Tag Archives: Love

More Dimensions

In my Christian walk and study I’ve come across many concepts that are hard to understand. Examples are: the fact that Jesus was 100% God and 100% man; the Bible is 100% inspired by God, yet 100% written by man. This latter was explained brilliantly by Nicky Gumbel.

“Sir Christopher Wren, the most famous architect of his time, built St. Paul’s Cathedral. He began in 1676 and it took him 35 years to build it. He was 44 when he began and was 79 when he completed it in 1711. Sir Christopher Wren built St. Paul’s Cathedral, but actually he didn’t lay a single stone—other people did that. He directed its construction. In the same way, God did not “write the Bible”—He used human authors. But He inspired them. He was the “architect” behind its construction. Every stone in St. Paul’s Cathedral was there because Sir Christopher Wren intended it to be there. And the Bible is as God intended it to be.”

Something else that has bothered me is the fact that in one place the Bible says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” (Romans 10:15) and yet Jesus told the parable of the sheep and the goats where the King welcomes into the kingdom those who have fed the hungry, welcomed the stranger, clothed the poor, looked after the sick and visited the prisoner. “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:40 NIV)

I recently attended a Conference on the letters of John by Robert W. Yarbrough. He added a third dimension to the confusion by citing Matthew 7:15. “Many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will say to them plainly, ‘I never knew you.'”(NIV)

These people obviously believed in Jesus and did good works in His name. But He did not know them. In other words, there was no love relationship between them and Jesus. Dr Yarbrough explained these three conflicting criteria for entering the Kingdom of Heaven with a three dimensional graph. The X-axis is Faith, the Y-axis Works and the Z-axis Love. All three are needed simultaneously.

On our own we can try to do good works but faith and love are miraculous works of the Holy Spirit in us. Until Jesus is Lord of our lives, we will not know the faith and the love that He imparts to us and grows in us.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, I know that many concepts are beyond my human understanding. I want a three dimensional faith and not a flat, lifeless one. Please grow me in directions and dimensions where I am lacking. May I know You more clearly, love You more dearly and follow You more nearly, day by day by day. Amen.

God’s Requirements

“And what does the Lord require of you except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion) and to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness]?” (Micah 6:8 AMP)

Image by -MayaQ- from Pixabay

This post is part of One-Liner-Wednesday

The Day of the Birds

On Wednesdays, the TC Robertson Nature Reserve runs a tea garden to raise funds.

Three eats and bottomless tea/coffee

There is also a book table where secondhand books can be bought at a tempting price. I must have been having a bird day because what attracted me was a book by John Stott called The Birds, Our Teachers and a beautiful photographic magazine of birds of South Africa.

I hadn’t known that John Stott was an avid bird-watcher. The first chapter of his book is on Matthew 6:26. “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet, your heavenly Father feeds them.” (ESV)

In other words, watch birds. Learn from them. According to John Stott, there are three common misunderstandings about this verse.

First, Jesus was not prohibiting forethought and planning – only worry. In fact, we are told to look at the ant which makes provision for the hard times of winter.

Secondly, Jesus did not mean that God’s children were guaranteed protection from accidents – only that nothing can harm us without our heavenly Father’s knowledge and permission.

Thirdly, Jesus did not mean that we can sit back and leave God to do it all. Sure, God feeds the birds, but not like we feed our pets, providing food in their bowls every day. Jesus knew very well that birds feed themselves. God provides the wherewithal for them to feed themselves, but they have to forage for their food.

I found these thoughts very helpful.

My Prayer

Thank You, Lord that You created an orderly world. Thank You for the variety of birds, flowers, animals and people that You have made. How great are Your works. May I ever be mindful of them and learn from them. Amen.

Mushrooms and Dandelions

It had rained for two days in Gqeberha. Our hosts were driving us to visit friends of theirs and we drove past a nearby park. It looked fresh and green after the rain and I thought I saw mushrooms.

As we went on, I saw they were dandelion flowers. When I went back the next day to take photos, I realised they were not even dandelions but other small yellow flowers. My eyesight, which is not wonderful, limits my knowledge of the truth. My husband wears hearing aids. He doesn’t always hear the full story in a conversation. We can only know as much truth as our senses let through to us and we often filter even that through our own misconceptions.

I am reading a book by Francine Rivers called Leota’s Garden. One of the characters lived with bitterness against her mother as a result of lies she was told, and incomplete conversations she overheard as a child.

Jesus said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. Nobody comes to the the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). We can know the Truth if we know Jesus. “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32.)

I know I am not perfect. My eyes are not perfect, my memories are not perfect, my conclusions are not perfect, my ideas are not perfect. The sooner I acknowledge this, the sooner I can be free of my own version of life.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Truth. Forgive me for thinking I know the truth. Please soften my heart to consider other viewpoints besides my own and other interpretations of words and events to the ones I cling to. Please guide me always into Your Truth. Amen.

Even the Most Insignificant

Tuesday was one of those days. On Monday night we had both power and water outages. For some strange reason when we have a water cut, hot water comes out of the cold tap until it dries up completely.

On Tuesday morning we had left-over dishes from our community group meeting on Monday. We had had soup and rolls as well as the usual tea and coffee. The electricity was back and we were able to do a double wash- load of bed and bath linen. The cold water was back but not the hot. Nothing but coughing and spluttering came out of the hot tap even after ten minutes. We decided that since the washing machine was working, we would load all the dishes into the dishwasher rather than boiling kettlesful of water for dishes. After the two-hour cycle, the dishes were no cleaner than when they had gone in and we ended up having to boil the water anyway and was them.

Tuesday is our shopping day and this particular Tuesday we had to be home earlier than normal because my husband was fetching our grandson at an earlier time than usual. Meanwhile I was expecting a delivery of ink cartridges for the printer and I notified the family so my daughter or son-in-law who were working from home, could take collection if necessary.

“More haste less speed,” they say. My husband knocked over his cappuccino, making a big mess but fortunately not breaking the mug. When at last we were ready to leave, much later than we’d intended, my husband pushed the panic button by mistake and we had to waste another couple of minutes sending messages.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

As we finally drove out of the electric gate, the delivery vehicle drove up. He scanned my ID document and handed me my parcel. If we hadn’t been delayed, we would have missed him. I am not sure if he would have given the parcel to my family if he needed my ID card. Is it possible that the Lord took control of my schedule again and delayed us? Or was it just co-incidence?

The Bible says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 ESV.) The verse doesn’t say “all significant things,” just “all things.” Neither does it mention “great good” just “good.”

I believe that my loving Heavenly Father uses even insignificant things like spilled coffee for my good, even a tiny good. Receiving delivery as I did saved all kinds of hassle like the courier having to come again, red tape, possibly having to stay at home all morning waiting.

My Prayer

My Father, thank You that You are interested in even the insignificant things in my life:- the incidents that will not be remembered, the daily bumps and spills and mistakes. You can use all things both big and small, pleasant or unpleasant for my good or the good of others according to Your design. Please become more and more involved in the detail of my life. I surrender my plans to Your control. Amen.

A Story of a Cardinal

It started on Tuesday. A rapid tap-tap-tapping caused my son-in-law to go out into the garden to investigate. He took a video of a red-headed woodpecker pecking at one of our acacia trees. He said it was a cardinal woodpecker. Later I saw it too.

I was all set to go to ten pin bowling on Wednesday, when my daughter and granddaughter knocked at our front door and asked if I would like to save a woodpecker. Their cat had caught it and they were alerted by the bird’s loud shrieks. My daughter confiscated it from the cat. They brought it to our cottage because it would be safe from the cats. It looked like it had a broken wing and it was obviously in shock.

With my granddaughter’s help and a pair of gloves, we managed to place the bird gently in a cardboard box and give it a plastic cooldrink bottle lid of water.

My daughter left as she had an art class to run but left my granddaughter, who had stayed home from school after a bout of sickness, to look after the cardinal. I didn’t know what to do. I realised that, once again, the Lord had accepted my invitation to change my schedule as He saw fit. My husband went bowling without me.

I warned my granddaughter that the bird might die. (I’ve had experience with trying to save birds.) Then we prayed, remembering that Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31 NIV) He didn’t actually say that the Father would prevent sparrows falling to the ground, but that He cares. Other translations say that the Father knows about it. We had to pray for the best outcome.

I googled “Bird rehabilitation Johannesburg” and finally got hold of a number to phone in Midrand. When I spoke to a friendly lady called Margie, she advised me that they worked with a vet in Bryanston (about a third of the distance of that to Midrand) and I could take the woodpecker there. By then the bird was looking a little chirpier, even tried to escape when my granddaughter transferred him to a smaller box for travelling.

Cardinal woodpecker ready for a trip to the vet.

The vetinary practice was expecting us and there was no charge so we could leave the cardinal in the best possible place. Margie would fetch him later in the day and take him to the rehabilitation centre. Meanwhile he was whisked off to an incubator.

When the Lord changes our schedule unexpectedly, it can get quite exciting.

My Prayer

Thank You Father, that You know all about me. You care for me and are interested in everything I do. You are always with me. Please help me to be more aware of You in my everyday life. Amen.

From the Sidelines

Tomorrow is Wednesday and the day we join other pensioners for our ten pin bowling league. I am one of the worst bowlers in our group but nobody takes it too seriously and we all just have fun.

Some weeks ago I was trying to practice the presence of God by imagining Jesus with me. First I let Him bowl through me. All I can say is, He may have been a wonderful carpenter, but His bowling was no better than mine.

Then I thought perhaps He is my coach. That gave no better results.

Finally I realised that if God is my Father, He would be where any good father would be – watching his child from the sidelines.

I pictured a school cricket match. The fathers don’t go onto the pitch and hold their sons’ bats. Good fathers get enjoyment out of watching their children play whether they are good players or not. They cheer when their children hit sixes or take wickets, and shout, “Unlucky” if they are bowled.

In actual fact, my Father is more interested in my attitude and sportsmanship than in my performance.

So where is Jesus in the bowling alley? He’s standing unobtrusively behind the bowlers. He cheers when I get a strike and commiserates when I throw a gutter ball. He enjoys my enjoyment and smiles when I react in a God-honouring way.

Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” (John 15:9 ESV)

My Prayer

Thank you, Father, that you love me unconditionally, that there is nothing I can do that will make You love me more, or less. Thank You that You are a good Father and are interested in everything I do. Amen.

Apology notes

On Saturday I attended a family fun day organised by the Girl Guide Association in this region. The plan was to move around in a small group and take part in activities representing other countries at various well spaced locations at Delta Park. It was great fun and included hitting a piñata, fishing with magnets in the river, making Canadian pancakes on upended tins and solving puzzles.

Delta Park
fun and games at the Mexico base

During the day I came across people I was involved with a long time ago, when I ran a Guide company.

At the end of the day, I received two apologies. One from a young woman who was manning the India base. She told us all about henna painting for Indian weddings. She was dressed up in Indian clothes and I wasn’t 100% sure she was the girl I had known but I asked her how she was doing. She called me Irmgard but I didn’t say anything. When she saw me later, she apologised profusely for getting my name wrong. I also got an SMS from the lady who used to be my commissioner. I had waved to her. She apologised because she hadn’t recognised me.

I need to write an apology letter of my own.

Dear Lord Jesus,

I invited You into my day on Saturday morning then forgot about You. When I woke with a headache, I didn’t consult You or ask for Your help but took two aspirin then slept for another fifteen minutes. I could have used Your help later in the day, too, when I got to the Guide campsite and there was no sign of my granddaughter or my son-in-law. You gave Your help anyway. When, not ten minutes later, I was hailed by my son-in-law, I did not think to thank You.

I know You were with me. You were there in the beautiful autumn trees, in the Ibises rummaging in the newly mown grass, in the gurgling river. How easy it would have been to pray a silent “Thank You.” But I didn’t. I ignored You all day. When I puffed up hills that the Brownies took at a laughing run, I didn’t ask for Your help, although I am sure You would have given it.

I had fun, even though I was physically exhausted and my foot was sore after I twisted it going down a step. However, I am sure my day would have been greatly improved if I had consciously involved You. If I had used the opportunity of walking in nature to also pray, talk the walk, so to speak. Instead, I treated You like a fifth wheel and I’m sorry.

We learned in church today about how You reinstated Peter, meeting him in his weakness where he was. (John 21:15-19). I know You do the same to me. You know I am just dust and yet You love me. Even if I ignore You, You will never forsake me because you have promised. Thank You. Please continue to walk with me into the coming week and help me to be more mindful of You. Amen.

The Cinderella Fruit

Image by anwar suseno from Pixabay

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22 ESV)

Love is popular. There are songs and poems written about it down the ages. Peace is almost as popular. Everybody wants Love, Peace and Joy at their party. Patience, Kindness, Goodness and Faithfulness are welcome everywhere but don’t get as much limelight as Love, Joy and Peace.

It is easy to spot those Christians where the popular fruit is growing. A loving person or a joyful person are hard to miss. Likewise people growing in peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness are easy to spot.

Self-control is the Cinderella fruit, easily overlooked and undervalued. Yet self-control is a fruit of maturity. We have all come across children who think the world revolves around them and want their desires fulfilled NOW. Hopefully as they grow and mature, with the training of loving parents, they learn a measure of self-control. But true self control is the result of the Holy Spirit working in a surrendered life.

Self-control refuses to be grumpy even when he is tired or hungry. Self-control doesn’t react aggressively when a driver cuts in in front of him or hoots at him. Self-control can discipline himself to spend time with the Lord on a regular basis. Self-control can stick to a diet, can get up on a cold winter’s morning without complaining, can suffer pain and illness without becoming a pain to others and can control his thoughts. Yet the person with self-control is not immediately obvious to all, although the opposite Is perfectly patent.

I am not sure whether the Holy Spirit grows these seven fruits evenly in our lives or whether He causes circumstances which grow a particular one at a specific time. I can certainly think of times in my life where patience training has been noticeable. What have other people experienced? Do you think the Fruit of the Spirit grow evenly in our lives or do certain of the fruit have growth spurts?

My Prayer

Holy Spirit of Jesus, please continue to grow Your fruit in my life that I may conform more closely to the image of Christ. Amen.