Sunday, September 30, 2007

excited about his first lira

what a blessing to have Pastor Joseph, Zumrad, little Joseph and Rebecca with us

unreasonable service

I heard a friend of mine say, “It’s so expensive to loose weight.
Every time I plan to go on a diet, I start thinking more about food.”
I was puzzled. How can something that you don’t do be expensive?
Human heart, who can figure it out?
The Bible simply says that
“madness is in their hearts when they live…” Eccl.9:3
In these days we see the same principle expanded in our city.
It’s obvious that eating is the most important theme of this time
of fasting.
Shops are loaded with special offers, food for the Ramadan.
Restaurants are enticing all those who have succeeded in restraining
themselves from eating the entire day. Unhealthy eating goes on till
the early hours.
Even if you see the paradox of it all there not so much you can do
about it. This is a very emotional season when man’s attempts, to
prove to himself and others that something good dwells in him, are on
it’s best. Self-righteousness is the winner of this month.
Unfortunately man’s own religion becomes the greatest hindrance
for many in their pursuit for God.
“Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet
before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets,
that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they
have their reward.
But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know,
what you r right hand is doing,
That your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees
in secret will Himself reward you openly.” Matt. 6:2-4
May our secrets always be acceptable to God.

Friday, September 21, 2007

pa rum pum pum pum... painting by a Turkish artist

for the early birds

The Ramazan drummers wake up the whole city
every morning before 4a.m.
I'm sure they also wake up a variety of sentiments
concerning the role of religion in the Turkish Society.
It is uniquely confusing.

Sarah and Irada in Kadikoy

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

the human heart is a bad hiding place

every word means something

Yesterday, right after I had finished writing the devotional, I started
to look for my passport. I couldn’t find it.
Today I was scheduled to travel to Lviv in Ukraine.
No passport, no travel.
After turning the house up-side down a couple of times, after going
through all my daily routes and all my pockets I finally remembered
my devotional. Using words is such a great responsibility.
Every word actually means something and will sooner or later be put
to the test of the reality.
I needed a miracle , but as soon as I understood it, I found myself
with a lot of explanations of how I could manage this situation even if
God chose not to show any supernatural interference. And I did, indeed
and I’m not traveling today.
I heard someone say today that we live in a world of self-justification.
It is so strange for the fallen nature to fully trust in God’s complete
forgiveness. To need the love of God seems such a failure, to need
forgiveness even more so.
I think that one of the greatest surprises for us in eternity will be to see
the unlimited opportunities of grace that we had on the earth.
Why should failures, weaknesses, unbelief, inconsistency, bad reputation,
mistakes, people, situations, bad decisions in the past or any other bad
thing stop us from receiving God’s love that ultimately is the only thing
that can victoriously take us through our earthly life anyways?
“I’m persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities
nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth,
nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love
of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom.8:38-39

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

sometimes life gets complicated

miracles, who needs them?

Unfortunately we have learned how to be believers in this world.
This is both good and bad.
Good in the sense that we don’t cause an open conflict
everywhere where we go, because we have learned to
be politically, socially and culturally correct.
The big bad side of this adjustment to the world is that we
don’t really need God for our daily bread. We don’t need
his guidance, His defense. We don’t need His miracles
because we have learned to live our Christian life “by faith”,
without any supernatural experiences.
Our intellectual, modern interpretation of God has made
him unemployed as the miraculous helper in the time of need.
Even if we sometimes, in a weak moment, end up asking God
for his miraculous interference, we have become so good in
explaining why he didn’t do anything.
I think that the moment when I stop expecting miracles from
God I become a nominal Christian.
In Acts 12 Peter was miraculously released from the prison,
most probably as God’s answer to the prayers of the church.
They were all praying for his release.
When God brought him out , leading him from one miracle to
another, he came to the believers who turned out to be
very much like unbelievers in their expectations from God.
It looks like they didn’t expect God to answer their prayers.
But, yes, they were praying.
Salvation is the greatest need of every man.
It cannot happen by man’s own efforts.
It is always a miracle.
Most of the people around us are naturally not good candidates
for salvation. They don’t look like needing anything.
Their life seems to be so fine without our type of church activities.
Don’t let that deceive you.
Man’s life without an eternal purpose is but a vapor.
Bread alone can keep man standing on his feet, but cannot feed his
starving soul at all.
What do you expect from God?
Do you expect God to do something normal or
are you ready for his miracles?

Monday, September 17, 2007

time for learning again

the highest form of education

September 18 – December 18, 2007

Gospels Tuesdays and Thursdays
2 credit points

7 -8 p.m.
Pastor Joseph Marion

Survey of Doctrine II Tuesdays and Thursdays
3 credit points

8-9.30 p.m.
Pastor Matti Sirvio

Classes are taught in English
with a Turkish translation.

Registration during the first two weeks.

Welcome to
Istanbul Bible Institute
IBI The Highest Form of Education

Sunday, September 16, 2007

let brotherly love continue, Heb.13:1

wars in our hearts, James 4:1

Man has become so skilled in killing one another, that all other
sciences seem like a waste of time.
The best minds of the humanity are dedicated to develop
even faster ways to kill a fellow-man who for various,
very complicated, reasons ended up becoming an enemy.
Why does man have so many enemies?
The more I see killing in the news, the more pacifistic
I become in my thinking.
The craziness of all sorts of senseless killing with long
political explanations makes it even more painful.
What has happened to us?
An old song says it well,” This war has lasted so long,
the war against God.”
Jesus said,” Whatever you have done to one of the least of these,
you have done to me.” Mt.25:40
The modern technology might make all the killing cleaner and less
personal, but it cannot convince me that this is one of God’s methods
to deal with the mankind.
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.
I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more
abundantly.” John 10:10

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ismo and Hannele stopped by on their way to Baku, Hannele's half a century birthday cake

seek Him while He can be found

seeking your face

I’m seeking your face!

I’m not striving.
I’m not panicking.
I’m not hateful.
I’m not disappointed.
I’m not stressful.
I’m not negative.
I’m not judgmental.
I’m not discouraged.
I’m not depressed.
I’m not indifferent.
I’m not cold.
I’m not passive.
I’m not comparing.
I’m not unforgiving.
I’m not complaining.
I’m not bitter.
I’m not reactionary.
I’m not carnal.
I’m not distracted.
I’m not subjective.
I’m not introspective.
I’m not self-righteous.
I’m not condemned


I’m not tired of seeking your face.

Psalm 27:8

Friday, September 14, 2007

God brings beauty out of dirt

things above

Don’t be discouraged if you sometimes feel that you
don’t fit in. There is a lot of room in this world, but
Jesus found no place to lay his head. Luke 9:58
Was he a good citizen?
He was sinless, but he was considered to be a threat.
We don’t mind the difficulties.
We don’t mind the hardships and the pain.
We don’t mind as long as we can set our minds on
things above. Col.3:2
Setting our minds here means more than
just thinking. The verb “phroneo” refers also to actions
of the will and affections.
Things above are not just the unknown future sensations
that are waiting for us in heaven.
It speaks about God’s viewpoint on this life on the earth.
From eternity things look different.
Big storms become just a small cloud of dust,
huge mountains shrink to small, almost unnoticeable, dots
on the road map of eternity.
Nothing compares with the things above.
Nothing can stop us from getting there.
That thought alone can take us through a lifelong night.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

hear my cry

hear my cry, O God

"Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth
I will cry to you,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the Rock
that is higher than I."

Psalm 61:1-2

there is a time for everything

plan on planning

Someone said, that believers don’t plan to fail, but they fail to
Beyond the well rhyming words there is a deep truth in this statement.
If a believer has not been taught to think with the Word of God,
he lives from one mysterious feeling to another in a fatalistic
confusion about the will of God.
Romans 13:14 encourages us to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and
not to make any provision for the flesh.
It actually refers to planning.
Defined faith leads us to make preparations for tomorrow.
In the midst of the dark storms there will be no opportunities
to learn the basics of spiritual warfare. We need to be prepared
before the storms hit.
If those convictions and attitudes are not there, they will not be
developed in a couple of seconds.
Habits are an interesting tool that God has given us.
Without any habits our daily life would need several weeks to get
With the help of habits I know how to get out of my bed in a short
I’m not wondering in my bed and trying to figure out which foot to
take out first. Our life is filled with helpful habits.
It’s dangerous to have “let’s see what will happen” as my philosophy
in life. With he knowledge of the will of God we are not just waiting for something to come, we are called to make
certain things happen.
Bible School is an excellent opportunity to learn to plan our lives
with God. It doesn’t just teach us a lot of things about life, but it
teaches us how to live.

Monday, September 10, 2007

time is for eternity

being prepared

Sensations are often more attractive than the information
of the necessities of life. They draw people’s attention and
keep them occupied as long as the emotional stimulation is
there. Catastrophes, accidents, murders, crazy and perverted maniacs,
famous people’s mundane failures are the best-sellers of our age.
More important information , such as our eternal destiny, is often
pushed to the background in order for the daily sensations to fit in.
The death of a famous person draws tens of thousands of people to
his funeral. In reality they all are equal in this matter and will be
facing eternity probably in less than fifty years from now.
What is more important, the memory of this one “famous” person and
his achievements in time or the life-saving information of the preparation
for the future for the ten thousand?
We don’t know how many of those who died in the Twin Towers
terror act were prepared for eternity, but we know that all of us
in the same way will face that kind of moment one day.
Death sometimes sends a warning signal, but sometimes it comes
like a thief in the night.
A man who survived from the burning towers said in an interview,
that he now values life differently. I wish he would have said, that
he now thinks more of eternity.
Life is but a vapor at it’s best state. Psalm 39:5
“Lord, make me to know my end,
and what is the measure of my days,
that I may know how frail I am.” Psalm 39:4
“ I know that my Redeemer lives, and he shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
that in my flesh I shall see God.” Job 19:25

daily life

Sunday, September 9, 2007

let's continue speaking

When I lived in Stockholm , Sweden, I had a dream to carry
a big banner through the center of the city proclaiming:
The world needs missionaries!
I still believe that this should be done.
In many countries, including Turkey, missionary activities
are considered to be morally wrong and therefore unacceptable.
Missionaries are labeled to be intolerant fanatics, disguised spies,
who are not interested in building bridges between people
but rather imposing their narrow-minded views on others.
In religiously insecure countries this is considered dangerous.
I like Korean missionaries.
I’ve met a lot of them around the world.
They are fun-loving and hard-working people.
Because of their limited knowledge of the English language
they often are left as outsiders in the English speaking
missionary communities.
However, they usually learn the local language faster than
anyone else and therefore are, soon after their arrival,
able to communicate the Good News to the local people.
Sometimes mission work and evangelism becomes so
sophisticated that ordinary believers feel they never can
do it right. It’s easy to blame believers’ poor testimony
for the unsuccessful missions.
Paul’s view was different. He said that the problem is not
with those who share the message but with those who
don’t respond to it. II Cor.4:1-6
Let’s not put the standard for sharing the Gospel too high.
Look at the Samaritan woman in John 4 and the blind man
in John 9. They didn’t attend any evangelism courses, but
they became a witness right after they had met with Jesus.
A changed life continues to be our most convincing
message to those who still haven’t heard.