Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of His Servant?

Archive for December, 2007

EXPATS in KOREA (Christmas at HEM*)

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 Is it difficult to be an “expat” in Korea?  It depends.It certainly isn’t for me.  And it hasn’t been from the very beginning. 

Why is that? Is it because I am an “international freak” always on the move, and unsatisfied unless I experiment something new? I do not think so (though I may be rightly classified as an “international freak” – I lived in 4 different countries so far J). 

I think one of the answers is COMMUNITY. 

More specifically, it is CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY.   

As soon as I arrived in Korea I was surrounded by a loving Christian community.  It wasn’t only at the school where I teach, but also at the church that I started to attend with Dr. Steve Chang (New Testament Professor and Pastor of this ministry). 

There is much to be said about this community, but it is simpler to offer a clip from our last Christmas party.  If a picture is worth 1000 words, a video clip (even though it is very short) must be worth thousands of words.  Here you will see a “mixed multitude” singing a Christmas carol. 

Korean Americans educated in the United States (lawyers, dentist, teachers etc.) rub shoulders with Canadians (the blonde guy is British-Canadian J) and Americans married to Korean women.  Single Americans from the South, Manitoba, and the Midwest (most of them teachers) will sing carols with English speaking Koreans (engineers, counselors, workers etc.).  There is even a Romanian-American-Canadian (born in Romania and with dual citizenship) living and teaching in Korea J

Expecting mothers enjoy the company of recent young mothers.  Small children are playing together, and a Korean American mother is holding a Romanian-American-Korean baby (that is how the clip ends)… 

It is not all perfect and “heaven-like” (we are still on earth after all), but Christ is in our midst, and we sing for His glory. 

What better way to celebrate Christmas?  

No – it is not difficult to be an “expat.”  At least not where Christ has been proclaimed and a Christian community was formed.   

For where Christ is, there is love, joy, and forgiveness. And most important, the presence of the Holy Spirit is promised.  And the fruits of the Holy Spirit are love, joy, peace … (Galatians 5:22).  I pray that these fruits will be evident in our lives. 

P.S. Feel free to add your comments about the Christmas party, our community, and everything else you would like to add.

Blessings and JOY,

Pastor Cristian 

*HEM stands for Hallelujah English Ministry:  http://hem.hcc.or.kr/.

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CHRIST the LIBERATOR – Freedom for What?

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If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed…John 8:36 

In the letter to Galatians, the apostle Paul focuses on Christ as the Liberator.  Thus, he starts chapter 5 with the amazing words: For FREEDOM Christ has set us free…!   

This is an amazing and soul-catching statement.  Who does not want freedom?It seems that everybody is interested in this overused word.  Capitalists talk about free enterprise, communists about the freeing of the proletariat, businessmen about free trade, young men about free love etc.  Obviously – there are many types of freedoms, and different people mean different things when they use this word.  I get the feeling that my baby Isaiah’s idea of freedom is to run around without any clothes (since on Sunday morning I have to hold him down while my wife dresses himJ).  

In this context it is important to ask ourselves about the type of freedom  that Christ brought.  What has he freed us from? It is a very important question, because if we do not understand and know what we have to be freed from, we won’t know what we are freed for. 

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*Do We Have a Global Vision?

Even though we live in a “global village” many churches today have a limited vision and concern.  They are so bent and focused on themselves that they forget the universal mission of God as conveyed to us by His Son Jesus Christ (see Mt. 28:19-20).

  

How is our church? What kind of vision do we have?  The answer to these questions can be seen most clearly from our prayers and our mission life.  Let’s check these against the words of apostle Paul who passionately carried on the vision of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He urges the following in 1Timothy 2:1 to 4:

  First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings bemade for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

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The Dead Sea Scrolls (4Q521) and the New Testament II

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Jesus as the Messiah – Luke 4:16-21 

I continue with some useful insights from Dr. Peter Flint about the DSS and the New Testament.  It is well known that Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah (chapter 61) when he went to the Synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath day (see Luke 4:16 to 21).  He reads from Isaiah 61:1-2: 

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,  

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim goodnews to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering ofsight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,  to proclaim the year ofthe Lord’s favor.”   (more…)


The Dead Sea Scrolls and New Testament I

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The Dead Sea Scrolls (well – a few fragments from the scrolls) made it to Korea and they will be here until June.  Meanwhile – we have a few illustrious scholars (Emanuel Tov, Weston Fields, Bruce Zuckerman) giving lectures on the DSS (Dead Sea Scrolls).  Today, together with Dr. Sun Myung Lyu (who is teaching a modular on Psalms at Torch), we made it to the museum and listened to Dr Peter Flint from Trinity Western University, Canada.  His lecture was about the DSS and the New Testament.  He had some interesting and useful information for students of the Bible.  In the next few days, I will try to post some of his insights.

First of all, it is interesting to note that the community at Qumran had the same 3 favorite OT books as the New Testament writers.  In fact, it is instructive and illuminating to take a look at the “top six” books found at Qumran, and to compare them with the most quoted books in the New Testament:

QUMRAN SCROLLS                    QUOTES in the NEW TESTAMENT

6.  Leviticus (9 copies)                    6.  Minor Prophets (30 times)

5.  Exodus (14 copies)                    5.  Genesis (39 times)

4.  Genesis (20 copies)                   4.  Exodus (44 times)

3.  Isaiah (24 copies)                      3.  (Deuteronomy (54 times)

2.  Deuteronomy (27 copies)          2.  Isaiah (66 times)

1.  Psalms (34 copies)                     1.  Psalms (79 times)

It is clear that both “the Qumran community and the NT writers had the same three favorite books: Isaiah, Deuteronomy, and Psalms.  It seems that the “theme in Isaiah that fascinated the Qumran community and the New Testament writers is the Messiah.  The main theme that interested both community in Deuteronomy was the COVENANT…and both communities “quoted Psalms to praise God, and interpreted others as referring to the Messiah and the end of times.”

More on this soon.


Decisions for Christmas

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The right/biblical spirit for Christmas is seen most clearly in the Magnificat = Mary’s song of praise in Luke 1:46-55.  She is moved in her whole being (cf. Psalm 103) to praise “God, my Savior.”  This is not a superficial feeling, her soul and spirit rejoices in what God is about to do in her life and in the world.  She shows us what the true spirit and attitude of Christmas should be.  It should be an attitude of humility and genuine joy under the rule of God.  The opposite attitude is condemned in this very poem (the wise of this world, the proud and mighty).  (more…)


When Will the Orthodox Church Follow?

This is an encouraging news from the Catholic camp.  The pope invites people to a PERSONAL encounter with Christ.  I wonder if the Orthodox Church (especially Romanian = BOR) will follow? I hope and pray they will.

Pope’s Second Encyclical Invites People to Personally Encounter Jesus

According to Catholic News Service, though Pope Benedict XVI’s latest encyclical is difficult to categorize or summarizing in a single line, a fundamental point is that Christ’s sacrifice overturned the pagan worldview of the early Christian era. In Christianity’s new vision, the universe was governed not by the laws of matter but by a personal God who revealed himself in the person of Jesus Christ. “And if we know this person and he knows us, then truly the inexorable power of material elements no longer has the last word; we are not slaves of the universe and of its laws, we are free,” the Pope said.

This is from Religion Today Summaries – December 5, 2007.


PEACE in ISLAM and CHRISTIANITY

I am in the process of writing an article about PEACE in Islam and Christianity.  I have not done very much research yet – but I think that Islam is going “to lose” in this one.  However – I would like (and will try) to be as unbiased as possible.  Of course – I write as a Christian.  In any case – any comments or suggestions to clarify this suject are welcome.  SHALOM/Salaam


On Dawkins and God Delusion

I got a great link from Patratosu about a debate between Dawkins and Lennox.  It seems like it is worth listening to: http://richarddawkins.net/article,1707,n,n.  I did listen to this and it seemed much better than the debate with A. McGrath.  Unfortunately – both of them needed more time.

For Mek1980 – I wrote a brief response for you.  You may also want to listen to this debate or read John Lennox’ book.  An excellent response to Dawkins (in a very short book) is by David Robertson: The Dawkins Letters.


ETS, SBL, STOLEN IDENTITY

I had the chance to go to ETS and SBL in San Diego…with my wife and the baby it wasn’t the easiest thing.  Plus – I had to present two papers for which I was not very prepared.  My excuse is the baby…it is the best I could find…after all, when I submitted my proposals (for papers not yet written – I swore I will never do that again), Isaiah was not born yet.  How was I supposed to know that you cannot study and write as much when a baby is around??  I guess I should have listened to my friends who already had babies…In any case – the conferences were a great chance to meet some new people (Tremper Longman, Eugene Merrill, Matt Harmon etc.) and to see again old friends (especially the Romanian theological crowd).  I enjoyed ETS.  The difference in spirit/atmosphere between ETS and SBL is rather striking.  At ETS I heard many godly people talk about things relevant for the church (the theme was TEACHING THEM TO OBEY).  P. Jenkins pointed out that the Africans most likely understand the OT better that us, and the discussion of Christopher’s Wright book was a delight.  His book – The Mission of God –  should be a standard text for anyone who is interested in the biblical basis for MISSIONS…It was nice to see SD again (that is where I went for undergraduate), and it was even better to meet with relatives and cayak at La Jolla.  I used to surf there in my youth :):) The good old days…We had a great Thanksgiving in LA and I went back to my homechurch (in La Habra) where it was nice to see the youth (at least the few who showed up).  Back in Korea I ran into a surprise…SOMEONE got into my juno account and forwarded all my messages to his yahoo account…I did not receive any messages for about 4-5 days.  [Dear hassanbello01@yahoo.com – if you read this, please send me back all my messages…I am a poor guy (hey – I teach and preach) – so you have NOTHING to gain from my account.  Thanks and blessings to you.]  Perhaps more on ETS/SBL and my return to Korea later.