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Archive for the ‘Ministry’ Category

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s part one, here’s part two.

I am thinking tonight that perhaps my resolution to this issue will come through thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a wonderful way to enter into humility, turn one’s heart toward forgiveness, and begin to love.

So I thank God that He loves our church in Ukraine. That He worked specifically to bring each person  to Himself and into His house. That He is fulfilling His promise to bring to completion the good work He’s started in each one of us.

I thank God that He uses our sins to show us who we really are–and He doesn’t forsake us, but uses it for our good, to understand Him better and make us closer Christ-followers. And I ask for each of us, that we would have the courage to not shrink back from seeing and acknowledging our sins, without excuses.

I thank God that He has chosen not to remove these people from our church. That He will bless me through them. That I don’t have to live in suspicion toward them, but I can live in love towards them. This is the will of God for me. He will work in me a non-hypocritical, devoted, honoring love for each person. (Romans 12:9-10)

I thank God that He will do this miracle work in me, and even more than I can think to ask.

But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord;

I will wait for the God of my salvation.

My God will hear me.

Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy.

Though I fall, I will rise;

Though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me.

Micah 7:7-8

 

 

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So I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this. It’s time. And I was drawn to the verse:

Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. (Ps. 119:165)

This whole question is something I’m stumbling over, so … where am I not loving God’s law?

I don’t normally struggle with forgiving personal offences, but I think I am dealing with a long-standing unforgiveness with people in my church. A bitterness that has taken root and shows itself in cynicism and lack of feeling.

It was awful last night as I was trying to pray about this and figure out what is wrong with me. I couldn’t get my mind out of accusing thoughts. And I finally just had to beg God to do something because my own thinking was getting nowhere. That’s when I saw the bitterness. And I started forgiving. It’s still not done yet because my first reactions are still to go mentally to all those accusing thoughts.

But I’m thinking about the Law, how to be changed by loving it, and how to apply it to these thoughts. How to put the thoughts of the Law into my head in place of these satanic thoughts.

So I’ve been thinking about how the law is full of mercy. That the whole sacrificial system was part of the law, was commanded–and all this pointed to Christ’s sacrifice that pleased and satisfied God toward our sins.

Because if I and these people in my church—if we all had to stand before God’s righteousness, I would be crushed just as much as they would.

But it’s hard, honestly, to give mercy but not trust. But doesn’t God do that for us? He gives us mercy, His compassions are new for us every morning. He is faithful to us, even when we only reach His standard in Christ, never of ourselves.

I was thinking about Christ forgiving the woman caught in adultery. Christ fulfilled the law. He was doing the specific will of God in that act of forgiveness.

That’s as far as I have gotten for now.

“Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord

And to the house of the God of Jacob,

That He may teach us about His ways

And that we may walk in His paths.”

For even from Zion will go forth the law,

Even the word of the Lord from Jerusalem

Micah 4:20

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board meeting

Our mission agency had their annual Board meeting and brunch. Vitaliy and I attended.

We helped by hanging the icicle lights earlier.

It was a really special time together. Several missionaries gave short reports, and we ate together. It was great getting to know some of the Titus leadership.

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These cupcakes were the centerpieces, and they were so delicious, too!

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We had a lovely and touching time. Very encouraging! Very thankful.

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There are several Oaks of Rightousness at our rehab center now.

More are in the making.

Ruslan and Vitaliy are talking a lot more now that we live here. It’s a challenging life, and we’re really thankful for Ruslan. It’s hard to believe that he also was once a rehabilitant! He’s an oak of righteousness now. DSCN5808

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Vitaliy’s never struck me as the guy to write a life purpose, but he has one.

DSCN5636Here is the translation:

Purpose of Life
I strive to see the world through the eyes of God and strive to make the main thing for myself only that which is important for God,
namely to reach the unreached.

I am blessed in order to bless.

For me there is nothing better than to win back the captured enemy’s territory, taking it back under the authority of Christ. I passionately desire, act and work so the name of Jesus reaches the ends of the earth, so it becomes known and available to every nation, ethnic and social group, so that Christ, in this way, receives worthy glory for His suffering.

To achieve this, I do not see any obstacles, but trusting all entirely to God, confidently know that every apparent obstacle is a unique opportunity for the name of Christ to be magnified more.

May Your name be glorified in all the earth, God!!!

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Vitaliy says the most interesting things sometimes.

You know, one of the aspects of his personality that he has a hard time with is that it’s hard for him to just chat with people. There’s a lot to be said for being able to chat with people. But he really struggles with it.

The flip side of this is that he is an extremely serious thinker. I might think in a year what he thinks in a day, and only because he told me what he was thinking.

?

My point.

Yes, there was a story in here somewhere.

Oh yes. …. So I’ve been doing a little summer Sunday School with the church kids b/c the regular SS is taking a 2-month break. And I see all the young moms standing around outside with us during the service with their little kids swarming all over the sunny steps of the House of Culture we rent for our services.

Our church went through a wild change very fast. It used to be a church of mainly unmarried youth. But of course, they up and married each other, so we have a gaggle of young moms who are now busy running after little kids, breastfeeding, disciplining, worrying about allergies, pregnant, pregnant again, …. yada yada.

It’s easy to get whiplash going from a young gal involved in ministry to a mom who can’t put 2 minutes together to save her life, much less think about ministry. Remember Titus 2. The list for “young [married] women” is like twice as long than for any other category of people addresssed in that chapter.

It’s like a little clue now, isn’t it.

So …. getting around to that interesting conversation. That I had recently with Vitaliy.

I say: I think some of the moms have a hard time feeling involved in church b/c they can’t really do much ministry right now.

(Going on in my mind: My own searching wonderings about what I’m supposed to be doing in church; a young mom saying to me recently that she doesn’t feel involved in church …)

Vitaliy says (not exact quote, but the general idea): Let them be busy with their kids and home. It’s what they need to be doing right now. … It’s a test. Just being busy with ministry can cover up a spiritual emptiness inside, even to that person. So it’s good for anyone to just put ministry aside for a time and check what’s really in his heart toward God–to see if there’s a substantial relationship there and not just a vapor of ministry activity.

… Selah.

And I smiled. And I became ponderful.

And i released my little struggle trying to force-start, think up some kind of ministry to get involved in.

And I think, after writing all this, that maybe it’s the time of just building personal friendships.

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DSCN4110Paul had instructed Titus to appoint elders in the churches in the area where he left him, so of course, he told him what kind of men to look for.

It’s long interested me how the elder’s “qualifications,” as we so strictly term them today, are often wrapped up in his wife.

It’s like, the elder candidate has to have an assumed unity of godliness with his wife.

Because how many wives could wreck this stuff:

  • having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion—in the final analysis our kids make their own choices. But what choices are we making, as their parents, while we have these childhood years in our hands?
  • For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward
  • not fond of sordid gain—not greedy—are you ready to be content and not nag about money? to not even worry? I have failed in this, for years even, so I won’t get on my high horse while I’m having a secure moment. But God is really working on me with this.
  • hospitable—this takes some investment and trust; some versions add “hospitable to strangers.” I think of this as not just having people over, but actually housing those who have real needs, financial or otherwise. I’m not good at this in some ways. Like it’s hard for me to cook and have friends over. But it’s pretty easy for me to open my doors for needy to live with us long-term. Want to think about how to more diligent in this though.
  • loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled …
  • holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching—going off on any weird tangents? what titillating doctrines are you amused with? is the pure Word enough, or do you need something a little different? exciting? controlling? prescriptive? or wild? and out there? Thinking about this myself.

These are questions I’m asking myself. Because Paul’s instructions are assuming that the elder’s wife is unified with him in these qualities.

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