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August 23, 2013

“Fear not, stand still …go forward.”
Exodus 14:13a, 15b

Dear friends and co-laborers in Christ…

The Israelites knew experientially the strength and rage of their enemy along with their own weaknesses and limitations. They were all on foot, unarmed, undisciplined, frightened, disquieted by centuries of slavery and now caught in a hopeless impasse—pinned between Pharaoh’s chariots and the sea. This was their Gethsemane.

And all believers will likewise find themselves, sometime along their earthly pilgrimage, in similar straits; completely reduced to unimagined difficulties whereby they can’t retreat, nor move forward—shut in on every side.

It’s in this environment that God speaks to His chosen ones: “Fear not, stand firm…The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent!”(Ex. 14:13a,14) It would be best that we listen very carefully in such circumstances to what our Master says. For the Pernicious one along with his minions will invariably attempt to counterfeit God’s instruction—whispering : “Retreat, go back to the world’s way…This Christian stuff is too difficult…You have to do something, you just can’t stand there in sheer idleness…etc.

So what are we to do? Remember: God’s instruction, done in God’s way, will always bring God’s provision. First, we revisit the “fear not” factor. To not fear man requires an absolute surrender and dependence upon our Creator whereby we acknowledge, “Apart from you, Lord Jesus, this servant can do nothing”(Jo. 15:5). Second, we must “stand still” by going vertical. That is, we pray and if possible seek solitude where we pray the Scriptures until our hearts are aligned with His will and purposes and until peace and “stillness” reign within. And finally, we wait patiently until we hear with certainty, “Go forward,” for action prior to instruction from God is the sin of presumption just as inaction after hearing from God is the sin of rebellion.

“O Lord, what we know not teach us, what we have not grant us and what we are not change us.”

Current Happenings and Medical Update 

It is with rejoicing hearts that we celebrate our Silver Wedding Anniversary, remembering fondly all the details leading up to and during that most blessed day of August 13, 1988. We continue to be stricken with wonder and gratitude for how our sovereign Lord brought us together from opposite sides of the world—different languages, cultures and customs—and then bonding us into oneness with Him and each other. How can we thank Him enough for His love toward us, our love to Him and our love for each other, all being spawned, ignited and sustained by His irresistible grace?

On June 21st I met with Anastasia’s neurologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, without Anastasia, for a review of her condition including medications and prognosis. The doctor tweaked her medications by adding a new drug, and to our amazement she has found some relief from her palsy and surprisingly has restarted her walking (about a mile per day) which had been dormant for over a year. However, her disease is not affected by this new prescription in that there are no cures for her affliction and the prognosis remains the same. Most patients with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy and Corticobasal Degeneration (subsets of FTD) have a life expectancy between six and ten years from date of diagnosis. Anastasia’s diagnosis was made in December 2009.

But irrespective of all this, our gracious Lord Jesus continues to bless as Anastasia’s soul is constantly being flooded with hymns and spiritual songs throughout her waking hours, and she prays faithfully for loved ones and many of you. When I catch up with her in late afternoon/early evening, she’s ready to have the Word read to her, to be fed and assisted with her evening ablutions, and then to close out her day with prayer and the reading of one of her poems. At this point she’s in the “sweet spot” (i.e. between the sheets), the high point of her day and down for the night (normally 6:oo pm).

One of her poems—A Song of Redemption—has now been put to music. A dear pastor friend and his wife with their daughter came to visit Anastasia recently to introduce and sing this new poetic hymn. Indeed, it was a most exhilarating event as she had been praying that God would raise up someone to put her poetry to music. A member of our friend’s congregation was exposed to the poem and found the meter ideal for composing the music. Again, another blessing from on High.

Ministry Update

In recent months I was privileged to have had the opportunity to share my personal testimony (i.e. how I came to faith) before some 400 folk who gathered for the 16th Annual Washington County Prayer Breakfast in Washington, PA. My friend, Paul Powers, who is the president of “Men of Honor”, directed the gathering with much skill and grace resulting in a blessing for all in attendance. Possibly, we’ll have an edited version of this message available for our new website in coming weeks.

As noted, we are currently upgrading our present website from a “static” to a “dynamic” site that will include much more information. Anastasia’s poems will be displayed along with a blog including parts of our seminar teaching and other new items. This new website should be up and running by late September but you can still tap into our existing site, “www.ptam.org”, to receive free copies of Anastasia’s poems.

In closing, we rejoice in our Triune God for His conspicuous presence, provision, protection and being our Polestar through these decades of life and ministry. And we thank the many of you who have been used by Him to encourage us with your love, counsel, correction, prayers and treasure! 🙂

To Messiah be all honor and glory forever and ever,

Richard A Burr

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