Honor to whom honor is due

It was with happy thoughts of a yellow climbing rose that I planted something on the west side of the old white trellis. The lady who traded plants with me wasn’t sure it was really the old-fashioned “Jude the Obscure,” because her tag had only been labeled “Rose by the trellis.” She has four trellises! She gave me the names of all the possibilities, and most of them were climbers.

The weeks plodded by as I anxiously awaited the blossom that would reveal the variety of my new acquisition. Being behind a three-foot wall, the first bloom came and went, unheralded and unseen! Imagine my disappointment when I saw the spent rose hip instead of a bloom. More weeks dragged by. At last, Jude opened in all his fragrant wonder! Continue reading “Honor to whom honor is due”

The cure for hatred

“For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another” (Titus 3:3 NKJV).

The feuding mentality is alien to some, but seems to come naturally to many. What enables certain families, clans, or ethnicities to pass on hatred and enmity through multiple generations? From the warring tribes of Africa, the feuding families of Appalachia, and the clans of the Scottish Highlands, some ancient grudges have lasted for hundreds and even thousands of years. And some seem to be just as intense and fierce as they have ever been. Continue reading “The cure for hatred”

Secret things

“Secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those that are revealed belong to us and our descendants forever, so that we might obey all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29 NET).

When I read this verse I thought how applicable this is, not just to the Israelites as they were about to enter the Promised Land, but to Christians today. It seems that many are not satisfied with what God has revealed to us but want more – we want to know the “secret things.” Continue reading “Secret things”

Journal from jail

I thank my God every time I remember you, in all my prayers for all of you I always pray with joy” (Philippians 1:3,4).

The book of Philippians is usually used as a devotional book. One liners and sweet thought-for-the-day type writings abound on this book. Fourteen times in its four chapters the word “joy” or its cognate “rejoice” is used in this letter. Is Philippians really the “Vanna White” of Paul’s epistles? Is it merely the lightweight amongst heavyweights such as Romans and Galatians? Or are those wonderful devotional thoughts such as “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) or “for me to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21) simply skimming the cream off the top? Are there depths rarely plumbed in this book? Continue reading “Journal from jail”

Good roads

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth” (Isaiah 40:3-4 NJKV).

In the twenty-five years that I have traveled in Asia I have noticed two major areas of development that have affected me personally – communications and transportation. In the early years I might call my family in the U.S. one or two times in a month’s absence; now via inexpensive mobile phones, internet, and Skype we are in contact almost every day. When I first began visiting Bangladesh, the trip from Dhaka to Khulna required more than ten hours and involved at least six ferry crossings. Now the ferries are down to one and my last journey was barely more than six hours long. What a great blessing good roads and bridges are! Continue reading “Good roads”

The purity of God’s people

“A person of illegitimate birth may not enter the assembly of the Lord; to the tenth generation no one related to him may do so. An Ammonite or Moabite may not enter the assembly of the Lord; to the tenth generation none of their descendants shall ever do so…You must not hate an Edomite, for he is your relative; you must not hate an Egyptian, for you lived as a foreigner in his land. Children of the third generation born to them may enter the assembly of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 23:1-8 NET).

It seems strange to those of us living in the twenty-first century that there were people whom God would not accept. Some Bibles put a title over this section of Deuteronomy: “Those excluded from the assembly.” Others have something like: “Purity in public worship.” Why would God exclude anyone from assembling with his people to worship him? Continue reading “The purity of God’s people”

The journey begins (1): faith in Christ and faith of Christ

Perhaps your experiences are similar to mine. As a young adolescent reading a King James Bible, I would occasionally stumble upon the phrase “faith of Christ,” as in Galatians 2:16. Since I had never heard anything about the faith of Christ, this phrase seemed to be an incomprehensible anomaly. After all, we were the ones who needed to have faith!

I smiled a sense of relief when I later discovered that other translations rendered this phrase as “faith in Christ.” However, my journey did not end here. This was only the beginning. Here’s the first few milestones from my journey as well as a few initial suggestions. Continue reading “The journey begins (1): faith in Christ and faith of Christ”

And after that …

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

There was a film star who supposedly declared, on being told of her imminent death: “I always thought an exception would be made in my case.” Of course there are no exceptions; to be human is to be mortal.

Samuel Johnston once declared that the prospect of one’s own imminent death “wonderfully concentrates the mind.” Continue reading “And after that …”

Under the magnifying glass

It’s time to look for my magnifying glass again.

Someone keeps taking my magnifying glass from my desk because she needs to see something small up close. Magnifying glasses come in handy when we need to enlarge something so details can be seen.

The mother of Jesus placed the Lord under a glass in a passage called “the Magnificat.” In her praise of God in Luke 1:46-56, she zoomed in on the greatness of God so others could see him.

Let’s take a close-up look of God through Mary’s magnifying glass. Each statement begins with the personal pronoun, “he.” Continue reading “Under the magnifying glass”