Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Poland-Bulgaria-Hungary travel blog

Over the next week and a half, I'm joining two men from a church in Wrocław, Poland, to visit people and churches in Bulgaria and Hungary. At the end of that time I'll be staying in Hungary to do ministry there for a year. For more details on this trip, take a look at my blog "In the East, Give Glory".


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Still no gay pastors in PCUSA

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) decided in a fairly close vote (final vote tallies are not yet available) not to allow practicing homosexuals to serve as clergy in the denomination.

Last year the PCUSA's General Assembly had voted to delete a constitutional requirement that ministers, elders, and deacons must practice "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness." Now with this recent vote, they delayed taking a further step into sexual chaos.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"The Coming Evangelical Collapse"?

In this article, the "Internet Monk" gives a chilling prediction (but also heartening, in an odd way) of the collapse of what we have come to know as evangelicalism in America. Before you reject his conclusion, read his reasons carefully.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Faith strengthens sports heroes

Mark Kriegel, a national columnist for FOX Sports, is no fan of athletes touting their Christian (or other) faith in the context of their sports achievements. But in this article, he's forced to show grudging respect to sports heroes like Kurt Warner whose faith has given them something to live for—and to play for.


Monday, January 12, 2009

The Hungarian Reformed Evangelical Mission

In October 2007, a young Hungarian named Attila Hajdú came to the United States and visited the CREC Presbytery meetings in Moscow, Idaho, and Cary, North Carolina. He was appealing for a man to go and lead a mission church in his hometown of Diósd, just outside the Hungarian capital city, Budapest.

Over the course of the next year, Attila reached the conviction that he himself was called to lead this mission work in Hungary. He came under the oversight of the Evangelical Reformed Church (CREC) in Wrocław, Poland, which organized a program of pastoral training for him and commissioned him to preach and administer the Sacraments. In November 2008, under Attila's leadership, the Hungarian Reformed Evangelical Mission began holding worship services in Diósd.

Please pray for Attila, his wife Kati, and their two small children as they form the core of this infant church. Pray that the Lord would bring other people to join them, in a town where less than 2% of the people attend church services regularly. Pray for wisdom for the Polish elders who are overseeing the mission, and for Pastor Jack Phelps of Alaska (currently the presiding minister of the CREC Council) who has visited the church in Hungary and is also lending his support. Pray for the theological conference to be held in Budapest later this year, with speakers including James Jordan and Jack Phelps. And please pray for me. I spent a week with Attila in Hungary over New Year's, and I'm now preparing to move to the Budapest area to serve the church through preaching, teaching, and evangelism.

You can find more information about the Hungarian mission work at their website, (in Hungarian and English). For pictures and stories from the Polish elders' visit to this church and another mission in Bulgaria, see Bulgaria2008.


Jan. 20: Public presentation about Hungary trip

I returned to Moscow (Idaho) last Monday after spending a week in Hungary. I was visiting the CREC mission work near Budapest and considering whether I should go to live and help plant a church there over the next few years. After this visit, much prayer, and talking with a number of people, I've decided that I will be moving to Hungary later this year.

Next Tuesday (January 20) at 7 PM, I'll be giving a presentation at the Nuart Theater about my Hungary trip. I'll show pictures from the trip, talk about the church that is being started there, and explain what I hope my role in all this is going to be. If you're interested, please put the date on your calendar and come with any questions you might have – I'll be looking forward to seeing you there!


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Glory to God, peace to mankind!

…There were some sheepherders living in that same area,
who were staying awake to guard their flocks of sheep overnight.

And then—look!—a Messenger from the Lord
stood over them,
and the Glory of the Lord
blazed all around them
and they were terrified.

But the Messenger told them, “Don’t be afraid!

“I’m here to tell you the good news—
great joy for this whole nation!
He is born for you today—
the Savior, who is Messiah the Lord!—
in David’s town!

“Now this will be your sign:
you will find a baby,
wrapped up tightly,
lying in a feed trough.”

Then all of a sudden there was with that Messenger
a whole legion of the Army of Heaven!
They were praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the Heights!
And on the earth,
peace to mankind,
and goodwill!”



Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Remembering Patriarch Alexy II of Russia (1929-2008)

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II died last Friday near his patriarchal see in Moscow. He had served for eighteen and a half years as "Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia"—the last such Patriarch of the Soviet period, and the first of the newly independent Russia.

Alexy was born as Aleksei Ridiger in 1929 in a then-independent Estonia, the son of a German-Estonian father and a Russian mother. Earlier in his church career, he was suspected of collaborating with the Soviet government in the repression of Russian believers. However, in recent decades he had overseen a flourishing of the Russian Orthodox Church while also contributing to Russia's official coldness toward non-Orthodox Christians: Catholics, Baptists, and others. One of his greatest legacies is the 2007 reunion between the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, which had been separated for 80 years.

A BBC retrospective captures some of the contradictions of Alexy's life:

Patriarch Alexiy II, who died on Friday, had an extraordinary career, in which he switched from suppressing the Russian Orthodox Church to being its champion.

A favourite of the KGB, he was promoted rapidly through the Church hierarchy, doing the Kremlin's bidding at a time when dissident priests were thrown into jail.

As the Church's effective foreign minister, he helped cover up the repression of Russian Christians, defending the Soviet system to the outside world.

He rose quickly through the ranks, being elected head of the Russian Orthodox Church at a crucial time, in 1990, with the Soviet Union on the path to collapse.

Surprisingly, perhaps, he seized the moment, and went on to oversee the revival and flowering of the Church, exuding moral authority and inspiring devotion among his followers.


Monday, December 8, 2008

The sacrifice holiday

Today the world's Muslims are celebrating their biggest holiday of the year: "Eid al-Adha," which means "Festival of the Sacrifice."

On this day they commemorate the story of Abraham and his son which the Bible also records in Genesis 22. God tested Abraham by telling him to offer his son as a sacrifice, and Abraham obediently went to the place of sacrifice and prepared to make the offering. At that moment, God intervened and spared Abraham's son, giving him a ram to offer instead. (In the Bible, the son whose life was spared is identified as Isaac. The Qur'an does not say which son it was, but Islamic tradition names him as "Isma`il" or Ishmael.) To this day, devout Muslims slaughter a sheep or goat on Eid as a reminder of Abraham's obedience and God's mercy. They then share the meat with family, friends, and the poor, and celebrate the day as a joyful festival.

If this story belongs just as much to Christians as to Muslims, why don't we celebrate Eid al-Adha too? The answer is that, in a sense, we do. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all testify that Abraham obeyed God by bringing his son to sacrifice, but God spared the son's life and substituted a ram. Now, this true story was a symbol of something greater than itself; the Christian celebration of Good Friday and Easter commemorates the reality to which this symbol points. Messiah Jesus, the Son of God, was brought like Abraham's son to the hill of sacrifice. However, He was not spared there but killed, the "Lamb of God" offered for the sins of the whole world. And so He substituted for the life of everyone who becomes a "son of Abraham" by throwing themselves on God's mercy through Him. Abraham symbolically received his son back from the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19), but God brought His Son back from death in actual fact. The greatest festival of all is the Resurrection of the Son of God, that glorious watershed of human history which we celebrate on Easter Sunday.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Remembering that we forget

"There is such a thing as the momentary power to remember that we forget.

"And the most ignorant of humanity know by the very look of the earth that they have forgotten heaven."

—G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man