Sunday, 28 February 2016


There is a sweet breeze blowing through the trees this morning. It is predicted to be another hot day, but right now it is still cool and gentle, and there have been wonderful rains. A weekend of precious family time passed, and I woke up this morning feeling rich and deeply thankful.

This blog has a counter, which reflects the "hits" on a graph each day. I am always amazed at the peaks on this graph. I sit and stare at them and think: "Just imagine - all these people chose to take time to read what I have written". And then a warm feeling flows through me and I thank God for another good and perfect gift.

But this morning I want to thank each one of you. For choosing to take time in your busy days to read what I write. Faithfully. I understand that we live in a time when one is bombarded with so much information, so many messages on social media, so many people sharing "stuff". Some good, some less so and some just downright ridiculous and not worth paying attention to.

So thank you. From my heart. For reading. For encouraging. For making me feel that even from my secluded hill-top seat, there is a way to reach into people's hearts. For Jesus not only makes crooked paths straight. He makes paths. Anywhere and everywhere.

As I do not have a specific message in my heart this week, I have borrowed from something I read recently (a sermon by John MacArthur), summing up how acceptance can grow into contentment and ultimately into joy “in every circumstance”. 

I am hoping that it may stir a longing (in me also) to lean closer to Jesus, read His Word, hear His Voice and feel satisfied in whatever circumstance we are in.

1. Learn to give thanks in all things. Thankfulness is first of all a matter of obedience (1 Thess 5:18), but it is also a characteristic of a Spirit-filled believer. (Eph 5:18-20).

2. Learn to rest in God's providence. If we truly know God, we know that He is unfolding His purpose in our lives. He has sovereignly determined each part of His plan for us so that we'll be benefited and He'll be glorified (Rom 8:28). We should not be surprised or ungrateful when we experience trials, because we know that God sees perfectly the end result (1 Pet 4:12,13).

3. Learn to be satisfied with little. Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil. (Prov 15:16) Paul understood that covetousness and contentment are mutually exclusive.

4. Learn to live above life's circumstances. That's how Paul lived. In 2 Cor 12:9-10, he wrote, "Most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Paul didn't take pleasure in the pain itself, but in the power of Christ manifested through him in times of infirmity, reproach, persecution, and distress. We also can learn to take pleasure in the power of Christ in times of distress.

5. Learn to rely on God's power and provision. The apostle Paul wrote, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil 4:13); and Jesus said He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5). We can learn to rely on Christ's promise. He faithfully infuses every believer with His own strength and sustains them in their time of need until they receive provision from His hand (Eph 3:16).

6. Finally – look toward the well-being of others. This mindset is summarised in Phil 2:3-4, where Paul wrote: "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others."

A self-centered person is a discontented person. But those who live generously, those who live for the interests and benefit of others, to bring glory to the Kingdom of God, will find blessing upon blessing in their lives (Prov 11:24-25, 19:17, Luke 6:38, 2 Cor 9:6).

It is not a magic self-help formula. It is merely a few pure and simple and Scriptural truths, placed there to draw us back to the simplicity of living in the presence of God in all we do.

With love and gratitude

Thursday, 11 February 2016


Swifts and swallows dart through the afternoon sky. Aerobatics, aerial feats - a joy to watch. Nights are fresh, mornings still fresher. Browning leaves and slower growth, tell of the seasons soon to change. A month to relish the last strength of the sun, the long languid days, getting shorter with each delayed dawn. Our boys' bodies grow sleeker as their limbs stretch, nut-brown and toned from climbing, crawling, and clambering. A first night of sleeping "out". A brave endevour in the light of day, but as nocturnal creatures begin their various songs, courage fades. Coaxing, encouraging, another two pages of the bed-time book - still two pairs of eyes peer back at me from the green glow of their tent. Tired of reading, I leave them, watching the torchlight dance from within their little dome. The eldest continues reading aloud and when the dark finally closes in, I hear their small voices: "Are you afraid...?" "A little, but not really..." "I'm scared..." "Me too!..."

Deep sigh. I walk over to the tent, reassure them that the door is open, should they want to come inside at any time. "Ask Jesus to be with you" - I say, and turn to go and flop onto my easy chair and leave the busy day behind. A little voice stops me: "Can you please pray for us?"

So I pray. Something like this:

Father - we come to You through Jesus.
Please let Your peace be here with these precious children.
Please hold them tight and let them know You are near.
Please let them know that whatever it is that they are scared of, that You are Bigger.
That they are champions over everything with You.
That You protect them here and everywhere they go.
That they are not alone with You,
That they never will be,
And that You love them so very very much.
More than we can ever know or love.
Even if we love them so.
Let their eyes close softly and sweet sleep come over them now.
In Your name, Jesus, we ask.

I listen for the "Amen" chorus from the tent, but instead I hear a familiar snore and a softer deep breathing. So simple. As I tip-toe away and hear the deck-planks groan under my weight, I expect one of them to call me back. But nothing comes. All is peaceful.

I thought of an episode of a series named "Hornblower" that we watched on Youtube - (the exploits of a young British Naval officer during the 18th century battles against Napoleon and his allies).

Horatio Hornblower's ship, the Indefatigable, is in Cádiz when Spain makes peace with France. Since Spain becomes officially neutral, the British ship of war is forced to leave. Spain has completed its turnaround and joined France in an alliance by the time the Indefatigable is escorting a convoy through the Straits of Gibraltar. Two Spanish galleys attack and the wind dies down. The Captain announces in a heavy voice: "Gentlemen, we are becalmed".

I have been wondering about that word. Becalmed. No wind. In this instance, the ship is a "sitting duck" with the enemy attacking from both sides. It appears to be a death sentence. (But inevitably, it provides an opportunity for the hero Hornblower to come to a surprising rescue, and all ends well...)

We often speak of the "calm before the storm". Fear things with fangs in the dark when all is peaceful. A stalker in the night when all is still and an an unfamiliar sound makes you sit up in your bed. The unknown. The future.

While it is true that we live in "this present darkness" with the enemy as a prowling lion in the streets, Jesus stands over this lion, his jaws in His hands. He IS the oil for our lamps in the darkest night. He stands at the helm of a doomed ship and says. "My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, do not be afraid." (John 14:27). Be calmed.

Trust the calm. Don't question the gift. What we fear, most often does not come and whatever comes, has been foreseen and overcome with Him.