Unsung Heroes

by Brad Dupray 

Every organization has those people who stand out.  We think of them as the shoulders upon which we stand – and we do.  At CDF Capital, those are names like Ralph Dornette, Jim Campbell, Al Mills, Jackie Charnell, and others.  But every organization also has the people behind the scenes who receive little of the glory but are crucial to its success.  When I think back through my own ministry history, both at CDF and elsewhere, one of those unsung names is Harold Purdom.
 
When I was a young minister, Harold was the Chairman of the Board of the church where I served, Lawndale Christian Church (Lawndale, CA; now Restoration Life Christian Church).  Harold was also on the Board of Directors of CDF at the time, thus dedicating his life to two ministries in his off hours.  Harold took me under his wing and mentored me in the ways of life and ministry.  He was really like a second father to me.
 
Harold had worked his way up through the ranks to the executive level at Continental Airlines and after a thirty-plus year career, he retired, thinking his working days were over.  But no, they were just getting started.  Soon after he cashed it in with Continental, he had a moment that Bob Buford would later define in his book, Halftime, as moving from success to significance.  Ralph Dornette asked Harold to cast retirement aside and come to work at CDF, and that’s when Harold found his real calling.  Rebecca Lyons defines calling as “where your talents and your burdens collide.”  Harold had a magnificent collision.
 
For over a decade Harold worked alongside Ralph to build CDF into the dynamic ministry that it would become.  Harold worked tireless hours, meeting with churches, raising investments, and most importantly, providing paternal leadership to a staff that was growing and experiencing a changing of the guard from those who built the structure to those who would reform it, shape it, and mold it for the future.
 
When I was that young minister, Harold would often take me to lunch to talk about life, ministry, and family; he poured his life into a young man who was trying to make his way, trying to find his own calling.  I can remember the restaurant table I was sitting at when Harold asked if I would be interested in working at CDF.  It was one of the most transformational days of my life.
 
I have friends who remember Harold, but most of them are in their twilight years.  And there are a few of my co-workers who can hearken back to things like Harold’s “change game” where he would shake the change in his pocket and if you guessed correctly within a certain range he would hand it over to you; it was the game of a loving father figure.
 
The real change game for Harold, however, occurred when he came out of retirement and blessed a ministry with his leadership and helped lay the foundation to help churches grow long after he passed from this life to join his heavenly Father.  He told me how he looked forward to that day.
 
Like the unsung heroes of the New Testament who helped lay the foundation for the future of the church (think Priscilla, Aquila, Epaphroditus, Onesimus, Nicodemus, etc.) people like Harold Purdom didn’t seek the spotlight.  He was one of the many quiet heroes who gave his only life for the benefit of countless others.  God bless you, Harold Purdom, and the unsung heroes all around us.  You are the real shoulders upon which we stand.

When God Moves: how Promise Keepers Started

by David Roadcup 

(e2 enjoys ministry partnership with Renew.org, and David earlier recounted his experience with the start of Promise Keepers on their site.)

So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us.  We want to present them to God, mature in their relationship to Christ. That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.
Colossians 1.28-29 (NLT)

I was one of the founding leaders of the Promise Keepers men’s movement of the 1990s. 

It was truly one of the most exciting and stretching experiences of my fifty-three years of ministry service to the body of Christ.  I was invited to pen this series to share with our readers the history of this movement, its impact and influence on the men of America (and other countries) and what I learned and experienced as we saw the mighty hand of God move in the lives of the men of America. 

This is how things began for me: 
In August of 1988, I moved from my Vice President role at Cincinnati Christian University to Boulder, Colorado to become the Lead Minister at Boulder Valley Christian Church.  As we arrived, several of the men of the congregation invited me to attend a popular interdenominational men’s prayer breakfast which was held each Friday morning at 6:30 a.m. the Boulder Country Club. 

The first Friday after the invitations, I arrived at the country club at 6:30 a.m. to find the parking lot full.  I entered the banquet room, got coffee took a seat at a round table up front.  The room was filled with 150+ men who seemed to really enjoy the fellowship and time together.  I introduced myself to the man on my right.  “Hi, my name is David Roadcup.  I am new in town and the new Pastor at Boulder Valley Christian Church.”  

The man on my right said, “Welcome to our fellowship.  My name is Bill McCartney.” 

At that point, I did not know that Bill was the Head Coach of the football program at the University of Colorado in our city.  I also did not know where this meeting would take us. 

If you were a pastor and attended the breakfast regularly, you were asked to join the rotation of speakers who provided the fifteen-minute devotion at the weekly breakfasts.  I began speaking in the rotation and Bill would graciously speak to me about what he had received from my messages.  We made a connection through those brief visits. 

This began a relationship with Bill that led to a phone call a year later. 

Coach Mac and one of his close friends, David Wardell, had traveled together to fulfill a speaking engagement on Coach Mac’s schedule.  As they drove, they sang and prayed together. 

During this trip, Bill shared with David that he thought the Lord was leading him to begin an outreach to men.  David encouraged Bill to pursue what he thought the Lord had revealed to him.  They would work on this project together. 

Immediately after this trip, two men called me to share Bill’s vision.  He believed that the Lord was leading him to begin a men’s ministry that called men to do a couple of focused things.

The first challenge was to be true to the promises they made at their immersions – promises of a life committed to integrity, purity, loyalty and obedience to Jesus.  The second calling was to be the most biblical husband and father they could be, devoted husbands who loved their wives as Christ loved the church, and to love their wives as they loved themselves; to be husbands who would raise their children to walk in faith and commitment to Jesus Christ.  We were to restore the spiritual identity of the sons of God.  

Bill felt he knew what the Lord was leading him to do.  He just was not sure how to make this happen.  The phone call was an invitation to meet with Bill, David and several other leaders to discuss the vision that these brothers had shared in together. 

Our meeting was held at a Perkins Pancake House in Boulder.  It was the fall of 1989.  Eight of us gathered, had breakfast and listened to Bill and David as they shared their vision.  Bill told us that he dreamed of the day when the stadium his team played in on Saturday afternoons would be filled with men seeking the Lord. 

They asked us if we had any input into how this kind of a ministry could be launched.  Being ministers, we told him that we knew the basics of how to create this kind of a gathering.  We also shared our hearts about the need to call men to a faithful commitment to Christ.  Bill asked for our help and we prayed a prayer of unity and dedication to move forward. 

The men at this meeting eventually formed the first Board of Directors for Promise Keepers.  That original group served together for many years, adding new members as others rotated off the Board.  I served on the Board for eleven years, the last five as Board Vice-Chair.

Our first action was to invite a group of men to a meeting where we introduced the idea that would become Promise Keepers. 

We decided to call men in our networks to a meeting that would take place at the church where I preached, Boulder Valley Christian Church.  This first informational meeting took place in July of 1990.  Seventy-two men gathered for dinner, worship and to hear about this new men’s ministry.  (This meeting became known as “The Meeting of 72.”) 

After a worship time, Coach Mac shared his heart about calling men to keep their promises.  Bill was an excellent motivational speaker.  His presentation was powerful and visionary.  It was such a needed ministry for all of our churches. 

In addition, the Lord’s powerful Presence was there that night.  It was palpable.  We all left the meeting, committed to moving forward with the vision of inviting men to come to a meeting where they would be challenged to get more serious than they had ever been before about knowing, loving and following Jesus.

In the following weeks, our Board number grew to ten men.  We began planning our end of July 1991 event, the date Bill requested.   We issued invitations to the men of Colorado and the immediate adjoining states.  Bill and his coaching staff had the entire month of July off each year.  The first of August, summer practices began and Bill requested that we have the mass meeting the weekend before his season officially began. 

We met and decided to lease Folsum Field, the football stadium at the University of Colorado for the last weekend of July.  The date was set.  We planned all fall and winter long, arranging worship leaders, speakers and a myriad of thousands of details which we, as the board, handled ourselves.  We labored in the details of putting together a meeting that would see 55,000 men come together in the name of Christ. 

As we planned and prayed, little did we know what the Lord had in store long-term.  The tens of thousands of men who would come to Christ and the myriad who would recommit their lives to Jesus in NFL stadiums around the country were still ahead.  We were excited and had great anticipation concerning what the Lord would do.  Our anticipation grew as the last weekend of July, 1991 approached. 

Laugh Again

by Gary Johnson 

Every Christmas, my wife Leah says that she is going to buy me “Miracle Ear” for my gift.  To her, it seems that my hearing is waning.  Like many, I have what we call selective hearing.  Yet, there is a sound that I have not heard in recent times, and perhaps you can say the same. 
 
Where has all the laughter gone?  Have you noticed its conspicuous absence?
 
Life today is not a laughing matter.  COVID is making a comeback across the country and around the world.  Businesses that were told they could open are now being told to close.  Our nation is divided politically as never before.  Civil unrest is unrelenting.  Even Christians are at odds with one another.  Even the American Psychological Association recently stated that 70 percent of Americans say this is the lowest point in US history they can remember.  These are heavy-hearted days and there is little about which to laugh.
 
Yet, we need to laugh again – loudly and often.  We need to enjoy belly-busting laughter.  And why?  Proverbs 17:22 reminds us that “laughter is good like a medicine.”  We all want a vaccine for the virus, but we already have some great medicine for our souls that is readily available – laughter!
 
Laughing actually improves our breathing, increases our blood flow, reduces our stress, activates our “feel-good” hormones in the brain, and makes for a stronger immune system.  Knowing this, who would not want to “take this medicine” and laugh out loud?      
 
Think with me.  Jesus had a fun side.  In John 21, the resurrected Jesus appeared to some of His disciples at the Sea of Galilee.  Peter and six other disciples decided to go fishing.  It wasn’t an afternoon of recreational fishing, hoping to get a few bluegills for supper.  The text reads that they fished through the night – and caught nothing.  Ashamed for having denied knowing Jesus three times, Peter reverted to his old ways and went back to commercial fishing.  Jesus appeared to them early in the morning and the boat was about one hundred yards from shore.  He could have called out to them, “Hey guys!  It’s Me, Jesus!  Get in here!”  But, He didn’t.  He told them to “throw their nets on the other side of the boat,” and as they did so, the nets were filled with 153 fish!  Been there.  Done that.  Jesus performed this miracle with the disciples when He firsts met them some three years earlier.  Immediately, they knew it was Jesus and they took off for the shore.  Peter even jumped in the water and swam, the laden boat moving too slowly for him.  Talk about a practical joke.  I can “hear” the gut-busting belly laughter coming from Jesus.  Luke reminds us that Jesus “was filled with joy through the Holy Spirit” (Luke 10:21), and the same can happen with us.  After all, the fruit of the Spirit includes joy (Galatians 5:22).
 
We have been made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), and God has a sense of humor.  We often think of God as being serious 24/7, but we need to think of God as being our ultimate joy-giver.  In Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale (HarperCollins, 1977), gifted author and pastor Frederick Buechner describes a joyful moment from Genesis 18.
 
The place to start is with a woman laughing.  She is an old woman, and after a lifetime in the desert, her face is cracked and rutted like a six-month drought.  She hunches her shoulders round her eyes and starts to shake.  She squinnies her eyes shut, and her laughter is all wheeze and tears running down as she rocks back and forth in her kitchen chair.  She is laughing because she is pushing 91 hard and has just been told she is going to have a baby….  The old woman’s name is Sarah, of course, and her old man’s name is Abraham, and they are laughing at the idea of a baby’s being born in the geriatric ward and Medicare’s picking up the tab.  Maybe the most interesting part of it all is that far from getting angry at them for laughing, God told them that when the baby was born, he wanted them to name him Isaac, which in Hebrew means laughter.  So you can say that God not only tolerated their laughter, but blessed it and, in a sense, joined in it himself.
 
Does it look like we have been baptized in vinegar and weened on a pickle?  Maybe it’s time we start smiling and laughing again.  Let’s resolve to watch more comedies than we do action, suspense, or even horror movies.  And speaking of horror, rather than binging on fear-driven news updates, let’s read humorous stories.  Are there funny stories from your past?  Tell them again and again as if they were happening for the very first time.  And let’s not forget to laugh at ourselves! 
 
Years ago, someone gave me a piece of art as both a gift and a reminder.  This piece of art has never left my desk.  It is a well-known sketch of Jesus.  Drawn in 1973 by the late Canadian artist Willis Wheatley, Christ, Liberator (probably more commonly known as “Jesus Laughing”) became a sensation.  Why?  Few Christians ever gave thought to Jesus having a sense of humor.  This sketch reminds me to laugh like Jesus.  After all, “the joy of the Lord is my strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
 
Go ahead.  Laugh out loud.  People will wonder what we’re up to. 

News Story by Vancouver Sun about Willis Wheatley and the image:
https://vancouversun.com/news/staff-blogs/meet-the-creator-of-the-laughing-jesus-photo/

Tools for the Times

by Jeff Faull 

Chances are, you saw the same stuff I’d read.  Dust storms all the way from the Sahara are the latest threat to our safety.  One person humorously responded to the news like this:

“Always wondered what it would be like to live during the times of the Civil War, the Spanish flu, the Great depression, the civil rights movement, Watergate and the dustbowl.”

And, I might add, murder hornets, giant asteroids, Cyclospora food-borne illness and the list goes on…  Seems that threats are multiplied.  We definitely live in a V.U.C.A. world: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous.

So how do we live on this planet in these chaotic times?  How do we respond to 2020?  And what can elders do to understand the times and help believers navigate this increasingly insane culture?

We who are shepherds can start by identifying some tools for God’s people to have in their discipleship toolbox to face uncertain times.  We can’t merely tell them what they are supposed to think, but we can provide biblical tools to help them learn to think and use the tools well.

At Mt. Gilead, where I serve, we are highlighting and demonstrating some of these tools and how to use them in our next sermon series, 2020 Tools for the Times.

We are building our toolbox and developing our skills with things like…

  • Courage and Conviction
  • Discernment and Wisdom
  • Spiritual Awareness
  • Active and Prayerful fasting
  • Good Theology and Hermeneutics
  • Uncommon Decency
  • Healthy Community
  • Righteous Justice
  • Honest History
  • Enduring Effort

Our responsibility as leaders and elders is to equip our people, including our children, with these essential cultural tools to use in an increasingly confusing and unsettling future.  

We can do this.  

Indeed, we must.