Because of the popularity of the Christmas Quiz we are going to continue the series with a mini Bible Quiz. Each week this blog will begin with three questions. The answers are at the end of the blog. Have fun!!
According To the Bibleâ€¦ 1. Christians greeted one another on Easter with â€śHe is Risen,â€ť the response being, â€śHe is Risen Indeed!â€ť 2. Ishmael is the father of Arabs. 3. Only two of every animal went into the ark.
It is 9:30 in the morning here in St. Petersburg and still pitch black outside. (It is 12:30 in the middle of the night in Houston. I tell people that while in Russia, I work the night shift so far as my brain is concerned.) It is below zero, was snowing when we arrived and will snow most of the day. (It is in the 50â€™s in Houston, and when we left home the sky was blue, the sun was shining and the azaleas were starting to bud.) Everything is different - the climate, the food, the temperature, the time of day, the hours of daylight (or lack thereof). We are very much in every way strangers, aliens and exiles here in Russia and will be for the next three months. Indeed, not just for the next three months. We will - this year - be strangers, aliens and exiles in Russia, in Zambia, in Cameroon, in Nigeria and more. We have Macedonian Calls for the next four years and beyond. By Godâ€™s grace and should the Lord tarry, we will continue as strangers, aliens and exiles for as long as the Lord wills. Yes, we are very much in every way strangers, aliens and exiles.
Yet, in other ways, things are strangely like home. We are surrounded by men and women who love the Lord and who love us. We share the same truths from the holy, eternal, inerrant written Word - truths which transcend both time and culture. We pray as guided by the same holy Word and share the same fellowship with one another and with God. We worship the same God and labor in the same harvest fields together for the same ends. Even while we were driving from the airport last night, Pastor Volkov was excitedly sharing his plans for us in terms of teaching in the seminary, in the Presbyterian church, in the Baptist church and doing home evangelistic meetings. This discussion, though carried on in a rich central Russian accent, was all so familiar, for this is my life â€“ building up the church in the Word of God and preaching Christ as Savior â€“ so far away, yet I am home in all of this. Later came a call from pastor Ravil in Tyumen and we shared the same conversations, friendship, prayers and love for Godâ€™s Word, Godâ€™s people, the lost - carrying with them the same emotions, whether in Houston, Russia, Africa or Asia, so different yet the same.
When we arrived at the building where the seminary rents rooms and has their dormitory (school is out right now) elders whom I have known and ministered to for years (Sasha for 20 years and Vlad for 12) were waiting for us in the dark, in the snow and in the freezing cold (-10). They rushed with open arms and with greetings and expressions of love. With them were two high school boys, part of a group to whom I had spoken in November, all wanting to help out and greet us. They shouted â€śDyadya Ivanyaâ€ť â€“ â€śUncle Johnâ€ť. It was not my nephew Dan, Michael or Stephen (my sisterâ€™s sons) or my nephew Kevin (my brotherâ€™s son) rushing to me with open arms and taking my luggage, crying â€śUncle John, Uncle John!!â€ť like they have so many times, but two Russian teenagers. It was the same but different. We felt at home but were not at home.
2 Corinthians 5:7-8 reminds us "for we walk by faith, not by sight â€” we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord."
It is like one of my daughter Meganâ€™s emails to us some years back. We had been doing a series of conferences outside of St. Petersburg in Moscow and the Ring Cities. When we got back to St. Petersburg, I emailed her saying, â€śJust to let you know we are back home, safe and soundâ€ť (referring to our little efficiency flat the seminary provides). She immediately wrote back, â€śYou are not safely home. Your home is in Houston! I am still praying God will bring you safely home.â€ť And you know - she was right.
Here in Russia we are doing those things we love best. We are surrounded by those whom we love and who in turn love us. We are called â€śUncle Johnâ€ť and â€śAunty Elâ€ť, by some - even â€śMy father in the faithâ€ť or â€śYou are like the father/mother I never hadâ€ť by others. These are the same words, same work, same ministry, same love, same joy, yet not quite the same. We are not really home; we are indeed strangers and exiles. Every time our documents are checked, every time we must do business with someone who does not speak English, every time we look up and someone across the room is staring at us, every time someone asks â€śWhere are you from?â€ť and every time we must produce our passports and visas we are brought back to reality. It seems like home, we are treated like we are home, we can even begin to feel like home, even think and plan like we are at home, but we are not - we are not at home, and woe the poor missionary who ever loses sight of this. We are brought back to reality by something here in Russia or by an email from home reminding us â€“ we are foreigners, we are strangers, we do not belong here nor can we overstay our right to be here. We are going home. In fact it would be a sin to overstay our right to be here (Romans 13:1-7).
That is why mission work helps so much in having a Biblical eternal perspective. Even here on earth, we as Christians are not really at home. Either events here on earth remind us of that or the Word of God jolts us back to reality. It does not matter which it is; we need to be reminded that we are not at home. We do not belong here, our home is in heaven (John 14:1 l- 3), our Father God is in heaven (Matthew 5:16; 6:9), our Brother (Romans 5:29; Ephesians 2:19) and Friend Jesus (John 15:16) is in heaven, our home is in heaven, those who have gone before are waiting for us, and we do not belong here (II Corinthians 5:1 â€“ 5).
Just about the time I get too settled in this life or get to thinking this is my home, this is where I belong, this is the life God has called me to, I get an email from God, so to speak. God speaks to me from His holy, eternal, inerrant, Written Revelation. My daily quiet time alone with God and Bible reading program serve as His daily reminder to me to keep me on task. Statements from God to me likeâ€¦
"For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven," (2 Corinthians 5:1-2)
"Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord â€” for we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:6-7)
"If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also." (John 14:3-4)
"And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book." (Revelation 22:7)
"Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever." (1 John 2:15-17)
"But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;" (Philippians 1:23-24)
Yes, my daughter Megan is right. I should not get too comfortable. This is not my home. By Godâ€™s grace, we will return home to her and the rest of the family. Thanks for the reminder; it was a good one. It is important that, in our zeal, we do not make thoughtless comments which hurt the ones we love.
Yes, Lord, You are right. I should not get too comfortable. This earth is not my home. By Godâ€™s grace, I will arrive at my eternal home and the rest of my family waiting in heaven with a clear conscience (I Peter 2:11; 2 Timothy 4:6-8). Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the reminder from Your holy, eternal, inerrant, written Word - it was a good one. It is important that, in my zeal for my love of those around me, I do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, who gave me these holy and perfect reminders of who my true Father is and where my true home awaits.
Though my body be on earth, may my heart always be in heavenâ€¦
"O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water." ~ Psalm 63:1
By His mercy, II Corinthians 4:1 Rev. John S. Mahon â€“ St. Petersburg Russia and points east â€“ laboring hard on earth, longing for my heavenly homeâ€¦
"All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country â€” a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them." ~ Hebrews 11:13-16
Quiz Answers: (According to the Bibleâ€¦) 1. False: Christians greeted one another on Easter with â€śHe is Risenâ€ť, the response being, â€śHe is Risen Indeed!â€ť There is no Biblical record of this greeting and response ever being exchanged by Christians. There exists no first century primary source recording this exchange.
2. False: Ishmael is the father of all Arabs. There are no Biblical texts establishing Ishmael as the â€śfather of all Arabs.â€ť Nor are there any Biblical texts establishing Ishmael as the â€śfather of all Muslims.â€ť
3. False: Only two of every animal went into the ark. Genesis 7:2 "You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female;"
Now ask yourself â€“ what other things about the Bible do I believe which are in reality false? From now on when something is taught about the Bible your first questions will be â€“ â€śWhat Book, Chapter and Verse establishes this?â€ť
Jan 2013 - Entering RussiaGod greatly blessed in answer to your prayers. We are here safe and sound and starting on the first...