Pepperdine Bible Lectures


Next week Pepperdine University will be hosting their 65th Annual Bible Lectures.

This year the theme is “The Upside Down Kingdom: Living the Sermon on the Mount.”

You can check out the list of speakers here.

You can check out the complete schedule of events here.

For years I have found this to be a wonderful time for study, worship, and fellowship. Each year I get to visit with preachers who have been my friends for many years, including a great number with whom I went to school at Freed-Hardeman College and Harding University Graduate School of Religion.

The Parking Place

A couple of years ago Lourene and I visited The Serra Retreat Center in Malibu, California. This is such a peaceful place with a breathtaking view of the ocean. Several benches with an ocean view make a great place for prayer and reflection. They also have a prayer labyrinth with an instruction sheet of suggested guidelines for how to use the labyrinth for a prayer walk (by the way, I found this labyrinth to be a helpful tool in focusing on God). One of the instructions for having a meaningful prayer walk described how to handle the situation should you encounter someone else while you are walking the labyrinth or if you should be disturbed by children.

“If someone upsets you, that person is your teacher.”

Don’t you wonder what kind of events led to the publication of this particular suggestion? Confession: I can imagine my going to a spiritual retreat center with great expectations about how I am going to encounter God and have a mountaintop spiritual experience only to leave angry. The day I walked the labyrinth I was the only one there, but I can imagine what it would be like if some loud people, especially children, had been there. I don’t think I’m the only one who can imagine getting ticked off by someone in that situation; thus, the instruction sheet.

Since my visit to Serra, I have tried to write these instructions on my heart. The other day Lourene and I were meeting some friends for dinner at The Olive Garden. As I prepared to park the car I realized that I was about to pull into the parking place closest to the Olive Garden’s entrance – that kind of thing rarely happens. And just as I am cheering our convenient parking place and turning the steering wheel, a woman jumps in front of my car and begins waving her arms above her head.

Thinking she needed help or that there was some emergency I rolled down my window and asked her if she was ok. Yes, she was fine, thank you; she just wanted me to know that she was saving that parking place for her family who was coming in a few minutes to join her for dinner.

Another confession: my first thought was, “Woman, you are an incredibly selfish pig!” But I quickly recovered, before I had spoken a word, and said aloud to my wife, “She is my teacher.” Clearly, I have much left to learn.

I would love to get to the point where I don’t even think about people being pigs. I would love for “She is my teacher” to be my very first thought. I have this feeling that until I get to that point, and perhaps long after, I will have plenty of opportunities to be taught. I can only hope I will have ears to hear.

64th Annual Pepperdine Bible Lectures

I am so thankful for the opportunity to attend the 64th annual Pepperdine Bible Lectures this week. Follow the link to take a look at the program, featuring speakers from across the country and around the world. I am so thankful that speakers from so many differnt universities are participating. This is always a joyful gathering of God’s people! Each year I am thankful for the ministry of Jerry Rushford in putting together such a great program.

My Teacher

The Serra Retreat Center we recently visited made available an instruction sheet with suggested guidelines for how to use the labyrinth for a prayer walk.

One of the instructions described how to handle the situation should you encounter someone else while you are walking the labyrinth or if you should be disturbed by children.

“If someone upsets you, that person is your teacher.”

Those words have been bouncing around in my head ever since we left Serra.

Today Lourene and I were at Heavenly Ham, standing in line to pick up and pay for the turkey sandwiches we had ordered for lunch. The woman ahead of us finished her transaction and headed for her car. The clerk looked right at me and asked, “May I help you, sir?” As I was answering, a woman pushed in front of me and demanded the clerk get her sandwich first.

Thankfully, Lourene spoke some soothing words in anticipation of my not only being baffled but also irritated by the woman’s selfish rudeness. I did not say a word (or make any kind of grunting noises to express my disgust) until we got in the car. Then I proceeded to replay the event.

“She was not even in the line! Did you see how she jumped in front of me? And then she had the nerve to cut her eyes over at me and smirk as the clerk made her sandwich! The nerve of that woman!”

“That woman is our teacher.”

Those words are no longer bouncing around in my head. As Lourene spoke them, it was as though God wrote them on my heart.

That rude woman was indeed my teacher, and I have a lot to learn.

Refreshed

My wife and I were blessed last week with several hours of relaxation, prayer and mediation at the Serra Retreat Center in Malibu, CA. This experience, coming on the heels of the amazing worship, fellowship, and teaching at the Pepperdine University Bible Lectures, was especially meaningful.

We spent some unhurried time prayerfully reflecting on Jesus’ experience on the cross, walked through a prayer labyrinth to consider our mission, and then retreated to the point where we just sat.

Just sitting at the point is an amazing experience. Mountains to our right. Mountains behind us. A canyon to our left. The Pacific Ocean before us. Just sitting there — high above the hurried traffic on the Pacific Coast Highway and the sprawling estates of some of the biggest names in Hollywood is a great place to gain some perspective on life.

At one point my meditation was interrupted by the loud buzzing sound of what I thought at first to be a bee. When I opened my eyes and put on my glasses I realized a hummingbird was about 2 feet from my nose – just hovering there and checking me out.

I am happy to be home, refreshed, relaxed and thankful for perspective provided by that time of stillness.