Psalm 23

I have been through an harrowing few months, and hope to write more about it at another time.  Forgive any errors, I am still in recovery mode.    The one thing which sustained me spiritually was Psalm 23, which I want to share with you today.

The Lord is my  shepherd, I shall not want.   He makes  me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.  He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. He sets a table before me, in the presence of my enemies.  He anoints my head with oil, my cup    runs over.  Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I shall fear no evil, for Thy art with me.  Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

I hope it will inspire and encourage you today too 💜

 

 

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The Dungeons of Hell

 

slave-dungeon-in-elmina

 

I have been to a place that I have never been before.

I had to go in to the Oncology ward to have more scans and tests done, and because of financial reasons, I was taken to the Addington Hospital in Durban.
Understand this, I do not equate this hospital with the dungeons of hell.  In fact to the poorest of the poor, and to the sickest of the sick in our society, its is a beacon of last hope.    A place where care and treatment is given, free of charge, to those in dire need.  It is for them a beacon of shining hope and help.

Derelict, depleted old, and the long dark damp red-brick corridors brought to me what the dungeons of hell could be like.   The patients, moving in dim light and shadows, grave-faced, heavy burned, some uncomfortable and in silent pain, where there was no joy at all, patiently and stoically stood their turn for attention and treatment.

But there was too a great sense of efficiency of the systems at work.  Good work was being done in an organised and proficient manner, and getting the masses lined up for their treatment and care.   The Staff were patient, and kind.   Very kind, and understanding.   One  nurse in the Oncology ward, softly sang “put your care upon Jesus”
as she took blood samples.    I had a lovely imaginary picture of a little song-bird singing among the trepidation of the treatments that were to follow.   It gave comfort and brought hope, and smile to my face.
The ministry of soft song in suffering is powerful.

I went through the motions of the day, waiting many hours till my turn came   I sat in a waiting room that was filled with light.  It had a “sea-view”, but it was a rainy day and the day and the mood was sombre and a misty grey.   As I waited I saw the passing parade of the busy street in front of the hospital.   Life was carrying on as usual – traffic cops on duty, deliveries being made, visitors looking for sea-side parking.
I saw a new and understanding doctor, who had a heart for her patients, went through the motions, did the tests and x-rays.   Then finally referred to another hospital for follow up scans and tests.   A thorough investigation of my present condition, for which I am grateful.    And all the way through my trusty husband was there to help me get through the physical obstacles, with patience and endurance.

Once done, I was helped out to the car, where a car guard offered to help where he could, in the hope of a reward.    He was an elderly white-haired Indian man in a turquoise track suit, with hardship written on his face.   He was working in the rain for a pittance for his own survival – oh the hardships of poverty !

It is an experience that I do not cherish, but do so appreciate.   For in a moment in time,  it brought me closer to those who suffer in their poverty, and in the sicknesses and ailments.
It is in  poverty, sickness, disease and death that we may perceive the horrors of hell, where there is no joy, no hope and everlasting misery – all these linger in the dungeons of hell.

Song bird

Isaiah 61:1
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me,
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those
who are bound.

 

 

 

 

The Dung Heap

 

dung hill

Dung heaps are where you will find Dung Beetles.
Do you know of the Dung Beetle ?

Well,  Wikipedia says this :

Dung Beetles are beetles that feed on faeces (dung).
Beetles in some species of Dung Beetles can bury dung 250 times heavier than themselves in one night.
Many Dung Beetles, known as rollers, roll dung into round balls which are used as a food source or breeding chambers.
Others known as tunnelers, bury the dung wherever they find it.   A third group, the dwellers, neither roll nor burrow, they simply live in manure.

Dung Beetles play a role in Agriculture and Tropical forests.   By burying and consuming dung, they improve soil conditions and soil structure.
They are also important for the dispersal of seeds present in animal dung   …..  and more.

Although this is my story of the dung heap and the Dung Beetle, it comes with an apology to the Dung Beetle, as in real ecological terms, the Dung Beetle is a vital link, and does nature a great service, and so we all benefit.

I recently put my back out, have been immobile and rendered useless, so I decided to give myself two days bed rest to ease the muscles.   This self inflicted solitary confinement left me with nothing else but me myself and I, and my solitary thoughts.
So I decided to let my mind wonder over the years, the people in it, the friends and family, the events, the big and little incidents that go to make up an ordinary life.
Memory is a strange, but interesting place to visit.  But a little introspection is never a bad thing, if you keep a level head.

My thoughts had settled on certain people in certain situations and I was thrust into a churning of hate, anger and resentment.  I picked at the people, saw their faults, hated their actions and reactions.   I mulled over their inability to understand and love others more than they loved themselves, and I became angry all over again at the hopelessness of unsolvable situations and relationships.

Still pained and angry I heard this thought :   –  “ get off the dung heap  !”  –  Dung heap ?
I knew I had to change my thinking pattern quickly – so my thoughts turned to the Dung Beetle, which I put on the back burner until I could look up the life of the Dung Beetle, when mobile again.

Dung beetle

But if I were to translate the dung heap to that of my own soul, where the faeces of hate, anger and resentment are tightly compacted into the folds of my soul I would be wise to do a little cleaning out.   Often invisible and tucked away are these destructive faeces of unresolved  emotions.
Of course Forgiveness is the key to a good cleanse.   But forgiveness is a journey not just a once off action.   Jesus said to forgive seventy seven times seven.   When we Forgive, it becomes a lifestyle – journey a road, sometimes a long one, we have to walk through to the end.   Along that road there are the stop overs , or the residues, of hate, anger  resentment and recriminations toward others, all needing the same remedy – Forgiveness.
And it is at these stop overs that we can become stuck.
The Bible says in Song of Solomon 2:15     Catch us the foxes, The little foxes that spoil the vines, For our vines have tender grapes.

Two foxes
But,  before the journey of forgiveness can be undertaken one thing is necessary.   And that is to see in myself, recognise, and acknowledge the faeces in my own soul – and to
own it  !      When I saw my hate, and began to understand my anger, I was appalled at the strong emotion, and reactions it evoked from me, and decided to walk the Forgiveness road, these emotions gradually became a little diminished.
However the residue of resentment, a little more subtle, and recriminations toward others, are the stop overs I still have to clear, with Forgiveness.

Yes, Forgiveness is a journey, but if not undertaken, watch out for the Dung Beetle, which will gleefully roll you away.
Forgive and you will be forgiven – then the Dung Beetle has no chance of eagerly adding you to his ever enlarging and nauseating  dung heap, where he will rob you of peace and joy – and eventually eat you up !

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking
be put away from you, with all malice.
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
even as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4: 31,32

 

 

 

 

The Apple Tree

 

apple_trees_how_to_prune_a_tree_Rocky_Mountain_Fruit_and_Vegetable_Gardening

 

Somewhere at the back of my mind there was a quote bothering me.   So I popped into Google to find a lead or two.  I came to the realisation that our language and literature, even be it a simple quote, may well be in a state of transition.   For the most part I found quotes from Steve Jobs of Apple computer fame, and other computer geeks who have transported us into another realm of language.    Words don’t mean what they use to mean.   And stories are in danger of becoming the fake news of the day.   My, how the world has changed.   We have evolved into another era.

The closest I came to finding the right words for the quote was by Robert Schuller:

Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God knows how many apples there are in a seed.

I remembered, the quote I couldn’t find, went a little further and spoke of apple trees and apple orchards.

Apple orchard

This analogy of the apple tree speaks to me of exponential potential growth, and it was something I wanted to share with my children.  Not that I have experienced it, only heard of it, but do know that generosity is a key to unlocking prosperity, and freedom from ‘the clutter of life’
Generosity as a principle of life, can unlock doors of wealth, and more so, a generous spirit.

I had recently listened to a debate on TV by a group of young Black people, who having endured the hardship of poverty, were now either educated or had well paid employment, asked the question “should they have to pay Black Tax’ – as they called it.   Black Tax is when children give back to their struggling families, help to ease the poverty and also help the remaining siblings at home.   Some were unreservedly for it, some a little reluctant, and some refused to pay back. The culture of giving creeps into the African-centric adverts on TV too, when you see a son buying his elderly Black mom a stove or a fridge.  And often you hear how the well- to-do grown up children take pride in buying a house for their family.
Of course it depends on the individual, there is no legal law that says it must happen – except the law of the heart.
And when appreciation has been nurtured, and generosity has been learnt, giving happens more easily.

I grew up in a time when saving was the smart thing to do.   There is nothing like having a little something in reserve for a rainy day.  At that time, it was just plain common sense, because eventually your money works for you – and not you for your money !!
When we went through our ‘ financial struggle years’ I resolved to start a small savings account, and made minuscule deposits.
I called it my Apple Tree account.    And for a long time it was partly dormant, and then very slowly began to grow tiny roots.   Whenever I could I would ‘water’ my Apple Tree with a small deposit.   It began to grow and now even has some apples on it – which I pick and enjoy from time to time.

My children, bless their hearts, have out of love, been watering my Apple Tree too, with generous deposits, that have caused my tree to flourish.    I am grateful for the apples that I can pick from its growth, but more, much more, I am delighted with their acts of generosity, that I know will stand them in good stead in their years to come.
May they too plant their own Apple Trees, and continue to cultivate the fruit of generosity, and see the benefits of it, for it says in Luke 36:8

Give,  and it will be given to you,
good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over
will be put into your bosom.
For with the same measure that you use,
it will be measured back to you.   

apple-tree-1

A Champion People

 

flying SA flag
For one brief moment of eighty minutes or so South Africa could take its eyes off of itself and gaze at the spectacular event of the final 2019 Rugby World Cup played in Japan this year.

What a transportation into victory !   From the constant media reporting of the murky pit of poverty and its seedy ripple effects in weary worn communities,  unsavory, corrupt politicians, and the Government of the day which has failed to deliver good services to its citizens,  the Springboks, the South African rugby team, has succeeded in delivering  the sweet taste of victory, by winning, decidedly so, the sort-after World Rugby Cup in 2019. Winning this World event surely must imprint the message on all South Africans, we are “stronger together”  and, with hard work and dedication we can, and will achieve anything we set our minds to do.
A message that will thrust us forward in re-building the nation with honest scales and firm foundations.

It was a brilliant game of rugby, executed by a brilliant team in brilliant green and gold gear.   Many South Africans were glued to their TV sets or noisily cheered on in fan clubs.    In the build up to the game the day before, the newspapers and local TV stations did their bit by showing ordinary local people expressing the support for the Boks – people from all walks of our varied South African ethnic groups.  I realised once again the big heart of South Africans.

Cape Town flag

Yes we have come from a hard history where we have had to learn to live in harmony with each other – not an easy task, as we are all a people of passion, where sparks often fly and expressions lead to misunderstandings.    But in essence, apart from some who are resilient in their self-absorption and greed, we have done this, the ordinary people of South Africa with big hearts at their core.

 

pollard-penalty-594x375

And sport, especially Rugby, has helped us cross those bridges to national pride and unity, that is so essential in becoming a champion people.

It  is for that reason I am all for nationalism and not globalisation, which could rob us of our origins, our identities and most sadly –  our passions, leaving us eventually only with being a number – e.g. Citizen 666 !

Springbok logo

Thank you Bokke for winning, doing us proud, and leading the way for a champion people to emerge.

Butterfly SA

Murals of San Juan del Sur~ —

 

Please take a moment  to visit Cindy Knoke’s blog site  :

https://cindyknoke.com

and the lovely photography of the beautiful and very vivid murals by artist Jose Mariano Quintero – that serve as handcrafted reminders to us to be more mindful of our environment, especially so our oceans, which we use as dumping grounds for our waste  –  and this to our own peril  !!

May it urge us to take little steps in intelligent consumerism, and to avoid the use of plastic, that ends up detrimental to our Sea Life here on earth.

 

The sleepy beach town of San Juan del Sur Nicaragua has some awesome outdoor murals. The murals are thirty meters in length, And depict sea creatures native to Nicaragua. The artist who painted them is Jose Mariano Quintero. He also contributed murals to Nicaragua’s National Assembly. The artist’s purpose in painting these murals was to […]

via Murals of San Juan del Sur~ —

 

 

Samosas by the Sea

 

horizen at umhlanga

 

Good mental health, is having samosas by the sea !
I write that with tongue in cheek, but with deep respect for the subject,  and for those who suffer from mental illness.    Its a subject that I am not unfamiliar with and have witnessed its devastation in family.
But I did have a taste of good mental health personally when I went to see the sea.

There is a small space,  created in the suburbs that touch the beach-line, where cars can park and people can watch the sea without having to walk on the beach.     There is also access to the beach for walkers and their dogs, paddle skiers and wind surfers should they want to embrace the ocean more intimately.   So there is something for everyone.    I discovered this little tuck-away-place, and go there for a little ‘sea therapy’ now and again

That morning I received some startling news, that left me in a quandary of doubt and disappointment.   Fortunately I had to occupy my mind with errands and could put it all on hold, which is often a good thing when indecision cloud the day.

Two samosas

Now one of my favourite snacks is samosas.   It is an Indian fried cuisine, in the shape of a triangle with a filling of beef, chicken, lamb or something tasty.  I often treat myself to one or two, and so ease my conscience for not having chosen something sweet to eat, like pecan pie, or Portuguese custard tart  !
Today was the day for some comfort food, so I bought some samosas and headed for one of my favourite places,  –  and for a little ‘sea therapy’

kite-surfing-jeremy-hayden

I sat for a long time before I felt the therapy kick in.   The concrete bricks that were perched on my shoulders began to grow wings and lift !  They were necessary though for they seemed to stop the hole in my heart from exploding from the seams.    The hole has been there for a very long time.   It seems to expand and contract, but never really goes away.  One learns to live with it, but its like living in the shadow of unhappiness all the time.
Coming face to face with mental disorders is disconcerting to say the least !   There are many disorders.  I have looked at schizophrenia and squinted at narcissism – both of which are crushing to the soul.     Mental disorders will reveal the dysfunctions in   families.   If not confronted, it will bury the flaws, that in later years,  even generations, may cause further deterioration and havoc.     Facing the deep, takes courage !
The hole is not in my pumping heart, its in my happy heart – if you know what I mean ?   I am sure there are many of us who live with a hole in the heart.   We put on our smiley faces, but live in the shadow of sadness.

I enjoyed my samosas and aloe-vera cool drink, and sat a little longer when I heard the question : ” You are having samosas by the sea, now what do you see ?”

How often is it that we don’t see what we are looking at ?
So I looked with fresh eyes at what I was looking at,  in that moment.

Firstly I became aware of the still silence, except for the small thunderous crashes of the waves on the beach.    It was then that I began to have a sense of Peace.
I have noticed that Peace likes to come when there is stillness and silence.
Peace is  always a welcome friend.

I saw a little bird perched on a dying branch, looking for crumbs left by visitors.
I saw a lazy sea-gull, slowly flap-flapping his wings along the water’s edge.
I saw the sheer whiteness of the gurgling breaking waves, as the afternoon sun caught their brilliance.
I saw the distance of mists beginning to rise from the ocean, that meant heat and humidity was on its way.
I saw the horizon, I love horizons !    And that is when the concrete bricks began to lift off my shoulders.    Distance and promise, the call of something new !

There were many many cargo ships on the waters, waiting their time to enter the Durban harbour to offload their goods from far away places.  World Trade is alive and well after all,  despite the trade wars between America and China !

From the car next to me came a couple with an ice box, who made they way to the seaside.  She had on a flimsy beach robe over her shorts, and as she reached the dune, she lifted both her arms as if to take off with the wind – and the freedom she was obviously feeling.
Then further down two young fellows parked their car and off loaded the canoe and paddle skies that would take them into the blue, and into the deep.   Brave lads !

It had been a good visit to my favourite spot, and as I enjoyed my samosas by the sea, I came away refreshed by what I had seen.   I realised that life goes on, no matter what the news, and what the problems are that would beset us.
That there are those, who despite it all enjoy life and what it has to offer.  And that we need to take hold of the good things too that come our way.

It was not only a taste of my samosas by the sea, but a taste of life that refreshed me that day.   Life is good, look for the good – and be in the moment,  that to my mind, is good mental health.

Seagull

Philippians 4 : 7

and the peace of God,
which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds,
through Christ Jesus.

 

Food Glorious Food

 

The-Best-Chicken-soup-30

‘Food glorious food’ ….  goes the song from Oliver Twist, the musical film about an orphan boy who meets up with a scoundrel and ends up living  in a house for boys, and thieving for their master.   In one scene this young boy has the audacity to say  “Please sir, can I have some more ?”  –  the cry of hunger down the ages.
Based on a work by Charles Dickens, it is set in London, in times of dire poverty.   Its one of those musicals that seems to live on forever in the memory.

The song makes the point of how important food is to us.    If there is such a thing as an ultimate human experience, it is the taste of glorious food.   Apart from the fact that it gives us a feeling of well- being, nourishes our bodies, it fills our souls with satisfaction.    Food is essential for us to survive, on more than one level.

While most of us eat to live, there are some that live to eat.    Have you noticed the bombardment of foodie type TV programmes.    Everyone seems to have become a cook !
Someone once asked ‘where have all the cowboys gone?’  Men use to be about the business of plowing planting constructing and mining – earning a living by the sweat of their brow – now they all seem to be in the kitchen – cooking !
Of course food is big business – big business.   Perhaps because it tantalises our taste buds, stirs our appetites, that scream for instant satisfaction.   It is psychologically and sublimely used in advertisements to get us to buy buy buy!   And we do !

The burger seemingly has become the ‘king of foods’.   We watch some of the TV programmes, and I am amazed at the length they go to to make the best burger ever.
Smoking, slow cooking meat, spiced to the hilt, sauced up and piled up with pickles and garnishes.   Some are spectacular and no doubt delicious indeed.   But the extravagance of some borders on sheer gluttony.    The world seems to have gone crazy about extravagant food.   And I wonder if we haven’t lost something in our ‘elevated status’ of living.

maneating burger

None the less good food is a delight, and healthy food is a blessing.

vegetables-colorful

Although most seem to be on the ‘food glorious food bandwagon’  it ought to be coupled with a balance and a consideration for those who do not have enough food to eat.
More can and should be done by those who can, to give food to those who go without.  We shouldn’t be so self absorbed, as to blight out the world’s hunger problem.

World Food Day is celebrated every year around the world on 16 October in honour of the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations in 1945    At the 20th session of the FAO Conference, the idea was suggested of celebrating World Food Day worldwide.    It has since been observed every year in more than 150 countries, raising awareness of the issues behind poverty and hunger.
Ref : Wikipedia.org/wiki/world food day

On another site, I read
The focus of the day is that food is a basic human right.  Yet in a worldwide of billions, over 820 million people worldwide suffer chronic undernourishment,  60% women and almost five million children under the age of five die of malnutrition related courses every day.
It is also important to note that while millions go hungry 672 million people suffer from obesity and a further 1.3 billion are overweight.
Ref : greening the blue.org/event/world-food day.

Statistics are fine, and give a glimmer of the problem of world hunger, but stats distance themselves from the real reality of hunger.
The explosion of Urban populations, because of unemployment, poor governance, migrations and such like, have brought the problem of hunger closer to the cities, closer to us, more than stats could do.      Social and rural development need urgent attention.

When unemployment hits home, perhaps more will be done in this area.
Recently, here was talk of the Banks going on strike !   The Banks striking – unheard of before !  All because of the digital technology age, that is threatening massive unemployment.  The closing of some mines, means thousands of breadwinners will be out of work.  One man interviewed said he was responsible for 16 mouths to feed in his camp.
When there is no work, there is no pay, people go hungry, and so crime will increase.
It seems an overwhelming vicious circle, that needs intervention.

One such intervention could be Governments introducing, insisting and assisting  in implementing community and home food gardens.   Active citizen participation.

The growing of healthy food.

City Food gardens

 

School gardens

 

community garden
These reminders from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations are all good and well, and bring attention to global problems, that seem to be on the increase.   But we are part of this world, even at the local level, and should keep an eye open for those who are hungry and in need.

 

cup cakes at OB

Psalm 34:8 says   Taste and see that the Lord is good.

If there is one way to know the goodness of God it is through the food we put into our mouths.   Food glorious food, it touches our souls and our senses, taste smell and is a delight to our eyes, for we instinctively know something good is coming.
So when we occasionally indulge ourselves in food glorious food, remember too,  those who are hungry,  and do a kind deed in multiply ways to ease their plight.

The next time we sit down to a hearty healthy meal,  let’s remember those who are in poverty and often go to bed hungry.   It will remind us to acknowledge and be thankful to God for His goodness to us, and to say a  little prayer   …. “For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful”.

Anticipating Abraham

 

I like to peer into, and glean from the lives of men who are the heroes of our faith, who have gone before us, and walked with God.   It is helpful in walking our own road of faith.
Abraham was a great believer, and to me was most notable for his obedience.  Obedience was the great facet of his life, yet there is more, Abraham was fully persuaded and lived in constant anticipation, so ever hopeful of following, and finding his promises from God.

When you are on a journey to a faraway place,  the road just seems to go on and on forever.
I  grew up in the heartland of South Africa, which is farmland, and so flat that on a good day you can see tomorrow.    The national road, that took us on our annual summer vacation to go and see, smell and taste the saltiness of the ocean,  was a very flat, straight, long, lazy strip of tar in vast farmland fields.    It went on forever, or so it seemed to me at the time, for when you have great anticipation, the getting there is almost unending.
Or, do you remember when you were a child, the almost unbearable anticipation for the time to open the Christmas gifts under the tree?   You could just not wait !

Anticipation is a healthy frame of mind. It is a desire that may, or may not be delayed, but nevertheless creates expectation, and that leads to hope.
The opposite of anticipation is anxiety, which is rooted in fear, the opposite of faith.
Anxiety creates worry, that can can lead to depression.
Hope is required for a future,  and a future needs a vision.
Perhaps one of the reasons mental illness is so prevalent in our times is that we have it all and there’s nothing to look forward to, no anticipation.
Proverbs 29:18 says  –  where there is no vision, the people perish. 

If there was one thing that Abraham had its was a vision of the future.
He is one of the great heroes of our faith.    In fact Abraham is the father of our faith.   It began with Abraham, when he heard the call of God to go on a journey to a faraway place that he did not know, or even how to get there.    That would require a response, and faith.   And what is faith  – believing the invisible, that which you cannot see, as if it were a reality.

Faith verse

And though some of you may not be familiar with who Abraham is in the Christian faith, his is a fascinating story of another dimension, set in the ordinary of the every day life   -yet woven in is this thing called Faith.   

Here briefly is the story of Abraham.

He was living in a heathen civilization, where idols were worshipped.  God told him to leave this land and his family and to go to another land.   A place where he would inherit the promises of God – the Promised Land.  (There is a parallel story here, between the physical and the spiritual)
Abraham, obeyed the call, and began to move on the long journey.
Abraham had a vision from God, and was promised that he would be the father of many nations, even though he was old, and did not have an heir.    Sarah his wife laughed when she was told that she would bear a son in her old age.     Isaac, which means laughter, was born to Abraham and Sarah – a miracle child.

Abraham became a wealthy man, a man of renown.
Apart from Isaac,  Abraham had other sons too.  Ishmael was born of Hagar, but they were sent off into the desert.

Isaac, the beloved son, married Rebecca and she had two children, the twins  Jacob and Esau.
Jacob, was sent to seek a wife from Isaac’s people.   He was deceived into marrying Leah.  He had 10 children.    Then he married his first love, Rachel, the sister of Leah, and they had two children,  Joseph and Benjamin.

In all Jacob had 12 sons, from which the 12 tribes of Israel would originate.
So the foundations of the nations were laid.

The forging and fostering of a people of faith began to emerge.
When  famine struck, they all went to Egypt for survival, which would become their place of slavery for four hundred years.   There they became known as the Hebrews.
Moses was born to deliver these people from their slavery and their oppression.

And so the story of a rescued people, destined for a better life in a promised land continues.   Their story unfolds through altar stones of worship, tabernacles and temples and then the City of Jerusalem.     Their story and wisdom congeals and is chronicled in their rich history in the  Old Testament.

Abraham had a vision of a city, of which God Himself  ‘is the builder and maker.’    And to this Abraham was called – to journey into the unknown, a journey of faith, for it was not, as yet, a real city.   A city forged in faith, through the making of a people of faith.   This was God’s vision,  a  v e r y  long term vision indeed – and Abraham received and
perceived it and so set out to find it.

 

City of God

 

I had been wanting to look a little deeper into faith, so when Dr Mark Chironna did a series on Hebrews 11,  I began to connect some dots, that overflowed, for me,  into the bigger picture of our faith.
So I tried to piece together the “faith genealogy” and where Abraham fitted into the whole of God’s story, and came to this brief summary, which may indicate that Abraham knew the story from the beginning to the end – he was given the whole story, apart from the details.

Adam,……… to Seth to Enoch and the genealogy line to Noah, the Flood.
Abraham,  the called faith people of God
Moses, the Law of God’s people
Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Kingdom of God, –  the miraculous ushered into the physical realm.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ, – the New Creation.
The City of God, the New Jerusalem.

Abraham was an ordinary man.   He made mistakes along the way.   He’s faith had not yet been perfected.
We can make mistakes too, our faith is not yet perfected.  ‘ Faith is good, becomes great and then perfected ‘ – says Dr Chironna.

History tells us that when the beloved city Jerusalem is finally destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD they are scattered, and Judaism is established to keep alive the Jewish traditions.
Jesus Christ is born in Bethlehem, and His followers become known as Christians, and the Christian religion is born on the back of the Jewish belief – in an invisible God, Creator of heaven and earth, with a Messiah and a redemption story for mankind, that would pave the way to a New Creation.

Redemption from the Great Oppressor of slavery, an evil liar who kills steals and destroys wherever and whenever he can do so, and still doing so to this very day !
And thereby may hang another story.

I suspect that Abraham may well have understood the Heavenly vision for
John 8:56  tells us that ‘Abraham saw Jesus’s day and rejoiced in it.‘   He knew that God raised Jesus from the dead, and this gave him the faith to know that God could raise up Isaac, when he was told to kill his own son as a sacrifice.
Abraham had great faith in God.

Abraham and sacrifice

 

 He knew that God was a miracle working God.    He was not only able to obey God, but trusted God, for he may well have known the story of Jesus and His resurrection from the dead, in fact the Gospel story.

Today, it is still faiths’s pattern to look ahead to a better future,  with anticipation and with hope.   A better place.      A place called heaven, the Promised Land,  that has a city where there are no tears or pain.   For now, an invisible place, that requires eyes that see and ears that hear and a heart that understands.
It requires faith to make it a reality.

Faith is important.   It is an essential substance that should be applied to our everyday lives too, for without faith we cannot please God. 
Hebrews 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
God is faithful.

Let’s be the people that will go to make up that City….. a people of Faith, and practice it in our ordinary everyday lives,  always looking ahead  ‘calling those things which do not exist as though they did.’    There are still miracles that can be called in through faith, there are still people that need to know that God is a miracle working God, that all is not lost, that there is a better tomorrow, because with faith hope and love anything is possible.    Its God’s way.
As Dr Chironna says :  faith collapses the impossible into a possible reality.
(Love that !)

Its the miracle Gospel story, that will open us up to the same faith journey that Abraham undertook.
May we, like Abraham, perceive a good future and moved into it with anticipation, expectation and hope, standing on the promises in God’s Word – that is Faith !

 

God’s-Promises-Are-Yes-And-Amen-Bible-Quote

 

 

 

 

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