Posted tagged ‘Living Principles’

Weekend in Florida

November 12, 2013

Saturday morning, November 9 Bonnie and I left Winona, MS and headed for DeFuniak Springs, FL to worship with the Liberty Church of Christ. About eight hours later, we arrived at the Best Western hotel in that city. We had crossed through parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, and we were both exhausted. We shared a chopped steak and baked potato in the hotel restaurant, and then, retired to our room to rest in preparation for the Lord’s Day. Immediately after finishing review of our respective lessons for the next day, Bonnie became seriously sick, but by morning she was well again and rested.

Sunday morning, Bonnie taught the ladies during Bible class, and I taught the men. She taught her chapter from her book Living Principles about “Mrs. Peter”; near the conclusion of the class, Bonnie also answered sundry religious questions. I taught my lesson “Why Do the Churches of Christ Not Use Instrumental Music in Worship?” During worship, I preached my sermon “The Purpose of Preaching.”

Brother Harold and sisters Rita and Ashley Bigham treated us to a buffet lunch. We spent awhile after we had surrendered our eating utensils enjoying one another’s company and talking. Afterward, Bonnie and I resorted to the hotel for some afternoon rest before evening worship. At 5 p.m., I presented two years’ worth of PowerPoint lesson to catch up the congregation on our foreign mission work to Asia and South America.

The small congregation is one of our supporters, and nearly every member personally encouraged us on this visit. The Liberty Church of Christ holds up our hands in foreign mission work. We are dear to each other in the service of the Lord and for His cause.

Monday, we spent the day making our way back to Winona, MS—through parts of Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. I think Bonnie held up better on the return jaunt than I did. We opted for an alternate route back that avoided metropolitan areas and that was very scenic. An hour from home, we stopped to buy groceries in Starkville, MS. Finally, we pulled into our driveway at 7 p.m.

(One of the reasons we opted for the route we pursued going back home was to try to find one of Bonnie’s missing earrings. Upon my return home from Myanmar a few weeks ago, I gave Bonnie a pair of pearl-shaped jade earrings for pierced ears. Sunday night, she discovered that one of them was missing from her ear. That night and the next morning, we searched the motel room. In the morning, we searched the car. Before leaving DeFuniak Springs, we checked with the hotel staff, personnel at the restaurant where we had had lunch on Sunday and at Arby’s where we had eaten supper. Lastly upon leaving town, we stopped back by the grassy parking lot of the Liberty Church of Christ to look there. Neither one of us expected to find a little earring lost in a big world, but Bonnie did find it outside the meetinghouse.)

Tuesday found us refreshed from the previous night’s rest. I did my exercises, and Bonnie resumed exercising some on the exercise bicycle. We had breakfast, after which we readied ourselves for the day and went to the office. There is much work to be done on every side and in every place to keep us busy for Jesus Christ. We are thankful that friends and brethren are willing to keep on Sending the Light of the Gospel, whereby Bonnie and I are permitted to keep on Taking the Light of the Gospel abroad.

Brown Gravely Cuts through Forest and Ample Kudzu

August 15, 2013

Bonnie Teaching LadiesMembers from several congregations of the Lord’s church convened Thursday, August 15 for the last session of special classes hosted by the Old Union Church of Christ (Carroll County, MS). Natural for brethren, we hand a finger foods meal preceding these studies; that’s how Christians paint the town red, so to speak. A good time for members of the church involves spending time together, and eventually we get around to eating (often more “feasting” than “fasting”!).

There were two parallel classes – one for the men and one for the women. The ladies had been using Bonnie’s book, Living Principles. Tonight, they had asked her to teach it. The men studied some of the parables of our Lord; the instructors were two youngish Christian men who had never previously taught adults, but they did well. I expect that they will continue in many ways to hone their skills and become even more valuable to the Old Union Church of Christ.

The setting for the Old Union congregation possesses the appeal of a retreat. It is set way back in the woods, accessible via several brown gravely cuts through forest and ample kudzu. Sitting around tables, face to face, each class felt at ease and many attendees discussed freely the lessons and applications under consideration. It was a good occasion from every perspective. May God be glorified and his children uplifted as well as encouraged in the Christian faith.

Kakinada Base of Operations

November 3, 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012, Bonnie, Therman Hodge and I made our way from Visakhapatnam to Kakinada, India; it was a two and a half hour drive. After parting from Samuel, who graciously drove us, we had lunch at the home of Joshua and Kabita Gootam. Lunch over, we headed out to the village of Gorinta, about 45 minutes away. There we found 39 in attendance, 33 of whom were women and young children. Lord’s Day attendance is typically 60 women and 40 men; while we were there, most of the men were working.

Thursday was a Hindu holiday during which women are required to stay in the home and cook sweet food for their husbands. However, these Christian sisters opted rather to assemble for a Gospel message, despite the fact that most of their husbands are Hindu. All attending Thursday were converts from Hinduism. The world over, women frequently exhibit a sensitivity for spiritual matters in greater numbers before men; here is no different.

Friday, November 2, 2012, Therman and I headed out with Ricky Gootam to a distant mountain, jungle village – over two hours away. Heavy rain overnight, continuing throughout the day, resulted in destroyed sugarcane crops and significant flooding. The little village to which we went is without electricity daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Therefore, we met in a dark masonry structure with little natural light available because of the storms. Again mostly women comprised the approximately 50 persons present. Therman preached and I exhorted the Christians and Hindus present; three precious souls responded to be baptized.

Aside from the residents, the villages and countryside through we which we traveled could have been offered as evidence that we were somewhere in Africa. At the same time, some of the terrain – minus the coconut and banana trees – might have argued that we had driven back to West Virginia. Like many of the days before in our 2012 Asian excursion, we spent an inordinate amount of time traveling by land to remote sites. We were here because Joshua Gootam’s television program introduced the Gospel to people off the beaten path, and several of them subsequently became New Testament Christians.

On the way back to Kakinada, we stopped at another especially poor village, much of which is drenched in standing water. We had an abbreviated devotional with about 30 brethren and some Hindus. These Christians, too, were converted from Hinduism. Our activity was curtailed due to inclement weather and the impedance that caused, prolonging our travel time – not to mention rain, floods, darkened skies and no electricity.

While Therman and I were away for the day, Bonnie taught a ladies’ class of sisters in Christ from the congregation that is serving as our base of operations. About 20 ladies participated, and they also expressed appreciation of Bonnie’s book Living Principles (in Telegu). (We brought funds from an American congregation for publication of one of my writings, The Parables of Our Lord. It will be a combined, single printing in the Telegu language of both of my volumes on parables.)

Upon returning to Kakinada, I bought a plastic table and two plastic chairs to add to the Prophet’s Room in which we are lodging at the church building. It will double as an eating table and a work table; we used it for work first before we ever got around to eating our breakfast upon it.

Saturday, November 3, 2012, we woke to another rainy day in India. Three inches of rain fell overnight alone. Consequently, our morning meeting at a village some distance from Kakinada was washed out – literally! A swollen creek washed a bridge away, and there was nowhere dry in the village if we were able to get there. Elsewhere, flooded railroad tracks prevented Vinay David from Delhi arriving on schedule. Another American couple flying in had their flight cancelled due to inclement weather, and they were scurrying to find a flight to any airport within four hours driving distance of Kakinada. Not only are lectureship speakers finding it difficult to travel in view of the cyclone that has buffeted the east coast of India – which storm keeps on giving, but quite possibly the lectureship attendance may be adversely affected, too. Brethren also may have difficulty attending due to poor weather as well as interrupted train and car routes. Some may need to attend to storm damage of their homes, crops and workplaces. The rice crop, which was ready for harvest, has been destroyed by the cyclone.

Bonnie and I had some idle time on our hands today. With it we worked on articles for the November issue of Gospel Gazette Online, amused ourselves with some computer games, went shopping and communed with Therman Hodge, Betty Choate and the Gootams. In the evening, we went to a thanksgiving meeting to celebrate the purchase of a home by one of the members of the church; approximately 40 brethren were in attendance. Afterward, we returned to the Gootam’s for supper; Indians eat late supper meals compared to people in the United States.

Tomorrow is Bible class and worship with the Satyanani Church of Christ, in which building Bonnie and I are lodging. Monday will be preparation for the upcoming lectureship, and so only a morning outstation meeting is planned about an hour and a half from Kakinada. Otherwise, Bonnie and I will use available time to work on the next issue of Gospel Gazette Online. We never have a reason to be bored as long as we have time to ourselves and access to our mobile office.


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Living Principles in Foreign Languages

April 26, 2012

Literature is a large part of what Bonnie and I are about. We write for several Gospel magazines and we write religious books and pamphlets. Bonnie’s book, Living Principles, is being printed in the Telegu language of India. In addition, this title is soon to be printed in the Burmese language of Myanmar (Burma). Besides this, tens of thousands of my tracts are published annually in eight foreign languages. All of this is possible only because of Christians and churches of Christ who participate financially with us toward that end. Thank you. We are partners in the greatest undertaking on planet earth – to turn the world upside down with the Gospel of Christ (Acts 17:6).

Several additional titles are waiting for their turn to be printed in English and other languages. My book, The Church Divine, will be printed in India and Myanmar languages later this year or next year, funds permitting. Bonnie is amending two of my class books on Ruth and Esther with application lessons. We will combine the two books into one volume. Several other titles are out of print or have never been printed yet: The Cost of Discipleship (first printed in 1985), The Spirit Summarized, Preaching the Whole Counsel of God (10 volumes of full-sentence sermon outlines) and my commentary on the Book of James.

I am in some stage of writing three more books, one in collaboration with Wayne Barrier. Bonnie and I started writing our mission stories, and I envision a book entitled, Converting the Church of Christ to Christ. In that writing, I want to emphasis the conviction in conversion needed but which is often lacking in our brotherhood in the western world.

Visit us through this blog or in Visit us on Facebook. Please take advantage of our Internet journal Gospel Gazette Online; thousands of articles are archived therein besides the monthly addition of at least 25 more articles. Spread the news!

Kakinada, First Full Day

November 1, 2011

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011 began two hours before my wristwatch alarm sounded to arouse Bonnie and me to new opportunities. Since yesterday started for us as 3:30 a.m. and we retired for the evening at our usual late hours, sleep was a welcome attraction for both of us. At around 5 a.m., the traffic horns of Kakinada began their tooting, birds chirped and not the least of all, the 80 children with whom we are lodging awoke full of life; vibrant young voices and the thud of bare feet on the tiled hall floor were the last things we remember as we slumbered last night and among the first sounds of the new morning. Just now, I heard the long, whining blasts of a train not far from here readying to begin its journey.

Our room atop the Kakinada church building amidst the children is one of the most commodious we have experienced anywhere in India – and more comfortable than many in any nation, including the USA. We had air conditioning by which to sleep, an overhead fan, a refrigerator (though other than for water we have nothing of consequence to deposit therein) and a connected bathroom (with a western toilet). Last evening, brethren had an inline water heater installed so we would have hot water conveniently; we have been using a bucket heater purchased while in Kakinada last year. Imagine my dismay when we tried to use the shower we discovered that there is not enough water available to use it, and only with the passing of 30 minutes can we get enough water to trickle (though hot it is) into a bucket for bucket and cup bathing; especially Bonnie’s hair is difficult to adequately wash and rinse that way.

I was disappointed to discover that we cannot connect to the Internet this morning, though we were able to wirelessly connect last night; Ricky Gootam moved the router to the middle level last evening so that all three floors could access the signal. Then, the electric power failed, which is typical each day throughout India (and other parts of Asia). Probably between the special event for which food preparation is underway in addition to water to accommodate the residents of the children’s home, it was not long before there was no water at all available; the lone storage tank atop the roof was likely exhausted. I was back to cold water shaving out of a cup in the bedroom to take advantage of the only available mirror; fortunately with the curtains pushed to the side, I could see well enough to shave. Next, for breakfast I decided to forgo the jam and bread provided us in our room and opt for one of the last remaining cereal bars that we brought with us from the States. It is 8:20 a.m., and the lectureship program begins at 10:30 a.m., at which time I will be the first speaker.

It is only 9:33 a.m. and the morning is dragging on forever. This winter weather India is experiencing has about melted me; I am drenched in perspiration with the electric off – therefore, no air conditioning in our room and no fan. Walking on the roof hoping that the breeze would give me a break from the heat, I followed the screeches of some creatures to a huge tree towering at the back of the building. It sound like a herd of agitated pigs, but it turned out to be the largest (brown) bats I have ever seen – about the size of cats. Hanging upside down from branches, the tree swaying in the wind, they seemed to be complaining – dozens of big bats.

Finally, relief (for now) as the electric has been restored. We expect repeated outages during the day, but we hope that electric will be available during the dark hours, which will accommodate us with the fan or air conditioning by which to sleep. It is now 9:56 a.m. Did I mention that the day has been a long one already?

Now that I have finished my whining, what of the day? I spoke in the morning about The One True Church of the Bible to hundreds of people gathered, seated on every pew, every added chair and the floor. The congregation meets in an upper room, the second floor. Roger Wright from Vincennes, IN spoke secondly, and he provided an excellent, biblically solid sermon. We were in sync as though we had studied together what we would say and with what intensity and emphasis.

We have tasted some interesting food, including ground up, spiced shark meat at supper last night; nothing that exotic was served today following morning lessons. At lunch time, I met a family of which the wife and the wife’s mother were converted as a result of radio and television broadcasts by Joshua Gootam. She came to Kakinada to be baptized, and then upon returning home she taught others and led them to be converted; six Christians now meet in her village as a result first of mass evangelism and secondly due to a convert sharing her faith with family and friends. Initially, the husband and father of the family evicted his Christian wife from the home. Eventually, though he not only allowed her to return but to permit the church to assemble in the home. He accompanied his wife, mother-in-law and three children to the lectures; he is a candidate for conversion; I prayed for them all, including that he would become a Christian and be the Christian husband and father that can lead his family to heaven.

After lunch, I made my PowerPoint presentation about Bible Archaeology to a hall full of preachers. I was followed by Vinay David from New Delhi; he made a loud, emotional presentation about successfully running the Christian race. Following that lecture and upon dismissal of the daytime schedule, I met up with a brother who lives 180 kilometers from Kakinada and who I had met for the first time through Facebook last night (the brother with whom I also conversed from Kenya, Africa couldn’t make the appointment today!). There is an evening session beginning at 6:30 p.m.

About 500 people crammed in every available space to hear the Word of God proclaimed, and 150 kilograms of rice (plus other foods) was cooked to feed the crowd; the projected 500 kilograms of rice for the four-day lectureship will fall short, and more will need to be purchased. All age groups were represented throughout the day – six hours of lectures in the auditorium plus two hours of lectures for women. Indian culture segregates women, men and children from each other (until space runs out). First tonight, Vinay David preached another passionate lesson. Second up, Roger Wright likewise preached another fine lesson. Incidentally, Telegu singing does not have four part harmony, but they sing in unison. Bonnie and I are exhausted. Instead of waiting to morning, we are going to try and bathe tonight, hoping there will be sufficient water. Not! It’s bucket and cup again – but at least the trickle of water is hot.

Hot Tea, Heated Water and Breakfast

October 27, 2011

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Hot tea was delivered to our second story room at 6:00 a.m. on Thursday, October 27. It was followed by a tin of hot water at 8:00 a.m. We were called to breakfast at 8:30 a.m. When cooking for a crowd, Elizabeth cooks over an open fire behind the house, causing our bathroom, also on the backside of the house, to fill with the smoke from the fire and causing our eyes to sting and burn.

Elizabeth gave us a piece of chalk with chemicals to draw a line on the baseboard covered with ants. Shortly, thereafter the ants disappeared. Despite the screens (for our bedroom only), flying insects aplenty find their way to the single fluorescent light bulb in our room.

At 10 a.m., classes began, with 100 hundred children in the children’s class on the roof under a canopy for Bonnie to teach and 80 preachers in the second story prayer hall for me to teach. We each taught for 4 hours, 2 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon.

Bonnie noted: “The children in Bible class have a wonderful knowledge of the Bible.” I, too, observed that the children have a superior knowledge to most American children of Christian families (and often their parents as well), about such biblical details as even the number of years each of the first three kings of Israel served, and about a unabashed and boldly stated confidence that there is only one church and that denominations are lost. These unbaptized elementary age children appear more converted and more knowledgeable than many Christians that I know! The Babu family and others with them have done a tremendously good and thorough job of teaching the Gospel even to young children.

Steve Hogan sent a football for Vijay’s children, and they convinced me to play with them after the afternoon lessons. It was not long before they were catching the ball like experts and doing a fairly good job of hurling it back as well. I’m no expert at the sport by far, but shortly we experimented with efforts to intercept or deflect passes to the receiver, running primitive pass routines while opposing members attempt to interrupt the completion of the play and they learned to successfully pass the ball to their peers so that they could catch it. I hadn’t done anything like this in years, and though we are experiencing Indian winter weather, the heat and humidity resemble a hot, humid Mississippi summer day.

Friday morning, October 28 began similarly as had the previous day – hot tea followed by a pail of hot water, after which we had a call to breakfast. Steve Hogan had instructed the Babus to fix Bonnie and me some “American” food, and they were doing their best to oblige. Part of our breakfast was fried potatoes, and since there was more than Bonnie and I were going to eat, Elizabeth served some to Vijay when he seated himself at our table. He remarked how much he enjoyed this American breakfast, and his wife told him if he liked it so much, he could just go back to America with us when we returned!

The Babus have an automatic washing machine, unlike the washing procedure I observed the day before at a neighboring house where the woman repeatedly beat the clothes on the ground. Elizabeth volunteered to wash our clothes, so Bonnie took down to her trousers and shirts because they are more difficult to wash in the bath bucket than our underwear; besides, Bonnie did not want at least her underwear hanging for all attending the two-day meeting to see. The only electric clothes dryers I have seen in Asia are in stores to be purchased; almost without exception, clothes are dried by sunlight as they hang usually on lines positioned on roofs.

Traditional tardiness of Indians (and others in Asia and elsewhere) contributes greatly to small crowds at the beginning of sessions, and this concerns brother Vijay. He avows that Christians should do better than this. Eventually, Bonnie’s rooftop ladies’ class had 130, and my men’s class was about 100 in attendance. The numbers exceeded expectation, and so teaching times were extended to permit cooking more rice; a total of 55 kilograms of rice were cooked for lunch this day alone.

Cell phones are everywhere, and just like in America, Christians need to be charged to silence them before services. Bonnie taught lessons from her book Christian Principles, and I taught lessons from my book The Church Divine. We taught for two plus hours in the morning and for two hours in the afternoon. Bonnie and I as a team often double the teaching hours, she while teaching children or women and me either teaching men or teaching combined groups. We are more effective in our mission efforts than either one of us would be alone or two men would be. We are a team, and we complete each other in so many ways!