A Great Cloud of Witnesses (on CD)

Since Sun hasn't been feeling well because of the pregnancy, I've been taking care of Joshua more than usual so that she can rest but I run out of things to do with him and get completely exhausted. On the days that he decides to wake up at 5 am, it doesn't help matters. And, frankly, I can only build towers with blocks or watch him drag pillows around the house so much. Keeping him from getting permanent head damage from his climbing (and falling) expeditions also gets old after a while. I love the kid, but often times I would rather be doing some language study or sermon prep instead of watching him for hours on end. But, in any case, I decided to try to make the best use of time, so while I lie on the floor and try to prevent Joshua from hitting me with wooden blocks or plastic tubs, I also listen to sermon CDs. I don't always get through a whole CD before he needs a snack from the kitchen, or a piggyback ride, or the something else happens to take us out of his room, but I have been incredibly blessed by some of the good preaching I've been listening to while watching Joshua at home, and while driving around town with him doing errands.

I was given a set of CDs from the Shepherd's Conference (MacArthur's pastor conference) and it is just excellent to hear some good solid Biblical expositional preaching and teaching. I've heard quite a bit of preaching here in Thailand and frankly, a lot of it is not that impressive. The church here seems to suffer from the same ailment as Western churches - sermons that don't really teach the Word of God but rather merely use a verse or short bible passage as

Enter the Dog

This past Wednesday I went out to Chaat & Mui's home in Nong Doan to teach Ephesians to them as I do every week. Pastor Jarun and I are hoping that this Christian family will be the core of a new church in Nong Doan. This particular week we were studying Ephesians 2:11-22. Usually it is just Chaat, Mui, and myself (and sometimes Sun & Joshua) but this week Chaat decided to bring along Yong, another guy who lives in Nong Doan. Yong is not yet a believer, has shown some interest in the Gospel, but is still not yet decided whether he wants to become a Christian or not. Since Yong doesn't know much of Scripture (at all), I needed to make sure I gave enough background info as we got into our study. Eph. 2:11 starts off, "Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called 'the uncircumcision' by what is called the circumcision..." and Paul goes on to describe the enmity between Jews and Gentiles that was destroyed by the reconciliation brought about by Christ's work on the cross. I made sure that I went through thoroughly who the Jews are, and who the Gentiles are and why circumcision was such a big deal.

On the whole, my Thai language ability is not stupendous and needs work but I can manage my way through teaching a Bible study or preaching a sermon well enough to be understood and a blessing to others. I mention that because after I had been explaining about circumcision, Jews, and Gentiles for a few minutes, Mui quietly says across the table

Life Is Like A Boat

Thai evangelistic tractA couple months ago I was chatting with our neighbor across the street and I decided to get out the poster preaching book that I had bought for personal and open air evangelism and tell one of the stories in it, about some people riding in a boat. This neighbor had previously told me, from his Buddhist perspective, about how life is like a boat and we are all riders in the boat. So, I had another boat story for him.

If you've read some of the previous posts in this blog, this is the same guy who thinks that God helped him get a winning lottery ticket after we prayed for him (we didn't pray for a winning lottery ticket, by the way).

The story is told using a series of poster size pictures, the first of which is also the cover of a tract which tells the same story (see picture above). In brief, the story goes like this: A bunch of people go out for a pleasure trip in a boat and while they are having a good ol' time, the boat flips over. None of them can swim so they are frantically thrashing around for dear life when another boat approaches. They think they are saved, but NO! The man rowing the boat in their direction stays a little distance away and takes out a swimming manual and begins to read it to them, instructing them in the proper swimming method that they need to use in order to save themselves. So some of them drown, but then, while the first guy is still reading the "how to swim" book, another boat approaches and the man in that boat comes right up to the people and starts lifting them out of the water and into the boat. The point of the story is that in order to be saved from sin and hell, we don't need someone to teach us how to save ourselves, but rather we need a Savior who will save us. Thai Buddhists usually think about religion as

Bothered by Evil Spirits

A fellow missionary friend here in Thailand recently shared the following story about the influence of evil spirits on Thai people and I think that those of you who pray for us and for the Thai people will find his story insightful. He writes:

"In the west, we often don't think much of what it would be like to be under the domination of spirits. Fear and manipulation of spirits is a constant theme for many Thai.

Late yesterday afternoon, I got a phone call from one of the church members. He was at the church with a high ranking military officer and his wife, who were asking for prayer [although neither of them are Christians]. She claimed that someone had hired various spirit doctors to possess and attack her. She reported having various visions that I'd rather not go into, and that the spirits were taunting her and telling her she was going to die. There was a look in her eye of emptiness and fear, and her husband had a deep look of concern in his face. As we prepared to pray for her, he asked if he should take off his amulets, and we said yes. He proceeded to take off 4 or 5 necklaces filled with amulets and talismans - one necklace with about 15 small amulets, another with 3 or 4 large amulets, and so on. Some of these amulets are

Prayer and Winning the Lottery

I was talking this evening with our neighbor across the street and he asked if I could thank my wife for praying for him because he felt that those prayers had helped him win the lottery. Lest that you think that we prayed for a winning lottery ticket, I'll provide a little background here. About a week ago, we sat with him for a number of hours in front of his home chatting about this and that. Sun wanted to ask him some questions for an cultural research assignment from our language school but we also talked a lot about various topics, including spiritual ones.

Our neighbor's perspective on religion is not that uncommon among Thais, namely that all religions are good and in order to be a good person, you basically need to set your mind to it and you can be a good person, which is the end goal of religion. All Thai people are familiar with the Buddhist saying, "The only thing that you can depend upon is yourself." He is not into amulets or going to the temple because he says that he counts those as sacred in his heart, so he doesn't need to buy something to hang around his neck or go to a certain place. I've had many conversations with him over the months that we've been here and I often stop and chat with him at his roadside fruit cart when I pass by on the way to the market. Whenever I talk about the Gospel, he always has

Language Progress

Both of us are still plugging along at the language school, making plans to finish up the current units we are working on before moving to our new ministry location in the next month or two. We still are not quite sure where that will be but hopefully will know soon.

In the meantime though, I (Karl) am working on a module where I develop interview questions on a particular topic (in this case, I picked the violence in Southern Thailand) and then go out and interview some people. I record the conversations and then transcribe them in order to learn about on-the-street conversational Thai and see

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