In 4 weeks we’ll be heading back to Canada to visit our family, then to Texas to visit our friends at Crossroads. The kids are terribly excited. I haven’t thought about it too much, but have to admit I’m really looking forward to the break. We’ll be gone an entire month. We’d like to catch up with as many friends and family as possible during this time, so if you want to grab a coffee or lunch, please let us know and we’ll schedule it.
This past month has been one of the most difficult, yet rewarding seasons here in Ukraine. As a young leadership team, we’ve been confronted with some challenges that needed attention. God has used these situations to bring unity, a stronger appreciation for God’s revealed will (scripture) and its authority in our lives. It’s an interesting principle, I think, that the most personal growth takes place when we are placed in tough situations. The pressure ‘against’ us, or challenge in front of us strips away those things we hold loosely, and we find ourselves determining matters of ‘conviction’ vs simple ‘opinion.’ When the storm comes, what do you really believe? When you are faced with adversity, there the trial reveals your moral and spiritual center.
“For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” James 1:3
For me personally, the challenges have thrown me headlong into a renewed adoration for God’s Word. God hasn’t left us alone, scrambling to figure things out subjectively, groping for solutions to our temporal and eternal realities. Scripture brings clarity, strengthens resolve, gives hope and deepens my faith. My faith is tested most in the fire of controversy and conflict. It’s out of these seasons however I see the most fruit, stuff like patience, forbearance, humility, devotion.
Maybe you are in a fire. If you aren’t, I’m sure it’s coming soon – it’s life. I hope they come and leave quickly. However, the trials should be faced not with pure pragmatism and an attitude of ‘let’s just get this over with.’ If we embrace the situation as an opportunity to grow, I think we find some redemptive value out of even the worst problems. If we resist, or approach difficulties with anger, bitterness, or other forms of pride, the challenges only serve to reveal our sinful heart, something we all should realize by now anyway. I think trials are designed to do more than reveal our hearts though, they are designed to fortify our faith in God (in the life of the believer).
Let us cling to God’s Word, let it direct your thoughts, increase your love and ability to forgive, as Christ Jesus forgives us (Eph 4 :25-32). It’s His grace that will enable us to turn a tough situation into an opportunity to grow. If you don’t have a living, sincere relationship with God, that should be your greatest ‘issue’ in your life – dwarfing all other momentary problems. Go to God in prayer, seek Him while He may be found. He’s a great God, proven His love for you by becoming Christ, living down here with us, and taking the punishment of sin upon Himself. But you need to come to Him, you need to choose. God has turned your greatest problem (sin and resulting separation from God) into your greatest reward (forgiveness and relationship restored!).
In September, every Sunday from 5-7pm we are hosting as a church a “Cafe Night” in our town. The college students are returning, and we’re reaching out to build relationships with them and others in the town with a relaxed, positive environment. We’ll have Christian singers/musicians, some drama and testimonies from various Christians through the month. Please pray for us, this is a big outreach for us and we’re actually canceling all but one Sunday morning service to be ‘fishers of men’ in this format.
Here is the invitation we are using – thought you might find interesting:)
Bruce & Deb