Monday, March 11, 2013

WORD OF THE DAY - MONDAY 11 March 2013 Montgomery, AL

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, (Deuteronomy 30:19 ESV)
Во свидетели пред вами призываю сегодня небо и землю: жизнь и смерть предложил я тебе, благословение и проклятие. Избери жизнь, дабы жил ты и потомство твое, (Второзаконие 30:19 Russian) 

Almighty God, our dear Father in heaven ~ we rejoice again on this new day as we consider the mysterious and expensive gift of what we call life, and yet we hardly comprehend what it means to really live. We are very grateful that you love us and by your grace, make it possible for us to love others with your pure love. Give us wisdom and good conscience, so that we make proper choices that will result in a life full of faith, love, hope, joy, extravagantly good deeds and peace in the Spirit as we consider the wonders of our salvation in Christ. In the precious name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

 Our good friend Natalia is one of our WEI advanced students, and she is enjoys photography. She was at the worship service yesterday in Nikolaev and sent these great pictures this morning.
We were very pleasantly surprised to see that Lilia, another of our WEI students was at the worship service. This was a real joy to see and we regret that we were not there for her first visit to one of our services. Sometimes people find fault with us that we spend too much time teaching English in our mission work. Somehow they see it as an alternative to teaching the Gospel. That is so far from reality. First of all, we meet so many of the nicest people in the city. Second, when students study English with us using the WEI course, they are learning the message of the Bible from A - Z. Moreover, as a preacher of the Gospel, I make certain they learn about God's plan of redemption that offers reconciliation to people who will obey the gospel message. What is wrong with that?

Denis Petrov was the guest preacher yesterday at the Nikolaev Church of Christ. Nikolay Gagarkin was present yesterday also. Since he now lives and works from his office in Kiev, we only see him in Nikolaev once or twice a year. He is the one who invited us to Nikolaev in 2009 after some brothers in Kiev suggested it to us. We continue to see the providence of God in helping us find this important city from which to do our work for the Lord. We are so very thankful for the long trip that Denis made to help spread the gospel message and encourage the church.

Doug Smith did another outstanding job of preaching a message from God's word at the Dalraida Church of Christ yesterday. He challenged everyone to follow Christ in the way we teach others and the way we live what we teach.
After we spent some time visiting with various people who were almost as delighted as we were to see so many of our family members with us at worship service yesterday, we went to a restaurant here in Montgomery and feasted on Asian food and visited some more.

 Following that big feast, some wanted a nap and a few of us wanted to walk off the big lunch. Adelaide joined us in a nice long walk at a park here in Montgomery.  We were able to show her the difference between male and female ducks. It was a most enjoyable afternoon!
Grandfather and Adelaide tried to outrun Grandmother Galina, the paparazzi.
Near the end of our walk we paused at another lake and enjoyed some more birds and people walking by.

After the evening worship service, we drove up into the foothills of the Appalachian Mountain range that begins near Montgomery. We were invited to the home of our dear friends Bob and Faye McKee. Bob is one of the elders at Dalraida and has been involved with missions to Russia a year longer than I have - 21 years. We always have so many notes to compare, but mostly we just enjoyed their company.

The Sipper family was also invited and we enjoyed getting to know their two very bright and curious boys as they ran up and down the stairs trying to check everything out.
Bob enlisted the help of the more youthful Josh to move some furniture downstairs and put it in his truck. There were actually two pieces of furniture and I joked with Bob that he made the guest earn their food. We enjoyed our evening and drove home with a beautiful view of Montgomery from the high bluff. Thank you for the fervent prayers regarding our mission work and the human efforts going on around the world to teach the truth in love.

Monday, February 4, 2013

WORD OF THE DAY - Monday 04 February 2013 from Nikolaev, Ukraine

For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord.
So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. (Romans 14:8 ESV)

а живем ли--для Господа живем; умираем ли--для Господа умираем: и потому, живем ли или умираем, --всегдаГосподни. (К Римлянам 14:8 Russian)

Бо коли живемо для Господа живемо, і коли вмираємо для Господа вмираємо. І чи живемо, чи вмираємо ми Господні! (Римляни 14:8 Ukrainian)

如果我活着主活着如果我死去也是主而死。不是死,都属于主 (   14:8 Chinese ERV-ZH)

Dear loving God, our merciful Father in heaven ~ we want to thank you on this new day, for all the spectacular evidence contained in every corner of the universe, that distinctively points to your creative genius and power. As followers of Jesus Christ, grant us more wisdom, so that we will have the ability to discern that we belong to Christ our master who leads us by his perfect Spirit inspired word. We pray in the precious name of Jesus, Amen. 

In an attempt to make the best possible use of the extremely rare and valuable commodity of time, I put the following information with each photo that I placed on Facebook. The following will serve as my report of the day. 

*Nothing seems to keep the hawkers from showing and selling their wares each Sunday in front of where the church meets. At least they regularly see our large sign.

*Our three boys actually arrived early yesterday and brought a guest.

*Six year old Snezhanna has been begging her older brother Vitaly to let her come to the Sunday morning Bible class. She was very happy to be part of the group and did her best to keep up with the boys. She shed big tears after the worship and fellowship period that she had to leave. “I don't want to leave church, can I stay just chyut-chyut" - a little bit. Galina later spoke to her Mama who said Snezhanna was very excited when she got home.

*The boys told Snezhanna how to take their picture after the class. Vitalik, Zhenya, Dima

*Singing is always the way to end the class. Their favorite, Jesus Loves Me - Russian or English

*Our sister Elena greeted Galina when she arrived.

*You notice three new faces among the group. Robin, Tin and A jie are students from China who study at the local Shipbuilding University. Our friend Olga who studied in our WEI campaign in 2011 suggested to Robin that he study with us. He brought two friends.

*We first helped the students become acquainted with the WEI course and registered them as on-line students so they can study with us while we are in the USA for 90 days.

*We tried to apologize to Stepan for ignoring him with the  new students, but he said that is very important to teach them. He has such a wonderful attitude all the time even when he feels worn out.

*DB is demonstrating the meaning of repentance as change of direction as well as regretting sin.

*These wonderful new friends paid rapt attention as I shared the gospel.

*Galina gave our new young friends written instructions on how to get back to their dormitory by bus. Later in the evening, we heard from Robin and Tin. We realized as we thought about them, that they are the same age as our grandson Drew who studies in the second year at Oklahoma Christian University. These young folks from China have not been home since they arrived in the fall of 2011. They will be allowed to visit home this summer and will return for another two years in the fall. We will have them a little while – God willing, when we return her in May. They jokingly said that since their English is so bad, that they will need more than two years with us. Actually, their written English is good, and they mostly need help with hearing and speaking. Don’t we all!

*At the end of another long and productive Sunday, we were very pleased that we could walk home on sidewalks almost free of snow and ice. The side of the street in the shade was not so nice.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

WORD OF THE DAY - Saturday 26 January 2013 from Mykolaiv, Ukraine

We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." (John 6:69)

и мы уверовали и познали, что Ты Христос, Сын Бога живаго. (От Иоанна 6:69 Russian)

Ми повірили в Тебе, ми знаємо, що Ти — Божий Святий». (Йоан 6:69 Ukrainian)

Most holy, righteous, merciful and gracious God, our dear heavenly Father ~ we give our most sincere thanks on this new day for our very lives and most of all for your mercies that never end. Grant us deeper wisdom as we seek to be more effective in telling others about Christ Jesus our Lord in a more convincing manner so that people will learn how to believe and obey the Savior, our sustaining Bread of Life, in order to obtain forgiveness of sins and eternal life. We fervently pray in the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

 Yesterday morning the snow began to fall and continued all through last night. It was a very welcome and beautiful sight except for the times when we were walking and the winds were blowing and the snow was drifting. It reminded me of back when I preached on my daily radio program from Crookston, Minnesota a few decades ago, a DJ who signed me on, would also give the weather and he loved to say the snow was "blowing and drifting in the valley". 
After we made it safely to our bus stop, we flagged down a marshrutka and had our usual interesting ride to the church meeting place. We had just taken off our coats, and in walked a surprise visitor. Our good friend Igor Mykhalchyshyn, a very bright goal oriented young man who completed our WEI Advanced course stopped by just to pay us a visit. We always enjoy learning about the next hurdles he intends to cross. We call him the President of Ukraine and have no doubt that if he continues to work at the same pace, he can achieve that or other important goals in his life.
Because of the heavy snows and strong winds, several of our students called to cancel. When it came time for our students Julia and Nastya to arrive, and it was almost twenty minutes past their time, and they didn't call, we were concerned about them, but suddenly they walked in the door huffing and puffing, shaking the snow off. These wonderful young women whom we met at the University are stellar examples of good students. Most importantly, they are learning so many valuable lessons from the Bible - the most important book in the world. As we continue through the World English Institute course, they improve their English - which is already sharp, as we discuss their deep questions and thoughts. 
Since Nastya and Julia arrived late, we were only halfway into their lesson when one of our other very bright students arrived. Andrei has completed the seven lessons in Book One - which doesn't mean anything the Internet teachers, but it is the first important milestone for our students who look us in the eye as we study about English and the Lord our God. As usual, these bright stars like to fully discuss the deeper meaning of Biblical texts that form the basis of our WEI studies. 
We had other things to accomplish at the "office" before we could head for home in the evening. We are so very thankful to God that our meeting place is warm this year since the head over the property agreed to put the thick plastic sheeting over the windows. It was already dark, but still snowing lightly when we walked over to the bus stop.
This morning, we just learned that we will not be able to visit the Boys Home due to the weather. We called Natasha who lives out on the same peninsula near the Boys Home, and her husband could not even get out to work. The snow drifts are very high around some parts of the city. We agreed that Svetlana, the secretary to the Director, will stop by our office tomorrow afternoon and pick up the duffle bag we purchased for Dima who will be moving to another facility next week.
 Thank you for continuing to remember us in prayer.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

WORD OF THE DAY - Thursday 17 January 2013

David B. & Natasha M.
but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. (James 3:8)
а язык укротить никто из людей не может: это--неудержимое зло; он исполнен смертоносного яда. (Иакова 3:8 Russian)

та не може ніхто із людей язика вгамувати, він зло безупинне, він повний отрути смертельної! (Яков 3:8 Ukrainian)

Most kind and dear loving Father in heaven ~ please accept our sincere praise from our hearts and lips on this new day. Grant us at least a small part of the wisdom of Christ so that we will remember that your Spirit is living within us, and pause before uttering a harsh, unkind, vague or misleading word that will surely bring much harm. Help us to be known for sound speech that always leaves people we speak with the impression that we are doing our best to follow Christ as Lord. We humbly pray in Jesus name, Amen.
Wednesday of this week was another busy and enjoyable day in the Lord's service here in Nikolaev. We had another productive Bible study with the young man who is seeking more knowledge of God's word. After he and his wife left, our WEI Advance student Natalia M. came for her study in the book New Life. She continues to grow in her understanding of God's plan for all people through Jesus Christ the Son. In the early evening, we had eight in attendance for our Wednesday Bible study. We also said our temporary goodbyes to David Ciolkosz, our brother who is returning to Tennessee today from Kiev. As we had a few minutes during the day, we studied with our new brother Sergei. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement!
Galina B. translates as David C. leads prayer

Galina, Natalia M., Natasha M., Sergei P., David C., Nastya M., Tatyana B. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

WORD OF THE DAY - Monday 14 January, 2013

 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. (John 2:11)
Так положил Иисус начало чудесам в Кане Галилейской и явил славу Свою; и уверовали в Него ученики Его. (От Иоанна 2:11 Russian)

Такий початок чудам зробив Ісус у Кані Галілейській, і виявив славу Свою. І ввірували в Нього учні Його. (Йоан 2:11 Ukrainian)

Great and glorious God, our dear heavenly Father ~ we approach your dazzling presence on this new day, that is certain to arrive with even more signs that we are loved beyond comparison with any earthly love known to any of your creatures. Thank you for sending the very best of heaven or earth, to rescue us from the dreary darkness of sin. Give us wisdom to more fully appreciate the enormous power that our glorious Christ demonstrated while on this earth, so that we will be filled with awe and wonder as we follow our precious Savior as Lord. We pray in the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

We had twelve who came for worship yesterday on a really cold day here in southern Ukraine. It is now minus 15 C this morning and cold in our apartment. Not just to say just ours, but all such apartments in general. We have definitely been colder in Magadan and our hearts always go out to our dear family there. However, this is our coldest day in Nikolaev so far this winter. 
We had complications getting Stepan a ride to worship. Finally, we had to hire a taxi and go get him. When we arrived to our church meeting place, we had several people waiting for us. Of course, Natasha is always there first. Yesterday, David Ciolkosz and Nastya were both present for worship. They stayed around for our time of tea, snacks and becoming better acquainted. Later, we took them to a little place that specializes in Southwestern US dishes. We ordered chili and they got chili and a burrito. Mostly we enjoyed spending time with them. Later, they caught a bus to the City Center where they were going to hang out for a while.  We braved the cold night air as we walked several blocks home to our apartment. Even though you think you are going to freeze right in your tracks, it is always better to winterize yourself by getting out in the elements. 
We are very thankful for your prayers and other encouragement of this work and other mission works to tell the world about Jesus Christ our Lord.