Sunday, June 22, 2008

Links to Conference Audio, Video and Photos

Here are some links to the audio, video and photos from the Calvary Chapel Romania Conference held in Codlea on May 6-9, 2008.

Conferinţă Poze - Flickr

Conferinţă 2008 - 132 MB

Conferinţă Video

Sesiunea 1 - Brian Brodersen Download (273 MB) View On-line

Sesiunea 2 - Phil Metzger Download (373 MB) View On-line

Sesiunea 3 - Ken Sutton Download (270 MB) View On-line

Sesiunea 4 - Brian Brodersen Download (448 MB) View On-line

Sesiunea 5 - Phil Metzger Download (320 MB) View On-line

Sesiunea 6 - Ken Sutton Download (445 MB) View On-line

Sesiunea 7 - Brian Brodersen Download (456 MB) View On-line

Sesiunea 8 - Brian Fouts Download (179 MB) View On-line

Atelier de Evanghelizare/Evangelism Workshop Download (317 MB) View On-line

Atelier de Închinarea/Worship Workshop Download (429 MB) View On-line

Momente de Închinare/Worship Moments Download (59 MB) View On-line

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Importance of Meditation and Reflection

Over the past year I've watched several videos of pastors preaching (downloaded from iTunes for free) in which they indicated a frustration over the fact that the people in their churches weren't really growing in their faith even though they had good Bible teaching and were involved in things like discipleship classes. I’ve also read many web articles and blog posts saying the same thing as well.

I think this is a very common problem everywhere today which is very unfortunate. I thought about this quite a bit during this past school year since I was involved in teaching classes in our School of Ministry. Why is there so much teaching yet so little transformation?

My answer to this question involves three things: 1. The times we live in 2. The unrealistic or improper expectations of "knowledge" by itself to change people 3. The prevalent consumer mentality that exist in the church.

We live in an age heavily influenced by technology which causes people to be busy all the time and overloaded with information. People don't have time to smell the roses or think deeply about things. I am sure Satan likes it this way and if you look behind the curtain I think you would find him involved in all this. Have you ever heard of the acronym B.U.S.Y.? (Being Under Satan's Yoke)

Today I read a blog post by Tod Bolsinger titled Culture Trumps Vision Every Time
that I think, while looking at why a "vision" of a church doesn't result in change, is really talking about the same thing I am . Here are some quotes from the post:

“'Tod, you have done a great job articulating a compelling vision for our church. It’s one of the things that you do best. But you have to remember that vision is not all that powerful. Culture trumps vision every time.'

A “culture” is the result of the intentional and mostly unintentional “habits” of a people. The assumptions, “givens”, the unreflected-upon actions and attitudes that make up “who we are” that most of the time we don’t even think about.

Here is one thing I believe: No one sets out to undermine their vision. No one who believes in the vision of a church, organization or cause determines to let it get trumped by the status quo. But it happens. All. the. time. And it happens mostly unconsciously through our unreflective habitual actions.

What can we do? How can we experience the true power of a God-inspired Vision?

Well, we can start by focusing on what we are doing. Observing our actions, paying attention to habits. And then humbly acknowledge those moments of contradiction and come back to Christ again.

Culture may trump vision every time. But humble self-awareness of our contradictory nature is a pretty powerful opening hand to play."

I think we need to figure out how to change our "culture" and make time for meditation and reflection if we truly want to follow Jesus and be transformed to be more like Him. That is, to meditate on scripture and prayerfully and honestly reflect on ourselves in light of scripture. To do this we need to practice the spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude. If we don't the "noise" of life will continue to drown out the voice of the Spirit.

On the second point about
unrealistic or improper expectations of "knowledge" by itself to change people. Maybe for some it works sometimes in certain situations but it seems clear that knowledge does not necessarily result in wisdom or transformation. I think the missing ingredient is our brothers and sisters in Christ who we live life with over the long haul. Again, our culture is very individualistic and encourages people to be their own gods and this is not a good thing for those who are created in the image of a trinitarian creator God. People have a hunger for community and relationships but they don't want to do what is takes to have that. It takes work and is very messy but it is that very process that God uses to change us and make us more like His Son.

When it comes to the third point about
those in the church having a consumer mentality instead of a servant mentality. This also is something that has happened to us because of the times we live in. Everyone is looking for what they can get out everything, even God! He is treated more like a genie that does our bidding when we rub the lamp (pray). Rather than, "Not my will, but Your will be done". This is so pervasive that we don't even realize it. In fact, most of the "successful" churches today are that because they feed into this "McDonald's mentality. Check out this video here.

I remember one time sharing with a young adult's Sunday school class when I was back in the States on furlough and someone asking how I ended up at Calvary Chapel. I told them the church I was in before was not a good fit for my gifts so I prayed and asked God to show me where He wanted me to serve Him. The look on their faces when I said that was priceless. It was like, "Wow, that's strange." Most people look at what they can get out of church not what they can contribute and that is sad both for them and the church.

So how can we help people to be transformed to be more like Jesus? Well, to start with we need to change the culture and mindset in our churches which I think is a very challenging thing to do. But do it we must!

Where do we start? We start with pray, confessing our need and asking the Lord for help.
Then we do what we can to help people see how the influences in their lives are harming their walk with God and thus, harming them. We need to figure out how to encourage those in our churches to really get connected with one another and to stop looking to be served but rather to serve. Finally we need to do all we can by example and encouragement to be a people who make time for silence and solitude because we see the value of making time for God. After all, isn't He what it is all about anyway?

Interesting Phenomenon

Since the end of the spring semester I have gotten real sick with a bad chest cold. I experienced the same thing at the end of the fall semester as well. I find this interesting since I never got really sick during either semester. I was extremely busy, especially this spring, but I never got sick enough to keep me in bed.

What is it that keeps us from getting sick when we are working long hours over a long period of time yet as soon as we let our bodies get some needed rest we get really sick? It is because we tell ourselves we can't get sick or is it the grace of God or somehow both?

If it's because we tell ourselves we can't get sick then that would seem to show our state of mind has a powerful influence over our bodies in this regard. I wonder if any studies have been done on this? I know that the use of placebos in testing drugs and other things shows the mind has an impact but to what degree can it actually influence the health of our bodies?

Psalm 139:14 (NLT)
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Belief in an Age of Skepticism

Here is a talk Tim Keller gave on exclusive truth in a pluralistic society at Cal Berkeley in March 2008. It was based on his new book The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Triple Touble- Three Wild and Crazy Boys

Here's a photo of me taken with Cristian (left) and Nicolae a few Sundays ago after church. Cristian just turned 6 on May 3rd and Nicolae will turn 7 on July 10th. They love to rough house with me so I tickle torture them whenever we are together.

They are orphans who are in placement (foster care) with Debbie, an American, who is in the legal process of adopting them. Please pray that God will give her grace and favor with all those involved in making it possible for her to adopt them.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Interesting Links

Here are some links to things I recentlhy found interesting and helpful:

The gospel is all its forms (talks about how to approach the gospel as a pastor)

Christainity Lite -

Holographic video conferencing (the future is here now!)

New movie coming out on Pilgrim's Progress

AM-Deadlink- freeware that checks your bookmarks to see if they are still active

Great quote

"When I pray it, I am confessing to God that if he does not grant me a work of the Holy Spirit in my life, I will never acquire passion for the Son of God. I am confessing to him that my godliness, my discipline, my knowledge of the Word, though all good, are insufficient to produce passion for the Son of God.

I can change my mind, but only the Holy Spirit can change my heart. Divine love can only be divinely imparted."

see whole thing at

Back to Blogging

The School of Ministry is done for the spring semester so I will start blogging again. This past semester was a very intense challenge for me as I taught 11 hours of classes. It worked out most weeks that I would prepare for the equivalent of three sermons, two inductive Bible studies, church history and a class we called "Living the gospel". So there wasn't much time for anything else in my life.

While I enjoyed and was stretched by the challenge I look forward to things slowing down a bit. I need time to decompress from the intensity of the school year. With school done I plan on spending time doing things I have put off like developing some websites, subtitling some more music videos, working more on developing a class I teach called "Understanding the Gospel".

Today Florin and I will take the train to Cluj for our monthly Calvary Chapel leadership meeting tomorrow. We will discuss the conference we had in May and start planning next year's. In addition, we will discuss the future of the School of Ministry and what changes we should make to better serve the churches here in Romania. I enjoy our meetings as it gives us time to get to know each other better and to share and pray for each other. May God give us grace to continue to grow in our fellowship and love for one another.