A Plea for Prayer for our Russian Church Family in Kirovo-Chepetsk

Friends, I just read the following on the SGA website about my dear friends in Kirovo-Chepetsk, which is about a 14 hour train ride from Moscow.  This is the first church that partnered with in teaching in a Strategic Bible Institute.

We have received some troubling news from our brothers and sisters in the Russian city of Kirovo-Chepetsk. The local Fire Marshal has ordered the church building closed on the grounds that it does not meet fire code standards. The church is temporarily meeting in their new sports center instead of the main sanctuary.

According to Pastor Alexander Timofeyev, the Fire Marshal’s order lasts for 30 days, and is a type of “administrative punishment” for being out of compliance with the standards, which were recently changed. When the church building was constructed 15 years ago, it met the fire code in force at the time. Now, it appears the church is being required to proceed with expensive remodeling including widening of the church exits. The remodeling is expected to cost about $2,200.

The Grace Church congregation has been a dynamic powerhouse for church planting throughout the Kirovo-Chepetsk region.

The Kirovo-Chepetsk church is a faithful, strategic congregation that has proven their dedication and zeal in reaching their region for Christ. They have planted a significant number of daughter churches, and have expanded their outreaches to include sports ministry, and are planning to open a medical center. Please make this a matter of urgent prayer — for the resources needed to complete the required remodeling and to open the new medical facility, as well as for God’s ongoing blessing and anointing of the church’s ministries. Pray with us that the Lord will restrain those who would hinder the advance of the Gospel in Kirovo-Chepetsk.

So, I ask my friends to pray for God’s will and for a Christlike testimony to be present in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

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“Fed Up!”

“Fed Up” – At least that’s what I’m told happens when there is a mix up between FedEx and UPS.  Well, I am now officially a package handler for Federal Express.  I can honestly say that it is one of the hardest jobs – physically – that I have had to do in my entire life.  Unloading containers, lifting boxes up to 150 lbs, pushing around containers that are upwards of 4000 lbs and sweating like a dog are all part of this athletic vocation.

During my first week on the job I was talking to one of my fellow new hired employees who had just gotten out of the Army.  He told me that he felt like he was in boot camp again.  Well, it has been difficult on this 45 year old wimpy body of mine, but the soreness is beginning to diminish, thankfully, and I am beginning to apply the techniques that I am learning from helpful coworkers, and maybe next week I will be so fortunate as to receive my official uniform.

Although, for me, this is not a new career endeavor, but rather a “gap vocation” as I wait on God’s ministry direction for my life.  It is, nevertheless, an opportunity to serve and glorify Him.  I am amazed at the many lessons God is teaching me already.  Here is a list of ways I have contemplated this experience so far:

  • I have a greater appreciation for those who work in such physically demanding vocations.  They work exceptionally hard, often in very dangerous surroundings, and yet, they show up for Bible Study, Prayer meetings, Saturday work days, all while caring for the needs of their families.  They are God’s troopers!
  • Those who don’t know the Lord are real people who have sons, daughters, mortgages and personal struggles.  They appreciate kindness, interest in their families and a smiling face at work.  Most enjoy a healthy conversation, a word of encouragement and being accepted as they are for who they are.
  • Christians stick out!  On my first day at work I was introduced as the Preacher.  Well, that’s one way to get the cat out of the bag!  I am not sure if that was a warning to others or simply a respectful remark on the part of the Team Leader.  Either way, I am a marked man and I am very aware that eyes are on me to be consistent, honest and hard working.
  • Some companies truly care about their employees.  It is very clear to me that FedEx works hard at providing the proper protection, care and assistance needed to come alongside of their employees.  Now, certainly they demand a lot – precision on time cards, hustle, diligence, etc. – yet they are trying foster a healthy work environment built on loyalty, ethics and teamwork.
  • I am glad that my uniform is blue and not brown!  Sorry to all you UPS workers, but I just don’t look good in brown so I am thankful for the blue, purple and orange combo.  Hey, these things are important.

But, enough about me.  There is a point to all this rambling about my experience at FedEx and it is this.  I think that sometimes, because we are often entrenched in our own calling in life (i.e. working at the Post Office, Teaching in a school, working in the IT department of a software company or serving on the staff of a local church) that we tend to see life only through the lens of our own experiences.

I think that God has given me new glasses to appreciate and understand people better and I encourage you to prayerfully consider if you need a fresh appreciation for what some of your friends, fellow church attendee’s and neighbors face week-in week-out.  How you can pray for them, come along side them and truly be an encouragement for the glory of God.

I am thankful for the way I am being Fed Up-wards through this experience.  It is a hard change for me, but one that I know God is using to grow me to be like His Son Jesus Christ.

Flapping on Thursday

Flap! “Ouch!”….Flap! “Ouch”!…Waddle, Waddle, Flap!  Can you imagine what it is like being an eagle living in a nest with other eagles who are getting ready to fly?  I think that there would be lots of bruises, lots of wings wanting to soar and lots of squawking, biting and clawing.  When it is time to pick yourself up, climb to the edge of the nest and jump it can be a difficult hurdle to cross.  But without it the soaring that you long for is unreachable.  Flapping, waddling and bruises are all part of what it takes to get there, but once you have jumped from the nest mom & dad may be nearby, but now you need to fly…awkwardly at first, but still you need to do the flying, and if you don’t…

Well, my Vanessa has been flapping her wings for about the last five years and I have the bruises to show it…bruises of love, understanding and a dependence on my sovereign God.  Tomorrow Elia and I take her to Simpson University in Redding, CA, where she can flap all she wants.

It is a parents hope that their children will leave the nest and put into practice all the things that they taught both by word and example.  When the eagle leaves the nest we want them to soar.  That takes some getting used to, though, and it is hard for the parents to watch.  They want to see the wings outstretched and held up by the current of God’s purposes and direction for the life of their son/daughter…

Now, I am not a perfect parent, or even close to being a candidate for “parent of the year.”  But I do know that God has used my wife and I in both good times and bad to shape and fashion our daughter…and now it is time to take her to the edge of the nest and say “jump”, and with a friendly and loving foot in the hinder parts encourage her to fly.

Vanessa, as your parents…

we want to remind you that the most important person in your life is not your daddy or your cat.  It is, of course, the Creator of the universe, the Only Wise God, the Everlasting Father, the Great Shepherd, the head of the Church, the Lamb of God, the Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Messiah.  If there is one thing that we want you to be sure of it is that He is the King of Kings and that as the Ruler and Lord of His universe, that before you were created He had your life already planned out.  Glorifying Him and serving Him with all you are is the primary purpose for your existence.  Seek to know Him better.  Learn to love Him more.  Pursue His will for His glory.

Your soul is the only thing we can take to heaven with us, so guard your heart from falsehood, allow the Word of God to fashion and shape your inner man, and give the Holy Spirit freedom to teach, guide and convict your heart for He is your greatest friend and counselor who, as the paraklete, is truly walking along side of you.

We are both extremely proud of you and want you  to soar in your life, for His glory.  The nest will always be here for “visits” and our hearts are always available to cry on, to seek advice from and to trust.  May God give you strength, wisdom and grace as you pursue this next phase of your life.

And so the flapping begins…a waddle here and there…a squwalk…a waddle and flap, flap, flap………and you are soaring….

Have fun, enjoy the wind under your wings, the beauty of the countryside and the freedom that comes with responsibility.

We love you…very much!!!  You will be missed…especially by Kitty :0)

Mom & Dad