Growing up Marie and I made it a point not to miss any of the boy’s birthdays but with the boys grown and Joe married and all the traveling everyone is doing it is increasingly getting hard to celebrate birthdays together.
Thankfully we were able to celebrate Joshua’s birthday today with not just the immediate family but with my father and mother, my sister Carol and her family, Deborah Murrell (who brought the cake) and of course Vito.
Joshua turned 26. Lord we are so grateful for giving us our son Joshua.
“The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.” Psalm 118:24
My grandmother once told me “Joey you need to take Sabbaths. Rest your mind, emotions and body and enjoy a time with God. If you don’t take a Sabbath God has built it in to nature that you will have one. It’s called a forced Sabbath and you don’t want that to happen.”
Lord teach me to rest in You regardless what is urgently presented to me. Help me to understand that rest starts on the inside and is not just about not doing anything. Teach me to enjoy your rest even on days that are not my Sabbath.
“Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you.” Deuteronomy 5:12
Back in the 1980s when our boys were little, the Murrells – Steve and Deborah and their three sons William, James and Jonathan and our family with our three boys Joseph, David and Joshua had countless Sunday lunches together, usually after church. There were just two congregations then and life was much simpler (now there are over 90). As life would have it we would be next door neighbors for well over 10 years and we had more meals and parties than I can remember. We became the local Indians who graced their Thanksgiving celebrations. And they learned what it was like to celebrate Christmas the Filipino way – from November to January.
These days though the Murrells still come to Manila, they usually are not complete. On this trip James and Johnny were not with them.
Over lunch today we celebrated our daughter in-law Carla’s graduation and eagerly wanted to hear straight from William’s mouth the story of his recent engagement with Rachel Bailey, whom we met in November. As I listened to William I found my thoughts drifting to the the days when these boys were much younger and a flash of fond memories flooded my mind. Gosh time flies. And now we have more girls in our lunches, soon all of them will be married.
Lord, I am grateful for life long friends, for Steve and Deborah and their sons and the friendship that You have allowed us to enjoy. Just so grateful Father for the people whom You have used to shape and bless us. Thanks.
“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24
What an amazing girl the Lord has given our son Joeseph. God indeed answers prayers. Often in ways we can’t explain.
Here’s her short story. Carla was a child actress. At the peak of her career it became obvious that with her prolific acting career school work was just impossible to handle. Though she always had a love for learning, studies took a back seat. Not only did she not have a college degree, she did not even have a high-school diploma.
After having her encounter with Jesus, Carla decided she was going back to school. She took a placement test and passed it. This allowed her to go straight to university. She then took the entrance exams in 2007 at Ateneo and passed it too.
The reason for her delay in graduating was two years ago she married Joseph. Here’s the video of the wedding.
Yesterday Carla completed a degree in BA in Literature with honors at the Ateneo de Manila University. Congratulations Carla, you’re amazing. We’re so proud of you, like Rebekah you are God’s best for Joe!
“Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milkah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor.” Genesis 24:15
After being gone for 12 days from Africa, I was cramming for my message for tomorrow’s Sunday services. It’s one am and jetlag has set in. Marie took this picture from her iphone – Vito didn’t want to leave my side, hugging on the base of my chair he sat there till almost three. The dog must have missed me a lot. He’s probably also wondering why I smell like animals. Missed you too Vito.
“Anyone who is among the living has hope —even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!” Ecclesiastes 9:4
Last day in Cape Town – was hosted by Pastor Carlton Julies and his wife Yolanda. I have known Carlton and Yolanda for many years now and deeply respect him as a friend and minister of the Gospel of Christ. Carlton and I share a common passion – that of making disciples and raising up young next generation leaders.
Thankfully our last day in Cape Town coincided with a national holiday – “Human Rights Day” and they were free to take us on a tour – of what better place than Robben Island.
Picture above was snapped by Marie as I was waiting for the ferry to Robben island. I guess the bird was waiting too. Picture right is Marie with Yolanda on the ferry.
Robben Island is made famous by the political prisoners who were incarcerated there for opposing the white dominated South African government. Particularly former South African President Nelson Mandela who spent 18 of his 27 years of incarceration on the island. Picture at right is tour guide who was a former prisoner on the island who not only gives a history of the island that spans back to English and Dutch rule but captures the reality of the spirit of the inmates in the island. A must see place.
Thanks Carlton and Yolanda. Appreciate your friendship and hospitality. It was a joy celebrating “Human Rights Day” with you and Yolanda.
“Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.” Exodus 12:17
Every Nation’s key leaders from all over Cape Town came to the Ministry School class that evening. I was pleasantly surprised at the turn out. This is the kind of stuff I love to do, activating leaders particularly young ones (not once) to capture the heart of loving God and reaching out to others – what I have over years called “Discipleship is relationship.”
Hosted by Richard and Shantelle Kidger. This young couple is getting ready to move from Cape Town to be a part of the Every Nation Church in Toronto. Really cherish the time we had with them. It is young leaders like these that assure us that the Church of Jesus will continue to forcefully advance through the years. Thank God for the parents and pastors who raised them.
“Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” Exodus 4:12
I arrived in Cape Town with a slight sun burn from Zebula. When I was picked up my friend John Miller of Every Nation Cape Town I didn’t realize I was driving to the EN N1 Center in a top down sports coupe. From Zebula’s slightly tanned I went sunburned – but hey what a way to see Cape Town. Spent the morning through early afternoon with Every Nation’s Cape Town pastors. The pastors above are a great bunch, from the different congregations all across the Cape.
In the afternoon John and Rona Miller brought us to Cape Town’s famous Table Mountain. Nice. From there we headed for Camps Bay where we had dinner with the Millers and the Storms – what a sunset.
What else can I say Cape Town is probably the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen – so far. John and Rona are excellent hosts. And South Africans are like Filipinos, they are just as laid back.
“Choose some wise, understanding and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will set them over you.” Deuteronomy 1:13