Our trip through America has been going well – it’s been wonderful to see friends and family throughout the United States. Though there has been hard news of attacks and bombings in Ukraine, we have still had times of rest and peace while we are here.
That last one is the hard part about being here in America while everything is going on back there. People sometimes say to us, “I’m sure you’re glad you’re back here and not there!” Honestly, it hurts to be here while your friends are hurting or are under attack back home. We are definitely thankful for times to rest and be with family and friends; however, we are looking forward to going home and helping with the continuing needs there.
We really need wisdom for this. We want to serve well and safely – please pray along with us that God would show us His will for our family, including the specific needs that we can meet, without neglecting the work that He wants to do in our hearts as a family.
Before you go to bed tonight, please say a prayer for Ukraine and Russia. Tomorrow is the Soviet V-E Day, when Putin likes to have big military parades year after year. In the past, he has used holidays to launch attacks or strikes — bombing cities on Christmas, Easter, or New Years. We are concerned that he could basically do anything tomorrow, the biggest Russian military holiday of the year. Please pray that his plans fail and that we could just have a normal May 9th, both in Ukraine and in the EU.
This whole war could stop if Putin would just stop. If the Russians put down their arms, we would have peace. If Ukrainians put down our arms, they will kill us all.
Some musings about theology and working with other denominations I had at lunch today…
I used to lead children on canoeing trips down a small river in America. There were times when an island could separate two canoes, but they would still be in the same river. If the canoes are the church and the River is the Gospel, then we can have small theological islands that temporary separate us. However, we are still all believing in the same Christ, participating in the same salvation, and taking part in the same Living Water. We are still in the same river.
A problem can be when we make a big deal out of the islands, dragging our canoes onto them and getting stuck – we can even lose touch with the One True Gospel – by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone (not in Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Arminius, Piper, McArthur, or whomever else).
This is one of the reasons why I’ve been so open (especially lately with Ukraine at war) to work with Pentecostals, Baptists, Charismatics, Lutherans, and others that proclaim the True Gospel. I don’t want to get stuck on, “Well, we don’t take communion like that,” or “Sorry, we don’t baptize like that,” resulting in the Gospel being LESS EFFECTIVE in this dire time. Those are islands, not the River.
The Gospel is what unifies us, pushing us along to a common destiny – with Christ in Heaven. Yes, it is important to know where you stand theologically – parts of the river may have rocks that, otherwise easily avoided by sticking to the Word as a compass, will smash a canoe and force its passengers to seek safety in another fellowship. Some of those whose churches have been smashed or sunk may choose to leave the River entirely, forsaking the Gospel. This is a tragedy that SHOULD be avoided. However, I’m responsible for my canoe – if I try too hard to dictate someone else’s course, I may miss my own rocks ahead of me.
It is also unwise to float down the river without a canoe, as is life without a church. You are MUCH more likely to get stuck on the bank, to drift into stagnant water, or to be crushed in the rapids if all you have is a life-vest. Find a strong church that is faithful to the Word as its guide and stay afloat.
Lastly, beware of other rivers that, though they claim to have the same Christ, lead not to His Havens, but to the great waterfalls of humanism, relativism, liberalism, religiosity, moralism (often connected with conservatism), or agnosticism – all of which lead to the end of those unfortunate enough to go there and fall to their deaths.