27 December 2016

Compost, braai ashes, flames!

I have a special appreciation for compost because my mother taught me from young about its value.

I spent some time in 1980 to 1981 working under the lofty title of Horticultural Chemist. Part of that involved visiting a place where pine bark compost was made. They had large mounds covered with plastic sheets that would increase the buildup of heat in the mound and prevent excessive evaporation.

Compost is lovely. It is wonderful to dig a hole and put my hand into the hole. It is dirty (clean dirt), but it is hot, even without a plastic sheet over the heap. That heat is generated by earthworms, lice, bacteria and other decomposers that are working away at breaking down the organic material in the heap, releasing nutrient rich, light textured, dark brown material that is wonderful to add to soil for improving the quality of what is grown in the enriched soil. It gives a wonderful water holding, nutrient rich, aerated and well draining substrate that improves the growth of most plants. Some plants cope well without compost, some are better off without compost, but those are rare exceptions.

Sometimes I'll go to the compost heap that I have in my garden and pour on large amounts of cold water. That is not to dampen the spirit in a successful decomposer party, but that cold water is very quickly absorbed by the organic pile and the moisture improves the ability of the decomposers to do what they do best!

A few years ago I had a braai (barbecue) fire on which I cooked some meat on a Saturday afternoon. After the fire cooled I poured the ashes into the compost heap because ash adds valuable nutrients and texture to compost. I was confident that the ash was cold, and I would probably have watered it down with a hose to make sure that it was cold.

The next morning I was startled, to say the lest, to see flames leaping up outside my bedroom window. I rushed outside to hose down the compost heap! Some of the ashes must have got buried as I hosed  them down more than 12 hours before, and as cold as they were, had enough warmth in them that heat built up again with the warmth of the compost heap and then reached a point of combustion. The flames were about 2 metres high!

I was very glad that I was on hand when this excitement occurred and I could immediately douse the flames. A little later and I would have left home to go to Church and then the flames might have been undetected and it is scary to contemplate what damage might have occurred.

This little experience reminds me of the flame of testimony that may seem to be dead, but that can rekindle when enough warmth is added as in the "hot coals" story. It won't happen without warmth, and may not happen with warmth, but if it happens, it can be dramatic! May it happen as much and as often as Heavenly Father wants it to, and may we help to make it happen whenever He wants us to have a part in it.

24 December 2016

Appreciating Providence

Today is Christmas eve. As I prayed this morning, I was thinking  about a TV set. It has become what it is to support the great industry that creates the content. Without the content, there would be no TV such as we have it. Entertainment, news, sport, learning, whatever the content, it's there, and so the means of presenting it to you on small to large screens was invented, developed, refined, marketed – all the steps involved in the process – and you get to watch the content. 

But you cannot enjoy the content without access to those devices that bring you the content, ensuring power and signal to those devices, and, in most cases, a paid subscription. The content is there whether you watch or not, but so many things are entirely within your control and choices that you make determine what content you view. 

When viewing, almost everything is living someone else's dreams and not particularly bringing you any closer to any of your own worthwhile dreams. All too often, time that we choose to spend watching what other people have dreamed actually prevents us from achieving some of the dreams that we really do want to achieve for ourselves!

I love the beauty of the sun today, the rain that fell yesterday that is so much needed in this severe drought, the fresh air, the mountains, great rivers and small streams, vegetation, all manner of life. All things that beautify this Earth whereon we dwell, that please the eye and gladden the heart. I praise my Messiah for His great providence and I desire to do all that I can to benefit from the 'content' that He wants me to enjoy. That is why He created it all. I love Him for it. 

This Christmas, and in the next year, let us enjoy the providence of a loving creator who has made so much 'content' available, by having the devices, power, signal, subscriptions, or whatever is required and within our control, to enjoy what He makes freely and abundantly available to us. 

I hope and pray that each end every one of us will give our love and devotion to Him – Jesus Christ – and His and our Heavenly Father, this Christmas and throughout the next year, to enjoy and benefit from His providence. I know that He is the great Creator. I love His creations. 

I have talked to Heavenly Father in prayer, and He has talked to me through the scriptures. This is not just some urban legend that I am sharing that someone somewhere sometime may have experienced, but this is my firsthand witness that I share from Cape Town on this, the day before Christmas 2016.