Life is a vapor…

May 31, 2008

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”” ~ James 4: 13-15

Life is a vapor. It’s here, and then it’s gone… 

I wrote a post about this truth a few months back (click here to see it). In that post my emphasis was on acknowledging God’s sovereignty over everything; in this one my emphasis is on living each day as if it’s your last (because it might be). This is on my mind and heart because of two things that happened this week:

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This is the second poem Jonathan shared at our Coffeehouse a few weeks ago:

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D.A. Carson is one of my favorite Bible teachers – I’ve been greatly blessed by both his sermons and his commentaries and other books. I was excited when Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson was published at the beginning of this year… I’d heard or read Carson refer to his father several times, and each time the picture painted was a beautiful one of faithfulness, of true godliness. I just finished the book – I read it in less than a week, so wrapped up in it that I only put it down when I had to. It was a huge blessing to read! (and moved me to tears several times) I’ll share a few highlights from the book in later posts, but for now, here’s one reference Carson made to his father in another book, A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers , pp25-26:

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Bethel Grace hosted The Cave: a Coffee House experience, a few weeks ago. Jonathan Seruyange, a friend of Mark and Kim Spicer, was one of the performers. His poetry blessed me greatly, so I asked him if I could share it on our blog. He graciously agreed. I’ll post the second poem he shared with us later this week. Here is the first:     

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Hello Friends!

So I figured since I actually have real internet now, I thought I might take the time to write a good update and let you all know how things have been going since we got here. I’m not sure that I’ll be able to do a good job of concisely putting into words all of the thoughts, emotions, stories, misadventures and workings of God that are all running through my head right now but I will do my best.

Life. Oh life. Living in Ukraine has been beyond anything I would have ever thought or even wanted to imagine it would be. Every day is a challenge that stretches me further than I know how to go and with each new day I am more confident in the fact that this is where I am supposed to be right now. And also more confident in the fact that I might be completely out of my mind. At almost any moment of the day, if I stop and look at what we’re doing or where I am or who I’m with I just laugh and think, “What is my life?!” This country, the food, the culture, the people, the kids… it’s all pretty insane.

Yesterday marks 8 weeks since we left America. It’s funny because on one hand it feels like we just got here, and on the other hand it feels like we’ve been here for forever. The things we have already seen and experienced and dealt with and cried over and learned… it’s more than I could have thought possible in 8 weeks time. Some of it has been truly amazing. Some of it has been extremely hard. Every day’s emotions seem to often include every possible emotion. I wish I was good with words but I don’t feel like I can really communicate any of it. God is working here. Some days it is much harder to see than others. There are moments where I am so excited to be where I am, and then there are moments where I wonder what in the world possessed me to move to this country. I am learning to cling to the good moments and hold on to them when things aren’t going as smoothly as I might wish them to. These kids… There are so many scars on each of their hearts and sometimes, or more often then not, the hurt from those scars comes out in less than pleasant ways. We keep telling each other that this is going to be a long road with these kids and I keep reminding myself that nothing is going to change overnight, but wow… some days it just seems like the road gets longer every day instead of shorter. The abuse, neglect, hatred, anger and nightmares these kids have lived through is more than I could ever imagine. Every time I hear just another part of one of their stories I feel like I see just a little deeper into the pain of their hearts. And I feel an even greater need to love them. 99% of the time I feel so utterly clueless as to how to help them. I daily wonder if my pitifully frail example of God’s love will ever be able to help change them at all. Praise God that it is His love that is what will really change them and not me. Praise Him that I don’t really have anything to do with it and He can work through even the most helpless 21 year old college drop outs who are completely ill-equipped to do the job.

There are a thousand stories I would love to share, but I don’t know where I would even really start. So here’s the deal. I don’t feel like all of you will want to read my rambling attempts to communicate on a super regular basis… thus I have started a blog. http://ukrizfoshiz.blogspot.com/. As of right now, there is nothing there but a picture of my face but I fully intend to start putting some stuff there ÓËÏÒÏ – soon. Maybe even tonight… But right now it is 1:32am and I haven’t had a good nights sleep in a while, so I just might go to bed. So this is not the most amazing update you have ever gotten, but if you have made it this far congratulations, you’re almost done! Thank you so much for all of you who have been emailing me and praying and supporting! I am so thankful for all of you! And if you haven’t been doing that, maybe you should get on it. 😛

Prayer requests: We’ve had some issues with kids drinking while they are here at our apartment. We’ve set up rules and consequences but they aren’t really having much impact right now. We are trying to think about and pray about what other things we can do besides what we’ve already been doing. So please pray for wisdom and direction in that and that we would come up with a new/revised plan soon. Also pray for Roman Yeremenko – I don’t fully understand what is going on because of a lack of discussion with a translator, but I guess he’s in the early stages of TB. The doctor told him not to drink and not to smoke and he should be ok… He’s on medication but that’s about all I know. Pray that God would heal him and that he would do and have the strength to do whatever he needs to keep himself healthy [he, like most every other Ukrainian, smokes a lot and doesn’t really have any intention of quitting]. Pray for more financial support as we are being given more and more kids to minister to and thus, more and more money needed in our budget.

Ok this is officially really long and I am going to stop, for all our sakes. I love you guys. Thanks for all your support!

Anika

 

For all our posts on this ministry to Ukrainian orphans, click here.

           

        
To my shame, I have not yet read the Narnia books (I know, I know – what planet have I been on? And how can I call myself a Christian?!). I enjoyed this movie, but I think others who read the book may not enjoy it as much… While Christian themes/ imagery were in the movie, I got the impression that they were probably quite toned down compared to the book (which reviews by people who read the book have confirmed). Also, from what I’ve read in reviews, there are a few plot differences between the book and the movie, and a couple characters in the movie are quite different than they were in the book. Like I said – if you are a Narnia fan, you may be disappointed. One other thing – I thought the movie was pretty violent for what was supposed to be an adaption of a book originally written for children (there’s not much “bloodiness”, but plenty of killing). That all said, I still think it’s well worth seeing.
          
I found Jeffrey Overstreet’s review of the film to be very interesting. Click here to see it.  
        
Don’t forget that we’re watching the first Narnia movie, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” at Bethel Grace at 6:30 tonight! All are welcome – I hope to see you here.
           
~ Donovan
       

By “soon” I mean “in the next 6 months”… (hopefully!) I’ve read some of them (or part of them) already.

I’ve already told you about two of them:

Others include:

Books I’ll be reading for youth ministry/ church:

Personal:

~ Donovan

This is a great sermon archive!

Speakers include CJ Mahaney, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, Wayne Grudem, Josh Harris, John MacArthur, Al Mohler, John Piper, and Bruce Ware (amongst other great speakers) (search by speaker from the menu on the left of the page).

Topics include marriage, worship, “business to the glory of God”, “sanctifying the ordinary”, “suffering and sovereignty”, etc. The messages from the Together for the Gospel conferences are available here too.

To see the archive/ access these sermons, click here.

This article is by Vern Poythress, a New Testament professor at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. It’s excellent! I encourage all parents to read it. Even if you would tweak this approach somewhat (I doubt many of us will attempt to teach our kids basic biblical Greek and Hebrew!), there is much in this approach that is very, very helpful… 

Let’s hold the bar high for our children – calling them to live fully-orbed lives with excellence and wisdom, for the glory of God. Let’s consider how to instruct them, help them, and encourage them so that they can reach that bar… for their good and the glory of Christ.

Read the article below:    

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Tim Keller is one of the sharpest minds in Christianity today. In his nearly two decades as a pastor in New York, he has had much experience tackling the questions of today’s skeptics… He is a very helpful voice on how to communicate biblical truth in a postmodern age.

This presentation at UC Berkeley is based on some of the material in his book, “The Reason for God: Belief in an age of Skepticism“. The lecture is followed by a Q&A session. To view or listen to this presentation, click here.

To read our earlier post on the book, click here.