Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Curiosity or Compassion?
“But when he [Jesus] saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” Matthew 9:36
As I was driving the 2 hour trip to Kaoshiung the other day, I was once again struck by the beauty of the mountains here in Taiwan. Malcom and I used to make that trip weekly to teach bible college classes. It had now been about two years since I had traveled that highway. However, it wasn’t just the beautiful scenery that drew my attention, but the sight of a large idol—a gold Buddha probably 10 stories tall set in the mountain side, towering over the land. My heart was gripped with sadness as I reflected that such a sight was common in this country, and indeed symbolized the very real stronghold that Satan has on the Taiwanese people.
I am reminded of the first year we lived in Taiwan about 34 years ago. At that time we were here with the US Air Force. While many Americans and other tourists enjoyed visiting the temples to view the architecture and see the worship practices of a different culture, I could never enjoy a moment of it. For once you look upon people through the eyes of Jesus, it is compassion that grips you, not curiosity. Then the dilemma is presented: the harvest is great but the laborers are few (vs. 37).
Taiwan is still a very spiritually needy mission field. But there’s a shortage of laborers and the numbers are fewer than a year ago. I’m praying to the “Lord of the harvest” that someone will move from simply curiosity to true compassion.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
I Much Prefer Pleasant
“The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips. Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul, and health to the bones.” Proverbs 16:23-24
Last week I had the opportunity to attend a high school drama production of the classic play by Mary Chase called “Harvey.” It’s a delightful story of a likeable man who has an imaginary 6-foot rabbit friend. One of my favorite lines in the whole play is, “For 45 years I tried smart. I much prefer pleasant!”
Reading in the 16th chapter of Proverbs one discovers that “smart” and “pleasant” have a common denominator—the heart of the wise. Godly wisdom flows from the heart and brings forth pleasant words that are as sweet as honey and edifying to both the hearer and the speaker. There is healing power in words that are sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. Proverbs 26:11 describes a word fitly spoken as “apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Pleasant indeed!
I’ve been the recipient of such words in recent days. Perhaps the one who said, “Thank you for showing me God” didn’t realize how much I needed to hear a word of encouragement that day. It was just the medicine I needed. On another day my sad countenance was lifted by words of hope from someone who has walked a similar path.
It’s a worthy pursuit—to fill our hearts with God’s wisdom, then drawing from that well teach our lips and taste our words before blessing another with “pleasant.”
Sunday, March 04, 2007
“In him [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. That was the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” John 1:2-3,9
The fifteenth day of the lunar new year is here and brings with it the festival of lights, commonly called “Lantern Festival.” Children look forward to this day all year for the chance to go out in the evening with a lighted lantern in hand to be dazzled by the pretty lights and the fireworks. Holiday activities often include such things as making paper lanterns, the telling of riddles plus food and games for all.
The origin of the Lantern Festival is rooted in religious worship. It seems the “kitchen god” (who left at the beginning of the new year to report to the higher god of heaven) is now returning. So the devoted followers must go out in the night with lanterns to light his way back. In this pantheistic society there are many who still hold to this pagan belief.
From my 14th floor apartment, I listen to the sounds of the firecrackers and watch the fireworks exploding in the sky. My heart cannot help but long for the “Light of the World” to shine into the hearts of the Taiwanese. Jesus Christ is the living God who does not need us to light His way. Instead He brings the light of life to illuminate our dark souls, giving salvation and hope.