Tag Archives: Christianity

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.”

Aha Moments

You know those Aha moments – like when I first realised the line in the song Picnic Time for Teddy Bears was “Watch them, catch them unawares,” rather than “Watch them catch their underwear.” I’ve used the word “encourage” most of my life to mean support but I recently realised it means to imbue with courage or to talk courage into.

I had another such epiphany this morning.

Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 12:3, “…No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”

I used to think this was some neat little test to find out which spirits or influences were from God and which were from the enemy. Now I realise that it is not a matter of saying “Jesus is Lord,” but rather making it true in my life.

I’ve been meditating recently on the difference between accepting Jesus as Saviour and accepting Him as Lord. The latter is a decision of the will and a commitment of my whole life. It is the act of putting myself, past, present and future – into God’s hands to do with as God pleases. (Adapted from Maxie Dunnam – The Workbook of Abiding in Christ.)

It means giving up the things I regard as mine: My life, my time, my abilities, my body, the money I have earned, the children I have brought up. Do you know how hard that is? in fact, I regard it as humanly impossible. That’s where the power of the Holy Spirit comes in. Nobody can make Jesus Lord of their lives except by the Holy Spirit.

My Prayer

  1. Breathe on me, Breath of God,
    Fill me with life anew,
    That I may love what Thou dost love,
    And do what Thou wouldst do.
  2. Breathe on me, Breath of God,
    Until my heart is pure,
    Until with Thee I will one will,
    To do and to endure.
  3. Breathe on me, Breath of God,
    Till I am wholly Thine,
    Until this earthly part of me
    Glows with Thy fire divine.
  4. Breathe on me, Breath of God,
    So shall I never die,
    But live with Thee the perfect life
    Of Thine eternity. (Hymn by Edward Hatch 1878)

I Can See Clearly Now…

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Our fellowship group hasn’t met in person since the end of March but yesterday, now that we are in Covid Alert level one, we met for a bring and share lunch to celebrate the four birthdays in September. As I was eating my potato salad, the young man sitting opposite me stopped me and said there was a hair on my potato salad. I looked where he pointed but I saw nothing. My husband found the hair and removed it for me. My eyes are probably my weakest physical attributes. I wear contact lenses for distance vision and multifocals for reading.

This morning I read the words of Jesus from Revelation 3:17-18, “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” NIV

As somebody with weak eyesight, I regard the eye salve as the most important treasure Jesus is offering. If I can’t see that I am poor and naked, I won’t see the need to buy gold or white clothes. If I can’t see that I am a sinner, I won’t repent.

I get a picture in my mind of a small girl in a forest. She makes a broom of branches and sweeps pine needles into lines to make walls of her imaginary house. She sweeps the interior clean and then gathers acorns for her treasure. She doesn’t know her family has no money, that her clothes are torn and dirty, that her hair is unwashed and unkempt. She considers herself rich because she has so many acorns.

I tremble to think that I might be like that little girl, blind to the reality of how God sees me.

My Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, please open my eyes to my sin, the poverty of my love, my uncleanness. Give me ointment for my eyes, gold so that I may be rich towards you, and clothes, white and spotless, that can only be obtained through Your sacrifice. Thank You. Amen.

Static and Interference

My son told me recently of a Zoom meeting he had attended where the host was connecting from another country and had an unstable internet connection. She would freeze but the rest of the meeting could continue. This led to a lot of frustration and the meeting outcome was not successful.

Those of us in the older generation remember radio static. If you tried to tune a radio to AM stations there was a very narrow band of clarity amidst a sea of static with signals from two different broadcasting stations sometimes being received at the same time. The signals relied on a transmitter where they originated and a receiver, which had to be tuned in to the correct frequency. Radio transmissions between aircraft or ships relied on the same principle.

Fortunately, our communication with God, prayer, does not suffer from these limitations. However there are things that can interfere with our prayers.

In Psalm 66 David says, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”

In other words, un-confessed sin that we clutch to ourselves can cause a barrier to our communication with God from the transmitting end. Our signal is not transmitted clearly.

Interference at the receiving end is more often the problem. God’s messages are clear but we are not tuned in to the right frequency. We are tuned in to the world’s frequency or that of our own little kingdoms.

There are certain practices that can help tune our spiritual receivers. One is scripture reading. Reading through a Psalm can focus our attention on God. Nature can be another great help in tuning our receivers. It is but a short step from being overwhelmed by the grandeur of the creation around us to turning our hearts to the Creator. Being mindful, or aware is still another helpful practice. I wrote a post about it recently.

In actual fact, God is very near to each of us. He is as close to us as our breath. He longs to communicate with us.

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on Him in truth. (Psalm145:18 NIV) God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘for in him we live and move and have our being.’ (Acts 17:27,28a NIV)

My Prayer

Father God, please tune my heart to Your frequency, open my eyes and ears to Your messages. Thank you. Amen.

A Brush with Instability

During the winter I often write outside under the gazebo. Our house, like most South African houses, is designed more for summer and it is cold in winter.

dav

Recently I noticed the table was no longer stable. The gardener had done his best by inserting a rubber wedge under one foot but that hadn’t helped. Yesterday I found one of the leveling screws on the floor and suddenly it all made sense. The screw had come out of one of the table’s legs leaving it much shorter than the other three.

dav

Today I managed to screw it into the offending leg and now my table is once again stable.

My life is in need of leveling at the moment. When we were at the Beach House I read a lot. I rediscovered my love for historical romances and downloaded a new one from the library as fast as I finished reading the last. This habit has continued since we got back and, much as I love reading, my life has become unbalanced.

I know that a balanced life must include rest and relaxation but too much relaxation is just as unbalanced as too little.

This image is from https://lifejottings.wordpress.com/tag/daily-activities/

Balance seems to be the brush that paints my surroundings at the moment. I have finished working through “The Workbook of Living Prayer “by Maxie Dunham. He talks about the balance between prayer and action.

“There is a certain class of demons that can only be chased away by prayer – the demons of deafness to God, dumbness in thanksgiving, self-sufficiency, worry, despair, and solitude. But there is another class that can only be chased away by action – the demons of illusion, sentimentality, infantilism, narcissism, and laziness. So if we cultivate prayer exclusively, we harbor the second lot, and if we cultivate action exclusively, we harbor the first….

“The goal of prayer is a life of friendship and fellowship with God, co-operation with God’s Spirit, living God’s life in the world.”

My Prayer

Father God, may I see You more clearly every day as I spend time with You and Your Word, may I love You more dearly as I open my eyes to Your actions in nature and in the world, and may I follow You more nearly as I try to be Christ to or receive Christ from every person that I meet. Amen

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday.