Thursday, July 15, 2010


"Welcome to the Balkans!", my passenger announced as we sped up and reviewed the scene that had just happened in front of us. 

It was raining hard - "like there were 3 guys standing on top of our car pouring buckets of water on the windshield" as my friend put it. The car in front of us was going slower than the oil spill recovery efforts.  And behind us was a driver who was in a Hurry. 

Speedy Gonzalez found a way around our car despite the oncoming traffic - who had to slow down to accomodate his impatience.  But he was forced to squeeze between my car and the car in front of us.  As soon as the oncoming traffic had passed, Mr. Fast tried to pass Mr. Slow but Mr. Slow crept over to the other lane (whenever possible) to keep Mr. Fast in line. 

Both my passenger and I were keeping an eye on the situation despite our conversation.  I did my best to keep a distance, but Mr. Slow was even more intent on driving slowly (and on the line) when he saw how successful he had been in irritating his opponent. 

All this was brewing as we drove on for a kilometer or two, but I couldn't have predicted the revenge in quite the way it happened. 

We were approaching an exit to our right.  Before we even got there, the speedster veered into the breakdown lane, put his elbow on the horn, his foot on the accelerator and stared at the slow driver over his shoulder as he passed. 

But then the wheels started turning in his brain and just about stopped turning on the car.  He screeched and swerved back onto the road slowing down to 5 k/hr. The slow car in front of us was forced to go even slower prompting several angry honks and creating an even bigger line behind us.  Finally, at the last second, the instigator sped off onto the exit ramp having achieved his retribution. 

And so my passenger's initial reaction was correct.  There is indeed a special breed of revenge in the Balkans.  Having just come from Hungary, but familiar with the former-Yugosloavia, he had apparently seen the creativity with which many Croats and Serbs have plotted revenge in the past.  Let's face it, most - if not all - of the conflict in the history of this part of the world comes down to payback: "Son, let me tell you what the ___________(insert ethnic group) did to your mother", for example.  And it takes generations for it to die out. 

Perhaps it never will.

Monday, July 5, 2010

On Missions and Worship

Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church.  Worship is.  Missions exists because worship doesn't.  Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man.  When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more.  It is a temporary necessity.  But worship abides forever. 
Worship therefore, is the fuel and goal in missions.  It's the goal of missions because in missions we simply aim to bring the nations into the white-hot enjoyment of God's glory.  The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God.  'The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! (Psalm 97:1).  Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee!  Let the nations be glad and sing for joy! (Psalm 67:3-4).
But worship is also the fuel of missions.  Passion for God in worship precedes the offer of God in preaching.  You can't commmend what you don't cherish.  Missionaries will never call out, 'Let the nations be glad!', who can't say from the heart, 'I rejoice in the Lord...I will be glad and exult in thee, I will sing praise to thy name, O Most High' (Psalm 104:34;9:2).  Missions begins and ends in worship. 
- From Let the Nations be Glad by John Piper

Thursday, July 1, 2010

On Godly Parenting

My parents are good parents.  The older I've become, the more I've realized that fact.  Having children made me realize that fact.  Observing other parents made me realize that fact.  But rather than listing all the things my parents have done right, I want to zero in on the thing they have done right.

That thing, though certainly not a secret, is often a mystery for parents - even Christian parents.  Miroslav Volf, in an article called Will My Son Be a Christian? wondered aloud:
I'd almost rather [my son] be no Christian than an indifferent Christian, or, even worse, a zealous Christian manipulating faith to promote his own selfish ends.  But I want him to embrace Christianity as a faith by which to live and for which to die.  But how do I pass on that kind of faith?
After describing the fear he had in letting his faith "dribble away" as he tried his best to pass it on, and after pondering several solutions, Dr. Volf recalls:
Then I remembered my mother's prayers.  Right language about God matters; godly life matters even more.  Yet neither will suffice.  If the seed sown by word and deed is to grow and bear fruit, it will need the life-giving water of God's Spirit.  So I abandoned trust either in statistics about religious belonging or in the genuineness and strength of my own faith.  I vowed to pray.
Thank you Mom and Dad for also taking that vow.