Archive for August, 2011

Great is Thy Faithfulness

This week I have been reminded on more than one occasion of God’s faithfulness to us.  First of all during the worship at church on Sunday as this was one of the hymns we sang.  Then last night as I was reading from our ‘Daily Light for Every Day’, one of the scriptures was from Lamentations 3:2-23:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Thomas Obadiah Chisolm

The hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness was written based on this scripture by an ordinary Christian not because something great and miraculous had taken place in his life but because over his entire life he had learned to see the greatness of God.

Thomas Obadiah Chisolm (1866-1960) had a difficult early adult life. His health was so fragile that there were periods of time when he was confined to bed, unable to work. Between bouts of illness he would have to push himself to put in extra hours at various jobs in order to make ends meet.

After coming to Christ at age 27, Thomas found great comfort in the Scriptures, and in the fact that God was faithful to be his strength in time of illness and weakness, and to provide his needs. Lamentations 3:22-23 was one of his favorite scriptures and formed the lyrics to the hymn.  While away from home on a missions trip, Thomas often wrote to one of his good friends, William Runyan, a relatively unknown musician. Several poems were exchanged in these letters. Runyan found one of Williams’ poems so moving that he decided to compose a musical score to accompany the lyrics. Great is Thy Faithfulness was published in 1923.

For several years, the hymn got very little recognition, until it was discovered by a Moody Bible Institute professor who loved it so much and requested it sung so often at chapel services, that the song became the unofficial theme song of the college.

It was not until 1945 when George Beverly Shea began to sing Great is Thy Faithfulness at the Billy Graham evangelistic crusades, that the hymn was heard around the world.

Be encouraged this week by the words of this ‘great’ hymn that whatever challenges, trials or disappointments we might be facing right now, that God’s promises are true, that he never changes, that his compassions never fail, and his faithfulness to us is great!

 

 

 

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness! 
Great is Thy faithfulness! 
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Make a difference!

So many times when we write our blogs we talk about events that have happened during the week or we refer to thoughts and feelings that we have which really speak to the adults but today knowing that there are younger people who read our blog we would like to challenge them today!

Over the last number of weeks Esther and I have been thinking and praying about new ideas  of ministry which we can be a part of , one area which we hope to get more involved in is with the children who live on the streets.  Most of them have homes which consist of four walls made out of either corrugated iron, plastic sheeting or pieces of wood hammered together;  not overly straight or in an orderly fashion.  At the minute it is our rainy season and as we write, these families  will be huddling together probably not even under a blanket , damp and cold.  As you read this most of you, if not all, will have got out of your lovely, warm, cosy beds this morning and especially our younger readers will not be able to understand or even visualise what this would be like but together we can make a difference.  God has given us this amazing privilege and opportunity to serve Him in Cambodia and we are intending to make sure that we do our best for Him.

Only a few weeks ago we talked about 3 amazing young girls who were willing to make an effort, to push themselves to walk a distance that they wouldn’t normally and more importantly hassle and torture all their friends and family to raise an incredible amount of money so that we could bless children out here.  So as we go about listening to God and making decisions for the future, I encourage our readers, young and old, to join with us, to think big and maybe do something that can make a difference for these same families through fundraising to help them have better lives.  This is reality; these are opportunities for you to make specific differences in specific lives.

We would love to thank each and every person that gives money towards what we are doing in Cambodia, we would especially like to honour those on our missions team and our Pastors and Elders for their continued belief in us and the tireless work of the missions team who only this week put immense effort and work into their annual ‘Wedding Fayre’.   We would like to thank every single person in the team for their love and support, with a special mention to Audrey Williamson and Ruth McKee.  We would also like to acknowledge all those who gave up their time to help out on the day, we know that when people do this, they are doing it for God first and foremost, but also for the work that is carried out here in Cambodia.  We pray a blessing upon you all, please keep praying for us as we look to the future and if any of our young friends or older decide to take up the challenge, keep us informed, we love getting emails and we would like to encourage you as you encourage us!

Sights in Siem Reap

This week we had the opportunity to travel 5 hours northwest of Phnom Penh to spend a few days in Siem Reap, which means ‘Siamese Defeated’.  Today Siem Reap is Cambodia’s fastest growing city and has transformed itself into a major tourist hub.  Most tourists come to visit Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and other Angkor ruins which are about 6 km north of the city.  Angkor is a region of Cambodia that served as the seat of the Khmer Empire from approximately the 9th to 15th centuries.  The Angkorian period began with the rule of Jayavarman II, who proclaimed himself a god-king, the earthly representative of the Hindu god Shiva, and built a temple-mountain, this set a precedent for each of the kings who ruled in the Khmer empire to build temples of their own.  The temples of the Angkor area number over one thousand, ranging in scale from piles of brick rubble to the magnificent Angkor Wat, said to be the world’s largest single religious monument, and features on the Cambodian flag.  Many of the temples have been restored and visitor numbers approach two million annually.

On Wednesday morning (bleary eyed at 7am) we met our guide and began our tour of the temples.  First stop was Angkor Wat, meaning ‘temple that is a city’.  Surrounded by a moat, the guide explained how the sandstone blocks from which Angkor Wat was built were quarried more than 50km away and floated down the Siem Reap River on rafts.  The construction of Angkor Wat involved 300,000 workers, many of which died and 6000 elephants were used to transport materials.  The architecture and craftsmanship of the temple is breathtaking and unbelievable how such construction could be carried out without modern day tools and machinery.

But as we entered the right hand tower we were greeted by a statue of Vishnu (the supreme god of Hinduism), 3.25m in height and hewn from a single block of sandstone.  At the right hand side of the photo you can see a black pot which had warm water in it, as we stood in the entrance two ladies were using the water to wash the feet of the statue and then dabbing their faces with the excess water.  The guide explained that they were praying to the god and if their prayers were answered would return with flowers or items of clothing to give thanks for their good fortune.

In the photo you can see flowers and clothing draped on statue.  David and I both looked at each other with sadness in our eyes at the rituals some people believe they have to perform to worship their god.  Before entering the temple ruins we prayed to our God, a living God, not made of stone, to protect us as we learnt more about the history of the country we are now living in.

I am scared of heights so I had a rest while David and the guide climbed over 40 wooden steps, put in place over the original stone steps, to enter the central tower of the Angkor Wat temple.  I was content looking at the photographs afterwards and my heart was in my mouth as I watched tourists ascend and descend, I was particularly unhappy that David didn’t use the handrail and stopped to take photos also!!  When the temple was constructed the steps were steep and narrow meaning most people climbed them on their hands and knees and many would have died from falling.

The second temple we visited and definitely enjoyed more was Ta Prohm, used as a location in the film Tomb Raider.  Ta Prohm was built in 1186 by Jayavarman VII and dedicated to his mother.  Trees, hundreds of years old, tower overhead growing out of the ruins making this perhaps the most distinctive feature of Ta Prohm.

As we were in Siem Reap it would have been wrong not to visit the temples and take in the amazing structures created so long ago but as we mulled over the sights we had taken in, we are praying that God will give us wisdom and courage to bring light to where there is darkness.  As we come alongside the Khmer people, our desire is to introduce them to the One and Only Living God, who sent His Son Jesus into the world as a sacrifice for our sins, and through Him there is eternal life.

1 John 1:5  God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.

John 3:16  For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son ,so that everyone who believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Unsung Heroes

Every so often Esther gives me free reign to express my thoughts to those who take the time to keep up with what we are doing in Phnom Penh. Before we left for Cambodia I was given a book by good friends, it is a book by Charles Swindoll based on the character and life of Saul/Paul. Anybody that knows me knows that I am the world’s worst reader but as I started to really delve into this book I am captivated by the then Saul and the moments directly after his conversion.

Can I just encourage anybody who is reading this that first of all if you have people in your life who have walked away from God or have still not made that decision, do not give up, I SAY IT AGAIN DO NOT GIVE UP!!! Keep trusting God; keep praying that person’s road to Damascus could be just around the corner.

On the other hand if you are the person who hasn’t surrendered to God yet, I know you have already got a list of why nots, can I just say to you as a friend sometimes you just got to get past your fear of failure. It’s all about faith, after taking the initial step all other fears that you have will disappear almost instantly. Telling people about your new found faith is daunting but you don’t do it alone, you know sometimes God asks you to do things that really aren’t top of your to do list. It’s then that we realise what it is like to depend completely on a God who promises to protect and love us unconditionally forever.

I was really moved this week while reading about what it must have been like to be one of the Bible’s unsung heroes, the person I refer to is Ananias, he was asked to do something, that until we stop and think about it, was absolutely mind blowing. In the book to demonstrate how big the task was the author explains it like this.

Let’s pretend it’s 1940. You have moved to the outskirts of Vienna, Austria. The Nazis now occupy your country and your beloved city you once called home, you are a Jew. Most of your friends and family have disappeared, and you have decided to flee your beautiful home with your remaining family, to go to a house in the mountains.

The night before your escape you are woken by a presence in your bedroom. You sit up rubbing your eyes trying to focus your thoughts, am I dreaming? Then out of the darkness comes an unrecognizable voice saying “Arise, go to a street named Wickenburg, just to the west of the campus of the university of Vienna. There you will find a home owned by Franz Kaiser. When you enter there, you’ll find a man from Braunau Austria. His name is Adolf Hitler. I have appeared to him, and he is now praying. He is blind and I have revealed myself to him. Go and touch him, and he will regain his eyesight, and he will save your people.”

WOW imagine if that had happened, if you had been a Jew and this was true would you have went to the man who had and was still slaughtering your friends your fellow people.

Well believe it or not this was how notorious Saul of Tarsus was and God told Ananias to go and pray for him, to restore his sight but more importantly to help him as he started his new life. What would you have done?  Remember Saul was coming to Damascus to find you and kill you, and now God was saying trust me I am with you, now go to Saul and do kind things to him.

A massive step of faith by a pretty normal guy, I am sure before and after he didn’t feel like he was anymore special than the next person.

But the one thing he did do that day was he obeyed, his obedience led to God using the Apostle Paul in ways that we will never truly comprehend, but trust me Ananias and his faith in God was key to the Gospel being spread throughout the world.

I wonder today how many of you have been asked by God to do something, and up until now you have closed your ears or been  too scared to do anything about it, why me I am a nobody?  I couldn’t do that, maybe you couldn’t on your own but God doesn’t ask us to do things on our own, in fact he totally empowers us. My friends young and old God has a purpose for your life, if you are on the edge of something big plunge in, trust God He has your back!!!

Finally if you are still trying to make sense of all this Christianity stuff please today for a short while take your eyes of people, we are only human and make mistakes, look past people and their faults, and think about what Jesus has done on Calvary’s cross for you.

Now can you honestly say that God is not big enough to help you through and past all the obstacles you have created? Today you must make a decision, do you trust God to lead you to and through those situations, are you about to become an Ananias?