27th March – 2nd April
This week I got a couple of days off in lieu and so I went to visit my boyfriend in Germany. That was super lovely and I thank God every time I get to see him, but one of the other most encouraging things was going to his new church. He’s just moved to Munich to study for a semester so we got to discover his church for the first time together. We went in the morning and the evening, and despite the fact that I battled to understand what was going on (it was Nahum, not the easiest book of the Bible for someone with rubbish German to try and follow), just being there was a blessing.
I had a moment when everyone was taking communion, the plate and the cup were passed along the lines, each person passing the blessing on to the next person as they offered it. Sitting there and listening to everyone just filled me with this incredible joy. Here were a couple of hundred people (that would be mammoth in Slovenia) reminding each other of the blessing of the Lord’s supper, coming before Christ and remembering Him in repentance and forgiveness and love and thankfulness. And this is what people have been doing for 2000 years all over the world. I think it was the fact that I couldn’t understand the words that did it, but how wonderful a thought! And it points forward to the day when one day, we’ll all eat together with Christ and all people from all nations and we’ll even understand each other!
Luke 22:15-20 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said,“Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
3rd – 9th April
This week I started meeting with one of my student leaders to help her work out content for the Bible study she has started up. Let’s just pause there for a second and praise God and be amazed by what an answer to prayer that is! She meets each Sunday with three other students, two are not yet Christians, but very open and keen. They want to understand the whole Bible story and how Jesus fits into it, so in our meeting we thought through it all. And we’ll keep going through in more detail as the weeks come. But it was just so encouraging – to think through how God holds history and eternity and how at the center of it we see Christ, glorified and displaying the magnificent love and grace of God. Our God is so great!! I think Ephesians 1 sums it up pretty well…
Ephesians 1:3-10 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
10th – 16th April
This week in our ‘Taste’ dinner and discussion night, we discussed spirituality. It was an interesting discussion around luck, God and gods, fate, death and life beyond it. We also briefly discussed the spiritual realm and what people believed about it. Views ranged from atheists who believed there was no spiritual realm and everything is just circumstantial, to a girl who moved between that and the idea of ancient gods in and around the world, to one girl who believed God exists but is limited in his power and tries to make things good and fails, to some people who just believe in spirits, and one guy who believes god is in everything and everyone – like an energy force, and then us Christians.
It was a thoroughly interesting discussion, but one filled with uncertainty. There is great comfort in having confidence that my Lord and Saviour is the one with authority over everything spiritual and physical. There is so little known or understood about the spiritual realm, but all I really need to know or understand is this: Jesus has all power and authority. I need not fear or try and do anything to protect myself or gain any favour, by His grace we are secure in Him from all things. What a wonderful assurance when dealing with so many different beliefs and cultures!
Luke 4:33-37 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
“Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.
All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.
17th – 23rd April
HAPPY EASTER! He is risen!
This weekend we were at a conference in Germany with about 1700 people from across Europe and some of the Middle East. It was amazing! There are so many things I could write about that, but I’ll limit it to this. Please praise God with me for our Slovenes and for the way He stirred them to be keen for evangelism, and pray that continues and that we can cultivate that with them so they keep wanting to share God’s Word and going out to do it. And also, more on the point of Easter – sitting in that hall listening to people pass blessings and pray for each other in so many different languages, I was reminded again of how Jesus died for the whole global church, throughout all of history. It feels so much fuller and richer in a way, thinking about that. A heaven with people from all cultures and countries with all different languages, exalting God together, is so much more a rich vision than just Australians and Slovenes. It was like a little taster, and I can’t wait for more!
Revelation 7:9-10 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language,standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
24th – 30th April
I met up with one of my friends and students this week who is a Christian, but who has been battling with her faith since it’s relatively recent beginning. She comes from a church background which is very traditional and conservative, where Christians have a particular image and culture which has developed to be the sort of fun-sucking stereotype the media loves. That breaks my heart. We had a super lovely breakfast, sitting in the sunshine and chatting about how she’d just been exploring some of the surrounding countries in her holidays and the conversation quickly and easily moved into how we find our joy and meaning in life.
When I started describing how I both Biblically and experientially find my joy and meaning in the Lord, it was a little like she was hearing the gospel again afresh. God gave me good words that morning, you can praise God and thank Him for that! I think it’s one of the saddest things when we see people who believe that living for Christ just means a less full life, lacking in all the tempting fun things that most 20-something years delight in. God made us to enjoy His creation, full of beautiful, fun, tasty and exciting things. When we delight in His good things, as our delight overflows and rises up to Him in thanks and praise, it is a delight to Him. When I bake someone a cake, it’s delightful to see them enjoy it. It would be crushing if I saw them take it and ignore me or disregard me. We ought to enjoy life even more, the way it was intended to be enjoyed, and love it because we know that all the good things in it were lovingly crafted for us by our Heavenly Father who cares for us more fully than anything or anyone else. When the Samaritan woman at the well meets Jesus, she discovers just how satisfying and full Jesus is, He offers her love and refreshment that will never run dry. I could write a book on that, so I’ll stop here with this passage, and I hope it sort of makes sense why :).
John 4:13-14 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”