Dear Friends & Prayer Partners,
I want to start off this January letter by sharing a New Year’s message I preached recently. My hope is that it will both inspire and challenge you to keep on keeping on serving Jesus for the glory of God.
Fearlessly Facing the Future with Faith!
What fears and uncertainties do we Americans face as we stare ahead at 2012?
What about: Economic uncertainties…Political uncertainties…Security uncertainties…Terrorist attacks…War with Iran and Russia…World War 3…Hostility toward and persecution of Christians?
What shall we learn from Paul’s perspective?
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV).
I. Forget the Past
A. Fumbles and Foul-ups
B. Awards and Attainments
What can we learn from a befuddled football player?
The following illustration about Roy Riegels is from an excellent message by Rich McQuinn.
“On January 1, 1929, the Golden Bears faced the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Midway through the second quarter, Riegels, who played center, picked up a fumble by Tech’s Jack ‘Stumpy’ Thomason. Just 30 yards away from the Yellow Jackets’ end zone, Riegels was somehow turned around and ran 65 yards in the wrong direction. He could have scored a touchdown for his own team, but life turned him around and he was confused on the direction he should travel. Ever been there?
“…..Riegels was so distraught that he had to be talked into returning to the game for the second half. Riegels turned in a stellar second half performance, including blocking a Tech punt. Lom passed for a touchdown and kicked the extra point, but Tech would ultimately win the game and their second national championship by a final score of 8-7. The example of how the distraught Riegels was persuaded to pick himself up, return to the field and play so hard during the second half is sometimes used by motivational speakers to illustrate overcoming setbacks.
“Despite the nationwide mockery that followed, Riegels went on to live a normal life, serving in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II, coaching high school and college football, including time at Cala, and running his own chemical company. In 1991, Riegels was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame. Riegels died in 1993 at the age of 84. In 1998, he was posthumously elected to Cal’s Hall of Fame.
“In the locker room at half time, Roy Riegels sat in the corner with his face buried in his hands, crying. The room was silent. The Coach didn’t make his usual half-time speech, but shortly before the team was to take the field for the second half, he said, ‘The starting team is going back onto the field to begin the second half.’
“The whole team left the locker room, except for Riegels, who remained in the corner with his face in his hands. ‘I can’t do it, Coach,’ he said. ‘I can’t play. I ruined the team.’ The Coach said, ‘Get up, Riegles. The game is only half over. You belong on the field.’
“Guess what? Our game is only half over. Regardless of the past, we still have the rest of the game to play. So what if the enemy scored off of you in the past! God is willing to forget about the mistakes of the first half. And He expects us to do the same!!! Remember that the game is only half over!”
Application: Track runners know they can’t win the race by looking back. Forget the past! Look unto Jesus and move forward!
II. Focus on the Future!
A. Be glad for all that God is planning for you!
B. Keep asking, “Lord, what would You have me to do?”
C. Keep praying, “Lord, fill me with Your Spirit and put me in the right place at the right time with the right words to honor You!”
D. Keep forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.
E. Keep pressing towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
III. Find Fulfillment in the Present!
A. Don’t wait to begin! Do it now!
1. Cancel your “if only” excuses – remember Mary and Martha.
Trust Jesus now – in your circumstances!
2. Realize things are never going to settle down.
3. Realize we are living on a cursed earth, so we must choose to enjoy life and thank God under adverse circumstances.
B. Praise God for whatever abilities and whatever spiritual gifts He has given you – use them to His glory! You are a masterpiece in the making! Eph. 2:10.
Stir up the gift that is in you!
C. Remember the ultimate goal – to become like Christ.
God may need lots of sandpaper for some of us! (A master Carpenter must use lots of sandpaper to turn rough lumber into fine furniture!)
Conclusion: What perspective does God want us to have as we face an uncertain and fearsome future? Consider these powerful passages of Scripture:
“Only be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7-9 (NKJV).
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength.” Isaiah 26:3-4 (NKJV).
“For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.’” Isaiah 30:15 (NKJV).
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV).
Most Richly Blessed
On December 14th Della and I celebrated our 49th wedding anniversary with a delicious prime rib dinner at one of Boise’s finest romantic restaurants (recommended and paid for by our son, Randy). They even let us split the meal, and we both had plenty – and they gave us a free dessert. God has blessed me with a wonderful woman, loyal and true to me – and most of all, to Jesus. Plus, when I ponder the person of Jesus as our provider, our peace, and our personal Savior, I know we are most richly blessed.
“It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’” 1 Corinthians 1:30-31. We get some very uplifting and encouraging notes from many of you, which we often share in our “Mailbox” section of the prayer letter. We thank Him for all of you who write, and we recognize that any good we accomplish and every victory we report is only and always because of Jesus. To Him belongs all the glory and praise! Watchman Nee worded it this way:
“It is a blessed thing to discover the difference between Christian graces and Christ: to know the difference between meekness and Christ, between patience and Christ, between love and Christ. Remember again what is said in 1 Corinthians 1:30: ‘Christ Jesus…was made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.’ The common conception of sanctification is that every item of the life should be holy; but that is not holiness, it is the fruit of holiness. Holiness is Christ. It is the Lord Jesus being made over to us to be that. So you can put in anything there: love, humility, power, self-control. Today there is a call for patience: He is our patience! Tomorrow the call may be for purity: He is our purity! He is the answer to every need. That is why Paul speaks of ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ as one (Gal. 5:22) and not of ‘fruits’ as separate items. God has given us His Holy Spirit, and when love is needed the fruit of the Spirit is love; when joy is needed the fruit of the Spirit is joy. It is always true. It does not matter what your personal deficiency, or whether it be a hundred and one different things, God has always one sufficient answer, His Son Jesus Christ, and He is the answer to every human need.” (From “The Normal Christian Life”, page 123, Christian Literature Crusade.)
When we remember you who pray for us and our requests and give to further the progress of Overseas Outreach, we realize that your gifts, prayers, and friendship are a treasure. I often feel like the richest man alive! Thank You, Lord, for life – for abundant life – for peace, purpose and power to live the victorious life. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!
My Tribute to Our Co-Workers, Zhenya and Natasha Molodchy
Recently Rick Yount sent us a large contribution, designated for helping Zhenya and Natasha’s outreach in Kharkov. Following is a copy of my letter to him.
“We very much appreciate your generous gift to some of our favorite people for their dedicated ministry. I’ve stayed in Zhenya and Natasha’s tiny home many times and observed their highs and lows in ministry and their deep commitment to Jesus in spite of deep hurt from an American missionary and sometimes from other Christians in Ukraine. To their great credit, they have chosen to forgive and move on in ministry to the lost, the lonely, and the hurting. They are genuine! I want to assure you that your generous gift to help them in their ministry is a wise investment for the building of the kingdom of God.
Yours & His, Rick Deighton”
From Our Mailbox
“Thank you for the words of encouragement and New Year greetings! Our main project with teens in prison went very well. Although we were not allowed to take pictures, we have all the places taken in the big prison assembly. There were almost 200 people, teenagers, and prison workers. We had the program with singing, reading poems and Christmas stories and theatrical performance. All the teenagers 180 received so needed gifts, among which were soaps, toothpastes, toothbrushes, towels, and of course, chocolate. We were not recommended to give them New Testaments, but by God’s grace we gave them nice Christmas cards with the scriptures on them. I spent a day in prayer yesterday for the hearts of these teens to be touched with the Word of God. Many took the cards – about 160 teens. We had only a few left. I would like to thank you for helping us to make this project possible and Irene’s contribution as well. We have spent all we had literally in our wallets to have the project done. Now we look forward to spend time together as a family this weekend and have Christmas festivities in our church, Mospanovo, and more. We wish you a blessed season and a great new year in walking with the King of the Universe!
…..Recently we have received a letter from Rick Yount and received it as an answer to prayers. We still have to cover expenses we had related to Natasha’s phD completion and current ministry needs, without money being paid either to Natasha at work or me at School Without Walls timely. We see God’s faithfulness and His timely provision. We were glad to receive a note from Rick Yount which said: ‘The Lord blessed me with a gift from my Bible study class the Sunday before your email arrived. I knew I had to do something with these funds that would maximize their use for the Lord. Your email was the answer I needed from the Lord. Not only helping with travel funds and ministry expenses, the provision of good and sufficient food for your family is a ministry as well.’ Irene’s funds also contributed so very much…..
Yours & His by the grace of Jesus,
“Thank you so much for all your care, prayers, encouragement, as well as ministry and family model you provide us! This is so big blessing for us to know you this side of the Kingdom and be co-workers with you at the field of our Lord Jesus.
Yours by His grace,
“I am so glad to hear from you…..I love you so much and pray for you and your family and wait for you to come visit us.
Shalom and greetings from congregation.
Yours in Messiah,
“I saw Anatoliy in the church yesterday. He was really touched by your gift. He asked me if you knew that they were rebuilding the house. Actually they are building the new house next to the old one. So your gift was quite timely. I haven’t seen it though he invited me several times whenever I have a chance to visit with their family. I said that, God willing, maybe the next year, if you come, I will try to join you to visit with them.
Originally he planned to do the construction himself, but he has developed some serious problems with the blood vessels. He blacked out several times to the extent that he had to be hospitalized. First in September for 3 days, and the last time in November for almost a week. The first time he just tilted back his head and the second time helped the workers to unload some construction materials. So you can pray for his health too.
Once again, thank you for your kindness! May the blessings of grace and peace be yours during this Advent season.
(Note: Anatoliy Schalbyetski and his wife, Larissa, are the ones who take in children who need a home and care for them. Because of your gifts, we have been able to help them many times with their family’s needs.
“We are so thankful to God for your friendship, and proud of what God is doing in and through you.
Steve & Vivian” (Edwards)
“Thank you for your very thoughtful response to my letter. I do appreciate the time you took to answer my concerns….Also, yes, I would very much like to read Ready To Give An Answer. How can I get a copy? Again, Rick and Della, let me tell you how very much I enjoyed reading Is the Bible Without Any Errors?
Sincerely, Sam” (O’Leary)
December 30, 2011
“I started reading Ready to Give an Answer last night and didn’t want to put it down! If I didn’t have my own book to finish writing, I’d probably swallow it in one gulp.
God bless you all!
January 12, 2012
“Your ‘Compromise or Conviction’ comments in the December issue are very much in need to be heard. And it’s not just the acceptance and promotion of Darwinism by the various denominations and isms, but also the failure to teach what the Word of God actually reveals, which contributes to confusion and mistrust.”
“Thank you for all of the excellent writings you sent us. Jewels….wisdom that can only come about thru great trials and sufferings. Jesus was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief. We are to know the fellowship of His suffering; if we don’t experience this, we can never truly know Him.
These days everyone wants to experience the power of His resurrection. However, we must be conformed to His death first. What a danger the health and wealth prosperity doctrine is to the church, especially here in America. I won’t even go there, as I know you would share the same opinion, as we are like minded…..
Anyway, the article that really stood out was by Jack Osborn on “The Goodness of God”. (Also the one by Charles Allen.) Thank you so much for sharing with us…..
Love in Christ,
Bob & Geri” (Boyd)