“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 3:14 ESV
Grace and peace to our beloved friends & co-laborers in Christ…
In recent weeks Anastasia and I have had wonderful conversations centered on the providence of God in bringing us into His Kingdom and also uniting us as one—husband and wife. With her long term memory relatively intact, it made for thrilling times of interaction as we reflected upon details of our journey that have been graciously woven into the fabric of our souls.
Undergirding all of this has been our mutual passion of pursuing the purpose for which God chose us and then saved us, that is, (1) growing into the likeness of His Son (”the goal”) that leads to (2) “seeing Him as He is”…eternal life (“the prize”). It is then that we’ll be separated from our old fleshly nature and made perfect in every way for all eternity. This was the prize that consumed the Apostle Paul with laser-like focus, similar to a sprinter running with his eyes fixed on the ribbon ahead and straining every muscle with maximum effort to win the race.
Similarly, we believers are called by God (“the upward call”) to have an ever consuming fixation on this same prize: focusing the eyes of our hearts upon Christ and another world—Heaven; forgetting the past, taxing every spiritual muscle/discipline, and laying aside everything that would beset us from finishing well for the glory of God.
By God’s grace, we can bring this to fruition through three simple disciplines. (1) Establish a daily time of solitude for private prayer—the secret closet of prayer. It has been said that one’s spiritual life will never rise above the “practice of his/her private prayer life.” (2) Soak our minds in the Word and learn to pray the Scriptures. Remember, prayer without the Word leads to mysticism, and the Word without prayer leads to dead orthodoxy, intellectualism and/or Phariseeism. (3) Find a model who exemplifies these truths. Make Jesus your example. Let Paul and other NT authors mentor you as you study the Word. But also find 21st century believers who model these precepts in daily life and spend time with them. Ask tough questions, listen closely and then act upon the Truth.
Not that we have attained this, but we press on to have a similar mindset to that which consumed our brother Paul. ☺
Anastasia continues to hold her own with no appreciable decline with her FTD. With the summer weather in play, she is more amenable to getting outside and enjoying the sunshine and the beauty of God’s creation here in our Amish countryside. This includes luncheons, rides to our favorite ice cream stand (Katie’s Corner near Grove City, PA) and coming home occasionally.
I continue to marvel at God’s grace in giving her such contentment in spite of her circumstances. She continues to sing melodies and hymns (within her heart) to the Lord throughout the day and engage in intercessory prayer for America, her native country (Greece), as well as family and friends. Seldom, if ever, is there any negativity or complaining other than encouraging me to keep our home tidier. ☺
But this morning I had to deliver some heartwrenching news that her beloved sister, Evangelia (81), who lived in Neo Milotopos, Greece, had graduated from earth to Heaven. As we spent the day together she said, “We celebrate her being with Jesus but the loss/separation is so painful.” Indeed it is, as we all know. But we look forward and upward to that Great Reunion on the shores of our true Homeland. Then we shall “see Him as He is” and be with our redeemed loved ones for all eternity.
My health issues keep plaguing me. I recently had a heart cauterization with a stent inserted and have two upcoming outpatient-surgeries (eye and thigh) but hopefully these too shall pass by God’s enabling grace.
We’re in the midst of editing Praying Your Prodigal Home (PYPH) as well as editing Anastasia’s Poems and hopefully one of these new revisions will be completed by year’s end. In light of recent Supreme Court decisions, and by God’s grace, we think PYPH will have a renewed appeal. Following these two projects we’ll then start editing the next version of Developing Your Secret Closet of Prayer.
Also, we have a prayer conference scheduled at the First Assembly of God in Hermitage, PA, in late September/early October. Please be praying for these most significant meetings!
In closing, we are staggered by the continued Providence of God as He has brought so many extraordinary folk into our lives over these decades, including many of you who undergird us with your prayers, unfailing love, availability and generosity. We pray God’s richest blessings upon you and your loved ones as we traverse through this perverse world en route to our Heavenly Homeland.
To our Triune God be all glory,