Final exams

“Now at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king” (Daniel 1:18-19).

Throughout the world, and throughout most of recorded history, examinations have played a major part in determining the future of young people. In South Asia preparing for exams is an extremely important activity as the continuation of one’s education or the beginning of a career depends upon making acceptable marks. In many cases those who fail do not get another opportunity. Continue reading “Final exams”

First or last

“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last'” (Revelation 1:10-11 NKJV).

There are many ways to categorize people. One that I sometimes use has to do with how we schedule our pleasures. Some like to do the best (most enjoyable) things first. That may be eating dessert before the meal, or taking one’s leisure breaks as early as possible. Others prefer saving the best till last. I am among the latter group. I always keep the best piece of chocolate in the box for the final treat.

Reserving special pleasures for later offers several benefits. For example, there is the extended pleasure of anticipation. After all, once a particular dessert is eaten it is finished and cannot be enjoyed again. But while we look forward to it we savor the coming pleasure many times before finally consuming it. Continue reading “First or last”

Glory revealed

“A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken’” (Isaiah 40:3-5 NKJV).

When I mention the countries to which I regularly travel, which are Nepal and Bangladesh, a very common response is, “I would love to go to Nepal.” I am not sure I have ever been told the same about Bangladesh. Most do not explain their reasons for the desire to visit the one country, but I suspect that much of the appeal lies in the beauty of the country and the majesty of the Himalaya range of mountains. Nepal resounds with romance and exoticism and many respond to its call. Continue reading “Glory revealed”

Hindsight in advance

“Hear, my son, and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many. I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble” ( Proverbs 4:10-12 NKJV).

One of the popular songs of the past lamented, “I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger; I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was stronger.” Almost everyone can relate to such a wish. If we knew in advance the consequences of our actions we might well choose differently on many occasions. That is we would do differently if we truly believed that those consequences would certainly follow.

The human capacity to ignore the lessons of experience is no less than incredible. A definition of insanity attributed to Albert Einstein is, “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” It does not matter whether the experience is our own or that of others; whether it is contemporary or from ancient history. When a particular belief or behavior consistently produces negative consequences, it is foolhardy to continue in it. Continue reading “Hindsight in advance”

Meaning behind the name

“And she conceived again and bore a daughter. Then God said to him: ‘Call her name Lo-Ruhamah, for I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel’” (Hosea 1:6 NKJV).

Don’t you often wonder why other people name their children what they do? This question arises within one’s own language and culture, but is especially frequent in cross-cultural situations. Sometimes it is simply a matter of a word (name) being totally unfamiliar, such as “Tuhin” or “Mridol.”

In other cases it is recognition that we just would not have thought of that particular name. One of the administrators of Khulna Bible College named his son “Abishai,” after the second son of King David’s sister, Zeruiah (2 Samuel 2:18). There is certainly nothing wrong with that name, and I knew of its Old Testament use, but I had simply never known any modern person to whom it had been given. When I considered Biblical names to suggest to those who requested it, Abishai was not one which occurred to me. Continue reading “Meaning behind the name”

Give thanks for goodness

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! For his mercy endures forever. . . . Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness” (Psalm 107:1, 8-9 NKJV).

Among the innumerable attributes of God, one of the most emphasized in Scripture is his goodness. This is made evident from the beginning of creation. As God made the various parts of the universe we are repeatedly told, “And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25; see also verse 4). Finally after all was done, “Then God saw everything that he had made, and indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Continue reading “Give thanks for goodness”

Difficult decisions

“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels” Hebrews 13:2 NKJV).

We are all aware of the importance of hospitality in the Christian life. There are many commands to practice love towards Christian brothers and sisters (Hebrews 13:1), neighbors (Luke 10:27), and even our enemies (Matthew 5:44).

Practicing love is not something to do only when it is easy or comes in “feel good” situations. John defines love as extending charitable help in times of need, whether or not it is easy or convenient to the giver (1 John 3:17-18). Continue reading “Difficult decisions”

Memories

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you” (Philippians 1:3 NKJV).

The last Monday in May is recognized as “Memorial Day” (formerly “Decoration Day”) in the United States. This national holiday is intended as a time to remember and honor those who died while serving in the armed forces of the United States. Many will also take time to remember other departed loved ones by visiting grave sites or in other ways.

Such events, along with monuments, statues, plaques, and designated sites serve to help us keep events and persons of the past alive in our consciousness and relevant to current times. They are made valid and effective by memories, and serve to help us recognize the importance of memory. Continue reading “Memories”

Loving the unseen

“For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ” (Colossians 2:1-2, NKJV).

“Out of sight, out of mind” is a secular proverb that describes the attitude of many. Most humans tend to focus their attention and efforts on those people and things which are in close proximity to themselves. We don’t usually spend much energy on those whom we have not met, or on needs that are at a great distance.

Paul was not of that mindset. He wanted the Christians that lived in the cities of Colossae and Laodicea to know that they were important to him. Though they had never yet seen him “up close and personal,” he knew who they were, he knew of their faith, and he had great love for them. He also was willing to invest great energy, both emotional and physical, in their spiritual growth.

Continue reading “Loving the unseen”

Harvest time

“Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest?’ Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest. And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together” (John 4:34-35 NKJV).

Harvesting of the IRRI rice crop in Bangladesh is well underway at this time. This is one of three or four seasonal harvests in this semi-tropical country. IRRI rice is a variety (or group of varieties) developed by the International Rice Research Institute for production in what was formerly an “off-season” for rice. It has become an important part of the agricultural economy of Bangladesh. Continue reading “Harvest time”