Soft Things

 

I am one of the many recipients who receive an email from Alan Webster, who writes his thoughts in a daily output called Quiet Times.   Often there is food for thought and encouragement for those who need it.

At times I can be a  ‘word-and- phrase catcher’ and so it was with the last QT that came my way,  the phrase – ‘soft  things.’
For some reason it conjured up in me a feeling of gentleness, and I got to thinking about what the ‘soft things’ were that spoke to me personally.
But before I expand on this I want to share with you the Scripture and the particular paragraph that stood out.

The title of his writing is Spring into Life,  – with a nod to the coming season of Spring,
–  and as Hosea writes to those who have fallen away, to return to the road less travelled.

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Hosea 14:5-7
5.    I will be like the dew to Israel,
He shall grow like the lily,
And lengthen his roots like Lebanon,
6.   His branches shall spread,
His beauty shall be like an olive tree,
And his fragrance like Lebanon.
7.  Those that dwell under his shadow shall return;
They shall be revived like grain,
And grow like a vine
Their scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

“What a wonderful picture of awakening is given in these verses by Hosea
Note the gentleness of the Lord who offers  soft things like dew and shade,   

            morning-dew

almost imperceptible touches of grace to allow room for healing and restoration.
Nothing is forced, nothing pushy, nothing fabricated.
Providing the right conditions of water, sun and shade,
the plants that have withered and perished can come back to life.
        ……….   And even while the hot dry winds of August blow, 
blossoms are appearing.
Father, I praise You for the life that comes after a dormant season.  Amen “

In essence it is to me a description of the way the Lord works.
He offers soft things like dew and shade…
Nothing is forced, nothing pushy, nothing fabricated….
…. The plants that have withered and perished can come back to life.

Such a gentle God, a characteristic we do not often ascribe to Him, yet He is gentleness itself.    Gentleness, when delivered, brings with it such grace, relief and freedom to the person to be themselves and feel acknowledged, accepted and loved.

So what soft things talk to me ?   My ‘beeg’ blue soft cushion on which I prop up when I read, or when I feel to rest my sleepy head.   The nearness of my cosy cat.

Ice cream in cone

Soft serve ice-cream !
And for soft cool breezes on a humid and hot summer day.
But most of all the soft kind words of people by, through and to people,  –  are a few that come to mind.

What are the  ‘soft things’  that imperceptibly move you ?
Give it some thought, write them down, even create a poem ? –  and perhaps discover the gentleness in you.

 

 

FREEDOM DAY

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SOUTH AFRICA!

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Today is Freedom Day in South Africa.  It is a public holiday to remind us that twenty one years ago the cloak of Oppression was lifted when all South Africans freely went to the political polls to vote for a new government to rule the country and its peoples. Twenty one years is a short period of time when one thinks in terms of nations.  Liken that to a person, and one can understand that the new South Africa has a long way to go in becoming a full mature, functional and prosperous nation.  At twenty one who isn’t still wet behind the ears, coming through the troubling teenage years with all its rebelliousness, rejections, broken promises and looking to find true identity and purpose. It is not easy, even for the best of us !  The distressing recent xenophobia displays, and rapid peace interventions are perhaps a sign on a maturing process taking place….a getting to know thyself of sorts.  Happy birthday South Africa, may the next 21 years find you firmly engaged in building and planting prosperity and peace on the African continent.

And don’t forget to plant your Care Gardens for the Care Africa Movement project.
Plant some seeds in your yard, for food, and Plant a garden in your heart by reading the Bible every day to feed your soul. Send me a photo with your name or project’s name and help me build a photo blog with your Care Garden on it.

Freedom is not cheap, and Oppression comes in huge forms. Vividly seen from the TV news are evident results of oppressive leaders and governments who are hell bent on holding onto power, position and wealth, in spite of great cost to their own people.  War, mass protest marches, mass migration from nation to nation seems to be a sign that Oppression rules almost everywhere in our Global Village.

But Oppression also comes in subtle forms, often nestles in the soul, and in the family where it is not so easy to detect, yet the outward reaction tells the tale.  And when you think about it, is the soul not the place where the darkness can grow until it reaches  monsterous proportions.?  Eventually it vents itself into further Oppression causing  the cycle of death, demise destruction – creating dark and dingy prisons of sadness, shame, sorrow and mourning –  resulting in the captive soul – and a loss of liberty.  Oppression causes this to happen on the soul, family, national and global level, as history has shown us.   And peace is far off !

The Bible speaks of setting the captives free.  Luke 4 and Isaiah 61 are Bible pieces that depict the human condition.  It brings with it hope to those who are oppressed, depressed and suppressed.  Those who  battle depressions, afflictions and addictions – seekers for peace, but also for those who are the peace-bringers .

       … To preach good tidings to the poor,
            He has sent Me to heal the broken hearted,
            To proclaim liberty  to the captives,
            And recovery of sight to the blind,
           To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
           To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.

This is a song for freedom, true freedom, that transcends any tyrant or political system or person, or addiction that can hold us captive.  Its the song of salvation that Jesus Christ sings over us… for He came to set the captives free.  The real day of freedom is the day of salvation, the day of second chances and new beginnings, a freedom that is well worth celebrating.            

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The Bronze Serpent and the Cosmic Cross

The Bronze Serpent and the Cosmic Cross.

We do ourselves a great disservice if we think that the Easter season is only about time off, chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs.   There is a far deeper meaning to this season of the year.  It signifies the cataclysmic cosmic event that evil has been conquered by good.

The Bible, is a wonderful book of stories. How else can we learn if we do not have story telling time ? These stories will only be grasped if faith is applied – the willingness to believe – this is the key to understanding the mysteries of God.
The Bronze Serpent,  is a story within a story of God’s people and is found in Numbers 21.  In short, the story goes that the Israelites who were coming out of bondage to the Egyptians and were about to enter the land of Edom. They were wary of soul, very discouraged, murmuring and complaining and spoke against God and against Moses.
So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people and many of the people of Israel died.  Sorrowfully they came to Moses to ask for prayer.  So Moses prayed for the people.  Then the Lord said to Moses “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole, and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” 

Alan Webster in his QT 27-3-15 writings highlights the story and brings it a little closer to home:  ‘ God had told Moses to fashion a snake out of bronze to raise up on a pole.  How long did that take?  Imagine the cries of the suffering, the anguish of the families as they tried to avoid the poisonous serpents and dealt with family members as they helplessly watched them die.   But why had this plague of snakes come into the camp?  It is into a camp of complaint where poisonous accusations against God are created, that poisonous snakes come.  If we expect God to rejoice with singing over us, our faith-filled hearts should overflow with praise.  But even in their distress, when they finally turn to God, He shows mercy and grace to the undeserving.   The snake pole brings healing for those who are willing to believe.  There were many who when bitten, didn’t look, but died in their unbelief.’

The serpent is entangled in the story found in Genesis 3…Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast in the field which the Lord God had made.… the beginning of mankind’s problems – evil let loose, sin embedded and the curse applied.  When you stop and take a look at humanity today how devastating the curse shows up in strife, power struggles, in wars, the killings, beheadings, human trafficking, child soldiers, abandoned babies, diseases, rampant viruses, huge deceptions, illusions, lies, and corruption rife in every day and in every nation, the evidence is at hand – evil rules … for now !

cosmic cross                                                        Freedom

But there is hope … And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. So the cross of Jesus Christ has a parallel to the bronze serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness.  It is the antidote for the serpent’s bite.

When we consider the Cosmic Cross it points us to the depth of God’s love for us, and the length He will go to win back that which is lost.  It is a story to be both in awe of, and to weep over.  It is about the Son of God – Jesus Christ, who hung on the cross for us.  And who is this Jesus ?  There will be many different answers to this question. One of the most compelling revelations of Jesus Christ is found in
Colossians 1:15-17
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.   For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.  All things were created through Him and for Him.  And He is before all things and in Him all things consist.

It does not get higher than that, except to say that He is God incarnate in this world we call earth, which forms part of the cosmos – that is the visible and invisible, thrones, dominions, principalities and powers, not only in our time, but down the corridors of every generation – quite a spectrum of power!
Further more, He came to conquer the serpent, sin, the curse applied to all humanity  –
For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8.  He came to make atonement for mankind, for those who will receive Him as their Saviour and their God, not only today but down the labyrinth of every generation too – quite a spectrum of mercy !
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the Cosmic Cross, is the cosmic event that changed the course of humanity, and its effects are still very relevant in our today world.  It changes our destinies and ushers us into the New Creation… and herein lies another story! Have a close look at the inserted picture (with acknowledgement to the late Annie Vallotton, the Illustrator of the Good News Bible.)

Easter time is not about chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs, and is not to be taken lightly.  It is a time of death and resurrection, the centre piece of “His Story” in His Book, that includes the story of  my life … and your life too, if you were to invite Him into your heart this Easter season.