Monday, September 29, 2008


The word "vintage" has more than one meaning.
Here is how the Oxford dictionary defines it:
  1. adj. Referring to something from the past of high quality (i.e. vintage cars, vintage clothes, Vintage Jesus, etc...)
  2. n. The harvesting of grapes for winemaking

There are two times of the year which I really love in Eger. One of them is spring time, when after winter's greyness the hills turn bright green and people are working in the vineyards, trimming and tying the vines to prepare them. One of the things I love most is mountain biking through the vineyards in the spring.
The other time of the year which I love in Eger is the "szüret" or vintage. The vines turn the hills red and gold, and around town there are containers full of the grapes that have been picked.

Here in Eger, the szüret is a big deal. Its been going on for about 3 weeks now. One of the interesting things about pastoring a church in a wine region, is that during the grape harvest our attendance goes down because people go to work in the vineyards on the weekend to make a little extra cash.

We were out in the Szépasszonyvölgy this weekend - the "Valley of Beautiful Women" (or as our friend Geof calls it: "The Valley of 10,000 Virgins"), and took some pictures of the vintage.

Speaking of vineyards, Jesus said this: "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples." (John 15:1-3)
Just like how in the spring, the workers in the fields trim and clean the vines so they will be maximally fruitful, we are told that God prunes us and cleans us, so that we will be maximally fruitful. He removes the dead parts out of our lives, which do nothing but burden us. Its not always enjoyable to be "pruned," but the result is worth it - fruitfulness.
If you've ever tried to figure out what exactly "fruitfulness" means, you've probably found that the Bible defines it as many different things: Agapé love (the fruit of the Spirit), good works, leading others to salvation in Jesus, and I'm sure there are others.

Jesus also said this about the vine and the branches:
"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. (John 15:4-6)
The thing I find interesting about this, is that here in Eger, you see this happen this time of year. At vintage time, they bring the grapes in these big containers, and then pitchfork them into this machine which sucks out the juice from the grapes, and spits out the seeds and the branches. And after the harvest, there are big piles of these dead branches in front of the wine cellars, and they usually stink! And of course, the way they get rid of them is to make a pile, and set the pile on fire - just like Jesus said - because they are no longer attached to the vine, and they have no fruit on them.

I don't know about you, but I want to abide in the true vine and be fruitful, because as Jesus says at the end of that section on the vine: "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples." (John 15:8)

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Its been pretty dark and rainy outside for the last 2 weeks, so Nate hasn't had much of a chance to get out of the house.
But the other day we went to a baby store that had an indoor play area, and he had a great time!

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Sziasztok magyarok (illetve nem-magyar magyarul beszélők, mint én magam)!
Figyelmetekbe ajánlom a Gyöngyhalász című blogot - ami tulajdonképpen az egri gyülekezetünk online újságja.
Kissné Ági a szerkesztője. Eredetileg volt már egy gyülis újságunk papír formában, de mivel egyre kevesebb ember van aki tényleg olvas papírra leírt szöveget - gondoltuk hogy internetes formája is legyen az újságnak.
Ez azért is jó, mert így nem csak azok olvashatják a cikkeket akik járnak a gyülibe, hanem bárki a világon, aki csak a weblapra oda talál. És így reméljük hogy több ember számára is áldás lesz.
Ági úgy akarja, hogy minél többen a gyüliből írjanak az újságban, hogy színesebb legyen.
Ma, azokat a cíkkeket rakta fel, amik már szerepeltek a papír újságban. De rendszeresen lesznek újak is.
Itt a link:
Isten áldjon!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


We went to Bulgaria earlier this month to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary, Nathaniel's first birthday, and just to take it easy after a summer full of conferences, camps, and other activities.
I've been wanting to go to Bulgaria for quite some time now. I even wrote a blog about it way back in 2006.
We had a really great time, and we'd recommend it to anyone who is considering traveling there. The beaches were nice and the accommodations were affordable. We'll probably go back someday.

Here are some of our impressions of Bulgaria:
  • Its really hot.
  • Hungary is hot too, but in a different way. The part of BG we were in, near the Black Sea, has a Mediterranean climate, and its very hot and very dry. On one hot day I asked a shop owner if the weather was normal, or especially hot - he said that they have blazing hot weather from June to September. But, I have to say, that everywhere we went in Bulgaria there was air-conditioning. Even in small little shops and restaurants. That was nice, because we needed it!
  • It reminded us a lot of Mexico.
  • And I mean that in a good way. We like Mexico; we went on our honeymoon in Veracruz, Mexico. There were many things in Bulgaria that reminded us of Mexico, from the dry climate to the sandy beaches and warm sea, from the attitudes of the taxi drivers to the food.
    There were even a lot of Mexican restaurants in Nessebar. There was one next to our hotel, even with a guy in a sombrero trying to talk people into coming inside. We were thinking pretty seriously about it, until the guy told us that they only serve pizza and spaghetti! But there were other restaurants there that served real Mexican food.
  • Great food.
  • We really enjoyed the food in Bulgaria. Rosemary ate a lot of shopska salad, I ate a lot of grilled meat.
    I especially ate a lot of kavarma - a stew kind of thing with tons of spices. I like spicy food, and Bulgarian food made me sweat - which in my book is a good thing.
    They also, like Hungary, are a wine-growing nation, and they had grape vines everywhere. Living in Eger, we don't drink wine very often, but we have gotten to know a bit about wine, and what constitutes good wine - and I was really impressed with Bulgarian red wine, especially one called Thracian Gold.
  • They shake their heads for yes, and nod for no. That's super confusing.
  • At least once a day we got confused by this. Like in a restaurant - you ask for bread and the waitress just shakes her head and walks away. You think for a second, "Man, that waitress is rude!", and by that time she puts the bread on the table. Or at one point I ended up in this small village, almost out of gas, and with no cash - and I was asking if there was a gas station, an ATM, and if I could pay with a card at the gas station. The girl just kept nodding and shaking her head, and I was just terribly confused for a few minutes until I got it straight!

These are just a few general impressions. I'll write a bit more later.
If you'd like to see our pictures from BG, then click here.

And here's a map of our route:

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Nate Dogg

Nathaniel has a lot of nicknames, and it would be quite embarrassing to reveal all of them to you, as you can imagine.
Lately we've been making a point of it to call him by his actual name, because for a while he only responded when we called him "Bunny" or other nicknames.
So, we've been making a concerted effort to call him "Nate" or "Nathaniel," but we still also like to call him "Nate Dogg" - which, in case you didn't know, is the name of a gangsta' rapper from the 90's.
And, even though its not true, I like to tell people that we named our baby after Rosemary's favorite hip-hop star.
By the way, Nate Dogg (the rapper) is the cousin of another famous hip-hop star: Snoop Dogg. Perhaps that information will help you guess what the name of our next child will be...

Friday, September 12, 2008


There is a young guy in our church named Dani. He's a great guy - even recently he began teaching every now and then for our Wednesday night Bible study, and he's begun leading worship as well.
Dani repented on New Year's Eve, 2006, and started coming to our church in January 2007. When he first started coming to the church, he had short hair and I couldn't help but notice his army boots and bomber jacket - as these are the typical outfit of skinheads in Hungary, of which there are more than a few. But we were just happy to have him in the church.

In the beginning, Dani didn't talk very much; he just showed up for church and left afterwards. But one day before church, I had been talking with some of the church members about the Hungarian rock band Kárpátia - a group that plays "Nemzeti Rock" or Nationalistic Rock music - and Dani came in, and we started talking about it, and I found out that before giving his life to the Lord, he had in fact been a skinhead.

This picture on the right is a picture of Dani in 2006, in full-on skinhead style.

Anyways, after committing himself to the Lord, I guess he reacted a bit against the whole skinhead thing, by growing his hair out. So for almost 2 yrs, Dani didn't cut his hair - and it got long - and sometimes he couldn't hang out, because he had to stay home to wash his hair, or brush it, or whatever you do to long hair.
Well, in the last week of August, the time came when Dani decided that enough was enough, so another guy and I took him to the hairdresser in the mall here, and they cut it off.

Now Dani looks fairly "normal," although I think he really enjoyed not looking "normal" for a time, which I can totally respect, since part of being a Christian is being willing to not be "normal" in the eyes of some people. A willingness to be "different" is a major asset in the life of a person who wants to follow Jesus, and take the road less traveled - the straight and narrow path of walking in the Lord's ways rather than simply conforming to whatever the culture around us deems "normal." Often times what the world calls "normal" isn't what God has deemed normal and healthy.

God has done a good work in Dani's life. He has a great family, most of whom are also believers. He will also be among those who get baptized next weekend.

Here's a slideshow of the pictures of the haircut:

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Right after we got back home from Bulgaria, I got a phone call that disturbed me.
It was the mom of one of the girls who had come to know the Lord at English Camp, and who had asked to be baptized at the baptism will we have in 2 weeks at a lake outside of Eger. She was calling to tell me that she had forbidden her 18 yr old daughter from coming to our church.
I asked her why, and she said it was because we are a sect (actually she thought we were Methodists - and that Methodists are a sect). Then I explained to her that we belong to the Hungarian Evangelical Alliance, a group which validates that we hold orthodox protestant Christian beliefs. Then she told me it was because I wasn't Hungarian. I explained that I speak Hungarian and even teach the Bible in Hungarian (we were talking in Hungarian). Then she said it was because my wife wasn't Hungarian...
She went on to give me many other reasons, none of which held much weight. In other words, these weren't the real reason she was forbidding her daughter from attending our church.
She eventually told me that she simply doesn't think that becoming a Christian is a good choice for her daughter to make, because it will drive her away from her family and make her a social outcast.

Needless to say, this call was disturbing. And whats more disturbing to me is that this isn't the first time this kind of thing has happened.
Here in Hungary - especially more in Eger than in Debrecen, this kind of attitude is something we have had to deal with.
Perhaps its hard in this area because there isn't really any other church like us - a young, modern, protestant church - but I also know that the other churches in town struggle with the same thing. I think another possible reason is that the older generation of Hungarians who were raised under Communism view religion in all forms as a negative thing - as detrimental and unenlightened.
Another issue here is that many Hungarian families are very tightly knit, and the parents are somewhat controlling. They often view the church as something which takes away their influence and control over their kids, in spite of the fact that we would never encourage kids to disobey or rebel against their parents.
People say that Europe is a "post-Christian" place, and I think there is much truth to that. We have had people in the church before, whose parents encouraged them to practice Eastern Religion or the New Age - but were not happy at all that their child (although already legally an adult) wanted to be a Christian. In America, even if a family does not consider themselves Christians or go to church, they still often view church as a good thing.
* Hungarians - what do you think about this? Am I getting this right, or am I way off?

I find it disturbing that in this part of "Christendom" being a follower of Jesus and studying the Bible is viewed by many as a bad thing.
One friend of mine in another town in Hungary leads a youth group, and they had the problem that their kids had stopped partying and their parents were upset by it, and started telling their kids - You need to leave that church! What they are teaching you is unhealthy! You are teenagers; you need to be going out and partying and having sex! That's the normal, healthy thing to do!
I have a catch-phrase that I always tell our church: Jesus makes you normal. And I really believe that to be true. The view of many people in the world of what is normal and healthy has been skewed so badly, that they call good what is evil and evil what is good.
When studying the Bible and being a follower of Jesus is called a bad thing, but premarital/extramarital sex is considered a good thing - something is wrong.

On Sundays right now we are studying through the Acts of the Apostles, and one of my favorite verses in the book is when it says in Ch 17:8, that in Thessalonica they people dragged some Christians before the city counsel and said: These who have turned the whole world upside down have come here too. My prayer is that God would use us here in Eger to turn this city "upside down" with the Gospel. If things are already upside down - where right is called wrong and wrong is called right - then turning it upside down again would be like turning it right-side up. Again, "Jesus makes you normal."
One thing I love about the book of Acts is that you see that through very small groups of people, God changed the history of Europe - and really the history of the whole world. I love that, because I know that God can use us to change our city - and I pray that He will.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Happy Birthday Nate!

Last Monday, September 1, was Nathaniel's first birthday!
One year ago we first saw Nate-dogg's little face and held him in our hands for the first time.
His name means "Gift of God," and thats truly what he is!
Over the last year we've been blessed to watch this little gift grow from a tiny baby into a little boy, who is now trying to walk and talk and do other big boy stuff.
We celebrated Nate's first birthday in Slanchev Bryag (Sunny Beach), Bulgaria.
We had a lot of "firsts" last week in Bulgaria - Nate's first birthday, his first piece of cake, his first time at the beach, and his first time swimming in the sea.
Indecently, it wasn't Nate's first time abroad or even on an airplane. He's already been to the USA, Germany, Slovakia - and now Bulgaria. He's already traveled more than most people I know!
He had a great time at the beach, digging in the sand, and got super excited by the waves, when we took him in the water.
Here are some pictures of Nate's first birthday:

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