Monday, November 28, 2005

On Account of Him

The Gospels are amazing......aren't they? I never get tired of new discoveries. Yesterday while reading in John 12, I ran across a section I had never noticed before. A large crowd had gathered outside the home of Mary and Martha in Bethany to not only see Jesus, but to see Lazarus also. Evidently Lazarus had obtained some level of celebrity over being raised from the dead. In fact, John 12 says that people were becoming believers "on account of him". Then came the part I had not noticed before.........because of this, the chief priests and Pharisees "made plans to kill Lazarus as well". I am not sure Lazarus had ever uttered a word. Do we have any proof that he had been out testifying or witnessing? Had he been preaching about his having been raised from the dead? The picture I get is that just his presence was the only sermon they needed. They knew he had died, and now they saw him alive.........and that was enough to believe in the power of Jesus. Yet, it was not enough to convince the religious leaders. Why is that? I know some of them did become believers, but the majority didn't. Later in the chapter they say in disgust and frustration, "See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!"

One question and one observation in application. The question is this: Is it being said of me like it was Lazarus that people are believing "on account of him"? Probably not. I'm certainly not on anybody's "to murder" list because of my life or my witnessing. Just telling it like it is.

The observation is this: Don't tell me that being religious makes you have a good heart. The worst villians, the meanest people, the people with the WORST hearts in the New Testament were the religious people. I'm not sure things have changed all that much in 2,000 years.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

3rd to 3rd and Turkey Day

Congrats to the War Eagles. Sorry Bama sent some imposters to the game to play in their place. That wasn't the same team that routed Florida a few weeks before. In the space of around 8 days or so, Bama went from 3rd in the country to 3rd in the SEC West. I heard Gene Stallings say one time that the Penthouse and the Out-house are not too far apart in College Football. He's right! Oh well, we can still win 10 games this year and that is a pretty good season in anybody's book. There are a LOT of teams that would trade places with us. One of em dresses in Orange!

Both boys will be home for Thanksgiving starting tonight, so all is good in the world! I hope each one of you has the best Turkey day that you have EVER had. Don't we have so much to be thankful for?

God bless you all.

Friday, November 18, 2005


Reading Mark Elrod's post this morning on his blog motivated me to start thinking about leadership. After Christ, I would be hard pressed to come up with a better example of a church leader than Dr. Ganus. It also reminded me of something I had just read in Love, Foster, and Harris's new book "Seeking a Lasting City". Here is an excerpt from this really good book that has just been released. I apologize ahead of time for the length, but I think you will agree that it was worth including all of it.

"What will leadership for an exilic people look like? It is one of the marks of our postmodern age to distrust POSITIONAL power. Leaders can no longer expect to get respect simply because they hold a certain office or position, as has sometimes been the case in the past. The time for authoritarian leadership is passing away. Elders who could once count on everyone to be compliant simply because they were elders now attempt to assert the power of their position at their own peril.

For the last couple of decades, old-style authoritarian 'because I said so' leadership has been on the wane. But what has replaced it is a corporate model that, while less authoritarian, is still positional. This new breed of leader is a careful decision-maker who seeks to be sensitive to the needs and desires of a constituency....the church. Such leaders make decisions based on studied conclusions about what is in the overall best interest of the church, as any good corporate board member would.

Even though this approach to leadership is people-centered and people sensitive, it still presumes that the primary task of church leaders is to make good decisions and that they have the positional power to do that. The primary quality for eldering in this scenario is the ability to think through complex problems, gather imput, and formulate sound policy. This approach is a profoundly modern idea of spiritual leadership. Elders have moved from church boss to corporate executive, but neither is a sufficient view of church leadership for the postmodern world.

This is also an information age where there is more help for church leaders and elders than ever before. In terms of leadership techniques, our elders have never been better trained. In areas as diverse as conflict resolution, team building, staff relations, legal regulations, consensus building, decision making processes, and employee conpensation, church leaderships have become better informed and much more sophisticated. But still, this simply leads to better POSITIONAL leadership. We call for a different way.

In his book 'Spiritual Preparation for Christian Leadership', E. Glenn Hinson argues that what the church needs most are saints......those who have been truly transformed by the gospel. In the same way, we believe our great need is not for better technigues in leadership but for genuinely spiritual people leading. Leadership must be re-envisioned not primarily as an opportunity for decision-making but as an opportunity for spiritual guidance. Spiritual leadership means walking alongside people for the purpose of helping them discern God's will and mission for their lives.

The primary criteria for spiritual leadership are prayer and an awareness of God's presence at each moment. The spiritual leader is the one who pays attention to what God is doing. Spiritual leadership is spiritual guidance.

Spiritual guidance is more that just telling people what the Bible says, though Bible knowledge is indispensibable to the task. Spiritual guidance works through deep relationships with God and with other people, helping them discern what God is doing and might desire to do in their lives. Yet such guidance only comes about in constant prayer and spiritual attentiveness. A person will only accept spiritual guidance from one whose own life is clearly spirit-guided. The leadership in such a situation is completely relational, not positional. Position does not and cannot make one a spiritual leader.

So now the question about potential leaders is not about quality of their strategic thinking ability, but about the quality of their prayer lives and attentiveness to God. People long for this kind of leadership. Today most people can make their own decisions and generally want to do so.....congregations can learn to self-govern....but we all desire the relationship with that person who can guide us into the depths of the heart of God. We all need that spiritual friend and guide.

How will this need for spiritual leadership affect the way we select elders and other leaders of the church? What are the pratical implications of such a shift in point of view? We know a congregation where the elders are willing to relinquish power. Rather than insisting on making all the major decisions themselves, they appoint groups of members of the church to select new elders, make financial decisions, and more. While they offer guidance when necessary, these elders do not see themselves as executives but as servants and mentors. They lay hands on the sick, meet with and pray for those in crisis, know the names of the children and spend time with them. They aren't divorced from the administrative needs of the church, but they don't see them as their primary function either.

This is what spiritual leadership in the new world will be. The time for a board of directors approach has passed. The key to leadership in our churches today is ethical, holy living; what we desperately need now are spiritual guides. Will our leaders hear the call?"

Monday, November 14, 2005

Tiger Bait

Well, congrats to the Bengal Tigers from LSU. The only team I hate to lose to more is Tennessee. If.....and that is a HUGE "IF"......we can get by Auburn, I will be the world's HUGEST Razorback fan that ever lived! :) If the Hogs could upset LSU, Bama would then go to the SEC Championship game. Hey, I can wish, can't I? Stranger things have happened. I understand Texas is going to play Slippery Rock next year to improve their schedule. Oh, for those who are wondering, Harding Academy in Memphis lost also. This was NOT the best football weekend I have ever had. But the Lions had a great season considering how young they were, and as always, I was proud of Matt's contribution.


My top 5 albums of all time? I too am a product of the 70's.....especially the singer-song writer era.

In no particular order here they are:
Bridge Over Troubled Water- Simon & Garfunkel
Tea for the Tillerman- Cat Stevens
Tapestry- Carole King
Sweet Baby James- James Taylor
Abbey Road- The Beatles

Honable Mention:
Any Eagles, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Don McLean, Elton John, or Stevie Wonder album from the 70's.


Changing gears, in 1875 T.B. Larimore announced the publication of a journal he named "The Angel of Mercy, Love, Peace, and Truth". Here is how he described his editorial policy: "The Angel possesses not the slightest belligerent proclivity...not even in the latent or dormant state. It will avoid all unpleasant discussion and personal references. One harsh, unkind or unpleasant word will be sufficient reason for consigning to the flames any articles written for it's pages." He also wrote in response to a letter: "I am for name is Peace....and no word of bitterness shall ever fall from my lips, even in self-defense."

God help us all to have a heart like Brother Larimore! Even more, a heart like Christ.

Friday, November 11, 2005


One observation I have made in my travels lately......NOBODY seems to have control of their kids anymore! Maybe it's because I am just seeing the affluent kids who's parents can afford to travel. I heard more screaming on this trip than I had heard for the previous ten years. It's ridiculous! I know this is not politically correct, but there are some butts out there that need to feel a belt or switch. Little kids don't obey out of love at first......they haven't been around long enough to love that much! Truth is, they obey out of fear in the beginning. And if there is nothing to fear, they do what comes natural.......scream, cry, throw a fit, what have you. Remember that time on Andy Griffith when Opie had seen another kid act up, so he started throwing fits with Andy? Go get it if you haven't. Where are those writers today in Hollywood?


Headed to watch Matt's team play in the first round of the playoffs in Memphis tonight, and then on to Florence tomorrow to watch the Bama vs. LSU game with Dad. Nobody is giving Bama a chance. I hope they prove everybody wrong.


What are your top 5 albums of all time? I will disclose mine later.

Hope everybody has a WONDERFUL weekend! ROLL TIDE ROLL!!!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

This Little Light of Mine

Ooops! I forgot to disclose that I was going to California this week. I got too busy on Friday and never posted anything. My bad. But, I am sitting in the Business Grad School Library run by one James Wiser here on the Pepperdine Campus. By Cali standards, it is a pretty yucky day on the west coast. Low clouds prevail and they are calling for chances of rain. At least it is only 70 degrees here, as compared to the almost NINETY degrees I hear it is at home. I am driving up the coast tomorrow, so I hope it clears up.


Sunday night I went to church in San Diego at the Canyon View c of C. There are several folks there with ties to Searcy and Harding. During the service, the song leader led "This Little Light of Mine"........a song I may have heard in the last 20 years, but have not sung for even longer. We even did our fingers up in the air! :)
It was nostalgic, but even more, it was convicting. "I'm gonna let it shine all the time, all the time"! I suppose like you, I struggle with the "all the time" part. But that is who we are called to be. Isn't it? Thanks Mr. song leader for impacting me WAY more than you probably planned to.


Bama has the LSU Tigers this week. My prediction is our offense finally comes out of the doldrums and puts up about 35 on the Bengal Tigers. With our defense, 14 might be enough. Another prediction: USC does NOT go undefeated. Texas very well could, considering Slippery Rock would beat the remaining teams on their schedule.


Finally, eat your heart out Jack Shock.........James and I ate at Coogie's for lunch today. You won't believe what big movie stars we saw! And yes, for those of you who remember, I AM going to ask about Sunny Singh when I am in the Burbank airport on Thursday. Good deeds are appreciated by all folks, and Sunny is a good man.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Get Rich or Die Tryin

I guess you've seen it too......all the ads for the movie that is the title of today's post. Is there a better description of what most people value in our society today? It's just an opinion, but I think it pretty well captures the mind-set of most of the people that live in the American culture of 2005. I don't think it is exclusive only to those who are "rich"......I think poor people have the same agenda, which is to accumulate wealth. If I am not mistaken, I think this movie comes from the perspective of people "tryin" to get out of the poverty of the inner city. So don't tell me it is only the rich who are trying to get richer. Materialism is our god......and it has been for several decades now in America.

Here is my question: As the people of God who are called out of the world to be light and salt while they are in the world, can the world see a difference in us?
Oh, I know they can see a difference in a LOT of other areas, but in this ONE area......where they see what you value as your REAL treasure and what you value the most, are we different enough to make them want to ask "Why do give most of your money away?" or "Why is your church always helping the helpless?" or "Why are you living is such a crummy house?" or "Why do you have poor people on your Board?" or "Why do you dress like you are homeless?" . Has anybody asks you these or similar questions lately? They haven't asked me.

So, again I Christians, are we really that much different than the average Joe Schmo when it comes to materialism?

If this movie is from a world view, what would the title of the movie be from the Christian perspective?

I'm thinking something like "Whether You Have Money or Not, You Can Die Rich". But do our actions show we believe that? Sorry to confess, mine don't lots of times.

How about you?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Chronicles of Narnia

Mike's post this morning on his blog got my nostalgia going in full force! I hope all of you have had the blessing of reading C.S. Lewis's classic series about Narnia.
If not, stop what you doing and go get them. They will bless you.

I commented on Mike's blog today about my memories concerning these wonderful books.
I won't repeat that whole comment, but I just wish I could communicate in words how full my heart gets when I think about these rich books, and my experiences with them.
They aren't "just books" to me.........they are full of life and all the things that go with living. I know part of the attachment is connected to what was going on in my life at the time, a very enchanted time in Nigeria. It is hard for me to separate the two. For all practical purposes, I remember visiting TWO very special places in 1965.....Nigeria and Narnia. Edmond and Peter were as much a part of my life as David Farrar and Billy Rees Bryant were. I was just as infatuated with Susan and Lucy as I was Marty Farrar and Sara Jo Bryant. When I went on preaching trips with my dad way back in the bush, I also was traveling on the "Dawn Treader" with Eustace and Reepicheep. Get the picture? I got two for one.....with EVERYTHING! I don't know that I realized how blessed I was. How blessed I AM!

I found an old friend in the top of the closet last week....the original set the Bryant family gave us in 1965 shortly after having arrived in Onicha Ngwa. The only thing that could motivate me to part with them would be to save the life of a family member or close friend......otherwise, don't ask. There is not enough money in Vegas to buy them from me. Not THIS set. They are staying with me, until my grandchildren want them.

And the stories they will tell......about Grandaddy's Narnia books from Nigeria! :)
The circle of life.
Always circling Him.