Monday, January 30, 2006

Mom, Celine, and Neal

Mom is doing much better, and I want to thank each of you for your prayers. She got cards from people who evidently read this blog that I have never met or heard of! What a blessing you are! Thanks for caring enough to do that. THAT, my friends, is a modern day foot washing for sure! God bless you.


A few months back, Joe Beam was at Downtown to help us kick off our "Celebrate Recovery" program. As usual, he did an excellent job. In his talk that night, he talked about how sometimes secular songs need to be sung at church because of the great lyrics they have that apply to our Christian walk. He was trying to encourage us to be caring with those who struggle with different weaknesses and addictions, and he used the song "You've Got a Friend" of my all-time favorites. We even sang it that night as a community of believers.......letting those who are hurting know that we are there for them. Since that night, I have tried to be more aware of secular songs that could be used in spiritual ways.
Last night as we were coming home, I heard Celine Dion singing "Because You Loved Me". WOW! No explanation needed. Here are some of the lyrics:

I lost my faith, you gave it back to me

You said no star was out of reach

You stood by me and I stood tall

I had your love I had it all

I'm grateful for each day you gave me

Maybe I don't know that much

But I know this much is true

I was blessed because I was loved by you

You were my strength when I was weak

You were my voice when I couldn't speak

You were my eyes when I couldn't see

You saw the best there was in me

Lifted me up when I couldn't reach

You gave me faith 'coz you believed

I'm everything I am

Because you loved me

You were always there for me

The tender wind that carried me

A light in the dark shining your love into my life

You've been my inspiration

Through the lies you were the truth

My world is a better place because of you

You were my strength when I was weak

You were my voice when I couldn't speak

You were my eyes when I couldn't see

You saw the best there was in me

Lifted me up when I couldn't reach

You gave me faith 'coz you believed

I'm everything I am

Because you loved me


Neal Whitlow has a new blog site. Check it out. I think we will all be interested in what all has gone on in his life this past weekend. Here is his new address:

Hope everybody has a great start to this week and the month of February!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Dirk and Virgil

Wow......I never thought I would use those two names in the same sentence! :) Most of you go there anyway, but in case you missed it, today in his blog post Mike Cope talks about Dirk Smith who is a co-worker of mine here at Harding and he also talks about my father-in-law, Virgil Lawyer. Good stuff. Here is the web site for those who may have just come out from under some rock:


I guess many of you saw where the judge in Vermont changed the sentence of the convicted child rapist. I have to believe the public outcry had some effect on that decision.


The Super Bowl is a little more than a week who you pickin? Gotta go with the Seahawks, although I also like the Steelers. But Seattle has two of my favorite players.......Shaun Alexander (Bama Alum) and Jeb Huckeba from Searcy. Wouldn't it be awesome if Jeb got a Super Bowl ring his first year?!? I just hope he can get well and get off injured reserve status for the 06 season. Both of those young men are strong believers in Christ, and I know they are influencing their team for the Lord.


I'm sending in the registration forms for Pepperdine today! There are at least 14 of us with Harding ties that will be staying together. I will be talking about the reception we will be hosting on the PU campus that week sometime in the future. If you are going to be there that week, please plan to come by and see us on Thursday night in the Faculty Dining Room. We had about 70 people come by last year, and are expecting more this year.


Going to see my mom this weekend. She is doing much better, and thank all of you in the blogging church who have sent up prayers on her behalf.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Us "baby boomers" are known for a LOT of things, but one observation that always comes up is that our generation was all about being anti-establishment. Anything that had become an institution, we were ready to question as to how it had become one, and if it needed to be done away with. Most people think of the biggies that got questioned and eventually brought down, racial equality and Vietnam..........but it just wasn't those two. It happened in entertainment, music, sports, and just about all other aspect of American life. Laugh-In and Archie Bunker came into our living rooms weekly and questioned the status quo of segregation and many other things. Rock and Roll in general (see Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Johnny Cash, the Stones, Janis Joplin, etc.) for sure went against the establishment in all kinds of ways. They questioned politics, social issues, and in the mean time changed the way music was played and heard for all time. Broadway Joe Namath, with his outlandish white shoes, put the AFL on his back and brought down the established institution of the NFL. High flying and master dunk artist Dr. J, with his beautiful Afro and striped basketball, did the same thing with the ABA and motivated the dying established NBA to wake up. Basketball has never been the same since. Even though Ronald Reagan was not a boomer himself, he surrounded himself with folks from our era, and he was one of the main players (if not THE main player) in bringing down the established iron curtain of Communism in eastern Europe. As I have already stated, if an institution was established, it got questioned.

I am not about to say that ALL the answers that came out of these questions were good ones....or the right ones. There were a lot of mistakes made. Some people tried to stir up trouble just to cause trouble. The 60's and 70's were volatile times, no doubt. Innocent people were hurt, and sometimes killed (see Kennedy, King and Kennedy). Not all the changes that came about as a result of all the questioning were for the better. A lot were. No, a WHOLE lot were.

Who were Jesus's biggest enemies? Besides Satan himself, it was the establishment. The religious institutions of the day and their faithful followers tried to stop his ministry any way they could. Why? They felt threatened. He was asking too many questions, and advocating too many changes. Jesus was very much a boomer, in that he too was anti-establishment when the establishment became an institution that held itself above all else, including God.

In 2006, you are going to be hearing a lot of calls for "Unity". It is the theme of the Pepperdine Lectures and the Tulsa Soul-Winning Workshop. There will be conferences and meetings in Ft. Worth, Abilene, Indianapolis, and probably other places also. Why? Probably because in 1906 we had a split from some fellow believers, and 100 years later we are still split. Not everybody is going to be doing back flips with joy over these efforts. Read the letters that will be coming into the "Christian Chronicle". Some of the letters will no doubt describe those seeking unity as heretics. It won't be the first time that has happened, or the last. Before Jesus ever did it, the establishment didn't like to be questioned, and they still don't like it. When leaders of our fellowship are getting up at Lectureships and decrying that we might as well shut our doors if we quit teaching what makes us "unique and distinct", you don't have to be a prophet to predict how they are going to react to calls for unity with those who may not hold the EXACT same convictions "we" do. Change is threatening to some, always has been.

Let me just close by saying this.........if this is from God, we don't need to worry about whether or not it is going to be successful. Do we? If it's from God, no instiution or establishment or army can change it's course. If it's not from Him, we'll know it. If you want my prediction, I think it is going to be a HUGE success. Why? Because God has always wanted us to have a united front against Satan. And He has always called us to love our brothers and sisters, who also love Him. The World, with 4 BILLION people who haven't named the name of Jesus, needs us to be united. It was the last request of a dying man in John 17. That's all I need to know. Because that man ended up dying for me. And you. And the 4 billion.

I thank God for those leading these efforts for unity.

Friday, January 20, 2006


I saw an ad today for the new retro Camaro by Chevrolet. One of the adjectives used to describe this exciting new car was "ATHLETIC". How is one car more athletic than another? Does one average more points per game, run more touchdowns, or hit more home runs than the other one? C'mon.....give me a break. Or is it that YOU will be more athletic if you are driving a new Camaro, instead of old 87 Dodge Aspen stationwagon with the fake wood grain on the side that we deemed "the Wuss Mobile"? Still, will my golf score improve if I am driving an "athletic" car instead of a mini-van? I wish. Evidently millions of consumers buy into the myth. How many times have you heard a car being described as being "sexier" than the others. How does that work? Does one have bigger head lights and a wider rear bumper than the others? Yeah, right.

It's all about perception, isn't it? So, how are you being perceived? I know it's possible for people to get the wrong perception of you, but for the most part those folks who know you best have got you pretty well pegged. What ever way it is that they perceive you, it's for a gave them that perception. Why are some people in your office known as "not a morning person"? Did those folks just make that up? Probably the "not morning person" comes in grumpy a lot.....duh!
So again I ask, how are YOU being perceived?

Do you remember one perception the religious leaders had about Jesus, that he was too worldly and spent too much time with "sinners"? Why did they have that perception? How about because it was TRUE! Because he ate and drank (not grape juice, by the way) with "sinners", they accused him of being a glutton and drunkard. The glutton and drunkard part were lies......but the part about being "a friend of sinners" was dead on. He was and IS a friend to them.

When is the last time your congregation was accused of being too worldly? Do other congregations have the perception that your fellowship is outward focused or inward focused? What ever perception they have, it's probably true.

In closing, I ask this question to you, personally.......When is the last time your character came into question because of who you were hanging out with? Maybe for some of us, it's been too long. Nobody has accused me of being a drug addict, a pimp, or being gay since.....hmmm, ever! I used to think that was a good thing. I am not there anymore. Now I need to work on getting accused of being one of those things, don't I?!?

Perception. Everybody has one.........about you. Scary, huh?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Pepperdine, Oklahoma and Craig

I have been on cloud nine since about Wednesday of this past week. I received my new program for the 2006 Pepperdine Lectureship! UNBELIEVABLE! Let me give you an example of one of the classes I plan on attending......"Sex and Baptism: Reflections on the Moral Vision of the Jesus Story". What's there not to be excited about?! :)
The theme this year is "Life Together: The Heart of Love & Fellowship in I John".
Outside of the Gospels and Romans, I John is probably my favorite book in the New Testament. I don't know about you, but I didn't grow up hearing I John being quoted very much. I think it was too "touchy feely".....not enough "sound doctrine" being taught by our brother John. It has become VERY precious to me over the past 20 years or so. I continue to grow in my appreciation of this wonderful, powerful book the more I read it. I thank Jerry Rushford and his staff for having the vision to select this theme for 2006, a year when many are going to try and fellowship in places where there have been walls for many years. I believe God is bringing us back's way past time. I am glad to see Harding well represented this year at Pepperdine. Two Alums, Don McLaughlin and Rich Little, will deliver key note talks. Several of our Alums, two being Randy Harris and Mike Cope, will again teach classes. Current Bible faculty going to teach classes are Monte Cox and Paul Pollard. For the 3rd year in a row, we will have a Harding reception for all HU alums who attend so they can come and reconnect with old friends and classmates. I will probably be talking about this more (duh) as that time draws closer, but I hope all of you will consider going this year. It only cost a little over $100 to stay for 4 nights! Start saving now!

I will be on the road in Oklahoma the first part of this week, so probably no more posts for me for several days. It's been over a month now since I have been on the road, and I am looking forward to being with some wonderful people, and listening to some good sermons on CDs as I drive. Life is good.

I know a lot of talented people, but I don't know if I know anybody more talented than Craig Jones. The guy is an amazing worship leader, Bible teacher, choral director, church leader, actor, play director, basketball clock keeper, assistant baseball coach, and he does unbelievable impressions. The guy is SOMETHING ELSE!
No telling how many thousands of kids that have come thru Harding Academy these past 30 years have had their life changed by him. I count it a blessing to be able to call him a friend and brother! Craig was probably the first peer to really show me a heart trying to follow Jesus. I had seen it in older people, but never really from a friend the same age as I was. It impacted my life from that point to the present, and he still impacts me now! Thanks Craig! I love you!

Thank you God for Pepperdine, good folks in Oklahoma, and for friends like Craig Jones.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Self-Control in Athletics

I am a sports junkie. Always have been, probably always will be. I can remember sitting by a short wave radio in the middle of the night in the bush in Nigeria trying to listen to an Alabama football game with my dad. I played sports (or played at them) from the time I could walk all the way thru High School, Harding, and afterwards for several years. Both of my boys played all kinds of sports all the way thru High School on into college. The #2 doesn't even work on my TV remote anymore because ESPN is on channel 26 and I have worn it out! Seriously! Get the picture? I'll watch just about any sporting event besides hockey and NASCAR......and I just offended quite a few folks with that confession. SORRY! I will keep trying, ok? :)

I wanted to make sure you knew that I am not some guy who just is a casual fan. Quite the opposite, I say with a sense of confession. I probably need to go to some sports addiction help-group. "Hello, my name is David and I am a sports-aholic". I wish I had given the Lord as many hours as I have given sports. I hope I can change this for my last 20 years or so. Remind me of that from time to time, will you?

Ok, having said ALL of that I have a question. Why do we as Christians accept out of control behavior from our coaches and players that we would NOT accept anywhere else? Why is it ok for a coach to yell and scream in anger at an official, but you would be appalled if he did that to his waiter at Dairy Queen or Pizza Hut? If we acted in the way that we accept from our coaches and players at times, we very easily could be arrested. No, I don't think that is much of a stretch. So how did we get here? I think one huge factor is that we decided a long time ago that athletics was outside of our Spiritual walk. Have you ever heard these: "It's just sports!" or "It's just a game, what does it matter?" I have, and I bet you have too. I've seen folks that on Sunday mornings for YEARS looked as if they were in a comatose state, yet the night before you would have thought they would have strangled to death some opposing player or official if they could have got their hands around the enemies neck. So which place were they showing their true colors, and don't say "both". I'm not buying it. It's the epitomy of hypocrisy. Now, I don't have any problem with folks who realize they have a problem with self-control and admit it. I have been there too! But here is what gets my goat.....when people try to make excuses for themselves and others, and rationalize it as being ok! That is when I become troubled. How would I explain to an unbeliever that a Christian is allowed to act like an idiot, get angy, lose self-control.........all because it's a sporting event?!?! Our walk is a 24/7 deal, isn't it? When non-believers come to our sporting events, do they see a difference in us? Let me go out on a limb here and say "no", for the most part. That is sad. And I think we will be accountable.

As I heard Randy Harris ask several times this past year...."What in God's name are we doing?" Because after all, isn't everything we do supposed to be in His name?

See if you can make a difference the next time you are at a ballgame. I bet He would have.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

How Wonderful Your Mercy Is!

One of my favorite worship songs these days is "For All You've Done". I think "Point of Grace" sang it first, but the first time I heard it was at Pepperdine being sung by Zoe. When Sheryl sang those beginning lyrics...."Oh cleanser of the mess I've made" in her beautiful voice, I thought I had somehow been transported to Heaven without even knowing it. Her voice and the lyrics that pierced my heart deeply connected with me that day, and it's hard not to get choked up each and every time I sing it. Thanks Sheryl and Zoe for blessing me more than you will ever know, and thanks James, Craig and other Worship leaders at Downtown for having us sing this unbelievable song.

Point Of Grace
For All You've Done

Clint Lagerberg

Oh cleanser of the mess I've made
Upon the hill our places trade
Stretched on a cross Your body crushed
By human hands You formed from dust

How wonderful Your mercy is
How awesome are Your ways
I come, I come
To worship You
For all You've done

Oh cleanser of the mess I've made
Your boundless love for me portrayed
With patience for my learning curve
By holding back what I deserve


Oh cleanser of the mess I've made
With everything at Your feet laid
I watch as all my cares erode
And from my soul these words explode


Friday, January 06, 2006

Crow Ain't Half Bad

Yeah, I will take a little mustard with that CROW I am eating since the University of Vince Young beat USC. WOW! What a game, huh? I didn't think Texas had played anybody......and still don't think they had (with the exception of the Ohio State game, when OSU was QB-less) played anybody during the regular season. But I found out that really didn't matter, did it? Vince was a man amongst boys. He needs to go on and play on Sundays next fall. If he plays for UT, the NCAA may have to adopt a handicap policy where the opposing team starts with x amount of points just to make it fair. Seriously. Football is a team sport, but in my 50 years I don't remember a player being able to dominate and control a game like he can. Please move on Vince.....we'll give you an honorary Heisman if you will just go on to the NFL. Playing in the Big 12 next year makes about as much sense as LeBron James coming to play in the Searcy City League. Go play where you have some competition.
Having said all of that, call me crazy but I stick by my guns in saying I still don't believe USC or Texas could have gone thru the SEC undefeated. That's right, even with All-Universe Young.

Congrats to my boys in Crimson for ending the season with a win and for winning 10 games this year. Have you EVER seen an uglier field-goal? :) The official was jumping out of the way, then threw his arms up! Oh well, it still counts for 3 points. And yes, a Bama alum won the MVP of the big boys league......congrats Shaun Alexander! Hurry up and get Jeb well so he can join you next year for another Super Bowl run!

How long is it till August?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


It's been a week since I have posted anything, because we got a call last week that my mom had fallen and broken her arm. So, we have been in Florence, Alabama since Friday trying to help my folks. We got back to Searcy late last night. My dad is pretty much an invalid, so my mom takes care of him. Therefore, when something like this happens, there are two people to take care of. It's hard to be four and a half hours away! Some of you have had a LOT more experience with this than I have.
The 5 days we were there it was pretty much non-stop as far as taking care of things.
And this sounds weird, but what a blessing! Except for feeling bad for mom and dad, those are some of the best 5 days I have had in a LONG time. Serving blesses you a LOT more than is blesses the people you are helping! Why is it so hard to remember that? Why do we default to selfish motives so many times? This was a wake up call to me about how much joy there is in serving. I hope I don't need another one anytime soon.

My mom would love any encouragement she can get. If you want to drop her a card, the address is:

Myra Underwood
2004 Saxton Drive
Florence, Alabama 35630

Prayers on behalf of her and my dad will be appreciated more than I can express.

Oh.........and Happy New Year everybody! I hope 2006 is great for all of you.