Tag: Missions

A Day of Rest

As we are instructed in Scripture to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy (Ex. 20:8). We are also taught in Hebrews 4 that Jesus is our Sabbath.  Knowing that the law was fulfilled in Jesus and pointing to the coming of the Christ, we find our rest from works in Him. By faith we enter into the rest which was promised to come. So the Sabbath day, as was the law, the temple, the sacrifices, the feasts, and many things B.C. all foreshadowed the coming Messiah. Apart from Christ, we have no Sabbath!

“Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”  Colossians 2:16-17

Many of us know too well that adding to God’s Word is one form of legalism and would tend to shy away from anyone who demands that we are sinning on the Sabbath if we work in any way, including spitting in the ground to “make mud”.

With the busyness of life, especially in the day we live, church, friends, family, errands, work, etc, etc, all compete for our time.  It can be more stressful to rest at times, due to the guilt or preoccupation of all you have to get done, than to do something and decrease the pressure.

As someone who aspires to be a minister by vocation, and for any Christian man for that matter, I mustn’t forget to keep God first in my life, and second, my wife and family.  These must come before ministry in priority.  Of course, realistically, as for any man, the majority of his time must be spent at work, this being an act of service and worship to God and a means of loving his family in that he is providing for them.

While the Sabbath is not meant to be kept in a way as to win God’s favor or earn His love and approval, we do well to listen to Jesus words,

 “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”  Mark 2:27

How so was the Sabbath made for man?  Other than pointing us to Christ, it can serve very down to earth practical benefits.  It is healthy for us body, mind, and spirit- to rest.  We believe, more so, as a family unit.  As the Puritans set aside the Lord’s day as a day of worship, so too should we.  Of course it goes without saying, everyday should be a day of worship but it is wise and edifying to set aside one particular day in the week to be focused especially so.

Back in the states I have a couple very good friends who, upon visiting them I learned, like to have one day a week where they eat nothing but beans and rice.  Many people around the world have only this to eat every day or less.  They decided it would be a good solemn reminder of how most people on earth really live.  It puts many things into rightful perspective as well.  How blessed we are in the abundance we have, it is a good way to be more frugile, it increases thankfulness to God, and it prepares people for a missionary mindset.  I heard a story of one lady who slept on the floor every night in order to prepare herself for some hardcore sacrificial missionary work.

How can we show the world that Christ is what we treasure above all things?  Even with food?  First, we must make it a reality, mean it, and do it.

My wife Lera and I decided to take all these ideas and incorporate them into our busy lives.  It wasn’t ideal to try and have a day of rest on Saturday (we wouldn’t want to be mistaken for Ellen G. White fans), because something is always happening then.  Besides, Paul said,

“One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.”  Romans 14:5-6

Thank you Father for our abundance!

Sundays don’t work well either, because with church and friends, something often comes up unexpected.  Mondays are stereotypically the slowest, less eventful day of the week, and we fall into the stereotype.  Togeteher we delegated every Monday to be a day of Rest, Worship, and Family.  It is turning out great.  As well, one Monday a month will be set apart for fasting.

This Monday was our first and it was blessed!  However, when I rose I went straight to the kitchen and had completely spaced it.  Still half asleep, I threw some eggs on the fire.  Whoops!  Don’t worry, we made up for it the next morning by eating our left over porridge.

I don’t recommend a lifestyle of making up for what you missed, I usually try to ask for forgiveness sincerely, move on, and get it right the next day picking up where I left off.  However, in this case it was simple enough.  Plus, we had plenty left.

We spent the day doing devotions together, reading from our devotional couples book, and doing the family reading together from the Robert Murray McCheyne Bible Reading Plan, as is our custom.  Later we relaxed together, talked and enjoyed a movie. For lunch, dinner, and breakfast the next day we had cornmeal porridge and beans.  With a little butter and a touch of tabasco, this is quite delicious and nutricious.  Funny how one of the cheapest things you can buy is also very tasty and good for you.  Corn cereal is high in protein, vitamins, and essential amino acids.

What I thought would be a day of sacrifice, turned out to be a day I look forward to.  It is a day of meditating on God’s goodness together, eating thriftully and enjoyably, relaxation and fun with the family.  It’s also an escape from all the crazy busy demands. One has to learn the skill of resting. It just makes everyone feel a lot better about everything.

This 1.32 lb bag of corn cereal cost just 2.34 "hryvnas", or $.29. It

Game Plan for Project Odessa Life

Statement of Purpose

To See His Face

In short, the broad scope of my purpose is that God would be worshiped as He is for who He is.  In order for this to happen I must preach the Gospel in its entirety with both my words and my deeds.  This includes studying, holding, teaching, and defending sound doctrine in order that a correct view of Christ may be held and a correct view of saving truth and grace would be embraced in people’s lives.  Apart from this they may be unknowingly damned.  It also includes practical things like killing sin, acts of charity and service, bridling my tongue, and seeking God on my own time.

Living Hope Church in Odessa

Excellent Book

My wife is enthusiastic in supporting me in this.  We want to have children and even adopt one or two someday.  She desires to serve the Lord in short term mission trips and compassions outreach.  She is very good with women and children and wants to grow in ministering in these areas as well.As far as the internship, I’m not sure what the leadership will have me do.  I want to be available to serve in whatever capacity they need, possibly doing whatever I can to lighten the load of the Pastors.  My will is submitted to God’s in this and all matters mentioned.  For the time committed will gladly serve as the leadership at I.M. judges fit.

My Beautiful Wife at an Orphanage in Prednestrovie

Lera in India

So, the overall goal is to magnify and showcase Christ.  The practical means by which we hope to do this are, learning Russian (and her continuing her English studies at the University),Bible studies, relationship building, outreach, service, discipleship, missions, love, leading exemplary lives, having our house in order, managing our finances well and godly, church planting, I’m also working on a long term project in a novel I’m writing, bringing and building a library of reliable Christian books in Odessa, and internet projects such as subtitles for Christian videos, my blog called “Project Odessa Life”, and a video Bible Commentary through the four Gospels.  Lera also sings on the worship team and helps in the children’s ministry.  

Example of an Aquaponics Garden

When I’m old and gray, should the Lord tarry and the Mayan calendar not determine my fate, I hope to write a book on the book of Revelation and make some children’s books.

My hobbies include dabbling with photos and photoshop, exercise for fun and health, and aquaponics gardening.  I would like a couple dogs someday.  Beagles.


Life Story (In a Nutshell)


I had to write a short autobiography for the application of the Missionary Training Center I’m attending this fall so I thought I’d post it if anyone is curious.

Mt. St. Helens, May 18, 1980

Father, Gary, third from the left and my mother, Peggy, in front of him.

Born in the bicentennial, I was just 9 years old, and the oldest of four children, when my parents divorced.  In retrospect, as far as I can decipher, I was devastated.  I have a clear picture of asking my dad on more than one occasion if he and my mother would ever be together again.  As the oldest child, I was the only one of us to go back and forth between my mom and dad growing up.  My mother moved to a farm in Nebraska with our grandparents when I was just 10 or 11 years old.  Eventually we moved to Lincoln, NE and lived in the city.  As an adolescent from a broken home with a mother who was manic depressive, I ran the streets a lot, got in fights, stole and vandalized for fun, and was in trouble with the police fairly often, if they caught me.  As soon as my mother couldn’t handle me anymore I’d take a bus back to Portland, Oregon to live with my father. 


My father was more straight laced, so to speak, then my mother, and a musician in the worship team at our charismatic church. I idolized him in a sense.  When I lived with him I did better in school and better in church. 


My life felt like it had more order.  The only problem was he had married a 15 year old girl when he was 32; my babysitter.  Her rules for the home didn’t jive too well with my idealistic concepts of what a “normal” Christian home should be.  Their rules were very biased in favor of her children and as soon as I couldn’t take the anal strictness anymore I’d dash off back to live with my mother.  It wouldn’t be long before once again my criminal life escalated to worse heights than it ever had before.  And so was the cycle of my young life.

Young Nelson Family


Cookie Monster

I believe I was 23 when I began doing some serious investigating into my life.  I was living a life of partying, violence and crime.  I was so unhappy that I had taken all my potential to do something with my life and done nothing with it.  I hadn’t even graduated high school when all my life I was placed in honors classes.  How could I have wasted so much opportunity?  After some time of being in and out of jail, just drinking the weekends away, and giving drug dealing a shot, I began to come to my senses.  I started to ask very hard what I really wanted to do with my life.  I decided I would become a lawyer, and I set out to reach my goals.  Then I ventured up to Alaska to earn money as a fisherman for college.  One small turn of events would change my life forever.  What was it?  Puffing a little marijuana.

My B.C. Days

Potassium Intake Needed for Muscle Cramp Prevention

After fishing in the Bering Sea for about 3 or 4 months, I came home on a three week break, bought a car and put it in storage.  Some old friends and I went out to the lake to do a little sport fishing, drink some beer, and roll up some blunts.  Well, I told them I couldn’t smoke because I had a drug test coming up for work.  They kind of egged me on to take just one small hit.  No need to mention, I ended up failing the drug test even though I took preventative measures.  They still wanted me to work for them and said I had three more weeks to relax then come back and try again.

Penny and Luis

So, I had a pocket full of money and three weeks to kill.  I headed to California and partied with an old roommate for a few days.  Then, on my way back north I decided to stop and visit a family I hadn’t seen for 6 or 7 years.  Back when I was 18 years old they had taken me in at one time and tried to help me finish high school.  They treated me like family and being a confused kid I left to live with my mom, who is not a believer.  This, in hindsight, turned out to be a huge mistake.

At this time in my life I had lived a rough life for some time, although I knew the truth of Christ I was incredibly numb to it, miserable inside, full of pride and sin, and God seemed liked a million galaxies away.  I thought of God as a truth but in a very distant, mysterious, mystical, esoteric, imaginative sort of way.  I remember one time walking outside half drunk on the way to a party and looking up at the sky.  As I gazed at the immensity of the sky and wondered at the stars all floating in a way which seemed to defy time, I had a powerful awareness of God.  I prayed.  I told God I remembered a time when I used to live for Him and believe in Him and I was so far gone that I didn’t know if I could ever get back on track.  I asked Him, as you would a close friend, to please help me if He could.

Bible Study in the Park

About a year later I rang the doorbell of this wonderful Christian family.  I was a little hesitant to visit them, but thought I had heard all the Jesus stuff before and planned to just kind of roll through it.  Well, was I mistaken!  They invited me in very warmly and showered me with lots of Christian warmth and hospitality which I wasn’t used to at all. They had such love and joy in their home.  I saw a better way of living, I saw life in living, and meaning in just a few short hours.  Their son, my old friend, was now married and invited me to a Bible study he was teaching at the park.  All the Christians I saw there had something I didn’t, something I needed, something I used to have.  But, it seemed like a world away, like I was looking at them through a thick bullet proof glass wall and I wasn’t allowed on the other side.  I wept silently.

That night I returned to my hotel room and couldn’t sleep. The next night came.  I couldn’t sleep.  Thoughts ran through my head about if I ever had a family, and a son, how I’d want it to be like their home.  These people had a reason for living and ways to teach their children.  What would I teach my son were I ever to have one?  What meaning, depth, or warmth was there in my life?  None, just survival and being tough.  I didn’t want it anymore.  In that hotel I got on my knees and prayed the best, sincerest prayer of repentance I could.

This was almost nine years ago.

Southern Oregon

After becoming a believer I dropped everything and moved to Southern Oregon.  I knew no one but this beautiful family.  I began to go to 5 or 6 Bible Studies a week, read my Bible in my room like a mad scientist, and scour the internet for reasons to believe in Jesus for about 8 months.  I found plenty, and my faith was strengthened tremendously.  Being raised in a charismatic, faith movement type church, I had many questions regarding doctrine and practice.  I was determined to get to the bottom of things and began attending a Calvary Chapel church, which believed in the spiritual gifts, but only practiced them in “order” in certain settings.

Applegate Christian Fellowship

This was a breath of fresh air for me and less than one year after returning to Christ I was attending their Bible College in Southern California.  Between school and fishing, it took me 3 ½ years to complete a two year Bible School and receive an associates degree in theology.  A good majority of my time was focused on forming prayer groups and doing street evangelism outreach.  While there, several friends and myself, in part, from the influence of men like John Piper and John MacArthur, slowly but surely began to take on more of a reformed perspective of the Scriptures.  Mostly it was due to the fact that we just read our Bibles a lot.

Bible College

On campus with CC Pastor Ken Graves

After completing Bible college I did a good deal of church hopping trying to find which city God wanted me to serve in and which church body I belonged to.  I was looking for something which held to sound doctrine yet was real and engaged with the modern culture.  I ended up moving to Seattle and quickly became a member of Mars Hill church.  Unfortunately, I only lived there for 6 months as, due to the economy, I couldn’t find work.  I wound up living in a friends basement in Minneapolis attending John Piper’s church and another Sovereign Grace church on the south end of town.


Not long after this I met my bride to be.  Through her God introduced me to the city of Odessa and the country of Ukraine.  I never would have guessed or imagined I’d come to such a place but being here I have found my place and God has given me a heart to reach Odessan communities with the glorious life changing truth of the Gospel.


Lera & I in front of the Opera House immediately after being legally married in Odessa