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”

Go, labor on!

“Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38).

 

“Now it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, King of Judah, that this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: ‘Take a scroll of a book and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel, against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah even to this day” (Jeremiah 36:1-2 NKJV).

Work just isn’t what it used to be. At least that is often the case in the U.S. and other developed nations. We are used to machines and tools which make difficult tasks much simpler. Dirt is moved by tractor or back-hoe and dump trucks. Few jobs which require more than a few wheelbarrows full are done with shovels or man-power. Continue reading “Go, labor on!”

Who cares?

“The righteous perishes, and no one takes it to heart” (Isaiah 57:1 NKJV).

It was just another story in the local newspaper. A schoolgirl accused her principal of sexual abuse. Shortly afterward she was set on fire and after struggling for life for a few days lost that battle too. There was a brief outrage in the community which soon settled down so that the incident became just one more of many. The principal of course denied any involvement with the girl or her death. Continue reading “Who cares?”

Promises

“And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, ‘What is the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up to the house of the Lord the third day’ ” (2 Kings 20:8)?

On a trip to the mountains of Nepal we followed a local bus for several miles. On the back of the bus was printed their slogan, “We make travel fun.” Really? What is so much fun about riding on extremely narrow, rough, crooked roads in high mountains where in order to pass traffic one must literally hang out over steep drops? It is not unusual to see below the burnt out ruins of vehicles that did not safely negotiate those conditions. Continue reading “Promises”

Which are we?

“Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ He said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper” (Genesis 4:9 NKJV)?

 

“Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, ‘My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you” (Ruth 3:1)?

I overheard a conversation in Asia. One asked about how a certain work was going to be done. The reply was, “That is not our headache. It is the contractor’s responsibility; let him take care of it.” On one level, that is not an unreasonable response. We might have better stated it, “It is not really our business, let him do the job his way.” But in the context of the conversation the attitude of the responder was basically, “I don’t care – let them handle their own problems without my help. Continue reading “Which are we?”

Independence comes at a price

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1, NKJV).

On March 26 Bangladesh celebrates its independence as a nation. From the establishment of the British Raj in the mid-18th century until its end in 1947, the land now known as Bangladesh was the East Bengal state of India. With the withdrawal of British control, the entire subcontinent of India was partitioned to form two nations with different religious majorities: India (Hindu) and Pakistan (Islamic). Pakistan was comprised of two widely separated territories, West Pakistan (now simply Pakistan) and East Pakistan (formerly East Bengal). Continue reading “Independence comes at a price”

Little things

“And the Lord did so. Thick swarms of flies came into the house of Pharaoh, into his servants’ houses, and into all the land of Egypt. The land was corrupted because of the swarms of flies” (Exodus 8:24 NKJV).

I was standing recently under the shade of a mango tree in an Asian country and noticed several flies swarming around. When I looked more closely I saw many large flies sitting on the leaves and fruit. Other insects were also flying about, but the flies were especially numerous. Almost without thinking I moved back several feet to get away from them. Continue reading “Little things”