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Sunday, May 11, 2008

If the Foundations Are Destroyed

Psalm 11

For the choir director. A Psalm of David.

1In the LORD I take refuge;
How can you say to my soul, "Flee as a bird to your mountain;
2 For, behold, the wicked bend the bow,
They make ready their arrow upon the string,
To shoot in darkness at the upright in heart.
3 If the foundations are destroyed,
what can the righteous do?"
4 The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD'S throne is in heaven;
His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.
5 The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked,
And the one who loves violence His soul hates.
6 Upon the wicked He will rain snares;
Fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup.
7 For the LORD is righteous;
He loves righteousness;
The upright will behold His face.

We only occasionally write blog entries which expound a bit on the scriptures because the purpose of this blog is primarily to inform people about our day to day life and work in Russia. This post is an exception because a place we visited recently reminded us of Psalm 11.

The photos in this post are from a recent trip we took to a very small village in the countryside. The building is a crumbling, destroyed Orthodox Church building. We are not sure of the history of this particular building, but our assumption is that it was destroyed sometime after the Bolshevik (communist) victory following the Russian revolution and civil war.

During that turbulent time period from about 1919 to 1939 hundreds if not thousands of church buildings were destroyed and looted. Many priests and other believers including many Baptists and Pentecostals were either sent to labor camps where most of them perished or were killed outright.

Despite nearly 75 years of official atheism in Russia the Christian faith did not die. It survived to rise again. There are today nearly 2 million believers classified as “evangelical." This is more than in any time in Russia’s history. There are pockets, though small, of revival within the Orthodox Church and I am always impressed with some of the deep spirituality and reverence for God among some Orthodox believers. Atheism did not prevail! The Kingdom of God continues to expand.

It is my belief that Russia has not really faced up to it’s past. The tragic past needs to be acknowledged. The deep wounds inflicted upon the psyche of the people of Russia need to somehow be repented of. We love Russia and the Russian people. We weep for the tragedies this country has suffered in the past. We pray that the future will see healing and restoration of Godly principles to guide this great nation.

In front of this destroyed church building someone has placed an orthodox cross and small flower bed as a memorial to the terrible past.

On the cross hangs a sign which reads


Grief, I believe is a cultural characteristic of Russia. Grief evidenced in many other outward expressions, but grief nevertheless. I believe that this hidden, deep grief will never be healed without the accompanying needed repentance.

If you are one of our dear Russian friends who reads these entries and you disagree with my assessment, please email me and let me know. I understand that we are outsiders looking in. We love Russia, we love the Russian people. We have prayed for Russia for more than 30 years. Our desire is to see Russia fully express the desires of God for your country and people.

America is not without her cultural sins, racism, genocide of the native Americans and slavery. Oftentimes these things were done in the name of Christ, bringing shame to the Bride of Christ and having deep lasting negative cultural implications for America.

At best all of us are imperfect and broken people. We all need to keep repentance as a part of our personal lifestyle and those of us in leadership need to live it, preach it and teach it.

Ps 97:2 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. (NASB)

Isa 28:16-17
16 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD,
"Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone,
A costly cornerstone for the foundation , firmly placed.
He who believes in it will not be disturbed.

17 "And I will make justice the measuring line,
And righteousness the level;

Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone of the foundation of the Church, the Body of Christ. Our only hope rests in Him. His Kingdom should be evidenced by Righteousness and Justice. That righteousness and justice should also be a chief characteristic of our lives.

May the Lord restore the broken foundations of His Church.

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