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IMG-1674Happy New Year?

I was talking with someone yesterday who said that the older they got, the more complex life seemed to get and the more painful situations they were forced to face. I read this morning Psalm 84 and encountered again God’s heart: “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

I read verses like this and even though my trust and faith in God is total and absolute, I pause.

“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

“He fulfills the desire of those who fear him”

“…if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”

I’ve been labeled “Charismatic” more than once in my life. (There aren’t too many Charismatics who are cessationists, but I always let the intended insult go undefended.) I’m most definitely not in the camp which seems to want to force God to “honor His promises” – as if He was a “tame lion”. What these verses do, (when the pressures and sadnesses in life come), is push me in the direction of calling out to the Holy God, “Father, have mercy!” That, and nothing more. He is loving and holy. God is powerful and all-wise. Trust-able!

So back to the pause… I quickly flit through the worn logic again – coming to the same conclusion as always: “I am your contented worshipper, God.” Sadness and trials of differing potency are a guarantee in this life. But as a worshipper of God, all is well – no matter the heartache, no matter the lack of understanding; for God is all-powerful and loves His children.

Coming off that subject: We are so happy to have all of our children here with us! (A grandchild is plainly “bonus”.) It has been pure joy! God has shown both us and our children great grace in giving them the same strong desire as we have to glorify Him with our lives. I’ll forever be so thankful for that!

Another “joy”:  Yesterday, I met with a man who wants to marry one of the ladies who went through rehab with us. Vika has hoped for something like this for a couple of years… and it looks as if God is blessing her with this godly man from Dnipro, a city in the south. Vika has faithfully been working in a carton factory for the past couple of years and serving in a ladies rehab centre we have close ties with in Kiev once or twice a week. God has done beautiful things for Vika – things she could never have imagined 4 years ago!  May His perfect will be done!

Some of the men and women who have left us after finishing rehab have gone back to drugs and alcohol. To God be the glory, many, (if not most), are in churches around the country and, (to one degree or another), “operating” as God’s servants in this world.  I met with three former drug addicts this morning who I probably won’t get to see in heaven… for they will be given positions way up close to Jesus while I’ll be way in the back of everyone.  Their love and humility and faith is just so encouraging.

pigs and sheepThe rehab centres acquired a few new heads last month.  One lamb and a couple of young pigs.  The church got to revel in the taste of last year’s sllooow cooked pig on New Years Eve.  It was possibly up there amongst the most delicious tasting meat I’ve ever tasted! 

The lads gleaned the corn fields and gathered enough corn to keep the piglets pretty well fed all year, we think.  They are voracious eaters though, (about 5% of their body weight is consumed in a day), so if we run out of corn… we may have to have an Easter pig.  Surely every church should have a church pig or lamb!! 

If you prayed about the hard situation I wrote about in our last blog, thank you. God, for perfect reasons, has allowed this man to believe and spread abroad that we have bad doctrine in our church, bad preaching, and to top it off, he and his wife have not grown spiritually during their last five years with us.  I genuinely feel sadness for this young family. A few of the leading men here have talked with this brother with the same outcome each time. Following a firm rebuke where we removed him from official ministry roles for a period of time, his heart has been hard and his mind seemingly intent on washing his hands of us. If we correctly understand the character of God, putting this behind them without resolving relationships and submitting to authorities and God’s Word is way easier said than done.

If there has been an encouraging thing about this sad situation, it has been that several people have come to us with concerns for this couple, (after they tried to tell them about the bad doctrine/bad preaching), and these people shared with us that they felt the opposite. I am reminded of Satan firing off fiery darts at the Christian only for them to hit a “shield of faith” and fall to the ground, spent and useless. “Good.”

IMG-1729Covid quarantine bumped our planned parenting mini-conference… as well as a youth conference our youth were keen to attend. (Musing: does all this quarantining and cancelling benefit the church so that she is more or less mature and godly? I sincerely wonder…?  It might be good!!!) We are aiming now for March for the parenting conference and the youth will hold their own two-day affair next week.

And lastly, (for this blog), the floor of the church building is tiled. It is incredible how much difference it makes to the cleanliness of the place… not to mention the heat this big slab gives off when hot water is pumped through the pipes underneath! We are grateful!  This photo is of the revelers who chose to join us for our New Years Eve celebration.  I’m thankful God has given us a close and precious spiritual family… even if they are a little bit too much like me - slightly weird - for comfort sometimes.