An Impossible Goal?
Have you ever pondered one, or all, of Jesus’ Beatitudes and thought (or felt), “This is impossible! I can no more live up to that than I can high jump over an eight-foot fence, or pole vault over a 20-foot barrier with razor spikes on top!” True! For example, Jesus taught: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Whoops! I certainly do want to see God! I want to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” But if I ever let an envious thought, a cursing thought, a vengeful thought, a lustful thought cross my mind and lodge in my heart, I’m doomed!
Have you considered that this is exactly the point Jesus was driving home to us? Why? Because He had already inspired Jeremiah to write: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.” Jeremiah 17:9-10 (NKJV)
Being pure in heart is an impossible goal – on our own! That is why He died for us and promised us the gift of the Holy Spirit! “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” Acts 2:38 (NKJV) “So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” Romans 8:8-9 (NKJV)
Puritan preacher, Richard Sibbes, offered this insight as the key to purity and every degree of living a sanctified life, for without holiness no man shall see God. The key is loving our Lord Jesus Christ more than we love our own pet sins. This brings us around to Jesus’ answer about the first and greatest commandment – to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength! But how? Isn’t that impossible? Yes! On our own! But with God, all things are possible – and He has endowed us with His Spirit to do the impossible! “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.” Ephesians 5:17-21 (NKJV) The impossible made possible by His Spirit!
Potent, Pertinent Perspectives
When we observe the teaching methods that our Master Teacher used, we find that stories rate very high. With that thought in mind, I have three stories to share, from which we can glean pertinent applications:
“The Big Sissy!”
Have you heard about a little boy who was afraid of the dark? His mother had tucked him in bed, prayed with him, and was about to turn off the light when he asked her not to turn it off. Then he asked, “Mama, will you come back to my room and sleep with me?” She replied, “No, Timmy – I need to sleep with your daddy.” At that, he stuck out his quivering lower lip and said, “The big sissy!” 😊 We may smile at Timmy’s distorted perspective, but how about asking this probing question: “Am I a big sissy? Or am I going to let Jesus shine His light through me to dispel the darkness? Am I afraid of the dark?”
How to Handle Slander and False Accusations
I recently heard another story on the radio that went something like this:
A farmer’s mule had fallen into a deep, dry well and was struggling in vain to get back out. The farmer pondered the situation, then snapped his fingers and headed for his pickup truck. Soon, he was back at the scene looking down on his pitiful, weary mule. Then he turned and started dumping dirt and garbage down on that poor mule. The mule shook off the debris and stood on top if it. So, the farmer repeated the procedure time after time, until his relieved mule stepped out of the former hole on solid ground!
So, what potent, pertinent perspective should we acquire from this tale of trauma and triumph? Well, since we know that our Father is the Sovereign Ruler of the entire universe, and that He cares for us much more than that farmer cared for his poor mule, don’t fear, worry, or harbor an anxious thought when the world (including relatives, neighbors, or friends) start throwing dirt and garbage down on us. Realize that it is our Father’s perfect plan, and no one can do anything to us without our Father’s permission. Just shake it off and climb a bit higher! Remember that Joseph’s own brothers hated him and threw him in a deep pit, but Almighty God raised him from the pit to the pinnacle of power! Years later, when the sad, sorry brothers feared retaliation, Joseph comforted them, assured them of his forgiveness, and said: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Genesis 50:20 (ESV)
So, when someone throws dirt or garbage at you, just shake it off, climb higher and thank our Father for His perfect plan. Don’t whine! Shine! You are the light of the world!
Now the third story I have for you to help develop potent, pertinent perspectives is by Ray Comfort and found on page XIV of The Atheist Bible, which is a contemporary translation of the New Testament with Ray’s comments in the front and the back.
“An Atheist and a Bible”
“Penn Jillette, the taller, louder half of the magic/comedy act “Penn and Teller,” is a well-known atheist. He is so committed to atheism that he claims, “I cross the word ‘God’ off every [dollar] bill I touch.”
However, late in 2008, Penn said that after one of his shows, a businessman approached him and gave him a Gideon New Testament. Penn noted, “It was really wonderful. I believe he knew that I was an atheist, but he was not defensive, and he looked me right in the eyes…and then gave me this Bible. I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a Heaven and Hell, and people could be going to Hell, or not getting eternal life, or whatever, and you think that, Well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward…How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean if I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe it, and that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you–and this is more important than that…He cared enough about me to proselytize and give me a Bible.” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JHS8adO3hM)”
Revive Us Again
“Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation toward us! Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations? Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly.” Psalm 85:4-8 (ESV)
The Scope of our Overseas Outreach Mission
Pertinent questions by some good friends recently have opened my eyes to the fact that I have not adequately conveyed to you, our readers, supporters, and prayer partners the true scope of our mission. It is definitely not limited to the academic elites of society! Yes, I was privileged to participate in the “Man and the Christian Worldview Symposiums and Conferences” for over ten years, and the target audience for these meetings was “the intellectuals of the former Soviet Union nations as an unreached people group.” Most of the presenters in these meetings had at least a master’s degree in their portfolio, and some of them touted not only a master’s degree after their names, but also double doctorates. I came as just a preacher with a BA degree from a small Bible college that most of them had never heard of, so I felt honored that Sergei Golovin and Georges Carillet allowed me to keep coming as a presenter. Usually those of us who were Christian presenters were outnumbered about two-to-one by secular scientists and professors, but our confidence is in our Lord – and the fact that truth overpowers the darkness. Some of those intellectual skeptics did amazing turnarounds in their attitudes when they experienced truth presented in love! Especially when they saw Him Who is Truth and Love shining through His Body.
Through those meetings God has opened multiplied doors of opportunity, and especially through lasting friendships that grew out of those meetings. Immediately following my first symposium in May 2001, Sergei Golovin hosted the Family Festival (and he had also invited me to be a presenter at this meeting open to everyone). At that Family Festival, I first met Anatoly Shalbetsky and Sharyn Borodin. It also became evident to me that Sergei clearly understands that Marxism seeks to undermine both faith and family. The symposiums were designed to share the light of truth to the intellectuals, to influence the influencers, to expose their false foundations of faith in evolutionism and its evil ramifications and to introduce them to the One Who is the WAY, the TRUTH, the LIFE. The Family Festivals were designed for everyone to build their families on the foundation of faith in Him Who is worthy of faith.
I met Zhenya Molodchy at the first “Man and the Christian Worldview Symposium” in May 2001, where he was serving as one of the interpreters. He invited me to come help him with outreach in Kharkiv – an invitation which I accepted in the spring of 2002. Our friendship has grown through the years, and Zhenya’s gift of networking with many other believers has opened doors for us to work together in village evangelism, new church planting, outreach to down-and-outers of society through rehab ministries, and to up-and-outers through English language Bible teaching groups. Zhenya and Natasha are both highly educated individuals with the dexterity to relate easily with people from every walk of life and strata of society. They are excellent personal evangelists.
In fact, as I consider the abilities of the other three couples who are also now our Overseas Outreach representatives in Ukraine, they all qualify to be able to easily and effectively relate to people on every intellectual level and in every strata of society. Sergei and Vera Yurevich use their Eway (English training) business as an outreach tool to teach the Bible and share the gospel, plus helping with the outreach of a new church plant. John and Ira Murphy have worked with some established churches, but they are primarily new church planters – also using outreaches to every level of society. Stephen and Ira Yagilnicky have their primary focus on reaching orphans and orphanage workers through their Love Cradle, International ministry, but they are also well-trained and very capable of reaching out to every level of society. They especially love those who love children, so they are effective in relating well to teachers, orphanage workers and administrators.
These co-workers, and many others, have opened doors for me to teach Biblical Christian worldview and share the gospel of the love of God through our Lord Jesus in classrooms from elementary to colleges and universities across Ukraine, as well as in the Republic of Georgia. Where is the focus in all of this? What is the purpose? I view the work of our Overseas Outreach mission to be an extension of the purpose Sergei Golovin has with his Christian Center for Science & Apologetics. He told me years ago that his ministry is to clear away the rocks and weeds and break up the fallow ground to receive the good seed of the Gospel to take root and flourish. God has equipped him and his skilled team to do an outstanding job so that now not only are multiple churches, Bible colleges, and seminaries open for them to teach, but also public-school teachers and administrators are opening doors to them. I believe God is preparing the former Soviet Union nations (especially Ukraine) for another vast harvest, this time with more lasting fruit. To me, it is an honor to be a small part of what God is doing there. This is our focus: To use the “many infallible proofs” concerning Christ, creation, and the accuracy, authority, and infallibility of the Bible to win souls to Christ and to prepare bold witnesses for Jesus wherever we are.
From Our Mailbox
“I received your January newsletter yesterday and read it through first page to last – thank you for sending it. I am thankful for your continual emphasis on the Word of God – understanding it correctly – and seeking – by the power of His indwelling Spirit – to live accordingly. And thank you also for including the update from Brother Golovin…
I do pray daily for the two of you and for the Overseas Outreach ministry -and for your wife’s health matters. May my Beloved Lord continue to bless you both as you serve Him.
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“Thank you very much for your comforting words – they were like a balm for the soul. Yes, you’re right, we all will meet in eternity. And though I know it in my mind, I miss her in my heart (and praise God, that we have Him that He found us and adopted us to be His children, and we have hope and comfort in Him). Thank you for your care about our family. Mom loved you and always recalled your visits with warmth. You will always remain in our hearts as an intelligent, joyful and godly person. I gave dad a hug for you and he is saying hello. Now he committed himself to children even more. (He is making sure that all children have their dental problems fixed). We enrolled Nastya, Natasha, Masha and Alya in acrobatics group, and Anya and Alya in a singing class. We also found a piano teacher for Natasha and Alya, Anya and Alya also attend English lessons plus all of them attend school. Dad and my husband Misha are building the fence around the property, the older children assist them, so dad tries to occupy himself with different projects.
Please say hello to Della. We’ll continue to pray for her healing and help from the Lord.
With love and respect,
The Shalbetskys/Lena Shalbetsky”
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“You. We try to start a lot of our communication with you with that word. We could start with “Thank” or “Look” or “Did” or “Have” or the like, but we intentionally start with “You” because it is you who gave in exceedingly generous ways in 2020. It is you who have prayed for us, encouraged us, spoken up for us, and connected us.
Like you have heard and likely said, it was a year none of us will soon forget and it was extraordinarily hard as well for so many. It was an impactful year though! You gave in ways that helped so many in some truly important ways. Your gifts allowed street kids to learn computer coding in Beirut, orphans to have food and clothes in Eastern Europe, and large communities of orphans and caregivers in Africa to have food to eat while suffering from severe food shortages brought on by the realities of Covid-19 in their communities.
So, please know you have been a blessing to us and those we serve and please know you are very, very appreciated. You have our gratitude and our appreciation for all that you have made possible.
Grateful to God for each of you,
Rob Browne, President/CEO” (YouthReach International)
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“Thanks so much for your reply. That particular poem, WAIT, requires a little more investigating where it goes with permission since it was actually, through unusual circumstances, published in a beautiful book in which it was illustrated with both art and photography and sold in stores. It is no longer being published commercially, but I have a personal stock of them.
I would love to know about you and your wife’s personal testimony, by the way, but I will also need to see a sampling of some kind of what the book is about and learn how it will be used. Your email address as well as your closing Scriptural quotes bring blessing and curiosity about what interesting ministry you are providing overseas.
Please let me hear from you again so that we can see clearly what to do for you.
Also “His,” Martha Kelfer”
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“Thanks so much for the 2 Books and the Special letter from Victor Knowles, and your letters are always great. May God bless you. Both you are in my prayers daily. Only God can get us through these troubling times! Take care.
Love, Vi Radabah”
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“As we enter 2021, I wanted to encourage you all to be faithful, to be reliable…to be unwavering…to put God first in all that you do. Scripture speaks often of God’s faithfulness. Over and over we learn that when God says He will do something, He does it. That being said, God’s word also tells us that faithfulness is a characteristic that many lack. I challenge you all this year to be faithful. To model for your children and loved ones what it means to truly follow Jesus. Upward is growing and now more than ever, we need people to step up and start serving and giving and caring…I pray for you all every week and it is my heart’s desire that you all would faithfully serve Jesus. If you haven’t already noticed, we are living out the book of Acts! What a great time to be a follower of Christ. I can’t wait to see what God does this year.
Kirk Friesen, Upward Church”
“There is more grace in Christ than there is sin in us!” ~ Puritan preacher Richard Sibbes
“I preach as a dying man to dying men – as if never more to preach again!” ~ Richard Baxter (another Puritan pastor)
“Wicked lies can never overpower the radiance of truth written in blood.” ~ Comment by a persecuted believer
“God gave us two ends: one end we sit on; the other end we think with. Success depends on which one you use. Heads you win! Tails you lose!” ~ Rick Hughes
“Light is far more powerful than darkness!” ~ One small light in Carlsbad Caverns illuminates a huge cavern.
“I am a prayer warrior. I have learned, you see, that prayers are stronger than any trouble here on Earth could ever be.” ~ Anonymous
- Please pray with us and for our friends here in USA who are considering the idea of becoming regional representatives for Overseas Outreach. This is an important step in the ongoing of Overseas Outreach. I plan to keep you informed about who, when, and whether we can make a trip together to Ukraine.
- I am thankful that both Della and I can be serving on the prayer team for Eagle Christian Church. I love teaching and preaching, but there has been little opportunity for me to do so in recent months, so I’m doing lots of reading, researching, and praying. Acts 6:4 tells us the priorities of the apostles in Jerusalem: “we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.” Amen! This may be the most important ministry for me now! Let’s thank God that we can enter His presence and come boldly before His throne of grace!
- In this time of turmoil in our country and the world, it is vitally important for all of us to remember:
1st – Keep looking up! “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.” Hebrews 12:1-4 (NKJV)
2nd – Never give up hope or lose our confidence! “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching… I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:1-2, 7-8 (NKJV); “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching…Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: ‘For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.” Hebrews 10:22-25, 35-39 (NKJV)
4. For supplemental income, and for the opportunity to teach students again, I have applied to Nampa Christian Schools to be available as a substitute teacher. I want to help train disciples and commit the Word to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. This may be another avenue to do so. Please pray.
5. Our sincere “Thank you!” to every one of you who pray for and financially support this outreach ministry. We do not yet have the funds to launch a radio ministry focused on Biblical Christian worldview and creation evangelism. Please pray with us for that opportunity – if it is our Lord’s will.
We are in the process of getting our testimony booklet published, which should be ready very soon. You are welcome to have a free copy on two conditions:
- That you read it! (It is about 60 pages.)
- That you share it with someone.
Here is what two of our proofreaders wrote to us:
“I read your testimony manuscript and found it filled with examples of how an awesome God works in two of his precious souls. Thanks for sharing with me! I didn’t find any problems during my proof reading, but perhaps I was too interested in the story to critique. 😊😊 Thank you to both you and Della for your continued faithful service to our Lord! ~ Duane (McMurdie)”
“Proofing your work was indeed an uplifting experience–purely joyful. What incredible testimonies you and your dear wife have. It was so wonderful to read how the Lord used your lives to bring glory to Him both abroad and in our country and how He continues to do so to this very day. In His love, Maria Cox”
Does Jesus Care?
“Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press, and the cares distress,
And the way grows weary and long?
Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.
Does Jesus care when my way is dark
With a nameless dread and fear?
As the daylight fades into deep night shades,
Does He care enough to be near?
Does Jesus care when I’ve tried and failed
To resist some temptation strong;
When for my deep grief there is no relief,
Tough my tears flow all the night long?
Does Jesus care when I’ve said ‘goodbye’
To the dearest on earth to me,
And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks—
Is it aught to Him? Does He see?”
– Frank E. Graeff, 1901
Copyright status is Public Domain