Monthly Archives: January 2018

MOLLY AND ME – FEAR

Molly has developed an irrational fear.

For some reason that I cannot understand, she is terrified of my fly swatter. Whenever I swat a fly (and they come in droves, uninvited, when I start to cook dinner) or kill a mosquito, she runs into my neighbour’s house (I live in a granny flat on the property of my son’s parents-in-law) and jumps onto her lap for protection.

Now, Molly has never been abused because I bought her from a breeder at the age of 6 weeks. I have never disciplined her physically, so she has no reason to be afraid of me. In every other way, she trusts me and is affectionate towards me to the point of being clingy at times when I have been out for a while.

Once again, she reminds me of many believers, including me in the past, who mistakenly believer, through ignorance, that difficulties and hard times in our lives mean that God is punishing us for something we have done. We are afraid of God; we don’t trust Him because we think that He is waiting to give us a hard time because of sin.

Satan has a field day in our minds. We hear his accusing voice when we have sinned and we believe the guilt we feel because we are ignorant of the truth. What is the truth?

So now, there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And, because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death (Rom 8:1-2 – NLT).

When Jesus died on the cross, He paid the penalty for all the sin of all people for all time. God is not angry with us when we sin, but sin does disrupt our fellowship with Him. We must acknowledge that He is right and we are wrong when we have sinned and receive the forgiveness and cleansing of the blood of Jesus that He freely gives us (1 John 1:9).

Why does God allow us to have hardships in our lives if it is not punishment for sin? The writer to the Hebrews gives us the answer.

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? …Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines is for our good, that we might share in His holiness (Heb. 12:7, 10 – NIV).

God passionately longs that we trust Him so implicitly that we never doubt His love, even when we go through hard times. It is in the difficulties we face that we learn that, in all things, He is working for our good that we might become like Jesus, the perfect Son who always trusted His Father’s love, even when He was crucified.

How can I communicate to Molly that I love her and that I would never do anything to hurt her. She does not understand my language and I cannot speak “dog”! I can only demonstrate my love by showing her in my actions that whatever I do is for her good – even to killing the flies that contaminate her food.

But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8 – NLT).

God wants us to trust that love when trouble and hardships come so that we live our lives every day without fear.

And, as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So, we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love (1 John 4:17-18). 

 

MOLLY AND ME – WARFARE

Molly is a warrior.

At least she thinks she is! She challenges every dog in the street, no matter how big or small they may be, as we walk by (as long as they are safely behind a secure gate or high wall, of course). All 5 kg of her is pure aggression, despite her being well-socialised as a puppy.

She is also desperate to take on every pair of heels that runs or walks by and, with dedicated hatred, every domestic worker who wields a mop or broom. I have to keep a vigilant eye for potential trouble and a tight hold on her leash so that we arrive home after our walk intact. When it’s cleaning day, Molly is confined to barracks, much to her extreme frustration, lest the cleaning lady go home with a few puncture wounds in her ankles!

She loves to “rumble” with her best friends with fierce growls which makes the play-fighting sound like a serious battle. Watch out if the play gets too rough for her! She loses her temper and devoted owners have to break up a vicious dog-fight.

Molly reminds me of many believers who have been taught or feel the need to flush out and attack demons behind every bush. They love the idea of “spiritual warfare” and engage in it as often as possible. I am acquainted with a Christian lady who is so enthusiastic about her “warfare” that she verbally attacks any unsuspecting person, believer or unbeliever, who happens to say something that does not agree with her theology.

To people like these, addictions and habits, and even character traits are demonic and the poor “victim” needs to be delivered, and particularly through the person who has a “deliverance ministry”. Many of these people flock to gatherings where some well-known exorcist works on them to “cast out” the demon or demons oppressing them.

I have no doubt that there is huge demonic activity in the world today. Satan knows that his time is short and he still wields his most potent weapons, fear and deception, to ensnare as many as he can, including believers who have not grasped the significance of the cross.

When Jesus cried out His final words of victory, “It is finished!”, He meant it with every fibre of His being, He whipped the devil, once and for all, exposing his as the lying imposter he is for claiming the lordship which belongs to Jesus alone.

The war we, as Jesus’ followers, are engaged in is not with the devil. Jesus overcame him once and for all time at the cross. The Apostle Paul counselled us to stand – not fight – with the weapon of truth, the Word of God. The war is in our own hearts, the battle against everything that would challenge our knowledge and experience of faith in Jesus. Paul admonished his son in the faith, Timothy, to “fight the good fight of faith”.

Our flesh is at war with our spirits and our spirits with the flesh. Whatever takes away from our faith in Jesus for the grace to meet every situation and need through His strength, must be ruthlessly challenged by the truth of God’s Word. Satan still tries to sow his lies into our minds so that we worry and fear instead of steadfastly believing the Word and trusting the Holy Spirit for the power to overcome.

No, my brothers and sisters, we do not need deliverance. Jesus delivered us from the dominion of darkness through His death – once for all. We need transformation by the renewing of our minds. (Romans 12: 1-3). Don’t waste your time engaging demons. They, and their master, are finished.

Instead, fill your minds with the truth of who Jesus is, the Son of the living God, and who you are, a beloved, forgiven and blood-washed son or daughter of God, filled with His Spirit and given the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

MOLLY AND ME – DIET

Molly is on diet!

Of course, she must be on diet because she’s a dog. Just as for we humans, not all foods are good for her. Besides that, she is a spayed female which means that, without careful control, she could put on weight and add strain to her elongated spine. It’s up to me, her human mom, see that she eats the correct food in the correct quantities and proportions. Her staple diet is her kibble – scientifically produced to provide the correct amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and every other dietary ingredient for her health and well-being. If it worked that way, everything would be perfect.

However, being an indulgent mom who spoils her dog rotten, I also give her a little bit of chicken, an odd piece of steak left over from my friend’s healthy appetite when we “eat out”, a sprinkling of cheese here and there and, horror of horrors, a corner of my toast liberally spread with butter and a bite of my biscuit – just because she looks at me pleadingly with her big brown eyes – and I can’t say no.

Unfortunately, the scientists didn’t take Molly into account. The highlight of our daily “walkies” is to sniff out every discarded bone, mouldy piece of bread or decaying delicacy and devour it quickly before I can stop her. Her taste for junk food is insatiable!

Are we not, God’s children, often just like Molly? God has provided His own perfect spiritual food for us, a balanced diet of teaching, rebuke, correction and instruction in righteousness in His Word (2 Tim. 3:16). However, some of us have an insatiable appetite for spiritual “junk food” which we sniff out on our walk with Jesus. We run after questionable and unbiblical teachings, popular, widespread, and often very plausible, because they capture our imagination or satisfy our craving to feed our “flesh”.

Take the “prosperity gospel” or the “faith teaching” for example. The prosperity gospel satisfies (and justifies) our craving for material things. Does God want us to be rich? Most definitely, yes, but not rich in material possessions. In fact, Paul gives some serious warnings against the craving to be rich (1 Tim. 6:9-10). Jesus told a parable about a rich farmer whose selfish attitude when he reaped a bumper crop, brought God’s judgment on the greedy man. The same judgment, death, will fall on all those who are not rich towards God. Wealth gathered by so-called spiritual teachers falsely cajoling gullible people to”sow seed” into their ministry is not “God’s blessing” as some claim, It is a con trick to extort money in the name of Jesus to enrich themselves.

What about the so-called “faith teaching” or “name it and claim it”? Again, this is a subtle and dangerous message which panders to the flesh. This is not faith – it is presumption. Jesus told Satan that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.  Faith is built on what God promises us, not on what we claim and then “believe God” for what we want. Yes, God’s promises are all “Yes” in Christ, and we speak the “amen” to the glory of God. However, It is God who speaks to us, not we who manipulate Him through His word.

Just as I hold the leash and guide Molly away from the junk food she so readily wants to devour, the Holy Spirit who lives in us who believe in Jesus, guides us into all truth. He feeds us on Jesus, the living bread, so that we remain spiritually healthy and true to Jesus and His Word.

Let’s listen to the Spirit and use God’s Word as the measure of truth by which we live.

MOLLY AND ME – CONTENTMENT

“Me” time! Do you have “me” time?  From 5 to 7 in the morning is strictly my time – and Molly knows it.

After she has had her little run outside to do the necessary – and sometimes that includes exploring the same garden she has explored dozens of times before – she comes inside and waits patiently for me to pick her up and position her on my recliner.

With a deep sigh of contentment, she lies beside me, puts her head on my leg and continues her sleep as though nothing had intervened, not even an exciting interlude in the garden!

During the day, after my chores are done, I sit in my chair and work with my hands, crocheting, knitting, writing or reading while Molly enjoys a nap in her bed at my feet. As long as she is near me or can see me, she is contented. I watch her and take a leaf from her book.

What is contentment?

The tenth commandment says, “You shall not covet.” I think that covetousness is the antithesis of contentment. Discontent is another word for covetousness. Discontent is a slap in God’s face. In our hearts we are saying, “God, you shortchanged me. Why did you give me such a raw deal?” I look at someone else’s station in life and wish it were mine. He has money, prestige, a better job, a better house/car etc., and in my heart I grumble and complain.

Instead of enjoying what I have and making the best of my life, I waste precious time dwelling on what I don’t have and insulting my Father’s love for me because I think I know better than He does what is good for me.

Like Molly, I want to live in the moment, passionately loving the one who loves and cares for me, and sit one His lap or at His feet, contented to know that He always does what is best for me. I want to be like Paul who said:

I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ who gives me the strength. (Phil.4:12-13)

Surely, nothing can shake the one whose trust is in the love of the Father. We can save ourselves a great deal of stress and all the physical side effects if we settle down in His lap and let Him order our lives for us.

True godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into this world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. (1 Tim. 6:6-7)

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOLLY AND ME – PERSISTENCE

Molly gets ten out of ten for persistence.

I take Molly for a walk every afternoon… Well, let’s be honest. Most of the time she takes me for a walk… actually, we go “drag racing”! She drags, and I race! You see, she hasn’t yet learned who is the boss and who is the dog and who is supposed to be taking whom for a walk.

In the middle of a hot South African summer, she doesn’t understand that 3pm is far too early to walk. When she wants to go, she wants to go. There are so many new smells and sights and sounds out there that she can’t wait to start her new adventure.

She starts by jumping up and down next to my recliner to get my attention. When I acknowledge her and bend down to pick her up, she stays just out of reach so that I have to get out of my chair to grab her. That’s the signal to run out of the door and wait. “Are you coming?” she looks back at me.

When I remonstrate with her that it’s too early to go w-a-l-k-i-e-s (I dare not say the word in case I really set off the excitement), she carries out the same ritual until she finally gets the message that we are not going yet. In great disappointment, she lies in her bed or paces the small enclosure outside my front door until it’s time to go. Even if the wind is blowing a gale, she always wins!

Once again, Molly reminds me that persistence is a quality that God loves to honour. Not that we have to twist His arm or overcome His reluctance to answer us by continual nagging. Jesus insisted that our Father knows what we need before we ask Him.

Why, then, does God want us to pray persistently or even pray at all if He is far more aware of our needs than we are? I believe that there are at least three reasons, if not more, for God’s desire that we pray.

1. God wants us to have fellowship with Him. What if we never had to ask for anything? What if we never prayed? He uses our needs and struggles to get our attention so that we will come to Him as our heavenly Father to express our dependence on Him as His children.

2. God wants us to trust Him. Adam’s rebellion has left us, in our old sinful natures, with an inborn mistrust of God as our loving Father. Of course, our arch enemy, the devil, through all the influences of the world around us, stokes the fires of unbelief in our hearts.

Our journey of learning to trust Jesus is a lifetime journey, one day at a time, one need at a time. How spineless we would be if God gave us everything we wanted, everything we needed every time we asked! He gives us only what is good for us in HIS time. He is working to a far bigger timetable and a bigger plan than our little lives demand.

3. God wants us to glorify Him. When we come to Him with small, inconsequential need, we don’t realise that He wants to show us just how great He is. That’s really the most important reason for us to pray because, through His answers to our needs, big or small, we get to know Him, and knowing Him builds our faith, and our faith pleases Him (Heb. 11:6) and, in the end, it’s all about Him.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish more than we might ask or think. (Eph. 3:20).

So, let’s go “walkies” with Jesus. We never know what exciting adventures we may encounter on the way!