Posted tagged ‘Redemption’


December 13, 2015

If you stop and think about, the so-called weekend – any weekend, is really “weekends,” forasmuch as each “weekend” is comprised of the end of one week and the beginning of the next week. However, occasionally I see a calendar somewhere that portrays Monday as the beginning of the week and Saturday and Sunday as the last two days of the week, as though those two days were in actuality as we commonly speak of them “the weekend.”

Well in any case, let me tell you about my “weekend” or “weekends.” Saturday once more I had a disturbed night’s sleep because of acute pain in my back and awoke in significant, unrelenting pain – the kind that time and time again makes it nearly impossible for me to even get out of bed. However, sometime after taking a prescription pain killer the pain eased enough for me get up and around, and the more I moved about the better I felt. I was almost giddy because I felt so well in contrast to most of the last two months. Later though, the pain returned and I could not bring it under control. Once more pain forced me from my bed to a recliner in the living room. With another dose of pain meds, I was able to function. Otherwise, I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to worship God (Sunday, December 13, 2015) with the assembled saints.

Training the little ones right

Training the little ones right

Not only did I manage to get up, I cooked food for a fellowship meal at the Old Union Church of Christ – meatballs, 5-cheese ravioli and Ragu tomato sauce. It was also my good pleasure to speak for the congregation in Bible class and the morning worship. For class, I showed my PowerPoint presentation “2015 Fall Asian Mission Trip,” and for worship I preached about “Redemption, Forgiveness, Justification and Sanctification.” The night before, I made a PowerPoint presentation to go along with that lesson, and my proverbial guinea pigs (figurative reference to test subjects) were the brethren at Old Union. It worked out well, an improvement over previous occasions teaching that lesson – despite trying to keep my wits about me operating two computers simultaneously – one for my sermon notes (a mini computer at the pulpit with me) and a second one at a distance and manageable with a clicker for the PowerPoint.

Eating together is about as riotous as Christians get.

Eating together is about as riotous as Christians get.

Following worship, the full house – inclusive of local members, members from sister churches of Christ and community folks – feasted together. Young and old enjoyed themselves.

Bonnie's headstone amidst a sea of fallen leaves

Bonnie’s headstone amidst a sea of fallen leaves

Before departing the Old Union premises, briefly I visited my wife’s grave. This time of year, fallen fall leaves blanket the graveyard except for the tombstones that protrude up from the sea of brownish and reddish leaves.

This evening I stayed home, owing to bad weather and severe back pain that made any movement nearly impossible. Apparently, I can keep the pain at bay when reluctantly I resort to some prescription pain killer, and repeat the process about every five hours. My brother four years my junior is confined to a wheelchair, and I am going to do my best to keep moving by whatever means necessary until I lie down and die. There is work to be done on every front (e.g., The Voice of Truth International, Gospel Gazette Online and other literature and books to format for publishing, lessons to write, etc.) prior to my departure on January 30, Lord willing for five weeks in Guyana, South America. The e-tickets have been purchased, and all systems are go, as long as I succeed at pain management.

My blog is essentially “my dear diary” and self-inflicted therapy, I suppose. Yet, it does help me keep my friends, family, Christian brethren, encouragers and supports abreast of happenings related to me and efforts put forth respecting the cause of Christ. In any case, the price is right for a personal outlet and may serve some other purpose as well.

A Little Crabby Today

October 13, 2015

96 dpi 8x10 Kyaw Sein Class2Sunday morning October 11, brother Kyaw Sein sent his car after me to transport me from my hotel in Yangon to his home in the Hmawbi jungle. There several Christians assembled for Lord’s Day worship, and it was my pleasure to present a message from God’s Word (“Redemption, Forgiveness, Justification & Sanctification”). It is always a joy for me to worship Almighty God in spirit and in truth with brethren wherever I find them across the globe; today was no different in that respect.

96 dpi 8x10 Kyaw Sein Class1What serves as the living room turns into a dining room for meals, too. On Sundays, though, the same space becomes the assembly place for Kyaw Sein’s extended family, neighbors and friends. Upon my arrival, I attempted too soon to snap a picture of brother Sein and myself – before the camera lens had time to make the adjustment from the air condition car to the humid tropical surroundings. Hence, that’s the reason for the blur. Notice, however, the traditional dress that he and I are wearing, and I am wearing an Asho tribe shirt, too. In his arms you can see the copy of Vine’s Expository of Old Testament and New Testament Words that I gave him that morning; he will make good use of it in his personal studies and translation work that he does. Following lunch of spaghetti, fruits and juice, I was ferried back to my Yangon home away from home.

Monday, brother Damon Vincent and I rode a taxi the 45 minutes to an hour to the Hmawbi outskirts, to the Hmawbi Bible School – and beyond for me. While brother Vincent taught in the morning at the school, I taught Christians, denominationalists and Buddhists at the Sein home. By request, I taught my tracts Salvation Summarized and Foul Language. Brother Kyaw Sein (pronounced Joe Sane) and one of his fleshly brothers (siblings) are translating some of my tracts into Burmese, after which those tracts will be printed and distributed.

At noon, I returned to the school, ate my lunch with the students and staff, and prepared to teach afternoon classes there. In response to a question days earlier by a Burmese evangelist present, I taught a lesson from one of my sermon outline books about “The Deity of Christ.” This was of interest in preparation for conversing with Jehovah’s Witnesses and trying to lead them truly to Jesus Christ.

Tuesday was a day of adjustments, requiring a certain amount of flexibility. First, the hotel neglected to bring me any breakfast, such as it is – two slices of toast, a fried egg, a cup of warm tea and orange drink. (While the dining room is under construction, the hotel brings breakfast daily to one’s room – or that’s what is supposed to happen.) Next, my class at the home of Kyaw Sein was cancelled for the day. Therefore, I opted with the approval of brother Vincent to stay in my room and work my mobile office while he taught both morning and afternoon classes at Hmawbi Bible School.

I had planned to venture out on foot to get some groceries and some lunch, but heavy rains convinced me to remain in my room and make do with two small apples, some crackers and spray cheese and a couple of cereal bars in place of breakfast and lunch.

Upon leaving the hotel for supper with Winsome and Sheila Vertannes, I inquired about no breakfast, and I requested my room to be sprayed for mosquitoes and to have the room made up since that had not occurred during the day either (i.e., clean towels, etc.). Sadly upon my return later, neither had the room been made up nor had towels been replaced, and not even the trash was emptied. Just to round things out, when I turned the AC on, it began to chew itself apart – making the worst loud noise; now no air conditioner. Children and adults play and shout outside my window in the narrow way between two buildings. The blast of the front desk phone sounds off a few feet down the hallway. I hope that there is enough water pressure to shower tonight.

The work is tedious, but I did manage to make significant progress on preparing literature for publication. There is still a long way to go before this particular material will be ready for public use. During the day, I worked, I rested and I have had a little bit of a crabby attitude. (Some loneliness visited me as well a little bit this day.) Fortunately, being alone, I didn’t have any arguments with anyone!

I know the blessings are bountiful, and furthermore, I am wonderfully blessed to have these opportunities to serve our Lord. Some of you make that possible. No sacrifices are being endured here in these things, only some inconsequential inconveniences from time to time that pale in comparison of the reason for being here and elsewhere where opportunities for Christian service present themselves.

I Laughed Today

October 5, 2015

Mobile OfficeSunday morning October 4, I worshipped with the 8-Mile Church of Christ that meets in the home of Winsome and her mother Sheila. In the afternoon, I worshipped with the church that meets in Esther’s home. On both occasions, I preached “Redemption, Forgiveness, Justification and Sanctification.”

We were late arriving at the second assembly and a Burmese preacher was preaching already. Interestingly, he was preaching one of my sermons! I wrote it in English, and he was reading it in English while preaching it in Burmese. Later, he said that I was his teacher from afar and that though we had never met, he was glad to finally meet me. He has on his computer a large share of the sermons, articles and books that I have prepared over the past 40 years. I am grateful if anything that I have attempted to do in Christian service proves useful and edifying to others as well.

Monday, it was my privilege to teach morning and evening at the Hmawbi Bible School in a jungle setting about an hour from Yangon where I am lodging; last night, the mosquitoes got the upper hand, waking me twice from my sleep with their painful bites.

About 30 are in attendance this 5-week session at the school, counting students and staff. During our lunch break, I was conversing and enjoying company with dear brethren Simon and Philip, and before I knew it, I was momentarily dislodged from my sullen grief and pain into an audible, noisy laugh. I surprised myself, because I had doubted if I would ever find satisfactory amusement to divert my attention from my loss. I hardly know what to think, and silly as it is, I almost feel a little guilty about it, as if in some way I am being disrespectful to the memory of my Bonnie.

Lessons today and tomorrow are about male leadership in the church and especially about elders. In addition, we have and will address how to function in a congregation without elders. Discussed today and planning more for tomorrow, we have noted and will note yet some more that Scripture does not permit women a leadership role in the Lord’s church. Additional lessons this week and next week will speak to making preaching more effective and acquaint pupils some with fundamentals of English and Greek.

Back at the hotel between power outages, I am in the final stages of publishing the October edition of Gospel Gazette Online to the Internet. My mobile office – stateside or abroad – travels with me and only requires a little space, occasionally some electric and once in a while a minimally satisfactory Internet connection. Notice in the photo my “desk and chair.” The table is a little low, and the chair is a little hard, until I line it with bed pillows. Actually, the pillows and the bed are somewhat hard, too.

Some of you will be pleased that I laughed today, noting how forlorn I have been these short number of months since Bonnie passed away. Not all of my mourning has subsided, but immersing myself in the Lord’s work on foreign soil and renewing friendships among the loved ones here in the faith helps. Others of you will be happy to note that I am attempting to apply myself, whereby God may be glorified and precious souls may be edified. To God be the glory.

Driving, Driving & More Driving

June 24, 2015

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Sunday morning, June 21 commenced with Rebecca and me exiting Winona, MS just before 7:30 a.m. We headed out of town in a southeasterly direction, completely trusting ourselves to the guidance of the car’s GPS system. Two hours later, after having traveled what was a new route for me, we arrived at the meetinghouse of the Union, MS Church of Christ moments prior to the start of Bible class.

During that study period, it was my good pleasure to speak regarding “Redemption, Forgiveness, Justification and Sanctification.” My material was a small section of my new book soon to be published, which is entitled Christianity: An Explanation. Next during the worship period, I made my PowerPoint presentation about “The Church in Prophecy.”

Admittedly, I spoke with some haste both in the Bible class and during my sermon, and we covered a lot of ground. Some verbiage from the old Smokey and the Bandit movie of decades ago resonates with me when I try to cram a lot into a little time slot: “…a long way to go and only a little time to get there.”

The occasion for an invitation to speak for the Union Church of Christ (not to be confused with the Old Union Church of Christ elsewhere in Mississippi) this Sunday was the fellowship meal following worship. Christians the world over know how to enjoy one another’s company over delicious home cooked vittles.

This pleasant congregation sent me on my way that afternoon with hearty financial support to help me facilitate the mission work to which I devote myself. Though the Union church does not support me monthly in my labors, the periodic funds that it sends my way equals and in some cases exceeds that of monthly supporters. I am truly thankful for every encouragement and participation in my labors for the Lord.

Next, Rebecca and I drove back to my Winona home. While there briefly, we used it as a way station. I took opportunity to unload and load the dishwasher, which I hadn’t taken time to attend earlier in the day.

Leaving Winona for the second time the same day, we pointed the Lord’s car toward Courtland, MS, the site of my early evening appointment. We arrived too early, but I would much rather be early than the least bit late – which sometimes has occurred when going to other destinations.

There during evening worship, I made my PowerPoint presentation “Overview and Update” regarding my stateside and overseas activities in the service of our Lord. The Courtland Church of Christ, also not a monthly supporter, nevertheless, sent me on my way with substantial financial gifts – a large sum as a memorial for my late wife Bonnie, a lesser amount for speaking and a significant gift from one of the families. A significant portion of my fundraising comes from congregations that I visit and for which I speak. With Bonnie’s illness leading up to her passing, I am about 60 appointments behind, and accordingly impoverished respecting those kind of monetary gifts.

Mounting our motorized steed once more, Rebecca and I continued north to her domicile in Collierville, TN – a suburb of metropolitan Memphis. I often use her home as a bed and breakfast to interrupt my travels northwardly or westward across the Mississippi River or when traveling in a northeastwardly direction. The reason for this particular stopover was to position us for Monday’s travel to Nashville, TN with hundreds of pounds of Bibles, books and tracts, which I am shipping to Guyana, South America.

Monday morning we said goodbye to Rebecca’s home and began another long day of driving, driving and more driving. First, we took another package of leftover medical accessories from Bonnie’s illness to the church building of the Collierville Church of Christ with whom Rebecca ordinarily worships. Distribution will be made as in the past at other times to Christians who can benefit from such.

Next, we swung by the nearby home of the congregation’s preacher and his wife, Torrey and Alexander Clark. With them in tow, we pointed my Gospel chariot toward Nashville for the purpose of delivering our precious cargo to Caribbean Shipping Service. The Collierville congregation enabled me to purchase $1,200 worth of Bibles, and I tasked brother Clark to be the representative of the church to see them shipped. We had on board 160 Gift and Award Bibles for members of the churches of Christ in Guyana who lack Bibles, plus 30 Reference Bibles for about a third of the Gospel preachers in that country who do not possess as useful of a copy of the Bible from which they can prepare and present sermons and Bible studies. Coupled with those items were 30 Hailey’s Bible Handbook, about 12 dozens copies of various issues of The Voice of Truth International, miscellaneous editions of Freed Hardeman lectureship books and 1,900 tracts. In addition, some small New Testaments and Bible bookmarks completed our shipment inventory. Later, I will return to the shipping company with nearly 2,000 copies of The Voice of Truth International for all of the churches of Christ in Guyana.

Brother Nigel Milo with whom I work directly in Guyana prefers shipments in barrels. Therefore, once more I do my best to cram rectangular boxes in cylindrical barrels – reminding me of the adage of trying to put square pegs in round holes. We managed to place everything we hauled on this occasion in two brown, corrugated barrels. Barring any complications, they will arrive in Guyana sometime in August. The shipping date will be the middle of July by oceangoing freighter.

It was a happy experience to spend precious time together with the Clarks. They introduced Rebecca and me to a Nashville area restaurant with which we were not familiar. In addition, on the way out of Nashville, they took us to McKay Books – a mammoth used and new book warehouse-like store. Although I wasn’t looking for anything, I did manage to buy a new book for $2, which was written by one of our Christian brethren. Rebecca, of course, being the book fanatic that she is as well as being a schoolteacher, left with several titles in her possession.

Finally, we made the return trip to Collierville and our temporary, one more night abode in Rebecca’s home. Sometimes in our travels, it seems that we only pause long enough to make a mess and not long enough to clean up after ourselves.

Tuesday, we will head back to Winona, MS. Work of all varieties await us in my house, at the office and on the road – driving, driving and driving some more. Later in the week I will speak for a local congregation, before traveling to Florida for preaching appointments over the next two Sundays. Please remember me in your prayers. Your encouragement and every participation with me is greatly appreciated.