This humble blog has been a bit more sporadic this week–and for good reason. I’ve made my annual pilgrimage to Malibu for Pepperdine University’s annual Bible Lectures. Though Friday Stream of Consciousness has become the most read weekly post on New Vintage Leadership, I’m altering it today in order to honor a long-time friend and mentor, Jerry Rushford, who bids farewell to directing this remarkable event after thirty years tonight. I hope you’ll indulge me this Friday. I could go on for pages, but in the spirit of Fridays:
Here’s a Friday Stream of Consciousness on Dr. Jerry Rushford:
- Jerry was one of my favorite professors. I had him for both Preaching and Restoration History. In both cases, my favorite class session was the first, when he would go over the syllabus and tell stories of the authors of our textbooks–among others. He is my favorite storyteller. The man could make the syllabus sing.
- It really is hard to overstate what the Bible Lectures mean to churches on the West Coast–especially those under 100 in attendance. I grew up in such a church–and know what it means.
- I might not have every made it to a pulpit in any church had Jerry not been willing to afflict small congregations within driving distance of Pepperdine with my inexperienced preaching–like San Gabriel, Frazier Park, San Fernando, Santa Maria, Cypress, the list goes on for a while. Waking up at 4:30am on Sunday to drive 200 miles to preach to 20 people for no money–priceless. I’m not joking at all when I say that. Those mornings shaped me in huge ways–and I wish everyone who wanted to preach would do that for several years during their education.
- I am so thankful for Jerry’s trust when I was so young. By the time I was a undergraduate senior he was letting me preside in the Fieldhouse during the morning sessions. I got to introduce speakers like Jeff Walling and Joe Beam–who later became friends but were absolute rock stars to me at the time. It really was my first experience speaking in front of larger crowds, and though it was usually 60 seconds or less each time–it helped.
- Jerry helped teach me the importance of honoring people–and showing appreciation. I love watching him present a plaque to a person know one has heard of who God has been using out of the spotlight for decades. Appreciating people…a lost art, these days.
- Jerry is notorious for his late-night calls–or calls that reached you when you thought you couldn’t be reached. I got many, many of those calls. I can remember in 2001 I was stopped in the auditorium between services and presented with a phone. I was told Jerry was on the line and needed the final title for my class. Other times, he’d want to bounce something off me, or process a decision. I loved those calls. Talking ministry or Pepperdine (2 of my favorite subjects) with Jerry was something I enjoyed every time.
- Jerry taught me the importance of history. He is a living time capsule of the American Restoration Movement. I told him once that before he died, he HAD TO sit down and write or record all the stories he knows that no one else likely does. Jerry could make the tax code interesting. Plus, he needs to tell them Jerry-style.
- Word association for Jerry Rushford: Energy, story, history, passion.
I couldn’t be more thrilled that Mike Cope and Rick Gibson will help write PBL’s next chapter. They bring their own substantial gifts to bear. However, when the final amen is said tonight in Firestone Fieldhouse, the pastor of a church of 4,000+ that meets but once a year in Malibu will retire. As someone who has been a part of that “church” for all 30 years (including my pre-Pepperdine years), I wish Jerry the absolute best, and thank Him for the role He’s played in my life.