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Progress … (June 2018 Update)

Progress … (June 2018 Update)

In 1 Timothy 4:15, Paul tells Timothy, “Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all” (Christian Standard Bible, Holman). He is speaking about the importance of developing and using the spiritual gifts that God had given to Timothy.  Progress is essential to the Christian life — If we are not growing, we are actually slipping back. While this is most important spiritually, it is also important in every area of our lives.

If anything could describe this last month, it would be the idea of progress. This month has been a difficult one but thankfully, not as tough as last month!  In every area, we have see much progress — hopefully, our spiritual progress however, will be most evident to those around us. (more…)

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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. (more…)

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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…. (more…)

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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. (more…)

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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. (more…)

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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. (more…)

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Here I Stand … (October 2017 Update)

October 31, 2017 will mark the 500th Anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation.  It was on October 31, 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenburg, Germany.  His theses started the debates that would lead to the Reformation and ultimate separation from the Church in Rome. His goal was not separation but reformation.  He wanted to bring the church back to its doctrinal foundations found in the Bible alone.  The Roman Church had grown so corrupt and powerful that something needed to be done.  Luther’s 95 Theses began the Reformation.

Ultimately the reformation of the Roman Church failed and a conflict ensued between the Protestants (protesters) and the Roman authorities.  At the Diet of Worms (1521), the break with the Roman Church was finalized when Luther refused to recant his teachings.  At the tribunal to convict him of heresy, Luther stated:

“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason…. I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one’s conscience is neither safe nor sound. Here I stand. I can do no other. So help me God. Amen.”

So Luther stood only on the Word of God and the Reformation continued. Luther’s stance, along with many others who joined him, resulted in the separation of the church into Roman Catholic and Protestant.  It resulted in a return to the Word of God as our sole authority. It returned to the doctrine of salvation by faith alone.

This Reformation has changed the map of history, but more importantly, it has changed the lives of many people who came to see that Christ’s death was sufficient for them, apart from the traditions and rituals of the church.  Churches and missionaries around the world minister on the same basis as Luther did in 1517: Our conscience is captive to the Word of God.  We are here in Ukraine for this one reason: to teach the Word of God to ministers in Ukraine so that they too might have consciences bound to God’s Word alone.  So, while we miss our homes and families in the states, we can say with Luther, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God.  Here I stand, I can do no other. So help me God!”  Thank you for standing with us so that the gospel of His grace might be spread to the people of Ukraine and the former Soviet Republics! (more…)

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