This morning at church I was challenged. Rodney Trinidad preached about our participation with Christ in what God is already doing in bringing people to himself. I encourage you to listen to it via the church website. Tim Kirkegard also shared a prayer his young son prayed whilst praying for a sick friend. His son asked God to make good choices. Tim reflected that God always does. We don’t often understand, but God makes good choices. And joy comes to our lives when we choose to believe that God makes good choices.WEDDING FEVER
55 days to go! Bring it on!SCHOOL DAYS AND OTHER ACTIVITIES
Teaching Grade 2 at Pacific Hills Christian School consumes most of my time. I am in the throes of preparing reports and writing report comments. I love the class I am teaching and going to school each day is something I really look forward to. Just recently a parent wrote me a really encouraging letter and it confirmed I am doing what God wants and where He wants me. Please continue to pray with Marie and me as we seek God for guidance concerning jobs and where to live after we are married.UKRAINE/VLAD
I am aware and thankful that many people pray for Vlad and his situation even though they have not met him. This latest news comes via Simeon and you can praise God as well as continue to pray.
“Firstly, long story short, Vlad was moved within the last 2 weeks to a different site, a little bit east of Kyiv on the way to the main airport. It's further from home, but not a big difference. I just had a chat with him, and although a lot about the new place is worse than where he was previously, he was in good spirits. Focusing on the positives, where he is now there are a few other believers, and people coming in most weekends to put on some kind of a service - fellowship was sorely lacking where he was in Kyiv. Visits are generally stricter - through a window compared with sharing a room before. Accommodation is very cramped, and facilities extremely limited. Improvements to circumstances are always available, but for a price. Vlad and the other inmates in theory earn a few pounds a month, but nobody ever sees that money.
The main news, and source of hope (apart from God himself), and item for prayer, is this: There is a possibility that in 6 months he could have another transfer, just along the road again, where it is much more relaxed, visitors can come and go as freely as they wish - and within another 6-12 months of that, he could be released. This is all really 'best case scenario' type stuff, but very worth praying for.”WORLD MISSION – IT’S NOT A SPECTATOR SPORT
I am speaking at our annual Missions Conference this coming Saturday at West Pennant Hills Community Church. Whether or not you can come, I want to challenge you (and myself) – “what part does God call me to play in his great plan to have all the nations praise Him?” You are welcome to come along if you live in or around SydneyPRAYER AND PRAISE
· Praise God for always making good choices in our lives
· Pray for our wedding in less than 8 weeks
· Thank God for the job I have and pray for my next one
· Thank God Marie has part time work and pray for another job for her
· Pray for Vlad in UkraineTHANKS TO
The mum in my class that sent me the best letter a teacher could ever receiveAttachmentSize 20130514 RPD.pdf191.18 KB
Become a champion hugger. A hug says:
• I'm sorry
• I forgive you
• I like you
• I care for you
• You're special to me
• I love you
- Not always, but often far better than any words can ever do.
(Courtesy Uncle Roger’s father of the groom speech)GLOBAL CONNECTIONS
I apologise for not giving updates very often. I hope your prayers for Vlad and Vika are more often than my updates. They are in need of prayer. We give thanks for the opportunity that the guys from the church here had to go into the prison and share their testimonies and sings songs. We had a great turn out and we were thankful for that God given opportunity and the chance to go through the doors that God opened. At this point we do not know what is next or if we will be able to hold another service like that. The prison warden and staff as well as inmates gave us a positive response and they all seemed to have really enjoyed it as did the guys that got to go in.
A while back a believer from another prisoner was transferred to Vlad’s prison and Vlad was glad he was able to speak with some kind of a believer in Christ. But as of now things are changing for Vlad; so it’s a good time to keep him and his wife and son in your prayers.
There have been two inmates that recently escaped. One actually escaped from the prison and has not been caught. The other one who attempted to escape was caught. So there are now a lot of more strict rules that are being enforced. The escapee was a trustee like Vlad so this has made things harder for all the guys he is working with. Also because of this 19 guys are to be transferred to another prison; Vlad being one of them. So we have lost contact with him at the moment and we are hoping and praying for the best. It may work out well for him or it could be hard on him. It may mean being further away from his family; he could even finish up in a different region. Ukraine is a huge country.
This week Vika was not able to go see him as planned and of course, that was discouraging for her. Life is hard in Ukraine and with her husband gone even harder. So keep this in your prayers. As far as the appeal to the European court goes there isn’t much hope of anything happening very soon. He is supposed to be getting placed on a waiting list with hopes his case may be reviewed.
There was a TV talk show a while back that Vlad just happened to get on to. The prison warden just told him you will be on TV in 10 minutes and he was! It was a pretty good show looking at some of the laws, some of the holes in the system and things that need to be addressed. One of those laws happened to be affecting Vlad’s case. They acknowledge the problem but there is not much hope of things getting any better.
Vlad reads a lot I have been able to get him some Christian books. I hope that I will be able to pass them on to him wherever he is transferred to.
Vika has been coming to church more regularly recently. We try to reach out to her during this time and be as much help as we can but it’s just hard on her. We thank you for all your prayers and support in this situation. We are thankful the family of God is so big and the family of God is concerned and willing to help from many different places. So we praise God for your prayers and support!
So please pray that our brother in the Lord will continue strong in the Lord being a good witness for the Kingdom of God in hard circumstances!!
Please continue to pray for UTSIM. The school year is finishing up in about 8 weeks and finding students so as to be able to pay staff over the 3 months of summer is difficult. Please pray for a continued impact into the lives of the students and their families through Sveta’s teaching and Natasha’s honest and uncompromising approach to business.
Our time at Lonsdale Children’s Camp was really busy but rewarding. It is a pleasure to work together with friends and with such a committed team. It was also great to return from NZ with a work visa for Marie. Also praise God that He has provided Marie with part time work for three weeks starting this week. Please pray for her next job after this.ON THE HOME FRONT
Our classroom is now the universe with a space shuttle off to one side – entry by secret code only. Yes we are studying space in Term 2. Pray that the children will come to be in awe and wonder at God’s creation, but greater still at God’s love for them. I need to start writing reports this week and would appreciate prayer prioritising all my commitments.
I will be back at Kids Club this coming Friday. Please pray as I am struggling to find energy immediately after school. Pray for the future of Kids Club beyond term 2.
Please continue to pray for our youth. We have a mixture of teenagers from church and a few of their friends as well as a few other local teenagers. Pray that God will keep us on His pathway as we seek to model living a life with Jesus that is real for teenagers in the 21st century.
We lost 15-5 on the weekend. I played most of the game and am feeling my 40 years of age. I chatted with a guy from the opposition afterwards who was 42. He was Samoan and of course was Jerry Collin’s cousin! I thoroughly enjoy the interactions I have at rugby. Please pray for more potency so I can take my salt and light to the next level.
My talk “World Mission – It’s Not A Spectator Sport” is coming along. I have a lot to do over the next two weeks. Please pray that rather than being focused on ‘my talk’, I will be focused on letting God use me to challenge those who attend (and challenge myself) about what part we am playing in God’s mission - his Missio Dei. You are most welcome to attend the Missions Conference on Saturday May 18th at West Pennant Hills Community Church, 3pm to 6:30pm with dinner to follow.WEDDING FEVER
As I type it is 62 days, 8 hours, 10 minutes and 17 seconds until we get married! OK the seconds keep changing and it also presumes Marie won’t be late walking down the aisle. Join the countdown online. It is less than 9 weeks away and less than 7 weeks til we leave Australia. If you plan on coming and haven’t RSVP’d yet, please let us know so we can get a head count. Also if you are planning on coming to the Aussie reception on August 10 please let us know so we can start organising the necessary bits and bobs for a classic shindig.
It was a pleasure to be at Jase and Kirra’s wedding this past week. It was great to see a few Aussie traditions (and some differences) to remind us that we can make our special day unique and not be bound by unwritten rules. To honour God in our marriage is something we both desire and hearing that at Jase and Kirra’s was a blessing.FUTURE PLANS
Please pray with Marie and me as we seek God’s guidance regarding where to live and employment when we return to Australia in July.WHAT YA READIN'?
I’m thinking of retiring this heading until a later date. I read a little of my book whilst travelling to NZ during the holidays but otherwise reading time is very scarce these days.PRAYER AND PRAISE
· Jase and Kirra in their new marriage
· Marie and I - marriage, a place to live, jobs
· Praise God for Marie’s work visa
· School, Kids Club and Livewire
· Pray for the WPHCC Missions Conference
· Pray for my involvement with Beecroft Rugby ClubTHANKS
David and Jacky for looking after Marie and me in so many ways – I am so blessed to have lived here these past 2+ yearsAttachmentSize 201305 Monthly Update.pdf180.02 KB
Camp was really good. I want to give all thanks to God first and then to such an amazing team of people to work with and great kids to serve. I have definitely gone away with a song stuck in my head. We did I’m A Soldier In The Army Of The Lord by Go Fish every morning and evening and it doesn’t take long to stick in one’s head. Go on, click the link, I dare you to!
Songs are great to get stuck in your head. What songs are you listening too? Ephesians 5:19 encourages us to sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and make music to the Lord in your hearts.WEDDING FEVER
69 days to go! Only 8 weeks until we fly off to the States. We really are on a countdown. This week we get to see Jason and Kirra (Aussie “cousins”) tie the knot and Marie gets her first taste of an Aussie wedding.NEW ZEALAND
Marie and I flew back from NZ early this morning and I’m not sure how I’m still functioning. Thank you to all who prayed for camp. Using John Bunyan’s classic certainly gave a lot of food for thought for campers and I saw many seeds sown and watered for the Kingdom of God this past week.
Thanks for your prayers, Marie arrived in Australia with a work and holiday visa. Thank you Lord!UKRAINE/VLAD
Dan writes: “Last week, two prisoners escaped from the prison in which Vlad is incarcerated. I talked with Vika Sunday and she said that they don’t seem to have clamped down as hard as everyone feared on the rest of the prisoners. But today, we got news that Vlad has been sent back into the part of the prison area where it is dangerous for him to be in. He has been in a program where certain prisoners work with the prison system and get certain privileges that go with it. (He has been working in the prison warehouse and store, I think.) These prisoners are hated by the other prisoners and considered traitors. A few months ago, a prisoner was sent out of the program back into the normal prison and beaten to death by the regular prisoners. So there is a lot of concern for Vlad’s safety right now. If you would join your prayers to ours, we’d appreciate it. Vika is fairly distraught. Pray for her too, that this would be a faith building time. She has been coming along to church which has been real good to see, but her faith is new.”PRAYER AND PRAISE
· Praise God for the children at camp who have a new or strengthened faith in God
· Praise God for our wedding coming up really soon
· Pray for 8 weeks of work before me
· Pray for Jason and Kirra as they start married life
· Pray for Vlad and VIkaTHANKS TO
Beth Weldon for picking us up from the airport this morning.AttachmentSize 20130430 RPD.pdf203.3 KB
A few years ago in Ukraine I remember preaching a sermon about the seven things you need each day.
* God's Word
* Right Living
If you take these things into each and every day you will be able to stand strong. For the real struggles in this world are not to make a living, pay the mortgage, raise and educate the kids or even save the whales. But to stand against the devil who would claim your soul for hell. Strong words? Yes! I hope you understand the importance of the battle.A KNIGHT'S JOURNEY
We are already two days into camp and so far so good. I am more and more aware that God is the one that works in people's lives and we are merely instruments he can use if we are in the right place and available. The story of Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan is a powerful allegory. Pray that as the children watch it and I relate parts of it to their daily lives, that God would touch them and draw them to himself.
Today's RPD is short and sweet.PRAYER AND PRAISE
· For kids camp
· For the kids at camp
· For the leaders at kids camp
· For kids campTHANKS TO
To Marie for giving of herself to so many and being patient with meAttachmentSize 20130423 RPD.pdf197.68 KB
Here are some notes from this morning’s sermon at church:
“God has sought me. His purpose for me is to be holy and blameless. He has adopted me as his child, for his glory.
God has saved me. I am saved from my sin which deserved God's wrath. I have been given life in Christ both now and forever.
God sought me and saved me to serve him. I serve the living God. I should serve others and I serve through his strength.
I am God's handiwork created to do good works. He has a plan for me to do and it is all for his glory.”
In what way were you challenged or encouraged when you met with God’s people this week? I’d love to hear from you.WEDDING FEVER
83 days to go!NEW ZEALAND
As I type, Marie has been in New Zealand for almost a week and I will join her there in a couple of days. We certainly miss each other and I can’t wait to see her. I would love you to pray for our time in NZ. It is not really shaping up to be a holiday. I arrive Tuesday. Wednesday is the only unplanned day but I know that nephews and nieces will be vying with Marie for my attention. Thursday we take the bus north. Friday evening the leader’s weekend for the kids camp starts and from Sunday to the following Friday we will have a full camp of 8-12 year old campers. I want you to pray. The topics I am looking at are the armour of God and Pilgrim’s Progress. I am aware that I am behind where I would like to be in my planning. I am even more aware of the spiritual nature of what we are doing. We want to see God’s Kingdom come to the broken and spiritually captive north of NZ. Please be in prayer concerning all aspects of this coming camp. You can find out more about Far North Holiday Camps here.
While on the topic of NZ I would like to share an inspiring video of God’s amazing creation taken of the night sky from NZ. Click here, enjoy and give praise to our Creator.PRAYER AND PRAISE
· Praise God that he seeks after us to save us and gives us a purpose in serving him
· Pray for the children attending camp next week
· Pray for my preparation and clear presenting of God’s Word
· Praise God for this wonderful world in which we liveTHANKS TO
Dale and Nicole for a relaxing afternoon at their place todayAttachmentSize 20130416 RPD.pdf188.93 KB
The answer is “today”. I don’t have an inspirational or challenging thought ready for you today and I need to go to sleep. So I will repeat what I did once last year and copy and paste a few quotes from my website. A few people commented that they were blessed by them last time anyhow.
God provides the wind of His spirit; all we have to do is set our sails in the right direction. — Ken Duncan
Sport is a preserver of health — Hippocrates
The frontiers of the kingdom of God were never advanced by men and women of caution. — J. Oswald Sanders
Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved.
— Henri Nouwen
Forgiveness doesn't make the other person right, it makes you free.
— Stormie Omartian
He became what we are that he might make us what he is.
— Athanasius of Alexandria
Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. — Leo Tolstoy
Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.GLOBAL CONNECTIONS
Thank you for your prayers for Vlad. Please continue to pray and see last week’s RPD for an update on the concert/Christian service held in the prison recently.
Thank you for praying about the situation I mentioned last month. God answers prayer and a couple of phone conversations cleared up a lot of potential angst. Please continue to pray for the dear friends I have brought to your attention over the past nine years if you have been reading these updates that long. Sometimes it is enough to mention names and trust them to God. After that if you have a specific question or God puts a certain name on your heart, please contact me and I will try to give you fuller details. Pray for Dan and Pris, Natasha and Alyosha, Igor and Nika, Cheryl, Simeon and Asia, Larissa, Tanya and Tolic, Sergei and Lena, Bruce and Deb, Tom and Lena, Sveta, Luda, Toma (I could keep going).
TENTATIVE FUTURE PLANS
Many of our friends have asked both Marie and I what our plans are after we marry in July. Of course our plans are in the Lord’s hands. We have a few basic directions and objectives which we believe God is leading us towards. We return to Australia after our wedding in July and Marie will apply for a spouse visa. This whole process (and it is a process too much to bore you with here) will lead to permanent residency and will take 2 years or a little longer. We expect to be based in Australia during that time. We would like to save for a visit to both Tajikistan and Ukraine towards the latter half of 2014. God willing we would like to move to Tajikistan late 2015 or early 2016 and work with the same company Marie was working with when I met her last year.
So much has changed for both of us in the past 12 months, but Marie has undergone incredible changes. I am immensely grateful to God and indebted to Marie for changing her life to be with me. We both truly believe we are better together.
This week Marie is in NZ and I am supposedly getting stacks of work done while she is away and not pining too much. If everything goes as it should then Marie will return to Australia with a work visa. I will join Marie in NZ on April 16 and we will be travelling north to help out at Lonsdale Children’s Camp again. Please pray as I continue to prepare the devotions for the children. Please pray for the children and leaders who will come. Pray that the impact of the Gospel in these kid’s lives will influence their families and the far north of New Zealand.ON THE HOME FRONT
I head into the final week of Term 1 teaching a delightful class of grade 2 students. I have thoroughly enjoyed the class this year and the parents have been very supportive also. Education is truly a partnership and when that engine runs smoothly the ship powers ahead and stays on course.
We finished Term 1 last week with a bowling outing. Please pray as we plan for term 2. Pray that we have fresh enthusiasm and vision. Please pray also for more leaders as some are getting married or having babies!
I am continuing to enjoy rubbing shoulders with young students and younger leaders also. I love working together with Marie in this ministry and enjoy watching her. She has an amazing empathy and sensitivity to anyone who may feel on the outer. Please pray for the youth of our world. Pray that those outside the knowledge of God’s love will be drawn to him. Pray that those who know God already will be motivated to live lives beyond themselves.
I had my first game since 2011 last Saturday. I played half a game and was reminded why I love this game. I hope to continue playing when other commitments allow. I also want to be intentional with my relationships. I know Jesus, and I want to share the peace and purpose he gives me with those I know and interact with.
Next month is Missions Month at West Penno and I will be giving the keynote address. The topic is “World Mission – It’s Not A Spectator Sport”. Please pray as I prepare for this talk. Pray that God would send more workers into his harvest field.WEDDING FEVER
90 days to go!! Join the countdown online as we power through these last 3 months. We are excited to spend our lives together. We are also incredibly appreciative of the many people who have offered to help us in a plethora of ways.WHAT YA READIN'?
I am still reading George Orwell’s book 1984. I have a goal to have it finished before my next monthly update.PRAYER AND PRAISE
· My friends in Rzhyshchiv, Ukraine
· God’s plans for our lives
· NZ Kids Camp – A Knight’s Journey
· Class 2M at PHCS
· Kids Club and Livewire at WPHCC
· Mates at Beecroft Rugby
· Address for Penno Misso ConventionTHANKS
To my sister Priscilla and family for looking after Marie for me this week.AttachmentSize 201304 Monthly Update.pdf184.93 KB
Today is my little sister's birthday. That has nothing to do with Atheists. But because she was born on April 1st we were not allowed to do April Fools jokes in our house. Most jokes are harmless and a bit of fun. But being foolish or being a fool is not a great aspiration for one's life. The Bible tells us that the fool says in his heart "there is no God." (Psalm 14:1)
Today look around you and see God.
Today examine your heart and surrender to God.
Today consider the world and implore God.
Today abandon yourself and desire God.
Don't be a fool this April Fools.UKRAINE
Update from Vlad. Praise God and keep praying.
“This past Saturday the Lord opened the door for a Christian service to be held in Vlad's prison. Although no foreigners were permitted inside, we're extremely grateful that almost 100 heard the gospel from Sergey (head of Teen Challenge Ukraine), Misha from Khargalyk (former prisoner turned to Jesus), and an incredible Ukrainian musician/poet that brought music and a few other brothers in Christ with a powerful story of God's redemption.
Please pray with us that this group is shown more favor by allowing them to come back once per month. This was the first of this kind of 'service' in the prison in over a year, and there is a lot of red tape involved. The men responded to the gospel, thanked them for coming, and may God continue to shine light in this dark place. God is using our dear brother Vlad, remember him in prayer this week as many seeds were sown. Continue to lift up his dear wife and son as well.
Tom has been the major force behind organizing and serving Vlad and the opportunity before us. He takes Vlad care packages, communicates regularly with Vlad from cell phones circulating in the prison. God has used Tom and we need to keep him in prayer and ask the Lord to raise up more Ukrainian servants that can share God's love, encourage Vlad and see His name lifted up."WEDDING FEVER
We are down to 96 days and it feels great to be under three figures. Marie and I had a wonderful weekend away from Sydney and with great friends in a beautiful part of Australia. Being married and together all the time sounds wonderful and we can't wait.DAY TO DAY LIFE
Marie heads off to NZ next week to fulfill work visa requirements. I will follow her a week later in the school holidays. Please pray for the final step of the visa being granted. Pray also for Marie's nursing registration application which also seems to have hit a hurdle.
Please be in prayer for camp coming up in NZ's far north. I have a lot of work to do on the camp talks. I will be focusing on the armour of God and Pilgrim's Progress. Pray mostly that God would be at work in the hearts of the kids who will be coming.PRAYER AND PRAISE
· There IS a God!
· His Son Jesus died and rose again!
· Documentation for Marie
· Preparing talks for Kids CampTHANKS TO
Ken and Lyn for a wonderfully relaxing weekend at Eureka.AttachmentSize 20130402 RPD.pdf192.72 KB
We have been showered with gifts. Furniture, kitchenware, people to help move it. I am astounded at how things fall into place sometimes. God is very good. As Marie and I head toward marriage and setting up a home we are blessed abundantly.
I pray that God blesses me to be a blessing. Please pray with me as I have a difficult situation on my heart. I am unsure how to resolve a potential problem with some things I own in Ukraine. I want to bless. I have commitments and contracts to uphold. I am not there to fully understand the extent of the difficulties.
I have been incredibly blessed this week. For this I thank and praise God.WEDDING FEVER
104 days to go.UKRAINE
I got to speak with friends in Ukraine today which was really cool. I even spoke mainly in Ukrainian and was surprised that I still could. I would love to give an update on UTSIM. I don’t have a lot of information but know that this service is still greatly loved by the town and they have a prime position in the main council building in the centre of town. Sveta continues to teach and interact with the students and their families. Natasha volunteers her time to run the business as there is not enough money coming in for her to draw a salary. Sveta mentioned to Natasha recently that maybe next year she would have to look for another job as she feels it’s not enough money to live on. She likes the job. She currently gets 1600 UAH a month and feels that she needs 2000 UAH to live more comfortably. That is an increase of about $50 a month. If anyone feels they would like to contribute that monthly amount, please let me know and I will help you work out a way to do it.PRAYER AND PRAISE
· Thanks to God for his generous provision of furniture and kitchenware
· Pray for wisdom in dealing with an issue arising with my house in Ukraine
· Pray for the ministry of UTSIM to the people of Rzhyshchiv
· As Easter approaches thank God for your salvation through Jesus’ deathTHANKS TO
Paul for taking me to the rugby today!AttachmentSize 20130327 RPD.pdf197.52 KB
There are few people on this earth who never complain. I know I do. I complain about traffic. I complain about paperwork. I complain when I can’t find the kind of cream I want to buy in the supermarket. Sometimes I complain about government and laws and politicians. I try hard not to. I have seen too many other countries and their unfair ways of dealing with people.
Many regular readers will be well acquainted with my friend Vlad and his plight in jail away from wife and son due to a corrupt justice system. There is possibly some good news. So thanks for praying and please keep praying. Every time I am tempted to complain about something I am going to try and remember to pray for Vlad instead.
“Vlad update: Please pray, as there is a meeting next week to discuss the possibility of moving Vlad to a new location. This location is much more relaxed than where he is now (in terms of treatment, visitors etc.), is out in the countryside and is very close to home! As the crow flies, it's about 10km from Rzhyshchiv, although the route to get there takes about 40 minutes. This would be an incredibly big improvement on Vlad's current situation. Please, please, pray that it would come to pass. Thank you.”WEDDING FEVER
110 days to go.ON THE HOME FRONT
More good news and thanks for your prayers. Marie has some good news regarding a work visa. If she leaves Australia before April 9 it should be granted within 7 days. She is booked to fly to NZ on April 8 and I will join her on April 16.
This week at school I have parent teacher interviews. I am aware of the enormous privilege it is to join with parents and impact children for their future and for the Kingdom of God.PRAYER AND PRAISE
· Pray for Vlad and his wife Vika and son Matviy
· Thank God for good news for Marie’s visa and pray the final steps are hassle free
· Pray for my grade 2 students and their families
· P Pray for my parents as they are selling and downsizing after many years in PukekoheTHANKS TO
Marie for the coolest ever birthday present – a personalised All Blacks jumperAttachmentSize 20130319 RPD.pdf215.3 KB
There are so many things to be thankful for.
I write this RPD on my final day in the 30s. By the time you are reading this I will have entered the 40s. I was given a wonderful party today with various friends, mainly from church, taking time to come and enjoy a bit of fun with Jono. We had a trivia test to see how much people knew about me. I got a couple of them wrong myself.
I want to say a huge thankyou to so many people who spent them time and energy to make a special time for me. Marie made a really cool show using photos from my life and she gave me the best ever birthday present – an All Blacks jumper with my name and number on the back!!
I am thankful for the places I have been and the things I have done in these 40 years. I am thankful for the family and friends I have. I am thankful for the opportunities to see much of the world that God has created. I am thankful that God chose me. I am thankful that He persisted in drawing me to Himself and continues to do so. I am thankful that I can read His word daily. I am thankful for so much money to be free to live in this world – so much more than 90% of the world.
I am thankful that God arranged for Marie and me to meet and to pursue a life together. I am looking forward to the next 40 years of my life and the theme of my message is one of thanks and gratitude to God.
While you are thinking about gratitude consider two things.
Consider what God has given you on this earth. Watch this video to be both inspired and thankful.
Consider what God has given you beyond this world. Today I witnessed the baptisms of Virginia, George and Andrew. Their testimonies are poignant reminders of the power of God working through believers to bring the hope of the good news of Jesus to those who don’t yet know Him.
I want my thankfulness and gratitude to spur me on to the action of sharing the best news I have. Not a birthday, not a nice life, not even a good rugby team to follow – but being a child of the Creator and King of the universe!WEDDING FEVER
118 Days to go. If you haven’t received your invite yet and you want to come – please let me know.ON THE HOME FRONT
Please continue to pray for school. I love teaching the children and I want to do my best for them. I find it sometimes overwhelming and difficult to prioritise my time and my energy.PRAYER AND PRAISE
· Praise God for forty years of life by God’s grace
· Thank God for bringing Marie and I together
· Pray for continued preparation for a wedding and a marriage
· Pray for my grade 2 students
· Pray for Virginia, George and Andrew in their walk with Christ this weekTHANKS TO
Beth Weldon and all the helpers who organised my 40th birthday party!AttachmentSize 20130312 RPD.pdf186.24 KB
I have a ceiling fan in my room. It’s always been there. I hardly notice it. I turn it on during hot summer days and the only time I think about it is when I take my shirt off – it’s a low ceiling!
But on Saturday down at the “church spruce up day” I cleaned the ceiling fans. Some of them were pretty dirty. Now they look pretty good. The only problem is now I notice how dirty the ceiling fan is in my room. Before then, I had no clue and it didn’t bother me. Now, every time I glance at my ceiling fan, it bothers me and will continue to do so until either I clean it, or I get used to it.
Sometimes negative character traits or habits may exist in our lives and we are blissfully unaware. But when the Holy Spirit convicts us of the righteousness to which we are called and we can no longer ignore a specific personal attribute, then we have two choices. Clean it up or let it harden.
It can be painful, and it can take up time and effort we think we’d rather put somewhere else, but I know that cleaning it up is better.
And I need to clean that ceiling fan in my room!GLOBAL CONNECTIONS
Bruce writes: “Excellent News! Vlad has arranged for a Christian service to be held in his prison. Tom is working on the details, but basically we'll be able to share the gospel, bring in a couple musicians and testimonies. This is a maximum security prison that has continually denied this request for a long time. Please begin to pray with us for the arrangements. The Lord has opened this door both to encourage Vlad and bring the hope of the gospel to those in chains. Pray that God moves in the hearts of the people in charge, to allow not only this service, but regular ones.”
Don’t forget to follow Vlad on Facebook at Justice for Vlad Schaslyvyi.
Here are some of the boys having a lot of fun in a very non-traditional Ukrainian way. Here is a snap shot of Ukrainian roads. March is a bleak month in Rzhyshchiv. Check in on Dan’s page and Bruce’s page for a few updates. Continue to pray for the lives of students who are being challenged to live life for God not for self. Please also pray for a few issues with my house. Also continue to pray for the ongoing ministry of UTSIM – I do hope to have more information in the near future.
Visiting Nepal last year was a highlight of my life. Since then my ears and heart have been on notice, especially since I had a very unique divine appointment there on my last Sunday. Nepal is a very poor country. Our school was able to send a small amount of money to help rescue some of the poorest girls who are sold into prostitution. Click here to donate or click here if you think God is pulling you to go and give of your time and expertise for a few weeks.
Camp at Lonsdale Park will be on again next month and Marie and I are both travelling to join Ruth and Jon and a host of others to serve the children and families of New Zealand’s far north. The camp is called “A Knight’s Journey”. I believe some good costumes are in order. I haven’t fully decided but will probably base my talks around John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. If you have any great ideas, please wing them my way.ON THE HOME FRONT
After an idyllic week in NZ I am back into teaching 21 year two students. I love them. They are great to teach. Teaching is very tiring as well as time consuming outside of classroom hours. Please pray that I prepare well, that I prioritise my time and energy efficiently but that most of all my life and my words and my actions will point the children in my class towards Jesus.
Friday afternoon is good for the kids but hard yakka on working adults. We are continuing to teach kids that Jesus is the light of the world and last Friday showed that Jesus could back up that claim by giving sight to a man born blind.
Youth group is the next part of Friday night and I usually get my second wind and enjoy relaxing and hanging out with teens. There is so much on offer for teens but real relationships that help guide young people to a deep relationship with God is paramount. We have been focusing a lot on the importance of the place of God’s Word in our lives.
I want to play again this year. I wonder if my body will be up to it. I also want to entice as many friends as possible. If you play front row you even get a discount on your fees. But enjoying the camaraderie of rugby as well as having a few Christian mates there is one of the best ways one can enjoy a winter Saturday. Check it out now!WEDDING FEVER
It is now only 125 days until our much anticipated day in July. Join the countdown online if you have nothing better to do with your time. I am enjoying daily getting to know and love Marie on so many levels. Coming to Australia has not been super easy for her and I am so grateful for all the adjustments she has made to her life for me – for us. Please also pray as her work visa has not been granted. The more I find out about the Australian Immigration Department, the more frustrating and down heartening the journey appears. Pray for endurance and also a miracle would be nice.WHAT YA READIN'?
I really should delete this part of my monthly update until I start reading again. I have begun but not got too far into George Orwell’s book 1984.
I am enjoying Deuteronomy and John most mornings and for those on Facebook I try to post a thought I glean from my daily readingsPRAYER AND PRAISE
· Rzhyshchiv, Ukraine
· Vlad in jail
· Kids Camp – A Knight’s Journey
· Class 2M at PHCS
· Kids Club and Livewire at WPHCC
· Our wedding in July
· Marie’s work visaTHANKS
To those organising my surprise birthday party this coming Sunday which of course I know nothing about!!AttachmentSize 201303 Monthly Update.pdf190.98 KB
I have heard surrealism described as owning giraffes and taking harmonica lessons. I cannot vouch for the authenticity of that statement. However, life seems a little surreal in the idyllic north of NZ for a week. Removed from the day to day grind of work in Australia. Removed from the poverty that millions live in daily around the world. Removed from war and conflict zones. It is peaceful and we are well fed.
I don't know what more to say. Life feels a little surreal. For now I will celebrate it. Thank you Lord.EAT, PRAY, LOVE
Thank God for every meal you eat. We are being very well fed on family reunion.
Thank God for the place where you live. NZ is a beautiful place, Australia is also a very comfortable and easy place to live.
Thank God for your family. Marie has been well welcomed into my family. Of course. She's awesome.
Pray for people and places into the world where life is much harder. Resolve to do something. Then get started.
Pray for the students I interact with at PHCS, Kid's Club, and Livewire.
This is a nice short RPD. I'll have photos from NZ next week.THANKS TO
Dave for a ride up north and hiring a jet ski for family reunion.AttachmentSize 20130219 RPD.pdf166.07 KB
In Westminster Abbey there is a big, dark, solid-wooden, hard-seated chair. It doesn't sound glorious when I describe it like that and in some ways it's not. But that chair has been the seat on which the kings and queens of England have been crowned. Neither the chair, the office nor the function are paramount, rather who is sitting on the chair. Especially back in the days, when the reigning monarch actually ruled the affairs of the day.
Who is on your throne? Or put differently, who fulfills the office of boss? To whom do you pay homage? If you are not sure, ask yourself this follow up question: what things in your life will you sacrifice the most for? I suggest the answer indicates the occupier of your throne. If you claim Jesus as Lord of your life, be sure to enthrone him on your chair.WEDDING FEVER
As I type this RPD my countdown says 146 days, 8 hours, 54 minutes and 2 seconds until Marie and I tie the knot in Shelton, Washington.
We have booked our tickets and will be in Washington from June 22 til July 16.DOWN UNDER
Marie arrived last week and there are two happy people in the universe again. I have a busy week at school with parent information night, pancake day, swimming carnival and I need to have a week's worth of lessons ready for the teacher who will look after the class while Marie and I are in NZ for our family reunion. We are thoroughly looking forward to the break as well as Marie meeting the remainder of my family. Please pray for Marie's work visa. The Australian Immigration Department have given her the run around and it seems have shown themselves to be confusing, unclear and a little incompetent at reading. I guess that means you should pray for me teaching the current generation to read and be functioning members of society. Moreover pray that my life and my teaching will point students to Christ.KIDS CLUB AND LIVEWIRE
After having only four children at our first week of kids club, 18 children on the second week was a big change. Praise God and pray for the leaders and children. We learned that Jesus is the light of the world and can show us what God is like because he came from God.
Straight after kids club we have a short break and a bit to eat and it’s time for Livewire with high school students. I enjoy interacting with teenagers and Marie was certainly well received too.PLEASE PRAY
· Place Jesus on the throne of your heart
· Pray for Marie's work visa to be granted
· Pray for class 2M and Mr Miller at PHCS
· Pray for Kids Club and Livewire
· Thank God for a family holiday.THANKS TO
Angela for bringing Marie to school to interrupt my day last Thursday.AttachmentSize 20130212 RPD.pdf194.43 KB
I may have started the countdown rather early, however anyone can follow the countdown here and the really eager have saved it to their computers. Today another early countdown was announced. Julia Gillard announced an election – in September. Fans of football and rugby sometimes start counting down to the next world cup as soon as one has finished. Too bad they have to wait four years and none of their friends are interested in the countdown.
What am I getting at? If something seems too distant, it is easy for us to forget about it, lose sight, be distracted from the goal, or begin to think it will never actually happen anyway. As far as our wedding is concerned, I will not forget about it. I am counting down with an eagerness and enthusiasm that borders on extremism. For others it’s not such an occasion.
What about the return of Jesus. Neither internet sites nor Julia Gillard can predict when this will be, but I know it is the event of events. Don’t let the cares of this world or the distractions of being busy keep us from the ultimate consummation of all things.GLOBAL CONNECTIONS
There are so many things happening around the world. I’d love to bring a few to your attention. I truly believe that God uses triggers in our hearts and minds, as we expand our boundaries, to cause us to get involved in His world-wide scheme. “For the earth will be filled with knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14)
Here’s a little inspirational something worth checking out. And it’s not even about my sister and her family. They are currently not in Paraguay but in NZ and I will be seeing them soon at our family reunion.
VLAD - UKRAINE
Tom writes: “I have spoken to Vlad, he was very thankful for the support he has been getting! Thank you all for your prayers, please remember him in your prayers. He has recently been having some heart problems, the doctors have given him a course of medication that he needs to take to keep his heart working right and his blood pressure down, but the last few days he has been doing better. So please keep his health in your prayers, he works every day pretty much, and has to unload trunks with heavy bags of food and supplies and his back has also been in pain recently so this is something you can be praying for. We love our dear brother and pray he is used by God in a mighty way. We pray he would be released and be able to return to his family and we pray that God will meet his every day need and use Vlad to glorify our heavenly father!”
BRUCE - UKRAINE
Here is the link to Bruce’s blog which I encourage you to have a look at. It includes a video of him driving with ease up the hill that I used to struggle on in my van. Four wheel drive is a wonderful asset. Pray against discouragement and for the opening of a centre in town that will truly be a lighthouse to the community.
WHEN I WAS IN NORWAY . . .
One of the best conferences I have ever attended was in Bergen, Norway in 2010. The two organisations that put it on run them in various locations around the world and they are coming to Australia. Yes it’s this month. I can’t go because I will be in NZ but I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who has the chance. At least check out TENT here.
Ruth and Jon had another really great camp at Lonsdale Park. Marie and I will join them for autumn camp at the end of April. Please pray for the far north coast of NZ and the impact that God’s Word is having amongst the families there.
Marie changed her tickets!! I am so excited. She arrives here in Australia on February 7th. The next time we will be Stateside will be a couple weeks before the wedding. Farewell to the stars and stripes for a few months.ON THE HOME FRONT
This month will see the 4-yearly Miller Family reunion. We are having 5 nights together in Opononi in NZ’s north. Once home to a famous dolphin, Opononi is a very quaint seaside town. We have a lovely house with great views and lots of water activities at our doorstep. It will be great to reconnect with nephews and nieces as well as my siblings and for the wider family to meet Marie. Lucky them!
I am one week down teaching grade 2 and I love the class I have this year. I have 10 boys and 11 girls who are for the most part keen to be at school. Please pray that I instil good study habits, a love of learning, a love of reading and books, enquiring minds, positive peer relations and above all introduce them to Jesus – the one who created them, died for them and truly loves them.
Our first week back for the year and our first time on a Friday saw Kids Club sparsely attended but we hope as the word of mouth grapevine gets to work the numbers will pick up. I am doing the talks currently and we have a curriculum to guide us this year. “Jesus is the light of the world” is our current theme. Please pray for the kids in our community and for God’s Word and the love we model to touch their lives.
And Livewire is back for 2013. I am committing my Friday nights to Livewire. I am sad to say goodbye to table tennis but I really do love being a part of a youth group. There are a few young leaders just out of high school, pray that I can be a mentor and a model for them. Pray for some non-churched teens that have started coming at the end of last year. Pray that our young people will be inclusive.WHAT YA READIN'?
Could someone please yell loudly at me and tell me that I have to start reading again! I have a list of books I want to read. I am not making time and when I get into bed at night I find I can’t even pick a book up. I do want this to change soon.PRAYER AND PRAISE
· Our wedding in July
· Vlad in jail
· Kids Camp – follow up from Jan, and camp in April
· Class 2M at PHCS
· Kids Club and Livewire at WPHCCTHANKS
Angela Grace for the hard work getting ready and amazing hospitality you are about to show to Marie.AttachmentSize 201302 Monthly Update.pdf186.44 KB