Mark 12:28-34

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”


29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”


32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”


34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

Prayer Focus For Russia – Sunday, June 28

Challenges for Prayer

Unreached peoples. There are 78 ethnic minorities considered unreached, totalling over 13 million in population. (See the different ethnic republics below.) Most expatriates and even Russian ministries focus on reaching ethnic Russians. Moscow operates as the centre of the former Soviet world, and nearly every ethnicity from the fSU can be found there. Most of these ethnicities are more accessible and open away from their home location and cultural setting. Pray for effective partnering and viable strategies to plant churches among them.

a) Muslims number over 17 million and account for the majority of non-Russians in the Russian Federation. Their growth and the ethnic-Russian decline could make Muslims a majority in Russia by the end of the 21st Century. The largest groups are Tatars (5.5 million) and Bashkirs (1.6 million), but there are also many Central Asians and peoples of the Caucasus. Undocumented and often illegal, millions of Central Asians live as temporary workers in Russia. Pray for openness to the gospel on the part of Muslims, and a loving and sensitive passion for their salvation on the part of Christians in Russia.

i Radicalization of Islam. While only around 20% (at most) of Muslims faithfully practice Islam, the radicalization of Muslims in Russia accelerated due to the Chechen war and foreign Islamist influences. Russian military belligerence in the south and the equation of Christianity to Russian imperialism make witness to these peoples difficult for practical, cultural and spiritual reasons.

ii Conversions to Christianity. Some reports claim up to two million Muslims converting to Orthodoxy. This is seen as a reaction of horrified Muslims to terrorist atrocities, such as the Beslan massacre, and consists of mostly nominal Muslims in the Caucasus region. Protestant missionary effort is limited but sees fruit among the peoples of the Caucasus.

b) Several widely dispersed peoples need prayer:

i The Jews once numbered over two million, but are now reduced to one-eighth of this. Emigration to Israel continues, but there are important concentrations in European Russian cities. Significant numbers – over 10,000 – have come to Christ, and a large proportion of Messianic Jews in Israel are of recent Russian or Ukrainian origin. However, pockets of Georgian, Tat and Hill Jews in the Caucasus region are still unreached. The Jewish Autonomous Oblast in Far East Russia only has a few thousand Jews remaining, but there is outreach to them.

ii The Romani (Gypsy) live scattered over European Russia with many in the Urals; they are significantly Christianized but also heavily marginalized. Some areas see an awakening and churches planted. About 5% of Russian Gypsies are evangelical.

iii The Chinese number over 50,000 in Moscow alone and over one million nationally, including temporary migrant workers in Siberia and the Russian Far East. They are largely unevangelized, though a few dozen small churches exist. Russian attitudes toward Chinese are poor, but Chinese in China and abroad have a growing heart to reach these unappreciated workers who are essential to Asiatic Russia’s economy.

c) The 16.5 million Russians of the “near abroad”. The collapse of the USSR left many as ethnic minorities in the 15 new states formed, where they are often resented. Their status and future are far from secure. Nearly 20 million Russians emigrated back to the Russian Federation in the last 25 years – often with few possessions. Pray that many among them might be receptive to the gospel and in turn gain a burden for the non-Christian peoples among whom they lived.


Prayer Focus for Romania – Sunday, June 22

Challenges for Prayer

Church planting is still a vital ministry. Over 100 new churches are planted each year, but many more are needed. A consortium of mission agencies works across evangelical denominational boundaries to facilitate reaching the 19 cities and 9,500 villages (43% of all villages) without a single evangelical church. Many more congregations are still needed in the cities. There is notable resistance to non-Orthodox expressions of Christianity in most villages, and rising costs and rapid cultural change make for urban challenges. Pray for this vision to become a widespread movement, owned by the national church and effective at planting churches in every city, town and village.

Foreign missionary deployment was rapid and profuse in the immediate post-Communist years. Amid much that was good and worthwhile, some workers went in with little tact and less wisdom, causing almost as much harm as help. There is still a great need for expatriate missions in training, church planting and meeting the many social needs. Pray that expatriate Christians called to serve may show sensitivity, humility, true partnership and an ability to learn from, and work alongside, Romanian Christians. Many Western (and Korean, African and Latin American) groups now work in partnership with Romanian agencies and churches. Among the largest sending agencies are ReachGlobal(RG), IMB, GEM, ABWE, OCI, AoG. Increasingly, ministries started by expats are being handed over to national direction and leadership.



Mothers, Who Needs ‘Em – Genesis 24

mother and childMothers. They are the first people any of us ever come into contact with. To say that mothers are vital to our existence is as obvious as the noses on our faces. The care and nurture that has come from good mothering is incalculable in its value.

But we don’t need a mother anymore. That is to say we don’t need a mother in the sense that Abraham and Isaac did. In Genesis 24 there is a crisis: without a wife for Isaac there is no mother to continue Abraham’s line. If there is no continuation of Abraham’s line, then there is no Jesus Christ (see the Gospel according to Matthew 1:1). If there is no Jesus Christ, then all that is wrong in the world will not be made right again. We needed a mother, and we needed one badly. Through an unequivocal governing of events, Rebekah was singled out by the LORD to be the next mother of Israel. For over a millennium, countless mothers in Israel continued to bear the seed of Abraham until the last mother conceived: Mary. Although both Rebekah and Mary were virgins, Mary contrasts with Rebekah in an important way. Mary remained a virgin and yet conceived – another unequivocal governing of events by the LORD to bring about his kind promises of renewal. The child in her womb would grow to the One: Jesus Christ the ultimate fulfillment of the covenant made with Abraham (see Galatians 3:10-14).


Eliezer and Rebekah by Gustave Dore

So, the fulfillment of God’s covenantal promises to Abraham required a mother.  But they don’t anymore. We don’t need a mother because we do have a brother: Jesus Christ. Our brother Jesus Christ was sent by our Father to die and rise from the dead so we could be adopted into his family through the Comforter, the Spirit of Adoption (see Romans 8:15). So the first thing Genesis 24 teaches us is that we should grow in joy because we have a loving Brother, and a providing Father, and a Comforter through God’s provision of countless mothers.

Yet the covenant promises of God continue to play out. We await the return of Jesus Christ by actively expanding the boundaries of the kingdom of God through all nations in every sphere of society. We are called to be witnesses to this great work of God in every relationship and role that we find ourselves in. So the covenant people of God need mothers now more than ever. The Church needs video game inventors, soccer coaches, grandfathers, woodworkers and engineers. Christ’s family needs sisters, politicians, jackhammer workers and poets. By the help of the Spirit of Christ, we need every person giving everything to this great and good work of God.

Questions for Conversation

  • Read Genesis 24

o   Why would you assert that this story is not primarily about whether every woman should wear nose rings? Give evidence.

o   Why would you say that this scene is not primarily about how Christians are supposed to find wives? Give reasons.

o   Why would you claim that this passage is not primarily about how to obtain information about the will of God today? Substantiate the claim. (Hint: remember that revelation is historically progressive in the Bible).

  • What relationships are you most passionate about in life? What roles do you find yourself that energize you?
  • Tell your conversation partner(s) a story about that relates to that relationship or role. (for example: I am passionate about being a godly father and recently my son and I went to a great baseball game. Here’s what happened…).
  • Now tell how you think God would have you like out that role in the future. (for example: my long distance friend and I swap dozens of books and discuss via Skype how they are truly helping us love God and emotionally connect with our wives. Meanwhile I also buy my wife a nose-ring in order to honor Rebekah’s mothering of Israel.)

Genesis 23

Genesis 23


Sarah lived 127 years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. 2 And Sarah died at Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. 3 And Abraham rose up from before his dead and said to the Hittites, 4 “I am a sojourner and foreigner among you; give me property among you for a burying place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” 5 The Hittites answered Abraham, 6 “Hear us, my lord; you are a prince of God among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will withhold from you his tomb to hinder you from burying your dead.” 7 Abraham rose and bowed to the Hittites, the people of the land. 8 And he said to them, “If you are willing that I should bury my dead out of my sight, hear me and entreat for me Ephron the son of Zohar, 9 that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he owns; it is at the end of his field. For the full price let him give it to me in your presence as property for a burying place.”


10 Now Ephron was sitting among the Hittites, and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the Hittites, of all who went in at the gate of his city, 11 “No, my lord, hear me: I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. In the sight of the sons of my people I give it to you. Bury your dead.” 12 Then Abraham bowed down before the people of the land. 13 And he said to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, “But if you will, hear me: I give the price of the field. Accept it from me, that I may bury my dead there.” 14 Ephron answered Abraham, 15 “My lord, listen to me: a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.” 16 Abraham listened to Ephron, and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver that he had named in the hearing of the Hittites, four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weights current among the merchants.


17 So the field of Ephron in Machpelah, which was to the east of Mamre, the field with the cave that was in it and all the trees that were in the field, throughout its whole area, was made over 18 to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the Hittites, before all who went in at the gate of his city. 19 After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah east of Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20 The field and the cave that is in it were made over to Abraham as property for a burying place by the Hittites.

Prayer Focus for Reunion – Sunday, June 15

Reunion, Africa: Mature leadership for the young, growing churches is a priority. Most leadership training is informal or must be pursued outside the territory. As with the territory’s economic dependence on France, the churches are often dependent on outside help. Pray for recent moves toward developing the local church leadership as well as establishing both spiritual and financial



Adopt A Plot


We have a wonderful opportunity to be a blessing to the Dumfries community.

Through the “Adopt a Plot” program we can have one or more free plots to grow food for the poor. Click below to see the official advertisement.

If you are interested in being a part of this effort please email me or call (571) 330-6953.

yours in Christ,

Pastor Tim

Adopt A plot



Prayer Focus for Qatar – Sunday, June 8

Qatar, Asia: Christians’ ability to meet together is limited by government policy and by the high cost and difficulty of renting facilities capable of hosting larger groups. There are not yet opportunities for the large Asian fellowships and those congregations committed to outreach and evangelism to have their own places of



This Is Only a Test – Genesis 22

Creatures are contingent. Creatures who have sinned against their holy Creator are most certainly contingent, only breathing by the mercy of their kind Creator who desires their repentance.

this_is_only_a_test_by_bandew444-d3h078m In Genesis 22 Moses recounts the history of God’s testing of Abraham. The test consisted of God’s commanding Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. God’s command was therefore in direct conflict with his promise that through Isaac would come about a great nation that would bless all other nations.  As Israel first listened to this account, they would have sensed the contingency of their own lives, as they imagined Isaac bound on the altar with a knife barreling down towards his throat. They would have been relieved when the angel of the LORD declared that Abraham need not touch Isaac and that through Isaac the covenant for creation’s renewal would continue. (The covenant with Abraham can be termed “the covenant for creation’s renewal,” as that is God’s purpose for entering into this covenant: to renew all of creation back to its original harmony). Yet, God’s command could still be kept, for the LORD provided a ram to be sacrificed in Isaac’s place. Not only so, but the ram was provided in the exact place (Moriah) that would later be the location of the temple where the LORD accepted the sacrifices of Israel for their sins. Even more significant is that just outside the walls of the same city is where the LORD provided a sacrifice on behalf of the life of his people: Jesus Christ, crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem.

The Sacrifice of Isaac, by Marc Chagall, 1966

The Sacrifice of Isaac, by Marc Chagall, 1966

The covenant of creation’s renewal could only continue through Isaac, Israel and Jesus’ people today because of the LORD’s provision. Jesus Christ, the Ram of God, sacrificed in the place of the people of God so that God’s good intentions for the nations can be accomplished by his grace and through his people. If the ram had not been provided, then the covenant promises could not have been accomplished and the world would have reverted back to Genesis 11. But I wonder if we really believe that. Do we really think that without the offspring of Abraham the world would revert back to the chaos of the Tower of Babel? Do we really feel the full impact of what was on the line as Isaac was on the altar? Do we sense the need for the Church, or do we think that the world will get along just fine by virtue of good governments, good schools and strong individual responsibility and hard work? Have we slipped into thinking that individual responsibility and ingenuity are the answer to the world’s problems? If so, we ought to be reminded that the LORD is the one who provides for the world’s true, deepest problems – and he does so through Jesus Christ: who gives life to his people for the sake of renewing creation by God’s power.

Questions for Conversation

  • Can you think of a movie, TV show or recent book in which the answer to the world’s problems came through individual responsibility and ingenuity?
  • How would you counter that philosophy using the book of Genesis and God’s covenant with Abraham?
  • This passage can be troubling. If you are troubled by it can you explain why? Does knowing that this is a test of Abraham help you? How?
  • Where would you go in the Scripture to defend God’s honor regarding child sacrifice?
  • How does this passage help you to better understand God the Father’s intention in Christ’s sacrifice?

Genesis 21:8-21

Genesis 21:8-21


The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”

11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspringwill be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”

14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.

15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, shebegan to sob.

17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

20 God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. 21 While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt.