Theme in Mission (or: “Did you always know you wanted to go to Lithuania?”)

When we mention to folks in North America that we are/have been ministry workers in Lithuania, the response is often, “Oh, that’s great!” I can tell that this person feels like s/he should know where Lithuania is, or something about it. Usually, I bail them out by saying something about how much we like “the Baltic coast,” or “being next to Poland.”

Another question folks often ask a bit further in the conversation is, “Did you always hope to live in Lithuania?” It’s a fair question, though sometimes behind it is presumption that no one else could possibly want to live in this country that s/he didn’t know existed until about two minutes ago. But I try to assume the best of people… Continue reading

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USA Recap: Ordination, Wedding, Friends, Bagels, Falling in Love Again

I know that I don’t need to apologize for longer gaps between posts, but I always feel the need to do so. We have been in the USA for nearly eight weeks; tomorrow at noon, we head to Newark Airport for a 5:30pm departure and a Tuesday arrival in Palanga. We’ve done a lot, traveled a bit, and learned a lot (I hope). Continue reading

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Sermon: So That It May Go Well With You

This is the video of a sermon delivered at First Presbyterian Church of Endicott, NY on June 24 entitled, “So That It May Go Well With You.” The text was Deuteronomy 4:5-13.

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Understanding is Ephemeral

“William Riker, who was one of the founders of the rational choice school of public choice in political science, said that most of the people who get into academics do it because they’re interested in teaching. And a lot of times they’re confused and they think that teaching involves work in a classroom with students. And that’s important, but the real teaching is the one that takes place through writing because once you’ve learned something, if you actually understand it, you can explain it to someone else and the advantage of writing it is that you can communicate this teaching to someone distant in time or someone distant in space. So the most important teaching is writing and if you think of yourself as a teacher, it’s really important that you work on your writing because that’s how you’re going to be able to communicate this understanding that you have. Understanding is ephemeral. A lot of times when you work on something for a long time, you think, ‘Oh now I see it! That’s actually simple.’ Well if you don’t write that down it’s going to be hard for someone else to replicate that moment of understanding. But if you do write it down and you explain it clearly, you’ve added something to the human capital of the world: what we’re able to hand down, the things that we no longer have to think about because we understand them. The more you understand, the simpler things become.”

Mike Munger, interview with The Economics Detective.

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Sermon: Apostles and Exiles

This is the audio (12:39, 11.6 MB) of a short homily delivered at LCC’s International Christian Fellowship on April 22 entitled, “Apostles and Exiles.” The text was Ezekiel 11:14-17. Continue reading

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Voices of the Global Church

I’ve been thinking a lot in the last few years about what it means for me as a white American male to live and teach the Bible as a foreigner. Continue reading

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Teaching in Ukraine

From March 8 to 17, I visited Zaporozhe (or Zaporizhzhia, or any number of other Latin transliterations of Запоріжжя) and taught at Zaporozhe Bible Seminary (ZBS).

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Sermon: No Dry Trees

This is the audio (39.51, 36.4 MB) of a sermon delivered at a Baptist church in Zaporozhye, Ukraine, on March 11 entitled, “No Dry Trees.” The text was Isaiah 56:1-7Continue reading

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Special Service: Worshipping with the Fifth Gospel

On December 3, 2017, I and my student, Jessica Smoker, had privilege of leading worship for LCC’s International Christian Fellowship, which is an occasional English-language worship service led by staff and faculty.

Jess and I did an independent study on the Book of Isaiah that semester. We discovered that we are both musical, and decided that one of her assignments should be for us to craft a worship service structured around songs from Isaiah, and short teachings from the passages on which those songs are based. Continue reading

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January 2018 Update

giffones-xmas-2017

“Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord YHWH, “Though I had removed them far away among the nations and though I had scattered them among the countries, yet I was a sanctuary for them a little while in the countries where they had gone.”’” (Ezek 11:16)
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