God Send

Life has had a few disappoints of late. Our Night Pastor shared that, for personal reasons, he would be leaving his position. This role is vital to our ministry and this news was a major blow! People gifted for this are not in abundance. I felt so blessed when Mo came. It was quite literally a God send. Without him we could not have begun the work.

Shortly after that I suffered some physical challenges which makes me reliant on others for so many of the activities I routinely have done myself. This hindered the pace of many things and was a bit of a blow to my pride.

In Psalm 86 David offered me some valuable insight and advice. The psalm makes clear who is and is not God! In verse 6 David writes “When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.” God is in control! This is especially important to recall when we feel that we are losing our grip. When we are losing our grip God has things in hand, and from his hand we receive blessings.

In his song Matt Redman sings of blessing God’s Name in the “wilderness” and the “desert place.” It is easier to do this “when the sun’s shining down on me” when all “is as it should be,” but faith limited to good times is no real faith at all.

This week we completed an interview process, and I have offered the position Night Assistant to Steve MacDonald. He will arrive in Saint John to take up the work early this fall. I am so grateful that Mo is willing to stay until we fill this position. This is an amazing answer to prayer and yet another God Send.

I remain quite limited in what I can physically do though I continue to look for further healing. In the meantime, our residents, and volunteers pitch in to keep things moving.

Tonight, we hold our first Drop In. I expect it will be small, but I also expect it will be a happy joy filled time.

This week a group of volunteers erected our new signage. I posed for a picture as if I took part, but I mostly tried to stay out of the way.

This Thursday the Men’s Bible Study group from my church will be gathering in our rec room area for a Summer Social gathering.

It has been good to see the building full of life.

Walking On Son Shine

I have known Sean for many years. He and Donnie and I were “the Three Amigos” before Donnie’s death. We meet almost every week for coffee and a ‘catch up.’ Sean was involved in some childhood accidents that leave him with a lot of physical challenges. When I first met him I could not understand a word he said because of a significant speech impediment. We were patient with one another and eventually I could make out most of what he said. What Sean loves to talk about is Jesus, and how the Lord blesses everyday. Though he could sit back and collect his disability cheque he insists on working. He is a cleaner at the University. He was one of the heroes that braved covid to disinfect the communal areas of the campus. He also cleans the apartment building. He is an industrious worker who puts up with a lot of bias and abuse while living his quite exemplary life!

Sean inspires me with his simple and profound faith. When I am down he challenges me to trust Jesus. There is no hollowness to his challenge because he lives out that trust every day.

Last Saturday Linda and I were honoured to be invited to Sean’s wedding to Christine. They have been engaged for some time while Sean saved for the wedding. It was a wonderfully celebratory event. Christine processed down the aisle to “I’m Walking On Sunshine (Son Shine).” The service was what you would expect from Sean, it was Christ centred!

Sean and I have had thousands of coffees together over the years and shared in hundreds of Bible Studies. Once he asked me to take pictures of him with all his medals. I did not realize how many he had. He might be the most decorated Special Olympian in New Brunswick. We spent over an hour as he told me the story behind each. He looks forward to the time he can cast all his trophies at Jesus’ feet. He is a different kind of athlete these days as he seeks to ‘run the race’ and ‘finish the course.’

He has told me, on occasion, how lonely and difficult the race is for him. He often prayed that God would send him a partner in running the race. God has answered this prayer, like he has so many of Sean’s requests. I am thankful to God for my friend Sean and his Bride!

Things are proceeding slowly at Threshold House. I have not been able to begin our Drop In yet but still hope to do that in the coming months. I see great progress in the lives of our residents. At the same time there is ‘push back.’ The World, the flesh and the devil do not seem content to passively watch their growth. There are difficulties which I see as ‘growing pains.’

I have two preaching opportunities in August. Linda, our son, and daughter-in-law are going to PEI in August to experience an immersive exhibit of the art of Vincent van Gough. This will be our second outing with them this summer. Last Friday we went at their invitation, to Minister’s Island. It was great to be with them. God is good!

Please continue to pray for us and Threshold House.

Prayer Fodder

In conversation with my bride, I said it might be difficult to write this blog because I had not done much this week. She said, “It is not what you do that you should write but what you think!” While I have spent most of my time ‘babying’ my back and resting, I have had an inordinate amount of time to think.

I have been thinking about the shortness and fragility of life. I have a stark reminder of my body’s decline but each week I learn of yet another friend or relative who has passed away, some way too early! The time is short. The hour of Christ’s Return or my departure is closer than ever. This causes me to pray more fervently. It focusses me on the task of sharing the glorious Good News. It sharpens my desire to forgive. I sometimes have kidded that I suffer from ‘Irish Alzheimer’s’ I forget everything but grudges. The time is too short and too precious to hold on to unforgiveness.

All this has caused me to concentrate thought and prayer on succession. Currently I am unable to physically do what I would like. I am closing in quickly on 70 and I know that at some point I will have to step back from leadership of Threshold House. I have settled on the idea of a young person coming alongside me. While I could provide some mentorship that person could complete the Envoy training program developed by the Church Army in the United Kingdom and to be offered in Canada as method of forming Evangelists for 21st Century mission. This course is an online one with a practical local component. Threshold House would provide the context for this practical experience as well as the housing for a student. Upon successful completion of  Envoy  the newly minted Evangelist could work alongside me as a partner in ministry and eventually be prepared to assume leadership as I step back.

It would be wonderful if you would join me in prayer for this. I am open to the possibility that we may be able to provide this experience for more than one (younger  than me) person. Here is the link to the UK Envoy program website https://www.envoy.website  Again the plan is that this would be conducted here in Canada through Threshold Ministries and directed by one of our Evangelists Deb Moyo.

This week I was asked to do the teaching at the Wednesday Night Worship at our church. I really enjoyed it and was reminded what a charge I get out of teaching. Paul writes in Romans 12 that those with a gift for teaching “ought to teach”. As I was in prayer thanking God for this fun time I was reminded of this verse along with the admonition to seek more opportunities. I am in prayer about how I can best be an answer to my own prayer.

I have started a new series for our Monday – Wednesday Morning Bible Studies. We are looking at Galatians. The theme is the awesome simplicity of the Gospel. The Galatians found it so simple that it was hard for them to believe! Their efforts to complicate the Good News led them away from the truth that had been proclaimed and through which they had found hope and life. Their efforts led them into bondage of works of the flesh rather than the freedom and fruitfulness of grace filled lives. I think it will be fun journey. If you are a Face Book user you can follow along and even catch up on these studies. Each one is about 10 minutes long.

As I said earlier, I have been nursing my back. I took it out for a test run yesterday as I mowed my lawn. I have a self propelled mower with an electric starter so I was not abusing my back with those tasks. I seem to have come out of it okay! It was quite stiff and a bit sore this morning but the heat I am applying has eased that significantly. While I am not ready to run a marathon like our Director Jonathan Clarke I am a tad more optimistic about activities in the coming week. Please keep praying!

Some ‘Careful’ Thoughts

Like so many in Canada I had a bit of a forced fast from social media on Friday, so this post is a bit later than usual. I missed the week before as my back pain kept me otherwise occupied. It has literally been a slow period for me. There has been no frenetic activity as I didn’t venture far from my backrest or heating pad.

I did start and today finished a Bible Study series on the book of Haggai. I have never led a study of this prophet before and thought it might be fun to dive into this relatively obscure book. My instincts were not wrong! I found Haggai speaking directly to me in my time.

In chapter one he writes twice “Give careful thought to your ways!” He talks of people ‘feathering their own nest’ while neglecting the habitation of God. Two times he calls hearers to carefully examine their ways. Repetition is made in scripture to emphasize a point. My mother used this method and then would add “Do not make me say that again!” She meant business! God really does desire that I look carefully at my ways. Jesus had harsh words for hypocrites. These are folks who say one thing and do another. The prophet here is calling us to integrity. Are my actions lining up with my values and if not which should change?

If I agree that the first and great commandment is to love God and then in my life ‘love of self’ rules my time, talent, and treasure, I make myself that most dreaded of creatures, a hypocrite. This repeated reminder from the prophet calls me to a reflective mode of living, where I make my valued priorities actual priorities in my life.

Haggai came to me at the right time. I had fallen into a ‘pity party.’ My discomfort had become my priority rather than God’s glory. I need not just an adjustment by my chiropractor but need an adjustment of my attitude and priorities. How can I wallow when nothing can separate me from the love of God found in Christ Jesus? I am sure God does not want me ignoring the pain receptors he himself designed, but he does want my life to glorify him. From the outside that may look different but the heart ought to remain fixed on God and God’s glory.

My only other activity was to host a barbecue at Threshold House. I was severally limited in what I could do but we were flooded with good helpers. One of our residents did all the grilling. We had a little over fifty people which seemed about all we could safely manage as it became an indoor event. Lots of wonderful conversations took place and it was wonderful to see such life in the building. One fellow shared with us that that very week he had asked Jesus into his heart after a Celebrate Recovery evening.

It was a great night that I have been ‘paying’ for since but well worth a bit of discomfort.