“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?”
“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”
“Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight” (Proverbs 11:1, NKJV).
Corruption in government, business, and other social institutions is common to every nation and region. It is evident in ancient history, just as in modern media coverage of everyday events. Continue reading “Standards”
“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”
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4 NKJV).
When I purchase airline tickets, I prefer to confirm my seats for each leg of the flight as quickly as possible. I like aisle seats, near the front of the cabin, and those are usually the first ones to be taken. If I wait until I check in for the flight, it is very likely that I will not get what I prefer. Continue reading “Reserved”
“Can flavorless food be eaten without salt? Or is there any taste in the white of an egg? My soul refuses to touch them; they are as loathsome food to me” (Job 6:6-7 NKJB).
I have always been familiar with the truism that everyone’s tastes differ, but until I started traveling widely I had not appreciated just how universal that is, or how widely it applies. Yes, some like pie better than cake, some have a sweet tooth whereas others don’t, but aren’t some tastes universal? After all, Job has a point – the white of an egg just has no flavor, right?
I know one individual who will not touch the white of an egg – never has, even from childhood. But it was much later that I learned that there are others who will not eat the yolk, and not just for health reasons. They prefer the tasteless (to me, but not to them) white. Continue reading “Tastes differ”
“But Jesus called them to himself and said to them, ‘You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all” (Mark 10:42-44 NKJV).
The sport of kite-fighting may be, so far as I am aware, unique to South Asia and near-by regions. In other countries flying kites is a leisurely activity of spring where participants and spectators enjoy mild weather and the beauty of colorful kites playing in the breeze. No so in South Asia. There youths will gather and compete in attempts to cut the strings of competitors’ kites by flying their own into them. The last kite flying belongs to the winner. It can be a fierce and even ruthless contest. Continue reading “Kites, fights, and the kingdom”
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:22-24 NKJV).
The U.S. Immigration Service has made a recent change which I like very much. On at least some flights into the U.S. from Asia (and maybe other continents as well) one now clears customs and immigration at the port of departure rather than upon arrival in the U.S.
When I cleared that process in Doha, Qatar on a recent flight, the U.S. immigration officer who stamped my papers looked up and smiled at me and said, “Welcome home.” I must say that was a surprisingly good feeling. Though I was still facing a 15 hour flight, for legal purposes I was already on home soil. It felt really good. Continue reading “Welcome home”