Disciple All Nations

Enhancing On-going Ministry Through Equipping, Encouraging, and Interceding

Confront or Carefront?

Recently I was honored to share memories at the establishment of the Dr. A.J. and Bertha Quinn Scholarship at Howard Payne University. Dr. Quinn was my favorite HPU Professor. By my Junior year, I had already had a couple of classes with him and was taking another class. I was having a great time in college, not letting the academic part interfere with the social part, when Dr. Quinn called me to his office and asked me a direction-changing question: “I was wondering when you were going to get serious about the preparation for God’s call on your life?” I don’t remember how I responded to this, but I do remember that I went back to my dorm room and stared at the wall for a long time. I felt that I had been confronted. I was both angry and thankful, but the verse that came to my mind was when Peter described God by saying, “He cares for you” (I Peter 5:7), and I kept thinking that the reason I was confronted was that my Professor cared for me. A few years later I came across a book entitled, “Caring Enough to Confront,” in which the author coined the term “carefronting.” It was then that I realized what Dr. Quinn was doing. First, by caring for me, he had earned the right to confront me, then he confronted me with great care. It was a pivotal experience in my ministerial preparation. I shall forever be thankful for a professor who cared enough to confront, and I continue to spend an amazing amount of time trying to earn the right to “carefront” others when the need is present.

Confront or Carefront?

Recently I was honored to share memories at the establishment of the Dr. A.J. and Bertha Quinn Scholarship at Howard Payne University. Dr. Quinn was my favorite HPU Professor. By my Junior year, I had already had a couple of classes with him and was taking another class. I was having a great time in college, not letting the academic part interfere with the social part, when Dr. Quinn called me to his office and asked me a direction-changing question: “I was wondering when you were going to get serious about the preparation for God’s call on your life?” I don’t remember how I responded to this, but I do remember that I went back to my dorm room and stared at the wall for a long time. I felt that I had been confronted. I was both angry and thankful, but the verse that came to my mind was when Peter described God by saying, “He cares for you” (I Peter 5:7), and I kept thinking that the reason I was confronted was that my Professor cared for me. A few years later I came across a book entitled, “Caring Enough to Confront,” in which the author coined the term “carefronting.” It was then that I realized what Dr. Quinn was doing. First, by caring for me, he had earned the right to confront me, then he confronted me with great care. It was a pivotal experience in my ministerial preparation. I shall forever be thankful for a professor who cared enough to confront, and I continue to spend an amazing amount of time trying to earn the right to “carefront” others when the need is present.

Intellectual Common Sense

It might be a bit idealistic to think that an individual or group could approach an issue with a good blend of intellectual skills and common sense. An argument broke out in a faculty meeting one day over the possible inclusion of a new course in the curriculum. After some time, one of my favorite professors, made the following observation that ended the discussion, “What we really need is a course in common sense. Unfortunately, we have no one on this faculty qualified to teach it.” While it was a humorous way of summarizing an academic discussion, it was also a serious statement of truth. Sometimes we get so caught up in intellectual pursuits, that we forget common things; as well, we sometimes get so involved in common sense expertise, that we forget the intellect. Again, a blend of both would be nice. American philosopher, historian, and psychologist, William James, once said, “A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.” Ideal would have intellect and common sense as dance partners, but that would be a humorous scene. We might have to coin a phrase – intellectual common sense. Perhaps that is why Jesus added “mind” to the Old Testament verse, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27)

His Name Could Have Been Legion

Every time I passed by, he was there – in the cul-de-sac, near his house, seated in his walker/chair, across from the school, with his American flag flying, a smaller flag in his hand, waving. I often thought of stopping to visit with him, but it was COVID season and social distancing was being advised. So, I slowed down, lowed my window and saluted him and his flags. He always responded with a wave. One day, as I passed by, there was a fire truck and an ambulance in the cul-de-sac. I worried that it was for him. After that day, I never saw him again. Perhaps he died, or maybe he is in a hospital or a senior care center. I wish I had stopped to visit with him. I never even stopped my car for a brief visit, never saw anyone with him, but I appreciated his patriotism, and his friendly wave. I only hope my salute made his day a little better. How many others are there like him – living out their lives, loving their country, waving their flags, alone, and lonely. Had I ever stopped to ask his name, he might have answered as a man once answered Jesus, “My name is Legion; for we are many” (Mark 5:9).

Envision and Vision

The difference between envision and vision is that envision sees or imagines something within the mind, and vision sees something as if it was true. When I was young we had no TV, so I listened to The Lone Ranger and baseball’s Game of the Day on the radio. While I could not see the action, I could envision the scenes and events in my mind. In the long run, I think it helped me be a person of vision. Once you start seeing something in your mind, you start seeing how it can happen, then you take steps to make it happen, and the real value of vision is to make things happen. Futurist Joel Barker said, “Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” Vance Havner said, “The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps – we must step up the stairs.” I’ve always tried to envision things in my mind, then share my vision with others, so together we can get things done. My long-time boss, W. F. Howard once said, “If you hang around people of vision, some of it will rub off on you.” If what I envision can “rub off” on others, then I feel satisfied and successful. The writer of Proverbs wrote, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained (Proverbs 29:18, NASB). I like “The Message” paraphrase, “If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves.” So, happy envisioning today, and if you can’t envision, “hang around” some folks who can.

Friends New and Old

Beyond providing a ministry to churches in an interim time as they search for a new pastor, I enjoy serving as an interim pastor because of the new friends I make at each stop along the way. In fact, as I think back through recent interims, I can name friends in each with whom I still communicate. New friends are great friends. However, this past weekend, I spoke at the dedication of the new Baptist Student Center at the University of Texas. Following the dedication ceremony, I had lunch with twenty old friends – former students who were active in the Baptist Student ministry when they were UT students, four decades ago. I was their Baptist Student Minister. Old friends are great friends. Poet Joseph Parry wrote, “Make new friends, but keep the old; Those are silver, these are gold.” My old friends help me grow old, while my new friends help me stay young. The writer of Proverbs said, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). I am sharper because of my friends – new and old. Give thanks for friendships today.

Be Smart and Encourage Smartness

Not long ago, someone posted the following quote on social media – “Try to never be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people . . . or find a different room.” In my research I discovered that the quote, or variations of it, has been attributed to numerous people and often used in leadership strategies. While I have seldom been the smartest person in a room, I suggest there is nothing wrong with that, as long as you don’t act like it. Allow others to be smart as well, and in fact, help them be smart. I could cite numerous examples. One will suffice. When my Dad was pastor of a rather large east Texas church, he realized that older women were no longer attending. The reason was they had difficulty negotiating the high, steep steps at the front of the sanctuary. Likewise, every other entrance, had high steps. While my Dad knew the church needed an elevator, he never suggested it in church meetings . Rather, he brought it up with church leaders over coffee and in similar non-formal situations. One night in a deacon meeting, a man said, “I’ve been noticing the absence of some of our elderly members, due to the high steps, and I propose we install an elevator.” My Dad’s response was, “Good idea.” While he was the smartest in the group, he allowed others to have the smart ideas. Jesus said, “he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves” (Luke 22:26). Be smart. Encourage smartness in others.

Seize the Day

“Carpe Diem” is the famous Latin phrase used by the Roman poet Horace to express the idea that one should enjoy life while one can. It literally means “seize the day.” A few years before, the Psalmist spoke of the brevity of time, “Man is like a breath; His days are like a passing shadow” (Psalm 144:4) and a few years later the Apostle Paul would twice write, “Redeem the time,” (Ephesians 5:15; Colossians 4:5), or as one translation says, “make the most of every opportunity.” My granddaughter and grandson-in-law will only be able to enjoy my great-grandson’s “terrible twos” once. My grandson, will only be a teen-anger once. Come to think of it, I will only be a Senior Adult once. If we miss any of life’s stages, we miss it forever. This is not a rehearsal, nor a practice. This is the real thing. One and done. The poet Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.” What we should do with it is to happily enjoy our current circumstances, whatever they may be. The Russian writer, Anton Chekhov wrote, “People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.” Seize today and be happy!

Just Listen

I know of people who don’t pray because they say they don’t know how. They fear saying the wrong things to God. While I do not have that specific problem in prayer, I do understand, and I have some advice. It comes from the minor prophet, Zephaniah. “Be silent in the presence of the Lord GOD; for the day of the Lord is at hand” (Zephaniah 1:7). Rather than say you can’t pray, why not simply acknowledge God’s presence and then listen. Admit that prayer is not just you talking to God, but rather it is a two-way communication. Don’t just take my word for it. Missionary Frank Laubach said, “Prayer at its highest is a two-way conversation. Then again, “For me the most important part is listening to God’s replies. . . The trouble with nearly everybody who prays is that he says ‘Amen’ and runs away before God has a chance to reply. Listening to God is far more important than giving Him our ideas.” Devotional writer Oswald Chambers asked, “Are you learning to say things after listening to God, or are you saying things and trying to make God’s word fit in?” Mother Teresa said, “God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.” So, with that biblical passage and these quotes, I rest my case. Prayer is two-way communication. If you think you can’t talk with God, just listen.

Discovered Joy

I was preaching in a church where I knew no one, not even members of the ministerial staff. No one had contacted me prior to the service to inquire as to my subject or scripture. It so happened that I was preaching on “The Fullness of Joy” from Psalm 16:11 – “In Your presence is fullness of joy.” To my shock, just prior to my sermon, a soloist sang, “Come, Ye Disconsolate.” That is a wonderful old hymn, with lyrics by Thomas Moore, with powerful lines like, “Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.” It was sung beautifully by the soloist, but the overall message of the song did nothing to prepare the audience for the sermon on “Joy,” nor did the sermon do anything to follow-up the message of the solo. While I was not sure how much joy was felt by the audience, I got a real joy out of the experience. Swiss author Victor Cherbuliez wrote, “Half the joy of life is in little things taken on the run.” So, when things don’t seem to fit together in sync, discover the joyful side.


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Sermon Series on Prayer