VIDEO Coming Out Of the Ice (1982)

Apr 4, 2017

The true story of Victor Herman, who immigrated to the Soviet Union c.1930 as a child with his parents. He became a star athlete, but was sent to Siberian work camps when he refused to renounce his American past and identify himself as Russian; he eventually spent 18 years in gulags

Fifteen-Minute Challenge

Turn my heart toward your statutes. Psalm 119:36

Dr. Charles W. Eliot, longtime president of Harvard University, believed that ordinary people who read consistently from the world’s great literature for even a few minutes a day could gain a valuable education. In 1910, he compiled selections from books of history, science, philosophy, and fine art into fifty volumes called The Harvard Classics. Each set of books included Dr. Eliot’s Reading Guide titled “Fifteen Minutes A Day” containing recommended selections of eight to ten pages for each day of the year.

What if we spent fifteen minutes a day reading God’s Word? We could say with the psalmist, “Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word” (Ps. 119:36–37).

“Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end.” (Psalm 119:33)

Fifteen minutes a day adds up to ninety-one hours a year. But for whatever amount of time we decide to read the Bible each day, consistency is the secret and the key ingredient is not perfection but persistence. If we miss a day or a week, we can start reading again. As the Holy Spirit teaches us, God’s Word moves from our minds to our hearts, then to our hands and feet—taking us beyond education to transformation.

“Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end” (v. 33).

I turn to You, the Author, to teach me as I read Your Word today. I want to hear from You, to know You, and to grow closer to You.

Join the Fifteen-Minute Bible Reading Challenge! Visit

The Bible is the only Book whose Author is always present when it is read.

By David C. McCasland 

INSIGHT:Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. Each new section starts with a successive letter from the Hebrew alphabet (known as an acrostic poem). The major emphasis of this psalm is to celebrate the usefulness and value of the law. In Psalm 119 the author uses a variety of words to describe the laws and commands of God. Eight times he mentions meditating: on God’s decrees (vv. 23, 48), deeds (v. 27), precepts (vv. 15, 78), laws (v. 97), statutes (v. 99), and promises (v. 148). Meditation is the act of thinking deeply about something, focusing intently on an idea. We really get to know the commands of God by meditating on them. Reading is the necessary first step, but once we have read His Word, meditating on it throughout the day helps us to keep it in our minds.

Do you want to learn more about spending time with God? Read In His Presence at

The Character of a Good Soldier

2 Timothy 2:1-3

In 1 Timothy 6:12, Paul calls on believers to “fight the good fight of faith.” Like first-century Christians, believers today are in a three-front war against the flesh, the world system, and Satan. The military metaphor is a good reminder that believers must prepare for daily spiritual battle. A good soldier …

Is strong in Christ. Paul knew that the Lord stood by his side and strengthened him during trials (2 Tim. 4:17). The Holy Spirit provides the courage and power to obey God’s commands, so we can rely upon His might to carry us to victory against any enemy.

Shares knowledge. The church possesses not only the good news about salvation; it has all the riches of God’s Word. Many people have listened to biblical teaching and experienced the Lord interceding in their lives. To keep those lessons to oneself can leave unbelievers in harm’s way and deprive fellow Christians of necessary wisdom.

Suffers willingly. Hardship is part of combat and, therefore, part of the Christian experience. Believers will endure adversity and be asked to make sacrifices. It is little wonder, then, that Paul reminds Timothy to stand strong in the Lord and to uphold others (2 Tim. 2:1-2).

A wise commanding officer gives his troops a war cry that encourages their hearts and emboldens their steps. Paul had one, too: “Remember Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:8). Keep in mind that you serve an omnipotent Lord. He stands beside you, takes part in your suffering, and holds you securely through the most formidable battles.

Sowing Continually

“In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.” (Ecclesiastes 11:6)

In the Bible, the common occupation of sowing seed is frequently used as a symbol of witnessing for the Lord. Unlike an actual farmer, however, Christian seed-sowers are to engage in their occupation perpetually, day after day, morning and evening, everywhere they go. “Cast thy bread upon the waters,” the wise preacher said, “for thou shalt find it after many days” (Ecclesiastes 11:1). The sowing is often difficult but is necessary before the fruit can grow, and the promise is that “they that sow in tears shall reap in joy” (Psalm 126:5).

Often others may reap the fruit of our seed-sowing labors (or we may reap the fruit of theirs), but that is all right, for Christ Himself said that “one soweth, and another reapeth” so that “both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together” (John 4:37, 36). Paul said, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6).

Some seed, faithfully sown, may not seem to grow at all. In Christ’s great parable of the sower, much of the seed fell by the wayside or on rocky or weed-infested ground, but “other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit” (Matthew 13:8). It is our job to be sure that the seed we sow is good seed, wherever we go—by word, by life, by giving, by listening, by our very presence, by praying, by whatever we say or do or even think—and then to trust God to bring forth the fruit according to His own perfect will.

“Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters” (Isaiah 32:20). Therefore, “in the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening,” and God will prosper our faithfulness in His own good way and time. HMM

“Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.”

Joshua 5:1, 10-15

Joshua 5:1

Matthew Henry says upon this verse, “How dreadful is their case who see the wrath of God and his deserved vengeance advancing towards them with steady pace, without any possibility of averting or escaping it. Such will be the horrible situation of the wicked when summoned to appear before the tribunal of an offended God; nor can words express the anguish of their feelings, or the greatness of their terror. O that they would now take warning, and before it be too late, would flee for refuge to lay hold upon that hope which is set before them in the salvation of the gospel.”

Joshua 5:10

Before they entered upon the conquest of Canaan the people gave attention to circumcision and the passover. We cannot expect God to help us if we are negligent of his commands. Before entering upon any Christian enterprise it is well to look to home duties. When all is right within ourselves, we shall be in a fit condition to do battle with the evils around us.

Joshua 5:12

We must not expect miracles when ordinary providences will suffice. There is, if we would but see it, as much wisdom and grace in supplying our daily wants in the common methods as there would be in the Lord’s raining bread from heaven upon us. We may here also remark that means and ordinances will last us until we reach the heritage above. We must gather the manna of the wilderness till we feast upon the harvests of Immanuel’s land. Grace will be our daily portion till we enter glory.

Joshua 5:13

The Lord Jesus usually appears to his people in a manner which proves his communion with them. He shows himself to be like his brethren. To Abraham the pilgrim he appeared as a pilgrim, with Jacob the wrestler he wrestled, to the holy children he appeared as one in the furnace, and to Joshua the soldier he showed himself as a warrior. Our Lord is the defender of his chosen, and will show himself strong on their behalf:

Joshua 5:13

Like a brave man Joshua spake, and like a resolute friend of Israel, who would know each mans mind about the coming fight, and act towards him accordingly.

Joshua 5:14

Jesus is Commander-in-Chief; he is not only, as one was wont to call him, “our august ally,” but the Captain over all.

Joshua 5:14

True adoration bows its heart to hear as well as its knee to worship.

Joshua 5:15

He must first worship, and then go to war. God will not honour irreverent spirits. It is not enough to ask instructions from the Lord Jesus; we must adore him, and maintain a devout spirit. Great Captain of the sacred host, we adore thee at this hour! Give us thy commands, and go with us to the conflict, and we will not fear our adversaries, however great or many they be.


Thee we acknowledge, God and Lord,

Jesus for sinners slain;

Who art by heaven and earth adored,

Worthy o’er both to reign.


Great Captain of the hosts of God,

Low at thy feet we bow;

‘Tis holy ground where thou hast trod,

We loose our sandals how.


What Jesus Thinks of Laziness

Matthew 25:30

My grandfather was a German immigrant who spoke no English when he arrived at Ellis Island in New York’s harbor, so he had to work very hard to achieve anything in his new life in America. Because he had no time to go to school to learn English, the best job he could get was to work as a janitor. In the course of his janitorial duties, my grandfather pulled discarded tin cans out of the kitchen garbage in the tall skyscraper he cleaned every night. The cans had pictures of vegetables and fruit on them, and he found out that by comparing the words on the cans to the pictures, he could start teaching himself how to read and speak English.

As the years passed, my grandfather worked hard to educate himself and eventually received highest honors in his field of engineering. As he raised his son—my father—Grandfather went on to instill the principles of diligence and hard work into him. Afterward, my father passed those same principles on to me.

Through the years, our family has been very devoted to any task we’ve been given, believing that we have a responsibility to do the best job possible for the people we are called to serve. Because of this work ethic that was instilled in me by my parents, I find laziness to be completely intolerable. I refuse to permit lazy people to be a part of my team!

This intolerance for laziness must also have been the attitude that Jesus felt about lazy people. In His parable of the talents, Jesus told us of a master who, before embarking on a long journey, entrusted his money into the hands of three servants. The master expected the servants to increase what he had given them. However, Matthew 25:19-23 tells us that when this master returned, he found that only the first two servants had increased what He had entrusted to them.

In verse 21, the Bible tells us the master returned and discovered that the first servant doubled his investment. When the master saw this increase, he said, “… Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” In verse 23, the master was similarly thrilled when he found out the second servant had doubled his investment as well: “His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”

But why did the master call their success a “few things”? Their accomplishment wasn’t small. In fact, it was huge. Yet the master said to the first two servants, “… Thou hast been faithful over a few things….” His words “over a few things” seem to indicate that what they had done wasn’t such a big deal after all. I’m sure the servants were dumbfounded. What did their master mean? Was he belittling what they had accomplished?

What the first two servants had achieved was fantastic, but it was just the beginning. They had proven themselves to be hardworking and capable. They had demonstrated responsibility. The master now knew they could be trusted with true riches. Because these two stewards had proven themselves faithful, the master saw a bright future ahead for them. As is always true with God, faithfulness resulted in promotion and greater responsibilities. The first two stewards had passed a test on a lower level. Now their master was satisfied to thrust them upward into even more monumental life assignments.

But when the master came to the third servant and saw that he had done nothing with the money given to him, he told the servant, “… Thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury” (vv. 26, 27).

It is obvious that this third servant was not ignorant of the master’s expectation. He knew that the master expected increase from him. In fact, he told them, “Thou knewest.” This means the third servant couldn’t pretend to be ignorant. He knew that the master expected him to do something significant with what had been entrusted to him.

This master would accept no excuses for a lack of increase. It didn’t matter how difficult the situation, how many odds were against his servants, or how impossible it seemed, the master still expected increase. His servants understood that this was his expectation. Thus, the servant who did nothing with his talent found himself in a horrible predicament.

His master called him, “Thou wicked and slothful servant” (Matthew 25:26). As if this isn’t bad enough, in Matthew 25:30 his master called him “the unprofitable servant.” Before we go any further, let’s stop to examine these words, for they vividly express Jesus’ personal sentiment toward people who possess great potential but never develop it due to laziness.

Let’s look first at Matthew 25:26, where Jesus calls the nonproductive servant “thou wicked and slothful servant.” The words “wicked and slothful” are taken from the single Greek word okneros. This word means lazy or idle. It carries the idea of a person who has a do-nothing, lethargic, lackadaisical, apathetic, indifferent, lukewarm attitude toward life.

This is a strong word, chosen by the Holy Spirit to tell us how strongly Jesus feels about those who are apathetic and lethargic about their spiritual lives and life assignments. Jesus has no taste for lackadaisical people. People who are lukewarm about their God-given abilities or who are indifferent about their assignments leave a sickening taste in the Lord’s mouth. He loves the person, but He strongly dislikes the lazy attitudes that keep them from reaching their maximum potential.

In Matthew 25:30, Jesus continues by calling this nonproductive servant “the unprofitable servant.” The word “unprofitable” is from the Greek word achreios, which literally means useless. A literal translation in today’s vernacular would be the good-for-nothing servant.

This word describes a person whose existence in life is absolutely pointless. He is an aimless, purposeless person who contributes nothing to life. This person’s value has never been realized because he does nothing but take up space on the face of the planet. But like everyone else, this person had a choice. He could have become something significant if he had used what was entrusted to him and had done what God asked him to do.

As I read these words of Jesus, it makes me personally thankful that my parents taught me good work ethics and ingrained in me the importance of doing a more than satisfactory job for anyone I am called to serve. This pertains to serving God, serving people, serving my congregation, or serving any purpose that is entrusted to my care. Jesus expects the best I can do. I know that if I do anything less than my best, I have not done what He expects of me. Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25 shouts this message to all of us!

Do you need to come up to a higher level by working on your work ethic? If so, make the decision to do so today. Jesus expects you to do the best you can do. Are you giving Him your best at church? Are you giving Him your best at the workplace, doing your job with the highest level of ability you possess? If Jesus came to evaluate your work, would He find it effective and satisfactory, or defective and lacking?

Never forget that Colossians 3:17 commands you: “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Why don’t you take a few minutes today to ask Jesus to help you be better at your job, to give more effort than you’ve ever given before, and to help you adjust your attitude so you can become a high-level performer at whatever task is assigned to you?


Lord, I am sorry for any laziness that I’ve allowed in my life. Yes, I know I can do so much more than I’ve done. I haven’t applied myself with all my heart and strength; instead, I’ve permitted myself to slip by at a mediocre level. I have done enough to keep my job, but I haven’t done enough to deserve a promotion or a salary increase. Forgive me for complaining that I don’t make enough money when the truth is that I haven’t done my best work. I sincerely ask You to help me change my attitude and to increase my level of work performance.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!


I confess that I am a good worker and that I have a great attitude! I am exactly the kind of person God can use and bless—and I am exactly the kind of employee that my employer is thrilled to have in his department, organization, or business. I work so hard and do such good work that I bring many blessings and benefits to those who are over me in authority. Because I am around, I make them look better! God rewards me for being faithful. My striving toward excellence today will lead to my promotion and financial increase tomorrow!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!


  1. If Jesus were to come and personally inspect your attitude toward work and your actual work performance, what kind of evaluation do you think He would give you? (You may as well be honest, because Jesus is watching your attitude and your work all the time!)
  2. If you were looking for someone to promote, would you want to promote someone who had an attitude like yours or who worked like you do? If your answer is yes, thank God for it! If your answer is no, why wouldn’t you want to promote someone like you?
  3. What do you think are the top ten attitudes that make an employer so satisfied with an employee that he would want to promote him to a higher position? It would be a good idea to write down these “top ten attitudes” and then take some time to think about what you can do to better maintain these attitudes in your own life.


Why Does It Often Take A Crisis Before We Totally Surrender Our Lives To God?

  • A disintegrating marriage
  • One of our kids on drugs
  • A failed business venture
  • Cancer

My guess is that total surrender to God is not something that comes easily for you, especially if you are the kind of person who can “make things happen” rather easily.


After all, why bother trusting God when you can pull things off so effortlessly on your own?


St. Paul, a man of no meager ability, also struggled with total dependence upon God. The fact that he was the product of an enviable pedigree, possessed the equivalent of two or three Ph.D’s, and had political connections that would be the envy of any power broker, made dependency upon God just that much more difficult.


After all, if anyone could pull things off on their own, it was Paul.




We do not want you to be uninformedabout the hardship we sufferedWe were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of lifeIndeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death… ”




But this happened that we might not rely upon ourselves but on God… ” (2 Corinthians 1:8, 9)


So… if you tend toward cool-headed self-reliance that pushes God to the edges of your daily life, hold on to your hat:


Your loving Father is committed to arranging the circumstances in your world

  • to get your attention, or
  • to take you to the brink, if necessary:




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