Prague: September 2005
September 5, 2005
Thank you for all your prayers. I arrived in Prague on Saturday afternoon and went to church with Jim and Laurie Barnes Sunday Morning at the International English Church. Afterwards we had a wonderful meal and I strolled through Old Town. I am attending about 6 hours of lectures a day plus a two-hour seminar on PhD writing. Then after dinner I head back to my room for about 5 hours of study between seven and Midnight. Tomorrow I will spend the evening with my friend Thomas, a young Czech national whose zeal for life matches my own. Listen carefully and you may hear our laughter from there.
September 7, 2005
I stayed out too late last night (ok it was this morning!, but Tomas is just too much fun and his Bohemian conversations on Christianity border on brilliant heresy. Today I got beat up by my advisors in the kindest sort of a way. I see all the more clearly why they are PhD's and why I am not. But they are pushing me in the right direction. Although it is clear that it is going to take me until at least 2009 to finish this project. At the same time, it is going to be an important piece of research that will benefit the quest for the historical Jesus. I can not solve every problem, but I have real hopes of contributing a viable solution to the one question of political ideal of Jesus -- self-abnegation. Should you care to read my proposal you can click on the link to the right. Just now I need to run sit in on a lecture (my sixth hour of the day) with my fellow students from Kazakhstan, Russian, Estonia, Bulgaria, Sweden, England, Scotland, Lebanon, Egypt, Hungary, Brazil, Lithuania, etc. Talking about politics among these folks is quite unique. Spoke with a missionary from China this morning that said the Christians there were disappointed that this year they have only experienced 10 raisings from the dead. I actually had an even more interesting discussion over lunch about passivism from a young pastor from Croatia, but time has elapsed.
September 8, 2005
Today I am happy. Part of that is due to the glorious eight hours of sleep that have been a long time coming, part of that is due to the wireless internet that allows me to sit in the courtyard in the evenings and read [for those of you using Google earth the coordinates are: 50°06'11.30" N, 14°21'07.24" E in the compound east of road 240; you can actually see the fountain I sit next to]. But the primary reason for my joy is that I defended my proposal and outline today in front of my colleagues and advisors. Several had some cautions and clarifications which is to be expected when you have a collection international scholars: A US scholar in NT, a British scholar in the OT, a German Scholar in Intertestamental Literature, a Czech Hussite expert in the Patristics, a Bulgarian Ethicist, and a old-school British Missiologist (student of Francis Schaeffer at La'Bri). But the result is that the advisory committee will meet tomorrow and recommend approval and send it on to the University of Wales. This is a huge boost to my heart. I'm still not reading much, but have decided to spend time with my fellows whenever possible. Last night I had tea in my room with an Arab who has been kicked out of two different Arab countries for preaching the gospel.
September 9, 2005
Today has been wonderful because the clouds rolled in and cooled us down to the 60’s. This is a good thing since I forgot to pack the three shirts my wife so kindly ironed for me. That leaves me with only two shirts, a heavy pull-over long-sleeve shirt and a sweater for 10 days. Now I am able to wear the later two and do less washing at night. Although I have been enjoying waking up to morning sunlight dancing through the pear orchard out my fourth-story window. Please pray for my colleagues. Most of them are working with little or no money, while pasturing small, struggling churches, and are overwhelmed as minorities (for many of them Evangelicals represent less than 1% of the country). Let me share with you the story of Oleg. He was baptized in 1981 in the persecuted church of Ukraine. A couple days later the KGB came and asked him if this was the case, which he confessed with open joy. Soon afterward he was picked up by two officers, thrown into the back of a black car and driven into the forest. They pulled out their guns and aimed them at him and asked if he was, indeed, a believer. Again, he confessed it with joy. Even as he recounted this story his eyes lit up with delight and he confessed without an iota of arrogance, "I never felt any fear because I knew that if I died I would be with Jesus.” Afterward he shared this event with his church which angered the KGB and again he was called in and interrogated. When they asked if he had spoken of these things to his church he honestly said, "I told them of every detail.” After that the KGB left him alone. For my part I come into this IBTS with educational expertise, technological sophistication, and financial prowess. But I will never have the simple faith of Oleg, his desperate dependence of Jesus as his savior. I am humbled, yet again, by my colleagues here.
September 10, 2005
How could this possibly have been a more delightful day? After morning prayers and two and a half hours of lectures, I finally had a rest. I took a one hour nap that could only be described as glorious. I then headed to the library for the first and last time of the entire week. I read three important pieces and made some important headway on an obscure part of my dissertation. Passing Parush Parushev in the hallway he congratulated me on a passed proposal and my heart sang. After the library closed I returned to my room and packed for my return trip. This always brings me joy, knowing that I will return to the embrace of my bride. At 6:00 p.m. I met my Anglican British advisor and took him out to eat down town. Our window faced the castle across the Vltava river being kissed by a gentle rain. The lights smiled on these four hundred hear old buildings and the magic was palpable. I had a roasted duck and he had a goulash, and we shared an appetizer of assorted meats and cheeses, all very Czech. We rushed our waiter for the check (which was less than $20 for both of us) so we could make the concert. It was a trio: Tenor, Organ, and Trumpet in the St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral on the western bank of the Charles Bridge. My eyes drank in the architecture, paintings, marble, and sculpture while my ears were romanced by the classical music of Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Verdi and others (14 pieces in all), played on an organ once enlivened by Mozart himself. After the concert Dr. Kirk and I strolled through old town as I prodded him to tell me about his time with Francis Schaeffer (he actually edited The God Who is There and wrote an afterward for it). I learned that he is personal friends with John Stott and a professional friend of the Archbishop of Durham, N.T. Wright. He used to be a missionary in South America where he visited with Gustavo Gutierrez in his home. Can I just say I had a good day?!
Please Pray for my PhD Colleagues:
Spirituality of the churches in Lithuania
Displaced Arabs under different leadership
Liturgy in Russia in Postmodern society
Developments in pedagogy and apologetics
Church as a Missional Community
Communal hermeneutics of women’s roles
Ethnodoxology amongst followers of Jesus
with Muslim background in the EBF
Missionary implications of the Trinity
in the Ante-Nicene period
Impact of African American Missionary
Initiatives in Liberia
Politics of Jesus
Church and contemporary society /
Art in Bulgarian theology
Social service ministries among
Connectivity of women globally—-
particularly maternal health
Hymnody & Virtue ethics
Implications of the OT cleansing motif
The function of ‘restrainer factors’
in 2 Thess 2:6-7
Evangelization of Slavic immigrants
on the West Coast (US)
Violence in the media
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