Monday, March 11, 2013


As of this writing I am sitting in a hotel room in India.  It is 1pm and we are about to go out at 2pm to meet a woman in a village who was duped into selling her land to a fraudulent crook that took advantage of her because she could not read.  She lost everything.  However, she did begin to take literacy classes through Mission India, and through those classes was introduced to Jesus Christ and received eternal salvation.  Praise God!

Earlier in the trip we met a pastor who is working in a very hostile location.  He was a day laborer working for less than a dollar a day; and for a hobby he would create and sell village liquor.  However, God intervened in a dramatic way and this man was brought to saving faith in Jesus Christ.  He began a church in a hostile location.  I met seventy converts of the church - all people that had to travel to a remote location to be baptized because if it was found out that they were converted they would face serious persecution.  

These are not strange or unique stories in India; they are common stories of persecution and suffering that is found in this place.  And what this gets me to in this blog is this - I need to be more thankful.  A lot more thankful.  

You see, I grew up in a home with a mother and father that loved me.  I grew up in a home where my mother took me to church regularly, taught me the Bible and the importance of Jesus Christ, and I never doubted His love.  I went to school early, was taught basic skills, lived in an environment where education was possible, and took advantage of those educational opportunities.  I went to college, went to graduate school, and have become a pastor.  I am a pastor in a country where we can freely gather together and worship Jesus Christ according to the dictates of our conscience.  And while I definitely agree that a time will come in our own country where worshipping Jesus becomes much more secularly hostile, we are not truly there yet.  

Just as a side note about the blessings most of us have, I was talking with the producer of the video project that we are shooting here and he gave me a scenario.  When you and I experience trouble in our country, we call the police and we are thankful when the police come.  When someone is ill we call the ambulance and the ambulance comes.  We are taken to a hospital and people treat us - regardless of our race or religion or gender.  Say what you want about our police force - but when push comes to shove [literally] I am very thankful when I see a police officer. 

Imagine growing up in an area where the police are so corrupt that if you are physically harmed you don't even think to call them; and if they come they side with your abuser?  Imagine a place where true medical care is simply not available.  Imagine living in a place where your simple devotion to Jesus can cause physical harm.  I do not think we can.  When I see it, it is still difficult to believe.  

Which again leads me to be thankful.  I do not think we realize the tremendous blessing we have to gather together once or twice a week, hear the Gospel, receive the Sacraments, recite the Creed, and have a true knowledge of the nature of God.  We are preparing for eternity in those moments.  Many people cannot even think far enough ahead to prepare for retirement - let alone prepare for eternity.  And yet, if you are attending a Bible believing church where the Law and Gospel are clearly presented - you are preparing for eternity.  And we are able to do it freely without fear.  Amazing.  

This blog is simply written to remind us in America - myself especially - how thankful we should be.  Thank God for His Word.  Thank God for His church.  Thank God that we live in an orderly country where we have protections.  I truly thank God.  

This is not written to say that everything in America is grand.  It is not.  However, when you visit a place that is not America and does not have the protections afforded Americans, you see at once the glaring difference - and you take a moment to thank God for where you are.  

Now, one last thought.  What did I do to deserve to grow up in a loving home, with loving parents, with a Biblical church background, with educational opportunities, in a country with afforded protections, etc....?  Absolutely nothing.  Which also reminds me that to whom much is given - much is required.  That terrifies me.  I can do more.  I can give more.  I can be more.  Lord, help me to be that which you call me to be.  Amen.