Memory

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” ( Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV).

Another year is coming to a close. Next week we will celebrate a new beginning, but we will also observe an ending. 2016 will be no more. Our relationship with the past is complex and often difficult. We find ourselves torn with conflicting needs, and advised by contradictory proverbs. Continue reading “Memory”

What do we not know?

“Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples'” (Luke 11:1 NKJV).

Let me preface my comments by stating that I have attended worship assemblies in the church since infancy. My father was an elder and Bible Class teacher. I have attended Christian elementary and Junior High schools, as well as Christian universities. I have also served as minister, evangelist, and missionary for almost 50 years. Continue reading “What do we not know?”

Certainties

“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgement … ” (Hebrews 9:27 NKJV).

This week I have learned of the death of a friend’s father on the other side of the world. Such news causes one to reflect on mortality and related issues. We have all heard it, and probably said it ourselves: “Nothing is certain in life except death and taxes.”

Usually this is said with at least the tip of tongue in cheek. Yet most of us concede there is a lot of truth to this proposition from both perspectives. It is true that death is universal (i.e., certain), and taxes seem to be almost as much so. It is also true that not many other things seem to possess the same inevitability. Continue reading “Certainties”

Infirmities

“You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first. And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus” (Galatians 4:13-14 NKJV).

It is a common, though not commendable, human tendency to be repulsed by obvious physical deformities. The handicapped and injured among us are often greeted by rude stares, grimaces, averted eyes, and even worse evidence that their condition is offensive to “normal” people. Continue reading “Infirmities”

Splendor and majesty

“In those days when King Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom which was in Shushan the citadel, that in the third year of his reign he made a feast for all his officials and servants – the powers of Persia and Media, the nobles, and the princes of the provinces being before him — when he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the splendor of his excellent majesty for many days, one hundred and eighty days in all” (Esther 1:2-4 NKJV).

Showing off one’s accomplishments, appearance, or possessions is one of the most human of all impulses. If we are proud of something, we like to show it to others. So it was with the young king Ahasuerus (more commonly known as Xerxes I in secular history) of Persia. He brought many officials from all parts of his kingdom that he might impress them with the wealth and power which he possessed. It must have been a magnificent celebration. Continue reading “Splendor and majesty”

Looking but not seeing

“And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says, ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive” (Matthew 13:14 NKJV).

We were on the banks of the Rapti River in Chitwan, Nepal, watching a crocodile laying on the bank of an island. We were hoping that it would move toward the water or into the weeds behind it so we could get photos of it in motion. What we did not realize was that while we were concentrating on the croc there was a wild elephant crossing the river just above the island. Another visitor showed us his pictures of the elephant, which we never knew was there. Continue reading “Looking but not seeing”

Good from bad

“For we know that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord, to those who are the called according to his choosing” (Romans 8:28 NKJV).

 We are back in Nepal, in the area near the epicenter of the massive earthquake of April, 2015. I have just spent parts of two days in a district city where families from hard hit villages higher in the mountains have come for refuge. Continue reading “Good from bad”

Hard roads

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14 NRSV).

As I write this I am in a small town in the mountains of Nepal, at the beginning a a major trekking route in the Himalayas. We are approximately 60 miles at most from Katmandu, the capital of Nepal from where we began our journey. That trip took us eight hours in a private four-wheel drive SUV. The car was fine and the driver was skilled. But, oh, that road! Continue reading “Hard roads”

Spots and stains

“And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11 NKJV).

A lot of substances produce stains which can be difficult to remove, such as blood, grape juice, etc. We spend a lot of energy in Asia removing curry spots, especially from my shirts. First the specific spot will be sprayed with a strong remover, then the dirty garment will be put into a bucket of water and detergent to soak overnight. After this, there may still be considerable scrubbing required to remove the stain completely. I have a few shirts with lingering traces of the spot still visible. Continue reading “Spots and stains”

Bearing burdens

“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”