On Sunday I preached what I believe was one of my most impacting sermons at Hill City. The passage was John 15 and the title was Bear Fruit. (You can find it here). It was quite a simple message – God wants us to be fruitful, and to do so we need to abide in Christ, abide in His love and let His words abide in us. I made reference to the issue of ‘pruning’ too, explaining that God prunes fruitful branches in order to make them more fruitful. I preached this point to help provide perspective and encouragement for all those in the church who are experiencing suffering right now (and there’s plenty of them!) Shears are sharp, but we would do well to never lose sight of the love of the Vinedresser or His desire and commitment for His people to be fruitful.
So it’s little wonder that when I preach a word like that it gets tested…and boy is it being tested right now?!
I’ve had a toothache since last Wednesday. And it’s bad. Like literally, can’t stop myself from screaming and wanting to smash my own face into a wall to knock it out myself. I’ve literally been fighting against pain since last Wednesday and I think last night I just felt drained and emotional and defeated. I’ve seen my NHS dentist twice and he seems clueless to fix it, so this morning I swallowed my pride and went to see a private dentist. He’s done some preliminary work to (hopefully) kill the pain and I’m booked in for a root canal in a few weeks. Oh the joy! This whole situation hasn’t been helped by my somehow contracting a feverish fluey type thing so I’m aching all over and can’t stop shivering.
On a totally unrelated matter our car is dying. But in a really annoying way, cos it’s still working – it just needs bump-starting to get going, which means that wherever we go we have to park on hills everywhere so that we can get home. It’s not something we like to do with the kids in the car and it’s not something that Michelle enjoys, so with me being ill it’s just been awkward. Now miraculously we have been given a hugely generous gift to buy a new car (HALLELUJAH!) but until we’ve found one, it’s bump-starts all the way!
On top of all that, Michelle has just lost her mornings. Until Christmas the twins went to a wonderful local playgroup blessing Michelle with time to spend with God, visit friends, do housework (and have breakfast with me on Mondays!) But since Christmas they are meant to be starting nursery…but there’s a snag! They only take fully toilet-trained kids…and one of our kids isn’t! I don’t want to say which one to embarrass them…but it’s the male one with a planet-sized head! So we are now in the second week that Michelle has had to be with them non-stop, which she doesn’t mind cos she is a full-time mum and home-maker at the mo, but I can see it’s taking it out of her.
So there we have it – Pruning hurts!
Now I appreciate that much of this is first world problems and there are people suffering far worse than me. Agreed! But we live in the first world and things are tough so would you please keep us in prayer? Pray for us, that we would know God’s grace, patience and help as we seek to navigate this difficult season, and that the end product would be more fruit…and speaking of fruit…
It’s probably not ironic that we are currently enjoying a very fruitful time at Hill City. We have seen several people saved from all sorts of backgrounds recently and had one of the busiest Sundays we’ve ever had this last weekend. Furthermore, we have had our first Acts 29 church planter approved and have several families with us who we hope will soon be embarking on new gospel and church planting adventures. So please celebrate that with us too!
Our God is faithful.
Big love to you all.