For as long as I can remember, the Pepperdine Bible Lectures have been one of the spiritual highlights of my year. That's still the case. The reasons have changed, though. My affection for the Bible Lectures as a college student and even earlier than that had to do exclusively with attending quality teaching and worship sessions–and enjoying being around a lot of Christians–that feeling of, "I'm not alone. I'm not the only one." I wasn't a participant on the program, and I didn''t really know anyone else. So, I read and listened. These days, My days are divided between teaching my traditional 3-day 8:30am in AMB 105 and usually a couple of other things, and attending all of the keynotes along with a sprinkling of sessions. Interspersed now are get-togethers with colleagues to talk shop and reconnecting with old friends. I love that blend. I've never been a guy who teaches my class and heads off to do something else the rest of the day. I enjoy being on campus and taking it all in. Here are some thoughts from the week:
- From a preaching standpoint, I felt like this year's keynotes were really consistent. That is to say, the bandwith of quality between the best and "worst" sermon was fairly narrow. As a former Pepperdine keynoter, I know how it feels to have others picking apart your sermons…so I don't mean this comment in that spirit. I'm trying to say that all of them were quite good in their own way. In particular, I found Don McLaughlin's closing sermon amazing. Chris Seidman's was top-shelf (as always), and I was blessed by my first opportunity to hear both Josh Graves and Mitch Wilburn as well. Chris Smith always makes me laugh. The keynote preaching was strong this year.
- One of the new dimensions to the Bible Lectures has is the growing power of social networking. I was blessed to finally meet several friends face-to-face for the first time I had only known through Facebook, Twitter, or the blogosphere prior (like Sean Palmer, Rex Butts, etc.). I genuinely felt like I knew some of them quite well before that…which weirds me out a bit. Great fun. Twitter hit a whole new level this year. There was the self-revealing of 3 Fake Restoration Fathers (Alexander Campbell, Barton Stone, and Raccoon John Smith)–a gig I believe started at the Bible Lectures a couple of years ago and became year-round fun. The #pbl11 hashtag and @biblelectures Twitter ID connected everyone throughout the lectures, and of course, the new @notjerryrush4d Twitter presence was priceless.
- Malibu in May was extraordinary again. The weather was phenomenal, and Pepperdine's recent renovation of the fountain area and sitting spaces really facilitates get-togethers with friends and colleagues. I loved catching up with Jim Martin, Jon Mullican, friends who are missionaries abroad, several preacher friends, and spending some quality time with my parents.
- As for sessions, I've always been a sucker for the praise sessions. I also bought a slew of CD's of other sessions that I'll enjoy in the weeks ahead. As for my own, I enjoyed teaching the class and morning praise session in Smothers Theater–though I fought sickness all week. I'll share some of the material here on the blog and in a forthcoming short-book I'm working on.
I've got some other thoughts I plan to pass on to Jerry Rushford–the architect of the Bible Lectures. I'm extremely thankful for his dedication and excellence of his work. Jerry Rushford is the pastor of a church of 4,000 that meets the first week in May every year. I’m thankful to be part of that congregation. You should be, as well.
How about you? What did you enjoy? If you've never been, what might help you attend? What might you add? What might you change? What was your favorite part?