Saturday, April 30, 2011


I was coming home from clinic the other day when I spotted this sight. Off St. Joseph Street, that runs through the campus of Dallas Seminary. Yup, a hammock! Strung between two trees by the side of the road, on one side of Chafer Chapel.

And there was a guy in it. Sleeping. A seminary student.

I suppose it is the season. No, I didn't mean the balmy and bright 75°F we've been enjoying here. As they used to say in Old English:

Sumer is icumen in,
Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweþ sed and bloweþ med
And springþ þe wde nu,
Sing cuccu!

Summer has come in,
Loudly sing, Cuckoo!
The seed grows and the meadow blooms
And the wood springs anew,
Sing, Cuckoo!

No, I didn't mean the "cuckoo!"-singing weather. By "season" I meant, "end-of-semester."

Our hardworking students have been driven even harder by us, professors. They are at the end of their tether. Final examinations commence this week. Things are hectic. Graduation is nigh.

Yup, I understand the hammock. Right by the roadside!

There was some envy in my glance. I stopped and took a picture. Wistfully. Wishing I could be in a hammock, too.

I've been working hard! Grading, grading, and more grading. Sermons, sermons, and more sermons. A plethora of papers. A cornucopia of reading reports. A bonanza of emails. All waiting to be tackled, read, assessed, graded, tabulated, reported. Work!

I need a hammock. Rest!

"I will feed My flock
and I will lead them to rest,"
declares the Lord GOD.
Ezekiel 34:15

Yup, that's what I need.

"Come to Me, all who are
weary and heavy-laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you
and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and
humble in heart,
and you will find rest
for your souls.
For My yoke is easy
and My burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30

For here we are, restless and weary, tired and worn out. Living in a broken world, broken ourselves.

O God, You are my God;
I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You,
my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land
where there is no water.
Psalm 63:1

Life ain't easy. The stresses are many. The strains overwhelming.

I am weary with my crying;
my throat is parched;
My eyes fail
while I wait for my God.
Psalm 69:3

But this is a God who doesn't need rest.

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God,
the LORD, the Creator
of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
Isaiah 40:28

He's awake even when we fall into a tired stupor.

He who keeps you
will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
Psalm 121:3-4

So we can trust Him with everything …

… casting all your anxiety on Him,
because He cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7

His promises are secure!

And He said,
"My presence shall go with you,
and I will give you rest."
Exodus 33:14

And we rest.

Rest in the LORD
and wait patiently for Him. 
 Psalm 37:7

For it's all under control-His control. And He cares. For you and for me.

Though youths grow weary and tired,
and vigorous young men stumble badly,
yet those who wait for the LORD
will gain new strength.
They will mount up
with wings like eagles,
they will run
and not get tired,
they will walk
and not become weary.
Isaiah 40:30-31

Yeah, go for that hammock.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


I got audited by the Internal Revenue Service! Yup! Your faithful aBeLOGger was flagged, tagged, earmarked, and docketed the other day.

This is not something I recommend for the faint of heart. Nope. Not when they demand huge sums of money from you and even more in fines and penalties. And I mean HUGE!

No way I could have paid that!

Did you know that one day, soon and very soon, we are all going to face an Audit? One that is executed not by the IRS, but by a Divine Accountant, who makes no errors, shreds no emails, misses no deed, and hides no data.

For nothing is hidden
that will not become evident,
nor anything secret that will
not be known and come to light.

Luke 8:17

An Audit is coming soon.

… it is appointed for people to die once
and after this comes judgment.

Hebrews 9:27

You see the problem is our fudging of the numbers of life, i.e., the doing of misdeeds, the uttering of abuses, and thinking of evils—sin.

… the righteous judgment of God,
who will render to each person
according to his deeds.

Romans 2:5–6

But I tell you that
every careless word that people speak,
they shall give an accounting for it
in the day of judgment.

Matthew 12:36

… the Lord comes who will both
bring to light the things
hidden in the darkness and
disclose the motives of hearts;
and then praise will come
to each one from God.

1 Corinthians 4:5

And, as far as sin is concerned, no one passes the Audit.

For all have sinned and
fall short of the glory of God.
… the wages of sin is death.

Romans 3:23; 6:23

Which means that all of us—every man, woman, and child—is doomed to eternal separation from a holy God.

With the summons of the IRS looming, I immediately contacted my accountant, and signed a power-of-attorney form, authorizing him to act on my behalf; he took over. There was no way I, with my inadequate knowledge of tax laws and was going to go face-to-face with the government.

And there is no way you and I can pay the penalty for sin and survive the divine Audit. Someone else had to take over, like my accountant did.

(Steve, I bet you never got compared with Jesus Christ before!)

But this Someone Else, Jesus Christ, did something unprecedented. He knew I was guilty and paid for my sin—all of it.

He made Him who knew no sin
to be sin on our behalf,
so that we might become
the righteousness of God in Him.

2 Corinthians 5:21

A Great Exchange was accomplished. And that payment for sin, made by Jesus Christ, is freely available for all who believe in Him as their only God and Savior who died and rose again.

For God so loved the world,
that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him
shall not perish,
but have eternal life.

John 3:16

Free for all who believe, who put their trust in Jesus.

For the wages of sin is death,
but the free gift of God is eternal life
in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23

Yup, free. As in “FREE!”

(Unlike Steve!)

You came from heaven to earth, to show the way
From the earth to the cross, my debt to pay
From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky
Lord I lift your name on high.

Rick Founds, 1989

Happy Easter!

(And, yes, I passed the IRS audit. Thanks, Steve!)

Saturday, April 16, 2011


It was strange.

While traveling around Sri Lanka with a friend and his family, we visited some of the tea plantations about 100 miles from the capital, Colombo, in the highlands.

There it was—“Strathdon.” Strange.

Strange, because Strathdon is a place in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, a “strath” (river valley) of the River Don, about 50 miles west of my old haunt, Aberdeen (= mouth/confluence of Rivers Don and Dee).

But here? In Sri Lanka? Over 5,000 miles away from Aberdeen? In a whole different continent?

And beneath that name, was “Abergeldie.” That’s the name of a castle not too far from Strathdon, a castle close to the River Dee.


I tell you, these Scots do get around.

Apparently these odd names (odd for Sri Lanka, that is) are a legacy of the Scots who established and ran most of the tea industry in that country in the 19th century: the Scottish Ceylon [the old name for “Sri Lanka”] Tea Company. James Taylor, an enterprising Scotsman, set up the first tea factory there in 1872 and put Ceylon tea on the map. One million packets of Ceylon tea were sold at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

Then, of course, there’s the intrepid Glaswegian, Tommy Lipton. Guess what he made a fortune in? After a visit to Sri Lanka in the 1890s, he bought up several tea estates, pioneering the use of a cable transport system to move sacks of plucked tea leaves between the steep hills and the valley processing factories below—still in use today. Queen Victoria knighted Tommy.

Towards the end of the 19th century, “tea” was no longer synonymous with “China,” but with “Ceylon.” Even today, Sri Lanka is second only to India in tea production.

Thus “Strathdon Estate” and “Abergeldie Division,” still bearing the names of that influence from yon bonnie land.

The legacy of the Scots … in, of all places, Sri Lanka!

A good man leaves an inheritance
to his children’s children.
Proverbs 13:22

God has seen fit to use parents and pastors and teachers and trainers and elders and mentors to leave spiritual legacies for the next generation, to point them to Him.

In the fear of the LORD
there is strong confidence,
And his children will have refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

Indeed, we have a responsibility to model the fear of the Lord, the righteousness of walking with God, for the younger ones.

A righteous person
who walks in his integrity—
How blessed are his children after him.
Proverbs 20:7

Blessed are they who have had such legacies left to them.

But it is not just a one-way street.

There’s not much better than seeing your children, those in your flock, those you have disciple, those you have taught and trained, growing to be men and women after God’s own heart. That’s thrilling!

The father of the righteous
will greatly rejoice,
And he who sires a wise child
will be glad in him.
Let your father and
your mother be glad,
And let her rejoice
who gave birth to you.
Proverbs 23:24–25

The importance of leaving a legacy!

Train up a child
in the way he should go,
Even when he is old
he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

Longlasting influence. A legacy that spans several generations.

Behold, for thus shall
the man be blessed
Who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion,
And may you see
the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
Indeed, may you see
your children's children.
Peace be upon Israel!
Psalm 128:4–6


Saturday, April 09, 2011


Last month, I had the privilege of teaching at Colombo Theological Seminary (CTS), in Colombo, the capital of of Sri Lanka.

This is a remarkable institution that reflects the coming together of quite a diverse group of Sri Lankan Christians, denominations as varied as Anglican, Pentecostal, Methodist, and Dutch Reformed! All uniting with an admirable vision “to create a center for easily accessible, culturally relevant and evangelically focused, advanced theological training to equip the church to effectively reach out and serve the peoples of Sri Lanka's multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multicultural society; and the South Asian region—home to more than one billion people.”

Three major languages are represented in the nation of Sri Lanka itself—English, Sinhala, and Tamil. And CTS ministers in all three.


While the kaleidoscope of affiliations may create problems of its own, I must confess that their goal is entirely biblical.

Now I exhort you, brethren,
by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that you all agree and that
there be no divisions among you, but that
you be made complete
in the same mind and
in the same judgment.
1 Corinthians 1:10

Factions, cliques, parties. Rivalry and competition. Division and quarrels.

For I have been informed
concerning you, my brethren, …
that there are quarrels among you.
Now I mean this,
that each one of you is saying,
“I am of Paul,” and
“I of Apollos,” and
“I of Cephas,” and
“I of Christ.”
1 Corinthians 1:10–12

And I’ll call that disease selfluenza! A killer affliction, for it divides the body. An eye that decides to do its own thing, not working coordinately with its partner. A pancreas working for its own glory, unconcerned about the body’s digestion or its handling of blood sugar. A foot that begins to walk its own way, a different path, out of sync with where the body wants to go.

One estimate asserts that currently there are about 33,000 Protestant denominations in about 250 countries today? That number is increasing, some say, at the rate of 300 a year. Almost one new denomination a day! Now I realize some separation is necessary, especially on theological grounds. But among those who confess Christ as Savior and acknowledge the Lordship of Christ, between brothers and sisters in the Lord, there is far too much division spawned by personal rivalry, animosity, intolerance, and self-exaltation.

Has Christ been divided?
1 Corinthians 1:13

Because we are all members of the same body of Christ, we are allies, we are co-partisans fighting on the same side. In other words, our lives are knitted together in an enterprise far more vast than we can see or even comprehend. A great battle is being waged between the divine forces of good and the satanic forces of evil. A great cosmic battle, winning people for the Lord, furthering His Kingdom on earth.

But here we are, a divided army—torn, ripped apart, sundered, segmented—rendering us less than fully effective in Christian ministry. All because of selfluenza, our tendency to self-exaltation.

Now I exhort you, brethren,
by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that you all agree and that
there be no divisions among you ….
1 Corinthians 1:10

It is in the name of Christ that all believers are exhorted to be united. For the sake of His reputation. For His cause. For the glory of God. United.

Hey, when was the last time you attended a worship service of a church not part of your denomination? Why not give it a try, say, for two Sundays in a year?

Saturday, April 02, 2011


And yesterday, India won the Cricket World Cup 2011! What a game!

Sudhir Kumar Gautam is cricket’s most recognizable fan. He is the face of “passion.” Passionate about cricket and, in particular, about Sachin Tendulkar. He is easily spotted, in every international game played anywhere in India. This 30-year-old, cricket-obsessed guy spends hours before matches painting his face and trunk in the tricolors of the Indian flag: saffron, white, and green. And two words—“India” and “Tendulkar”—along with the number of his icon, 10 (“ten” for “Tendulkar,” the number the maestro wears). And he carries a conch shell that he keeps blowing at auspicious moments during the game. Cameramen everywhere know this guy. In every game they pan in on Gautam and give him a few seconds of fame. In every game. And yesterday was no exception!

He is the mascot of Indian cricket and devotee of Tendulkar. What a fan. Passion! From his hometown in the state of Bihar, he travels all over to watch Team India. Once upon a time he used to be a teacher. He confesses that, these days, with cricket being played all the year around and all over the country, he cannot cope with the demands of a full-time job. (And apparently he now gets free tickets to all of India’s games from none other than his hero, Tendulkar! Today he got more: No. 10, the big man himself, called him out of the stands and, incredibly, let Gautam hold the World Cup trophy!)

Everyone knows him now. He’s famous. While more or less disciplined in the stands, Gautam has been known to break out of the cordoned areas and run on to the field when he is appropriately moved during a game. And everytime, he is detained by the police. Not surprisingly, the Indian team has always bailed him out!

What a fan! Passion!

He discounts the objections his family raises. They call him crazy. And he has decided to remain single for the sake of cricket. Fan, indeed! And a passionate one at that! Willing to sacrifice all for his idol.

That’s what God calls his people to be. His fans.

The LORD our God is one Lord;
and you shall love the LORD your God
with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your mind,
and with all your strength!
Mark 12:29–30

And Jesus called this the “foremost commandment.” The first. The most important. The primary one.

Fans of God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. With every fiber of our being, with every cell of our bodies.

And this love is not just an emotional gush of sentiment or feeling. Not at all. It is a passionate adherence to God, a heartfelt embrace of his purposes, and a willing submission to his demands. Just a few verses down from where this command to love first occurs—in the Old Testament—is another command.

You shall fear the LORD your God;
and you shall worship Him
and swear by His name.
Deuteronomy 6:13

We are to seek God and the things of God … exclusively!

“Do not worry then, saying,
‘ What will we eat?’ or
‘What will we drink?’ or
‘What will we wear for clothing?’
But seek first His kingdom
and His righteousness,
and all these things
will be added to you.”
Matthew 6:31, 33

Passionate fans, living for him.

Whether, then, you eat or drink
or whatever you do,
do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31

Passionate fans, he wants us to be!