Monday, July 25, 2011

After so much time

I am sitting at a simple plastic folding table, the kind you might see at the local small town after church pot-luck Sunday fellowship dinner, surrounded by forest, hills, and friends, in the mountain area of Zlatibor in Southwest Serbia. Rain is gently falling and clouds are kissing the hilltops around us. In short, it is a melancholy moment that almost allows one to forget the turmoil of the world that stews so angrily around us. The massacre in Norway...the idiocy of budget talks in Washington D.C....the obstinacy of politicians who are clueless about paying bills and cutting back on expenses because one does not have the money to keep spending...the daily dialogue as to whether Greece will default on loans and go bankrupt...Libya, Syria, Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, nausea and so it goes.

But here we are privileged to help train fellow Christ-followers from parts of former Yugoslavia in the ways of reaching future teachers, doctors, parliamentarians, moms, dads, lawyers, farmers, shop keepers, pastors, elders, wives, husbands, etc., with the life changing Gospel of our Saviour, Jesus. Not a Gospel that excludes someone because of their skin color, passport, language, religion, bank account, etc., but a Gospel that loves all people no matter who they are and where they live, and a Gospel that desires nothing less that all would come to know the author and finisher of that Gospel, Jesus, as their own Saviour and Lord.

While the people of Norway will mourn today and for many days following, European Union leaders, other European nations, politicians, sociologists, psychologists, educators, etc. will hold discussions, write very important (no doubt) papers, pass ridiculous laws on religion and toleration/diversity, and prattle on how someone in such a modern country as Norway and as a member of the European Union could have committed such a horrendous crime. "Where did our education system go wrong?" "Are we too tolerant of these intolerant religions that teach such silly absolutes as sin and hell and Jesus and God and only one way to God?" (Huh, I wonder what the Richard Dawkins' of today think about the Norwegian massacre?)

So let them prattle, let them pass their ridiculous laws, let them wonder how they can keep religion from corrupting European minds. We will keep teaching God's true word, God's true religion which is His love and available salvation to all people, everywhere, from the youngest to the oldest, the poorest to the richest, the smartest to the poor peasant farmer. True Christianity does not massacre, does not hate, does not look at skin color or political party membership; true Christianity shares the truth in love, and desires to show that truth and love through our imperfect yet committed to our God lives.

The training will continue and somewhere, somehow, today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, a heart here, a heart there, will hear the Truth and God will change that heart and yet one more soul will enter into God's kingdom.

Monday, March 22, 2010

As one travels from Podgorica, Montenegro to Nis, Serbia the journey will take you through several spectacular canyons, some of the bluest rivers you will ever see, snow capped mountains, and millions of pot-holes in the road! Finally you arrive at your destination, but you arrived tired, your car brakes hot, and your right arm sore and stiff from all of the downshifting you will have done on the trip.

You will have also noticed how sparsely populated and rocky this vast area (known as the Sandzak or Raska)of SW Europe is. Even worse is how sparse the numbers are in terms of true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Though you may see an occasional church edifice as well as many mosques, there are, literally, only a handful of believers among millions. One can, at times, sense the oppression and the grip the destroyer of the soul has had on this territory. In fact it is not unreasonable to be fairly certain that the Light of the Gospel has not penetrated this area for 1,000 years! But, God has His litttle group of followers living in one town of the Sandzak. They are lonely yet determined that God's light should shine.

They have many strikes against them: history, culture, religion, fear, among them. But they also have the God of the universe with them, carrying them in His strong arms. Pray that these friends would not be discouraged or afraid, but would be that little candle shining in the darkness and that many, including our friends' families, would soon come to know the love and mercy of our gracious God; and that He and His word are not an evil lie.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bad Dreams

I am currently reading through a recent history of the notorious Auschwitz/Birkenau concentration camp. Thanks to the brilliant teaching of Dr. Dean Rapp, Professor of European History at Wheaton College, my reading habits have drastically changed in the past few years. Now my reading du jour seems to be more history, particularly European history. The book on Auschwitz, by Laurence Rees, is particularly chilling in it's description of what the Germans did to the millions of Russians, Poles, and Polish and German Jews in their attempts to exterminate men, women, and children and wipe them from the face of the earth. I have decided it is a book I should not read at night just before I go to sleep; it causes horrible dreams as my mind dwells on the horrors of what happened in WW II.

Reading these histories also makes me wonder if reading them is a primer for survival during the coming Great Tribulation. As a dispensationalist, I believe that God is going to bring a literal seven years of tribulation upon this planet. But will the followers of Jesus Christ be left on the planet to go through the tribulation? Good question. I hope not but I cannot be dogmatic about a Rapture of the Church, though I would wish it so. So why all this rambling and what does it matter?

Since the end of WW II the cry has always been "Never again." And yet...Stalin--60 million killed; Mao--60 million killed; Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, Ho Chi Min, Caceusceu; Soviet despots; guerilla leaders in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, and Liberia; DR Congo, Sudan, and Angola; the Balkan Wars of the 1990s; islamofascism in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Somalia, Lebanon, Israel where a human being is nothing more than a target for a mindless, deluded kid pulling the trigger that blows him and thousands of others to bits, while his masters sit in ivory palaces continuing to preach hate and death; the infanticide practiced openly, freely, and happily in many countries around the world as millions of babies are murdered every year; the numbers are staggering, mind-boggling, and incomprehensible. Considering Stalin alone, he murdered more than Hitler; but adding up the numbers of murdered due to war and terrorism since the end of WW II and the cries of "Never again," should cause a human to at least stop for a brief moment and wonder what has gone wrong.

Shouldn't the human race be getting better? We have the United Nations in place to solve all of our problems. After all if people would only sit down and talk they wouldn't kill. Sadly the talking heads of Europe and North America cannot see the folly and ills of the human heart. "It must be the fault of religion," they complain. Or a particular political party seems hell bent on destroying anyone or anything just to prove a point. "That President sees only in black and white. He speaks of truth. He speaks of faith. How juvenile and idiotic. That type of fanaticism only leads to more killing." And so the killng goes on and on and on and on and nasuem.

In spite of European headlines and speeches, the current President of the United States is not the "Hope of the World," he is not a messiah, and to compare him with the Kennedys and "Camelot" is, well, just plain ignorant. The Kennedys were bootleggers, adulterers, bad drivers, and they loved Hitler too. It is time for the so-called "Smart People" to realize that their dreams of evolutionary perfection are not anywhere near the surface, nor will they ever be in the forefront. The heart of humankind is sick and there is only one Answer: the true Messiah who loves and gave His life for every man, woman, and child on this planet no matter their religion, culture, language, passport, ethnicity, or anscestory. There is no killing with God because I am or you are of the wrong tribe. There is no mindless homocide bomber blowing up the marketplace because his puppet master is an evil man bent only on killing in the name of religion. Wake up people. The "Never Again" has continued and goes on every day with millions and millions more being killed or facing the reality of murder. Stop listening to Richard Dawkins, or the Nobel Committee, or Osama bin Laden, or a particular Prime Minister or President. God is not a "delusion." He is the only true reality in existence and the most pressing need for any of these aforementioned individuals as well as their students, disciples, or citizens.


When President Obama of the U.S. was recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, one of the rational given for the prize was that he was such a great hope for the world. Wow, how deluded people are to think that one man or woman is the hope for this world. There is only one hope for this world and Europeans need more than ever to know this Hope. Pray for dark, dark Europe.

Socialism Part 2: The Scary Reality

Though we do not know the family mentioned below, many of our friends from here in Vienna do know them personally or know of them. As you read through this excerpt of an email sent to one of our friends, pay special attention to the role of the medical commission and the fact that they can determine whether this person dies or is able to receive treatment. This is exactly what so many in the U.S. are fearing and protesting against. Do not let the fascination some policticians have with European social climes and mores allow our nation to follow in the footsteps of European medical practices.

Nuni has been going through a battery of medical tests. He has an enlarged spleen. They have a diagnosis now. He has a very rare blood cancer. Ileana and us, and now you know the diagnosis, but Nuni and their kids don't know yet. They are going to meet with the doctor on Sunday for a more in depth discussion about it. Please pray for their family as they go through this awful ordeal. They are still grieving the loss of their daughter in a car accident two years ago. It's so hard to even imagine that they have to go through this now.

Last week his anemia was a 6 and this week it is a level 3. Ileana said that his body is not able to replenish his blood. And he has tumors in his bone marrow. He needs to go through chemotherapy and then some type of bone marrow transplant- maybe that isn't quite right- they have to do something with the spine (maybe drain off fluid and do something to it and put it back in- we don't understand exactly, but it's supposed to be very painful.)

The doctors worked quickly to get his paperwork sent off to Bucharest. A medical commission meets tomorrow to review his case and to make a determination if they will approve the treatment for him (the chemo and the bone treatment). If they don't approve the treatment there is no hope for him. It's one thing if he decides to end the treatment, but it's quite another not to be allowed even to have a chance to try. Ileana has to hang onto the hope that the commission will give the ok for the treatment. Just finding out that he has cancer is like getting kicked in the gut- but it will be horribly difficult to accept if they don't allow the treatment. The doctors in the hospital seem to think that because Nuni is so young and was healthy up till this point, that he has a chance with the chemo and bone treatment, but without this commission’s approval they can do nothing. That's nationalized health care for you. And even with government insurance, the costs for the tests and treatment are very high. Nuni has had all kinds of blood tests and scans and just all kinds of tests. I went to the doctor this week and they told me insurance covers only 20%, so I know all this is really expensive for them.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Deja Voux

Last night--yesterday afternoon--depending upon where you live in our world, the Nebraska Cornhuskers played Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, VA. We lost on a last second touchdown pass that obliterated an awesome defensive display by Nebraska that kept Tech on the run all night. But I guess we should take heart: back when NU was somewhat respected in the college football world, we won and won and won except when playing Oklahoma, Miami (FL), and Florida State. How many times in the 70s and 80s were we ahead, outplaying the aforementioned opponent and then suddenly, one desperation fling of the ball or a trick play and suddenly we were punched in the gut, down on the field, wondering how we possibly let the game get away. Then oftentimes the team we played the next week was obliterated by an NU team that wanted everyone to know they might have been sucker punched, but it wasn't going to happen again (until the next season, that is).

So, if NU comes back and obliterates it's next opponent and then smashes its way through the Big 12 schedule, we still have a chance for a more than respectable 11-1 or 10-2 regular season. Last night's loss is a tough one, but the way we play in the coming weeks will show whether we are truly back or not.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Not Typical

When one writes an autobiography of oneself, the author, the main character, usually includes all of the great things he/she did or accomplished when doing whatever he/she was noted for. "I saved the economy as President of the United States." "I led us to victory over the enemy as Prime Minister of England." Etc., etc., etc. And when the character has problems, faults, or crimes that cannot be hidden, even in an autobiography, that character usually glosses over the evil or blames it on someone else, i.e. Bill Clinton still blaming a "vast right wing conspiracy" for all of his problems while as president.

However, when one reads God's autobiography, the Bible, He does not tolerate such shennanigans or glossing over of history. God gives us pictures of all and everything, the good, the bad, the ugly, the joy, the tears, the heartbreak.

This became clear to me as I was recently reading the Book of Job, one of the more fascinating yet troubling books of the Bible. This book certainly raises as many questions as it might answer, but the thing that challenged me most was that God was not afraid to include the questions, the doubts, and the hurts of Job. A normal autobiography would never have the authors characters questioning the goodness, love, value, reasonings, etc. of the president or prime minister. But God allows us to see Job as we might be: "Why God, why is this happening? Give me a fair hearing and I will prove to you that I do not deserve these troubles. I don't know what I did to you God, but allow me to question you in court and find out the truth."

I am thankful we have a God who is not afraid of our questions, doubts, fears, etc. He already knows them anyway, so to think we can hide them from God is ridiculous. We may as well as go ahead and ask them and argue with God. And ultimately, sooner or later, we must then come to the conclusion that He is God, I am not, and He absolutely knows what is absolutely best for my life and the life of my family.