Max and His Lomka Part 1

MaxMax has just come out the other side of “Lomka”, (withdrawal).  He’s had it worse than just about anyone who has come.  He was so close to giving in on Monday, and probably would have… if he’d felt better.  Thankfully, he didn’t die and is also still with us!

I’ve talked with him several times since he came.  I like this guy.  He’s 36 and been doing drugs since aged 14.  He had a stroke a few years ago, (certain drugs raise your blood pressure – “meth” being one of them), and he can’t feel the right hand side of his body.  He has also been struggling to read and comprehend what he is reading – a result of the stroke.  Last night, he told me that he had noticed that during yesterday’s morning devotions, he was able to read and understand.  He was excited and wanted to know if God could fix his right side as well.

I happen to believe that God could heal him, and so told him this.  But I added that I didn’t think that God would heal him.  It seems to me that nowadays, it is a rare thing when God miraculously heals.  This is often a very testy subject for some people - I know.  I’ve talked with a quite a few young people who wanted to believe that God’s power and favor was behind them getting healed and they label it a miracle.  And if I doubt that a miracle occurred… then they feel as if I am “casting shade” upon God.

Normally when it “behooves” me to talk about this subject, I tell the person that I know that the God I serve is absolutely incredible, holy, loving and all-powerful.  He has done and continues to do wonderful and amazing things in our world – including suspending the power of the “laws of nature”.  I like precision of words though and react to people wanting to sensationalize things – this isn’t “walking in the light” and usually results in self-centered thinking.  In a world in which God is greatly glorified all around me in 100’s of incidents each week, I struggle to recall more than 5 miraculous answers to prayer in the last 20 years.  Am I in the wrong church?  :)  Or is it that we aren’t desperately looking for God to do miraculous things on our behalf?  I’m in the right church…

When talking with Max, I chose not to say all this, of course.  (He is not claiming to be a Christian, nor claiming to have had any miracle occur.)  Instead, I told him that God probably wouldn’t heal him of paralysis of his right side, but that he could certainly ask… and there is a possibility we might be surprised.  I said that I expected our Father likely has plans for him to glorify Himself THROUGH the handicap that he has.  (I reminded him that God says, “My power is perfected in weakness.”  And so Paul says, “So I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses.”  It’s a good attitude.)

When I ask anything from God, I want for my will to be totally submitted to His – joyfully submitted to His.  And if I can pass on this principle of trusting God to the lads, it will likely be the best thing I can give them.

Soli Deo Gloria!rzh 2_thumb[2]


It’s now Friday and I went out to the village this morning for an hour or so.  Max is smiling with wonderful freedom!  May God have mercy on His soul over the next few weeks as, with a clear mind, he considers the most important subjects in the world.  I’m praying for him regularly.

Before I drove out there, I went to our local market. (For some reason, after hours of trying, this post won’t publish with the photos I had, so I give you this one!  It’s as old as our new church building from the days when the town had a population of about 9000 Jewish people and 11,000 Ukrainians.)  Anyway, I had a list of things to get for Pris.  (She has a migraine that has put her flat on her back.)  We normally buy bulk flour and sugar… and so picked up some small sacks.  After 17 years in this town, I normally go through the market shaking hands with the blokes and exchanging “pleasantries” with the ladies… I expect to spend at least 10 extra minutes talking with people. 

The flower sellers are out in force, expecting a good return for International Women’s Day this Sunday.  It’s a big thing here in Ukraine and we will acknowledge the gift of our ladies in our church service this week by giving each one some potted flowers.  I’m not sure how “appreciated” they will feel, but we will express our appreciation in this simple way.

This is part 1.  For some reason, the second part of this blog will not publish when connected to this part. 

End of Another Sunday

We come to the end of another Sunday and I’ve been quite contentedly doing not much for most of the afternoon.

I’m sure there are different habits amongst different men who serve and love the church family as “pastors”. 

It seems to work well for me to finish preparing for the teaching time on Saturday night.  I then wake up early and go over the teaching I’ve prepared.  I aim to be at our building at 10:00; we start an official program at 11:00; and we quite often finish at 12:30.  In our church, many people hang around for an hour or so afterwards and I generally leave the building by 14:30.  If we haven’t invited anyone over, I look forward to “falling into a couch” and I turn off for an hour or so.

Today, (once I’d regained a bit of oomph), I watched a replay of the Fury/Wilder event.  I don’t reckon Tyson Fury understands much about the God he claims to serve, but I enjoyed seeing him win, nonetheless. 

I played a few games of “find the item” with the two young neighbor girls we were looking after and then, when their parents came to collect them, Pris and I chatted with them for an hour or so over coffee. 

And now I type here.

I had to put this somewhat ironic photo in this blog.  Valentines Day.  The couples in our church met and had a beautiful evening.  For just about all of them, eating out never happens.  The night before, I started feeling real crook and ended up in bed all next day.  Pris, (at the table on the left), kind of picked up the pieces for the night admirably.  But I did feel a touch sad for her being the only single at an evening for marrieds. 

Is this normal


On Thursday, I picked up this poor bloke from the local petrol station.  He was coming down off a high, had lost his backpack and telephone in Kiev, had burnt all relationships with his friends and stunk as if he had not washed in a few weeks.  He was at church on Sunday and I asked him how he was doing.  His answer was, “mumble, mumble, mumble”… not a good sign.

He packed his things and left on Sunday afternoon… and got caught for pick-pocketing Monday morning.  If God chooses to have mercy on him, he will go to jail and find the Christians there.  The likelihood of that happening is slight though.  He was working with a cohort and that bloke took off with the wallet he stole.  So if he doesn’t come clean, the evidence against him is weak… and unless God has mercy, he’ll die of an overdose or something related soon.

The journalist who reported on it called him a “nedochelovek” (a subhuman).  I must admit, while he was here, there wasn’t much to like about him… but he is still a man made in the image of God and as such, we were willing to love him to see if God would have mercy on him here.  As it turns out, we cleaned him up for a few days so that he could go back to his old profession. Agh.  Thankfully, this isn’t normally the story of the guys who come… and stay for longer than a few weeks.

Slower than I thought

Well… that took longer than I thought to get this picture on here.


Autocratic men in Iran are frenziedly talking about how to minimize the fallout from the world discovering it shot down an airliner.

Brave men and women in Australia are discussing how to protect 1000’s of houses from bush-fires.

Careful men in the Philippines are making hurried decisions about protecting millions of people from a major eruption of the Taal Volcano.

Dangerous men and women in America are always making decisions about how to keep the world generally balanced. 

Egregious men in Ukraine are figuring out how to use the loss of the airliner to their advantage.

Flush men all over the world in their decked-out studies are trying to decide if Bitcoin is the con of the century or not.