Sunday, April 29, 2007

evening in Ortakoy

higher stardard

The disciples wanted to be practical and help Jesus out
when things seemingly got our of control.
They told Jesus in Mt.14:15 to send the people to the near by villages
to find bread for themselves. Jesus responded saying:
“You give them to eat”.
As so many times before, Jesus was introducing them a new standard
of thinking, faith.
In Mt.18:21 Peter thought that he was doing pretty well in his changed
attitude as he recommended his view on forgiveness to Jesus. I think
he really stretched far by saying that he was willing to forgive seven
times, if so needed.
Jesus shocked them all by revealing the standard of grace :”Not seven,
but seventy times seven.”
Grace reaches further.
It’s easy to depart from this standard of grace.
Right after a failure, ours or others’,
we easily fall into dead works and other punishing operations
thinking to impress God by our sincerity. It’s easy to stop thinking in grace.
The Corinthians were convicted that one of the brothers had gone too
far in his immoral behavior, I Cor.1:5
They separated the brother and stopped fellowshipping with him.
It looks like this brother really repented and was looking for a way to
be restored. The Corinthians had changed their standard, from grace
to legalism.In his second letter Paul has to plead with them again,
now to forgive this brother and receive him back. II Cor.2:6-7
It’s easy to see faults and punish those who are responsible for it.
It’s an invitation to live in a higher standard when we a called to
forgive those who, according to our judgment, have not deserved our
Therefore grace always brings a greater joy to our life than judgment.

Friday, April 27, 2007

picture from Iran by Joseph Marion

clarity in the time of confusion

General confusion is often used to accomplish evil.
When everybody’s attention is drawn to the fly, even an
elephant can be smuggled out from a zoo park.
If you don’t know what is happening, you loose your
ability to guard yourself.
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.”
Isaiah 5:20
Jesus said that disinformation would become so powerful
in the world that people who kill believers will think that
“they offer God service”. Jh.16:2
The victims are blamed to be the true assaulters .
This is the kind of darkness that cannot be removed
by logical discussion. It cannot be corrected by the United
Nations nor the by the International Court of Justice in
The Hague. It seemingly has no beginning and no end.
It has no handle in it. It is supernatural.
Fear not.
Proverbs 4:18 promises that even though the way
gets more narrow, the path of the righteous grows brighter
and brighter.
This brightness, clarity, is a great gift in today’s
world, where overwhelming evil confuses us and so
often goes beyond our comprehension.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

tired of empty words

sometimes silence

Sometimes silence is a bad choice.
False humility, judgmental attitude and self-righteous
thinking often hide behind the facade of a silent face.
Esther, don’t remain silent in your time of opportunity. Esther 4:14
Paul, “fear not, but speak, and do not keep silent, for I am with
you and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people
in this city.” Acts 18:9-10
Ezekiel “sat where they sat” until God told him to speak.
For him not to speak would be a sin. Ez.3:15-21
Sometimes silence is a sinful choice.
Where two or three people are gathered together one of them is
a leader. Every situation has a leader.
Usually the leader is the one who speaks.
If the right leader will not speak, the liars, deceivers and empty
souls will unashamedly use the opportunity to influence.
Let’s be slow, but willing, to speak out those words that have
transformed our own lives from “useless things to the
living God”. Acts 14:15

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

also He has put eternity in their hearts, Eccl.3:11

just let him

We cannot go shopping for God, not in churches, synagogues,
mosques, yoga courses, meditation centers, mountains, valleys,
forests. He is not for sale.
He is not advertising himself.
He is not on any shelf waiting and hoping that we would pick
him up.
He came to the world as he wanted.
He comes to our lives also as he wants.
My or your opinion doesn’t offend nor change him.
The Bible says that no man seeks God. Rm.3:11
That is so true. Seeking God is an impossible task.
He cannot be found by any of the means that man has at
his disposal. He is invisible, eternal and immeasurable.
He is everywhere present, but cannot be seen, heard, touched
or followed without his ministry of his perfect humanity.
Why did God become man?
He came to seek man? Luke 19:10
He had not lost track of man. He lost his attention.
Let him find you.
If you are reading these words, it’s clear that he has found you.
Now, let him just love you
as he is, “God , manifested in the flesh…” I Tim.3:16

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

our donation button is now working !

a little woman at the well in Afghanistan, picture by Joseph Marion

He did it His way

How much does man need to know in order to be saved?
Does he need to be introduced to all the cardinal doctrines
of Christian faith? How much does he need to believe in
each of them?
These harmless sounding questions are actually pivotal
for our faith.
It’s clear that in order to be a part of a certain denomination,
you have to share the same beliefs. However, most of us would
agree that the name Christian is a bigger designation. It goes
beyond denominational borders and, doctrines.
Isn’t man saved by grace after all and not by his ability to
define his faith?
Salvation is always the work of God.
“It pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached
to save those who BELIEVE.” I Cor.1:21
Saving faith means trusting faith.
I cannot come to God on my own conditions, with my own list
of doctrines. I either trust him or I don’t.
At the moment of salvation my doctrinal background and vocabulary
might be very minimal and almost non existing.
Jesus called his disciples without long conversations.
He just said,” come and follow me.”
Later on they learned more. The more they walked with him, the more
they trusted him. I’m sure they were many times surprised and
challenged. Each time they had to make a decision to trust the words
of Jesus.
Doctrine is not a secondary issue.
It’s the foundation of our faith. Eph.4:14
At the moment of salvation we are given everything.
It takes a life-time to find out what is ours.
Doctrine simply means the sum of the definition and the application
of our faith. John 13: 17
When God saves us he will do it his way, not respecting our
counsel or opinion in this matter. He knows what he is doing.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Niyazi's and Irada's wedding will be this Saturday in Baku, yes, he could use some encouragement

children working

greater purposes

We cannot afford to look at life by sight.
In Acts 16:16-24 there was a group of people who started
loosing money, because of Paul’s preaching.
The demon that was feeding them lost his power.
They reacted by false accusations, claiming that Paul was
trying to change their well respected culture by teaching
people traditions that they were not allowed to follow.
They disguised their anger of financial loss with a cultural
and theological vocabulary. I’m sure they didn’t care what
people believed or did not believe as long as they had their
flow of money unhindered.
Paul and Silas were put into prison and they continued
ministering. Circumstances seemed to have very little
power over their call to preach the Gospel. It didn’t really
matter where they were, they were available to God.
The earthquake first seemed like God’s miracle for the
purpose of setting them free from the prison.
If this was the case they would have escaped fast and ran for
for their life. They didn’t go. There turned out to be another
reason for this earthquake, the Philippian jailer and his
family. He fell trebling before Paul and Silas and asked
them, “What must I do to be saved?”
What was he asking?
It looks like he asked for a much smaller salvation than
what Peter and Silas were thinking about. He was asking
for a way out from his trouble. Paul responded by showing
him the way of a great salvation.
This continues today. People come with their small needs
just to find out that their problem is far more serious.
Praise God that our answer is bigger than all the questions that
man can ever come up with.

Friday, April 20, 2007

come to Jesus

deep issues

The recent events in Malatya have stirred up a lot of
conversation about issues that have been present ever
since the first man was created.
Three Christian missionaries, two of them Turkish,
one German, were savagely murdered by young Muslim
fanatics who according to their own words did it in defense
of their country and religion. Strong emotions are being
expressed in the midst of a lot of political and religious
Insecure religion acts out of inferiority complex.
Indeed, a god who needs people to defend him is a very weak
and unprofessional creator. The attempt to defend “turkishness”
ends up with an other bad advertisement for this confused
and needy nation.
God wants truth to the uttermost. Psalm 51:6
Superficial truths and theories are destined to turn against
themselves. The wounds are deep and cannot be healed
slightly. Jer.8:10-11
If you put the facades of all religions next to one another,
they make a nice wall. It looks like they compliment one
another in nice harmony.
If you dig a little bit deeper and check the foundation of these
facades, you’ll be surprised to see how few of them go so
deep that you cannot find the bottom.
The Bible says, all ( disregard of their religious tradition)
have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Rm.3:23
Everybody needs grace, God’s undeserved favor, in order
to be saved. There is no other way. All other comparison
is a dead end street.
Even the truth can look dirty in the hands of a dirty man.
Even a lie looks attractive and clean in the hands of a “clean”
“Let no one deceive you with empty words.” Eph. 5:6
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God;
and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
I John 4:7-8

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Thank you!

Thank you all for the great respond to my "anyone out there?"
I'm greatly encouraged.

P.Matti Sirvio

"of whom the world was not worthy" Heb.11:38

time cannot contain it

I have been challenged by the same question before.
That was years ago in the Soviet Union when a teacher
of mathematics in Moscow said, “ Don’t you think that it’s
wrong to put people in danger by telling them about God? You
know that they will get in trouble , if they receive your message.
They will most probably even be persecuted and killed.”
Yes, life offers us a lot of difficult choices. Often the choice is
not between good and evil, not even right and wrong.
Which one is better, to pour disinfecting, but painful ointment to the
wound or let the infection spread. Both choices come with pain.
Everybody suffers in life.
Why not to suffer for a good reason?
Yesterday three of our brothers were brutally murdered by
people who were not ready for a dialogue.
Common sense, rational thinking or truth doesn’t mean anything
for these people. They are the real victims, who have been
blinded by lies and poisoned emotions.
King Saul cast a spear at David, because he was afraid of him.
I Sam. 18:12 He saw that God was with him.
Why does God allow evil in believers' life?
Why were our brothers not protected by God?
These are questions that cannot be answered superficially.
There is a measure of evil that God allows in the world today.
The only reasonable way to look at it is by looking for the
bigger picture. If we compare small things with small things
they can look big, but if we compare small things with big
things, they loose their size, power and meaning.
Time is a small thing when you compare it with eternity.
So many answers are too big to be measured by time.
Only eternity will reveal their real value. Acts 1:7-8
God makes no mistakes.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

anyone out there?

Let us know, if you are reading this blog.
It would be great to hear from you.
Sometimes it is hard to write to an invisible audience.

P.Matti Sirvio

beyoglu morning

working on the invisible

Behind every building there is an idea that was developed
in the mind of the designer. Maybe it remained invisible for
a long time. Maybe others around that person were misled
to think that he is doing nothing, just staring into space
and thinking. Without that invisible work the building would
never exist.
We are called to build the invisible elements of man.
By speaking the Word of God we build up people’s faith.
It’s impossible to measure it by the visible measurements.
However, without faith there could be no real work of God,
no lasting fruit.
Encouraging faith looks like speaking to the air when in reality
it is the most important work that is going on in the world today.
Romans 4:17
We are called to build up people’s character.
Priorities, convictions, personal integrity are often invisible
qualities that go unnoticed.
To encourage a person in spiritual character is extremely
important. Unfortunately this building block is more and
more ignored in most of the modern educational programs.
Most of the learning spins around the visible, temporary
issues, without any interest whatsoever in eternal values.
We also have a ministry to influence people to influence
others. The whole message of Christian faith is built on this
principle. People look up to people.
People follow people.
II Cor. 4:16-18 encourages us to go on looking at the things
that are not seen. They are eternal.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

hiding in big cities

it looks good

Sin is never a personal issue. It’s a relationship problem.
Even if sin is well hidden and done secretly, it always has
consequences. Sooner or later it will bear fruit.
In Isaiah 30:13 the Lord says that the sin of the rebellious
people is like “a bulge in a high wall”. It looks helpful, but
it actually is a trap.
If it’s not taken care of , it will be a problem in the future.
Sin always brings forth death.
Sin kills all faith in visions, opportunities and godly
Sin needs to be identified daily in the light of God’s finished
work and forgiveness.
The moment we call sin sin, we destroy it’s future.
Repentance isn’t just a bad, guilty feeling about something,
but it’s turning away from it.
Sometimes confession of sin leads a person to radically break up
a relationship, delete a phone number or even to move out
to a new home.
By confessing our sins to the Lord daily, we don’t inform
him about them, but we agree with him about them.
Ephesians 5:15 encourages us to walk circumspectly, not
as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days
are evil.
Being careful about our time, companion and geography
is wisdom that will guard our future ministry in God’s plan.

Monday, April 16, 2007

He does not forget the cry of the humble Ps.9:12

true humility

Moses calls himself the most humble man on the earth in Num.12:3
He could say that with confidence because humility is not
an achievement nor a feeling. It’s a chosen attitude
of surrendering to God.
Another meaning for this Hebrew word is “needy”.
God himself came to this world by humbling himself. Can you imagine
a more needy creature than a newborn baby?
Man cannot know God without humbling himself.
He needs to come to the end of his own resources, his own knowledge
and strength in order to need Him.
Mark 10:25 says that it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of
a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.
Salvation is impossible, if it depends on man.
True humility simply means to agree with God.
False humility is often just a humble looking face that hides behind
it a lot of self-righteousness and judgmental attitude toward others.
It is proud humility.
It’s impossible to grow in faith without humility.
It’s impossible to minister to others without it.
True humility always leads us to receive grace in our time of need.

Garip's and Vahid's baptism on Saturday

baptism picknic on Saturday

Friday, April 13, 2007

work is a blessing

God chose to work

Work is a blessing from God. John 5:16-20
It is not a consequence of the fall.
Before man ever fell, he had been asked to care for the garden.
What a joy! What a privilege to be asked by God to do something.
In Turkey hard work is highly respected.
However, work itself doesn’t really have any value for us unless
it has the right goal. To work for work’s sake is no joy.
Can you imagine somebody asking Jesus, “what do you do for work?”
Jesus would respond by saying,” I walk and talk with people.”
How unproductive it sounds? How irresponsible?
The words that he spoke had more value than anything else that
man could say or do to another man.
How about his greatest work on the cross?
Without the perfect motivation of love and the glorious goal of
salvation, it would have looked just a sad end of a failed life.
God himself is working, not just functioning.
The difference between these two is that work always involves
a choice. God chose to do something.
It’s the same with us. We are not just functioning. We are working
as Christians. We daily choose to love, speak and to encourage.
“Night is coming when no one can work”. John 9:4
The opportunity for choices will come to an end.
Yes, maybe our circumstances to work are difficult and even
discouraging, but they could be worse. We love to work.
Turkey also has twelve hours in the day. John 11:9

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

protected, isolated, covered,separated? picture from Mazar I Sharif by P.Joseph Marion

jungle of voices

He who gets my ear will get my heart, too.
It’s no wonder that the world is so noisy.
It’s full of voices, that fight for our attention.
David was chosen by God, even though his brothers seemingly
were better candidates to become the king of Israel.
David had no secret motives nor ambitious plans to promote
himself. He already had found the treasure of fellowshipping
with the Lord in an intimate way. Ps.27:4
He was accused for coming to the battle field because of
his selfish interests, when he actually was sent there by his father.
He was attacked and discouraged by so many voices before he
came to meet Goliath face to face. It looks like the killing
of Goliath was nothing compared with the jungle of voices that
he had to fight through in order to get there. I Samuel 17
Besides the mocking voice of Goliath he also heard his own
brothers accusing him.
Even Saul whom he had ministered to for a while didn’t
recognize David as God’s anointed. Several times he was
asking ,”who is this man?”
Goliath despised him and told him that he doesn’t have a chance.
His brothers followed Saul and accused David for being an
irresponsible adventurer.
King Saul discouraged him and told him to look at himself.
David had a clear mind, because he fellowshipped with God.
He didn’t let any of those voices stop him.
He followed the Lord in the way that He was leading him.
He didn’t come to fight Goliath. He came in following the Lord.
Goliath happened to be standing on the way.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

the needy in the streets of Kabul, picture by P.Joseph Marion

healthy dependency

Acts 13:30 says that God raised Jesus from the death.
Could Jesus have raised himself independently of the Father?
Yes, theoretically speaking, of course he could.
But it was not even an option because of the character of their
relationship. This voluntary dependency is an important
element in God’s nature. Jesus taught it always when he spoke
about his relationship with the father.
In the Bible it’s not a shameful thing to depend on someone.
It’s not wrong to depend on others for the things that are
difficult or impossible for us.
But even in things that we can do ourselves.
Jesus demonstrates this in a beautiful manner with his obedience.
Hebrews 5:8
He who was sinless and perfectly righteous learned obedience
by the things that he suffered. He chose to depend, not because
of a need, but because of love.
In societies where individual’s rights for privacy are over emphasized
people loose the blessing of a community.
The church is God given community to us.
Independent spirit leads people to function outside of God’s
authority and covering. Blessed principles of accountability,
submission and obedience become threatening.
The world is filled with people who haven’t managed their life
flawlessly. Unemployment, divorces, burn-outs, homelessness
etc. are daily realities for millions of people all over the world.
We should not pity nor despise people who haven’t made it.
We are called to bring them into the family of God.
With God’s people there is a blessing of belonging prepared for them.

Monday, April 9, 2007

we continue having a financial need, please pray for more support to come in

sunrise service a' la Istanbul

fantastic Easter concert on Saturday

led to a cave

Sometimes the plan of God leads us to a cave.
Last week I ended up in a cave in Uchisar, Cappadocia for five days. I participated in an art project together with artists from France, Germany and Turkey.
Our works will be displayed in the French Culture Centre in Taksim on May 1, 2007.
It was a great experience to look into the lives of these gifted, but so needy people,
who are so hungry for the love of God.

young turkish painters in the cave

our workshop in the cave

out from a cave

This man told me how he and his family moved out from this cave sixty years ago.
He now lives in a real house, but comes periodically here to remember the days
of his childhood in these rock dwellings.He wasn't so sure where did his life have
a better quality, in the cave or in the house.
Our workshop was right under his old family cave.

an old man visiting his birth place

cappadocian colours

kids in Uchisar

in the middle of Turkey

Uchisar, Cappadocia

in Paul's footsteps in Cappadocia

Monday, April 2, 2007

Thank you!

Thank you all for praying and supporting us.
Miraculously we were able to pay our taxes.
Thank you for catching the fish with us.

there always is a way out

prepared works and people

God always has something prepared for us.
Think about the excitement that Peter must have had when
Jesus told him to go and get the tax money from the mouth
of the fish. I’m sure his hands were
shaking when he felt the fish bite. Could it be true? Mt.17:27
In preparation for the Passover Jesus asked the disciples
to go and get the donkey that God had prepared. In case if
someone would ask any questions, he told them to say:
the Master has need of them. What an authority ? Mt.21:2-3
It’s a great call to walk daily in those works that
he has prepared. Eph.2:10
A fatalistic attitude is one of the greatest enemies of a living faith.
In faith we don’t agree everything to be the will of God.
We learn to discern and we learn to choose right, even against
our feelings.
The Lord doesn’t prepare situations only.
He also prepares people.
He doesn’t prepare good people only, he even prepares
an evil man. He does not need to make men evil. There are
a lot of them available.
With evil people we have more oppportunities
to excersice faith.