Friday, September 29

My "baby" daughter turns 20 today. That starts to make me feel "older."

Happy Birthday, Stacy!


These words were in the passage I read today from Isaiah. I thought of my friend Jim and his kids as I read them - but all who are going through difficult times:

But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me."

"Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?

Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands."

Isaiah 49:15-16


I'm entering this post at Panera here in Fayetteville. It's a great place to drink some coffee, eat a bagel, read, and study. I try to spend a couple of hours here on Friday mornings. But it is also Bible study central! I got here before 7:00 am today and there were at least three small group Bible studies going on around the restaurant!

One other funny note: Apparently Panera's web filtering system is pretty sensitive. It always blocks Jen's blog, saying it has "adult/mature content." I haven't ever found such things on her blog, but it is fun to give her a hard time about it.


Last night's dance: A review of the Rumba. We needed that as we had forgotten a couple of the turns.


If you enjoy classical music, the Philadelphia Orchestra is offering a free download of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. You can find it here.


Check out this list of "Top Ten Web Tools for College Students."


A track and field note: I wrote a couple of weeks ago about Tyson Gay's great summer - he ran the third fastest 200 meters (19.68) in history and is the fastest in history over 100 and 200 meters. In fact, over the summer he kind of blew by Wallace Spearman, his former teammate here at Arkansas and the American record holder for 200 meters indoors. Wallace's dad ran at Arkansas and he grew up here in Fayetteville. This summer, Wallace has run well but didn't improve much from the previous year. But a couple of week's ago, he won the World Athletic Championships with a 19.88 in the 200 meters - a personal best. But this weekend, Wallace ran 19.65 in South Korea, moving him back past Tyson and into third place all time. Apparently, Wallace has had some minor injuries all season and he is finally healthy.

So now two of the top four 200 meter times in history are held by former Razorbacks and three of the top four times have been run this year - Tyson Gay's 19.68, Wallace Spearman's 19.65, and Xavier Carter's 19.63. Of those guy's, Tyson is the old man at 24. Wallace and Xavier are just 20 or 21. Fun times are ahead!


This is Bikes, Blues, and BBQ weekend in Fayetteville. That means an estimated 400,000 bikers will hit town and all of them will ride their motorcycles three feet from my office. It will be so loud, you can hardly talk. It's a good time for normal people to get out of town, so Gina and I are going to Ft. Scott for a day or so.

Sunday, September 24

This is my 25th year of working with college students at the University of Arkansas. Though it doesn't feel like a long time, when you see it in writing it sure looks like a long time!

The truth is that there are a lot of people in college ministry who stay in it for a long time. There are others serving on this campus who have been here longer than I have and probably at least a half dozen who have been here for 15 years or more. I have friends around the country who have been at it much longer than I have.

There are a lot of reasons I have been here so long:

* Rather than moving every four or five years like many ministers, my congregation graduates and moves. I get to stay!

* I have always had the privilege of working with very patient and understanding people - both in my Board of Directors and in those who have worked with me on staff.

* College ministry allows most of us to work in line with our passions and gifts and avoids much of the "bureaucracy" found in the church.

But one of the things that has made ministry here easier and more enjoyable is that there is a camaraderie among those who do ministry at the UofA. For a dozen years or more, the leaders of a dozen or so ministries have met on Wednesday mornings to pray together. We pray for our ministries and our families and our finances and our students and our campus. We help each other through difficult times of ministry and through struggles with children, the loss of spouses, and physical frailties.

Whereas many communities - and many campuses - have an air of competition between churches and religious groups, these ministries at the UofA have a sense of cooperation and partnership. We lift each other up to students. We don't try to recruit students who are plugged in at other ministries. We try to find ways to work together to advance the cause of Christ and exalt God on our campus. You would find a lot of differences between us in theology and practice. And, if we let ourselves, I know that we could get into some pretty heated discussions. Though we don't always agree, we do share certain things in common: a commitment to Jesus Christ as God Incarnate and the only Savior of the world, a commitment to God's Word as authoritative and our standard for faith and living, and a commitment to seeing the Gospel proclaimed and students won and equipped.

I know that this type of fellowship isn't common. And I do believe that it is part of the reason that ministers stay at the UofA. I know that it is part of the reason that I have been here for almost 25 years.

That and I don't think that anyone else would have me!


My fantasy football team stinks.


Last week's dance: Swing. Or, more precisely, East Coast (as opposed to West Coast - but don't ask me the difference) Jitterbug (as opposed to what else, I don't know) Swing.


My daughter, Erin, is in Hawaii for eight days. The family of a friend of hers is on vacation there and they had an extra ticket. So she gets a basically free eight-day Hawaiian vacation. Pretty cool!


For those who are movie fans, check out Entertainment Weekly's list of the 25 most controversial movies in history. I've only seen four of them.


Read about two churches in Texas that are being sued because they practiced church discipline by revealing that members were involved in affairs.


Did you see the Time magazine cover story a couple of weeks ago entitled "Does God Want You to Be Rich?" It looks at some of the prosperity preaching that is going on and the response of other Christian leaders to it. It is a good piece.

Sunday, September 17

Cheryl Miller "took her first breath of heaven's air" (as Jim put it) on Friday morning after a six month battle with cancer. Gina and I went to her memorial service this evening in Langley, OK. It was a good time of celebration, with Jim leading a time of worship (with his son and son-in-law accompanying) and sharing with those gathered. They will do the same thing again on Saturday in Effingham, IL where they ministered for over 10 years.


On Saturday we had a Board of Directors meeting for Christ on Campus. That is notable because we only have two a year, so they are usually pretty long affairs (three hours). But they are also notable because our Board is such an enjoyable group of men and women to work with. They are people who love the Lord, love Christ on Campus, love college students, and who are patient with me. They aren't looking at how they can control the ministry (as some boards seem to do) but they are looking for ways to help us minister more effectively. Almost half of our Board are former ConC students, which makes the situation even more enjoyable. I always leave our Board meetings encouraged. I just hope everyone else does, as well!

However, this Board meeting did have some sadness to it. After 24 years of service, Harv Coon stepped down. Harv has been a part of Christ on Campus as long as I have. For over 20 years, he was chairman of our Board. He has been a mentor to me in many ways. His wisdom and vision will be greatly missed.


Last week's ballroom dance: the Tango (American, not Argentine).


From the "Isn't That Obvious" category, a San Francisco neuropsychiatrist says there are real differences between the brains of men and women and the sooner we understand that, the better! I don't know how much she spent on her research, but my guess that a marriage license would have been cheaper and proven the same point! You can see the article here.


A Los Angeles Times story talks about a Christian retailers convention and the ways that Christians can come up with to take advantage of the "silliness" (instead of other words I would prefer to use) of the Christian community. Some of the items that you can purchase:

  • Christian perfume, which is supposed to give you an opportunity to witness when someone asks you fragrance you are wearing
  • Follow the Son flip-flops which will leave the message "Follow Jesus" in the sand as you walk by
  • Gospel Golf Balls (made by Top-Flite) are golf balls with Bible verses on them. I guess they would probably make me feel better about the number of balls I lose in a round. I would just be doing more witnessing.
  • Of course, there are all kinds of Christian candy, Christian dolls, Christian t-shirts and caps, Christian keychains ....

To me, it all seems to trivialize the Gospel in some way.

Monday, September 11

September 11.

People more articulate than I am have been talking and writing about this day all day. I'm not sure that there is anything that I can add to the discussion.

But I guess I'll try.

There are a few days that stick in my mind:

  • Even though I was in kindergarten, I can remember watching John Kennedy's funeral procession on television.
  • I was in a grad school class at the UofA when the space shuttle blew up in 1986.
  • I was at Mom and Dad's house on Washington street to see Doug Flutie's "Hail Mary" pass that won him the Heisman Trophy and to see George Brett go ballistic in the "Pine Tar Incident."
  • I was at home on a Saturday morning, getting ready to go to Susan's for breakfast, when another space shuttle blew up on re-entry
  • I was at home eating breakfast on Tuesday, September 1, 2001.

That whole day was spent with the office TV on, staff and students coming in and out, watching in disbelief.

That night our service was given to trying to process what happened, to try to gain perspective, to pray.

And none of us approach life the same way that we did five years and a day ago. Our world has changed. It is more cynical. More suspicious.

It's hard to believe that those young men thought that they were honoring God by causing so much suffering.

But then, there is a long history in Christendom of men who did unspeakable things in the name of God, as well.

What do you remember from September 11, 2001?


Track and Field Trivia Question: Who is the fastest sprinter (including both the 100 and 200 meter dashes) of all time?


Many will find this amusing (and if you actually saw it happening - you would probably find it hilarious), but Gina and I have a new hobby: Ballroom Dancing. We have started taking group lessons on Thursday nights. The lessons are only an hour long and we get introduced to a new dance each week. Last week was our first one and we had a great time learning the Rhumba!

See what happens with go over the hill over middle-age and your kids are in the process of emptying the nest.


Of the four guys who played for our SHS high school team last year and signed with Arkansas, two were starting by the second game of the year and another has had considerable playing time. The fourth is red-shirting.


USA Today has an interesting article on religious beliefs in today's edition. Among the things they report:

  • Americans hold at least four different views of what God is like.
  • About 92% of Americans believe in a God of some kind.
  • Almost 90% of Americans have some time of religious affiliation.


Answer to the trivia question: Former Razorback Tyson Gay. Unless you are a hard-core track and field fan who has kept up with this summer's European season, I'm sure you would have been hard-pressed to guess that. With his 9.84 100 meter time and his 19.68 200 meter time, he has moved past Justin Gatlin (with or without drugs), Carl Lewis, Asafa Powell - everyone!

Tyson is a very quiet, polite 24-year-old who still lives and trains here in Fayetteville.

Fayetteville has been known as the home of great distance runners for a quarter of a century. And it still is. But maybe the two greatest sprinters in the world also live and train here - Tyson Gay and Veronica Campbell (winner of two gold and one bronze medal at the last Olympic Games). And that doesn't even include Wallace Spearman, Aaron Armstrong, and Omar Brown.

Friday, September 1

For twenty-seven years, I have basked in the knowledge of God's goodness to me. Twenty-seven years ago today, he gave me a wife who has been a joy, a source of strength and wisdom, and my best friend.

Today was our 27th wedding anniversary. Twenty-seven years. That kind of makes us sound old! But they have gone by so quickly. God certainly blessed me in allowing me to out-marry myself. Gina is so patient with me - with my schedule, with me travel, with my moods and shortcomings.

And, as a friend said a few days ago, she is still a hot little mama!

Tonight we celebrated by going to eat at one of our favorite steak places - Doe's Eat Place down on Dickson Street in Fayetteville. Since we had at least an hour and a half wait to get in to the restaurant, we spent some time walking up and down Dickson. It was the first time Gina had been on Dickson the night before a big football game. With USC in town for a game tomorrow and a pep rally going on tonight, Dickson Street was packed with people from all over the country, bands were playing at clubs up and down the street, people were calling the Hogs, and it was definitely a carnival atmosphere.

If the Razorbacks pull off the improbably and beat USC tomorrow night, Dickson Street will be uncontrollable.


Spending the evening with Gina and celebrating our anniversary made me hurt all the more for Jim and Cheryl Miller. Jim and I were roommates in college and spent a year traveling around the country in a college music group. Gina and I drove to Indiana in December of 1978 so that I could be best man in their wedding. Two days later we were engaged.

It appears that Cheryl is in the final stages of cancer and will be meeting Jesus face-to-face very soon. Jim has faithfully kept a blog since the cancer was discovered last spring. His patience and tenderness and God-centered attitude has been such a huge blessing to those of us who have kept up with the blog.

Gina and I are going to run over to Tulsa on Sunday and Monday to spend some time with them.


The latest issue of Christianity Today features some articles on Dallas Willard - the philosophy professor at the University of Southern California who has also been one of the most influential Christian writers of the past 25 years in the area of spiritual growth and formation. Willard says that the intersection of his philosophical and devotional work can be found in the simple question: Who are you going to become?

That struck me as being so profound. We are all becoming something. We don't stay the same. We are constantly moving from some place to another place as people. We are becoming something. We are becoming better people. We are becoming closer to God. We are becoming wiser. Or we are becoming less of these things. The magazine went on to include this quote from Willard:

"The general human failing is to want what is right and important, but at the same time not to commit to the kind of life that will produce the action we know to be right and the condition we want to enjoy. This is the feature of human character that explains why the road to hell is paved with good intentions."

We say that we want the right things - the best things - but we aren't willing to do the things that will produce that result. That seems to be the story of my life. Whether it be spiritual formation or loosing weight or other noble goals, too often I'm unwilling to take the actions needed to produce the desired results. Am I really willing to do what is needed to become what I want to become? To become what God wants me to become?

And even at the age of 47, I am still becoming.


ESPN just played the top three defensive plays in KC Royals history. Two things struck me:

1) Bo Jackson was awesome! I had forgotten what an incredible athlete he was.
2) I miss the Royals actually being good.


From the "What Was He Thinking" department: Click here to read about the evangelist who died trying to follow Jesus' example - of walking on water!


Derek Webb, former lead singer of Caedman's Call, is giving away his new album free to those who want to download it. Click here to do that.


It's almost midnight. Time to get ready to head back to Dickson Street for the 2:00am Grill. It should be a busy night!