Easter

Am currently in the States and drive a rental car. A really nice new Hyundai something or other. It’s got this feature that takes a little getting used to… lane control! If you drive a little over the lines on the road, the car automatically corrects that. You have to indicate early or it won’t let you smoothly turn!

That got me wondering… especially since it’s the Easter weekend. How handy would it not be if our lives would get automatically corrected if we veer off course! Or would it be? Would it be just like the car I drive… a little scary?

Yesterday we remembered Jesus was condemned to death and was nailed to the cross. Tomorrow we celebrate we worship a living King who conquered death. The Easter message. This should set the course of our lives.. the message in the Bible our lane control and the fact He lives should be enough to want to know Him more.

Psalm 8 says this: Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your nameA)” style=”font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: top”> in all the earth!

You have set your gloryB)” style=”font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: top”>
    in the heavens.

Apparently that was the inspiration for Swedish song writer Boberg who wrote the hymn ‘how great Thou art’. I inserted the second verse as that is so appropriate for Easter…

And when I think of God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art

I need lane control in my life, just like I need it when driving and my distractions push me over the lines. The message given to us in the Bible is my lane control and I remember the message of Easter this weekend extra to remind myself I serve a living King whose lane control I want in my life.

How about you?

Happy Easter! The Lord is risen, He is risen indeed!

Friend of God

For years one of the more popular worship songs we sang a lot was ‘I am a friend of God’ by Israel Houghton. A very catchy tune (https://youtu.be/4OZZyBBFCMc
) and the lyrics are beautiful. Who am I You are mindful of me, that You hear me when I call… and the chorus … I am a friend of God, He calls me friend…

The lyrics of the song seem to be taken from the book of John 15 verse 15 where it says:

No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

It’s only been very recent that the concept of friend of God means anything to me. Ofcourse I knew what I was singing, but now I have a greater appreciation of what it means to be called a friend. Friendship is a 2 way street, it’s a relationship where both parties put effort into. It’s where only the best is wished for the other. Where a word or a look is enough to know what the other is thinking. Where you know the other has your back. You have a true relationship of trust and mutual respect.

That is what God wants with us. Not a servant relationship where you can loose your status if you do something wrong. Not a fear relationship, punished when not obeyed.

I listened to an old recording of pastor Maxwell, who did a week of prayer at Stanborough Park church in the early nineties. He brings out the above points so nicely. He encouraged to see the character of God in each bible book and to read on if it seems God is not relational.

Oh to be called a friend! That’s how I want my relationship to be with God. Much like my relationship with my earthly friends like Althea who is burying her mum next week. I can’t be there but in thoughts and prayers am with her every step of the way. That’s how God wants to be our friend too. To be able to spend time and care for us the same way we would care for Him.

I am a friend of God…. you?

Twists and Turns

Life is unpredictable sometimes… unexpected twists and turns, stuff that happens even if we did not expect it…. good and bad!

My sister in love turned 50 this week… a milestone birthday, not given to anyone. For sure cause for celebration, even if at a distance! My own 50th birthday was the end of last year… my father in law died 2 days before my birthday… not really a cause of celebration… still, I made the milestone birthday and am still here. My friend Althea’s mum is a woman of each day… we do not know how long she still has…

A recent student missionary from Stanborough Park church is getting married in a few months… Melody’s friend Felicity had a baby girl a little while ago… and on and on it goes… those that have a facebook account and browse through these pages see all sorts of happenings in the lives of those we call Facebook friends… weddings, births, sickness, deaths…..all twists and turns.

Just the other day I watched the Dreamworks Animated movie ‘the Prince of Egypt’. The story of the people of Israel, who were freed from Egypt and under leadership of Moses dwelled in the desert until they could enter the promised land. Moses, the rescued Hebrew baby, adopted by the pharaoh and raised as a prince, discovered who he was and who he needed to be through a life full of twists and turns. The most prominent experience was at a burning bush, where he was commissioned to be the leader of the Israelites and lead them out of Egypt. God spoke with him through that bush that burned, but the fire did not consume it. Moses life can be divided in blocks of 40… each next section of 40 brought another twist. 40 Years at the courts, 40 in the desert to purify and become the leader he needed to be and another 40 years leading the people to Canaan. He had amazing experiences, being face to face with God, but also many lows.. when he battled with temper (and who can blame him when the people he rescued did nothing but complain…. asking for food, asking for water… lamenting ever leaving Egypt and slavery). As result of his temper when he hit the rock instead of spoke to the rock as instructed by God, he was not allowed to lead the people into the promised land.

Why do I find that story so intriguing? There is the beautiful song sang by Miriam, the sister of Moses, and Moses wife ‘there can be miracles’…the song reminds us that despite all the twists and turns life gives us, we should not give up believing. That’s what gives us direction, and sustains us so we can navigate that which life throws at us. Moses life was a good example … yes, he died, but because of his believe, and the relationship he had with God, he lead a tremendous life and is spending eternity in heaven.

Something to keep in mind… navigating the weird ways life sometimes goes…. there can be miracles…..

There can be miracles

When you believe

Though hope is frail

Its hard to kill

Who knows what miracles

You can achieve

When you believe somehow you will

You will when you believe

Wild and Free

The weekend was spent in the New Forest, a small national park in the South of England. The scenery is breathtaking and a huge bonus, bordering on the sea!

My peace and calm is found near the water. The waves crashing, finding shells, the wind blowing away cobwebs… I love it all!

Melody was in her element too, taking artsy pictures, identifying every part of left over crab.

A tradition is for us to drink an afternoon tea.. although this time I was quite happy with a cream tea instead! Delicious scone with just the right tangy jam and cream. All in a lovely little cafe near a farm shop.

But it was not really the ultimate destination of our trip. We wanted to explore the New Forest, and see the wild ponies!

So after a night in a nice hotel, overlooking a cricket stadium, we set off.

After a little driving around, we finally spotted some ponies, and then more! Such beautiful animals! And all roaming free in the park. Most were standing around in little groups. We were able to get quite close.

What an awesome life they lead! A whole forest to roam around, able to go where they want to go. Sleeping, eating, walking. No rules… well, almost no rules.. in order to keep the flock healthy and manageable we read that the free ones are all female. Males are only around a few months a year, as they don’t want the flock to grow beyond about 3000. Still, they are able to roam and enjoy!

Reminds me of the invitation Jesus gives to all of us. We can all be free! Free from bondage of sin. All we have to do is accept His saving grace. It will allow us to change and be like Him. Free!

I was born in a world of sin, but am now free, just like the ponies in the New Forest. What about you?

Shrove Tuesday

Tomorrow, Christians all over the world start the 40 day period of Lent. The period leading up to Easter. The time we remember the resurrection of Jesus after He died on the cross. Typically, churches pay a lot of attention to Christmas (when Jesus was born) and Easter (when He rose again after death) as these are the periods in the year that the Christian faith is openly accepted by the wider world.

But what is this 40 day period leading up to it? In our Adventist church, we pay little attention to this custom whereas other churches reflect on this period a lot more. 40 Days is also a significant number in the Bible. 40 years was Moses in the desert…40 days it rained with Noah and the Ark and 40 days Jesus was in the desert alone, praying and fasting before He was hung on the cross.

Some fast during this period of reflection leading up to Easter and others do a specific fast of a certain food or activity (no chocolate for example). A period of quiet remembrance is perhaps not such a silly thing!

Before the fast, families would celebrate and eat all the food that they would not be eating for the next 40 days. And that is where shrove Tuesday comes from. Usually pancakes are eaten as they get rid of eggs, milk and fat, things that are forsaken during a fast.

Even though today will not mark a period of fasting for me, it will start a period of contemplation. Just like my previous blog posts, this period leading up to the Cross and Resurrection reminds me of what He did for you and me. His love for us so immense, He gave up His life for us. His grace allows us to come home with Him in the not so distant future, and that is worth contemplating over as it requires a response from me!

Today I will also eat pancakes. Why break a good tradition! I love pancakes! The Dutch ones, not the fat American ones. So perhaps not as much diary and fat to get rid of… But still a mark of the beginning of Lent.

What will you be reflecting on these next 40 days? Are you giving anything up for it?

Candles

Candles come in all shapes, seizes and smells… I love candles… the warmth it gives, the little mesmerising flames… the smells softly permeating the air… I don’t like all smells though, I prefer the subtle ones… laying in my bath, a couple candles on the side, a cup of hot tea, and I feel like a little bit of heaven right here on Earth…

Reminds me of the story in the Bible of the 10 girls… candles, or oil lamps were used to lit the way of the groom coming to get his bride.. not sure if you recognise the story, but just in case… the groom took a long time to come, it was late.. am sure the little flames mesmerised these girls also… and they all fell asleep…

Finally the groom came… the sounds of the approaching group wakening these girls. Unfortunately it took such a long time, the oil in the lamps was gone and the flames had gone out. The groom certainly could not arrive in the dark! Lucky, 5 girls had thought to bring extra oil.. and their lamps were quickly lit.. the flames lighting the way, the same as my candle on the side of the bath. The other 5 girls were not so lucky. No oil, no reserves and as a result they were not allowed to enter the house of the bride to be able to celebrate together.

This parable was told by Jesus, to let us all know to be prepared.. preparation is key. We should not be without extra oil, else we are not able to be part of the celebrations.. the celebrations of his coming to take us to live with Him. The extra oil would represent our knowledge of Him. My previous blog post I shared I have a tattoo with ‘saved by grace’ as a reminder. But a reminder is not enough…With that comes an acceptance of His gift for us, and a willingness to let Him be part of our life.

That’s what candles remind me of. That story, and the requirement to be prepared. The sweet smell the candles give off, reminding me of a heavenly feast waiting for me and you.

Do you like candles?

Blessed Assurance

There are not very many hymns that give such a positive message about Jesus as the hymn ‘blessed assurance, Jesus is mine’ . It’s a favourite of mine when leading out in church… the chorus says ‘this is my story, this is my song, praising my Saviour, all the day long. To hear the congregation singing it out in full enthusiasm just gives me chills… we all should have our own story to tell about our relationship with Him. I truly hope we all do!!

I looked up who wrote such a powerful hymn that’s sung with so much conviction and found the author is Fanny J Crosby. She has written over 8000 hymns… 2 things I find remarkable about her… she was blind… and she just sang out these words when the composer Phoebe Knapp played the melody for her and asked her what the melody reminded her of. Talking about being inspired!!!! Fanny must have had a true relationship with her Saviour to be able to see these words fitting that tune.

I wonder how my relationship with Jesus bubbles out of me… does it bubble out? Can others see there is a significant other in my life to whom I owe everything?

I have a tattoo on my foot, with the slogan ‘saved by grace’. It’s something I don’t take for granted. He has saved me, and did not ask for anything in return but my heart. That’s the story I want to tell!!!!

What about you?

Maybe you need to read these words of Fanny and feel you have a story to tell too?

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood
Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blessed
Watching and waiting, looking above
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long

Worry or Trust

I don’t know about you, but I am a real worrier… some worries may be real, others mostly perceived. Apparently we worry more about something that never would happen than about real things. Guess the mind can play funky tricks!!!

With worry comes trust…. do you have trust in the situation, trust in the person, trust in God…. after all, if you believe God has a hand in your life, why worry… right?

A quote by Martin Luther King Jr:

‘Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase’

I not very good at trusting, I am learning…. am very good at worrying though! Which is best unlearned…

For a control freak like me, trusting anyone is a real life challenge… Trusting God is something I have to continuously be aware of. He knows better what’s good for me than me.. and if I trust Him to take care of me, I don’t need to worry!!!

Maybe that’s just enough as a post… just a reminder to not worry about whatever is happening tomorrow.. whatever is happening in your life or mine… like the quote from Martin Luther King…we don’t need to see the whole staircase… just a step at the time, trusting all is in Gods hand!!

Esther

The Bible story of Esther is appealing to me. A Jewish girl, chosen for her beauty, becoming queen and rescuing her nation. Well, that’s the story in a nutshell at least.

She was highly favoured, but had to go through quite some hardship and soul searching to be able to utter those famous words ‘for such a time as this’

I wonder if I were in her position, time and place. Would I also be as brave as her? Keeping my cool, taking the time it needs to work things out before jumping in to be of servant to my people?

I’d like to think so, but not always convinced. Someone reminded me recently that patience is a virtue. I can’t say i am a terribly patient person. Am working on it, but it’s certainly not one of my virtues (yet). Don’t we all like to know what the future holds, or what tomorrow brings? At least I do!

Queen Esther kept her cool though, she had a mountain of patience to deal with the man who was out to destroy her and her people.

I’d love to say one day ‘for such a time as this…. ‘ maybe watch this space… who knows what things will still unfold in my life! I may want to share those….

Patience it is…..

It is Well

One of the most powerful hymns I love to listen to is the song written by Horatio Spafford. He wrote that song after a couple very traumatic events in his life. The death of his 2-year old son, followed by the great Chicago fire and the financial ruin that followed (as he had invested in Chicago property). He wanted to travel to Europe as a family, but at the last minute changed his mind and sent his wife and 4 daughters ahead. The ship sank and all 4 of his daughters died. His wife survived and sent a telegram ‘saved alone…’ This hymn was written as he sailed past where his daughters perished. How heartbreaking, and what a deep faith he expressed in these words.

When peace like a river attendeth my way. When sorrows like seas billow roar. Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to know, It is well, with my soul.

And Lord haste the day when the faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back like a scroll. The trumpet shall resound and the Lord shall descend. Even so, it is well with my soul

The first Christmas without my father in law just passed. Not so easy, the celebration mood was not quite there. The whole family together, a unique experience, and the timber of his voice missing. How he would have enjoyed having us all there.

The last Sabbath was particularly hard. He was such a proud church going man. Not seeing him in church is still so very strange, and yet, we have to go on. No more smiling face with the large moustache, proud smiling at his kids.

I am not a great writer, and don’t have the talents Horatio had, putting his thoughts so elegantly to paper.. in such a way as he could. We still sing this song to this day testifying of his faith. However, these words sum it all up so well, it is well with my soul. I can sing that with all my heart and know it to be true. All those gone before us will be reunited with us when He descends to take us home. Our fathers, mothers, uncles, nieces, cousins, friends… all we can say is Lord haste that day!

It is well with my soul…