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Archive for February, 2011

What should Christians do with this Exodus 25:1-9?  If you are unfamiliar with this passage, it is the Lord’s call through Moses to take up a contribution for the building of the tabernacle as a sanctuary for God – the place of God’s dwelling.  Is this passage to be used to talk about Christian stewardship?  Perhaps it may seem more logical as a ground for a sermon on raising capital for a sanctuary building project?

To be sure, there is a lot of confusion among Christians (and from non-Christians) when it comes to money and the church.  I’ve heard people say that some preachers preach ONLY about money – “money, money, money!”   Other preachers promise that if you give them money, God will multiply yours – i.e., the prosperity “gospel.”  As a reaction some preachers don’t ever want to talk about money – that’s me!

Of course, once you mention money in church, some people begin to sweat, while others may even get angry.  Often times such reactions are directly related to  how one is doing financially at the time.

On Sunday morning, after returning from my trip to Romania, I preached Exodus 25:1-9.  I warned our people that at the end of the message we would have an offering.  However, I warned them that I wasn’t going to be asking them to put their money where their mouth is; I was going to ask them for their very lives.

Listen to the Sermon:

Sunday Morning, February 27, 2011
Let All Who have a Willing Heart Give!
Exodus 25:1-9

 

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I thought I had finished posting updates because there really was nothing else to report; however, as I was in my room tying up lose ends and trying to get some sermon preparation done for Sunday, someone came to my door to invite me to preach at a prayer service in a village church tonight.  I had planned a nice quiet dinner with friends on my last evening, but how can you refuse an opportunity to preach?

Grace Baptist Church in a village outside Oradea

Tonight I had the privilege of preaching at Grace Baptist Church in a village just outside of Oradea.  It was a beautiful drive through a resort area on the hills that draws tourists in because of the hot springs.  In addition, everything was white because it has been snowing here for three days straight.

View from the balcony of Grace

View from the choir area in Grace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
I had the privilege of preaching one final time the message I have been preaching in all the churches – Love is the distinguishing mark of a Christian.  Two first year theology students accompanied us and provided leadership in the area of music.  After the sermon, the pastor exhorted the people, and we spend the remainder of the time in prayer.  It was a joy to be with the brothers and sisters of Grace Baptist Church.

On the way home, the pastor, the two students and I went to dinner at a restaurant on the way home, and we ate a traditional Romanian meal.  Again, it was a wonderful time of fellowship.


I am now in my room making preparations to pack.  There will not be much time to sleep tonight, as it is already almost midnight, and we are leaving at 4:00 a.m. for Budapest.  I ask that you would pray for our safe journey to Budapest – about three hour drive.  Also, I ask that you would pray that I make it to all my flights.  I am traveling all day Saturday in order to preach on Sunday morning, but if I miss a plane, I will either be stuck in Budapest or Frankfurt.  I am looking forward to being home with Jeanine and the girls and seeing our High Pointe family on the Lord’s day.

Categories : Church, Missions
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In a previous blog post, I linked an article from the Wall Street Journal asking the question, “Where Have the Good Men Gone?”  This post has stirred up a lot of conversation on facebook, so I thought I would follow up by posting some of the responses I have shared with folks wrestling with the perspective of the author of the article.

After 36 persons had previously posted comments, I jumped into the fray with the following response:

This article has been particularly interesting to me because I have been in Romania, in part, to teach on biblical manhood and womanhood. What is interesting is that the women here would agree with the article. In other words, they would also feel that men are less prepared for life and marriage than women, though probably for reasons more particular to their culture.

Nevertheless, the issue is one of evaluating your own heart first. In my experience, part of the dilemma from the women’s perspective, and this is universal, is that they are generally more mature and think on things (life issues) more seriously than men. Note, I said generally – there is a a difference between generalizations (permissible if true) and stereotypes (not permissible regardless), while men generally take more time to mature.

I am not sure how this is directly related to the sexual revolution that is very critical of men (response to a previous comment), however. The issue is actually the reverse. What this shows is that no matter how hard we try, God has created us male and female for a reason, and women, even unbelieving women, want men to lead, protect and provide. That is what is ironic about this article. This is not a feminist article in that sense. It is crying out for men to fulfill their God-given roles.

Here is what my universal experience is through two decades of ministry, missions and counseling. It is not sufficient that a man profess faith in Christ. He must also be maturing in his pursuit of biblical manhood. Today’s culture works against that, allowing men to act like boys a lot longer. I think that’s the point of the article.

Ladies, on the other hand, have to guard themselves from becoming bitter, and they have to put their trust in the sovereign Lord to bring them together with a man who is growing in Christ and in pursuit of manhood.

Someone then asked about the link between spiritual maturity and maturity in biblical manhood.  In addition, they wondered if the issue was simply one of a man having enough money.  I responded:

Hey All! I am glad everyone is engaged in this convo! It shows that we need to talk over some things, and that is always good.

Let me try to answer the questions . . .

You are asking good questions. Let me take your second question first – the one about money. I don’t think women think in terms of money allowing men to do manly things. For women the issue is one of security. They want to feel secure in the sense that they are being provided for. In this sense a man must be able to sustain a family and provide for them. There are plenty of males who have “money” but money doesn’t make a male a man. In fact, if a male has money and is still immature, he is just a big boy with plenty of cash to keep him playing longer than the other boys.

Now, as to your other question about the relationship between spiritual maturity and biblical manhood, I addressed the issue of maturity generally because that is what the article was critiquing – the fact that it takes longer now a days for boys to mature into men. Ideally, if a man is a Christian he should be growing in Christian maturity and, therefore, be growing in manhood. It is possible to grow in Christian knowledge and maturity and still be somewhat ignorant about what it means to be a man. My expectation for my girls is that God would give each of them a man who is (1) growing in Christian maturity, (2) growing in maturity as a biblical man – i.e., leader, protector, provider, (3) willing to remain chaste and protect my daughter’s chastity throughout courtship, and (4) willing to come under my authority during courtship until she comes under his authority in marriage.

I am greatly encouraged by such interest from young men in wanting to understand and grow in biblical manhood.  Again, I would encourage you to read my previous post on this subject and listen to the sermons related to biblical manhood and womanhood.

The best little book I have read on this subject is John Ensor’s, Doing Things Right in Matters of the Heart.  I would urge single men and women, as well as parents of teenagers, to pick up a copy and read through it.

Finally, I would challenge the men of High Pointe, young and old, single and married, to join us for our annual men’s retreat coming up next weekend, March 4-5, at Camp Buckner.  John Ensor will be our guest speaker, and he will be addressing these very issues.

Categories : Commentary
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As of this morning I have concluded all of my teaching responsibilities, so I thought I would go ahead and write one final “journal” entry with lots of pictures wrapping up my last two days here in Romania.

Main Chapel

As expected, on Thursday morning at 8:00 a.m., I preached at the special chapel service for theological students.  I preached from 1 Timothy 4, on the necessity for the gospel minister to train himself in the gospel word and live out a gospel life.  I also addressed what a gospel ministry looks like and to what end we are toiling.  It was a joy to share with the brothers.

Main Building Containing Admin, Classrooms and Dorms

My primary responsibility at Emanuel University this week was to teach theological anthropology to third year theology students.  As an overflow of this topic, I addressed the topic of biblical manhood and womanhood during the afternoons from Monday through Wednesday.  As for our theological anthropology class, I sought to show how practical theology was.  In Europe, studies tend to be very theoretical and sometimes esoteric, so I sought to model how we construct our theology from the Bible first (exegetical theology) and interpret the texts within the context of the entire Bible (biblical theology), then build our theology (systematic theology).  The goal of this method is to teach the church God’s word and ways.  Consequently, I sought to bring the theology we constructed to practical levels.  In this light, we were able to talk about the nature of man and the origin of the soul and other such topics normally covered under theological anthropology and tie it to such issues as abortion, euthanasia, in vitro fertilization, birth control, dignity, self-worth, etc.

Today in our theology class we unpacked the doctrine of sin, showing the root of sin as frustrated, unmet desires (James 1:13, 4:1-3) and the essence of sin as unbelief (Hebrews 3).  Again, I sought to lead us from the Bible to life, showing that if unbelief is the essence of sin, then the essence of the battle against sin is belief/faith.  Thus, we are to fight against sin and temptation by faith in God and His promises (2 Peter 1:3-4).  We concluded our time by addressing the topic of biblical manhood and womanhood.  It was a great joy to be with these third year theological students. The are very bright and very curious.  I was greatly humbled to be with them, and they taught me a great deal.

Bethany Church in Saint Martin

On Thursday evening, I had the privilege of gathering with the brethren of Bethany Church in Saint Martin, a little town just a few kilometers outside of Oradea.  The church has a great ministry to orphans, so half of those in attendance were young people.  I preached the same message I had been preaching in all the churches on love as the distinguishing mark of a Christian.  The message was well-received.  After preaching, we spent a good amount of time on our feet praying together.  When Romanian Baptists pray, the stand up.  As we all stood up, men and women took turns lifting their requests to the Lord.  It was a sweet time.

Corazul Italian Restaurant

After our prayer meeting, I asked my translator if he would take us to Corazul Italian Restaurant.  I had eaten there earlier in the week, and the food had been so incredible that I wanted to bless him for all his labor.  If you have never translated, then it is difficult to imagine just how difficult a task it is.  You have to think simultaneously in two languages, trying to find the most clear way to communicate what is being spoken.  You seek to be as literal as possible, knowing that some things do not translate literally.  My translator was very gracious and humble, and I am glad I had the opportunity to bless him in this way.  For Romanians, this restaurant is fine dining.  The cuisine was exquisite, and in the United States I would not be able to afford such a restaurant; however, here in Oradea, this fine dining quality came at the price equivalent to our Carrabba’s Italian Restaurant.

After dinner I returned to my room and continued sermon preparation for this coming Sunday.  It was a nice restful day and evening.

Romanian Mall-Clothing Store

Romanian Mall-Clothing Store

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
After my final morning class on Friday, I asked one of the students if he could take me to the mall so that I could buy my girls a little something to take back.  Inside this mall is the Romanian “Walmart-type” store that I had visited earlier.  I wanted to pick up some Swiss chocolate for the girls – nothing costly but enough to let them know I was thinking about them.  After my purchases, we walked through the mall so I could get a taste of Romanian culture.  We stopped in a flower shop so that I could purchase some flowers for my dinner hosts this evening.  The pictures above represent two clothing stores in the mall.  As you can see, fashion is important to Europeans.

McDonald's in Oradea

After our trek to the mall, I wanted to bless my student for his troubles, so we went to McDonald’s for lunch.  I don’t normally eat at McDonald’s at home unless we are traveling, but when I travel abroad, a place like McDonald’s provides familiar comfort food that takes you back home for a few minutes.

Juan in the Snow on Campus of Emanuel

As my time in Romania has come to a near close, and as I reflect upon my time here, I am overjoyed at the work the Lord has allowed me to perform on His behalf.  It has been a wonderful time with the students, faculty and staff of Emanuel University.  My time here has been quite busy, and I did not manage to get much time to myself in order to reflect and plan as I had hoped; nevertheless, the work the Lord is doing here through Emanuel University is evident.  I am glad to take such a small part in such a great work.

I have one final evening in Oradea.  I will eat dinner in the home of dear friends this evening, and I will begin my journey to Budapest between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m. on Saturday.  Since it has been snowing for several days, the roads will be slick.  My plane leaves Budapest a little after 9:00 a.m.  Please pray that our three hour journey to Budapest in the snow will be safe and that I will arrive at the airport in plenty of time for my flight (at least 2 hours ahead).  I will spend all day Saturday traveling, and Lord willing, I will be in my house by 10:00 p.m. on Saturday evening.  Please pray that the Lord would give me much grace and allow me to rest appropriately.  I plan on preaching this Sunday morning at High Pointe, and I still have some sermon preparation work to do.

Categories : Commentary, Missions
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Afternoon Class on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

Day 5 (Wednesday) – February 23

I had another early morning today, and it gave me another opportunity to chat with Jeanine before she went to bed.  After my chat with Jeanine, I attempted to get some exercise in by doing push ups, crunches and jumping jacks.  I purposely did not bring my running gear because I knew the weather would not be conducive.  I have been off my normal diet, but I have enjoyed fellowship with brothers and sisters over wonderful meals.  I know when I return to Austin, Lord willing, that I will need to get back into my diet and exercise routine.  This morning I read through John 4, since that is the passage I had planned to preach later in the day in chapel.  It was a joy to relax in the morning and have this time to myself.

For my 9:00 a.m. class on theological anthropology, we covered some detailed questions such as, what is the nature of man – body and soul/spirit or body, soul and spirit?  Though such questions may seem esoteric, the practical implications are quite important, for the danger in Christianity is to lean toward extremes.  For example, in the twentieth century, it was common for Christians to emphasize the spiritual over the material, the spirit over the body.  The most ridiculous result is the caricature of heaven as believers in white robes with wings and harps.  The consequence of emphasizing the spiritual to the neglect of the physical body is that we become Christian Platonist, or as Randy Alcorn suggests, Christo-Platonists.  In other words, the Greeks, following Plato saw the spiritual realm as superior to the physical realm.  They anticipated a spiritual existence away from the corrupt/evil physical body.  When you look at Scripture, however, what you find is that we are created to be whole persons, body and soul/spirit.  We were not meant to be separated.  In fact, that lead us to the next topic of discussion – the intermediate state.

The fact that we are created to be whole persons is evidenced in Paul’s emphasis in 2 Corinthians 4 and 5, that to be away from this body before we receive our resurrection body is to be naked, unclothed.  We had a wonderful discussion walking through 1 Corinthians 15, and talking about the continuity and discontinuity between our present body and our resurrection body.  It is a joy to share with these brothers.

After class, I had the privilege of preaching at the campus wide chapel.  I preached from John 4, explaining that Jesus’ hunger was to do the Father’s will and finish the Father’s work.  I asked what we are hungry for, and encouraged us to be hungry for and be satisfied by Christ and doing the Father’s will and work.  We then talked about specific ways that we can join in the Father’s will and work.  The students listened attentively, and I was greatly blessed.

After chapel I ate a quick lunch, changed out of my suit and tie, and decompressed for about 45 minutes.  It was then time to teach my final class on biblical manhood and womanhood (see picture above).  This class was sheer joy!  Everyone was engaged each day, and we had wonderful discussion.  Today we talked about the secret to imperishable beauty from 1 Peter 3:1-6.  It was a joy to be able to encourage both the ladies and the men in this topic.  We concluded that a truly beautiful woman is one who adorns the hidden person of the heart with submission.  However, that does not mean she is weak.  In fact, the daughter of Sarah is one who hopes in God, fear God, and as a result, has no need to fear anything else.

As I did not have dinner plans tonight, I went to my room and ate a sandwich and took advantage of the time to work on Sunday’s sermon.  I managed to chat briefly with Jeanine, and get some work done on email, but the focus of my time was sermon preparation.  Unlike the two previous other evenings, I have found some extra energy tonight, so I am still working at 1:00 a.m.  I suspect I will not be getting up extremely early in the morning.

I am beginning to feel that I am on the downside of the trip.  Things are moving faster, and I only have two full days in Romania.  Tomorrow will be a full day, as I preach at 8 a.m. in the chapel for theology students, teach my 9 a.m. theological anthropology class, then leave to preach at a church in the evening.  I want to thank High Pointe for the opportunity to be away in order to serve in Romania this week.  I miss my church family, and I long to be with you all this coming Lord’s day, Lord willing.

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The Number Ten Big Demographic Trend in Austin is . . .

. . . Intensifying urban sprawl.

Ryan Robinson, city of Austin demographer, suggests:

The Austin region will continue to experience intense urban sprawl, please see map.  Although there is an enormous amount of residential development currently underway within the urban core and in downtown Austin, the thousands of new units being created there will be only a drop in the regional bucket of total residential units created.  There simply are very few land availability constraints in the territory surrounding Austin.

And yet this is not to say that the positive effects of new urbanism and Smart Growth policies won’t be felt inside the city, it is rather to say that even with the success of the many enlightened urbanizing efforts currently afoot in Austin, urban sprawl and its footprint will have an enduring presence in central Texas.

In other words, in spite of the ongoing gargantuan efforts to revitalize downtown Austin by building multiple residential units in order to have a viable city center with young life, Austin will continue spreading out as it grows.  There will be residential growth downtown AND continued residential growth outward from the city as residential developments continue to increase outside the city center.

This means that we need churches both in the city center and in the urban sprawl.  Churches will need to work together to reach all of Austin with the gospel.  It will not be an either/or approach to ministry; it will be a both/and.  We must reach those moving into the city, AND we must reach those who moving outside the city.  City churches will likely look different than the churches outside city center, as those outside the city center have chosen to embrace a more suburban culture.

So, let us find ways to encourage one another and help resource one another.  Our largest and most resource-filled churches are outside the city center, while city center churches are newer, younger and tend to lack resources.  Together, we can express the love of Christ and a testimony of the oneness of the body.  We can learn from one another and encourage each other in the work of the kingdom.

Categories : Commentary, Missions, News
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Day 4 (Tuesday) – February 22

I was not able to post last night because I was so tired.  As I wake up this morning, yesterday seems like such a blur.  Nevertheless, as I think on the events of yesterday at Emanuel, the Lord continues to be very kind.

My phone rang yesterday morning a little after 4:00 a.m., and I was not able to go back to sleep, so I turned on the lights and began to work on my laptop.  One of the joys of modern technology is that as I am online, I am able to chat with Jeanine during her wake hours.  The time difference is 8 hours (right now it’s 9:20 p.m. in Austin).  It has been a joy to be able to keep up with her and what’s going on with the girls.

Yesterday morning was fruitful, as the Lord allowed me to get some things done before my first assignment.  At 8 a.m., I preached at a chapel service for all the theological students.  I preached from 1 Corinthians 3, warning the brothers about placing ministers on a pedestal and about wanting to be placed on a pedestal.  I also warned them about the vital necessity to build our ministries on the foundation of Christ alone with eternal materials.  In my discussion with the faculty and students of Emanuel, I have come to discover that the prosperity gospel is taking hold in Romania.  Evidently, it is a great problem in South Africa – such that the prosperity gospel was addressed at the Lausanne Congress in Cape Town at the end of last year.  In fact, the prosperity gospel in Romania was the topic of my conversation over lunch.

From 9 a.m. to noon, I had my second theological anthropology session with the third year theology students.  They are a wonderful and humble group of young men who love the Lord and desire to pursue the gospel ministry.  They are very well trained here at Emanuel University and are very detailed oriented.  Their main approach to theological thinking is in dogmatic categories, so I spent the morning doing a biblical theological overview of God’s purpose for mankind – God’s intention to dwell with His people in the place of His presence, under His rule and care, for His glory and for our joy.  It was very helpful to have these discussion in light of our creation in God’s image.  As the image of God, we were created to represent God and glorify Him by being fruitful and multiplying and filling the earth with His image bearers who would likewise glorify God.  Thus, the whole earth would be filled with the glory of God.  Yet, because of sin, the image of God in man was distorted.  Now, through Christ, God is restoring His image in mankind in order that His godly offspring would glorify Him, reflecting His nature and character to an unbelieving world.  Thus, we are to be fruitful and multiply God’s image by bearing godly offspring, both biological and spiritual, through sharing the gospel.

My afternoon class on biblical manhood and womanhood has been a highlight.  Many of the students who live on campus are able to join us.  This time a few more men were courageous enough to join the overwhelming number of ladies present in the class.  It was a wonderful time.  We addressed the fact that God’s pattern of male leadership established in Eden is to be reflected in the church, but we turned our discussion to the necessity for men to live with their wives in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7).  The ladies were a choir of amens as they agreed that they want men who understand them, that is, who live with them according to a knowledge of who God created them to be and saved them to become.  It was a fun time together and we laughed much.

I had the privilege of going to dinner with another faculty member and one of the administrators of the school.  We also had the faculty member’s son with us who is ten years old and a delightful conversation partner.  We went to an authentic Italian restaurant, and I have to say that I have not had such a wonderful and authentic meal in a restaurant like that in a long time.  For our appetizer, we enjoyed a plate of fried calamari.  Then for dinner, I had pork in a white wine sauce.  They served my fettucini in a separate bowl with butter on top, refusing to serve the pasta on the same plate as the entree – that was “an American thing.”  You can’t go to an Italian restaurant and not have the tiramisu; it did not disappoint.  It was a wonderful meal brought to a completion with an Italian cappuccino.  The highlight of the meal, however, was the wonderful conversation with the brothers.  Throughout our conversations we were able to identify many mutual friends and rejoice in the Lord’s kind dealings in our lives.

After returning to my room, I tried to get some work done, but I was too tired.  By God’s grace I was able to retire about 10 p.m.  Thank you so much for your prayers.  I look forward to starting a new day today with my brothers and sisters at Emanuel University today.

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Feb
22

Where have the good men gone?

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I’ve just finished teaching a class on biblical manhood and womanhood.  After returning to my room, I check my email and find this article forwarded to me – “Where Have the Good Men Gone?”  The author (a female) states in her introduction:

Not so long ago, the average American man in his 20s had achieved most of the milestones of adulthood: a high-school diploma, financial independence, marriage and children. Today, most men in their 20s hang out in a novel sort of limbo, a hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance. This “pre-adulthood” has much to recommend it, especially for the college-educated. But it’s time to state what has become obvious to legions of frustrated young women: It doesn’t bring out the best in men.

Be sure to read the entire article.

As in many cases, the critique is spot on; however, there is no real solution offered.  For that we need to return to the gospel and see what the Bible says about biblical manhood and womanhood.  Below are some messages I preached on biblical manhood and womanhood.  These messages form the basis of what I have been teaching in Romania in relation to what the Bible has to say to men and women regarding gender roles and relationships:

Biblical Manhood

The Strength of an Understanding Husband
1 Peter 3:6

Show Yourself a Man
Genesis 1-3; Ephesians 5:25-33; 1 Peter 3:6

Biblical Womanhood

Becoming Daughters of Sarah
Genesis 1-3, Ephesians 5:22-24; 1 Peter 3:1-6

On Singleness and Serving Christ

The Joy of Singleness in Serving Christ with Undivided Devotion
1 Corinthians 7:7-9, 32-35

The Joy of Preparing for Pursuing Marriage
1 Corinthians 7:7-9, 25-31, 36-38

Categories : Commentary, News, Theology
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Feb
21

Austin – Our Mission Field

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I love Austin!  It is the mission field where the Lord has placed us, and it is a mission field with a great need for the gospel.  It is God’s mission field; therefore, it is our mission field.

Over the next several days I want to highlight the top ten big demographic trends in Austin as stated by the city demographer.  I think they are not just interesting; they will actually help us learn more about our city in order to be better missionaries.  Here is how Ryan Robinson, the city demographer, introduces these top ten trends:

Austin is evolving as a city and as an urban area.  Its point along a trajectory of growth and demographic change can be located and described by outlining several large-scale phenomena of urbanization.  This list of The Top Ten Big Demographic Trends will attempt to answer these questions: Where have we just come from, where are we now, and where are we going as a city?  Demographically speaking that is.

The theme of ethnic change and diversification is a common one throughout the Top Ten, and yet each point addressing the issue highlights a particular aspect of ethnic change significant in its own right.  In one way or another, the trends discussed below are inherently intertwined with one another—each force exerting its own push or pull on the collective, synergistic direction of the city’s demographic path.

I hope this series of posts will not only help us learn more about our city, but also help us to learn to love our city even more.

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Day 3 (Monday) – February 21

The Lord was kind and gracious to me this morning, waking me up at 7:30 a.m.  That’s not as early as I am accustomed to waking up, but I had a late night last night, spent a little time reading the Scriptures, and my internal clock is still adjusting to the time change.

When I awakened, I tried to get my body going by doing some push-ups, crunches and jumping jacks.  I do miss working out, and the way I’m eating here in Romania, I afraid I will have gained some pounds before my return.  After exercising, I had a slow morning since my first class did not begin until 11 a.m. today.  This is the first day of the first week of classes as a new semester begins, so some students are traveling back to Emanuel, some from as far away as Moldova.

I spent three hours this morning with the third year theology students.  My assignment is to teach theological anthropology (the doctrine of man/sin).  We had a wonderful time together.  One great grace from God today was that the students did not require translation.  That means that we can interact directly without the burden of the language barrier.  We addressed worldview thinking, a la Ronald Nash in his Life’s Ultimate Questions, in order to understand how anthropology (what we believe about humanity) affects many contemporary issues such as abortion, euthanasia, human dignity and self-worth, sexuality, gender roles, etc.  My goal was to show the practical nature of theology.  We then addressed how some non-Christian worldviews answer such questions, and began to lay a foundation for a Christian anthropology from Genesis 1-2, rooting our humanity in the image of God.  It was a joyous morning as the students interacted well.

We were able to eat lunch in the cafeteria around 2.30 p.m., then I went to my room to close my eyes for a few minutes.

From 4-5.30 p.m., I met with all students who were interested in discussions on biblical manhood and womanhood.  Much to my surprise, I entered a room full of ladies.  When a young man finally walked in, he was surprised and asked, “Are boys allowed in this class?”  “”NO!,” I responded. “Only men!”  We all had a good laugh, and he was brave enough to lead the way for other men to join us.  In fact, he showed great leadership by volunteering to be my translator.  We then spent an hour and a half unpacking God’s purposeful creation of male and female as God’s image.  I emphasized that our self-worth is rooted in who we are, not what we do.  In other words, both male and female are equal before God as His image, yet we have distinct roles.  Our self-worth is not rooted in the roles we fulfill but in who God made us to be His image.  We were able to walk through Genesis 1-2, in order to show God’s purposeful pattern in male as leader, protector and provider and woman as the helper who follows, encourages and affirms male leadership.  We also saw from Genesis 3, how Satan attacked God’s very structure and how the man allowed the woman to occupy a place of leadership and provision, while the man failed to protect, lead or provide for the woman.  The end result was the entrance of sin through Adam’s rebellion (Romans 5:12ff).  The curse of Genesis 3:16, shows how the man and the woman will be in perpetual conflict with the woman desiring to consume her husband and take his place, while the man will respond with harshness in order to put her in her place.  The gospel of Jesus Christ, of course, addresses sinful manhood and womanhood and restores us to the original pattern, reminding wives to follow their husband’s leadership (Ephesians 5:22-24), and reminding the husbands not to tyrannize, but instead to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25-33).  We display who God is when we fulfill our God-given roles.

A little after 6 p.m., I went to dinner with new friends.  They took me to a local restaurant/pizzeria.  It was a great time of fellowship as I got to know more about these dear brothers who love the Lord and are hard at work to train the next generation of Romania’s pastors and leaders.  After dinner, I asked my friends to take me somewhere I could buy some European chocolate for my girls; so they took me to a humongous Walmart-type store that was inside a mall.  The picture below give you a glimpse of the massiveness of this store.  A decade ago, a store like this would not have existed in Oradea.  The town is growing rapidly, and the western influence had invaded Oradea for better and for worse.

Don’t let this picture fool you.  Romania is in the midst of an economic crisis in which the state workers, which is %50 of the workers in Romania, have had their salaries reduced by %25 and are taxed at or near %50.  If you consider an average salary of 300 lei per month after taxes and realize that 3 lei is about $1.00 US, then you’ll quickly see that an individual is making about $100/month on average.  Now, I confess these figures may not be completely accurate, but this is the picture I have gotten from various conversations with state workers – keep in mind that includes doctors, teachers, university professors, etc.  Unfortunately, though Communism came to a halt at the end of 1989, socialist structures and systems and ideas did not.  Therefore, the country is in deep recession, while outside investors have brought business ventures into the country to some financial gain.

In the midst of all this, Emanuel University is training young men and women in business management as well as in the Bible.  Tonight at dinner as I spoke with one of the faculty in the business school, I was greatly encouraged as to how Emanuel is equipping young people to help small businesses in Romania.  Please pray that the Lord will use Emanuel University to exalt Christ as graduates enter the workforce, and help small businesses out.

Well, it is just now 11 p.m., and I have to rework my class lecture notes, so I will sign off.  I look forward to the Lord’s blessings tomorrow, should He grant us a tomorrow.  May the Lord grant you much grace and peace!

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