Monthly Archives: February 2015

Loving the Bible

This was reportedly said by Charles Spurgeon: “By this the elect of God are known—that they love the Word of God”

I have been a student of the Bible for 35 years now. I try to read it every day and to one degree or another I am successful. It is my source of certainty about the knowledge of God. Yes, I said certainty.

When I was in seminary a while back I was struck to discover that textual criticism had failed as a tool to disprove the Bible, but rather, thanks to the work of textual critics, I can have more trust in the Bible.

Recently I’ve been studying about Islam for a program I’m in. I’m not studying Islam, I’m studying about Islam. As I have read about its early history, I have been struck by the apparent weakness of its core document. It is a document that, according to what I am learning, can not stand the test of textual criticism as the Bible has.

If you are a disciple of Jesus, you are a learner (that’s what the word means), you should cultivate a love of the Bible, what Spurgeon called the Word of God.

Tragically, studies show many Christians, and, sadly even their pastors, do not share this love of the Word of God. Too bad more Christians aren’t disciples.

Don’t study about God, study God. Be a learner. Be disciplined. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you cultivate a love of the Word He breathed into existence.

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Filed under being a disciple, definitions, disciple making, seeking understanding, spiritual questions/musings/wonderings

Travel tip update

A couple of weeks ago I arrived at a bus station in Serbia after a long, but largely enjoyable, ride from Sarajevo.


My first stop was the cash machine which was out of service. It was the only one. I needed cash. Fortunately Sweet Anna had insisted two weeks earlier, as I went out the door, that I take some dollars along so I looked in my secret dollar storage pocket and took out a ten and turned it into Serbian Dinars. Off I went to my next bus! Good thing too, they charge you to stow your bag in the baggage compartment under the bus and the ticket girl takes no plastic.

Travel Tip: keep a few tens and twenties with you. Don’t plan to use them so if you need to, you have them. And use a change window, you’ll get ripped off by the guy standing around to change money.

Oh, and, always listen to Sweet Anna.

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Filed under photos along the way, travel notes

Obama, Merkel and Putin seen through a lens from 20 years ago

In a discussion of civilization 20* years ago, Samuel Huntington said the following:

… Russia,…, has been a torn country for several centuries…

Russia’s relations with Western civilization have evolved through four phases. In the first phase, which lasted down to the reign of Peter the great, Kievan Rus and Muscovy existed separately from the West and had little contact with Western European societies. Russian civilization developed as an offspring of Byzantine civilization and then for two hundred years, from the mid thirteenth to the mid-fifteenth centuries, Russia was under Mongol suzerainty. Russia had no or little exposure to the defining historical phenomena off of Western civilization: Roman Catholicism, feudalism, the Renaissance, the Reformation, overseas expansion and colonization, the enlightenment, and the emergence of the nation state. Seven of the eight previously identified distinctive features of Western civilization-religion, languages, separation of church and state, rule of law, social pluralism, representative bodies, individualism-were almost totally absent from the Russian experience. The only possible exception is the Classical legacy, which, however, came to Russia via Byzantium and hence was quite different from that which came to the west directly from Rome. Russian civilization was a product of its indigenous roots in Kievan Rus and Muscovy, substantial Byzantine impact, and prolonged Mongol rule. These influences shaped a society and a culture which had little resemblance to those developed in Western Europe under the influence of a very different forces. (p. 139-140)

As of 1995 the future of liberal democracy in Russia and other Orthodox republics was uncertain. In addition, as the Russians stop behaving like Marxists and began behaving like Russians, the gap between Russia and the West broadened. … A Western democrat could carry on an intellectual debate with a Soviet Marxist. It would be impossible for him to do that with a Russian orthodox nationalist. (p. 142)

Think on these when you hear Obama and Merkel talk about “negotiations” with Putin.

From: The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel P. Huntington, 1996, Simon and Schuster.)

* When I first posted this I had indicated 30 years and then realized my math was off. I am operating on the assumption that Huntington did his writing in 1995 and published and 1996.

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Filed under culture, definitions, Eastern Europe, Ukraine

Looking back to Sarajevo

On this trip I was on my own a lot and was able to explore beautiful Sarajevo on my own terms.

Here are a series of pix I took in a neighborhood up the hill from Old Town. They are of a kind of neighborhood mosque with many graves from 1992-1995 and the main mosque in the Old Town.




My assumption is that these died in the siege during the war when Serbs bombarded the city from the surrounding mountain tops.


Down the hill, I went to the main mosque, it’s minaret was visible down this alley…


And upon entering you are given the rules…


On Fridays this mosque is filled with Muslims…


Walking by the side I noted the extra prayer rugs stacked in the window…


Martin Luther said that Muslims (among many others including Jews and many “Christians”) worship the same God, but they worship him incorrectly. As I study Islam (for my Cross Cultural Studies program) and read from many sides of this discussion, it seems Luther makes a sound argument. The enemy of God wishes to keep people away from him and the best way is a way that looks right while being wrong. A one degree error send KAL 007 into Soviet airspace and hundreds died when the Soviets shot it down. Worshipping the right God the wrong way, through works, may look good, but is not His way.

We depend on grace alone, trusting in the final and complete work of Jesus: death, burial and resurrection. In Christ alone.

Allow not a desire for pluralism to water down the way and the truth.

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Filed under being a disciple, culture, culture > disciple making, definitions, disciple making, Eastern Europe, experience, from the Balkans, photos along the way, seeking understanding, spiritual questions/musings/wonderings, travel notes


Not unpacked: either baggage


or in my head, but it is so good to be home after a great trip. Some fresh thoughts on disciple making are brewing after this trip.

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Filed under being a disciple, culture > disciple making, disciple making, Eastern Europe, photos along the way