Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pray for Turkmenistan!

News from Turkmenistan

Greetings from Turkmenistan !
The new year’s begun and we entered into a new stage of adventure with the Lord, and He always has lots of different variants of these adventures.
At the end of passed year we gathered together to resume it and to see where we’ve moved forward and what things still have to be corrected. And we’ve got rather fun team meeting.
One of the positive facts was that during last year we’ve rarely changed our places for the services. But… just after Christmas it seemed like we began to make up this “deficiency” . Since January we’ve changed our location for the 4th time! And there’s the only reason: a fear of the halls owners – what would people say or think of them if they know the church services are being hold there. Please pray for this point, because it’s getting hard to find a place that we could rent for Sunday services in Ashgabat. It’s an expected “problem” for us, but it’s more marvelous to watch the Lord faithfully bring new people on each service. And you may ask as many questions as you want, “Lord, I can’t understand – are we losing or gaining?”, but He meanwhile just keeps on adding to His Body.
This year attendance of our services is stably of about 80 people and still keeps growing – praise God. The Lord is faithful in answering our prayers as well: men attend the services – and their “rows” become bigger and bigger! And we can’t go into a small hall.
Since February 1 we began our spring semester Bible College classes. This semester we’ve got only 2 disciplines – Survey of Doctrines-1 and Methods of Evangelism. 19 students have started their long-distance race.
During the Bible College vacations we (not so big group of 5 people) went for 3 days mission trip to Turkmenbashy city (former Krasnovodsk). It was a great time of street soulwinning, prayers, discussions, salvations in this port city. We even climbed up to the one of the mountains that were just in the center of the city and watched the marvelous picture from there: the ice on Caspian sea. There wasn’t a thing like that for many years – so that the sea has frozen up to 1km from the shore.
Our weekly trips to the city of Mary are going on, where we have Wednesday evening services, and where the Lord is faithful in bringing His people too. Usually the team of 2-4 goes there, holds a service and comes back the following day. Please pray for the leader for Mary. The constant team is needed there. We’re short of human resources, but we believe the Lord will answer this need by the abundance of His grace.
Our prayer needs of paramount importance:
1. A constant place for the church services in the city of Ashgabat;
2. An opportunity to rent a bigger place for the church office and Bible College;
3. Jobs for the unemployed church members;
4. The church finances and financial opportunities for Pastor’s family;
5. An opportunity for the people from church to attend the GGWO conferences;
6. Guests to visit us!!!! (they don’t let, but try!);
7. A notebook and a projector for the worship ministry.

Be blessed,
P. Vladimir & Svetlana Tolmachev

E-mail: heaventm@mail.ru
Skype: ggashgabat

Monday, February 25, 2008

headscarf fashion in Istanbul


Christians to Welcome Qatar's First Christian Church
Alexander Sheffrin
Christian Post Contributor
Sun, Feb. 24 2008

Christians in Qatar will celebrate Easter this year in a church for the first time in 14 centuries.
Next month, the St. Mary’s Catholic Church will be among the first of a series of churches to open its doors in the Qatar capital of Doha. Anglican, Greek Orthodox, and Coptic churches are expected to soon follow.
"A few years ago, opening a church in Qatar was sort of impossible, but Qatar has changed since the coming of the new emir,” Italian ambassador Igantio Di Pashi recently told a local Qatari newspaper, noting the significance of the country’s first church since the 7th century.
The construction of a church in this tiny, oil-rich, conservative, Islamic state has been a historical landmark for the country’s diverse Christian population – mostly expatriates from India, the Philippines, Lebanon, and various Western countries.
Strict Islamic laws had previously barred the country’s Christian community from public prayer and religious services.
In 2005, however, pro-Western ruler Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani allowed for the construction of Christian churches, in a move to open up and demonstrate an Islam tolerant of other religions.
Yet the establishment of churches has not been without criticism in the small, strict, Islamic country. Many critics refer to quotations from Islamic Prophet Mohammed that state "no two religions will come together in the Arabian peninsula."
“The cross should not be raised in the sky of Qatar, nor should bells toll in Doha,” wrote columnist Lahdan bin Issa al-Muhanadi of the Doha daily Al-Arab in reflection of this sentiment.
Abdul Hamid al-Ansari, a former Islamic law school dean of Qatar University, pointed out, however, that the quotations from Mohammed are out of context and refer only to Mecca and Medina, the two holy cities of Islam.“This does not mean that churches should be banned in Qatar,” he noted, according to Agence France-Presse. "Places of worship for various religions is a fundamental human right guaranteed by Islam."Let's all welcome the presence of churches in Qatar as a demonstration of Islamic tolerance and human brotherhood," he said.
According to the World Christian Database, there are about 70,000 Christians in Qatar, consisting of about 7,000 Anglicans and 50,000 Catholics.
Christianity was brought to the Gulf States by missionaries in the second half of the 5th century but disappeared almost completely in the Gulf Arab states with the arrival of Islam in the 7th century.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

everybody follows somebody

following and being followed

“If anyone serves Me, let him follow me.” John 12:26
It is actually possible to serve God and still not
follow him. Judas was an active member of Jesus’
community , but in the time of trouble he all the sudden
turned out to be with the wrong crowd.
He served Jesus, but did not follow him.
He didn’t let Jesus into his personal life.
He “served” Jesus, but did not agree with him.
This is very possible especially with those who are fulltime
workers in the Christian community.
Sometimes working more is a disguised attempt to obey less.
God has no needs that we could satisfy,
but He has an amazing character that he wants us to know.
Did Jesus need Judas to take care of his money?
Of course not, but that was another opportunity given to
Judas to be near Jesus.
He seemingly loved more the money than to be with
the sinless friend who loved him unconditionally.
Following is all about influence.
Everyone follows somebody and everybody is
followed by somebody.
In order to be a good follower you have to keep your
vision clear; you have to trust the one you are following and
you have to guard yourself from distractions.
What happens when you stop following?
The blind behind you will be led astray in your footsteps.
The young, the weak, the newborn will all
be influenced by your distraction.
You follow, not only for your own sake, but for the
hundreds, maybe even thousands who come behind you.

"For we walk by faith, not by sight." II Cor.5:7

I am not I

We would love to say, “What a wretched man I was.”
That would be powerful.
It would be so victorious to go around sharing our
testimony and see people admire us and become as
amazing as we are.
Paul knew what he was talking about when he said,
“What a wretched man I am!” Rom.7:24
We all know what he is talking about.
Something that we used to call “I” will remain wretched
till the end of our earthly life.
This is our testimony.
It’s a testimony of grace.
Believers are not just very rarely sinning, but they
continue to have the fallen sin nature with them.
They live by faith, faith in God’s forgiveness and grace.
Faith in that what the Word of God says about our
fallen nature.
“Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who
do it, but sin that dwells in me.” Rom.7:20
“I have been crucified with Christ;
It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;
and the life which I now live in the flesh
I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me
and gave Himself for me.” Gal.2:20
Praise God that I’m not the I that I used to be.
I’m a new I as the result of God’s saving grace.
The days of my old I are counted.
The new I is eternal.

Friday, February 22, 2008

"for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God." Heb.11:10


Have you ever been disappointed?
Disappointed with people, circumstances, yourself, God?
Maybe the reason was your false expectations.
That is easier to deal with.
The truth of the matter might be difficult to face, but
because you found the fault in yourself, you can simply
change , grow up and go on.
If the reason was another person’s failure to obey their own
message or their failure to keep their promises, it’s more
difficult to recover the lost trust.
With our natural sense of right and wrong we cannot do it.
We need the supernatural forgiveness from God.
This is the kind of forgiveness that seemingly takes a risk.
It’s not based on the recipient’s ability or character.
It merely depends on God’s unchanging character.
God’s forgiveness is not a reaction to our sin. It has been
settled within him long before we were born.
He has loved man with an everlasting love. Jer.31:3
This love has been given to believers in their new birth.
It’s the only possible way to go on with people who
have wounded and disappointed us.
Getting rid of people is not the answer.
Avoiding them the rest of our lives is not a solution.
God’s character being formed in us is the answer.
“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God
has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit
who was given to us.” Rom.5:5

Thursday, February 21, 2008

sometimes finding a common language can be very challenging

let's talk

When a person never meets with other people he can easily
deceive himself to think that he has no relationships.
He actually has a lot of bad relationships.
When you are with others in the same boat you are a part of
their life, speaking or non-speaking. Storms make the boat
shake and the more the boat swings around the more
difficult it will to avoid one another.
Problems that come up in relationships are a good beginning
for their solutions. Haven’t we all known some people over
ten years and still never had a conversation with them.
It’s time to talk.
After our first conversation with them we are sometimes
shocked to find out how wrong perception we had of them.
Jesus said to Philip: “Have I been with you so long, and yet
you have not known me, Philip?” John 14:9
I think that Philip’s problem was not only theological.
Jesus invites him to a closer fellowship.
This happens everywhere.
We are with one another, yet we don’t know one another
at all. Throwing religious phrases to people’s direction
doesn’t minister to anyone. Sometimes they just provide
a semantic noise, but no meaningful connection.
Freedom to talk means a responsibility to listen.
Often silence is more superficial that speaking.
God gave us words. Let’s learn them.
Let’s pass them on.

Pastor Mushfig from Azerbaijan visiting us and some other international events


“Words, just words…”
It’s funny to listen to a politician blame another politician
for the use of empty words.
It’s common to say that words mean nothing.
But, if words mean nothing, then the previous sentence
cannot exist.
God created the universe by His Word. II Pet.3:5
He saved the world by His Word. I Pet.1:23
He keeps everything together by His Word. Heb.1:3
Words heal.
Words deliver.
They comfort, encourage and give hope.
The disciples stayed with Jesus because of His Words. John 6:68
The famous statement of Mt. 4:4 has often been diverted to mean
“Man shall not live by words from God alone, but by every
piece of bread that he can stuff into his mouth…”
Real hunger can be covered by things , but it can never be
satisfied without the Word of God.
One day, the Bible says, there will be a famine in the land.
People will be traveling from sea to sea and looking for words,
but they will not find them. Amos 8:11-12
In a bitter agony they will seek to satisfy their hunger, but it
shall never happen. They will understand that every word in hell
will be taken from them.
No more conversations, no lectures, no excuses, no more accusations.
Words are important. They are to be esteemed more than our
daily bread.
“They are to be desired more than gold, yea, than much fine gold.”

Thursday, February 14, 2008

there is none like you

"we are not old, we are eternal"

God wants you to be you forever.
The only reason why this would sound discouraging
is that you don’t know who you are in Him.
When God created Adam and Eve he knew that they
would fall. He didn’t stop them from falling. Could he
have done that? Yes, but he treated them according to
their high level design.
Jesus knew that Judas would betray him, but he still
washed his feet and treated him as one of his disciples.
The doctrine of election doesn’t ever contradict with
the doctrine of God’s omniscience. In the midst of all
these amazing dimensions man remains a significant
individual with a free choice.
The existence of temptations is a clear evidence that
man continues to have a choice.
Why doesn’t God stop us? He knows that you will be
tempted and He knows when you will fall. Why doesn’t
he prevent that from happening?
Because , if he did, you would no more be you.
He has created you to be you forever.
The moments when we resist sin are extremely valuable.
They are our moments to love God. They are our
moments of opportunities to give something to God.
Fatalism doesn’t give you any motivation to resist
Without man’s free choice all rules and laws as well as
punishments and rewards would be meaningless.
“For consider Him who endured such hostility from
Sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and
discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted
to bloodshed, striving against sin.” Heb.12:3-4
You carry an eternal design within you.
Christ has redeemed you to be with you forever.
There is none like you.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

sometimes He brings us to a narrow place

authority to serve

Many believers have chosen to avoid any type of authority
in their lives due to their past experiences of carnal and
abusive authority. Sometimes the absence of all spiritual
authority leads people to cold indifference and cynicism.
The question of authority originates from God’s order.
This order is our invisible protection even when we
don’t recognize it.
God delegates his authority to people. He wants people to
protect people from people.
Pastor Schaller said, that he’d rather speak about responsibility
than authority. I believe that this is the right emphasis.
True spiritual authority never operates outside of truth,
grace and love.
Exercising authority means to help and care with a sacrificial love.
True authority means to pay the price, not to demand the payment.
Spiritual authority cannot function without proper accountability.
This is the difference between a dictatorship and God’s order.
Every believer should have a pastor.
Every pastor must have a pastor.
Obedience, submission and authority are not very popular words
in our modern vocabulary.
However, they are important words in understanding God’s order.
Titus 2:15
“Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow
workers for your joy; for by faith you stand.” II Cor.1:24

Sunday, February 10, 2008

"what can wash away my sin, nothing but..."

spreading spiritual health

God saves us in a moment. Then he starts healing us
and training us for eternity.
All problems are used as stepping stones and workshops
in the plan of God.
Do you think that the disciples from the country-side of
Galilee were prepared to answer the religious intellectuals
in Jerusalem, those who had buried their heads in religious
writings. They were not able to give impressively
right answers, but when people looked at them, they saw
that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13
Their love for God and their desire to minister to others
was written all over them.
Paul encourages Timothy not to be intimidated by those
who seemingly know more.
“God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power,
of love and of a sound mind.” II Tim.1:7
Healthy spirituality comes from healthy doctrine.
The fruit of the spirit is Gal. 5:22-23 describes spiritual
health. These are inner qualities and new abilities that
God brings to our life as we continue in his foot steps.
Healthy spirituality changes our relationships and teaches
us to love one another the way Christ has loved us.
“God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while
we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rm.5:8
There’s a great need to see this disposition expressed
more and more among believers beyond their doctrinal
and denominational differences.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

let's forget about ourselves

It’s natural that many churches don’t grow because
they don’t want to. Growth means changes and there
is no guarantee that all those changes will be comfortable
and smooth. You might even find yourself sitting next
to people whom you don’t like.
The more people, the more problems there will be.
I think that the most important element in the church is
it’s spirituality. When the presence of God is recognized
and honored, so many other issues don’t matter at all.
“Let such as love Your salvation say continually,
“The Lord be magnified!” Ps.40:16
The more the Lord is magnified, the less there will be
attention to anything else.
This is what true spirituality is.
This is what man lost in his fall. He became too conscious
of himself and others around him.
Being born again gives man again an ability to fellowship
with God.
“In your presence is fullness of joy;
at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Ps.16:11
I learned this song in our church:
“Let’s forget about ourselves and concentrate on Him
and worship Him.”

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matt.11:28

listen to their testimonies

This is a great website to listen to people's personal
testimonies of Christ. Thank you , Jongil for the link.


connection, sculpture at the Istanbul Contemporary

we are happy that Turkey is not in this list

Top 10 Worst Places to Live as a Christian

The World Watch List ranks countries based on the intensity of persecution Christians face for actively pursuing their faith. The list is compiled based on answers to 50 questions covering various aspects of religious freedom from Open Doors’ indigenous contacts, field workers and persecuted believers.

2008 World Watch List
1. North Korea
2. Saudi Arabia
3. Iran
4. Maldives
5. Bhutan
6. Yemen
7. Afghanistan
8. Laos
9. Uzbekistan
10. China

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Come before His presence with singing, Psalm 100:2

A half truth is a whole lie. Yiddish Proverb

Lying seems to be the most acceptable sin in the world
today. When people lie in order to get out from difficult
circumstances, they get a lot of sympathy. This “understanding”
encourages even believers to loosen up their standards and
develop a better and more civilized way of lying in order
to manage their lives.
When people make lies their hiding place, they cannot rest
anywhere. They can travel to the other side of the world
but they will never be able to enjoy their fellowship with God.
These lies are like a never moving fog in their lives.
“I will break the pride of your power, I will make your
heavens like iron…” Lev.26:19
Lies don’t disappear away with time.
They are like nuclear waste. It’s not possible to get rid
of them. They have to be put somewhere.
Un-repented lies keep on hanging in people’s souls until
they are confessed and forsaken.
If you keep on justifying white lies long enough, you sooner
or later will become totally color-blind. Lies get out of your
control. They got your attention for a moment, but they will
not ask your permission for another move. They work fast
and hard, independently of you.
Your little lie can start a whole conspiracy.
Abraham Lincoln said, “You can fool some of the people all
the time, and all the people some of the time, but you cannot
fool all the people all the time.”
Lying often seems like an easy way out, but
it actually is a beginning of the a difficult way back in.

Movsum, visiting from Baku

Gabriel, from Ghana, is our youngest brother

talking about angels

One third of the angels followed Lucifer.
They thought they were going up, but down they went.
The angels in heaven must still remember that strange
event in heaven. How could it happen?
Is there any guarantee that it could never happen again?
Do angels still change sides, from God to Satan?
Think about it.
If Satan could be forgiven, we would loose all our absolutes.
The fall of Satan happened in Eternity, before his career in
time. In Eternity you don’t have another chance. Those
moments don’t come back. Every moment is final and
irreversible. Redemption takes places on the Earth,
not in Heaven.
For this same reason angels cannot disagree with God.
Their time of choice has passed. They are already in
heaven enjoying their uninterrupted intimacy with God.
Now it is man’s turn.
God is looking for true worshippers who worship him
in spirit and truth. John 4:23
Man’s worship has a different quality than the never
ceasing worship of the angels.
In a way the whole mankind is in the same place where
angels were at the moment when Satan proclaimed his
independency of God.
How will we respond?
Are we deceived to think that we are going up, when
the bottomless pit is actually right behind the corner.

Monday, February 4, 2008

our neighborhood

pray for our neighbors

it's the best for us

Our relationship with the truth is described by one word
in the Bible, obedience.
Is obedience possible?
Yes, it’s always possible, now.
God is not asking us to think about all our possible future
failures and demanding a commitment from us to be obedient
in all those times of temptations.
Now is the moment when time touches eternity.
Hebrews 5:8 Christ learned obedience by the things
He suffered. Yes, even the Son of God, lived his earthly life
in obedience from one moment to another, from now to now.
Certain things in our life don’t happen without obedience.
We don’t grow without obedience. Eph.4:15
We are not changed into his image automatically
without obedience. II Cor. 3:18
We will not be used by God without obedience. II Tim. 2:21
I’m not perfect. Others are not perfect.
The world is not perfect, but
we all have been designed for perfection.
No wonder, that even a smallest act of obedience brings
an overwhelming joy and satisfaction to our soul.
Obedience fits us.