Breakfast with the baboons

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There is a little market in a forest that we love – plenty of good stuff to eat, things for little people to do but being an outdoor market in a forest it has to element of danger that I have always enjoyed – will a baboon try to steal your breakfast?

At the market on Saturday there were two male baboons tag teaming each other, running in and out of the market while being chased my ‘Baboon monitors’ and their paint ball guns. They really gave the monitors a good run around. It seems they didn’t get anyone’s breakfast this time, although they made off with a couple of gluten free cupcakes and sat on a cake, much to Jenny’s delight.

11145099_10207372869825197_5600698240001019808_oGirl & her Sausage

However Jenny’s delight soon turned to possible horror – a nice lady came around all the tables to tell us if the baboons approach the children the should just drop their food. She assured us the baboons won’t hurt them, they just want food. Well Jenny was just horrified. She was only part of the way though her sausage on a stick and did not want to share her breakfast with a baboon. After a minor panic the sausage was safely stored in Jenny’s tummy and no baboon’s tried to share our breakfast after all.

It always amazes me how tightly we hold to stuff – it’s my sausage, not the baboon’s. Stuff, possessions, belongings are not bad things in themselves, but holding on to them too tightly can cause us harm (or bring us face to face with a baboon!)

Mark 10: 21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Sometimes our holding onto stuff, our love of stuff, gets in the way of our love of God. We are so focused on protecting what is OURS that we get ourselves into trouble. The stuff is not bad, it is our clinging to it that is.

So as I examine my life and MY stuff I ask myself what am I holding on to tightly? Can I drop my breakfast when faced with a baboon?

When King Louie Comes to Church

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(Photo credit: PrincessAshley)

 

Each time we leave the house Jenny’s eyes quickly scan the room and she makes a beeline to grab something to bring with her. It doesn’t matter where we are going she has an intense need to have something in her hand as she exits the house. Just going to play in her Dad’s car – a favourite hobby- requires her to bring a tiny zebra (aka zeba), a kitchen cloth and a blankie bear (aka disembodied bear). I do not know what goes on in her mind but that need of having something familiar, something from home seems to be growing.

Last Sunday King Louise (aka Monkey) made his first (and hopefully last) appearance in church. Jenny could not be persuaded to leave him in the car. But somehow having Monkey with her gave her confidence she does not normally have in church – she gladly ran up to people she would normally shyly smile at to show them her monkey.

Her love of stuff and the security she is finding in it has made me think about me and ‘my’ stuff. Where does that love of stuff come from? Does it give me a false sense of security?

I’m reminded of one king who got into trouble for counting stuff:

2 Samuel 24:5-7 After crossing the Jordan, they camped near Aroer, south of the town in the gorge, and then went through Gad and on to Jazer. 6 They went to Gilead and the region of Tahtim Hodshi, and on to Dan Jaan and around toward Sidon. 7 Then they went toward the fortress of Tyre and all the towns of the Hivites and Canaanites. Finally, they went on to Beersheba in the Negev of Judah. 8 After they had gone through the entire land, they came back to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. 9 Joab reported the number of the fighting men to the king: In Israel there were eight hundred thousand able-bodied men who could handle a sword, and in Judah five hundred thousand. 10 David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, O LORD, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.”

Putting our worth and our security in counted things does not honour God. It is my prayer that our family will hold lightly to our stuff so as not to cling to it and find our value in it. I hope that I will be able to model that for Jenny, although it is tough – I also love stuff!

Lord, teach me to hold lightly and gently all that you have given me. Help me not to find my worth in things, but in you.

Shift your junk

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For the past week I have watched with interest a junk shop in Fish Hoek. Outside the shop is sitting a humongous object – I can’t decide if it is a bar or a display counter. Anyway it is circa 1970s with red faux velvet up the sides. The shop owner if hoping that someone will take a liking to it and take it away. At the beginning its sit outside it had a sign on it saying ‘Free’ – so far the only thing that has been taken is the sign! (So if anyone needs a faux velvet bar thing let me know and I’ll send you directions)

I was lying in bed thinking about this bar and asking myself why doesn’t the owner just take it to the rubbish heap? I guess either lack of transport, cash or effort have been stumbling blocks. I started then to think about the junk in my life – the things that I know I no longer want – the sin and baggage of past failures or mistakes. Am I proactive enough in getting rid of my junk? Do I expect God to come along and whisk it away like some kind of magic bin man? Yes I am forgiven, but I’m also surely not without responsibility. Paul tells the Philippians church to work out their salvation:

Philippians 2:12 continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,

I love the way Eugene Petersen puts it in the Message:

Philippians 2:12  Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. (The Message)

Am I energetic in my life of salvation? Am I guilty of praying that God would ‘fix’ me but of not playing may part? We are encouraged to do all within our ability, with the help of the Holy Spirit to get rid of our junk:

Hebrews 12:1  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

The writer of Hebrews doesn’t say let us pray that whatever hinders us will disappear – he calls us to action- to throw it away.

Lord, forgive me for being lazy when it comes to my junk. Help me to throw off and shift whatever doesn’t honour you instead of waiting for you to do the work.

Orang-utans, Gollum and Stuff.

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Today my arms are sore. I think by the end of this move I will be walking like an Orang-utan. As I was packing up our books into bags, carrying them to the far away car and then into the new house I was surprised by how many books we have and how heavy they are – they weren’t as heavy as that when we read them and brought them home one by one. Even with editing my books – I didn’t dare edit hubbies as he is like Gollum when it come to his books – we still need a second car load. How did I not notice that the largest item in the house is our ‘library’?

I don’t think I am a person very into possessions; at least I didn’t until we started packing up house. Where has all this stuff come from? Do we really need it? It has been making me think about a few things Jesus said about ‘stuff’:

Matthew 8:20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

  • As we approach Easter I have been considering Jesus’ lifestyle and wondering do I really follow him, or only when it is comfortable.

Matthew 19:21-24 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

  • What do I hold tighter too – God or my stuff?

Matthew 6:24-25 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

  • Who is my master, what do I worry about?

So as I pack I will be more generous with my give away pile and consider what is important. I thinking moving house Jesus style should be easier on my arms and liberating for my heart. Now just to work on Gollum!

What I forgot to remember.

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Do you ever have a month when it feels like nothing goes the way you planned it? It feels like whatever you set out to achieve fails and obstacles keep jumping in your way. That is how I have been feeling this week. We are getting the keys to our new house today, but no matter all my careful planning a budgeting it will be a lovely empty house – minimalist to the extreme. I had hoped by the time we get the keys to have bought one or two items of furniture (we are moving from furbished to unfurnished) but two breaks downs of the car, a dentist visit and now the breakdown of our bakkie mean that the house will be empty for a while longer. I have been frustrated and disappointed but in the big scheme of things I need to remember that this is not a disaster – looking at the images coming out of Japan reminds me that these things are not important. So last night lying in bed I made a mental list of things that I forgot to remember: 

  • I don’t serve and worship stuff – I worship the Living God.

Matthew 6:24-25 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

  • God is the one who provides what I need (not necessarily what I want!

Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

  • My stuff does not indicate how much God loves me

Luke 12:15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

  •  All things are created by God, are given by God and are for God’s glory

Romans 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

  • My contemned is not determined by my circumstances but my attitude.

1 Timothy 6:6-8 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

So today I choose to remember these things and trust in God. Maybe I’ll never get my new sparkly fridge, but I am not going to let it ruin the joy of knowing that God provides what I need.

An Irish Blessing for St Patricks Day:

May joy and peace surround you,
Contentment latch your door,
And happiness be with you now
And bless you evermore.

Burdensome Stuff

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I spent a sad night last night – sleeping over at a friend’s house who just lost her husband the night before. She is in her 70s and was married for about 55 years. What I discovered was that with marriage comes an abundance of stuff – nick naks, hobbies, things that might be useful, all collected just in case… Now my friend has the task of packing up her married life in a suitcase and moving continents to be with her daughter. There is a three-week marathon ahead dealing with the stuff.

As I said before my hubby is a big hoarder – I put it down to a childhood living in real poverty. His mum used to burn sugar to make ‘tea’ when there was no tea leaves – hard for me to imagine! But sometimes stuff, which we see as a blessing, can become burdensome. It is hard to move through the world with so much stuff. We are like the monkey from the monkey trap:

A trap to capture various monkeys used around the world which consists of a staked container with a hole cut into it just wide enough for a monkey to stick its empty hand into. The container is baited with something attractive to the monkey. Monkey reaches for bait and then will not release the bait and cannot pull it’s hand out of the trap with bait in hand. It is then captured.

Our love of stuff can take away our freedom and ability to move freely. Jesus saw the same thing when he talked to the young ruler:

Luke 18:18-25 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'” 21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

As I watch Sylvia go through her accumulated stuff I pray that she will have the strength to release what is not necessary to allow her the freedom of a new start. I pray for myself that I would enjoy the blessing of having stuff but not become so caught up in guarding it that it becomes a burden rather than a blessing.