Monthly Archives: March 2017

Before you pray through that list, be sure that…

… you’ve sat in His word and been reminded of His greatness. 

As you dwell with Him in Scripture, you can give Him your needs without worry.


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Mercy where none is deserved…

An angle on St. Matthias church in Budapest. The spires draw our attention heavenward.

When Israel was being led by the various kings – some good, many not so good, some terrible – the nation strayed from God very often. In 2 Kings 17 we read that the people feared the Lord but served other gods. They had one foot in one camp and one in another. We still have that tendency where our faithfulness to God is tested and we fail. We select and give homage to many idols. Things that take attention that is due to God and put it elsewhere. We should carefully examine our lives to see what idols we have chosen to take the place of the Lord in our lives.

But the story doesn’t stop there, as we read on we see that God’s mercy is greater than our love for idols. TWICE in this chapter God reminds them of His covenants with them. He invites them, because of His mercy, to return to Him.

They refused.

They paid a price: defeat, exile and death.

The mercy of God is offered today through His paying a price, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. 

In Christ we may have victory, embrace, and life.

But even those in Christ must keep watch for idols of our choosing, let’s be on guard for idols that distract us from God.

Let’s be disciplined to focus our aim at Heaven.

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Beginning a new week…

It’s been a busy week. Lots of great conversations in which joys have been expressed, sadness described, plans made, solutions sought to challenges. As I begin this second week, today in Osijek, I awoke to this view…

On the M’Cheyne train this morning, part of my reading was about the kings of Israel. Many of these guys did as they wished and cared little about others. On my walk I was thinking about leaders. I thought about the leaders I’ve known. Some of whom helped those with whom they worked become better at what they were doing. Others just used people as resources to build a kingdom for themselves. They got their identity from what they had achieved. Then, back on the M’Cheyne train, I’m reading Titus and was intrigued by these words.

“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”‭‭Titus‬ ‭2:7-8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This is a good teaching for me this morning, I thought it might be for you too.


Jump on the M’Cheyne Train: Join me in reading M’Cheyne One Year Reading Plan:

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áKempis on having time for God

In the 1400s Thomas áKempis wrote down some wisdom about spiritual development or, as I call it, personal discipleship. 

The mystical writer (thou needest not fear or shun their writings, just use discernment when reading them – like much of what is published today – – meaning you should be in the Bible sharpening your discernment more than in the words of men)  urged his readers to avoid frivolous conversation about things out of one’s control, controversies and matters of “the world.” This will, he tells his students, provide ample time for time with God. 

In other words, worry less about the cares of the world, things you cannot control, and you will have made time for looking to God. Thus, God will change your perspective on the circumstances that you can’t control anyway. You will be less anxious, less worried and more joyful.

The reverse is also true.

When focused on the woes of the world more than on the King of glory, our perspective is no different than those without hope.

Where is your hope?

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Twenty Years Ago Today

Twenty years ago today (as best as I can calculate), I arrived on my first visit to Hungary. 

I had been sent to look into the well being of 3 young ladies from Charlottesville. They were paticipating in an exchange program between The Covenant School and Deak Ferenc Gimnazium here in Szeged. This morning I rode the tram out to grab this pic to show that the outside has changed little.

The deputy headmaster at the time was my now long time friend, Gábor. Note his sweatshirt, it was my means of identifying him upon arriving at the old airport. 

Little did anyone realize that, twenty years later, I would still be investing time here, though in a  different capacity. 

A lot has changed since those early years but a lot has also remained the same. 

Twenty years ago, it was a lot to take in, there were far fewer cars then, and public transit was used by, it seems, more people. But I was, it seemed, driven everywhere. The trams at the time were from the 1960’s but have all been replaced with these. 

Today, it appears, many, many people drive their cars and parking is the challenge, perhaps the air quality is different.

The food was amazing, but very different. That week I was fed many, mostly forgotten, new dishes. The most memorable was a cow’s stomach concoction that was very chewy, or maybe it was the mountain of pasta smothered in a crumbly cheese? But a favorite that week, as now – last night in fact – was the Szeged style fish soup which is mildly spicy (until I load it up with hot peppers) and reminds my of a Korean fish soup (that I also still love).

Cafes are an important aspect of the culture now. In fact, it seems to me that since socialism / Communism has been gone for over a generation now, there are far more cafes today. In 1997 there seemed to be two main bakery / coffee shops among my acquaintances then. It was about the ice cream really. The smaller of the two

 appears to have weathered the years and remained open while the much larger one, around the corner, 

has closed and reopened over and again. It’s like you went for ice cream with friends to the little place and to the big one to impress someone. New then was a standing table bakery – coffee shop that spread all over town before they all suddenly closed up. My favorite became and remains this bakery-coffee shop. I stopped this morning to visit for a moment with the owner who likes to practice her English.

It was here at the Szeged station that I boarded my first Hungarian train toward the end of that week. 

There was no clue how big a part of my traveling life these trains would become. 

Twenty years. 

So, with a variety of retes (strudel?) in my bag, I’m of to Budapest on the 10:45. Let’s see if we leave on time… yup, here we go, right on time.

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Vitriol in our expressions, whether implied, explicit, or inviting inference…

I looked up ‘vitriol’ just now to check the spelling. I discovered, to my surprise, that the term is used in chemical discussion. I was told to see sulfuric acid.

Sulfuric acid.

When we allow vitriol to enter our speech, online posts, etc., we are speaking sulfuric acid.

Sulfuric acid burns and disolvrs other elements.

Is that the way you want to speak? Is that the impression you wish for people to have of you? Is that what you want people to think of when they know you’re a follower of Jesus.

At a conference a couple of years back I heard speaker after speaker speak with vitriol against a government and its policies. These guys were theologians and Christian leaders. Finally a real pastor spoke about loving his enemies who happened to also be his neighbors. He spoke with a voice of love against injustice.

Yes, today, we’re surrounded by acidic speech, much of it explicit. But, lets guard our hearts, minds and mouths from joining such. 

Yes, we should speak out against injustice. But let us not become like the politicians and news media. May our calls for justice and right be voiced in love. Maybe we think them our enemy, but Jesus told us to love our enemy. 

Encourage, yes.

Exhort, yes.

Vitriol? No. Not implied, explicit or open to inference.


Not acid.

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