Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Last Evening in Kiev, Ukraine

Hello, again, from Kiev. This time I am with Maksim and Lena Rakovich, having dinner and spending the night. Maksim will shuttle me to the Borispol Airport in the morning (Thursday) for my 6:45 a.m. flight to Amsterdam. Lena made a delicious dinner with orange slices and cheese baked on chicken breast pieces.

This ministry trip has been a great learning experience for me (as all of them have been) as well as an opportunity to some teaching and one on one mentoring.

I had a good time in Vinnitsa for the NGP (Next Generation Project) conference and then made my way on to Lutsk and L'viv. Fimiam Church, Calvary Church (both in Lutsk), Grace Church (Rivne) and Hosanna Church (L'viv) are led by vibrant teams and have a passion for reaching their cities, especially the younger generation.

I was able to see some videos produced for outreach by drama students who attend Hosanna Church. One titled "Why?" reminded me of the videos in Rob Bell's Nooma series.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Hi from Kiev, Ukraine.

It's 7:30 a.m. here and it's looks like it'll be a bright sunny day with blue skies.

Rich Correll and I will link up today with 4 men from Ada Bible Church, Ada, MI and travel to Vinnitsa. Maksim will be our driver in his nice VW van with a diesel engine. We'll meet Andre of Greenway Church (see picture in previous post) and participate in Greenway's Youth Club. The last time I participated I had to eat "salo"--fat cubes spread on bread with garlic added. I also had to dunk for life-savers in a bowl of flour. Greenway Church is a magnet to teens and 20 somethings...contemporary, passionate, artsy and Christ-centered. Andre is a highly gifted young leader.

I'm reading Steve Chalke's The Lost Message of Jesus. Chalke also introduces us to a Jesus we never knew. It's a short, paper back presentation of Jesus and his message about "the good news of the kingdom of God."

Any prayers on my behalf and the ministry here in Ukraine are deeply appreciated.

Dasvedanya! (a novice's transliteration).

Friday, September 15, 2006

Ukraine Bound Once Again

The Itinerary: I am Ukraine bound today. My plane leaves Grand Rapids, MI at 6:57 p.m. and I arrive Kiev tomorrow at 4:30 p.m.

I'll be in Vinnitsa for a 3 day conference next Monday-Wednesday helping equip and encourage young pastoral leaders. I will be teaching three sessions on Jesus the (radical) pastor.

I will then travel west to Lutsk and L'viv and work with the brothers and sisters there. On Sunday I'll preach in Calvary Church where Sasha Savich is the pastor. Sasha is in the last picture. I then will travel a little more south to encourage the Hosanna Church team led by Dema in L'viv--a beautiful city in the southwest part of Ukraine, renown for being the first city in Europe to sell coffee to Europeans.

I return to Grand Rapids on September 28. Julie and I ask for and deeply appreciate your prayers. Julie will not go with me this trip. However, Julie may post some things here on the blogspot in the next two weeks.

The Pictures: The handsome pastor with the tie is Pasha Myronuk of Fimiam Church in Lutsk. I am giving Andre Uhimetz, pastor of Greenway Church in Vinnitsa, a hug. The young man and woman are Maksim and Lena Rakovich who live in Kiev. Maksim is our man of a thousand talents including serving as guide, chauffeur and interpreter. One picture shows me carrying on about some topic of great interest.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Jesus: A Man from the Hollers

Jesus was from the hill country, from Nazareth in Galilee.

In Mark 1, Mark contrasts two geographical areas from which people came to John the Baptist for baptism. In verse 5 we read of massive amounts of people coming north to the Jordan River area from Jerusalem and Judea. By contrast, in verse 9 we read of Jesus coming south from "Nazareth of Galilee" to meet and be baptized by his cousin John.

Unless you know the social milieu, you will miss the tension in these seemingly insignificant geographical notations. A mass of people come from "the developed" areas, the closer to God areas, the areas of Zion, the area of the Temple, and the area where there were some very wealthy Jews. Jerusalem was Ivy League, double-shot, mocha latte country. Hummers were not uncommon.

Jesus is from "Hicksville." Can anything good come out of Nazareth? was asked later. Jesus was raised in Appalachian "hollers" (see below). He was poor and from a poor family, a country bumpkin. Nazareth was hand-plow and ox country, corn bread and beans country. Jesus was dumb as a stump according to the edgy-cated ones in Jerusalem, dangerously dumb.

Galilee was a region known to be disinterested in and ignorant of Torah. This was a stereotype, of course, but it stuck to Jesus. He was considered a "no name" (see John 9:29) from across the tracks, perhaps, even born out of wedlock. Well, he was conceived out of wedlock, for sure. One rabbi, Johanan ben Zakkai, once lamented, "Galilee, Galilee, you hate the Torah; your end will be seizure by Romans!"

Jerusalem. Judea. Nazareth. Galilee.

But of all the ones that John the Baptist baptized in the Jordan, only one saw the heavens ripped open, saw the Spirit gently floating down on him like a dove, and only one heard a voice from heaven saying, "You are My Son, whom I chose. With you I am outrageously delighted."

Yep. It was the hick...from Nazareth...of Galilee.

So much for God favoring smart, cool, "white" people who live in gated communities and suburbs and who drive Hummers and other SUVs to latte-making cafes, read New Yorker and discuss Mozart.

God seems to dig mule-and-wagon types with missing teeth and tobacco breath and who read the Sears catalogue and drink black Folgers from cracked cups and say things like "Jeat yet," which being interpreted means, "Did you eat, yet?" and who like country music that laments the loss of all that is my dog, my trailer, my pick 'em up truck and my boot-scootin' woman.

Don't you just love God?

* A "holler", a variant of "hollow," is a small valley between hills in the rural South.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Inerrancy is a Curious Thing: Part Deux

So I post about inerrancy on August 28 and receive some very intriguing comments.

There appears to be a tip of the hat toward the meaning and purpose of the doctrine(?) of inerrancy. Inerrancy in a nutshell: God is perfect. He "breathes out," inspires, guides, superintends by the Spirit, protects the original autographs from error. Nice.

We have no originals. Nothing at hand is inerrant, except God---Father, Son and Spirit. The living God who is not subject to scribal error nor is God a product of the transmission of the text(s).

It was pointed out (in the comments) that if we seek by claiming inerrancy to protect the Bible from the eeeev-vils of liberalism or from those with a "low view" of Scripture, we ourselves have been unwittingly (or maybe wittingly) moved onto the opponents playing field. We will now have to objectively, empirically prove that the Bible is an inerrant book (ah, in the original autographs...ah, which we don't have). So, we "battle for the Bible" dressed in Saul's armour and wonder why it feels so clunky, even at times silly. The Bible was never intended to be subject to rationalist, modernist definitions of truth.

Is there another kind of truth? Yes. Relational truth. I am married to Julie. You're not. You will never know the truth of Julie that I know because you are not relationally involved with Julie. You may see her, speak with her, even like her and she might like you, but you are not ever in the same place I am to know her. God says, in effect, "That's how it is with my truth. From the outside you can know a lot about my truth, but not all. From the inside, you can know more. You can know me. You must know me to know the truth of the Bible. The last thing the Bible a specimen on a glass slide under the microscope of 'lighted up' human reason. For humans to battle for the Bible is like gnats taking on a rhino."

So, I am theologically for inerrancy. It's a nice concept. But I'd just as soon trust that the living Trinitarian God working through his Word will slay any flat-footed, huffy Goliath that shouts down its truthfulness, trustworthiness, authority, integrity and most of all, its beauty.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Thought-Provoker: Addicted to "Church"?

Jason Zahariades over at "The Off Ramp" posted a thought-provoker titled Detoxing From Church.

Here's a teaser from his reflections:

Moving From Being Churched To Being The Church
Detoxing from any kind of substance abuse is only a means to a much greater end. It is the essential process toward a healthy life, free from oppressive addiction. The same is true for one who detoxes from the church. Remember, we must leave the church in order to BE the Church. We must stop being churched and start being the Church.

As I ponder Jason's thoughts, I wonder if what many of us call "transformation" is nothing more than socially-driven behavioral modification, that is, we're conditioned by the "churched life" to live a certain way and, thus, to unwittingly become numb to the radical Spirit's mission to overhaul everything about us as the Spirit compels us to follow that radical pastor named Jesus.

Just thinking out loud.

Thanks to Jamie Arpin-Ricci, I was informed about Rob McAlpine's thoughts with the same title "Detoxing from Church." Check RobbyMac's post over at "Dry Dock."

What are your thoughts? Take time to read Jason's blog and Rob's blog.

Monday, September 04, 2006

"Labor" Days---Oh, the Beauties!

On this Labor Day 2006, Julie and I are celebrating two other "labor" days--the day that Lillian was born to our daughter Elisha and the day Sylvia was born to our daughter Leah. As you observe the pictures Lillian is on the right with me and Sylvia is on the right with Julie.

Each new granddaughter has two older brothers: Lillian's are Benjamin and Zachary and Sylvia's are Jackson and Trevor. The lucky Dads are Bryan and Andy.

Each set of boys and girl has an Aunt Lori and Aunt Shamar, our two other daughters.

For Julie and me, holding little girls is deja vu all over again. It is wonderful!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

My Dream Car

-photo by John W. Frye-

1957 Chevrolet
click on photo to enlarge
28th Street Classic Car Show and Parade
Grand Rapids, MI