[shoulders] SHOULDER TO SHOULDER #267 ---- 1/20/03

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From: "Bob Tolliver" <btolliver@...>
Date: Sun, 19 Jan 2003 22:42:18 -0600
Standing Shoulder To Shoulder Together As We
Fight the Good Fight of Faith

A personal letter of encouragement to you, written solely to "lift up hands that hang down".

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SHOULDER TO SHOULDER #267 ---- 1/20/03

TITLE:  "When You Need To Hear From The Father"

My Dear Friend and Pilgrim Partner:

Greetings in the name of the Lord.  Today as I begin writing, Jo Ann has just returned from an advanced ESL certification workshop, we've had a Ukrainian lunch and a restaurant near the church, she's now asleep on the couch in our "office", and a local handy man Arcade (pronounced Ar-KAH-dee) is installing more wall plugs and lights in our apartment.

We are now well into the process of culture adjustment of both lifestyle, surrounding, and view.  I could write volumes on just what we've observed in the eighteen days since we arrived.  Some of it is wonderful, some hilarious, and some frustrating.

And some is certainly instructional in that it tends to expose more layers of western comfort, convenience, assumption, and presumption.  I'm torn between telling you about our apartment situated right next to the great performance hall called Palats Ukraina (Palace Ukraine) on Cher-VO-nah Ar-MEE-ska ("Red Army Street").  We're still in a state of flux since our teaching and team ministry schedule has not really allowed us to truly furnish the apartment and settle in as we would like.  That will come next week after return from Vienna next Saturday.

Jo Ann has lots of things she wants me to do, but when I start to do them I realize we have no screws or nails, I have no drill, or I have no wrench.  So, it's an interesting life right now.

This past week I've been traveling a great deal with the driver from St. James Bible College, Anatoli.  He's a great guy . . . . but he does like to get where he's going on time or before.  So, the experience has been an educational one, particularly in the world of transportation laws and definitions.  The thought occurred to me that you might like to know some of the Ukrainian transportation definitions.  Here are the first of what will probably continue as a growing collection.  See if you can understand them.

  1.  Traffic:  A radical collection of all kinds of vehicles that gather around you at the most inopportune times.

  2.  Brakes:  Things that stop the car at the very last minute just before you touch the vehicle ahead or run through the red light.  Also used to move you forward in your seat so you can see better.

  3.  Horn:  The last thing you use, and sparingly.  Used only when all else fails.

  4.  Directional signals:  Blinking lights you turn on one second after you have begun to make your turn or change lanes.

  5.  Double White Lines:  Marks that separate opposing traffic flows which you use randomly when you run out of room on your side.  Also an indicator that you cannot turn left.

  6.  Left Turns:  Something you are not allowed to do in Ukraine except in rare exceptions.  Five right turns or a U-turn are much preferred over left turns.

  7.  Single Broken Lines:  Marks on the road the highway department made to confuse drivers about in which lane to drive.

  8.  Lanes:  Nobody knows what these are for certain.  They appear to be some linear area about ten feet wide into which the drivers try to see how many vehicles they can drive side by side.  It seems to be some type of competitive sport.

  9.  Commuter Traffic Period:  A time of heavy traffic concentration on all streets between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. 

10.  Merging Traffic:  A new X-streme sport.

11.  Shock Absorbers:  Things that wear out quickly and are never replaced so you can get the full sensation of the pot holes in the streets.

12.  Pot Holes:  A special feature developed by the Committee of Negligence that tests the dexterity and reflexes of drivers.

13.  Tires:  Round rubber things in each wheel designed to carry enough air pressure to enable you to feel every crack and crevice or brick in the street.

14.  Sidewalks:  A place where you park your car if there is no other space available.  Also a place to drive when a traffic jam or road construction has blocked your way.

15.  Work Crews:  Men and women who try to improve your quality of life by tying up traffic flow, doing repair work without warning signs, and leave unmarked depressions in the road to help keep you awake when you hit them.

16.  Pedestrian:  King of the road who has absolute right of way, and whom you try not to splash when choosing which water-filled pot hole to hit.

17.  Merge Lane:  A strip of asphalt pavement about eight feet long that gives you an opportunity to see if you can turn onto your street of choice before you get blocked out.

18.  Traffic Circle:  The Ukrainian version of hell where all traffic from four to six streets merges into one so you can have terrorizing nightmares trying to find your exit out onto your street of choice.  To many foreign drivers, it is a form of Russian Roulette.

Well, I hope this educates you as to some of the transportation features of Kiev.  


I'm still finding myself torn between trying to tell you all about our new work in Kiev, the adventures of our team, and just a simple word of encouragement to you.  I started writing Saturday night but, frankly, just didn't have anything I felt worth sharing.  But, that changed Sunday afternoon.  As I sat in the sanctuary waiting for services to begin at our new pastorate in Kiev, I began reading through the first couple of chapters of Joshua as background to the message I would bring an hour later from the third chapter.

I've read this passage many times before.  In fact Joshua 1:3 is one of my favorite verses, as are verses 8 and 9.  However, it was like hearing a fresh word from God as I read through that passage again.  The circumstances of coming to this new ministry are totally different from anything I've ever done, and it has left me with an enormous uncertainty as to just how to proceed, and what to anticipate.  So, it was just what I needed for this new beginning.

Here's what He impressed on my heart from that passage:

+  "I will give you every place where you set your foot", so decide how much walking you want to do.

+  "Your territory will extend", so get ready for growth.

+  "I will be with you and will never leave you or forsake you", so be confident.

+  "Be strong and courageous because you will lead these people", so don't worry or fret.

+  "But, be careful to obey My word fully and freely, and keep it in your mind and in your mouth always", because it is honey to your lips, energy for your work, and the key to your success.

+  "If you immerse yourself in it, you will prosper in all that you do".

+  "Tell the people to get their supplies and get ready to move out".

It was a most interesting experience; I wasn't expecting the Lord to minister to me in quite that way at that particular time; I was just refreshing myself for the upcoming sermon.  And, quite unexpectedly the Holy Spirit began to quicken a most familiar passage just when you need it.  Since I saw no visible promise of a successful ministry in Kiev, I was running up until then strictly on the hopes and excitement of the call and the possibilities I felt were there.

This, on the other hand, was a clear word from God that was written in bold print and then underscored.

So this brings me to an interesting question:  When can we expect God to speak to our inner man in ways that assure us, direct us, or correct us?  Well, Sunday evening I had a chance to give that some thought.  Here's what I think.

First, God speaks . . . .

1.  At the right time ---- Promptly.  This was the right time for me.  It was an unexpected moment.  My mind was open to His Word.  I needed some kind of indicator that this ministry was not going to be just another ordinary one, for I was preparing to tell the people to "Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you".  So, God spoke at the right time.

2.  In the right way ---- Clearly.  There was no doubt about what the Holy Spirit impressed on my heart.  He wasn't vague or indirect.  It was as if He sat me down, got in my face, pointed His finger and said, "Bob, this is the way it's going to be, and you need to be ready.  Are you listening to me?  Pay close attention."

3.  With the right spirit ---- Lovingly.  In some ways I felt like I was being addressed by a caring coach, a loving father, and an enthusiastic motivational speaker all rolled into one.  It was not a dictatorial voice, but a loving but very excited and confident one.

It's nice to know God is willing to speak to our hearts at special moments when we need the sound of His voice.  Maybe you've had some recent events when you needed that voice of assurance and confidence.  If you have, but didn't seem to hear, just take some time to be quiet.  Sit back, . . . breathe deeply, . . .  be quiet, . . . . rest a bit, . . . . and listen in your inner man.  He does indeed speak.


As I considered that Sunday afternoon experience, I began pondering the occasions when God needs to be heard.  I know there are many, but here are a few times when I've needed the reassurance of His voice.

1.  In Times of Despair or Discouragement.  Interestingly, some of the shortest remarks from the Holy Spirit have come to me during the times when I felt I needed to hear the most.  Years ago during a period of deep despair in ministry, I would sit at my desk in front of an opaque window through which I could see only shadows, and I would think . . . . "That's the way God is to me right now ---- just a shadow."  But He spoke simply . . . . just four words.  "My grace is sufficient."  I lived six months on that one simple promise . . . . and God brought me through.

2.  It Times of Uncertainty.  While I do have a specific assignment, and I do have some definite things in my mind that I believe are necessary for a successful ministry here, I do feel lots of uncertainty.  If you've never experienced culture shock, you can't understand what it does to you.  You will have sudden moments when the constant foreign language or unintelligible advertising signs, or even different sounds from automobile horns just hit you, and you overload. The fact that you can't even ask a question because nobody understands becomes a jolting reality.  Even trying to understand through broken English can hit you like the proverbial ton of bricks and you think, "I'll never get this done!  It's going to take hours instead of just minutes to even understand what plans they want to discuss!"  During such times of uncertainty, it's good to know He will speak.

3.  In Times of Opportunity.  God is so faithful to you that He will never leave you without direction and encouragement when you face an opportunity He has set before you.  So, if you are facing an opportunity, get ready ---- God's about to speak to you.  That really excites me, because now that I heard what His Spirit was saying to my heart, I have absolute confidence that the opportunity is upon me.  The time is now.


Well, friend, there are many other times when you and I need to hear the voice of God.  Life is filled with such occasions.  It's just encouraging to know He speaks at the right time, in the right way, and in the right spirit.

That should give us great comfort and encouragement to know He loves us that much.  So, friend . . . . I'm excited about what is ahead.  I know it's not going to be easy, and there will probably be some times when I get so overloaded with unfamiliar voices, sounds, and sights, that I want to go hide somewhere.  However, the fact that God has made a promise to us will move us on.

I hope you have a great week, my friend.  And, if you need to hear the voice of the Father, go ahead and take the time to listen.  Get into His Word, come into His presence, and step aside from the rat race.  He has set an appointment to meet with you . . . . and talk.  Don't miss it.

In His Bond and for His glory,

Bob Tolliver -- Rom 1:11-12
Copyright January, 2003
Life Unlimited Ministries

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