“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”
“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”
“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”
“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”
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9 NKJV).
A group of us were riding in a van, returning from a day’s visit to one of the village churches in Bangladesh. It had been raining all day, and in the early hours of darkness the rain had gotten harder, and water was beginning to rise.
We drove into a low section of road with standing water, and as it began to grow deeper we caught up to slower traffic ahead of us. Our driver, aware that water was above the tail pipe on the van and that we were in danger of having the engine choked down, stranding us, passed the other vehicles and drove as quickly as possible until we were through the water. Continue reading “Just keep on keeping on”
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33, NKJV).
One of the courses which I teach is “Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament” which includes the Book of Job. In that book a central theme is the question of why good people suffer. Or as Job himself expresses it, “What have I done to You O watcher of men? Why have you set me as Your target? (Job 7:20). Job had no problem understanding that whatever happened to him, God is ultimately responsible. But he did not understand why. Continue reading “The mysterious why”
For if we would judge ourselves we would not be judged” (1 Corinthians 11:31 NKJV).
Is there any traveler who does not get impatient with airport security lines and procedures? Those add extra hours to every trip as well as additional stress and fatigue. I always tell myself (and mean it) that I don’t care what I have to go through as long as it is making me and others safer, but I still get tired and sometimes a little impatient. After all, those lines can be very long and there are often multiple procedures to endure. It adds up quickly.
In a perfect world, such travails would be unnecessary. There would be no terrorists to commit atrocities upon the innocent. Every traveler would be innocent of evil intent and willing to comply with standards of safe and honest conduct. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
Of course we know that the world we live in is just not like that. Sin and evil exist. Bad things happen. And we must take precautions and endure some limits to our comfort and freedom because of them. We don’t like it, but it simply is what it is. Continue reading “Self-discipline”
“And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:13-15 NKJV).
Given the frequent headlines of terroristic violence in numerous locations in recent weeks, the question posed at the beginning of the quotation at the head of this article may seem naïve at best. Hundreds, even thousands, of presumably innocent people have been victimized for no other reason than to make a political or religious statement for the benefit of fanatics. Continue reading “Challenges”
“Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, “Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!”‘” (Ezekiel 37:11 NKJV).
To those who take the great commission seriously, prospects for ultimate success may seem more remote and improbable than ever. The mushrooming world population overwhelms whatever progress we seem to be making. Political changes continue to close doors to foreign missionaries. Our missionary forces are aging rapidly with recruitment of new, younger, workers more difficult than ever. Continue reading “Is hope lost?”
“Woe to you who are at ease in Zion, and trust in Mount Samaria. Notable persons in the chief nation, to whom the house of Israel comes! Go over to Calneh and see; and from there go to Hamath the great; then go down to Gath of the Philistines. Are you better than these kingdoms? Or is their territory greater than your territory?” (Amos 6:1-2 NKJV).
When I make reports on my work in undeveloped nations a very common response is “That sure makes us appreciate what we have doesn’t it?” Others will say, “We sure are blessed.” Behind such comments is an inference of guilt. Are we wrong to have so much when so many have so little? I believe a lot of sincere American Christians ask that question, and fear the answer. Continue reading “Is it wrong to prosper?”