“You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first. And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus” (Galatians 4:13-14 NKJV).

It is a common, though not commendable, human tendency to be repulsed by obvious physical deformities. The handicapped and injured among us are often greeted by rude stares, grimaces, averted eyes, and even worse evidence that their condition is offensive to “normal” people. Continue reading “Infirmities”

Splendor and majesty

“In those days when King Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom which was in Shushan the citadel, that in the third year of his reign he made a feast for all his officials and servants – the powers of Persia and Media, the nobles, and the princes of the provinces being before him — when he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the splendor of his excellent majesty for many days, one hundred and eighty days in all” (Esther 1:2-4 NKJV).

Showing off one’s accomplishments, appearance, or possessions is one of the most human of all impulses. If we are proud of something, we like to show it to others. So it was with the young king Ahasuerus (more commonly known as Xerxes I in secular history) of Persia. He brought many officials from all parts of his kingdom that he might impress them with the wealth and power which he possessed. It must have been a magnificent celebration. Continue reading “Splendor and majesty”

Looking but not seeing

“And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says, ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive” (Matthew 13:14 NKJV).

We were on the banks of the Rapti River in Chitwan, Nepal, watching a crocodile laying on the bank of an island. We were hoping that it would move toward the water or into the weeds behind it so we could get photos of it in motion. What we did not realize was that while we were concentrating on the croc there was a wild elephant crossing the river just above the island. Another visitor showed us his pictures of the elephant, which we never knew was there. Continue reading “Looking but not seeing”

Good from bad

“For we know that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord, to those who are the called according to his choosing” (Romans 8:28 NKJV).

 We are back in Nepal, in the area near the epicenter of the massive earthquake of April, 2015. I have just spent parts of two days in a district city where families from hard hit villages higher in the mountains have come for refuge. Continue reading “Good from bad”

Hard roads

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14 NRSV).

As I write this I am in a small town in the mountains of Nepal, at the beginning a a major trekking route in the Himalayas. We are approximately 60 miles at most from Katmandu, the capital of Nepal from where we began our journey. That trip took us eight hours in a private four-wheel drive SUV. The car was fine and the driver was skilled. But, oh, that road! Continue reading “Hard roads”

Spots and stains

“And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11 NKJV).

A lot of substances produce stains which can be difficult to remove, such as blood, grape juice, etc. We spend a lot of energy in Asia removing curry spots, especially from my shirts. First the specific spot will be sprayed with a strong remover, then the dirty garment will be put into a bucket of water and detergent to soak overnight. After this, there may still be considerable scrubbing required to remove the stain completely. I have a few shirts with lingering traces of the spot still visible. Continue reading “Spots and stains”

Bearing burdens

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NKJV).

It would be difficult to find a more appropriate way for one to begin his new life as a Christian than that which I witnessed recently. A young man was baptized into Christ, and as he was preparing for his obedience, he carried his elderly mother across a field, down a river bank and into the water where she too could be baptized. He took “bear another’s burdens” quite literally.

The older woman was tiny and very frail, yet when she made her confession of faith in Jesus and expressed her desire to put him on in baptism there was commitment and joy in her eyes. Her gratitude to those who taught and assisted her was expressed in tears. No one watching could doubt her conviction of the need for salvation; her awareness of her burden of sin. Continue reading “Bearing burdens”

Perils in the wilderness

“Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst in fastings often, in cold and nakedness –” (2 Corinthians 11:25-27 NKJV).

A friend and co-worker in Nepal told me of a trip he had made across a range of the Himalayas to visit churches. As he traveled back across the mountains at night, in the snow, he dropped his flashlight and broke it. There he was, in the dark, by himself, on a narrow trail on the side of a mountain with no light. Any miss-step and he could easily fall hundreds or thousands of feet, to his death. What was he to do? The only thing he could do – he made a bed in the snow, huddled up as best he could, and slept through the night. The next morning, when he could see, he continued his journey. Continue reading “Perils in the wilderness”

At the door

“So the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it'” (Genesis 4:6-7 NKJV).

One of the workers at Khulna Bible College called Brenda around behind the main building on our campus to show her something. There, high up on the back wall was a large hive of honey bees, just outside an open window. Maybe that explained the many bees we had been seeing inside the building the previous few days. Continue reading “At the door”

Entertaining strangers

“Do not forget to entertain strangers. . . ” (Hebrews 13:2 NKJV).

We were not exactly strangers, since we had visited with Subi’s family before, but we were definitely foreigners. After a long drive to reach their village we came into their garden (as they call their “yards” in Asia) to find carpenters working on a new bed. They told us that they knew the old bed in the room we would stay in was too small for us so they wanted us to have more space.

These are not wealthy people, in fact they are by any standards very poor. But they not only wanted to share what they had with others, they wanted to provide even better than what they had used for themselves. I learned a new standard of hospitality, one that I believe is much closer to the teaching of Scripture than our Western conception, which is more likely to involve a polite offer of a cup of coffee than anything approaching inconvenience or sacrifice on the part of the host. Continue reading “Entertaining strangers”