Thank you!

We booked the flights for Macedonia today! Me, mum and dad are all going out in April. I’m so excited, a dream is becoming reality. Its going to be a week of unknowns as my folks experience a new culture, meet Kole and his family etc but its going to be so good! I’m already beginning to count down as the 2 month mark approaches 🙂

Me and dad were saying that this last year has been awesome in some of the ways that God has provided and blessed us so here are just a few to remind and encourage us when the going gets tough……..

  • provision of money on numerous occassions often more than 500 quid
  • healing of relationships
  • physical healing for Julija (completely baffling doctors)
  • children becoming christians
  • new doors of opportunitity
  • openness in schools for people to go in

Man there’s far too much really to try and quantify but there have been many times in the last year I have seen God move and speak to me in new and exciting ways! And Im sure that there is much more to come as long as we continue to be open to Him!

‘For such a time as this’

Today has been the most crazy day and for lots of reasons I can’t go into at the mo. But God is very much in control of each of our lives and of that he reminded us today! Me, Kole and dad are all high as kites as we’ve been blown away by God’s goodness once again!

This morning Kole got given the money to pay the hospital for the capsules he needs to sort out his left side. I rang Kole and broke the news that Id been given the money. He was already at Skopje hospital. And when I left he was so happy and blown away, such a contrast to the guy who was clearly in agony the night before.

When I rang back Kole told me the whole story which went something like this…

He’d arrived at the hospital and explained again that they couldnt pay for the capsules, the doc said they would give him injections that would relieve some of the pain and that they wanted to keep him in for observation. Kole refused cos they couldn’t pay the hospital bill and told the doc he would go back home. Then I ring and say we have the money and that id transferred it. He tells the doc who says thats great but it will take 2 weeks to get the capsules into the country and that Kole will have to stay in for observation until then. The sister walks into the room and says they’ve just had a delivery of medication, all of which was what Kole needed! So they sorted him ut with th relevant capsules, made sure he didnt react to them and sent him home!

God knew, he put all the right people in the right place at the right time. Kole was ecstatic telling me his day was perfect, the capsules are already kicking in, he doesnt have to go back for a month and God is HUGE and very much in control!

God always has a plan!

Ouch

The world fades away, and Im suddenly aware of my heart drumming at speed. My brain feels like mush, ‘what ifs’ rushing through it. I have the overwhelming urge to jump on a plane and think not for the first time that Im in the wrong country.

Kole had another stroke today.

………. But my God is big!

Surviving to Thriving

I feel a real call to pray. Prayer isn’t my strong point, I go up and down with it like other people. I’m not an intercessor and I don’t feel particularly gifted in the area but I really feel the need to pray. It’s like there’s a whole world out there and we should be down on our knees crying out to God to intervene. At the end of Heidi Baker’s book she talks about seeking God’s face, keep seeking it until you can see Him. I read that back in the summer and yet the phrase still comes back. Will you seek my face? But why is it that although I feel excited by this change that I want to back away. I have the opportunity to spend time with the King of the World, and He wants me to spend time with Him and yet I am too busy or too scared of being taken out of my comfort zone.

When you read books about people like Jackie Pullinger, Heidi Baker etc their lives are drenched in prayer. And I’ve been saying to God I want to do mission work but I’m not dependent enough on you, my life isn’t saturated in prayer. I’m not calling out to you, how do I change this?? And this is the answer, Gods making me hungry. It’s like there’s a whole world out there and I don’t know even half of whats going on but I feel called to pray. I want God to give me the details or a subject or a country to pray for but the picture in my head is of the world. I feel that God wants me to just call out to him but I don’t have the words, and there are lots of ‘what ifs’ going round my brain. And yet at the same time I want to yell out words of adoration, I feel joy bubbling up inside me at the thought so whats holding me back???

Sreken Bozhik!

In Macedonia it’s Christmas today, kinda a surreal thought. Kole says its not bout presents but Jesus. You go to the church in the morning and evening to celebrate and give thanks to God for sending this little baby to earth and spend the day with family eating good food and celebrating. There’s no Christmas tree, 3 month hype, umpteen carol services n school plays. Presents are only bought for your partner/wife/girlfriend.

In my head I can see Kole’s house covered in snow, his whole family crammed round the table laughing and eating good food and I want to be there too. I like the idea of a simpler Christmas, a more focused christmas.

New Years often bigger there, with parties and everyone out on the streets. Id like to see that too, and seemingly goes on for days!

Meanwhile I am procrastinating in a freezing office somewhere in the middle of England, desperate to go back to bed where its warm and I can sleep but instead I have a list as long as my arm and I need a wee……. Wonder where i’ll be next Christmas?

So, Sreken Bozhik!
(Happy Christmas in Macedonian)

A challenge……

My dad forwarded me this email today, and I find it challenging – maybe an attitude check as we start this new year?

An Email received this week from Rick Warren

REMEMBER HE WROTE ‘ PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE’

You will enjoy the new insights that Rick Warren has, with his wife now having cancer and him having ‘wealth’ from the book sales. This is an absolutely incredible short interview with Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Life author and pastor of Saddleback Church in California. In the interview by Paul Bradshaw with Rick Warren, Rick said:

People ask me, What is the purpose of life? And I respond:In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were not made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven.

One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body but not the end of me.

I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act – the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.

We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn’t going to make sense.

Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you’re just coming out of one, or you’re getting ready to go into another one.

The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort.

God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.

We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that’s not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.

This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer.

I used to think that life was hills and valleys – you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don’t believe that anymore.

Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it’s kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life.

No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on.

And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.

You can focus on your purposes , or you can focus on your problems.

If you focus on your problems, you’re going into self-centeredness, which is my problem, my issues, my pain.’ But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.

We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her.

It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people.

You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life.

Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder. For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy.

It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before. I don’t think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease.

So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do, II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72

First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit. We made no major purchases. Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church.

Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiative we call The Peace Plan to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation.

Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free.

We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions or popularity?

Am I going to be driven by pressures, guilt, bitterness, or materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God’s purposes (for my life)?

When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don’t get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better. God didn’t put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He’s more interested in what I am than what I do.

That’s why we’re called human beings, not human doings

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.
Painful moments, TRUST GOD.
Every moment, THANK GOD.

Do you accept the challenge?

Happy New Year!

I can’t believe it’s 2009! somehow the years have flown by, in my head by 2010 we should all be flying in our own spaceships like some film. I wonder what this year will hold? It’s full of the unknown, but for once that excites me!

I spent New Year at my brothers and his wife. It was a chilled out evening of good company, games, food n booze, a good mixture in my opinion, followed by a lazy morning and an afternoon in the pub. A great start to the New Year!

At one point Pete said I was well indecisive, never making a decision. It made me smile when i remembered that as kids, we either agreed or wanted the opposite so adamently it always ended in an arguement. But now however many years on we are both content to just spend time with each other neither of us fussing over what dvd to watch or where to go. It’s a good place to be in, when you can just enjoy being together, and the feeling of contentment is something we often miss in the business of life. All in all a good start to 2009!

Trust

Trust is a strange thing. You either have it or you don’t, there’s no inbetween. It takes a lot to regain and is easily broken. But it’s a beautiful thing, an invisible bond that binds people together.

When Kole and I started our relationship sat on the balcony of a monastry in Strumica. I knew that I could trust him, not just for now but for the future. I knew he would never do anything to consciously hurt me, he would always protect me and look out for me. The idea of being with this guy, despite language and cultural differences, excited me and came with a peace, a trust, that no matter what I knew I could trust him.

I was watching Jeremy Kyle, while lying in bed in some half asleep state over the holidays, and was struck with how often the issue of trust comes up. It made me sad that there were often children involved, broken relationships and an awful lot of hurt. And these people lived together or in the same communities, saw each other regularly, were integrated into each others lives, but the trust was broken.

It made me feel blessed that I am in a relationship built on trust, where at this stage we may be 3000 miles apart but I trust Kole explicitly, whether hes out with his mates, at the disco, or away with work for a bit and I know that he trusts me too. It’s a great foundation for a relationship.

But then how do we as a society build communities of people full of trust? We need to be less ‘i’ focussed. When did vulnerability and morals become a weakness? So many countries strive to be like western countries but actually we could learn from them so much about how to be a better community and Im sure that trusting others, friendship and being a good neighbour is all part of that.

A God of Miracles!

The last couple of weeks have been hard, really hard and yet at the same time I’ve been blessed, surprised and encouraged through them, and have been much to be greatful for!

Kole had 2 strokes, lost the use of his left side, and at 1st they weren’t even sure he’d make it. But God is good and he’s come through it all and came out of hospital on Christmas day, making my day! We don’t know what the repercussions are or whether there are any long term consequences but we have been blessed through the circumstances. Through out it all Kole never lost his speech and so I was able to chat to him everyday. There were people in the hospital that God put on Kole’s heart, and he had the opportunity to share with them the love of God, particularly to some old guy in the next bed. He also played hours of tetris and ate horrible food!

We were blessed by the many people that prayed from around the world, the many prayer chains that started, support from facebook friends, offer of finances for travel so we could be together and then finally the provision through another friend of money to pay the hospital bills. Both of us felt upheld and loved by people that we know and don’t know, but who are brothers and sisters in Christ, showing that this is such an amazing family to belong too!

We found that in the hard time we had much to be thankful for and to shout God’s praises!

Through it all I had a song that kept going round my head and became a source of encouragement to me:

I will bless the Lord forever

I will trust Him at all times

He has delivered me from all fear

He has set my feet upon a rock

I will not be moved

And I’ll say of the Lord

You are my shield, my strength

My portion, deliverer

My shelter, strong tower

My very present help in time of need

Whom have I in heaven but You

There’s none I desire beside You

You have made me glad

And I’ll say of the Lord

You are my shield, my strength

My portion, deliverer

My shelter, strong tower

My very present help in time of need

Two things kept going round my head, God is my strength and my rock, and to be grateful in every circumstance. God always keeps his promises, and he was my strength and my rock through it all, and I was blessed on top of that by the people God placed around me!

‘He shall be the stability of your times…… Isaiah 33:5-6

It’s Christmas!!

I love Christmas, spending special time with the family, everyone in one room together. This year was quiet, just me and the folks, and it flew by even though we didn’t do very much! The lead up was the usual chaos of carol services, christmas plays, children and youth service, parties, catching up with friends and family, and much planning and prep. But the running theme through it all was that baby Jesus was the greatest gift of all! The highlight was telling the children at Kaboodle that Magdaline and Jeremiah gave birth to Jesus in a palace with an ensuite bathroom, and that the wise men, riding elephants followed a monkey to get there! They screamed at me that I was wrong, and it made me smile that throught the many activities and the numerous times they’ve been told the story they could listen and tell me I was wrong, and I pray hard that they will have remembered Jesus sometime today in the middle of presents, good food and family chaos.

I’m an angel, didn’t you know?

Christmas cracker fun!

Happy Christmas!