Tuesday, June 28, 2011

That's Forgiveness

On Sunday nights I am preaching verse by verse through the book of Ephesians. Recently I preached from verse 7 about forgiveness of sin. While trying to come up with a good illustration of Biblical forgiveness, God brought a memory to my mind of something I had seen a couple of years ago here in Cambodia. This illustration is about an old train that looks kind of like the one pictured above.

Over the past 20 years, many families (most of them poverty-stricken) have built small houses and shacks along each side of the tracks where the train slowly rumbles through our city. When I say along the tracks, I mean that literally. In many of the houses you can stand in the front door and touch the train as it passes. The railways in Cambodia are in a state of great disrepair, but still the train (an engine pulling a few cars) comes through these neighborhoods periodically. Sometimes it comes several times in one week, and other times it may be a couple of weeks between trains. People have ropes and awnings strung across the tracks where they have set up small market stalls, makeshift restaurants, and laundry lines, and they have to move those things out of the way if a train comes through. When they hear the train coming, they usually have about 2 minutes or so to clear the tracks.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Farmer Fred and the Three Visitors

     Once upon a time there was a farmer named Fred. Farmer Fred lived on a small farm in the heartland of the United States and had been farming for years. He understood the hard work and investment of time that was required to grow a crop. He also knew that from time to time because of a freeze, a fire, a tornado, or a drought, everything would be destroyed and he would have to start all over again. He understood and accepted that fact, because he knew that farming wasn't done in a day or a week. He knew that farming was a lifelong work, with success being the sum total of daily labor and long-term tenacity.
     One day a man dropped in for a visit with Farmer Fred. The visitor smiled real big, extended his hand, and said jovially, "I'm Big Bob". Then after a few moments of casual conversation, he got right to the point.
     "Farmer Fred," he said, "I admire your work, but it just seems so small! You know, years ago I farmed a little plot like you. I had my little farm, complete with a little red barn, a cute little silo, and a little farmhouse with a little picket fence. I grew some green beans, some corn, and a few acres of wheat. We were happy there for awhile. God was blessing our farm. But one day the thought hit me: My little 100-acre farm is so inconsequential! There are millions of acres of ground all over the world that need to be farmed. I figured if reaping a harvest on 100 acres was good, then reaping a harvest on a million acres would be outstanding!"
     While Farmer Fred was standing there listening, he was feeling a strange mix of emotions - a slight tinge of regret for the relatively little he had to show for his years of farming, and at the same time a growing admiration for this man with such a grand vision. He wanted to know about this "million-acre farm".
     "So what'd you do next?" he asked.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

An Open Letter To Christian Young People In America

Dear Friend,

Recently a group of Bible-college students and graduates visited our family on the mission field. During their stay they attended several of our church services, and I asked each one of them to give their testimony to our people. Besides telling how they were saved, each of them also shared how they had surrendered their life to Christ to serve Him. Every one of the young people were either heading for Bible college, in the middle of Bible college, recently graduated from Bible college, or taking online Bible courses. 

This made a huge impact on some of our young people. One of our really faithful young ladies came to my wife and asked, "Are there any Bible colleges in Cambodia? I want to go to Bible college so bad!!!" In the few days following, several more came to me with similar sentiments. There is certainly no shortage of colleges, universities, and vocational schools in Cambodia. In fact, several of these young people are currently attending school; however, the schools (both faculty and student body alike) are generally anti-Christian. They put up with a lot. Just the mere thought of attending a school to study the Bible in a place where the teachers and students love the Lord...it seems to good to be true! We have opportunities here for people to study the Bible in an institute setting, but what these young people are enthralled by is the whole package deal - the dorms, the friendships, the daily classes, chapel services, etc. In a country where they are often ridiculed and mocked by friends, neighbors, and even family members for their stand for Christ, their dress standards, and their desire to live holy lives, to them Bible college sounds like an oasis in the desert.