A text that tells us ‘Certain Great Things’

New Testament Professor William Barclay (1907-1978)

The following is a mash up of something William Barclay wrote, quoting mostly verbatim from a certain commentary about a Bible text that “tells us certain great things.” Can you read the clues from Barclay and guess the Bible text? In the process, I think we all might unlearn some things we thought about this text or God, and lean into a new relationship with God through deeper understanding of this text.

Comment with the Bible book and verse you think Barclay is referring to.

  1. This has been called ‘everybody’s text’ . . . the text tells us certain great things . . .
  2. This text tells us that initiative in salvation starts with God . . . It was God who sent His Son, and he sent him because He loved the world He had created. At the back of everything is the love of God.
  3. Sometimes Christianity is presented in such a way that it sounds as if God had to be pacified, as if he had to be persuaded to forgive. Sometimes the picture is drawn of a stern, angry, unforgiving God and a gentle, loving, forgiving Jesus.
  4. Sometimes the Christian message is presented in such a way that is sounds as if Jesus did something which changed the attitude of God to men and women from condemnation to forgiveness.
  5. It tells us that the mainspring of God’s being is love. . . . It is easy to think of God as seeking human allegiance in order to satisfy his own desire for power [or glory] and for what we might call a completely subjective universe.
  6. The tremendous thing about this text is that is shows us God acting not for his own sake but for ours; not to satisfy his desire for power, not to bring a universe to heel, but to satisfy His love. . . .
  7. God is the Father who cannot be happy until his wandering children have come home. God does not smash people into submission; He yearns over them and woos them into love.
  8. It tells us of the width of the love of God. It was the world that God so loved. It was not a nation; it was not the good people; it was not only the people who loved Him; it was the world.

Comment with the Bible book and verse you think Barclay is referring to and a brief new way you see God in this text.

Howard and Sam Dig For Gold in Tennessee

Howard Claude in 2004

Ron and Gidget lived in a trailer park on Nolensville Road in Nashville, Tennessee called Claude Country Village. It was the owner and namesake of Claude Country who introduced me to the Marcinkos. But before I tell you more about Gidget and Ron, I want to set the scene and show you this village where they lived and give you some background that only the owner of the trailer park could give. This is a story about many people but this particular chapter is about two men from Arkansas seeking their fortunes in Tennessee. One was a born-salesman named Howard Claude and the other was founder of a rising star in retailing; a man named Sam Walton.

When I lived in Nashville, Tennessee, I commuted past a large trailer park that most people barely noticed. Virtually invisible to bypassers, the residents lived in mobile homes tucked back in a holler with a bluff behind that overlooked about forty acres of land. I asked many people who drove along Nolensville Road daily, “Have you ever noticed a trailer park near the corner of Old Hickory and Nolensville Road?” They would invariably say, “There’s a trailer park there?”

There was a rumor a big box retailer wanted to buy the land the trailer park sat on, and I wanted to know what would happen to the nearly one hundred residents if they had to move to make way for a new development.

I finally noticed the park in 2004 because I read the Tennessean daily, and the business section was reporting that Walmart was looking for a new location to build a Supercenter. Land in Nashville over the past few decades had become like gold but the terrain is very rocky and hilly and often very difficult and expensive to develop.

Over months of considering different large tracts of land, the news came out that Walmart developers were considering purchase of a mobile home park on Nolensville Road. City Council Member Parker Toler had already made some enemies with his aggressive push for development of a Target and shopping center on a wooded knob near I-65 on Old Hickory. Now he was quoted calling the little trailer park on Nolensville Road a blight, a clear set up for removal and development of this land for a large retailer.

In addition to Claude Country, a bar called Eddie’s Southside Bowery, and a Phase One Used Auto Sales flanked the entrance and were included in the assessment by Toler, that this area was drug and violence infested and needed to be removed and businesses developed and tax base improved.

One day driving by the park I decided to pull in and talk to the owner and find out if the park was indeed for sale. [following the new model of www.wadehodges.com, where readers pay 99 cents to finish a good story, you can tape four quarters to a postcard and mail to me if you want, or just click below and read free].

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Valentine’s Day 2007 – My brother wins song contest!

My brother, Toby wrote this love story for a K-LOVE contest where the winning entry gets a song written by Mark Schultz for Valentine’s Day. Toby’s and Debbie’s story made the top five and this morning . . . THEY WON!

Congratulations, Brother! Debbie and Toby agree, Tobe has set himself for Valentine’s gifts for the rest of his natural life. All he has to do is play the song and she’ll melt every February 14. They are a beautiful couple and romantics to the marrow.

We’re so happy for you, Toby and Debbie, but we also know much more about the goodness of your lives than people on the radio hear. One example of their love is their work with CareNet. Toby has run two marathons to benefit CareNet, and both Toby and Debbie go to public high schools to teach an abstinence program and about what true love really is.

They know true love and we salute them today, Valentine’s Day 2007.

K-LOVE on iTunes

Dr. Toby’s Blog

Here’s the story that won the contest and the basis for Mark Schultz’s song. I don’t have access to the song yet. Someone let me know if you find it. They’ve played it on radio a couple times. The song is called, “I’ll always love you.”

A Warm Summer Morning
By Toby Taylor for Debbie Taylor

On a warm summer morning in 1986, I saw my wife for the very first time. I had just finished my second year at Harding University and had flown a thousand miles from home to spend the summer as a counselor at Camp Hunt, a Christian youth camp in Upstate, NY. Being a “home body”, I didn’t like traveling away from my home and family in Oklahoma. But, a friend from Harding, Bob, talked me into 6 weeks of camp in the green hills of central New York.

By providence, another friend from New York told me about a girl that was to be a counselor with me that summer. He had been to Camp Hunt and knew several people from the area and just a month before I left, he told me about Debbie. Brown hair, cute, short, a lot of fun and a devoted Christian; was how he described her. She was someone special from the way he talked. I knew that I would look for her that summer.

When I flew into NY, Bob picked me up and I entered the countryside. I marveled at the beauty of cornfields, cattle and farmhouses on rolling green hills and meadows. Camp Hunt was set on a hill overlooking a valley of trees and more farms. A large green wooden building stood in the center of the camp and served as the mess hall. A cut tree erected in the grounds served as a flag pole and just behind the flag pole, the lodge. Deihl Lodge was a picture of camping Americana. Surrounded by pine trees and painted brick red, it also stood over the valley. Inside was dim lighting and musty smelling furniture in a common room where we had our counselors meetings.

It was here. I sat miles away from home, not sure what I was getting into. I sat on the old dusty couch and while others visited around me, I gazed out the open door facing east and the morning sun. There was a mist in the valley that was slowly rising and dissipating in the warmth of the sunlight. My trance-like state melted away as she walked into the doorway.

I knew it was her right away. Her smile, auburn hair, small nose and freckled face were immediately recognizable; Debbie. But it was the warmth and kindness and joy she carried that told me this was the girl I had heard about. As she stepped into the lodge in front of the morning sun, sun beamed through her hair and danced around her smiling face, the face of an angel. Never had the sun been adorned with such beauty as when my future wife carried it’s rays around her.

I can’t say I knew then that I was going to marry this bright, happy girl, but I knew I’d try. The vision above soon ended as her boyfriend walked into the lodge behind her. But, 6 weeks of counseling camp and then attending Harding together in the Fall, our friendship grew. We took a class together, “Hebrew Poetry”. Studying together, we memorized verses from Psalms and Song of Solomon at the college Laundromat. Our fondness for each other was natural and pure. Our first kiss was on a Sunday evening standing on a sidewalk and under a light on the Harding campus in January 1987. We were married June 25, 1988 at the Church of Christ in Utica, New York. We now live just 25 miles from Camp Hunt. We often spend a week or two in the summer teaching Bible class at camp. I often venture back to the lodge and look out the doorway to the valley below. But, many times my mind doesn’t see the beauty of the valley, instead I see my wife again for the very first time.