True Thanksgiving = An Attitude of Gratitude
Have you noticed that Philippians 4:13 is a very popular verse of Scripture for many, many Christians (perhaps even some who aren’t true Christians and just gloss over the words “through Christ”). Do you remember what it says? “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (NKJV). It is an easy verse to memorize, and it is a powerful truth. But I wonder – do we actually understand what it means? “I can do all things….” – does it mean that I can fly (even without a red cape)? That I can leap over tall buildings with a single bound? Of course not! This verse does not make me Superman!
This reminds me of a story Ravi Zacharias tells about Cassius Clay (who changed his name to Mohammed Ali). On a commercial flight, the stewardess had already announced that it was time for everyone to buckle up, but in making her rounds, she noticed that Ali had not complied. She point to his seat belt and reminded him. He responded, “Superman don’t need no seat belt!” Without missing a beat, she replied, “Superman don’t need no airplane either! Buckle up!” The Word of God instructs us not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. Humility is key to God’s blessings – and to manifesting an attitude of gratitude. A proud man believes he deserves God’s blessing, and is often angry with God when he feels he has been short changed. The entitlement mentality grows and thrives in the toxic soil of a haughty spirit. An attitude of gratitude grows and thrives in the rich soil of a humble spirit.
So, am I digressing from my theme? Hardly! What does the issue of humility versus pride have to do with the text of Philippians 4:13? Everything!!! And you don’t need to have a degree in Biblical Greek to understand why. Take a look at the context. Many (if not most) difficult Bible passages are really not hard to understand when we pay close attention to the context. Here is the immediate context for our text: “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13 (NKJV). The context clarifies that instead of an entitlement mentality of “I deserve better!” the apostle Paul humbly accepted his tough circumstances without complaining. He had been attacked, beaten, shipwrecked, falsely accused and put in prison, yet he could from the depths of his heart write, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am to be content.” Contentment is the close companion of gratitude. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” is a text showing us how to maintain a genuine attitude of gratitude, no matter how difficult our circumstances may be. Are you struggling with sickness? Suffering? Sorrow? Scorn? Remember “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” Paul knew the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and trusted deeply in the sovereignty and providence of Almighty God. He had the perspective, which R. C. Sproul summarized like this: “There is not a maverick molecule in the universe that is outside the sovereignty and providence of Almighty God.”
Now consider Philippians 4:13 in a bit broader context: Before 4:13 you will find these verses:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:4-8. After verse 13, you will find these verses: “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Philippians 4:19-20.
Therefore, if you want to truly celebrate Thanksgiving every hour of every day, take a good look at Paul’s example. Then take this advice: “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9.
Millions of Miracles
Last month I shared with you a sample of my new booklet, “Millions of Miracles – The Evolutionist’s
Dilemma”, and now it is time to report that it is close to submission for publication. We are waiting for some responses from reviewers and for the time to sort through some fantastic pictures displaying the beauty of God’s creation to include with the text. Here are a couple of responses I want to share:
“Thank you, Rick for writing this powerful, concise booklet! From start to finish, it is thoroughly engaging as it simultaneously challenges the reader to evaluate their beliefs regarding creation and the one true God of the Bible. After reading this book, I felt closer to God because of the truth expressed on every page. Not only did I feel closer to God, but I also felt better equipped to earnestly contend for the faith!
May this booklet impact our culture in a mighty way!
P.S. This booklet would make a great, go-to resource for every believer. When I get a copy, I plan on keeping it handy for the times when I come across an evolutionist or theistic evolutionist. 🙂
Lareina Rodriguez”, wife of Diego Rodriguez (pastor, creation evangelist and entrepreneur)
This is Miranda Rodriguez. I just finished reading your booklet yesterday and I really enjoyed it. It was perfectly simple and I understood it very well; I think anybody my age would.
I didn’t notice any obvious typos or errors with grammar. I feel tremendously equipped, and I also have a greater appreciation for God’s creation. Thank you for writing this book!
Miranda Rodriguez” (15 years old) Miranda is Diego and Lareina’s daughter.
It is one of my goals to write so that any high school student who can read can clearly understand this book. Please pray that God will use it to reach many confused young people with the truth.
“The Bible: The True and Reliable Word of God”
This is the title of a new book by our long time friend, Charles Crane. I consider it beyond excellent and the perfect companion to the new booklet I’m still working on, “Millions of Miracles – The Evolutionist’s
Dilemma”. “Millions of Miracles…..” exposes evolutionism as a false doctrine faith system, while presenting the evidences for creationism and the glory of our Creator. Charles’ book exposes Satan’s lies against the Bible and presents the solid evidences for believing it is truly the Word of God. I’ve already purchased a case of Charles’ books for distribution and have written to Sergei Golovin, recommending that he consider getting it published in Russian. He is interested in doing so. Here is what I wrote to Sergei about this book: “I want to recommend for you to consider getting my friend, Dr. Charles Crane’s, new book published in Russian. The title is, The Bible: The True and Reliable Word of God. Charles is a teacher, preacher, pastor, author, former President of Boise Bible College, and now still serving as a pastor-teacher at Eagle Christian Church where his son, Dr. Steve Crane, is founder and lead pastor. In 20 years it has grown to be a mega church with wide influence. Charles also continues to serve as Chancellor at Boise Bible College.”
The retail price printed on the cover of Charles’ book is $16.95, but you can have a copy for an offering of any amount to Overseas Outreach. Just be sure to indicate your desire to have a copy when you write.
Tribute to a Hero Revisited
In our August Prayer Letter we shared a tribute to Rostislav Kryzhanovsky, who sacrificed his own life to rescue a young girl from drowning. Since he was the director of Christian Open University in Odessa, Ukraine, where I have served as a guest teacher for about ten years, we used some of our Overseas Outreach funds to send to the university a gift in his honor. The following is a response letter from the new director, Valery Savelyev and my reply to him.
“Dear Brother in Christ, Rick
I am writing to express you my heart-felt gratitude for your moral and financial support of the Christian Open University. Sergey has given us the money you transferred to him….. We are thankful to you for your assistance! Political and financial situation is rather tough in the Ukraine and thereof in the University too. I was privileged to be introduced to you during one of your visits but to my great pity had no opportunity to know you better, but I have heard a lot about you from Rostislav and other members of the staff. And I do hope that you will come to Ukraine again soon and we will have a heart to heart talk for to get to know each other better.
Yours in Him,
President of the Christian Open University of Economics and Humanitarian Sciences
Member of the First Church of Evangelicals Christian Baptists”
You are certainly welcome for our “moral and financial support” of Christian Open University. I wish it could be much more. Did Sergey remember to tell you that this gift is intended as a memorial in Rostislav’s honor? His life and his death both testify to his manner of servant leadership – sacrificial service to others. I look forward to seeing him again in his resurrection body, along with another friend and hero from Odessa – Vladimir Parfinenko.
I also hope to come to Ukraine again soon – hopefully in the spring time. I look forward to that heart-to-heart talk with you and getting to know you better. It will be my privilege. Would the third and fourth weeks of March or in April be good possibilities for me to visit and teach at Christian Open University?
Here is my wish for you:
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13.
May Almighty God expand your godly influence for His glory!
Respectfully yours & His,
Open Letter to Some Special Co-Workers
“Dear Zhenya and Natasha,
Reading your new prayer letter early this morning during my Bible study and prayer time, was an emotional experience for me. I am so proud of you! I am so thankful that God brought you into my life that first trip I made to Crimea in 2001 for the symposium. I am so thankful that you invited me to come to Kharkiv to help in your ministry, and to be a mentor to you. I am so thankful to see the doors of opportunity God is opening to you, and to see you faithfully loving God and serving people. Both of you are specially gifted in developing good friendships.
Zhenya, God has gifted you with the gift of administration to develop partnership relationships for outreach both within the congregation and across denominational lines with other Christian leaders in the city. Besides that useful gift, you are also a gifted teacher and preacher (which is why I love to have you interpret for me, because you don’t just say the words, you preach the message!) Both of you are gifted interpreters and personal evangelists.
Natasha, you are like my mother was, because she never met a stranger – they were just friends she hadn’t met yet. She also had a gift of hospitality, so our home was often like grand central station (people coming and going all the time). Natasha, you are also a very gifted teacher who relates well to any age group. The Holy Spirit shines through the natural inclinations that God the Father gave each of you – and He “gives gifts according to His own will” so that His gifts enhance what the Father already put in you. Seeing Him working through your lives is like seeing the sunshine coming through stained glass windows. The beauty of design was already built into those windows, but the sun shining through them brings light, life, and beauty to life. It brings me joy that feels like dancing in the light.
I sold two rings yesterday and I want to invest most, if not all the money, into expanding the Kingdom of God. One of the rings I got as a prize (award ring) from Pacific Coast Industrial Lighting (my former employer). The other one I inherited from my older brother. I believe your ministry is a good investment for the Kingdom of God, so we want to send some to you. We hope this will help you operate in the black rather than in the red. Della is sending you a MoneyGram today for what is in our Overseas Outreach account for you. Next month we plan to include extra from the rings…..
Counting on your prayers and thanking God for you,
“…..We were so touched by Rick’s letter. Thank you for the kind and guiding words. Mostly we also thank God for His leading and guiding us in ministry together with you and Rick. It has been already almost 14 years of ministry, friendship and support. Dear Rick, thank you for your shoulder, faithfulness and strong friendship. Thank you to both of you for trust and hope. You are a great and big encouragement as we minister with the Gospel in a difficult world. Thank you for the hope you hold of our real home.
Zhenya and family”
Opportunity to Help – Car Fund
We are starting a car fund for Zhenya and Natasha Molodchy. Their present car has been needing many repairs and is near the time of needing to be replaced. If you would like to help with this need, please designate your gift for “Molodchy Car Fund”.
Now before I sign off, I want to share with you what I have on my laminated prayer list, which I often carry with me to walk and pray.
• My family – extended family – special friends.
• Lord, fill me with Your Spirit and put me in the right place at the right time with the right words to honor You!
• Our church family, as well as elders and leaders in our sister churches and supporting churches.
• Thank You, Lord for those who pray and give to Overseas Outreach.
• Native evangelists and co-workers with White Fields, POEM, CIU, CCSA, SWOW, VOM, OCU, TCI
• Matthew 9:37-38; John 17:17-23; Hebrews 13:1-8.
• Germany, Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kirgizstan, Kazakhstan, Georgia, China, Korea, Japan.
We thank God for you!
“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. Colossians 1:9-12 (NKJV).
A Note from Della
Recently my friend, Kim Scott, and I were in a shop together and saw the following statement on a plaque. Both of us realized quickly what a profound thought was conveyed in just these few words. I made a picture of this statement and put it up in our kitchen, where we see it every day. What a great thought to remind us how much we often take for granted! I hope it will become something for you to ponder each day as well.
What if today you
woke up with only
the things you
thanked God for