10 Years… Part 1

This March, my trip to Hungary to visit, encourage, and support our friends and co-laborers in the gospel from Ukraine coincided with the 10 year anniversary of me leaving Hungary to move to Colorado.

For more on what we did on that trip, see: Ukraine Relief Update: What We Did in Hungary & Ukraine

On Women’s Day, March 8, 2012, we left the beautiful city of Eger, where all of our kids (up until that point) had been born, and boarded a flight bound for Germany, on route to San Diego.

Eger, looking north from the city center. The minaret is the northern-most Turkish minaret in Europe, and the long yellow building behind it is where my kids were born. The church on the hill is a Serbian Orthodox Church; we started the Eger church in the neighborhood next to it.

We left part of our hearts there. People often ask me if I miss living in Hungary, and the answer is: Yes, I miss it so bad it hurts, every day. This isn’t to say that I’m not content where I am, or that I am planning to move back – it’s just the truth. I spent my entire adult life in Hungary up until we left. When we moved to Colorado, I had never been an adult in America before, and there was a learning curve, for sure.

Not only did we leave behind our beloved city, more significantly, we left behind a ministry we loved: one we started and nurtured.

We moved to Eger in 2005 with a vision to start a church which would be self-sustaining, that would be focused on evangelism and discipling those who became Christians through our outreaches, and we hoped that someday that church would have a Hungarian pastor, preferably someone who had been raised up through our ministry. Additionally, we hoped to start a “daughter church” out of that church, and to take the people of that church on mission trips themselves.

By God’s grace, all of these dreams came to fruition.

In January 2012, I handed over leadership of the Eger church to Jani, and he celebrated his 10 year anniversary as pastor earlier this year.

I had the opportunity to preach at the church when I was there this year, exactly 10 years to the week of my departure. I preached in Hungarian, which I miss doing.

The church recently moved into a new location, about 2 blocks from where they used to meet, and still in the heart of the city center, right on the main walking street, with a balcony overlooking it.

Standing on the balcony of the new church meeting place in downtown Eger.

Pray for Eger, and pray for Pastor Jani. He has been faithful. Pray for a fresh work of the Holy Spirit, for vision, guidance, and effective ministry.

Pastor Jani overlooking Eger from the fortress.

My Worst Easter Sermon + Preparation for Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday

I recently had the opportunity to talk with some friends and record a podcast for pastors in our movement.

My friend and colleague Mike Neglia (we serve together in the Expositors Collective) and I were interviewed by Aaron Salvato of CalvaryChapel.com and the GoodLion Podcast Network about different aspects of preparing for Good Friday and Easter.

As part of the discussion, Aaron asked Mike and I about our worst Easter sermon ever. As I was telling about my worst Easter sermon, I remembered something that happened on our first Easter (also our first Sunday) planting a church in Eger, Hungary. It wasn’t something I did (or even saw), but it was something which probably made it the worst Easter service ever for those who attended 😂. Here’s the video of that part of our discussion:

Aaron broke up our discussion into sections and created a helpful article, with Mike and I discussing about Good Friday, how to support staff and volunteers amongst the busyness of Easter weekend, and how to keep Easter fresh.

That article can be found here: Advice for Pastors and Preachers on Easter Sermons and More!

In Section 2, Mike and I discuss our differences of opinion on the practice of Lent! Check it out, and see what you think.

Special Report: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine: How to Pray & How to Help – with George Markey

This week’s episode of the Theology for the People podcast is a discussion I recorded in Budapest, Hungary this week with Pastor George Markey of Kyiv, Ukraine.

This was originally recorded for KWAVE Radio in Southern California, but I am putting it out here as well, so more people can hear it.

George has lived in Ukraine for the past 30 years, and is the overseer for the Calvary Chapel churches in the country.

In this episode, George shares his perspective on what is going on as Russia is attacking Ukraine, as well as stories of how God is working in the midst of it. We also discuss needs, what is currently being done, and how you can get involved and help. Finally, George shares how he personally prays for Ukraine during this time.

Click here to listen to the episode, or listen in the embedded player below.

The Russian Invasion of Ukraine: How to Help & How to Pray – with George Markey Theology for the People

Recorded in Budapest, Hungary this week with Pastor George Markey of Kyiv, Ukraine, originally for KWAVE Radio in Southern California. George has lived in Ukraine for the past 30 years, and is the overseer for Calvary Chapel churches in Ukraine.  In this episode, George shares his perspective on what is going on as Russia is attacking Ukraine, as well as stories of how God is working in the midst of it.  We also discuss needs, what is currently being done, and how you can get involved and help. Finally, George shares how he personally prays for Ukraine right now. Please share this episode with others, subscribe to the podcast, and check out the Theology for the People blog at nickcady.org

Ukraine Relief Update: What We Did in Hungary & Ukraine

I arrived home last night after a whirlwind trip to Europe to help with the humanitarian crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Many people have been interested to hear about what we did over there, and what needs and opportunities there are for help in the future, so the night before I left to come back to the US, Pastor Michael and I sat down to film a video sharing with people some of what we accomplished, and what some of the ongoing needs are.

We filmed this at the kitchen table in Michael’s old apartment in Budapest, using a broom as our camera stand!

There are many needs. Just today we have been working on wiring money to people in another city in Ukraine to help buy another van to transport food and aid, and to evacuate people. If you would like to give, we will put that money directly into the hands of people who are serving on the ground. Donations can be made here: Ukraine Relief Fund

Here’s that video update:

Heading That Way

Source: NBCnews

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was scheduled to be in Ukraine this week to visit ministry partners in Kyiv and Kharkiv, and speak at a conference in Irpin. Instead, many of the people we were going to work with are hiding in bomb shelters, basements, and metro stations because of the Russian attack. Others have left their homes for safer locations in western Ukraine or in neighboring countries.

I am so impressed with the courage and resolve of the Ukrainian people, as well as with the leadership of their president. I pray for justice to prevail, for an end to these attacks, and for peace in Ukraine.

Just today, Russian military shelled a residential neighborhood in Kharkiv, killing at least 11, and injuring others. The reality is, even if everything were to end today, what has been done so far has already caused suffering and loss which cannot be reversed, and has caused damage which will take years to recover from.

Today I am flying to Hungary with 2 other pastors who served for many years in that region as missionaries. We are going to visit our missionaries who have fled there from Ukraine, take gifts and supplies for them and their kids, and explore potential opportunities for outreach to refugees, as well as ways to help those within Ukraine who are serving displaced people.

So far over 500,000 people have fled Ukraine, and that number is expected to reach up to 4,000,000 according to the UNHCR. This is a time for the church to shine, and for us to step up and be the hands and feet of Jesus to the world. Those I am in contact with in Ukraine and Hungary are doing just that, and it is noteworthy and beautiful. In addition to the immediate needs now, there will likely be many opportunities to help in the months and years to come.

How to Help

If you would like to give to our Ukraine Relief Fund, those funds will go to purchase needed supplies, fuel, medicines, and provide shelter for displaced people.

Masters Graduation & Why Americans Should Consider British Theology Schools

Earlier this month I traveled to London with my wife and 3 of our kids for my graduation ceremony from London School of Theology (University of Middlesex).

I had already graduated last November with a Master of Arts in Integrative Theology, but the ceremony was postponed until now because of the pandemic. As a result, it was a small ceremony, with most of the graduates not attending in person.

For more on what Integrative Theology is, see this episode of the Theology for the People Podcast: Theological Method: Sources of Theology and Why People Arrive at Different Conclusions about Faith and the Bible.

This is my second degree that I’ve done in the British system; I got my BA in Theology years ago from the University of Gloucestershire in the west of England.

London School of Theology (LST) is the largest non-denominational evangelical divinity school in Europe, and there were students from all over Europe and the world in my masters program, including several from the United States.

Sometimes people ask me why I chose to study in the UK rather than in the US. Part of the reason is because I began my theological studies while I was living in Hungary, and the UK was closer than the US. However, I chose to go back to school in the UK for my masters primarily because of cost, the ability to study fully online, and quality of education.

I currently have three American friends who are pursuing post-graduate degrees in the UK, one at LST, another in Oxford, and the other in Birmingham. I would recommend that more Americans consider studying theology in the United Kingdom for a few key reasons:

No Separation of Church & State = Lower Cost

Unlike the United States, the United Kingdom does not have “separation of church and state.” So whereas there might be more practicing Christians in the United States, on paper the US is a more secular state. The UK has a state church, with ties between the government and that church, e.g. the role of the monarch as the head of the church and the presence of Anglican bishops in the House of Lords. What this all amounts to is that the UK is, at least on paper, an officially Christian nation, whereas the United States is an officially secular nation.

One of the results of the separation of church and state in the United States is that public universities cannot have theological seminaries; at best they can have courses on subjects like “comparative religions.” For this reason, all theological seminaries in the United States are private schools, or part of private universities, which means no government funding, and higher cost for the student.

Since the United Kingdom does not having a separation of church and state, many public universities (e.g. Sheffield, Nottingham, Birmingham) have theological colleges (AKA departments), which amounts to a lower cost for the student. Many of these schools are highly respected, such as Nottingham, which has a great program in systematic theology, and LST which also has a great reputation around the world.

Furthermore, I was able to register for LST as a Hungarian citizen before the UK left the EU, which meant I qualified for subsidies as a “domestic student.” I’m not sure how or if things have changed for European students now as a result of Brexit.

British Education & British Evangelicalism

Perhaps I am biased, but I prefer the British higher education system. In undergraduate studies, they do not require “prerequisites” like American schools do, which means that the focus of your entire undergrad program is in your chosen field of study. In other words, if you study theology in England, you won’t have to take any math classes. Furthermore, the British system tends to have fewer homework assignments, and most of the assignments are essay writing. Undergrad students often write a dissertation research project to get their BA.

British evangelicalism has held onto the key facets of evangelical (meaning: gospel-focused) beliefs, such as the primacy and inerrancy of Scripture and the need for people to be born again by grace through faith, in a way that has avoided much of the politicalization of American evangelicalism. LST, for example, was founded by evangelical pastor John Stott, and is the alma mater of well-known Bible teacher Alister Begg.

If you are considering a theological education, I’d recommend looking into some options in the UK. I’m glad I did.

9/11 – 20 Years

Today marks 20 years since the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Those of us who are old enough to remember it can all remember where we were when it happened, but those who are younger have all felt its effects. 

Personally, I remember that it was a Tuesday and I was working for Christy Sports in Golden, Colorado in the snowboard shop, and we had the day off to attend a seminar hosted at the Burton Snowboards Colorado headquarters in Denver, so I was parked behind the shop waiting for a colleague to meet me so we could drive down together. He was over an hour late. This was before most people had cell phones, so I just had to stand and wait for him. When he arrived, he told me what had happened. I remember the confusion of that day; at first, people assumed it was an accident, until it became clear it was an attack. 

We went to Denver and instead of a seminar, we ended up watching the TV reports at the Burton headquarters. Downtown Denver was absolutely empty, as no one knew if there were going to be more attacks. 

I went home, and my dad was there; he worked at the Denver Mint, and since that was a federal building, it was considered a high risk for attack.

At this point in September, I had just returned home from my first trip to Hungary, after which I felt called to move to Hungary, and was making plans to go there in January. I did end up moving to Hungary in January, and one of the ministries I worked in was a refugee camp.

The camp was in an abandoned Soviet military base which had been reopened in 2006 by the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) to house refugees from the Bosnian war, and had then been kept open to house refugees from Kosovo. Around the time I came, there were still many refugees from former Yugoslavia, but quickly the camp filled with over 2000 Afghan refugees.  

While working in this camp, I got to know my now wife, Rosemary, and together we saw many people from Afghanistan, Iran, Kosovo, and other muslim-majority countries become Christians. As these people came to Europe to escape the conflicts back home, many of them had the opportunity to read the New Testament and hear the gospel, and meet Christians, and attend a church for the first time in their lives – and God used His Word to change their hearts and their lives.

My heartfelt condolences go out to the grieving families whose lives were changed when over 2,997 people lost their lives on September 11. I pray that the Lord would be their comfort and that they would find in Jesus the hope of the resurrection and life everlasting.

May we also honor and thank the first responders and emergency workers who served that day and in the weeks following. May we pray for our medical workers today as well as they serve the hurting and sick in the midst of this current crisis.

Let us also be in prayer for those who served in the military over the past 20 years, and for the families of those who lost family members in service. And let us pray as well for the Afghan people and the Afghan Christians who are now suffering under Taliban rule today.

A Theology of Music: Discussion with Jon Markey and Michael Payne

Jon Markey and Michael Payne are accomplished musicians, songwriters, and producers, and in the latest episode of the Theology for the People podcast, I sat down with them to talk about the theology of music.

Michael is the Worship Pastor at White Fields Community Church in Longmont, Colorado. Prior to coming to Longmont, he spent 21 years as a worship leader and missionary in Hungary, and prior to that he served in the US Marine Corps.

Jon is a pastor and missionary in Ternopil, Ukraine. He moved to Kiev, Ukraine with his family in the 1990’s, when he was 5 years old, and earned a masters degree from the Ukrainian National Tchaikovsky Academy of Music.

Jon has been a guest on the podcast before, in fact his episode is the most-listened to episode on the podcast to date: If “It’s All Gonna Burn” Then What’s the Point? – How the Resurrection Gives Meaning to Work & Art

We recently had the pleasure of having Jon and his family visit Longmont and lead worship at our church, and while he was here, I got to sit down with him and Mike to discuss what the Bible has to say about music: its purpose, uses, and significance – including the “song of creation,” and how it serves to counteract pagan origin narratives, as well as Jubal: the first human musician, mentioned in Genesis 4, as well as other practical discussions which have modern application.

Check out Jon’s ministry: Room for More music on YouTube and his church: Calvary Chapel Ternopil (Ukraine)

Check out Michael on Spotify: Michael Payne and you can watch him on the White Fields Community Church YouTube page.

The book mentioned in this episode is Scribbling in the Sand: Christ and Creativity by Michael Card

A Theology of Music: with Jon Markey & Michael Payne Theology for the People

Michael Payne and Jon Markey are accomplished musicians, songwriters, and producers, and in this episode they talk with Nick about the theology of music. Listen in to this discussion of what the Bible has to say about music: its purpose, uses, and significance – including the "song of creation," Jubal, and practical discussions for today. Check out Jon's ministry: Room for More music on YouTube and his church: Calvary Chapel Ternopil (Ukraine) Check out Michael on Spotify: Michael Payne and you can watch him on the White Fields Community Church YouTube page. The book mentioned in this episode is Scribbling in the Sand: Christ and Creativity by Michael Card Visit the Theology for the People blog.

Contextualization and Engagement in God’s Global Mission: a Conversation with Benjamin Morrison

Benjamin Morrison

Recently we have had the pleasure of getting to spend some time with some of our missionary friends from Ukraine, who have visited our church here in Colorado.

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to sit down with pastor Benjamin Morrison from Svitlovodsk, Ukraine to talk about his life and ministry. Ben is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Svitlovodsk, Ukraine, as well as the coordinator for City to City Ukraine and is part of the leadership of City to City Europe.

This turned out to be a great conversation in which we talked about how Ben came to be a missionary in Ukraine, what it’s like doing ministry in a post-communist context, and what “contextualization” means and how it works out in practice. We finished the conversation by sharing some practical advice for those who are seeking God’s leading and direction for how they can get involved in God’s global mission.

You can watch the video below, or listen to the episode on the White Fields Church podcast.

What is the “Perspicuity” of Scripture, and Why Does It Matter?

When I was a missionary in Hungary, we used to visit a refugee camp populated with thousands of people from muslim-majority countries, with whom we didn’t have a common language. Everyone in the camp got by with a mix of English, Russian, and sometimes German words that formed a special form of refugee pidgin. But this was insufficient for deeper conversations, such as those about God, Jesus, and salvation.

So, with the help of the International Bible Society, we were able to get New Testaments in Urdu, Dari, Farsi, and other languages, and we handed these out along with humanitarian aid, telling those we met to read them, and then we would follow up. For many of them, this was their first time ever having access to the New Testament in their own language, and by God’s grace, we did see many of them become followers of Jesus.

But this approach to ministry was based on an underlying assumption: that anyone with average reading comprehension skills can sufficiently understand the meaning of the Bible when it comes to what it says about who Jesus is and how salvation is possible through Him.

This assumption is known as belief in the “perspicuity,” or clarity of Scripture.

Not everyone embraces the idea that Scripture is perspicuous, notably the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox churches – as well as fringe groups including the Mormons (AKA Latter Day Saints) and the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

It was after a friend of mine converted to Roman Catholicism based on claims he had heard about Scripture not being perspicuous that I was intrigued by this topic and wanted to research it further. I ended up writing my Masters dissertation on the topic – specifically looking at the question of whether the concept of the perspicuity of Scripture was novel to the Reformation, or if it is also found in the writings of the early Church Fathers – which would mean that the insistence on the perspicuity of Scripture in the Reformation period was actually a return to the way the early Christians understood and viewed Scripture.

In this week’s episode of the Theology for People Podcast, Mike asks me questions about the perspicuity of Scripture; what it is and why it matters, and what is at stake when it comes to this issue.

You can listen to the episode in the embedded player below, or by clicking this link: The Perspicuity of Scripture: Is the Bible Clear? Can Everyone Understand It?

The Perspicuity of Scripture: Is the Bible Clear? Can Everyone Understand It? Theology for the People

Can anyone pick up the Bible, read it and understand it? Is Scripture "clear," and if it is: about what and for whom is it clear? I wrote my Masters dissertation on the topic of the perspicuity, or clarity, of Scripture. This is an important topic, because whether or not we view Scripture as clear affects how we handle and use the Bible and how we relate to church traditions, and how we view the world in the midst of a culture in which many long-held beliefs and assumptions are being challenged. In this episode, Nick and Mike discuss the concept of the perspicuity of Scripture, looking at the history of this concept and what is at stake in this debate.  For more articles and content, make sure to check out the Theology for the People website.