The last few days of our swap began with writing the final sermon and fitting in a lunch with the 2 Associate Pastors. We are all so different, yet, each of us has the call of God upon our lives and each of us enjoyed the discussions.
Next day we are on a visit to the Theme park, with our 9 year old guide (Alexis), but I am not feeling well, not well at all. My colour has gone, my head hurts and I am sure I will be sick before the day is out.
I struggle on for an hour, but I need to lie down – so I head back home and to bed. Yes I was right, when I wake up I am sick – Though the family are all going out to a Church dance event, I am still not up-to-it, but they have a great time.
I wake next day better except for energy levels and still have a dull head. We do some final shopping and rest for a few hours before we go out for a meal with another Church family.
What a fabulous time we have, appetite returned and fabulous company for us all. Some great stories, but the “swat team” is the best one. It is so reassuring that I am going to bed well with Sunday arriving overnight.
It is Scottish Sunday here; 3 Pastors in kilts and lots of the congregations in tartan. The bagpipes begin worship and are involved again in “Be thou my vision” and also at the end.
I get to preach my last 2 sermons here. Our family are all out at the front for gifts and to be thanked, and it is a very moving celebration.
People have really enjoyed the 5 weeks in 2nd Timothy. I am ambushed by many who insist that we will “have to be coming back”. There are many positive comments, but my favourite is that I preached as if I was “Paul, passionate, commanding, alluring and speaking God’s powerful word – it has certainly left a lasting impression.” (Genuinely think they meant the Apostle, though I am not certain and that does seem most unlikely).
One other special moment here was during one of those American hugs. Men and women hug me and all my training tells me not to seek out these kinds of things. One man weeps as he hugs me – he has spoken to me over several weeks, but he has been so moved to hear the series each week. We embrace for the primary reason of our Christians faith – making disciples. We praise God for 11 new converts here in the last few weeks!
It is certainly nice to be liked. However I don’t pull any punches, and I often think that many people will see me as hard or strict rather than someone who deeply desires that all people get to hear the full gospel message so that they will respond and discover the full measure of God’s grace.
Now we are tidying up and preparing for home. That is the place God has called us to in His service and the challenge is to encourage everyone there to let Him build His Church in Dunbar and elsewhere.
Here are some things the scriptures teach:-
A. The CHURCH is -
1. The word “church” in the Greek means those “called out” to serve God.
2. The Body of Christ (Colossians 1:18).
3. The Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-27).
4. The Family of God (I Timothy 3:15).
5. The Pillar and Ground of Truth (I Timothy 3:15).
B. That means we MUST meet the MASTER BUILDER while we live on earth for JESUS is the only safe foundation to build our lives upon for this life and for all eternity:-
1. Jesus promised to build His church (Matthew 16:18).
2. He purchased the church with His blood (Acts 20:28).
3. He is the Head of the church (Colossians 1:18).
4. The church is His spiritual body (Colossians 1:18).
C. We also need to know what God offers:-
1. Forgiveness of sins through the Church (Ephesians 1:17).
2. Salvation through the Church (2 Timothy 2:10).
3. Redemption which is in the Church (Colossians 1:14).
4. All spiritual blessings are in the Church (Ephesians 1:3).
5. The saved are in the Church (Acts 2:47).
So all our efforts, tithes, time and service is for Christ and His Kingdom and the salvation of the lost. Have a think about how many people are not in the Church each week?
We, every one of us, are responsible for this generation so may we all give as we are able, and remember what Christ can do with faith as small as a mustard seed!
Hope to see you all soon – Love and Prayers Pastor Gordon
Be still and know that I am God Psalms 46:10
With all the activities, pausing for breath is helpful. So when we dropped off the kids at a Church family’s house for their trip to the History Museum we had the choice of chilling or preparing food for our guests when they returned.
We are truly blessed with a most beautiful marriage, but the white noise of four healthy, energetic children is always there, except for when they are in bed and on a few other occasions.
So even working at food preparation on our own is a Grand experience with space to think and smile.
Next day we are on a big round trip, from an early rise we are away with a couple who are doctors, who want to show us the Jemez Mountains. In Scotland we would call them the “Jimmy’s”. The Bandeliers were on the journey. Caves carved out of the cliffs by the Anasazi people and lived in by the Navajo tribe: entry by large ladders only. Their traditional Church, called a Kiva is dug into the ground to keep it cool in the summer and with a fireplace to keep it warm in the winter. Their upgraded version is much larger and above ground, inspired by the conquistadors and the Roman Catholic faith.
The Psalms again were inspirational in my head –
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. Psalm 27
Yeah, I do miss worshipping in Dunbar but I am excited after a meal out with two couples, that Sunday follows this trip. The meal is lovely, but the conversation is much more special. Jokes, mission, service, theology and desire for the building of Christ’s Church are real passions to savour.
The Americans are more confident in general than us Scots. They dissect, chew and digest sermons giving more detailed interactions, always thankful, mainly asking questions about how to apply it or commitments to get more involved and make God a bigger priority.
We then pack for the GRAND trip. Up so early and 7 hours of driving with short stops, before we arrive at the GRAND destination. The CANYON is vast – 18 miles across at some points, a mile deep and 277 river miles long. Here I have a moment with my creator as I bow in awe at who He is that creates a world so diverse, so amazing, in order that we can discover Him in His creative power.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. 3 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19
Another day begins and we go further around the rim of the Grand Canyon – it is no less spectacular seeing it again and again. Perspective is everything, an artist sees the light and shade, the colours and the hues; a preacher sees God’s handiwork, but a teenager who stands looking at their phone is only looking for wi-fi. (No teenagers of mine thankfully). We take in sunset and head for our hotel.
So the guide books say, “No trip to the Canyon is complete without a proper hike down into the bowel of this wonder”. Our last day here begins early and we trek downwards, hairpin bend paths, tunnels in the rocks, and the sheer cliff edge beside us all the way. For me I am still being gripped by God, I am singing praise songs – my arms are out like a cross shape and God touches me once more – GRAND connections spiritually are high points we carry for the rest of our lives. I now know I have to tell you folks that they are definitely possible and that God has them for YOU if you dare to get that close to HIM.
As well as much fear and trembling, it is not a path for the fainthearted when it comes to physical exertion. On the way down it is tough, but on the way up, in the high 80s it is four times harder. (Bear in mind I have a dodgy knee)
So as the legs hurt and the heads go down – I know that encouragement is essential. My suggestion of double scoop ice creams is a step in the right direction. We make it, rest, wash and savour our reward, before the 7 hour drive back to base for a wash and sleep.
A GRAND TRIP – I am confident that it beats drugs or drink everytime! It does not have to be one of the wonders of the world – just a journey with the God who creates all life’s wonders!
The likelihood is that we will never do this again – but our memory and photos will hopefully remain for a long time to come.
Honestly, some things in life are spooky, right?
The new week begins with a meeting between the Associate Pastor and me. He is truly a lovely guy who has a very fine family – they came to lunch with us yesterday. He is open and inquisitive. He is wise and warm. Our spirits click and it is spooky how God brings together folk from diverse situations to work and serve together.
We are away on a big trip for 2 days to Carlsbad. The kids are joking… “but Jane is good”. (since Carl is bad) The journey is no joke though… nearly 7 hours according to our Sat. Nav. In addition we are flirting near the edge of where the 1st atom bomb was tested and through the city of Roswell… yes the one where all the aliens are supposed to be taken to and all kinds of military and governmental secrets are supposed to be kept.
So we enter Roswell with 4 more hours to travel and within minutes, 3 hours disappear… and we now only have 1 hour to travel according to the Sat. Nav. We thought that if you were abducted by aliens you lost time, but we have gained it, and we still do not know how. With the return trip tomorrow, we are wondering if this will be repeated?
We arrive at Carlsbad and head underground. There are paths through the caverns of over 37 miles and over 1200 feet below ground. The scale of the rocks and the caves which have been eroded is incredible. One section of roof which fell is called “the Iceberg”. It is estimated at over 200,000 tonnes, but the space it fell into is vast. The stalactites and stalagmites are varied in size, colour, pattern, and their chemical constituency (see the photo above). Some are shaped like animals, some like Japanese sculptures, and some like Hindu gods. One is called the "Rock of Ages".
The caves also contain a colony of over 1,000,000 Freetail Mexican bats which fly out at dusk each evening before returning each dawn. The smell at the entrance is spookily evident to their existence.
After a long day, we had planned to wait to see the bat exodus, but a lightning storm engulfs us and the area around the caves, so we make a fast exit to our overnight accommodation.
Next day we are taking a slight detour to the Bottomless Lake. It was created by a huge sinkhole. Now filled with water, fish and turtles, it is like a scene out of a Spanish resort. A sandy beach, green/blue water, and folk snorkelling, swimming, playing on paddle boards and boats. Out of the corner of my eye, I think I see an enormous green fish jumping, twisting and diving back into the water. To be honest I thought it could have been a diver’s leg, but none are in the vicinity. Gail is a bit sceptical... that is until we both see another leap in the same area, and spookily that is the last we see of that for the rest of the day.
It is really hot, and we have Roswell to go through once more (can you hear the spooky music playing). This time the Sat. Nav. Gains 1 hour just after we enter the city and once again we have no logical explanation. (We are not crossing any specific time zones) But we are delighted to return home earlier than expected.
Today has been a day for Spiritual rest; though I was invited out for a very interesting pastoral meeting in the afternoon. Listening, supporting, sharing blessed us both I believe – and that seems quite spooky to me also.
In Ephesians 1 we read of the mystery of God’s will :-
8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him
God’s mysteries are spiritual truths made known only through revelation. "Can you search out the deep things of God"?
The Old Testament prophet Job is brilliant at challenging us to reflect and meditate on God’s word. Here is a taste :-
Can you find out the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than heaven— what can you do? Deeper than Sheol— what can YOU know?" Job 11:7-8
I love the fact that people who really want to know God more, who are willing to search and question find their peace and hope only in Christ.
Go deeper God shouts – “I want to show you My logic, My plans, My WILL for YOU”.
And by the way – our Roswell muffins turned out to be a very strange green colour – though they did taste great!
A day out at a nature reserve; watching the hummingbirds, seeing a huge toad and some tiny baby ones, all kinds of ducks, geese, egrets and even a swan. The cottonwood trees were firing cotton seeds everywhere and I got that prompting, from God that He is in all these things, and that I should write about "past and present".
This was reinforced firstly as we took a morning trip to Albuquerque Alpacas. The owner spent some time talking about the genetics of producing the best wool, the best all-round offspring and the 22 different shades of Alpacas in the creation mix. The result was breading championship Alpacas and the finest quality wool.
In the evening we enjoyed our 1st Baseball match, with all the fun in between the innings and then the fireworks added a bit of the spectacular of what humans can create. How sad many folk cannot permit themselves a glimpse at what God creates, blindly claiming chance evolution from stuff which they have no idea how it came into existence – “perhaps it was brought by aliens” is their latest angle – more on this on the next blog.
The LORD’s Day arrives once more. I have lost count of how many people are “so glad” that we have come to share fellowship with them. One man greats me at the door after the service with a huge smile; “I have real hearing problems” he said, “my friend told me I would not understand anything you said even if I did hear it, and I have heard just about everything and understood it all. I am so pleased I came to hear God’s word today and my friend is in for a telling off”. Many others exclaimed “we love the analogy that God’s word tastes sweet”. We cannot always know what we will see, experience, hear or understand - but God surely does!!!!!
So once more I am thinking about where everything has come from. Not just physically, but spiritually too. George gave a testimony in Church and his journey spiritually was much later in life than typically for many people, but joy and love for others diffused from his spiritually awakened soul.
God is talking to me about back home and all the history of where we were in the past, and where we are now. Two verses in Joshua inspire me :-
So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took 12 stones from the middle of the Jordan, … as the Lord had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down. 9 Joshua set up the 12 stones … at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day. Joshua 4:8-9
Previously God’s people were on one side of the river Jordan, the flow was heading down stream with a force – seemingly unstoppable. Yet God interrupts the flow. On the other side the Promised Land beckons and we are now on the other bank with a few memorials, like the building project, the greatly improved praise we enjoy each week, the new leadership in place etc. etc. etc. (PRAISE GOD! - The alternative would not be good!!!)
A pastor once said of this event, “Come on everyone, it gets better from this point on.” Those who are coming on the journey, will be joined by many others – because God is leading the direction we are now taking.
I am not confident that it will get easy and I don’t believe that difficulties won’t lie ahead, but I am assured that God honours those who honour HIM. God wants us all on this journey, each moment of each week, giving thanks, expecting, sensing His presence, giving glory to our creator and redeemer - God of the past, present and the future!
Our baby is having a milestone this week. He is excited that he will then need 2 digits for his age. We are out on the hunt to get a cake and some gifts for the family celebration in 2 days time. I have a sermon to write and my receiver is not picking up the 1st signal that gets me going – so reflecting on the passage, chewing the text, praying for inspiration accompanies me throughout the day.
We Skype some family and friends and it is lovely to see and hear folk back in the UK. It was not long ago that my parents decided to get PC literate and get on-line. It is a welcome lifeline for my mum and for my brother who has MS too. Skyping mum was another milestone in her internet experience. (We all miss seeing her and our wider family in the flesh more often)
Next day we have a big pre-birthday day out at the zoo, the BioPark and the aquarium – the combo tickets grants access to them all. Mountain lions are huge when they are only 2 feet away from you. (Thankfully there is thick glass between us.) Someone who does not get things wrong ever, plans out the day.
We jump on the train to head to the top of the zoo, but we are on the wrong train and we head to the other parts of the park. It is a success as far as the kids are concerned and in reality too. We get to dine out, instead of the bagels we took with us and we get to see the other areas with enough time to head back to the zoo and round off the day right beside the carpark. This has been a long day, but a full one and we saw animals we had never seen or heard of before (Takins, Vinegaroon etc.) – another milestone. God’s creatures are incredible. Frankly anyone who thinks these things can evolve by chance from next to nothing has far more faith than I have – though that kind of faith is clearly misguided and is based on the paradigm which will not concede to there being an intelligent designer.
The milestone arrives, the gaping smile, the gifts wrapped up in poly bags, the map from the zoo, some napkins and anything else we find lying around are going to be handed over later. The trampolining and the party bit quickly come and go; energy spent, satisfied youth ready for refreshing and nourishing. Then these gifts are given and received. Jared is loved, valued and now is 10. The cake in enjoyed by all but his new Tee-shirt is not understood by everyone. It has a Mexican figure on it and the word’s “keep back, this is NATCHO business” Did you get it? It means that it “is not your business” – well we had a laugh about it. Then I thought about whose business it is – it is God’s business! Everything in every one of our lives is God’s business.
Day 16 calls us to take stock, and to plan the next couple of weeks and book hotels etc. There are some other milestones we believe we are to make as a family as part of this experience together.
So what has the creator got to make of all this milestone stuff? Well in 1 Samuel 7:12, we find Samuel, praising God for His faithfulness to His people. He raises a monument and calls it Ebenezer, meaning “thus far has the Lord helped us.” Hudson Taylor, the Chinese missionary also had a plaque displayed in each of his residences that read “Ebenezer—Jehovah Jireh,” Together, these Hebrew words say, “The Lord has helped us to this point, and He will see to it from now on as well.” Abraham and many others built altars wherever they went because they really understood this!
For me, I consider that every time I can influence people to think about God positively or at least to question their own spiritual views, is somewhat of a milestone. Just as victory over sin is a milestone. I have been preaching about perseverance which also incorporates many valuable milestones in God’s accounting system.
I need to have some developmental milestones too, like growing another inch like Jesus in my character. Learning quickly to forgive and ask for forgiveness etc..
Every moment I am seriously contemplating God’s word is a milestone too. But these milestones should all have certain characteristics.
One significant milestone in the life of Nehemiah and God’s people was at the dedication of the wall after it had been restored. When the wall was finally finished in Nehemiah 6:15-16, Nehemiah simply said, “So the wall was finished…” He was very matter-of-fact about it. Isn’t this a moment for celebration? Let’s cut the ribbon, invite everyone and give thanks to God – this milestone takes its place in history!
However, there was still a lot of work to do. The outward foundational security was built up, but the people still needed to be built stronger spiritually – that was the target for the next milestone. They did not really know what it meant to worship the one true and living God. They were only partly committed, working at their temporal lives and not realising the potential this next milestone would offer.
I am not sure if anyone back home understands what God is saying to us – but I am having such a great time listening to God’s prompts and encouragements.
He has amazing plans – so “and as for me and my family, We will be serving the LORD” Joshua 24:16
Here is a sketch that might help :-
1. Organized (A team was appointed Nehemiah 12:44)
2. Specific Commitment in resourcing (donations, first fruits, tithes, Nehemiah 12:44).
3. Thankfulness (The ministry of God’s servants working together brings great joy, Nehemiah 12:44)
4. Dedication to God (ALL God’s people contribute to His work, Nehemiah 12:47)
5. Regular in worship, showing true love (Daily), Nehemiah 12:47)
6. United (Everyone, in wholeheartedly fellowship and service, Nehemiah 12:47)
So may we seek and catch the vision which takes us to our next milestone!
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ASK God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and IT WILL BE GIVEN to YOU. James 1:5
We spent a day recovering from our travels, reflecting, relaxing, praying, and listening. A whispering voice brought up another scripture I learned long ago. (Thank you to Ian Wallace and Rutherford Rabbi for leading SU and a weekend away at Glasnock eons ago). Here it is for you :-
Trust in the LORD with all your heart. And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
I am under no illusion, that there are many more people smarter than me on this earth. However, what I learned from God is that wisdom and intelligence are two very different commodities. Both are talents given by God, yet one is far more valued in our world, although God prizes the other much more highly.
God keeps shouting at me – ASK! ASK! ASK! Yes, my prayer life has room for improvement, but He wants me to tell YOU that YOU need to ASK too.
On the 10th with me still hobbling on crutches, we decided to drive up to the Sandia Crest scenic viewpoint, 10,678 feet (3,255 m) above sea-level. So I am on crutches and my lungs are being crushed inwards once more. A few swings and I need a rest, then a few swings more. My daughter starts to get a headache with the altitude also.
We have our picnic and then head back down the 14 miles, S-bend after S-bend. This is the opposite of the 12 mile straight roads we were on a few days earlier on our trip. The straight paths were far easier for us to cover the miles and to get to our destination.
After stocking up on provisions, I finalise Sunday and it is like a miracle has happened to me. My knee seems to have clicked back in, and I can walk again, free from the crutches. The experience of being restricted was unpleasant, but made me realise a little of what it must be like for many other people; the relief of being able to do the things that we so much take for granted, makes me so thankful to God for “ALL HIS mercies”, especially to me.
Halleluiah, the LORD’s Day arrives and I am like the lame man leaping for joy after being healed. (OK, the leaping is in my head – I am taking no risks!) I feel so much more at home, more able to discern what God is up to in these services than last week. God is here, God is speaking, seeds are being sown, and challenge is in the air.
One elder says “we don’t hear enough about your 3rd point, concerning this we need to wake up more here”.
We are invited out for lunch and then we go together to the Petroglyphs - volcanic rocks with primitive drawings carved into them, dating from 400 - 3,000 years ago. We get swamped by flying ants ½” long, there are 6” millipedes, lizards, large blue beetles, cotton tail and Jack Rabbits, and among the many birds Road Runners and Humming birds; and the path is rugged and twisted. I know that God is reminding me of the straight paths of wisdom and the rugged road of suffering that hones our faith.
I am so grateful for the assurance and CONFIDENCE that I experience in Christ – so I am urged to leave YOU with one last verse whispered in, and nicely rounds things off.
This is the CONFIDENCE which we have before Him, that, if we ASK anything according to His will, He hears us. 1 John 5:14
So our family arrives at Church at 08:20 and we get swamped by welcomes. Of course they know who we are – the kilt I am wearing is a dead giveaway. We meet the staff that make things happen, worship leaders, sound and projection engineers, the Associate minister and their new 3rd pastor who is there for his 1st Sunday too.
The main sanctuary is not unlike ours back home in layout – but it has just been repainted and re-carpeted. It is tasteful and the sense of sacred is clear.
Of course it is all new to us, but then we meet a couple who heard me preach in Wyoming two years ago. The connections remain in Christian family.
The two services go quick – nearly no time between them. One with really modern Hymns and traditional ones we know well. The 3 vocalists all retired folk – but they sing beautifully, the drummer too is mature, but the beat and sensitivity really adds something worthwhile, the guitarist is in his early 30s led the team.
In the 2nd service it is all round more traditional, more formal and the seats seem to be all taken.
God’s word is very well received, many folks are grateful and quite a number are asking questions to enable them to apply it to their situations. That continues as we go out for dinner later with 3 generations of the same family. A good meal, fine conversations and we learn about Irlen syndrome - something alien to many of us.
Day 6 begins early as usual – I am still in an alien land, in an alien time zone and as I am about to discover, in an alien altitude.
I spent some months losing 14lb of weight before arriving, but I have already put some back on. So I decide to join Gail and Josh on their morning run, before it gets too warm. I knew I had lost a lot of fitness in recent years, but my lungs are being crushed after only a few minutes uphill at several thousand feet. I am not cut out for this, but I know that if I endure, in a few weeks I will be acclimatised.
We later visit a Mesa and discover how the Conquistadors brought Christianity with violence to the alien culture of the Acoma Indians. Their traditions may still be passed on, but the compromise is that they are all mainly living in today’s US culture, just dipping into their heritage part time. From there we travelled 6 hours into the heart of Colorado. (What a local called the “armpit.”) Before my birthday cake was fully digested I was on my way to the hospital. I am on crutches, my cartilage has given up on me. It is alien to me to be so debilitated.
We meet up with friends and head out for a Mexican meal and I am praying I can join the others for the White water rafting trip the next day. After a nights rest my knee is pretty much the same – I cannot put weight on it to walk, but it bends fine. We all get kitted out for the trip and I get to join them. The journey includes 6ft waves breaking over the raft and several of us are flung out our seats many times. The kids have all been overboard and again it is an alien world we are being tossed to and fro, though the adventure and thrill is great.
6 hours drive and we make it back to base. Sermon finished for Sunday and I ponder these last few days of “rest” with all the strange circumstances life has thrown at us.
Jesus speaks in John’s gospel saying,
"They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world”. John 17:16 speaking of true disciples.
Peter later on says,
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. 1 Peter 2:11
This world has temptations and thrills, but it also is quick to bite you, just like the mosquitos here. The bit of the week which could have been most stressful – preaching in an alien Church, was the bit of the week that has been the least stressful and made us feel the most at home - a taste of heaven indeed.
We journey in this world for our “four score years and ten”. Psalm 90:10 or there about, but are we citizens of heaven? I pray for many in or outside the Church – some who have bought this world's propaganda, some who have a tainted view of real Christianity, some who try and have their cake and eat it, some who think it is all about being kind or charitable.
My Saviour meets with me each day, wherever I am at – but on Sundays He wafts all around the congregation, and I get to be there with Him. He is looking for hearts, ears and eyes that will open to Him for grace and assurance that they too are not of this world, but are indeed heirs to heaven. He grows faith, He deepens our understanding, He blesses with grace and truth.
Faith in Christ Jesus conquers all – those great examples of the faith in Hebrews really got it -
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. Hebrews 11:13
Hope all who read this get it too, and help many others to?
We spent yesterday visiting the Church, going to the old town of Albuquerque, ventured into Montgomery Park, with its outdoor swimming pool and then had a visit from a Church member who wants us to come for dinner on Sunday, followed by an invitation of taking the kids out on Monday.
Today we rose early, had breakfast in the garden and chilled in the shade : 34 °C at 09:00. We did some chores, feeding cats, watering garden pots etc., while I also prepared the lunch and polished off Sunday’s sermon.
We are about to head off to the park to celebrate the 4th and watch the fireworks which will follow as dusk begins. The Americans know how to party and value anniversaries collectively.
The reality for many though is that it is hard to find rest in life. For us having four children, work responsibilities, various communications to keep working through, pressures of our culture and era etc. ; how do we truly learn to take our rest? Many in Churches today have lost the sacred sense of keeping the Sabbath rest, a holy day unto the LORD our God.
Well as I sat outside today, just after lunch, I began to feel a peace coming over me. Then came a familiar voice; a holy whisper from a special friend.
Do not worry about tomorrow, read Matthew 6:25-26
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 than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Yes the thought of preaching to hundreds in an unfamiliar place or the fact that I don’t feel that clever or amazing, in reality; yet, time and time again I have watched God do miracles, transforming people’s lives, and calling others to really and truly follow His word. So what values ultimately matter?
Our value to God and how we value Him are the most important of all. We can get to help people discover that they well and truly matter to Him as well, so that in time, they too can discover how much God can matter to them.
So then my friend whispers Jeremiah’s familiar words to me to share with you all:-
This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, 'We will not walk in it.' Jeremiah 6:16
I naturally want to cut out those last six words. I don’t want anyone to say or consider saying we won’t follow God’s ways, but the reality is that many won’t. The reality is that in our age the Bible is being diminished as just a piece of religious literature, which needs updating to fit the ways of the world.
I can only pray for all those who think like that, and let God do what He will do about it.
But the most important part of this message is the core of it – Standing alert, looking and waiting, expecting, and praying for the ancient truths which direct spiritual lives on the faith journey which produces the reward that some will find rest for their souls. That makes everything worthwhile.
Can’t wait to join in fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ on the LORD’s Day, sharing in Holy Communion, worshipping our Majestic LORD and Saviour.
May you all know that blessings in His presence also as you keep the Sabbath Day Holy and take your God ordained rest! Then rested and nourished, we will be fitter to face the world and all it brings to us.
It will soon be the 1st of July, and after a very early rise, we will be on our way stateside. It roughly takes 24 hours to get to New Mexico. On the reverse trip will be our American friends, the Hucke family who will be travelling here.
Day 1 and 2 - Eagles Wings
Touched down and spent the 1st day here in Albuquerque after 23 hours awake and 3 flights. American Airlines are big silver birds with strong wings – I saw some very large passengers – and loads of luggage.
The Bible verse that ran through my mind most of the day was… but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. It is from Isaiah 40:31
Strength was pretty low, especially for our youngest as he had not slept well the night before with all the excitement (and the ongoing cleaning). Letting others stay in your home means lots of tidying up - but the reward is there, usually when you return also.
Yet as we walked off that last plane – there in the distance was a large welcome poster and a crowd from Sandia Presbyterian Church – a real mix of what Church is; children, adults, men and women – and how all are needed to make Church all that it can be.
Having left the UK with the answered prayer that summer should arrive in Dunbar for the Hucke’s; and it was 41 0C for Andy Murray at Wimbledon; we landed in 32 0C heat at 8:30 pm – it seemed fair but hot just the same.
It took us 20 minutes to be driven to this stunning manse, but thunder boomed and lightning lit the way, along with a deluge of rain for about 10 minutes. This is the rainy season here – they jokingly call it the monsoon season. It means 10 minutes of rain most days – and I was daft enough to tell Gail – “don’t take the raincoats, we are going to a dessert, are you mad?"
So after settling in we are adjusting to the time difference, we have bought in provisions, got a mobile phone working, and are planning to catch up on our sleep.
Tomorrow we will visit the Church and meet the staff. I am hoping for the LORD to renew our strength, though zeal drives me to preach the Truth of His saving word, wherever he opens the doors for that to be done.
Secretly though, my God is huge and amazing; He might just be planning on calling on some people in the congregation while I am here or in Dunbar, while I am away - either way, we wait with anticipation, with hope in the LORD.