Paying the price

“Also the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, behold, I take away from you the desire of your eyes with one stroke; yet you shall neither mourn nor weep, nor shall your tears run down. Sigh in silence, make no mourning for the dead, and put your sandals on your feet; do not cover your lips, and do not eat man’s bread of sorrow.’ So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died, and the next morning I did as I was commanded” (Ezekiel 24:15-18 NKJV).

A preacher in one of the countries where we work targeted a community of lower income residents. Knowing they would be uncomfortable with someone they perceived as of higher social class, he purchased a lot and built a simple house among them. He realized that he and his family would be accepting a lower living standard than that to which they were accustomed, but they agreed that this would be a small price to pay for the opportunity to teach and convert those who were lost. Continue reading “Paying the price”

Loneliness

“Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun: there is one alone, without companion; he has neither son, nor brother . . . This also is vanity and a grave misfortune” (Ecclesiastes 4:7-8 NKJV).

I have traveled often both with and without companions from the U.S. Thankfully, I have never had to travel in other countries completely by myself. Whether or not there are other Americans in the party, I always am accompanied by Christians native to the countries which I visit. I would never say that I could or would not go alone; however, I certainly prefer the fellowship of others whenever it is available.

Solomon discussed the advantages of companionship: Continue reading “Loneliness”

One man’s trash

“But Jesus said to her, ‘Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.’ And she answered and said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs'” (Mark 7:27-28, NKJV).

Khulna Bible College replaced an outside cooking shelter because the tin was rusted and full of holes so that it leaked to the point of making it difficult to keep the wood fires going as they cooked in rainy weather. Members of a local congregation saw the pile of discarded metal and asked if they could have it to build a meeting place in which to worship. As a church building, it is much less than perfect but certainly better than nothing.

One of the most difficult virtues to obtain is contentment. James taught about the vicious cycle of desire and sin: Continue reading “One man’s trash”

Tradition

“Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, ‘Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread'” (Matthew 15:1-2, NKJV).

Few things are more polarizing and divisive than tradition. One group will say, “That is our tradition so we must do it.” Opponents will counter, “That is just your tradition, it has no validity or authority.” To conservatives, traditions seem sacrosanct. To those of a more liberal or progressive nature, to label something as “tradition” is to condemn it to obsolescence and irrelevance. Continue reading “Tradition”

In the know

“Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have you not known the things which happened there in those days?’ ” (Luke 24:18 NKJV).

Tourists and travelers often do not read the local newspapers, nor watch local news on television. Even if they want to know what is going on in their present location they may not speak the language or have access to dependable sources. For one who rises to watch a national news program and goes to bed with the local broadcast, it is something of a shock to have no idea of just what is happening where he or she is. Continue reading “In the know”

Properly using the law of God

“But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners” (1 Timothy 1:8-9 NKJV).

During a discussion of a preacher’s work in an Asian country, the response came repeatedly: “I must rebuke them.” The brother’s idea of the mission of an evangelist was to reprove and correct, to always search for wrong and chastise the guilty. Continue reading “Properly using the law of God”

Everyday concerns

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34 ESV).

How would you like to spend much of your day cutting weeds, branches, and vines for your goats and cows to eat, then carrying that fodder uphill for a mile or more? What about doing that every day, week in and week out, throughout your life? Or what about beginning each morning Continue reading “Everyday concerns”

Everything for its purpose

“The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble” (Proverbs 16:4, ESV).

When in Asia I am often cautioned to be very careful because of the many dangerous animals and conditions which I may encounter. Cobras, tigers, leopards, and bears are all indigenous to the countries I visit. Other potential hazards range from tiny mosquitoes (vectors for malaria, dengue fever, and other diseases) to wild elephants. One that I see regularly is the mugger crocodile, which throughout its range is responsible for many human fatalities. Continue reading “Everything for its purpose”

This day only

“Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, ‘I do not know you.’ ‘ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matthew 25:11-13, NKJV).

One of my pieces of electronic equipment is damaged, and though it still works for now, I have been looking for a good opportunity to replace it. Returning from an out of town business trip I checked my email and found a good sale on precisely the item I need. The only problem was it was headed “This Day Only”, and dated two days previously. Looks like I missed out. Continue reading “This day only”

Baptized into what?

“And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ So they said to him, ‘We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said to them, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ ” (Acts 19:1-3, NKJV).

Prepositions are often overlooked as small and insignificant parts of a sentence. They are typically little words which lack the impact of the more impressive nouns and verbs on which we focus. Yet they give essential details to our communications. Without them, and especially without precise understanding of them, our messages are often misunderstood. Continue reading “Baptized into what?”