Duck Dynasty and Holy Week

Over the weekend, my alma mater hosted three members of the Duck Dynasty family: Si, Alan, and Lisa Robertson. Although it was not an ACU event, it was held on campus.

The presence of the Robertson family generated many emotions. First, there was extreme excitement. After all, Duck Dynasty is the most successful reality show in the history of cable television. Second, there was extreme disappointment. You might recall one member of the Robertson clan (who was not scheduled to attend this weekend, by the way) said something a few months ago that ignited quite a kerfuffle. (I added my two cents here.)

Let’s make no mistake: what Phil said was wrong. He dehumanized people with same sex attraction. He defined them by a sex act. Whatever one thinks about the rightness or wrong-ness of homosexuality, his words were not Christian words filled with love. Even when Jesus taught that something was wrong, He always maintained the humanity and the identity as a child of God of those He encountered.

Additionally, he discounted the experience of generations of African-Americans because when he was a child he knew black people who were happy. Listening to African-Americans who grew up in the segregated South has taught me many lessons. Among them, they knew that regardless of how they really felt, they needed to act as if everything was fine. Because if they didn’t, they would pay for it. True or not, it was their perception. (And it was probably accurate.)

Both statements were wrong. Both statements indicate a lack of awareness of the power of words. But do they make him a hate-mongering, racist, homophobe?

Not necessarily. Because here is the thing: I don’t know Phil Robertson and neither do you.

How can you know someone based on two quotes?

How can you know someone by watching only 60 intentionally produced hours of their lives?

Are there any two quotes from your life that totally encapsulate who you are as a human being? Would you like for your life to be judged based upon two things someone else in your family said?

Is there any 60 hour portion of your life that can totally define you? (Quick math equation: if I figured correctly, I have lived 14,173 days. That equals 340,152 hours. Can I really pick only 60 of those to describe who I am?)

In other words, to completely discount Phil or any member of the Robertson clan makes one exactly as guilty as you can accuse Phil of being for what he said in his magazine interview.

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Which brings us to Holy Week.

Jesus arrives to become a King riding on an animal of peace. The Lion of Judah becomes the Lamb for sacrifice.

And He did it for you. And for me. And for Phil. Because all of us are broken. All of us are in need.

Many of us are like the fig tree with no figs: we look good but bear no fruit.

Many of us are like the sellers in the Temple: we have perverted that which God intended for good by manipulating it for our profit.

Many of us are like the goats in the parable: we only do good things when we think we will benefit from them.

Many of us are like the chief priests and scribes: we think we look and act better than everyone else.

Many of us are like Judas: we are quick to take the easy way out for the right price.

Many of us are like the other Apostles: we are ready to follow Jesus to the ends of the earth; until we are faced with a true challenge.

Many of us are like Phil: we have said things that are regrettable.

And Holy Week tells us that Jesus has entered into our lives to bring the redemption that only He can bring.

Holy Week tells us that the judgment of the world will not win out over the judgment of God.

Holy Week tells us that only Jesus can do what Jesus came to do.

Thank God He does not treat me based on the worst thing I have said or done. He treats me as His child, redeemed by what Jesus did on this, the holiest of weeks.

So whether a Duck lover or a Duck hater, the message is the same:

Jesus went to the cross for you.

These Doors

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Twenty years ago, I walked through these doors for the first time as a student.

Fifteen years ago, I walked through these doors for the first time as a graduate student.

Three years ago, I walked through these doors to re-start my time as a graduate student.

Today, I walked through these doors for the last time as a student.

I have walked through these doors countless times.  I have been changed in some way each time.  When I first entered this building as a college freshman, I had no idea what my journey was going to look like.  I had no idea where I would be going, what I would be doing, or what would happen along the way.

There have been people who welcomed me when I walked through these doors.  People like Jim Mankin, my first academic advisor.  Dr. Mankin guided me through my first few years a college student.  I miss him greatly.  People like David Wray, John Willis, Doug Foster, and so many others who spent time with an immature, naïve, 20 year old and taught me how to think, read, and write in way I never had before.

People like Tim Sensing , Mark Hamilton, and Melinda Thompson who worked with my strange, confusing, and unique degree path to make sure I could graduate.  People like Jeff Childers, James Thompson, and Fred Aquino who not only taught my classes, but helped me work through my classes and deal with grief after my brother passed away.

People like Jaime Goff, Sara Blakeslee, and Dale Bertram who brought out of me that small flame of giving voice to the voiceless and fanned it into an all-out blaze.  People like Teri Childers, Angie Merritt, and Barbara Wilson who made sure every “i” was dotted and every “t” was crossed so that our degrees would be completed.

And there so many other names that should be added to the list.  Professors who were more than just teachers, they were spiritual guides:  Randy Harris Jeanene Reese, Jerry Taylor, and Chris Flanders to name a few.  Friends of mine who now teach and shape the current crop of college students:  Houston Heflin, Brady Bryce, David Kneip, and Vic McCracken.

As I walk through the halls beyond these doors I read the names on the doors and I feel a sense of gratitude for each and every person there.

(And I have not even touched on the students who have impacted my life in numerous ways.)

I may be 20 years older, but I am light years removed from that young man who walked through these doors for the first time in 1993.  I will be forever grateful to the women and men who have devoted a portion of their lives to spiritually forming people like me.

I love these doors.  I will miss them.  Yet I know others will be walking through them for the first time in just a few weeks.  I pray their journeys are exactly what they need to be.

And I cannot wait to see what doors God leads me to in the future.