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

January

OLIVIER LATRY in SEOUL

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Most historians realize that Christianity is moving south and east.  Hence – I am happy to be living in Korea. It is a country where Christianity has made considerable inroads in the past 50 years.  China seems to be following in its footsteps (or is it ahead?).

This came to me with renewed force as I was attending an Organ Recital at Onnuri Church (the church that sponsors our seminary).  The church has thousands of members (I heard that 200 are added every month-?) and  a fairly impressive organ.  In this church Olivier Latry (porfessor of organ in the Academy of Paris) came to give a recital.  His favorite composer is Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) “whose compositions depict what he termed “the marvellous aspects of the faith.”

Here Latry is playing with Philippe Lefebvre:

So – here I am in Korea, listening to an impressive organ recital with a fairly large audience.  And I am thinking back to Europe…where the churches are empty and most organs have been silenced by the noise of indifference and unbelief.

I am glad to be in Korea.  But I am thinking back to Europe, Romania, and even the United States.  I hope and pray that Korea and China will one day re-evangelize Europe.  I know that Korea has already started.  

Perhaps the inspiring churches and the silent organs will once again be full of life and praise for our Creator. 

Lord – increase my faith –  I pray.

Brothers – please join me in this prayer.

P.S. Latry played Tournemire (Choral sur <Victimae paschali laudes>), Durufle, Alain, Florentz. Escaich, and Messiaen (L’Ascension).  Unfortunately – I could not stay for the last part (Messiaen) – it was too late for baby Isaiah who was getting restless (and they were recording). 🙂 

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Islam and Peace – Part Deux

 Here I am working hard on an essay about peace in Islam.  And I am having a hard time to come to a conclusion.  Is Islam really a religion of PEACE (as George Bush and many others said after 9/11), or is it a religion of pieces (if you don’t convert to Islam you will be blown to pieces – as one blogger put it)? 

Remember also the case of the Afghan man who converted from Islam to Christianity:

Senior Muslim clerics demanded Thursday that an Afghan man on trial for converting from Islam to Christianity be executed, warning that if the government caves in to Western pressure and frees him, they will incite people to “pull him into pieces.”

So – which one is it, a religion of peace, or a religion of pieces?  It is not an easy question.

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WORSHIP and MORALS

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.

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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”? 

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QUIET TIME PLAN – HEM 2008

This year I would like to encourage our English congregation to PLAN well and often (weekly) our quiet time.  The planning should be done on Sunday evening or Monday morning.  The following three means of grace are recommended: memorization, prayer, and study/meditation.

1) The plan is to memorize one verse per week.

The verse of the week will be posted on this website (to the right), and it will also be printed on the Sunday bulletin.  The first verse is from Joshua 1:9.

2) The plan is to pray daily for the Church around the globe.  The information for our daily prayer can be found at Global Prayer Digest: http://www.global-prayer-digest.org/.

3) For personal study we are planning to study and meditate on What Jesus Demands from the World.

This can be done in two ways.  One can read the gospels and jot down Jesus’ demands, and then meditate on them.  Or – one can study and meditate on John Piper’s book: What Jesus Demands from the World.  The book can be found in electronic format at the following link:  http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/OnlineBooks/ByTitle/1822_What_Jesus_Demands_from_the_World.

I strongly encourage the congregation to participate in this quiet time project prayerfully and joyfully.  It is for our growth, for God’s glory, and for our JOY.

May God bless our planning and give us the grace to persevere on the path of obedience.

P.S. Let’s not forget that Jesus demands from us to LOVE Him and to love God “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” So help us God.

Please note that I have included on the previous post the clip about LOVE (as mentioned in the last message) from Fiddler on the Roof.

Pastor Cristian


Jesus’ Demand to Love*

Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ demands to love Him (Matthew 10:37 and John 8:42), and to love God with all our capacities (Mk 12:30).

It is rather common for many to think that love is a verb and a commandment since feelings cannot be commanded.  In other words, “love must simply be an act of the will or a deed of the body without involving the emotions or affections.”

According to John Piper, the premise of this argument is false: “Jesus does command the feelings.  He demands that our emotions be one way and not another.”

Thus, there are examples where he commands us to rejoice (Mt. 5:12), to fear the right person (Lk 12:5), to forgive from the heart (Mt 18:35), and so on. (more…)


Surprises From Church History I: On “Black Puritans”

Did you know that there was such a thing as “black puritans”? I did not. 

Yet this is the question that John Piper asks in the introduction of Thabiti M. Anyabwile’s book: The Faithful Preacher: Recapturing the Vision of Three Pioneering African-American Pastors.

This is a book full of surprises.  The three preachers presented in this book wee puritants because they “committed themselves to sound theology in the pulpit, theologically informed practice in the church, and theologically reformed living in the world.” 

Did you know that, in the words of John Saillant, “From Calvinism, this generation of black authors (referring specifically to Lemuel Haynes) drew a vision of God at work providentially in the lives of black people, directing their sufferings yet promising the faithful among them a restoration to his favor and his presence”?

This book is about Lemuel Haynes (Pastoral Ministry in Light of Eternity), Bishop Daniel A. Payne (A Vision for an Educated Pastorate), and Francis J. Grimke (The Gospel and the Church in the World).

It seems like a book well worth reading for pastors.  The following quotations are from the back cover of the book:

“Do yourself a favor; read this book, and share it with others.” –  Mark Dever

“Stories of faithful men of God – puritans of the richest kind.  This book is a splendid achievement.”  – Derek W. H. Thomas

“With biblical and historical insight, Thabiti would have us admire and thank God for the labors and lives of three men – clear demonstrations of what the pastoral ministry should be, regardless of race, color, or nationality.”

– Anthony Carter (author of Being Black and Reformed)

I have not read the whole book, but from what I read I agree with the analysis of Joseph M. Stowell (former president of Moody Bible Institute):

“At last a great book that taps the fresh water that flows from the heart of three great African-American preachers of the past! We have so much to learn from them.”

Who knows what other surprises may wait for us in Church history and in heaven?