Monthly Archives: July 2014

thoughts just get inserted

One of the ways people in Eastern Ukraine were turned to Russia was the turning off of Ukrainian news and allowing only Russian propaganda (RT) into the region. The more you hear one side, the harder it is to comprehend both sides.

I heard a sermon on thoughts yesterday. The speaker reminded us that there are three sources of thought. Truth from God, lies from the devil and our own head.

A couple of weeks ago I read a guy who said we can’t stop thoughts that come into our head, but we have a choice of what to do with them.

The preacher said we have to recognize truth like a bank teller recognizes real money, thus making counterfeit money stand out. How? Bank tellers handle the real thing and thus they spot the fake.

Well, C. S. Lewis tells us we need reminding, and that this reminding comes in the form of “holy reading”… what I call daily devotional reading of the Bible.

I never cease to find a lack of otherwise committed Christians who don’t put enough emphasis on Bible reading because “I’m not moved by it.” Or “it has become dry.”

So what?

You eat even though you may not have your favorite food in front of you, don’t you?

You have time for social media don’t you? Is your life a seeking after pleasure, experience and feeling? Or do you discipline yourself, as Willard taught us, to train your heart and mind. Paul told us in Rom. 12:1-2 to renew our mind.

This involves Bible reading for the sake of handling truth enough that when lies are inserted by the enemy of truth, we can recognize and reject those lies. As Paul said to the Corinthians, “taking every thought captive for Christ.”

Lies will come.

What we do with them is the question.

How we’ve trained ourselves for that is key to what we do with them.

As Spurgeon urged, don’t have a conversation with people until you do so with God, read your Bible, pray. Develop the discipline and then you can deal with the lies that are bound to come!

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Filed under being a disciple, disciple making, Eastern Europe, spiritual questions/musings/wonderings

Tears … #prayForUkraine

Today could mark a major turn after the shooting down of the airliner… She weeps afresh for Ukraine…


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Kyiv: an encampment

The Maidan remains a camp site for many protesters.


It seems to have become a community of its own within the city.


They wait for the end of corruption in government.


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Filed under Eastern Europe, experience, photos along the way, shifts, Ukraine

Kyiv: the Maidan

In Independance Square, (Maidan Nezalezhnosti) known during the protests as The Maidan, many thousands of people stood for freedom. I’ve been here many times and was surprised to see this square still in an occupied condition.


The stage remains a place for the voices of protest. Today they sought an end to corruption.


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Filed under Eastern Europe, photos along the way, shifts, Ukraine

Kyiv: where protests began

In the following few posts I will be sharing some pix from my visit to the main square in downtown Kyiv.

Repairing the sidewalk.


The “weapons” of the battle were paving stones broken into throwing size. Today the sidewalks are being replaced with new paving stones.

Though in the posts to come you will see plenty of the old stones standing as part of the reminders, memorials really, of the months long battle.


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Filed under culture, Eastern Europe, photos along the way, shifts, Ukraine


We have all failed.

God’s Grace is greater than all my sin.

Sometimes we remember the former and forget the latter. When we forget Grace, our heads and hearts get all tied up with that failure. Fail is a book that is intended to help us get untied.


I am always looking for resources to read and discuss with the leaders I am privileged to work with. I’m picky as to what I want to invest time reading, I’m not looking for is the next “hot item.” Often, I’ll let a book sit out there for a long while before I get it. Let the other guys do the “weeding” is my method. When Fail came out, that was my plan.

But I got a direct tweet from a brother who I greatly respect (and you should, by the way, follow on Twitter @MattSmethurst) linking me to TGC’s review. It was by Scotty Smith and was helpful. Some train rides had allowed me to get caught up on some reading and on Thursday Matt’s message caught my eye again. Somewhere between Kyiv and Vinnitsya I downloaded J.R.Brigg’s book and began reading. On Sunday as I returned to Kyiv on the train, I finished it.

As I see it, this book is J.R.’s story of dealing with failure and how he took a very difficult ministry experience and, facing his insecurities, sometimes head on, sometimes not, he found the Grace of God to press on through the hurt and through the tears. There is a lot of hurt and tears out there in the ministry world and that is certainly reflected on the pages of this book.

Through his conferences ( ) J.R. Briggs has been used by God to facilitate a lot of healing of Christian leaders. This book seems to be an attempt to take that teaching and make it more readily available.

If you read this book and score high on the Myers-Briggs “feeling” temperament, you will love it. If, on the other hand you score high on the “thinking” end of the spectrum, you may wrestle with some of the stories and the tears. Too bad. Read the book.

If you read this book and think, “Huh, he talks about pastors all the time, this must not be for me.” No. It is for all of us. Read the book.

If you read the book and wonder if the implied goal of a “robust theology of failure” was actually acomplished. I did too. Doesn’t matter. Read the book.

If you heard that there need to be more stories of reconciliation with the people who hurt us, that’s a fair critique. I don’t care. Read the book.

Are you a follower of Jesus who fails? Read the book.

But here is what really stands out to me, EVERY elder, deacon, vestryman or whatever you are called in every church should read this book. If that would happen, lay leaders of local churches could get a window of how HARD ministry is and support their pastors better.

I’m especially grateful for J.R.’s take on the idol (my word) of success in USA churches (we have, sadly, successfully exported this idol to much of the world). He is spot on regarding “success.”

His “Recommended Resources” is especially helpful as well “Guiding Questions for Pastors and Leaders.” These may very well be worth the price of the book.

But the main reason I want you to buy Fail is the clear, concise (there’s a little meandering, but not too much) system of laying out the case for spiritual development and coaching within it. If you (whether pastor, ministry leader or lay leader or simply a follower of Jesus) will begin using the tools Briggs gives you, you will grow through the crap of life and be better equipped so that God can use you to help others who are hurting. Read the book.

The one area I wish was expanded was sabbath. But no worries, read
Dan Allender’s Sabbath AFTER you read Fail. Upon further reflection and review of my highlights, this is a very important read, make the time and read the book!

Got it?

Get it. click here and buy it and put it on TOP of your reading pile.


Filed under being a disciple, culture, disciple making, seeking understanding, spiritual questions/musings/wonderings

Still weeping #pray for Ukraine

In the midst of a war memorial park in Kyiv there are a couple of bridge like structures worked into the park to give you the impression that you are underground. On either side of the sort-of tunnel that is created are bronze (?) statuary that, if it were painting, would be a mural. These are scenes from WW2. In the midst of the soldiers and partisans, the workers and farmers (this was the Soviet Union after all) is a lone figure.

I’ve seen her several times over the years, she always caught my eye, this matriarchal figure, but recent events made me realize that her heart is breaking again. She is still weeping.


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Filed under Eastern Europe, experience, photos along the way, travel notes