Sunday, October 25, 2009

Grungy Green

The state of our swimming pool sent my mind back to the 'Just So' story by Rudyard Kipling about Elephant's Child who wanted to know what the crocodile ate for dinner. He travelled until he met Crocodile on the banks of the 'great, grey, green, greasy, Limpopo River, all set about with fever trees'.
We don't have fever trees, but we do have a variety of pine trees - especially over the wall in the neighbours garden - which generously shed their needles and flowers into our pool every year. So much so that the pump and filter struggle to cope. This year, the pump decided it had had enough and 'gave up the ghost' on us - just when we needed it's services most to 're-sparkle' the pool. Ah well!
This is the current state of our own great, grey, green, greasy body of water after a week during which a new pump, and sand-filter, and housing has been installed (see the photo righhand top section). We now have to empty the rest of the water out and clean the sand and other stuff from the bottom of the pool before we fill it and get it all going again.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dragging heels

It happens every now and again, but fortunately not very often. About a week ago I had a call from a mother whose daughter had had an unfortunate and traumatic experience and was experiencing sleep problems - and the mother wanted to bring the girl to me for ministry. We arranged vaguely for one day but a time was not confirmed and I ended up having to conduct a funeral that day - so the day was changed and a time set for midday today. They duly arrived, and the daughter said her mom didn't need to be present to we sat down. When I asked if she would like to talk about what had happened and how she was dealing with it, she said: 'No. I've got over it in my own way'. So, that was that - she really didn't want to be there with me! So much for mothers!
Well, as she had been brought I talked in general about trauma and 'flashbacks' that could happen unexpectedly, and the need to be 'freed' from what had happened - and she agreed that I could pray for her. I then encouraged her to pray herself for the perpetrator, to speak her mind as it were to the person, and to hand the person over to Jesus for correction and healing - which she did. And that was the end of it all.
Her mother was very surprised when we appeared afterwards as she imagined we would spend quite a long time talking.
I ask myself - was she really there against her will, and just because her mother wanted her to be there. Or had she really worked through the issue. But it is not for me to know - God is present and active in her life and all I can do is entrust her to Him. She did say that she would be sharing her testimony about this with her youth group this evening, and asked that we pray for wisdom and sensitivity and the right words and approach for her to use - which we did. I think she was showing a fair degree of maturity in this - but at the same time I am concerned that she does not believe that she has been much affected.
I pray that her youth group and leaders will be supportive and not judgemental, and that they will be there for her should she 'breakdown' emotionally. I pray too for the strength and resilience and passion of youth to make a difference in their worlds.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


As a young child I was often amazed at my dad when we traveled anywhere on holiday. It seemed that whatever route we drove, and whatever insignificant (to me) town we passed through, there was always an "I wonder if so and so still lives here". Fortunately we didn't often stop to check the telephone directory and find out if that long-since-seen distant relative or friend was still around. I think - at that age - I would have found it very frustrating and an intrusion on our holiday time! However, the older I get the more aware I become of connections that make the world a much smaller place than we would imagine.

Recently a very close friend of mine (Marcia) celebrated her sister's (Bev)60th birthday. I saw the photos on facebook. In some of them are a couple that I know. The connection is this: Marcia's sister Bev is married to Arno. Arno has a sister Anne who is married to Richard. Richard has a sister Rose who is my sister-in-law. Now how is that for a small world?
Seems to me that it all comes from having sisters!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Love Languages

We are preaching a series on Gary Chapman's '5 Love Languages of God' in our Sunday evening services. In reflecting on the love languages in preparation from my sermons, I realised why I didn't want to come home from visiting Ian and Julz in Ireland. My primary love language is 'quality time' - of which I got plenty over there. Julz and I went for walks and shopping and didn't stop talking while I was awake. Then the three of us went on a tour of the south and we had 24/7 quality time with each other. My tank was full, full, full to overflowing! What a blessing those two weeks were:)

District 9

Don't waste your time. The first half-hour of the movie is a fair satire on the xenophobia that occurred here in 2008 - beginning around the time of the Zimbabwe elections (!!) - but the rest is rather pathetic in my opinion.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Work and Rewards

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had once failed an entire class. That class had insisted that socialism worked, and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich: a great equalizer. The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism. All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade, so no one would fail and no one would receive an A.

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset, and the students who studied little were happy.
As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less, and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too, so they studied little. The second test average was a D! No one was happy.
When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

The scores never increased, as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings, and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

All failed, to their great surprise; and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great; but when government takes the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

It could not be any simpler than that.

The following profound short little paragraph says it all:
"You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom.
What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."
Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931.

Cleaning up

I have been watching the Kreepy doing its job of cleaning the pool for quite a while. From the photo below you will notice what I have been observing - that there are a few areas that the Kreepy is avoiding. No matter how long it runs, it manages to skirt around these areas leaving them untouched - as if those areas did not exist. That got me thinking about how there are areas in our lives that we ignore - things that we refuse to deal with, pretending that they do not exist - even denying that they could possibly be there. Although we skirt around them and even perhaps imagine that they are invisible - it is clear to onlookers that those areas are desperately in need of attention. Throwing a handful of chlorine onto the dirt may create a little patch of white on the brown in the pool, but when the chlorine is dissolved in the water, the brown is the same as ever. In the same way, we may say that Christ has forgiven our sins, but if we do not attend to the transformation of our behaviour or attitudes, the 'dirt' is visible to those around us even though we may deny its presence and effect in our lives.

The remedy for the pool is to shorten the hose between the Kreepy and the pump so that it cannot skirt those dirty areas so easily, and also to stir up the dirt by brushing it and spreading it around to that it will be sucked up from a wider area. In the same way the dirt within may need to be stirred up and disseminated into smaller bits that can be dealt with progressively and systematically - but the most important of all is to shorten the distance between us and our 'pump' - the One who exchanges death for life. We then find that dealing with the unattractive in our lives is not such a daunting task after all - and the onlookers will celebrate with us as our lives are transformed to sparkling clarity.