread to give everyone just a little bit. (John 6:7 NRSV) The disciples were anxious and fearful. People were looking to them to provide for their needs.

The situation we are in at the moment is dire. Because of the lockdown, businesses have not been able to generate any income. Time is running out and employees haven’t been paid. They are looking to their employers to provide for them but the necessary resources just aren’t there.

Jesus has not changed. He is still the God who provides, Jehovah-Jireh. Let us look to Him and trust Him, no matter how absent our resources seem.

Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33 NIV))

“Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations…” (Psalm 119:89-90 NIV)

Bread and Seed

Image by Kaloyan Gichev from Pixabay

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous on every occasion, and your giving through us will produce thanksgiving to God.… (2 Cor 9:10 – 11)

I recently heard a preacher discuss these verses at a Worship Celebration.

God supplies our needs. In these verses, two things are mentioned, bread and seed. In case we miss the difference, the bible specifies what they are to be used for. Bread is for eating. I interpret it as supply for our daily needs. Our Father knows what we need.

The seed is for sowing. We are to sow into the lives and the needs of others. In other words, God supplies not only what we need, but enough for us to be generous “on every occasion.”

The preacher stressed that we should not confuse our seed and our bread. We are not to eat our seed – use all of God’s provision on ourselves. If we do, we won’t have any left to sow.

I am not quite sure how this can all work out in my life but it has certainly given me pause for thought.

X rays and Conditions

When I was in my early forties, my mother’s doctor suggested that I go for a bone scan to see if I had osteoporosis like she did. What a ridiculous idea! I was still young. I couldn’t possibly have an old peoples’ disease! Nevertheless the scan showed that I had, indeed, suffered from loss of bone density. I have a condition that I didn’t know I had and would have staunchly denied while I laughed.

person holding x ray film

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

My daughter also has a condition. A different condition. Last week she took her three children to check if they had inherited it. They had.

We probably all have conditions. Or syndromes. Or illnesses. Or weaknesses. Many of them we inherited. Although they are many and varied, we all suffer from one hereditary condition. We will refuse to believe that we have this condition although it is usually obvious in others. The global expert will tell us we have this condition but because we don’t think we have it, we might not accept his opinion.

This condition is called Human Nature. God calls it SIN. We inherited it. It is in our DNA. None of us in immune. “All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned – every one- to his own way.” (Isiah 53:6a ESV)

Those of us who go to church and maybe read our bibles think we are immune. We are not. God’s X ray of our heart will reveal it. I was reminded again of my condition this morning. I had slept very badly and, twenty minutes before my alarm was due to go off, I was woken by my husband’s footsteps. He asked if I wanted coffee then of after seven. I felt grumpy and irritable. had not slept well. My sleep had been interrupted.  needed my sleep. A couple of minutes later when I did wake up, he brought me cappuccino and a rusk. He could not have coffee with me because he had to leave to do a Gideon Bible placement at a school. Later I found his coffee cup with a spoon of coffee powder.

burst

I had not thought of him, had I? Only of me, me, me. This is a symptom of my condition. Total self focus.

Fortunately, God has provided a therapy for this condition we all suffer from (or ignore.) Isiah goes on to say in verse 6b, “And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Jesus had paid the consequences for our condition and, if we are willing, will give us a transfusion of divine nature that will slowly change us to the image of Jesus if we submit to his regime. That does not mean that our human nature disappears. It is still alive and kicking and only with God’s help can we tame it to some degree. I long for the day when my first waking thought can be Good morning , Lord rather than Good Lord, it’s morning.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that you died for me. By your Spirit, please transform me into your image. I submit myself to Your authority. Amen.

Christian Servanthood

During December and early January my husband and I were in New Zealand to visit our son and his family and to explore.

While exploring, we visited church’s where we were at. As Christmas drew near, I was struck by Mary’s response to the Angel Gabriel.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” she said.

While I was still mulling over this, we attended the Hamilton Central Baptist Church where a missionary working in Papua New Guinea, Grant Dixon, told us what it meant to be a servant.

I was so struck by what he said that it has become the foundation of the start to my New Year. The following is a summary.

  1. As a servant, I am not the master. Jesus is.
  2. Serving is what servants do.
  3. Servants are under authority and cannot abuse the trust of the master.
  4. As I serve God, I serve others and as I serve others, I serve God.
  5. Servants don’t choose what they do. they can only choose the attitude in which they do it.
  6. Serving and giving don’t come naturally. We have to choose to do it.
  7. Serving often entails hard work, long term application, even suffering.

As part of the message Grant read the covenant prayer by John Wesley.

servant

I was particularly struck by point number five. Servants don’t choose what they do.

My husband has been a Gideon for over thirty-five years but I have always regarded it as his passion and calling, not mine. Although I totally believe in the handing out of bibles leading to the salvation of many, there are things about he organisation that I don’t like. A woman can not join the Gideons. If her husband is a Gideon, she may join the Auxiliary which is composed of wives of Gideons. She may not speak in church or to a Gideon meeting, but only to Auxiliary gatherings. As a qualified local preacher of the Methodist Church, a silver level Toastmaster and a woman of the twenty-first century, I found this very old-fashioned. Moreover, in South Africa, the Gideons are strongly dominated by Afrikaans Christians. Trainings and zone meetings are conducted in Afrikaans and although I understand the language, I don’t feel comfortable in those situations.

Last year the president of our Auxiliary begged me to come onto the Cabinet as vice president and, perhaps foolishly, I said I would pray about it. Some three days later in my quiet time the following verse jumped out of the page in my face, “I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness.” (Col 1:25) Just to make sure, three days later, I read the following in my quiet time, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” (2 Tim 3:16). I think I’d have to be very obtuse not to get the message. so I became vice president more from obedience than any passion.

Now I have been reminded that a servant does not choose what she does, just the attitude in which she does it. Moreover the covenant prayer says, “Rank me with whom you will.” That includes Afrikaans people belonging to an old fashioned organisation.

So 2019 will be the year of learning to be a servant. It won’t come easy as it goes against all my inclinations but I know that Christ will strengthen me even in my attitude. May my attitude be gratitude.

Psalm 23

I feel like a limp rag doll at the moment. I read Psalm 23 this morning and was struck by the phrase , “He restores my soul.” My soul is in need of restoration.

Lord please breathe your life and energy into my soul, into my body, into my mind, into my emotions. Thank you for leading me besides quiet waters where there is no threat, no danger and all I need to do is hold Your hand and follow.