Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cadillacs and Volkswagens

The following is an excerpt from a book I am reading entitled Loving God by Charles Colson. I read this and thought, "Do our independent Baptist churches in America think this way?"

"During 1975, the church (Eastminster Presbyterian Church of Wichita, Kansas), then 850 members, had raised $500,000 for an addition to its always-crowded sanctuary. The architect's drawings were nearly completed and the members were excited about the imminent construction. 

"Then a missions conference was held at the church, and a missionary from Guatemala showed slides of the terrible devastation from the massive earthquake which had hit that country two weeks earlier. Villages were totally wiped out; everything was in rubble, including what had once been small but growing mission churches.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

You've Got To Be Kidding Me

God has blessed us by allowing us to meet a family from Cambodia who is staying four floors above us in the apartment complex in Bangkok. It is a man and his wife in their early fifties, and she is receiving treatment for a back injury at the same hospital where Emily Faith will be born. Also staying with them is her younger sister, who has accompanied them in order to be their full time chef.

We met several weeks ago, and we immediately took a liking to each other. One day, I went up to their room to say hello, and after having a nice visit, they gave me some Khmer food to give to Linda. That was about three weeks ago, and scarcely has a day gone by in which they didn't prepare a meal for us. I would guess that they have provided around fifteen meals for us over the past three weeks.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Do You Have Any More of Those...?"

We were doing our weekly shopping at the nearby grocery store, and, as always, people were admiring our children. Usually, I have Judson in my cart, and Linda has Elisabeth; and there is never a dull moment shopping with these two characters. Linda was just a few yards away from me at the end of the aisle, and I heard and saw one of the security guards say the word, "Sa-aht!" pointing at Elisabeth. That is the Khmer word for "beautiful." I had seen that security guard dozens of times, and I always assumed he was Thai. I quickly pushed the shopping cart to where Linda, Elisabeth, and the security guard were standing, and asked him in English, "Did you just say, 'Sa-aht?'" The only word he understood out of that sentence was the word "sa-aht." I then blurted out in Khmer, "Do you speak Khmer?" He literally just looked at me and started laughing. I asked again, "Do you speak Khmer?" After laughing in disbelief for a few more seconds, he finally answered, "Yes!" When I asked him where he was from, I was shocked when he said, "Phnom Penh." And just like that, an opportunity to give the Gospel to this young Cambodian man named Tew-un was placed in my hands. But because I had no Khmer tracts with me at the time, and because he was on the clock, it would be a couple of days before I could act on that opportunity.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My First Attempt at Writing a Tract

I have spent the last three days writing a tract that I hope to translate in Khmer when we return to Cambodia in the next couple of weeks. Praise the Lord, there are already many good Gospel tracts in Khmer that have been greatly used by God. My motivation for writing this tract was not because I had nothing better to do, or to try and replace any of the good tracts that have already been written. My motivation for writing this tract stems from a problem that I encounter with so many Cambodians: believing that outward acts of goodness, also known as merit making, is equivalent to being an inherently good person. There are a couple of huge challenges that we face when giving the Gospel to Cambodians. First, Cambodians are indoctrinated from the time they are babies to "kluen dtee-pung kluen"- depend upon yourself. Because Buddhism has no personal God to whom we are accountable, and because life teaches all of us that people cannot be trusted, Cambodians grow up believing that they themselves are their only way of salvation. Another challenge that stems from Buddhism is the doctrine of "twer bpuen, baan bpuen; twer agrock, baan agrock"- do good, get good; do bad, get bad. This is the doctrine of karma. This is the primary reason I wrote this tract, and it is vital to understand this problem if you are going to effectively witness in Cambodia.Cambodians believe that as long as the outward actions are good, then the content of the heart does not matter. I wrote this tract to counter this falsehood. That the condition of the heart is as important as the outward actions of a person is a foreign concept to most Cambodians. I pray that we can see this tract printed, and that it will be used of God to open some Cambodians' eyes to the truth about themselves and about Christ.

June/July 2011 Prayer Letter/Update

Dear Pastors and Praying Friends,                                                                                                     

We are still awaiting the birth of Emily Faith in Bangkok, Thailand. We visited the doctor today, and he said the birth could take place literally any time. He has had Linda on some medication that has prevented her from having contractions; but now that she has reached 36 weeks in the pregnancy, he has taken her off the medication.  So it is literally just a matter of days until we get to meet Emily Faith!

We are certainly eager to get back to our home, Cambodia, and pick up where we left off. Although God has temporarily placed us out of our normal place of ministry, we have seen His providential hand at work during our time in Bangkok. Here are some ways that God has allowed us to spread His Word in Thailand:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thoughts about God's Precepts, Liberal Pundits, and Carbon Monoxide

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey, and the honeycomb.

We live in a day in which antinomianism is on the rise.  Liberal pundits like Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann, and Rachel Maddow daily launch attacks against the God-given principles that Christians live by. To them, as well as to most political and theological liberals of this day, God-given morals such as sexual purity before marriage, absolute faithfulness in marriage, modesty, and personal holiness in general are hilarious jokes to be laughed at at best, and Victorian aged, pointless traditions to be torn down at worst.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Heritage of Emily Faith's Name

Each of our children has been given a name that carries with it a godly heritage. Elisabeth was named after Elisabeth Elliot, a woman who has been greatly used by God both as a missionary and a Christian author. Judson was named after Adoniram Judson, the first American missionary to leave the shores of our blessed country. Our third child, who is to be born in just a couple of weeks, has been given the name Emily Faith; and like her older siblings, her name carries with it a godly heritage.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Adjustments Part Five- Weird Questions and Direct Insults

The following accounts of my conversations with two different Cambodian ladies are examples of some of the bizarre questions I have been asked and the in-your-face, blast-you-out-of-the-water insults I have received since moving to Cambodia.

What We Miss about Cambodia

As we draw closer to the birth of our third precious child, and as we enter our second month in Bangkok, we are not only thrilled about this new addition to our family; we are also eager beyond description to be back at home in Cambodia. It seems a bit strange that I am having these feelings about Cambodia. Humanly speaking, there is really nothing about Cambodia that should draw a Georgia-boy like me. Whether it be the utter chaos of the traffic, the abundance of open sewers, the sight of abject poverty, or the various "interesting" smells, there is really no earthly reason why I should be homesick for Cambodia. But I truly believe that when a person knows he is exactly where God wants him to be, he cannot help but fall in love with that place, and with the people of that place. The following are just a few reasons why we are missing Cambodia dearly right now.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

God's Unique Teaching Methods

At 1:00 this afternoon, we reached that highly anticipated point of the day that Linda and I always look forward to- Ellie's and Judson's nap time. Now, don't misunderstand. We cherish our children, and we enjoy them. But the truth is that while Ellie and Judson are at large, Linda's rest and my productivity are nearly impossible to accomplish. And there is only one solution that can allow Linda to find the relaxation she needs and me the opportunity to work productively- nap time for Ellie and Judson.

Update from Bangkok

We have been in Bangkok for almost a month already. We thank God that He has provided the necessary funds to sustain us while we have been away from home. We are aching to get back to Phnom Penh, but we know that for this time we must be here.

Being in Bangkok has been a tremendous physical help to Linda. The apartment where we are staying is substantially cooler than our apartment in Phnom Penh. Part of that is due to the fact that it is a slightly cooler climate here; part is due to the fact that our apartment in Phnom Penh is adjacent to a tin roof that deflects the heat directly into our house, turning our living room into an oven of sorts. Living in Cambodia, we became accustomed to constantly sweating.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Adjustments Part Four- Humor

I love to laugh. I love to joke. I like slapstick humor, corny humor, dry humor, sarcastic humor, and even puns. I love to laugh with others, and if I can brighten someone's day by making them laugh, I do. Khmer people love to laugh; but they don't always get my humor. The following is a classic example of my attempting to joke with a Khmer in my own weird way, and utterly and awkwardly failing.