Sunday 25 August 2019


However, the truth is if we love the Lord we know that he has a perfect plan for our lives even if we don't always understand or are willing to accept it at the time, we must trust him and obey.

The Bible is full of people going about their lives, doing their thing, when something extraordinary happens that completely changes their life, and the lives of those around them. Gods grace in using the ordinary to bring about the extraordinary never ceases to amaze me, but it seems that often the initial reaction of the person involved is not what you would expect from someone  exposed to a supernatural event.

For example, in reading through the book of Luke recently we get the story of Zechariah`s amazing visitation from and Angel of the Lord.  Luke Ch 1 verses 5 - 23 explains that Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth had always wanted children but it just didn't happen and now they were old. But one day as Zechariah was faithfully completing his duty in the temple he was visited by an angel ( not your usual everyday experience even if you are a priest of the Lord! ) who told him he would have a son and not just any son, he would be a prophet  "He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah,.  He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord" (verses 16 & 17).  His son would be a very special person who would be used to proclaim and baptise the saviour of the world. So there before Zechariah stood an angel; a very impressive being. As a priest Zechariah would be totally aware of how and incredible and supernatural an event this was and how humbled he should feel to be visited by such a heavenly being.

But Zechariahs response was so typically human (Verse 18) Zechariah said to the Angel "How can I be sure this will happen? I`m an old man now and my wife is also well along in years" We may at this point be tempted to criticise Zechariah`s response to such a supernatural declaration, but I find that I am so often like this. God speaks in an amazing supernatural way and tells me something, confirms through scripture and I still respond with human logic. "But how can that happen Lord?"  It's a really human response and I often think that the Lord is so patient as to go the extra mile, with us and work with us.  For Zechariah the Lord said ''Okay because you didn't believe you will not be able to speak until the child is born''. In the face of questioning an omnipotent God, you would have expected far harsher consequences, but the Lord thankfully understands our human frailty and gives grace until we can come into a place of submission, acceptance and faith.  

But there do have to be consequences that will continually challenge us until we do finally come into a place of obedience to what the Lord has told us. For Zechariah it came at the birth of his son and although he couldn't speak still, he indicated that he wanted to call his son John the name the Angel had given him. Only in that act of obedience was Zechariah able to step fully into the promise of the Lord to have his speech return and also be free to prophecy of, and herald in the coming of the saviour.  

We have many accounts in the Bible of mighty men of God who when visited by an Angel who told them the word of the Lord clearly, then questioned it. Moses was spoken to out of a burning bush and told to go and deliver Israel from Pharaohs' hand, but argued he was not able to speak properly, God even gave him miraculous signs and still he protested that God must have got it wrong to choose him.  Gideon also couldn't believe that the Lord would choose such a lowly person to deliver the people and conquer the enemy, he asked for a sign more than once and gracefully and patiently God gave him that sign. Even faced with a Heavenly messenger, an Angel, these men resorted to logic and their own thinking to try and rationalise what the Lord was saying rather than accepting the word of the Lord and acting on it: just because it was the Lord that was speaking. 

As I said it's easy to point the finger at these guys but I find I do this all the time. I read a verse like Philippians 4 v 13 `I can do all this through Him who gives me strength` and immediately come up with a hundred logical reasons why I can't. I really think though that there is a great lesson to learn here.  When the Lord speaks to us, He really does expect us to do as he asks. (John 14 v 15 'If you love me obey my commandments'. NLT) but He also knows that we are human and from time to time (or every time) we will question what He is asking.  It would seem that His grace will allow us to do this and give us time to bring our will and understanding into line with His word and His spirit and then we can  come into obedience. Although we can often experience some consequences during this process, just as Zechariah did.  However, the truth is if we love the Lord we know that he has a perfect plan for our lives even if we don't always understand or are willing to accept it at the time, we must trust him and obey.

At the time of writing this I know the Lord has asked me to do something, something I keep putting off because I think of all the reasons why I shouldn't do it, the possible outcomes of me doing it, how it could go okay or how it could go very wrong, so I am dithering between two opinions, Gods and my own.  I know even as I write that this is a ridiculous place to be and I really should read my own blog and stop avoiding doing what the Lord has told me to do. I share this because this is a real thing in my life and I'm sure a real thing in many lives, we dither in doing what we know the Lord wants us to do because of all the logical reasons of why it could go wrong or not happen at all. I have now decided to obey what the Lord is telling me to do.  Maybe my next blog will be about the outcome?

Be blessed today in your struggle to always do what He commands and I pray you will be able to come to a place of obedience and fulfilment of Gods purposes for your life.

Jan Pearson

Sunday 18 August 2019

Walking in God's Grace - Part 2

It really feels like God has just wanted to bless us and show us a snippet of the beauty He has created.

Luke received a phone call one evening, out of the blue, from a guy from the government of Manitoba. After a lengthy conversation he gave Luke the means to apply for something called a provincial nomination. This was something we had heard about but never thought we'd get. Before you know it we had a provincial nomination. This gave us a few extra points....We now had 1000 points!!! We didn't see that one coming!!

We were soon selected to apply for permanent residency but were also advised to apply for a temporary work permit as it can take at least 6 months for a permanent residency application to be processed. The current processing time for the work permit was 5 weeks. Great! We started getting things in order. I cracked on with getting Josh signed up for a Christian school in Winnipeg. God saved a space for him that's for sure! From kindergarten right through to grade 12, the grade Josh will be going into was the only one which wasn't full! It dawned on me though that because we weren't permanent residents yet we may have to pay the international student rate for this school - roughly $8000 more than a local student per year!! Painful, but I really felt this was where Josh had to go. I requested clarity on this fee and praise the Lord we were offered a local student rate - saving us the extra $8000!! Phew!

In the meantime we undergo all the checks and procedures required for our applications and we are creeping closer to the 5 weeks then we suffer a frustrating blow. The processing time for the work permit increases. Again and again and again it increases. I Google around only to find other people have been in the same situation and some people have had to wait over 20 weeks for their work permit!

Now we're feeling deflated. It's got to happen! God has brought us this far! Surely it can't all fall through now! Is the company in Winnipeg willing to wait this long for Luke to start his new job? His interview was in February...It's now June!!

Luke does some Googling and we find out we can apply for the work permit he needs at the first airport we get to in Canada. Great! One problem...what if they say no? 

We prayed about this big time. It was a big risk. We'd be getting rid of all our stuff in the UK, car gone, house on the market, Josh pulled out of school. We needed it to work. Luke got all his documents in order and we did it. We took a leap of faith and booked the flights! 

That weekend there was a word given in church that someone was about to take a risk. But with God involved there is no risk, it's just part of the journey! That offered some comfort!

The following week was a whirlwind of selling stuff, cleaning, packing and goodbyes. The day we left soon came around! The flight was 2 hours late and our Duracell baby was restless and all go. Our prayers were very different at this point. I was praying "God please get me through this flight with this wriggly 17 month old". Luke was praying "Lord help me to convince the border officer we're legitimate and have good intentions!" 

It was tough but we made it through the flight. And we made it through all the waiting around in the airport when Duracell baby, who only grabbed 45 minutes of sleep on the plane, still refused to sleep in the waiting room while Luke was dealing with the border service agents.

Luke wandered over and I was just expecting to get a bit of an update on how it was all going and say we have to wait now for something or other but that's not what happened. Enter God and his many miracles again! We arrived at the airport expecting to get either a 6 month work permit for Luke or at worst, get sent back home. Luke came and told me "We're in! We both have work permits that will last for 2 years!!" I was gobsmacked! God totally blew me away with how he was carving a firm pathway for us, not just allowing us to scrape through but showing how, with Him, anything is possible and he wanted what was best for us. It really dawned on me that we were going through a time of God just wanting to bless us!

It felt so good leaving the airport and entering Canada. It was surreal for sure! We spent a night at a hotel in Toronto then flew onto Winnipeg the following day. Cue the next blessing...

We arrive at our airbnb only to find that the family we are staying with for 3 weeks are a Christian family who's son is a similar age to ours. Our son Josh and his new friend got on really well and his parents were lovely people. 

The day after we arrived in Winnipeg we visited Joshes new school. Again, we were totally blown away. We attended their morning worship session and the way they prayed, spoke and worshipped really brought tears to my eyes. I couldn't believe our son was going to attend a place like this and that God had chosen it for him!

While we were in the office a lady came in. She would normally be at work at this time but had to swing by the school to collect something. The staff in the office quickly put two and two together. We were from the was this lady! A brief introduction was had, we exchanged contact details and before you know it we'd struck up a friendship! They invited us to their place for our first weekend. We chatted lots. They got a BBQ on the go while Josh took full advantage of their swimming pool. They found out I played guitar at the church we attended back in the UK and we ended up taking a guitar back to our airbnb. Turns out they had one which wasn't being used and wanted us to make use of it. I'm now wondering what God wants me to do with this guitar! Is there a plan about to unfold or is it just for me and Him to hang out together? Time will tell!

After our 3 week stay at our airbnb we moved into our new apartment and God sent people our way to help us move and one family blessed us with a kitchen-full of crocs, pots and pans, cutlery, towels and bedding. Thank you Lord! And Lord bless that family! The people we have crossed paths with here really are lovely and I know God has been in it and with us all the way.

It really feels like God has just wanted to bless us and show us a snippet of the beauty He has created. Like a grandparent will take full advantage of treating their grandchild for the day when they have them! 

We are still in the settling phase of our move and we still have milestones to reach but we can approach them confidently - knowing He has brought us this far and will continue to lead us into the new lives He wants us to lead here for His glory.

Thank you Lord for preparing such a wonderful journey for us and for taking our hands and walking us through it!

Samantha Tarplin

Saturday 10 August 2019

Walking in God's Grace - Part 1.

Then it came to me - KEEP GOD AT THE CENTRE OF IT ALL!

This is my testimony of how God has worked in our lives over the past year for us. Don't get me wrong, God is always working in our lives but he has beautifully orchestrated the past year for us and without Him we certainly wouldn't be where we are now!

About a year ago, my husband (Luke) and I decided we were going to move to Canada with our 2 children Josh and Elijah. Something we had always wanted to do since we got married was move to another country. Now seemed like the right time to do it.

Not really knowing where to start, we spent hours looking into how we go about doing this. We found out Canada immigration is done on a points based system. Surprise surprise we didn't have enough points. There were, however, some things we could do to improve this and reach our goal of about 450 points. This was roughly the minimum amount we needed to start making our way through the immigration process.

So firstly, we made sure we renewed our passports - fairly important! Then we each took a language test to prove we could speak English. Sounds easy enough when English is your first language but the test lasted just over half a day and seemed as though it was designed to catch you out. You really had to be on the ball! I couldn't believe I was nervous!! God's presence was really noticeable on test day. When the time came we just got on with it and both Luke and I scored high. 

Our language scores bumped our points up but it still wasn't enough. We still needed around another 50 points. We seemed to have 2 options - Luke finds a job in Canada which would give us the extra 50 points or he studies a course over there for about 4 years which would give us more than enough points upon returning to the UK once the course is complete.

Both options posed a problem. It's hard to secure a job in a different country when the employer knows they will then have to wait at least 6 months for us to complete the immigration process before Luke could start work. If Luke studied over there, the pressure on us financially would be massive and the environment we and the kids would be in had the possibility of being turbulent. 

I personally wouldn't be able to work for a while since our youngest son was 10 months old at that point. So the pressure was really on Luke to make it work for us financially. 

We prayed about the situation and pushed both doors. We asked God to firmly close the door on any routes He didn't want us to go down.

Luke found a course at a university in a small city called Brandon in the province of Manitoba. It seemed promising though we knew this route would be long and hard. At the same time Luke looked for work online.

I knew I needed to help but I wasn't sure how to, as Luke's work is quite complicated. Then it came to me - KEEP GOD AT THE CENTRE OF IT ALL! The only thing I could think of was to contact churches in Canada, tell them our story and ask them if they knew of any companies in Luke's field who are hiring. I started in Alberta, googled churches and emailed what must have been all the churches in Alberta. Then I moved along to the next province, Saskatchewan, and did the same thing. This was quite a lengthy process and I only had the occasional response - all of which were a no goer. Having spent a few days doing this I planned to spend one final day sending out emails. After the rough night I had with the baby though it was so tempting to just go for a nap myself when I put him down for his daytime sleep. This is my only free time in the day and if I had a sleep I would be sacrificing that opportunity to send out another batch of emails to churches, this time in the province of Manitoba. 

Making Joshes school lunch through bleary, tired eyes I was trying to decide what I'll do later in the day - catch up on much needed sleep or send more emails. Just then I heard Josh coming downstairs. I said to myself "if by some miracle he's dressed in his school uniform I'll sacrifice my nap and send out that final batch of emails". I couldn't believe it! He was dressed! You wouldn't believe how much nagging it usually took before he'd get dressed!! I knew there and then I had to send out emails in the day and results were going to be had!

Baby Elijah's nap time came and off I went spamming all the local churches in Manitoba. I couldn't believe it! I didn't have to wait long before I got the reply we were waiting for "I believe this place in Winnipeg is hiring". I checked out their website and got so excited. I knew this was the one! I knew Luke would fit right in! 

To cut a very long story down a bit, Luke caught there attention with some doughnuts and was invited for an interview!

Our 2 options were both now very real. Interestingly, in the vast expanse of Canada, the cities of Brandon and Winnipeg were only about 120 miles away from each other! We knew we were in the right area. We just weren't  sure which door led to where God wanted us. We really didn't want to get it wrong!

Luke did well at his interview in Canada  and upon his arrival back to the UK it seemed to take forever to hear a definite result. It was a yes! But this would still only give us just enough points to scrape through.

One morning, I was in the car with a friend who had no knowledge of our plans to move. Driving past a new housing estate that was in the middle of being built just down the road from us he said jokingly "thinking of moving?" To which I replied "yes actually! But not there!" He quickly responded with "Australia? Manitoba?" I couldn't help but laugh with surprise! I hadn't even heard of Manitoba before our little adventure began and of all the places in the world it was the second one he mentioned! That was more confirmation that we were in the right area and God is still in it with us. Funnily enough...Australia was our plan B!!

Both Luke and I knew a decision had to be made between our 2 options at some point. We both felt quite unsettled about the university in Brandon option so we decided to cancel the application for the study permit.

Hopefully, now we had a job offer, it wouldn't be too long before we were selected to apply for the permanent residency application. We seemed to have skimmed our way through. This is where God went from gently leading us to really going above and beyond our expectations and really paving a way for us!.........(To be continued next week).

Samantha Tarplin

Sunday 4 August 2019

Faith is infinitely more valuable than gold

 God is just amazing and he always answers prayer. The answers may not always come in the way we want but we just have to trust that God is always working things out for the good of everyone. Amen.

 Psalm 107:28 Then they cried to the lord in their distress and he delivered them.

 I would like to share a couple of short but very powerful testimonies about the power of prayer.

 About 10 years ago I dropped something off at my brother’s house.  My sister in law opened the door and we chatted for about 10 minutes. When I left I pulled my car over and I prayed to God because I felt something was wrong. The Lord said to me to go back and ask her if she was okay. I said to God that I felt a little uncomfortable knocking the door after I had only just left there. But God insisted and said “go back’. I went back and when my sister in law opened the door I felt a little embarrassed and just said ‘have you been praying about something?’ My sister in law burst into tears and took from her pockets evidence of desperate prayers. I asked her what was wrong and she told me that in 30 minutes bailiff’s were coming to her house and she had to have a certain amount of money ready for them and her husband (my brother) did not know about the debt they were in.  My daughter and myself went to the bank and by God’s wonderful Grace and provision we raised enough funds to cover what the bailiff’s were asking for, praise God. When we took it back to her she cried harder than the first visit and she worshipped God right there and then. On the evening she told her husband all about it because of God’s goodness she did not want to be dishonest and her husband was really understanding and a few months later they got themselves back on track financially.  To God be all the Glory Amen.

 The second testimony about the power of prayer also took place about 10 years ago when my daughter was 19 years old. My daughter had just purchased a £900 car, which was a HUGE sum of money to her at that time. She loved her car and gave God all the Praise and Glory for His wonderful provision.  My daughter had the car just a few days when she went to the pub to pick her cousin up. To my daughter’s horror, when they came out of the pub her car had been set on fire and was ablaze. My daughter immediately phoned me really upset and she said as soon as she put the phone down she prayed and while she was still in prayer about 20 young lads came out of the pub and risked their lives to put the fire out. 

 The car was cosmetically damaged but could still be driven with the windows down as they where completely blacked out from the fire. That night my daughter prayed and she asked God, ‘what am I to learn from this?’ She never once asked God ‘why’ she just accepted the situation and even though she was upset she still had peace, Praise God. The next morning her uncle came down and went to the scrap yard with her father to try to repair the damage, they managed to get rear seats that where a different colour and seat belts and all the other things that were needed. The bill by God’s amazing grace was only £80. By 12pm the car was ready to drive even though it did still smell of fire damage. Then, shortly after 12pm my daughter got a phone call from her cousin, the one she had picked up the night before, informing her that someone in the pub knew the gang of youths that set the car on fire and one of them was a relative to my daughter’s cousin’s boyfriend. By 2pm (less than 24 hours since the incident) my daughter’s CD player and all her CD’s (that had been stolen) where returned to her and she was offered whatever sum of money to rectify the damage that had been caused. My daughter said that the bill was £80 just the amount she had paid.

 My daughter believes the lesson was not for her but for the gang that had set the car on fire. By God’s Grace and mercy they were given a fair chance because my daughter loves God and so showed them amazing compassion and mercy even though they had set fire to her beloved car for no other reason than just pure vandalism. Only God knows what seed He has sown by the power of the Holy Spirit living in my daughter by God’s Grace. Amen.

 God is just amazing and he always answers prayer. It may not always come in the way we want but we just have to trust that God is always working things out for the good of everyone. I have been praying every single day for the last 21 years for reconciliation for my brother and his 3 children but as yet that has not happened but I know with all my heart God has it all in hand. 

 1 Peter:6-7 ‘At present you may be temporarily harassed by all kinds of trails. This is no accident. It happens to prove your faith which is infinitely more valuable than gold’

Author: Christina O’Neill 

May God bless and enrich your life

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