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New Year Again! January 2018

Where did that year go!  Half in Tampa, Florida and half travelling the UK, that's where.  

And here we are at January again.  Why do we always feel the need to review the last year and set goals for the next?

Say no more, I'll let the Skit Guys say it for me.

It's 2 mins 55.

It's worth watching.

It's funny.

 

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Is it Christmas? December 2016

Everyone keeps asking me if I’m ready for Christmas but I’ve hardly given it a thought.  So I’m reassured yet again by my old friend’s comment of “It’s just a chicken dinner!”  I’m clinging to that one this year David!

At the moment we’re just too busy preparing for a New Year Adventure to worry about Christmas.  John and I are about to go over to Florida (visa permitting – we have an interview at the Embassy in London next week) to do some charity work with the church we visited in Tampa.  “What!” I hear you say (well I can hear those of you who know us saying it) “Why leave the beautiful Scottish Borders countryside for an American cityscape!” and “You know it’s hot over there don’t you?” You see, if you know John you know that his full Scottish bloodline has given him some sort of antifreeze alongside the red and white corpuscles – he doesn’t even reach for a jumper until it gets to minus 5 and he finds anything over 20 too hot to be comfortable!

It is going to be quite a shock to us - but it is only for six months and we were so impressed with the way the church was connecting with the community. Outreach, evangelism, food banks, job creation schemes, alcoholics and drug addicts freed from addiction, support groups and home groups in local areas.  I’ve seen all of these in various UK churches over the years but never all in the same place.  Their creativity and vitality in reaching the community was intense – and it worked!  The Holy Spirit is so at work there.  So many lives transformed it made me cry!  (Though I think I was supposed to be laughing.)

We are delighted by the opportunity we have been given by the church there and we are hoping that we will be able to bring back some of those amazing ideas and transforming power to help the ordinary people in the scattered country communities of our Scottish homeland too.

Watch this space!

P.S. Don't you just love the Xmas tree graphic?  It's from Shy D and you can find it here.

Surveys November 2016

Whenever I stop to do a survey in the steet I end up disappointed because they always seem to be about double glazing, utilities suppliers or the latest junk food for kids.  Nothing of real significance.  The last one I did gave me bits of chocolate (you can see why I stopped) and was trying to find out whether I preferred the chocolate at room temperature or cold from the fridge.  They did this by "hiding" the fridge (not very well) so that I wouldn't know.  It took me some time and several tastes of "A" and "B" to give my decision I can tell you.

Why can't we have a survey about something important?  Something like this:

1. Has anyone ever told you that God loves you and that He has a great plan for your life?    Yes/No

2. If today were your last day here on earth, do you know for sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt that you would go to Heaven?   Yes/No

3. If you answered, "yes" to question 2, is that because you are a good person and/or because you attend church regularly?  Yes/No

4. Have you ever heard that the Holy Bible reads, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." And "For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." And "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved?"  Yes/No

5. Did you know that you are a "whosoever"?  Yes/No

Here's a quick prayer for you: Lord, bless each person who reads this with long and healthy lives. Jesus, do a quick work in their heart and make Yourself so real to them. If they have never recived  You as there lord and Saviour, I pray that they will do so right now.

If you would like to receive the gift that God has for you today, say this with your heart and your lips out loud:

Dear Lord Jesus, come into my heart. Forgive me of my sin. Set me free. Jesus, thank You that You died for me. I believe that God raised You from the dead. Fill me with the Holy Spirit, the peace of God, and the joy of the Lord. Give me a passion to reach the lost, a hunger for the things of God, and a holy boldness to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm saved. I'm born-again. I'm forgiven and I'm on my way to Heaven because I have Jesus in my heart. Thank You Jesus!

When you asked Jesus to come into your heart and to forgive you, He heard you and did so. All of your sins are now forgiven. Always remember to run to God and NOT from God because He loves you and has a great plan for your life. That's VERY good news. 

6. Did you say the above prayer?   Yes/No

Now that sort of survey leaves someone with a gift of eternal significance!

This survey exists.  It was produced by the The River at Tampa Bay Church where we have just spent an eye-opening week and where, every single day, ordinary people are having thier lives transformed by the love of God. See www.revival.com for more details. 

"Look, I am making everything new!" October 2016

There are some times when it feels like the fabric of our lives is damaged beyond repair and the bedsheet of our former life now seems only fit for dressing up, or cleaning rags.  When moth and accident and deliberate vandalism have holed the fabric of our lives to a critical state we despair.  Except that we forget something.  Well Someone. The God who’s creative gifts exceed anything we could ever conceive or imagine. The one who restores the old and damaged parts of our lives.  What’s more the amazing thing about God is that He never restores to what it was before – it is always even better!!

 

God is expert at invisible mending.  Watch what he does with your life – you’ll never know those tiny holes were there.   Destroyed by moth you say?  Really? Have you ever seen the beauty of lace cutwork when finished by a craftsman? 

If your life feels like a tattered mess – trust in His expertise. His creativity has no limits.

Give Him the tattered cloth of your life and He will make something beautiful of it.

He is very good at restoration. He always has been.  Naomi's story in the Bible tells of her losing everything and yet even her neighbours noticed that God was at work in her life.  “He will restore your life for you and will support you in your old age” they said to her – and then watched it come true.

 

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The Relief of the Normal September 2016

I've just read Phillipa Gregory's "Three Sisters, Three Queens" about the tumultuous ups and downs between Henry VIII’s wife Katherine of Aragon, and Henry’s two sisters Margaret, Queen of Scotland & Mary, Queen of France. It’s one of her best books and I really enjoyed it ~ though if I'd ever watched the Kardashians I'd have found the twists and turns of life at Tudor court easier to follow I think.  They seem very similar except with less plastic surgery and more executions.

Anyway, at a particularly fraught moment when Margaret is trying to escape her second husband, the power seeking Earl of Arran, we have this paragraph written in the voice of Margaret:

“They all write to me:  Harry, Thomas Wolsey, Katherine, Mary.  They all deplore my divorce.  Harry threatens me with the damnation of adulterers.  Katherine begs me to think of the legitimacy of my daughter, and says that I am throwing her down as baseborn.  Thomas Wolsey tells me that Harry's outraged rant is a true copy of his spoken words, and Mary tells me that gowns are being cut slightly off the shoulder.”

And that made me laugh.  The determination of Mary (at least in Phillipa Gregory’s mind) to carry on as if everything was normal and her reluctance to commit anything to do with the situation to paper reminded me that the default position of some people when faced with an impossible dilemma, is to say and do nothing of any consequence.

And that reminded me of the friends I had when my own storm of emotions was at its height who steadfastly continued on as normal and took me along with them.  Friends at work who discussed lesson plans and teaching styles as if my input was as important as it always had been, friends at home who took me off for a coffee and talked about their niece’s first steps and the merits of the new plans for the city centre, and new friends who had no idea what I was going through, who chatted in a friendly way about the weather and the price of milk.  Each conversation as inconsequential as whether gowns were being cut off the shoulder or not and each conversation giving me a blissful ten minutes, half an hour or whole afternoon free of the intensity that usually ran through my head.  

When every piece of communication you have is with a court official, a counsellor, a solicitor, a family worker, a doctor, a crying relative or an estranged ex-partner, it is just such a relief to have an ordinary conversation with a friend. Notice the emphasis on ordinary. When every conversation is deep and painful or manipulative and threatening it is a huge relief to have a conversation that is quite simply unimportant.  And when every encounter from everyone you know starts with a concerned “How are you?” (that difficult question so impossible to answer) it is such a relief to meet a friend who opens with “Did you see Downton last night?” (For Downton substitute ‘Stenders, Spurs, X-Factor, the racing, Bake-off, Made in Chelsea, the Bourne Conspiracy, darts, cycling or anything else at all, as long as it’s something that’s not going to shake the world.)

Yes, it’s good to talk things through, yes it's necessary to let out what’s on your mind to your friends but every now and then it’s wonderful to have the relief of the normal. 

I hear they’re wearing dresses off one shoulder this winter…

 

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