Issue 378 Oct. 9 , 2018 An Occasional Blog Bradenton, FL
Do you ever get excited about getting to share something wonderful you’ve discovered? Sure you do. If we have found a restaurant where the food is good almost beyond description . . . and those who wait on us are fast, friendly and efficient . . . and the price is unquestionably reasonable, . . . well, we can hardly sit still until we can share that fantastic news with any and everybody we meet. Right. You betcha.
That’s what this section of this particular blog is all about. Here’s a little info about some really challenging and inspiring and motivational books I have read over the last year or so. I have posted their respective covers and a few introductory pages so you can get a taste of this absolutely delicious mental food for thought. Yep, friends, this is really, really good stuff and I present it for you consideration.
WARNING AND DISCLAIMER: Buying and reading these books may be hazardous to your sacred cows and prejudices.
At least that has been my personal experience, and I’m still thinking about how . . . as these authors share . . . I can be more open and and receptive to ideas and people which force me to think outside my comfortable box (hey, it’s comfortable here in my box with my big-screen TV, newspaper, cup of coffee and a cookie or two). They each challenge us to be more impromptu and proactive in our lives, to follow the Spirit into new relationships with other Believers and non-Believers alike, and to not always have to have a master plan executed before taking a step into the unknown.
Happy reading, my friends.
Oh, one other thing. On the pages which follow you’ll occasionally see some marks. Those are mine. I confess to being a natural-born scribbler of stuff on the margins of books I read. Just thought I’d let you know so you won’t be too distracted by them.
Bob Goff is one of God’s living, breathing and doing disciples. He is sort of an Energizer Bunny on steroids. When you read about his gift for living spontaneously, you cannot help thinking maybe you’re tied up in a big knot by your lifestyle, your church traditions, and your prejudices and stereotypes about what how restrictive the Christian life is.
Well, ol’ Bob might just say to you, “Okay, enough moaning the blues and living in a spiritual straight-jacket. C’mon, let’s look around and do love on somebody. And let’s do it now, not when it is more convenient. Now, not after you’ve Googled a research paper on the subject. Now, not after your elders have met and voted on it. Now, . . . as in right this instant.”
Yes, that is a copywriter’s best PR effort to capture in an easy-to-swallow capsule the essence of Bob Goff the man and Bob Goff the message. The PR guy got it right, but he was trying to squeeze a Goliath-sized, hair-legged Geni into a way-too-small bottle. Even after you read the entire book, the first word from your lips will probably be the same as it was from mine: “Wow!”
And here is one of the first lawyers you’ve ever met . . . that you’ll like . . . and keep on liking. Ultimately, you’re really glad this guy is on our side (i.e., the Lord’s side) and using his enthusiasm to spread sunshine. He is “the unsinkable Molly Brown” in a tee shirt, worn jeans and a pair of deck shoes. Bob is a first-class “pusher,” a pusher of extravagant love.
Okay, folks, my advice is for you to call your closest Christian bookstore and see whether they have this book by Bob Goff in stock and, if they do, hop in your Little Red Wagon and boogie on down to get your own copy. Or order it online. But don’t wait. Do it now. And then get a few extra copies to give as birthday or Christmas gifts. Yep, neighbors, this book really is that good. It is a giant sparkplug between the covers of a book.
Now, friends, THE OPEN CHURCH is a book that will challenge your traditions and what you think you know about the church of Jesus Christ. It didn’t start off as complicated and compartmentalized and formalized as it is today. Somebody said, “status quo” is Latin for “we are stuck in a rut and cannot get out.” But the good news this book has is “Hey, we don’t have to keep doing things the same way.”
My experience has been that everyone I have met has the same two areas of expertise: religion and politics. I swear on a stack of National Geographics that every person I know must have earned advanced degrees in both Politics and in Theology degree. Or at least they act like they do.
Hey, I can say that because I include myself in that bunch of opinionated yahoos who can talk long, hard and loud on any topic at all related to religion or politics. I don’t know why that is. It just is.
However, now is the time to suspend our collective world-class intellect and listen to this challenging lesson from the late James H. Rutz. He tells us how we got in this sophisticated mess that Christianity is in right now. Understanding that evolutionary digression from First Century Christianity can help us muster enough courage to toss overboard a lot of the unnecessary baggage we have accumulated. So read on, friends.
Whew, Billy Bob, that gives you a lot to digest, doesn’t it? There may be some real discomfort in what Rutz said, enough for a king-sized episode of heartburn. That may be just what many of us needed to jar us out of our comfort zone. I hope so.
And there’s more . . . .
The church is like a tossed salad. Hmmm. I wish I had thought of that. It is so simple to understand and it is right on target, theologically. Any group (i.e., congregation) of Christians is bound to be different from others elsewhere, just as any one disciple in a given church is different in many ways from most other members.
Yet, despite . . . or maybe because of . . . those differences our loving God desires and expects the members of his extended family to love each other, cooperate with each other, and get along with each other as well as any family can do. It ain’t easy, Virginia, but it is what we are to be and to do.
Some Personal Notes
** Barbara McCormick
Barbara Marie Taylor McCormick, 78, lately of Kerrville, Texas, passed away on Sept. 6, 2018, in her home. She was surrounded by her loving husband and children. Barbara was born in Uvalde, Texas, to Robert and Marie Taylor on February 6, 1940. She married Claude Ellis McCormick (affectionately referred to as “Junior”) on Dec. 18, 1958.
Barbara spent most of her childhood in Del Rio, where she was the mascot for the high school for four years. Her family moved to Snyder in 1954 for her father’s job at J.C. Penny, and she graduated from Snyder High in 1958. She left Snyder for Abilene Christian College that summer to start classes.
While in Abilene, she met the love of her life, and they were married before year’s end. They left Abilene that winter to return to Snyder where Junior worked at the family business. While in Snyder, Barbara and Junior welcomed three children – Jeanne Marie, Cindy Leigh, and Charlie Taylor. She was a stay-at-home mother who committed herself to raising three Godly children and giving them her full support and care. She also opened her home to two exchange students that became like family to the McCormicks – Inge from Austria and Patricia from Ecuador.
Barbara loved Snyder (Texas) and was very involved throughout the community. She was a regular volunteer and project leader at East Side Church of Christ, where she served faithfully in both women’s Bible study and youth group Bible classes. She relished the opportunity to work with church members on a church cookbook, which her granddaughters use to this day. Barbara was also an instrumental part of the India Mission Fund that East Side still supports and went several times to India to visit with Brother and Sister Medidi to oversee and participate in the work there.
She was Snyder’s Republican delegate traveling to state and national conventions. Barbara served several terms on the Texas Historical Foundation board and was active with Women for Abilene Christian University.
Barbara was probably best known for her enthusiasm for photography. Her vastly impressive skills were called on frequently throughout her life, as she documented a wide array of events. Her images were regularly published in the local paper. But more than that, her generosity and kindness were conveyed through her pictures. For every image she took, she made several copies and mailed them to each person pictured or anyone who would appreciate having the image, along with a beautiful card and heart-felt letter. Her pictures have been mailed across nations and over decades and remain treasured keepsakes for those who received them.
Barbara was a world-traveler and shared her love of exploring new places with friends and family alike. No one who loved Barbara missed Texas! in Palo Duro Canyon, and everyone had fun walking San Antonio’s River Walk with her. But her travels extended far beyond the lone-star state and included four of the seven continents. Barbara never met a stranger and could somehow make a connection between everyone she encountered and her hometown of Snyder.
Her love of life was undeniable and unapologetic. She had room in her heart for everyone, and her memory and love will long live on. Barbara is preceded in death by her parents, Robert and Marie Taylor. Barbara will be lovingly remembered by her husband of 59+ years, Junior McCormick; her children, Jeanne Ketchersid (Tim), Cindy Schroeder, and Charlie McCormick (Cayce); her grandchildren, Timothy Ketchersid, Heather Davila (Jason), Courtney Ketchersid, Madison Schroeder, Garrett Schroeder, Hannah Schroeder, Emma McCormick, and Adelaide McCormick; and her great-grandchildren, Thaddeus, Judah and Delia Marie Davila. Memorial services were held Sept. 15, 2018, at East Side Church of Christ in Snyder, Texas.
NOTE: Peggy and I went to church with Junior and Barbara for nearly six years during our stay in Snyder, Texas. They were a friendly and hospitable couple who, like Jesus himself, went about doing good. They were part of a prominent and wealthy family in Snyder, but never let that be a handicap to them.
** Sheriff Keith Collier
Keith Thomas Collier, 85, of Snyder, died Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018 at his residence in Snyder. Funeral services were held Aug. 10th at 37th Street Church of Christ with Brady Collier and Will Collier officiating.
Keith Thomas Collier was born on Sept. 30, 1932 in Hawley, Texas to Thomas Mirt and Heddy “Lollar” Collier. He married Janice Hughes on March 2, 1951 in Fluvanna. Mr. Collier was in law enforcement for 36 years; 32 of those years he served as sheriff. He was president of the sheriff’s association, was the recipient of the Tom Tellepson Award and the Bill Decker Award, director of the Texas Association of Counties and president of West Central Texas Law Enforcement.
Locally, he was a Gold Coater for the Snyder Chamber of Commerce, director of the Noah Project, member of the Snyder Lions Club and served on the Scurry County Hospital District board of directors. He was also a member of 37th Street Church of Christ and belonged to several RV groups.
He was preceded in death by his parents, one brother, Kenneth Collier, one son, Joe Collier, one grandson, Tucker Collier, and one great-granddaughter, Paityn Collier. Survivors include his wife, Janice Collier of Snyder; two daughters, Keitha Brown and her husband, James, and Tracy Lewis and her husband, Randy, all of Snyder; two sons, Tim Collier and his wife, Connie, and Dwain Collier and his wife, Sheila, all of Snyder.
NOTE: I spent a lot of time in the Scurry County Jail, where Keith held forth as the Sheriff of the County. No, I wasn’t incarcerated. I was usually there on official business in my capacity as Director of the Scurry County Mental Health Center, interviewing and assisting prisoners as needed. Keith and I were both members of the large Lions Club in Snyder (some 75 in actual attendance at each weekly luncheon), and for which I served as Vice President one year and President the next year. He was highly respected.
** Dr. Anthony (“Tony”) Ash
NOTE: I first met Dr Tony Ash in about 1969 when he spoke at a “Restoration Discussions” event when Roy Young and I hosted in Oklahoma City. Then, in about 1977 when I preached for the independent Christian Church in Stroud, Okla., he stayed in our home while he was in town to give a marriage and family seminar at our church. A very friendly guy, and a Biblical scholar.
Anthony Lee (“Tony”) Ash was born Oct. 29, 1931 in Lincoln, Neb. He earned an A.A. degree from Florida Christian College (Temple Terrace, FL) in 1954. He married Barbara Bailey in 1955. He earned his M.A. in Old Testament from Abilene Christian University in Abilene, TX in 1959. In 1966 he earned his Ph.D. in Church History from the University of Southern California. He was a Bible professor at ACU for over 40 years, during which he preached (usually part-time) for five different congregations in Abilene. He was a recognized authority on the life of Christian author C.S. Lewis. He and Barbara had been married 62 years when he died on Dec. 6, 2017.
** Gary Freeman
Gary Freeman died in Springfield, Oregon on July 30, 2017 at the age of 84. He was born in Gallatin, Tenn., on Aug. 21, 1932. He earned his B.A. in Bible (with a major in Greek) and his M.A. in English from the University of Connecticut. He spent many years as a minister for churches in Connecticut, Ohio and California. The last job of his career was as an English professor, a writer and film critic at Orange Coast College. That was from 1970 until he retired in 1990.
I never had the pleasure of meeting Gary, but he was one of my favorite writers back in the 1960’s and later. For years he wrote a bi-weekly column in our denomination’s news magazine, one which was way outside the box of conservatism. His comedic timing was right on. For example, in one column he mentioned how he had been applying for openings for jobs preaching and having a tough time getting responses. He said one day he hit on an idea which got him a lot of responses. He said he replaced his name on the applications with the name of Dr. Batsell Barrett Baxter. Now to laugh at that insider joke, you have to know Dr. Baxter (a former professor of mine, by the way) at that time was our church’s answer to Billy Graham. Baxter was head of the Bible Department at Lipscomb University in Nashville; he preached for one of the largest congregation in Nashville; and he was the radio and TV speaker for a nationally syndicated radio and TV show called “The Herald of Truth.” That joke was funny to me, then, and it still is today.
However, Gary may have reached his biggest audiences with the two books he wrote: Are You Going to Church More but Enjoying it Less? and a best-seller titled, A Funny Thing Happened to Me On the Way to Heaven. That last book was about all the funny things that happened in the 1950s and 1960s at conservative Christian Colleges across the country. Heck, I just found and bought a really used copy and plan to give it another read after several decades. He was a funny guy, and a brave one, too.
He started the Preface to his book the same way he ended the book: with witty sarcasm: “There’s not a word of truth in the following story. I don’t just mean that the story is fiction, which is obvious enough. I mean that it isn’t based on anything. The religious attitudes portrayed herein are preposterous. They’re completely unlike any I’ve ever seen. There are no churches like this one, no people like Dr. Thorndike and Allbright and Charles Francis Duncan, no schools like Sinai Christian College. The very idea that innocent people can get crushed in ecclesiastical machinery, or that there is any tension between idealism and institutionalism, is too fantastic to require refutation. Readers who think they see dim parallels somewhere should be locked up.”
As I recall, there were quite a few “Defenders of the Faith” who thought Freeman should be locked up. Or worse. And they were not being witty.
** Billie (Wesley) Silvey
Billie Silvey was a Christian writer, editor and activist who died just before her 75th birthday on Sept. 20, 2017. Born in Sacramento, Calif. on Sept. 21, 1942, she graduated from high school at . . . sit down for this, . . . Happy, Texas. If I’m lyin’, I’m dyin’. She married Frank Silvey and graduated in 1967 from Pepperdine University with her B.A. in English and journalism. Besides her impressive writing and editing jobs, she was one of the first women in our church to hold the title “Minister.” She was Outreach Minister for the Culver Palms Church of Christ in the Los Angeles area where she specialized in urban evangelism. Never got to meet this talented and dedicated disciple of Christ, but I hope to one day “over yonder” (as my maternal grandparents often said). In many ways she walked . . . and spoke out in places and ways men never ventured.
** Edward William Fudge
Ed Fudge was “the son of a preacher man,” as an old classic Southern rock says. He was born July 13, 1944 in Lester, Alabama. He graduated from Florida College, then earned both a B.A. and his M.A. degrees in Greek from Abilene Christian University. In 1988 he earned a law degree from the University of Houston. He lived in Houston and practiced law there until he died at age 73 on Nov. 25, 2017.
I cannot testify as to his eloquence as a speaker, other than to say he was in demand. He did impress me as a wonderful writer who could write with grace, empathy for the human condition, and remarkable insights on many subjects.
He stirred up the fires in hell . . . and in many a preacher’s study . . . by his hugely popular book on the topic of . . . yep, . . . hell. What it is, what it ain’t, and so forth. He caught more than he share of . . . , well, flack for challenging the traditional views of hade. In 2012 a movie company produced a first-class documentary about how he struggled to understand what the Bible says about hell and how many people were as mad as . . . , uh, the dickens at him for his conclusions. Edward, I’ve sure got some big questions for you when I get to join you . . . a long way from hell.
** George W. Bailey
George W. Bailey born in Ola, Texas on April 3, 1922. He graduated from high school in Kaufman, Texas. He attended Freed-Hardeman University (Tenn.), Southwestern Oklahoma State University, the University of New Mexico and Abilene (TX) Christian University. Though he never received a degree, George was an intelligent man who was largely self-educated.
Bailey was a gifted preacher who spiked his sermons with numerous short witticisms or bits of wisdom. From 1954 to 1972, he was the pulpit minister for the University Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas, the home congregation for scores of highly educated professors at Abilene Christian University and hundreds of college students. He was so loved that the “George W. Bailey Endowed Bible Scholarship” was set up at ACU to honor him.
George Bailey also preached in more than a hundred nations on six continents. He was the featured speaker for many years on both the “Herald of Truth” nationally syndicated TV and radio programs. He and his late wife had been married for 68 years. He died in Katy, Texas on Nov. 11, 2017 at the age of 95.
Until next time, be a blessing to others and give Jesus the credit.