Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Random Thoughts

Since it has been several days since I posted, I have quite a few random thougths that have accumulated. Sorry!

A) If you want to read a wonderful take on the whole Jesus and Nicodemus encounter,
go to http://www.stamfordchurch.com/pdf/bulletin/20050328.pdf and read the Dale Pauls bulletin article from the Stamford church in CT.

B) After reading for pleasure two books which centered around Africa, my next challenge is "The Brothers Karamazov" by Doestoevsky. It was all I could do just now to spell it right, so I wonder what I am in for as far as the reading. Any fans out there?

C) Does Keith Brenton need to find a publisher or what? Keith, quit your day job and get to writing...........you have been blessed with a gift. DUH! If others can make it, you can too.

D) Nobody made sure I read the warning label on Mike's CD of his sermon from January concerning women, which reads "Knee Pads Required". Goodness. Talk about humbling! If you haven't heard it yet, don't go another week without getting a copy.

E) My heart about jumped out of my throat when I saw Jay and Andrea Baker at church last week and again on Sunday. I know I have lots of heroes, but Jay and Andrea for sure fit in that category. Jay and Andrea are special for LOTS of reasons. They are one of the missionary families I was talking about in my post from last fall entitled "Sad Sad Day" or something like that. I love Jay and Andrea Baker!

F) Does "I Started A Joke" by the Bee Gees have the most stupid lyrics in the history of pop, or am I just being too critical? And for the record, I am a Bee Gees fan.

G) Are you as excited as I am about the young leaders amongst us? I can't wait to see where God is going to take that generation with capable leaders like Jonathan Storment, Greg Kendall-Ball, Bobby Garner, Michael Cooper, and many more that I know I am leaving out.....so tell me their names. And yes, I apologize for not naming any females! That is a reflection on me, not them. I know they are out there too!
Right Mindy?

H) Is Spring not the most wonderful time of the year? I've got it in my mind that Eden must have been in spring time when Adam and Eve were put there.

I) The Cardinals are going all the way this time.....no melt down in the Series.

J) Dancing is officially off the "don't do" list. I went to Spring Sing this weekend, and it was great!

K) I predict the Harding Bisons will win 10 games next fall. You heard it here first!

L) And last but for SURE not least, be in prayer asking for wisdom for those who will be making the decision as to who will be the next Dean for the Bible Department here. It is a watershed moment in the history of this institution.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

One Sitting Colossians

I don't know if it was Chris's sermon Sunday or what, but for some reason today I was motivated to read Colossians in one sitting. Maybe it was knowing that today is the beginning of "Spring Sing" weekend around here, and that I didn't have goo-gobs of time.......so it needed to be a shorter book. Maybe it was the Holy Spirit!
In any case, I read the letter from Paul today and it blessed me. Have you read it lately? If not, it only takes about 10 minutes tops.

Another day it might be another section, but today 3 verses caught my attention. No explanation needed.

Chapter 2 verses 6-8: "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ".

In closing I wanted to mention that I was baptized 41 years ago tomorrow in Memphis.
I was saved about 2000 years ago this weekend. If I don't get to post before Sunday, I hope Easter weekend is a special time for all of you wonderful believers. Thank God for the empty tomb!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Nailing It To The Cross

Chris Altrock spoke to those meeting in the "Life Center" at Highland in Memphis this past Sunday. I have heard Chris there before, and also out at the Pepperdine Lectures last year. He does a great job every time I hear him! On Sunday, his thoughts centered around Colossians 2: 13-15, and he titled it "Overcoming the Darkest Powers Keeping you from your Deepest Desires". It was really good. If you remember, there is a phrase in that section that says "he took it away, nailing it to the cross". Guess what Chris had there for us.........yeah, a cross. He also provided slips of paper and pencils and nails with several hammers. From the invitation till the end of the service, you were invited to come down and write a struggle on the piece of paper and then nail it to the cross. When the invitation song began, nobody went down. After a verse or so, two men came down and then the flood-gates opened. LOTS of people came down, many of them with tears , and nailed a struggle to the cross. All during the serving of the Lord's Supper, you could hear the nails pounding.......and THAT was very impacting. It made me reflect on the fact that this time last year we were very much aware of the cross because of "the Passion" and all the conversation it stirred up. This coming Sunday we will be focused on the Resurrection, but this past Sunday it was good to be in the presence of a Cross.

I'm thankful for brothers like Chris who aren't afraid to go beyond Zebra to get the message to those who may have never heard it, and to us who have lost some passion because of the apathy that ritual and routine seem to produce at times.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

One Sitting

For some unknown reason I picked up my NIV study Bible a few days ago and decided to just read the book of Acts in one sitting. WOW! The things that jumped out at me were NOT the things I expected. I will share with you at a later date what they were in case you want to try it.......that way you won't be prejudiced by my impressions.
A few days later, my good buddy Keith Riley called and said he was going to begin teaching the 11th graders on Wed. night and their study was to be based on I Corinthians. Guess what I did? Yeah, one sitting again. Same thing......blew me away. So, I have made a commitment to read all the books of the New Testament, each in one sitting, in the year 2005. I hope I follow thru with it. I could use my time in much less fruitful ways. I HAVE read the entire Bible, once. I say that with remorse, not pride. The only reason I did it then was because I was accountable to a special group of guys who were reading it at the same time. It took us over 2 years, taking off in the summers. Why so long? Because we would read a week's worth and then have to discuss it. And we had some doozies. But, what a blessing! I wish we would do it again.....but I am not holding my breath.
Anyway, I look forward to this new way of reading....at least a new way for me. I hope some of you will try it and let me know how it impacted you.....or not.

Off to Memphis and Alabama today! We will be at Highland in Memphis tomorrow with Matt, and we will cherish the time just hanging out with him and in worshiping with him. Then on to Florence for some of momma's good cooking! Is there ANYBODY that cooks better than your mom? Ok, maybe your wife ties her........but I don't think anybody out cooks your mom. I know both of my boys are firm believers in that, for good reasons.

So until Wednesday, hasta la vista baby!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Mark Twain and Don Eudaly

What do those two have in common? Well, for starters they are both from Missouri.
Secondly, they both can tell big tales! I assume all of you know Mark. For those of you who don't know Don, he works in the Advancement Office here with me. We were classmates at Harding in the mid 70's. He was a member of that world famous trio, "The Time of Day". Several of you females probably swooned over his croonings! I consider Don as a brother figure, and if you don't know the significance of that then you need to watch the episode of Andy and Earnest T Bass when Earnest T is in school and falls in love with Helen. A classic.

But here is why I pair Don with Mark today. Don brought me a Mark Twain quote the other day, so I want to share it with you. It goes like this:

"We should be careful to get out of an experience only the

wisdom that is in it - and stop there; lest we be like the

cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit

on a hot stove-lid again - and that is well; but also she

will never sit down on a cold one anymore."

In his wisdom, Don went on to ask me if maybe we have treated the subject of the Holy Spirit this way.......have we been so scared of the abuse and misuse of the gifts of the Spirit, we have avoided the Spirit altogether? Hmmmm....I think Donnie may be on to something here!

Thanks Don, now get back to raising money and writing songs. Have any of you heard his original "I wanta be B.B. King"? Brings down the house everytime! For a nominal fee, he will play it for you. Just call his manager at BR549.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Ramblings from Readings

Yeah, I read a little bit deeper than Dr. Seuss from time to time. Over the weekend I finished reading "Blue Like Jazz". I really was challenged by it, and I would suggest everybody read it. It's not your conventional book on spiritual matters, an aspect that was intriguing to me. I would love to sit down and pick Donald Miller's brain sometime.

How many of you have seen the cover story for Time Magazine for the week of March 14?
The title is "How to End Poverty". If you can, read the article. Get ready for some gut wrenching stats and facts. The author of the article is Jeffery Sachs and he has a plan to cut the world's "extreme poverty" in half by the year 2015. By "extreme" he means people who are actually dying because of poverty. Right now 8 million people die a year because of poverty, and one BILLION more are at risk of dying. If my math is right, that means each day about 22,000 die because of being so poor they can't provide for themselves. A DAY! We're not talking about car wrecks or accidents or murders. Just poverty. One stat that really hit home to me because of my ties with Africa is that more than one million children die each year because of malaria. The number may be as high as 3 million. This is SO sad because malaria is a treatable sickness.....we have medicine to prevent someone from getting malaria, and then also medicine to cure you if you DO happen to contract it. So, at least 3000 precious children die PER DAY because they are too poor to afford the pills for malaria. That is equivalent to genocide for me. You may think that is too strong a statement, but I don't know how else to process it. Here is the kicker.....guess how much of our GNP (our govt. income) do you think we contribute for poverty per $100. Sit down.............FIFTEEN CENTS! I told my dad that on the phone and he said "surely you mean out of every dollar". And my reply was "no dad, out of every HUNDRED DOLLARS". Before you start into some political rant, or think that I am doing that, it's not just one party. It has been this way for YEARS......Republican or Democrat. The whole bunch of em are guilty. More importantly, you and I are guilty because WE ARE the government. Right? I know many of us help individually by contributing to non-government causes, and I think that is wonderful. I hope we continue to do that! But don't you think our government can do more, especially since supposedly they are representing our wishes? Have foreign governments misused our aid and wasted our funds we send? ABSOLUTELY. There ARE solutions to that mismanagement and waste. But cutting back or not giving like we are capable is not the solution.

I hope you will read the article, and I hope it motivates you like it did me to try and do something. What can we do? Well, we can contact our representatives and ask them for an explanation. We can vote for candidates who will address this problem with action. Lastly, and most importantly, I hope it motivates you to look at the person you see in the mirror and ask that person if he or she is doing all they can to help those who can't help themselves.

Remember what Jesus used as his criteria for who was going with him to Heaven, and who was not. It wasn't theology or the name on the building, it was who had been helping those who couldn't help themselves.

15 cents per $100 won't cut it. Will it?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell

Mark Moore introduced me to Conrad. He is the little boy in Dr. Seuss's classic "On Beyond Zebra". Do you recall it? Conrad said he knew all the letters of the alphabet from A to Z and then proclaimed with much pride "So now I know EVERYTHING anyone knows, from beginning to end. From start to close. Because Z is as far as the alphabet goes". Conrad "almost fell flat on his face on the floor, when I picked up the chalk and drew one letter more". We don't know the name of this other little boy who started writing new letters from HIS alphabet, but we sure know one thing about him.......he rocked Conrad's world! He went on to tell Conrad
"You can stop, if you want, with the Z......because most people stop with the Z. But not ME! In the places I go there are things that I see that I NEVER could spell if I stopped with the Z. I'm telling you this cause you're one of my friends. MY alphabet starts where YOUR alphabet ends!" The young man introduces all kinds of new letters to Conrad, and then gets to one named "wum" and this is what he says about it...."So, on beyond Zebra! Explore! Like Columbus! Discover new letters! Like WUM is for WUMBUS, my high-spouting whale who lives high on a hill, and who never comes down til it's time to refill. So, on beyond Z! It's high time you were shown that you really DON'T know all there is to be known."

Mark challenged us to dare to go beyond Zebra......in ALL aspects of our lives. I've been in the boat with Conrad before. How about you? Let's discover some new letters ourselves....both as individuals and as a community of believers.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

A Modern Day Parable

Be sure to read Greg Kendall-Ball's post today on his blog:


It is a very creative parable that hits close to home for me, and many of you too.
Greg has the ability to ask penetrating questions in the context of humor and creativity. I appreciate him for sharing that gift with all of us.

Go ahead on Greg!

Monday, March 07, 2005


Like a lot of you, the concept of "church" with all of it's blessings and all of it's baggage has been in my bulls-eye for quite a while now. Most of the blogs I read deal with church issues........emergent churches, missional churches, dead churches, growing churches, vibrant churches, inner-city churches, rural churches, church leaders, traditional worship in church, women's roles in church, church splits, church unity, contemporary worship in church, evangelistic churches, truth churches, grace churches, and the list goes on and on and on. Right? I am on a committee at church that is overseeing the installing of new Shepherds. I work for a University that is very tightly connected with church. My dad was a missionary-preacher. My wife's dad was a missionary-preacher. My son works for a private Christian school which has strong ties to church. I can't remember ever NOT being associated with church!! I think it must be in my DNA.

So what do you think was the first thing I thought of when I heard Fleetwood Mac on the radio today singing the lyrics "I've been afraid of changes, cause I've built my life around you"?

Guilty as charged. I think I am called to build my life around Him, instead of the group that is trying to follow Him. Wait, I KNOW I AM!

How humbling it is to know Stevie Nicks had to point it out to me.

Friday, March 04, 2005

3/4/5 and another Hero

I was tempted to let it pass, but the Math in my DNA couldn't let it go by without mentioning it. I guess I have Mr. Mathiesen to thank for bringing out that part of me I didn't know existed. Mr. Mathiesen was my Algebra and Geometry teacher in Liberia, West Africa from 1970 to 1972. He also was our basketball coach, volleyball coach, softball coach, PE teacher, Bowling league director, camp-out co-ordinator, Ping-Pong tournament director, Editor of the school newspaper, and Spiritual leader. Other than that, he didn't do anything. How he had ANY time for his wife and two little kids, I will never know. Marty was Mr. Chips, John Wooden, and Billy Graham all wrapped up in one! He impacted MANY a life in those two years, and we probably have not thanked him enough. THANKS JOLLY GREEN GIANT!

Anyway, cool date for today huh? Don't guess we will see it again until April 5th of next year. Hey, it's the little things that make life interesting........right?

Oh, in case you were wondering.........after having "retired" from teaching in California for 25 years or more, Marty is part of a mission effort in Bucharest, Romania where he is in his second year of teaching the children of missionaries there. His energy amazes me. And yeah, he still is coaching from time to time.
I wish all of you could know one of my other heroes, Marty Mathiesen.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Apostles Creed

I had a good trip to Tulsa. Those of you who attend the "Soul-Winning" Workshop each year know that Tulsa is a great place with a lot of wonderful people. And yes, it is good to be home!

I was introduced to the "Apostles Creed" last spring. Legend had the Apostles writing this soon after the ascension, but we know that not to be true. The first written record we have of it is AD 215. Evidently, it was used as a summary of Christian doctrine for the baptismal candidates in the churches of Rome. All believers have traditions that they want to preserve, and preferences about lots of things having to do with their Christianity. But let me confront you like I was confronted last Spring.......what would you walk the plank for? What would you go to the wall for? What would you not, for the sake of ANYTHING, be willing to give up?

See if this comes close, and tell me what you think. Don't let the term "catholic" throw you.......I understand that to mean God's universal church. I don't believe it is referring to the Catholic Religion or Denomination.

Modern English Version
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. AMEN.