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

Church History


Jason Meyer to Succeed John Piper vs. Romanian Baptist Churches

Many of you know that I esteem and I learned very much from John Piper.  The fact that his church, together with him, seem to have a solid plan for transition enhances my esteem for this brother in Christ.

See the following posts on the transition at Bethlehem:one, two, and three. The second post has a clip with Jason Meyer preaching. And here is his CV.  From what I have read, he seems like an excellent choice.  I guess my own regret is that they continue with an NT major and not with an OT! 🙂

From reading some of these posts it is amazing to see how well the transition is being planned and the attitude of the ‘retiring’ John Piper.

I say amazed because I come from a tradition (Romanian Baptist) where these kinds of transitions and attitudes from older pastors are almost entirely missing.  In fact, I can think of only one Romanian Baptist Church with well-known pastors where the transition has been smooth (the one in Los Angeles/La Habra).

I know this is not easy, especially in the Romanian Baptist Community.  However, in my opinion, one of the qualities of a godly leader, is that he knows how to retire and prepare someone else for leadership (e.g. Moses and Joshua).

As I am writing this, I can think of at least three Romanian Baptist Churches (and there aren’t that many) where because the senior pastor did not (or does not) know how to retire, and because no wise preparations have been made by the leadership of the churches (so I am including the elders in this critique), the churches have split (or are about  to split) and they do not seem to have any sensible plan for transition.

I hope that we can learn even in this case from John Piper and his church.  There certainly is a lot to learn.

With love for Romanians and the Romanian Baptist Churches!

Reading the Bible with the Reformers – Timothy George

Even though I was raised in a Romanian Baptist family without any access to the church fathers or the reformers (it was under communism when Christian literature was very scarce), I was attracted toward them from the very beginning.  While many of the church fathers are usually associated with the Orthodox Church which was understood as being (mostly) dead in Romania when I grew up as a Baptist, there is no doubt in my mind that many of the writings of the church fathers are still very useful for the church.  After all, the Holy Spirit has a history, and to read the Bible with the church fathers, the Reformers, and the Puritans is like having a bible study across the centuries.


Advice from an Old Man – Billy Graham

I have been reading Billy Graham‘s autobiography Just As I Am. It is very good and there is a lot to learn from this godly man with a genuine passion for evangelism.

Apparently he is number seven on Gallup’s List of Widely Admired People for the 20th century!? I would put him ahead of JFK! J

Yesterday I noticed that he was interviewed (at the age of 92) by Foxnews. You can find the interview conducted by Greta Van Susteren here. It is well worth watching, especially part II.

In part II Greta asks him: “If you were to do things over again, would you do them differently?”

I like the “old man’s” answer: “YES! I would STUDY more, PRAY more, travel less, take less speaking engagements….”

[Here Spurgeon comes in handy: Learn to sayNo‘; it will be of more use to you than to be able to read Latin. – Charles Haddon Spurgeon]

Dr. Roger R. Nicole – In Memoriam

The great Reformed-Baptist theologian Dr. Roger R. Nicole died at 95 in Longwood, Florida. He was professor emeritus at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary where he taught for 41 years (unfortunately before I got there L).

Even though he never wrote a book (I was very surprised when I read that), he is a considered a “theological giant.”

Here is a memoriam on the Gordon-Conwell website. And here Carson, Keller, and Dever remember Roger Nicole.

I quote the comments of Timothy George and J.I Packer from Justin Taylor‘s blog.

“Roger Nicole is one of European Christianity’s greatest gifts to the American church. His role in the shaping of American evangelical theology in the latter half of the twentieth century was enormous and deserves to be better known.”

A few years ago Packer was able to summarize Roger Nicole in a sentence:

“Awesome for brain power, learning, and wisdom; endlessly patient and courteous in his gentle geniality; and beloved by a multitude as pastor, mentor, and friend.”


Meet the Puritans – John Cotton (1585-1652)

I am currently working on an essay about the Puritan interpretation of Ecclesiastes, so I am brushing a bit more on my knowledge of the Puritans.

So far I have decided to look at the works of three Puritan writers: John Cotton, John Trap, and Edward Reynolds (Matthew Henry and Matthew Poole are easily accessible).

For anyone interested in knowing more about the Puritans, these books will go a long way: Meet the Puritans, A Quest for Godliness, and Worldly Saints.
John Cotton is very fascinating, and the comments of Spurgeon are very relevant, especially on his writing on Ecclesiastes: “By a great linguist and sound divine. Ecclesiastes is not a book to be expounded verse by verse; but Cotton does it as well as anyone” (from Spurgeon’s Commenting & Commentaries).

The most detailed information about Cotton comes (as far as I know) from Benjamin Brook’s The Lives of the Puritans (vo. III). You can download this for free here: http://www.archive.org/details/thelivesofthepur01broouoft.

The following passages give us a good idea about the man (from Benjamin Brook):

He was educated in Trinity, then Emmanuel College, Cambridge and came to faith through the preaching of Dr. Sibbs.
“Mr. Cotton was a divine indefatigably laborious all his days. He lived under the conviction of that sacred precept, “Be not slothful in business, but fervent in the spirit, serving the Lord.” He rose early, and commonly studied 12 hours a day, accounting that a scholar’s day. He was resolved to wear out, rather than rust out.
He was a man of great literary acquirements, and so well acquainted with the HEBREW, that he could converse in it with great ease. He was a most celebrated preacher…remarkable for practical religion and Christian benevolence, and his whole life was filled with acts of piety and charity.
He was a person of great modesty, humility, and good –nature; and though he was often insulted by angry men, he never expressed the least resentment.
A conceited ignorant man once followed him home after sermon, and with frowns told him that his preaching has become dark or flat. To whom he meekly replied,” Both brother; it may be both: let me have your prayers that it may be otherwise.”

…He is denominated “an universal scholar, a living system of the liberal arts, and a walking library. He was deeply skilled in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and an extraordinary theologian.””

WOW – you must be inspired by such a Christian scholar/theologian/preacher! I am surely!

2010 European Christian Book of the Year

It is nice to see that evangelical Romanians are “coming of age”, and that both Baptists and Pentecostals are looking back to try to uncover the people who collaborated with the Secret Police (securitate) from within their own ranks.

The Baptists (Daniel Mitrofan) published a few years ago Pigmei and Uriasi [Dwarfs and Giants], and the Pentecostals (Vasilica Croitor) just published Rascumpararea Memoriei [The Redemption of Memory].

While I have not read any of these books (I only read about them), both books ruffled a lot of feathers. For that I am not surprised.

It seems (again from second hand info) that the Pentecostal book is more balanced and fair. In any case, congratulations to Vasilica Croitor for winning the 2010 European Christian Book of the Year.

I assume that it is a pretty good book if it won this award and I hope to read both of them someday to learn from both the dwarfs and the giants!

David Calvin and Why Calvin Still Matters

On a more personal note, David Calvin (our second son) was born more than one month ago (July 31st).  He eats a lot and sleeps (of course he cries too!).

As most of you know, David Calvin Rata was born 500 years (to the month) after Jean Calvin and that is the reason for his middle name (NO – he is NOT named for Calvin Klein :))!

My wife has done an excellent job of posting all kinds of great pictures with our family.  Take a look when you have some time.

So – why did we name him Calvin?  Is it because Calvin once mattered?

[“There can be no serious doubt that Calvin once mattered. Any honest historian of any point of view and of any religious conviction would agree that Calvin was one of the most important people in the history of western civilization.”]

YES he was named after Calvin because of who Calvin was.  But he is also named Calvin because Calvin Still Matters!

Please pray with us that David Calvin will be a talented poet like David, and a man with a passion for the glory of God (like Jean Calvin)! AMEN!

FORMATIO – Ancient Christian Devotional

I am excited about a new book I just bought:   Ancient Christian Devotional (Lectionary Cycle C).

This book is from the InterVarsity Press FORMATIO series (Tradition – Experience – Transformation).

FORMATIO books from InterVarsity Press are about “being transformed by Christ and conformed to his image,” and they intend to integrate God’s Word with spiritual practice by prompting its readers “to move from inward change to outward witness.”

“We believe that each of us is made with a deep desire to be in God’s presence.  Formatio books are intended to help “fulfill  our deepest desires and to become our true selves in light of God’s grace.”

I must say that the goals of the FORMATION series are most worthy, and I am looking forward to ‘swimming’ in this book.  After all, St. Chrysostom gives very good advice (quoted on the first page of this book):

Listen carefully to me.  Procure books [of the Bible] that will be medicines for the soul….Don’t simply dive into them.  Swim in them.  Keep them constantly in your mind.  (Homilies on Colossians 9)

This is a book  for Christians who lack the grounding in the riches of church history…who are rootless and are drifting in a barren secular and ecclesiastical landscape.

If you are one of those – consider this book to get rooted in the WORD!

Pastor Chris

Mother of the Year – 2009

Well – better later than never.  Most of you probably know by now that my beloved wife won the 2009 Mother of the Year.

All I can say is, “It’s about time.”  She definitely deserves it for the hard work raising Isaiah, while also preparing for the coming of David in July.

For those of you who find it hard to believe (though I have no idea why) that my wife actually won this award, take a look at the clip below.  The evidence is overwhelming!

Mother of the Year 2009

Happy Mother’s day sweetheart!  In Korean – Happy Mother’s Day yobo!

A Church in Saudi Arabia?


I have been praying for a long time for Saudi Arabia and the Muslim world.  I usually pray that the light of the glory of Christ would shine even there in the darkness and bring joy and healing.  However – many times I feel that my prayers lack fervor and faith.  I pray for Muslims and Islam, but do I really believe that a change is possible?

Do I really believe that a day will come when the glory of Christ will shine in freedom over these countries?  Of course I believe; but my faith is weak.

 Today I read an article (see below) that seems to bring a flicker of hope to the Muslim world, more specifically – to Saudi Arabia.  There is news that the Catholics (at least) may be allowed to build a church in the future in Saudi Arabia.



I had the chance to go for the first time in my life to China.  It seems that the country is indeed opening up to the world (though I could not access my blog from there-?). I was especially impressed by the sharing spirit of the Christians of that country (I won’t say more that this for now).  When I got back (after preaching from Genesis 6:1-8 at HEM and the Bible Study) I continued reading John Stott’s book The Living Church. 

I especially liked the section: MORAL WORSHIP, and I would like to share this with the congregation.  I believe that it is much needed in today’s Church.  The section is from page 45. Emphases are mine.

“The kind of worship pleasing to God has one major characteristic.  TRUE WORSHIP is MORAL WORSHIP, that is to say, it must not only express what is in our hearts but also be accompanied by an upright life.  Samuel put this beyond doubt in his explicit words to King Saul: “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).

Yahweh was even more outspoken in his declaration to Isaiah.  He had had enough of Israel’s offerings.  He took no pleasure in their sacrifices.  Indeed, their sacred assemblies were an abomination to him, and he would not even listen to their prayers.  Why so? He tells them: “Your hands are full of blood.”  If they would “stop doing wrong, and seek justice, encourage the oppressed,” they would be forgiven (Isaiah 1:10-19).  It was this mixture of religion, wrongdoing and injustice which Yahweh could not abide.  Worship without HOLINESS was hateful to Him.


Surprises in Church History II – “Black Puritans”*

A few other suprises about “black puritans” are found in the book of Thabiti M. Anyabwile (The Faithful Preacher).  I will mention here a few from the introduction of John Piper to this book.

 Did you know that in 1835 the South Carolina Assembly passed a law that said, “[If] any free person of color or slave shall keep any school or other place of instruction for teaching any slave or free person of color to read or write, such free person of color or slave shall be liable to the same fine, imprisonment, and corporal punishment as are by this Act imposed and afflicted upon free persons of color and slaves for teaching slaves to read or write”?