Why the Toppling of Lenin in Kharkiv Is More Significant than You Might Think

Yesterday in the center Of Ukraine’s second largest city a pro-Ukraine crowd cut the legs from underneath Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and pulled his image to the ground!

Lenin falls in Kharkiv AP Photo/Igor Chekachkov

Lenin falls in Kharkiv AP Photo/Igor Chekachkov

You may think, “Big deal, it was just a statue!”

It was a big deal and let me tell you why!

Lenin Was More Than a Leader, He Was Divine

One thing the leaders of the USSR quickly realized was that they couldn’t just get rid of the idea of God. People need a god, they need something or someone to worship.

It was clear by the time Lenin died that in the eyes of many people he had already risen to divine status. Nearly a million people passed by his body within the first 3 days after his death.

Soviet leaders decided that it would be good to keep Lenin around and had his body embalmed and placed for viewing in the Lenin Mausoleum. They also quickly renamed St. Petersburg, one of the most significant Russian cities, to Leningrad.

What followed in the years after was the creation of thousands of monuments, stories of how he loved children, songs of praise and many romanticized paintings of Lenin! His portrait hung in every classroom and children learned from an early age how amazing Lenin was and that he loved them and that he was their “grandfather.”

They even had a saying about Lenin that went like this:

Lenin was, Lenin is, Lenin will be!

Does that sound familiar? Maybe because it describes the nature of God!

Here’s an excerpt from nice song that children would sing about Lenin.

Lenin – is the blossom of spring,
Lenin – a victory cry!
Hail the centuries, Lenin,
Our dear Ilyich!

The fate of peoples dreams of generations
He foresaw with his eagle eye.
Immortal, in life, Lenin will live forever
It was his wise work that created the communist party.

Lenin Was Really a Russian Leader

They may have called it the Soviet Union but in reality the former USSR was a Russian led and Russian dominated state. Moscow was the capital and the glory of the Soviet Union. Russians saw it as their empire, their dominion.

Everything significant happened in Moscow. The communist party headquarters was in Moscow and from it flowed all power and authority. Although Russia was technically a republic of the USSR it had by far the largest population and the greatest landmass. The other republics recognized that the Soviet Union was really a Russian union.

Lenin Represents the Soviet Style Leadership

Soviet style of leadership is typified by a system that is held together with bribes, threats, fear and oppression. It is a system that allows only the dishonest to get rich and stay rich. It promotes cronyism and corruption.

If you grew up in Ukraine or Russia then it’s safe to say that if you see a wealthy person or a person with political power you immediately assume that they are corrupt.  You know that there’s very little chance of getting to where they are with out being involved in some less than honest practices.

Many Ukrainians are demanding a new style of leadership. A style that looks more like Western Europe, where laws are meant to protect the people and not those in power. Where you can live honestly, obey the law and still do well. They don’t want to be forced back into this new form of the Soviet Union that is rolling across the border to the East.

Lenin Represents the Current Russo-Nationalistic Movement

The current movement of Russo-nationalism certainly looks much different than the communistic utopia that Lenin tried so hard to create. Honestly, I think Lenin himself would be horrified by what is happening in Eastern Ukraine right now. However, for Ukrainians Lenin represents Russian domination and authority.

Lenin represents the forceful expansion of the Russian Federation into places like South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Transnistria, Crimea and Eastern Ukraine.

What the Toppling of Lenin Means in Kharkiv

Kharkiv is Ukraine’s second largest city and it lies less than 20 miles from the Russian border. Kharkiv is primarily a Russian speaking city and historically has many close ties to Russia. Many people who live in and around Kharkiv travel back and forth to Russia on regular basis for business and to visit family.

Despite these close ties to Russia Kharkiv is making a bold statement! They are saying,

“We do not welcome a Russian invasion! We do not want Russian control! We do not want to go back to the Soviet Union!”

Thankfully, so far Kharkiv has managed to successfully keep Russia from slipping her fingers around the neck of this Ukrainian city. Now that the Lenin idol is down, I’m hopeful that this will mark a future free from Russian aggression!

Category: Ukraine · Tags:

This Is What Trust in Your Father Looks Like!

trust

I always enjoyed throwing my children as high into the air as I could.
I never dropped them!
And they never doubted that I would catch them.
This picture reminds me of the kind of trust I should have in my Heavenly Father!
Innocent and undiluted trust brings joy.
It brings joy to me His child when I know whose hands will catch me.
It brings joy to my Father when he sees the smile on my face.

Question: What do you need to do to regain a childlike trust in the Heavenly Father?

Category: General Updates · Tags:

#39 Seven Ways Worry Destroys You

Worry isn’t as harmless as we often think! It can sneak into your mind and quietly begin to destroy your life if you’re not careful!

In this episode of “Now Is the Time” I identify seven ways worry can destroy you. I also show you the one mistake we often make that leads to this type of destructive worry.

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What Worry Destroys

We tend to worry about what we think might be dangerous but we often don’t realize that worry its self is one of the most dangerous things we can engage in!

  • It destroys your health
  • It destroys your productivity
  • It destroys your mind
  • It destroys your family
  • It destroys your finances
  • It destroys your confidence
  • It destroys your faith

A Revealing Question

It’s one thing to understand the destructive nature of worry and it’s another thing to know what to do about it! Jesus asked his disciples one shocking question after a terrifying experience on the Sea of Galilee.

He simply said,

“Where is your faith?” Luke 8:25

The answer to this question both reveals the reason we worry and points to the solution for our worries!

“The faith that Jesus was talking about is not a general faith that is often referred to in today’s popular culture. It is not faith in some higher good or simply having a positive outlook in life. It most certainly is not faith in yourself, in your abilities or talents. Jesus called us to a faith much higher than ourselves. He called us to believe in the only thing that can actually lift us from our worries and set us on solid ground. Jesus called for faith in himself!” What If… 

Links

World Magazine interviewed me about the situation in Ukraine. The interview appears in the cover story for the Oct 4th issue.

Here are my thoughts about the Mars Hill/Mark Driscoll debacle.

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Ask me anything anytime you want or give me a call and leave a message (747) 221-6478.

Question: How have you noticed that worry destroys your life? In What ways does faith in Jesus give you peace and rid you of your worry?

Category: Now is the Time Podcast · Tags:

A Surprising Lesson From the Mark Driscoll Debacle

I’ve never been to a service at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington. However, I do have family who attend Mars Hill and a few other friends who are involved in the church. So I’ve been watching the unfolding drama of Mark Driscoll from a far with some interest.

driscol

It’s strange how we react when a big named preacher gets himself into trouble. It’s like that fender-bender on the highway in rush hour traffic. Everyone slows down way more than they need to, just so they can catch a glimpse of the poor guy whose insurance rates are about to double! Sometimes we may even secretly think to ourselves, “I bet he wasn’t watching the road!” as we rubber neck past the scene.

Use Some Caution!

Which is why I think we need to use the uttermost caution before we jump to our keyboards and start giving our opinion of what went wrong in someone else’s church and how their leadership should respond.

If it’s not your church, then maybe you should stay out of it. Maybe you don’t know the whole story, maybe you should focus on the problems in your own church before trying to tell other churches how to fix their problems!

What I’m saying here is not a judgement on Mars Hill or on Mark Driscoll. Whether or not the accusations about Pastor Mark are true , I don’t know and it’s not mine to make the call!

Certainly Mars Hill does have problems that they are working on and I’ll let them do their thing. What I’m writing about here is a lesson that we can all learn from these recent events.

Quality in the Pulpit

I’ve listened to Mark Driscoll’s preaching and I’ve read a couple of his books like “Doctrine” and “Religion Saves.” While I certainly don’t agree with everything he teaches, I’ve found both Pastor Mark’s books and preaching helpful in the last couple of years. He’s a gifted speaker and writer and many have benefited from that.

However…

Character out of the Pulpit

Reading some of the letters written with concerns about Pastor Mark, I have noticed one common theme. Those former church members and leaders who have voiced their concerns tend to point out that they believe Pastor Mark to be abusive, controlling and angry.

Theses are serious character problems if they typify a persons day-to-day behavior behind the scenes. These are also issues that can be kept hidden from 99% of the people who listen to Pastor Mark’s sermons and read his books. If you’re like me then you don’t have a personal relationship with Pastor Mark and so there is really no way to even know whether his character matches up with what he preaches.

What You Don’t See Matters

It would be almost tempting to think that his character doesn’t really matter that much, but it does!

God’s Word clearly lays out for us the requirements of elders in the church and character plays a primary role! A brief reading through 1 Timothy 3:1-7 reveals such important qualifications as:

  • Sober-minded
  • Self-controlled
  • Respectable
  • Hospitable
  • Not violent but gentle
  • Not quarrelsome
  • Not a lover of money

Oh yes and there’s one more!

  • Able to teach

Distorted Priorities

For too long the Western Church has elevated knowledge and the ability to teach above all other qualifications. We send guys to seminary and figure if the school spits them out on the other side and slaps a degree in their hand then they’re pastoral material!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against seminaries or theological education! I’ve been to seminary and I teach theology! They are vital but they can’t stand alone! What I’m saying is this:

The character of the pastor or preacher is the framework upon which good theology and great preaching is built!

Give me a knowledgeable pastor who studies his Bible 8 hours a day and can recite large portions of the New Testament in Greek, yet lacks moral fortitude and discretion, and I will show you a man who will eventually destroy every church that so foolishly allows him to lead it!

Give me an unlearned man with a willing heart who simply understands core Biblical values and lives by them unrelentingly, and I will show you a man who despite the lack of a seminary degree will be used of God to accomplish what others could only dream of!

Character outside of the pulpit must precede and accompany quality in the pulpit!

It Hurts to Learn

This is a painful lesson that churches need to learn and that pastors and preachers need to understand. If we are not carefully aware of character, we can easily fall into the temptation that as long as the sermon is great, then that’s all that matters.

I think God said it best when he told Samuel,

“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Sam 6:7

Churches can’t look at the heart like God can but they can take careful observation of the attitudes and tendencies that typify a man’s life. Through prayer and patience these things often become clear.

On the other hand if pastors are honest, they know the problems of their own heart. As a pastor and a preacher I must daily fight with prayer and the Word to make sure that my life represents my teaching, to ensure that my character at home and in private matches my words in public!

This is constant battle for all pastors, one that we must never pull back on! Thankfully God can and does give us the strength we need.

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” 1 Peter 1:3

Question: What lessons have you learned from the Mark Driscoll Debacle?

The Toll of Human Suffering in Ukraine

Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the ongoing war and violence in Eastern Ukraine have left in their wake a tidal wave of human suffering and pain. The violence has killed or injured thousands and uprooted hundreds of thousands! The toll has been especially heavy upon the elderly and the orphans. Those who lack mobility and who aren’t easily able to find shelter have suffered and are suffering still!

Ap Photo Dmitry Lovetsky

Ap Photo Dmitry Lovetsky

Cities Destroyed

In a matter of a few months cities in Eastern Ukraine have gone from bustling societies with robust economies and lively populations to burned-out shells that dimly represent their former glory. Those left in these war-torn areas are often left without money, without electricity, without water, without food on the shelves of the stores or medicines in the pharmacies!

Their plight is desperate and their outlook on the future is grim.

Christians Affected

Numerous churches, Christian schools and other Christian organizations have been seized by rebel forces and been forced out of their places of worship, study and ministry! Amazingly many of the believers who have chosen to stay in the conflict zone are using every opportunity they have to continue serving the needy, preaching the gospel, and bringing the hope of Christ to those in desperate need of everything!

Help on Its Way

In response to this great humanitarian crisis, our team of ABWE missionaries established the “Ukraine Crisis Fund.” The purpose of the fund is to give aid to those affected by the current crisis in Ukraine. All funds are given either through local church connections or with the council of church leaders. Our desire is that the funds would not only help those in need materially and physically but would also strengthen the church’s ability to share the hope of Jesus with those they are ministering to.

Over the last three months donors have given nearly  $25,000 to the Ukraine Crisis fund. I wanted to take a few minutes to let you know how those funds are being used.

What’s Been Done

  • We’re helping a children’s home that is housing 62 orphan refugees install windows before winter and build proper beds. We’ve also purchased some basic food items for them and all this has been done with the help of local churches and a Christian organization that works with these orphans.
  • We’ve helped two churches in Lugansk region who are actively ministering in the war zone. One church of 30 members is doing its best to care for around 600 displaced people. Another church, despite the fact that their building was seized, is working to care for about 20 disabled.
  • Several churches in Dontesk region have also received aid through this fund which will help them provide for the basic needs of those that they minister to.
  • Twice we’ve helped sponsor an evangelistic group that ministers to soldiers in the Kherson region.
  • We’ve given significant aid to help house several refugee families who are living in a church facility in Odessa.

Thank You!

If you have given to the Ukraine Crisis fund I want to thank you and to convey the gratitude of the refugees and those in the Eastern Ukraine whom you have helped! Our Ukrainian brothers and sisters also say

“Thank you!”

Category: Ministry, Ukraine · Tags:

#38 How to Conquer Your Fears and Face the Facts

The first time I watched the movie Jaws I was about ten years old! The next summer I had to work up a lot of courage to stick my feet in the water!

In this episode of “Now Is the Time” I read a section from my book “What If… How to Kill Worry and Anxiety Before They Kill You.”

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maui-shark-attack

Fear disables you and fear and worry work together in a vicious cycle that will hold you back from accomplishing what God has called you to do!

The thing about fear is that it is rarely based upon truth; like worry it finds its home in the hypothetical and theoretical. Assumptions, imagination, and blind guesses are fear’s ally! In order to eliminate fear, we need to bring our minds out of the cloud of speculation and back to the solid ground of truth.

God Knows You

God doesn’t just know about you, he knows you! He knows what you do and he knows how you think. Why is this comforting? If God knows everything about you, then he also knows all potential dangers, and nothing can catch him off guard.

Check out Psalm 139:1-6

God Cares for You

How much more encouraging and empowering is it to know that the Creator God knows you and cares for you? When fear, discouragement or anxiety strike, this is the foundation we need to come back to. This is what we can know for sure!

Peter puts it so clearly and simply!

…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
(1 Peter 5:7)

God Is With You

Knowing that we are not alone, but that God is with us every step of the way, gives us the courage we need to take a forward step of faith and to dive into the water, even if we can’t see the bottom!

Check out Psalm 139:7-1

God Is Able to Meet Your Needs

God’s knowledge and care are comforting, but we need more than that; we need to know God’s ability! All too often, we under-estimate what God can do. Our weak view of God cripples our faith and allows for worry and doubt to creep in.

Check out Philippians 4:19

God Is Able to Give You Peace

Fear stirs up the heart and gives it no rest. You can’t have fear and peace at the same time. In today’s world, peace is sought after by nearly everyone but it is rarely found. Some have even called political peace a time to reload, unfortunately, that statement is more accurate than I’d like to admit!

The peace that God offers us through Jesus is unique. Unlike political peace, it’s not a time to reload! Jesus satisfies our greatest need for peace on the heart level. He allows us to have peace with God.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
(John 14:27)

Announcement

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Order the Kindle version here!

Links

Download this podcast on your mobile device by subscribing on iTunes or Stitcher.

Watch President Poroshenko’s address to US Congresss.

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Ask me any question you want right here or give me a call and leave a message (747) 221-6478.

Question: What fears do you have? How has Jesus helped you conquer your fears?

Category: Now is the Time Podcast · Tags: ,

A Letter from Lughansk Churches

Despite the cease-fire the situation is Lughansk region is beyond words in terms of the human loss and suffering. There have been reports of at least two more churches being seized this week in Eastern Ukraine, one in Lughansk and one in Krasny Luch.

This week I talked with one of the ministers from Lughansk region whose church has been seized by rebels. We have given some aid to his church through our missions Ukraine Crisis Fund. He thanked me for the helped and said that despite the fact that they have no church building the Church continues to minister to the needs of people!

Photo REUTERS/ Marko Djurica

A woman leaves her burned out village in Lughansk region |Photo REUTERS/ Marko Djurica

Below is a letter I want to share with you from the overseeing pastor for Lughansk region. You can sense the pain in his words as he writes about the situation in Lughansk. You can read the original in Russian here.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, deacons and pastors of the Church of Christ!

I writing to you on behalf of the churches and ministers in Lughansk region. A real war has filled our cities and our villages inevitably bringing with it destruction, pain, death, sickness and hunger. I’m not writing about this as someone who is looking on from a distance but as someone who is directly involved in these tragic events. God called me to personally to experience this horror, fear and pain of war.

My city, Pervomaisk has been terribly destroyed, for more than 50 days there has been no water, electricity, no gas, no stores and no food, no pharmacies and no medication. Explosions, bombs and rockets. The dead are counted in the hundreds. Our wonderful church building “Revival” has been burnt to the ground. The city is empty. The lives of the church leaders have been threatened. The Church has been scattered. The people are left without even blood, they have lost everything they had. This is only a small part of what’s happening – it’s a drop of water in a sea of suffering that is storming our area. The situation in other cities is a little better. Lugansk is destroyed. Thousands of refugees. Church buildings in Antratsit and many others have been seized.

But thanks be to God, He is faithful and he has not forgotten us!

I want to thank you brothers for your active participation in our suffering, and in our ministry!

I know that in many churches they are regularly praying for us -THANK YOU! I ask you to continue praying! Many churches and families opened their homes to refugees from our region -may the Lord take care of you! Many churches gather food and clothes and I assure you that these are needed and valued! (In a few areas of our region the humanitarian catastrophe is such that people are waiting days for bread and water.)

I ask you and I exhort you to do the following:

Don’t stop praying for us. Pray for peace and for freedom in our area. Pray for repentance. Pray for the ministers and the churches that are carrying out this ministry in such difficult circumstances.

I ask you to open your heart to all who are going through tough times, to those who have lost their house, their work, their pay and their retirement. Open your heart and the doors to your homes. Accept these people and bless them!

I ask you and I call on you to help! Help churches, help the refugee camps, help the ministers who stayed behind in the conflict zone! This is extremely difficult, but we see how God is blessing our toil through those seeking God, repenting and being baptized.

We know that God will calm this stormy cruel sea! We believe that He is powerful to transform the suffering and pain of our people into joy and peace!

This is what we pray for with you, rejoicing that through the blood of the Lamb we became close family in order to suffer together, support each other and come to the aid of one another.

May the Lord bless!

Your brother in the Lord

Elisha Pronin –  Area Association of Churches, Evangelical Christian Baptist, Lughansk Area

You can give to the Baptist Union here or through our Ukraine Crisis fund here.

Category: Ministry · Tags: ,

This Man Just Left His Family

This man’s name is Dima. He’s my friend, my student and my brother in Christ! Last year he got married, last month he had his first child and last week he left his family!

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He left his family because of all the fighting!

No, there’s no fighting in his family, the fighting I’m talking about is in Eastern Ukraine. He left his family because he was drafted into the army. He left his family because his willing to risk his life to protect his country and the lives of his dear little family!

Things here happen pretty quickly. He received his draft notice in the mail on Monday and by Wednesday he was gone!

I called him up as soon as I found out that he had been drafted to see how he was doing and to let him know that we were praying for him.

This is what he told me:

“Caleb, don’t worry about me, there are lots of possibilities for ministry here!”

He’s got his spirit in the right place and I’m trying not to worry about him! Isn’t it ironic that I should even say that after writing a book about how to stop worrying with one entire chapter about how to stop worrying over the safety of loved ones?

God seems to have a way of testing your faith and making sure your heart and your words match up!

The contrast

In world where all too often the only fighting young men do is with their wife, Dima’s example of faithfulness and sacrifice is inspiring.

We need more young men who understand the marriage isn’t about getting their needs met but rather about meeting the needs of your spouse.

We need more young men who act on principle despite the fact that it means traveling the road of hardship and discomfort.

We need more men who are willing to fight for their wives instead of with their wives!

A lesson in sacrifice

War has helped me to understand a lot of things in a way I never saw them before. Perhaps one of the greatest lessons that war teaches is the lesson of sacrifice!

When life is good sacrifice is about letting your spouse watch the movie she picked out instead of the one you wanted or maybe it’s taking an hour or two to fix that leaky toilet valve or doing the dishes after dinner. That’s all well and good but more and more that type of sacrifice seems to lose its glory when compared to the sacrifices of wartime.

The sacrifice in war is two sided, there’s also the side of the wife and children who are left behind. Sometimes their sacrifice is the greater one! Our family experienced that in 2006 when my sister’s husband was killed by a sniper in Iraq. These are painful sacrifices that will never completely heal in this lifetime.

One thing is for sure

It’s wartime that forces us back to those truths that we can know for sure no matter the situation, no matter the condition, no matter the loss, no matter our emotions!

All hope outside of Jesus is temporary!

All hope in Jesus is eternal and can never be taken away!

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
(Rom 5:3-5)

Question: Will you please pray for my friend Dima and his family?

Category: Ministry · Tags: , ,

Fighting Kills Elderly Church Member During Ceasefire in Donetsk Ukraine

Yesterday I received heart wrenching news from a friend whose church is in Donetsk. A piece of shrapnel killed one of their church members right in her own yard! This is the brutal truth of the supposed ceasefire in Ukraine.

People are still dying!

Officially the war has killed around 3,000 people, unofficially I’m sure the number is much higher!

When we quantify deaths with numbers and percentages they bear little weight on our conscience and on our heart. But when you have a connection, you begin to understand the overwhelming pain inflicted upon families, communities, and churches by just one death!

Photo: Dan Malmqvist/Nya Tider http://www.nyatider.nu/en/a-visit-to-war-torn-donetsk/

This young girl was also killed by shelling recently in Donetsk | Photo: Dan Malmqvist/NyaTider

Here’s what my friend wrote.

“I just found out that yesterday during the shootout at the Donetsk airport a lady who went to our church was killed, her name was Ludmila Prokofyevna. This is the first person to die in this war, whom I personally knew well. (I hope it’s the last). She was about 70 years old. When the shooting started she couldn’t get to cover in time, a piece of shrapnel hit her and she died right in her own yard! It’s sad… Although she died tragically I remember that she was always very lively and joyful. She loved to tell people about God. Because of her a few dozen people put their faith in God. And such is the end… However, I don’t believe it is the end! I believe she is in heaven now with God and it’s uncomparably better for her there.

P.S. May the Lord protect our friends and relatives in this lawless republic!”

  • Pray this weekend for the family of this woman who was killed!
  • Pray for the suffering churches that remain in these regions!
  • Pray for peace in Ukraine!
  • Share this with your church and ask them to pray too!

Our team of missionaries is actively working to aid churches and citizens in Donetsk and Lughansk regions.

Learn how you can join us here.

Category: Ministry, Slider, Ukraine · Tags:

#37 How Living in Wartime Changes Your Perspective

Yesterday a military helicopter flew over my head and these were my first thoughts:

  • Are they responding to an attack on Odessa?
  • Is it a Ukrainian helicopter or are the Russians already here?
  • Are they going towards the conflict or away?

In this episode of “Now Is the Time” I share with you how living in Ukraine while it is at war has already changed my outlook in life.

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lughansk airport destroyed

How Lughansk Airport looks today | photo: Segodya.ua

Living in a country that’s at war changes the way you think, it changes your perspective on everything! It infiltrates your daily life like a bad rash. The harder you try to pretend it’s not there the more you become aware of its presence!

lughansk airport

How Lughansk Airport looked earlier this year

Priorities change

It’s amazing how quickly what seemed like a vital aspect of life can become meaningless! In general the better life is the more insignificant man’s priorities become.

What I mean is things like losing that extra ten pounds or searching for the latest Fall fashions or making sure you don’t miss the latest episode of Game of Thrones will always take a back seat when your life is in the balance!

In a way this change in priorities is good, it wakes up the soul! It boils life down to the basics, it removes the fog of pleasure and prosperity and focuses the mind one thing -staying alive! Whether it is protecting your own life or giving of your life to protect others!

I believe this pruning of priorities is useful for the church. What I’ve seen in Eastern Ukraine is churches that are no longer concerned with music styles and sermons that run overtime! Instead their consumed with the ministry of taking care of those who are left. Of providing physical and spiritual aid the elderly, the disabled and those who are spiritually broken.

Through the pain they now see clearly what God has called them to do! It’s a beautiful agony that produces an ache in the soul that says,

“Lord how can I serve?”

Long-term plans are thrown out the window

Western society is a culture of big plans. From the time I was a young man, my parents and my teachers taught me the importance of planning ahead. I’ve sat down in many meetings with different groups for hours as we’ve hammered out plans for the entire year or even the next five or ten years!

I’m not against planning but one thing I’m starting to recognize is that all planning is based on one primary assumption:

Everything will remain the same!

In war no one assumes that everything will just keep on going on as it always has. War teaches us that:

  • Everything is temporary, especially peace!
  • Everything is conditional (The saying here is “I’ll see you later if the Russians don’t come.”)
  • Concern is for the next day or the next week, not the next year.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
(Jas 4:13-14)

The idea of peace takes on new meaning

Peace is one of those words that everyone can agree upon. Talk to anyone in Ukraine and they will tell you that more than anything they want peace! Talk to the separatists and they will tell you the same thing. Listen to Putin or Poroshenko or Obama and they will all tell you that their greatest goal is peace!

But there is no peace!

If everyone wants peace, why don’t we have it?

Wanting peace is never enough! Desiring peace and telling others how much you want it is like my kids telling me they’re hungry. They can tell me they want to eat all they want but if there’s not food in the house or no one is willing to prepare a meal then they will remain hungry!

Peace isn’t something that just naturally exists in the air we breath. Peace is earned, peace is made, peace requires hard work and sacrifice!

In order for there to be peace there must be people who are willing to sacrifice something for that peace!

But that’s not the only problem. You see people do want peace and some are willing to work for it. Unfortunately every one wants peace on their own terms! They’re ready for peace as long as it means that their terms are met, that they have been satisfied by the other side! As long as neither side is willing to submit, there will be no peace!

The conclusion is simple, eventually there will be peace in Eastern Ukraine but like the current ceasefire, it will be temporary!

Why?

Because all peace is temporary! Finite leaders are limited in their ability to provide anything, nonetheless peace! I pray that God gives wisdom to the leadership of Ukraine, I pray that soon there will be peace in Eastern Ukraine, I pray that six months or a year from now I can travel to Lughansk and Donetsk and worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ there!

Yet, I know one truth!

Only Jesus can provide permanent peace!

This war has given me a new perspective on Jesus as a king, as a political ruler who will bring absolute peace! He’s already doing this in the hearts and souls of individuals every day! Won’t it be wonderful when he finally takes the government upon his shoulders and give us complete eternal peace!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
(Isa 9:6)

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Question: Have you lived through a war? How has it changed your perspective?

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