Monday, January 28, 2008

Meeting in Biatorbagy

Yesterday was a special day! The Brethren Church in Biatorbagy has a special place in my heart and it is always a joy to go there. I first spoke there in March, 1990. I remember that day for several reasons, but, one really sticks out in my mind . . . there were hardly any cars on the road that Sunday morning! My wife and I live in Biatorbagy now and we can tell you that there are many, many cars here now! What a difference!

Some of the same people who were there in 1990 still attend at the present time. My translator was a boy back in 1990. Yesterday, he stood beside me to translate and I enjoyed serving together with him. In fact, he was saved under my ministry at the youth camp in Hungary! So were two others from his family, an older brother and his sister. Yes, it was a great joy to serve with Peter Csikos.

Peter wrote to me tonight that people gave testimony in the evening meeting [I spoke in the morning meeting] that the message was very good and very clear. Yes, I could have given the message in Hungarian, but, it probably was more understandable with Peter's translation. Sometimes I preach in Hungarian and sometimes I preach in English. It was very interesting to watch some of the young adults in the meeting who speak English to a certain extent. They would hear what I said in English and show a response that they understood with their smiles or nodding their heads in agreement. This seemed to make the ones who speak only Hungarian wanting the translation to be given very quickly so they could know what was being said. Therefore, the translation can work in my favor, so to speak.

Well, God used the message as I spoke from my heart on I Samuel 22:2 where David gathered a group of misfit soldiers and built them into mighty men of valor [I Chronicles 11:10]. God often uses failure to make us more useful. David was told by Samuel that he would become the next king, but David had to wait for a few years. Not easy! Not at all! Instead of letting this time of frustration and failure get to him he turned a group of 400 down and out soldiers into an elite group, one of the best armies ever! When he was finally installed as the king David had a loyal army around him. At that time, looking back on his days in the caves hiding from a jealous King Saul, it finally began to make sense. God was using many who had experienced failure to become more useful. We have to keep our perspective when we are in the difficult experiences in life when everything we do seems to end up in failure. God is at work in what we call "failure".

Failing does not make us failures! Rather, it is an experience and we learn from this. Then, God uses us in a greater way!


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Teaching The Old Dog New Tricks

Ever feel like this? You know, like an old dog trying to learn new tricks? Well, if you are in your 20s or 30s, maybe you never feel this way. But, I will say that sometimes the "old dog" learns a couple of new tricks!

One of our supporters set up our website []. Last year, she decided to get her doctorate degree in education and had to turn over the website to . . . you guessed it, the "old dog" . . . me! She wrote some instructions and I stared at them quite a while. Something was wrong because what she wrote just wasn't working for me. Then, we connected and she set up Lynne's laptop so it could manage the website through Microsoft Front Page 2003. Well, that made a big difference!

God helped me and I learned how to upload new information to the calendar page on the website. Then, I tackled other pages including Prayer Needs, Ministry Needs, Projects . . . I was on a roll! I let out a war whoop that absolutely frightened my dear wife one night. I was so excited and made it known. I really did not mean to scare her. After the shock wore off she cheered for me!

Then, the next brick wall loomed . . . the archive file for the old Updates was in a big mess! Another email message from Barb Nesbitt, former webmaster, and I tackled this situation which looked more like a huge mountain instead of a brick wall. Five hours later I gave praise to God for His help because the archives are up to date! [I toned down the rain dance war whoop to protect my precious wife from heart failure]. But, when I told her she squealed with excitement as she was happy for me. [I think she really was surprised that the "old dog" made it this far]. Well, you and I both know that God helped me, so He gets the credit! Seriously!

Now, if I could just figure out what Barb wrote regarding uploading/changing pictures on the website . . .

Barb Nesbitt has been a terrific help and I am very thankful for all that she did to help us with the website! Thanks, Barb! Go get your doctorate!! [She has an A average so far . . . so smart!]

A Hungarian friend who is a member of The Hungarian Brass [our music group], Laci Gaal Jr. helped me recently with the website. We met one time regarding making hyperlinks for the archived updates. This "old dog" just sat there and watched the young pup moving around on the computer with blazing speed. Thanks, Laci, for your help! Hey, hey, Laci, can we meet to talk about uploading pictures to the website? And, I want to add flash! And, what about uploading videos?

The "old dog" tries to learn another new trick!


Monday, January 21, 2008


Serving in two churches on Sunday, January 20, 2008, the theme in both was similar: Suffering. This topic is not necessarily a popular subject, but it seemed to strike a chord with people in both meetings. The first meeting was at the great O Utca Brethren Church in Budapest. This church has a storied history and the founders suffered much during the communist years to insure that this church would have an existence. I focused on Psalms 105 where the writer referred to the suffering of Joseph who was sent ahead to be prepared for leadership in Egypt. The shackles bruised his ankles and wrists and the chain from the shackle around his neck connecting to the shackles at his feet was short making him stoop. 13 years of such suffering for false charges is Leadership Preparation at a graduate level! Not many would come out of this without a hint of a desire to seek revenge, but this was Joseph.

When Joseph became the "prime minister" and had his brothers in front of him he could have crushed them. Instead, he uttered an amazing statement, "You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good that many people would be saved." His brothers had literally sold Joseph into human slavery! Talk about a dysfunctional family! Somehow Joseph saw beyond his present problems while he was in prison and saw the bigger picture. God used this man to save the Israelites from starvation during a horrible famine. Joseph was humbled by the chains of his incarceration and became God's man for a unique time in history.

There are many Josephs in the world today either being prepared for service or serving because God has already prepared them for such a time as this. Present day examples range from the tribal warfare in Kenya to the Taliban abusing church planters in Pakistan or the Hindus burning churches in India . . . all happening at the present time.

Yes, I am impressed by the life of Joseph!

The evening meeting was at the Reformed Church [Presbyterian] here in the town where we live, Biatorbagy. It was the beginning of the national prayer week. I spoke from Luke 18 about the widow who appealed to the wicked judge for a ruling only to be rebuffed again and again. Finally, he gave her a ruling to help her after she repeatedly came to him so as to get rid of her. She suffered greatly, but, finally received help. Jesus used this to teach us how to pray during our suffering. Pray day and night, keep praying! Eventually, there will be an answer.

It was a great day! Oh yes, we had lunch in the home of some young people whom we have known since they were children. Their parents were not at home as they were away celebrating their wedding anniversary. Still, the three children [one of them married], early 20s and one a teenager, invited us for a meal. The youngest daughter prepared a delicious meal and we all had a great time of fellowship. Before we left we had prayer together with all six of us praying one by one. That was special! No, that was not a time of suffering, rather, it was a time of joy!


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Cost of Fuel in Hungary

Today my wife and I made a quick run to the grocery store to pick up some items for breakfast tomorrow, some light bulbs, etc. On the way out from the store I stopped at their "discount" service station. Note the word "discount". It may cost a penny less there, for example. Well, my tank had just slightly over 1/4 of a tank when I stopped to fill up. I noticed a higher amount for diesel, about 30 forints more per liter than in early October. Yes, 30 forints more. 14,360 forints later . . . I have a full tank of about 65 liters of diesel fuel. Friends, Romans and Countrymen, I just paid $87.03 for my fuel!! Yes, you remember reading that I had slightly more than 1/4 of a tank when I started. I bought 48.53 liters. My tank holds 65 liters.

While I was standing there filling up the tank I was doing some math in my mind. I rounded off the cost per liter at $1.80. At home with a calculator I came up with $1.78. The forint to the dollar is 165 forints equals $1. You may see 170 right now, but there are fees to pay and the reality is about 165. So, 1 gallon equals 3.785 liters. Therefore, at the present time the cost of fuel in Hungary is $6.74 rounding off $6.7373737373 . . . [ad nauseum, quite frankly, a lot of nauseum]

In September [175 forints to $1] we were paying 265 forints per liter . . . which was already a whopping $5.72 a gallon.

Anyway, our fuel costs coupled with a weaker dollar has us paying $1.02 more per gallon [$5.72 jumping up to $6.74 per gallon] since September 30, 2007!

Now, what will it cost to fill the tank up at one time? 65 liters X $1.78 = $115.70 . . . that would take a Ben Franklin and an Andrew Jackson [almost]. There would not be even one Abe Lincoln left in change, only 4 George Washingtons.

I thought I would post this on my blog . . . somehow, this helps me.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Surprise Attack!

Someone, a fellow Christian leader, wrote to me that he had a surprise that he was not expecting. It was an attack! Not a physical attack, instead it came from close friends. Stunned, my friend could not believe his ears as he listened to the stinging words of rebuke and rejection. In fact, it happened in front of other people. My friend is a Christian leader and the attack came from fellow Christians. The corporate world or the work place is not the only place where such attacks occur.

What do you do when you suffer such pain?

God blesses waiting. Just wait. "What? Are you crazy?" you might say. Seriously, just wait to see what happens. It is a test for you and if you just wait quietly you will pass the first part of the test. [I think my friend was not expecting this kind of advice from me]. It hurts . . . sure it does, this is a natural feeling. When an attack comes from someone who is close to you, it hurts. But, this is a bigger test. Really big! It means that God loves you very much. I am serious. It hurts our pride. It can make us want to take revenge. It just hurts your pride and it is a surprise for you. You weren't expecting this . . . from friends . . . from people that you have loved and helped. Why is this happening? Back to the part about waiting. If you wait and pray for the ones who have hurt you, then you give the problem to God. It is too big for you and you do not understand and you are hurting. Give it to God. Literally, use your hands while praying . . . close your hands tight like you are trying to keep the problem . . . then open your hands like you are giving the problem to God and actually say this in your prayer. Keep your hands open and don't say anything for a while. Then, you may have the beginning of a new peace in your hearts. After a minute or so in prayer say something like, "There, now you have this problem, God. It's yours. Help these dear brothers and sisters because I love them and I know that You love them." If you feel tears coming, let them come. This is a release and somehow it is a way to worship. You asked God's help and gave Him the problem. He is going to do something about it in His perfect time. He will deal with the people who have mistreated you. You don't have to worry about it anymore because God is taking care of things.

Next step, keep waiting in silence . . . don't say anything bad about these people to anyone. Say good things. Pray for them in love every day, more than one time each day. If the painful experience comes to your mind, pray for them. "Oh, dear God, help these dear people, my friends. I love them." Maybe think about a way to show kindness to them . . . take them some tasty dessert or chocolates and a simple flower for the wife, not something expensive, instead something that is simple. Spend too much money and people become suspicious and you lose the effect of the gift. When you give it to them say this, "I was just thinking about you and wanted to give you something and we want you to know that we love you in the Lord." That's enough! Smile warmly and slowly walk away. Before you leave the area where they are standing glance back at them and give a warm smile and a wave of the hand. Let me tell you, this will be like heaping coals of fire upon their heads. It is a positive action, a kind action which helps them as well as you! Makes you feel better! Makes them think! They will not be expecting this from you and it will surprise them. Most people expect revenge, angry words, pouting, cutting off all lines of communication . . . all are negative reactions and will not accomplish what you really want to have happen.

God is at work. Next? Keep waiting, yes, this is hard, but it is of God. Keep smiling, turn your negative thoughts into positive ones, keep showing love, and keep praying because the painful memories keep coming back to your minds again and again . . . but, if you take the right steps it will become less painful. Then, change may take place. Isn't that what you want? You love these people and you want them to love God and be obedient. So, you have to show it with your response to them and show it to God by waiting on Him to work. I wonder what the Lord did when he looked at the Roman soldier put a nail to His hand and began to pound the nail through the Lord's hand into the cross. Physically, it was painful because He was a man; spiritually He probably had compassion upon the soldier. Somehow I think the Lord looked directly at the soldier while the soldier did his work. What did the Lord do when He looked down from the cross and saw the mob of people screaming at Him? I think you know where I am going by writing these things. Jesus had the bigger picture in view . . . not the present difficulty . . . He willingly suffered death to give life. You know what? This is a hard test, but it is a good one. Go through it and do well and you will learn SO much from the Lord. I am so impressed that God has given you this test right now at a young age. God must love you so much and He must have so many wonderful things planned for you in the future!

So, that was my advice. What do you think? Basically, it is returning good for evil, not evil for evil. I know what I am talking about. Some years ago I suffered a stunning attack from someone very close. I chose to keep quiet . . . kept my mouth shut! Boy, that was hard!

I will write a different blog entry on that one because it has to do more with conquering pride and not jumping into an argument to defend myself. Let me tell you, that is graduate level Christianity.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Meeting in Dunakeszi

This church meets in a large home that is the office and ministry center of a Hungarian prison ministry. They house about 4 men who were in prison with problems with drugs or alcohol. They teach these men to work and help them fit back into society. Of course, they lead them to Christ as part of this process. Hard work to say the least! I met the leader of this mission in 1990 and a few times since then. He is Hungarian and I am very impressed with him. Their church is Brethren, but the people actually come from several denominations because there was no evangelical church in their town when they started the church in 1992.

We ate lunch with the leader and his family, also, with one of their workers and his family and the men that they minister to . . . great fellowship! There were about 35 to 40 in attendance jammed pack into the home. The air was becoming stale quickly, but they opened a window and this helped. They want me to come back to speak again either on a Sunday morning and/or a Friday night with they have what they call a Tea Club [young people's meeting].

On the way back to our home Lynne remarked that she really enjoyed this day and loved the fellowship with the people. I quickly agreed! It was a great day!

By the way, this was the 287th church that I have preached in here in Hungary since June 1989. Of course, I have spoken in some of these churches 10 to 12 times and in some of them only one time. So, there have been a lot of meetings here in Hungary where I have served.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Picking Up The Pace

Dr. Wendell Kempton is now with the Lord as of January 6, 2008. I will miss him very much! He was a special man of God, very special. He was a great encourager . . . he encouraged me in the development of our new mission. Someone said that Wendell Kempton had at least 10,000 "best friends" because he made so many people feel like he was their best friend. Well, I was one of the 10,000 and I considered that a great honor.

My thoughts? There are several, but the one that impresses me the most is that I need to pick up the pace. What I mean is that I need to pick up the pace as an encourager. I encourage close to 40 people on a regular basis, but I need to pick up the pace! A great encourager has passed off the scene . . . others have to pick up where he left off.

Dr. Kempton was noted for many things . . . a great visionary, an enthusiastic evangelist, a great leader, a great husband, father and grandfather and much more. The thing that sticks out to me is what this great man did to encourage others. Oh, I will miss this! But, I have to give to others what I have learned from great people! Yes!

No, I am not a Wendell Kempton nor a Jack Wyrtzen that I wrote about yesterday! Goodness, no! Please do not misunderstand me. But, I do have a sphere of influence and I have to pick up the pace!

I hope that this encourages you!


Monday, January 07, 2008

Potential in People

Years ago one of my mentors, Jack Wyrtzen, the founder of Word of Life, taught me a valuable lesson. We were traveling in my car in Florida from one meeting to Jack's next speaking engagement. Jack was telling me about someone when suddenly he looked at me and said, "Eric, accept a man for who he is and see him for what he can become."

Ding! I had learned to pay attention when Jack would share a principle. Ding! This was important! I got it! In fact, I heard him say it again a couple of years later. Ding! "It must be important or he would not have said it again," I thought.

So, what he taught me is this . . . accept a person for who he or she is right now . . . imperfect, immature, impatient like all the rest of us . . . then, "SEE" him or her for who they can become.

The first part is acceptance. This is so important because so many people yearn for acceptance. When I accept someone as they are it gives me a foundation for the next part. When I show a positive attitude toward someone it creates the potential for growth.

Secondly, I look for potential in people. I "see" or visualize what kind of person that they can become and what they can accomplish. When I do the second part I begin to take positive steps to encourage a person to become all that they can be. That is exciting!

I recall "visualizing" when a young man a number of years ago that I could foresee him becoming a great evangelist. He was stunned! He could hardly believe his ears. "Me? Are you serious?" he queried. You guessed it! He is doing that very thing today some 12 years later! Again, that is exciting!


Saturday, January 05, 2008

Invited to Hungarian Homes

Tonight we ate the delicious meal that Csapo Agi prepared! Wow! What a cook! Tamas married a wonderful young lady. Hey, she married a great guy! Tamas plays trumpet in our group, The Hungarian Brass. What a fine young couple!

Yesterday morning we ate breakfast in the home of Csikos Mihaly & Kati. That was good too! Mihaly is the director of Child Evangelism Fellowship in Hungary. It is great to see a national take over a ministry in his home country. Mihaly and Kati are doing a wonderful job! In both homes we had prayer together. That was special!

On Christmas eve, Dobos Bela and Ildiko came to our home to share the evening with us. Ildiko's mother, Barbarics Olga, came too. Good thing that she came because she cooked the meal for us and brought it to us! Wow! Hungarian fish soup . . . man alive! Talk about mouth watering, yummy good! Everything she made was great. What a treat for Lynne and me . . . tasting the delicious cooking of Hungarian ladies from three different age groups . . . all of them were fantastic!

It's so nice to visit with Hungarians in their homes and for them to come to our home.

Also, we had a missionary couple from Bucharest, Romania, Jack and Lori Friend. They are serving with Christian Camping International and helping encourage the development of youth camps in Romania. Jack's mother from California, Peggy, came with them along with their 2 little boys. We had great fellowship together. Later I will be speaking for Jack in one of his conferences training youth camp directors in Romania.

Lots of people time the last few days. Love it!


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Re-Organizing My Office

For the last four days I have been re-organizing my office . . . sorting, filing, tossing, making priority lists of projects, catching up on my email inbox, etc. I have re-organized my book shelves, too. I have a group of books that I want to read in 2008 and they are lined up ready for me to read. I have been doing other things, but the priority has been clearing my desk, clearing my filing cabinets and crossing off items on a To Do List. End-of-the-year finances has had my attention for the last week and this helps me to re-organize. Calendar planning for 2008 is another agenda item that has had my attention. 2009 has been worked on as well.

A few days before Christmas I re-organized my storage area. The new PA system has its place and I can get to it easily when I need it. Materials and supplies for Camp Monty 2008 were sorted and stored. Other ministry materials were sorted and stored away. Hmm-m-m, the attic . . . I have some ministry materials in the attic that I need to go through . . . I will go up there one morning this week . . .

I know what I want to do in 2008, but, the other day it seemed to me that what I need to do is to re-organize. This will help me to focus better on the needs of people. Good way to start 2008!

By the way, the same principle works in another way. I find that every so often it is good to do a personal inventory regarding my daily disciplines . . . evaluate and re-organize. Someone once said that "The Christian life is a life of many new beginnings." It is true! After a period of time you find that an area of your life is cluttered and needs to be evaluated and re-organized. The beginning of 2008 is a good time to do this. Let's see . . . update my prayer list . . . how many chapters a day to read in my Bible . . . I already have my book reading list done . . . reviewing my list of missionaries and charities to support . . . better evaluate my physical exercise program such as walking, sit-ups, back exercises . . . how much water to drink . . . juicing fruit and vegetables . . . whew, so much to re-organize!