November 12, 2007

Busy, Busy, Busy

I am busy. There is so much going on in my life right now that it is hard to keep focused. I keep looking ahead to Thanksgiving (and then inevitably, Christmas) and just think about how wonderful that time will be. It's all coming up fast! This semester is already over half over! But what a wonderful semester it has been! God has blessed me in so many ways this past's been amazing! God truly is good to His children.

December 22, 2006

Thank You Father

Well I certainly have not posted in a long time, so I figured I better post something, just so Blogger doesn't shut me down. I'm home from Moody and am eagerly anticipating Christmas (I can't believe it's just three days away!). Christmas really snuck up on me this year, what with the new school and all. Speaking of Moody...

Moody is an amazing school! I truly love my time there and already am dreading the day when I will have to leave and go into the "real world." I love living and interacting with so many of my peers who are eagerly seeking to live for Christ. I love sitting under and learning from true scholars, men who know more than I can ever hope to even read! Their insights into the Word are astonishing! And lastly, I love that my primary textbook is the Word of God. I love how everything I learn, do and talk about at Moody centers around the Bible! I am so blessed! I was at a friend's house last night and his dad was telling me how he envied what I am doing. It got me thinking - I have so much to be thankful for! Very few people in this country (much less the whole world!) have the opportunity to devote three years to studying the Bible! I was talking to my RA a few weeks ago (he's a senior) and he was telling me that as he looks back on his time at Moody, he has no regrets. I don't think he means to say that he doesn't regret anything, but rather that, by and large, he has taken advantage of his time at Moody and is satisfied. I want to be able to say that too. I want to be able to look back and say, "I didn't waste one second!" Of course, that won't happen, but I need to strive for that goal every day! These three years will be up in no time. Soon Moody will be only a memory. I am praying that God will cause me to be thankful and appreciate all that He has blessed me with and also that He will help me to be productive and wise in what I choose to do with the time that He has given me.

Death is coming and my time here is short.

December 05, 2006

The Caged Beast

This is a video that I helped put together for a guy on my floor. He made it for a psychology class that he is currently in. If you have ever taken psychology, you should immediately understand what the video is referring to. If you don't know much about psychology, it is still hilarious to watch! The guy's name is Mark and he is literally the funniest guy I have ever met! Enjoy, The Caged Beast...

October 10, 2006

Moody Missions Conference

Today marks the kickoff of Moody's annual Missions Conference and I am excited! I am excited because of this years theme: The Church in Chains. I am excited because of this years speakers: Mark Talbot, Steve Strauss, Carl Moeller and many other experienced missionaries. Lastly, I am excited because all classes are cancelled for the rest of the week! Each day we get to go to about six sessions where we will learn about dozens of different topics that all relate to missions and in particular, the persecuted church. Wow, what an opportunity to learn! What an opportunity to learn and then put that learning into practice!

I don't want this week to be merely "interesting" or "enlightening" or "thought provoking." Rather, I want this week to be convicting and motivating and truly life changing! By God's grace, it will be.

Since we are on the topic of the persecuted church, I will now post a little report I wrote a couple years ago about Richard Wurmbrand, a pastor in Communist Romania. His story is an amazing story of love, pain, suffering, faithfulness and most of all, grace that enabled a man to be solely devoted to God and His kingdom, allowing him to endure some of the most brutal persecution that can be imagined.

Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand

Richard Wurmbrand began his life as a hard atheist. From his earliest years he was fed the Communist's propaganda and soon he was a true believer in atheism. Richard not only did not believe in God, but he hated the very idea of God. He believed that religion was like a plague to society, never helping but always harming. As he grew older, he began to realize that there was something missing inside him however, and that atheism had not lived up to the promises credited to it by the Communists. Around this time of inner struggle in Richard’s life, an old carpenter in a small village in Romania prayed to God that He would reward him for his life of service and dedication by letting him lead a Jew to Christ. He thought that because Jesus was a Jew, there would be no greater prize and joy than to be able to lead a Jew to saving faith in Christ. Well, it just so happened that Richard was a Jew and it also just so happened that for some reason (he didn’t know why) Richard felt led and urged to go to this carpenter’s village. As soon as the carpenter met him and realized that he was an unsaved Jew, he began to “work” on Richard. Richard said in his book that “he courted me as never a beautiful had been courted.” This dedication finally paid off, and soon Richard had confessed his life of sin and disbelief and placed his faith in Jesus. Soon after his own conversion, Richard’s wife was also saved. Quickly, Richard became the pastor of a church (one that he started himself). He felt a great desire to minister and witness to Russians, who were brought up in Communism, learning from a very young age that there was no God, but just physical matter. He felt a great sympathy and love for these people, because he had been just like them.

In just a few years the Communists gained complete control in Romania. Right away they began their work on the church, slowly making in-roads and alliances with its top leaders. Soon they created an official church and those who refused to be a part of it were persecuted, though the persecution was rather tame to begin with. This is when the underground church started in Romania. It lasted until the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of Communism.

Pastor Wurmbrand had many encounters with Communist soldiers, leaders and officials etc., many of which he found were eagerly seeking the truths of the Gospel. The Communists were hungry for Christ and the peace that comes with Him. Atheism left them starved and alone. Many Communists repented and believed, becoming vital members of the Underground Church in Romania. Russian soldiers smuggled Bibles into Russia and passed them out to other soldiers. Converts secretly printed and distributed the first Christian “tracts”. Pastor Wurmbrand even began a secret ministry to the Russian soldier’s right in their own barracks, under the guise of purchasing stolen watches from them. Russian Christians were persuaded to join the feared Russian secret police (who were responsible for hunting and silencing Christians) so that they could report on their activities. This was often very hard for them because it meant they would be hated and despised by their own families and other Christians, who could not be allowed to know about their true duties. Pastor Wurmbrand himself was captured and imprisoned by the police on many occasions and during one of his longer incarcerations a fellow Christian doctor actually joined the Secret police just to try to find Richard and make sure that he was still alive. The doctor found out that Richard was alive and soon had told the rest of the Underground Church in Romania, which greatly encouraged and invigorated them all. During the Eisenhower-Khrushchev “thaw” Christians spoke out for the release of Richard and finally got their wish in 1956. The Underground Church did many other extraordinary and often heroic things for the cause of Christ. They loved the Communists and would stop at nothing to reach them with the Gospel, even though it was the Communists who were so terribly persecuting them.

Pastor Wurmbrand was imprisoned many times, and each time he underwent various tor tures. Once, soldiers put him inside a wooden box, one that was just large enough for Richard to stand in. Then they pounded nails in the sides so that they were only centimeters away from Richards flesh. He would have to remain perfectly still for hours and hours on end or else he would be cut and shredded by the razor sharp nails all around him. Handcuffs with razors on the insides were put around their wrists on many occasions. Richard was thrown into a freezing cold “refrigerator” chamber and left in there until the brink of death. Then Communist doctors would rush in and rescue him from the cold and make him very warm again. Then right away they would throw him back into the “refrigerators”. They repeated this cycle countless times each day. Wurmbrand said that many times while the Communists were torturing him and others, they would smile and their faces would shine with “rapturous joy”. They would yell at the Christians, “We are the devil!” while they slowly bore holes into the Christians’ flesh or burned them until their skin peeled.

The communists also tried brainwashing on some prisoners. They would make people sit for sometimes 17 hours a day listening to “Communism is good. Give up!” Pastor Wurmbrand and many other Christians were forced to endure countless hours of horrible , all in the name of Communism and atheism, but they held out, keeping their mind focused on Christ and feeling comforted that they were taking part in His suffering.

During Richard’s longest stay in prison, his wife was also imprisoned. There she was brutally ra ped many times and forced to do hard labor. Their son was left to wander the streets. However, when people found out that he was an orphan because his parents were in prison for being Christians, they would turn him away and not give him even the scraps of food off their tables. It was a crime to help the orphans of imprisoned Christians.

After fourteen years, Pastor Wurmbrand was released for prison. He and his wife started their life over in complete poverty. Word had spread throughout the world of the underground church in the USSR and of Wurmbrand’s imprisonment. Two Christian organizations paid the Communists $10,000 to let Richard leave Romania and go to the West. Before he left, he was told to never speak of the terrible persecution and that he had lived through, or else the Communists would hunt him down wherever he was and drag him back to Romania (they actually did this to some other Romanians who had escaped. They found people as far away as Paris and Italy.) In 1965 Pastor Wurmbrand and his family were finally allowed to leave Communist Romania.

In the West Pastor Wurmbrand led the charge in informing and educating people about the Underground Church that exists all over the world, even today. There are thousands of Christian brothers and sisters that are being persecuted for their faith in Christ. Communism was a tool that Satan used in hopes of stopping Christ from saving His people, but just like every other futile attempt, he failed. However, there is still persecution in non-Communist countries and many of us here in the West, know little (and sometimes care little) for their battles and struggles. We must remember the Underground Church in our prayers and speak out against the horrible persecution of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. This was Pastor Richard Wurmbrand’s wish for us all….remember the Underground Church.

I have never been persecuted on account of my faith. Here in America, the extent of our “persecution” is being made fun of by some fat, smelly kid at school because we go to church and pray before we eat. I have never seen such faithful, longsuffering, determined and joyful dedication to the cause of Christ. Richard Wurmbrand loved his tor turers. He prayed for them. He never hated them. This is a response that could only have come from the Holy Spirit and the power that raised Christ from the grave. It is truly supernatural and superhuman, a product of the enabling grace of God.

I think that the best thing that we can do for our brothers and sisters in the Underground church is to pray for them. Pray that God gives them strength to endure. Pray that they keep Christ as their focus and remember that Heaven is their reward. Pray that God will deliver them from their suffering, either by death or freedom. I think that we forget about our family…we think that they are just faceless bodies walking around on the other side of the world. But they are people; more than that they are family in Christ, and they are being tor tured. They are being tor tured for Christ.

September 28, 2006


A couple days ago, I watched the movie Shadowlands. The movie stars Anthony Hopkins, who plays Clive Staples Lewis, or Jack as his friends called him. This biography of sorts, focuses on Lewis' relationship with Joy Greshem, an American woman who first was merely a fan and pen-pal but later became a beloved wife to Jack.

I had heard that Shadowlands was a good movie and am happy to say that I was not disappointed. I have read quite a bit about C.S. Lewis and found the movie to be very accurate. Hopkins was at the top of his game, portraying the extremely intelligent and reserved Lewis. On par with Hopkins was Debra Winger, who played Joy Greshem.

A very interesting thing about the movie was that it gives viewers a glimpse into the extremely intellectual and scholarly environment that Lewis lived and worked in at Oxford University. It was just really neat to see the environment that C.S. Lewis lived and worked in and how "things were done" at that time.

I don't want to give away the story (though even the most rudimentary research into the life of Lewis would reveal the climax of the movie), but I was especially impressed by Hopkins' portrayal of the extremely grief stricken Jack, who is dealing with the truth of God's sovereignty even over circumstances that cause His children much pain. We see C.S. Lewis as a fallible man; as a person who, when presented with suffering, must either run from God in anger or run to Him in humility.

In his book The Problem of Pain, Lewis writes, "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is a megaphone to rouse a deaf world." If only we, when confronted with pain and suffering, would cry out to God "What do you want me to learn from this Lord? Teach me to rely on you for everything my Father!" instead of "God, why are you doing this to me? Why couldn't you just give me a comfortable life and leave me alone?"

God has spared me from serious suffering in my short life thus far. For that I am thankful and I praise God. However, I do expect it someday. It is one of God's most power methods for drawing us closer to Himself. And that is our goal, is it not? To be conformed into the image of Christ, entering into a deeper and deeper relationship with Him every day? If so, we should not fear and dread pain, but instead embrace it when it comes. This does not mean that we go looking for it, but instead we look for God in suffering, rejoicing that we are being "purified by fire," drawing closer to the righteousness that we already have in Christ (James 1:2-4).
"We are like blocks of stone, out of which the sculptor carves the forms of men. The blows of his chisel, which hurt us so much, are what makes us perfect." - C.S. Lewis

September 26, 2006

Made for Worship

We were created to worship God.

Our purpose is to glorify our Creator. However, we do not fulfill our purpose. This is the essense of sin - not being who God has commanded us to be (ie. worshippers of our Creator). In its essense, sin is not doing something, but rather not doing something, that something being truly worshipping and glorifying the God of the universe.

Think about why God created you. He made you for a specific purpose. Because He has created us for a specific purpose, we will only be completely fulfilled and satisfied when we are doing what we were created to do. To echo the words of John Piper in reverse, "We are most satisfied in God, when He is most glorified in us."

The glory of God is our goal and our purpose. Pray that God will keep you focused on that end and that end alone.
Made to Worship

Before the day
Before the light
Before the world revolved around the sun
God on high
Stepped down into time
And wrote the story of His love for everyone

All we are
And all we have
Is all a gift from God that we receive
Brought to life
We open up our eyes
To see the majesty and glory of the King

He has filled our hearts with wonder
So that we always remember

You and I were made to worship
You and I are called to love
You and I are forgiven and free
You and I embrace surrender
You and I choose to believe
You and I will see who we were meant to be

And even the rocks cry out
And even the Heavens shout
At the sound of His holy name
So let every voice sing out
And let every knee bow down
He is worthy of all our praise

You and I were made to worship
You and I are called to love
You and I are forgiven and free, yeah
You and I embrace surrender
You and I choose to believe
You and I will see who we were meant to be
Lyrics by Chris Tomlin. Check out the song, "Made to Worship," here.

September 07, 2006

The Sum of All Goods

The sum of all our goods, and our perfect good, is God. We must not fall short of this, nor seek anything beyond it; the first is dangerous, the other impossible.

- Augustine
Just think about those words for a while. Do you seek God as your perfect good or do you substitute lesser goods (or evils) for the greatest Good?
And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
(Mark 10:18 ESV)