Monthly Archives: January 2013

An American Looks At Romanian Culture

There are a lot of things about Romanian culture that I really like.  The people are in general much more willing to help a total stranger than are my fellow Wisconsinites.  Old men will give up their seats on the tramvai for children and mothers with babies; young men will give up theirs for older women.  Shaking hands is pretty much the general rule when you meet a friend, and you always say “Buna ziua” to the cashier in the store.  And in general no one seems to get too uptight if you’re a few minutes late for a meeting.  I like these things about Romanian culture.

But then there are things that I don’t like.  Though Romania is certainly not a nudist colony, public nudity is certainly much more likely to happen here than in my home state of Wisconsin.  PDA (Public Displays of Affection, or “pduh”), although never getting to the point of being disgusting, are much more common here, especially when it comes to teenagers on the subway or at McDonald’s.  the one I most dislike is that Romanians in general seem less likely to keep an appointment than are my German-descended relatives back home; the plans you made just may end up changing without warning and without explanation, and that’s just how it goes.  I don’t really care for these parts of Romanian culture.

But then there are also things that I just plain don’t get, the greatest of which is HOLDING HANDS.

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Rick Pino – I Will Search

My friend Jason introduced me to Rick Pino‘s music recently.  Actually, he just showed me one song, and I haven’t been able to get past that one yet.  It’s stuck on repeat!  🙂

The lyrics are super simple, but they really encapsulate the hunger I want to have for Jesus, where I would search for his presence until I find him and then never let him go.  I am far too content to walk away from my times of prayer saying, “Well, I guess I met Jesus.  By faith, I believe it…”  I am far too content to be satisfied by work, by movies and TV, by Facebook, by AddictingGames.com, by food, by friendships, by the stuff of this world.  I am far too content with the scraps that fall from the table or even no scraps at all, when there’s a great feast spread out for me just beyond my eyesight.  Oh, may I search for him!

Enjoy the video, and let it stir your heart to greater hunger.  And, for you guitarists, the chords/lyrics follow.  (Sorry, but wordpress messed up the formatting.)

Oh, and make sure to check out rickpino.com to download some music and support his ministry.

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An Evangelism Adventure

So, I promised you an update on our times of evangelism from last weekend. Let me start by saying I love doing evangelism with people who aren’t afraid to take risks for God and who believe he’s ready to show up. It’s seriously the most exciting adventure ever.

So, besides handing out hundreds of tracts, here are some of the highlights…

Friday, we handed out tracts in the subway until the guards found out and told us to stop. Meanwhile, nearly everyone on the subway was reading what Jesus has done in our lives. And, best news of all, one of the men who received a tract called me saying he read it, believed it, and wanted to learn more. When we later met for coffee, I discovered he was a 7-year theology student training to be an Orthodox priest. Eugen is hungry to know the Lord, so pray for the work God is doing in him to come to fruition.

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Just Try Not To Be Inspired

I had planned to give an update from our *awesome* day of evangelism (including video thanks to our friend Jacob‘s spy camera), but then I got home and checked out wimp.com… and saw this video… and, well, you’ll see why I can’t do an update tonight.  So enjoy this video… and just try not to be inspired.

For more true stories that’ll make you cry at the generosity of God working through people and inspire you to also live generously, check out the youtube channel and website.

Dear God, What On Earth Is That Smell???

On Sunday, we were on the tramvai on our way to church when a smell which I can only describe as Satan incarnate crept up. And, yes, it was creeping, for this smell was surely something alive. But by “alive,” I mean the word you’d use to describe a zombie, not a cute little bunny rabbit.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw what was certainly no cute bunny rabbit. There, taking his seat just a few feet away was the most bedraggled homeless guy I’ve ever witnessed, complete with crazy muttering, scraggly hippy beard, and blood-smeared shirt. But it was the smell that was killing us… perhaps literally.

People all around us indiscretely gagged and covered their noses with their hands, held handkerchiefs to their faces, reached vainly to open windows, shoved their faces into dirty baby diapers… anything to escape the smell.

I’d like to say that the compassion of Jesus (or even the annoyance of Paul, Acts 16:18) came on me, but I revealed my American propensity towards political correctness and pretended not to notice anything out of the ordinary.

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Why do the Orthodox Need the Gospel… #5

(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.)

Of all the places I’ve lived, Bucuresti is by far the most religious.  Orthodox churches are on almost every block, it’s common to see priests on the streets, and most people believe God exists.  So, in such a religious place, why am I here sharing the Gospel?  Here is reason number five…

Reason #5 – I’ve Already Been Baptized…

Despite the religious observance, the vast majority of those with whom we’ve spoken have had little to no inward religious life.  We have met many who told us flatly, “I have been baptized; I gave an offering,” as if Christianity was simply a matter of doing a few religious things.  But Jesus wants to be first in our hearts.  In fact, he strongly rebuked those who had the right works but the wrong heart:  “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me” (Mark 7:6).  People need to know that Jesus came for their heart, not just for an occasional glance in his direction.

Bringing Risky Back – Sent As Sheep Among Wolves

I spent about ten years living and ministering in a small town in southern Wisconsin.  A number of the families in our church body were raising farm animals.  One family had goats.

Not once (in all my years in that fellowship) did I ever hear that family express worry over what would happen to the poor coyotes and mountain lions if one curious little goat managed to escape the pen.

Because we all know full well the fate that would await such an adventurous little guy:  coyote food.

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In Matthew 10:16, Jesus gathers together his disciples to give them an encouraging word about his calling on their lives.  So, what does he tell them?  How he will always be with them?  How he has given them every place they set their feet?  How a thousand may fall at their side, ten thousand at their right hand, but it won’t come near them?  How power will come on them and they’ll be witnesses to the outermost parts of the earth?  How he loves them so jealously?

No, he tells them simply, “Look, I’m sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.”

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