david maxey

June 27, 2008

Does Size Matter?

Filed under: Uncategorized — davidmaxey @ 5:36 am

There is an ongoing debate in the church at large concerning whether or not the size of church’s congregation matters or not. Of course, it’s important to understand the context of the question. For instance, if you are in charge of ordering communion cups for the church, then it is important to know the size of the congregation. In that case, knowing the exact number of church members will help you do your job better. However, more often or not, the immediate context concerning whether or not the size of a church matters has more to do with the quantity vs. quality debate. In other words, which is best: quantity or quality?

 

I have heard wise men say that both are desirable and both are best. In an ideal world, the perfect church would have plenty of both quantity and quality. One minister I heard said very emphatically that you cannot have one without the other – if you don’t have quantity it’s because you don’t have quality. For a long time, this whole issue confused me until I began to look at it from an entirely different perspective – if both quantity and quality are desirable then who is responsible for what? Am I responsible for both or just one?

 

Pastor Prince from New Creation Church in Singapore helped me out with this and what he said blessed and freed me. He said that if you look at God’s instructions for constructing the various articles of furniture designated for the tabernacle in the book of Exodus, they include detailed dimensions/measurements (cubits, spans) for each article expect for the golden candlestick. God told Moses how to build the candlestick and what to make it out of, but He didn’t say how tall it should be or how wide. All He indicated was that the candlestick was to be made of pure gold and that it should be made from a talent (120 lbs.) of gold. Basically, the only “measurement” that God dictated concerning the candlestick was its weight sans dimensions.

 

Now that fact may be lost on most people, but I believe that there is significance in it. The significance is found in the Book of Revelation, where Jesus Himself reveals to us that candlesticks are symbolic of the church.

 

 As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. Revelation 1:20 NASB 

 

Pastor Prince told us that we are not to be troubled about the dimensions of the church, i.e. its size, number of members, etc. but are to focus on its quality, i.e. the purity of its gold and the “weight” of the gold. If we focus on quality then Christ will produce quantity. For example, Jesus said that He would build His church, and in Acts of the Apostles it tells us that the Lord added daily to the church those who were being saved. Also, the Apostle Paul wrote that we both plant and water but God gives the increase. So, both quantity and quality are significant but we must focus on the part that God has called us to play.

 

Neither I nor Pastor Prince is saying that us focusing on quality while Christ works on quantity excuses the church from evangelizing. God forbid! There is no doubt we are called to preach the Gospel to every creature. However, I believe that when we are free from the pressure of producing quantity, then preaching the Gospel will be enjoyable rather than something we loathe and dread. It frees us to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and compels us to truly love people rather than focus on them as another number to tally up on the chalk board. I can tell you that focusing on quality has freed me from a lot of stress and grief.

 

Maybe this word is a personal Rhema from God to us, and doesn’t apply to others. You are certainly entitled to your opinion. But I wanted to share something precious that God has blessed us with and perhaps it will bless you too! 

 

June 26, 2008

Pirate Ship

Filed under: Uncategorized — davidmaxey @ 5:24 am

In one of Khabarovsk’s finest and only shopping malls is a genuine, bona-fide Lego shop. This might not be shocking to anyone in particular, but when you consider that we don’t have a McDonald’s, Starbucks, KFC, Wal-Mart or any other widespread, modern distributor in town, then perhaps you’ll understand why I am underlining our Lego shop with a solid red line. Anyway, a few months back we noticed a particularly nifty pirate ship toy in this Lego shop that pertains to Lego’s Duplo category for ages 4-7. At the very least, I was convinced that it was the precise toy necessary to provide Michael and me with hours of piratical fun, raiding and pillaging through the flat with wild abandon. Unfortunately, the price tag struck me directly in the gut like the business end of Captain Hook’s claw. I could hardly believe my eyes, it read – $240.00!

 

 Inga and I decided to check different prices around the globe just to see if it really did cost that much. We discovered that the same toy in Moscow costs $160.00. Most shockingly of all, we found that it costs a mere $50.00 in the States! Friends, there is a large gap between $240 and $50. If you are surprised that the price of a toy in Russia, with a much lower income per capita than the States, is MUCH higher than the same product in the States, think again. We have discovered that prices here are generally the same in the States and usually even higher. Before moving to Russia years ago, I used to think that everything was cheap in foreign countries compared to America. While that may have been the case in the past it is not accurate today, at least not in Russia. The prices of food and real estate in particular are spiraling at a tremendous rate. At these times, we love to remind ourselves that God meets our needs according to the riches of His glory not according to the world’s economic system.

 

So, for the mean time, Michael and I will have to hang our tri-corner hats on a peg and wait for better weather and balmier seas to purchase our Lego man-o’-war.

 

 

June 25, 2008

RAT-a-too-ee

Filed under: Uncategorized — davidmaxey @ 5:58 am

Our church property is surrounded on two sides by large, private vegetable gardens. Many people, especially elderly people, keep gardens in Russia, but it is a little unusual that we are wedged in between two gardens due to the fact that our property is positioned just a smidgen south of the very center of town. As in most good sized cities, it is fairly rare to find a vegetable garden near the center of town since most available spaces that would work for a garden have already been occupied by office buildings and apartment complexes. In fact, right in front of our property (and in front of the gardens) stands a large, 9-story apartment block. I like to think that God supernaturally reserved our plot of land just for us including the two gardens. Most people are amazed to learn that our prime property was not developed earlier. What they don’t know is that in the spirit realm there is a huge “Reserved for Fountain of Life Church” sign hanging over our land.

 

It truly is nice to have gardens on either side of us, sometimes our neighbors bless us with fresh produce, but there are drawbacks too. For one thing, these vegetable gardens provide paradisiacal conditions for vermin, including large, Norwegian rats. If these rats were content to not only eat of the fruit of the gardens, but also live there, all would be well. Unfortunately, our pesky foes choose to eat out of the gardens, and then maliciously run over to the church to sleep, congregate, and reproduce in our basement.

 

Just yesterday, one of my assistants, Vassya, told me that he happened to hear a gnawing sound come through one of the open windows in the church. He went outside to investigate and was amazed to see a gargantuan rat perched on the window sill gnawing at the screen and preparing to boldly enter into our office. In fact, it had already gnawed a sizeable hole in the screen when Vassya startled it and scared it away. What surprises me about this is that the rat behaved so boldly in broad daylight. Usually, they work in the dark, hidden from view, but not this time.

 

I told the staff that we must get that rat(s) at all costs. The exterminators are on their way. Everybody has something blunt and heavy sitting on their desks within easy reach, and as for me, well, my pneumatic air pistol is ready and loaded should a rat suddenly appear on my sill.

 

  

June 18, 2008

Back from Singapore

Filed under: Uncategorized — davidmaxey @ 4:41 am

Yesterday, we celebrated a joyous occasion as our beloved helper and sister in the Lord, Vera Ivanova, returned home to Khabarovsk after graduating from Rhema Bible Training Center Singapore. Prior to studying at Rhema Singapore, Vera faithfully attended and served in our church for 4 + years. She led the youth ministry, led a small group, taught in our “School of Spiritual Growth”, translated several of my literary works into Russian, served as an usher, etc. She went to Singapore to gain even more knowledge and experience in the ministry, and now she is extremely well-equipped to continue on here and wherever the Lord may lead her.

 

Another key blessing that Vera received while in Singapore was that she attended the marvelous “New Creation Church” pastored by Joseph Prince. Pastor Prince is an amazing man of God who preaches a strong message about grace which has revolutionized our lives and our church. Inga and I had the privilege of meeting him a year ago when we visited Singapore. We also have access to his teaching on CD’s which have provided us with rich spiritual sustenance. Last summer, one of Pastor Prince’s assistants, Pastor Joshua Lee, visited Khabarovsk and ministered in our church. At that time, God ministered to me through him in a way that I had previously experienced only twice: 1) when I was born again, and 2) when I was filled with the Spirit. In other words, God through Pastor Joshua changed my life forever. You can see why we are so happy that Vera attended Pastor Prince’s church. And not only did she attend New Creation Church, she ministered in it as an usher and a small group leader. Wow!

 

 Inga and I are so thrilled that we have a well-equipped assistant who is Rhema-taught and has been smothered in the teaching of New Creation Church. We really believe that God has brought Vera back to us here in Khabarovsk to help us spread the gospel of the grace of Jesus Christ.

 

 

Pastor Joshua Lee

 

 

June 13, 2008

The Day the Wall Came Down

Filed under: Uncategorized — davidmaxey @ 8:47 am

We had to have more room. Even with three services our meeting hall was packed and a tad bit claustrophobic. On Sundays, we somehow managed to pack 30 people per service into the meeting hall which was about 24 square feet big (small). As summer approached and the temperature began to rise, the stuffiness in the hall became thicker than sponge cake. I finally decided that something simply had to be done, so, we removed the wall between the meeting hall and the adjacent room which was my office. I lost my office and the children’s ministry lost their only indoor facility for Sunday School. We gained an almost 50% increase in floor space and seating capability. But in the end everything turned out for good, and we recouped our losses: I moved my office to another room, and the children’s ministry moved outside for the summer into a large army tent.

 

Removing the wall of separation between the meeting hall and my old office was easier said than done. The wall itself was constructed of lathe and plaster sandwiched between sheetrock on one side and paneling on the other. One thing that I learned was sheetrock and plaster spells a plethora of fine-gritted dust. Since the wall had to literally be knocked down, everything in the nearby vicinity was coated with a film of dust. It took us an entire day from dawn to dusk to clean up everything. Days later, the dust continued to settle and coat everything with a fresh layer. Only just now has it finally stopped appearing, thank God!

 

Today, my assistant – Vassya and another brother from the church worked on installing a suspended ceiling in the new hall and on joining the two halves together. The difference between the two halves is very distinct. It brings to mind how God was able through Christ to join together in Him two separate races of people, the Jews and the Gentiles. However, unlike our project, God’s work in Christ is perfect and seamless. Just as joining our two rooms together produced a great blessing for the church, so God’s joining of Jew and Gentile in Christ to form the Church produced the greatest of blessings for the whole world. Praise God, that we are one in Him!

 

 

Before –

 

 

 

 

After, almost done…  

June 11, 2008

Kung-Fu Shoot-Eating Bear

Filed under: Uncategorized — davidmaxey @ 6:14 am

 

 

Monday is the only day of the week that I have off. Naturally, I enjoy spending it with Inga and the kids. We usually try to do something special, even if it’s just taking a walk in the park. So, last Monday we decided go to the theatre and watch “Kung-Fu Panda”, DreamWorks new animated film for children. Quite truthfully, I think that I anticipated the movie even more than the kids. I really dig computer animated movies and cool martial arts special effects are especially enticing to my inner “child”. Plus, I expected the movie to arm me with a whole new arsenal of play themes I could utilize during playtime with the kids. After all, no dad is as cool as a Ninja Dad!

 

 

 Let me tell you in advance: Kung-Fu Panda didn’t disappoint. Granted, we did watch it in Russian, so we may have missed a lot of the finer points of vocal humor the American voice actors undoubtedly made, but on the whole, I found even the Russian audio version to be funny. The action was spectacular, yet not gruesome or overly savage. Apparently, the only character that dies in the movie is an ancient turtle, but his death is non-violent and seems more related to the biblical account of Enoch’s translation rather than a heart-wrenching passing-away. I am not trying to draw any biblical parallels with the movie; I’m just using Enoch as a source of illustration. The film is obviously very East Asian (Chinese) in character and any spiritual elements are related to the indigenous religions of that region. Nevertheless, I didn’t feel that I was being assaulted with Buddhist beliefs, or that Christianity was being mocked in any way. In fact, religion seemed to take a back seat to “anything is possible if you believe (in yourself)” and cool kung-fu kung-foo’ery. Since everybody likes a story about a victorious underdog, I am not surprised that this movie is proving to be a huge success.

 

 

 What did I especially like about the movie?

1. The snow leopard bad guy was over the top.

2. The ancient turtle guy’s neck fat quivered so realistically when he spoke that you actually believed he really was 1,000 years old.

3. The training equipment in the Furious Five’s dojo was the real deal.

4. For some reason, I thought the rhino prison guards were bad dudes.

5. Praying mantis, praying mantis, praying mantis.

 

 

 What didn’t I like about the movie?

1. Too little praying mantis action.

2. Too little Furious Five dialogue.

3. Too little popcorn, too much movie. But that’s not the movie’s fault.

 

 

 What didn’t I understand about the movie?

This may be the fault of the Russian translation, but I was left in the dark as to why Panda Po’s daddy was a goose? I assume he was adopted? If Po’s pa really was intended to be a goose in the movie, then this would be the second worst mistake in animated film history following bulls replete with udders in Nickelodean’s “Barnyard”.

 

 

 Short take: Cool movie! Great action! It’s reasonable funny and leaves you with a good feeling at the end.

 

June 10, 2008

Milord

Filed under: Uncategorized — davidmaxey @ 6:27 am

 

I love dogs! No, I am not fanatical about them, but I do think they are some of God’s most wonderful creatures. Fortunately, I was blessed to have grown up with a number of dogs, starting with a beloved Boxer named “Penny” after her beautiful copper fur. The last dog I personally owned was an English bulldog, Winston, which Inga bought me for Christmas a year before Diana was born. Sadly, we had to give him away when Diana showed up on the scene because he was low-slung, extremely powerful, and clumsy, an unfortunate combination which disqualified him from sharing space with our fragile firstborn.

 

Due to my affection for canines, it is not surprising that soon after purchasing property for the church, I invested in a quality guard dog to keep the church secure. This is actually not unusual here, as most private homes in Khabarovsk come replete with a mean cur chained to the fence surrounding their front yard. These dogs are not for looks and are not status symbols. They are hard workers and they do their job efficiently. In fact, most, if not all, churches in town keep such dogs. I know this is a foreign concept to most people in the States, but its better to keep a pooch than to have your church building go up in flames from arson, or have all its valuables stolen by desperate drug addicts. In both cases, a dog can be invaluable in warning any human guards of hostile intrusion.

 

When I decided to get a guard dog for the church, there was no trouble in determining what breed of dog would serve us best. There was not question about it: we needed a Russian Caucasian Shepherd! If you have never heard of this breed, don’t sweat it, it is practically unknown outside of Russia. It is an ancient breed that comes from the Caucasus mountain range in southwest Russia. Since Caucasian shepherds were bred for sheepherding and protecting their master’s flocks, they make excellent watch dogs. The Caucasian shepherd can grow to immense proportions and are famous for being fierce – which makes them unsuitable for families. One unique feature of the breed is ears that are rounded and naturally lay in tight to the skull without any artificial cropping. Another important feature of this breed is that they have very thick fur and can withstand extremely severe weather.

 

Fortunately for us, a lady that attends our church managed to get us a top-quality Caucasian shepherd for free. Thanks to her, we ended up with an adorable, roly-poly male shepherd whose name is “Milord”. Almost a year later, this little ball of fur has turned into a massive, regal beast that is a force to contend with! The sight of him alone is enough to frighten away ill-doers. Our trust remains in the Lord, not in a dog, but we are thankful that he is present, and are confident that he is a gift from the Lord.

 

Here is Milord at 6 weeks:

 

 

Here is Milord at 1 year:

 

 

 

 

June 8, 2008

From Three to Two

Filed under: Uncategorized — davidmaxey @ 11:06 pm

Yesterday, we were able to reduce the number of our Sunday services from three down to two, thanks to expanding our meeting hall. The expansion was achieved by removing a wall that separated my old office from the meeting hall. I lost my office, but we gained at least 20 more seats in the hall, so it was worth it. Both services were full, actually, the first service was so packed we ran out of space to put people. My dad always said that having too many people and not enough space in church is a “good problem to have”. 

 

For the two Sunday services yesterday, I served up the 3rd installment of a sermon series on the conscience. The name of the sermon I preached was: “The Weak Conscience”. I talked about what a weak conscience is, why it is weak, and what can be done to make it strong. 

 

I admit that the conscience doesn’t sound very exciting, but can be if you have revelation about it. The Holy Spirit began to teach me about the conscience through the Word of God and other sources several weeks ago. I began an in depth study on the subject and what I found out astonished me. In fact, it blessed me so much I decided to pass on the good news to the church. People have been very blessed so far. We plan to create a small booklet based on this teaching. 

 

After church towards the evening, a huge storm blew into town complete with thunder, hail, lightening and buckets of rain. We all sat on the wide window sill in the kid’s bedroom and watched the rain come down in thick curtains. The wind was so strong it blew insulation panels off a neighboring apartment complex that is under construction, and tossed them all over the area. It felt good to be warm and dry while the storm raged, much like us being secure under the wings of the Almighty God our Father even when the world is in tempest around us. 

June 6, 2008

Kettle-bells – David’s Workout Plan

Filed under: Uncategorized — davidmaxey @ 2:27 am

Wow! I can hardly believe it myself – I am actually writing a consecutive blog entry.

 

Today, I promised that I would write you about my workout program. Seriously, this could be a life-saver for someone. If you are like me, then you have a desire to work out, which means you want to be strong and fit, but you have little time for exercise. I used to work out in the gym, but I discovered that too much time is spent on getting to the gym, undressing, dressing in gym clothes, working-out, showering, undressing, and then dressing in office clothes. I determined to find a way to work out in my office and thereby eliminate all the rigmarole associated with the gym. You are probably thinking that I am going to talk about treadmills, but don’t worry, I am not. I want to introduce you to: Kettle-bells!

 

Here is a picture of one of my kettle-bells –

 

 

 

If you have no idea what a kettle-bell is, don’t sweat it. Most people in the West don’t. Kettle-bells are actually a Russian invention. I heard that many years ago, the Russians decided that their cannoneers needed to be more fit so they could load and fire their cannon at a greater rate of speed. Somebody came up with the idea of welding a handle on to a cannon ball and then developed a large range of exercises to go with this new piece of exercise equipment. Consequently, kettle-bells were born and have become a stand-by in Russia, and from there have spread over the whole world. In fact, in Russia there is an entire sports association that revolves around kettle-bells and kettle-bell competition.

 

So what’s the big deal? Well, kettle-bells are unique in that they don’t require extraneous pieces of equipment to train with, e.g. benches, racks, cables, etc. All that is required is kettle-bells. Kettle-bells take up a very small amount of space (a pair might occupy a square foot) and you don’t need space to use them. Also, kettle-bells are very safe. In fact, they may be the safest training equipment around. I don’t know all the science, but I know that for some reason they don’t stress your joints like regular barbells and dumbbells do. For one thing, most kettle-bell exercises follow the body’s natural range of motion. Lastly, kettle-bell training is ideal because it develops both endurance and strength. What more could one ask for?

 

If you are interested in kettle-bells, then I recommend that you visit an excellent site that has a wonderful compilation of training advice and illustrated exercises for kettle-bells. The site is: www.mikemahler.com . You can order kettle-bells from him.

 

So, how do I work out? Well, I have just started up again after a long break, so I am starting out light and easy. I do 5 exercises of 2 sets each. Of course, I’ll eventually add to that. I work out right in my office, and it takes only a few minutes to change and get started. In fact, the entire workout takes no longer than 30 minutes from undressing to dressing back up and everything in between. This is an ideal program for me. I have 3 pairs of kettle-bells rated at 16 kg., 24 kg., and 32 kg. However, for beginners a pair of 8 kg. bells will do just fine. You can eventually add 16 kg. bells if you need too. Most people will never need to go higher.

 

If the bells seem expensive to you, just consider how much you will save in the long run. A pair of kettle-bells can replace an entire gym! Plus, they last almost forever. After your initial investment, you’ll save tons of money on gym fees, not to mention the time you’ll save. Of course, working out with kettle-bells is hard work, just like any good exercise is, but I have found them to be very practical, enjoyable, and economical.  

 

 

 

 

June 5, 2008

June 5th 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — davidmaxey @ 4:18 am

I have not been very successful as of yet at keeping my blog updated. It probably stems from me never keeping a diary in my earlier years. My mother kept a beautiful diary in her incredibly neat, block-style hand writing, but for some reason that grace never rubbed off on me. So, I am going to try to break free from a diary-free life by doing something new: I am going to try writing frequent, short, little blurps about our daily life on the blog. I think that if I set a goal of a couple sentences every couple of days I’ll be more motivated to write, than if I set a goal to write an essay.

 

I know that most of you want pictures, and I’m sure that I’ll come to that in time. But for now let’s take this a step at a time.

 

We’ve had a streak of warm weather recently, which always makes me think about our summer construction projects. When you have only 4 really good months weather-wise out of the year for construction, good weather tends to make your thoughts run in that direction. Today, my assistant Vassya and I discussed where would be the best place to dig a well for water. We came to the conclusion that digging the well inside the foundation of our future addition would be best if possible. That way, the pump and water pipes won’t freeze in the winter. Since the well will essentially be an iron pipe with a fairly small diameter that will descend 100 plus feet into the ground, we shouldn’t have any problems with water from the well damaging the foundation.

 

Another break-through for me today: I started out working out again! Of course, I went easy on myself, but I can already feel my muscles groaning. Most of my time is spent in the church office studying, writing, counseling, etc. and I don’t get much exercise. So for me, working out 30 minutes a day is a must. Tomorrow, I plan to write about how I work-out. I have a great plan and some good ideas for those who have little time and space for working out.

 

  

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