An Admiration-Worthy Man

There are few men that I can say I admire, though many I respect. Chief among those is the President of Abilene Christian University, Dr. Royce Money. I don’t really know Royce, but I know enough about him that he makes my short list of “Admiration Worthy Men”.

I remember my freshman year of college. Dr. Money, along with his wife Pam, stood in front of the cafeteria and greeted every new student and their parents as they arrived for orientation. I also recall my Junior year when Dr. Money invited the entire Students’ Association Senate to his home for dinner. And I’ll never forget the Senate meeting, after we students had mismanaged about $27,000 on an ill-fated concert, when Dr. Money lovingly rebuked us telling us to get out of the concert business and into the people business.

As far as I can tell Dr. Money has always been about the people business. Not only that, he has demonstrated that being in the people business means doing what is best for people whether they like it or not.

Several years ago, Dr. Money made a public and full confession of ACU’s sin of racism and exclusion. Though he wasn’t President of the university in the 50’s and 60’s when blacks were denied admission to ACU, he felt that healing must begin with confession and repentance. He said that they (those currently governing the university) may not be responsible for sins of the past, but they could be accountable. It takes a real man to say something like that; a man worthy of admiration.

It didn’t just stop with words though. ACU set about a pretty rigourous attempt to hire more qualified, competent African-American professors, and sought out African-American students with new vigor. When I walk campus today I see nearly twice as many minority students as were here when I was a student. There are a ton more faculty too. You see, I don’t really know Royce Money, but the people who do apparently have little trouble following him. If he thinks ACU should be more diverse, it becomes more diverse.

Recently an organization associated with extending the gay and lesbian agenda contacted ACU and said that they would be visiting the school this school year. Their goal is civil disobedience toward institutions who disagree with them–particularly religious groups. The group announced that they would protest ACU’s stance on gay and lesbian relationships. ACU is one of ten schools the group will be visiting on their tour. ACU is also the only school willing to engage the group in open dialogue. The other schools are looking at how to limit the group’s engagement on campus, perhaps even how the police might become involved. ACU is willing to encounter the group, to open honest discussion, to give them access to administrators and have students tour them around campus. Though the administration in firm in its conviction, they are determined to meet the group in love, openness, honesty, and grace. Do you know why? Because Dr. Money thinks that what Jesus would do.

This past Sunday night, Dr.Money took another bold step. At the beginning of this year’s Bible Lectureship, Dr. Money was joined on the stage by Dr. Don Jeanes. Dr. Jeanes is the President of Milligan College, a Christian Church school. For those unacquainted with churches of Christ, the independent Christian churches are our cousins. We share the same roots, but our church had a major split in 1906. For most of the last hundred years we have been separate groups. What’s more, we liked it!

However, the past several years have given us a growing dialogue about unity and oneness. At Christian Church and Church of Christ events, there has been growing discussion about why we split, why disunity is against the Spirit of God, and what we can do to have unity without trying to force uniformity. Well, Sunday night’s joint keynote heralded the dawning of a new day for both our movements.

Dr. Money–as the President of the largest church of Christ university in the world, as well as the university that produces the best preachers, teachers and ministers in Christianity–proclaimed that the next hundred years will be different. You know what, since Royce said it, I bet the next hundred years will be different.

I was proud to be a part of the ACU community Sunday night and I’m excited about the future of our fellowship. How could I not be, when we are lead by admiration worthy women and men like Dr. Royce Money.

Away at ACU

Right now I’m sitting in the campus center of my alma mater, Abilene Christian Univerisity. I’m teaching two classes on the Emergent Church Conversation at their annual Bible Lectureship.

I am always amazed by the people interested in the Emergent and Missional church. They are young, old, midddle aged; everything. They are from big churches and small churches, cities and small towns. They come in just about every stripe you can imagine. The one thing they share in common is a great love for God and a deep desire to see others experience the grace, love, and goodness of God. Every person I’ve meet since I began to engage this conversation are missional, vibrant people of faith. They want to take their faith into the streets and be used by God.

Boy, I wish we had more of them. Man, do I wish I were more like many of them. I’m a good talker, these folks are great doers. I’m constantly inspired by people who are giving everything to advance the kingdom of God. And these folks aren’t just doing it for show or to be preachy to others. They are living out the full implications of the gospel. Their lives are a powerful testimony to me.

I think that if there were more Christians like these folks, there would simply be more Christians. My prayer is that more folks would get out of there pew and seek to be Jesus to their world. After all, that’s what following Jesus is all about.

What’s Up?

What’s up with the Grammy’s? I watched part of the Grammy’s last night, and I didn’t recognize anybody. Am I that old? That disconnected? Who is…well, dang, I still don’t know who half those people are. That may not mean much, though. I barely recognized Sly Stone. Isn’t there a rule somewhere that 50-year-old men can’t sport Mohawks? My goodness, the man was returning to show business after a 19 year absence and all he could muster up was Mr. T’s hairdo and 2 minutes of singing into the wrong microphone. Maybe he was in show biz all those years, but no one could hear him because his mic was off. Then, after about 15 seconds of singing into the right microphone, he turned and walked off stage. I guess he needed a Metamucil break.

What’s up with waiters and waitresses that don’t write down orders?
Hey, it’s okay. Jot a note. My wife spends half-a-day figuring out what she wants to order, so please pay us the respect of getting it right. Writing something down doesn’t make you less of a person. You’re not less cool. Believe me, I don’t think that people who write things down are incompetent. When my doctor comes in, inquires about my symptoms, and charts a course of action, you know what, he writes it down. He’s a pretty smart guy. Writing doesn’t diminish you. Mark Twain, Robert Frost, Shakespeare, they all wrote stuff down. It’s cool. I’ve got a pen if you need it.

What’s up with Super Bowl half-time shows?
Do you mean to tell me that the Super Bowl, hosted in Detroit, the home of Motown (you know The Jackson 5, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and the Supremes, etc…) had The Rolling Stones perform at half-time? Are you kidding me? In the seat of American music, the NFL trotted out Britain’s Strolling Bones? Nothing against The Stones, but their idea of football involves shin pads, goalies, orange slices, and stadium riots.

What’s up with the local weatherman?
Goodness, all I want to know is what to wear tomorrow. I don’t need to know about some high-pressure or low-pressure system moving in from wherever. Sorry, but I’m not concerned about the hurricane in the middle of the Atlantic that no one thinks will ever reach land. Maybe we don’t need weather reports? Maybe we just need clothing reports. “Tomorrow, you’ll need to wear long-sleeves,” or “Break out the jacket in the morning, but you’ll be running the AC be 4:00 pm.” Mr. Weatherman, what I need to wear tomorrow is all I need to know. If there are weather-geeks who want to know more, they can flip on the Weather Channel. Alexandra Steele and Jim Cantore are waiting for them.

What’s up with TV preachers?
Why do I need to send you my money, oh, excuse me, why do I need to send you a “seed,” in order for God to bless me? It looks like you’re doing pretty good. That suit looks tailor made, and your bling-bling necklace, bracelet, and ring look pretty sharp too. It looks like you could bless me. I take checks. Here’s an idea, why don’t you send me a “seed.” Heck, I pray too. I will lay hands on your “seed” and blessing will come back to you shaken together, pressed down, and over-flowing. Wait, here’s a better idea: Why don’t you stop preying on people while you’re claiming to pray for them? If you had actually ever read your Bible, instead of grabbing a scripture here and there and twisting it out of context, you would know that God is not a mob boss. You can’t pay him off for favors. TV preacher (let’s all recognize that I’m not talking about all preachers on TV) you are part of the problem people have with the Christian faith. Find some other get-rich-quick scheme.

Books

I was doing some work in a public library the other day. Does anyone remember when people were asked to be quiet in libraries? Didn’t that used to be the cardinal rule? “No talking in the library. Be quiet in the library.” Isn’t that why kids hated to go to the library?

When I was in elementary school, my dad took my brother and me to the library twice a week in the summer. It was a 30 minute drive from our house in Gautier, MS to Pascagoula. In high school, as I learned to love reading, I was so proud of my father for taking us to the library and being concerned about our literacy. I was dismayed to find out in adulthood that he took us there and left us in the children’s section, with the very cute college girls that worked there, because he was downstairs working on research for his master’s and doctorate. I haven’t been able to go into a library without feeling abandoned since.

At any rate, I was at the library with my daughter and the entire experience warmed me. She loves books, she loves to read. I’m not just glad about that because her mother and I love to read, but because I know that kids who read, and love reading are more likely to embrace Christian faith. That makes sense, since God really is a God of words. In fact, Jesus is the Word, as John’s gospel calls Him.

So, I thought this morning that I would let you know which books have been most critical to my faith.

1. The Bible. I don’t mention this to be cheesy or attempting to be ‘holier than thou”, but rather because if I didn’t I would surely hear about it from someone.

2. C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters. I reread it last week. Every Christian should have to read it. Really, any C.S. Lewis is good.

3. John Eldredge, Wild at Heart. I liked the book so much that I went to the retreat with him in Colorado. The book changed my orientation about myself, God, and the purpose of life.

4. Phillip Yancey, Disappointment With God. Not only was it the right book at the right time, but it addresses some of the most difficult questions about God skillfully, thoughtfully, and sensitively.

5. Thomas a Kempis, Imitation of Christ. It’s a classic. Enough said.

Well, that’s good start. E-mail me some of your favs.

Stuff

You know that the State of the Union was boring when TV pundits start talking about what they did for lunch that day, as did the two guys my wife and I watched last night. Can’t belive that scrubbed “Scrubs” so we could be reminded that Democrats don’t like Rupublicans and vice-versa.
————————–

Does anybody care about this Super Bowl? It’s the “I Don’t Care Bowl” in the “I Don’t Want To Go To City”. Pittsburg vs. Seattle in Detroit–looks like I’ll be glued to the commercials.
______________________________

I heard a lot about the national deficit lately. What’s up with that? Is there someone we owe that money to? Who gave us the loan? If we can go this long without paying it, maybe we should get some more.

_____________________________

Corette Scott King died yesterday. That’s a shame. Gone now are the national black leaders who actually have something worthwhile to say. Please, Lord, bring us someone besides Al Sharpton.

____________________________

I heard someone say last week that the next Presidential election will be Hilary vs.Condelezza. That’s gotta be more entertaining that Pittsburg vs. Seattle. Oh, wouldn’t it be cool if the two of them would just duke it out for the Presidency. I’m putting my money on Condi–she’s from the streets.

Catch You later…