Does all this sound like a pipe dream? I am not a curious scientist.
Plants do have a mind of their own though, as any gardener knows. Provide plants with suitable soil, enough water and nutrients, and they will grow. That is common sense.
On the other hand, I have observed trees grow out of sheer rock faces; I am left marvelling at the tenacity and determination to overcome any obstacle and live.
There is another aspect, and that is the secret life of faith. My faith in particular. My faith is like a plant, the seed of faith was planted in my heart. It grew as does a plant, my faith blossomed for the world to see as does the flower that blossoms. As a full blown blossom so today is my faith.
Jesus, Son of God, said, 'My words are life.' This quote can be read in full in John 6: 63. Further, 'the Word of God is spirit and life. 'The Word of God is 'living and active.' For the full-text Hebrews 4: 12. God’s Word is powerful and dynamic and imparts life to us who believe. God’s Word acts like nutrients and water does to the plant. His word informs us, about him, given free reign it encourages us, nurtures us, and strengthens us. We are able to not only cope with life live fully and abundantly.
God’s most life-changing Word is, 'For God so loved' … me that he gave Jesus his only son to die that I might live. God's whispers of love spoken in secret to my heart explode into life, just as plants do when they are lovingly nurtured with water, nutrients and light.
My life was changed overnight by his Word. God said, 'I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.' I took God at his Word and embraced his plan for my life. I believed that His Word is truth and not only his Word, but he is truth. Because I accept his Word, I am filled with his Life and power. I now live freely and richly in his care and provision.
As plants respond to loving care, so I respond to God's loving care. He provides for me what I need; he nurtures me with his Word. He loves me unconditionally. He is my all, in all.
Images of Princess Diana hugging a leper and fearlessly walking through a minefield dance across the TV screen. Diana’s fearlessness and love for the people have earned her the title of the peoples’ Princess. The Princess demonstrates a love that caught the people of a nation and across the world and made them feel important.
The song writer experiences a wonderful love, and he writes about it, describing it as a ‘furious love.’
Paul Ellis, author and pastor from New Zealand, likened the crucifixion of Christ as a ‘picture of spent anger and furious love.’
The thought of love being furious is a new thought to me. To my mind, the meaning of ‘furious’ is connected with anger. I wonder, is there an ‘angry love’? Can love be angry? I cannot reconcile ‘angry love’ with my experience and understanding of love.
THE MEANING OF LOVE
I take the thought in another direction, ‘fast and furious’ is a term often used to describe abandonment, wildness, breakneck speed. These meanings applied to ‘furious love,' convey the concept of a wild, abandoned, reckless love, a love that is fearless and can we say, ‘mad love,' as portrayed in the images of Princess Diana walking through the mine field.
We could describe ‘furious love’ as a fierce love, a love that doesn’t give up or let go but clings on regardless, a reckless love that despite the cost will continue to love no matter how unlovely the person or object is
All this conjecture about love directs us back to the love of God. His love for us is, by our standards, reckless, wild, abandoned, fierce, a love that doesn’t give up on the person he loves. We can throw as many tantrums as we like, tell him we hate him, don’t believe him, that he doesn’t exist yet he doesn’t withdraw his love. The Bible is clear, ‘Be strong! Be courageous! Do not be afraid of them! For the Lord, your God will be with you. He will neither fail you nor forsake you.’ Deut. 31: 6 LB.
Dare we withhold ourselves in any measure from such a fierce, furious, reckless love that God has for us? Can we remain unaffected, cold even, to such a love? Yes, we can, but more fool us if we do. In this furious, abandoned, reckless love of God is our very beginning, our end, God’s very DNA within us. Have we deserved it? No! Have we earned it? No This love God has for us has conferred on us all the goodness and perfection of his son Jesus. All we have to do is – surrender!
It should have been a piece of cake.
The poems and images were collected and scanned into the computer. Alas, they were the wrong orientation. I changed to landscape. I cut and pasted; some of the poems needed to be back to front. More time spent in retyping into landscape orientation and rearranging images. Some of the images wouldn’t print off. I hunted through my photos, searched the internet for free images. Week one.
I sent a copy to the printer, ‘No’, he said, ‘we need the files to be in PDF.’ I searched my computer for the PDF conversion; I did have one, oh, there was an upgrade and the PDF file was never put back. I’ll down load a free file but it wouldn’t down load, an error. Not to be beaten, I emailed my computer whizz friend, could she send me a copy of her file? Then I had to ask how to use it. Week 2 had passed.
All the poems were now in PDF and set out in correct order. With the images, bio’s and contents page set to go. Back to the printer, ‘No, these files aren’t right. You need them to be this way. We could do the files for you but it will cost you.’ I despaired. I knew I could not create the files needed to print the book. Back to my computer whizz,’ can you help me?’ Week three
A new cover design, new images; can the images supplied by the authors be used in case of offence? Day one, she sent me the layout of the book as it should look. The printer contacted, were the files OK?
I held the book, the unachievable achieved. The awful fact; there were over 50 mistakes, lines were missed out, The book was a lemon, but no, it was me that was the lemon for having the temerity to think I was a computer whizz.
I needed to humble myself. I needed to admit my limitations. Having done penance I looked around, what next?
It occurred to me that God still loved me. I had stuffed up big-time but his love for me never lessened. I was still his beloved child, the apple of his eye, my photo in his wallet. I didn’t deserve his love but he over looked that because of his unconditional love.
I occurred to me that I could remain a lemon or I could get up and be the sweet orange God had made me. I chose to be the sweet orange. I discarded the guilt trip. I could do that because God had declared in Romans 8: 1, ‘There is now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus. For the power of the life-giving Spirit – and this power is mine through Christ Jesus – has freed me from the vicious circle of sin and death.’
The book was finally printed without error but I learnt a valuable lesson. Being proud and thinking myself better than I was is not pleasing to God. I also learnt that God loves me beyond beyond, no matter what I do. My standing with him is not performance based. Bless God.
RayHawkins is a man of action. lathe operator, church planter,
missionary to Africa, writer, father of three.
published by Wombat Books,
Letters to Anne is a 31 day devotional. The bite sized truths are wrapped in daily experiences of the writer Gwenneth Leane
published by KMPublishing contact and bought at email@example.com
THE TABLE LAID READY FOR A FAMILY CELEBRATION.
This setting is created with loving care to give the utmost joy to those invited to the meal.
There is nothing like a meal together to cement relationships, to break down barriers; to share with those less fortunate. A meal together is a sign of acceptance, no matter the colour or creed.
Basic Table Setting:
Jesus replied, ‘The truth of the matter is that you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you believe in me. But you shouldn’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. No, spend your energy seeking the eternal life that I, the Messiah, can give you. For God, the Father has sent me for this very purpose. ‘John 6: 26. LB.
Another time: ‘So Levi left everything, sprang up and went with him (Jesus). Soon Levi held a reception in his home with Jesus as the guest of honour. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests were there. But the Pharisees and teachers of the law complained bitterly to Jesus’disciples about his (Jesus) eating with notorious sinners.’ Luke 5: 29-30, LB.
We are encouraged to eat five veggies daily and two fruits every day. It’s a general rule for a healthy diet.
While we need to eat healthily and take care of what we eat, we need to be alert as to what comes out of our mouth
‘Jesus asked, “Can’t you see that what you eat won’t harm your soul? For food doesn’t come in contact with your heart, but only passes through the digestive system. (By saying this he showed that every kind of food is kosher). Then he added, “It is the thought-life that pollutes. For from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts of lust, theft, murder, adultery, wanting what belongs to others. All these vile things come from within; they make you unfit for God.” Mark 8: 18 – 23. LB
The leaders of the day challenged Jesus, saying, ‘God fed the Children of Israel in the desert every day with bread from heaven.’ They called it ‘manna’. Jesus replied to the challenge, ‘My Father offers you the true Bread from heaven. The true Bread is a Person – the one sent by God from heaven.’ The leaders came back at Jesus, ‘Sir, give us that Bread every day of our lives!’Jesus had the measure of these leaders. He knew they didn’t believe he was God’s son and had come from heaven. If they couldn’t believe in him while he was living among them, would they accept him if he gave then heavenly Bread every day?
So, Jesus replied to them, ‘I am the Bread of life. No one coming to me will ever be hungry again. Those believing in me will never thirst.’ John 6: 32 – 35. LB.
Jesus is the soul food we must have to live abundantly and eternally here and now.
We can see the dish of baked potatoes and carrots. They look yum. The potato content is fibre, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6 content. The risk of heart lessens with low cholesterol content in potatoes.
‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of God’ Matthew 4: 4
Jesus understood that man needs food for the soul, and only God can truly provide that sort of food by his presence in the heart. We become film experts, great readers, hobbyists, alcoholics, druggies, sex predators seeking satisfaction, but always we are empty and driven to look for more so slake that thirst. God’s word. ‘The deepest need of humans is not food, clothing, and shelter, important as they are. It is God.’ C.S.Lewis
Such an attractive platter is suitable for any morning snack at a social gathering. Sandwiches of whole-meal bread and pita bread rolls. So healthful. The energy level rises.
Jesus said, ‘Yes, I am the Bread of Life! When your fathers in the wilderness ate Bread from the skies, they all died. But the Bread from heaven gives eternal life to everyone who eats it. I am that Living Bread that came down out of heaven. Anyone eating this Bread shall live forever; this Bread is my flesh given to redeem humanity.’ John 6: 51 Living Bible.
Jesus still satisfies those who have faith in Christ. Jesus said, ‘I am the one who raises the dead and gives them life again. Anyone who believes in me, even though he dies like anyone else, shall live again. He is given eternal life for believing in me and shall never perish. Do you believe this, Martha?’ John 11: 25 LB
The mynah bird is an opportunist. It has learnt that humans mean food. We humans are one-way God provides for this bird. Keeps it well fed even in the wild. The mynah is looking to see if there is anything better? Looking to see if there is another way to attack the bread roll.?
We are always seeking another way to God; to eternal life; to a relationship of intimacy.
There is only one way. ‘To tell others with your mouth that Jesus Christ is your Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you are saved. For it is by believing in the heart that a person becomes right with God; and with the mouth, he tells others of his faith, confirming salvation. For the scriptures tell us that no one who believes in Christ will never be disappointed.’ Romans 10: 9 – 10 LB.
In his autobiography A Kings Story, the Duke of Windsor told the story of an incident at the funeral of his father, George V.
He described how his father’s body was being conveyed on a draped carriage through crowded streets of London when a mishap occurred.
The imperial crown had been placed over the Royal Standard and fastened on the coffin. However, the jolting of the vehicle caused the Maltese cross, which surmounts the head-piece, to fall off.
‘Suddenly,’ the Duke said, ‘out of the corner of my eye, I caught a flash of light dancing along the pavement. A sailor, marching behind the gun carriage, picked it up, took it to his commanding officer and said, ‘This fell off, Sir. We must replace the cross.’ The officer was a little shocked by the occurrence and said, ‘Must we replaced now?’
‘Yes sir, replied the sailor, ‘The crown is never complete without the cross.’
For the Christian, the cross is never complete without the crown.Jesus experienced the cross, but the experience would not have been complete without receiving the crown from His Father. Hebrews 12: 2 clarifies the cross and the diadem, ‘Keep your eyes on Jesus, our leader and instructor. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterwards, and now he sits in the place of honour by the throne of God.’
We may look for our crown down here: affirmation for the good we do, the reward of riches for hard work, being popular because we are beautiful or popular. We do not always receive what we feel we deserve. The praise of people is fickle at best. One minute we are the flavour of the month, the next we are cold-shouldered.
God, on the other hand, never varies in his opinion of us, we can depend on him to think well of us because of what Jesus did on our behalf.
We are looking at a competition to see who saws through a log the quickest. The winners receive a prize. It takes practise and hard work to become the winner. Competitors don’t win prizes by giving up when the going gets hard
Take courage, we are the children of God and nothing will ever change that so look to the future. We will receive our crown. We will have all the affirmation we need then if not now.
'Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’ Galatians 6:
The tree in this picture has accepted the bolt for the chain to close the gate. Maybe it hurt when the bolts were first hammered in – maybe the tree bled some sap – who knows.
But the tree didn’t give up and die because of its mistreatment it got on with the job of growing over its wound; beautifying the offending things, making the bolt and chain part of it.
How forgiving is that?
What a pity we humans are not like the tree, absorbing the hurts and then encompassing them and covering them with our own beauty of spirit so that the hurts are made beautiful. That’s forgiveness!
We could also look at it as if the tree was the Lord and we were the bolts and chain. We were hammered into the flesh of Jesus when he was nailed to the cross. His body accepted the wounds of our sin and sickness, and he encompassed us into himself and made us one with himself. We became a thing of beauty because he covered us over, hiding us within himself.
What extra–ordinary love!
HEALTHY AND WHOLE
Society almost seems obsessed with cleanliness. We are urged to wash our hands before eating, after gardening and playing with pets, and after visiting the bathroom.
Sir Joseph Lister, 1883 – 1897 a British surgeon, pioneered the use of antiseptic surgery. He successfully introduced the use of carbolic acid or phenol to sterilise surgical instruments making surgery and childbirth safer for patients. Today child bed fever as it was commonly known is hardly heard of due to the practice of cleanliness.
Covid-19 has made us wash our hands even more and practise cleanliness to the point of paranoia, but cleanliness has curbed the spread of the virus.
We have come a long way with our cleansers these days. But it seems the bugs too have morphed into super bugs calling for ever stronger cleansers. With all this preoccupation with our physical cleanliness have we given a thought to what goes on with the inner person? Is there a need to worry about the inner person? And how does one cleanse the inner person?
Yes, there is a need to cleanse the inner person to be whole and healthy. We just need to listen to all the murders for one thing. The remedy is a new heart and new mind. This is called holistic living When the need for a new makeover is recognised and personal efforts fail, embrace Jesus Christ. Accept his goodness as your own, swap your life for his life. Wouldn’t that be a small price to pay to be clean on the inside as well as the outside, and be able to live a great life?
IF THERE IS A GOD WHY SO MUCH SUFFERING?
PAM SALTER SAYS… a good question. One I have asked myself. I don’t say if there is a God I say I know there is a God. I don’t blame all the suffering on him. We have brought a lot of the suffering on ourselves by our own actions and choices, pollution, and wrong living. Sickness is one of the outcomes of our actions. I had a son with severe multiple disabilities and if anyone could question why this could be so it would be me. But I don’t blame anyone, least of all God. The genetic material that God placed in us has become corrupted by the action of Adam and Eve. It is not God’s will for us to be born into this world like this. God can overcome all. He is our saviour, our healer, the one to trust in all things.
RYAN DAVIS SAYS… I believe God created the heavens and the earth and put Adam and Eve in the Garden in relationship with him. Everything in the garden was as it was meant to be. But then Adam and Eve fell out with God and that meant the devil then had room to wreck havoc on earth the consequences being suffering. It meant there was sickness and broken relationships. God has sent Jesus into the world to heal relationship with himself and others so things can change and suffering be eliminated.
‘God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love, and self control.’ 2 Timothy 1: 7
Author: "You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page" - Jodi Picoult