[shoulders] SHOULDER TO SHOULDER #339 ---- 6/7/04

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From: "Bob Tolliver" <lifeunlimited@...>
Date: Mon, 7 Jun 2004 09:46:22 +0300
Standing Shoulder To Shoulder Together As 
We Fight the Good Fight of Faith

A personal letter of encouragement to You, written solely to "lift up hands that hang down".

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SHOULDER TO SHOULDER #339 ---- 6/7/04

Title:  "Attracting Ants"


Dear Friend and Pilgrim Partner:

It's a blessing to visit with you again today, after a wearying week.

Ever have one of those?  

This has been one for Jo Ann and me.  We really feel emotionally and physically drained.  I'm sure part of it is because of the challenges we've been facing with our unborn granddaughter, baby Nicole, and also with not knowing what Jo Ann's condition was with her back and stomach pains.  And, of course, three eight-hour visits to the dentist hasn't helped either.

But, regardless, we are rejoicing in the Lord and are grateful for His faithfulness, and His continued verification of His involvement in our lives and ministry.  God is still good.



ANOTHER GREAT WEBSITE:

I was reminded last week of another excellent website I learned about a month or so ago, called SermonIndex.net.  Among other things, this site has over 3900 downloadable audio tracks of some of the world's greatest preachers.  You might want to check it out; it's in the list at the bottom of this letter.



MORE THOUGHTS ABOUT THE EYE OF THE STORM:

It's been awhile since I received as many comments about last week's letter on storms.  A long-time friend made the following comments:

Bob: It is interesting that you should write this one on "storms", and you made such interesting analogies concerning the storms of nature, and our own personal
storms within.  I know your stories are not plagarized, because none could come up with some of this stuff, but you.  I don't want to increase your hat size, and I am
confident you want to give God the credit for your ability to write.  The love of writing shows in the content of your epistles.

When we started getting these weekly stories, [wife] would read them, but sometimes I would read a few words and lay the rest aside.  Each week, I found myself
reading a few more paragraphs.  I think this week may be the first time that I read this from "kiver to kiver" (as my Uncle Earn might say). . . . this one sort of grabbed me, . . . 

Well, a couple more thoughts hit me shortly after I clicked the "Send" icon.  So, for what it's worth, . . . .

If you try to leave the eye of the storm by pushing forward, you end up back in the most severe part of the storm, having to go through the hardest parts all over again.  If you try to go to the left or the right, side stepping the issues or slipping out the side entrance, you'll either get sucked back into the main front, or you can be shot out into the distant land of discards and forgottens.  Finally, if you try to go out the back side, you can get caught in the back wash of confusion and despair.

So, it still boils down to this ---- if you find yourself in a raging storm, the safest place is in the eye of the storm, . . . . until Jesus passes by on the water, or until He climbs in your boat, or the storm is over.



FROM ONE OF OUR MEMBERS:

I don't recall ever including remarks from any of our church members, but this e-letter so blessed my heart that I wanted you to read it in order that you can glimpse some of the hardships people here face and the deep faith so many of them have.  Luda is a "right hand woman" for Jo Ann and me.  I don't know what we'd do without her.  She's one of the ladies who was able to go to Germany last April when we had all the visa problems.  Here's what she had to say:

God has given  to you  precious hearts, Dear Bob and JoAnn. How you understand our situation in our country...I thought about it a lot before I have heard about it from you last Sunday. ...[You said] 

" -----it just happens.......

"........it seems life in Ukraine cannot be organized or controlled ---- it just happens. In many ways, that is good. It keeps things fresh. However, in other ways, it is very difficult. It is difficult because it makes you focus only on the moment and on yourself, and not on the future or on others. It is also difficult because it keeps you from setting goals and making plans....."

As a result, the sense of vision, purpose, and destiny you feel God has designed for you seems to always be just beyond your reach. It seems as if you're either simply treading water, or you're always having to start over."

I am facing it every day [dear pastor] and can not change it......I can only pray in the situation. Our Pastor C C who was here for 4 months told me that we are close to God here......Our hope is only God. Therefore we need you, Dear Bob and JoAnn, in our life, in our church. I would die without God, church, you... It's seriously....I have the tape of your last sermon. You have given to us so many "spiritual food" . 

It's like the drop of the living water in very hot day... Here are so many hot day's in Ukraine...Hot country with a cold climate. I would write more but I need to be ready for new hot day in our life.

God bless you ministry here . . .
Have a good day, Dear Bob and JoAnn
With love,
Luda

To be quite frank, it's people like Luda that keep Jo Ann and me here.  We have never felt more loved or blessed.  The more we are around them, the more we understand the thorough destructive and dehumanizing nature of the old form of government.  It literally turned people into emotional animals, living only by instinct and for survival.  The only way you could make it was to succumb to those instincts, sell yourself and your loyalty to the system, or have a deep and abiding faith in the Lord.

Two weeks ago, for example, simply on a "whim" prompted by the Holy Spirit, I decided to speak on "Faith" . . . . there is unbelievable confusion, distortion, and full-blown syncretism among believers here; the Orthodox religion and the residue of Communism and Atheism seem to permeate every fiber of thinking in the Ukrainian church.  The concept of faith is really out of focus in many ways.

What turned out to be a one or two Sunday presentation has already covered two Sundays, and I haven't even gotten to Point One in my notes.  As I speak on the simple basics of faith, people are spell bound.  All of this is just another reminder to me of the current spiritual fog that hovers over this place, blinding even many of the saints to the liberating and life-changing truths that we in the western world take for granted, . . . although we often don't live by what we proclaim.

It leaves me with a question ---- Which is worse . . . . to know the truth and not practice it, or to have distorted truth and try to obey it?



PRAISE AND PRAYER:

My letters do not normally contain prayer requests or praise reports, but, since these are both of personal importance, I want to first praise God for revealing Jo Ann's physical problem this past week.  She has a duodenal ulcer that is easily treatable, but will require long term maintenance.  She's apparently had numerous undetected episodes over the years.  We're grateful that it was not any more serious; it could have been an aortic anurism or some other critical matter.

You probably know our youngest daughter is pregant with our 12th grandchild, a baby girl, Nicole Grace.  You also know that there have been some significant complications with her development, the most serious of which is her heart and also a part of her brain.  I'd like to ask you to join us in prayer for her healing, development, and safe and healthy delivery in the next few weeks.  Here is the most recent note from our daughter, Deanna.  Her husband, Jim, is a pastor in NE Missouri.

First of all, thank you all for praying and continuing to do so -- and thank you for the e-mails of encouragement concerning this time in our lives.  For those of you who feel led to do so, we would also ask that in addition to continuing to pray fervently for God's intervention in Nicole's body that you also incloude a period(s) of fasting.  I've been awake since 3:30 this morning (got waked up by our almost 4 year old) and as I prayed most of that time, felt strongly impressed to ask you to do so.
 
There have been several updates over the last month, so I'll briefly re-cap her needs.
1). The correct forming (or re-forming) and functioning of her heart 
2). For amniotic fluid levels to remain where they currently are or even increase 
3).  For me not to go into labor here before getting to St. Louis before the scheduled time for delivery.
4). For totally positive ultrasounds and NST's (have not yet had a positive NST and it's driving our local doctor nuts) between now and delivery - we'll have 2 a week. 
5). For the post-birth testing regarding the un-detectable portion of the brain (the cavum something of the corpus collosum) and any chromosomal defects to return favorable results 
6).  For a safe delivery and wisdom for the ICU care-givers as they determine any needs the Lord chooses to meet through their abilities rather than supernaturally. 
7.) For Nicole to continue to grow and thrive, for organs to mature and develop as needed both in the womb and after birth. 
8).  That our lap-top computer will get fixed and returned to us before leaving for St. Louis so that we can communicate with family across the world while in St. Louis.



WHAT ATTRACTS ANTS?

Every few weeks I wonder what things are like back at our house in southwestern Missouri.  I wonder of our "keepers" have everything under control.  Of special concern to me is the question of rodents and insects.  I keep wondering, "Did our kids take out all the trash and leave the cabinets clean so we won't have problems with ants?"  "Has 'D' checked the traps to see if any mouse might have found a way into the house?"  "Have any Rattle Snakes or Copper Heads" gotten into the garage?"

When you think about it, life doesn't have to be very complicated for ants to be attracted to something.  Basically, all it takes is food . . . . particularly sweet food.  And, when your house is in the country, they'll find even the tiniest crumb.

Actually, without getting into a big discussion over their intelligence and amazing strength and skill, ants display an amazing ability to move things many times their weight, and find the best sources of food.

What is it that enables ants to do such things?  It seems there are two or three principles to keep in mind:

+  Ants are created with an insatiable hunger for the right kind of food.  It just has to be available and accessible.  Even when it's not all that accessible, they'll still usually find a way.

+  Ants can tell the difference in the right kinds of food.  Some things they won't touch, while other things they'll almost kill each other to have.

+  Ants will stop at almost nothing in order for their appetites to be satisfied by that which they crave.

So . . . . what does all that have to do with ministry?

Frankly, quite a bit.  

I still wonder sometimes just how much of what we do in the averge church, whether at home or on the mission field, really attracts people to Jesus.  To be brutally honest, I'm inclined to think that we've made becoming a follower of Jesus much more complicated that He intended.  We tend to confuse the issue by equating church attendance, church membership, loyalty, and a host of other things with salvation.  On top of that, we too often offer spiritual food that has been contaminated with sawdust, dirt, prizes, and other forms of dillution or coersion.  

The sad result has been that many of the ants have stopped searching for the food; they are now content with the world's fare.  So, while the "ants" of the world die of spiritual starvation, we spend our time in laboratories trying to come up with another appealing blend of Gospel message tainted by the worlds compromises.

I wonder how it would be to simplify things and go back to the basics when trying to attract people to Jesus.



WHAT ATTRACTS PEOPLE TO JESUS?

I don't know Tim Timmons.  In fact, I've never heard of him before this past week.  As I was going through some of my various news service e-bulletins, I ran across a brief article in which he identified the only four truly scriptural things that are absolutely guaranteed to attract people to Jesus like food attracts ants.  His reference to Biblical instruction was so clear and simple . . . . a far cry from what you and I usually think of when we try to come up with ways to draw people closer to receiving Christ.

As you read them, it's obvious that these are certainly not original with Tim.  The originator is, of course, the Lord Himself.  And, if anyone should know the things that will attract people to Him, He should be the one to know.

So, just in case you've been trying to figure out some new gimmick or "hook" by which to try to draw people to Christ, maybe you could try these tested and proven ways.  They've worked well for the past 2,000 years.  I think they'd probably still work today.  In fact, if you read on, you'll see that they're the only ones that are guaranteed to work.  All our other ideas and strategies have no such guarantee.

Read what Tim Timmons listed:

============

ONLY 4 WAYS ATTRACT PEOPLE TO JESUS
Tim Timmons, Assist News Service

+ LIFESTYLE:  Matthew 5..."Let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven." 

+ LOVE ONE ANOTHER:  John 13  17... "If you love one another, then they will know that you are my disciples...that you might be perfected in unity, so that the world will know that Jesus was sent by God." 

+ BLESS WHEN INSULTED:  I Peter 3..."Bless those who insult you...then they will ask you for the reason for the hope that is in you." 

+ PERSONAL TESTIMONY:  Romans 10..."How shall they hear without someone to proclaim the message ---- someone who speaks his testimony." 

=============

To that list I would add a fifth:

+  PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL:  I Corinthians 1:21... "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."


You know, my friend, . . . . I figure that if we would go back to these five guaranteed ways of attracting people to Jesus, we'd spend far less money, time, and energy on other things that are tried and proven not to work. 

. . . . Which would actually make the Christian life more thrilling to us as well as the seekers, and it would really enable us to use resources more effectively.

Think about it for a minute.  What, for example, do you think would go through the mind of your neighbor if . . . .
+  you lived your personal life in an examplary, Christ-like way all the time,
+  you openly demonstrated your love for all (not just some) of your Christian brothers and sisters,
+  you found ways to bless those who ridicule and insult you rather than looking for ways to either avoid them or get back at them, and
+  you simply shared your own personal story of encountering Christ instead of trying to memorize a certain set of "principles" or some scripture-based formula.

You might just have ants crawling all over your place.

Have a great day . . . . a great week ---- shining, . . . loving, . . . blessing, . . . telling.

See if any ants show up.

Thanks, Tim Timmons, for reminding us.

In His Bond and For His Kingdom,
 
Bob Tolliver -- Psalm 2:8
Copyright June, 2004
Life Unlimited Ministries
  lifeunlimited@...
  http://www.hope4kiev.org/team/members.asp?ID=10 (Personal ministry)
  www.hope4kiev.org (General team ministry)
  http://community.webshots.com/user/01lum for our pix albums.

If this letter has blessed you, feel free to forward it, with proper credits, to any and all you wish.

Please do NOT hit reply to this letter.  This is an automated unmanned system.  If you want to write Bob, send directly to lifeunlimited@.... Replying to "Shoulder To Shoulder" mailer gets you nowhere.


REMEMBER ---- "We will not Work where we have not prayed."  (Todd Golden)

May I Recommend . . . .

If you have a heart for God and would like to be encouraged in your life and ministry, 
    and you have a burden for your church, your community, and the world, 
    then you may want to receive . . .
www.cnsnews.com for daily world news without a liberal, godless bias.
www.worldprayerteam.org ---- A world-wide network for praying together.
www.watchword.org ---- excellent resources on revival, prayer, missions.
www.waymakers.org ---- resources on prayer, evangelism, etc.
www.operationiraqcare.org ---- To adopt and pray for a special historic city in Iraq.
http://www.nppn.org ---- "National Pastors' Prayer Network" newsletter.  ~  
    email: phil@....  Register your PPG: http://www.nppn.org/ppg/ .
Usprayercenter@... ---- U. S. World Prayer Center.
www.cityreaching.com ---- City Reaching/City Impact Roundtable.
fridayfax-subscribe@... ---- Wolfgang Simpson's "Friday Fax" from New Zealand.
www.LifeAction.org ---- "Life Action Outreach".
www.revivalcsa.co.za ---- "Bulletin On Revival" by Francois Carr in South Africa.
www.yifa.org ---- "Youth Interceding For America".
www.missionamerica.org ---- "Mission America" .
www.lighthousemovement.com ---- "The Lighthouse Movement". Click on "Lighthouses".

Other Great Resources Are:
www.sermonindex.net for access to over 3900 downloadable audio sermons.  Exceptional site.
www.biblemaster.com for great Bible resources and downloads.  Exceptional site.
www.e-sword.net (one of the best free download Bible study site I've ever seen!)
http://associate.com/camsoc/ctt/"Christian Communications Toolkit" (using internet wisely) 
http://www.associate.com/camsoc/crop/software.html#freewin. Free software or shareware listings, 
www.associate.com/camsoc/crs/ for church related software from CAMSOC.
    To subscribe to CAMSOC update newsletter, go to grga@....
www.ccmag.com.  "Christian Computing Magazine", 
ccmag-subscribe@....  CCMag discussion newsletter, 
http://www.christiangraphicdesign.com/premierinfo.htm  Thousands of Free Christian graphics.

Online Resources on Ukraine are . . . .
   www.uazone.net
   www.relc.com/kiev/index.htm
   www.travel.kyiv.org/map/e_kyiv.htm
   www.mindspring.com/~goliath74/kiev.html
   www.hope4cee.org
   www.ukraineinfo.us
   www.peopleteams.org/ukrainians
   www.reachukraine.org 
  http://www1.excite.com/travel/travelguide/destination/0,20310,europe-550,00.html

Secular News on Kiev and Ukraine will give you interesting views at . . .
   www.kyivweekly.com
   www.kievpost.com
   www.kyivpost.com
   www.ukrainenews.com 
   www.ukraine-observer.com




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