Things are changing so fast in Ukraine that it’s hard to keep up with the news. We’ve been watching events unfold almost on an hourly basis through Youtube and Twitter and we’ve also been talking with family in Ukraine on a daily basis.
Your prayers for Ukraine are vital this week as Russian troops continue to move into the Crimean peninsula. While it has been peaceful so far, there is a great potential for this to turn into something much deadlier.
Prayer Requests for Ukraine
1. Pray that Russian troops who now occupy the Crimean peninsula would be peaceful.
2. Pray for wisdom for the new government in Kyiv as it deals with the tense situation in the Crimea and financial problems.
3. Pray for churches and Christians to be bold as they share the peace that only Jesus can give.
4. Pray for our family members in the cities of Kyiv, Cherkassy and Odessa.
We need as many people as possible praying for Ukraine this week, so please share these requests with your church, small group and on your social networks.
The events of this week will determine much for the Ukrainian people.
While we don’t know what the future holds for Ukraine, we do know who holds the future and we can trust him!
Thank you for your continued prayers!
If you’ve never listened to any of my previous podcasts, this is the one you need to listen to!
But first let me warn you that the content that I’m going to share with you today might not be pleasant for you to hear.
It might go against everything you’ve been taught about Christianity.
In this episode of Now is the Time I’m not going to give you any tips on how to improve your life.
In fact if you take to heart what I talk about today it’s quite likely that just the opposite will happen!
A Worthy Death
Last week was Ukraine’s 9/11! Nearly 100 people gave up their lives for a cause they believed was of more value than their life!
In this episode I go in depth about what it means to give up your life and how we often sacrifice our lives for things and ideas that are not worthy.
>Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. I just finished reading it and highly recommend it. Kyle points out how the gospel was always a call to give up all and follow Jesus and never a call to cheer from the sidelines.
>Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. This is a classic and if you have never read it then you need to get it right now, so stop wasting your time here and read the book!
You can easily download this podcast on your mobile device by subscribing on
If you enjoy the podcast please leave a rating and review, this helps get the podcast out in front of others!
Questions: What are you giving up your life for right now? What do you need to change in order to give your life up for Jesus?
Last week revolution happened in Ukraine. The demands of the opposition were met when former president Victor Yanukovych fled on Friday leaving his post and giving the opposition parties a chance to gain power.
Over the weekend the protesters in Maidan shed both tears of joy and grief as they celebrated the change in government and mourned for at least 75 Ukrainians who had lost their lives in the past few days.
But is this victory? Not by a long shot!
Yes, there have been some major changes over the past week but now Ukraine has more against it than ever before.
- The people are in mourning.
- The government is broken and struggling to rebuild.
- Kyiv is in shambles.
- The country’s treasuries are empty.
- Many harbor hatred and disdain for whoever is on the opposite side of the political fence.
- Eastern and Southern areas of the country continue to support the former president’s party.
I will tell you what I told everyone as I preached last Sunday,
Ukraine needs your prayers now more than ever!
Ukraine has a long and difficult road ahead of it and the next few weeks and months will decide the long term future.
Revolution is not enough
Last weekend we witnessed a political revolution in Ukraine but revolution is never enough, without true reconciliation the country will never rise from the ashes of burning tires and Molotov cocktails.
This week Valery Antonyuk, vice president of the All Ukrainian Union of Evangelical Churches, Baptist issued a statement calling for reconciliation in Ukraine. I appreciated his strong call to both sides to seek forgiveness and a deeper more lasting victory that can only be found in Jesus.
Below is a translation of Anonyuk’s statement, you can read the original in Ukrainian on the ECBUA website.
A Message of Reconciliation:
During this time of fateful change in the life of the Ukrainian nation, the Church and each Christian individually cannot remain spectators on the sidelines of the battles and losses. The Church serves society and mourns together with it. We went through difficult days together with the nation – we served through prayer, evangelism, volunteers, medical help, clothing, and food.
Today a time has come for a ministry of active reconciliation, which will help maintain unity in our country and nation.
We supported the nation’s demand to put an end to the tyranny of the authorities and repressions by the police. Now it is important to restore justice and due process of law in the country, to form a government that has the people’s trust, and provide fair presidential elections. We believe that those guilty of crimes against the people will be justly judged, and that peaceful citizens will be protected.
But on behalf of the Church we must say more, we must speak the whole truth; we must say that which is still hard to accept and fulfill; that, which is a precondition for a better future.
Therefore the Church calls the Ukrainian nation to more than just feelings of human justice – to Christian forgiveness, grace, and reconciliation. We pray to God for repentance for the guilty. However at the same time we ask victims to forgive those who are already repentant as well as those who are still lost. In order to unite the nation, in order to reconcile its various parts, its various social, cultural, and political groups, laws and justice are not enough.
Without repentance, grace, forgiveness and reconciliation, the country will remain divided and in conflict. This is the precondition for a deep spiritual transformation of Ukraine.
The Bible says that there is, “a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace” (Ecc. 3:7-8). In accordance with these wise words, we declare today to be a time to mend, and not a time to tear the nation apart; a time to seek peace, and not a time to fan the flames of war; a time to learn to love yesterday’s enemies, and not a time to continue to hate rivals and those who have hurt us.
We call on the Evangelical churches of Ukraine to serve to bring peace between people and healing to the wounds of war. We do not call black white and do not justify crimes or even mistakes. But we, as Christians, forgive, because we have been forgiven by God. He reconciled us to Himself, and gave us a message of reconciliation. This grace-giving Word to our whole nation should be heard from Lvov to Donetsk, from Kiev to Simferopol.
We also call upon the international Christian community asking for prayer and intercession for the Ukrainian nation and for help with peacemaking. We mourn for the victims, and thank God for His grace toward Ukraine, and pray for peace and spiritual revival in our nation.
Question: Will you pray for reconciliation in Ukraine!
This weekend is proving to be one of the most historical on record for Ukraine. After a week of terrible bloodshed there are some positive signs.
Just moments ago the Ukrainian parliament impeached president Yanukovych after he fled to an undisclosed location and abandoned his post. This along with many other developments are very significant. The question of “What next?” will now decide much of the future for Ukrainians.
We are calling believers everywhere to fast and pray for Ukraine during this pivotal weekend!
Here’s how you can pray.
- Pray that Ukraine will have a fair and honest government that is for the people
- Pray that there will be no more bloodshed on the streets of Kyiv and other cities
- Pray that Christ would be preached this Sunday in many churches and that the peace of Jesus would reign in the hearts of Ukrainians.
If you can join us in prayer and/or fasting please let me know.
This is Ukraine’s deadliest week of fighting probably since WWII! The week isn’t even over and the reports range from 70 to 100 dead!
I’m not sure how to put into words what is happening in Ukraine. Every morning I wake up and immediately check the news praying that the situation has improved, but it hasn’t!
This morning Christina (my wife) shared with a women’s group at a church we are visiting, she couldn’t hold back the tears as she described the violence and unnecessary taking of life in her home country.
The conflict in Ukraine has escalated faster and farther this week than anyone could have guessed.
It’ not just bricks
It’s not just bricks and clubs any more, bullets are now flying on the streets of Kyiv. The interior minister finally admitted that police have been armed with combat weapons and authorized to use them.
Of course there’s violence on both sides but after Christina and I watched the videos of protesters being shot by police snipers we simply felt helpless and were overwhelmed with sadness for the Ukrainian people!
It’s not just Kyiv
While the main action and violence is in Kyiv the crisis has spread country wide. Opposition groups have put of blockades on major highways around Ukraine trying to make sure that government reinforcements or “Titushkies” can’t get through.
This week there was violence in many of Ukraine’s larger cities including Odessa, where a group of Titushkies brutally attacked opposition protesters.
Ukraine is in upheaval and every Ukrainian feels it. This morning I received a message from one of our ministries partners, he said that he is so broken up over what is going on that he doesn’t even feel that he will be able to get through his sermon on Sunday.
Why are we here?
Watching Ukraine fall apart from a distance is heartbreaking. We wish we could be there and put our arms around our brothers and sisters to comfort them as their once peaceful homeland is turning into a war zone.
But we can’t be there!
For some reason God has placed us in the US for this time. Maybe in God’s providence he put us here for our own safety.
Maybe God put us in the US so that we could be the voice of Ukraine in American churches! If that’s the case then that’s what we’ll do!
What you can do
Although we feel helpless watching those youtube videos of protesters being knocked over by bullets there is something that we can do.
We can pray!
Christina and I invite you to join us in prayer and fasting for Ukraine this weekend.
Fasting and prayer for Ukraine
I know that fasting isn’t something that most American Christians are used to doing but I also know that many of our brothers and sister in Ukraine will also be fasting this weekend and I believe it is important for us to stand with them and support them.
If you can please take at least 15 minutes each day this weekend to specifically pray for peace in Ukraine.
If you can fast, choose either Friday, Saturday or Sunday and let us know when you will be fasting. Christina and I will be fasting all day on Saturday, February 22nd.
Question: Will you pray and fast with us and with many Ukrainian Christians for peace in Ukraine this weekend?
While you slept last night Ukraine turned bloody! Today was the worst day yet in the 3 month old protest which has caught the world’s attention.
Early reports say that at least 22 people have died and more than 1,000 have been injured in the last 24 hours in Kyiv. The dead include protesters and police.
The pictures coming out of the “war zone” in Kyiv make me want to turn away but I can’t. This is Ukraine, the country I love, I have family there, I have friends there, so far I’ve given 8 years of my life to serve the people there!
They say war is ugly and I agree but civil war has a particular venomous stench to it. When a nation starts fighting against it’s self it can be hard to stop and the results are always the same -death, destruction and dehumanization of the enemy.
22 dead means 22 mothers whose sons will not come home. It means children who will bury their fathers and wives who will only have a chance to kiss the corpse of their husbands.
Death doesn’t care who started the violence, it doesn’t even car who’s right and who’s wrong. Death levels the playing field, it forces everyone to count the costs. With all the violence what we don’t notice is that death often kills the hearts of those who remain alive.
When peace is far away hope seems completely out of reach!
But peace and hope are within reach, they’re just not where most people think they are.
True peace will not be found in a new president or a new government, hope will not be found in a revised constitution, closer ties the the EU or to Russia.
The peace and hope that Ukraine needs now can only be found in Jesus. John 14:27
So today I just have one prayer request!
Pray for peace in Ukraine!
If you want to get “Prayer Points for Ukraine” I’ll be sending out a more detailed report tomorrow via e-mail. Just sign up below!
Do you sometimes wish that your spouse was more attractive? Did you know that there is something you can do about it?
In this special Valentine’s episode of Now is the Time Christina and I share 9 tips of how you can make your spouse more attractive!
Sometimes people wonder why their spouse no longer attracts them, they think they “fell out of love” or that their spouse changed. As a result they find themselves attracted to other people. This may lead to emotional and/or physical adultery and end in divorce. Even if it doesn’t go that far it will weaken the relationship and turn it into a joyless and loveless marriage.
What they fail to realize is that there are many things they can do to stay attracted to their spouse. Below is summary of the tips Christina and share with you in this podcast.
You’ll have to listen to the podcast for the detailed explanation of each tip.
How to make your spouse more attractive -9 tips
- Remember that attraction has little to nothing to do with physical beauty.
- Find your greatest fulfillment outside of your spouse.
- Lower your expectations.
- Praise your spouse to others.
- Compare your spouse to others.
- Do fun activities together.
- Don’t try to make your spouse like yourself.
- Compliment your spouse.
- Support your spouse in their personal growth.
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If you enjoy the podcast please leave a rating and review, this helps get the podcast out in front of others!
Questions: What about your spouse attracts you? What tips can you add to this list?
God does not save people because they said the “sinners prayer” or because they asked Jesus to come into their heart!
Many assume they are “safe” because they can recall a time, probably in their childhood, when they repeated a prayer or came forward during a church service or maybe they raised their hand when an invitation was given while everyone’s heads were bowed and eyes were closed.
Unfortunately, they are deceiving themselves! That prayer, that raised hand or even coming forward at the end of the service with tears and true confessions doesn’t mean God has forgiven them!
On the other hand many Christians live with doubt that maybe their faith isn’t real, maybe God hasn’t saved them, maybe they didn’t do it right and maybe they’re headed for eternal punishment after all.
J.D. Greear deals with both of these issues head on in his wonderful little book called “Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart.” He speaks as a pastor and as one with great experience in dealing with these problems in his own heart. In fact he claims to hold the world record for the most times anyone has asked Jesus into his heart. He also doubted his salvation so much that he was baptized a total of 4 times just to make sure that it was the real thing!
Praying the sinner’s prayer isn’t really wrong, in fact it’s a good thing if it’s done with the heart but we also need to understand that you can be saved without ever uttering the sinners prayer or asking Jesus into your heart.
“You can ‘ask Jesus into your heart’ without repenting and believing, and you can repent and believe without articulating a request for Jesus to come into your heart.”
“The sinner’s prayer is not a magic incantation or a recipe you follow to get a salvation cake. The real stuff-the stuff that matters-is the posture of repentance and faith behind the words you speak. The prayer is good only insofar as it verbalizes the posture.”
These are important truths for us to remember whether we are sharing the good news of Jesus in Ukraine or in the US. We are calling people to respond to our message in a specific way. Sometimes this may mean that they will pray or come forward but that’s not the important thing.
We must call for heart level repentance and true faith in Jesus!
This is the response called for in the Bible, just check out John 3:36, Acts 16:30-31, Romans 4:5 or Romans 10:9-10
Greear explains it this way,
“Repentance is not simply praying a prayer that acknowledges our sinfulness and asks for forgiveness. Nor is it walking an aisle, signing a card, or giving a public testimony. Repentance is not fundamentally a motion of the hands, mouth or feet; it is a motion of the heart in which we abandon our posture of rebellion and adopt one of submission toward Christ. Repentance is evidenced by an outward action, but it does not equal that.”
“Repentance is not subsequent to belief; it is part of belief. It is belief in action – choices that flow out of conviction.”
If repentance and belief are not the key components we are calling for as we share the gospel then we are leading people astray and giving them a false hope. What it really comes down to is something quite simple, Greear says,
“Salvation comes comes not because you prayed a prayer correctly, but because you have leaned the hopes of your soul on the finished work of Christ.”
This book is a quick read, (just over 100 pages) and I recommend that you check it out. It is something I’ll have on hand as I think it is a great resource to give to new believers who are struggling to understand the true nature of saving faith. It may also be helpful to give to someone who is still unsure whether he wants to put his faith in Christ and what that means if he does.
You can purchase the book on Amazon here and if you do a small percentage comes back to us, so thank you!
Question: Have you ever said the sinners prayer or gone down the aisle just to make sure you were really saved?
Before you get too far I want to warn you that this post is about Russian toilets and Western snobbery so if either of those offend you then feel free to click away right now!
Yesterday I was enjoying watching the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. While I was watching I decided to hop on my computer to see what my social networks were saying about the games.
Let me give you a hint, it’s not the toilets!
With 5 kids and one toilet there have been many times when I wished we had this exact set up in our apartment.
In fact any parent with more than one child and only one bathroom can immediately see the convenience of this configuration and the great amount of stress it would relieve them of.
We shouldn’t laugh at Russia for their water closet ingenuity, we should thank them!
So what is really wrong with this picture?
What’s wrong with this picture is what you don’t see, the person behind the camera!
Here’s the problem, Westerners are snobs. We love to travel, see new places and then send home pictures of how terrible it is so that we can laugh at our gracious hosts behind their backs. I know that sounds a bit harsh but it’s true.
Russia has opened her doors to the world for the Olympic games. They invited us and that means we are guests. I don’t know what kind of homes these photographers grew up in but I grew up in a home where I was taught that when you’re a guest you’d better be on your best behavior, always say “please” and “thank you”, try all the food even if you don’t like it and make sure you complement your host!
It’s just good manners!
I’ve never been to Sochi but I’ve been in Russia and it is an amazingly beautiful place with rich culture and wonderful people. There are a million other things they could be taking pictures of yet strange toilets and unfinished buildings seem to be the hot topic!
Can you remember the last time you had guests over to your house for dinner? Did they go into your bathroom and take pictures of your toilet and then send them to all their friends commenting on it’s terrible condition and wondering how in the world anyone could regularly use it?
Probably not! If they did I’d be surprised and you’d be shocked and offended.
And yet we wonder why much of the rest of the world seems to think that we are stuck up!
Let me tell you why I’m really so worked up about this, the truth is I’ve seen it happen before and it wasn’t at the Olympic Games.
On many occasions I’ve witnessed the odd spectacle of an American on a short-term missions trip in a Ukrainian village walking into an outhouse with an expense digital camera in hand.
Unfortunately I’m pretty sure that my experiences aren’t unique!
This bothers me because it’s indicative of a greater problem. We tend to assume that our culture, our country and our bathrooms are better and that’s nothing less than arrogance and pride at work in our heart.
When I get a chance I warn missions teams not to photograph their hosts toilets. It’s rude and it doesn’t communicate the love of Christ very well.
After all I’m sure you have a few places in your house that you’d rather not have the rest of the world see!
The point is this, we need to stop searching for and publicizing the faults of others, that’s what snobs do!
Instead let’s start showing the love of Christ which “covers over a multitude of sins,” that’s what real missionaries do!
Many Americans are worried about the political situation in America. Ever since we’ve returned to the US we’ve heard a lot about Republicans and Democrats and especially Obamacare!
We need to stop getting so worried about the government and turn our focus to the work Jesus has called us to do!
Politicians can’t stop God from doing his will
If you watch enough broadcast news it can be easy to worry about the direction of our nation but we need to realize that God has a way of accomplishing his will no matter what our political leaders do. In fact, if you look at Biblical history you’ll find that God often used the worst leaders to do his will.
Politicians can’t change hearts
We all want political change on some level or another but we must realize that the root of man’s problem is in his heart, not in the government. Politicians can’t change hearts but Jesus can!
Preach the gospel of Jesus
Instead of worry about the political situation we need to focus on preaching the gospel. Jesus is the only one who can offer lasting change for any nation or group of people.
Pray for political peace
We also need to pray for political peace and stability so that we have the freedom to preach the gospel.
Pray for Ukraine
The political unrest in Ukraine continues to grow, around 6 people died in violence in January. So far it doesn’t look like the protesters are backing down.
Please pray for peace in Ukraine!
To help you pray effectively I’m sending out “Prayer points for Ukraine” every Wednesday in February.
Pray for us
We visited 5 churches in January and February is going to be even busier! We will be visiting churches in the Boise, Idaho area for much of February.
Several churches raised their support level in January, which brought us closer to our goal of 100% but we still have room for more supporters. If God has blessed you with resources please consider becoming part of our team!