(Note: Before reading, please understand that I am not attacking the Orthodox Church. In general, they have an amazing understanding of the majesty of God, a deep appreciation for artwork and beauty in worship, a respect for tradition, a love of history, and many more admirable qualities. However, many who call themselves “Orthodox” are desperately in the dark.)
Go to www.OperationWorld.org, then find the page about Romania. You’ll read there that 96.96% of the population is Christian. If almost everybody in Romania is “already a Christian,” why am I here? Continuing on in this series, here is reason #3 for why the gospel is needed in Bucureşti: many of the Orthodox believe that salvation is simply a matter of doing a few more good deeds.
Reason #3 – Damned If I Don’t…
Praise God! Today, the visa situation for my nieces and nephew got all wrapped up! 🙂 Despite being four months late, having some out-of-date forms, never getting a finalized list from the government, and not knowing Romanian very well, the kids’ documents were accepted with NO late fees. Thank you for praying!
Sadly, I can no longer use the whole deportation thing as leverage now when I’m babysitting the kids… Gotta come up with some other threat. (I’m kidding, of course.)
I’ve been trying to listen to Romanian radio lately so I get more practice with the language. (Hopefully, I’m not just learning swear words and dirty jokes….) This morning, I was surprised to hear the words “Black Friday” a number of times, in English not Romanian. Yes, America has exported Black Friday to Romania.
So Bucuresti gets the worst of both worlds: no Thanksgiving dinner and massive crowds battling for deals. (Or, maybe it’s the best of both worlds, depending on your point of view: no relatives coming over and massive savings for everyone.)
Anyhow, I was never a fan of Black Friday when in the US, and I’m not one here, either. But… if you happen to have an extra $1300 lying around, let me know! Logos.com has the entire New International Commentary of the Old and New Testaments (44 books!) on sale. (NICOT and NICNT are some really flippin’ awesome commentaries, by the way, and well worth the $30/volume price tag. The series features some incredibly great scholarship that has taken decades to put together. Plus, they stay true to the authority and meaning of Scripture. And having it all in digital form… It all makes me start drooling.)
Lately, I’ve been getting much strength from the guys over at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. They aren’t great at everything, but they excel in worship. If your devotional life needs a kick-start, I definitely recommend heading over there to use their free resources.
Ephesians 3:16 reads, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man…”
If you need some strengthening in your “inner man”, I highly recommend checking out their live webstream. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, they’ve got teams leading worship and intercession. And they broadcast it for all of us to enjoy anywhere we can get online! 🙂 You really can’t go wrong there.
So grab your Bible, turn off your cell phone, and head over to the 24/7 prayer room. Let the Holy Spirit strengthen you in your inner man.
Since I know you want to hear them, here are the rejected titles for this post: Lost in Translation, Testify Sistah!, a Mormonic Conversation, and a New Wife for Jason. Yeah, it was an eventful night, mostly encouraging but also difficult.
I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about the discouraging aspects of the night, but I think it’s good to let you know that ministry here in Bucuresti is not all a bunch of successes. So, before I get to the awesome stuff, here’s the list of what discourages me: we lost our translator somehow, we arrived an hour late, most of our regular families were gone tonight, worship seemed heartless and dull, the praying was similarly just as lifeless, a couple of the kids at the meeting were going crazy, Lali stumbled into the meeting drunk, I couldn’t seem to say a word in Romanian. So, there it is, all the discouraging aspects of the evening.
Now, for the stuff I like.
There are lots of good pro-life videos out there (Ray Comfort and Way of the Master’s “180” is one example), but this one beat them all for me. I got so stirred up and encouraged to make a difference, not just for the unborn but for everyone. These are 15 minutes you will definitely want to watch.
A couple days ago, I realized the Bible had become dry and flavorless to me. I was reading it most mornings, but I read it to get it over with, to do my religious duty. I left the same way I had come, without having encountered the Living Water.
I’m sure you’ve gone through times like that in your walk with God. Sometimes, it’s simply the regular cycle of revelation (God reveals something amazing) and contemplation (we take time to think about it). Other times, it’s due to sin in your life that blocks God’s grace. Other times, God is intentionally drawing you into a desert time in order to draw you deeper, just as he drew his own beloved Son (Mark 1:11-12). Sometimes, the word loses its savor because you’re simply in too much of a hurry or you’re distracted.
No, this post’s title is not the cheesy name for my new solo album. And it’s not the title of a bad translation of a new Romanian horror movie, either. And it’s also not the title for a poem reminiscing the appliance I miss most; no, that poem will be called “Elegy to a Toaster.”
This title refers to our most recent meeting with the Mihai Bravu community. With the weather getting colder, a nearby family opened up their house to us. It’s a wonderful little room with a light and (most importantly) heat. 🙂 The heater is basically a toaster oven shoved into a block of cement and then plugged into a wall. It might sound a little scary (and, believe me, the toddlers playing around the exposed wires running into the wall do bring concern), but it’s effective and cheap.
I have been getting a lot lately out of the story of the fall of Jericho (Joshua 5:13-6:27). Not only has it been intellectually interesting, but the things God has been showing me have been strengthening to my own walk with him. I had gotten lazy in the walk of holiness, and I realized a few weeks ago that a spiritual stronghold of the enemy had begun to take root in my heart.
In an earlier post, I brought up how the battle starts in recognizing that you are called to be holy to Jesus, separate from the world, set aside solely for his purposes. It’s what he has called you to, and it’s where he intends to take you.
The next post, I brought up how God must be an integral part of your relation to this city. If you want to see it go, you’ve got to look at it with God at your side or you’ll get overwhelmed and decide to give up. Before you even go to battle, when you’re just sitting there looking at the stronghold, seek God’s advice, ask for his help, and follow his directions.
Today, I want to look at the deeply uncomfortable but absolutely vital next step…
As I was reading through Joshua and the story of the taking of Jericho (Joshua 5:13-6:27), God began to draw my attention to some insights in fighting strongholds of sin in my own life. Many of us are currently or have in the past dealt with an area of sin that seems like it just won’t let go. For many this means an addiction like pornography or masturbation (Woohoo! Here come the hits from Google!), alcohol and other drugs, or simply entertainment (the all-around favorite in America).
In an earlier post, I wrote how the first step is to understand that we are called to, created for, destined for, and going to get total holiness. It’s in our DNA, and God intends to bring us there. The same message the angel gave to Joshua needs to enter our heart as well: “This is holy ground.”
But how do we become that holy ground? How do we get to that place? How does the “supposed to be” become the “already is”?