We started the first two days of my Harmony of the Gospels class in Elista at 10:00AM. On the third day, we began at 9:00AM so as to finish by noon and get on the road back to Krasnodar. At 9:38, everyone’s phone started ringing. I was annoyed because they were all to turn off their phones so as not to be distracted during the class. I soon learned that their phones were not ringing but rather sounding an alarm as a reminder to pray.

The church in Kalmykia has taken Matthew 9:38 literally. In that verse, Jesus tells his disciples, “therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” At 9:38 each morning, the Christ followers in Kalmykia pause to pray about their outreach efforts.

I paused my teaching and one of the brothers led the class in prayer.

Perhaps I should learn from their example and encourage the folks in my church to do the same.

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Posted by on May 21, 2019 in Evangelism, Prayer, Russia, Scripture


Of titles and degrees

During my recent trip to Russia, John Musgrave paid me a compliment I value highly. He said that one thing he always appreciated about working with me was that I didn’t make a big deal about the fact I have more education than he does. I have two graduate degrees while he has an undergrad degree. He explained that some men he worked with made a big deal about who went to seminary and who didn’t.

I thanked him for the compliment and said that while I have titles, I am not overly impressed by them. I leave it up to the individual as to what they call me. The only place I am known as Dr. Wheeler is at Regent University where I am an adjunct professor teaching online courses. Everywhere else I am known as Mark or Pastor Mark.

One element of my approach relates to the concept of mutual submission. When I am in Russia, I submit to John’s leadership because he is in charge and I am there to serve. The level of education is immaterial.

I also recognize that my graduate degrees say more about my level of persistence than about my intelligence and qualifications. Having several degrees don’t mean I am any smarter, it just means I kept plodding forward until I reached the finish line.

In addition, I believe that true education often begins when school ends. John is a lifelong learner with a boatload of life experience.

Add all of this up and it leads to the conclusion that I view John as a peer and teammate.

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Posted by on May 20, 2019 in Personal growth, Russia


What in the World? – Anapa & Elista, Russia

Rather than preach a normal sermon today, I shared with the congregation about my recent ministry trip to Russia. Here are the PowerPoint slides I used in the presentation.

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Posted by on May 19, 2019 in Ministry, Missions, Russia, Videos


My next book


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Posted by on May 18, 2019 in Books, Fun


Get the marriage you dream of

Book Review: The Intimate Connection: Secrets to a Lifelong Romance, by Dr. Kevin Leman

Is it possible to have a happy, lifelong marriage?  Is it possible to unravel the complex needs of men and women and learn to meet them? Is it possible to identify the warning signs of relational breakdown that might be creeping into a marriage, and then fix the problems? Is it possible for spouses to learn to communicate in such a way that their spouse actually listens?

Dr. Kevin Leman would say, “Yes,” to all these questions. That is the subject of his latest book, The Intimate Connection: Secrets to a Lifelong Romance. He explores 13 key secrets that will help create the kind of exciting intimacy, mutual respect, and fulfilling communication that couples crave.

Among the secrets Dr. Leman writes about are how to use acts of love to create an unbreakable bond, dealing with the outside forces that have shaped your relationship, how to better understand the differences between men and women, learning to communicate in a way that encourage your spouse to listen, and many more. In addition, the author includes several bonus sections such as questions for date nights and couples’ getaways, how to be your own counselor, and a communication exercise to help improve your listening skills.

Like all of Dr. Leman’s books, this one includes personal stories, biblical principles, practical advice, and doable assignments and exercises. The book is well worth reading for anyone who desires a stronger, lasting marriage.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

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Posted by on May 17, 2019 in Books, Marriage


Russia Ministry Trip Report – Preview

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Posted by on May 16, 2019 in Russia, Videos


“Not-so-fine” wine

On the flight from Amsterdam to Boston, the woman in the seat next to me asked the flight attendant what kind of wine they had. The flight attendant answered, “We have airplane wine.”

I chuckled to myself. At least she was honest.

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Posted by on May 16, 2019 in Fun