Monday, September 24, 2007

Growing in Unity, Purpose, and Love

The newest edition of "Renew Romania" magazine has come out. You can download the PDF of it here. Some of the articles are posted online, one I wrote on our monthly pastor meetings and how they started is located online. Here is the beginning of the article:

Looking at the photo we took at a recent pastors’ meeting, I remember that in the beginning it didn’t look like they were ever going to work out. So I praise God for what He has done in and through these meetings.

In June of 2003 I attended the Foundations Conference at the Bible College in Vajta, Hungary and in one of the sessions I heard about how God had used the pastor meetings in Hungary to develop and grow the Calvary Chapels in Hungary. So when I got back home to Romania I emailed everyone involved in pastoring and planting Calvary Chapels in Romania and shared with them what I heard and how I thought that this would be good for us.

Right away I got an email from Shane Herman, who pastors the Calvary Chapel in Bucharest, and he was excited about doing it but his was the only response I got back. I was disappointed but realized that most were real busy with their ministries. So Shane and I started meeting the first Tuesday of each month and would have a time of worship, prayer and fellowship. Sometimes other servants from the fellowship in Bucharest would join us, but for the most part it was just Shane and I. Each month we would send out emails and call the others up encouraging them to come but for several months no one else came.

I began to wonder if we should continue meeting since there didn’t seem to be any interest except for the two of us. (more)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Google Earth View of Church

Here is a view of where we meet on Sundays in Bucuresti for church. We rent the "Alege Viata" building (Campus Crusade) as our ministry building is too small. We are looking to buy, build or rent something else so we would appreciate your prayers in this regard.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Definition of the Gospel

For our second class of the study of the gospel we looked at how to develop a basic outline of the gospel and to write a definition of the whole gospel message- a one sentence version, as well as, a longer definition. Next week they will have to turn in their outlines and definitions. Below are rough drafts of my definitions. If you have any constructive input I would appreciate hearing from you.


1. Eternity Past
2. Creation
3. Fall
4. Redemption
5. Restoration
6. Eternity Future

One Sentence Definiton
The gospel is the good news that, though we deserve judgment and hell, God has provided a way for us sinners to be restored to Himself, now and forever, through His Son Jesus if we turn in our hearts from sin to Jesus and receive by faith what He did to deal with our sin- His sinless life, sacrificial death on the cross and His resurrection.
Paragraph Length Definition
The Gospel is the good news that God, in His great love, has provided a way for us and all the rest of His creation to be reconciled and restored to Himself. Without this provision, all we have to look forward to is judgment day, when God will judge all that we did. We will be found guilty of sin and, most importantly, of rejecting His provision for our sin. As a result we will be sent to hell where we will experience the full wrath of God for our sin. God’s provision for our sin is through His Son, Jesus Christ, who became a human being and lived a perfect sinless life, then sacrificially died on a cross for our sins, after which He was resurrected to new life and is now at the right hand of the Father waiting to return to set up his eternal kingdom. All those who have accepted God’s provision in Jesus will be adopted by God as His children and will be with Jesus forever and ever.

Longer Definition

The Gospel for us begins with the fact that we are separated from God due to our sin of disobeying Him and not giving Him His rightful place in our lives and hearts. Instead we have chosen to be our own gods and to do what we want regardless of what God says.

We were created for God’s good pleasure, to have a loving relationship with Him. But for love to exist there needs to be the ability to choose to love or not, so God gave us the ability to choose. Sadly, we chose to reject God and to disobey Him, just like Satan did in eternity past. His pride was his downfall as he was the most glorious of all that God created. Instead of appreciating what God had done for him he decided in his heart that he should be worshipped like the Most High. Tragically, we have fallen in his footsteps of wanting to be our own gods.

Imagine this from God’s perspective! Before anything existed God was. He is spirit, invisible and eternal, without beginning and without end. Even though He exists outside of time He is present everywhere through all time and space. He is infinite in knowledge and wisdom and His ways are beyond our ability to understand. He is all-powerful and able to do anything and everything that He wills to do that is in harmony with His nature. He is beautiful, true, good and perfect in every way never changing.

By His will all things that exist were created. He is sovereign over His entire creation and does as He pleases at all times. He alone is the source and giver of life, full of goodness to all that He has created. As He alone is life and the source of life, He is also love and the source of love. God is one in nature but exist in three divine persons- Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For love to exist there needs to be relationship and in the Trinity there has always been perfect harmony and love.

God is holy, righteous and just; He lives in unapproachable light, the light of His majesty and splendor. He is jealous for His glory for He alone is glorious. Sin cannot exist in His presence. He hates sin and because of His nature He brings judgment against it and destroys it by His righteous angry wrath.

While God is holy, righteous and just He is also infinite in love, mercy, grace, kindness, compassion, faithfulness, and patience. In humility He seeks to see His creation become all that He intended it to be.

What we deserve for our rejection and rebellion against God is judgment and hell. Everyone of us is guilty with no exception. We can’t blame others; we are responsible for the choices we have made in our lives. This is indeed bad news.

The bad news even gets worse! There is nothing we can do ourselves to restore our relationship with God. We can’t be good enough or do enough good things or be religious enough to earn our way to Him. 
Because of that, what awaits us after the Lord Jesus returns and sets up His kingdom, is a day where we will have to stand before Him and give an account of our lives. We will be judged for our disobedience to God and for our rejection of Jesus which is God’s only provision for our sin. He will show us all the times He tried to reach out to us with His great love and how we rejected it and instead hardened our hearts towards Him. Then He will tell us to leave Him and go to Hell where we will be separated from Him forever and where we will receive the full wrath of His judgment for our sin. There we will also spend all of eternity living with the knowledge that we rejected Jesus, the Father’s great expression of love for us. 
But there is good news, the greatest, most awesome news ever! God loves us and does not want any of us to go to Hell. That is why He has provided a way for us to be restored in our relationship with Him through His Son. 
He sent His Son, Jesus, to live a perfect life and to die on a cross. While on the cross God placed the sin of the entire world upon Him and then poured out His wrath on His own Son for every sin. By this Jesus paid the price for every sin. On the cross He died then was buried and three days later He rose from the dead proving He was without any sin of His own and that God’s wrath was fully satisfied for sin. 
Those that recognize their sin against God and confess it to Him and then turn in their hearts from their disobedient rebellious ways and turn to Jesus, receiving by faith what He did on the cross for their sin and making Him their Lord, will be forgiven of their sin and God will send His Holy Spirit to live within them making them spiritually alive and His children to be with Him forever. 
Some day soon Jesus is going to return and set up His kingdom here on the earth where He will rule in righteousness and truth. When He comes, all those who have turned from their sin and placed their faith in Jesus, will be with Him and will rule with Him in His glorious kingdom. At the time of His coming all those that are His will be transformed in the blink of an eye to be like Him, without sin and immortal. We will have physical bodies, yet they will also be spiritual bodies. 
Eventually all of the creation will burn in a blazing fire then God will create a new heaven and earth. At that time the new Jerusalem will come down from heaven from God. God will live with men, He will be their God and they will be His people. He will wipe every tear and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. He will restore all things and make them new. 
Everything will be as God had originally intended from the very beginning. To the praise of His glory and grace!
On February 4, 2009 I wrote a new post titled The Gospel - A New Definition.  
You will find links to the resources of the 10 week gospel series I did in January-March 2009 here: Gospel Series Resources
       Here is a post I wrote that is my second most viewed one- 
        Why Should Seekers Consider the Gospel?
Here is the newest teaching series I am doing on the gospel. At our church in Bucharest I teach the last Sunday of the month on the gospel. Then when I get time I video an English only version. 
Sorry I haven't had time to do the English only versions  so here is the link to the English with Romanian translation.

On September 1, 2012 I did a workshop titled "Being and Making Disciples".There are links to the channel of the videos (English with Romanian translations), PDF's of the slides and the notes for the four sessions of the workshop.    English     Romanian

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Media Ministry Update

As some of you know I have a heart to develop media to proclaim and explain the gospel. Here are three things I've done:
  1. I put Romanian subtitles on a music video that shows clips of young people sinning and mixes in clips from "The Passion of Christ." I thought the video was powerful so I subtitled and uploaded it to two Romanian video sites and so far it has been views over 4,000 times. By early next year at the latest, I hope to make some original videos with a focus on the gospel. For now I am praying seeking a vision of what exactly to do.
  2. Five years ago I connected Alfa Omega, a Christian media ministry here in Romania, with Mars Hill Productions in the States to make a Romanian version of their video The Hope which I consider to be the best video gospel presentation available today. Finally this summer the project was finished and now is available in Romanian. I hope to raise some money to buy it in bulk and give out to churches, ministries and individuals.
  3. I've had a desire to develop a website to proclaim & explain the gospel and teach the Word of God for about four years. I wasn't sure of what the site exactly would include but this July I finally received a vision for a website that would focus on Jesus and the gospel. I spent a lot of time thinking about it these past few months and have developed a mock-up of the site. While I have the vision for the site I don't have the technical skills to implement the vision. What I would like to do next is find someone who has the needed knowledge and skills to show me specifically what would need to done to get the website up and running and then to find one or several people who could do the code work, programming and design development to make the site a reality.
Prayer Requests
  • For God to use "The Hope" video here in Romania to reach many people
  • To raise funds to purchase DVD's of the video
  • For God to provide someone to help me in the next stage of developing the website and for all the resources and people needed to make the site a reality.
  • For a vision of what exactly to do to make gospel videos that would reach people

The Heart of the Gospel

In our first class of our study of the gospel we started by looking at the basic definition of the Greek word "euangelion" (good news) and the English word "gospel" (God's story). As an illustration I used a king whose wife had given him his first son. The king would send out heralds throughout his kingdom to proclaim his "good news".

Next we look at all the descriptor words and phrases I could find in the Bible pertaining to the gospel. Here is what I found:

Of the kingdom , of Jesus Christ Son of God, of Christ, of the glory of Christ, of our Lord Jesus, of His Son, of God, God's, of the blessed God, of the grace of God, of your salvation, of peace, not man's, word , of a great joy, of peace through Jesus Christ, kingdom of God, about Jesus, word of truth, word of life, word of faith, word of the Lord, word of Christ, word of God, message of reconciliation, message of salvation, mystery of Christ, eternal, law of liberty, power of God for salvation, glorious, wisdom of God.
Then we looked at some verses that show what the heart of the gospel is. Here are two of them:

1 Timothy 2:5-6
5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (New International Version)
3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

From this Paul gives us the most concise basic proclamation we have for the gospel- "Christ died for our sins."

If you look at all the descriptor words and these verses we see that the gospel is about Jesus and what He did. For me Jesus is the heart of the gospel and it includes not only what He did but also what He is doing now and what He will do in the future.

For homework next week I asked them to write out a complete definition of the essence or "heart" of the gospel. Below is mine. I would appreciate any constructive comments.

The essence or “heart” of the gospel is the good news about Jesus and all that He did for us, all that he is doing and all that he will do. By the will of the Father, Jesus became a human being and lived a sinless life which fulfilled the perfect law of God. Then Jesus obediently went to the cross and suffered the wrath of the Father for every sin ever committed. After His death on the cross, Jesus was buried and rose again three days later, proving that Jesus was indeed sinless and that God’s wrath was satisfied for all sins. After 40 days of showing Himself to many people and teaching many things, He ascended to heaven where the Father exalted Him to the highest place and where, at the right hand of the Father, He reigns and intercedes for the church. In the future He will return to set up His kingdom on the earth and eventually He will recreate and restore the heavens and earth to what God had intended from the beginning.

Finally Some Cool Weather

After having a brutally hot summer here in Bucuresti it is great to finally have some cool weather 60F/15C. I hope we don't see anymore of those extreme temperatures. During July and August we had temperatures in the 100F/40C range most of the time. In fact, at times the temperature got up to 108F/42C in the shade and 122F/50C in the open. Dozens of older people died here from the extreme heat.

I've lived in Boise which gets pretty hot in the summer but the difference here in Bucuresti is the humidity. I really had a hard time dealing with it and it was so bad that it started to affect my health. I couldn't sleep and at times I had severe problems with my skin itching all over my body as well. I finally started sleeping in my office at the ministry building cause it has air conditioning. When I get my own apartment having air conditioning is going to be a must.

Understanding RSS

If you don't know what RSS is all about take the time to watch this video. RSS is great and I have it on my blog so you can subscribe to get notified whenever I post something new. As the video says you need a "reader" in order to use RSS. I use Google Reader as I think it is the best one out there.

Off to a Good Start

We finished the first week of classes here at the School of Ministry and I think we got off to a good start. If you want to see the photos I took you can click here. I thank God that everything went so well.

Before classes start Tuesday through Friday we begin each day with morning devotions for a half hour. It includes worship, reading scripture & sharing about those verses and then a time of prayer. This first week Florin and I took turns leading the devotions but starting next week the students will begin to take turns leading the devotionals as well.

Another aspect of the school is that all the full-time students have to be involved in ministry either here in Bucuresti or some other Calvary Chapel in Romania. To prepare for ministry we meet late morning Fridays to talk and pray about what everybody is doing for ministry over the weekend. Then on Mondays we get together in the evening to go over what happened during the weekend, sharing struggles & problems and to pray for one another. I hope these times before and after the weekend will become a time of support and encouragement for the students as they serve the Lord.

In addition, all the full-time students who are serving in Bucuresti are required to be involved in doing street evangelism on Friday evenings. Four of us from the School of Ministry (SOM) went out last night, along with two guys from our church. We met at the ministry building at 6:00pm to worship, talk about what we are going to do and pray. Then we went to a nearby park in pairs and had a great time sharing for a little over an hour. When it was over and we got back together, to share what happened and to pray, everyone was excited about the opportunities God had given them.
Next time we will stay out at least two hours!

Please continue to pray for us. Especially for the students as school is a big adjustment for them.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

School of Ministry Started

Today, the School of Ministry began its fall semester. We have three full time students and a handful of part time students. You can check out some photos here. I will be adding more photos thru the week as other classes start up.

I am teaching two classes- the gospel of Luke and an intensive study of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In addition, Florin is teaching the Inductive Bible Study class and Galatians/Ephesians class. Adi is teaching the Bible survey class which covers the first half of the Old Testament this semester. When Shane gets back from the States he will be teaching Genesis.

We would appreciate your prayers for the school and those involved in it.