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


My New Ministry with TLI (Training Leaders International)

This is a very brief update about my new ministry with Training Leaders International: https://trainingleadersinternational.org/.

TLI is a ministry that provides theological education to people who do not have ready access to solid biblical teaching. The goal is to strengthen the global church by Christ-exalting biblical training.

It is a much needed ministry and I am very excited to be part of this organization. Next year (2022) I am scheduled to teach in at least 4 countries (all from a different continent): Brazil, Togo, India, and Serbia. I may also teach in Moldova and/or Philippines/Ethiopia.

Please pray for me and my family during this wonderful but also challenging time of transition.

If you would like to team up with me and contribute financially to my support (which has to be raised)- you could do it directly here: https://trainingleadersinternational.org/give?tbl=staff&id=84.

A recurring contribution (monthly, quarterly, or yearly) is preferred.

Thank you for partnering with me, and many blessings and Shalom to you and your family!

Cristian, Ica, Isaiah, David, Talitha, and Yohan

2 Corinthians 9:15

The Root of All Sin: Why Atheists Can’t Be Happy

Just re-read this. Worth reading again!


[Note: The  full title should be (it would have been too long): The Root of All Sin: Why Atheists Can’t Be Happy and Many Christians Aren’t]

Most Christians are familiar with Jesus’ answer to the Pharisee’s question about the greatest commandment. The question and answer are found in Matthew 22: 36b-40.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him,

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.

And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Based on this text John Piper has a penetrating analysis on the root of all sin. It is worth reproducing below:

“The root of our sinfulness is the desire for our own…

View original post 558 more words

Do You Have Eyes to See the Beauty of God?

Being part of the family of God must mean having eyes to see the supreme worth and beauty of God.

A person blind in the physical sense may see a thousand times more glory in the Gospel of Jesus than a person with eyes.

That was certainly true of Fanny Crosby, the Christian songwriter who was bling from childhood and wrote more than five thousand songs to celebrate the glory she saw in Jesus.  Without physical eyes, she saw the “great things” of God.

To God be the glory, great things He has done;

So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the people rejoice!
Oh, come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He hath done.


[from John Piper – Reading the Bible Supernaturally]

To Play or Not to Play?

Did you know that there is a Theology of Play?  Just ask Jürgen Moltmann.

Now – closer to our times, there is a very important volume on this topic published recently by evangelical Christians.  It is called The Image of God in the Human Body: Essays on Christianity and Sports and you can have it for a mere $149.95 [though it seems to be out of stock on Amazon].

If you play with that kind of money, buy yourself one and then grab an extra copy and send it to me!  🙂

If you don’t play with that kind of money, you can start with this article by Erik Thoennes from Biola University.  Or you may want to listen to the Theology Refresh podcast from Desiring God.

As a ‘player’ [I play soccer almost weekly and I used to play many sports in my youth :)] I am very much interested in this subject and I plan to read some more.  I hope these readings will help me have a healthy/biblical view about this important topic.

I do know that God made Leviathan “to play [some translations ‘sport’] with,” but other than that I have my doubts about play in a Christian context.  What bothers me the most is that Jesus seems to have never played, at least in his last three years of life.  I can see, however, how this is a very special case.

But, did the disciples play?  Did my ‘heroes,’ the Puritans, play?  Hmm…I don’t see much play there either!?

I will have to ponder more on this.  Meanwhile, these resources should help to get us started.  If play is a big part of your life [well, it should not be a BIG part of anyone’s life; I am pretty sure about that] you will benefit if you have a clearer biblical/theological understanding of this.

Now I have to get back to work, lest my friends and family think that all I do is play!  🙂

P.S. I haven’t written much on this blog for quite some time.  Can you guess why?  Yes, you are right, no time for play! 😦

P.S. 2.  If you are one of our students taking Intensive Greek right now, please get back to your studies! I am pretty sure there is no time for you to play! Unless, of course, Greek is child’s play for you!?  🙂

Posting a Sermon

I am trying to see if I can post an audio sermon.

Here it is: Psalm 15 – The Genius of the Reformation

I hope it works!

Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi (1075-1141) – Bekhol-libbi

Judah Halevi (also Yehuda HaleviHebrewיהודה הלויArabicيهوذا هاليفي; c. 1075–1141) was a Spanish Jewish physician, poet and philosopher. He was born in Spain, either in Toledo or Tudela,[1]in 1075[2] or 1086, and died shortly after arriving in Palestine in 1141. Halevi is considered one of the greatest Hebrew poets, celebrated both for his religious and secular poems, many of which appear in present-day liturgy. His greatest philosophical work was The Kuzari. [from Wikipedia]

Here is a great Jewish song (translation only in Romanian) from Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi: With All My Heart.  You can listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsGxLKBXAZE and also read the English translation.

It sounds to me like many English worship songs in our churches, so I do not see why it could not be adapted!?

Bekhol-libbi emet, uvkhol meodi

Din toată inima, o, Adevăr, și cu întreaga mea vârtute

ahavtikha, uvigluiy vesodi.

Te-am iubit, pe față și în taină.

Șemakh negdi, veekh elekh levadi?

Numele Tău e înaintea mea, și unde mă voi duce singur?

Vehu dodi, veekh eșev yehidi?

El e-al meu iubit: cum să rămân stingher?

Vehu neri, veekh yidakh meori?

El e lumina mea: cum mi se va usca făclia?

veekh ețan, vehu mișan beyadi?

Sau cum voi șovăi, când El îmi întărește mâna?

Heqilluni metim: lo yadeu ki

Defăimătorii mei zac morți: n-au știut

qeloni al-kevod șimkha kevodi! 

c-a mea ocară-i perlă pentru mine în cununa Ta?

Maqom chayyay, avarekhekha vechayyay

Temeiul vieții mele, bine te voi cuvânta în viața mea

vezimrati azamerkha beodi.

și Ție-Ți voi cânta cât eu voi fi.

This Coming Year… Eat Your Salad (A Brief Hebrew Lesson)

My kids actually like some vegetables…so I do not have to force feed them greens! 🙂

Due to my increasing pants size (ok – I still wear 34, but it seems that the pants are no longer a normal fit :() I am planning to eat mostly salads in the evening. Perhaps a brief Hebrew lesson and song (see below) should help me (and maybe you) with this resolution…and maybe my lovely wife will either stop cooking her delicious (but quiet rich) desserts, or I will have the wisdom and self-control to eat dessert only for lunch!?

Well – here is the brief Hebrew lesson on salads (from our friends at Learn Hebrew Online):

The one dish you find in almost every Israeli meal is the Israeli Salad (sometimes named “Arabic Salad”). This is a basic salad made of tomatoes and cucumbers thinly sliced and freshly seasoned. We may put it in pita bread, next to an omelet or simply as a meal by itself joined by a piece of bread and some cottage cheese.

Hungry? Well, today you’ll learn how to prepare an Israeli salad as well as the names of the ingredients in the Hebrew language, Don’t forget to cut it קָטָן קָטָן (to small pieces) and invite your family and friends!

Hebrew Words


Transcription: salat

Part of Speech: Noun, masculine

Literal Meaning: salad

Transcription: yerakot

Part of Speech: Noun, masculine, plural

Literal Meaning: vegetables


Transcription: katsuts

Part of Speech: adjective, masculine

Literal Meaning: chopped, thinly sliced

Israeli Salad Recipe

Tomato (f) Agvanya עַגְבָנִיָּה
Cucumber(m) melafefon מְלָפְפוֹן
Onion (m) batsal בָּצָל
Parsley (f) petrozilya פֶּטְרוֹזִילְיָה
Olive Oil (m) shemen zayit שֶׁמֶן זַיִת
Lemon (m) limon לִימוֹן
Salt & pepper (m&m) melax vepilpel מֶלַח וּפִלְפֵּל
1. Slice and dice 2 tomatoes, 1 cucumber and 1 small onion.
2. Combine the veggies in a salad bowl.
3. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tbsp of lemon juice, some salt and pepper and 2 tbsp of chopped parsley.
4. Mix, serve and enjoy!

You may add any other kind of vegetables, fresh leaves (like mint, oregano, or basil), garlic, or olives.

Salad Song
Lyric: Ayin Hillel
Music: Dafna Eilat מילים: ע. הלל
לחן: דפנה אילת

All of our family
Eat salad properly
But I love the most
To eat salad a lot. Etsleinu kol hamishpaxa
Oxlim salat kahalaxa
Aval ani yoter mikol
Salat ohev lizlol. אֶצְלֵנוּ כָּל הַמִּשְׁפָּחָה
אוֹכְלִים סָלָט כַּהֲלָכָה
אֲבָל אֲנִי יוֹתֵר מִכָּל
סָלָט אוֹהֵב לִזְלֹל.
You can listen to Dalia Friedland sing this song here .

Maybe my wife will read this post and I will eat an Israeli salad tonight! 🙂

Saint John Chrysostom (Golden Mouth) on Family and Love

I know this will be controversial (old fashioned etc.), but I am posting it for two reasons.  First, it is relevant to my class on OT Backgrounds because it provides us with an early understanding of the roles of the husband and wife in a Christian family (and I assume they were fairly similar in an OT family).  And second, it describes very well the importance of dependence for love.

Here is the text from Chrysostom (On Living Simply):

In a family the husband needs the wife to prepare his food; to make, mend, and wash his clothes; to fetch water; and to keep the rooms and furniture in the house clean.  The wife needs the husband to till the soil, to build and repair the house, and to earn money to buy the goods they need.

God has put into a man’s heart the capacity to love his wife, and into a woman’s heart the capacity to love her husband.  But their mutual dependence makes them love each other out of necessity also.

At times love within the heart may not be sufficient to maintain the bond of marriage.  But love which comes from material necessity will give that bond the strength it needs to endure times of difficulty.

The same is true for society as a whole.  God has put into every person’s heart the capacity to love his neighbors.  But that love is immeasurably strengthened by their dependence on one another’s skills.

Preaching Psalm 3

I just posted some notes and the message of Psalm 3.

It can be found here.

As always – I am frustrated that I did not have time to prepare better. However, I did learn a lot.
Hopefully – so did my congregation! 🙂

On Dating Biblical Books

I am very much interested in the dating of Biblical books, especially as it pertains to Ecclesiastes and Job.

Usually  – they are both dated late (especially Ecclesiastes).   Of course – there are some scholars that date Ecclesiastes early – in the monarchic period.  Two of these are Dan Fredericks (more recently in his commentary on Ecclesiastes) and Ian Young.

The debate on dating biblical texts is fairly intense. For some relevant links to this debate and also links to some useful articles on dating, see the latest post from Robert Holmstedt.

As you can see, the debate is fairly intense between Ron Hendel and Young, Rezetko etc. .

JoAnn Hacket, Phil David, Lemche, Tania Notarius, Lenzi, George Athas and even Bill Schniedewind pitched in (see the comments on Hendel’s response).  This is certainly getting interesting.

I still think that we need to be humbler in the dating of some (most?) books…because in my opinion “we are working with no data” – to steal a quote from Thomas Lambddin (admittedly – I have no idea in what context he used it :().

Some Guidelines for Theological Engagement

This is a brief note to point out a few great articles by Tim Keller on theological engagement.

The first one is entitled Gospel Polemics.

The second one gives Three Rules for Polemics.

And the last one gives some very good guidelines from the the 17th century Scottish divine George Gillespie on how to Be Winsome and Persuasive .

I find all that I read very useful for any kind (not only theological) of debates and discussions.

A New Blog: Preaching the Psalms

By God’s grace I am planning to preach from the Psalter (selected psalms) for the next few months (years?).

In connection with this I opened a new blog: Preaching the Psalms where I plan to post my notes and (hopefully) audio sermons.

These days I am preaching at Wangsung English Ministry . Feel free to visit us! 🙂

Please visit my blog and leave your comments and suggestions. If you have some links to great messages on the Psalter, please let me know. I especially like the sermons of Dick Lucas (St Helen’s) at this point.

I hope and pray that my notes will be useful to English speaking workers who do not have access to the resources I have.

Persecuted Christians

Open Doors has just posted the World Watch List.  Much prayer is needed especially for North Korea, Iran, etc.

You can see the World Watch List  here .

Here is some more information from the Open Doors website:

Each year Open Doors releases the World Watch List, a detailed analysis of Christian persecution worldwide. In this free resource, countries are evaluated and ranked according to the severity of persecution that occurred in the past year.

We offer the World Watch List free as part of our mission at Open Doors to inform and inspire others with the message of the persecuted. Join the cause of the persecuted and share the World Watch List with your friends and family.

To PRAY or Not to PRAY?

I just read a very good article about public prayer by Professor John Stackhouse .

I highly recommend it.

However – I still wonder if I should/would decline praying (even in a public place) if I am INVITED!? Perhaps an appropriate prayer may do a lot of good, even in a public context where many do not believe and share my beliefs!?

Having said that – I do believe that Dr. Stackhouse makes a very powerful argument for his point of view.

In the Name of the Father

Yesterday I preached from Luke 15:11-32. This passage is usually titled “The Prodigal Son.” This title deals only partially with the content, and I believe that Tim Keller is correct when he says that a better title is “The Two Lost Sons,” for both of the sons are lost. In fact, the elder is in a more desperate situation.

However, Keller makes a strong argument that an even better title is The Prodigal God. Because the father in the story is the real hero and he is the one who lavishly shows his compassion and mercy.

The parable has many “elements” that also appear in the Story of Jacob as found in Genesis 25-36. The definite study on the parallels and contrasts is by Kenneth Bailey in Jacob and the Prodigal: How Jesus Retold Israel’s Story. He nicely points out the parallels, the changes, and the contrasts.

One of the major contrasts is in the depiction of the father. While Isaac in the Jacob story is an inept and rather passive Oriental patriarch, in Jesus’s parable we reach the pinnacle of understanding of the father as a symbol of compassion and tenderness.

Bailey shows very nicely that (even) in the Old Testament, as a metaphor for God, “the word father is overwhelmingly a symbol of tenderness and compassion.” Out of the 12 times when God is described as the father of his people in the OT, seven times he is associated with redemption/compassion/mercy. A classical text is found in Psalm 103:13 – As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him (ESV).

What is even more ‘touching’ is when God the Father is presented as acting like a mother: As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you…(Isaiah 49:5). See also the classic Isaiah 66:13.

The compassion of the father in Jesus’s parable can be seen in the following scenes (from Bailey):

  1. He grants the unprecedented and unreasonable request the younger sons’ share of inheritance while he is still alive (in 2 contemporary cases from Persia and Syria, the fathers were deeply offended and gave the young men NOTHING).
  2. He allows the prodigal to sell his property – generosity beyond custom.
  3. He runs down the road to welcome him. A gentleman does not run, but a child, and the mother can be expected to do so.
  4. He endures the unspeakably painful public humiliation of leaving his guests, at a banquet in his home, and offers more costly love to a publicly rebellious son. Traditionally the father stays with the guests, but the mother could have rushed to plead for reconciliation.
  5. After the verbal insults from the older son, the father appeals for JOY rather than resorting to judgment and punishment.

These observations are very powerful and point clearly to the compassion and tenderness of God that this father represents. What impressed me again, was the depiction of the “father who acts like a mother” (see points 3 and 4). Of course God is neither male nor female, yet God in his compassion and tenderness is depicted as a father who acts like a mother.

Yesterday I watched Jim Sheridan’s movie In the Name of the Father. This was a powerful movie in which a broken relationship between a father and a son gets real and mended in a prison cell where they are locked together even though they are innocent (this is not the main point of the movie, but it is relevant here). The son begins to see and understand the love that his father always had for him, and ends up fighting for freedom “in the name of the father” who dies unjustly in prison.

In my opinion, the movie shows very well the strong emotions that exist in families in spite of their sinful behavior and fallen condition. Our Father, as seen from Jesus’s parable, is much more tender and compassionate than any earthly father (whether Oriental or Western). More than that, His love is perfect.

He sent his “elder son” to seek and to save the lost. How much more should we seek to live our lives with passion and purity “in the Name of the Father”?

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!

BiblioBloggers of the World UNITE!

It seems that this is becoming a tradition.  The bibliobloggers of the world who are attending  ASOR/SBL in Atlanta, will meet together Sunday night.  The information about the meeting was posted by Dr. Robert Cargill here.

I don’t think I will be able to make it to this one, but I may try to meet the rest of the bloggers on Monday (22nd).  John Hobbins is making arrangements for those who cannot make it on Sunday night at the SEAR restaurant in the Marriott Marquis at 11:45 am.

Bibliobloggers of the world UNITE! 🙂


Like Abraham (or like the bedouins) – we have been travelling for the past few weeks.  Seoul-Beijing-LA…and now Phoenix, AZ.  We learn and see new things almost every day, with no chance whatsoever of getting a sane schedule for ourselves or the children.  By God’s grace we manage, and we enjoy very much seeing many of our dear friends and family.

We are on our way to North Carolina where we will be spending a good part of the Sabbatical [Sabbatical is misleading! :)].  So, much of our trip is still ahead…New Mexico, Oklahoma City (visiting a beloved cousin)…Nashville (yes Dani we are coming, prepare the fattened [better the ‘lean’] calf) etc.

It is exciting and tiring to travel at the same time, and there are new things to see, old friends to reconnect with, and new friends to make.

I wonder what Abraham’s life was like.  I know that it was certainly slower and more predictable, despite the lengthy travels.

If there is no coherence to this message, it is because there is no coherence to my days…2 small boys in the same room (right now they are intentionally crowding in the same bed :)), various errands to run,…I better sign out before the house burns (Isaiah got out of the portable bed and is waving a match before my eyes!)!

On the Last Things

A recent discussion about the last things (eschatology) by John Piper, Sam Storms, Doug Wilson, and Jim Hamilton can be found here .

I am not sure how to insert this script…?

<script src=”http://www.desiringgod.org/player.js?embedCode=g2aGN3OscfH2sj_J4gKHxcmX3puzoziP&height=337&width=600″></script&gt;


Bible Search

John 3:16; Jn 3:16; John 3

Salvation, Jesus, Gospel

With Operators:
AND, OR, NOT, “ ”

Add this to your site!

Some Syriac Resources

One of my best students in the Biblical Aramaic class (Raj from India) has put together the following great list for Syriac resources. I find especially useful the first one, and the CAL (#9) ENJOY and use wisely.

Resources for Syriac Studies:
2. Introduction to Syriac Language: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syriac_language
9. Comprephensive Aramaic Lexicon (with Syriac):http://cal1.cn.huc.edu/
13. “Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible” by Emanuel Tov (Online): http://www.greeklatin.narod.ru/tov/tov.htm
15. Lord’s prayer in syriac: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJNvXvp99vI


This year the Good Friday Service for English Ministries will be held on April 10 at 7:30 pm at Onnuri Church in the Seobinggo Campus.

Please see the following link for directions to the Seobinggo campus (just north of the Han river).

We hope to see most of you there.

Seobinggo Campus Directions.

COME worship together the work of the CROSS of CHRIST!

On the “Pornification of Culture”

I was reading a fine post on pornography by a friend (www.mariuscruceru.ro – posted in Romanian) which made reference to this post on pornography by Al Mohler. The following quotes from Mohler are worth reproducing:

“The real cost of pornography is measured in broken lives, broken marriages, broken children, and broken dreams.  In reality, the true cost is spiritual, for pornography destroys the soul.

This one fact is enough to prove just how immense this problem is — 70 percent of pornography on the Internet is viewed at work.  That explains why so many employees are distracted.  It also underlines the fact that pornography is truly a spreading cancer.  It will not easily be forced into retreat.”

Hitchens vs. Turek

Here is what seems to be an interesting  debate between Christopher Hutchins and Frank Turek.

Frank Turek, co-author of “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist,” and Christopher Hitchens, author of “god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,” met at VCU in Richmond, VA to debate the subject, “Does God Exist?”

I haven’t had the time to look at the whole debate, but it seems interesting.  It sounds to me that Hitchens is pro-life!!!?