Friday, April 29, 2005

"You're So Vain, You Probably Think This Church Is About You"

Yeah, another Carly Simon song.......with one word changed. Maybe that title describes you. I am sure it describes who I have been at one time or another.
One reason I think we are selfish like that is because life is so good that we have to create something to be concerned about, and then gripe about it. Contrast that with the life of Marie who I read about on the BBC in regards to how the genocide in Rwanda shattered her life. Marie was captured near Nyarubuye by Hutus who took her as a sex slave and raped her more than 100 times. Marie contracted Aids from her rapists and afterwards discovered that she was pregnant. That baby died of Aids and Marie is now in the final stages of the disease. She says: "I don't know why this happened to me. I was a good person. It wasn't my fault I was born a Tutsi".

Next time we are considering complaining about the choice of songs at church, our boss at work, or the price of filling up our SUV, let's think about Marie. And think about all the hard work you put in to be born in America....many of us to Christian parents.

I'm on the plane to California and the Pepperdine Lectures tomorrow. So this will probably be the last post for several days. God bless all of you brothers and sisters!

Thursday, April 28, 2005


My favorite Carly Simon song is "Anticipation". Some of you may remember it as "the Ketchup Song". One of the ketchup companies used it as the background music for one of their commercials back in the 70's.

"We can never know about the days to come, but we think about them anyway".

That is where I am today. So what am I anticipating? One, I can't WAIT to be blessed by the experiences next week at the annual Pepperdine Lectures. It has become a yearly trek of renewal in my walk. I always return with a Spiritual cup that is running over....and over....and over......and over. You get the picture.
Get ready for several posts concerning that wonderful experience when I get back.

Two, most of you know that there is a major administrative decision that is taking place here on campus, and the naming of that new Vice President is coming out next week. I can't think of a more important decision that has been made around here in the last 15 years or so. Please be prayerful of that decision. It is a watershed moment in the life of this place.

Three, I am anticipating how the struggles of several special young men are going to turn out. I was blessed to get to attend a Bible Study last night involving several football players, and they were so transparent and open about their struggles that in return your heart just HURTS in response to the pain they are going thru. I want the struggles to be gone NOW, and I know it will have to happen on God's time table, not mine. It was a footwashing to be with them, and I wish my generation was that committed to being as real and transparent as they are. They are a blessing to me, and I would appreciate your prayers for them also.

Fourthly, I am anticipating the Second Coming. Except for not having any grand-kids yet, I'm ready! :) How about you? I have a good friend who predicts that it will happen before 2011. Sounds good to me. This world is not my home.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Intolerant of Intolerance

Yeah, that is a mouthful huh? I wouldn't want to say that 15 times as in the old "Peter Piper" exercise. You might not be able to tolerate hearing it! :)

My generation gets accused of being intolerant of other's intolerance.....especially
the intolerance of the generation that preceeded ours. I have several thoughts bouncing around in the empty crevices of my pea-size brain that I want to share, and you can let me know if I am on track or if I have left the reservation.

First comes the question "Is intolerance a bad thing?" Obviously it depends on what you are intolerant of. As a parent, Jan and I were intolerant of several things. The first one that comes to mind is disrespect. That is one characteristic that we would not tolerate with our two boys, and I don't regret being intolerant about that expectation. It also reminds me that if I am going to require that of them, then I too have to be respectful of people.......even the ones I will get to in a minute. Anyway, I could name several things that we did not tolerate as parents........and all of you that are parents out there could do the same. I bet our lists would look pretty similar. Well, not everybody would be intolerant of their boys being Tennessee fans! :) But other than that, most of us probably want the same things for our children, and would probably want similar values instilled in our kids. So getting back to my original question about intolerance in itself being a bad thing, I think we would all agree that NO, it isn' fact in this situation it is a very GOOD thing!

Let's go ahead and get into deeper water.........was Jesus ever intolerant? ABSOLUTELY! A quick reading of Matthew 12, Matthew 23 and Luke 11 gives you some insight as to what it was that Jesus was intolerant of. Self-righteousness was the biggie, if I am reading those Gospel accounts correctly. Jesus did NOT tolerate the self-righteous attitude of the Pharisees. Would I be incorrect then to conclude that we too are called to be intolerant of self-righteous attitudes in 2005? With no distinction of age or gender, I think we are called to be intolerant of self-righteous attitudes. I don't think I need to go into a description of what self-righteousness is.......we all have seen it, and even been guilty of it to some degree ourselves. Have you ever been proud of your own perceived goodness? Yeah, me too. Have you ever compared yourself to someone else who you thought not to be as "good" as you are? Yeah, me too. So we all have been guilty to some degree, haven't we? But I would like to think that is NOT who I am most of the time. A stumble or mistake does not define who we are, thank goodness.
Jesus was not talking to those types of people when he used phrases like "you brood of vipers". No, he was talking to people who made self-righteousness their goal in life. That is who they WANTED to be! They weren't struggling to overcome that temptation we all experience, they were striving to become professionals at it. They weren't running from it, they were embracing it and wanting more! I hope we can distinguish the difference.

So, where does that leave us in this discussion? Are we called to be patient people? Are we called to forgive as HE forgave us? Are we called to love the unloveable? A big ole amen to all the above. So what can we be intolerant of? Well, we sure haven't earned the right to be intolerant of anything. But at the same time, Jesus showed us what He and the Father were intolerant of. Micah also spoke some truths that were not done away with because they were spoken under the old covenant: "He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does he Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

So what is my response to be to those who have a self-righteous intolerance of others? Just like all other sinners, I believe I am called to love those people.........and hate their sin! I sure hope they would treat me that way. Jesus can call them "brood of Vipers" all day long and into next week if He wants to......He is God. I am not. But just like I am going to be intolerant of a murderer's murdering, a homosexual's homosexuality, a liar's lie, a thief's stealing, I AM GOING TO BE INTOLERANT OF SELF-RIGHTEOUS INTOLERANCE! I will love that person, but I won't love their intolerance. I hope I can speak the truth to them in love, as they will speak to me about my short-comings in love in return. So the million dollar question is.......then am I self-righteous when I accuse someone of being self-righteous? If I communicate to that person that I think I am more spiritual or a better Christian, then YES....I think I would have to say I would be self-righteous. But I can talk with a homosexual and communicate that homosexuality is wrong without doing it in a way that comes across as me thinking I am better than he or she is, and being sure that I communicate to the person I love them. Same with a liar, or a thief, or a murderer........pick the sin. So why can't we communicate to self-righteous intolerant folks the SAME thing? I think we can. I am no better than you, in fact I may have MORE struggles than you do......but your intolerance of others is wrong. You are being intolerant of other PEOPLE, I am intolerant of your sin while still loving YOU! I think there is a HUGE difference between those two attitudes. I don't believe that is being self-righteous, and I hope you will correct me if I am wrong.

This was a LOT harder post than I thought it would be. If it looks like I was thinking as I was typing I want to confront intolerance head on, but I don't want to come across as self-righteous as I do so. I think maybe Satan has sold us the lie that if you confront folks who are intolerant, then you must be self-righteous. And that is a lie.

Who knows, I may post a retraction for this venting tomorrow.....but today I am putting all the linen on the clothes line for exposure. I hope it helps me.
I hope I never am intolerant of other people, but I hope I am intolerant of their sin.......and most importantly the sin in MY life!

I close with a look in the mirror and a new appreciation for God's Grace! How tolerant is He with ME? This much <-------------------->! So I have no choice but to tolerate everybody!

Thanks for tolerating this post!

Friday, April 22, 2005

Red Letter Day in the Blog World

Folks, I don't remember a day when there were as many AMAZING new posts out in the blog world as there is today! UNBELIEVABLE! I hope you get a chance to check them all out sometime this weekend.

In case you are wondering.........yes, I do read blogs written by women. And there are some WONDERFUL ones out there! It just so happens that the ones that impacted me today were all written by men. Men, no doubt, that have great women who are the wind beneath their wings!

Read and be challenged..........and be very much blessed today by these men who are using the gifts the Father gave them.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

New Blogger

One of my favorite people in world just started a blog, and I hope you will go by and visit sometime. Bobby Garner is an amazing young man, and he has been a blessing to me this past year. I think I mentioned him earlier in one of my posts concerning the young leaders amongst us. Bobby is attending the Harding Graduate School in Memphis and working here in Searcy while studying for that degree. He and his wife Candice have long range plans to spend a good while doing mission work in New Zealand and the South Pacific. It is going to be exciting to see what all God does for His Kingdom thru Bobby, Candice, and the rest of that mission team! It's several years away, and I am ALREADY excited!

So, stop by his blog sometime and be ready to laugh........but also be ready to be deeply challenged. Thanks Bobby for joining this wonderful blogging community!
I will be checking your blog everyday, promise! :)

Monday, April 18, 2005

People vs. Policy

As we talked about the adulterous woman in John 8 this weekend, we came to the conclusion that this was basically a love story. The love a father has for his daughter. I wonder how many of those men would have been willing to pick up a rock if it had been their daughter that was being drug out and exposed? We know she did have one father there......and he was going to do everything within his power to save her. It was just like you and I would have done for our precious daughter, and I'm guessing any of those men would have done also, if she had been their daughter. The legalists did have the law on their side that day. But they had forgotten one very important thing...........there is a HIGHER law! It's the HIGHEST law there is, and it trumps all others. It's the law of LOVE, and it was there with flesh on it that day. You see, Jesus always picks people over policy. He did it numerous times in his ministry. Remember the guy with the shriveled hand in Mark 3? It's just consistent with who HE is! Love over any other law, people over policy. It drove the legalist mad, to the point in the Mark 3 account that they were looking for ways to kill him. Why? Because he blew up their security net. They had everything figured out, and everything lined up for a "go straight to heaven" card. They were all about themselves. Grace with flesh on it rocked their world, and they were not going to give that security up! They knew about Hezekiah in II Chronicles 30, but out of sight out of mind. Those people in II Chronicles were NOT ceremonial clean according to the Law, but Hezekiah petitioned God on their behalf, and God allowed them to participate in the Passover feast. People over Policy......Love over Law. God ALWAYS chooses us! Jesus ALWAYS chooses us! Any law withstanding.

Should I make application? Are there people picking up rocks in 2005? You know there's just not about adulterous women or men. I'll let you pick it up from there and you can make application in your corner of the world.

I'm just glad he picks me when somebody else wants to throw the book at me. THE book!
In response to that unconditional love, my heart is captured. Just like I am sure her's was.

How about you? :)

Friday, April 15, 2005

How Much Do I Need?

We are to discuss the adulterous woman in John 8 in our small group study Sunday night. Jesus clearly offered love and grace before he expected obedience from this woman he loved. He does the same for us, doesn't he? We so often get it backwards, trying to earn his grace by our obedience. That is a prescription for failure, guilt, pride, and so many other things we struggle with.

But here is what hit me this morning as I was reading this wonderful story of much love and grace did I require before I gave Him my heart? For this woman, this one incident was evidently enough. Some scholars believe she is the woman that washes Jesus's feet in Luke 7....the one Jesus said of "I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven.....for she loved much." When God captures your heart, what other choice do have but to love Him and show your love by being obedient? I believe He will keep offering love and grace till he captures our hearts, no matter how long it takes. And the amazing thing is that it doesn't stop there, it only continues to grow. Kinda like with your children, huh?

Imagine that!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

100 Most Influential People

Time magazine came out with their "World's 100 Most Influential People" issue this week. I have not read about every person they list yet, but I have looked thru it to see who the 100 people are. I was glad to see Rick Warren listed, and John Stott also. There were LOTS of people I had never heard of, so let me confess my ignorance up front. Many of these people had not made it into my circle of influence. I'm not stating that as a good or bad thing, just fact. I did recognize some of the people that they listed, and I am glad to say that I don't feel influenced by most of those folks. I won't say who. Or am I just naive and have been much more influenced by them than I want to admit?

One effect this article DID have on me was to cause me to think about WHO IS influencing me. Who are the people that impact my life the most? I thought about making a list here on my blog, but then I thought better of it, knowing that I might hurt someone's feelings by not mentioning them. I will say this.......while reflecting on who influences me the most, I realized that the list I make today is a better list than I would have made 20 years ago. "Better" meaning I have more people today that influence me spiritually than I did 20 years ago. I hope 20 years from now I can say the same thing again. As for who is in the #1 spot, I confess that I know who is supposed to be there at the top, but I am not sure I allow Him to occupy it all the time. I want to. I hope a year from now when this issue comes out again, I can honestly tell you that HE has been the most influential person or being in my life this past year! If not Him, then who is in that slot you may ask? Undoubtedly family, then friends next. But where are Paul, Isaiah, David, Zacchaeus, the Centurion man and the sinful woman both in Luke 7, Blind Bartimaeus and John the Baptist? Probably not as high on the list as they should be. I hope they would be in my top 100. Sad huh?

So, I guess I just want to encourage you to take a few minutes and ask yourself who are the MOST influential people in your life? Businesses take inventory from time to time, and maybe we need to also. At least I know I do.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

I'm Back

Colorado was GREAT, but it is always good to get back to your own home and bed. I am blessed to get to be around so many wonderful people from different parts of the country. I just wish all of them could meet each other.........and you.

While I was on the road, one of my all-time favortie movies came on....."Phenomenon". Travolta is great in it, and I am a HUGE Robert Duvall fan, so anything he is in is going to be a winner to me. There is a line in that movie that gets me everytime. If you remember, at the end of the movie John Travolta is about to die of a brain tumor. He is lying in bed discussing his upcoming death with his love interest, Kyra Sedgwick. He looks her in the eye and asks "Will you love me for the rest of my life?", and her response is "No.....I am going to love you for the rest of mine". Powerful, heart wrenching words! But isn't that what God says to us? I believe it is. When I am focused on that love, it makes a difference in who I am that day......promise. How about you?

And how long IS His life? Maybe this long <-----------------------------> ?

And Amen to Jack Shock........Searcy is not a great place to visit, but a wonderful place to live. Just the opposite of Malibu. Thanks for that observation Jack!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Colorado Bound

I leave for a week in Colorado no bloggin next week for this guy. I miss reading more than I miss posting. As I have confessed, I am a blogaholic.

What a GREAT week this past week was! Don Mclaughlin was here on campus and God working thru him LIT this place up! There is a renewal on campus like I have not witnessed in quite a while. There is NOT an age group that Don does not relate to, he is simply an amazing person. I think the quality that makes people be drawn to him the most is his transparency. He communicates that he was and is a regular guy with the same struggles you and I have on a daily basis. That resonates BIG time with the students, who see many older people as not being genuine or real. There was a time when you sure better not be real, because only perfection was acceptable.
Thank God......THANK GOD........those days are pretty much gone. Don is a TREMENDOUS blessing to me, as I know he is to many of you.

In closing, let me share a question I have been pondering this week. I have read several items lately where the phrase "sound biblically" was mentioned. What exactly does that mean? Would it mean the same to every believer? Is it possible that something that is "sound" to me might be off the chart for you? Or vice-versa?
Or is it one of "our" code phrases that every "insider" knows the meaning? Just asking. Hmmm........I wonder if Jesus was sound biblically according to our definition?

Have a great week! "I thought the Rockies were a lot more rockier than this!" :)