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

 

 

 

 

Reminiscing a Saint

 

Let me tell you of a saint I met in a township.
A good few years ago I was part of a project that went into the township of Tembisa, in the distant proximity of the international airport in Johannesburg.  I had tagged along so that I could promote my food garden project.   The meaning of the name Tembisa is promise and hope.

Tembisa shacks
We met at the Moya Catholic Church, where we prayed and planned to help the poor people of that community.  Everybody was poor and struggling to make ends meet, and Joseph Kudema was one of the volunteers, a layman of the Church, who carried the Poor on his heart.  He would meet and greet us and welcome us into the community.
We were a group of volunteers under the leadership of the Christian Welfare Council – an agency of the Dutch Reform Church in South Africa, that does marvelous work of restitution among the Poor to this very day.
At that time in our history, it was a time for reconciliation among Black and White communities, and the time had come for not only welfare, but for development too.
We met occasionally with the intention to encourage the people to help pull the wheel of ‘development’  through the poverty gorge that was huge, deep and unending.

Joseph knew poverty well.  He was wise, for he was a man of the Church, and knew the potential that Christians could bring to beat the problem – if only they were willing.
Joseph was a gentle man, a soft spoken man, and a wise man.   He treated us with love, and was more of an encouragement to us than we were to him. We were always enriched at the end of each visit.   And so, I found, it was, with the ‘poor’ Black communities – they were rich in love, and shared it generously with those who would care enough to come and visit them.    The townships were hot beds of tensions in those days, not considered a safe place for well intending Whites to meander in.

One day Joseph shared his African wisdom with me, which I have kept as a treasure.

“Real leadership is when you can get a mouse, a cat and a dog to drink from the same saucer.”    That is real reconciliation.
And
“When the bus begins to move, the dogs begin to bark.    When progress comes, there will always be opposition, restraint, even persecution of a kind.

Joseph was one of those people who were silently great.   He blended into the background of community, and quietly went about his daily convictions, of helping the poor in whatever way he could.    To my mind he was a saint, not of the Catholic Papal kind, but of  humankind.

He would refer us to Matthew 25, which I believe is ever relevant, and needs to be
shared in the obese and ‘gluttoness’ world of our Today.

maneating burger

Poverty, and world hunger is real.
Sometimes it is impossible to consider the poor from our cozy suburban comfort zones,  for we are indeed worlds apart, but that does not alter the fact that hunger and poverty is prevalent, and that we can all do something to alleviate it in some small way.
Let’s look around our communities and share where we can, when we can,  to make that small  difference in someone’s life.
begging cup

White Bread

 

In every generation it is good to revisit Matthew 25.   It brings with it the reason and importance of caring for the Poor, and urges the Church to create capacity for its voluntary members to be  ‘doing their faith’  in practical expression.   Apart from it being a little scary to me, –  as it also hinges on the Judgment day !!

 

I-Care_Illustration


As then, and now, I still believe that the wisdom in Matthew 25 could form the Biblical basis of a welfare and development model for the poverty question.  Any Church, through its members can bring a major contribution to poverty and welfare development in an holistic manner – and through today’s networking power it could be of exponential value. – if only they were willing !

Matthew 25 : 34,35,36
Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35. For I was hungry and you gave Me food;   I was thirsty and you gave Me drink;   I was a stranger and you took Me in;  36. I was naked and you clothed Me;  I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

Joseph Kudema,  would be remembered well, if we only heard his heart more astutely at that time, and earnestly followed his example of considering and helping the Poor within his reach, and thereby letting his light shine, and honouring God.

lit candle
I would like to believe that by reading this post, his light still shines on the darkness of poverty and will stir the hearts of caring people.  Rest in peace Joseph Kudema,  ‘Saint of Tembisa’ –  Saint of Promise and Hope.

 

 

Sap Rising

 

Big tree

 

Here in our part of the woods, the Southern hemisphere,  Spring is coming.
The sap is rising is an often heard description of early spring.   If you cut into the stem or branch of certain trees  on a cool spring day, you may see sap dripping from the cut end.

Did you know ?

In early winter, deciduous trees enter a dormant phase.   They drop their leaves, move sugar to their roots and wait for warmer temperatures to return.   During this time, as long as the temperatures are above freezing  (water is still liquid), water will continue to flow into the roots.
Trees will absorb water until the water pressure in trees is equal to the surrounding soils.
When air temperatures rise, the tree is primed and ready to go.   It’s flush with water and starts moving sugars from its roots to the twigs, supplying the energy needed to grow new shoots and leaves.  Ref : Woodlandtrust.org.uk

Isn’t Nature wonderful ?   There are so many wonderful lessons we can learn by observing nature.   The soil, the seed, the plant, and the seasons – the essences and cycles of life.    And these cycles of life have one purpose in mind – to restore, replenish, rejuvenate and  resurrect.
All done in the silence and mystery of the nature of things.
Sometimes when a tree is cut right down, and the stump gets a scent of water, it will send out shoots in anticipation of new life, of resurrection.

Job 14:7-9.  says it beautifully

8.    For there is hope for a tree,  if it is cut down, that it will sprout again,   And its tender shoots will not cease
8. Though its root may grow old in the earth, And its stump may die in the ground.
9.  Yet at the scent of water it will bud,  And bring forth branches like a plant.

Resilient humans are like that too.    When brought low, they may be dormant for a while then at a hint of hope, will rise up, like the sap in a tree at the coming of a new spring.

To continue in the metaphor of the tree, there is also a pruning season. Why a pruning season ?   Well in nature, the reasons for  pruning trees are  –  beautifies them,  helps the tree to grow, encourages fruit production, removes hazardous branches, treats diseases and improves vistas !   Most humans need pruning too, that is spiritual pruning, probably for the same reasons trees do, only we may feel the pain of it more intently.

images (3)
In trees is the breath of life.  They take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, a commodity we cannot live without.   They fulfill such an important part of our existence here on earth.   They provide the nutrition of good food to keep us healthy,  wood to keep us warm, and paper to write our hearts on.  On a hot summer’s day they give shade to man and beast.     And they are a beauty to behold.

jacaranda trees

I love the parallel between people and trees.
In Scripture there are many descriptions of people like trees :

Psalm 104:16   The trees of the LORD are full of sap,  The cedars of Lebanon which He planted,

Psalm 92:12  The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree.  He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.   13.  Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.   14.  They shall still bear fruit in old age,  They shall be fresh and flourishing. 

Isaiah 55:12    ….   And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 

Job 8:16   He grows green in the sun, and his branches spread out in his garden.  

I think God likens people to trees.  I like to think that in His fields of Faith, throughout the ages and generations He has planted many seeds.  Some seeds (souls) lie dormant for a long time, some come to fruition in their time.
In the fullness of time, the seeds begin to grow, and if watered and nurtured by His Word, they fulfill their destiny and His purposes.
Of course there are dangers around every turn to prevent the souls from coming into their full potential.   Danger lurks everywhere once the stem pushes through the soil.
But once the seed becomes a fully grown tree it provides beauty, shelter, shade and food for others to enjoy.    In its season, the sap will rise, to bear more leaves and branches, to give more fruit and more shade.
A season for pruning may come, to cut away distorted growth, diseases and the necessary surge for new growth to take place.  All to the advantage of the beautiful tree.

God watches over His fields of Faith, the planting of the Lord.   He knows and sees the trees of the field, and knows their needs, their desires and their seasons.  He lovingly waters them and nourishes them with His care and by His Word.

So in this new Spring season I tell myself,  ‘don’t be a dying stump, reach for the promises of God, allow the sap to rise, and grow new praise branches.’

 

green-graphene-gum-trees-1

Life Happens

 

Crowds
Life happens !
We are all different and respond or react differently in different situations.
Living life gives us the opportunity to experience different situations,  some that we would never choose for ourselves.   And through these life situations we get to know ourselves a little better – and perhaps that is the crux of the matter of life, to get to know ourselves a little better, through the hard times and the good times.

Sprouting a little wisdom here then ?

Well, taking a small overview of the past twelve months, and in particular the last five months, has given me a glimpse into the way I respond to life situations, and so getting to know myself a little better.
Having been diagnosed with breast cancer and walking on the stepping stones of a new pathway I am a little surprised how the walk through the valley of the shadow of death has brought a subtle change in me.
A cancer diagnosis becomes a death sentence, well in my mind it was so.
First the symptom then the mammogram, then the visit to the surgeon, then the results of his biopsy, then its over.  Well so I thought, but discovered that it was not over, and that I did not die, but lived !

My demise was a mental address, real and sad to me that there was nothing beyond the final visit to the surgeon.   I was in a dead-end street.
I tried to tidy up my cupboards, throw out any excess so the family didn’t have much bother when I was gone.  Get my accounts in order.  Just generally tidying up my life, with no loose ends to tie up.   I made no commitments  so that I would have no obligations.  I had no desire to be creative or work on any project.   I only did what I had to do.   I kind of gave up on my life, after all there was no future.

I put on a strong face for the family, and was very positive in the beginning. I wanted them to ease into the reality of the death sentence, as I knew it is a personal blow to come to terms with losing a loved one.   They were all so very supportive, each in their own way, and the love they carried in their hearts were revealed to me in each one’s unique response to the situation.  They each grew in stature and grace at Life’s happenings.

The hormone therapy that the oncologist had put me on was easy, apart from the tiredness that went along with it.   The tumour had regressed and I was on my way to healing.   I became optimistic that things were working out  after all.   Somewhere along the way I lost the death sentence as I began to realise that there was much wisdom in ‘taking one day at a time’ and ‘to keep hope alive.’

Then the tumour started to grow again.   The oncologist suggested radiation therapy, and I was in a dilemma – to do, or not to do, was the decision I struggled with, until I finally made an appointment with the unknown – radiation treatment !

Radiation sign

The treatment itself was not to daunting.   “Its like having a chest ex-ray,” my oncologist said.   It is however the after effects that had to be walked through, with plenty of rest, as the treatment left me drained, physically emotionally and spiritually.  And rest I did, for the best part of six weeks.   My poor immune system had been rocked by radiation to destroy the enemy within, it deserved to rest and to be nurtured, –  so to my soul.

It was during this time that I realised I had to keep my mind busy.   I was not to let this situation, this ‘ life’s happenings’,  this malady with its tiredness dominate my thinking.  I had to bring in other thoughts, and good thoughts.  I had to focus my mind on something better, a bigger story than my own.
So I took to the Scriptures, and focused particularly on a project-read, and then bring it to a conclusion by writing a summary of it on my blog.    I chose to look at the great men in the Bible.   I wrote Minding Moses and Dancing with David, and am currently working on other Faith heroes.

The  radiation treatment is still doing its work, and the tumour is regressing.  Hallelujah ! And my oncologist is delighted with my physical progress.

crossing the bridge
Having said all that I must add, that emotionally it is quite a ride too, a lonely ride.  I regard myself as a fairly stable person, and was outwardly, and for the most part inwardly, calm through each step of the way.  Although open,  I’m a private person and like to handle my own “emotional stuff” my own way.  There were days when I felt very alone and very sad for myself.   And indeed I was alone, except when I drew my strength from the Scriptures.

Cancer has an ugly face, its not a nice companion, and I did not embrace it for one minute, but I had to surrender to God’s sovereignty in the situation.  Once I did that I was at peace with Him and with myself.

I am not only on hormone therapy, but on faith therapy too.     Its a therapy that has no bad side effects, and will in time manifest only the goodness of God.   Faith is spiritual, a heavenly thing,  and is another ball game, which I am slowly learning by His grace, and with expectation.

I am still on my pathway to healing, and calling on God to show me the way.
Perhaps there is new ground to break, I hope so.   I hope to see Him working in new ways in my life – help me to attain higher ground in faith and healing, and His way of doing things.

I keep in mind, that His grace is sufficient for a new day, for there is always faith, hope and love in, Life’s happenings !

The sun comes up

Transformation

 

I have been sparring with words like transformation, attainment, and ascension, ever since the Easter message of death and resurrection.  It was probably sparked by my favourite preacher Dr Mark Chironna’s often spoken phrase   ‘rising out of dead things’
The concept is shadowing me, and I constantly want to grope at it, but just can’t get a grip on it.   So I thought to let it mull and mature through the observations that come my way.

First, it was hearing the bigger picture of the Gospel pattern, which may well reflect our own spiritual progress of death burial and resurrection  (rising out of dead things)
Then the pattern increased in scope with the Ascension and Pentecost.   But still, there was no clear understanding on my part.   Still groping !

Butterfly 1      

Butterfly 2

Second, it was the completion of a two-part watercolour pencil painting of butterflies, that I did as a gift for my friend Jenny’s newly moved-in home.
Butterflies, now there is a story of true transformation.    First the egg, then the caterpillar  then morphs the beautiful butterfly – not without a struggle though !   Isn’t Nature a wonderful teacher ?
But the butterfly had to go through the process of transformation.

worm to butterfly
Perhaps these serious thoughts of seeking clarity are because I have been in a safe and secure cocoon state for some years now.   I have been a little frustrated with my ‘futility’ and my ‘redundancy’, yet the solitary has brought with it contentment and a little creativity – big pluses !   Now looming is the unknown and a suspect of oncoming change.

I turn my attention to attainment.   But I cannot get to attainment.    Besides attainment smacks of self effort, at which I am not an ace!   So I wrestle on with words and thoughts, and procrastination.
I do believe though that we must endeavour to – attain.   We must be looking to always learn, grow, expand and develop our personalities, character and lives.  Else we stagnate, become dull and boring, or even worse – stay as we are.
But I am smartly reminded, and comforted from Scripture :
You have hedged me behind and before, And laid your hand upon me.   Such knowledge is too wonderful for me.  It is high I cannot attain it.  – Psalm 139:5,6

Thirdly, I know that growing and developing is a process.  It does not happen in a day or even a year, – perhaps in a moment in time,  perhaps with just one word that brings another perspective, – but usually the processes have to sink in to bring about slow change.
Here before my eyes,  I see on the current TV news, a glimpse into our country’s political arena,  a very good example of slow change.
South Africa is in the grip of election fever, with 770,000 registered voters ready to make their mark on 8 May 2019.    The clamour of the political parties are vibrant, and their constituents all clad in colourful battle attire of T-shirts and caps.  The African National  Congress in yellow,  the Economic Freedom Fighters in red
Butterfly SAand a wave of blue from the  Democratic Alliance – all a
spectacular colour parade in stadiums for their last 
final push for political victory in democracy and
transformation – from ‘dead things’ – (if we can
only get passed the demons of greed and corruption !)

This colourful parade of politics brought to mind the writings of Dr Don Beck’s book The Crucible.   I think he was hugely instrumental in the ‘behind-the- scenes’ of the forming of a new South Africa, in 1994.    His research brought great understanding, for me,  of the developmental stages of people, organisations and even of nations, with his colour chart of psychological development, which is as follows  – and I over-simplify my interpretation thereof :
Beige  – survival minded
Purple – mystic, spiritual minded
Red  – expression  (militant anger and/or creativity)
Blue – conformity,  order  (disciplined and responsible)
Orange – competitive (sport, business, achievement)
Green –  community minded.
Yellow  –  networking, coalition minded.
Turquoise – Global minded.
Colour ?  –  suspected future development to come, is left blank.

And so with these colour dynamics one may identify, the state of mind of a person or organisation or group of people.   This is helpful to bring about or at least understand transformation, and bring solutions to problem people or groups of people.
It is not a chart of the hierarchy of successful development, merely an indication of where we are on the chart –  or in the rainbow, so to speak !
All these can be at the extreme ends or in-between on the colour spectrum.

Again, I ask, but what brings the actual transformation and development.   Well, the short answer is God’s grace, and His goodness, of course.   But I think its the seeing where we are at, and if we are willing to make a change that will in fact bring change.   Because change is inevitable.

So  presently, what is your favourite colour  ?
In my time, I have been a purple person, a blue and a green,  currently I think I am red – trying to express myself with to many words and drawings !!

Finally, Ascension, it is a high concept, that is still to high for me to attain.
I know in the Christian faith one is growing from the carnal to the spiritual.   The Spirit-filled life is higher than the physical life.
But how do you attain it, I ask ?   Again the short answer is only by God’s grace and His goodness.
But His ways are not our ways, and so the pattern of the Gospel may be helpful, as we see Jesus willingly going to the Cross, before He could come to the place of Ascension.

Like the metamorphosis of the butterfly, it does not come about without struggle, a struggle for survival, whether it be physical or spiritual.
In any one life there is always something higher to attain to.    Transformation is needed to grow into what we are meant to become.  We can reach for it, but it is God who will bring us through, by His Spirit, His resurrection power of new life, …. and in His time.

Butterflies.jpg

The Servant King

 

cross-crown-thorns

 

Reflecting on the Easter story, Graham Kenrick’s song The Servant King came to mind.
Jesus is the Servant King.   He came to show the way, to serve, and not to be served, and yet He is the One  ‘who flung the stars into space’.

The words of this song bring a magnified perspective of Jesus. I hope your will ‘see’ it too as you read these beautiful words of worship this Easter season.

The Servant King

From heaven You came a helpless babe
Entered our world, Your glory veiled
Not to be served, but to serve
And give Your life that we might live.

(Chorus)
This is our God, the Servant King
He calls us now to follow Him
To bring our lives as a daily offering
Of worship to the Servant King.


There in the garden of tears,

My heavy load He chose to bear,
His heart with sorrow was torn,
Yet not My will but Yours He said

Come see His hands and His feet
The scars that speak of sacrifice
Hands that flung stars into space
to cruel nails surrendered

So let us learn how to serve
And in our lives enthrone Him
Each others needs to prefer
For it is Christ we’re serving.

The Easter story is a story of God’s love, almost unfathomable.  It is for all mankind and for all generations.
It brings us in touch with suffering and sorrow, and softens hard hearts.
It breaks the chains of guilt and shame and offers healing, wholeness and the abundant life.
Isaiah 53:5  releases the understanding and meaning of the Cross of Christ, and by faith, it is ours.

But because of our sins he was wounded,
beaten because of the evil we did
We are healed by the punishment he suffered
            made  whole by the blows he received.

      Red rose

 

 

Bookends and Benefits

black-dog-bookend

It is always refreshing to read the good thoughts of other writers.
It brings another ‘voice’ , and other insights that can be pondered.

Alan’s writing sparked off in me a line of thought that is interesting.
If I were to sum up the bookends of my life it would be difficult, and I would need to ask that of others who know me, and don’t judge me to harshly.  One end could be contentment and the other, I hope, could be joy – well most days !
That is just a five-minute self-analysis, and I could be wrong – depends who you ask !
What are the bookends of your life – it’s a lovely line of thought and can be quite revealing. 

images.jpg open Bible

 But our lives are like books, and so could it be possible to sum up a book in two words ?  Its fun to try.

The writing further goes on to advocate Joy, and skilfully undergirds the benefits of being a believer and a follower of Jesus Christ.  These benefits, which are all  in Christ  are the bedrock of a beautiful book that can be invisibly read by those who would choose to ‘read’ a believers’ life.   Jesus truly makes all the difference in our lives.  By choosing Him as our God we have access to all these benefits and much, much more.

I hope that you too will be encouraged by Alan’s writing.
I have permission and am privileged to share with you the thoughts of Alan Webster’s Quiet Time 6-3-19 as he writes on :

Philippians 3:1   Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.

Surrounded by Joy

If love is the message of the Gospel, then the bookends are joy.
Having joy is a strength that can keep someone going despite the adversity they face.
It might not exhibit as happiness, for that is a fleeting emotion, but joy undergirds a heart during the hardest trials.   Joy in the midst of suffering exhibits as quiet peacefulness, a contentment of knowing that the present is not the end of the story.   It is trusting through the suffering, hoping beyond the pain, claiming the future glory in the present darkness.

How is joy possible ?  It is as Paul calls it – it is joy in the Lord.   If our joy were in anything else, it would finally disappoint.   But we have joy in a conquering Saviour, who even though He died, vanquished every foe and confounded every attempt to annihilate goodness.    We have a caring Intercessor who constantly consoles our circumstances and prays for us.   If nobody else knows, and nobody notices what we are enduring He has intimate knowledge and we are able to pour our emotions  at His feet. It is there that He speaks to us and fills us up with hope.   It is there that we are empowered to take another step, go another season.

We have a constant Companion who never leaves us.   The Good Shepherd never abandons us even in our dreariest days.   Even when we have failed miserably and everyone else departs, He continues to be faithful.   We can lean on Him and He will hold us up.   When we can’t He will carry us.    We have a Covenant-keeping Messiah who holds Himself to the conditions of promise.   He lavishes grace on us and ensure that we will make it to the end.  He seeks out the lost sheep, rescues the wanderers and stands beside the oppressed.
We are never alone.

With all the benefits we have, even on our worst days, we are comforted.   In the Lord, we can take hold of the rich promises which are all yes and amen in Him.   He pours His life into us and swells the living water from deep within our souls.   We can taste and see that the Lord is good. 

If our walk as believers are to be marked in any way, let it be Joy. 

          Laughing Lamb  

 

 

 

Billy Graham, Messenger of Good News

 

images.jpg open Bible

Billy Graham, Evangelist, passed away in February 2018.  He was 99 years old.

In a newsletter from Mission Aviation Fellowship the following was quoted to honour him for his life and work.

MAF had the privilege of flying him in 1960 for his African Safari for Souls in East Africa where thousands came to know Jesus.

“All over the world I have been privileged to see people respond in faith to the simple yet profound message of God’s love in Jesus Christ.   They have come from every conceivable social, racial, political and ideological background, for Christ transcends the boundaries that divide us.   And in Christ, they have found the answer to their deepest spiritual longings …..   Christ brings hope in the midst of despair, joy in the midst of sorrow, forgiveness in the midst of guilt and peace in the midst of turmoil “
(Billy Graham,  The Courage of Conviction, Ballantine Publishers 1986)

“Christ belongs to all people.   He belongs to the whole world !”
(Billy Graham, Johannesburg Crusade, 1973)

These are profound words that leave one a little silent, and a little saddened, by the passing of Billy Graham, who was a messenger of  the good news of Jesus Christ, and gave his life for the great commission.

Mark 16:15  …….  “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”

Red rose