He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not

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by Calven Celliers

One morning this week I watched as my beautiful little Livvy played in the garden. She lovingly explored all the different flowers, a wide variety of colours, shapes, sizes, and scents. As she stood and gently inspected some white daisies, I was reminded of a childhood game that many of you are no doubt familiar with … He (or she) loves me; He loves me not!

As you hold a daisy in your hand, you slowly pull off one petal at a time saying, “He (or she) loves me; he loves me not. He loves me; he loves me not.” With each proclamation of your heart throbs love for you (or their non-love for you), you pull another petal from the poor little flower. As you know, the point of this silly game is to arrive at the final petal on a “He loves me!” because that is of course the universal “sign” that the other person actually loves you.

As we mature and grow, we all realise that this game is quite ridiculous and naturally childish, yet I cannot help but think that in some ways many Christians still play it! Somewhere along the way we’ve reduced God’s love to something as random as hoops we must jump through in the hope of earning God’s love.

Christianity is, to the best of my knowledge, the only world religion where someone (Jesus) comes along and pays the penalty for you. Other religions focus on what you have do to earn your salvation, while Christianity is about what Christ has done on your behalf that guarantees your salvation. Many Christians, however, don’t live in the reality of this acceptance and grace, instead they portray a story based on performance and conformity. The path of trying to please God and earn His love is a tiresome system incapable to change human lives but tragically capable of exhausting and devastating them. When I think about all of the mistakes that I’ve made, and how I’ve made a right royal mess of things at times, I sigh a sigh of grateful thanks to God for taking my brokenness and shame and breathing restoration and redemption into it.

“God won’t stop loving us when we mess up. The central message of the Bible is this: God doesn’t love you because of who you are or what you’ve done but because of who He is and what He has done.” (Rick Warren)

Being secure in the love of God for you is essential to healthy Christian living. God’s love is fundamental to our identity as His children, because if we aren’t rooted and grounded in the unconditional love of God, we will be like untethered buoys being tossed about in the sea. It may seem elementary that God loves you, but there is no force more powerful than the love our heavenly Father has for us, His children. So great is His love for you and me that He sent His only Son to die that we might live through Him.

In the Gospel of John 17: 25 & 26 Jesus makes a statement about how great the depth of God’s love is for us:

25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17: 25 – 26ESV)

Do you fully comprehend that God loves you the way He loves Jesus? There is nothing you can do that will ever make God love you any more, or any less. His love for you is complete! You don’t have to work for His affection. You don’t have to get your act together before God can pour out His love over you. The father in the prodigal son story ran out to meet his son before anything had ever been set right. He didn’t know his son was there to apologize. He didn’t care. He simply wanted to love his child. Our heavenly Father feels exactly the same way about us.

God loves YOU!

Have an awesome day,

Calven

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Reflections from a Mother’s Heart

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by Caryl Moll

Many years ago, when my children were small, I discovered this little treasure while browsing in a book store one day. I was intrigued. It stirred a deep creative spark in me. I peeped inside…

It was a simple book with pretty blank pages ready to be filled. A journal really, with writing prompts at the top of each page for a mother to write up her story. Each page offered a question. Some questions were simple; like ‘What is your favourite recipe?’ or ‘Tell me about your first kiss…’ Other prompts were more complicated questions, like: “When did you first hear about Jesus?” and “What is the biggest mistake you have ever made?”

The intention of this book was for us mothers to leave a written legacy for our children – things we’d like to tell them, or emphasize, or to fill in the gaps of our lives before we pass on.

mothers heart

But think about it; this leads to another question…

Why would we want to do this? Why do we want our children to know certain things about us? Why do we want to transfer such knowledge to them?

The answer is simple. It lies in our innate need to protect our children; to help them avoid the pitfalls of this life, so that the hard consequences of mistakes won’t fall on their shoulders. We want them to flourish and be happy. It’s every parent’s wish.

The reality, however, is that our makeup as human beings ensures that we will all choose and chart our own course in this life. We will make our own decisions and will also make some horrible mistakes along the way. Sometimes we’ll choose a completely stupid direction even whilst knowing the potential dangerous consequences. Life is about choices. And yes, we can make some really stupid ones!

I eventually purchased this little book and set about writing in it. It is by no means complete and I’ve discovered that my ideas change over the years. It does, however, share some of my life experiences. It’s a gift to my children … and possibly to my grandchildren one day. My writing is open and honest and candidly imparts some of my accumulated “knowledge of life” over the years. It shares my love of God and the life He has given me. It’s part of my overall creative effort to leave something positive and of value for those who live after me.  I know that my advice given in my little book may not be heeded. The choice is always up to them….they can take it or leave it.

Similarly, when I study the book of Proverbs and the amazing advice Solomon left us, (inspired by God himself), I am reminded of my own book.  I am also reminded of the love I have for my own children and my need to protect and guide them. This is exactly the same sentiment in the book of Proverbs. Its purpose is to impart wisdom and discipline for understanding and insight – so that we will lead prudent lives (Prov 1:2)…and more.

8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
    and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.

 And just before this verse there is another bit of valuable advice:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
    but fools
 despise wisdom and instruction.

This ‘fear’ that this verse talks about is not the ‘scared’ kind, but rather the ‘wide-mouthed-wonder’ kind when we finally get to understand this Biblical knowledge. It’s that ‘lightbulb’ moment when we stop and wonder ‘Why did I do that when I knew the consequences would be so bad? Did God not warn me?’

Just like our parents and us, the parents/grand-parents of our own children, God’s intention is always one of love and nurturing. He’s left us so many books of knowledge and wisdom to consult … when we choose to do so.

The question is: Will we take His advice?

 

With love, in Christ

Caryl

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A Mother’s Prayer

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by Graham Mol

While looking for lyrics to a certain song I had heard, I came across another with a similar title. Before I moved on I read through the words and found in them a beautiful prayer that I would like to share with you. The song that these word’s come from is called A Mother’s Prayer (Hannah’s Song) by Rachel Aldous. The song beautifully captures the heart of mother lovingly praying over her child that they may grow up to know and serve the Lord. It draws upon the example of Hannah the mother of Samuel the Prophet, as she had fervently prayed with all her heart to have a child, for up to then she had been barren. When God answered her prayer by giving her a son, she dedicated him to the Lord’s service, taking him to grow up and serve in the temple once he had been weaned.

These are Hannah’s words to Eli the priest as she presented Samuel to him.

I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he (Samuel) worshiped the Lord there. – (1 Samuel 1:27-28)

Hannah’s prayer is one echoed by many godly parents as they pray that their child may grow up to love and serve the Lord.

In the song itself there is a spoken prayer of blessing upon the child, but it is also one that we can pray for one another, young or old, near to God or far from Him. This is a blessing that we can give out of the love that we have for someone.

May God grant you peace in the midst of a storm.
May God give you strength even when you’re forlorn.

May you answer the door when Jesus comes knocking.
May wisdom guide when your mouth is talking.

May discretion protect you and keep you pure.
May you never stumble or fall for a lure.

May your heart remain humble to the very end.
May uprightness and truth be what you defend.

May the world not ensnare or change who you are.
May the light that’s within you shine like the stars.

May angels surround you body, spirit, mind.
May favor and peace be yours to find.

May rejection and pain never reach you.
May your spirit grow bold for what you’re called to.

As you rest in God’s care I will rest, too.
Knowing that Jesus is watching over you.

Amen

God Bless

Graham

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The Tracker

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by Caryl Moll

As we relished the late afternoon game drive and the undulating, dusty roads in the Sabi Sands game reserve, I took a moment to study the seasoned tracker at the very front of the vehicle. He was perched on a small, makeshift seat fixed to the bonnet of the vehicle – fully exposed to all the elements. I was aware that there must have been times when elephants and lions approached him and he’d sit silently and unmoving while they moved past him. All would agree that it’s a brave, sometimes dangerous job. You wouldn’t catch me on that seat!

Between the tracker and the ranger at the wheel, they were totally focussed on their task of finding animals for their guests. The tracker’s eyes scouted the landscape: on the road for tracks, in the bush for movement and in the sky for any aerial predators. He, in particular, was so attuned to his environment – listening out for alarm calls, slight movements in the bush, indeed anything that would aid his search for the prize. All of this was done in silence as he aligned himself with the bush and the amazing surrounding ecosystem. And we were rewarded too. That afternoon we saw all of the ‘Big 5’ on a single game drive. I was in awe of their skill and focus.

We stopped for sundowners as the sun dipped towards the horizon. Beautiful silhouettes of bedraggled trees dotted the African landscape. I approached the tracker for a chat – curious to find out more about his personal story.

He told me that he was one of seven children and had given up his ambition of being a doctor to pursue his father’s profession – tracking. He smiled with pride. As a young boy, he’d been put in charge of the family’s cattle. It was a big responsibility being a herdsman – simply because he was in charge of the family’s wealth. His dad had initially encouraged him to study the footprints of the family’s cows – to put all to memory. He knew each one by name and could tell by the track if they were vital, sick or injured.  At times, the cows got lost too. Then he’d follow the footprint of the one cow that had the “odd” hoof. It always led him to the rest of the herd. He knew his cows well. Tracking was simply and extension of that principle.

I remember a similar image of the herdsmen I’d personally encountered as a young child. Some of our own cows responded to his varying whistles and the young herdsman would greet them as they came running. He knew his cows!

And so does the shepherd – He knows his sheep too…

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27

We all know this passage so well, but during my discussion with the tracker it was brought home to me so much more. He knows his animals well; every detail of their behaviour. He knows the threats they will face, their potential adversaries and what it takes for them to be successful in this life.

Like our own guide – our Lord. Our very footprints are recognised by our Lord. Our voices too. And we, in turn, hear His voice – especially when we are lost. It’s a wonderful illustration of how we walk alongside our Lord in this life; how He directs our paths and knows when we are ailing. He calls (perhaps whistles) and it’s up to us to respond.

In an ironic way, the guide on our vehicle and the tracker were acting out their intuitive understanding of their role in that fragile environment. They are, to some extent, its protectors, and contribute to keeping the ecosystem intact. They are conservationists – they accept the joys and the hardships and that every being has an intricate role to play in its life.

As human beings, we too are part of this world. We have a guide and a tracker at our side at all times. It’s one of the greatest joys of being a Christian. I am grateful to have a loving Father who walks alongside me in this world. And I offer my prayer of thanks:

Thank you, Father, for being my guide

for always being at my side.

For calling when I’m on the wrong way

and holding me tight on that difficult day.

Thank you for loving me and allowing me to know

That it’s through You that I’ll reach my ultimate glow.

 

With love, in Christ

Caryl

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