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Category Archives: Russia

The Question of Commitment

“I didn’t think you should go to Russia.” I have heard that sentiment from more than one person since I returned from my most recent trip. Some were concerned about my mobility issues (using a cane while still recovering from my broken leg/hip). Others were worried about the blood clots in my calf and flying for hours on end. Still others were concerned about the tension between the USA and Russia over politics, Syria, etc. While I appreciated the concern, I also appreciated the fact that most waited until afterwards to voice their reservations.

Without being overly defensive, let me try to explain why I proceeded with the trip as planned.

  • I tend to be optimistic. When told in November I was facing a six-month recovery process, I calculated that April was the sixth month and barring a setback, I should be recovered enough to proceed.
  • While cautious, I am not fearful. I am not risk averse. I choose not to live in fear of “what if?” I know I am safer in harm’s way if I’m in God’s will than I am sitting at home in my easy chair. If I am overly worried and fearful, I also know that is a giant that needs to be conquered.
  • I feel a responsibility to use my gifts for God’s glory (Matthew 25:14-30). I don’t want to stand before God and have him ask me why I took it easy or didn’t do more with what he has given me.
  • Something has happened every time I’ve gone on a short-term ministry trip that I have had to trust God for (health, job, political crisis, personnel, car repairs, family, etc.). My injury was just one more thing.
  • I listened to and trusted my doctors. None of my doctors—surgeon, primary care physician, vascular surgeon—were overly concerned about my mobility and/or blood clots. None of them told me to stay home. All three said I should not have any problems. I also followed their instructions for my prescriptions, compression socks, and walking.
  • I went with the blessing of my wife and church elders.
  • I knew I had help while traveling—wheelchair assistance in airports, and the friends I travel and work with.
  • Having built a friendship over several years with the missionaries I work with and the men and women I would be teaching, I would have been disappointed had I not been able to keep my commitment.

I am grateful for answered prayer. I am thankful that God healed me enough that I was able to travel. I am grateful that he protected me while traveling. I am thankful that he blessed the ministry. I am grateful that he continues to use me to teach and equip others.

Thanks be to God!

 
 

Be All In

After spending two weeks in Russia, I often struggle when I return to the States. After seeing the commitment of my brothers and sisters in Russia, I question the habits of my church going friends in America.

During my first week in Anapa, one pastor and his friends drove nine hours to attend the three day class on the book of Revelation. Another pastor and two people came five hours by car and ferry to attend the class. All who attended carved out three days from their schedules to be present.

During my second week in Elista, the group did the preclass assignment in order to attend. They also rearranged their schedules to attend the three day course. Because of fear of persecution, they changed locations overnight and adapted their schedules accordingly. Though cautious, they came and did not stay away.

When I come home, I deal with those who are far less committed. Those who attend church once or twice a month and consider themselves regular attenders. Those who attend but never get involved. Those who observe but never participate. Those who are present but who defer when asked to serve. Those who keep their membership at one church but attend a different church. Those who never commit to anything because they want to keep their options open.

For the former, church is a matter of commitment. For the latter, church seems to be a matter of convenience.

Maybe it’s the jet lag talking, but I don’t get it.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2018 in Church, Culture, Russia

 

Why I believe in a pretribulation rapture

While teaching the class on Revelation in Russia, I shared with the two groups that there are four basic positions on the timing of the rapture.

  • Pretribulation rapture – The church is removed from the earth before the Tribulation begins.
  • Partial rapture – Only spiritual Christians are removed before the Tribulation. Carnal Christians go through the first half of the Tribulation.
  • Mid-trib, or Pre-Wrath Rapture – The church goes through the first half of the Tribulation and is removed just before the judgments begin.
  • Posttribulation rapture – The church goes through the Tribulation and is removed just prior to Christ’s return, making a quick U-turn to return with him.

I explained that I hold to the Pretribulation Rapture for the following reasons. They build upon one another and the strongest one is the last one.

  • The church is mentioned in Revelation 1-3, and 19-22. It is not mentioned in 6-18 when God judges the world.
  • 1 Thessalonians 1:10 – Believers are exempt from God’s coming wrath, the time known as the Great Tribulation.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:9 – Paul excludes believers from the Day of the Lord and the outpouring of God’s wrath.
  • Revelation 3:10 – In the letter to the church in Philadelphia, God says that they will be kept from the hour of trial.
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:18 – The doctrine of the pretribulation rapture should be a comfort and encouragement to believers.
  • The doctrine of imminency –1 Thessalonians 1:10 supports the imminent return of Christ, that he could return at any moment.
 
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Posted by on April 24, 2018 in Revelation, Russia

 

Russia 2018 Trip Report

 

Russia 2018 – Week two report

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2018 in Ministry, Missions, Photos, Russia

 

Wild tulips

We saw the wild tulips of the Steppes region. Since I was more familiar with the organized, well laid out fields of the Skagit Valley in Washington, I was surprised to see tulips growing in the wild. There were red ones, smaller yellow ones, and then tiny white ones. I was even caught trying to take a picture. Beautiful.

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2018 in Flowers, Photos, Russia

 

Kalmyk farm and museum

Today we toured a traditional Kalmyk farm. One dwelling served as a museum to show how a traditional Kalmyk lived. It included, beds, furnishings, and clothing. Our guide said it could all be packed up and carried on two camels.

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2018 in Photos, Russia