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Monday, 18 July 2011

Water, water - but maybe not everywhere!

One of the accessories that we have considered purchasing for the caravan, is a direct water link.  This would be used in the increasing number of sites that are fully serviced with a stand-pipe at every pitch, and would save one of us having to fill the barrel, and bring it to the 'van - and the possibility of the supply running dry half-way through a shower!

Water!  An absolute necessity to life as we know it.  That's why there is such excitement when a probe to the moon, or to Mars, appears to have uncovered evidence that there either is, or has been, water on these two 'lumps of rock'.  Water could mean that there is (or was) life - that we are 'not alone'!

At home, of course, all that I have to do is to turn a tap to provide myself with a drink of water; to run a bath; to have a shower; to fill a kettle, or a saucepan in order to make a cup of tea, or cook some pasta.  The water has already been filtered and purified, and there is - at least in Scotland! - a seemingly unlimited supply.  Yet, to many, a regular, easily-obtained, supply of clean water is a luxury that can only be the stuff of dreams.

Just this week, we received the prayer/newsletter from friends who have spent many years ministering in Nepal.  Permit me to share just a little of it with you:

"We had a very poor water supply as the water pipes had been broken further up the hill. Water had to be carried and rationed. To wash clothes and ourselves a short (30 min) walk to a small local river supplied the water needed or if we were very fortunate a ten minute walk to a tank below our office.  The locals washed their clothes and dried them on the ground - we washed them then carried the wet
clothes to our living area and dried them on a line. I can see why they think we are a little crazy, wet clothes are quite heavy. In our defence, it seems odd to put clean clothes on the dirty ground!"

"... we have two projects planned, one for a women’s hostel at the airfield and the other, a water project in a village near Gamgadhi.

It was good news when we found a donor who loved both projects and agreed to fully fund both. We were elated as we travelled to Mugu to finalise plans to commence work on the projects.  However, about two weeks later, we received a 'phone call from the organisation saying they had changed their minds and now would not be funding either project. Needless to say we were very unhappy about their decision, and did our best to convince them to support the projects. They acknowledged the difficulty they had caused by backing out but were unrelenting.

We then had to explain to the villagers that full funding was not available. However, we did have a small amount of money and, with their full cooperation, we could start to dig the well. Unfortunately, the weather made the first method of digging unsafe, so we now plan to use a mould to make concrete rings which is better and means we can dig deeper at a later date if necessary - BUT YEP, IT IS THE MORE EXPENSIVE METHOD."

If anyone who reads this blog would be willing to help support this work in Nepal, then please leave an e-mail address as a comment (which will not be published) and I will pass it on to Cherie Tanner (and to no-one else!).

Cherie will be happy to forward the full newsletter to you, and to advise you as to how best to provide financial support for the water project.  She will also advise UK taxpayers as to how they may Gift Aid their support, and thus increase what goes to the project at no additional cost to themselves!

Please think about it - the next time you turn on that tap!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Richly blessed.

We had not long arrived at the Municipal Camping Site in Broucefranc-le-Chapas, in the Départmente of Charente-Maritim, on the west coast of France.  We had sited the 'van; connected the electricity; filled the water barrel and connected the pump; set up the awning; and were now sitting on comfortable lounger-chairs.  I looked around.  The sun was shining; there was a cool breeze blowing; we had a veritable mansion on wheels. 

Some words of David, the Psalmist-king of Israel, came to mind.  In Ps.16:6, he writes: "The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage." (RSV).  The 'lines' to which David refers were the measuring lines that were used to measure out one's inheritance; so he is basically saying that what he has received from the Lord is good and pleasant.

I consider myself to be richly blessed.  When I think of the privations of my brothers and sisters in Christ, whose earthly inheritance is nowhere near as pleasant as mine; when I think of those in the so-called 'developing world' (developing into what, one might well ask, as one looks at the state of the 'developed' world!) who have so little in material possessions; when I consider the way in which so many disciples of Jesus witness so clearly, positively, and willingly - even 'though they know that by doing so they may be signing their own death warrants - I am humbled, and ashamed at the paucity of my own faith.

Why should I have so very much, when those who are so much more faithful to Jesus have so very little?  That is entirely the grace of God.  Does that mean that I am more worthy of that grace than they are?  Most definitely not!  Does it mean that, ultimately, they have lost out?  No!  I believe firmly that there are 'levels' in that dimension that we usually refer to as 'heaven'.  And just as those who purchase tickets for the best box to see a theatre production, have a much better view than those who purchase the cheapest seats in the top balcony (the 'gods'!); so those who suffer for Jesus in this life - those who bear in their bodies the marks of Jesus (see Gal.6:17) - will be closer to the Lamb in that amazing place, than those of us who enjoy such relative ease and luxury here and now. 

Like those in the theatre box seats, they will have "paid the price".

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Alteration unnecessary!

It was while I was a student that the Bible Training Institute, in Glasgow - way back in the late '60s! - that a fellow student decided that the sports-type jacket that I wore with my kilt wasn't good enough.  Although a proud Englishman, he gave me £20.00 (if my memory serves me well!) - no mean amount for a student in 1967-68 - to rectify the situation.  I was, and am, extremely grateful, and I duly purchased a proper jacket to wear when attired in my kilt.

It was only recently that I was able to renew contact with Tony, and I was delighted to be able to inform him that, more than forty years later, I still had the jacket for which he had so graciously paid.  I was also able to inform him - with what I hope is not a negative sort of pride(!) - that it fitted me as well today as it did all of those years ago.  To put it another way, no alteration is necessary!

So why would I want to share that on this blog.  Some might accuse me of doing nothing more than boast that I have managed to maintain a reasonably trim figure into my older age!  Not true.  Rather, I use the story as a reminder that there is something much more substantial than any kilt jacket that does not, never has, and never will, need any alteration.  I refer, of course, to the written Word of God, the Bible.

Writing to his young "son in the faith", Timothy, the apostle Paul states that "All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." (II Tim 3:16-17; RSV).  Now it must be pointed out that Paul was here referring to the Jewish Scriptures - what Christians refer to as the Old Testament (the New Testament not yet having been compiled and recognised) - although the principle applies, just as surely, to the writings of the New Covenant! However, the temptation arises, in every generation, to challenge the acceptance of God's written Word.  Whether it's the doctrine of hell, or God's declared view on sexual behaviour, or our attitude to our finances, or whatever, there can be a pressure on many to reject the more "inconvenient" parts of the Bible.

In the book of the Jewish prophet Jeremiah - part of the Scriptures to which Paul was referring - and in the 36th chapter, is a record that carries with it a salutary warning.  The prophet has been given a word from YHWH - a word that is intended to turn the rebellious people back to the worship,and service, of the one true God.  However, when that message - written down by Baruch the scribe - is read to king Jehoiakim, he casually cuts off each section of the scroll as it is read, and throws it on to an open fire! This wilful disobedience was dealt with in the fulfilment of the continuing prophecy as recorded in Jer.36:30-31.

Dennis Fisher has written that "When we selectively edit the Bible to suit our fancy, or neglect its teachings, we show that we do not fear God.  Rather than submit to what He says, we exalt our own finite reason and fallible conscience above the inspired text." (Our Daily Bread, Military Edition; 28th June. (c) 2009 RCB Ministries)

As Jehoiakim discovered, it's a dangerous course of action to take!  (see also Heb.10:31-36)

Monday, 11 July 2011

The sat-nav (Part 2)

The sat-nav, to which I referred in the previous post, also comes with a variety of 'voices' - both male and female, and in an amazing plethora of languages.  The English language, alone, has different accents - British, Australian, N.American.  But each voice provides the same directions.  Father God, too, provides His guidance in a number of different ways.  I may receive it as I read His Word in my private devotions; it may come as I listen to someone else preach from that Word; a friend may make a suggestion that contains His plan for my life at that moment; circumstances may dictate a particular course of action; it may be that quiet prompting of God the Holy Spirit, as He nudges me this way, or that.  And the list could be extended in many different ways.  However, the important thing, as I use the sat-nav, is to listen, and obey - whichever voice is being used! So with the guidance that Father God provides.  I do not discard it because I don't appreciate the source; because I don't like the accent!  If I am to arrive, safely, at my destination, I need to learn to listen, and obey.

It's all a reminder of my limited vision.  Whether driving along the roads and motorways - within the UK or abroad - I can only see as far as the next corner, or hill, or obstruction.  The sat-nav sees way beyond, and has a plan mapped out for me.  In life, I am unable to see, with any real clarity, beyond the present moment.  I am constricted by the time-space continuum in which I currently live.  Father God sees all of time simultaneously, and has a perfect plan for my life that fits in with His eternal purposes.

The sat-nav has already proved itself to be of some benefit and will, doubtless, continue to do so for as long as it operates.  Allowing Almighty God to lead us through life, leads us to that same eternity that He inhabits, and into His nearer presence throughout that endless day.  That is inexpressibly beneficial!  A sat-nav I may purchase from any number of sources.  Eternal life comes only as a free gift from a gracious God Who has already paid the price at Calvary.  My part is only to confess my sinfulness; to turn my back on that sinfulness in repentance; to accept His gracious salvation; and to serve Him both here, and hereafter.

PS  Whilst appreciating both my sat-nav AND my wife-nav I would, within the context of motoring navigation, and if forced to choose, continue to pick the latter!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Wife-swopping!!!

Apologies to those who are regular visitors to my blog, but I have been in France for the past three weeks, and this is the first opportunity I have had to access the internet!   We should be here for at least a week, so expect a couple more posts over the next few days!   Okay, the heading is meant to be an eye-catcher - but do read on before coming to any conclusion about my marital happiness!!

This year, I swopped my wife!! Well, not in the sense that I took on another women in her place, but in the sense that, after many years of having her as my "wife-nav", I finally dragged myself into the 21st century and purchased a sat-nav!  It's been a bit of a mixed blessing, to be honest, but we're beginning to get to grips with it.  Mind you, I still like to have my wee wife beside me with a good old-fashioned paper map on her lap - just to be on the safe side!

However, I have discovered that my sat-nav has a number of important spiritual truths to teach me,guidance certainly in the area of guidance. Already we have discovered that we are being directed along roads that we wouldn't have chosen ourselves.  The amazing thing is that, by whatever route the sat-nav takes us, we do arrive at our final destination. 

The life of the disciple of Jesus can be a bit like that!  Sometimes the Lord takes us along paths that we would never have chosen if left entirely to our own devices.  Yet how many can testify to His wisdom as the destination is reached and, if it isn't the one towards which we thought we were heading, it turns out to be far superior?  Of course, there is a reason for all of this.  The sat-nav can be programmed to look out for hold-ups on the route, and to quickly compute an alternative.  Father God, from His vantage point of eternity, sees my whole life - and, indeed, the whole of time - spread out before Him.  In His eternal present, He is aware of the pitfalls that are in my future, and directs my path to avoid them.  Of course, just as we are perfectly capable of ignoring the instructions that emanate from the sat-nav, so I am all too capable of ignoring the guidance that comes from my heavenly Father.  The results are similar - and I am the one who loses out!