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Saturday, 25 April 2015

Swept along

There is a swimming pool in Dundee with a donut shaped whirlpool called the rapids. We used to take the school swim club there and the children loved the sense of being sucked into the swirling waters and carried at speed round and round. I am not a strong swimmer but I did enjoy that too. Maybe because although it felt a bit scary, there was an underlying knowledge that basically it was safe.

That is the blessing of faith in a good and loving God. That although life can seem out of control as we are swept along in various currents, even sometimes fearing we might go under, that underneath we know are God's everlasting arms, keeping us eternally safe.

I am being swept along in various circumstances right now, feeling out of control but just trusting in the love of my Saviour.

So, so grateful.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Glass Half ... ?

Glass Half ...

Full? Empty? Which kind of person are you?

I always say I’m a glass half full person, but I see the glass beside me is nearly completely empty. It is so easy for me to drink the glass of water and fail to refill it until my thirst can no longer be ignored.

Jesus told the woman at the well that if she’d known who she was speaking with, she’d have asked him for water and he’d have given her a drink that would ‘spring up to eternal life’, and she would never have to visit the well again. 

That sounded too good to be true to her and yet ... she was impressed enough to rush back to town and gather the neighbours to hear this Jew sitting by the well. 

It’s easy for me to refill my glass. Stand up, walk a dozen steps to a tap and there it is, cold and refreshing and good Scottish water. Many places in the world are not blessed with an abundance of clean fresh water. Many people, mainly women, walk for miles, for hours, daily, through dangerous conditions, in order to collect enough water for the day. 

Jesus was talking about the refreshment our spirits need. We are all under pressure, too busy, stressed out, and fail to take time to sit with God at the well. The well might be the Bible. It might be a time of meditating on a Scriptural verse, or on the person of Jesus. It might be a time of prayer and contemplation. It might be a CD played softly or loudly, offering hope and refreshment for the spirit.

I did fill up my spiritual glass this morning, so it’s time to go fill up my physical glass. 

Peter advised his listeners to repent and turn to God, so that their sins could be wiped out and that ‘times of refreshing may come from the Lord.’ May you know such a time of refreshing today.

Monday, 20 April 2015


Not that I’ve ever done ballet, but I believe that when you are doing those spins the trick to not getting dizzy and sick is to focus on one point and keep your focus there with each revolution.

I remember a story someone told me about crossing a ravine on a shuggly jungle Indiana-Jones-type bridge. Totally freaking out, she was only able to make it across the abyss by focusing all her attention on her boyfriend on the other side. As long as she stared at him she kept putting one foot in front of the other. When she couldn’t resist the temptation, and looked down, she froze, paralysed with fear.

This is obviously a powerful image with a real nugget of truth in it. One of the Indiana Jones movies has the intrepid hero having to exercise incredible faith and step out onto an invisible bridge stretching over another killer abyss. As he stepped, the foothold came up to meet him and he successfully traversed the crevasse.

Paul writes that in life we are to focus our eyes on Jesus. If we want to do great things, or at least do ordinary things with confidence and a degree of ‘greatness’, we need to fix our eyes on Jesus and step out. Many things in life feel like an abyss. Much of it has to do with the unknown. Much of the fear comes from lack of self-confidence as we step out into uncharted territory. 

Maintaining focus on Jesus requires more than nodding assent to the truth that this is a good idea. It needs deliberate effort, or at least it does in my case. Reminding myself of God’s faithfulness and love by listening to inspiring and encouraging praise CDs. Reading Scripture and meditating on key verses and promises. Remembering God’s faithfulness through past testing times. Relying on the prayers of friends and family. 

Church – the body of believers who support each other – is God’s idea, and I am grateful, oh so grateful, for this wonderful body of disparate people united by one thing: focusing on Jesus.

Saturday, 18 April 2015


It is a beautiful spring morning. Birds singing their sweet songs. Trees budding and blossoming. Grass growing. Sun shining out of a clear blue sky.

The change of season. Spring is a welcome change. Summer is a welcome change. Autumn, though beautiful, less welcome. And winter – well, I have to look beyond it to spring!

And so with life. Change. Growing old. Losing comprehension. Being frightened. Imagining things. Someone I love is entering that dark tunnel and it feels like winter is coming. 

I have to look beyond it to spring. So does she.

God’s faithful to his promises. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He is always with us. He will be there to welcome us into his heavenly kingdom.

I am so grateful. Clinging on. Trusting. Trusting in our faithful God who loves us so much he died for us. Paul begged God to take away a severe trial, but Jesus said to him, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ 

Leaning on my Saviour. Trusting in his grace.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Condition of the heart

This is the week I seem to have truly joined the 21st century. Well, sort of. I’ve joined Facebook, with much trepidation but already have been rewarded with connecting with some friends who have moved away or moved out of my everyday circle. 

This morning I’ve ripped CDs onto the computer successfully, all by myself, and then synched them to my MP3 player. Now I’m just charging said MP3. 

Mainly I wanted it updated as I purchased a teaching CD set for Russian, which we are struggling to learn. I think if I can just listen to it perhaps my pronunciation won’t be so pathetic.

The thing is, Russian is guttural. I mean way down there in the throat somewhere. The books say a bl sounds like the y in physics, but not when you hear a native say it. I’ve tried pointing my tongue to the roof of my mouth, grinning inanely with mouth closed, grunting rather grossly, and none of it sounds like my friend. So maybe I can copy what the speaker on the CD sounds like.

I remember learning French when I was about 14 and the teacher having us practice saying the u in tu by starting with our mouths in a grin and then gradually pulling our lips into a tight purse as though we were going to whistle. Hilarious and I’m not sure many of us succeeded. 

Human beings have the same mouths, lips, tongues, throats, the world over, but somehow some languages struggle with saying an l or an r, and definitely I am struggling with some of these Russian sounds. 

God made us in his image, but we all have different ways of expressing ourselves, linguistically and in worship. Some are expressive and expansive, some are quiet and private, and God loves us all. The thing is, the condition of the heart matters more than the position of the body.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

God is Able

Our God is able. That is the message blaring from my CD just now. He is with us; he will make a way.

How often I have needed to hear such encouragements! How grateful I am that I know they are not empty platitudes but truths grounded in the faithfulness and love of our wonderful God.

It’s been a morning. Waking to an email and skype with more disturbing news from the Long Beach home front, and knowing that decisions will need to be made. I don’t feel up to them. Thank the good Lord that he is able. He is with me. He will make a way. 

Then a phone call with someone else who is hurting, fasting for a situation to change, clinging to his Saviour. I want to sweep in and make it all ok but the truth is, I can’t. I have no power. But hallelujah, our God is able. He is with them. He will make a way.

A Bible study discussing the justice of a holy God. A challenging and disturbing topic in some ways but yet again, so glad that no judgment calls are required of me. Our God is able and he will make all such decisions. 

A discussion of the plight of our dear sisters and brothers in the Nineveh Plain in Iraq, and in Syria, where Christianity is in peril of being wiped out after two millennia of believers inhabiting these countries. I want to do something. What can I do? The West has already messed things up in those areas by wading in unwisely. Praise God, that he is able. He is with them. He will make a way. My job is to pray and to trust and to listen for any further directions from him who is able.

A further discussion of the situation in Russia and in various European countries where xenophobia is on the rise, racism and anti-Semitism gaining adherents daily. The increasingly belligerent rhetoric coming from the Kremlin and Washington and London and other major cities. Planes being intercepted within territorial waters. Submarines snagging the nets of fishing boats and refusing to surface. Disturbing. Alarming even. Thank God, that he is able. He knows what is coming. He can guide my prayers and keep me attentive. 

Yet one more disturbing topic: maternal mortality round the world, but one third of all deaths come from just two countries: India and Nigeria. How can this be, when these countries have funds for space exploration and nuclear development? When will women’s rights be seen as human rights and treated accordingly? More prayer: will I ever get off my knees? Thank God, he is able; he is powerful and just and loving and merciful. 

Ending with a favourite section of scripture, from Philippians 4. ‘Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’

Amen and Amen.