Category Archives: spiritual questions/musings/wonderings

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

controlling what you read? thinking about how to read the Bible

I believe that we should have a strategy for Scripture reading as part of our greater plan to train our hearts and minds as disciples of Jesus. But, I want to make the case for NOT controlling all of our reading. I think it is natural for us to gravitate to that which is helpful and encouraging, and this is fine. But, I think if we are in control of what we read, we are probably missing some blessing from the Bible’s vast resources that we may miss. This is why I am a big advocate of the Bible reading plans available out there. I am very thankful that today we have the YouVersion Bible application.

Here are three lists that I think are particularly helpful:

The first step I’d take is The Essential 100, I like it because it give a big picture of the Bible, a great place to start if you’ve had trouble developing the habit of daily Scripture reading.

The second step I’d take is The Essential Jesus. Now that you have begun the habit, this is a great way to get to know Jesus by reading some familiar texts about Him.

The best step, in my current thinking, is The M’Cheyne Reading Plan which takes you through the Bible in one year (and the New Testament twice).

By reading texts not of your choosing, by relinquishing control of what you read, God the Holy Spirit can show you things that you may not see otherwise. As we begin a new year, let’s renew our efforts to know God better and let Him speak through His word.

Oh, the YouVersion has apps for both iPhone and Android.

Good Reading!

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2nd annual Christmas Reading

Years ago a colleague did this reading to this music in a faculty meeting. I immediately read it to my classes and then, in Charlottesville, it became a Christmas Chapel tradition and then at the annual Live Nativity. Those days are past so here it is for those who remember or for those who have not heard it before.

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someone will have to tell me I died


I was having coffee with a guy the other day and we were talking about an author that both of us appreciate. This writer has had a great impact on the both of us. He told me that it was said near his death that this writer said that “someone will have to tell me I died.”

The idea is that the Christian life is one of growing so close to God in our prayer, in our reading of Scripture, in our relationships, in our day to day life that we have gotten to the point where we have disciplined ourselves into the joy of living in the very presence of God here on earth.

This, I think was what Jesus meant in the high priestly prayer of John, this, is I think what Paul was urging us toward in his letters.

Being a Christian is not just about getting to heaven. Being a Christian is the kingdom of heaven now.

This I think may very well be one of the better understandings of Immanuel, God with us.


That’s what.

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culture of sexual assault: what can leaders learn?

This is (I think) the final set of my thoughts on this saga. This story is now like a rain soaked flooded river that is carrying trees and all kinds of debris and descruttion. The problems with the magazine, the writer and the reported victim now are serving to distract from the bigger problems. These bigger problems are what need to be addressed by leaders whose work, actions and policy decisions have impact on the safety and well being of young people.

At the Board of Visitors meeting immediately after the story broke, both quick action and pause were called for. It would appear that the school president chose to develop an action plan. Granted, much of that action has been to have consultations, but in her address that I have posted on this blog (just scroll down) she outline some very practical and positive steps: more police partnership, more counselling resources, and a review of policies. From this keyboard, it looks like she is on the right track. She is addressing the symptoms of the problem as best she can. She can do little to address the disease. The disease is a culture that is falling apart before our very eyes.

Indeed, at so many levels, this saga is like a veritable kaleidoscope manifesting cultural flaws. The more this story gets turned, the more we see the flaws in our culture. It has shined an international spotlight on the way the university wrestles with all the aspects of rape (I would suggest that this is true at every American college at one level or another). It has cast a spotlight on the Greek culture, where out-of-control 18-22 year olds live virtually unsupervised and are usually looked upon with “tisk-tisk” or worse, “boys will be boys,” and “say nothing until my lawyer gets there.” It has cast a spotlight on poor journalistic practices at a national magazine (did none of us consider the source?). And now the competition is having a field day tearing the story up and the reported victim was ‘outed’ last night on Twitter and her life is coming into the spotlight.

I could go on, but won’t, because the real problem now, as this story unravels, is that leaders (now that their feet are out of the fire) will be distracted. There are systemic problems brought up in the story that need to be addressed. All deans at all colleges need to be asking “What are the ways that we are not serving our student body in this case?” But they can only treat the symptoms of a greater cultural disease.

I’ve said it before, college presidents and boards of visitors don’t change culture. Culture is changed one person at a time. And the only way to affect real change to cultures is done as God changes hearts. This is why Jesus came. This is why we followers of Jesus celebrate Christmas. He came. God with us. Emmanuel.

So the leaders of the university need to press on with needed reforms. But one reform I would suggest is that leaders of the university take a fresh look at the way they treat Christian ministries to the university. Rather than putting roadblocks in front of these ministries, who seek to bring the life changing good news of Jesus, the university could realize that these volunteers may be their greatest ally.  For this life changing good news of Jesus is the only real means to change hearts and therefore cultures.

Finally, I would suggest that the leaders of churches take a long hard look at the way they have abdicated their responsibility to take the gospel across town (admittedly a cross cultural endeavor) to the university. Yes, there need to be people specifically called to the university community. But I suggest that the senior pastors get together with the leaders of the university ministers and say “How can we partner with you? What can our churches do to help you as you bring the gospel to this community?”

Laws and policies don’t change hearts. Broken laws and policies just point to hearts that are in need of reform from the inside out. Jesus came, died, and rose again for said change in hearts. That is how culture is changed.

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process of growth

Been reading and talking about prayer with some friends as a result of Keller’s new book, Prayer.

As a few of us talk about it and discuss the inter-relationship between reading Scripture and praying, I submit this for your consideration…

pray and read


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