Since December 31st, I'm with my parents in Germany. I will stay here for my father's birthday tomorrow and then head back to Brussels on Wednesday. It's always challenging to be with family, given the fact that their lifestyle and their beliefs are completely different from mine, but the Lord has been helping me. The temperatures have been moderate, not really like winter. I only wish it had been less cloudy and rainy, but I took advantage of every ray of sunshine.
Yesterday, there was a special year-end service at the local SDA church. After that, I walked to the little Lutheran church in the city center to meet with my family. There was an ensemble of professional musicians performing a classical concert. The one who played the harpsichord is the director of the lay orchestra my mother is part of, and that's why my folks go there every year. They performed pieces of three different composers, one of which was also part of the ensemble. But his compositions didn't speak to me at all. It was kind of jarring, high-pitched, and not melodious at all. Strange modern music I would say. However, I did enjoy the Bach pieces they played.
This morning, I went for a walk and passed by at a shopping center nearby. They have a nice little project there called "Open Bookcase". They turned an old telephone box into a place where people can either drop off or take books home. So I took the opportunity to leave some literature there. What I like about this way of sharing is, even though it's not very personal, you can be assured that those who take the books are definitely going to read them. So I pray that the Lord may water this seed.
|The Open Bookcase|
And here is a little snippet of the Bach performance last night:
I would like to close with a New Year's Day letter written by Ellen White to Dr. and Mrs. Kellogg on January 1, 1886. May the Lord help us all to draw closer to Him this year!
"I wish you a happy new year. The old year with its burden of record has passed into eternity. Now let every thought, every feeling be that of remembrance of God's love. Let us gather up one token after another. . . .
The evidence we have of God's care and love for us is expressed in the lessons Christ gave to His disciples upon the things in nature. . . . The eye is not to be fastened upon deformity, upon the curse, but upon the riches of the grace of Christ that has been provided so abundantly, that we may live in this world, and act our part in the great web of humanity, and yet not be of the world. As pilgrims, as strangers looking for the bright things of God, the joy that is set before us, seeking a city whose builder and maker is God, and by beholding the provisions made for us, the mansions Jesus has gone to prepare for us, talking of the blessed home, we forget the annoyances and the fretting cares of this life. We seem to breathe in the very atmosphere of that better, even the heavenly country. We are soothed, we are comforted; we are more than this, we are joyful in God.
We could not know that gracious purposes of God toward us, but for the promises, for it is from them alone we learn what He has prepared for those who love Him. As the flowers in God's wise economy are constantly drawing the properties from earth and air to develop into the pure and beautiful buds and flowers and give forth their fragrance to delight the senses, so shall it be with us.
We draw from God's promises all that peace, that comfort, that hope that will develop in us the fruits of peace, joy, and faith. And by bringing these promises into our own life we bring them always into the lives of others. Then let us appropriate these promises to ourselves. . . . They are like the precious flowers in the garden of God. They are to awaken our hope and expectation, and lead us to a firm faith and reliance upon God. They are to strengthen us in trouble and teach us precious lessons of trust in God. He in these precious promises draws back from eternity and gives us a glimpse of the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Let us then be quiet in God. Let us calmly trust in Him and praise Him that He has shown us such revelations of His will and purposes that we shall not build our hopes in this life but keep the eye upward to the inheritance of light and see and sense the amazing love of Jesus."
Published in The Upward Look, p. 15.