Monday, September 17, 2018

Birthdays, long life and blessings.

It was my birthday the other day, 63 years old now. Lots of kisses and hugs and then there was cake and presents with my family all around me. My dad died of cancer when he was about fifty years old so I've definitely been blessed. Thank you Lord.

Matthew 24 verse 28; Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. verse 40; Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken, the other left; two women grinding at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.

These are the  scriptures I awoke to this morning. At the time Jesus was talking to his disciples about the end of the age. I'm of the opinion that we all have two lives withing us, the physical and the spiritual. The physical encompasses our bodies, our monetary status, our possessions and so on but the spiritual life has to do with how we treat other people, the environment, our thoughts and of course what we think of ourselves.
My thoughts early this morning were "What do you mean by this and why am I thinking about this instead of being able to sleep?" Well I've been think about this all morning, (it's nearly noon here at the time of this writing) and this is what I've come up with; Vultures eat flesh and a dead body doesn't have any spirit. So as far as I can tell, what Jesus is saying here is to do with the two parts of our lives being separated, the body lying on the ground with all our possessions and wealth while the spiritual side of us going to answer for all our badness and goodness. When we die nothing goes with us except the truth. One thing that does go with believers is the assurance of Jesus standing before God the Father proclaiming His claim on us with His forgiveness.
You can imagine getting to stand before God and having to answer to Him about everything we've ever done. No, lawyers and pharisees will not be able to twist the truth in order to get around things the way they do here in the world. There is a scripture where Jesus tells the lawyers and pharisees "You clean the outside of the cup but the inside is brimful of lies and hypocrisy." I try to keep the inside of the cup clean but I must tell you it's not easy, when driving down the road and someone cuts me off, when someone breaks into my home and steals what few possessions I have or when I see how politicians lie to their constituents.These things drive me nuts but in order to keep the inside of the cup clean I have to keep control of my thoughts, definitely not easy.
Jesus tells us "No one knows the day or the hour, keep awake so that the day doesn't close on you like a trap."
My dad died very young and for some reason I got it into my head that I was going to die at the age of 49. Well that didn't happen but I've lived everyday since then under the impression I was going to die young and end up answering for all my faults every day. Somehow I've survived for way longer than my dad did but I'm still very aware of my mortality and fortunately this has kept me in line. Thank you Lord, You have granted me log life to enjoy the fullness of Your salvation.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Monotheism

As far as I have been able to ascertain the Hebrew religion was the first monotheistic religion. Before that people all over the world were worshiping a whole plethora of gods including the planets orbiting serenely around the sun even stars and galaxies far out in the heavens. Can you imagine how difficult it must have been to convince the Hebrews that they were to give up all their gods and to worship only one, Yahweh.
We all know about the disobedience of the Israelites while wandering about in the wilderness and again in later ages but in truth this was something unheard of throughout history and all they had was the word of some scary old man and things happening that did not make sense at all. But God had to establish once and for all that the planets and stars were under His control and anything that happened was by His hand and His hand only.
Nowadays we are quite Au fait with the concept of there being only one God, all powerful, all seeing everywhere all at the same time, but in those days things were different. The people of the time would appeal to one god but if that didn't work out they would appeal to another and so on and so on. Of course they were not appealing to the one true God. There was a consequence in appealing to the one true God though, they had to be obedient to whatever He told them to do and that included banishing all the other gods whom their ancestors had worshiped.
There is a huge advantage to having only one leader though. I'm a carpenter and at times have worked with other carpenters on a project where this "one leader" policy has worked out just fine. I was what is known in the set building industry as a leading hand, one leading hand with a few set builders, carpenters and assistants under my leadership. On occasion, when two leading hands happened to be working on the same part of the build, chaos reigned. Much better to have only one leading hand working with a crew, less confusion and excellent results.
I'm sure God would have had the same problem with the Israelites, more than one god and confusion and there was no way He was going to put up with that. "There is only one God in charge and if you obey me then I'll make sure everything works out the way that is best for the whole project. But if you decide to follower the "leadership" of some other god then I will not interfere and you can get the results that come about."
I know what it means to have your crew just do their own thing and make a complete mess of whatever they are supposed to be building. I also know what it means to have them do exactly what I asked them to do and hey presto! Success. I can't imagine God wanting us to just go about doing our own thing but in this case God has appointed his Son Jesus to the position of leading hand and He's right beside us guiding our efforts for the purpose building God's Kingdom. How cool is that?


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

What is Spirit?

Wow! what a difficult question to answer. We have heard of the Holy Spirit, well people who read the Bible have, we've heard of "In the spirit of love" and a "spirit of hatred" A spirit of adventure, an adventurous spirit and so on and so on but what does that little word really mean. We can't see spirit or touch it or taste it but somehow it influences our thoughts. When we have a spirit of hatred within us we tend to think destructive and murderous thoughts towards others. Something like bomb attacks, knife attacks and in fact any kind of attack, all are spirit of hatred motivated acts, very sad and unnecessary. Of course the Holy Spirit garners feelings of love, compassion and empathy in those who have been anointed with the Holy Spirit. But not everyone has been anointed this way, only those who ask God for His anointing.
So, what is spirit? It's not our thoughts, they are influenced by the spirit we have within us. Nor is it our actions which are a consequence of our thoughts. To give an example, some of us suffer from a spirit of fear, I'm too afraid to try that, it could injure me or I can't go up there I'm afraid of heights. I must tell you when I look over a railing from a great height I get a knot in my gut but because I trust God I can still do whatever is required at the time. There are still things I am afraid of and avoid for obvious reasons like walking in the savanna without any means of escape while being watched by a pride of lions, that would really scare me but I don't think that comes from a spirit of fear but just from common sense.
So, once again, what is spirit? I'm going to tell you about something that happened to me quite a while ago. It happened while I was still living in Melkbosstrand about 9 years ago.
At the time this happened I had lost all faith in God's ability to forgive me and was alone on the farm for about two months without anyone to talk to. I was wandering around the farm in a very unhappy state of mind praying to the Lord and very lonely and unloved. I turned to the Lord and said to Him "Lord please get someone to come visit me, anyone, even .........." I hadn't spoken to her for more than eight months and as far as I knew she had no interest in talking to me ever again, we had been friends for about twenty years at that stage but she was in another space and was moving on in her life. Anyway I was very miserable and begging the Lord to get her to come around, just for the company.
The next day I got a call from her, "Hello Engelsman, How are you doing. Yesterday I couldn't get you out of my mind and was wondering whether you were alright?" You can imagine how surprised I was. Not because I doubt God's ability to direct peoples lives but that He had listened to me and granted my request.
Now to get back to what spirit is. There were no phone calls the previous day, we hadn't had anything to do with each other for more than eight months, we were not in each others company or even anywhere close to each other. Yet here she was thinking about me the whole day. That is what spirit is. Almost like a cell phone network, invisible and yet able to get connected over vast distances but for free. We are all connected to each other despite what "Scientists" say or non-believers.
So here is a challenge for you. Do you know someone far away with whom you haven't spoken for quite a while but would really love to hear from? Do yourself a favor and spend a day sincerely praying to the Lord asking for that person to contact you or better still coming to visit you. There is only one catch, your request must be absolutely sincere and not a test to see if God will listen to you or not. You can of course let the Lord know that you need your faith boosted and this would really help you. 
There are many other times the Lord has used His spirit to fulfill requests I've laid before him but they have all been sincere requests on my part and never for my personal gain, although He has taken care of my needs when I've asked him too.
Don't underestimate our connectedness, we really are connected by spirit, no doubt about it.
Blessings to all of you, Geoff.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Spring rains and funerals.


Clouds above the house just a few minutes ago
The long wait for the summer rains is over, YAY! Johannesburg has a summer rainfall climate which is about the same as most of South Africa but Cape Town or should I say the Western Cape has a Mediterranean climate, in other words winter rains. It started raining here in Johannesburg at about 5 am this morning and has been continuing on and off all morning. Lots of frightening and thunder. Johannesburg is the lightning capitol of South Africa and let me tell you it is really loud and for some dogs unbearable. I like the rain, always have even when living in Cape Town.
Anyway my daughter and her husband are in Durban today to attend the funeral of Jason's best friend Brandon. Last Saturday morning on seeing Shelley, my daughter, and Jason, her husband, they both looked very sad so I asked them if they were alright. No, Brandon died last night of a heart attack. He was only 39 years old. My dad died at forty nine and I thought that was particularly young but this really blew my socks off. Well it's been a week with Jason in Durban and a very sad Shelley who flew down yesterday.
Chinese cabbages and potatoes coming along very nicely
Anyway enough about sadness for now. I don't see this as the end anyway but rather the beginning of something completely new.
Thank you Lord for the rains, now my vegies can really take off and thank you for the hope you give to this old man as he nears the end of his life here on Earth.
The lightning has just started up again, cool.
Blessings to all my friends here who read this post, Geoff.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

What is the Kingdom of God?

I was asked the other day what I thought the Kingdom of God is. Not where it is but what. Well I know the Kingdom of God isn't a material or physical place perceivable from within the world we currently inhabit but rather a spiritual place only accessible through faith and truth.
So the Kingdom of God is a spiritual place where Truth reigns. God is spirit and only allows truth in His Kingdom, no lies or deceit or falsehood. Not anything like the world I live in that's for sure. Wow!
God is Holy but what does that mean? Our understanding of the word Holy according to modern dictionaries means Perfect in Goodness and Righteousness. To me the words quoted above have meaning as well : Perfect means to me without flaw, Goodness to me means the opposite of badness, in other words not at all bad in any way, shape or form and to me Righteousness means the opposite of Wrongeousness, in other words never wrong in any way, shape or form.
To my understanding the Kingdom of God, is the place where God (who is never wrong, is always good and has absolutely no flaws whatsoever) is and lives. But we know that God is spirit and in Heaven while we who live here in the world are not in Heaven but here in the world and are not spiritual but worldly and always wrong, always bad and riddled with flaws, unworthy of entering the Kingdom of God as we are and desperately in need of cleansing and redemption.
I hope I'm making sense here.
There is however one redeeming factor though. God has poured out the punishment for our unacceptable, despicable behavior on another by sending his only Son Jesus, who is also Holy just like his Father, and therefore not deserving of punishment, to stand between the lash due for us and us, and thus take the beating due to us. Why would He do this, not for His own sake that's for sure but because God the Father doesn't want to punish his children but instead wants us to join Him in Heaven, the Kingdom of God.
All He asks of us is to believe in His son Jesus who has already taken the beating due to us so that we can be forgiven for all the wrong we have done while down here in the world and to have faith in the fact that His son does really love us and wants us to join Him in the Kingdom of God.
In the teachings of Jesus there are many clues as to what that means: "Seek and you will find, Ask and you will receive, Knock and the door will be opened." Also He tells us "If you have faith no bigger than a mustard seed you will do all these things and bigger even yet. You will be able to say to this mountain up be cast into the sea and it will obey you." Again,WOW!
The thing that this indicates is that the Kingdom of God has already come and is right here in the world right now. But it also indicates that your words will be heard in the Kingdom of God and will be enacted upon by God Himself, not after you die but right now because you have already been forgiven and He really does love you.
The Kingdom isn't the church nor is it of this world but instead of the world God controls.
Blessings to all of you, Geoff.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Just another day in the southern hemisphere.

Hi everyone, hope you are all well and looking forward to the next season, here we're heading into summer.
The beginning of my vegetable garden

I planter a whole bunch of potatoes a few weeks ago, 60 to be precise, and if I get 5 from each plant I'm in for a huge harvest. Maybe I' make some Vodka, Yum. I still need to cut the grass in the vegetable garden and do some weeding but there is no hurry at the moment, it's still early days. I planted quite a few vegetables last spring but we didn't really harvest much, not because nothing grew but rather because things like carrots went to flower while they were very small and once they get flowers eating them is like eating raw wood, not at all pleasant. We did however get potatoes, onions, leeks and Swiss chard. That was when I found out how delicious Swiss chard is and how huge potatoes can grow. The season for planting is about to arrive and I'm looking forward to it.
Getting ready for the rainy season.

A couple of years ago we had a flood here in Edenvale and in the process my cottage had water covering the floor, very disturbing. I'm doing some alterations to the levels of the lawn and creating a way for the water to escape by laying paved drains alongside the walls to ensure that doesn't happen again. Hard work, the ground is insanely hard.
The other day I was watching a program on TV called "Return to the wild with Ben Fogle." He was visiting one of the "Wild Men" in the USA. This old chap he was talking to said something that really got me thinking, "I've lived alone for a long time now and am comfortable like this, especially the freedom." Well I've lived alone for nearly twenty years now and lately have been feeling a bit like a freak. Who doesn't want a partner in his life? Right? I'm happy being alone so. Am I a freak or am I free? His comment has lifted my spirits so much, there are other people in the world just like me, excellent.
Anyway, because I'm not working any more, sort of involuntary retirement, I have been watching the news quite a lot, so negative. As a result I've been getting upset by all the nonsense I've been seeing happening around the world. You know what? Stuff it. I'll rely in Jesus and the grace of God, much better.
Blessings everyone, Geoff.