Jeremiah: Daily readings week commencing 2 Oct

Eddie,

As you read each passage, pray for God’s help. Ask yourself:
What does God reveal about Himself?
How is your own heart revealed?
How does this passage underline the wonder of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ, and your own need of Christ as Saviour and Lord?
Turn these truths into prayer and praise.

2 October Jer 21:1-14

Although there are many examples in Scripture of people turning from their sins to the Lord and finding deliverance, this chapter reminds us that we cannot take God’s grace for granted. Zedekiah was Judah’s last king. He and his people had refused to listen to the Lord, and now it is too late. Jerusalem will fall to Babylon. The moral basis of God’s judgement is made clear in vv.12-14.

3 October Jer 22:1-12

Jer 22 reviews the unhappy history of Judah’s kings after the godly Josiah. Verses 1-9 highlight the choice open to Judah after Josiah’s death: to continue his reforms and live (vv.2-4) or to reject them and die (vv.5-9). Verses 10-12 contrast Josiah’s worthy reign with that of his son Shallum (also called Jehoahaz) who reigned for only three months and died in exile (see 2Kings 23:31-34).

4 October Jer 22:13-30

The sad parade of wicked kings continues with Jehoiakim (vv.13-23). He exploited his people to boost his own ego (vv.13-14), in stark contrast to his godly father (vv.15-17). God’s judgement on him would be severe (vv.18-23). The chapter closes with his son Jehoiachin (vv.24-30), who was king for only three months before being taken captive to Babylon (2Kings 24:8-17). Yet we will meet him again 37 years later in Jer 52. In the midst of terrible judgement, there is still a glimmer of hope!

5 October Jer 23:1-8

“Shepherds” of God’s people in the Old Testament generally refers to the kings and their officers. Their repeated failings are summed up in vv.1-2. This is what led to the Babylonian exile. But God looks forward to a new beginning for His people. It will be glimpsed when He brings them home from Babylon once more (vv.3-4, 7-8). But the ultimate fulfilment awaits the coming of the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ (vv.5-6). His wise rule will enable His people to flourish.

6 October Jer 23:9-24

God’s people have always been plagued by false teachers. Jeremiah identifies some of their characteristics: they abuse power (v.10); live a double life (v.14); downplay judgement (v.17); offer their own opinions instead of God’s word (vv.21-22); and fail to take God seriously (vv.23-24). Their punishment will be heavy indeed (vv.12,15,19-20).

7 October Jer 23:25-40

God utterly detests people claiming to speak His word when they are doing nothing of the sort. Peddling our own ideas in His name is dangerous vanity, exposing those who do it to God’s hostility (vv.30-31) and ultimately to “everlasting shame” (v.40). In contrast with the deluded blabbering of the self-appointed prophets, the revealed word of God is nutritious (“grain”, v.28); purifying (“fire”, v.29); and powerful (“like a hammer”, v.29).

8 October Jer 24:1-10

There is a future for the people of God after all! But unexpectedly, the future lies with those already exiled in Babylon (“the good figs”, vv.5-8). For King Zedekiah and his officials who have rejected God’s word (the bad figs”, vv.8-10) there is only destruction. The future is always with those who humble themselves under God’s word – something we need to remember in our own day.

News from Austria, this time from 4 of our family

Tim Stephenson,
H's kiddies wanted me to try on her beautiful new scarf while we waited for her return from the health centre. I just love these innocent little ones, caught up in such turmoil, pain and heartache through no fault of their own. They're so very, very precious xx

If you haven’t heard, Joan and Louise visited Oasis last week; they’re back now so after you read their testimony in the blog why not ask them about their trip when you next see them?

Meanwhile, in this week’s update Neal and Lesley continue to ‘put themselves out there’ for God’s people. There is both joy and sadness in an update from H, who you will remember as the lady lost her son to drowning on the journey to Austria in a previous post. About of the photo accompanying this post Lesley explains:

“H’s kiddies wanted me to try on her beautiful new scarf while we waited for her return from the health centre. I just love these innocent little ones, caught up in such turmoil, pain and heartache through no fault of their own. They’re so very, very precious xx”

Here is the full story: http://nealandlesley.simplesite.com/431200758

Jeremiah: Daily readings week commencing 25th Sept

Eddie,
Potter at work

As you read each passage, pray for God’s help. Ask yourself:
What does God reveal about Himself?
How is my own heart revealed?
How does this passage underline the wonder of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ, and your own need of Christ as Saviour and Lord?
Turn these truths into prayer and praise.

25 September Jer 15:5-21

Jeremiah had to deliver an uncompromising word of judgement (vv.5-9, 12-14). Not surprisingly, this proved costly (v.10), and Jeremiah poured out his disappointment with his message, and even with his Master (vv.15-18). The Lord’s reply was challenging (v.19) and heartening (vv.11, 20-21).

26 September Jer 16:1-21

Jeremiah is denied a wife or children and even a normal social life to underline the seriousness of his message that judgement is coming (vv.1-13). Yet God will one day grant His people a deliverance from exile in Babylon that will overtake even the exodus from Egypt (vv.14-18). Jeremiah is granted a glimpse of a future global spiritual harvest (vv.19-21) – and we are part of the fulfilment!

27 September Jer 17:1-18

Another oracle of judgement (vv.1-4) leads to a frank statement of the two ways between which we must all choose (vv.5-11). The key word is “trust” (vv.5,7) because everything will depend on where our heart is. In the praise and pain of vv.12-18 we see the inside story of Jeremiah’s life and ministry.

28 September Jer 17:19-27

The Sabbath functions here as a test case for the people of Judah. Sabbath-keeping was a sign of the covenant with the Lord, and their reaction to the gift of a day set aside for God was a fair indicator of their spiritual temperature. It still is.

29 September Jer 18:1-23

The potter’s ability to make something new from a spoiled pot mirrors God’s own freedom to give His people a new future. This becomes a challenge to repent (vv.1-11). Alas, their stubbornness can only end in disaster (vv.12-17). Once again, Jeremiah cries out under the pain of rejection by his people (vv.18-23).

30 September Jer 19:1-15

Through the acted parable of smashing a clay jar, Jeremiah made his message of coming judgement even more forceful and memorable (vv.1-13). Then he bravely entered the lions’ den, confronting the nations failing leaders in the temple court (vv.14-15). The cost to Jeremiah is spelled out in the next chapter.

1 October Jer 20:1-18

Threats against Jeremiah turn to violence (vv.1-2). However, God’s punishment of Pashur will make clear who is the real offender (vv.3-6). In all his trials, Jeremiah feels he is wrestling not simply with his enemies but with God (vv.7-10). His emotions swing between soaring heights (vv.11-13) and unbearable depths (v.14-18). The raw wounds are recorded so that we will realize the sharpness of the spiritual battle, and remember the weakness of even God’s finest servants.

Jeremiah: Daily readings week commencing 18th Sept

Eddie,
Jeremiah by Michelangelo on roof of Sistine Chapel

As you read each passage, pray for God’s help. Ask yourself:
What does God reveal about Himself?
How is my own heart revealed?
How does this passage underline the wonder of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ, and your own need of Christ as Saviour and Lord?
Turn these truths into prayer and praise.

18 September Jer 10:1-16

The Israelites were drawn to their neighbours’ gods as they sought foreign alliances rather than trusting that the Lord was all they needed. Jeremiah ruthlessly exposes the folly of this. When we give our heart to an idol, we inevitably worship something that is not only far less than God; it is also less than ourselves (vv.4-5, 14)!

19 September Jer 10:17-25

God’s people will become refugees and exiles (vv.17-18). Babylon will invade and destroy the land (v.22). Jeremiah is grieved but acknowledges that the people of Judah have brought this discipline on themselves (vv.19-21 – notice especially the responsibility of the leaders, v.21). Vv.23-25 confess our need of both God’s schooling and His eventual rescue.

20 September Jer 11:1-23

God sent Jeremiah on a preaching tour of “the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem” (vv.2,6,9,12-13). He reminded them of the terms of their covenant with the Lord, but they would not listen. The people of Jeremiah’s home town (Anathoth) plotted to kill him as a traitor rather than accept the word of the Lord (vv.18-23).

21 September Jer 12:1-17

Jeremiah argues with God (vv.1-4). God’s bracing reply is that things will get worse yet (vv.5-6). Jeremiah’s tragedy is but a miniature of God’s own (vv.7-13). Yet in the longer view, the possibility of restoration is open not only to Israel and Judah, but to any nation that turns from idolatry to seek the Lord (vv.14-17).

22 September Jer 13:1-14

Just as Jeremiah’s linen belt rotted, so flirting with idolatry and foreign alliances had ruined the spiritual fabric of Judah’s life (vv.1-11). God’s judgement on them would be potent indeed (vv.12-14).

23 September Jer 13:15-27

The door of escape through repentance is briefly opened (vv.15-16). But for a people that will not listen to God’s gracious word, there remains only judgement (vv.17-27). Note the bitter fruit of placing our trust anywhere other than the Lord (v.21).

24 September Jer 14:1 – 15:4

Judgement through drought (14:1-6) leads Jeremiah to intercede for his people (vv.7-9). However, Jeremiah is told not to pray but to weep over them because their judgement is now set (vv.10-18). He reminds the Lord of his covenant with His people (vv.19-22). The Lord replies that not even Moses and Samuel could help them now (15:1-4) – a reminder of how much we need Jesus!

Notices for 18th September, 2016

Louise,

Midweek Service

The next midweek service will take place this Wednesday, 21st September at 2pm. The text is Philippians 2. 12-30 and Eric will be leading and preaching.

Oasis Visit

Louise du Toit and Joan Cooper will be flying to Vienna tomorrow. Please pray for their visit to the Grindrods and the Oasis Centre. They return on the 26th September. Thank you to those who have offered with lifts to/from Bristol Airport.

Toddler Group

Sue Sapiano is stepping down from LEADING Toddler Group on Thursday mornings (school calendar). A new leader is needed for this successful friendship evangelism outreach. Will you prayerfully consider it? Please speak to Sue Sapiano or Kathy Larkman.

Reminder…

The next Child Protection Training will take place on Saturday the 8th October. The session starts at 9:00am in the coffee hall. Please make sure you arrive in good time.

The Ark

This starts again on 24th September.  Do come along and join us for puppets, craft, songs, bible stories and cake. It’s aimed at 0-7 year olds but all are welcome. We particularly need extra help in the kitchen – preparing and serving drinks and cake but also people to pray are always very much needed.  Please speak to either Alexa Simm or Heather Chilcott if you are able to help.

2nd October, Harvest

A reminder that our Harvest service this year will take place on Sunday 2nd October across all our congregations. We will be taking collections of both non-perishable food (please refer to the bookmark) and a monetary collection. The food will go to the Corsham Foodbank and the money will be shared between Tearfund and the Oasis Refugee Centre in Vienna. Please use the gift aid envelopes at the back.

“One Anothering”:

Gift of God’s Grace For Our Growth in Christ

This is the name of the ladies’ bible study for the school calendar year 2016-2017! Our women will come together to address the theme of “One Anothering” from scripture and how God actually uses our relationships with one another to conform us into Christ’s likeness. Every relationship, even difficult ones, is a gift of God’s grace for our growth in the knowledge and likeness of Christ. If you would like to be involved, please contact Kathy Larkman, Anne Holmes or Vicky Stevenson. Also check Grace Place blog for additional information.

Please take a sheet about the studies from the table at the back as well as a note on one-to-one meetings which we call Study Buddies.

The bible study questions for our next meeting on Monday 26th September are now available on the table at the back.

Craft Group

A reminder that the craft group will meet again on Saturday 1st October from 10am – 12:30pm. Please contact Pam Mitchell or Kathy Ewins if you would either like to attend or know more about this monthly group.

 

…This week…

Monday: Mums’ bible study, 10am; prayer for persecuted church, 7:45pm

Wednesday: Morning prayer, 7:15am; midweek service, 2pm

Thursday: Toddler Group, 10am; Corsham Money and Debt Advice Centre, 7.30pm

Friday: Corsham Money and Debt Advice Centre, 9.30am; Engage @ 4.30pm; Energize @ 5.30pm

Saturday: Prayer for gospel expansion 8.30am; the Ark, 10am

 

…Looking ahead…

26th Sept: Ladies’ Bible Study, 7:30pm

1st Oct: Craft Group, 10am

2nd Oct: Harvest services

2nd Oct: Evening prayer meeting

5th Oct: Midweek Service, 2pm

8th Oct: Safeguarding Training, 9:00am

16th Oct: Infant Dedication, 11:15am

17th Oct: Church Meeting, 8:00pm

19th Oct: Midweek service, 2pm

21st-23rd Oct: Youth weekend away

24th Oct: Ladies’ Bible Study, 7:30pm

29th Oct: The Ark, 10:00am

31st Oct: The Light Party, 5-7pm

Please continue to follow our short term missionaries, Neal and Lesley Grindrod in Austria via their blog http://nealandlesley.simplesite.com/429863455.

 

 

Sharing stories as the Lord turns tears into dancing

Tim Stephenson,
Praying in Oasis clothing room

God has not been idle in the Oasis! Lesley shares how struggles that for most of us are (thankfully) unimaginably remote can draw people from opposite sides of the world together and bring joy out of tragedy:

15 Sept

Psalms 30 (New Living Translation)
You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
12that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.

Jeremiah: Daily readings week commencing 11th Sept

Eddie,
The prophet Jeremiahat the foot of the Colonna dell'Immacolata, at the end of the Piazza di spagna, Rome (1857).

As you read each passage, pray for God’s help. Ask yourself:

  • What does God reveal about Himself?
  • How is my own heart revealed?
  • How does this passage underline the wonder of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ, and your own need of Christ as Saviour and Lord?

Turn these truths into prayer and praise.

11 September    Jer 4:5-31

Jeremiah prophesies that God will send armies from the north to attack His people and devastate their land. Note the reason (vv.18,22), and His people’s folly in trying to flirt with their enemies (v.30). Jeremiah doesn’t gloat; he grieves (vv.19-21). Yet there is a glimmer of hope (v.27).

12 September    Jer 5:1-31

A devastating analysis of Judah’s sins. Note the folly of sin (v.3) and its self-harming nature (vv.23-25). Hence God’s unanswerable questions (vv.7,9,22,29) leading to the crushing conclusion (v.31). Sin and rebellion have their own terrible logic. Yet once again, God holds out hope (v.18)

13 September    Jer 6:1-15

Judgement is coming, but no-one is listening to Jeremiah’s message (v.10). The sad words of vv.13-15 challenge the leaders of God’s people today as much as in Jeremiah’s generation.

14 September    Jer 6:16-30

A frightening picture of the hardness of heart that is possible even among those who profess faith in the Lord. God’s judgement comes, not because God is a tyrant, but because people stubbornly choose evil and refuse all warnings (vv.16-17, 27-29). The coming disaster is “the fruit of their schemes” (v.19).

15 September    Jer 7:1 – 8:3

Jeremiah warns that outward religious observance is worthless without a change of heart and behaviour. God had earlier destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel for such hypocrisy (vv.12-15). In fact, He had been faced with similar disobedience ever since He rescued His people from slavery in Egypt (vv.21-26). Now He will do the same to Judah and Jerusalem.

16 September    Jer 8:4-22

Jeremiah describes how sin hardens us, making us stubborn (vv.4-6), foolish (vv.7-9), greedy (v.10), blind (v.11) and shameless (v.12). Yet he doesn’t condemn his people coldly; rather, he suffers alongside them as he anticipates the coming judgement (vv.18-22).

17 September    Jer 9:1-25

This chapter underlines the sad necessity of judgement (v.7,9) which is as grievous to the Lord Himself as it is to Jeremiah. Verses 23-24 are worth memorizing: three fading glories (v.23) and one unfading one (v.24). These verses lie behind Paul’s words in 1Cor 1:26-31 – look them up!

Photo by Ian Scott: The prophet Jeremiah at the foot of the Colonna dell’Immacolata, at the end of the Piazza di spagna, Rome (1857). Creative Commons Attribution and Share Alike license https://www.flickr.com/photos/ian-w-scott/4621985308

Relaunching after ‘dry dock’

Steve and Ruth Lancaster,

This post by Steve and Ruth Lancaster was originally published at Life in the Lancs Lane

I heard from a friend recently that their mission agency refers to home assignment as “dry dock”: where ships are taken out of the water to allow maintenance and refitting work to be done.  I can see the analogy.  We’ve been taken out of Tanzanian ‘waters’ for the last six months and it’s been a time when the engines haven’t been at full throttle; an opportunity for some maintenance and repair work, both physical and spiritual!  It’s been a time of assessment and examination, and an opportunity to prepare for the next ‘voyage’ as we launch out for our next cruise!  Hmmmm!  I guess you can only take the analogy so far – I’m not so sure I like the image of a ship sitting idle for any length of time, because that doesn’t reflect what the last six months have been like for us, but you get the picture!  So, what exactly has this period of ‘dry dock’ been like for us?  We thought we’d give you an idea by giving you the A to Z of what’s been happening in the Lancs Lane during that time.  The following is a random collection of memories, observations and highlights which have made up a wonderful home assignment!

A: All Nations Christian College. We attended the AIM retirees conference at All Nations right at the end of our HA; a fitting place to finish as I spent three years there preparing for overseas mission!  These folks are serious prayer warriors and it was great to be at prayer meetings where there was barely a second of silence!  In fact it was hard to get a prayer in!

B: Blessings & Birthdays.  HA has been full of blessing and we’re grateful to God for this time.  All of our planning has come together well and I’m not sure it could have gone any better!  There has also been a number of significant birthdays to celebrate too!

C: Corsham Baptist Church; Cakes, Coffee & Chats.  Corsham Baptist is our supporting church, and not just in name!  The folks there have been so supportive, and again we’ve been humbled by that support.  The opportunity for cakes, coffee and chat with various church friends has been much appreciated by Ruth!

D: Deputation, Debriefing, Donkeys & Dolphins!  We’ve done 19 presentations to various church groups reporting on what we’ve been doing in Tanzania.  Debriefing was done at the AIM offices in Nottingham.  We made friends with the braying donkeys next door to us, and on Ruth’s birthday weekend we even succeeded in seeing the dolphins of the Moray Firth!

E: Ebay & Endoscopy!  Ebay doesn’t exist in Tanzania and so we’ve made the most of internet buying whilst we’ve been home.  Something I didn’t get on Ebay was an endoscopy!  Results were good but they don’t explain the stomach discomfort that I sometimes get – load up on the Gaviscon!

F: Family.  You miss those family happenings and gatherings when you’re away, and so it’s been a real joy to spend quality time with family in places like Bicester, Newark, Portsmouth, Nairn, Elgin and Carlisle.  Some quality memories are stored in the memory bank!

G: Golf & Generosity.  Many a hole has been played in various parts of the country and it’s been a nice change to play on ‘greens’ not ‘browns’!  My wife gave me a birthday card with the following words on it, and it seems she knows my game well!  “If the ball goes right it’s a slice; if it goes left it’s a hook, and if it goes straight it’s a miracle”!  In terms of generosity, we’ve been blown away by people’s kindness and support for us and, indeed, for the work of IBM at Sanga Sanga.

H: Health.  Ruth has been able to see a specialist haematologist with regard to the blood clot she experienced on our outward journey back in July 2013, and whilst she needs to take various precautions, she’s been told that she doesn’t need to be taking meds on a daily basis.  Thanking God that there’s been no reoccurrence of the DVT.

I: Invitations.  We’ve been on the receiving end of some serious hospitality!  On 30 occasions we’ve been invited out for meals – wonderful times of sharing and fellowship and eating!

J: Jerusalem & Jericho.  Once again, I had the privilege of introducing people to the land of the Bible with another Oak Hall trip to Israel and Palestine.  Despite the ongoing tensions that exist in those lands we didn’t feel unsafe and the trip went without a hitch.  Highlights included an early morning run around the city walls of Jerusalem and an ascent of Mount Arbel in Galilee!

Steve surveying the view from Mt Arbel

By blue Galilee!

K: Keswick & Kilograms.  I was able to take in some Bible teaching at the Keswick Convention, a conference that in the past has been used mightily by God to call men and women into serving overseas.  In terms of kilograms, owing to the numerous meal invitations we’ve received, and also to the amazing variety of food one can buy in UK, we’re going back a tad heavier!

L: Long summer evenings.  In Tanzania it’s dark by 7pm all year round so we’ve enjoyed the light summer nights.

M: Ministry, Miles & Motorways.  The little red car that Mum & Dad lent us has clocked up over 14,000 miles in the last six months and has enabled us to motor around England, Wales and Scotland visiting friends and family, and also to talk about our ministry at various churches.  Oh, the joy of motorway driving – except for the often-clogged-up M6!

N: No mosquitoes!  It’s been a welcome relief to be away from those munching mozzies and not to be spraying ourselves with the sticky stuff that’s meant to keep them away!

O: Ornithology.  Whilst Tanzania is great for birding, we’ve managed a couple of birding forays here in the UK and have seen Osprey, Marsh Harrier and Turtle Doves – and the odd Blackbird, to name a few!

P: Pulpit & Preaching.  It’s been great to get back in the pulpit to preach in English again and I’ve had the opportunity on 16 occasions.

Q: Queuing.  This is something the Brits are good at!  Whether it’s at the bank or the post office we like our orderly lines and as I sat there in another M6 queue I wondered what the equivalent would look like in Tanzania.  It certainly wouldn’t be three orderly lanes and an empty hard shoulder, so maybe it’s a good job they haven’t got any motorways!  It’s bad enough on a single track road!

Ruth, Steve and twin Rachel relieved to have
finished the race!

R: Running.  We enjoyed running the country lanes of Wiltshire in a sensible climate!  Our training schedule saw us run about 200 miles in preparation for the Nairn half marathon.  T he event itself went well – even if it was a tad hot!  We both managed personal best times (1:58) and Ruth managed to raise £1,950 for IBM—thank you to everyone who donated.

S: Skiing in Switzerland.  After a three year absence we were finally able to strap our skis on and hit the slippery slopes of the Alps!  Wonderful weather, stunning scenery in the surrounds of the Eiger, good snow and great to be cold again!

T: Tree work.  In a former life I used to be a tree surgeon and so it was great to be able to wield a bow saw again!  I spent seven days in my sister’s garden in Elgin pruning various trees and reducing the height of a long Leylandii hedge – loved it!

U: Unpacking & repacking.  Being on the road has meant some heavy usage of the suitcases!

V: Val D’Isere.  What a wonderful family holiday we had in Val D’Isere (France) to celebrate Mum & Dad Lancaster’s 50th wedding anniversary.  Dad celebrated by doing some paragliding and Mum celebrated by anxiously watching on!  The week included running, boating, swimming, tennis and walking the heights.  One of the highlights was playing 18 holes of golf with my brother on Europe’s highest course; mountainous golf at its best!

W: Worshipping in English.  One of the things we miss when we’re in Tanzania is being able to sing out songs of praise in English, and to be back at our church in Corsham belting out songs and hymns we knew and understood was wonderful!

X: Xamine!  I couldn’t think of a word beginning with ‘x’ that fitted here so I had to bend the rules slightly!  Our time here has enabled us to spend time thinking, reflecting, and examining our time in Tanzania.  What did we achieve?  What did we do wrong as we tried to blend into our new culture?  What could we have done differently, and what will it be like second time round?

Y: Yatton Keynell & the Stable Cottage.  For much of our time we’ve been based near to the villages of Yatton Keynell & Castle Comb, and blessed with the provision of Stable Cottage.  This place was balm to the soul and we praise God for it.

Z: Zurich in the snow and Zzzzzz’s!  Our flight back from Tanzania in March took us through Zurich airport.  We were buzzing to find the place covered in snow and marvelled at how, just eight hours previously, we had been sweltering in the heat of Dar at temps in the mid 30’s.  Zzzzzz’s represents sleep, and having suffered with bouts of insomnia for 7/8 years, I think it’s safe to say that good sleep has returned because the last year has been much better.  During our HA we slept in 21 different beds!

What next? 
The ropes are being loosened as we prepare to set off on our return voyage!  We’ll be flying to Tanzania via Zurich and Nairobi on Monday 12th Sept and then settling back into our various roles with AIM and IBM (Institute of Bible & Ministry) in Morogoro, along with our team mates Tony & Cath and Matt & Amy.  Ruth is very much looking forward to seeing our ‘guard’ dog and I can’t wait to tackle those Swahili verbs again!  Within a week of arriving back we’ll be on the road to an IBM pastors’ conference near Mbeya in the west of Tanzania, although I won’t have any teaching responsibilities.

We would very much value your prayers for us as we begin our second term in Tanzania and here are a few Prayer Pointers:

  • We’re praising God for a wonderful home assignment and that we go back fully supported.
  • In many ways it feels as though it should be easier this time round as things are in place, we know where we’re going and what we’re doing, and we know a bit of language etc – but we also know more about the challenges before us!  Please pray that we’ll settle down quickly into our roles and into team life.
  • Please pray for safety and protection on the roads and as we go about our daily business.
  • Pray that God would use us for His glory as we seek to serve Him in Tanzania.
  • We will need to make an effort in terms of continuing to learn Swahili – please pray that we’d recall what we’ve already learnt but not used during the last six months, and that we’d really push on towards some sort of fluency!

The secretary of the London Mission Society Rev Arthur Tidman, back in 1840, wrote to David Livingstone with these words: “Let your ardour be sustained by incessant communion with Christ and your consolation drawn from the conviction of His power and sympathy, and then you will neither be faint not wearied in your mind, whatever obstacles may exist or trials arise.”  This is our prayer – that we would know Christ more and more in our lives, marriage and work; that we would be sustained by that ‘incessant communion’; that we would know more of His power in our lives, and so become more effective for Him as we go about our various roles.  It’s a big prayer, which is why we’d love you to join us in praying it for us!  Many thanks for your prayers and support.

Diary Dates:

12th Sept:          6am flight from London Heathrow to Dar via Zurich
13th:                  Travel from Dar to Morogoro
21st-23rd           IBM Pastors Conference in Njombe  (travelling 20th & 24th)
1st-8th Oct:       Hosting personnel from AIM UK office
13th-18th:         AIM Tanzania Conference in Dar
23rd-28th:         Showing AIM Eastern Region Staff around AIM ministry placements in
eastern Tanzania
15th-18th Nov:  IBM Pastors conference & the opening of the new Sanga conference
centre
26th-17th Dec:  Intensive Language refresher course in Iringa?

Many blessings,

Steve and Ruth

Relaunching after ‘dry dock’

Ruth,

This post by Ruth was originally published at Life in the Lancs Lane

I heard from a friend recently that their mission agency refers to home assignment as “dry dock”: where ships are taken out of the water to allow maintenance and refitting work to be done.  I can see the analogy.  We’ve been taken out of Tanzanian ‘waters’ for the last six months and it’s been a time when the engines haven’t been at full throttle; an opportunity for some maintenance and repair work, both physical and spiritual!  It’s been a time of assessment and examination, and an opportunity to prepare for the next ‘voyage’ as we launch out for our next cruise!  Hmmmm!  I guess you can only take the analogy so far – I’m not so sure I like the image of a ship sitting idle for any length of time, because that doesn’t reflect what the last six months have been like for us, but you get the picture!  So, what exactly has this period of ‘dry dock’ been like for us?  We thought we’d give you an idea by giving you the A to Z of what’s been happening in the Lancs Lane during that time.  The following is a random collection of memories, observations and highlights which have made up a wonderful home assignment!

A: All Nations Christian College. We attended the AIM retirees conference at All Nations right at the end of our HA; a fitting place to finish as I spent three years there preparing for overseas mission!  These folks are serious prayer warriors and it was great to be at prayer meetings where there was barely a second of silence!  In fact it was hard to get a prayer in!

img_5062B: Blessings & Birthdays.  HA has been full of blessing and we’re grateful to God for this time.  All of our planning has come together well and I’m not sure it could have gone any better!  There has also been a number of significant birthdays to celebrate too!

C: Corsham Baptist Church; Cakes, Coffee & Chats.  Corsham Baptist is our supporting church, and not just in name!  The folks there have been so supportive, and again we’ve been humbled by that support.  The opportunity for cakes, coffee and chat with various church friends has been much appreciated by Ruth!

img_5051D: Deputation, Debriefing, Donkeys & Dolphins!  We’ve done 19 presentations to various church groups reporting on what we’ve been doing in Tanzania.  Debriefing was done at the AIM offices in Nottingham.  We made friends with the braying donkeys next door to us, and on Ruth’s birthday weekend we even succeeded in seeing the dolphins of the Moray Firth!

E: Ebay & Endoscopy!  Ebay doesn’t exist in Tanzania and so we’ve made the most of internet buying whilst we’ve been home.  Something I didn’t get on Ebay was an endoscopy!  Results were good but they don’t explain the stomach discomfort that I sometimes get – load up on the Gaviscon!

F: Family.  You miss those family happenings and gatherings when you’re away, and so it’s been a real joy to spend quality time with family in places like Bicester, Newark, Portsmouth, Nairn, Elgin and Carlisle.  Some quality memories are stored in the memory bank!

img_4615G: Golf & Generosity.  Many a hole has been played in various parts of the country and it’s been a nice change to play on ‘greens’ not ‘browns’!  My wife gave me a birthday card with the following words on it, and it seems she knows my game well!  “If the ball goes right it’s a slice; if it goes left it’s a hook, and if it goes straight it’s a miracle”!  In terms of generosity, we’ve been blown away by people’s kindness and support for us and, indeed, for the work of IBM at Sanga Sanga.

H: Health.  Ruth has been able to see a specialist haematologist with regard to the blood clot she experienced on our outward journey back in July 2013, and whilst she needs to take various precautions, she’s been told that she doesn’t need to be taking meds on a daily basis.  Thanking God that there’s been no reoccurrence of the DVT.

I: Invitations.  We’ve been on the receiving end of some serious hospitality!  On 30 occasions we’ve been invited out for meals – wonderful times of sharing and fellowship and eating!

J: Jerusalem & Jericho.  Once again, I had the privilege of introducing people to the land of the Bible with another Oak Hall trip to Israel and Palestine.  Despite the ongoing tensions that exist in those lands we didn’t feel unsafe and the trip went without a hitch.  Highlights included an early morning run around the city walls of Jerusalem and an ascent of Mount Arbel in Galilee!

dscn7066

Steve surveying the view from Mt. Arbel

dscn7052

By blue Galilee!

K: Keswick & Kilograms.  I was able to take in some Bible teaching at the Keswick Convention, a conference that in the past has been used mightily by God to call men and women into serving overseas.  In terms of kilograms, owing to the numerous meal invitations we’ve received, and also to the amazing variety of food one can buy in UK, we’re going back a tad heavier!

L: Long summer evenings.  In Tanzania it’s dark by 7pm all year round so we’ve enjoyed the light summer nights.

M: Ministry, Miles & Motorways.  The little red car that Mum & Dad lent us has clocked up over 14,000 miles in the last six months and has enabled us to motor around England, Wales and Scotland visiting friends and family, and also to talk about our ministry at various churches.  Oh, the joy of motorway driving – except for the often-clogged-up M6!

N: No mosquitoes!  It’s been a welcome relief to be away from those munching mozzies and not to be spraying ourselves with the sticky stuff that’s meant to keep them away!

O: Ornithology.  Whilst Tanzania is great for birding, we’ve managed a couple of birding forays here in the UK and have seen Osprey, Marsh Harrier and Turtle Doves – and the odd Blackbird, to name a few!

P: Pulpit & Preaching.  It’s been great to get back in the pulpit to preach in English again and I’ve had the opportunity on 16 occasions.

Q: Queuing.  This is something the Brits are good at!  Whether it’s at the bank or the post office we like our orderly lines and as I sat there in another M6 queue I wondered what the equivalent would look like in Tanzania.  It certainly wouldn’t be three orderly lanes and an empty hard shoulder, so maybe it’s a good job they haven’t got any motorways!  It’s bad enough on a single track road!

dsc_9359

Ruth, Steve and twin Rachel relieved to have finished the race!

R: Running.  We enjoyed running the country lanes of Wiltshire in a sensible climate!  Our training schedule saw us run about 200 miles in preparation for the Nairn half marathon.  T he event itself went well – even if it was a tad hot!  We both managed personal best times (1:58) and Ruth managed to raise £1,950 for IBM—thank you to everyone who donated.

S: Skiing in Switzerland.  After a three year absence we were finally able to strap our skis on and hit the slippery slopes of the Alps!  Wonderful weather, stunning scenery in the surrounds of the Eiger, good snow and great to be cold again!

T: Tree work.  In a former life I used to be a tree surgeon and so it was great to be able to wield a bow saw again!  I spent seven days in my sister’s garden in Elgin pruning various trees and reducing the height of a long Leylandii hedge – loved it!

U: Unpacking & repacking.  Being on the road has meant some heavy usage of the suitcases!

V: Val D’Isere.  What a wonderful family holiday we had in Val D’Isere (France) to celebrate Mum & Dad Lancaster’s 50th wedding anniversary.  Dad celebrated by doing some paragliding and Mum celebrated by anxiously watching on!  The week included running, boating, swimming, tennis and walking the heights.  One of the highlights was playing 18 holes of golf with my brother on Europe’s highest course; mountainous golf at its best!

img_4763

W: Worshipping in English.  One of the things we miss when we’re in Tanzania is being able to sing out songs of praise in English, and to be back at our church in Corsham belting out songs and hymns we knew and understood was wonderful!

X: Xamine!  I couldn’t think of a word beginning with ‘x’ that fitted here so I had to bend the rules slightly!  Our time here has enabled us to spend time thinking, reflecting, and examining our time in Tanzania.  What did we achieve?  What did we do wrong as we tried to blend into our new culture?  What could we have done differently, and what will it be like second time round?

Y: Yatton Keynell & the Stable Cottage.  For much of our time we’ve been based near to the villages of Yatton Keynell & Castle Comb, and blessed with the provision of Stable Cottage.  This place was balm to the soul and we praise God for it.

Z: Zurich in the snow and Zzzzzz’s!  Our flight back from Tanzania in March took us through Zurich airport.  We were buzzing to find the place covered in snow and marvelled at how, just eight hours previously, we had been sweltering in the heat of Dar at temps in the mid 30’s.  Zzzzzz’s represents sleep, and having suffered with bouts of insomnia for 7/8 years, I think it’s safe to say that good sleep has returned because the last year has been much better.  During our HA we slept in 21 different beds!

056b

What next? 
The ropes are being loosened as we prepare to set off on our return voyage!  We’ll be flying to Tanzania via Zurich and Nairobi on Monday 12th Sept and then settling back into our various roles with AIM and IBM (Institute of Bible & Ministry) in Morogoro, along with our team mates Tony & Cath and Matt & Amy.  Ruth is very much looking forward to seeing our ‘guard’ dog and I can’t wait to tackle those Swahili verbs again!  Within a week of arriving back we’ll be on the road to an IBM pastors’ conference near Mbeya in the west of Tanzania, although I won’t have any teaching responsibilities.

We would very much value your prayers for us as we begin our second term in Tanzania and here are a few Prayer Pointers:

  • We’re praising God for a wonderful home assignment and that we go back fully supported.
  • In many ways it feels as though it should be easier this time round as things are in place, we know where we’re going and what we’re doing, and we know a bit of language etc – but we also know more about the challenges before us!  Please pray that we’ll settle down quickly into our roles and into team life.
  • Please pray for safety and protection on the roads and as we go about our daily business.
  • Pray that God would use us for His glory as we seek to serve Him in Tanzania.
  • We will need to make an effort in terms of continuing to learn Swahili – please pray that we’d recall what we’ve already learnt but not used during the last six months, and that we’d really push on towards some sort of fluency!

The secretary of the London Mission Society Rev Arthur Tidman, back in 1840, wrote to David Livingstone with these words: “Let your ardour be sustained by incessant communion with Christ and your consolation drawn from the conviction of His power and sympathy, and then you will neither be faint not wearied in your mind, whatever obstacles may exist or trials arise.”  This is our prayer – that we would know Christ more and more in our lives, marriage and work; that we would be sustained by that ‘incessant communion’; that we would know more of His power in our lives, and so become more effective for Him as we go about our various roles.  It’s a big prayer, which is why we’d love you to join us in praying it for us!  Many thanks for your prayers and support.

Diary Dates:

12th Sept:          6am flight from London Heathrow to Dar via Zurich
13th:                  Travel from Dar to Morogoro
21st-23rd           IBM Pastors Conference in Njombe  (travelling 20th & 24th)
1st-8th Oct:       Hosting personnel from AIM UK office
13th-18th:         AIM Tanzania Conference in Dar
23rd-28th:         Showing AIM Eastern Region Staff around AIM ministry placements in
eastern Tanzania
15th-18th Nov:  IBM Pastors conference & the opening of the new Sanga conference
centre
26th-17th Dec:  Intensive Language refresher course in Iringa?

Many blessings,

Steve and Ruth

img_4870

 

Relaunching after ‘dry dock’

Ruth,

This post by Ruth was originally published at Life in the Lancs Lane

I heard from a friend recently that their mission agency refers to home assignment as “dry dock”: where ships are taken out of the water to allow maintenance and refitting work to be done.  I can see the analogy.  We’ve been taken out of Tanzanian ‘waters’ for the last six months and it’s been a time when the engines haven’t been at full throttle; an opportunity for some maintenance and repair work, both physical and spiritual!  It’s been a time of assessment and examination, and an opportunity to prepare for the next ‘voyage’ as we launch out for our next cruise!  Hmmmm!  I guess you can only take the analogy so far – I’m not so sure I like the image of a ship sitting idle for any length of time, because that doesn’t reflect what the last six months have been like for us, but you get the picture!  So, what exactly has this period of ‘dry dock’ been like for us?  We thought we’d give you an idea by giving you the A to Z of what’s been happening in the Lancs Lane during that time.  The following is a random collection of memories, observations and highlights which have made up a wonderful home assignment!

A: All Nations Christian College. We attended the AIM retirees conference at All Nations right at the end of our HA; a fitting place to finish as I spent three years there preparing for overseas mission!  These folks are serious prayer warriors and it was great to be at prayer meetings where there was barely a second of silence!  In fact it was hard to get a prayer in!

img_5062B: Blessings & Birthdays.  HA has been full of blessing and we’re grateful to God for this time.  All of our planning has come together well and I’m not sure it could have gone any better!  There has also been a number of significant birthdays to celebrate too!

C: Corsham Baptist Church; Cakes, Coffee & Chats.  Corsham Baptist is our supporting church, and not just in name!  The folks there have been so supportive, and again we’ve been humbled by that support.  The opportunity for cakes, coffee and chat with various church friends has been much appreciated by Ruth!

img_5051D: Deputation, Debriefing, Donkeys & Dolphins!  We’ve done 19 presentations to various church groups reporting on what we’ve been doing in Tanzania.  Debriefing was done at the AIM offices in Nottingham.  We made friends with the braying donkeys next door to us, and on Ruth’s birthday weekend we even succeeded in seeing the dolphins of the Moray Firth!

E: Ebay & Endoscopy!  Ebay doesn’t exist in Tanzania and so we’ve made the most of internet buying whilst we’ve been home.  Something I didn’t get on Ebay was an endoscopy!  Results were good but they don’t explain the stomach discomfort that I sometimes get – load up on the Gaviscon!

F: Family.  You miss those family happenings and gatherings when you’re away, and so it’s been a real joy to spend quality time with family in places like Bicester, Newark, Portsmouth, Nairn, Elgin and Carlisle.  Some quality memories are stored in the memory bank!

img_4615G: Golf & Generosity.  Many a hole has been played in various parts of the country and it’s been a nice change to play on ‘greens’ not ‘browns’!  My wife gave me a birthday card with the following words on it, and it seems she knows my game well!  “If the ball goes right it’s a slice; if it goes left it’s a hook, and if it goes straight it’s a miracle”!  In terms of generosity, we’ve been blown away by people’s kindness and support for us and, indeed, for the work of IBM at Sanga Sanga.

H: Health.  Ruth has been able to see a specialist haematologist with regard to the blood clot she experienced on our outward journey back in July 2013, and whilst she needs to take various precautions, she’s been told that she doesn’t need to be taking meds on a daily basis.  Thanking God that there’s been no reoccurrence of the DVT.

I: Invitations.  We’ve been on the receiving end of some serious hospitality!  On 30 occasions we’ve been invited out for meals – wonderful times of sharing and fellowship and eating!

J: Jerusalem & Jericho.  Once again, I had the privilege of introducing people to the land of the Bible with another Oak Hall trip to Israel and Palestine.  Despite the ongoing tensions that exist in those lands we didn’t feel unsafe and the trip went without a hitch.  Highlights included an early morning run around the city walls of Jerusalem and an ascent of Mount Arbel in Galilee!

dscn7066

Steve surveying the view from Mt. Arbel

dscn7052

By blue Galilee!

K: Keswick & Kilograms.  I was able to take in some Bible teaching at the Keswick Convention, a conference that in the past has been used mightily by God to call men and women into serving overseas.  In terms of kilograms, owing to the numerous meal invitations we’ve received, and also to the amazing variety of food one can buy in UK, we’re going back a tad heavier!

L: Long summer evenings.  In Tanzania it’s dark by 7pm all year round so we’ve enjoyed the light summer nights.

M: Ministry, Miles & Motorways.  The little red car that Mum & Dad lent us has clocked up over 14,000 miles in the last six months and has enabled us to motor around England, Wales and Scotland visiting friends and family, and also to talk about our ministry at various churches.  Oh, the joy of motorway driving – except for the often-clogged-up M6!

N: No mosquitoes!  It’s been a welcome relief to be away from those munching mozzies and not to be spraying ourselves with the sticky stuff that’s meant to keep them away!

O: Ornithology.  Whilst Tanzania is great for birding, we’ve managed a couple of birding forays here in the UK and have seen Osprey, Marsh Harrier and Turtle Doves – and the odd Blackbird, to name a few!

P: Pulpit & Preaching.  It’s been great to get back in the pulpit to preach in English again and I’ve had the opportunity on 16 occasions.

Q: Queuing.  This is something the Brits are good at!  Whether it’s at the bank or the post office we like our orderly lines and as I sat there in another M6 queue I wondered what the equivalent would look like in Tanzania.  It certainly wouldn’t be three orderly lanes and an empty hard shoulder, so maybe it’s a good job they haven’t got any motorways!  It’s bad enough on a single track road!

dsc_9359

Ruth, Steve and twin Rachel relieved to have finished the race!

R: Running.  We enjoyed running the country lanes of Wiltshire in a sensible climate!  Our training schedule saw us run about 200 miles in preparation for the Nairn half marathon.  T he event itself went well – even if it was a tad hot!  We both managed personal best times (1:58) and Ruth managed to raise £1,950 for IBM—thank you to everyone who donated.

S: Skiing in Switzerland.  After a three year absence we were finally able to strap our skis on and hit the slippery slopes of the Alps!  Wonderful weather, stunning scenery in the surrounds of the Eiger, good snow and great to be cold again!

T: Tree work.  In a former life I used to be a tree surgeon and so it was great to be able to wield a bow saw again!  I spent seven days in my sister’s garden in Elgin pruning various trees and reducing the height of a long Leylandii hedge – loved it!

U: Unpacking & repacking.  Being on the road has meant some heavy usage of the suitcases!

V: Val D’Isere.  What a wonderful family holiday we had in Val D’Isere (France) to celebrate Mum & Dad Lancaster’s 50th wedding anniversary.  Dad celebrated by doing some paragliding and Mum celebrated by anxiously watching on!  The week included running, boating, swimming, tennis and walking the heights.  One of the highlights was playing 18 holes of golf with my brother on Europe’s highest course; mountainous golf at its best!

img_4763

W: Worshipping in English.  One of the things we miss when we’re in Tanzania is being able to sing out songs of praise in English, and to be back at our church in Corsham belting out songs and hymns we knew and understood was wonderful!

X: Xamine!  I couldn’t think of a word beginning with ‘x’ that fitted here so I had to bend the rules slightly!  Our time here has enabled us to spend time thinking, reflecting, and examining our time in Tanzania.  What did we achieve?  What did we do wrong as we tried to blend into our new culture?  What could we have done differently, and what will it be like second time round?

Y: Yatton Keynell & the Stable Cottage.  For much of our time we’ve been based near to the villages of Yatton Keynell & Castle Comb, and blessed with the provision of Stable Cottage.  This place was balm to the soul and we praise God for it.

Z: Zurich in the snow and Zzzzzz’s!  Our flight back from Tanzania in March took us through Zurich airport.  We were buzzing to find the place covered in snow and marvelled at how, just eight hours previously, we had been sweltering in the heat of Dar at temps in the mid 30’s.  Zzzzzz’s represents sleep, and having suffered with bouts of insomnia for 7/8 years, I think it’s safe to say that good sleep has returned because the last year has been much better.  During our HA we slept in 21 different beds!

056b

What next? 
The ropes are being loosened as we prepare to set off on our return voyage!  We’ll be flying to Tanzania via Zurich and Nairobi on Monday 12th Sept and then settling back into our various roles with AIM and IBM (Institute of Bible & Ministry) in Morogoro, along with our team mates Tony & Cath and Matt & Amy.  Ruth is very much looking forward to seeing our ‘guard’ dog and I can’t wait to tackle those Swahili verbs again!  Within a week of arriving back we’ll be on the road to an IBM pastors’ conference near Mbeya in the west of Tanzania, although I won’t have any teaching responsibilities.

We would very much value your prayers for us as we begin our second term in Tanzania and here are a few Prayer Pointers:

  • We’re praising God for a wonderful home assignment and that we go back fully supported.
  • In many ways it feels as though it should be easier this time round as things are in place, we know where we’re going and what we’re doing, and we know a bit of language etc – but we also know more about the challenges before us!  Please pray that we’ll settle down quickly into our roles and into team life.
  • Please pray for safety and protection on the roads and as we go about our daily business.
  • Pray that God would use us for His glory as we seek to serve Him in Tanzania.
  • We will need to make an effort in terms of continuing to learn Swahili – please pray that we’d recall what we’ve already learnt but not used during the last six months, and that we’d really push on towards some sort of fluency!

The secretary of the London Mission Society Rev Arthur Tidman, back in 1840, wrote to David Livingstone with these words: “Let your ardour be sustained by incessant communion with Christ and your consolation drawn from the conviction of His power and sympathy, and then you will neither be faint not wearied in your mind, whatever obstacles may exist or trials arise.”  This is our prayer – that we would know Christ more and more in our lives, marriage and work; that we would be sustained by that ‘incessant communion’; that we would know more of His power in our lives, and so become more effective for Him as we go about our various roles.  It’s a big prayer, which is why we’d love you to join us in praying it for us!  Many thanks for your prayers and support.

Diary Dates:

12th Sept:          6am flight from London Heathrow to Dar via Zurich
13th:                  Travel from Dar to Morogoro
21st-23rd           IBM Pastors Conference in Njombe  (travelling 20th & 24th)
1st-8th Oct:       Hosting personnel from AIM UK office
13th-18th:         AIM Tanzania Conference in Dar
23rd-28th:         Showing AIM Eastern Region Staff around AIM ministry placements in
eastern Tanzania
15th-18th Nov:  IBM Pastors conference & the opening of the new Sanga conference
centre
26th-17th Dec:  Intensive Language refresher course in Iringa?

Many blessings,

Steve and Ruth

img_4870