Friday, May 17, 2019

Goodbye, OBU

Goodbye, OBU. Thank you for ten years seven months of wonderful memories. Students, I am so proud of you and am anticipating watching and hearing of everything you will accomplish. Please stay in touch. Be men and women in the arena with faces marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strive valiantly... who know great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spend yourselves in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if you fail, at least you fail while daring greatly, so that your place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat (T.R.).

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Tree Planters

In Genesis 21:33, we read that Abraham planted a tamarisk tree after ratifying a treaty with King Abimelech. Tamarisk trees are known for stamina and long life. Mature tamarisks can live more than 100 years and their dense leaf cover provides shade from the sun and heat. Because of their salty secretions, few other plants and trees can compete with the tamarisk making it extremely hardy. Planted by the well that Abraham had dug, this tamarisk and its offshoots would in the future produce a wonderful oasis, a grove of shade and rest, in addition to serving as a witness to the oath that was made there.

There is something admirable about a tree planter.

Tree planters do their work for the benefit of others. They are people not given to instant gratification, but who take delight in future enjoyments, even the future enjoyments of those they may never know. Abraham planted a tree that was hardy, nearly indestructible and long-lived. What kind of person plants a tree like that? Someone with a vision. Someone whose eyes were not on the present but fixed on the future. Someone who has an eternal perspective. Someone who points others to God. Planters of trees care about their neighbors and care about the next generation. They are people with a vision for the future. 

Let us be planters of trees.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Lebanon Impressions

‪On my trip to Lebanon, I saw churches and mosques, met children, educational and political leaders including a member of parliament. I attended a university program featuring Muslim and Christian students performing side by side dances like the tango and cha cha.  ‪This group of students from Lebanon, Syria, and the greater Middle East were singing the music of Bob Dylan, Alicia Keyes, and traditional Armenian melodies. Women were leaders in the school systems and the parliament member I met was a woman. All of these professionals were proactively dedicated to bettering their nation, particularly through education. The cities were a mix of tradition and modernity. Fashions were like any you’d see in most U. S. cities. The people were warm and gracious and I left having made many new friends from Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. There is nothing like travel to dispel preconceived notions and false assumptions. In the words of Maya Angelou, “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”‬ 

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Surreal Moments

I often find myself in the middle of such surreal situations. Several months ago in South Korea with the famous evangelist Dr. Billy Kim (see?), I found myself in the middle of celebration in Seoul to honor the outgoing president of the country. President Hwang Kyo-ahn had just completed serving as Acting President of South Korea following the impeachment of the previous President. In the midst of the ceremony I was added to the program and unexpectedly invited to the stage to bring greetings and comments on behalf of the United States. With news crews taping and cameras clicking I managed to make a few comments and shake the President’s hand without causing an international incident.


Two weeks ago, the Emmanuel Theological Seminary and Bishop Samuel Thomas in Kota, India awarded me an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. Among my fellow honorees and those I was privileged to meet were human rights activists, a physician, actor and screenwriter Anupam Shyam of Slumdog Millionaire, Bollywood actor Kuldeep Sareen, and Bollywood songwriter Abhilash Ji. On our long drive from Delhi, I saw some of the heaviest traffic and driving that seemed to disregard any semblance of staying in one’s lane, or even on the correct side of the road. I witnessed traffic consisting of cars, tuk tuk auto rickshaws, motorcycles, bicycles, large trucks, pedestrians, horses, carts and wagons, camels, and elephants crowded on the streets and highways.


Last week I was with Bishop Noble Odai in Ghana dedicating a village well, distributing mosquito nets, and visiting schools in the bush. Often I was hiking through the bush in a suit and tie. We visited with Ghanaian Members of Parliament and the Ministers of Education, of Health, and of Civil Service.  Transportation along the overcrowded and traffic jammed streets and highways was facilitated by a police escort at high rates of speed dodging all manner and means of transport—often in the oncoming lane, or on the shoulder of the oncoming traffic. It was as close to being in a video game I’ve ever been. Then a few nights ago I was ushered into a television station where the Bishop’s Maranatha Television network broadcast nationally and across several African nations a one-hour live talk show with me as a guest.


Life has been a series of unexpected experiences and experiences for this kid from Wayne, Oklahoma.