“We never leave you alone”

Incheon Coffee 4 Friends (11.5.2017)As my Korean friends drove me to Incheon Airport to send me home to JFK last Sunday, I expected them to just drop me off at the curb, and commented thus as they walked in with me.  One of them said, “In Korea, we never leave you alone.”  So true.

In future blogs, I’ll share more stories from my time in Korea.

The two women chatted with me in line as I checked my bag, while the two men took pictures of us as we weaved back and forth in the queue.  After check-in I said, “Well, I should probably get in the security line,” which looked like it might take a while.

They said, “Let’s get some coffee.”  I think they thought we still needed a few thousand more pictures.  I said, “Sure” (although I don’t drink coffee).  We wandered around the check-in area for a couple of minutes until we found a restaurant.  I got tea.

While we were sitting there chatting (and taking pictures), my friends said, “You can go to the prestige lounge after going through security” (I was flying business class, which was not my decision).  I pointed around at my four friends and said, “This is my prestige lounge.”

I hadn’t finished my piping hot tea, but it was time to get in line (a good place for pictures).  One of the women said to me, “You are more attractive in person than in pictures,” which is perhaps the kindest way to say to someone, “You aren’t very photogenic.”

Usually when I get in the security line I discover that I have a full water bottle that needs to be instantly chugged.  Fortunately, it was only half-full this time.  Ah, but I still had a scalding cup of tea with a lid still on.  Probably worthy of another picture.  I poured enough cold water into my hot tea to make it drinkable for my wimpy lips, and then proceeded to guzzle.  The women stayed with me in line as long as possible (we never leave you alone), and they then graciously offered to accept my donation of a trashed tea-cup.

They couldn’t stay with me in line, but they could walk along next to me on the other side of the rope, waving at me, until finally I disappeared from their sight behind a wall.

Once on the other side, they sent me some photos, including the two I’m using in this post.


Incheon Farewell Wave (11.5.2017)

I learned many things while in Korea, but this final lesson, the incredible value of simply being with people, never being left alone, was perhaps the most profound.

Upon my arrival at JFK, I tell Shannon, “When I come home, I expect you to treat me just like my Korean friends, like a king.”  Her response, “Yeah, right.”




Traveling to Korea (Oct 25-Nov 5)

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.

  1. My teaching will be translated into Korean.  I don’t speak Korean, and I have never taught this long in translation.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Korea Map

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.


Is the Old Testament Really Dying?

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.”

Why is the Bible so violent?

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.