Saturday, April 29, 2006

My Holy Trek

The children of Israel had their trip to Jerusalem. The Muslims have their Hajj. I also have an annual Spiritual Malibu. The Pepperdine Lectureship is a time of feasting on Spiritual things for me, and many others. Yeah, the setting is beautiful, but that is not what it's about. For me, it's about being with that many people who love the Lord and want to continue to search to know Him they can love Him better. Jerry Rushford and his team put on an AWESOME lectureship! I feel sorry for whoever has to try and take the baton from him someday. This year, I am blessed with getting to travel with one of my best buddies.....Keith Riley. Keith has never been to California, so this is going to be fun! :) Several friends are going to hook up with us there.........David Hall, Jim White, Greg Brown, and Brian Mashburn. Several folks from Harding are teaching a class.....Paul Pollard, Monte Cox, and Howard Norton. Several of our alums are either teaching a class or doing a key-note..........Brian, Mike Cope, Randy Harris, Rich Little, Don Mclaughlin and probably several that I am leaving out. We will have two of our HU Board members there.....Jimmy Cone and Jerry Morgan. Our VP for Advancement, Mike Williams, is also making the trek. We expect a big turn-out for our HU Reception on Thursday night.

If you can't come this year, I hope you will try and make it next year. I give you my word, you WILL be blessed by coming!

I hope all of you have a great week next week, regardless of where you are.

God bless you all!!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Invisible Children and Baptism

The Invisible Children folks were on campus last night, and we had a SUPER turn-out in the Benson. Over a THOUSAND people came out to hear the presentation, and to watch the video. I think they sold every t-shirt, video, and bracelet that they had brought! The Harding Students are having a yard sale on campus today to raise other funds for this project. I hope our involvement makes a difference in the lives of these precious children. The best gift we can give is the gift of prayer. Please take these kids to the Father.......often.

I witnessed the baptism of Malika last night. She is a freshman from New York. Grey and Sharon Powell have been impacting the life of Malika for several years now. It doesn't seem like I witness very many baptisms anymore, but when I do get's like being in the midst of Heaven! I just want to do back-flips and shout to the top of my lungs! I want to celebrate BIG-TIME! I think Heaven is going to be much more of a party time than it is a solemn event. What's there to be solemn about? :)

Bring it on...........I'm ready to party!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Randy Harris- Appetizer for Pepperdine

What a blessing we had this past weekend at Downtown! Randy Harris came to Searcy and spoke at four different gatherings. Friday night he spoke to our "Celebrate Recovery" ministry. A woman came up to him afterwards and said "I don't know who you are, but that is the best thing I have ever heard in my entire life!" Saturday morning he spoke to the men of DT, and talked to us about "mission" as it pertains to Leadership. We had close to 100 men there, and we all felt very encouraged by what Randy shared with us. Saturday night he talked to our "young professionals" class, and we had about 40 people at Wyldewood for that event. Randy has a passion for that age-group, so you can imagine how relevant he was with them. After he spoke, they asked questions for a good while. Second home run of the day, third for the weekend. Then Sunday he spoke to a huge crowd in the Benson Auditorium.
Can you say "WALK OFF GRAND SLAM"! Amazing! The title of his lesson was "radical hospitality", and he used the parable of the Prodigal as his text. Yeah, we ALL have been the older brother! It was a Sunday that won't be quickly forgotten in the history of Downtown.
Thanks Randy, for the blessing you were to us this weekend! Come back as often as you can.

Pepperdine is next YES, this was the perfect appetizer! I CAN'T WAIT! How many of you are going?

See you there!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Loving Little

Here is a post I did on June 24th, 2004. I am fast approaching my second anniversary of blogging. My, how time flies! I have never re-posted on my blog before, but my heart is still heavy from Sunday.


Last week I referred to the line in the Waylon and Willie song that says: "Maybe it's time we got back to the basics of Love".Love is the central theme of the Bible. Love is talked about more in our Bibles than any other subject. It is the filter that you receive all the other scripture through. If you had to define God with one word, "love" would be that word. It is the most controlling influence in the world. All the good in the world has love at it's root, and all evil has a lack of love at it's foundation. Love is the motivation for more songs being written than all the other songs put together....both secular and spiritual. I could "blog" for days, weeks, and months and NEVER write all that could be discussed revolving around the subject of love. It's that deep and wide. Do you remember the phrase "loves little" from scripture? It may appear several times, but the time I am pointing you to is in Luke 7 when Jesus is talking to Simon the Pharisee. Jesus is defending the sinful woman, and basically tells Simon that the reason he "loves little" is because he perceives himself as being forgiven of little. Do you have a "loves little" problem? Do I? If so, let me suggest the truth that applied to Simon applies to us.........we aren't humble enough to acknowledge our need for forgiveness for the sins in our lives. Forgiveness is something everybody else needs.....because their sins are greater and more numerous than mine. Forgiveness is something you need, because you don't hold the same doctrines that I do.......and mine are the RIGHT ones. Like Simon, until we come to grips with our NEED for forgiveness.....we will continue to "love little". I don't think that means just loving God little.......I think it means the ability to love ANY and EVERY person. That should get our attention really quick.I probably can't quote you chapter and verse, but I believe this has another twist to it also. Because we "love little", we don't perceive ourselves as being forgiven of very much. Remember, that is the reason Jesus told Simon he was a "love little" individual. Here is the twist.......feeling like we don't need to be forgiven of anything then influences us in our ability, or lack of ability, to forgive. I truly believe we forgive to the level we PERCEIVE WE have been forgiven. It's really easy to forgive when you see your sins as being greater than those of the people you are having to forgive. Isn't it? Wasn't that what captured Paul's heart.......knowing EVEN he, the "Chief of Sinners" was loved enough to be forgiven? Knowing his past, how hard do you think it was for Paul to forgive or to offer Grace freely? How did he have any other choice? We are all Paul....we've ALL been lost to the same level he was. What keeps us from grasping that truth? Is it pride? Is it fear of acceptance? Is it ignorance? It should motivate us when we read Jesus telling us that we will be forgiven at the same level we are able to forgive! I pray with you that I too will see the log in my own eye, and see how MUCH I am forgiven on a daily as to help me be able to be a loving, forgiving, and Grace-filled disciple. The other option keeps me from being the very light and salt that I want to be.

I believe in HIM!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Goodbye Corky

Dear Corky, I still can't believe that you are gone. I've known about your passing for about 72 hours now, and I am not sure it has really hit me yet. All day yesterday I thought about the irony of us burying you on Easter Sunday. Although we put you in the ground yesterday, you will rise again because He already has. And I can't wait to see you on that day! I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you will be smiling, cause you smiled most all the time.

You were a good friend. I will always remember how each time you laughed, you also ALWAYS had to wipe tears out of your eyes. And you wiped tears a LOT......... because we laughed a lot, didn't we? I remember how as a Senior you got into reading "The Dove"......the book Mrs. McGuire assigned us to read. Here was Mr. Jock, Mr. Cool, Mr. Ladies Man with his nose stuck in a book every free minute he had. It made it cool for the rest of us to enjoy it too! :) We didn't even know at the time that you were dyslexic, therefore having to put a lot more effort into that assignment and any other assignment that required reading.....more than the rest of us had to. I'm sorry we didn't know that. I remember when we were Juniors several of us would go over to the Annapolis Avenue church and do tutoring for children who needed extra help. I thought you had a special bond with the kids, and now I know why. You had been there and done that. I also remember how you wanted all of us to be in the Senior play......."Cheaper by the Dozen". You weren't too cool to be involved in the Arts. And I know why............cause the world was your oyster. If somebody thought you were a nerd for being in the Senior play, you didn't care. You knew you were Corky Berry. Rain on em. I remember the special relationship you had with your mom. You both had a gleem in your eye when you talked to each other, and the love was so strong you could almost touch it. She still had that gleem in her eye yesterday as she stood beside you.

I haven't even talked about your talents as an athlete...........I could go on for hours on that subject. Other guys probably put more effort into sports, but that is usually the curse for guys like you who have so much talent. To this day, I have NEVER EVER seen ANYBODY...........professional or college or high school................shoot a jump shot with the grace and ease that you did. It was like watching a ballet on Broadway. They should have made an instructional video of you shooting a jump shot to use for all generations to come. It was so pretty that it should have been Raquel Welch or some starlet shooting it. No telling how many points a game you would have averaged if the 3 point line had been in effect. It was effortless for you, because again............the world was your oyster. It's an honor just to have been your team-mate.

I know you had your demons. I wonder how many times you felt alone in your battles, and that tears my heart out. Because you weren't alone.

I'll miss you.

I loved you,

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Affirmations of a Revolutionary

At the end of his wonderful book "Revolution", George Barna has a section he calls "The Affirmations of a Revolutionary". See how many of these you can sign off on. Hey, you may be one too! :)

I am a Revolutionary in the service of God Almighty. My life is not my own; I exist as a free person but have voluntarily become a slave to God. My role on earth is to live as a Revoluntionary, committed to love, holiness, and advancing God's Kingdom. My life is not about me and my natural desires; it is all about knowing, loving, and serving God with all my heart, mind, strength, and soul. Therefore I acknowledge the following:

I am a sinner; broken by my disobedience but restored by Jesus Christ in order to participate in good works that please God. I am not perfect; but Jesus Christ makes me righteous in God's eyes, and the Holy Spirit leads me toward greater holiness

God created me for His purposes. My desire as a Revolutionary is to fulfill those ends, and those ends alone. When I get out of bed each day, I do so for one purpose: to love, obey and serve God and His people.

Every breath I take is a declaration of war against Satan and a commitment to opposing him.

God does not need me to fight His fight, but He invites me to allow Him to fight through me. It is my privilege to serve Him in that manner. I anticipate and will gladly endure various hardships as I serve God; for this is the price of participation in winning the spiritual war.

I do not need to save the world, but I can allow God to use me to transform some part of it.

My commitment to the Revolution of faith is sealed by my complete surrender to God's ways and His will. I will gratefully do what He asks of me simply because He loves me enough to ask. I gain my security, success, and significance through my surrender to Him.

I am not called to join a church. I am called to be the Church.

Worship is not an event I attend or a process I observe; it is the lifestyle I lead.

I do not give away 10 percent of my resources. I surrender 100 percent.

God has given me natural abilities and supernatural abilities, all intended to advance His kingdom. I will deploy those abilities for that purpose.

The proof of my status as a Revolutionary is the love I show to God and people.

There is strength in relationships; I am bound at a heart and soul level to other Revolutionaries, and I will bless believers whenever I have the chance.

To achieve victory in the spiritual war in which we are immersed, there is nothing I must accomplish; I simply follow Christ with everything I have.

There is no greater calling than to know and serve God.

The world is desperately seeking meaning and purpose. I will respond to that need with the Good News and meaningful service.

Absolute moral and spiritual truth exists, is knowable, and is intended for my life; it is accessible thru the Bible.

I want nothing more than to hear God say to me, "Well done, My good and faithful servant."

Easy to read or say..................harder to live. But by the Grace of God, I'm trying. A whole bunch of Grace.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

When's The Last Time Anybody Was In "Awe" Of Your Church?

Acts 2: 43 says it: "Everyone was filled with awe". Awe of what, you might ask? I would guess they were in awe of what all was going on around them regarding this new group of Christ's know, the church folks.
Yeah I know, some of the awe was motivated by the miracles that were taking place. But that wasn't the only reason. These new converts were down-sizing and giving "to anyone as he had need". It doesn't take a miracle to do that, but it for sure takes some faith. They also got together and praised God EVERY DAY (but we choose to use Acts convenient of us) . And they were impacting their community, because it says in verse 47 "and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved". It doesn't take a rocket scientist or someone like George Barna who does research on church growth for us to see that our churches today aren't exactly "adding to their number daily". Shoot, we aren't adding YEARLY! At least here in the States we aren't. I know that on some foreign mission fields they are, and may God continue to bless the work of missionaries, and I hope they continue to introduce the Gospel to lost souls all over the world. But let's get back to us.
Why aren't we impacting our communities? Why aren't we reaching lost, hurting, pitiful people? I agree with Dave Stone, who said that if we want to be an Acts 2 church, we better be willing to be Acts 1 people of prayer. Acts 1:14 says "they all joined together CONSTANTLY in prayer". Sadly, we aren't known for being praying people. We aren't the ones with kneeling benches in our churches. We used to have what we called "prayer meetings", but I think we did more preaching and discussing and singing than we did actually praying. Going back to chapter 2, when Luke is describing these new Christians, one of the things he says they were devoted to in verse 42 is prayer. So I would gladly agree with Dave.......we need to be praying people. As Rick Atchley asked, what are we praying for that is SO BIG that ONLY GOD CAN DO IT?

There are probably other factors also, but I want to mention one possibility as far as explaning why our communities are not in "awe" of us. To me, it's the big white elephant in the middle of the room nobody wants to address. So here goes. Could it be that these believers were trying to emulate Christ, instead of trying to restore something? Besides prayer, look at the other things Luke says they were devoted to........"the apostles teaching, fellowship, and breaking of bread". Is that what we have a passion about? Are we DEVOTED to those things? Maybe so. But is that the ONLY things we are devoted to? I think we have spent a ton of devotion in trying to "restore the first century church". As one of our Harding board members, Jerry Morgan, asked a few months ago in a powerful sermon, "where did we get the idea we are called to restore the church"? Can you find that verse for us? Try walking down the street looking backward as you walk. What kind of vision would that produce if you walked that way for very long? Besides, if the church needs restoring, don't you have enough faith to believe God can handle that task? Does that mean we don't need to stop and recalibrate from time to time? Of course we do......and I am thankful for men like Martin Luther, Barton Stone, Alexander Campbell and others who called us to look at ourselves and see if we were being the people God called us to be. They were men of vision, seeing where we were headed if we continued down the path we were on. But a machine that spends all of it's time and energy on recalibrating will never produce anything!

Isaiah said it well when he said "remember not the former things". He said that in reference to what the children of Israel had done........and by the way, he was talking about the GOOD things in Israel's past! He was telling them to look ahead instead of looking backwards. He does encourage them to "remember the former things" in other parts of his writings, but those former things have to do with what GOD had done.

So here is my suggestion. If we want to impact our communities, to the point that they are in awe of what God is doing, we might want to consider focusing on being Christ-like as a higher priority than restoring the New Testament church. But do you see the irony in that statement? If we were about the business of being Jesus to everybody in our community, we WOULD BE THE FIRST CENTURY CHURCH!! :) Instead of focusing on the early church, I want to focus on what THEY were focusing on.........Jesus Christ. Anyway, isn't that what we are called to do in Scripture? I can't find any passages directing us to restore some earlier church. I long for the day when we are known for being a church that is like Christ, instead of being known for being part of a "restoration movement".

If our time, energy, resources, and wisdom are spent on the goal of restoring the PRACTICES of the worship service of the first century church, we will never convert the world to Christ. Looking back won't get it done. Living the way of the cross will. And it's love will bring out the "AWE" in our communities.

I end with the way I started, by asking a question............when is the last time your community was in awe of your church?

Monday, April 03, 2006

KC and Happy B-day Dad

I'm headed to KC this I get to watch the NCAA Championship game with all my friends! :) I guess I will pull for the Gators, since they are an SEC team. UCLA is making Bama look pretty good, the way they are blowing people out. I'm sure that was their motive.

My dad turns 78 tomorrow. We got to see him this weekend and celebrate his birthday. But since I will be on the road tomorrow...........HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! I hope you feel good on your birthday, and I am sorry you feel bad most of the time. We love you!

Hope everybody has a super week! One month till Pepperdine! KR, are you ready? I know JW is. Anybody else out there going?

And here's wishing the Cardinals have their third 100 win season in a row! King Albert is the MAN! :)