“And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God'” (Genesis 35:2-3 NKJV).
Many today insist that they not be judged on the basis of appearance. Clothing is, in their view, unimportant, and they should not be evaluated on the basis of wardrobe, hair style, or other cosmetic and physical factors. Continue reading “Change your garments”
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13 NKJV).
Our telephone rang, waking us, at 1:00 a.m. the night before we were to leave for Bangladesh. Continue reading “Adaptability”
Forgiving each other seems to be something that many Christians struggle with. From my experience of serving congregations for the past thirty-five years, it is the small offences, often done without thinking, that may serve to divide Christians and even split congregations.
Forgiving each other is so important that Jesus spent quite a bit of time teaching the necessity of forgiving. He even based some of his parables on the need to forgive. One of the most striking of these, to me, is the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, recorded in Matthew 18. Continue reading “Forgive from the Heart”
“And again he said, ‘To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened'” (Luke 13:20-21 NRS).
Societies, like recipes, are a blend of various ingredients. One does not bake bread from meal or flour alone. Neither does any nation consist of completely identical citizens. There is diversity of race, age, gender, education, economic status, religious commitment, and cultural development, to mention only a few of the vast differences which distinguish individuals. Continue reading “Active ingredients”
“Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest'” (2 Kings 4:7 NKJV).
A common characteristic of people in poverty, and of some undeveloped societies, is to develop a sense of helplessness. They see no way to solve their problems, or to improve their situation in life. This can lead to giving up and throwing oneself upon the mercy and compassion of others. It is as if they are saying, “You have to help me because I cannot do anything for myself.” Continue reading “Dependency”
“Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging” (Mark 10:46 NKJV).
When I apply for visas for South Asian countries or fill out immigration forms to enter those countries I always notice that they ask for my father’s name. As one who is well past middle age, and whose father has been deceased for over 20 years, I find that a little strange. But there is still much of the world where family linage is the most, or one of the most, definitive characteristics of one’s identity. Continue reading “Identity”
On the night of Jesus’ birth, it would seem a new “star” was seen in the night sky. Astrologers (or magi) from the East saw this phenomenon and concluded that this signified the birth of someone special. They then travelled from the East to find this child who had been born. Continue reading “Wise men still seek him”
“That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
At this time of year most of us have been asked (many times) “what are you doing New Year’s Eve / Day?” It is not unusual to hear the response, “Oh nothing special, it is just another day for me.” Continue reading “Not the same old thing”
“To an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you… Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:4, 8-9 NKJV).
Even after more than 25 years of traveling to preach in distant countries, I find that the planning and anticipation of each trip adds immensely to my enjoyment. When I first began going to the areas I now travel regularly I would pore over maps, read travel guides, seek information from acquaintances who had been there, and learn as much as I could about my destination. Part of my reasons for doing this was to prepare adequately for the journey, but part was just to prolong and enhance the experience. Continue reading “Reservations”
“For we once ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another” (Titus 3:3 NKJV).
Atrocities like those recently committed in Paris and Mali continue to outrage and astonish. We ask, “How can anyone treat other people like that?” I recently participated in a conversation in which the point was made that some cultures promote hatred as a virtue. In most nations in which Christianity has had influence children are taught to love and do good to others. But in many other settings they are taught to hate others, whether it be traditional enemies, strangers, or persons of different race or religion. Violent revenge is held up as a duty and an objective of which to be proud. Continue reading “The power of hate”