I leave today (Oct 25) to travel to Korea for 12 days. I will be speaking at one of the largest churches in Korea, SaRang (which means “Love”) Church in Seoul. I’ll be teaching all day (7 hours) for two consecutive Saturdays (Oct 28, Nov 4) as a part of a program my seminary is doing with SaRang Church (“Marketplace Missionary Certificate”).
I’m excited, but also a little nervous. If you are the praying sort, I’d appreciate prayers. There are several challenges.
- My teaching will be translated into Korean. I don’t speak Korean, and I have never taught this long in translation.
- There will be 1000 students. I’ve preached to a crowd like this, but never done longer blocks of teaching with anything close to this large of a group.
- I just became dean at my seminary this summer (which is why I haven’t blogged much lately), and I have had a full teaching load in addition to new administrative responsibilities.
- Seoul, as you may know, isn’t very far from North Korea. I will travel to the DMZ on October 31. Hopefully, my president and Kim Jong-un won’t decide to start WW III while I’m there (I’m praying it never happens full stop). Seoul is only 35 miles from the DMZ/border with North Korea.
I’ll be doing other teaching while I’m there (see “Speaking” on my blog). On October 31, I am scheduled to visit the DMZ. I’ll do my best to not start a fight, or look menacing. I’ll post updates on Facebook, and perhaps on my blog.
I look forward to seeing first-hand what God is doing in the land of Korea.
Christianity Today invited me review Brent Strawn’s The Old Testament is Dying: A Diagnosis and Recommended Treatment.
Here is my review (titled, “Man shall not live on the New Testament alone”).
I sure hope the Old Testament isn’t dying, because that might mean I’m out of a job. I love the Old Testament, as did Jesus and Paul. If you love the Old Testament, check out Strawn’s book.
Here’s my prescription for health: “When we make a commitment to regularly read, teach, preach, and sing the Old Testament, we’re doing more than nursing a dying language back to health. We’re also connecting personally to a living God.”
During the time of Noah, God wiped out humanity with a flood (Gen. 6-9).
During the time of Moses, God killed all the Egyptian firstborns and then drowned their army in the Red Sea (Exo. 12, 14).
During the time of Saul, God told Saul to completely slaughter the Amalekites (1 Sam. 15).
During the time of David, God smote Uzzah for merely trying to stabilize the Ark of the Covenant (2 Sam. 6).
During the time of Hezekiah, God destroyed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers (2 Kgs 19:35).
Why is the Bible so violent?
To hear my 38 minute response to this question, click on the video.
Christ Community Church (a multi-campus church in the Chicago suburbs) invited me to speak on violence in the Bible as a part of their summer of 2017 sermon series entitled, “Elephants, the questions we can’t ignore.”
The video begins with an moving 2-minute story that answers the question, “Do elephants really never forget?” I appear at the 2:05 mark.
To listen to the audio, click here.
I don’t cover all the incidents of violence in the Bible, but focus on what I believe to be the most troubling one, the Canaanite conquest recorded in the book of Joshua. Some of this material appears in God Behaving Badly, or in my Relevant article on the Canaanite Genocide.
On Saturday (April 8) at 1:00 am I was picked up by Moses, the LIFES (= Liberia International Fellowship of Evangelical Students) staff-worker, and his family. Shannon joined us from Guinea Bissau later that evening. I was scheduled to speak at Monrovia Christian Fellowship on Sunday at the second service, but with typical African warmth, my friend Pastor Joshua invited me last minute to speak at the early service also. “Sure,” I replied.
As I entered the sweltering sanctuary I thought agreeing to a homiletic “double-header” was a bad idea. I wasn’t used to the heat. A few weeks earlier I had been shoveling snow off my driveway in Pennsylvania. As I preached on the smiting of Uzzah (my go-to sermon; 2 Samuel 6:1-11) my light blue shirt became distinctly two-toned—because of sweat. Afterwards, a woman came up to Shannon and I, telling us just the day before she was reading the story of Uzzah and was distressed because she couldn’t understand it. The talk felt like God answering her prayer.
On Monday, we spent several hours filling up large barrels of water at LIFES student camp site. There was no running water, so cooking, bathing, flushing were all dependent upon getting those barrels full. We filled them from the well with a bucket on a long rope. It took several hours, but right as my back started to ache (my shirt had already changed color), I realized this was phenomenal preparation for my talks. At the camp I would teach on the Wedding at Cana (John 2) and the Samaritan Woman (John 4), two passages where wells and water feature prominently. I was doing first-hand research, and just like the Samaritan woman, we were doing this at mid-day. (But I still don’t think that means we’re prostitutes; see Prostitutes & Polygamists, page 81.) The students at the camp filled up the barrels for the rest of the week and slept on thin mats on hard concrete classroom floors. We were humbled by the costs these LIFES students were willing to pay to study the Word of God with us. I particularly enjoyed my conversations with two students. Pray for Ibrahim a recent convert and Cyrus who is helping to start a new fellowship on his campus.
The low point for us came when we decided we could no longer handle the heat. We had were teaching long hours every day with a heat index over a hundred degree Fahrenheit, and had been staying with a delightful and wonderfully hospitable Liberian family, who didn’t have air conditioning. We moved to a local hotel so that we could have air conditioning at night. It felt like defeat for us since we wanted to be with Liberians as much as possible. We had been teaching on the incarnation of Jesus (John 1). The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, but Dave and Shannon couldn’t take the heat, so we needed to move over to Jandy’s Tropical Paradise. It was humbling. And it made us even more appreciative of the costs Jesus’ paid to dwell among us and die for us.
Thank you for your support and prayers.