Thursday, September 15, 2011

Czech Republic

Jeff Jernigan and I are currently in the Czech Republic for our annual pilgrimmage to our sister church in Jihlava and the History Makers and Christian to the Core Conferences in Malenovice.

For ten years McEachern has had a relationship with the congregation of the Methodist Church in Jihlava.  Many of our members have traveled to the Czech Republic to lead lead English Camps, Family Camps, weddings, and develop relationships with these brothers and sisters.  For the past four years I have come here to preach and assist in leading conferences for the International Leadership Institute.  I forget how much I love being here until I return.

We are currently in the village of Malenovice at the foot of Lysa Hora, the tallest mountain in the Beskydy range.  It is early fall here; much earlier than we usually travel to this part of the world.  Last year we were here in late November, just before Thanksgiving.  The year before we were here in early October, but got three feet of snow!  This year the weather has been sunny and warm, but after a front moved through with some rain yesterday we are not experiencing clear, sunny, cool weather.  It is heaven compared to the summer we have had in Atlanta with ninety days of ninety plus temperatures - a new record.

Aside from the beauty of the place, there is also the beauty of the people.  These are some seriously dedicated Christians.  The Czech remains one of the most atheistic countries in the world - 40% of its population identifies themselves as atheist, while only 3% describe themselves as Protestant.  There are few, if any, cultural Christians here - it is simply too difficult and the downside too steep to be lukewarm.

This is the fourth year I've taught here, and the second year helping to lead History Makers.  History Makers is made up of young adult Christians who want to reclaim their country and continent for Jesus.  Our job is to help them gain some skills in order to be effective leaders.  Being with these young adult Christians refreshes my soul.

And then, it's just good to get away and spend some time with God and fellow brothers and sisters.  I have much more time here for Bible reading and meditation.  We have some great impromptu conversations about theology and ecclesiology with these young folks, some of whom are pastors and some seminary students.  Even with the schedule of teaching, the long days (13+ hours) and the time difference, I find myself re-energized and peaceful.

There is another conference starting today where Jeff and I will also teach while still teaching History Makers.  A group from Poland will arrive and we will help teach Christian to the Core.  These folks are "E-Coaches" who talk with people after they have made a commitment to Christ via the Internet (check out

For more information about The International Leadership Institute check out

Please pray for us as we finish up here tomorrow and start the long trip back early Saturday morning.

Friday, September 2, 2011

This weekend we celebrate Labor Day. The first Labor Day was held in New York City on September 5, 1882. In 1894 the US Congress named the first Monday of September as the official date that Labor Day would be recognized in DC and the US territories. The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations" of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement. Today the holiday is primarily seen as an end of summer celebration. (Thanks to the Department of Labor website for this helpful historical summary!)

But what does God have to say about Labor?

First, labor is a gift of God and was part of God’s original plan for humanity. Before the fall, work existed! In Genesis we read, “The Lord God took man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (2.15) As we will learn on Sunday, work is not a four letter word.

Labor, however, like everything else, became corrupted after the fall. “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat of the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground;” (Genesis 3.17-19a).

Our work, however, can be used to bring glory to God. “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3.17)

I hope you enjoy your day off on Labor Day. More than that I hope you enjoy and give thanks to God for giving your hands work to do. In all we do in offices, classrooms, or in the open fields may we do it as if we are doing it to the Lord.

Lord God, we give you thanks for the work you have given us to do. May we treat our customers, students, co-workers and teachers as if they are you. In Christ’s name. Amen.