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

Thoughts

Spanking Kids and Common Sense/Eperience

I don’t have much time these days to write blogs, but this issue definitely caught my attention.   Here is a blog from John Stackhouse on this subject: Now You Can Finally Stop Hitting Your Kids.  The title says it all.

It is apparently based on a Canadian study.  One article dealing with this study can be found  here.  Here are a few relevant excerpts:

“We’re really past the point of calling this [spanking] a controversy. That’s a word that’s used and I don’t know why, because in the research there really is no controversy,” she said in an interview…”If we had this level of consistency in findings in any other area of health, we would be acting on it. We’d be pulling out all the stops to work on the issue.”

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EASTER GREETINGS from the EMPTY TOMB

Here are some greetings (only 2 minutes) from the empty tomb from Dr. Bryan Chapell, author of Christ-Centered Preaching .

HAPPY RESURRECTION SUNDAY to all!
Pastor Cris


Democracy and ISLAM

A relevant and urgent question often heard today is this: Is DEMOCRACY possible in Islam? The answer is rather simple: NO! Democracy is not possible and I can easily prove it by “sample A” – the impossibility of religious freedom
in a truly Islamic country.

The fact is that it is impossible to have religious freedom (the right to choose and change your religion as you wish) in a truly Islamic country! This cannot and should not be denied and there are countless examples to prove this. I will mention a very recent example still in the news (actually – largely ignored my mainstream media) and then I will exhibit some stats and facts to understand how Muslims think about religious freedom and democracy.

Note the following recent news from Afghanistan:

“In Afghanistan, where the Christian population is almost non-existent, one Christian is on the verge of execution by the government. His crime? Conversion from Islam to Christianity. Said (or Sayed) Musa was among 25 Christians arrested last May, four days after their Christian worship service was featured on Noorin TV, according to Paul Marshall, a religious freedom expert who has co-authored with Nina Shea the forthcoming book, “Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes Are Choking Freedom Worldwide” (October 2011).

[This is a book that I suspect will eloquently argue the same point and I hope to read it when it comes out! Meanwhile you may take a look at this excellent book by Samuel Zwemer: The Law of Apostasy in Islam. You can download it for free – written by a great Muslim scholar who taught at Princeton early in the 20th century.]

Writing for National Review Online, Marshall summarized the brutality experienced by Musa since his arrest: beatings, sexual assault and sleep deprivation. A letter from Musa has been smuggled to the West detailing his peril.

The Afghan government is defiant, insisting that citizens who convert from Islam to Christianity must be punished with death.”

For other specific cases of conversion in Muslim countries see here.

Now here are some recent stats from Egypt which show a real schizophrenia, or perhaps a simple lack of understanding of what religious freedom means.

When asked about the death penalty (see here) for those who leave the Muslim religion 84% of Muslims in Egypt said they would favor making it the law (this is 86% in Jordan which is considered a moderate Muslim country, but has the death penalty for apostasy!), 74% in Pakistan etc. What makes it schizophrenic is the fact that 59 % of Egyptians said that democracy is preferable to any other kind of government and about 85% said that they favor religious freedom (I cannot find the source but I remember reading that the number was very similar with that of Muslims who favor death penalty for those who leave Islam).

Now – how can you be in favor of religious freedom and also in favor of the death penalty for those who leave Islam??? Clearly there is a problem here, though I assume that those Egyptians don’t see the contradiction. The fact is that it is IMPOSSIBLE to hold both views, and the Muslims in Muslim countries overwhelmingly are for the death penalty for someone who leaves Islam =) there can be no democracy in a truly Islamic country.

For – if you cannot chose/change your religion without fear of being killed, there is no freedom and there is no true democracy. It is sad, but true!

[I would love to be proved wrong!

For those who think that Turkey is a model for Islamic democracy, please note that Turkey achieved some form of democracy as a secular state and they have clear cases of minority discrimination. See also the news below about two cases of conversion to Christianity.

On 18 April 2007, two Turkish converts to Christianity, Necati Aydin and Uğur Yüksel, were killed in the Malatya bible publishing firm murders. Having tortured them for several hours, the attackers then slit their throats. The attackers stated that they did it in order to defend the state and their religion. The government and other officials in Turkey had in the past criticized Christian missionary work, while the European Union has called for more freedom for the Christian minority.

For the view that death penalty for apostasy is not Islamic, see here.]


Progress after 5 Weeks – ACL, Meniscus, and PLRI Surgery

Today there are 5 weeks after my operation. My ACL was reconstructed, my meniscus was repaired, and another ligament was reconstructed (PLRI?). They found out that this other ligament was (partially?) torn when they introduced the arthroscope (with a small camera) before the operation. For my ACL they used some of my hamstring for the replacement, while for the PLRI (?) they used an allograft (ligament from a dead guy L). That means I am now partially Korean! J

The first week was in a way the hardest, but it wasn’t terrible because I was sedated fairly well! J

I would say that the hardest thing during this whole process was the lack of sleep during the night. While this was no doubt due to the fact that I was sleeping during the day a few hours (what else can you do when you are in bed all day?), even when I skipped the daily naps (after 3-4 weeks) I had a hard time sleeping through the night. It was not because of pain. I was never in major pain, but it was uncomfortable to sleep with the knee brace and I just could not sleep well.

There were nights when I slept less than 3 hours (though I would sleep a few hours in the morning) and I am still having a hard time getting a decent night sleep, despite the fact that I sometimes take sleep medicine (doesn’t seem to have much effect). It is not prescription medicine.

At the five week point, my knee is still a bit swollen (and also my ankle), but I can bend my knee to about 120 degrees.

Next week I am supposed to get rid of the crutches. Praise the Lord.

I feel that I could walk without them now (?), but I will take it easy and follow the doctor’s advice.

For the past two weeks I have been preaching sitting on a chair for the first service (http://www.hcc.or.kr/worship1_2.asp; I am the nameless guy :)), and standing (on one leg) for the second (this is not recorded)!  So far so good!  I did not think the first time that I can stand in one leg for the whole sermon! Miracles are possible! 🙂

Over all – the recovery process is long and painful (the strengthening exercises are a bit painful for a person with terrible flexibility like me)! I hope and pray, however, that things will get better soon.

I can’t wait to walk without crutches and I hope and pray with many that the meniscus is healing well and the reconstructions are successful.

The surgery (with the roughly $1600 for the allograft) cost me about $5000. This is after the help/support from the national insurance. I just found out that my private insurance just paid about $3000, and they may pay a bit more after I give them the receipt from the allograft (that was only partially paid). In any case – so far I am happy that I may end up with less than $2000 from my own pocket. Praise the Lord!

Please pray for me so I can play in Brazil 2014!!! J

Well – really – play that I can be back to normal by 2012!

Thank you and many blessings to all!

Cristian R


Time to Quit FACEBOOK???

I just read a very convicting article by Jonathan Dodson for deleting my FACEBOOK account!

The one that I find the most compelling (and kind of scary!) is the following:

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Disturb us, Lord

A few Romanian blogs (see Vasilica Croitor and Danut Manastireanu) picked up and translated a great prayer by Sir Francis Drake (1577).   I like it a lot and I found it in English here. Here is the text:

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
with the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.
This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.

Francis Drake,�an adventurer and essentially a legal pirate (What else�is a second son supposed to do to make a living?), wrote this prayer as he departed Portsmouth on the Golden Hind to raid Spanish gold on the west coast of South America. He ventured at least as far north as the non-Spanish parts of�California, claiming it as “New Albion” – New England- and returned to his Queen (the long way – via circumnavigation)�with loot worth over a half million pounds sterling, and received his Knighthood for it.

I hope you enjoy it too.  Many (most of the?) times I do need to be disturbed by the Lord from my complacency.

Below is the Romanian version recited wonderfully by Emil Bartosh!


Charles Bridges on Wisdom Literature – Proverbs 8

I love Charles Bridges on Proverbs and Ecclesiastes . They are true classics.

Of course – his understanding of Wisdom is fully Christological. The following is an excellent example from Proverbs 8.

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The Beginning of Wisdom

As I am preparing to teach Proverbs I try to search for wisdom as much as I can.  Wisdom has always fascinated me, not only because I am missing it (:)), but also because I am attracted by sages.

Sometimes wisdom is found in unlikely places.  This time I found some with Leon Kass who was born to Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe (maybe Romania?). He wrote a book that caught my attention: The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis.

While I have not read the whole book, what he says in the introduction shows me that he is a wise man. He understands what many intelligent and scientifically minded people have missed.

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Back in Town…

After a very long break (traveling from Detroit to Phoenix via Chicago, Madison, St. Paul, Sioux Falls, Jackson, Ft. Collins, Denver, Santa Fe…) I am back in town (well – my parents’ town).

It was not the easiest thing to travel with 2 small kids, but it was certainly fun and educational.

USA is a great and beautiful country – especially the places we had a chance to visit.

The following are just a few of the highlights: a great boat trip on Chicago river with Mike Barak, driving through Wisconsin and Minnesota, Mt. Rushmore (South Dakota), Jackson (WY) and Yellostone, and Estes Park in CO.

Should I have a choice for a summer ranch – I would definitely choose Teton Village in Wyoming…Wyoming also looks  great for hunting (I must have seen over 200 deer – including their relatives) and fishing…God’s creation is just amazing, especially in Wyoming, Colorada, etc.

Isaiah loves fishing (we just went again [after Estes Park] a couple of days ago in AZ) and we love eating the fish that my wife cooks (honey – I promise next time we will catch enough so you can eat too :))!

Seeing Craig Huston was a highlight.  Craig was my roommate for about 4 years in college and is now working for HP in Fort Collins.  Unfortunately, he has 2 broken toes from his latest climbing trip…but he will still go on a mission/ministry trip to Greenland! For me – Craig is a true symbol of the hard working American, and humble Christian worker.  Praise the Lord.

The highlight – however – was my brief visit to Bethlehem Baptist Church where I took some pictures and (more important) I bought some good books.

I hope to share soon some of the good books that I got there.  For a starter, see The Trials of Theology. Only the Luther’s chapter on oratio – meditatio – tentatio is well worth the price of the book.

I am writing from an air conditioned library in Peoria, AZ…for without AC, you are a dead man in AZ! 🙂

Trying to catch up on some of my studies and research…before our next trout fishing trip next Monday (or Tuesday?).  Now that I got two new rods (one broke last week as I caught a trout less than 2 lbs!!!) with insurance (they will replace it if it breaks in 2 years :)) – I think we are ready to fish (even if it is in a trout farm)! OF course – the trout farm is for Isaiah, not for an experienced fisherman like me! 🙂

Isaiah: When are we going to fisherman? Of course – he is the fisherman! 🙂


Which Tribe Are You In?

I just listened to a very useful podcast from Michael Duduit.

It is an interview with George Barna about one of his latest books: The Seven Faith Tribes: Who They Are, What They Believe, and Why They Matter.

The tribe of most concern to me (as a teacher and pastor) is the Christian one (the rest are of secondary interest).  Unfortunately, the Christian tribe is split in two: the casual Christians (67%) and the “captive Christians” (only 16%).  The former group consists of Christians “who would not cross the street” to share the gospel with an unbeliever.  It is a group which “is not excited about sharing their religious belief…”  They do not create their lifestyle around their faith, rather let their faith “sip into their lifestyle.”

Wow.  What a challenge (weighty errand – to use Spurgeon’s expression) for pastors who stand up in their churches every week and preach to a large percentage of “casual Christians.” The goal must be to get the casual Christians become “captive Christians” (these are Christians who are really serious and knowledgable about their faith).  These are the ones “caricatured in the media, for whom their faith is everything.”

But who is adequate for this task?  No one.  Apart from the grace of God and the power of the Spirit we have no chance of success!  How great is the need for prayer before preaching and reaching out!  Please pray for your pastor, he needs a lot of help from above!

Which tribe are you from?  Listen to this podcast (if you don’t buy the book).  It may be eye opening!

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