Believing what one reads

“How can you say, ‘We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us?’ But behold, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie. The wise men shall be put to shame; they shall be dismayed and taken; behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord, so what wisdom is in them?” (Jeremiah 8:8-9, ESV).

How often have we heard or said, “You cannot believe everything you read?” Human writers make mistakes. They also are always influenced by their own preconceptions, experience, education, and abilities, to say nothing of pressure from outside to conform to the demands of others. Sometimes, sadly, they just plain lie.

Even when it comes to sacred Scripture, which is from God and therefore is true (2 Timothy 3:16-17), we today are dependent upon other humans to preserve, translate, and explain it to us (as in Nehemiah 8:5-8). God’s word is absolutely dependable. Human teachers, not so much so. Continue reading “Believing what one reads”

Sufficient evidence

“The other disciples therefore said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ So he said to them, ‘Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails and put my hand into his side, I will not believe’” (John 20:25).

Any teacher or student will recognize the effectiveness of visual aids. We learn through our senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell) and the more of our senses which are involved in any experience, the more likely it is that we will perceive that experience correctly and remember it. Continue reading “Sufficient evidence”

Passing the hat

“On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:2 NKJV).

An old country ballad (“Picking Time”) includes the lyrics, “Last Sunday morning when they passed the hat, it was still nearly empty back where I sat.” I don’t remember an assembly of the church in the United States where an actual hat was used to gather the collection. However, not long ago in Asia we visited a small congregation where, when it was time for the offering, it was discovered that there was no bag or pan or other vessel suitable for the purpose. I did however have a hat with me, so it was used. I enjoyed sharing with them the expression “passing the hat” and its tradition in our country. Continue reading “Passing the hat”

Reunions

“And Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two female servants. … He himself went on before him, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near his brother” (Genesis 33:1, 3 ESV).

When we have been separated from someone for a long time, it is never certain what kind of reception we will confront when we are reunited. Jacob left Esau at a time of stress and enmity. His older brother had actually threatened to kill him. Jacob fled to the country of their ancestors. Continue reading “Reunions”

Looking back or forward?

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14 ESV).

I was going down the three flights of steps from my apartment at Khulna Bible College carrying some treats Brenda had prepared for the workers. Unfortunately I had failed to take off my bifocals and as I descended, the steps were out of focus, causing me to miss one and fall. Thankfully I was near the bottom and it was not a hard, injury-producing fall, but enough to make me more careful nonetheless. Continue reading “Looking back or forward?”

Peace on earth

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men’” (Luke 12:13-14 NKJV).

No word is more descriptive of the ultimate impact of the coming of Jesus than the word “peace.” It was proclaimed in the announcement of his birth. It is part of one of his many divine and royal titles (i.e., “Prince of Peace,” Isaiah 9:6). Through Jesus who “Himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14), we are reconciled with God and with other humans. Jesus “preached peace to you who were far off and to peace to those who were near” (Ephesians 2:17). Continue reading “Peace on earth”

What do we see?

“As he passed by, he saw a man” (John 9:1 ESV).

It is not difficult to recruit people to go on a mission trip to Nepal. Everyone knows about “The Rooftop of the World,” the home of much of the Himalaya Mountains. We are all fascinated by mountains, and that fascination increases exponentially when Mt. Everest and other Himalayan peaks enter into the discussion. The scenery is awesome, the sense of adventure overwhelming. One returns from a visit to such places with a tremendous feeling of accomplishment.

But there is much more to this remote, densely populated nation than magnificent vistas. More than 30 million people inhabit its approximately 57,000 square miles (roughly 1/3 larger than the state of Tennessee). More than 90% of the population claim Hinduism or Buddhism as their religious faith. Taken together, these constitute the world’s largest current polytheistic and idolatrous religion. In the New Testament Paul spoke of his joy over those who turned “from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). He regarded them as having escaped bondage to enjoy freedom in Christ Jesus. Continue reading “What do we see?”

Visiting the afflicted

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27, ESV).

The call came to the administrators of Khulna Bible College. “Mrs. Baidya has had a stroke and would very much appreciate a visit from Mike Brooks.” This elderly lady is one of the original members of a rural congregation almost three hours drive from the college campus. She and her late husband had provided the land on which the small tin and wood church building which the church used for about 25 years had stood. One son and at least two daughters still live in the village and are members of the congregation. I was happy to comply with her request and, accompanied by several men from KBC, made the trip a few days later. Continue reading “Visiting the afflicted”

‘Without neglecting the others’

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” (Matthew: 23:23-24 ESV).

The campus of Khulna Bible College contains a number of fruit and nut trees, including mango, coconut, litchi, jackfruit, papaya, and jambora (a type of grapefruit) trees. The nine coconut trees are especially productive and the nuts are prized for their water (or milk), meat, and fibrous hull. Periodically coconuts will be collected and counted out for sharing among the various staff families and the needs of the college kitchen. Continue reading “‘Without neglecting the others’”

Honoring those who are worthy of honor

“Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed” (Romans 13:7 ESV).

The custom of honoring guests and dignitaries by putting a scarf or garland around their neck is strong in Nepal and much of Asia. In the churches, visiting missionaries, as well as Nepali preachers and leaders, and local civic leaders are almost always welcomed by the ceremony of “garlanding.” It is a means of demonstrating respect and showing that they are held in honor. The traditional scarves and flowers are of little intrinsic value, but the act of being shown respect is priceless. Continue reading “Honoring those who are worthy of honor”