BEAUTY AND THE POOP

I bet all of you who are reading this have heard of the fary-tale Beauty and the Beast. It is featured in so many books and films that there’s more than one variation available.
But today I want to tell you a story which you haven’t heard, because very few people are as crazy as I am to post about a gross and nasty subject such as stinky poop!
Once upon a time lived a woman. Not only was she extraordinarily beautiful; she was very rich too, having the right man, the perfect home, the perfect job, and the perfect wardrobe. For purposes of this story, I shall call her Beauty.
But there was one problem: Beauty had some fertility issues, so she couldn’t have kids of her own.
Her inability to bear children affected her so badly that she cried about it every single day of her life.
She prayed about it. She went to doctors to check if there’s any solutions to her problem, but to no avail.
Then, years later, she started waking up every morning, and the bathroom would be the first place she’d go to, because she felt sick.
She also noticed that her period just wouldn’t come anymore, and as time passed by, her belly grew bigger.
So, she went to her doctor, not expecting to hear good news, because she is infertile, remember?
She was not at all prepared for the news: they’ve done some bloodwork on her, and miraculously, it was found that she was pregnant with the baby she longed for so much.
To the surprise of the doctor and her own, she had a very smooth pregnancy. In fact, she could even give natural birth and breastfeed without any problems! How unbelievable!
But, after the baby was born to her, Beauty discovered that she doesn’t like getting her hands dirty with poop, so she appointed a nanny to do that for her so she won’t have to put up with something so yucky!
One night, while the nanny was helping the cook out of the kindness of her heart, she burned herself with water. Beauty was left  having to take care of the business she tried so hard to avoid.
As she was changing her baby’s nappy, it dawned on her that having to do this  gross job was part of being a mommy, and she  realized that having to work with her baby’s poop wasn’t that bad at all.
The moral of the story: it doesn’t matter what ministry or job you’d like to go into, there’s always going to be nasty stuff you’ll have to deal with. Pastors have to deal with the effects of death on families, and sometimes, they even have to witness bad endings …
Engineers who like to work outside and who hate paperwork sometimes have to do some pen-pushing when they have to draw up plans.
The list goes on and on, but the point remains that you’re going to have to deal with stuff you don’t like to deal with.
Now, I don’t know the thoughts that may comfort you in this regard, because not all of us have the same beliefs, but for me, my comfort lies in the thought that I will never be given something which I  won’t be able to manage, because I believe that my Creator won’t put stuffin one’s life which one wouldn’t be able to handle. So, I’ll hang in there, and I suggest you do the same. You … can … do … it!!!

RIGHT THERE …

The other day, our electric kettle packed up, and because it costs more to have the element repaired or replaced than to buy a new electric kettle, we decided to purchase a new one.
Satisfied with our purchase, we left the grocery store and went home. We couldn’t wait to use our new electric kettle for the first time, so we were very excited to get home.
The first thing Des did as soon as he was in the kitchen was to open up the box which contained the kettle. But after opening it and packing ot the kettle, he found no plug for it. This infuriated him of course, because if we didn’t have the plug for it, it would be of no use to us as it can obviously not work without the plug. This also meant that we had to drive all the way back to the store to hold the staff accountable for the condition in which the item purchased was delivered to us.
It wasn’t the fact that we had to go back to the store in itself that bothered Des so much. To him, it was more about the time he’d have to waste, because he needed time to do some work which he brought home from the office and which needed to be completed before the next day.
When we got to the store, I stayed in the car, because it was near the end of the day, and I really didn’t feel like witnessing a fight, even if it was for a just cause. I don’t know if someone else can identify with this, but sometimes, I simply don’t feel like witnessing or taking part in any confrontations. This is quite contrary to the sort of personality type that’s being described as feisty, i think … But anyway, sometimes I’d rather take a backseat andleave others who have the strength to fight to do the fighting (despite having been described as confrontational in the past).
So he told the staff and the security that he got the kettle without the plug, upon which they informed him that the plug was inside the ketle. They also told him that he is not the first client to return to them with such a complaint, but that they unfortunately had to place the plugs inside the new kettles, because some people steal it out of the box and then they leave the kettle behind.
When we got home, we immediately had coffee made with boiled water from our new kettle. as we were waiting for the water to boil, we noticed that the light the kettle gives when it is switched on is blue. It’s the first time we own and saw a kettle that shines a blue light, and all of us think it’s pretty cool that the colour is blue for a change instead of the usual colours red or yellow.
The blue light makes Des and our son think of police vehicle lights, while it somehow reminds me of the blue star featured in Narnia III.
Des was still angry, but not at the staff this time. No, he was mad at himself, because he wasted time going to the store while the plug has been there all along and right in front of him … I comforted him though, reminding him that did so because he didn’t know where to look for it.
But don’t all of us do something like that some time in our life? I’m not necessarily talking about not looking in all the right places for physical stuff only; I’m talking about looking for answers to questions we have as well.
We all know that we can find many answers to questions we may have on Google, and we also know that not all questions can be googled, such as why life is so blooming unfair sometimes, or why some people just love to knowingly cause hurt and affliction to others, and so on and so forth.
Sometimes, the answer to a particular question or a particular something we’re looking for is right in front of us. The only thing standing between us and the answer or thing we want and discovering its good characteristics for which we didn’t necessarily bargain is our ignorance: we don’t know where (or sometimes even how) to look for it. Sometimes, all we have to do to save ourselves the trouble of looking for it in a place far away is to look right in front of us …  Many times, the answer is just … right there …

EVEN THE DEMONS TREMBLE

I have so many ideas as to the next blog entry I’d like to post. I have so many things to talk about. Yet, it’s as if I can’t bring myself to write them down, not because I’m lazy, but because I’m overwhelmed by the urge to share with you a post which I’ve written some moons ago when I still blogged with thoughts.com. I had to let go blogging there, because for some reason, I couldn’t get into my site …

Since I blogged there by first saving my entries as Word documents and then pasting the content into the edit field for the body text of the entry, I still have the content with me today. However, I had to make some amendments to the original to provide for the lapse in time, but here’s what I wrote and what I’d like to share from that time today.

The following story was sent to me in Afrikaans via Whatsapp years ago, and because it made me think of certain passages in Scripture which, in turn, caused me to read other Bible passages with the same theme, I just cannot help sharing it!

Once upon a timelived a Christian old lady who was so poor that she had to rely on the community for donations of food, clothes, and other groceries. The local Christian radio station knew about her circumstances and would regularly ask churches and others who were into charity for donations. It so happened that a devoted atheist heard about it and decided to trick the old lady. He called the radio station, asked them for her residential address, and requested his secretary to purchase some groceries and food and then to deliver it to the old lady with the following instruction:- “If the old lady enquires about the identity of the donor, tell her that it was sent to her by the devil.” Arriving at the old lady’s residence, the secretary could tell from its appearance that its inhabitant was severely poor, so she wasn’t surprised when the donation was received with great joy and gratitude. However, she was surprised when the old lady started to pack all the groceries away without enquiring about the identity of the donor.

After a few moments, the atheist’s secretary asked the old lady if she was curious to hear who sent her all these groceries, to which the old lady responded (wisely and calmly):- “No, child, that doesn’t matter, because even the devil obeys God’s orders just because God has spoken.”

Having read this story, I remembered something in the Bible about the devils fearing and trembling, and I also remembered that it was somewhere in the book of James, but I wasn’t sure of the context of this verse. So I typed in “James 1” and read this book until I found what I was looking for:

“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19)

The apostle James wrote this in the context of faith without works, making the point that it doesn’t help to confess with your tongue that you believe in God when your deeds don’t show it, so it means nothing if your brother or sister is hungry or needy, and you say, “God bless you” without even attempting to do something about his/her situation.

This verse, in turn, reminded me of Something Jesus said to the seventy people whom he sent to minister to the Jews in His name after their return when they reported to Him that the devils are subject to them when they did something in His name:

“I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:18-20)

Now, the reader has to understand one thing very clearly, which is that, if the story about the poor lady and the atheist is true, then neither the atheist nor his secretary in the story as told above is the devil, ok?It should not be our aim to make those who are in the world and who refuse to believe in Christ the object of our struggles with their arguments and the things they say and do to us in the name of liberation, freedom or reason. God loves the world (John 3:16), and not only did Jesus atone on the cross for the sins of those who believe in him, but also for the sins of the whole world! However, Satan is described as the Prince of this world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), and Paul wrote that it is this way with the minds of those people because the god of this world has blinded their minds (II Corinthians 4:3-4).

It is for this reason that we are told in at least two New Testament passages that the war of Christians are not against people, neither are their weapons of warfare the same as the weapons of the world.

“For though we walk in the flesh (live in the world), we do not war after the flesh (wage war as the world does). For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (or the weapons of the world), but mighty through God (or they have divine power) to the pulling down of (or demolish) strong holds; Casting down imaginations (arguments or reasonings) and every high thing (or pretention) that exalteth itself (sets itself up) against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of (make it obedient to) Christ.” (II Corinthians 10:3-5)

The following points are made very clear by the apostle Paul as we read this passage concerning the weapons of Christians:

1. People who are in Christ do not wage war in the same manner as those who are in the world, or else our warfare is carnal (fleshly) and cannot please God.
2. The weapons of our warfare are NOT carnal or typically human and/or secular, but are mighty or powerful only through God.
3. We have to use our spiritual weapons to demolish strong holds.
4. Our weapons have to cast down any argument or pretention which seems to exalt itself against the knowledge of God. An example of such an argument or pretencion can be found in Isaiah 14:13-14 where Satan’s attitude towards God while he was in heaven is addressed.
5. We have to imprison every thought, in other words, subject each thought in such a way that it is obedient to Christ.

Elsewhere, Paul wrote:

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:11-12)

Here, Paul makes it very clear that we do not wrestle against people, but against things that can’t be seen or observed in the physical realm.

It’s hard to do so, especially if the things said and done to you make you feel the painful sting that often accompanies mockery and rejection, but at least, the following can and does serve as comfort:

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.” (John 15:18-21)

In conclusion, I’d like to add that, if the atheists secretary asked the old lady in our story if she would have accepted a donation of groceries if she knew that the devil was the donor, then she could have responded that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father:

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17)

Wow! So it is indeed true that even the devil has to submit to God! I also find it hilarious that God can use people with ill intentions to accomplish His will, even if they mean to do evil!

TEAR BOTTLES AND BOOKS

No matter where you are in the world, it’s common knowledge that there are different kinds of bottles: glass bottles, plastic bottles, and so on. Then people label bottles according to their contents, for example, if you hear the term “coke bottle”, you know that it’s a bottle in which coke is (or has been) packaged. You also get water bottles which you take with you to the gym (if you gym) or which has to go in your pre-schoolers bag for the pre-school he/she attends in which water is poured for use during the time of the stay there.. And then, according to the Bible, there’s also such a thing as tear bottles! Did you know that?

In a secular sense, tear-shedding is often used as a therapeutical means to rid yourself of bottled-up negative emotions such as sadness, frustration, anger, and the like. Some use it as an effective tool to manipulate others to get from them the reaction they want, taking advantage of the love and soft nature of others, and there are some who firmly believe that weeping shows weakness.

As for me, although I feel better after having a good cry and laughing after that seems to me like sunshine after the rain, I don’t cry to get what I want, neither do I believe that crying is always a bad thing. I’m one of those who believe in a good cry every once in awhile. It really has done wonders for me in the past!

When it comes to spiritual life and meditation, I don’t know about you, but I have cried many tears privately, especially when talking to my Creator about something that really upsets me or when I’m expressing a desire to God by means of prayer. There’s not just one thing that can result in a tearful prayer; many things may give you reason to shed tears when you talk to God, and among these reasons are:

Tears of remorse/regret/shame for what’s been done;
Tears of joy;
Tears of supplication;
Tears of utter gratitude or thankfulness;
Tears of awe and wonder;
Tears of grief, pain or sadness;
Tears of compassion;
Tears of disappointment;
Or tears simply because words aren’t enough to express your heart to God.

From Scripture I only used to know that God sees our tears, or else, the Bible would not have said that there will be an end to the time of tears for those who suffered great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, because God will wipe away all tears from their eyes. There won’t be any need anymore to cry tears of compassion, supplication, sadness, regret/remorse, and the like, because things such as sorrow, death, crying, or pain, and the like will be non-existent and all things will be made new. I don’t think that there will even be room for tears of joy, gratitude, awe, or tears due to the lack of men to express their heart to God, because God will dwell among them and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

But, to be quite honest, this alone wasn’t enough to comfort me. Yes, I believe that, if you pray to God and believe He is there, He hears your prayers and will answer, even though we may not always like the answer. However, I have often wondered: are the tears we cry just body fluid that gets wiped off by tissues and that lands up in the dust bin? Are they really just part of the time when they pour down our faces? Is the hope that there will someday be no more tears the only comfort we have in this life, or could it be possible that there’s more to it?

Because I couldn’t seem to find an answer to these questions and be comforted by the hope in the belief that there will be a time of zero tears in future, I used to believe (without having any Scripture to starve my belief) that a prayer filled with many tears and only a few words has more value to God than a prayer with many words but no tears.

Then, yesterday morning, I read Psalm 56. As I read it, I was praying that Scripture over my husband as he is currently working his last month’s notice, and some of his colleagues, (or one in, particular), really seem to watch his every move so they can have something to say against him to score more points with the CEO for biting his back and getting him into trouble.

To those of you who acknowledge that there is such a thing as spiritual warfare, I recommend that you read this Psalm the next time it seems as if you (or someone with whom you happen to fellowship) are constantly being attacked by people around you whose only aim seems to be to find something against you so they can get you into trouble. That’s because in that Psalm, David talks about slanderers pursuing him all day long, attacking him in their pride by always twisting his words and plotting to harm him.

But anyway, returning to the subject of what I read and prayed, I was reading the Psalm out loud, and then I would pause after each verse to reflect on it. I remember specifically praying that my husband’s first reflex at the moment he becomes aware of the attack against him must be to trust in God’s Word, not fearing whatever men can do to him, no matter what happens.

Then, verse 8 in particular got my attention, and I admit that I reflected a lot longer on that specific verse than all the others in that Psalm. In the King James Version, it reads: “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?”

Wait, I thought to myself. Let’s stop the bus right here and now! What’s this thing about tears in bottles and books? How can they be in both at the same time? What do other English translations say in the same verse?

Remember now, English is NOT my first language, so I had to turn to other English translations that are easier to read and to which I have access, so I consulted the NIV first, because although NIV is most definitely not my first choice when I have to read the Bible in English, it has often helped me to understand what’s being said on a level suitable for second language readers.

Verse 8 in the last-mentioned translation reads: “Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll {Or [put my tears in your wineskin]} — are they not in your record?”

Except for helping me to understand that the term “wanderings” as used in the King James Version doesn’t mean to go astray, but that it refers to lamenting, the part where “bottle” is translated to mean “whineskin” had me a little confused, so I closed NIV and consulted the Young’s Literal Translation, which is a much more literal translation of the Bible, and where verse 8 reads: “My wandering Thou hast counted, Thou — place Thou my tear in Thy bottle, Are they not in Thy book?” Again the references to tears being placed in a bottle and a book.

Thus, from the study I’ve done on this in my capacity as a lay person who makes mistakes but desires to be a difference-maker and not being a theologian who studied for years and who may have expert knowledge as to the correctness of the way in which the Hebrew texts were translated, I take this verse to mean that God indeed takes note of each and every prayer made, more specially so if tears are involved. Physically, we feel the tears flowing down our faces when we tearfully pray, and we use tissues or something alike to remove all traces of our crying so that we may look better, but also so that others don’t see that we’ve cried. And when we cry before people, the only thing they can really do is to help us clean our faces and give us advice as to how to proceed when having to deal with toxic people in life.

Yet, in another unseen dimention, something so unbelievably amazing and astonishing happens to the tears we cry while talking to God. Not only does God take note of our lamentations; our tears are captured in bottles, and records are being kept of our lamentations! This means that we don’t have to feel guilty about crying because we think we’re spending our time in an unproductive way when we cry, because our tears are being packaged in bottles, and our lamentations to God are being recorded. Wow!That’s, good news worth sharing indeed!
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