Winter is back! Not so bad now but we were hoping for something a little warmer instead of having to light our wood burner in the evenings. Yes, we’re very handy with the chainsaw and axe and our water is heated with a wood burner too but it only takes a few twigs fallen from the trees to make a nice hot bath!
You know, it’s a real good exercise, writing these snippets of life, reminds me of the old song, ‘Count your blessings, name them one by one….’ It’s true, sometimes we forget or overlook what great things the Lord has done for us. The demoniac whom Jesus delivered prayed that he could stay beside Jesus but Jesus didn’t allow him to, instead he said to go home and tell what great things the Lord has done for him – Mark 5:19… I had a really nice day today, totally unexpectedly I spent 3 hours in bible study with a young Christian friend and we were discussing about being a good Christian and ‘ how nice I feel to sit quietly with my bible with some ‘nice’ hymns playing in the background and go to church on Sunday and everything is lovely’… but… Jesus doesn’t want us to just sit and enjoy feeling nice,,, He said to the demoniac…. ‘Go and tell your friends’… and Matthew 11:12 tells us that ‘ …the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force’. I don’t know about you but I don’t see very much violence in sitting at home with some ‘nice hymns playing, just feeling nice’. Now don’t get me wrong, I love to sit at home with my bible and put on some good worship CDs but that’s not all we’re to do.
On arrival in Romania in October 2006, we were offered a place to live, a great church to attend and soon made lots of friends here. We became very involved with teen bible study and ‘English church’ on a Friday night. I led the Friday night church and I love to do things differently. One particular Friday I was led by the Holy Spirit to ‘re-enact’ the Last Supper. We laid out tables and provided soup and bread and began to eat and chat much like I think the disciples may have done. After a while, it became clear that one of our number was agitated and needed to say something. He repented of sin and asked the Lord Jesus into his life there and then Amen! Other times we would meet and the teens would say, ‘Oh Rich, we love it when you speak because all is real to you, not just something you have learned at bible school or read in a book. What a nice thing to say. What have you got to say about how Jesus has led your life so far; go tell it to someone else!
It wasn’t long before we were on a house hunt, we went with friends into the mountains, by the lakes, near the forest and each time prayed ‘Lord, let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ or you ‘no’ be ‘no’. God made it very clear in every place that ‘no’ was ‘no’! Then a friend called to say there was a property for sale in a poor village nearby, a house and 3 acres of land for 25,000 euros. We went to look and the owners were Christian and were praying for someone to buy who wanted to use the property for God’s work. Wow, we thought, what are you saying Lord? Then one of our friends came and shook me by the neck and said, ‘if you don’t buy this place, you’re crazy’… That would be a ‘yes’ then Lord! We bought it, received the keys and moved in.
I want to continue the story but I have to share something with you that God showed me this week.
I was sitting on my terrace looking out at the new fruit trees I’ve recently planted, 16 of them. Then I looked over at the older fruit trees, some of which are twisted and gnarled and ugly but I remember how last summer we picked so much beautiful fruit from them. Apples, pears, cherries, plums and walnuts. The old and ugly trees produce some wonderful fruit and I shouldn’t be in too much of a hurry to chop them down, while the new trees, in order to begin producing fruit, need to be cared for, nurtured and cosseted a little. It’s the same with Christians, the young ones need to be made ready to produce fruit while at the same time we shouldn’t be too quick to disregard what the older ones have to teach us. I had to repent one time when I was in a church in Devon and the speaker was a doddery old man of 80. Oh no, I thought, how religious is this going to be. Then he began to speak and the house was filled with glory. That taught me a valuable lesson.