Patriotism and the Christian

This short article was written for a Ukrainian publication almost 14 years ago. With the increasing possibility of a full military invasion by Russia looming on the horizon (after and already ongoing eight-year-conflict leaving more than 13,000 dead), thoughts of the Christian response to the issues of patriotism, nationalism, and war seem more pertinent now than ever. Please pray for Ukraine!

When the terrorists crashed the planes into the Twin Towers in New York City, I felt a sense of patriotism in a commiserative sort of way. Even though I was 7500 kilometers away from that tragic event I still felt united in the loss and sense of violation that occurred through that attack.

Patriotism is a love of fatherland; a strong attachment to one’s country and culture of origin which is manifested even in times of conflict or war. Patriotism stresses the need for the individual to place the interests of the nation above their own, and that the individual has a greater moral duty to his fellow citizens than to foreigners. In discussing patriotism, it seems that people have different understandings of it. Some say it is bad, other that it is good. What is my opinion as an American, Christian, and a missionary?

I believe that there are positive aspects to patriotism. First, a healthy love of one’s country can result in humanitarian acts shown to those around you. The natural desire to help your nation and to see it succeed can drive a person to constructive action. A true patriot has a zeal for the uplifting, protecting, and advancing of their country. Next, patriotism is a self-sacrificing motivator toward the defending of family, friends, and that which is held dear to the individual. Conversely, a lack of patriotism is often interpreted to be threat to the fatherland.

On a negative side, patriotism can easily lead to nationalism – the thought that one’s nation is right no matter what. George Orwell said, “Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power.” Also, patriotism can result in negative feelings toward foreigners within your country, other cultures and ways of doing things, as well as in an unhealthy independence from others in our ever-shrinking, globalized world.

Personally, I am proud to be an American, but not always. After having lived overseas for so many years, it seems that there are times when I am NOT supposed to be proud to be an American. When people hold views contrary to those espoused by the leadership of the USA, I sense that I am supposed to agree with them in an almost unpatriotic sort of way. Although I may disagree with the leadership of my country at times, it is similar to someone talking bad about your brother – even though you may fight with him at home, no one else has the right to talk bad about him.

The Apostle Paul seems to me to be the prime example of a patriot. He loved his people, traditions, and heritage. In Romans 9, Paul writes regarding his strong desire for the salvation of his countrymen according to the flesh. In another place he writes that he considered himself a Hebrew of the Hebrews, from good stock – the tribe of Benjamin, more in line with the culture and traditions of his time than others. Yet, this is the same Paul who said that he counts it all as dung, in comparison to knowing Jesus Christ.

This is where the rubber meets the road. Patriotism is a love for country, homeland, and community. For us as believers, we are now citizens of heaven – this world is not our spiritual home, but we are just passing through. My passport still says U.S.A., but when worldly patriotism conflicts with my love for and obedience to the things of God, my loyalty to the Kingdom of God must come first. It was Paul who said that he became all things to all people that he might win some, and that we should imitate him as he imitated Christ. Can I say that I am prepared to act that way towards a foreigner in my country? One of Jesus’ disciples, Simon the Zealot, was a patriot – perhaps even more of a nationalist. Yet, we read nothing of his political actions, military motivations, or dreams of defending his physical homeland. Instead we see him being sent out by Jesus to preach the message of the kingdom of heaven. Overall, I believe that patriotism is a positive characteristic, yet if unchecked it can hinder the spreading of the Gospel.

Jed Gourley
February 20, 2008
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Don’t Be a Demas!

Here’s something that I wrote a long time ago, and it’s something that comes to mind often.

Demas is not a famous Biblical character, even though he obviously played a large role in Paul’s missionary team. Where do we meet Demas, and who was this man?

We read of Demas in Colossians 4:14 that he was with Paul and Luke on great missionary travels. In Philemon 24 we see Paul sending greetings from Demas, Luke, and Mark. Demas was in great company, surrounded by men of outstanding faith. He witnessed great moves of God, heard marvelous messages, and saw mighty acts of the Holy Spirit. He saw churches begin, the new faith of many thousands springing into reality, and probably took part in great times of prayer and praise.

However, in the last letter of the apostle Paul we see that in spite of all of these wonderful, spiritual times, Demas decided upon a different path. In Second Timothy 4:10 we read that Paul was disheartened because, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world.”

What a tragic thing! Demas, a man who had seemingly started well, had great influences upon his life, and saw mighty movements of God, did not finish well. We do not read more about Demas because he chose the way of the flesh and the world rather than the way of the Spirit.

John writes in first John 2:15, 17, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. And the world is passing away… but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

Let’s remember that we are not immune to the lust of the flesh and the temptations of the world. We will always be faced with temptations. We always have a choice. But, what are you going to choose – the way of the world, or the way of the Spirit? Let’s choose the way of the Spirit and be with a part of those who finish the race well.

Jed Gourley
April 3, 2003
Kyiv, Ukraine

Well Done!

Everyone expects old people to die. That is to say, at least when they die it’s not as surprising as when a young, beautiful, passionate follower of Jesus is suddenly taken from this earth. Two days ago, a wonderful Ukrainian friend, sister, and missionary, Ira Zakharova, was ushered into the throne room of heaven. In my mind’s eye I can see the angels rejoicing, the Son rising to meet His beloved, and the Father satisfyingly proclaiming for all of heaven to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of the Lord.”

Going away party when we moved from Ukraine to Kyrgyzstan. Ira is in the middle.

The life well-lived is a life dedicated to God. This is the only way to have a full life. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” The full life begins with a death—death to the fleshly nature, to carnal passions, to the sin that so easily entangles us, to our own self-will. Life then truly begins—new life in Christ, a pure cleansing, inexplicable joy, victory, and heart bursting with hope! Ira lived a full life even though she was taken to be with God at such a young age. Her passing reminds me of the verse, “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” Ira walked with God and is no longer on this earth, for the Lord has taken her.

Ira is now living the fulfilled promise. She is now living the completed life. And although the rest of us still gaze into heaven with questioning wonder, heaven has become even more real, even more of a desire, and even more of an expectant and glorious hope. Heaven has come near! I find that as more people whom I love pass into eternity, the more I long for heaven. The completed life is a life that no longer sees corruption. “The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” In Christ we can live the full life this side of heaven, and then finally realize the completed life when we enter into glory.

Last gathering on the bank of the Dnieper in Kyiv. Picture taken by Ira.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Not me. My eyes are filled with tears. Ira’s eyes are filled with Jesus. And His eyes are filled with delight as He rejoices over His friend, Ira, with gladness, as He quiets her with His love, and as He rejoices over her with singing. Well done, Ira. See you soon. I miss you so much.

Scriptures Used

Matthew 25:21
John 10:10b
Genesis 5:24
I Corinthians 15:42-43
Psalm 116:15

‘Gullible’s Travels’ – Book Review

Last week, as my flight from Amsterdam touched down in Tbilisi I closed the cover of Gullible’s Travels. Intrigued by the title, compelled by the subject-matter, but even more drawn in by my recent conversation with the author, I had decided to read this book on my way back ‘home’ to Georgia #thecountrynotthestate.

Gullible’s Travels is the story of Nick and Sue Long who are missionaries currently living in Austria. Before that, they were missionaries serving for almost three decades in Germany. The years in between Germany and Austria were years of wilderness-wanderings, or perhaps better described as years of the crawling, consuming, and chewing locust (Joel 1-2).

Gullible’s Travels is the painfully raw, yet bold account of a man whom God saved and used to share His light and love in the nation of Germany, but who also was led down a rabbit hole of medically-induced drug addiction. A before-Christ life marked with drug use plus doctor-prescribed opioid concoctions used to treat severe pain do not result in anything good. Nick’s pain treatment would result in a years-long nightmare of addiction, deceit, danger, lost time and memories, and almost the loss of his marriage.

Gullible’s Travels is a well-written book with a warning. The biggest lie that any of us can believe is that we are immune to the tricks and deceits of the enemy. “A roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” is not just metaphor. Satan has a plan for your life–that is for your downfall, your destruction. Our pride will tell us that we are immune, our hypocrisy will tell us we are better, but if we remain ignorant of his devices then we will be bloody prey dangling from that wolf’s mouth.

Nick Long’s story is personal, moving, and redemptive. In light of other pastors who have struggled (or are currently struggling) through similar battles, I highly encourage people to read Gullible’s Travels. In our day of massive opioid addictions and overdoses, the New Testament warnings of sorcery (pharmakeia) could not apply more. Pray for your pastors. Share with your friends. “The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” (I Peter 4:7-8 NLT)

Why Do Bad Things Happen to God’s People?

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”– Revelation 2:7

Earlier this week the world woke up to devastating news—news which we had already been grieving for a few days. The tragic deaths of Ryan and Lora Smith and their four-year-old son, Caleb, have pierced the hearts of the American-expat, Georgian, and Azerbaijani communities alike. This family who had been living in the country of Georgia for the last several years, and who were so intent on remaining here that they even acquired Georgian citizenship, were murdered while on a camping trip less than an hour’s drive from the capital city of Tbilisi. At the time of this writing, the factors surrounding this horrific crime continue to change depending on who tells the story. The Georgian government has released conflicting reports, and as a result, news articles covering their deaths have changed as well. This abrupt taking of life remains shrouded in mystery. But I do not want to write about the circumstances of their deaths. I want to ponder two questions: who were the Smiths, and why do bad things happen to God’s people?


Lora, four-year-old son, Caleb, and Ryan Smith. Missionary Family Murdered in Georgia.

Yes, I said “God’s people.” Why? Although the abundance of news articles currently blanketing the internet speak of Ryan’s fabulous carpet business, of Lora’s English classes in a local school, and of their desire to build a park for kids in their community with their own money, Ryan and Lora Smith were first and foremost missionaries who were sharing their lives and their Christian faith with those in the southern, mostly-Azerbaijani populated region of Marneuli, Georgia. I first met the Smiths four years ago at an international church service in Tbilisi. My path would later cross with Ryan at conferences and other events. I envied his knowledge of the Azerbaijani language, his inroads into the local community, and his knowledge of the culture. His passion for his work, love for his family, and gift for working with people have all been highly attested to. The Smiths were “God’s people,” serving Him by reaching out to this impoverished, difficult, and spiritually needy region of the world.

Why did this happen? Why this family? In our sorrow Scripture whispers to us on behalf of this family, “Death is working in us, but life in you.” We believe that God can and will take this tragedy and use it for His glory. Why in this manner? It all seems so meaningless! To our questioning hearts Scripture shouts to us on behalf of this family, “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.”

What is God’s answer to us? It is not meaningless! There is purpose in the suffering and even death of the believer. It is producing something heavy—an eternal weight of glory—for them. Although it seems to be producing only grief in my life now, I shift my eyes from the seemingly meaningless death of friends and colleagues to the rock-hard truth of Scripture. “Look to the unseen, my heart! Look to that which is invisible to the naked eye! Look to the eternal!” There is wondrous glory, reward, and honor granted to this family! I choose to preach to my heart and mind, “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed…” For the Smith family, this glory was revealed the moment they departed this sinful, fallen world, and stepped into eternity.

As noted by John Piper, one of the most seemingly senseless deaths in the Bible was that of John the Baptist. Due to the whimsical offer of a king after the dance of a girl at a party, John’s head was cut off and laid on a platter. “Meaningless!” we scream. But what was Jesus’ evaluation of John? “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist.”

Commenting on the passage in Second Corinthians, chapter four, John Piper says, “Not only is all your affliction momentary. Not only is all your affliction light, in comparison to eternity and the glory there. But all of it is totally meaningful! Now that is a very controversial statement because of all the insane suffering there is in the world. Every time something horrific happens an interviewer will say ‘Meaningless.’ That is what it looks like…. This text says, ‘Our light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight.’ It doesn’t say ‘will be followed by an eternal weight of glory.’ That would be good enough. But that’s not what it says…. I’ll venture this. Every millisecond from the pain of your fallen nature or fallen man, every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory you will get because of that…. If anybody says to me that a believer’s suffering was meaningless, I’ll be quiet, probably, because they’re hurting really bad. But I’m going to come back eventually and say, ‘It wasn’t meaningless…’ It’s doing something! It’s doing something! Of course you can’t see what it’s doing. This is the main unseen thing verse eighteen is talking about. What’s the unseen you’re supposed to look at?  You’re supposed to look at the promise of God in verse seventeen that says your pain is doing something for you. You can’t see it. You can’t feel it. Either you see it with the eyes of faith, believe it because the text says it, or you lose heart.”


Now Rejoicing in the Presence of Their King

Why do bad things happen to God’s people? Every morning I wake up wishing this tragedy had never occurred. I grieve that we live in a fallen, broken world. Injustice reigns. Calamity befalls believer and unbeliever alike. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. We find our solace in the sovereignty of God. We find our peace in the meaningful sacrifice of the Prince of Peace. We find our way through the pain of loss by means of the unseen gain produced by suffering. As Job said, “Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him.” He also wrote, “And after my flesh is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.” And so, as Job, we treasure the words of God more than our necessary food. And we choose to believe that God is working all things together for good to those who love Him. While our hearts grieve at the unspeakable loss, and while tears roll down our cheeks as we consider the loved ones of the Smiths, we choose to look to that which is unseen, to the unchanging Scripture that both whispers comfort and shouts truth to us in our pain.

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?– I John 5:4-5


MIA Confirms American Family Murdered in Dusheti — Georgia Today 7/9/2018
Father, toddler son shot dead in Georgia; mother falls into ravine while fleeing attacker, officials say — Fox News 7/10/2018
Dream-Weavers’ Deaths Leave Georgian Town At A Loss — RFERL 7/11/2018
None of Our Misery is Meaningless — John Piper
Overcome — Jeremy Camp

Other Scriptures Used

II Corinthians 4:12
II Corinthians 4:17-18
Romans 8:18
Matthew 11:11
Job 13:15
Job 19:26
Romans 8:28

Jesus always knows what He’s going to do!

Feeding 5000 mosaic

5th century mosaic discovered near the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee

In John’s account of the feeding of the 5000, Jesus sees a great multitude and asks His disciples a question, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” Was Jesus taken by surprise by the large crowd? Was He dumbfounded as to what to do? Perhaps he was trying to inspire the disciples to come up with a plan to work together with Him? No. Jesus actually said this “to test them, for He Himself knew what He would do.”

There have been, and currently are, many overwhelming and impossible situations in my life. I must admit that I usually find myself first seeking a human or logical solution to these issues. My natural inclination is to find a physical resource that will meet this need or solve this problem. Does that mean God doesn’t use physical resources to meet physical needs? No, of course He does. He used bread to meet the physical needs of the 5000.

What Jesus does when we trust Him is to do things beyond our imagination. I can’t organize Him, or strategize the way that He is going to work in my situation. I can’t limit Jesus with my own plans. I can only come to Him with my lack, my weakness, and my inability. Jesus can and wants to fill us, strengthen us, and do all that He wants in and through us. If He went to the cross to redeem us, how much more willing do you think He is take care of “impossible” things in our lives?

Be encouraged. Jesus has a plan when we don’t. Jesus knows our frailty, and just smiles and forgives us for giving Him advice. Perhaps you are going through a time of testing, as I am. Jesus knows what He is going to do. It doesn’t make the path we are on any easier, but perhaps it does make it a little more bearable. We are not alone, and our simple work that we must do is to believe on Jesus. Let’s labor for that today!

Missing Out on a Biblical Missiology

I wrote this article couple of years ago for another website, but it was never published. Perhaps it was a little too provocative, or counter-Christian-culture? Not sure. So, I am posting it here. 🙂


You’ve heard the trendy phrases: “Being on mission.” “Missional living.”

When I hear such phrases I find that I am grateful to be living overseas, and that such trendiness has not entered my lexicon. Christian fads and Christianese phrases come and go. Unfortunately, they often do damage before they are kicked out the door.

I am not going to talk about being on mission, or creating missional communities. Instead, I want to discuss something far more important. A Biblical concept which, when applied, will have global repercussions. Missions. Not missional. Not on mission. But missions. Simple, not trendy. Black coffee, hold the soy and sugar substitute.

neversettleMissions is a non-Biblical term used to describe a Biblical church’s intentional and international evangelical activity. Hold on. You said international. Are you one of those guys that thinks that foreign missions is more important than domestic missions? Well, not really. I just think that somehow we need to differentiate between these concepts, both for the general understanding of the people in the pews as well as for proper implementation of the vision that the Lord has given to us as a church. For you see, when everyone is a missionary, then no one is. And when everything is missions, then nothing is.

Call it foreign outreach and domestic outreach if you insist on putting them on the same level, but please leave my friend, the word ‘missions’, alone. This word is special, for it is within this concept that we see the intention, character, and glory of our Heavenly Father. From Genesis to Jonah God revealed his heart for the nations. New Testament missions is simply the outworking of the eternal plan of God, and it continues today in our time, in our generation.

What is Biblical missions?

  1. Serving: In Acts 13 we see Saul, Barnabus, and the leaders of the church in Antioch ministering to the Lord. They were already actively involved in the life of the body of Christ, effective servant-leaders who had their hand to the plow. They had a history of faithfully representing Christ in their cities, and they were witnesses to the grace of God. Sometimes I ask people who want to come to the mission field what they currently are doing in their home church. Amazingly, many of these people are not serving in any capacity. Missions begins with serving in the place where God has planted you.
  1. Calling: The Holy Spirit will always faithfully represent the plan of God to the people of God. He is not trying to keep something hidden from us. God’s plan always incorporated active ways to make known his salvation to those who have not heard—and He called people to do it. In fact, when I read the Book of Acts I get the idea that the early church had to be chided along, even handed over for persecution, before they were willing to go beyond the borders with which they were familiar. The Lord will make His heart for the world known to those who are seeking and serving Him.
  1. Sending: Although Paul and Barnabus were sent out by the Holy Spirit, they were also sent away by the church in Antioch. There are two things here that are important to see. First, the church needs to be ready to release (with authority and support) those whom the Lord sets apart to Himself for the work of the Gospel internationally. Second, the church needs to thrust out, even their best workers into the distant fields of the world for the sake of the Gospel. The difference is slight, but important. Many times we just wait for the Lord to put the desire on someone’s heart to go. Or worse, we are grateful that some independent person (read potentially trouble-causing) all of a sudden wants to go to the other side of the world. But that is passive missions, or even poisonous missions, and it is a reason why most churches don’t have anyone from their own fellowship whom they actively and wholeheartedly support on the mission field. Active missions is discipling people with the specific intent of sending them out to be involved in church-planting oriented activities.
  1. Church-planting oriented: Wherever the Apostles went, the result was the establishing of local churches. The word church means assembly, and it is used in the Bible of gatherings of believers and non-believers alike. However, it is mostly reserved for this special organism which we know to be both the body and the bride of Christ. If our goal in missions does not encourage, revolve around, or result in a local church, we may be doing missions, but not New Testament missions. Am I saying that humanitarian trips are not missions? Orphanage ministry? Refugees? Business as mission? No, no, no, and no. What I am saying is that the New Testament model for missions seems persistent in the development of local assemblies. Did the disciples wait on tables? Yes. Did the disciples assist widows? Yes. Was the church tasked with helping orphans? Yes. Pure and undefiled religion… But these important activities are most effectively done in the context of a local church.
  1. Remembering: Paul the Apostle, missionary extraordinaire, saw the need to revisit the churches that he had planted, and the need to maintain continual connection and communication with them. Much of the first portions of his missionary journeys were dedicated to visiting those churches which had been established on earlier mission trips. Also, much of the text of his letters was written to address certain problems, people, or a mixture of the two. Always one who was sensitive to the fact that he was no pope holding sway over these local congregations, Paul could write sternly but in humility. His earlier letters, such as to the Thessalonians, are more stern and commanding, perhaps in view of their recent establishment and their lack of existing local leadership. His letters to other churches, such as to the Corinthians, were more suggestive and persuasive, perhaps because of the age of the church and the existence of other local leaders. But Paul saw the need to communicate a consistent vision and demonstrate an overwhelming love to these churches again and again and again.

Missions is the method that the Lord has established for the broadcasting of His splendor to the nations. Do you have an active vision for missions? This is not a passing fad, but is the heartbeat of our Father.

My First Blog Post

If you’ve read Distant Fields, or already know the story, then you are familiar with Kristen Markey who was adopted by George and Pam Markey. Well, now Kristen has started a blog. Enjoy reading!

Kristen Markey

Hi, my name is Kristen Markey and I am twenty one years old. I live in Budapest Hungary with my mom. I have lived in Hungary for ten years in a little village called Vajta, but I just now moved to the city. The reason why I am with my mom is Because my mom is a missionary / teacher at a Bible College in Hungary. She teaches the Biblical Mission’s  Program.


I was born in Kiev, Ukraine. My whole family moved there in 1992. I have eight siblings, four sisters and four brothers. I am the youngest of nine children. They are all Americans and I was adopted four years after they moved. My sister Rhonda Kay and her friend were visiting baby’s in a Ukrainian Hospital. and after a while they find me when I was only a few month old. I was born with fetal alcohol syndrome…

View original post 142 more words

Memories of George Markey

This year marks ten years since the passing of George Winston Markey into glory. Although, for me, the past decade has flown by, it has been but a short measure of time punctuated with many moments of remembering George–his life, example, teachings, and, most importantly, his love. I have found myself frequently considering my attitude, actions, and responses toward others in light of how I saw George treat people during his pilgrimage upon this earth. In no way does this represent a pedestal upon which George has been placed in my mind, but rather it is a vivid display of a tangible Christ that was demonstrated to me through George’s life.


It was the Apostle Paul who said to his son in the faith, Timothy, “Imitate me as I also imitate Christ.” (I Cor. 11:1 NKJV) This should be a trait to which all of us strive in our service to the King through our discipleship of others. All of us should be imitators–even imitations. Unfortunately, in our day when people strive to be original, the word “imitation” sounds cheap, frail, and hollow. However, for Biblically-literate Christians, we know that it is the very imitation of Christ to which we are to attain–to become Christ-like. I believe that Christ-likeness is found not only in studying the life of Christ as recorded in Scriptures, but also in critically observing the Living Christ operating in relationship with fellow believers in His body, the Church.

We were made for relationships, for community. As God Himself is a tri-unity of persons who operate in relationship to one another, God has created each of us to operate in relationship to one another. And His unity is perfect! For us, unity can be a very ethereal concept–it can look good on paper, but prove difficult to achieve and maintain. Yet Paul wrote that we are to endeavor “to keep the unity of the Spirit…” (Eph. 4:3 NKJV) Jesus’ prayer in John 17 was for unity among His followers: “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one–as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” (John 17:21 NLT)

I believe that unity is not achieved mainly in the pursuit of a uniformity of doctrine, but more so through the collective, practical expression of a generous love and compassionate care actively demonstrated toward those who are in need. In the book of Philippians, Paul wrote that there was no one else as “like-minded” with him as Timothy. How did Paul see Timothy as being so like-minded? In the verse following he continues by writing that he hopes to send Timothy to the Philippians because it is Timothy who “will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:19-20 NKJV)

Although in the New Testament it would seem that Paul and Timothy were possibly very different in personality and action, Paul still wrote of Timothy as being “like-minded.” Paul became an imitator of Christ. As Timothy then imitated Paul in selfless care for others in the name of Christ, the like-mindedness was then evident–the unity flourished. True like-mindedness originates in the example of Christ. It is continually demonstrated in the power of the Spirit through the body of Christ. True unity is maintained in selfless care for others which is done in the name of Christ.

Pursue Christ-likeness and strive for unity, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that it will be obtained through mere theological study and uniformity of doctrine. Christ is alive in His body–the Church. He is faithful to give us examples in life which reveal to us more of Himself. And His desire for us is that we become imitators so that Christ will be displayed, like-mindedness obtained, and unity maintained. “But we with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Cor. 3:18 NKJV) It is His work! He began it and he will complete it. And He will use people as examples in our lives to accomplish it.

Messiah Came!

Merry Christmas! How wonderful it is to celebrate the birth of our Savior! We want to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas! May this Christmas bring an extra sense of excitement in your life for Jesus’ birth, as well as an even greater anticipation of His soon return. May the God of favor fill your heart with joy and peace as you trust and abide in Him. May this next year be a time of fruitfulness in your life as you live for Him, bringing Him glory.


Adoration of the Shepherds – Bartolome Murillo

The above picture is a famous representation of the visit of the shepherds to Jesus. Murillo’s Adoration of the Shepherds is an oil-on-cloth painting, measuring 6 x 7 1/2 feet. Murillo incorporated new methods in his artwork, using various dark oils and intriguing lighting effects. In this painting darkness surrounds the figures, with no light shining on the subjects from the doorways or windows. Rather, the only light is emanating from the newborn babe, Jesus. Therefore, all of the observing faces are lit by this light. Murillo’s painting tells the story that all of the world is in the darkness of sin. The only possibility of true light comes from God, the God who became man, born in flesh in order to reveal the love and light of God to man. From His birth to His death Jesus knew His mission.

On Christmas

Light into darkness came,
piercing our guilt and shame.
Wrapped in frail humanness,
struggling to live among us.
God’s life was placed in flesh,
softly comforted by her caress.
Savior, Messiah, and King,
of Whom the Angels did sing.

From eternity to cradle, Heaven to stable,
the God-Man Jesus was born to die.

In Him was life,
and the life was the light of men,
But rejected by all,
they thought His kingdom would end.
Crucified, buried, and raised,
Jesus ascended to the Ancient of Days.
The Lamb’s blood became sweet,
it purchased our redemption–complete!

From eternity to cradle, Heaven to stable,
the God-Man Jesus was born to die.

In Him dwells all fullness of the Godhead bodily,
And He is head over all principalities.
Every knee will bow in heaven and earth,
Every tongue will acknowledge the Savior’s birth.

From eternity to cradle, Heaven to stable,
the God-Man Jesus was born to die.

God’s righteousness was granted to me,
I’m washed, reconciled, adopted–set free!
Jesus is Lord, Master, and Friend,
peace and goodwill He gives among men.
In this life I’ll always appreciate,
the cradle and cross of the One who now mediates,
His hand touching my head and reaching the Father,
a ransom for all, a treasure, a wonder!

From death to victory, grave to majesty,
the God-Man Jesus now reigns on high.

Jed Gourley
Tbilisi, Georgia
December 23, 2016