Saturday, September 27, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Psa 29:10 The LORD sat as King at the flood; Yes, the LORD sits as King forever.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
But I also noticed a bit of frustration in him as well. He's driven, and that also can be an enemy when we are (or feel we are) "trapped" in a position that might be limiting at the moment. The secret in times like this is to simply be faithful, and allow God to promote us. I thought, as he translated for me, "this guy could do this himself....they don't need me." But he served well, and helped me with translation, questions from the class and understanding cultural issues as they related to some of the questions. Alexei is a very promising minister of the gospel....if he doesn't get too frustrated, if he can serve with a contented heart where he is now, if he doesn't get impatient.....if.....
Aren't we all in that place at times? The place called "if". If only we can serve where we are for the moment God can promote us, move us, help us, but there is always an if.
Potential is a funny thing....you can allow God to open the doors for your life and enjoy the odyssey or you can try to push them open yourself. What is God's plan for me? When will I get to use what I have learned? Why don't I get to do that? Why did they put someone else in the position that I can do? What does God want to do with me? What will we do? Will we trust God and rest or try to chart our own course?
I want to keep in touch with Alexei, I will be praying for him, I hope he can rest in God's plans for him......it will be very interesting to see what God does in his life, it will be very interesting to see what Alexei will do.....
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I finally got on the plane leaving Rome to go to Kiev....it had taken a while and I was tired. Luckily I got a seat near the front of the plane and in the three-seat row there were only two of us, me by the window and a nice looking middle aged woman on the isle with a seat between us. This would be a nice relaxing flight, but you know me by now...I had to ask, "So, where are you from and where are you going?" Now, remember, I'm in Europe. Most of the people around me do not speak English, and yet somehow I knew....She responded, "I'm from El Paso, Texas and I'm headed to an orphanage south of Kiev to get my daughter." Then she explained that she and her husband had been working for a long time to adopt a little girl from the Ukraine and all of the work and expense was finally over....she was going to the orphanage to get her daughter. Her husband had to fly back home, but she had stayed for the required month, and now was the day. In a few hours she would be a mom to a little girl. She told me they had three boys back home, and this little girl was an answer to their prayers. My ears perked up. Yes, she said, she is a Christian. This, for them, was the right thing to do, and so they have spent thousands of dollars and months of time to adopt this little 4 year old girl. I gave her my card, and asked that she send pictures when they got her. In response she pulled out her computer and said, "do you want to see pictures now?" What could I say? "Of course!" I responded, and looked at the hundreds of photos she had already taken.
Here are my thoughts as I reflect on this short encounter- This is normal for a Christian! This caring for others, helping those in crisis, reaching out to those who need....that's how we are designed...designed to imitate exactly what Christ did....living out the Christian life in the real world. It's a family spending thousands of dollars to adopt an orphan, or another person volunteering in a soup kitchen, or helping someone in need, visiting a nursing home, giving to a special need because of a storm, loving others with the very love of Christ. The Christian life lived out looks like this woman on a plane half way around the world going to adopt an orphan and raise her as her own. It's the very life of Christ lived out in the real world, and it's what makes the Christian life so real....giving of ourselves to meet the needs of others. It's the life of God lived out through our lives. It's found on an airplane heading from Rome to Kiev. It's all around you if you will take a moment to notice.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
We walked up four flights of stairs (why are all these apartments four flights up?) and knocked at the door of one of the apartments. The door opened and we were suddenly face to face with a friendly, smiling man named Victor, he is Volodia's pastor. Victor was our host for the night. He graciously invited these two strangers into his apartment and made us at home. (Yes, another two room apartment.)
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Let me start my thoughts on the last two weeks with a few comments on the body of Christ. What most strikes me, as I think about the trip to Ukraine, is how amazing the body of Christ...the church is. I mentioned a few posts back that a man named Volodia had contacted me more than 5 years ago simply asking to communicate by e-mail. We did, and become great friends, having never met, and then this trip came up and the one thing I had to do is contact my friend, Volodia. He insisted we have dinner at his house and spend an evening with his family. We did, and it was an amazing evening.
Like most in the old Russian republics they live in an apartment. It's a small, two room apartment in a 4th floor walk up...no elevators. When I say two rooms that's exactly what it is. There is a small bath and small kitchenette, but other than that....two rooms. It's just like other apartments I had been in while in Russia....a very typical home in this part of the world. Volodia and his wife, Ruslana, are raising their 4 children in this 2 room apartment. (So, no more whining from those of you who just don't have enough room in your 3 bedroom-two car garage homes, ok?) We fellowshiped in their living room-dining room-bedroom (see photo) and had a great dinner together. The food was very Russian, but good.
We had a great visit. Their kids are all wonderful and sweet children. We were like long lost uncles to them and were the recipients of dozens of stuffed toys that we had to see and hold. Their daughter, who is 13, is making jewelery and wanted to show us what she made. Danny and I both asked why she was making it. She said she wanted to earn some money of her own, and thought this would be a way to do that, so we both bought more than our share of her work. She was overjoyed. It was a wonderful evening with a part of our family we had never met....the family of God. These sweet people invited us into their small home, fed us a lot of food that they couldn't afford and made us feel like part of their family....and we are. We took a number of photos of the evening because it was so important. I will send copies to Volodia when I get back to the church so he can have copies. I know he will have them in his scrapbook within a few days. And, yes, we got to see their photo scrapbook too, just like any visiting family member should do!
This is the church...the body of Christ...being family. This is what Jesus meant when he told the disciples, "anyone who leaves family to follow me will have hundreds to replace them" (my paraphrase). And it's amazingly true. Now I will tell you...if you ever go to Kiev I have a place for you to eat dinner. He's a good friend of mine, and his family will make you part of their family....it's what the body of Christ does best.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
I think it's Monday, but I'm not sure anymore. I've lost track of where and when I am. But today I do know where, just not when. It's cold and rainy and I'm in Budapest with one of our missionaries and family, Danny & Becky Loe. I am looking forward to a day with Danny & Becky and will fly home tomorrow, whatever day that will be. The trip has been amazing and I will have stories and photos to share with you when I return. Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement. Other than normal traveling health issues it's been a great trip. I can't wait to tell you about it. See you in a few days.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Friday, September 05, 2008
Where will it go from here? I don't have to know that yet....that's up to God. What I've discovered, after having things like this happen over and over, is that God has a wonderful plan that may take years to unfold.
So, I'm thinking.....I wonder what God has in store for me next? I can't wait to find out.
I'm heading for the Ukraine on Sunday, and wanted to find a good book for the 23 hour trip. I was excited to find a copy of D'Souza's book, What's so great about Christianity. I'll give you a report when I get back. I do love a good book on apologetics and I've heard that D'Souza has done a great job with this book. It's big enough to take my mind off of the cramped seats and boring hours.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
As always, it's a crazy time as we near the date we elect a new president. There is always a lot of passion on both sides as we near election day. It is a time of uncertainty with terrorists trying to destroy us, radical countries trying to build atomic bombs, chaos in different places, difficult times at home, high prices and uncertainty about the economy....it's a time when you may be wondering "is anyone running this place?"
This morning, in my reading, I'm in Revelation. I love this book (do I say that about every book of the bible I read?) because it puts a finish to time and history. As Genesis opens the story with creation Revelation closes the story with the end of all things. Some look to this book for a guide to what will happen in the last days. There is some of that, but that's not the theme of the book. In fact, although John records end time events, he doesn't record them in a sequential order in a way you can track events as the end comes. It's not set up that way.
The key theme of the book is this one idea- there is a throne in heaven and God is sitting on it. In other words, there is a God in charge of everything. That's the message of the book. That's the great hope of the Christian. More than 30 times in Revelation the throne is mentioned and often, as John writes, there is an interlude in which we get a glimpse of the throne as if to ask, "is He still in charge?" and yes, the picture shows that God is still seated on the throne fully in charge. Here's one of the praises that I love from this book, it's such a reassuring song,
Rev 5:13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, "To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever."
Psalm 29:10 The LORD sat as King at the flood; Yes, the LORD sits as King forever.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Dubbed by some the Doomsday test, it will be carried out next week in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), located 300ft underground near the French-Swiss border.
The machine is 17 miles long and cost £4.4billion to create.
When its switch is pulled on September 10, this atom-smasher will become a virtual time machine, revealing what happened when the universe came into existence 14 billion years ago.
New particles of matter are expected to be discovered, new dimensions found beyond the four known, as scientists re-create conditions in the first BILLIONTHS of a second after the Big Bang."
2Pe 3:9 God isn't late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn't want anyone lost. He's giving everyone space and time to change.
2Pe 3:10 But when the Day of God's Judgment does come, it will be unannounced, like a thief. The sky will collapse with a thunderous bang, everything disintegrating in a huge conflagration, earth and all its works exposed to the scrutiny of Judgment.
2Pe 3:11 Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life?
2Pe 3:12 Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival. The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day--
2Pe 3:13 but we'll hardly notice. We'll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness.
2Pe 3:14 So, my dear friends, since this is what you have to look forward to, do your very best to be found living at your best, in purity and peace.
2Pe 3:15 Interpret our Master's patient restraint for what it is: salvation.