While I’m counting down the days to football season (43, by the way) most everyone else in the church is counting down the days until our Vacation Bible School (4). And I’m getting excited about it, too. The two-story stage is now finished and the nearly 30 cast members of the musical have been up here rehearsing every night for weeks. Everything’s almost completely decorated. And the energy in the air is unmistakable. We’re expecting over 900 here for the Family Kickoff and dinner Sunday evening. And then three evenings of study and performance centered on the life of Elijah for children of every age and adults! I’m even preaching Sunday morning on the very first mention we have of Elijah in Scripture: his pronouncement of divine judgment on Ahab and Jezebel in 1 Kings 17. I toyed with the idea of wearing camel skin and a leather belt. For about two seconds.
It’s odd to me that, as great as Elijah is, he didn’t say a whole lot. We don’t have too many of his words recorded in Scripture. He’s mentioned more times by New Testament writers than any other prophet. His influence and importance as a man of God and a critical player in God’s salvation plans is unquestioned. But I’m not sure he did a whole lot of preaching. If he did, we don’t have it. What we have are a few short sentences from just five or six episodes of his ministry.
Consider that initial mention of Elijah. He comes out of nowhere, lands on the front steps of Ahab’s palace, announces a drought and a famine, and then disappears for three-and-a-half years. He’s gone just as quickly as he came. After just one sentence. When he reappears, it’s just for a day. Three more times he reappears in history, but each time it is just for a day. And doesn’t do a whole lot of talking.
He lets his actions speak for him and his God. He declares himself in 1 Kings 17:1 as a servant of God, standing before the God of Israel as his slave, and that’s enough.
It reminds me of Joe Malone. As our preacher at Pleasant Grove when I was a kid he used to recite a poem ocassionally that spoke to a minister’s life outside the pulpit. The poem ended with the line “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one anyday.”
It’s been said that, in preaching, the thing of least importance is the sermon.
The truth is that a lot of people have learned to tune our sermons out. They know full well that words are cheap and that emotion can be simulated. They wonder how much of our discourse we really believe and practice ourselves. And they look to our lives outside the pulpit for the answer.
Unfortunately, we’ve all known preachers who “slash the throats of their sermons by their lives.”
“Nothing influences others so much as character. Few people are capable of reasoning, and fewer still like the trouble of it; and besides, men have hearts as well as heads. Hence, consistency, reality, ever-present principle, shining through the person in whom they dwell, and making themselves perceptible, have more weight than many arguments, than much preaching.” ~ Heygate, from “Ember Hours”
Quick update on postdiluvian Marble Falls: I spoke to Greg Neill yesterday and he tells me that 15 of the 17 families in the church who were impacted by the floods of three weeks ago are, for the most part, back in their homes. Please keep the Jamars and the Montgomerys in your thoughts and prayers, as they are still displaced and facing some very tough decisions in the coming days. As with most everyone there who didn’t have flood insurance, their homes were nowhere near the 100-year flood plain. I’m happy to report that the Marble Falls Church has received almost ten thousand dollars from other congregations to help those brothers and sisters, one thousand of that from us at Legacy. They’re not finished with it yet. But the focus has now turned more to cleaning and repairing the town.
There are only 43 more days until football season begins August 30 with eleven college games and the SEC tilt between LSU and Mississippi State that night on ESPN. And today’s #43 is Dallas Cowboys great Don Perkins. As a three-time all conference running back at New Mexico, Tex Schramm and Tom Landry signed him to a personal services contract before the Cowboys franchise even existed. But it didn’t start out that well.
Perkins almost got cut on the first day of that very first ever Cowboys training camp, in July 1960 in Forest Grove, Oregon. Perkins had reported to camp 20 pounds overweight thanks to an offseason program of, as he says today, biscuits and gravy. And Landry opened up his camp with that now famous Landry Mile. It was actually a mile and a quarter and Landry had every single player run it on the first day of camp for 29 years. And Perkins couldn’t even finish it. He fell down several times and then quit. The Landry Mile was designed to weed out those with no pride or determination. But because they had so few good players on that first roster they gave Perkins another chance. And he broke his foot. Perkins had to sit out that awful inaugural season of 1960 and wasn’t able to play until ’61. But he was definitely worth the wait.
Perkins was the NFL Rookie of the Year that season and finished in the top ten in the league in rushing every single one of his eight years with the Cowboys. He’s still the #3 all time leading rusher in Cowboys history behind Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett and #6 in all-purpose yards. Perkins literally carried the Cowboys from a winless expansion team to two straight NFL Championship Games. And when the Cowboys unveiled the famed Ring of Honor, Perkins was the second honoree to be inducted behind Hall of Famer Bob Lilly.
Cliff “Captain Crash” Harris gets a sentimental honorable mention. But Don Perkins is the best to ever wear #43.
Is it weird to be sad about a weatherman retiring? After 31 years at Channel 8 in Dallas, Troy Dungan and his goofy bow ties are calling it quits. He had just arrived when my 4th grade class at Dallas Christian took a field trip to WFAA downtown to visit Troy. And we all decorated bow ties in recognition of his signature accessory as our nametags. Troy judged our nametags and declared mine third best behind Kristi Warmann and somebody else I can’t recall. Anway, my dad went with us as a sponsor and took his weather records to show Troy. (There’s not enough time in the day or space on our server to tell you about my dad and weather.) And Troy was kind enough and gracious enough to listen to my dad talk about his charts and records that he became our family favorite. Troy even recruited my dad and my aunt as his first weather-watchers — my dad in Pleasant Grove and my aunt in North Dallas. And dad stayed with him until they moved to Liberty City in 2000. It was not unusual for dad to have one of us call Troy at Channel 8 to report our rainfall amounts at the house or for Troy to call us if something really big was happening in the Grove. And we always thought that was cool. I remember C-A and I running into Troy and his family at the El Chico in Waco one Sunday afternoon and he recalled each one of us by name and asked about everybody. He’s always just as nice and friendly in person as he seems to be on air. Delkus and Fields and everybody else on Channel 8 seem so fake and cheesy compared to Troy. And I hate it that he’s leaving.
I know it makes me old. But does it make me weird?