“Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, ‘Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread'” (Matthew 15:1-2, NKJV).

Few things are more polarizing and divisive than tradition. One group will say, “That is our tradition so we must do it.” Opponents will counter, “That is just your tradition, it has no validity or authority.” To conservatives, traditions seem sacrosanct. To those of a more liberal or progressive nature, to label something as “tradition” is to condemn it to obsolescence and irrelevance. Continue reading “Tradition”

In the know

“Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have you not known the things which happened there in those days?’ ” (Luke 24:18 NKJV).

Tourists and travelers often do not read the local newspapers, nor watch local news on television. Even if they want to know what is going on in their present location they may not speak the language or have access to dependable sources. For one who rises to watch a national news program and goes to bed with the local broadcast, it is something of a shock to have no idea of just what is happening where he or she is. Continue reading “In the know”

Properly using the law of God

“But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners” (1 Timothy 1:8-9 NKJV).

During a discussion of a preacher’s work in an Asian country, the response came repeatedly: “I must rebuke them.” The brother’s idea of the mission of an evangelist was to reprove and correct, to always search for wrong and chastise the guilty. Continue reading “Properly using the law of God”

Everyday concerns

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34 ESV).

How would you like to spend much of your day cutting weeds, branches, and vines for your goats and cows to eat, then carrying that fodder uphill for a mile or more? What about doing that every day, week in and week out, throughout your life? Or what about beginning each morning Continue reading “Everyday concerns”

Everything for its purpose

“The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble” (Proverbs 16:4, ESV).

When in Asia I am often cautioned to be very careful because of the many dangerous animals and conditions which I may encounter. Cobras, tigers, leopards, and bears are all indigenous to the countries I visit. Other potential hazards range from tiny mosquitoes (vectors for malaria, dengue fever, and other diseases) to wild elephants. One that I see regularly is the mugger crocodile, which throughout its range is responsible for many human fatalities. Continue reading “Everything for its purpose”

This day only

“Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, ‘I do not know you.’ ‘ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matthew 25:11-13, NKJV).

One of my pieces of electronic equipment is damaged, and though it still works for now, I have been looking for a good opportunity to replace it. Returning from an out of town business trip I checked my email and found a good sale on precisely the item I need. The only problem was it was headed “This Day Only”, and dated two days previously. Looks like I missed out. Continue reading “This day only”

Baptized into what?

“And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ So they said to him, ‘We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said to them, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ ” (Acts 19:1-3, NKJV).

Prepositions are often overlooked as small and insignificant parts of a sentence. They are typically little words which lack the impact of the more impressive nouns and verbs on which we focus. Yet they give essential details to our communications. Without them, and especially without precise understanding of them, our messages are often misunderstood. Continue reading “Baptized into what?”


“And Joab was told, ‘Behold, the king is weeping and morning for Absalom.’ So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the people. For the people heard it said that day, ‘The king is grieved for his son.’ And the people stole back into the city that day, as people who are ashamed steal away when they flee in battle” (2 Samuel 19:1-3 NKJV).

During a campaign to South Asia, I am always confronted by many people with pressing needs who look to me to help resolve those issues. Most are financial in nature, as they struggle to meet rising costs of food, housing, medical treatment, and education for their children. Though I must balance the needs of any one petitioner against the many who will make requests, and the overall needs of the churches in several countries, everyone is preoccupied with his or her own situation and rarely able or willing to consider the many others in similar circumstances. Everywhere and all of the time it seems that we all think “It is all about me.” Continue reading “Unselfishness”

Selective reading

“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no God. . . . Do not fear, nor be afraid; have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are my witnesses. Is there a God besides me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one” (Isaiah 44:6, 8).

An American friend who once lived in Nepal told me of a visitor to their home who raved about how much she “loved Nepal.” My friend then smiled and said, “But she never left Thamel (the tourist section of Katmandu).” Her meaning was clear. The tourist loved what she saw of the country, but that was very little and was not at all representative of the nation. She, like so many others, took back a distorted perception of the land and people she supposedly experienced. Continue reading “Selective reading”

Birds and flowers

“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?… Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Matthew 6:26, 28-29, NKJV).

One of the pleasures I experience often in other countries is the sight of unfamiliar animals, flowers, and trees. It is not that the kingfisher of South Asia is necessarily prettier or more colorful than, say, the indigo bunting or goldfinch of North America. They are just less familiar and thus perhaps more exciting to see. But I love to see the cardinals and finches at my own feeders at home too, regardless of how often I have watched them. Continue reading “Birds and flowers”