Identifying the main point

“And the disciples came and said to him, ‘why do you speak to them in parables?’ He answered and said to them, ‘Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given” (Matthew 13:10-11 NKJV).

Some time ago I took a series of pictures in the late afternoon as I was walking back across a field following some baptisms. Looking at those pictures now I find myself wondering just what it was that I was primarily trying to capture. Was it the setting sun, or the empty field? Perhaps it was simply the fading light at that special dusky time of day. Continue reading “Identifying the main point”

Bearing others’ burdens

“Bear one another burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2 NKJV).

Some jobs are difficult if not impossible to do alone. Loading bundles of roofing tin and steel pieces intended for framing into a truck is one of those, at least if it is to be done by man-power alone. Things for which one is not strong enough can be easily managed by two or more working together. Continue reading “Bearing others’ burdens”

Tossing the trash

“Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21 NKJV).

As the world’s population increases and manufacture of goods continues to rise, the problem of where we put the garbage becomes a most pressing issue. The environment cannot continue to absorb millions of tons of waste annually without harm. Something major is going to have to be done, or else the earth will perish. Continue reading “Tossing the trash”

Be fruitful

“Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28 NKJV).

There are many standards by which worthiness or value might be measured. As applied to individuals, one thinks of physical attributes like strength, speed, intelligence, or beauty. Our societies also place a high priority on accomplishments and status. VIP (Very Important Person) honors go to those who hold high office, acquire great wealth, or possess rare and desirable attributes. Continue reading “Be fruitful”

Light in the darkness

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:4-5 NKJV).

There are still many places in the world where there is little or no access to electricity. Even where some electrical power is available it is often insufficient to meet the demand. This results in power rationing, sometimes called “load-shedding” where it is practiced. People there may have periods ranging from an hour or so per day to more than half of the time. Continue reading “Light in the darkness”

Planting the Word

“Therefore, lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21 NKJV).

When is the last time someone came to your church and begged for a Bible? Most missionaries have people constantly asking for a Bible for themselves, or to give to a friend or family member. Preachers request large numbers for their church members and to give to new converts or special prospects. In most parts of the world, Bibles are in short supply and large demand. And the demand part is certainly as it should be.

Why do so many desire God’s word? Continue reading “Planting the Word”

Counting the cost

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it – lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish'” (Luke 14:28-30 NKJV).

A congregation in the U.S. made a commitment to help a church in Asia with a building in which to meet for worship. It has been a little while since I was involved in constructing a church building there and costs have increased considerably during that period. I was very concerned, therefore, with developing a plan which could be finished with the fixed amount of funds that were available. I did considerable shopping and consulting before the final plans were drawn and construction began. The last thing I wanted was to run out of money, leaving a partially finished but still unusable building to deteriorate in bad weather. Continue reading “Counting the cost”

One hundredfold

“But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (Matthew 13:23 NKJV).

Have you ever cut open a ripe papaya? If you are in the U.S. the chances are you have not. A good papaya tree may produce twenty or more fruits per season. Each fruit contains hundreds of seeds. Therefore, theoretically, at least, each tree could reproduce itself thousands of times each season. That degree of productivity is not untypical in the plant world or even in the animal kingdom when one considers fish, insects and various other categories of life. Continue reading “One hundredfold”

Seasonal harvests

“Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves he went to see if perhaps he would find something on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, ‘Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.’ And his disciples heard it” (Mark 11:12-14 NKJV).

When I arrived in Bangladesh in early March, the fruit trees on the campus were in bloom and beginning to set fruit. Unfortunately, when it was time to leave a couple of months later the fruit was hanging heavily, but not yet ripe enough to eat. To say it was frustrating to watch mangoes, jackfruit, and other tropical fruits which I don’t get much opportunity for at home (at least not tree-ripened and fresh) get that close to edible but still not available to me is rather an understatement. Continue reading “Seasonal harvests”

Cleanliness is not everything

“Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but much increase comes by the strength of an ox” (Proverbs 15:4).

The great principle established by the simple proverb stated above is that nothing comes without some cost, but if we choose our efforts wisely, the extras that are required will be well paid. If a clean barn is one’s goal, it is easy to achieve – merely get rid of all of the animals. But realize, one can do a lot with a well-trained ox. Is a clean barn really the most important thing? Continue reading “Cleanliness is not everything”