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Royal Wedding

You can’t look at any media this week without reading about the Royal Wedding. The wedding between Prince William and Catherine Middleton takes place on Friday. During the last couple of months there has been a stream of information about the nuptials but now it’s a torrent of trivia. Expect the coverage of this event to dominate the news for the next couple of days. By early next week we should be reading reports about how the marriage is on the rocks. (I joke but the media is always looking for a story.)

Despite all the attention there are some surveys that indicate people aren’t that interested in the upcoming wedding. Ours is a jaded generation. Perhaps too many of us can remember the last Royal Wedding (Charles and Diana) and recall that it didn’t end “happily ever after.” Some people think the wedding is important because the future of the British monarchy is at stake. Others believe that TV, newspapers and the internet are just making it seem important and hoping for good ratings. Some people believe that love should really be celebrated and we should just rejoice with the happy couple.

You may not be interested in the upcoming wedding but there is at least one good reason why you should pay some attention to it. It just might help you get ready for your royal wedding. The Bible says that the church (that’s you and me) is the bride of Christ. Some day Jesus is coming back for his bride and taking her away for all of eternity. A wedding, any wedding, is a reminder to Christian people that Jesus has promised to return. Just as a rainbow is a symbol of God’s promise not to destroy the world by flood, so is a wedding a symbol of God’s promise to his people.

Revelation 19:6-7 says:
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder; crying out: “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns, Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready.”

When Jesus left earth he told his disciples he was going away to prepare a place for them and that he would return for them so that they could always be together. The picture in Revelation is of the Wedding Feast that will take place in heaven when Christ returns for his people. We are going to be in a Royal Wedding and we should be ready for it.

Like I said earlier, some of us are jaded and cynical. We are uncertain about the importance of marriage or the value of promises. Many people don’t think Jesus will ever return because it has been so long since he left. However, we serve a God who keeps his promises. He is preparing a place for us. We will be part of a huge and amazing event that will be the climax of all earthly history. I don’t know when it will happen but I know for sure that it will, and I want to be there. I want to be ready.

“The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’” (Revelation 22:17)

My mother-in-law, Erika, arrived last Thursday for a few weeks. Yesterday she took the rest of the family for a couple days up to Zasenbeck – a small town on the old border between East and West Germany, where she lived as a little girl. It’s a great opportunity for the kids to learn a little more about their Nanny and what life was like for her growing up. At the age of 12, after the difficulties of the war, her family went searching for new opportunities in Canada. It was a challenging and yet exciting time for her whole family.

I am of the opinion that it’s a good thing to know your family history. Some people claim not to be interested in such things but I think it gives us a greater sense of personal identity. It helps to answer the question, “Who am I?” It’s helpful to know where we have come from; how events and cultures have shaped our ancestors and us. We didn’t grow up in a vacuum but rather we are a product of many family histories. I want my children to have a sense of where their roots come from. I want them to know the stories and adventures that have given them the building blocks for life. For example, last summer in Canada the kids went to a camp that was just a few kilometres from where the Fortunes first settled when they emigrated from Scotland in the mid 19th century. The kids seemed unimpressed by visiting the old farms and meeting distant cousins but I know that some day they will come to appreciate that sense of history, that sense of family roots. In the same way they will be able to picture where the German side of the family comes from.

Some people haven’t been as fortunate to discover their roots. Perhaps they never knew one or both of their biological parents. Or, maybe past events were just never shared with them and they have never had the chance to know their personal stories. Finding and understanding their personal identity may be more challenging in those cases.

But our biological family only contributes to part of our personal identity. The Bible tells us that we are also part of a spiritual family. When we became a Christian we were given a new family and what a history it has! The story of the Bible then becomes our personal story as well, it tells us about our ancestors and where they came from. Abraham is the father of those who believe in faith. Romans 4:16 says, “Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.”

The Bible isn’t a book about other people and other events unrelated to us. It is part of our life story. It is our history and heritage. We have been grafted into the family of God. Our spiritual journey has been influenced and shaped by family members who went before us. Think of some of our Biblical ancestors and their stories: Adam and Eve, Noah, Ruth, David, Elijah, Josiah, Matthew, Barnabas, Deborah, Paul and many others.

We learn from their mistakes. We are strengthened by their acts of courage. We are encouraged by reading that they faced problems we can identify with. God saw them through the storms and difficulties. They were not perfect but he loved them and was faithful to them. God kept his promises to our family. Knowing their stories and understanding their world helps us know and understand our identity in Christ and our place in the world. It’s a wonderful family to belong to.

So when you read your Bible this week remember that it’s like a family album and you have been influenced by all that has taken place. Reading with that perspective may just make it seem more relevant and hopeful.

Pay Attention

Somewhere in the history of modern machinery someone came up with the idea of a warning light – a signal of some sort that would indicate a problem with the machinery. It was a brilliant idea of course, since the machine could now tell you that it needs service or attention. For example, my car has been telling me for two weeks that it needs a maintenance check. It sends me a more extreme signal when fuel or oil is low. The coffee maker recently gave me a signal I didn’t know how to interpret. After reading the manual I discovered it needs descaling –whatever that is. My mobile phone lets me know when the battery needs to be recharged.

We are surrounded by these electronic reminders, some of them helpful but many of them are now just annoying. I really don’t want to be told everyday that ‘updates are now ready’ for my computer. Many of these reminders I can and do ignore. Others, I take more seriously, like the oil light in my car. But not all warning signals are electronic. Every day we receive thousands of non-electronic signals and if we ignore the wrong ones for too long the consequences can be life changing.

For example, people say that our body runs like a machine. It needs food and rest and must be cared for. When something is lacking it sends a signal. You begin to feel pain or discomfort and it increases until you do something about it. Maybe you need to slow down and sleep, or lose some weight or visit a doctor. But don’t ignore the signs for too long or your health can be damaged.

Our relationships with our spouse and family members are complex but many times there are also clear signals that something is not right. I am always surprised at how many people think they can ignore those warning signals and pretend that everything is going to be okay. They seem to think that the discomfort will just go away. Perhaps there are harsh words, or someone seems withdrawn, maybe it’s been a while since you’ve had time together, or perhaps there is more fighting and disagreement and you find yourself angry more often. These may be signals that the relationship needs a check-up or some extra work. Otherwise the pain and discomfort will continue to grow.

If you think something might need to be explored or checked out, then do it. Today! This area of life can’t be left to itself. And it doesn’t get better on its own. Our relationship with family members is far too important. And the consequences of letting this go are devastating. It’s sad when I hear people say, “If only I had paid more attention to what was going on.” You wouldn’t ignore the oil light in your car but your spouse and children are far more important than that. Don’t miss the signs that one of them might be needing your attention and love.

Ephesians 5:15 says, “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise.” Wise people know what’s really important in life and they pay attention to those things.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” That is the first verse of the 23rd Psalm. When I was a child I thought it meant “I shall not want the Lord as my shepherd.” That didn’t seem to fit with what I thought the Bible was about. Modern translations are more helpful. The Good News translation says, “The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need.” As I have grown older I realize how true this verse really is.

As humans, we are driven by many needs. Among them we look for acceptance, security and significance. Many people spend years looking for that special individual or group who will accept them just as they are. We all need to belong somewhere or to someone. If God is our shepherd then we belong to him. Being accepted by others comes second to that. We belong to the Creator, the King of Kings, and the everlasting one. No one else will accept us with such unconditional love. We don’t need to go on searching when we belong to God.

Our need for security is fully covered by God’s care. Even when we walk through the ‘valley of the shadow of death’ we can be safe because he watches out for us. In the presence of our enemies he cares for us and gives us good things. He promises to give us his comfort and support. We will never find greater security anywhere else on earth.

In our search for significance we often follow many paths hoping they will bring that sense of fulfillment and importance. God offers to guide us in the right paths and lead us to life everlasting. He anoints us with oil, a symbol of his blessing and desire to use us for his purposes. What could be more significant than that? His goodness and mercy will always be with us. Our lives have meaning because he directs us to what is significant.

We are encouraged to meditate on Scripture and really listen to what God is saying. I know why Psalm 23 is such a beloved passage. Our every need really is met by our Shepherd. We really don’t have to go looking for anything else. Take some time and think about that today. I am sure you’ll feel accepted, secure and significant.

A Movie & Free Will

I am working on a new look for this site. Until then I will be posting my Midweek Updates that are sent out to the congregation of Crossroads Basel. David
My oldest daughter and I went out to see a movie last week. We didn’t know what to see but were looking for something in English that was available at the right time for us. So we ended up watching ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. I had seen some previews of the movie but it wasn’t really what I had expected. It wasn’t a fantastic film but it was good and it leaves you thinking. I always like that challenge.

The theme of the movie is about free will versus determination (a kind of fatalism). Do we as individuals have free choice? Or, have all our choices been made for us, based on our previous actions. The New York Times has an interesting article out today on this very topic. It’s confusing and complex to say the least.

This kind of discussion is nothing new in Christian circles. We have been debating for centuries about the proper understanding of the sovereignty of God and the free will of man. Can both of these exist or does one make the other impossible? If God has pre-determined all our choices then do we have any free will? Or, it man has free will how can God be sovereign since he doesn’t control everything? The nitty-gritty work comes down to how we define those terms, “free will” and “sovereignty”. I have no intention here of trying to offer an answer. Sorry.

What the topic of the movie and the Times article raises is whether or not we, as humans, are morally responsible for our actions. If everything is predetermined then how can we be held accountable for our transgressions? If we are a product of determinism or God’s sovereignty then can we be personally guilty of sins? These are tough questions that we should think about.

However, the Bible does make a couple things clear. If you read through the book of Judges you will discover the most popular phrase to describe that era of time is, “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” And this was not good. The people had departed from worshiping God and following his lead. But God has a standard for all people. We are not free to set our own standards of right and wrong. We can not pick and choose what things are sinful. We should not downplay the importance of understanding God’s standards and expectations of us.

God is sovereign but it doesn’t stop him from holding us accountable for our actions and our sins. We can’t blame our behaviour on our genes, bad childhood experiences, our ancestor Adam or God’s sovereignty. We have to accept that we are responsible for our actions. It is clear in the Bible that we personally will have to give an account of our actions. The good news is that God has provided a way out for us. Paul tells us in Romans that we are free from both condemnation and the power of sin when we come to Christ. (See Romans 3-6).

Don’t let the complex issues confuse you. What it comes down to is this - we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s standards. We are responsible for our sins. God has provided a way to deal with those sins. Jesus died in our place and for our sins. If we accept the gift of God we are declared ‘not guilty’ and the power of sin is broken in our lives. Only then, when the power of sin is broken, can we truly begin making free choices. That’s the good news, no, the fantastic news of the Gospel.

Stay Tuned!

Yes, I know its been way too long. Our last year has been exhausting and way too busy to keep up blogging. But in the next few weeks we will be presenting a new look and new format. So stay tuned.


Happy Easter!

We hope and pray that all our friends and family have had a wonderful Easter! Our church was very full yesterday and we had a great resurrection Sunday service. We enjoy the church here very much and it was indeed a celebration Sunday.

After the service we had some families over for lunch and the children all had an Easter egg hunt outside. It was a super meal and great time of fellowship. We are truly blessed here.

The children have been off school for the last two weeks for spring break. And it does look like spring has finally come. They all got off to school this morning but I think they found it hard to get up and get going. So with everyone back to routine it was time to get back to updating this blog. We’ll keep in touch. Thanks for reading and praying. David

Erin’s 11th Birthday



 Hard to believe that Erin turned 11 this week.  It was a week of celebration.  On Tuesday we had 20 people over for a special dinner.  On Thursday–February 11th, we had a birthday breakfast together with our family and then a supper together with just our family. Then on Saturday she had a group of friends meet at a coffee shop in town (the Baku Roasting Company) and then come to our house for dinner.  I sure hope Erin feels the love of so many in her life.  It is great to celebrate all her wonderful qualities and the person God has made her to be.  Erin is tenderhearted and kind.  She has a heart for animals and one day would love to work with animals in some capacity.  She is a great helper in the kitchen and has a natural touch when it comes to cooking.  She makes a mean chocolate chip cookie.  Erin has a beautiful smile and if you catch her at the right time, you may get to see those pearly whites.  We are so blessed to have her in our family.  We couldn’t imagine life without her.  Happy Birthday Erin.  You are a treasure!


My Ladies Bible Study group has been one of the highlights of living in Baku.   We meet every Thursday morning in homes in an area of Baku called Stone Pay.  We start with food of course–do women ever get together when food is not one of the central attractions????  Then we gather together for a time of worship.  Our group can run anywhere from 20 to 30 ladies so we divide into three groups for discussion on whatever we are studying at the time.  Right now we are doing a study on Contentment by the Women of Faith Series.  Who of us can not learn more of how to be content in our circumstances?  Some times life throws us a curve ball and our natural tendency is to complain to whoever is there to listen.  This study has been good in the sense that it is teaching me a few truths that I needed to be reminded of.  Like, God has placed in all of us a longing for more (right from Eve in the garden).  We try to fill that void with all kinds of things but really, it can only be filled by Him.  He is preparing a home for us and only then, when we are face to face with Jesus will we truly be completely content.  So, in this life we struggle, we pack our schedules with stuff, we fill our day with people and things yet at the end of the day, it is only God who truly satisfies.  Phililppians 4:11-13 says, …..for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances…….I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…….I can do everything through him who gives me strength.   I am so thankful that I have a God who can satisfy and I don’t not need to look any further.  What are you complaining about today?  Take it to Him, He cares and wants to lift that burden.

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