<![CDATA[The Unpopular Pastor - Blog]]>Tue, 19 Jan 2016 21:40:29 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[This is What We Do Here in Thailand]]>Fri, 30 Oct 2015 16:42:24 GMThttp://theunpopularpastor.weebly.com/blog/this-is-what-we-do-here-in-thailandWe had just finished ministering in the prison, located just outside of Pattaya, Thailand, where we are the chaplains. We walked across the street to a small roadside restaurant to eat a plate of fried rice.

There was a man who looked to be of middle-eastern descent sitting alone at a table. We made eye contact, so I said hello and introduced myself. He was from Iraq. I found out that he himself had just been released from the prison and was sitting there pondering what to do next.

Foreigners who do prison time here in Thailand and do not have any money to pay for their deportation are many times just released into the general public, regardless of whether they have a valid Thai visa, or even a valid passport. They just open the gate and send them out. This was his case.

He was a hard looking man. I asked him what he was going to do next. He said, "Try to make it to the Malaysian border, where hopefully, my fellow Muslims will let me in. I can then work from there in trying to get back to Iraq."

He only had 70 Baht ($2) on him. So Joanna and I bought him fried rice and bottled water and gave him 500 Baht ($13) for the bus ticket to the Malaysian border.

"Why do you do this?" he asked, looking perplexed. "I am a Muslim and you are a Christian. How can I pay you back?"

"I ask only one thing of you," I replied. "One day there will be a Christian whom you will have the power of life or death over. I ask that you spare his life and help him, like I have helped you."

He paused for a moment, then looked me in the eye and nodded, "Okay, yes, this I will do for you." And then we shook hands and parted.

​Hopefully, I saved the life of one Christian some where in the Middle-east.]]>
<![CDATA[Many ask, "What can I actually buy and mail you?"]]>Thu, 12 Jun 2014 06:06:36 GMThttp://theunpopularpastor.weebly.com/blog/many-ask-what-can-i-actually-buy-and-mail-youYES! You can help us out with our biggest needs here in Thailand...right there in the USA...at your local Dollar Store!

1. READING GLASSES...thank you all who have mailed us eye glasses...we gave them all out at the prison last month!. Reading glasses for both the prisoners and HIV residents are still needed...we need probably 50 more pairs (we've given away around 30 so far). Dollar Store type reading glasses cost anywhere from $10 - $20 here, so we cant afford to provide every prisoner and HIV resident with glasses...so those who need them usually go without. We need all strengths (+0.5 through +3.5) as well as negative strengths also. I have at least 7 prisoners who read fine but can't see anything past 10 feet...so negatives are BADLY NEEDED. 

Do you have old, unused prescription eye glasses of ANY STRENGTH lying around the house? PLEASE MAIL TO US. We will give them to a prisoner or HIV patient or family member, and they will be very grateful. 

2. Candy is an expense here that we can't afford...so the HIV+ kids who reside at the hospice, as well as the children of the HIV residents, never get any. It is difficult to find anything here other than hard candy and gummies, so any novelty candies, red licorice or bubblegum would lift the kids spirits...

Please mail to:
Inthira (Joanna) Samuels
286 Moo 1, Mooban Sookame, 
Soi 33 Banglamung, Chonburi 20150 

Drop me a comment here on this post or FB message me when you mail your package, so that we can let the mailman know that we are expecting one...unexpected packages tend to "get lost" at the post office here...Thank you so much for being part of our mission here in Pattaya, Thailand!

(Financial support information for the Samuels' Thailand ministry can be found on the menu to the left, under CONTACT, as well as links to our Facebook, Twitter and email.)

<![CDATA[Dinner at the Air-Con Cafe]]>Thu, 12 Jun 2014 04:49:08 GMThttp://theunpopularpastor.weebly.com/blog/dinner-at-the-air-con-cafe"An arm and a leg!"...he bellowed a bray!
Such a clamor he made...over how much to pay,
To the peddler...outside of the air-con cafe,
Where we ate our dessert...from the dinner buffet.

The vendor, who walked in the heat...all the day,
Just smiled and said... "Mai pen rai. That's OK.
I am tired, with no money...to show for today."
As he gazed...at my half finished chocolate parfait.
At a loss he sold cheap...Resigned...Walked away.

I said to my friend..."You 'bout started a fray!
And you saved only...oh...fifty cents, by the way."
But deaf to my words...smugly grinned, "Power play!"
"I drive a hard bargain, huh!?...Gotta say!
Souvenir for my son...where's the waiter?"..."You! Hey!"

"Gotta run!...Can't be late! ...I must open and pray,
At the meeting...down at the church there, today."
"I got this!"... pulling out a thick wad, a cache,
Of thousand baht notes...proudly said, "Let me pay."
"Waiter! Check!...(stupid folks!)..." he grumbled away.

Twelve hundred Baht...not a blink...not a sway.
He paid for our meal at the air-con cafe.
This amount, for these "folks"...is a wage of three days.
"...could 've eaten much cheaper," I thought...no...I prayed. 

He gulped down his drink...(his cold Perrier).
"God bless!"...(fake smile)...then he left...no delay.

I sat and I thought..."James...'Yield right-of-way.'
To Cornelius...the angel...'Give alms, always pray.'
David's son...'Help the poor...He'll reward you one day.'"

Up I jumped up...pierced, my soul...I ran out, the cafe.
"The man selling toys!...did you see him? Which way!?"
I asked the young girl at the wrist-watch display.
"I must find him and help him!" ...my guilt to allay.

I looked for ten minutes ...but to my dismay
I never did find him...he'd gone away.

But I will not forget my conviction...conveyed,
At that smorgasbord...there in the air-con cafe.

"You are blessed...You must bless"...He spoke...clear as day,
"Be kind to the poor...and be quick to obey."]]>
<![CDATA[Bill's Unpopular Sermons #3 Resisting Lust]]>Tue, 18 Mar 2014 04:43:49 GMThttp://theunpopularpastor.weebly.com/blog/bills-unpopular-sermons-3-resisting-lustA spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down ~Mary Poppins

A friend once told me, "I fail in the area of lustful thoughts. I think impure sexual thoughts. I confess my sin, ask forgiveness and repent. I’m fine for a few days, but the cycle repeats. How do I stop?"

Philippians 4:7-8 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

5 steps I find helpful:

1. The first look is free...the second is sin. 
Think on things that are pure, as the Scriptures command in Phil. 4:8. You can control where your thoughts go by making a mental choice to focus on something nonsexual.

2. Remove sources of sexual temptation. 
Identify the things in your life that are contributing to the problem. You know what they are. Two things to avoid:

• Internet porn: the web gives easy, free access to pornography. If you can’t resist, set your computer up in the common room of your house, with the screen facing so that all who pass by can see. I was not a big fan of the movie "Fireproof", but one scene that greatly affected me was when Kirk Cameron’s character, struggling with internet porn, literally took his computer out into his driveway, smashed it with a baseball bat, and threw it in the garbage. 

Radical change requires…radical change. Throwing your computer in the dumpster is probably not a realistic solution in today’s world...but confiding in a trusted friend concerning your porn addiction is…then set strict security settings on your computer…with the friend holding the password. I believe God honors radical decisions for Him. 

Matthew 18:8 “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire.

• Alcohol: When people get drunk, they have sex, it’s just what happens. Inhibitions are removed and our sin nature rises up. For some, this means don’t over indulge in alcohol. For others, this means don’t indulge in alcohol at all. You know which one you are.

3. Purpose in your heart to follow God's Word. 
For you Left-brainers out there this means, make right decisions. Act with your brain and not your emotions. For you Right-brainers, this means, make HIM your passion, for emotions are your world. Live and breathe Him, so that there is no room in your heart for lustful passions. Make right decisions. 

Psalm 119:11 Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.

When Satan tempted Eve, she engaged him in conversation, instead of just turning her back on him and walking away. We all know the outcome of her choice! 

4. Protect yourself with the Word. 
When Satan came to Jesus, His defense was to speak the Word. Satan did not argue with Scripture; he left. Follow Jesus’ example… ”As it is written…” (Suggestion – buy a pack of 3” x 5” note cards. Start writing your favorite scriptures on them, then carry them with you at all times. Read through them throughout the day...memorize them.) 

Keep your walk with the Lord strong. Develop an intimate relationship with Him. Difficult times come when we get out of fellowship with God. He doesn't leave us; we just stop relating to Him. 

Remember the basics: daily Bible reading, regular prayer (set a time…an appointment with the Father), constant fellowship.

5. If you fall down, get up. 
Prov. 24:16a For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again…) What makes a man righteous is not that he doesn’t fall, but that when he does, he gets back up…. “He who endures to the end shall be saved.”

Romans 13:11-14 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

After I preached this once, a woman came up to me with scowl on her face and said, “What an AWKWARD sermon!” I responded, “Awkward is my specialty, lady.” ...She never came back. 

She’s probably home looking at porn now. 
<![CDATA[America's Gods]]>Wed, 12 Mar 2014 00:06:44 GMThttp://theunpopularpastor.weebly.com/blog/americas-godsI was privileged to live in Thailand and work throughout Southeast Asia from 1997 to 2004.  My beautiful wife of 15 years is from Thailand and her family belongs to a Christian minority in a land predominantly Buddhist.  My father-in-law, Pastor Tony, is a protestant clergyman and travels into the remote villages of Thailand delivering food and clothing to the poor.  It was an exciting time for our family as our four children were able to grow up in this exotic culture and learn to speak both English and Thai. 

In 1998, Pastor Tony was planning a ministry trip into the far north of the country and would be visiting some villages that had not seen outsiders since the Vietnam War.  Knowing that I had a few weeks off from work, Pastor Tony invited me to join him on his travels.  I helped him load the old 2 ½ ton U.S. Army surplus truck he used, known affectionately as the “Deuce and a Half”.  We were laden with sacks of rice, donated clothes and soccer balls and looked forward to bringing these gifts to the villagers.  

I imagined the faces of the children as we would hand out the precious soccer balls to the young kids. Football, as soccer is known in Thailand, is the national sport and an actual football is a special gift.  Many village children play the sport with a tightly bundled ball of rags, as a ball is an expensive luxury for many poor families.

We headed out on the 600-mile, 2-day road trip.  The drive to the village was an adventure in itself as we forded streams and tackled barely navigable dirt roads.  We stopped for breaks in many of the villages we passed through, which were really our fun way of terming the frequent truck breakdowns.  As always, I enjoyed shocking villagers with the fact that I could not only speak, but also read the Thai language as well. I would entertain the small crowds that gathered around me during our rest stops by reading out shop signs and newspaper headlines in Thai.

We eventually arrived at our destination; a small village in the province of Chiang Rai, nestled in the fabled and notorious Golden Triangle.  The villagers were farmers and for generations had made their living growing poppy flowers.  They would harvest the potent opium sap from these flowers and sell this to the ethnic Chinese traders who would regularly pass through the village on mule caravans.

When I exited the truck, I understood that the people were excited to see a foreigner when one young man beamed at me with a toothy smile and gave two thumbs up as he shouted, “USA!  We love you Bill Clinton!”  They were fascinated by the tall foreigner who looked so different from them but spoke Thai. 

The children did not disappoint me and they were overjoyed to receive the soccer balls.  I kicked around a ball with some of the kids in the village square.  As remote as this village was, the children knew all about football and they peppered me with questions about their favorite European football teams and stars.

We were unloading the rice sacks with the help of some of the village men, when an old woman approached us excitedly.  She looked ancient.  Her leathered, weather beaten face, callous hands, and the splayed toes of her shoeless feet spoke of years working in the poppy fields and rice paddies.  Her dialect of Thai was difficult for me to understand. As she spoke to us though, I caught, “I’m a Christian!  I’m a Christian!  I must show you something at my house!”  She would not take no for an answer, as she grabbed my arm and pulled me toward her. We took this interruption in stride and Pastor Tony said, “You go ahead, Bill. I’ll finish up here.” 

The old lady escorted me to a small house.  It would be more accurately described as a hut, as its walls were roughly built of old discarded lumber and the roof was a patchwork of sheet tin and dismantled wooden crates.  We removed our shoes, as is the custom, and ducked low to enter her dark dwelling.  It took a few moments to adjust to the poor lighting.  With an excited smile on her face, the woman animatedly pointed to the wall that held her spirit shelf. 

The spirit shelf is a part of almost all houses in Thailand. This is where statues of the household gods are kept.  Every morning the family will light an incense stick on the shelf and place a small glass of whiskey and some fruit in front of these idols, so as to appease the ruling spirits of their home and village. 

I walked closer to the shelf to see what she was pointing at.  Behind me the old woman was breathless as she anxiously awaited my recognition of her idols.  And sure enough, even in the dimly lit hut, the two deities on her shelf were easily recognized.  Surrounded by the ash of burnt incense, a shot glass half full of some potent looking liquid and a rotting banana, there sat a miniature bust of JFK and a dusty picture of a young Elvis Presley. 

The woman was pleased; very satisfied as she saw the recognition on my face.  “See,” she almost whispered, “I told you I was a Christian!  I pray to the American gods!”

We spent two enjoyable days with these kind and understanding people.  Out of their poverty, they fed us with the best of their food and gave up their own sleeping mats so as to assure our comfort.  I never did find out how this old woman came to believe that these two cultural icons were the gods Americans prayed to.  As far as I know though, JFK and Elvis are still today worshiped with whiskey and incense in the hinterlands of the Golden Triangle. 

~Bill Samuels, 2008

<![CDATA[Bill's Unpopular Sermons #2      The Gospel...with a Twist.]]>Tue, 11 Mar 2014 10:39:26 GMThttp://theunpopularpastor.weebly.com/blog/bills-unpopular-sermons-2-the-gospelwith-a-twista spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down ~mary poppins

LIE -"You're going to Hell because you're gay."

TRUTH - "You're going to Hell because you're a sinner."

When you preach this, "You're going to Hell because you are gay", you're preaching a gospel with just a little added twist to it; which makes it a false gospel; a lie. Does being gay make you a "worse" sinner than being greedy, or a glutton, or a thief, etc...? The Bible does allude to some sins carrying more dire spiritual consequences than others, but that's for the Judge to decide. For now, we're all in the same boat, "for all have sinned..."

I Cor. 6 clearly states that the "unrighteous and the wrongdoers" will be separated from God. Do you look at porn online? You make the list too, under "impure and immoral". SIN separates us from God, of which participating in homosexual acts is but one example (more on that in one of our next unpopular sermons).

Do you not know that the unrighteous and the wrongdoers will not inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived (misled): neither the impure and immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who participate in homosexuality, nor cheats (swindlers and thieves), nor greedy graspers, nor drunkards, nor foulmouthed revilers and slanderers, nor extortioners and robbers will inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God. ~I Cor. 6:9-10 (AMP)

Waiting for Westboro Baptist Church to start picketing our local churches with signs reading, "God hates alcoholics!", "Burn in Hell greedy person!" and "Pray for more dead gossipers!"
<![CDATA[Bill's Unpopular Sermons #1       The Truncated Gospel]]>Tue, 11 Mar 2014 10:13:42 GMThttp://theunpopularpastor.weebly.com/blog/bills-unpopular-sermons-1-the-truncated-gospela spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down ~mary poppins

One of the Enemy's favorite strategies? …cutting the Gospel in half.

LIE -"Correct theology/correct doctrine equals salvation" 

TRUTH - unless your right thinking leads you to right action, your correct theology is irrelevant. (see Matt. 25:34-40 for examples of right actions).

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. ~ James 2:14-17 (NIV)

"Luke-warm people make Me vomit!"
~God (Rev. 3:16)