I love those things about God that defy explanation. I love how He is both the King and Lord over all creation and also a humble servant. I love how He is both three distinct persons and yet very clearly ONE God. The last month or so, I’ve been stuck on the concept of how He is by nature LOVE (1 John 4:8, 16) and yet is also angry every day (Psalm 7:11).
God’s wrath in relation to his love.
I haven’t yet organized all my thoughts, but in studying the scriptures, the following ten thoughts have been coming up again and again.
If you’re in Romania during the end of February, you’ll notice stands popping up all over selling little red-and-white pieces of jewelry for 1 leu (35 cents). They’re on the roadsides, in the malls, on the subways… everywhere! And they are most definitely not candy canes.
And, if you’re American, you’re probably asking yourself, “What on earth is going on here?!?!” Because the only thing going on in February in America is the Superbowl and a whole lot of snow. (Okay, so I guess we do have President’s Day and Valentine’s Day as well.)
Say “hello” to Mărțișor, a traditional Romanian celebration that goes all the way back to the ancient Roman or even the Dacian (pre-Roman) people of the Carpathian region. It has its roots as a fertility festival, the rebirth of nature, and a celebration of spring. Celebrants would participate by giving and receiving mărțișoare (the small, red-and-white, pieces of jewelry). In ancient times (and yet today in some rural areas) these trinkets were believed to have magical properties, guaranteeing the wearer of a good, blessed, and fertile future. Today, for most people they’re simply a fun way to show you value someone’s friendship.
Posted in Bucharest
Tagged bucharest, culture, dacia, dacian, fertility, festivals, friendship, history, holidays, jewelry, love, magic, martisoare, martisor, roman, romania, talismans, traditions
I think a lot of people get intimidated by doing evangelism because they view it as a war when in reality it’s a rescue operation. (Okay, technically, it is a war as well, but it’s not a war against people but a war against heavenly forces.)
The other day, I was passing out tracts near the campus with a couple Romanian friends. I was having a good but mostly boring experience. One of my friends, meanwhile, was getting into argument after argument with people. But was he sharing the gospel or just spouting truth?
Recently, I’ve grown pretty well addicted to this song by Jon Thurlow. It’s pretty simple lyrically and chord-wise, but it’s got such a happy sound to it that I totally love. It’s a great reminder of the simple joy that’s ours simply because God chooses to love us regardless of how worthy (or unworthy) we may be. 🙂
For those interested, the chords are below, along with the strumming pattern I use. (Sorry for the incorrect spacing on the chords; WordPress is not friendly when it comes to spacing things correctly.)
It was late at night after the Good Friday service. I had planned to stay through to the midnight candle-lighting, but I kept falling asleep so decided to head home early.
When I saw her standing along the busy street, I immediately started going over Romanian phrases in my head. “Isus te iubeşte, Jesus loves you” and “Nu e viaţa, this isn’t life” were the two that seemed easiest and most intelligible. But then selfishness crept in, so I decided to lower my head and just hurry past without making eye contact.
As I approached, though, her need for money made my selfish attempt to ignore her fall on its face. She stepped right in front of me and blocked my path.
When I was first taken to their home a few months ago, my first thought was that I had somehow been transported about 70 years back in time and 1400 miles west of Bucharest. The site looked just like what I’d picture a 1940s city in France would have looked like after a thorough shelling by enemy artillery. Bricks, trash, and wood littering the ground, dead electrical wires hanging out of old plaster walls, the charred remains from the fire used to cook breakfast… it all seemed like a scene from the movie “Saving Private Ryan“.
Today, I got a call from Jason that one of the Rromi families we had spoken to wanted a Bible. As I had a few Romanian New Testaments at the house, I told him I’d meet up with him in a few minutes. About an hour later, we met up and made our way towards the gypsy family.
This particular family is living on a patch of vacant land between a massive Cora (a “hipermarket” like a Super Walmart) and Plaza România (a massive mall). I say “family” when talking about the group of gypsies, but I really have no idea who’s related to whom, who’s child is whose, etc. Every time we’ve visited, there have been a different collection of people inside the flimsy wooden structure they call a home. The structure itself has been moved the last two times we visited. The kids and adults are all filthy but full of smiles and happy to visit with us whenever we come by.
Today was special because we were delivering a Bible for a woman who requested one for her husband who is in prison. When we arrived at the home, we delivered the Bible to the happy woman.
Everyone in ministry knows that we often have ulterior motives to loving. Ultimately, we want to help people get right with God. When I was working in Spring Green, if a student called me looking to get a ride home, I would often do so in the hopes that my service would help him to see Jesus better. I worked in the schools not so much because I love teaching but because I wanted opportunities to speak to students I wouldn’t normally get to speak with. If I planned a big party, it wasn’t because I love parties (I’m an introvert by all accounts) but because I wanted opportunities to identify with students and speak to them about Jesus. Even airsofting, as much as I loved it, was always the means to an end: an opportunity to witness and to be an example so that a student would one day repent and live for Jesus.
We often have ulterior motives. In the ministry, our ulterior motives are good. (Seriously, what better goal can there be that someone would come to know Jesus?)
But we’re called to love simply to love.
I like to check out wimp.com every now and then. Sometimes it’s just a time-waster, but sometimes there are some really great videos on it. June 27th, they uploaded a video about an Asian daughter and her deaf father. Although the video is about the relationship between the father and his daughter, it’s a wonderful look at the love that God, our heavenly Father, has for us. Oh, and seriously, I dare you to not cry. 🙂
So I was all set for the Campus Life meeting tonight. I had an awesome plan. Seriously, the gospel was going to be shared, lives were going to be changed, teenagers were going to be loved… I spent the day preparing, and it was gonna be amazing, truly amazing.
But then I remembered there was a band and choir concert tonight. All but two students in this year’s Campus Life crew are in either band or choir. And one of those two students was planning to go to the concert.
So much for my plan, right?