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lockwood_header_finalDan Lockwood and I met in Dallas, Texas in the mid 1970’s.  He was embroiled in his doctoral studies and I was immersed in my masters studies.  We had a mutual friend that gave Dan an excuse to invite me to his apartment for a meal.  It was a new beginning that would blossom into a professional connection for decades.  That’s the way Dan was.  Splendidly welcoming and hospitable.

That first meeting set the mood for every conversation that followed.  Dan always had a reason to smile and chuckle over something that was germane to our bantering or not.  It brought a kind of cheer when others might just erode into a dour melancholy.  I liked that about him.  That’s the way Dan was.

Years later he contacted me in Aberdeen, Scotland.  He was the new Dean at Multnomah Biblical Seminary.  We talked about life, chuckled about studies and then he offered me a teaching post at the seminary.  He was willing to take a risk on me!  That’s the way Dan was.  He saw the best in others.

For a decade I thrived under his leadership.  First, he was my Dean.  Second, he became my president. Both were honored positions for me under his direction and vision.

His cheer never left.  Thoughtfully and Biblically he measured his decisions.  I marveled at his skillful leadership and ability to move among the generations and personalities that funneled through the Multnomah campus.  That’s the way Dan was.  He liked people and people liked him.

He let me teach, shepherd and engage our students with great freedom.  Building into their lives with creativity and adding extended ministry beyond campus were always smiled upon by Dr. Dan.  I loved my stint at Multnomah under Dan’s leadership.

Then, for a decade he and I were colleagues as fellow presidents in theological education.  We laughed together, spoke somberly together with understanding and had a quiet moment or two that only presidents can understand.  It was fun cheering each other on in His goodness and grace.  That’s the way Dan was.  Generous in encouragement.

During his last years in his leadership role we happened to find a moment together in San Francisco.  We had our normal cheery banter and reflection over God’s blessings.  Then, he spoke about his hardest year ever while in the Lord’s service.  That was the closest he got to complaining.  No one would have ever heard a tone of regret, fussing or grumpiness in his voice.  There were no names or actions of others that were maligned.  That is the way Dan was.  Superior in graciousness.

Dan is now with the Savior forever.  He left this earth with an impact on so many lives.  Each of us will spread the cheer and joy that he deposited into us.  That’s the way Dan was.

photo credit: Multnomah University photo

1 Thessalonians 1.6-10

Everyone has a role model or two or even more.  Some times that example is intentional.  At other times it is unintentional, almost accidental.

When we have a dysfunctional family we probably are starving for a healthy model to follow.  Even when we are blessed to enjoy a positive and nurturing family life, we still are surrounded by imperfect people that we mimic.  As human beings we are wired to copy what we see, who is around us or who captures our attention.

Yet, where there is love and family, our imperfections fade away into devotion.  We overlook in others knowing full well that we are ourselves imperfect people.  Somehow in the end good things still come out.  Grace keeps on making its surprising appearances.

The lyrics of Rodney Atkins song “Watching You” tell a story captured in this life dynamic.  Here is a sample of that story:

“Watching You” by Rodney Atkins

Driving through town just my boy and me

With a happy meal in his booster seat

Knowing that he couldn’t have the toy

Till his nuggets were gone

A green traffic light turned straight to red

I hit my brakes and mumbled under my breath

His fries went a flying and his orange drink covered his lap

Well then my four-year old said a four letter word

That started with “s” and I was concerned

So I said son now now where did you learn to talk like that

He said I’ve been watching you dad, ain’t that cool

I’m your buckaroo, I wanna be like you

And eat all my food and grow as tall as you are

We got cowboy boots and camo pants

Yeah we’re just alike, hey ain’t we dad

I wanna do everything you do

So I’ve been watching you

We got back home and I went to the barn

I bowed my head and I prayed real hard

Said Lord please help me help my stupid self

Then this side of bedtime later that night

Turning on my son’s Scooby Doo nightlight

He crawled out of bed and he got down on his knees

He closed his little eyes, folded his little hands

And spoke to God like he was talking to a friend

And I said son now where’d you learn to pray like that

He said I’ve been watching you dad, ain’t that cool

I’m your buckaroo, I wanna be like you

And eat all my food and grow as tall as you are

We like fixing things and holding mama’s hand

Yeah we’re just alike, hey ain’t we dad

I wanna do everything you do

So I’ve been watching you

With tears in my eyes I wrapped him in a hug

Said my little bear is growing up

He said but when I’m big I’ll still know what to do

We must follow a pattern that does not allow for an excuse.  While we acknowledge our weaknesses and failings we still press on to live a righteous life by the power of the Spirit.  When we trip and fall, we dust ourselves off, get up and get going again.

With every effort we learn how more and more imitate the good examples in our lives and also mimic that life that Jesus lived.  That template for living leads Paul to commend the Thessalonian believers for becoming the model for others to follow.

Essential in this picture is the product of a life of righteousness that is lived.  It is not just a matter of knowing facts.  Paul did not commend these believers for their scholarship or vast intelligence.  Rather, it was how they lived the life after they understood truth.

Therefore, we don’t need to say anything, 9 for they themselves report[b] what kind of reception we had from you: how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

Words become secondary when a life is displaying how holy living should be done.  It will be the kind of good conversation about the lives of others that should be happening among believers.  If we need to talk about others who not present, then let our conversation be on the great example other people are living for Christ.

Contrast is a part of our lives.  How we lived before Jesus Christ became a part of our lives stands in sharp comparison with how we are living now.  When we see the lives of people in the world striving to achieve what is important to them, our lives that mimic Christ should be markedly different.

What we were like before our redemption should be a marvel in the eyes of those who now see the change in our lives.  Jesus Christ has made a difference in us.  It is not what we claim but how we live.

A significant part of how we live differently is how we treat others.  Hospitality is a natural expression of true faith in Jesus Christ.  It is not about retreating from people and finding a place to welcome Jesus back.  Rather it is a matter of serving the Lord with enthusiasm.

Waiting for Christ’s return is about looking forward to His coming while serving Him on earth.  It is not a static waiting.  Rather it is a life of active service in the present, knowing that His coming will rescue us from the troubles of the coming prophetic future.

Do you remember the feeling of being totally blindsided by the perception that others have had of you?  It was particularly unsettling when these were people who should know you well enough that miscommunication would be far from the realm of possibility.  Startled we have to quickly reverse our direction and realign our discussion to set the record straight.

Paul was very good at altering his direction.  His discernment skills with people were keen.  When he was in dialogue with the believers at Corinth, he was teaching forthrightly.

Yet, suddenly he realized that these Christians were misunderstanding his intent.  They heard his words and saw his life, but they were interpreting his intentions completely incorrectly.  It was time to arrest that thinking with a rhetorical challenge.

A well-formed inquiry sets the context to realize the foolishness of an invalid assumption.  Under duress accusations or gossip always seem accurate and necessary.  However, once freedom returns, it is clear that ideas taken for granted are plainly foolish.

Paul plainly places all of his words under the scrutiny of God.  He is confident that his integrity before Christ is pristine.  Furthermore, his objective is not to serve himself but in fact to edify the believers.

Good leaders anticipate the impact of their leadership on the lives of those who follow.  Paul’s concern was for the Corinthians, who might not be as spiritual mature as he would like them to be.  The potential for disorder makes the apostle nervous.

Eight problems are listed by Paul.  The Corinthians could be involved with any or all of these terrible descriptions of human interaction.  None of these aspects are novel, they are comprehensive in that they complement each other and share in common lists in various parts of the Bible where these features are often seen together.

Quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder are symptoms of lives that do not submit to the Lordship of Christ.  These habits divide people.  Expressions of these aspects of life hurt relationships, destroy loyalty and  distract from the true Gospel presentation.

There is no question that a pastor feels close to his people.  Whether there is outward success or not, a tie is formed among those who spiritually grow together.  Spiritual success is not necessarily guaranteed.  In fact mourning and even embarrassment might be the description of the day.

If there is no repentance from sin, Paul will be disappointed.  Should there be severe sexual sins, Paul will be saddened.  Past indulgences should be allowed to have a resurgence.

 2 corinthians 12:19-21