Contending with horses

“If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, in which you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12:5-6 NKJV).

Complaints are universal. Every generation compares its experiences with those who come after it, sure that the things of previous times were much harder than those of the present. The weather was harsher, conditions were much more difficult, and accomplishments were won at far greater effort. In many cases those comparisons are not without truth. Continue reading “Contending with horses”

Why mountains?

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2 NKJV).

I have been blessed with opportunities to travel to many parts of the earth. I have visited five of the seven continents, and at least thirty different countries. I have visited some of the world’s harshest deserts, beaches on many different oceans, seas and lakes, tiny villages, and huge metropolitan areas. Of all the places and geographic categories that I have experienced, my overwhelming favorite is the mountains. From the moderate heights of the Appalachians in the eastern U.S., to the towering Himalayas, there is just something awesome and wonderful about all of the mountain ranges I have seen. Continue reading “Why mountains?”

Consistency

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 NKJV).

The first few years I traveled to South Asia I was able to obtain a visa on arrival at each of the countries I visited. I usually preferred to obtain my visa in advance while still in the U.S., but it was good to know there was an alternative in case of emergency.

One year another American was traveling with me, and due to time constraints he chose to wait to get his visa when we arrived. However, when we got to Los Angeles on Friday afternoon, where we were to begin international travel, we were told that the host country had changed its policy abruptly and we would have to wait over the weekend, go to San Francisco, get a visa, then come back to LA to travel. That was a major upheaval to our plans and completely unacceptable. Thankfully, we were able to find another way that was not so time intensive and our trip was not severely affected. Continue reading “Consistency”

Deserving

“Then the king sent and called for Shemei, and said to him, ‘Build yourself a house in Jerusalem and dwell there, and do not go out from there anywhere. For it shall be, on the day you go out and cross the Brook Kidron, know for certain you shall surely die; your blood shall be on your own head.’ And Shemei said to the king, ‘The saying is good. As my lord the king has said, so your servant will do’ ” (1 Kings 2:36-38 NKJV).

There are few ideas which are more frequently abused in modern society than that of entitlement. Commercials bombard us with luxury and leisure, persuading us that we all deserve such. Leaders of third world countries speak before global venues, demanding that those in better circumstances provide the help that is owed by them to the poor of the world. Millions of the poor everywhere expect governments to provide for every need (and for many things they simply desire). “We deserve it” has become the universal creed, without regard for any responsibility on the part of the one making the demand. Continue reading “Deserving”

Made for man

“And he said to them,’The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath'” (Mark 2:27, NKJV).

On one trip into the mountains of Nepal to preach among the villages, we took a Nepali cook who was a practicing Buddhist. Over the course of the two weeks we traveled, we spoke to him several times about his religion and about the Gospel. One comment he made has stayed with me. “I am tired of the priests’ extravagant demands – for everything there must be a sacrifice and I must always pay.” Continue reading “Made for man”

Uncharmed snakes

“‘For behold, I will send serpents among you, vipers which cannot be charmed, and they shall bite you,’ says the Lord” (Jeremiah 8:17, NKJB).

Snake charming is an ancient practice in parts of Asia. When I started traveling to South Asia I was a little surprised to discover that it is still fairly common and popular among the people, especially those in rural areas. I have gone into a village more than once and seen a charmer with several baskets strapped to his bicycle from which he would extract multiple large cobras while playing a tune on a flute. As soon as they were placed on the ground the snakes began to lift their heads and upper torso and sway in tune with the music. I was much impressed. Continue reading “Uncharmed snakes”

Revisionist faith

“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” (Jeremiah 8:8 ESV).

I was in a business in Khulna, Bangladesh and read aloud the words lettered on the front window in Bangla. One of the workers scoffed and said, “You are reading the English words” (which were written on the other window). I answered, “No, they are not the same.” My Bangla friend who was with me confirmed that I was right. Whether by design or through limited knowledge of English the two signs, though similar, did not say the same thing. Continue reading “Revisionist faith”

Joyful noise

“Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before his presence with singing. Know that the Lord, he is God; It is he who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:1-3 NKJV).

Eastern music – that is to say, the music of Asia – is different from that common in the Western hemisphere. Not only do they feature different instruments which produce varying tones, but their chords, rhythms, and melodies are far removed from the “top 40” hits, symphony performances, and other popular music with which most Europeans and Americans are familiar. Continue reading “Joyful noise”

Calling evil good

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20 NKJV).

“Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man – and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves” (Romans 1:22-24). Continue reading “Calling evil good”

Desolation

“Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire; strangers devour your land in your presence; and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. So the daughter of Zion is left as a booth in a vineyard, as a hut in a garden of cucumbers” (Isaiah 1:7-8 NKJV).

As one drives through Bangladesh he sees many fields of rice, vegetables, or other crops, as well as many ponds used to raise shrimp or fish for the export market. All of these various kinds of produce are valuable, and since the fields and ponds are generally, unfenced they are vulnerable to thieves. Continue reading “Desolation”