Thursday, May 31, 2007

wisdom is often so well hidden

grace and salt

So many people seem to be overeducated for an ordinary
church life.
They get their intellectual hunger satisfied from other sources
and they accept the fact that the church can only have a limited
ministry to their soul. That is so sad.
Yes, we could say that they should just humble themselves and
put aside their “much learning” and keep it simple.
But, superficiality should never be accepted in the church.
Just because somebody doesn’t use the same words, body gestures
or clothing doesn’t mean that they challenge your spirituality.
One can be spiritual and intellectual in the same time.
Maybe they just need answers to questions that nobody ever has dared
to ask. Questions don’t destroy churches, hypocrisy does.
I love rap sessions in our church, especially when people really talk
with one another and not just perform to others.
It is so awesome to reach out beyond the standard religious vocabulary
and well polished religious behavior, and listen to people exchange
life beyond the risk less rhetorics.
We need to listen to one another.
We need to talk to one another.
We need to seek the mind of Christ in one another.
“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt…” Col.4:6
Grace and salt bring the best out of every conversation.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Turkmen believers in the city of Mary

news from Turkmenistan

Hello dear brothers and sisters!
Greetings from already summery, hot Turkmenistan.
Mercury column of thermometer is inexorably climbing up.
Today it made a respite on +45°С, but it’s not a limit!
We have a hot time not only outside, but in the church too: Bible
College exams are coming to an end, there will be Students’
Banquet ahead, church picnic, baptism in Ashgabat & Mary,
Women’s Seminar in Mary in the beginning of June.
Today the group of people from our church and Pentecost church
came back from Baku, they were studying at the Christian Youth
Camp Training Seminar in order to be the instructors.
We prepare the people for the first Interchurch Christian
Youth Camp which we plan to have in the second part of July
(we ask you to pray for this).
Praise God for the new people on the services in Ashgabat & Mary.
God’s faithful and His hand yet hasn’t tired to save!
During the past few weeks God’s really trying to do something in
our life and in the lives of many people through us.
Lately I had conversations with responsible persons from KGB in
Ashgabat and in Mary, and in both cases there was the same request
or question, “What could we do with Jehovah Witnesses?
Could you help us somehow in this question?”
Of course, the question is interesting…
Actually many interesting things are taking place here.
For example, on our last service in Mary there were 4 mullahs,
three of them already made hajj, and therefore they have
an attachment to their names – “khodja”. And well, all these 4 persons
were sitting and hearing the message about Christ, because their
government asked them to. After the sermon one of them decided
to invite me to his house – to talk about this in his family in my next
visit of Mary. The ways of the Lord are inscrutable.
Please pray for us, we need your prayers a lot.

P. Vladimir Tolmachev
Greater Grace
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

David Post from Kyrgyzstan, on his way to Baltimore via Istanbul and Izmir

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

there is enough time for everything

convictions, priorities, right timing

In history as in life timing is everything.
People have amazing success stories in their business
simply because they happened to be in the right place
in the right time. The ability to foresee the development
of the markets is one of the key skills in successful business.
God’s work is all about timing.
We learn to trust him as we actively obey him.
Two time related concepts direct our Christian life, convictions and
priorities. Convictions mean strong beliefs on something that
should be done or should not be done.
Priorities refer to our decisions to find time for the things that
we consider to be important.
Being filled with the Spirit means that we agree with the Word of
God on everything.
If we have godly convictions with godly priorities we will
end up in the right place in the right time.
We don’t look for the will of God from our circumstances, but we
fellowship him disregard of the circumstances.
Right in the beginning of the church history God told the disciples
not to be overly concerned of time, but to be filled with the Spirit.
Acts 1:8
The most encouraging thing is that for God’s work, done God’s way,
there will always be enough time.

Monday, May 28, 2007

endless needs


I’ve always been afraid that I would become a professional believer,
someone who knows the right words and behavior patterns, but does
not need to depend on God daily for a spiritual ministry.
The job of a missionary isn’t really that difficult. It’s an easy job to learn.
You can become a missionary in less than a week, but
it takes millions of daily deaths to continue being a missionary.
My dictionary defines the politician as “someone who is good
at using people or situations to his own advantage”.
This is another fear of my life.
I’m afraid that I become political in my relationships with people.
The more power and influence you have , the more you are tempted
to treat others just as stepping stones in order for you to reach your
own ambitious goals.
Peter encourages the believers to “obey the truth through the Spirit
in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure
heart…” I Pet.1:22
I always remember Pastor Stevens explaining this word unfeigned,
“anupokritos”, to us. It’s the real thing, genuine love without any
ulterior motives.
Vine, in his Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, explains it to refer
to someone who is “inexperienced in the art of acting”.
Jesus was not political at all.
That caused many influential people around him to become insecure.
They even tried to use Jesus, but they could not find any handle in him.
In His presence they could not hide behind their fancy words and titles.
He really loved people with "anupokritos" love.

Friday, May 25, 2007

landing in Budapest


I’m not surprised that God has chosen not to remember our sins.
Why would he defile his mind with memories of evil?
Love remembers no evil. I Cor.13:5
In that sense God is not a good historian.
It’s fallen history anyways.
Liars have written it with selfish motives hoping to be seen as
heroes by the future generations.
Some people have a strong conviction about not forgetting.
They defend their view by saying that it would be morally disgraceful
to the victims. In hope of preventing the evil from being repeated
they swear not to forget.
Keeping in mind everybody’s faults and failures
often hinders people in their worship.
An unforgiving mind will not worship.
One of the greatest promises in the Bible is in Jeremiah 31:34,
“I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
What a joy!
What a liberty!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

His design in every detail of life


“Afterthought wisdom” is common, but useless.
Some people are so sure about the way how things would
have gone, if something didn’t happen or did happen in the past.
Martha and Mary express this in John 11 when they said to
Jesus, “If you had been here, our brother would not have died.”
Jesus brought them to another level of reasoning.
He said, “If you would believe , you would see the glory of God.”
Jh 11:40
Without faith man’s life has no glory.
It is just a collection of physical and emotional reactions
randomly looking for some kind of social interaction. Why would
you wake up and go to work , if there is no God?
Why would you continue eating , if you know that everything
will end up in the cemetery in a couple of years?
Without faith man’s glory is just like cheap silver paint
falling off from his proud medals of honor.
Life is not common when you see the glory of God.
Every moment is a glorious manifestation of his purpose.

Monday, May 21, 2007

the donkey knows

consider the cows

It takes nothing but a little bit of humility to be spiritual.
Isaiah said, “the ox knows it’s owner and the donkey its
master’s crib;
But Israel does not know,
My people do not consider.” Is.1:3
In I Sam. 6 :12 we have a story of two cows who showed great
spiritual convictions and followed the call of God.
They did not turn left nor right. They knew where they were
supposed to be.
If a cow can be spiritual, why can’t we?
We have been born again. It’s much easier for us to obey God
than to disobey him.
It’s much easier for us to be a witness than it is to hide our
Let’s not accept those projections about difficult circumstances,
closed countries and impossible tasks.
When we keep on moving, lowing as we go, we’ll end up in the
right place. Any turn to the right or to the left will cause us to
stumble and make our ministry more convoluted.
I just love this picture of these cows.

Friday, May 18, 2007

the future of Turkey


Service has become a big business in the world.
People who have never met you before are trained to smile
to you and seemingly from the bottom of their hearts they are
willing to make you happy.
We have learned to pay for it,
the better the performance the bigger the tip.
Satan takes people to hell carrying their luggage and serving
them to the end at his last supper.
This kind of serving wants to give you an impression that you
are getting something, when in reality you are always the one who
is paying the price for it. It has an appearance of a favor , but it
often is just plain robbery.
Jesus calls us to be servants. He encouraged the leaders to help
people by serving them. Mt.20:28
He himself was very radical with his conviction to serve. Jn.11
He was a servant , but he didn’t save the world by serving,
but by dying.
His serving probably convicted people around him of their
selfishness and made them guilty.
But his death on the cross was the greatest service he ever
could have offered, because it wiped away man’s guilt.
Sometimes our religious attitude of serving is revealing just the
moral light to others. That might help people to become better,
but it can never solve the deeper problem.
It cannot wash away sin.
Serving people by sharing the message of salvation with them is
the best we can offer. Everything else falls short of the will of God.
He has cleansed our conscience from dead works to serve the
living God. Heb.9:14

most of Istanbul's churches are hidden, if you don't know to look for them, you will not see them

Thursday, May 17, 2007

a lot of gifts

The greatest satisfaction for a born-again believer comes
from functioning in one’s spiritual gifts.
I think that often these gifts have been suppressed by mechanically
defining them to certain abilities and ministries.
I believe that these gifts are a special way to fellowship with the
Lord and to enjoy his presence in our lives. The best way to
understand them is to accept them as an outcome of his relationship
with us.
Each believer has a special, unique role in God’s life.
It’s an individual blessing for the profit of all. I Cor.12:7
Too often these gifts are not recognized and therefore unused.
If we don’t operate in these gifts we will be unhappy
creatures in the middle of the road, not willing to give ourselves
to the world and not fully believing that we can be used in the church.
If a believer meets with others once a week for a couple of hours
it’s difficult to see how could he possibly function in his spiritual gifts.
I continue believing that the church is a living organism,
not a sleeping religious policeman who wakes up once a week to make
sure that everything is as it always has been.
Let’s seek for opportunities to serve, to encourage, to add.
If we don’t, we’ll be unhappy and frustrated with our sleep.

Les Kallam has joined the Istanbul team for six weeks, welcome!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

out from our own world

When Satan tempted Jesus he offered him to have his own world.
Jesus responded with the Word of God making it clear to the enemy
that he was happy with the Father’s world.
Big cities are full of people who have created their own world.
They have chosen their own borders, rules , laws and sanctions.
These worlds are called the kingdom of darkness.
God calls us out from our own world.
When a person is healthy and financially independent he can continue
in his own world. For single people this is even a greater temptation,
because they have no responsibilities towards anyone besides themselves.
I need to forsake my own world in order to walk in the light of God.
Jesus said, ”I am the Light of the world. He who follows me shall not
walk in darkness.” Jh.8:12
Is it possible to be a believer and not follow him?
Yes, look at the easy, fit for the world Christianity that we have
created. It is full of people who have chosen to keep their own world
and still try to be interested in the will of God.
Just because the lights are turned on, there’s no guarantee that one
will be looking at the right thing.
Fellowship in his light is that city up on the hill that the world needs
to see.
People sought Jesus. They were willing to make an effort to find him.
The Pharisees were accusing one another saying that the whole world
is running after him. Jh 12:19
What a great scene, to see people leave their own world and fall in love
with the will of God.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

friends visiting from Baku, Oktay, Nasim and Tsingis

Islamic Calvinism

It’s clear that we are not good representatives
of the Western Culture.
Most of the rights and the sentiments that color the Western
World today are not in our agenda.
We are in this world, but not of it. John 17:14-16
It’s no secret that for many uneducated, but well informed,
people in the Muslim world to be a Christian means that you
are an immoral and selfish hedonist who disrespects his parents
and acts independently of his family disregard of his age or sex.
The tourism industry doesn’t really help to correct this picture.
How should we then live?
In the nutshell the whole world shares the same problem,
separation from God. Sin is tangled in man’s soul in all languages
and with many skills and talents.
The similarities in all cultures around the world point to the
same direction, the catastrophe in Eden.
Politicians in Turkey today speak about Islamic Calvinism.
It’s referring to a new form of Turkish Islam that has been
compared with the development of the Calvinist values in Europe.
Honesty, piety and hard work are the trademarks of this
modernized Islam.
The message is,” You can be religious, rich and European in the same
My interpretation of the message is,” It doesn’t really matter what
you believe , just continue building your superficial world.
Don’t step on a wrong person’s toes.
Just learn to avoid the real issues, such as eternity.
Forget about heaven. Continue dressing up your leprous body.
Turn your eyes away from problems.”
This is the weakness of all nominal religion.
It works only when you are not caught.
Jesus came to the same kind of world of religious hypocrisy.
Nothing has changed in man’s behavior.
The same arguments encourage people just to keep on moving
in the corridors of the Titanic world.
Jesus said: Be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.Mt.9:2
That is the truth that makes a real difference.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

reflections of the inner man, a Turkmen carpet

steps of faith

People want God without a religion.
Is it possible? Is it allowed?
Yes, I believe that a living faith without an organized
and superficially manufactured religion is the most important
element in man’s life. Nobody can stop the steps of faith.
They march through prison walls and borders.
They climb mountains and walk on many troubled waters.
Sometimes people ignorantly speak about their own god.
God, of course , cannot be anybody’s own.
Those so called gods are often just big questions that come
from man’s longing to be loved by the living Savior.
Disappointed with all organized religion, people sometimes
end up with anarchic views that are more a self defense than
worship.It's no surprise that most of the people are not
so willing to discuss their “own gods”.
We , who have a conviction about speaking about the things
of God, often find ourselves explaining why we are different
from Jehovah’s Witnesses. Sometimes we are surprised to
find out that we actually are very much like them.
Especially, if we agree to work in the framework of religious
productivity. It’s easier to walk by sight than by faith.
The word of God teaches that our weapons are invisible.
So are our real enemies. So are our achievements. So is our God.
That what the eye can see is sometimes more of a distraction
than a trophy.
The real value of our faith is in “the hidden person of the heart”
I Pet.3:4
I’m absolutely not against churches being well organized and
full of programs. I don’t believe in independent worship.
All genuine truth requires a system of accountability. The local
church is God’s design for us to be the place where we grow
in our inner man.
It’s a joy to find a church where people trust in God’s work in
one another’s life.

Happy Mothers' Day!

Saturday, May 5, 2007


Christ-likeness is not an idealistic dream for believers.
Jesus himself encouraged us to be like him.
Without any hyper- spirituality we can learn from him. Mt.11:29
His relationship with people was so unusual.
He had no insecurities. That’s why he was able to meet all
kinds of people and minister to them the heart beat of God.
God doesn’t give up on people.
He knows his own and will not let them down.
Jesus had a lot of patience with people.
He encouraged his disciples not to live by sight and not to
judge people according to their behavior.
By faith we can always see further.
We can see beyond people’s faults and minister to their needs.
I believe that Jesus was not a fast walker. He seemed to always
have time. He was not panicking to save the world.
He was full of forgiveness. He forgave people much more than
they thought he did. Nothing could offend him.
Destroying is seemingly much easier that building.
Many of the things that we end up destroying can never be
restored. Without them we will miss something in life.
It’s easier to get rid of people, than to see them become disciples.
With Christ-likeness we will learn to treat people just as
God has treated us. Phil.2:5

Kazakstan is so far, but so close to the heart of God, painting by a kazak artist


Often we would like to ask God , why certain things happened
and other things didn’t. Most probably we are not prepared to
understand the answer. He himself is the reason. His ways, that
are so much higher than ours, all lead to him. I Cor.15:28
Most probably his answer will just encourage us to trust him,
even without understanding the details of his work.
When Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet he told them frankly that
they don’t understand it. John 13
He promised that later they would understand.
Maybe they started understanding it right after the day of Pentecost
when people all the sudden started caring for one another.
Maybe, when the first big questions had to be resolved, the Jews and
the Gentiles, slaves, women, rich, poor.
Maybe they remembered it when the first persecutions started against
the church in Jerusalem. Maybe the Holy Spirit reminded them of this
selfless attitude towards one another, when the church started to grow
and become popular and new leaders had to be chosen to continue the work.
I think that as believers grow in their faith they ask God less and less
questions. We understand that the most important thing in our faith
is not what we do nor how we do it, but why we do it.
This is an important question to us.
Why do I worship him?
If I can say that I worship him because I love him, I’m a winner.
Adam, why don’t you eat from that tree?
God told me not to eat.
Has God really said?
Yes, he has and he continues to speak.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Greater Grace in Almaty, Pastor Pamir Bekmamatov

me, myself and I

Selfishness is an appropriate synonym for the flesh.
Without a spiritual orientation man is overly occupied
with his own ideas and needs. As we say in Finnish,”
he doesn’t see beyond his own nose.”
Selfishness destroys all true love.
Love becomes a long list of demands, expectations and
needs. There is no room for giving, waiting, laying down
your life. So many marriages that started in the flesh also
end up with a divorce in the flesh. A selfish man will always
look for someone else whom he could use to meet his endless
Selfishness destroys all meaningful fellowship.
Speaking with people becomes a fair show in the flesh
and a complicated game , throwing superficial words
back and forth. Real issues are always covered up by
much talking and very little listening.
A selfish man will never initiate edification.
He only thinks about his own facade.
Selfishness steals away people’s vision.
When saving our own life becomes the most important goal,
we will not want to hear about “going where we
don’t want to go.” John 21:18
Jesus’ call to follow him is the best think that has ever happened to us.
It sets us free from ourselves.
Walking in the newness of life brings the greatest joy
that we could ever experience on this earth.
This is the full joy that Jesus spoke about. John 15:11

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Central Asia

Central Asia

Please, pray for my traveling.
I’m leaving for Almaty and Bishkek today.
Our Central-Asian churches are real oases
in the middle of nowhere.
The Uzbek villages , the Tajik mountains,
the Turkmen home meetings, the Kyrgyz smiles
and the endless Kazak steppes have become a part
of our faith adventure. China is right next door,
May our prayers of faith remove the ignorance
and suspend the threatening night.

P.Matti Sirvio

here they are, Niyazi and Irada, congratulations!

seek the peace of the city where I have brought you Is.29:7

go on

We all are called to pioneering missions.
We are preparing the way for the coming of the King.
“A message was revealed to Daniel. The message was true,
but the appointed time was long.” Daniel 10:1
Daniel had to learn patience, the same way as all the other prophets.
They saw things that were in the future, but often they didn’t
see the events that took place between the mountain tops.
Sometimes there were long valleys and other mountains that
seemed so insignificant when compared with the big vision.
In pioneering missions we have learned that nobody will be
offended, if we don’t do it. If we stopped following our call,
most of the world would care less. Even most of the religious
people would just be happy that we finally became “normal
As pioneering missionaries we have to be prepared to do our
work without a support, encouragement and recognition.
If our call stands or falls on those things, fall it will.
If we agree to seek him disregard of our circumstances and
other people’s opinions, we are prepared to go and prepare
the way for Jesus. That’s what pioneering missions is all about.
Just like those whom Jesus sent before him to the Samaritan
villages in Luke 9:51-56
James and John took their rejection personally and were ready
to deal with them, reacting emotionally. Jesus corrected them
and simply decided to go to another village.
“Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward
in heaven…” Mt.5:12