Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Friday, April 19, 2013
I have been studying ancient Greek for school for the past 2 semesters, and really enjoying it. I expected it to be difficult, but was pleasantly surprised by a few things that took the edge off. One was that there are many words that we use in English that have Greek roots - eg "foto" = light, so many times you can deduce meanings. Another reason Greek hasn't been as bad as I expected, is that there are many similarities between Greek and Hungarian grammar as regards verb conjugation.
Yesterday I was doing a word study on μαθητευω (to disciple, as a first person verb), and ran across this commentary of Matthew 28:19-20, which I found insightful:
Interestingly, the usual misionary terms are not employed here: ‘preach’, ‘convert’, ‘win’, and the like. A slower, lower-profile verb is used, an almost scholastic, schoolish word, ‘disciple’. To disciple means ‘to make students of’, ‘bring to school’, ‘educate’... or in modern-Enlish terms, ‘to mentor’, ‘to apprentice’. The word pictures students sitting around a teacher more than it does pentitents kneeling at an altar – an educational process more than an evangelistic crisis, a school more than revival. The word’s prosaic character relaxes and says in effect, ‘Work with people over a period of time in the simple educational process of teaching Jesus’. Only the Cosmocrator can do the big things like convert, win, bring repentance, or bring a person to decision – all authority is his, and his alone...(Brunner, F.D., Matthew: A Commentary: 2, revised edn. [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004], 815)
The calling is that of teaching people the way that Jesus taught his disciples: spending time with them and teaching them what it means to walk in the way of Jesus.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
What often happens in the church is that we are good at preaching the Gospel of grace to the unconverted, but as soon as someone receives Jesus we give them a form of the Law - "Do this, don't do that." This is precisely what Paul was referring to when he said: "Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:3)
Rather than giving people the law as a means to grow, the model that Paul exemplifies to us is pointing people to the Gospel in order to change their hearts. The law aims to suppress behaviors, but that doesn't bring about the heart change which is at the root of the behavior. The Gospel on the other hand is the power of God, by to bring about fundamental transformation of the heart. If one's heart changes, their behavior will inevitably follow.
I've gotten a lot of positive feedback about this teaching. Give it a listen:
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Reading through the Book of Numbers the other day, I ran across this:
So you shall also present a contribution to the Lord from all your tithes, which you receive from the people of Israel. And from it you shall give the Lord's contribution to Aaron the priest. (Numbers 18:28 ESV)This was written to the Levites - the priestly tribe - who lived off of the tithes of the other tribes. They were required to give a tithe of their income, even though their income was from the offerings of the other tribes.
I also believe that as a pastor I am called to lead by example, even when no one knows about it. This goes for giving, evangelism, and a number of different areas. I truly believe that giving to the work of the Lord is not only God's way of raising money and furthering the Kingdom, it's also his way of raising kids and furthering our spiritual growth - not to mention that it is a privilege. It is a simple fact, that a ministry like the one I'm involved in is constantly struggling with the things we would like to do, but are not able to do because of our limited financial resources.
Is this the Law? I don't believe it is. You don't have to tithe. That won't affect your standing before God. But generosity is a Gospel virtue. So is evangelism. This is how the Apostle Paul encouraged people to give to the work of God: he pointed them to the Gospel.
I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:8-9 ESV)
Thursday, April 04, 2013
And one of the most profound statements in that letter is:
I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Galatians 2:21 ESV)
I ran accross this quote in one of my commentaries:
The deepest heresy of all, which corrupts churches, leavens creeds with folly, and swells our human hearts with pride, is salvation by works. "I believe, that the root of every schism and heresy from which the Christian Church has suffered, has been the effort to earn salvation rather than to receive it; and that one reason why preaching is so ineffective is that it calls on men oftener to work for God than to behold God working for them.- John Ruskin
Now, that's probably not totally true - many of the early schisms in the church, e.g. the Arian controversy, were about the nature of God and the deity of Jesus, but salvation by works is certainly a key Gospel issue, as Paul makes clear.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
I was sitting on the plane from Amsterdam to Minneapolis, and I decided to play Angry Birds to pass the time. The only reason I have Angry Birds Star Wars on my iPad is because Nate begged me to buy it for him.
So here I am playing this game, and I realize that all the levels I am playing, Nate has already beaten on his own - not to mention that I have to try multiple times to pass his high scores!
Lets just say, I'm feeling humbled that my 5 year old is way more clever, or at least way more persistent than I am....
I'm in Minneapolis right now waiting to get on my last flight back to Denver. On this trip I've passed through 5 airports, and here's what I think:
- I like Denver's airport. It's easy and quick to navigate.
- At JFK I had to do something I've only done once before: I had to leave the airport entirely and walk down the street to another terminal building. The only other time I've had to do that before was in Paris, when Charles du Gaulle was under construction a few years back. JFK was not a great experience this time around, especially since it was snowing outside while I had to walk from one terminal to the next.
- Charles du Gaulle was ok, but it took so long to get to my connection that I missed my flight. It was pretty boring to spend 5 hours there and the Internet connection wasn't good.
- Budapest is nice, especially since they've renovated it. Easy to navigate, free wifi, very comfortable.
- Although I like KLM a lot, Amsterdam's airport was a mixed bag: on one hand they had a good system of getting people through passport control, with people standing around and allowing those who were close to missing flights to cut ahead in line. It was very efficient, and I wish I had that before at times when I've missed flights because no one would let me ahead in line. After that though, they had a terrible bottleneck at the gate, because they do security at each individual gate for the transcontinental flights.
- Minneapolis is simple and easy to navigate, comfortable and has free wifi. All things I love to have in an airport, especially if you have to spend a few hours there.
Today was my last day in Eger. As excited as I was to be in Eger this past week, I was totally ready to go home this morning. I miss my wife and kids, and I realize that God has bound my heart up with Longmont and the ministry of White Fields, and entrusted the ministry here to others.
I went to Tesco and OBI, I needed to mail a few things and buy a few gifts, but the main goal was to find a way to take Túró Rudi back home to America. I picked up some Kinder Tojás and Kinder Szelet and then went over to OBI to get a hűtő táska.
Afterwards I met Dani in town for a coffee and then went up to say goodbye to Tünde and Julcsi. Jani came up to Budapest with me, along with Ilona and Judit. When we left Eger the weather was cold but fine, and about half way to Budapest it started snowing, and got worse and worse. I think it might be still snowing outside.
Here in Budapest I'm staying with Laci Németh, pastor of Golgota Dél-Pest, and Kyle Eckhart from Golgota Szeged came up to say hi and catch up. Great guys doing great ministries that The Lord is blessing. It was good to hang out and catch up. Laci lives near the airport, so he will drive me in the morning. My plane leaves at 6am, so we will leave early.
It's been a good trip. I'm so glad that I got to come and support Jani and Tünde and the church in Eger. Please continue to pray for the Hernádi family, for the city of Eger and for the work of God in Hungary, especially through the Golgota churches.
Monday, March 25, 2013
Sunday morning I preached at Golgota Eger. It was good to see old friends and see things working well in the church. I especially noted that children's ministry and youth ministry are going well, led by Kriszti.
Shane led worship and I brought a message about the Kingdom of God from Matthew 5, Romans 13 and Ephesians 4.
Please pray for this church! It is good to see how they have accepted Jani as their pastor and surrounded the Hernádi's with love and support during this time of difficulty. Please pray that the church would be an effective tool for reaching people for Jesus in Eger and the surrounding region.