Madly cleaning my office before I head out for camp speaking again.
Suddenly realized Dr. Metsker – a pivotal figure in my life and ministry – was younger than me when he passed into glory.
His was a life well-lived.
He was instrumental in Youth For Christ, and founded and directed Kansas City Youth For Christ (which, sadly, no longer exists).
And he began “Christ Unlimited Bible Institute” in the early 1970s.
Shortly after parole I began working as a “minister of sanitation” (aka Janitor) at a church in Newhall, California.
During Easter vacation week I was tasked with washing the windows of the k-6 school the church operated. Thankfully I was assigned a couple teens to assist.
One was Billy Bob Maxim. His parents were raised in Kansas City and grew up with KCYFC. They sent Billy Bob and his brother back to KC each summer to attend the ranches (camps) YFC offered.
Billy Bob came back and started a YFC-like Bible club. No one had told him he couldn’t, so he simply did.
And during the window washing Billy Bob asked me to speak at his YFC Club.
I replied, “What’s a YFC club?”
One thing progressed to another, and I spoke at the club which met in his home.
A week or so later Jerry Johnston, one of Dr Al’s “preacher boys” (also an early favorite of Jerry Falwell) came into town. In a conversation he told me about Christ Unlimited Bible Institute – a place where students spent three hours a day in the Word, one hour a day learning methods of youth ministry…and hours of practical, on-the-job experience.
Sounded like a good fit for a guy who got saved in jail enroute to a few years in prison. With no church background I had nothing to unlearn, but much to learn.
But I was only months out of prison, and still on parole. Would the officials allow me to go even if the school accepted me?
I filled out the application, put a stamp on it, and mailed it…and waited.
A few weeks later I got word that I was accepted. California officials transferred my parole to Missouri…and off I went.
Al and Vidy (his wife) years later told me they were driving from the YFC office to their home as Vidy read my application to Al.
They wondered…do we accept a guy who is pretty much fresh out of prison? A guy who is still on parole? A guy who did a whole lot of bad stuff?
They prayed for guidance…and then decided to give me a chance.
I flew to Kansas City with a bit over twenty bucks to my name. No job, no place to stay.
The date was August 31, 1977.
As I waited for someone to pick me up at the airport, I opened the Word and decided to read Psalm 31, since that was the date.
And the last verse ministered to me as only the Word of God can:
“Be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord.”
Before the sun went down August 31 I had a job and a place to stay.
As I got to know Al I knew the man had quirks – as do we all. But, oh, he had energy. He had wisdom. He had love.
And he poured his all into us.
He dropped Al-isms regularly:
“Involvement is the key to success.”
“Use them or lose them.”
“What got them there keeps them there.”
“You look good to me.”
“I hate the power company.” (long story)
“Quote or you won’t be quoted.”
And, for anyone who had the privilege of knowing Dr Al, who can forget this:
In fact I put a booklet together to hand to our graduating class, “Quotations from Chairman Al.” I need to search and see if I still have a copy.
Al and Vidy have influenced thousands upon thousands.
Many are still in vocational ministry. Three of Midland’s staff members are CUBI grads, another had parents who worked for the ministry for years.
All I know is that I’d not be equipped to do the work had it not been for Al and Vidy deciding to let me come to CUBI.
All I know is that every day I put into practice something Al taught and, more important, modeled.
In the years since his death there have been some who have trashed his name, his work, his reputation. Some of that tripe has been published in newspapers. They couldn’t attack his character or his morals; so they attacked his methods. If you don’t know of what or of whom I speak; don’t research it. Ignorance of such stuff is not a bad thing.
But, oh, it irks me.
Was Al perfect?
No. But he deserves to be praised, thanked, and honored.
And this is a small attempt on my part to so do.
Every life touched through my availability is tremendously indebted to Dr Al.
And I am one of thousands.
Who knows how many souls have been saved, how many Christians have been exhorted, edified, challenged over the years through those who were taught, loved, and sent by Dr. Al?
We know Who knows.
And I ask Him to give Al a high-five and a hug from me.
From all of us.
Scotty Smith is such a wordsmith. If you don’t follow him and/or read his books you are missing out.
One of my favorite Smithisms:
“Got a “dog house theology”, one that assumes God puts you in his doghouse when you disobey? Then are you so arrogant as to assume you’re ever out of it?”
Other than people, time is the only irreplaceable commodity.
I don’t want you to waste yours.
So, in case it makes a difference, I want you to know a few of my die-on-this-mountain items. Thus, if you vehemently disagree, you won’t have to waste your time reading my stuff. In less, of course, you’re on a witch hunt.
Anyway, though not a total picture, these are some of my non-negotiables:
- The Bible is the Word of God (as opposed to “contains the Word of God”)
- Jesus Christ knew of what He spoke when He said “I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.”
- No virgin birth, no savior.
- Homosexual behavior is sin (as is extramarital sex, premarital sex, sex-with-a-dog etc) First Corinthians 6 advises all sexual sin is unique; but homosexual behavior is no “worse” than man/woman sex outside of marriage.
- Matthew 25.46 is true; thus if there is no hell Jesus is a liar.
- Jesus is going to return. He won’t be early. He won’t be late. In other words, I’ll not separate based on pre trib; post trib; mid trib; don’t give a trib.
- Racism from any angle is disgusting
- I’ll never apologize for being an old white man.
- “Illegal” means “illegal”
- When I vote I vote for the one I feel is the most qualified, even if I have to hold my nose. BTW America is not now nor ever has been a “christian” nation
- the “prosperity ‘gospel'” isn’t the gospel
- Speaking in tongues (however defined) doesn’t get you into heaven; speaking in tongues (however defined) doesn’t get you hell
- Both John Calvin and Jacobus Arminius were wrong about some things. So is/was every other writer/preacher/theologian.
And, finally (again, this is not exhaustive, but…):
- All verses of “In Christ Alone” by the Gettys are true; to include “til on the Cross where Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied” and those performers (I can’t call them worship leaders) who elect to cut that verse are crooks.
I did not anticipate it, nor see it coming.
But as I looked at the date to check something it hit me…
Fifty years (half-a-century!) ago today I boarded a freedom bird and flew home from Vietnam. A few hours after landing I was honorably discharged after serving four years in the Army.
Begs again the question – what is such a young guy like me doing in such an old body???
But…seriously…Here I am just after basic training:
I do not regret the time I spent in uniform; specifically the 11 months I spent in Vietnam. Of course I wasn’t a believer at the time; not sure what difference that would have made regarding whether I would have enlisted or not. They say hindsight is wonderful and/or 20/20; but hindsight is distorted and a waste of time anyway.
I was in the Army Security Agency (but we “weren’t in Vietnam”…long story…attached to the 11th Armored Cavalry as a track commander (in the turret behind a .50 caliber machinegun).
I don’t tell war stories (or prison stories for that matter), but I will share part of what happened on July 9, 1969.
Our plane landed at Travis Air Force Base in California. They shut down the aircraft…and we looked out the window at perhaps 100-150 anti-war protesters who had been allowed (apparently) to assemble.
We could not hear them, but they did not look like a welcoming crowd…
More Air Police were brought in to make a corridor through the group, and, after about two hours, we were released from the aircraft.
Filing down the stairs we heard all kinds of obscenities, disparaging yells, and other garbage.
The first “round-eye” I saw was a stereotypical blonde California girl…drop-dead gorgeous…screaming “How many babies did you kill in Vietnam?” over and over.
As I got closer I simply glared at her.
The older Marine behind me was more quick-witted than I…
He responded, in a dead-pan voice, “Only as many as I could eat.”
Perhaps not “politically correct” nor even “nice,” but it did shut her up.
Welcome home, soldiers.
Again, I wasn’t a follower of Christ, so after receiving my discharge papers I went into San Francisco and lost the next few days…
But I was home…
Though the next few years were filled with me acting out on my hatred of America, constant alcohol and other drug use, and crime; the sovereignty of God preserved me until arrest…confrontation with the Gospel…the working of His Spirit through His Word…and the ultimate prison break – salvation.
He continues to “fulfill His purposes for me” and I am thrilled to be His, and to be along for the ride.
Contemplate this astounding (to me, anyway) paragraph taken from today’s USA Today front page article titled “Military Pool of Recruits is Drying Up”:
“According to 2017 Pentagon data, 71% of Americans ages 17 to 24 are ineligible to join the military because of obesity, a criminal record or lack of a high school diploma.” (bold added)
Just completed ministering at Chambers Family Camp located near Corning, NY.
It was spectacular in that I saw many, many dear friends most of whom I’ve not seen for decades.
It was draining, not “simply” because of the genuine labor of preaching; but because of many one-on-one conversations.
Well…”conversations”…may not be the appropriate word.
I did a lot…a lot…of listening. Looking into the speaker’s eyes, focusing, and listening.
Conversations of course are confidential…but they dealt with sordid stuff.
Most of the folks expressed deep gratitude to me…and “all” I did was listen.
In a few cases the people said they couldn’t talk to anyone else..but when I shared about my own “stuff” they felt free to talk to me.
I’ve been told by some I am too transparent.
Doesn’t seem possible to me…
God help us to be real…whether we are “lay people” (how I hate that term) or vocational ministers.
I am whipped. I am burdened for these situations that were shared.
And I’m saddened because these folks had to speak to some dummy from Missouri rather than their pastor (though a few people who spoke with me were pastors).
Folks, let’s be the Body…not “only” to lost people, but especially to people of the household of faith.