Posted tagged ‘The Deity of Christ’

Closer than It Sounds

September 5, 2016

The first Sunday in September, I spoke for Bible class and two worship services at the Huntsville Church of Christ. Now, that was a lot closer to Winona, MS than one might think. This Huntsville Church of Christ is not in Alabama, but rather its meetinghouse is outside of French Camp, MS – only about 35 minutes east of Winona.

As has been the case several times this year during my stateside travels, the congregation’s minister was absent, and I was filling in for him. During class, I made my PowerPoint presentation, “2015 Asia & 2016 South America Mission Trips.” For a.m. worship, I spoke about “The Church in Prophecy”; that evening, once more I preached about “The Deity of Christ.”

The Huntsville congregation is a vibrant and friendly country church of down to earth brothers and sisters in Christ. One brother gave me a proverbial, left-handed compliment. He praised my presentation, and then said something to the effect that it was a whole lot better than the last time he heard me preach. Thanks, I think! I asked him if he had been drinking, because according to one country song on the radio, all of the women get prettier closer to closing time – after one is drunken from much drinking.

This French Camp fellowship participates with me financially in my foreign endeavors, for which I am heartily thankful. In addition, several times over the year, various members help us in one endeavor or another at the World Evangelism Building in Winona.

Sometimes I get to sleep in my own bed the night before preaching. The Huntsville, MS assembly is close enough to my residence to permit that, and that is a good thing.

Clarksdale Bound

August 21, 2016

96 dpi 4x6 Clarksdale CoC 2Often, I do not have the indulgence of sleeping in my own bed when traveling to stateside speaking appointments because many times those destinations are too distant from my residence. However, today was an exception. About 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, August 21, 2016, I departed Winona for Clarksdale, MS, just under two hours away.

Mr. GPS (mine has a male voice) took me through Greenwood, with which I am familiar, and through Webb, Tutwiler and Dublin to Clarksdale, all of which were new to me. Not far off the track of today’s trek through field after field in the Mississippi Delta were the towns of Shellmound, Minter City, Glendora, Sumner and Mattson. It was a dreary, overcast day with spitting rain from time to time.

96 dpi 4x6 Clarksdale CoC 1Upon arrival in Clarksdale, a city of over 17,000 people, a one-way street confused my GPS – and me, too, as despite my best efforts I still found myself greeted at the end of one street with a sign indicating that I had gone the wrong way! To add a little challenge to the episode, the church sign was gone – leaving me to wonder if I had found the correct meetinghouse for the Lord’s people who were expecting me. Happily, indeed, I had arrived, and not long afterward some members came along, too. (A few weeks ago, a stolen Cadillac Escalade impacted the church sign, which had been implanted in a brick flowerbox, and carried it through the lawn until it was pinned between the front of the now demolition derby automobile and the brick church building.)

A grand building of some years ago yet it appeals to visitors today. Only a handful of brethren remain at the Clarksdale Church of Christ, who undauntedly continue to assemble to worship Almighty God in spirit and in truth. For Bible class, I made my PowerPoint presentation, “The Church in Prophecy,” and during worship, I presented the PowerPoint, “The Deity of Christ.”

Afterward, most of the congregation that morning reconvened at the local Mexican restaurant for lunch in one of the most ornate such restaurants I have ever visited. As expected, the food was excellent as well, and I enjoyed the fellowship with the local saints.

Brethren at hitherto not visited congregations are often Christian friends that I had not previously met yet. I felt at home with the Christian family that meets at the corner of Lynn and Choctaw streets in Clarksdale, MS.

As a sidebar, I observed something beside the highway that I do not recall ever having seen before – retrofitted grain silos with house windows that have been converted into dwellings. How unusual and intriguing!

To Piedmont and Back

August 7, 2016
Fitting cabin decor for a cattle farmer

Fitting cabin decor for a cattle farmer

Saturday, August 6, after I burnt breakfast, I headed out on nearly a 300 mile trip each way to Piedmont, AL. I’d fire the chef (me), but I’d starve! I fixed sausage (all I had to do was heat the precooked patties and brown them a little), frozen diced potatoes and two, small, round waffles; the only thing I didn’t manage to blacken were the waffles, which were heated in the toaster.

Mister GPS (mine has a male voice) put me exactly in the driveway of my host and hostess for Saturday night, Stan and Carrie Rogers. I had never been to their home before. They have a beautiful vista of a series of rolling hills framing pastureland as their log home sits atop one of those majestic bluffs.

Aside from the hour wait (mitigated by the fellowship with each other), Stan and Carrie, along with John and Daphne Rogers and I enjoyed a delicious meal in a quaint setting in Cave Springs, AL. Stan and John are elders, one each from the two congregations in Piedmont that I was visiting and that support me.

Though I lodged with Stan and Carrie, Sunday morning I left their residence and proceeded to the Piedmont Church of Christ, the other congregation in town. There, it was my good pleasure to make my PowerPoint presentation in Bible class about my most recent missionary adventures in Singapore, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, India and Guyana. For worship, I preached about the Deity of Christ, which by the way was a live broadcast to local radio, too. I was very well received by these good brethren; I look forward to getting to know them individually better each year when I visit.

After worship, I rushed over to the Highway 9 Church of Christ not far away. Church members had already gone through the line, loading their plates for a fellowship meal. I went straight from my car to filling my plate as well. It was an exceptional spread; everything was to the liking of my palette. I enjoyed the meatloaf and baked beans so much that I got a second helping on those items.

For a 1 p.m. worship service, earlier than usual to accommodate another area wide activity, I once more made a PowerPoint presentation about my recent mission work in Asia and South America. Here, too, I was well received by brethren who I have been visiting annually for many years now.

Following worship, I made my way home, four and a half hours or so driving time plus stops along the way. I arrived home a little after 8 p.m. CST. Next week, Lord willing, I will be Center Ridge, AR for Bible class and two worship periods. The following week, I am scheduled to speak for the Clarksdale, MS Church of Christ. I will be making additional appointments between now and the middle of October, when I leave for my next mission trip. Sometime, I need to haul about 2,000 pounds of literature, etc. to a Caribbean Shipping Company agent in Nashville, TN. Between weekends, I expect to finalize volume 90 of The Voice of Truth International, readying it for the printing company. I’m sure that a few other matters will demand my attention also. By the way, next week my new book, Biblical Diversity: God’s View of the Roles of Men and Women, will ship from the printer; it is a mere 75 pages, half written by my late wife Bonnie and the other half penned by me.

May God bless each reader of my blog entry. One of these days it may be your congregation that I visit and from you that I enjoy Christian hospitality, at which time you can read about it in some future blog entry.

Long Travel Day to the Lord’s Day

October 18, 2015

Saturday, October 17 was a day completely consumed in travel. The plan was to make my way from Yangon, Myanmar to Colombo, Sri Lanka. The infamous carrier Malaysia Airlines on which I would be traveling cancelled the route for tickets I had already purchased. The replacement tickets changed my arrival time in Colombo by eight hours later, causing me to lose time in Sri Lanka.

About 12:35 p.m. local time in Yangon, I traveled by taxi the great sum of less than two kilometers from my hotel to the airport. As it turned out, I paid more for a 12 ounce can of Coke Zero in the airport than it cost for the taxi to get to the terminal. All formalities for my departure from Myanmar accomplished, I boarded my first of two planes at 3:45 p.m. With the help of gate personnel, though, I almost made a huge mistake. I thought it was early for my flight to board, and it was, but a young lady gathered up people around the gate and herded them into the queue or line for immediate boarding. Fortunately, the ticket-taker stopped me from getting on an airliner bound for Viet Nam!

Display at Kuala Lumpur airport

Display at Kuala Lumpur airport

Finally seated on the correct airplane later, it carted me to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia after a flight of approximately three hours, providing me my first visit to that airport and country. Modern mall-like amenities there were limited mostly to chocolate or booze. The two restaurants from which travelers could choose majored for the one in pastries and the other in rice dishes. I made no purchases in Kuala Lumpur before departing by air at 11:03 p.m. local time for Colombo. Somewhere around three hours later my plane landed in Sri Lanka at about twenty minutes to midnight.

Minor difficulties with electronic communication only briefly interrupted my retrieval and travel by taxi to the home of brother Harold and sister Lilani Thomas. Sister Thomas had commissioned a taxi driver to pick me up, and so she called him and asked him to pass his phone to me for voice recognition and confirmation that the driver was not bringing a stranger than expected man to her house. If I had had a sore throat, she might have had the taxi driver put me out along the road – where I might still be trying to find my way.

There is absolutely no one else on the planet who has the infectious and uplifting laugh of sister Lilani. I can do voice recognition, too! The Thomas’ are gracious hosts and friends in Christ.

It was about 2 a.m. by the time I showered and got into bed for the night. I had been unable to sleep well Thursday and Friday nights, but I had slept as best one can sitting upright in an airplane seat, sometimes feeling like a rider in a sardine can with wings. Still, I was able to go to sleep in the bed for what time was afforded before rising at 6:30 a.m. Colombo local time.

The Shrubbery Garden Church of Christ is a remarkable congregation from so many perspectives. Christians begin showing up 45 minutes before commencement of worship. Once worship begins, two songs, prayer and the Lord’s Supper use up a full hour on the clock. Next, the preacher is expected to preach for another hour! Since the church had been exploring a series on Jesus Christ, I preached my lesson “The Deity of Jesus Christ.” However, since the Shrubbery Garden church is comprised of English, Senegalese and Tamil speakers, a brother, a former Anglican priest, translated for me. Like back in the American southern states, me being a northerner, I nearly need a translator from English to English, too!

"Tea Break"

“Tea Break”

Following worship each Sunday morning, the church breaks for tea – but really for a full meal. Typically, a class of an hour or so follows that. Finally, when class is over and much time has passed, church leaders have to tell the many lingerers to “go home and come back Wednesday.” Brethren need to be ushered out the car gate, and it needs to be closed. The earnest desire to be with fellow Christians, arrive early and leave late, to have to be encouraged to leave is a devotion to God that we in American congregations would do well to develop.

Apparently at least on Sundays, it is the local custom to take a nap. I was all too ready to visit my bed once more, though only for an hour or so to keep from ruining the upcoming night’s rest. Supper is later here than any place in America – 8:30 p.m. However, I envision that the beef stew for which my mouth is watering will be well worth the wait. As I pen this, I am also anticipating my onward travel tomorrow to New Delhi, India. There and beyond throughout India I will teach and preach the Gospel in several locations over the next four weeks, Lord willing, of course. There is no place I would rather be than doing what I am doing, trying to encourage and edify brethren while at the same time attempting to glorify God. Anyway, I need to be busy for the Lord as much as possible because every idle moment right now is not my friend, but my enemy as I continue to try and come to terms with the loss of my Bonnie. Please pray for me for the sake of the Lord’s work in which I attempt to have a small part wherever I can.

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.