Monday, May 27, 2013


“If I could only go back and do things differently.”  How often do we say that to ourselves?  Until somebody invents a time machine, there’s really nothing we can do to change the past.  And if anybody ever does, then we’d have to start worrying about the whole space-time continuum thing that never makes any sense in the movies we watch.  But the one thing we can do is to learn from other people’s mistakes and avoid them ourselves. 

Unfortunately for me, I chose not to learn from other’s mistakes but decided to repeat them myself.  The biggest piece of advice most missionaries get is to devote their first year or two in the country to language acquisition.  “Don’t get sucked into ministry.”  “Learn to say “no” to people.”  “Pack your schedule full with language classes and study time to give you an easy way out.” 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


A couple of weeks ago, “Reverend” Katharine Jefferts Schori, current “Bishop” and “Primate” over the Episcopal Church, gave a sermon at All Saints Church in Venezuela.  It has become commonplace in today’s world of affordable travel for church leaders to visit other countries to speak to congregations within their denomination or their particular brand of non-denominational churches.  Less than a year ago, Benny Hinn visited Bangkok and spoke to Thai leaders from churches of the more charismatic bent.  While I won’t go into whether these visits are helpful or hurtful, (I see a future post working its way through my brain as I type) I do want to shed some light on this particular occurrence. 

Theologically, I don’t see eye to eye with Katharine.  She is very liberal in her thinking and values things like inclusiveness and tolerance above sound doctrine.  Her sermon at All Saints Church is proof of this.  She preached from the passage in Acts 16, when Paul and Silas were in Philippi and were being followed by a demon possessed slave girl.  (πνεῦμα πύθωνα, which is Greek for the spirit of Pythona, a Greek god)  Eventually Paul became so agitated with her that he cast the demon out.  Well, this girl could tell the future and was the cash cow of her owners.  Seeing that their lively-hood was taken away from them, they had Paul and Silas arrested and thrown into prison.  God used this situation to bring saving faith to the jailer of that prison and to his family. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Every time I go home on furlough, which has been twice so far, the second thing I most look forward to is the food.  There are so many things I miss.  (A&W Cream Soda, Golden Grahams, Qdoba, etc)  When I finally make it back, my heart’s (or rather stomach’s) wildest desires have come true.  Instead of taking a step back and thinking about what I am doing, I tend to indulge.  When you take into account a busy schedule and the lack of exercise equipment that I have in the US, it is a recipe for disaster. 

They say that when freshman go off to university, they gain fifteen pounds.  It’s the “Freshman Fifteen.”  I really didn’t experience that, but I do believe in the “Furlough Fifteen.”  I’ve gone through it twice now and it usually takes me about a year to recover.  (i.e. lose the weight again)  I won’t have another furlough for a while, but I’m really hoping that I have learned from my past mistakes.  Maybe my wife can keep me accountable.  (She loves all that good stuff too!)  Maybe God will work a weight loss miracle.  Whatever the case, here’s hoping that future furlough number three will not be like the former two.  

Sunday, May 19, 2013


I have yet to preach in Thai, but hopefully soon.  Still, I have been preaching once a month at the only international church in Korat, Church of Blessing.  The audience is very international.  Demographically speaking, I would guess that Filipinos are the majority.    But there are people from Thailand, Korea, America, Australia, Cameroon and Singapore.  If I left anyone out, forgive me.  One thing I’ve learned from speaking is to avoid Americanisms.  This happens mostly when I am trying to think of a sermon illustration to use on a passage.  Most of my analogies come from my cultural background.  For example, if I try to explain the different roles of husbands and wives by comparing it to the roles of quarterbacks and wide receivers in American football, then I’ve just lost about 95% of my audience.  Analogies like these work against me rather than for me.  Instead of bringing understanding and clarity to my audience, I bring confusion and haze.  With such a diverse audience, what is a preacher to do? 

One solution can be to work with illustrations that are universal.  Taking things from nature can be a good start.  Nature is observed by all people and translates well.  Jesus implemented such themes, particularly the use of seeds and vegetation.  (Matthew 13)  Paul refers to creation of the universe as a witness to God.  (Romans 1:19,20)  Never underestimate the power of God’s natural revelation to speak to hearts. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013


I recently had the opportunity to meet Mike, an amazing man who has been struggling with his faith over the past year or so.  He grew up in Christian America, going to Christian churches that from the way he explained it, seem both relevant and Bible believing.  He recently started going to my old church in the US and came on a mission trip with them to Thailand.  What impressed me about this man was his honesty with his struggles.  He didn’t try to hide the fact that he doubts God, but rather openly confessed it and was sincere in seeking out help.  He desires to have faith, but right now it isn’t there for him.  I’m sure a lot of Christians today have similar struggles, but never openly admit it because either they think it will exclude them from their Christian community or they think it means that there is something wrong with them spiritually. 

As I sat down with Mike to chat, the thing I realized was that many of his issues with Christianity really weren’t Biblical issues, but rather cultural ones.  It seemed to me that a lot of his doubts stem from this idea that Christianity is experiential in nature.  He mentioned that when he first became a Christian, he felt connected to God and experienced His presence more often, but now God seems distant.  Today he asks other Christians about their experiences with God and really envies what they have yet he wonders why God isn’t there for him in a similar way.  He prays for God to draw near, but nothing ever happens. 

Friday, May 17, 2013


I've tried blogging in the past, but never with any success, as in nobody ever came to my page to read it.  Honestly, I can't blame them, because I really didn't know what I was talking about back then.  Over the past couple years I've really been challenged to come to some strong convictions, especially since I've started preaching.  I know how God judges those who teach, and there is a higher standard.  Exegetical practices are constantly at the forefront of my mind.  I'm always asking myself, "What is the author trying to communicate?"  I'm digging into old and new commentaries.  I've even tried to brush up on my Greek.  (So far I've only been preaching from the New Testament)  What I've discovered over the past couple of years is that there is a lot of bad theology going around in Christendom today.  I mean really bad!

I've lived in Thailand for the past five years.  Bad theology isn't just a Western practice, though I have to say the West has produced more than its fair share, but I see bad theology affecting the mission field.  It is sad to me.  The countries that are most deprived of the gospel message have been invaded with false teachings and heresies.  Because of this there are bad practices when it comes to evangelism, discipleship and church methodology.  It has come to a point where we have to question whether church members are really Christians.  We can no longer assume they are.