Monday, September 25, 2006

Hi From the Beautiful Northwest

Seattle had 3 straight days of the most beautiful weather you have ever seen. It was great to hang out with Jeb and Jami a little bit. Jeb's feet are getting better, and he is going to be on the field for some NFL team before too much longer. I got to go to the Seahawks game yesterday. Talk about some CRAZY fans! Pro football makes me appreciate college football in that at NCAA football games you won't find alcohol being sold. A LOT of the fans at the Seattle game were drunk. It for sure is not a family atmosphere. I guess they have to pay those salaries somehow.


Christmas came early for the Hogs. But, if you miss 3 field goals and an extra point, you don't deserve to win. I just hope we can recover quick enough to get ready for Florida. YUCK! John Parker Wilson is a gonna be a big time QB. It will be fun to watch him for the rest of this year and two more years. ROLL TIDE. That's all I have to say about that.


You folks back home please be sure to look up Frank Mills while he is there in Searcy for the Lectureship. He is teaching a class for two days, if I am not mistaken. I still miss Frank and Summer! I especially miss watching Bama games with him. Frank is like a little brother to me, in that we grew up together in Florence. We were next door neighbors. Seems like he would have rubbed off on me more, huh?


The HA Memphis Lions are 5-0. Bring on Pope John Paul !!


The Northwest is beautiful, but it ain't home! :) Come Thursday morning, I will be wearing a smile..........cause I am coming home to the South. When Shaun Alexander scores a TD for the Seahawks, they play "Sweet Home Alabama" over the PA system, and the fans go nuts. Well, at least one fan did!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Praisefest and Other Thoughts

The Searcy Community is having a "Praisefest" this weekend at our local event center. I heard the guy who brought this event together speaking on the radio this morning. He talked about how all the local denominations have come together to be supportive of this time of praise, worship, and thanksgiving. I know Downtown is supportive of this effort. It would be interesting to know if the other congregations in our fellowship are also going to be supportive.
I am going to be on the road, or I would have been there. Any of you local folks going? I sure hope so.


Speaking of music, we lost a wonderful musician 33 years ago today. Jim Croce died in an airplane crash on this date in 1973. I was a senior in High School, and I remember a bunch of the girls crying when they heard the news. Of course the guys were too cool to cry. So, what is your favorite Croce song? Mine is "Lover's Cross", but there are a ton that I love. We still miss you Jim!


We all agree our worship is a 24/7 thing..........right? We agree because that is what scripture teaches us. We also agree because we realize how impossible it would be to NOT worship 24/7 if we are really disciples! Then help me figure out this one. Some people believe it's ok to listen to music by atheist, but not music by other believers. The instruments in the music by the atheist is somehow NOT offensive to God, but the instruments in the music by believers IS?
Somebody help me out here.........the logic is lost on me.


This is a big weekend for me. Since I am a transplanted Bama fan in Arkansas, this week is ALWAYS a big one. So, I am leaving town! Well, I was leaving anyway.........but it will make it easier if we lose. I am going to be blessed to get to watch the game with an ex-Hog living in Seattle, one Jeb Huckeba. This should be interesting......and fun! Thank goodness our love for the Lord is greater than our love for the Crimson Tide or Razorbacks.........therefore our relationship will stay the same no matter the outcome of the ballgame. Just pray he doesn't want a pound of flesh if the Tide Rolls! I can't take him anymore...duh. Like maybe since he was in the 8th grade is more like it. :)


My Memphis Harding Academy Lions are 4 and ZERO! Must be some good coaching going on over there! :) Not that I am prejudice or anything. They supposedly have a cup-cake this weekend, which will put them 5-0 going into a big game against Pope John Paul out of Nashville next week. Why don't we name some high schools after some of our folks? Wouldn't you hate to play against "Evangelist Jimmy Allen" or "Preacher Jim Woodroof "? Hmmm.....I wonder what the colors would be for the team from Evangelist Jimmy Allen? :) I know what color fire is, but what about the brimstone part?


As I said earlier, I hit the road Friday. Going to the great Northwest! I can't wait to see folks like Jeb and Jami Huckeba, Brent and Heather Abney, Scott and Gaila Collins, Cam and Andrea Henderson, George and Julie Pitcher, Tom and Judy Hinds, Arleen Barnett, and many more folks at church. I also get to reconnect with one of my dearest friends in the world, Lal Chadwaney from India. Lal and I were friends in Monrovia, Liberia in the early 70's. Lal is a Hindu by heritage, and we have had some interesting talks about Christianity. Please pray that we can continue these discussions. I love him like a brother!

See ya in a week or so!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Another Taste of Claiborne

Here is another excerpt from Shane Claiborne's "The Irresistible Revolution". I can't put it down, and I hope all of you will have the blessing of reading it also.

"The Gospel is good news for the sick people and is disturbing for those who think they've got it all together. Some of us have been told our whole lives that we are wretched, but the Gospel reminds us we are beautiful. Others of us have been told our whole lives that we are beautiful, but the Gospel also reminds us that we are wretched. The church is a place where we can stand up and say we are wretched, and everyone will nod and agree and remind us that we are also beautiful. One thing I've learned from believers and from activists alike is that community can be built around common self-righteousness or around a common brokenness. Both are magnetic. People are drawn toward folks who have it all together, or who look like they do. People are also drawn toward folks who know they don't have it all together and are not willing to fake it. Christianity can be built around isolating ourselves from evildoers and sinners, creating a community of religious piety and moral purity. That's the Christianity I grew up with. Christianity can also be built around joining with the broken sinners and evildoers of our world and crying out to God, groaning for grace. That's the Christianity I have fallen in love with".

I could give you more.......LOTS more. But then you wouldn't need to read it yourself! :)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Does God Want You To Be Rich

That is the cover story for this week's issue of "Time" magazine. Very interesting article......pick it up at the news stand if you get a chance. One stat that really caught my attention was this one: In a Time poll, 61% of the Christians they surveyed said they believed God wants people to be prosperous. I find that hard to believe, but then again, should I?
Consumerism and materialism are the great idols of our society and culture, and I don't see too many Christians choosing a different path that would show a deeper eternal one. Present company included.

Contrast that with this excerpt from "The Irresistible Revolution" by Shane Claiborne.

So I did a little survey, probing Christians about their (mis) conceptions of Jesus. It was fun just to see how many people think Jesus loved homosexuals or ate kosher. But I learned a striking thing from the survey. I asked participants who claimed to be "strong followers of Jesus" whether Jesus spent time with the poor. Nearly 80 percent said yes. Later in the survey, I asked this same group of strong followers whether they spent time with the poor, and less than 2 percent said they did. I learned a powerful lesson: We can admire and worship Jesus without doing what He did. We can applaud what He preached and stood for without caring about the same things. We can adore His cross without taking up ours. I had come to see that the great tragedy in the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not KNOW the poor. When the worlds of poverty and wealth collide, the resulting powerful fusion can change the world. But that collision rarely happens. I could feel it happening inside of me. One of my punk-rock friends asked me why so many rich people like talking to me, and I said because I'm nice to them. He asked me why I was nice to them. I said because I can see myself in them. That gives me a little patience and grace. I long for the Calcutta slums to meet the Chicago suburbs, for lepers to meet landowners and for each to see God's image in the other. It's no wonder that the footsteps of Jesus lead from the tax collectors to the lepers. I truly believe that when the poor meet the rich, riches will have no meaning. And when the rich meet the poor, we will see poverty come to an end.

If you don't have this book on your night stand, you should run out and get it...............TODAY.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Edward Fudge and Songs of Our Journey

No, those two don't have anything to do with each other. It's just that I am going to refer to both in this post. Thanks for ALL the comments involving the "Jesus is the Savior ONLY of the church" statement. My take is that the statement is the product of a very STRONG sectarian mindset. I don't believe that to be true. That is not the gospel I read about in the New Testament. John 3:16 is not up for discussion as far as I am concerned.

If you want to read a scholarly essay as to how someone could get to the point that they are THAT sectarian, please read the following post by Edward Fudge. I have never read anything by EF that didn't encourage me. I love his spirit, and his love for his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Thank you Royce Ogle for pointing me to this wonderful essay.


Ever since Joe Beam had us sing "You've Got a Friend" last year at Downtown, I have been more aware of seeing how secular songs can apply to my spiritual life and to my personal journey. Yeah, it would be a monumental task to make most of them applicable........but there might be more opportunities than you think. Yesterday I heard "The Long and Winding Road" by the Beatles, and it really resonated with me as far as my walk has been.

"The long and winding road that leads to your door,
Will never disappear,
I've seen that road before
It always leads me here, leads me to your door.

"Why leave me standing here, let me know the way
Many times I've been alone and many times I've cried
Anyway you'll never know the many ways I've tried,
but still they lead me back to the long and winding road"

So, do any of you have secular songs that remind you of your journey or encourage you in your daily walk? If so, please share them with the rest of us.


The Harding Academy Lions in Memphis are 3-0 after last night! They defeated Ezell-Harding last night, and face a tough Knoxville Webb team next week. Can anything good come outa Knoxville? :) Just teasing. Some of my most DEAREST friends in the WHOLE WORLD are in Knoxville........Tom and Anita Drinnen. I would go to the wall for them in a heart beat. They were my second parents in Liberia when I was in High School there, and I don't know if I would have made it without their their love and support. Anybody else out there know the Drinnens? Their son, Tommy, is a missionary at the Village of Hope in Ghana. The apple didn't fall too far from the tree.

Everybody have a GREAT weekend.

Roll Tide Roll

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Jesus is the Savior ONLY of the church

You read that right. Not, "Jesus is the only savior" or "Only Jesus is the savior". Nope, it's "Jesus is the Savior ONLY of the church". What would you think if you heard someone preach that? What if the preacher went on to infer that "God so loved the world" and verses following really means that God loves obedient believers......only. Let me know your take on these teachings. I will give you my take later.


I hear people talking about "unchurched believers". I can promise you one thing, the people being referred to there did not come up with that label for themselves. They consider themselves part of the church. They correctly realize that "church" is NOT congregational worship. They also know that "church" is not organized religion. All the ones I know have contact with other believers, and feel a part of the family of God........the church. And I gotta tell ya, a lot of the believers I know that aren't part of some congregation are having a lot more impact on their communities by being light and salt than the majority of pew warmers at the local congregations.......of any stripe or tribe. No doubt God made us to be in community with other believers. He doesn't want us or expect us to live in a vacuum. Hence the admonition from the Hebrews writer in chapter 10 verse 25. But He didn't define that community, the church, as only those that meet at the church building 3 times a week.


I heard a preacher say that Mega churches are trying to reach the "unchurched believers". My take is that Mega churches surely wouldn't turn those folks away, but their main target is unchurched UNBELIEVERS. I feel quite confident that is the target group North Richland Hills is trying to reach. I heard Dave Stone say those unbelievers are the folks the Mega congregation where he attends is trying to reach. I have never heard of a church that put a higher priority on reaching believers over non-believers. That wouldn't make a whole lot of sense, would it? By the way, the Mega church folks must be doing a pretty good job......hence the term "Mega". I know I know. Maybe they aren't "sound". :) Let's don't even go there again.


Have I told you how blessed I feel to be a part of a congregation that is OUTWARDLY focused?
You won't hear sermons there about what other groups of believers are doing wrong, and what we are doing right. You will hear sermons encouraging us to seek the lost, bring back the strays, strengthen the weak, and heal or bind up the wounded. What a blessing!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Another Engagement

Matt popped the question last Saturday, and Liz Lee said we had two boys get engaged in the same week! Yeah, it's been a great week on all accounts. Jan and I couldn't feel more blessed. We are proud of the choices both son's made, and can't wait to have both of these sweet Christian young ladies as a daughter-in-law. There is rejoicing in the Underwood home!


Colorado was............well, it was Colorado. Need I say more? Monday morning it was in the high 50's in Colorado Springs, and the drive to Salida was just unbelievable. So was the drive from Salida back to Denver over the front range. Just like everywhere else, the Harding folks in Colorado are a HUGE encouragement to me! Going back next Spring can't come soon enough.


Headed to Memphis again tonight for the Lion's second game, then on to Alabama in the morning to watch the first Bama game on TV with my bed-ridden dad. Matt and Liz are coming too, so we are looking forward to a super holiday weekend! Everyone please travel safe! The airports were already CRAZY yesterday. ROLL TIDE!


Speaking of airports, I have one observations to make. Remember how airports used to be kinda quiet............kinda like the library almost, except for the public announcements? People used to sit quiet and read to themselves. NOT ANY MORE! Welcome to the age of EVERYBODY talking on a cell-phone! Airports are LOUD places now because everybody is talking....loudly......constantly. Thank goodness the FAA has outlawed cell-phone use during flights. I think that would be more than I could take.
It creates in me a desire for solitude. Peace. Quietness. Muzzles.
You folks that travel by air a lot........are you with me on this one?

Santa may be bringing me some head-phones for Christmas!