Thai Tracts and Bible Overview

Update 8-17-2010:  After reviewing more of these resources and recieving input from another missionary, it seem s that some of these articles might be a little suspect.  Particularly the “Trail of Blood” at the bottom of the page.  So, although I don’t recommed all of these materials, I’ll leave them up on the site because I still think some of it can be useful to use.

I was recently directed to a website that provides tracts in Thai.  There is also a short course on the Bible’s main storyline and a short booklet on “What is the Church”.

I have not read all of this yet, but it could be a helpful resource for all you Thai missionaries.

Resources for Missions – Thai

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When did the Good News become just good advice?

That is the subtitle of Michael Horton’s most recent book The Gospel-Driven Life.  In this book, Horton attempts to “reorient our faith and practice as Christians and churches toward the gospel”.

This book is fantastic and it covers so much ground.  Christ and culture, word and sacrament, law and gospel, niche demographic ministry, common misconceptions of the gospel, narcissism, discipleship “programs”, spiritual disciplines…etc.  This is a follow up to a previous book called Christless Christianity. In that first book he makes the case that the evangelical landscape today, from liberal to conservative, is looking more and more like a Christianity with no Jesus.  It’s filled with agendas (political, social, moral…etc.) but often void of any good NEWS about what God has done.  He says that even though many would agree on the fundamentals of the Christian faith when asked, it’s just not seen as that important.  The gospel is assumed.  Or the gospel is just something we need to get “in”.

Here is a short 4 minute video about that first book.  I would strongly recommend both of these books.  If it were possible for me to tie you down in a chair and force you to read them, I would.  🙂  Especially for those on the mission field.  In my opinion the problems addressed in Christless Christianity are even more pronounced on the mission field where the focus is so often all on doing, and so the remedy prescribed in The Gospel-Driven Life is so very helpful.

http://www.whitehorseinn.org/index.php?option=com_hwdvideoshare&task=viewvideo&Itemid=48&video_id=10

The Christless Christianity website below allows you to read the first chapter of the book for free online.

http://christlesschristianity.org/

If you’re interested to hear more about the book Gospel-Driven Life before you decide to buy it.  Or if you don’t want to buy it but just want to hear a summary.  This is a link to a short and very to the point interview with the author that gives a good summary of it’s contents.

Interview on Gospel Driven Life

The Holiness of God

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The other day I let a friend borrow “The Holiness of God” by R.C. Sproul (translated to Thai).  I was so encouraged when he came to me two days later informing me that he had finished already.  He loved it.  He has been a Christian now for only a few months but he seemed to think that it was a great book for new Christians.  He told me that he was nervous about reading the Old Testament before because of all the people that were killed and how to him God seemed “mean”.  This book helped him to understand the justice of God, the sinfulness of man, and therefore helped to put in perspective some things that may seem difficult at first. 

If you have never read this book, I would strongly recommend it.  But hey, suppose you don’t like reading…..don’t give up so fast!  You can watch the video teaching series online for FREE right now.  Just follow the link below.  This is really some of the best teaching you can get. 

http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/holiness_of_god/the-importance-of-holiness/

If you’re in Thailand and you want to order this book for some of your friends or church members.  The link below will send you over to Kanok Banasaan.  It’s only 100 Baht!

http://www.kanokbannasan.org/books.php?bookid=1031

Teaching the fundamentals

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UPDATE 8-10-2010     New in print in Thai is Millard Erickson’s Christian Theology.  It has been translated by Bangkok Bible Seminary and can be purchased at the bookstore there. 

One of the difficulties that the Church faces in Thailand is a lack of quality books in Thai.  It’s distressing to see the catalogue of available books for the people of God when compared to what we all have at our disposal.  For instance, from what I know, Thailand does not have a substantial systematic theology in print.  Now that can pose some problems for people trying to really dig in to some study and yet don’t know English.  Although, they could always buy the Five Love Languages!  Now there’s some meat. 

A couple months back, a friend provided me with the Westminster Shorter Catechism in Thai.  I was more than thrilled.  Plus it’s a file on the computer that can be printed and distributed freely.  It spread through quite a few members of our church quick, and I have been able to answer a couple questions about it already.  What a great tool!  If anyone would like this, and currently do not have it, let me know and I’ll send it over to you.

Is the Shorter Catechism Worthwhile?

Benjamin B. Warfield

The Shorter Catechism is, perhaps, not very easy to learn. And very certainly it will not teach itself. Its framers were less careful to make it easy than to make it good. As one of them, Lazarus Seaman, explained, they sought to set down in it not the knowledge the child has, but the knowledge the child ought to have. And they did not dream that anyone could expect it to teach itself. They committed it rather to faithful men who were zealous teachers of the truth, “to be,” as the Scottish General Assembly puts it in the Act approving it, “a Directory for catechizing such as are of a weaker capacity,” as they sent out the Larger Catechism “to be a Directory for catechizing such as have made some proficiency in the knowledge of the grounds of religion.”

No doubt it requires some effort whether to teach or to learn the Shorter Catechism. It requires some effort whether to teach or to learn the grounds of any department of knowledge. Our children – some of them at least – groan over even the primary arithmetic and find sentence-analysis a burden. Even the conquest of the art of reading has proved such a task that “reading without tears” is deemed an achievement. We think, nevertheless, that the acquisition of arithmetic, grammar and reading is worth the pains it costs the teacher to teach, and the pain it costs the learner to learn them. Do we not think the acquisition of the grounds of religion worth some effort, and even, if need be, some tears?

For, the grounds of religion must be taught and learned as truly as the grounds of anything else. Let us make no mistake here. Religion does not come of itself: it is always a matter of instruction. The emotions of the heart, in which many seem to think religion too exclusively to consist, ever follow the movements of the thought. Passion for service cannot take the place of passion for truth, or safely outrun the acquisition of truth; for it is dreadfully possible to compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, to find we have made him only a “son of hell.” This is why God establishes and extends his Church by the ordinance of preaching; it is why we have Sunday schools and Bible classes. Nay, this is why God has grounded his Church in revelation. He does not content himself with sending his Spirit into the world to turn men to him. He sends his Word into the world as well. Because, it is from knowledge of the truth, and only from the knowledge of the truth, that under the quickening influence of the Spirit true religion can be born. Is it not worth the pains of the teacher to communicate, the pain of the scholar to acquire this knowledge of the truth? How unhappy the expedient to withhold the truth – that truth under the guidance of which the religious nature must function if it is to function aright – that we may save ourselves these pains, our pupils this pain!

An anecdote told of Dwight L. Moody will illustrate the value to the religious life of having been taught these forms of truth. He was staying with a Scottish friend in London, but suppose we let the narrator tell the story. “A young man had come to speak to Mr. Moody about religious things. He was in difficulty about a number of points, among the rest about prayer and natural laws. ‘What is prayer?,’ he said, ‘I can’t tell what you mean by it!’ They were in the hall of a large London house. Before Moody could answer, a child’s voice was heard singing on the stairs. It was that of a little girl of nine or ten, the daughter of their host. She came running down the stairs and paused as she saw strangers sitting in the hall. ‘Come here, Jenny,’ her father said, ‘and tell this gentleman “What is prayer.” ‘ Jenny did not know what had been going on, but she quite understood that she was now called upon to say her Catechism. So she drew herself up, and folded her hands in front of her, like a good little girl who was going to ‘say her questions,’ and she said in her clear childish voice: “Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.” ‘Ah! That’s the Catechism!’ Moody said, ‘thank God for that Catechism.’ ”

How many have had occasion to “thank God for that Catechism!” Did anyone ever know a really devout man who regretted having been taught the Shorter Catechism – even with tears – in his youth? How its forms of sound words come reverberating back into the memory, in moments of trial and suffering, of doubt and temptation, giving direction to religious aspirations, firmness to hesitating thought, guidance to stumbling feet: and adding to our religious meditations an ever-increasing richness and depth. “The older I grow,” said Thomas Carlyle in his old age, “and now I stand on the brink of eternity, the more comes back to me the first sentence in the Catechism, which I learned when a child, and the fuller and deeper its meaning becomes: “What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” Robert Louis Stevenson, too, had learned this Catechism when a child; and though he wandered far from the faith in which it would guide his feet, he could never escape from its influence, and he never lost his admiration (may we not even say, his reverence) for it. Mrs. Sellars, a shrewd, if kindly, observer, tells us in her delightful “Recollections” that Stevenson bore with him to his dying day what she calls “the indelible mark of the Shorter Catechism”; and he himself shows how he esteemed it when he set over against one another what he calls the “English” and the “Scottish” Catechisms – the former, as he says, beginning by “tritely inquiring ‘What is your name?,’ ” the latter by “striking at the very roots of life with ‘What is the chief end of man?’ and answering nobly, if obscurely, ‘To glorify God and to enjoy him forever.’ ”

What is “the indelible mark of the Shorter Catechism”? We have the following bit of personal experience from a general officer of the United States army. He was in a great western city at a time of intense excitement and violent rioting. The streets were over-run daily by a dangerous crowd. One day he observed approaching him a man of singularly combined calmness and firmness of mien, whose very demeanor inspired confidence. So impressed was he with his bearing amid the surrounding uproar that when he had passed he turned to look back at him, only to find that the stranger had done the same. On observing his turning the stranger at once came back to him, and touching his chest with his forefinger, demanded without preface: “What is the chief end of man?” On receiving the countersign, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever” – “Ah!” said he, “I knew you were a Shorter Catechism boy by your looks!” “Why, that was just what I was thinking of you,” was the rejoinder.

It is worth while to be a Shorter Catechism boy. They grow to be men. And better than that, they are exceedingly apt to grow to be men of God. So apt, that we cannot afford to have them miss the chance of it. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it.”