Entertaining angels

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”

Flooded Road

Just keep on keeping on

“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”

job

The mysterious why

“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”

self discipline - isolated text in vintage wood letterpress printing blcoks

Self-discipline

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”

The Cross

Challenges

“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”

dry-bones

Is hope lost?

“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?”

Patna India

Is it wrong to prosper?

“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?”

004

Homogeneity

“Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all” (Colossians 3:11 NKJV).

Much of the violence and unrest in the world today may be traced at least in part to cultural variety. In the transition from colonialism to independence many borders were drawn on the basis of geography alone without regard for radical differences in the ethnicities involved. Former colonial powers ignored tribal enmities and incompatibilities, as well as serious religious tensions. This led to civil war on a vast scale on several different continents. Of course, not every such conflict is traceable to colonialism. The same forces produce conflict in many contexts. Continue reading “Homogeneity”

Fish Mike Brooks

By any other name

“And I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9 NKJV).

Bangladesh is a country of more than 100 navigable rivers plus many ponds, swamps and lakes. It contains the world’s largest delta. Not surprisingly Banglas are fish eating people. Fish is relatively available to them, even to the poorer population. They eat all types – from fresh, salt, or brackish water, wild caught or pond raised. They will drain roadside dishes for tiny crustaceans and minnows, or eat steaks from large species caught in the Bay of Bengal.

Many of their favorites are various species of (or relatives of) carp. There are German carp, China carp, silver carp, minar carp, rui, and many others. I recently ate a new (to me) species which I was told was “katol,” and was similar to rui. After eating and enjoying it my first thought was “by any other name, carp is still bony.” Continue reading “By any other name”