Tag Archives: Christianity

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.

Democracy

On Monday I voted in the municipal elections in South Africa. Because I am over sixty five, it was fairly pleasant. We were taken to the front of the queue for initial checking of documents then escorted to the door of the classroom where our section of the alphabet was voting. I don’t think we took longer than ten minutes.

I am able to vote because I live in a democracy. My husband and I reminisced about the first democratic elections in South Africa in 1994 when the queues snaked around the block and my husband waited six hours. We still had dependent children at that stage so I came and went with the children, keeping an eye on progress.

As a civic-minded gesture, Wimpy offered free coffee to every person who showed their marked thumb to prove they had voted.

The special ink leaked all the way around my nail and under it.

Just because South Africa is a democracy doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Far from it. In fact it seems that what the majority wants is not even close to what I want.

My ultimate citizenship is not in South Africa. Paul says, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus, Christ.” (Phil 3:20 NIV)

Heaven is not a democracy. Its citizens do not vote on the way it is governed nor any policies. Its citizens have no rights except the right to be God’s children. (“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12 NIV) All they have is gifted to them through God’s grace alone.

Heaven is a kingdom, with all authority and power vested in King Jesus. His word is law.

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (Hebrews 1:3 ESV)

That he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. (Eph 1:20-21 ESV)

Until I get to my home country, I am an exile, not quite fitting in with the customs and mores of this world. I am called to pray for my earthly rulers and authorities, for my country of residence for peace and prosperity.

My Prayer

Father God, when I feel alone and rejected in this world, please remind me that I am a citizen of heaven where love is the only language spoken and grace is the legal tender. Please bless South Africa and give her leaders wisdom and a knowledge of You. Amen.

God’s Perfect Timing

“But I trust in you, Lord; I say “You are my God.” My times are in your hands;” (Psalm 31:14-15a NIV)

Last year in early Autumn, I bought a rose bush from a sidewalk sale. There were not too many to choose from but I selected the one I liked the best and I asked my gardener to plant it for me.

After Winter, I couldn’t remember what my rose looked like. I also didn’t know its name. How excited I was to see a bud some weeks ago.

I couldn’t wait for my bud to open so I could remember what the rose looked like. It took a long time and every day I’d go to the garden to have a look but all I’d see was the bud. Finally, after what seemed much too long, the bud started opening until it unfolded into the beautiful flower God had created it to be.

If I had become impatient and taken things into my own hands, prising open the bud and pulling off the petals, I would never have seen my rose. I had to wait for the right time.

I know that God has a plan for my life and for my children’s lives. I cannot take things into my own hands and try to work out the plan myself. I have to wait for God’s timing and watch with wonder as signs of his perfect plan unfold. God is never late, never early but always on time. Why is it so hard to trust Him?

My Prayer

Father God, I know that You love me and that You have a plan for my life. Teach me to rest in Your love and trust your timing implicitly. Amen.

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.

Fingers

I fell in church last week and damaged the ring finger of my left hand. i didn’t think it was broken. As soon as I got home I applied a cold compress then later I immobilized it by bandaging it to my middle finger.

“Lucky it’s not your right hand,” everybody says. And they are right. I would be much worse off if it were my right hand. But it’s only my left, the less important one. Moreover, it’s not like it’s an important finger either. A ring finger is only good for putting rings on, after all. Don’t you hate it when you get labelled and categorized by that label?

That’s another thing. Wearing a ring on a damaged finger is a problem. It took me ten minutes or more to give a thought to the fact that my finger might swell and I should get my ring off. It was too late. My finger did swell and the purple moved down but I made sure every day that my ring could swivel.

This whole experience has given me a different view of my fingers. They work together, like a well-oiled machine. Inactivate one gear or cog and the machine no longer functions correctly. Just try eating while holding your fork with a thumb and index finger! It seems to me that the ring finger is more useful than the middle finger although our hand can’t function well without all our finger supporting and helping each other. Some people have to, but it requires a lot of time and therapy relearning, practicing and strengthening.

The Bible says, “God has put the body together, giving greater honor to those parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it… Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Cor 12:24b-27 NIV)

No matter how insignificant and unimportant we may feel, we are all part of Christ’s body and if we hurt, the whole body suffers. God is constantly aware of every one of us and we can trust Him to take care of us.

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday. The word for today is “different.”

The Legend of Tinsel

When I was young, Sunday School took a break during the December Christmas holidays. Instead, the children joined their parents in church but there was always a Children’s Talk, given either by the minister or somebody from the Sunday School department.

Those were the days when one was best advised to get to church half an hour early on Christmas day because people who only went to church once a year would go on that day.

Now, even before Covid, many churches close for the Christmas holidays and one battles to find a church to attend on Christmas day. Fortunately, our church, Rosebank Union Church, is having two services this Christmas although, because of Covid, attendance is limited to 100 people. We have booked our place.

Yesterday we attended the on-line service and Yaay! There was a Children’s Talk.

However, for those who weren’t so lucky, I decided to post my own Children’s Talk. This is a legend told to me by my mother in the days before internet.

Mary and Joseph were fleeing to Egypt with the young Jesus after the angel had warned Joseph in a dream that Herod would try to kill the child. If you’ve ever tried travelling with a toddler, you will know how exhausting it is. Travelling through the night was impossible so Joseph found a cave where Mary and the child could lie down and have a little sleep.

Herod’s soldiers were scouring the country for any boys under two years old and they were not far behind the fleeing family.

During the night, spiders built a web over the mouth of the cave. When the soldiers came across the cave, they could see that nobody had come that way since the large spider web was unbroken. They proceeded on their way.

The next morning the sun shone on the dew that had settled on the spiders web making it sparkle. This is why Christians decorate their homes and Christmas Trees with tinsel to remember Gods protection using simple spiders.

Image by Benjamin Balazs from Pixabay

I do not know if the story is true but I do know that God is able to take care of those that belong to Him.

I know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIV) I have known Him use flat batteries and robberies for good. A bunch of spiders is not much of a stretch to believe.

I know that our God is Lord over all creation. By His word He created all things. Jesus used a word to still the forces of stormy nature.

“God moves in a mysterious way,
    His wonders to perform;” (William Cowper (1731–1800))

Rings and Promises

Yesterday my granddaughter got enrolled as a Girl Guide. When a Girl Guide gets enrolled, she makes a promise.

“I promise that I will do my best to do my duty to my God and my country, to help other people and to keep the Guide Law.”

Once the girl has made the promise, a badge, called a trefoil, is pinned onto her uniform reminding her of the promise she made.

In our case, this was a very special trefoil. It had belonged to my mother who was a Guider about sixty years ago. My daughter was enrolled with it and now, my granddaughter.

It is similar in tradition and sentiment to getting married with your grandmother’s wedding ring. A ring is a symbol of the promises you made on your wedding day.

Unfortunately, keeping a promise is no longer a sign of honour or integrity. One only has to look at the percentage of divorces to realise that most people do not honour the promises they made “…till death us do part.”

It is hard to teach children the value of a promise when the adults around them set such a bad example.

God is not like us. He keeps His promises. Always.

Jesus said,”…whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” (John 6:37b). That famous passage, John 3:16 reads: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV)

God has made a promise. Whoever believes in Jesus will have eternal life. You can trust this promise. You can bet your life on it. Christians do.

This post is part of Stream of Consciousness

With Jesus

Sometimes I wish I was with Jesus in the flesh, like those early disciples. Think how exciting it would be!

Image by emilycavins from Pixabay

However, if I think carefully, I don’t think I would have been that comfortable after all. They had given up everything to follow Him. They had no life of their own. They had to go along with Jesus’ plans and couldn’t really plan their own time. They couldn’t decide to look for a new mat for their house or put in a load of washing. Not that I think washing wasn’t done. I’m sure everyday life had to go on. I can’t imagine Jesus and His disciples arriving at a dinner in dirty smelly clothes and unkempt hair. And somebody had to buy groceries. And cook. And clean up afterwards.

The discomfort would not only have been doing household chores without modern appliances, but more on an emotional and personal level. I imagine that, if I made a critical comment about another disciple, or maybe only thought it, Jesus would look across at me and He’d know. I’m sure I’d find plenty that was critical to say about the others – they were a mixed group, coarse fishermen associating with a tax collector and other people I might not trust. I’d be expected to get on with them, even to love them and in time I’d probably learn to.

The disciples were with Jesus, but not in Him. As Christians, we are in Christ and Christ is in us through the Holy Spirit. Jesus said He would not leave his disciples as orphans but would send His Spirit to be with them. E Stanley Jones puts it thus. “The ‘with’ had to end so that the ‘in’ might begin. He withdrew His presence and gave them His omnipresence.”(In Christ 106)

I have Christ’s presence in me. If I am serious about my discipleship, I should also have given up my life to follow Him. I should also regard my time as not my own and rather follow His plans. Yes, they do include ordinary life like paying license fees, fixing broken things and partying with people. Many times God uses exactly these events to carry out His plans. He even uses the bad things like flat batteries or cancelled appointments.

All I have to do is yield to the Holy Spirit as the indwelling, risen Christ, to manifest Christ’s presence to the world. It will be uncomfortable and maybe that’s what prevents me being fully committed. I can only cast myself on His Love and cry, “Breathe on me Breath of God, till I am wholly Thine.”