Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Mixed bag of a week

It has been a strange week this week with some big ups and some big downs. On Wednesday we travelled out to Malta - well that is what we told our kids, we didn't actually get as far as Malta but we crossed the river that the town of Malta, Latvia is named after. Our kids genuinely thought we were off to the island Malta (pity there are no emoticons on this site that I know of as this would be a good point to place a rolling around on the floor laughing kind of emoticon). We went out there to meet with a guy called Levi who is working hard to bring about unity amongst the denominations within Latvia and working to see a growth of prayer in this land. He has a clothing ministry to this poor area of Latvia as well as a place of prayer. It was a privilege to sit and eat and talk with this guy and his helpers, and to see people walking in off the streets looking for work or help and being shown care and compassion.

On the topic of prayer I read the book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala.  It is a refreshing book even if I don't agree with everything in it, but I have to agree that if we don't do anything else in our church body today we have to pray. Fantastic sermons, brilliant worship are nice but unless we are seeking God's will in prayer, unless we are praying together for the world around us we may as well pack up and go home and rent a video instead. Jim Cymbala states "North American Christians (and others I might add) must no longer accept the status quo. No more neat little meetings, even with the benefit of 100 per cent correct doctrine." Despite being written in 1997 it would appear that we are still seeing new fads, new ideas in worship, the emphasis on having the best preaching around and yet still our prayer meetings are empty and we wonder why the Christian church is in retreat in many places. It is exciting partnering with God in prayer, seeing how he answers the prayers, seeing how we grow through prayer - great stuff!

A rather flippant high this week - I reached a vocabulary of level 48 on the Free Rice website. This site allows you to improve your vocabulary and for every correct answer 20 grains of rice is donated to help end hunger through the UN food programme, not much but it will add up, especially as more people play it.

The lows this week are with two of my kids who are both struggling this week with relationships within the homes where they are living. One of them is trying to find alternative accommodation due to unreasonable behaviour of the host and the other one has been upset by the behaviour of someone moving out and the way they are going about it. It is kind of hard at times when the family is so far away, but jumping in to help won't  be helpful in the long run, the most I can do is provide a listening ear and let them work out how to resolve the issues. 

As you may have read gardens and gardening has been a big feature of our last month or so and I found two articles interesting this week for totally different reasons. The first was on the BBC about Lesotho keyhole gardens. Our friend Kjessie from our American church Timberline Oldtown is currently in Lesotho so I emailed her with the article link and her reply was that " I live this article. There are keyhole gardens all over the village that I work in and many of my volunteer friends have projects working to build them." It is great to see how encouraging small scale gardens can have such an impact on people and their diet and shows you don't need a huge amount of space to grow your own veg. If you do read the article and are left wondering what the tin cans are for then according to my friend Kjessie they are for micro nutrients. 

The other article I found while trawling through my friend Martin's site (which is full of interesting articles, blogs and comments). I have copied it below (with permission of course)

If God has placed keys to discovering himself and his nature throughout all of creation, then it is not at all unlikely that there are aspects of his nature that are more revealed in one place than another. So, for example, it seems likely that Adam and Eve were to discover all they
could of God through tilling the garden, working the soil, and in their fellowship with God after their day’s work to reflect back on what had been revealed, and that once the garden had yielded up what had been hidden that they were to move on to the next geography. In the next
location they were to discover other aspects of this creator God. Through their work they were to fill up all of creation with the presence of God.

That brings about an interesting perspective on our garden and ties in with the feeling that Ian had that God was going to show him something about the land we now live in through the garden, so that was quite an encouragement.

I was dwelling on those two points and thinking about Genesis where it says:-

Genesis 1:28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

29 Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.

There should be enough food for all of us in God's plans otherwise he wouldn't have given us instructions to fill the earth. It is too easy to lose touch with the land. Abraham was meant to walk the land - let his feet feel the ground beneath him he could hadve ridden the land but he wasn't supposed to. As Martin said the land should speak to us of God, not just the stunning panoramas or the glorious sunsets that take your breath away but also the way that the humble earthworm brings health to the soil (dirt) beneath our feet, the way the ants organise their communities, to the way that nothing is wasted in an ecosystem. It all speaks of God and the care he put into his creation. All we need now on our little bit of creation that we are responsible for is some nice gentle rain. Unusually for Latvia it hasn't rained for days but if we have one of the downpours all our seeds are going to end up at the bottom of our digging area as there are not much vegetation and roots to hold the soil in one place yet, and if we don't get some rain soon we are not going to get much in the way of vegetation either.

I know this is unusual but I hate going to the hairdressers and will put it off as long as I can. It is even worse when I move because trying to find a hairdresser I find it really stressful. Strange but true! I really did try and find a hairdresser here in Ä’rgli but so far I haven't been able to find one. One of the problems is that here shops don't always look like shops, they might be tucked away in an apartment block, or in a building that just doesn't look like a shop to my English eyes. We are gradually finding these little places but so far a hairdresser has been elusive and so I had to take the drastic step of asking Ian to cut my hair and to tell you the truth he didn't do a bad job at all. Phew!


  1. You never even mentioned Malta to me!!!

  2. I didn't think you were quite so gullible. Lol

  3. Malta! brought back memories of a holiday spent there only to discover that's NOT what you meant!

    You say 'fantastic sermons, brilliant worship are nice but unless we are seeking God's will in prayer, unless we are praying together for the world around us we may as well pack up and go home and rent a video instead.' I totally agree. It's sad that so many of those who go to a place of worship think that that's it. The more 'feel good' factor they experience in the meetings and the more inovative and new ways of worshipping, the closer is their walk with God.

    I think that ties in with your comments about seeing God and learning from Him in nature and in our daily living. Although I have known God in my day to day living, I must admit that often I separated sacred from secular but since leaving an organised system of congregating I am more aware of His presence in everything. Now my place of worship is wherever I am at a given moment. Worship is not just nice songs - it's living the life God has given me. Surely this is what He meant when He said to fill the earth with His presence.

    I'm sure God will continue to reveal more of Himself as you cultivate your garden and connect with the land He has given to live in.

  4. Having just got back from a weekend away with a group from New Frontiers and associates in Latvia where we had some amazing worship at times, I have come away with more from the conversations we had with some of the folks there than anything else - but more of that later in my blog :o)


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