Monday, April 30, 2007

Tabor - Town of the Hussites

As promised here is a summary of our trip to Tabor, the town was established by the Hussites in what the booklet on the town describes as "relatively young...founded in March 1420." The first picutre here is a pic of the Hussite museum. I was heartbroken when I saw the sign that you are not permitted to photograph. Usually in the Czech Republic you are permitted to take photos so long as you don't use a flash. So I wasn't able to photograph some of the cool documents and photos that the museum contained.

I was blown away by the artillery which the Hussites had at their disposal during this time in history. Let's say I wouldn't want to meet one of them on the street and not be their friend. They possessed some brutal weaponry and even guns and canons.

The second pic is a statue of John Zizka the founder of Tabor and leader of the Hussites after the martyrdom of John Hus in Constance in 1415.

Next you can see the church on the town square in the center of Tabor. It is said that the present church building makes the one that existed during the Hussite period look like a barn.

You can see the architecure is very beautiful and even the tower on the corner of the town or the old fortress gives you a small picture of what the town somewhat looked like in the days of the Hussites, and how they protected their town.

The rest of the pics below are as follows: statue of the young John Hus, statue of John Zizka on his horse (leader of the Hussites after the martyrdom of John Hus), battle wagon the Hussites used to fight from. The battle wagon would have 4 warriors in it shooting arrows, throwing spears, and etc. The last pic is of a building with pretty cool artwork showing some of the history of the town.

The town was named Tabor after the biblical name of Mt. Tabor in Israel and the Hussites even named a nearby lake they dug for water "Jordan." They sought to use biblical words to name important places.

One last tid-bit is that underneath the town square is a maze of underground tunnels that was dug in 15th century to store food, beer, and provide shelter from the numerous fires that the town experienced. The tunnels are several kilometers long and part of it is open to the public.
















Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Offensive Nature of Error (Part 1)

As one who lives in a very postmodern stricken part of the world I have been giving thought to the offensive nature of error. Those with a postmodern mindset claim to be tolerant, but it is clear they are tolerant of everything except for truth claims, especially from the Bible. And unfortunately many Christians share this postmodern philosophy. Any time you seek to proclaim truth from the Bible you are immediately characterized as one who is arrogant, intolerant of other viewpoints, offensive, and cannot possibly know that “your interpretation” is the correct one.

But I believe that is a rather offensive and intolerant way to characterize those with a differing “opinion.” After all, according to their thinking it is only your opinion. So if that is the case, then why not tolerate it and just forget about it?

Error is very offensive and cannot tolerate truth in any form no matter how it is packaged. And that is why it calls those making a truth claim arrogant and hostile. It seeks to put the one making the truth claim on the defense and serves as a diversion from what the one making the truth claim wants to do…proclaim truth. It is an offensive mechanism, an offensive attack on the one making the truth claim.

I would like to think a little about the offensive nature of error and how it is manifest in more than one way:

1. Error is aggressively offensive

Error often reigns because of an ignorance of the truth or because of a rebellion to the truth. Either way it is offensive. It does not and cannot sit idle, and is against its very nature to do so. The serpent in Genesis 3 was not able to sit and watch Eve without challenging her to accept his lie and participate in his evil. Error can’t stand to be alone and is intolerant of solitude. Just as when Satan was thrown out of heaven, he wasn't thrown out alone. He was thrown out with a 1/3 of the angels. Those in error today seek to gather people to join with them in their error against the truth. Their teachings and philosophies spread like a cancer, like gangrene, and are aggressive, because that is the very nature of error. It most often comes in a subtle form and is attractive, because it is often more comfortable and less confrontive, but it is always on the offense.

It is propagated by Hell itself. The Father of Lies, the Great Serpent of old, the Dragon of Hell packages it in different wrappings to offer it as something acceptable. It is not shy and always on the offense, always being offered, and is often distributed in ways and by people we would least expect (Acts 20:29-30; Romans 16:17-18).

In the Scriptures those associated with error are depicted as vicious and deadly animals such as snakes, dragons, wolves, and lions (Gen. 3:4; Rev. 20:2; Matt. 7:15; 1 Pet. 5:8). Whereas those associated with truth are depicted as sheep and doves (Jn. 10; Matt. 3:16).

The point is that error is aggressive; it is aggressively offensive and on the prowl though it often doesn't appear that way, because it comes so subtly and disguised as truth. When we put our guards down and think we have won the battle and that truth has finally prevailed, it is then that we should be most watchful. So, don’t forget that you can never be passive in the truth war. It is a war in which we have an aggressive enemy we cannot see (Eph. 6:12), and that never sleeps or slumbers.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Truth through the Scriptures

I have been thinking much about what direction to go with this blog. So...it seems that the best approach is to expound texts in the Scriptures that speak of truth. I'm not sure yet as to how detailed it will be, but I believe the best way to defend the truth is to proclaim the truth. And truth is found in the Word of God, the Bible. So that is where we must go to learn more about what it is and why it is so important.

I’m still planning to fulfill my promise to post some pics and commentary on our trip to Tabor, the Czech town established by the Hussites. The town was founded after the martyrdom of John Hus, the great warrior for the Truth who lived and ministered during the pre-reformation era.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Martyred for Belief in the Truth

Truth again is under attack. Three people were killed at a Christian publishing house in Turkey on Wednesday (4/18/2007). They were working in their publishing house when they were attacked, bound, and had their throats slit. One was a German who had a wife and 3 small children, and the other two were Turksih. One of the Turkish brothers was single, and the other had a wife and children.

This is the price that many pay for the Truth even in our day. Too often we take for granted the Truth that has been handed down to us. The English Bible that we have setting on our shelves, in our glove compartments, or even on our computers came to us at a very high price. Many were tortured, burned at the stake, and martyred for seeking to make the Word of God, the Bible, available in English for all to read.

Thank the Lord right now for the Bible you are holding in your hands and for all the wonderful resources that we have in our language. Many today don't even have one verse of the Bible, others have maybe a portion of the Bible, and many others are without good Christian literature. We should pray for these brothers on the front lines in the war for the Truth who are seeking to make the Truth of Scriptures available to all.

Let's also take time and pray for the families of these 3 martyred for their belief in and work to bring the Truth to Turkey.

Blacksburg Update #2

I thought I would post one more update from our friends who minister to international students at Virginia Tech.

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

We thank you for your concerns, prayers, calls and emails since the tragic events of Monday. I know some of you are already overwhelmed with emails, but others have requested continuous updating from us. So we continue to send frequent updates to all of our supporters and prayer team.

Grieving Friends
I mentioned grieving friends in last night's email, but I would like to request prayer again for Chum, our Vietnamese friend and partner in international ministry. We talked to her today at the noon-time prayer meeting. Chum and Lauren were close, and Lauren's death has been very difficult for her. We were with Chum and Lauren a couple of weeks ago at an international social event. Lauren's heart for internationals was evident. PLEASE PRAY for Chum, Lauren's family, and many others who are grieving the loss of this sweet Christian young lady.

Praying Together
We attended a noon-time prayer meeting today on the campus drillfield. The event was organized through the Campus Ministers Association, which means it was a "multi-faith" gathering (you may get that angle from the news media). However, the actual praying occurred in groups, so we prayed to the one true God among brothers and sisters in Christ. After the time of prayer, Franklin Graham (who had come surprisingly) spoke words of encouragement without wavering from the fact that true peace and hope is found only in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ. PLEASE PRAY that the gospel would bring forth fruit and encouragement in the hearts of the hearers.

Opportunities for Witness
Before and after the prayer meeting, several brothers and sisters were interviewed by various news agencies. Our coworker Sonja was interviewed by news media such as ABC, the Washington Post, and a Fox News affiliate; and various journalists (including some from South Korea, Japan, and Chile). They were particularly interested after they learned she was involved in international student ministry. She talked about her involvement with internationals and also about the shame/honor value base culture of the Koreans (see below). She may be interviewed by Fox News later. Sonja told us afterwards, "I told them that I was a Hokie, this was my community, these were my people, my family, and I also had Hokie pride, and that could cause me to feel good for a moment, but as a Christian, my faith and hope is in God through faith in Jesus Christ ... and He is the only one who can give us lasting hope, peace, encouragement, strength and purpose." PRAY that these words may be heard clearly. PRAY that the witness of Christians would be broadcast widely for the glory of God.

Ministering to the Needs of Internationals
As we previously reported, the tragic events of Monday did not physically harm any internationals we know. There were a few who suffered the loss of a friend or advisor, but the need for counseling among our groups has not been great thus far. At present, the greater need for ministry relates to the identity of the gunman. On Tuesday, someone had falsely reported that the gunman was a Chinese national. This stirred up fear among many of the Chinese. When the gunman was identified as Korean, the Koreans began to feel uncomfortable. Though the gunman was a resident of the U.S, who lived here since age 8, many Koreans felt a sense of shared responsibility and shame. This is evident in the magnitude of good will actions of South Korea since the gunman was identified. Individualistic Americans cannot relate to this, but it's real. Numerous Koreans have left town, and others are anxious because of a sense of collective shame and/or fear of reprisal. The fear of reprisal has affected other Asians too. PLEASE PRAY for us as we seek to reassure our Korean (and other Asian) neighbors of our care for them. We (a group of Christian leaders) plan to begin this process by communicating with the Korean Christian community.

It's Far From Over
We expected the days immediately following the massacre to be very intense as people dealt with the shock of the tragedy. However, in our case, it seems that the coming days will be more involved. Many students have left town, and the feel on campus has changed (classes are canceled until Monday). Michele took one on-campus international student to the airport this morning, so she could fly to see a friend. She felt uncomfortable on campus. As the reality of this tragedy continues to settle in, we anticipate an increasing impact on many of the students. We trust that this also means increased opportunities for sharing the love and hope that is in Christ. PLEASE PRAY that we and other ministers will have Spirit-led sensitivity and wisdom in the days ahead. PLEASE PRAY for us in our interactions with our international friends. Also, with regular events coming up (the Friday night Bible study and Coffee & Tea, and the Sunday morning fellowship), we need God's guidance and empowerment to make the most of these opportunities.

We are thankful for the many notes of encouragement. We have received emails from all over the world, many from brothers and sisters we don't know. We continue to pray that God will use this event for His good purposes in the Blacksburg community and beyond. May the church be revived, may many be drawn to Him, and may God be glorified in all the earth.

Thank you again for your encouragement and prayers.

In His Mighty Hand,
Jay (& Michele & Ellen)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

News Straight from Blacksburg

Below is an email from a friend who ministers to international students at Virginia Tech:

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

Sorry for loading up your inbox, but I needed to correct my earlier email. Please disregard the earlier one.

In last night's email, I said that I anticipated more pain today, and that has happened. At the same time, we have seen positive things happening, and we give God the thanks. Though Virginia Tech is a large university, Blacksburg is a small town community. It is not surprising that several of those killed had personal connections to our friends. Here is a list for your prayers. You can see their profiles here http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18143312/.

Lauren McCain (freshmen, International Studies) - I mentioned Lauren last night. She was a good friend of our friend Chum, both of whom have been actively involved in international ministry. I met Lauren a while back. Since the incident yesterday, Chum and others had been diligently praying and searching for her. Today, we all learned of her death, and it hit some of our friends very hard. Pray for Lauren's family, Chum, and other family and friends. Pray for Lauren's brother, who I understand had already strayed from the Lord.

Mary Read (freshmen) - Like Lauren, Mary was actively involved in Campus Crusade. She was signed up to lead a Bible study next year. Pray for Mary's family and friends.

Jocelyne Coulture-Nowak (professor, Foreign Languages) - Jocelyne was a colleague and friend of our friend I-Ping. Please pray for Jocelyne's husband, daughters and other family, I-Ping and other friends.

Christopher Bishop (instructor, Foreign Languages) - Christopher was another colleague of our friend I-Ping. Please pray for his family and friends.

Liviu Librescu (professor, ESM) - Dr. Librescu was the advisor of our friend Zhanming, from China. Zhanming first trusted Christ after coming to Blacksburg. Dr. Librescu was like a father to Zhanming so this has been very difficult for him. Dr. Librescu died a hero. A Holocaust survivor, he was killed while holding off the gunman so his students could escape out the window.

There may be other connections as we learn more. But please pray for our hurting friends, and the families of the deceased. It pains my heart to see the lives of Lauren and Mary cut off so early, but we take comfort that they are with the Lord.

Please pray for the families and friends of the other victims. Also pray for the family of the gunman. I don't know anything about the family, but can you imagine the shame they are experiencing? Pray for God's mercy and grace. Pray that they could find peace in Christ.

While the pain continues, we are encouraged by the good stories we hear. We don't really know her, but Haiyan Cheng (a Chinese doctoral student) is one of the heroes. Her actions helped save the students in her classroom. See her interview here http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/video/2007/04/17/VI2007041700771.html. We are also encouraged by the spirit of togetherness we are seeing in the Tech community. "We are Hokies" has real meaning and function right now.

Of course, it is our desire that God would take this horrible situation and use it for good. We earnestly pray that the hurting children of God will be comforted and strengthened, and that those who don't know Him will see their need of Him. We pray that God will use us, and many others, to make the most of this opportunity to lead people to the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Please pray for us as we continue to interact with many international friends during these days.

Again, we thank you for your prayers.

In His Hand,
Jay
HIS International - Virginia Tech

p.s. Though not directly involved in the incident, Jamal has become part of the story. His cell phone video has been shown everywhere, and he was interviewed by NBC News and Larry King. Jamal is a Palestinian who is not unfamiliar with gunfire in the streets. When we talked to him on Sunday at the International Street Fair, we had no idea that the next place we would see him was on national television.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My Pastor Still has the Touch

Check out my pastor John MacArthur playing hoops!

Click here to see the pics!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Our Trip to Goosetown

Our family was privileged to visit “Goosetown” today, the hometown of the Master John Hus. The actual name of the town is Husinec, but translated to English is “Goosetown.” In fact, John’s last name Hus actually means “goose” in Czech.

The town is located about 45 minutes off the main highway in southern Bohemia, and today is no more than a village town. As you enter the town there is a sign informing newcomers of its historical significance. It is the hometown of the great warrior for the Truth.

Located in the center of the town is a statue of the beloved pre-reformer, and just behind his statue you can see the church that dates back to the time when Hus actually lived there. However, it has been reconstructed since his days there. I was of course excited about my wife taking my picture at the feet of the great martyr. His love and stand for the truth about gives me goosebumps, no pun intended! ;-)

Located between the church/statue and his birth home is a beautiful building covered with amazing artwork. Located at the top, second from the left, is a portrait of Hus. Then around the corner is his birth home that was unfortunately closed. It opens for tourist season in April. Across the street is a prominent sign that marks the historic site.

Hopefully we can one day return and view the exhibition located inside of the home, but nevertheless, it was great fun to go back in time and see the place where the seeds of the reformation began to sprout in Husinec!

Next post, our trip to Tabor, the town established by the Hussites!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

School Tries to Forbid Day of Truth

As a news article at "CitizenLink.com" states, a battle seems to be raging in public schools over the homosexual agenda. Homosexual advocates offer a "Day of Silence" to students as a protest in support of homosexuality. However, at a high school in Conneticut Christian students proposed having a "Day of Truth" to support the Christian teaching on homosexuality. School officials sought to prohibit the Christian group's expression of what the truth is, because they said it is "too controversial." Thanks to the Alliance Defense Fund the school decided to change its mind about denying the Christian group their right to have a "Day of Truth."

The world cannot tolerate truth in any form. They are fine with demanding that "their truth" be taught, but any attempt to proclaim God's truth is rejected with fervor. The idea to have a day of truth is rather novel. Let's not stop there though and call people to live a life of Truth!

Monday, April 9, 2007

The Truth about Missions


Missions is a gift. It is a gift that God has given the world in that He calls and equips men and women to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who are perishing. However, some have an unbiblical view of missions, much like the men in this cartoon. Many won't consider missions, because they are fearful of where that may take them and what it may cost them.

When graduating from seminary I remember speaking with different soon-to-be-graduates. Many wouldn't even consider missions. Some would only minister in a part of the US where the climate was as they desired or where mama was just down the street. Others weren't willing to go because "they couldn't learn another language" or that it "would be too hard on my family." But what kind of a view is this of ministry and of fulfilling the great commission?

Jesus in Matthew 10, when commissioning His disciples, told them to go and preach, not to acquire riches, and to endure persecution. He said He was sending them out as sheep in the midst of wolves. He promised them that they would be hated because of His name. Then He gave the example of Himself. He said, "a disciple is not above his teacher."

But how many today say they are "called to the ministry," but put themselves above their Teacher? Jesus' commissioning of His disciples in Matt. 10 is a call to suffering, a call to surrender, to perseverance, persecution, and is a call of self-abandonment for the sake of Christ. This is a description of the life of Christ. It is what He experienced and what He promised that His disciples would experience. To seek to avoid such a life and ministry is to put oneself above his Master.

He who loves father, mother, son, daughter more than Christ is not worthy of Him. He who does not forsake all and take up his cross and follow after Him is not worthy of Him. Anything else is unsatisfactory.

The mission field is a battleground. Jesus understood this. After seeing the hurting multitude at the end of chapter 9, He called and commissioned His discplies in chapter 10 telling them what would come and how they were to respond to it. Jesus knew what it would take to reach these people with the truth.

The truth is that missions always has been and always will be hard work. Let's pray that the Lord would send out more laborers into the harvest.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Why Truth Buckler?

Let me begin by stating the how the idea to even have a blog began.

First Thoughts of a Blog

The idea of even having a blog was at first motivated by a friend who has encouraged me many times to start one. Then after reading another friend's blog I realized the impact that a blog can have.

I do not expect this blog to rise to such heights as the boys at Pyro; thus the title Truth Buckler from my perspective is appropriate. A buckler is something that is very small, but yet protects and defends. I am one person and so are you, but I believe the Lord wants us to be Truth Bucklers.

Definition from Yahoo Dictionary

NOUN: buck·ler
A small, round shield either carried or worn on the arm.
A means of protection; a defense: "has enjoyed a reputation as a shield and buckler for . . . the academic avant-garde" (Donal Henahan).


TRANSITIVE VERB: buck·lered , buck·ler·ing , buck·lers
To shield; protect.

The Real and Final Motivation for Truth Buckler

I have been pastoring a church plant for 4 years, and the Lord almost on a daily basis impresses more and more on my heart the need to battle for truth. I believe that the battle for truth is in a critical stage. I live and minister in Europe and see that the war for truth is not what it used to be in this part of the world. I have recently enjoyed studying the life of John Hus and his battle for truth; he battled unto death.

In a recent sermon I quoted Luther at the Diet of Worms when he said, "Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason - I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other - my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen."

These are the type of men needed men today to stand firm in this postmodern age. Luther and Hus did not shy away from the battle in their day and neither should we. So I have been compelled to do something more than I have been doing, and this is just one small part of going on the offense for truth.

Truth is Under Attack

Postmodernism has gripped the European society and is now really gripping America, even though it is not as bad as here in Europe. After listening to modern attacks on preachers and preaching I have really begun to realize how postmodernism has gripped the Church, especially here in Europe. Even those who hold to the Scriptures as the inerrant, infallible Word of the Living God have been taken hold by postmodern thinking.

How long before the European church rises from the dead and fights for the truth?

If our consciences are not informed by Scripture as was Luther's then of course we have nothing to stand for and nothing to fight for. Those influenced by postmodern thinking who do not feed their consciences the Word of God will only be duped by every wind of doctrine that blows through the Church.

It is amazing to see the great affect that postmodernism has had on the church. It has ripped the conscience right out of many in the Church and replaced it with apathy, criticism, skepticism, doubt, and confusion as to what the truth really is and what we should stand for.

Postmodernism is an attack on truth. Everything it stands for is an affront to Christ, and an assault on the person and work of Jesus Christ. It causes people to be comfortable with uncertainty and produces doubt in the minds of its followers as they hear truth claims from the pulpit of those seeking to preach the Word of Truth.

They receive truth with skepticism and doubt, and openly embrace error as though it is divine. You are not permitted to question someone who claims to have received a word or calling from God. You are to receive it as pure, right, and divine. However, we as Christians have a responsibility to measure everything by the truth of Holy Scripture, whether it is a believer who is claiming something or not.

The Scriptures alone are our measuring rod. Quick example: just because a man says he is called to the ministry doesn't necessarily mean he is called to the ministry. The Lord has set certain parameters. There are lists of qualificiations in the Scriptures (1 Tim. 3; Titus 1) by which we are to use to measure the man's claims with what Scripture says about those who are truly called.

But postmodernism would say that those claims are old, outdated, and are not relevant for today. So in this age of confusion, we need Truth Bucklers, people who are willing to stand for truth and earnestly contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. It is hand to hand combat.

I hope you are a Truth Buckler. Be committed to fight for the truth as Jude called his readers to be! This blog will be committed to the defense and proclamation of truth!