Monday, August 30, 2010

The Friendly Barber

A Great Joke To Brighten Your Day

A man went into the barbershop for a haircut.  While the barber was cutting his hair, he asked the customer, "So...what do you do for a living?"  "I'm a teacher," was the man's reply.  Over the next 15 minutes, the two men had a nice conversation centered around the teacher's career in influencing children.  When the barber was finished, the teacher asked, "How much do I owe you?"  The barber firmly shook the man's hand and said, "You don't owe me anything.  I consider it an honor to serve you since you have served the children of our city."  The stunned teacher expressed his gratitude and then left the shop.  The next morning when the barber came to work, sitting on his steps was a nice thank-you note with a box of chocolates.

The next day a marine went into the barbershop.  He didn't look like he needed much of a haircut, but obviously he wanted it shorter still.  While the barber cut his hair, he asked lots of questions about the marine's time in the service and all of the places that he had been.  When the barber finished the haircut, he gave the man a snappy salute and said, "No charge.  It's my honor to cut your hair for your service to our country."  The marine proudly returned the salute with a "Thank you, sir!" and left the barbershop.  The next morning when the barber came to work, sitting on his steps was a brand-new marine corps baseball cap.

The next day a Baptist missionary walked into the barbershop.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Philosophy of Gospel Tracts – Part 6

This is part six of a series. The previous articles may be read here: Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

The next important question in this series on the philosophy of Gospel tracts is: Can a foreigner write an effective tract in a language that is not his own? 

Years ago I had a conversation with an older, veteran missionary that was a bit disconcerting to me at the time. I had been in Cambodia for about 18 months and I was telling him about a couple of tracts I had recently written. He chuckled in a very condescending way and said, “Steve, when I was young like you and just starting out, I was the same way…lots of ideas, lots of zeal. But I’ve got to tell you, years later when I looked back at some of the stuff I wrote when I was new on the field, it was HORRIBLE!” His contention was that I was wasting my time trying to write Khmer material because he felt it was impossible for a foreigner to write something that a national would be able to read and understand. 

Is that true? Is a foreigner’s attempt at writing truly an effort in futility? Or are these concerns overstated? I do understand his point. There is no doubt that as a general rule, Khmers understand Khmers better than they understand foreigners. For example, yesterday I asked a young lady what she was going to bring to our church potluck, and she said, “I think I’m going to make spay katee”. I didn’t know what she meant. I thought maybe “spay” was some kind of vegetable. “Katee” could have been a way of preparing it, or some kind of noodles, or even another kind of vegetable. But whatever it was, I knew I had never heard of it before. She seemed a little bit frustrated that I didn’t know what she meant, because she said that spay katee was a western food. When she began to explain it to me, I finally realized she was talking about spaghetti. The funny thing was – everyone in the church knew what “spay katee” was. Nobody knew what “spaghetti” was!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Value of Prayer Partners

In the past eight months I have endeavored to greatly increase our communication with our many prayer partners around the world.  It is time-consuming to compose weekly email updates, and especially if much detail is given.  Is it worth it?  I believe it is, and here is why.  Keeping people informed of what is going on in our ministry is a key component in obtaining their regular and earnest prayers, and we know that "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

We have seen God's hand of blessing upon our ministry in a great way this year, and I believe it is due in part to the increased prayer which in turn is due in part to the increased communication.  I received a very encouraging email this morning in response to a ministry update which I sent yesterday.  The email was very brief, but it revealed a heart that is heavily invested in our ministry in Cambodia.  Here is the email of which I speak in its entirety: 
Tears of joy!!!  That is what I wept when I read of Sonyta’s salvation!!!!  Praise the Lord!!!!!  The ministry that God has allowed you to be a part of in Cambodia has become such a part of my life, and is becoming a great part of my prayer life.  Thank you so much for sharing the wonderful blessings so that we can be partakers of your joy.  Thank you so much for serving the Lord in Cambodia!
The sentence which I underlined is no doubt the hope of every missionary concerning his supporters back in the US or in their home country.  We do not merely desire for our partners to have a casual interest in our ministry, but for the ministry to become a part of their lives and particularly to become a great part of their prayer life.  A special thank you to the woman in Oklahoma for this great lesson in how to pray for missionaries.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Don't Forget!

A Challenging Thought From Psalm 106

While reading in Psalm 106 recently, the Lord impressed a powerful truth upon my heart.  I noticed how many action verbs there are in the chapter.  I mean verbs that are not good.  We are told that the Children of Israel lusted, tempted, envied, despised, murmured, provoked, etc.  I preached a message tonight out of Psalm 106 entitled "10 Dangerous Verbs".  The very first of the "dangerous verbs" though, which kind of started off the whole downward spiral and sad story that is the history of the nation of Israel is the verb "forgat".  Verse 13 says, "They soon forgat..."  A few verses later (vs 21), the indictment is repeated:  "They forgat..."  Of course, there are some things which need to be forgotten, but I believe one of the most dangerous things we can do is to forget things which should be remembered.

I want you to notice WHAT they forgot.  It does not say the same thing in both verses.  

Monday, August 9, 2010

A New Grandpa

A Story of Sowing and Reaping in God's Field

I would like to share an email written by a good friend of mine, Missionary Rodney Ruppel.  This is a great story.  It blessed my heart tremendously, and I believe it will be a blessing to you too. 

Dear Friends,

This past Thursday (July 29, 2010), God gave me the privilege of leading a man and wife to a saving knowledge of Christ.  Samnang and his wife Sokhom both have a 40 year history of God planting Gospel seeds in their hearts. 

Sokhom had been to church in the early seventies before the Khmer Rouge took control in 1975.  During that same time Samnang was travelling in and out of the country studying at universities abroad.  Though he had not made room in his own life for Christ, his brother accepted Christ and became a pastor for an evangelical church.  That brother was then murdered by the Khmer Rouge during their regime. 

A Christian nephew who started pastoring in the province during the nineties coupled with radio ministries in Phnom Penh continued to water the seed of God's Word growing in their hearts.  Samnang and Sokhom turned away from Buddhism and started to search for the truth.  Through Bible reading, visits from Mormons, listening to the radio, and talking to Christians they realized that there were many different denominations in Christianity and were confused about where to go to church.

Just last year a new missionary family, the Carlyles, rented a house across the street from this couple.  The Carlyles were a great testimony to them and quickly won their trust.  Since brother Carlyle is still in language school, he introduced them to me in order to finish the task of explaining the Gospel.

Sometimes we plant. Sometimes we water.  Sometimes we reap. Sometimes we do all three.  Surely, God is involved in every step of the miraculous process.  What a privilege it is to be one of many labourers over a 40 year span.  So much the more, what a privilege it is to be a labourer together with Christ in bringing in an eternal harvest!   

Please pray for this couple to continue to come to church and become committed to church.
Please pray for their discipleship as I start this Tuesday explaining the wonderful relationship that they have just begun.
Please pray for their 3 children and 2 grandchildren to be saved.  All of them live with Samnang and Sokhom. 

In the field,
Rodney Ruppel

If you will read that story slowly and carefully, you will notice some beautiful jewels buried in the details.  Let me share a few of my thoughts from this story.

Monday, August 2, 2010

I'm With Him!

A devotional thought from the streets of Cambodia

Driving in Cambodia is a challenge, but you don’t have to be here long to pick up little “tricks of the trade”.  One of the techniques which I employ often is something which I call the “I’m with him” approach.  Let me explain it.

Imagine you are on your moto trying to turn left onto a major road.  There are no traffic signals or stop signs and there are not sufficient breaks in the traffic for you to cross over and get onto your desired road.  When I say a major road, I mean 4 lanes.  But don’t confuse 4 LANES with 4 LINES of vehicles!  If all you had to deal with was 4 lines of vehicles (2 moving in each direction), that would be simple.  But considering the general disregard for lane markers AND the fact that you can fit 3 or 4 motos in one lane anyway, this 4 lane road actually has about 10 or 12 different rows of traffic at any given spot on the road.  (And it is not the case that on THIS side of the road everyone is going one way and on THAT side of the road everyone is going another way).  So…you get the picture.  Getting your little self out into the middle of the action where you need to be can at times be a bit difficult.

There are three basic ways to cut through the traffic.  One is to sit there like a good, sane, meek, law-abiding citizen, waiting for the proper break in the traffic so that you may drive across the flow of traffic while making a slow, safe, gently-curving turn onto your desired lane.  I tried that once.

The second way is to drive down the left shoulder, against the oncoming traffic, waiting for a little break in the traffic through which you may catapult yourself.  That works better than the first way, but it is a bit more dangerous than I usually prefer.

The third way is my favorite.  You look for a large vehicle (big SUV’s work well, but so do trucks and buses) that needs to make the same turn as you.  The big vehicles are not intimidated in the least by the scene that lies before them.  They just charge in, and miraculously the traffic opens up as easily as the Red Sea parted for Moses.  So the smartest thing you can do is get on the right side of the big vehicle and borrow his size and strength.  Hence the “I’m with him” technique.

Last week as I was in a swirling sea of traffic, about 12 inches off the right rear quarter panel of a big, black SUV, suddenly the thought occurred to me:  “I’m with him” is a good SPIRITUAL principle too!