Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Baby and Babbling!

Angie had her regular doctors visit today. She is doing well and so is the baby. The baby gained almost 3 lbs. and grew 3.5 inches this past month. He is now almost 5 lbs. and 16.5 inches long. He is already heavier than I was when I was born and he is nearly as tall. For some of you who read this and may not know, I am a twin and I was born a month early. Praise God for His continued protection of Angie and the baby.


In language class today we read a story and then we had to talk about it. One of the people in our story was asked the question about the secret to living a happy live. So the teacher wanted to know what each or the students in our class thought. I was the last person that she asked. I said to live a happy life you need to know God, follow God, and keep his commandments. I explained that the Bible has all the answers for our lives. The teacher was nice, but she began saying that this is very hard because the Holy Books(Koran and Bible) according to her, are not modern. This is one reason according to her that it is hard to live a happy life with the reasons I gave. The other reason: The DaVinci Code, which everyone knows is based on hard evidence! Come on! I thought I'd heard it all, but using the DaVinci code to argue theology. This is another one of Satan's tactics to try to rob God of His glory. The teacher claimed that this book and movie could be possible and therefore the Bible has been changed. Now why is it that if we were talking about nursing for instance(we have a nurse in our class)everyone would say that the nurse in the class has some credibility because she studied nursing and also works as a nurse? If we're talking to the guy who went to school and studied the Bible though, he knows nothing and is immediately discredited. Now everyone in the class including the teacher knows that I studied Theology in college. I'll be the first to say that I have a lot to learn about the Bible and it's teaching and will never know it all. Compared to the people in my class who have NEVER read the Bible, I look like a Bible scholar. The point is nobody wants to hear what I have to say on the subject. Everyone asks me what I think, and then they don't like my answers. I think it's because the Bible doesn't leave anything up for discussion. It's the Bible way or it's not the right way. This is how I answer my questions and no one likes them. I thank God for the opportunity to sow some seed in language class!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Home Sweet Home!

Angie and I returned from Istanbul last Thursday night. I needed to go to talk to a man about International Student Exchange, so we decided to stay a few days. We had a good time and I learned a lot from the man I met with. Istanbul is a city of somewhere around 16 million people. Our first day of visiting all the tourist sites, Angie and I were talking in English about what we wanted to do. A man stopped us and asked if we were from the United States. We answered that we were and then the next thing he asked us was if we were 'born-again Christians.' This is not a term that just anyone uses. I asked if he was a born-again Christian and he said that he was Muslim. He was in Istanbul on business. I don't know whether Angie and I have a glow about us, but it was a reminder that no matter where you go people are watching. We could say a lot about our trip, but hopefully those reading this blog will come visit.


Along with language school and just living in another country come the same responsibilities that we have in the states: paying rent, utilities, and just living in general. Today I needed to pay a couple of bills for our new apartment. Usually I just pay them from the Internet, but since this was the first time I had to pay them in person. So I go to the post office and push the button to get my number to wait in line. To my dismay I had 54 people in front of me and at least a 108 minute wait! That's right just say a 2hr. wait. Just to pay a couple of bills! I wasn't about to do this, and I don't know why anyone else would. I went to the bank where you are also able to pay bills. Long story short, I couldn't pay my water bill at the bank. I had to go to the water company. OK no problem. Where is the water company, and how do I get there? Well I asked a couple of people and got conflicting reports. One said it was in a certain place, the other said it was on the opposite side of the city. I decided to go with the answer of the man who was more confident. By the way, I really needed to pay this bill so it didn't automatically come out of my landlords account. So anyway the second man I asked said he would take me there. This place is 40 minutes away and was out of his way. Yet this man was kind enough to help me. After a couple of stops talking to his friends, having a glass of tea, and myself beginning to wonder if I was going to make it to pay my bill by 5, we made it. The bill was paid no problems. Next month I can pay it over the Internet. So why did I tell you this seemingly pointless story. Well every morning I ask God to guide our steps and help us get through the day. God guided me to the right person who could help me get what I needed done accomplished. Sometimes we miss where God has helped us in what seem like the small areas in our lives. On top of all this, I was able to practice my Turkish!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Pride

Ramazan is in full swing now. We have a nice little drummer boy who comes down our street between 3:30 and 4:00 in the morning to let everyone know that they had better eat something before the sun comes up. Interesting little fact: People here actually gain more weight during the month of Ramazan than any other time of year. How's that for practicing self-control. I have been in a couple of conversations this past week, that really showed me how proud the people are. I try to regularly practice my Turkish with the security guards at my friends apartment. I sat down this past week and I had them explain Ramazan in their own terms. Everyone asked me if I fast. I said yes I have, but it's different from the Muslim fast. One man who joined our conversation just struck the wrong chord with me. I was explaining why we fast and how we fast and he chimes in with something like, "Oh, you have an easy religion you can fast when you want to and how you want to." I must say at first I was a little angry, but then I took a moment and realized it was this man's pride. The fact is most of the men I talk with don't go to the mosque to pray, they smoke, probably drink a little, and who knows what else. Really, for most of the year they are not practicing Muslims, but for this month they are so proud of their fasting. Is it any wonder God's plan is salvation by grace through faith so that we can't boast about it. Islam like every works base religion lifts up man and says, "Look at me I did this, this, and this, and now I'm going to Heaven." Satan has blinded people all around the world with their pride. They think that they can do something good enough to save themselves. What are we to do about it? Jesus confronted people with their pride. In John 8, the Jewish leadership told Jesus that they were Abraham's seed and were never in bondage. Jesus told them very straightly that if you sin you're a servant to sin. Jesus then went on throughout the chapter to show them how they were not honoring God with their lives. Only God's power can break people's pride but through God's Word we can create questions in their minds about how good they think they really are.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Language Learning

Angie and I have been learning Turkish for 7 months now, and we will be learning for the rest of our lives. There are days where we think we're finally getting it and there are days when we think we will never learn. Lost in everyday language learning is learning the language to communicate the gospel. Recently I've been given some resources to help learn what we might term "spiritual language." Since I've began studying, I realized how important it is not just to learn what a word means from the dictionary, but I need to learn how the Turkish people view this word. It's not enough to know a words meaning you need to know the word and it's context within the culture. For example the word "gunah" is the word used for sin. In my studies I learned that most of the Turkish people view "gunah" as adultery and murder. I wanted to test this meaning out so I asked a couple of people. They immediately said "gunah" is stealing, cheating on your wife, murder, etc...Pretty much sin is all the really big things you do wrong. So I wouldn't want to just say, "See we're all sinners. I'm a sinner and you're a sinner." The person would look at me and say, "You may have done all these things, but I haven't." That wouldn't be a good starter for a conversation! So we can't just assume everyone comes from our background and automatically knows what we are talking about. This is a small example but a valuable lesson that I learned. Please pray for us. We must learn the language and learn it well. Our main job is to communicate with people. If we don't know the language well enough we can't communicate. Part of learning the language is learning the culture, which gives the language it's context.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Is it Illogical faith or just a great God?

This week Angie and I had a friend over. We've known this young man for sometime and have become quite good friends. He came into our apartment, sat down, and read the sign we have in our apartment, "Jesus Christ is Lord." This sparked a discussion that lasted nearly three hours. This is not the first of a discussion like this. He basically said that it was not logical to believe how I believed. Some of his complaints about my logic were as follows:

1. The Bible is God's Word and cannot be changed.
He said that God cannot change, but that man changed verses in the Bible to make them say what they wanted. This is a pretty standard statement among Muslims. I responded by saying that his holy book(Koran)says that the Bible is God's Word. It also says that God's Word cannot be changed. Surah 50:29,"The Word does not change before Me, and I do not do the least injustice to My servants." Surah 18:27, "And recite (and teach) what has been revealed to you of the Book of your Lord: none can change His Words, an none will you find as a refuge other than him. So if the Bible, God's Word, can be changed then it would follow that the Koran(what he says is God's Word) can be changed.

2. Jesus Can't be God.
With this point, my friend said that man's body cannot contain God, and God cannot limit Himself to man's body. To this I just reminded him that he believes that God can do whatever He wants. God is all-powerful. I also had the opportunity to explain why it was necessary for Jesus to come as a man and live a perfect life. Still my friend thought it illogical. I'm given you the short version, as I stated our conversation lasted quite some time.

3. Jesus died for our sins.
My friend doesn't see the reason for this, nor do I. Why would Jesus die for peoples sins? He believes that every Muslim will spend some time in Hell to pay for their wrongs, but eventually they will make it to heaven. During this point Angie and I tried to focus on God's love. We explained to him that we don't understand why Jesus would die for our sins. My friend was having a real problem with the fact that we are born in sin. See Muslims believe that they are all born clean.

There is much more we could say about this conversation but what we've written is enough. The Bible doesn't make sense to unsaved people. I tried to explain to my friend that He is trying to understand an all-knowing God, which he himself says is impossible. Our brains can't comprehend why or how God does everything. This is the beauty of the Gospel, which I explained to my friend. The hand of God is in the Gospel message. Look at every other religion in the world and they say, "Do this, this, and this, and you can go to Heaven." The Bible way says there is only one way to heaven and that's through Jesus. We explained this to our friend. My friend even said that maybe his mind is closed. We are praying that God would open his mind and heart. I told him when God saves him he can come live with me. He comes from a country where he could be killed for becoming a believer in Christ.

In the end, it's not about putting points on the board for who won which argument. It's not whether you can understand it or explain it perfectly. It's about planting seeds that God can develop and grow. Please pray for our friend. He's heard the gospel on several occasions. Pray Angie and I can be instruments that God would use to be a witness in his life.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Here Comes the Bride!

A couple of weeks ago from our 9th story view (our friend's apartment), we were able to watch a party of a newly married Turkish couple. It sounded like we had a live band in our apartment! I have provided some video for your viewing pleasure. The entire video is about one minute and forty seconds long. Notice the spoons in the men's hands. Unfortunately the party didn't really get started for another few hours, but by then it was dark. What you didn't get to see is that later on in the party the bride and groom would dance. To me it looks like they just jump around and snap, but I'm sure there is more to it. While the bride and groom are dancing, people will throw money at them. That's right money! They get to skip the step of opening the cards to get to the money. Then someone will start picking up the money and pinning it on the groom. So if people are generous the groom has money pinned all around him.
video