Give me Jesus

No other song grips me as much as the song ‘give me Jesus’. It has no known composer or text writer, apparently it was written in the period when slavery existed. It is classified as a spiritual. The theme of the song is strength in tribulation. The song is included in the hymnal of the Seventh-day Adventist church. Its not so easy to interpret its meaning or purpose. Below is my interpretation.

In the morning when I rise,
In the morning when I rise,
In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus, give me Jesus,
You may have all this world,
Give me Jesus.

We can still be slaves in today’s world. Some literal, and some spiritual. It’s good to be reminded that nothing is as important unless we have Jesus.

I love travelling on a scenic route along the Mississippi River. The river is majestic and huge, although from humble beginnings. The river is so wide in some places, it looks like a lake! It has various locks in it to guide boats through the parts of the river that may not have enough water. I am always amazed at that engineering wonder, how ships that large can be transported up and down by the strength of water. It needs the lock though! The lock protects, and provides enough power to help the ship stay its course.

That’s what Jesus is to me. Like a lock in the busy times of life when I feel enslaved by all that is around me. It shelters me, and sets me on a course that is good and manageable for me. And when the waters get too shallow it guides me safely through it.

Give me Jesus…….

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State Fair

A country fair in England is probably the closest to how I can describe a state fair. Showcasing the best and brightest a US state has to offer. Apparently Minnesota is one of the largest State Fairs in the country.

And so being here in the US at the time of the fair it’s almost a given to go! A group of colleague friends and me went….

The first section we happen to walk through is the animal section.. in fact, we did not wander too many other places but stayed close to the Animal barns.

It’s so interesting to see.. goats are being pimped, washed, groomed.. pigs walk on a leash… people take great pride showcasing their breeds.

The horses though are my favourite… the horse and carts were just amazing to see. The way the horses are dressed up and walk so graciously! The owners look proud for a reason!

Combine that with all the sounds, smells and foods.. it’s an overwhelming attack on the senses:

I had a delicious pecan roll for dinner, washed down with lemonade. Not sure I want to know the amount of calories I consumed!

You seem to be able to get just about anything on a stick. Fried banana split, fried olives, fried mash, fried pickles….

Fries come in huge buckets, as do cookies… I guess to be shared, but who is going to say something if you eat it all alone?

People watching is probably my favourite activity. Dressed up, dressed down, having fun. I was glad to be able to hang out at the fair for a few hours and sample the atmosphere.

This event makes me reflect on those times in Jesus life where large groups gathered around Him, hungry for what He had to share. He gave them food, when they were hungry. However, when He wanted to talk to His Father, he sought solitude, being away from people.

I think I feel not to different. A few hours at the fair and I am ready for a day of rest, reflecting on other things!

How has your week been? Are you also happy with this day of rest, to reflect back on that which is important?

Conference

It’s exciting to be able to attend a technology conference in the area of my work. The location is Orlando and although hot and humid, the presentations inside are cool!

The best one of the day was given by Bear Grylls. The topic: how to be your best. He came across so personable and humble, quite striking and awesome! He explained how he did not see himself as this very successful person and shared his 4 words of encouragement.

Am taking his idea and share it here, cause it’s too good to keep for myself!

A mentor friend of mine always says: fail fast, fail forward. And that was also Bear’s first word to share: Failure.

We don’t like to talk about failure.. failure is seen as negative. But for every success there are probably dozens of failures.. we should not be afraid of it, but embrace it as a path to learn.

The second word is Fear. We are probably all scared of the unknown, of taking the next step. Fear can also motivate us though.. to keep doing it, to put ourselves out there.

The third word is Fire. Fire in nature is the start of new beginnings. After a devastating forest fire, the forest renews. Fire can move us forward, gives us the passion and drive. Persistence is key. The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little bit extra. Never giving up.

The fourth word is Faith. God is there to lean on and encourage us. We all gave our mountains we have to climb, and faith in God gives us that perspective to keep going.

Achieving dreams means embracing failures….

As a perfectionist and driver it’s hard for me to accept failure.. but keeping those 4 words in mind I am pushing forward.

What about you?

 

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!

Eagles

Another couple weeks have passed with lots of happenings in it. My friend Althea and her family are mourning as both mother and mother in law passed away in quick succession. Death is such an enemy. It’s such a definite goodbye here on this earth. So hard to find the right words to say.

There is this verse in the Bible, Isaiah 40:31 where it says: but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint.

That verse gives such a comfort. God will carry us on His wings, like the eagles carry their young.

There is nothing more powerful than seeing the bald eagle soaring in the sky. The bird is massive, majestic and the wingspan is huge. That verse always comes to mind when I see the telltale sign of the typical shape and white head and tail. I want to be carried on those strong wings, not having to carry my burdens all alone.

With a church band we used to sing that Hillsong song : Hide me now, under your wings… cover me, within your mighty hand… when the oceans rise and thunders roar, I will soar with you above the storm… Father you are King over the flood… I will be still and know You are God. Find rest my soul.. in Christ alone.. know His power, in quietness and trust.

Through the hard and dark times we learn to trust in Him and allow us to be comforted by the strong wings. That’s what I also wish for my lovely friend Althea and her family. And all who are reading this and are grieving.

I read somewhere online: Grief is the cost of loving someone. We have to go through it. But His wings will carry us. If we let Him.

Week before Christmas

It’s a week before Christmas.. well… almost anyways…the volume of people in the shops is a very big clue.. the Christmas music playing in every store… people frantically searching for the perfect presents for cousins once removed, or the distant aunt whom is only thought about cause her Christmas presents already arrived under the tree.

I love Christmas, don’t get me wrong. I love the lights, the thought of peace.. the tranquil spirit shown in every magazine and shop window…

However, as I sit here drinking a cup of tea I can’t help but remember that story about Jesus clearing out the temple because He disagrees with what His Fathers house should look like. Did He know 2000 years ago how commercialised Christmas has become and how the most important element to remember at Christmas is all but forgotten about? Am sure He is sad about that.

Jesus came to this world as a little baby, which we are privileged to remember at Christmas time. He did not stay a baby… he grew up and showed us unselfish love when He died on the cross… which we remember at Easter.

I wonder what would happen if we all slowed down and took the commercial aspects out of this period of the year. Would we truly have that Christmas atmosphere every song sings about?

I hope I will be better about it all this year… yes, am in a shopping mall, but I went to look at the fishes… they remind me about the verse in the Bible were it says ‘don’t worry about tomorrow’… I know those were birds.. but it’s winter, cold and the fishes were available to look at.

Merry ‘Christ’mas!

California

Even though I have travelled quite a bit around America, I had not made it to the west coast.. many colleagues come from there, so many stories have been told… and now I can add my own stories!!

Last weekend I flew to California just for the weekend… not to see the Hollywood glitz and glam.. one of my biggest wishes was to see the Pacific Ocean.. driving on the Pacific highway would be the bonus.

The warm air and beautiful blue sky was in stark contrast to the blackened hills. The recent fire images from the news sprang to mind quickly when you actually drive through these hills.. and see the devastation. A quick reminder that life is temporary and this is not our home. I can’t wait for the permanent home in Heaven!

No beach visit is complete without shells… and even though I was assured that the beaches are mostly bare of shells, I found some!! To be treasured for sure.

The beach visited is often used for shooting movies and tv series.. I did not see any celebrities though and would not even recognise any anyways. I was far more interested in trying to spot marine life! I instantly regretted not taking my camera.. 2 whales were frolicking in the area were the surf was. We could follow them and observe from probably 30 ft away… so cool! A pod of dolphins was seen further in the sea… man! Awesome!!! That’s the only word I have to describe it.

I did not realise I would be so quickly hooked on a place so alien to me.. walking in the sunshine on the beach…. California… I will be back!!!

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Christmas Praise

Colossians 3:17 New International Version (NIV)

17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

I had heard Jaime Jorge was giving a series of concerts in Minnesota… a quick check on his schedule gave me the idea to drive to Hutchinson MN to listen. It has snowed here, and it’s a little icy out.. but I really wanted to go. I set off early.

I arrived a little early, and waited a little in the car before venturing in the church. I have had the privilege to meet Jaime on a few occasions, and as we happened to walk into the building together we chatted a little.

His concert was centred around Christmas. The most beautiful renditions were played of some of the more well known Christmas carols… even though I loved it, it was not what grabbed me…

He started playing Silent Night… just on the violin, no back up track … and asked us to join in singing in the second verse. Maybe there were about 150 people there… and the beautiful sounds that raised from the audience accompanied by the violin moved me. The sprit of Christmas started for me right there.

Right after he played one of my favourite hymns… I surrender all… and he expressed how easy it is to play the song, but how difficult it is to live that out in life.. to surrender all. I can sympathise with that. I am a control freak, and surrendering is the opposite of control… it’s asking God to be in control. That will be my learning and struggle for eternity!

His witness and stories about his mission ‘healing music’ are worth listening to. You can hear he speaks from a living relationship with God. He lives out the words of Coll 3:17 I quoted above.

If you have an opportunity to hear him… do it! His schedule is on his website. (www.jaimejorge.com)

The long drive was worth it. My Sabbath is blessed already..

Giving Thanks

There are few American celebrations I can identify with… most don’t relate to anything I really know. However, Thanksgiving is something that resonates with me. Remembering why we can be thankful.

In the American history, this signifies hard times and new beginnings. Religious persecution lead to the voyage to America to pursue religious liberty. And after a slow start in Plymouth, the first Thanksgiving was a celebration of the first successful harvest. This gets celebrated every year. It’s a national holiday. In Europe we also celebrate the harvest of the year. It’s celebrated in October and I wonder of the pilgrims took this tradition with them and gave it new meaning.

Thanksgiving.. giving thanks for abundance. Often in the humdrum of life, we don’t stop often enough to say Thanks to Him who provides. We may believe that hard work got us there, and not always see the significance of giving thanks.

Over the past years I have been privileged to be in the US during this holiday. Families and friends come together, spending quality time, remembering why they are thankful. Maybe a round table saying out loud that which they are thankful for.

I wish we would pay more attention to this in Europe. To be thankful is an act of acknowledgment that what we have is not of our own making. And that is always good to be reminded of! God relishes in our giving of thanks to Him.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. Psalm 100:4.

We do not need to minimise the giving of thanks to just the 3rd Thursday in November. We can be thankful every day. Every day is a new gift, a new chance to make choices. But to be especially aware of this act of giving thanks once per year is wonderful.

I will certainly miss it this year, to not be in the US. However, wonderful American friends have invited us to celebrate with them in London. So don’t mind me if I am just a little teary eyed, remembering why I am grateful, and thinking back to last year, visiting Plymouth Rock… there were this remembrance started.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Rock

Cousins

My grandfather used to say ‘the sun does not set over the Knopper family’. The reason was that his kids spread to corners of the earth. One to Australia, one to America… and my dad stayed home in the Netherlands…

The consequence of this was that family reunions were just with very small portions of the family. We grew up without knowing any of the cousins.

There is a picture of 1971 where we were all together… apparently.., I don’t remember it..

A few years ago, my Australian cousin met up with us in Luxembourg.. so nice to meet! A familiarity immediately there.

Last year I met up with my American cousin… same thing… I wrote an earlier blog about that.

As I am regularly in America, I finally was able to arrange to spend some time with my cousin. Catching up on uhm… some 47 years of missing history… he remembers stories about my grandparents from what I don’t remember or was too young for.

A drive into the Smokey Mountains was the setting for all this..

Below a few pictures of that…

I know the sun will continue to shine over the Knopper family and not set.. as cousins have families, equally spread out in their respective countries…

One day we will have that total family reunion…it may have to wait till we are all Home with Jesus though!