Just Start!

Quite a few weeds have spring up after the rain. I don’t have much time so every time I go into the garden I pull up a few. When I saw how many were still left I wondered if it was worth the effort, but it struck me that the weeds I had just pulled up wouldn’t grow again. At least they were gone. It’s like the little boy on the beach throwing stranded starfish back into the sea. When someone told him he would never be able to rescue them all, he said that at least the one’s he threw back would be fine.

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Life is like that. We can’t help everyone. We can’t rescue everyone, but we can still make a difference, even if it’s a very small difference. Giving one homeless person a meal does make a difference. Telling one person that Jesus loves them does make a difference. Mentioning to the cashier at the supermarket that she has a lovely smile does make a difference. Just smiling at a stranger does make a difference. Praying for someone that God puts on your heart does make a difference.

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There may be a lot of things in your own life that you would like to change and maybe it’s so overwhelming that you don’t even know where to start. Just start – anywhere. Every little change makes a difference. If you have a bad habit that you know is a problem start working on it today. It’s never too late to start and before you know it you’re going to be working on the next thing.

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Start by changing the way you think. Take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). Don’t allow your mind to become a breeding ground for toxic thoughts that can poison your whole system. Philippians 4:8 tells us what we should be thinking about. Everything that is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, has virtue and is praiseworthy. Now if we fill our minds with those things we surely can’t sit around feeling sorry for ourselves. Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Matthew 6:33 – 34, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. If we take Jesus at His word we won’t need to worry about our circumstances.

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Worrying isn’t going to add one day to your life. In fact, there are so many diseases that are caused by stress that it is going to take days away from your life. Start by reading the Bible and believing what it says. Start looking for the promises God is giving you and own them. Start today. Tomorrow may be too late.

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We think

Instead of taking God at His Word, we think. We think that there are things God says that we can and should do, that we really can’t do.

God says, “Go out and preach the Gospel.” We think that’s not for us, it’s only for certain, chosen people.

God says, Lay hands on the sick and they shall be healed.” We think that was for the Bible times, we have doctors and medication.

God says, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.” We think we’re too busy and God doesn’t hear us anyway.

God says a lot of things in His Word that he expects us to take heed of, but that we are afraid of. We think that we will be ridiculed and embarrassed and we will make fools of ourselves. We don’t want to offend people. We have a long list of “What if’s”.

What if God physically turns up one day while we are chilling in our living room watching a soapie? What will we think then?

God says He will never leave us or forsake us and He also says He will never let us be ashamed. So, today try doing just one thing that God says and see what happens.

Your mercies are new

Renovations at our shop have been going on now for almost 2 months. It feels like two months going on for two years. The pressure of working in less space has been getting to me. My desk has been shoved behind a Coca-Cola fridge in the back corner of the shop. The seating has been moved out to accommodate the equipment that has come from the part that’s being worked on. The whole shop is going to receive a facelift and a lot of much needed TLC. It’s going to be really awesome when it’s done, but right now everything is a mess. At the end of last week I thought I couldn’t take another week of building!

Lamentations 3:17 says, “You have moved my soul far from peace; I have forgotten prosperity.” We feel like that sometimes. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of believing things are never going to change.
Then I realized that I was living under the circumstances and not above them. Psalm 121 says, ‘I lift my eyes to the hills…” Obviously help doesn’t come from the hills, it comes from God. But if we don’t lift our eyes off of the circumstances we aren’t going anywhere. We will never see the forest if we keep staring at the trees. We need to step back and realize that everything is temporary and leads to the next thing. We don’t need to know what the next thing is, only that there is a next thing. Lamentations 3:22 – 23: “Through the Lord ’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him.”
His mercies are new every morning. We just need to remember that. Every new day brings new challenges but it also brings new mercy, new grace, new opportunities.
I undertake not to live under my circumstances but to look above them, to lift my eyes and see what the Lord has for me. To see the mercies that every new morning brings.

Forgive them Father

We wove the crown of thorns
That our precious Savior wore
FORGIVE THEM FATHER
THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO!

We weilded the whip
That tore into His flesh
FORGIVE THEM FATHER
THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO!

We drove the nails
That held Him to the cross
FORGIVE THEM FATHER
THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO!

We lifted the spear
That pierced his side.
FORGIVE THEM FATHER
THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO!

They are Your precious sons and daughters
Who will take up Your sword
And fight the enemy

They are Your precious sons and daughters
Who will go into the world
And open the eyes of the blind

They are Your precious sons and daughters
Who will overcome evil
And receive the victor’s crown

They are Your precious sons and daughters
And it is for them
That all this pain I bear.

FORGIVE THEM FATHER
THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO!

Greater is He

Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
II Peter 3:11 NKJV
This is one of the most confrontational verses in the Bible. Is my conduct fitting a believer and a child of God? Do I look like a follower of Christ? Do I have what it takes? The answer is no. Not on my own or in my own strength. But because I have the Spirit of God living inside of me, I am worthy and I am able to stand in the face of adversity. God is for me and if God is for me who can be against me? The devil of course, but because the Spirit that lives in me is greater than the spirit that lives in the world I am able to resist and overcome the plans that the enemy is making.

God says “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord , And whose hope is the Lord . For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.
Jeremiah 17:7‭-‬8 NKJV
I choose to live in the knowledge and with the conviction in my heart that God loves me so much and so deeply that He will always stand by me and never leave me or dismiss me.
Have a beautiful day.

Dry bones will live

I was so inspired by the message I received at the cell group last night.

Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord !
Ezekiel 37:4

If we pray life into situations and people those situations and people will be changed by the words we offer in faith. God hears our prayers. I believe that we should pray in faith and believe the promises God has made to us. Never doubting and never looking back at what is behind us. We must cut off the bad things of the past, the hangups we have that are keeping us from serving God and from living a life that is full and productive and happy.

There are people who think that if you’re a Christian you are (or should be) leading a very boring life. But serving the only living God is all but boring. He has promised us power and life in abundance. God’s only son, Jesus Christ, died for me, and for you, so that we will not perish but have everlasting life.

Peace in the storm

I’m listening to the thunder and watching lightning streak across the grey sky. Soft rain falling softens the edges just so much. The thunder just cracked so loudly that the doves in the fig trees flew away. I love this weather. It’s loud and vibrant and life-giving. Everything looks clean and smells fresh. I don’t hide from it, rather I embrace it and enjoy it. Can I say the same about the storms in my emotional life? A friend told me that her mother used to run from room to room covering the mirrors when there was a thunder storm. A neighbour used to hide under a bed. When Jesus was in a boat on the stormy sea with His disciples He lay down and went to sleep. They became so afraid that they woke him up and he rebuked the storm. I wonder how the disciples reacted to storms after that day. Were they still afraid or did they remember what Jesus had done and put their trust in Him?

We have all been through storms in our lives, big ones, small ones, bad ones and long ones that felt like they were never going to end. Sometimes they’re just a storm in a teacup and they’re over almost before they begin. Whatever the nature of the storm, it’s not really the storm that’s the problem, our reaction to the storm is what determines the outcome. Do we rush around trying to cover the ‘mirrors’ which we think will attract more trouble? Or do we simply hide our heads in the sand and wish the storm will go away? Maybe we frantically confront anyone who is willing to listen to our troubles. We could withdraw from the world and sit and worry. Which of these methods will make the storm pass? Not one. They are going to have no influence at all. Well they wouldn’t have an influence on the troubles we’re facing, but they might make our lives even more difficult, and even the lives of those around us. No amount of manipulation, worry or shouting is going to do the slightest bit of good.

Psalm 32:6 – 7: For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You in a time when you may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters They shall not come near him. You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.

I think these verses make it very plain. We need to trust God and not worry or rant and rave or blame or manipulate. We just have to embrace Jesus in the storm and we will come out whole on the other side. If we hold on to Jesus in the storm we will be able to get through it without fear. We will grow in the storm because storms are loud and vibrant and life-giving.

Spiritual drought

I was watering the garden begin the shop in the late afternoon. I just took two small buckets and gave the plants the bare minimum of water. I didn’t have the time or the inclination to do more. Everything is really extremely dry because of the lack of rain and also because of my lack of care.
God showed me that the church is like my garden. The people who haven’t given up of the church and left, are barely holding on. Their roots are even drying out. Their leaves are wilting or brittle. They aren’t receiving the water of the Holy Spirit, the living water that they so desperately need in order to grow.

The caretakers of the garden (church) don’t take the time or have the inclination to spend time in the Word to get filled up and to bubble over and spill over. The people who are sitting in the pews are satisfied with the scraps because they haven’t received the real life-giving water for so long that they don’t know any better. They aren’t reaching out and searching for more. Complacency has set in and apathy is the order of the day. If the gardener isn’t excited about growing plants how can the plants be excited, and if he convinces the plants that they are receiving enough water who are they to argue?
The other thing I noticed was that there were thorns sticking into the soles of my shoes. They are very aptly named devil’s thorns. Picking up ‘thorns’ is very easy when there isn’t any nourishment and water.
For the turning away of the simple will slay them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them;
Proverbs 1:32

The best gluten free porridge

I grew up eating porridge or cereal for breakfast and that’s what I fed my children too. Oats (oatmeal) was a favourite of mine so when I realized I was gluten intolerant it was a bit of a let-down. I know oats is supposed to be gluten free, but it doesn’t agree with me now so I prefer to avoid it. My son grew up mostly gluten free and he doesn’t even like oats. He ate a lot of mealie meal (maize) as a child.

In the search for a breakfast porridge I have found various recipes but nothing was really up to scratch. So I started experimenting and I think I have hit the jackpot! It does take about 20 – 25 minutes cooking, but I make more than I need and it keeps in the fridge for at least 5 days. Here’s my recipe:

Gluten free breakfast porridge

½ Cup Quinoa

2 tablespoons flaxseed (linseed) flour

2 tablespoons chia seeds

2 tablespoons dried cranberries

2 tablespoons dessicated coconut

Pinch of salt

Cook the Quinoa in 1 to 1½ cups of water for 14 to 18 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Mix the rest of the ingredients with a little water and add some of the hot quinoa to the mixture to avoid lumps. Add the flaxseed mixture to the saucepan and put back on the heat. Boil for a few minutes until cooked. Serve with full cream yogurt, or any other flavouring you prefer. Peanut butter? Cream? Etc.

There you are, my new favourite breakfast porridge. Please try the recipe and let me know what you think.

Grace and Mercy

The ‘grace’ I’m referring to means free, unmerited favour or goodwill. Clemency, mercy.

In music a grace note is an extra note added for embellishment.

  1. God shows grace

    1. Ps 84:11 – For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

    2. Proverbs 3:34 – Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble.

    3. Deut 9:5 – 6 – It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God drives them out from before you, ad that He may fulfil the word which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  6. Therefore understand that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people.

We are a lot like the Israelites who came out of Egypt. We like to complain. We like to selectively recall events out of our past according to the mood we’re in. We like to look back and say ‘if only’. If only I had invested in bitcoin three years ago I would be a multi-millionaire now. If only I hadn’t wasted my time by hanging out in clubs instead of studying for my degree. If only I hadn’t fallen with my skateboard and hurt my knee, I might have been selected for the national soccer team and been rich and famous. If only I quit smoking 10 years ago I wouldn’t have had lung cancer now. And so it goes on. If only, if only, if only. The Israelites weren’t any better. If only they had stayed in Egypt they wouldn’t be starving and in danger. They forget to add that they were slaves in Egypt and treated worse than dirt!

We want our rewards and we want them now. We want to pray a quick prayer and have it answered immediately. Not only do we want it answered right away, we want the answer that we want to hear.

Grace is when I don’t do anything to receive favour, but I receive it anyway. I go to work every day just as usual and one day the boss call me in and gives me a huge raise. That’s grace. I didn’t work particularly hard or do anything special to deserve the raise.

Mercy – a disposition to temper justice with mildness. Clemency, compassion.

Micah 7:18 – Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgressions of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.

Titus 3:5 – He saved us, not because of righteous things we have done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

Luke 6:36 – Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Matthew 5:7 – Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Mercy is when you deserved to be punished but you aren’t. If I pour a glass of Coca-Cola onto your laptop keyboard because I’m mad at you and your keyboard gets fried, and you don’t get mad at me and demand for me to replace your laptop. You just wipe it off and go out and buy a new laptop. That is mercy. I was purposely vindictive towards you and you didn’t retaliate at all. God shows us mercy all the time. How many times have you done things that just aren’t right? And you didn’t get struck by lightning or fall down dead. As these versed illustrate God shows us mercy all the time and He also expects us to show mercy to others. Matthew 5:7 even says that if we are merciful we will be shown mercy. Showing mercy is not a sign of weakness. Quite the opposite. It is much easier to give a harsh answer or to mete out punishment than to be merciful and give someone a second chance, especially if the other person has hurt our family, our finances or our feelings. It’s the principle of reaping what you sow. I really, really want God to show me mercy. Hebrews 10:31 – ‘It is a fearsome thing to fall into the hands of the living God.’

Let us grow in grace and be merciful for the sake of our own souls.