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Grateful for God’s Small Providences … (May 2018 Update)

I thought about titling this, “How a Nose Bleed Saved My Life.” But that would be like Jonah saying the plant protected his head when the Bible says, “God appointed a gourd.” The reality is that God’s small providences have a way of reminding us that He is in control. Continue Reading »

Colossians 1:10 is one of my favorite verses. Many times we are involved in doing good things that are not fruitful for the sake of God’s kingdom.  Often it is difficult to tell if our labors are fruitful in the present and we have to wait to see fruit in the future.  Sometimes God gives us a glimpse of fruitfulness even in the present.  But it should always be our desire, not just to do good works but to be fruitful in those good deeds.  So Paul prays for the Colossians: “that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” That is our prayer also – we have much to do, but most of all, we desire to walk worthy of the Lord and to please Him in every way.  But especially that we might be fruitful in our work.  

April is a time of preparation, getting things ready for the fruit that is to come.  Sometimes it seems like a lot of work without seeing fruit.  But every now and then, God gives glimpses of fruit for His kingdom in every good work.  Here are a few glimpses of our work in April.   Continue Reading »

A Time for Everything … (March 2018 Update)

March was a very busy month for teaching.  It began with grading papers from classes in February and ending with more papers to grade from my March classes (which will continue to come in until May!). Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Because I had so much to do last month, I often wondered if I would have time for everything.  But I was reminded time and time again that there is a season for everything that God gives us.  But most of all, I was motivated by Ephesians 5:16, “Make the most of your time, because the days are evil.”  I especially like the translation of this verse by J. B. Phillips: “Make the best use of your time, despite all the difficulties of these days. Don’t be vague but firmly grasp what you know to be the will of God.”  Though some days were exhausting, it is encouraging to be reminded our time must be guided by the will of God. Here are a few highlights from March…. Continue Reading »

The First Day of Spring? … (February 2018 Update)

In Ukraine, March 1st is considered to be the first day of Spring.  In ancient Ukrainian calendars, March 1st was celebrated as the New Year – the end of winter and the beginning of Spring.  Even today, people here still welcome it with some celebration and greeting each other.  But, in Ukraine, it is anything but Spring!  Just to remind us, March 1st greeted us with a foot of snow (on top of what we already had) and temperatures below 0 F!  But I know from living here the last 7 years that any real Spring weather is still about a month away (and we can even have snow in mid-May sometimes, like last year!).  Still, March 1st is a date that everyone in Ukraine looks forward too.  It is a reminder that winter is nearly over and that it is time to start getting prepared for Spring. Continue Reading »

Teaching and Admonishing … (February 2018 Update)

Last month, I traveled to Lviv, Ukraine to spend a week teaching theology sections at Ukrainian Baptist Seminary.  I had 57 students so my week was full – but my heart was fuller!  It was a great joy to be involved in teaching these leaders for the church of Ukraine.  I am reminded that teaching one another the Word of God is the task of every believer (though maybe not in the same way).  In Colossians 3:16, Paul tells us: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” What a joy it has been to be able to teach the Word here in Ukraine!  Here are some highlights from last month in our lives and ministry. Continue Reading »

As we move into 2018, we are ready for what the Lord will do through our ministry here in Ukraine this new year!  Each new year provides new opportunities and blessings beyond what we can even imagine.  In my class on prayer, students have a number of verses to memorize. My favorite is Ephesians 3:20-21: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” This is our confidence as we move into another year of serving the Lord in this ministry.  Here are a few praises from 2017 and some prayer requests for 2018. Continue Reading »

The Great Birthday

Charles Spurgeon

“The angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” — Luke 2:10

There is no reason upon earth beyond that of ecclesiastical custom why the 25th of December should be regarded as the birthday of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ any more than any other day from the first of January to the last day of the year; and yet some persons regard Christmas with far deeper reverence than the Lord’s day.  You will often hear it asserted that “The Bible and the Bible alone is the religion of Protestants,” but it is not so.  There are Protestants who have absorbed a great deal besides the Bible into their religion, and, among other things, they have accepted the authority of what they call “the Church” and by that door all sorts of superstitions have entered.  There is no authority whatever in the word of God for the keeping of Christmas at all, and no reason for keeping it just now except that the most superstitious section of Christendom has made a rule that December 25th shall be observed as the birthday of the Lord, and the church by law established in this land has agreed to follow in the same track.  You are under no bondage whatever to regard the regulation.  We owe no allegiance to the ecclesiastical powers which have made a decree on this matter, for we belong to an old-fashioned church which does not dare to make laws, but is content to obey them.

At the same time, the day is no worse than another, and if you choose to observe it, and observe it unto the Lord, I doubt not he will accept your devotion: while if you do not observe it, but unto the Lord observe it not, for fear of encouraging superstition and will-worship, I doubt not but what you shall be as accepted in the non-observance as you could have been in the observance of it.

Still, as the thoughts of a great many Christian people will run at this time towards the birth of Christ, and as this cannot be wrong, I judged it necessary to avail ourselves of the prevailing current and float down the stream of thought.  Our minds will run that way, and, because so many around us are following customs suggestive of it, therefore let us get what good we can out of the occasion.  There can be no reason why we should not, and it may be helpful that we should, now consider the birth of our Lord Jesus.  We will do that voluntarily which we would refuse to do as a matter of obligation: we will do that simply for convenience sake which we should not think of doing because enjoined by authority or demanded by superstition. Continue Reading »