Tag Archives: #JusJoJan

Candy

My granddaughter had a lovely, fluffy jersey, knitted by her other granny some years ago. She loved the hood, the beautiful colours and the soft feel of it. However, she outgrew it long ago and even her younger sister couldn’t fit into it.

However, she wanted to keep it and maybe turn it into something else. I helped her turn it into a teddy bear. We went together to choose eyes from a special teddy bear shop. She sewed the hood over the front neck to make a head. We stuffed it, added the eyes and she sewed some ears. Then we shortened the arms and cut off the excess to make legs. More stuffing, more sewing, some shaping and she has a bear. Maybe it’s a slightly wonky bear but it’s huggable. She called it Candy because the colours and fluff remind her of candy-floss.

Sometimes God does a similar thing with us – He repurposes us. His calling was not a mistake. It’s just that we have outgrown that particular purpose. Now the Lord wants us to undertake a new mission. He might have to shape us somewhat, cut back areas of our lives that were underutilised and fill us with substance to suit His purpose.

An example of this is the story of Ruth, a Moabite woman. God’s plan was for her to become a wife, to care for her husband and later her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi, when her husband and both sons died.

God had another purpose for Ruth. She accompanied Naomi to Israel and married Boaz, her kinsman redeemer. Again her purpose was domestic, to be a wife and mother to Obed who became the father of Jesse who became the father of David.

If God calls us out of some area of ministry, we should never feel that we have failed but rather that Our Father has decided to repurpose us according to our different circumstances and stage of life.

My Prayer

Father God, in this stage of retirement, may I be willing to allow You to shape me according to any new purpose You have for my life. Amen.

This post is the last one in the JusJoJan series.

The Alpha and the Omega

“The end of the world has arrived!”

Image by icheinfach from Pixabay

This was the theme of many social media posts at the beginning of the Covid pandemic. Not long after came a batch of talks by various pastors and scholars showing how this was not the end of the world.

Most of this frenzy has died down recently (or maybe I’m being more selective of what I choose to watch and read. I’m wary of social media.)

In either case, Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.“(Rev 22:13 NIV)

Jesus was at the beginning of Creation (John 1:1-12) and He will be with us at the end of the world.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b NIV)

Even if it is the end of the world, if we walk with Jesus, we don’t need to fear. Today is the beginning of the rest of our lives.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, Keep me trusting You so that each new day can be a new beginning. Amen.

This post is part of JusJoJan and Streams of Consciousness Saturday.

At the Beach

I love the beach. My favourite holiday is to spend time on the Natal South Coast as close to the sea as possible. Beaches in the Western Cape or Port Elizabeth will also do but they are much further away so not as accessible. We are planning to go down to Scottburgh this winter, God willing, in our motorhome.

Beach near Hibberdene 2020

When I am in a contemplative mood, I sometimes spend my prayer time imagining myself sitting on a bench on a cliff overlooking the sea. As I sit there, I try to imagine feeling the breeze on my face, hearing the sounds of the waves breaking and the seagulls mewing, seeing the changing colours and shapes of the sea. I praise God for His beauty and majesty. Then I picture Jesus coming to sit next to me. The birds are silent in awe and even the breeze holds its breath in wonder. For a while He doesn’t say anything. I ask Him to speak to me and I tell Him where I am and what concerns or excites me at the moment. Then I just sit still and wait for Him to speak.

Almost always I’ve come away with a verse or a revelation and I feel renewed and at peace. In fact, I can’t think why I do it so seldom. Time maybe?

John says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14)

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, Creator of the sea and the land, the earth and sky, please quieten me so I can hear what you want to say to me. Amen.

This post is part of JusJoJan

Stormy Weather

We’ve all been hearing about Cyclone Eloise recently. Across Southern Africa at least 15 people have died, including two from South Africa.

It reminds me of the Covid pandemic. It sweeps across the world leaving death in its wake.

There were storms in the Bible too. Elijah was on a mountain and experienced wind strong enough to break rocks, an earthquake and a fire but the Lord was not in any of these natural disasters. God was in the aftermath – in a still, small voice. ( 1 Kings 19)

The disciples were in a boat in the eye of a storm that they, experienced fishermen, thought might kill them. They woke Jesus. I don’t imagine they woke him at the first sign of the storm or when they thought they could cope on their own. It was only when things were out of their control that they called to Him.

The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. (Matthew 8:25-26 NIV)

We are in the midst of a Covid storm. Maybe we think we can cope. Let’s not wait until we are out of our depth to call on Jesus. He’s not sleeping. He is only a whisper away. He has the power and the authority to still any storm.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, all around me is uncertainty, fear and confusion. Please still the raging anxiety in my heart and bring me peace. Amen.

This post is part of JusJoJan.

Shutter Bug

I love taking photos. When my grandchildren came along and I got tired of taking photos of the back of their heads because they moved just after I clicked the shutter, I bought myself a digital SLR camera one Christmas. It came with an introductory course but I felt totally overwhelmed with all the dials and settings. I decided to join a photographic club, the IPIP, and have never looked back.

I have learned the basics, but I don’t call myself a photographer. Some people in our club are really excellent. Some are professionals and my photos look boring besides theirs. I still love taking photos though.

Photography opens ones eyes to God’s creation in a whole new way. I find myself composing photos in my mind as I drive past scenes. I would never be able to capture these photos but it’s fun to daydream.

Lunar eclipse in 2018
Hibberdene

The Heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands…It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other. Nothing is hidden from its heat.” (Psalm 19:1,6,7. NIV)

This post is part of JusJoJan.

Boasting

This post is part of JusJoJan. The word of the day is “trigger.” It reminds me of the song from “Annie get your Gun.”

“I’m quick on the trigger, with targets not much bigger than a pinpoint
I’m number one, but my score with a feller
Is lower than a celler, oh you can’t get a man with a gun
When I’m with a pistol, I sparkle like a crystal
Yes, I shine like the morning sun.”

Don’t we all like to boast about our achievements and our abilities? Sometimes boasting is a way of hiding our insecurities and boosting our fragile self-confidence.

St Paul said,

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.” (Phillipians 3:4-7a NIV)

By the world’s standards of his time, he had every reason to boast. He came from one of the best families. He studied under the great Gamaliel and could write in Greek and Hebrew; so his education was from the top bracket. He studied the law and kept it. Yet he regarded these recommendations as garbage compared to finding Christ and the righteousness that comes from God through Him.

I am very quick to insert myself into a conversation with words like, “I think,” or “I prayed,” as if my thoughts or prayers are in some way noteworthy or superior to other people’s thoughts or prayers. It’s easy to tell other people what we have done for God (in the guise of asking for prayer, of course) rather than telling them what God has done for us.

Let us all follow Paul’s example. “Therefore, as it is written, ‘Let the the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.'” (1 Cor 1:31 NIV)

My Prayer

Lord, forgive me when I try to impress other people rather than trying to please you. Please put a guard on my tongues so that boastful words don’t pop out. Amen.

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.

God Uses Limping People

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man…. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” (Genesis 32:24,29 NIV)

Jacob walked with a limp for the rest of his life. He became the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. God was with him. He was not perfect but he trusted God and God used him.

Sometimes our experiences leave us with an emotional and spiritual limp. Almost always we struggled with God as we tried to understand what had happened to us.

Our previous pastor, Leigh Robinson, lost his wife and sister when his son was only a toddler. However, he was able to use this testing experience to help others cope with grief. He even wrote a booklet, “Journey with Grief,” which I have given to many people who have lost loved ones, even non Christians. For South Africans it is available here.

I have heard of many Christians who have gone through traumatic and devastating circumstances that have left them permanently scarred and God was able to use them in amazing ways to help others. Joyce Meyer is one that comes to mind.

So if you walk with a limp, God is able to use you in a special way.

My Prayer

Father God, thank you for the unique experiences that have made me who I am. Help me turn my hurts, disappointments and regrets over to You. Please use me as You will. Amen.

This post is part of JusJoJan.

In the City

I live in Randburg, on the outskirts of the greater Johannesburg Metropolitan area. I go into the centre of Johannesburg as little as possible. First of all there is the traffic going into town and clogging up the streets once you get there. Then, some areas have reputations for crime and lawlessness. Finally, I remember the city as full of litter, noise, bustle and crowds – much like other big cities worldwide.

Just before Christmas there was a special on a hop-on hop-off bus tour of Johannesburg and my husband and I thought we’d grab the opportunity.

Our bus

I was in for a pleasant surprise. The first place we left the bus at was Zoo Lake.

It was quiet and peaceful with a couple of security guards, some joggers, cyclists and a family or two. What a contrast to my mind’s picture of a city.

The next place we explored was the mining district in the centre of town where the stock exchange and banks are. It was a Saturday and the streets were very quiet. We found a quaint coffee bar and enjoyed a cappuccino. The proprietor told us it was very quiet on Saturdays because most people work from Monday to Friday.

Along a street, which was part walkway, mining artifacts and history information boards preened. “Look at us!” they invited.

Our next stop was Gold Reef City Hotel. It was a short stop so the driver could refresh himself and we decided to stay with the bus rather than wander around Gold Reef City which is a day’s outing on its own.

Finally we got to what I’d been waiting for all morning – SciBono, a science and technology discovery centre. We spent two hours there. As a scientist, I was more interested in the centre than my husband was but it’s a wonderful gem in the heart of Newtown.

Our last stop before our loop ended was Constitution Hill, where we saw the flame of democracy. We could have taken a tour but my husband had done it before and I was just toured out.

We had a wonderful day and my view of my own city has changed from a mostly negative picture to something more positive and even uplifting.

This positive attitude to cities in general was reinforced by our sermon on Sunday where Pastor Richard told us that God loves cities. God loves people and He loves cities because that is where more people are.

Tim Keller, in his “Theology of Cities” writes about the New Jerusalem, “This city is the Garden of Eden remade. The city is the fulfillment of the purposes of the Eden of God. We began in a garden but will end in a city: God’s purpose for humanity is urban!”

Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions:” (John 14:2 KJV). That implies a city. I’d never thought of it before.

My Prayer

Father God, thank You for designing cities. Thank You that one day I can live in the New Jerusalem because Jesus has gone to prepare a place for me. Amen.

This post is part of JusJoJan

Wishes and dreams

This post is part of Linda Hill’s JusJoJan. I didn’t get down to posting yesterday. I was having too much fun on my day of rest.

Today’s word is “wish.”

At the beginning of this year I thought very carefully about what I would wish for 2021. Was it that my little party business would take off? Was it for the Corona Virus to go away? Was it for my thirty-three-year-old son to come back to South Africa, meet a nice Christian girl and settle down?

In the end, it was none of those things. The deepest desire of my heart for the year was to grow closer to Jesus and that He would become more and more real to me in everyday life.

Psalm 37 reads,

Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this.” (verses 3-5 NIV)

So, if wishes are the desires of our hearts, then it seems like wishes can come true. But, as we’ve learned from fairy tales like Linda’s, there are conditions.

Image by Kranich17 from Pixabay

My Prayer

Father God, please teach me to trust You and delight in You. Amen.