Sudie Teaches A Lesson On Chivalry

car in garage

Sudie Garner is one of the dearest Christian witnesses Cathy and I have had the pleasure of knowing through the years. We were members together at First Baptist Church in El Dorado during the decades of the 1970’s and 1980’s, and in those years we shared many experiences of service together through the church. Her husband Hubert was a well- known barber in El Dorado for many years, and I was one of his customers for at least six years prior to his untimely death.

Sudie and Hubert like so many couples with strong marriages were quite different in their personalities. Sudie was quiet, introspective, kind and known for her commitment to the Lord Jesus. She was especially fervent as a prayer warrior and intercessor, and all who knew her were confident that any prayer requests given her received serious and faithful attention. Hubert on the other hand was outgoing, fun-loving and as a barber for many years had an abundance stories to tell. It was always a fun experience to have Hubert cut my hair every two or three weeks because I relished his story-telling and would respond with several of my own.

I have previously told how impactful the Bill Gothard seminars were for Cathy and me, and in 1977 on attending our first seminar in Dallas we gave our hearts and lives to the Lord Jesus. In the intervening seven or eight years we attended other seminars which included not only the basic seminar but advanced seminars as well. We invited family members and various friends to attend with us, and the Garner’s were one couple who arranged to attend a basic seminar with us in the early 1980’s.

I don’t recall any specific events from the week together, but nearing the end of the week Bill was teaching on how men should honor their wives. He pointed out many of us have forgotten certain acts of courtesy to which we always paid attention during our courtship. One was simply opening the car door for our spouse either when she was entering or exiting the car. Bill encouraged the wives to help their husbands display this courtesy by remaining in the car until he remembered. I do remember as we were leaving the conference center that day, Cathy and Sudie said to each other this lesson might require some prolonged sitting time in the car on their part.

The next haircut I received from Hubert was about two weeks later, and we talked about the wonderful teaching we received at the conference. He said he heard principles about life and marriage he had never before heard presented in such a practical way. I agreed and we both marveled Bill Gothard  could know so much about marriage having never been married. Hubert said Sudie was also helping him apply some of the principles we heard with the following account:

“We came home from church on Sunday night and I pulled into our garage, parked the car and entered the house through the garage. I closed the garage door before going inside. I sat down in my easy chair and turned on the television to relax before getting ready for bed. I called out to Sudie to fix me a glass of tea when she could. When I didn’t hear her voice I went to the bathroom thinking she might be there but she wasn’t. I called out to her in a louder voice and heard nothing. I really began worrying and thinking she had passed out so I looked all over the house going room to room. I thought the only place left was the garage and the thought struck me was she had a heart attack and died in the car. I turned on the garage light and spotted her still in the car and said, “Sudie are you alright?” She said, “Yes Hubert, I am alright.” “Then why don’t you come on in the house? Are you mad at me?” “No, I’m not mad. I’m just waiting for you to open the door!” As I walked over and opened the door I asked her, “How long were you going to wait?” “As long as it took. That’s what Bill Gothard told us to do.”

Hubert said he might be a slow learner, but he thought he had finally learned the lesson about being a gentleman and opening the door for Sudie while showing her in other ways how important she was to him. I’ve always wondered just how long Sudie really would have waited. Knowing her I believe she would have waited in the car all night if needed.

Dr. John


Sharing Jesus With Rabbi Norman

Rabbi Norman M. Goldburg

Rabbi Norman M. Goldburg

The Arkansas Razorbacks have always been my favorite college football team, and especially after Bubba received a full scholarship to play tackle in 1945. While attending college in Fayetteville in the late 1950’s and medical school in Little Rock in the early 1960’s I was able to see the Razorbacks play numerous times. The team had few winning seasons until Frank Broyles coached them to much success in the 1960’s and into the 1970’s. Lou Holtz took over as head coach in 1977 when Coach Broyles retired after coaching the Razorbacks for twenty years.

In his first year at Arkansas Coach Holtz led the team to a 10-1 season, losing only to the Texas Longhorns. The prize was a trip to the Orange Bowl to play the University of Oklahoma Sooners. Cathy and I decided to travel to Fort Lauderdale to spend Christmas there with her parents while John Aaron and I were excited at the prospect of attending the Orange Bowl with George, Cathy’s brother.

Making plane reservations for Fort Lauderdale relatively late during the Christmas season was difficult, and we were fortunate to get five seats on the Delta jet out of West Monroe, Louisiana. On the flight to Atlanta our seats were together but on the connecting flight to Fort Lauderdale we were not so fortunate. Four of the seats were together, but the other seat was four or five rows away. This was to be my seat, and I didn’t much like being separated from them.

After making sure everyone was seated properly and knowing exactly where they were located on the plane I found my seat easily. My assigned seat was between two adult men. As I began sitting I asked the balding, elderly gentleman on the aisle, “Is this seat taken?” He quickly responded with a smile, “Yes, we were saving it for you!” I knew he would be a friendly travel companion so as I buckled in I said, “I’m John,” to which he responded, “Good morning, I’m Norman.”

While the plane was taxiing to the runway Norman began asking where I was from, what was my  occupation and why was I going to Fort Lauderdale? He told me he was the Rabbi of the only Jewish synagogue in Augusta, Georgia and had lived there for many years. He was on his way to work as Chaplain on a cruise ship out of Fort Lauderdale, and this was one of several times he had made such a cruise. He obviously enjoyed meeting people and establishing relationships.

I had never met a Rabbi much less anyone who was so friendly and open to conversation. My heart rate began to speed as I contemplated sharing Christ with him, and I wondered how I might direct the conversation toward faith. I had been recently reading about the Jewish feast days so I thought this would be a good starting point. He began answering specific questions and I was learning more practical information concerning Judaism than ever before. Then I asked him the most important question, “Rabbi, what do you think about Jesus of Nazareth?”

I can still hear his answer, “Doctor, Jesus of Nazareth was the greatest prophet who ever lived.” I said, “But Rabbi, the one you say was the greatest prophet told many people He was the Messiah, the fulfillment of all the prophesies of the Old Testament.” Rabbi Norman’s response was just as quick, “Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah.” I told him Jesus was recorded by all the gospel writers He did indeed claim to be the Promised One. I quoted several specific passages from the gospel of John, particularly John 8:58 in which Jesus told the Pharisees He was the great I Am.

I said, “If Jesus knew He wasn’t Messiah and claimed to be, He was the world’s greatest liar. If he claimed to be God and wasn’t and didn’t know He wasn’t, He would be the world’s greatest lunatic. The only conclusion one can draw about the man Jesus is He is either a liar, a lunatic or He is indeed Lord!”

I thought I had the Rabbi trapped into believing and confessing Jesus was the Messiah and he would confess Him now as his own Savior. The Rabbi smiled and said, “Doctor, if we lived in the same town, we would be best friends. I know what you have tried to do , and I am not offended. The error in your logic is this; Jesus’ disciples wanted him to be Messiah so badly, they claimed he was Messiah, but Jesus himself never claimed it.” I stated I believed every word in the New Testament as well as the Old Testament, and I was staking my future on that belief. His final comment regarding the matter was, “We shall see.”

Within a week or two after we returned home I received a copy of the Rabbi’s book, Patrick J. McGillicuddy and The Rabbi which is a tongue in cheek account of the life of a Rabbi. I sent him a copy of Josh McDowell’s book, Evidence That Demands A Verdict. I never heard again from the Rabbi, so I don’t know if he embraced Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah whom he was seeking.

PS: The Razorback defeated the Oklahoma Sooners 31-6 in what the Sooners considered an upset!

Dr. John

“We’re Trying to Get the Bugs Out”

The Bugs

The experiences Cathy and I had through the overseas ministry of The International Congress on Revival (ICR) were many and life-changing. That ministry was begun by the evangelist Manley Beasley Sr. in the 1980’s as an encouragement to European pastors and their wives who were struggling to preach the gospel in countries which were Communist controlled.

ICR  provided the leadership to host a three to four day conference in a major European city and the funding to pay all the expenses for the invited pastors and wives to attend. The early conferences were held in Switzerland and Austria and because funding was initially limited, only twenty to thirty were able to attend. The Americans who traveled overseas to supply the preaching and music paid their own expenses. Because Manley himself had serious personal health issues the leadership for ICR was eventually passed to Bill Stafford who became the President of ICR in 1989. That was the year Brother Bill invited me to become a member of the board. In the beginning Cathy and I were reluctant to attend an overseas conference thinking we would not have much to offer in terms of preaching and music. We simply asked that the money we would spend in travelling be used to invite another European pastor and his wife. After two years of resistance Brother Bill convinced us we would have much to offer in terms of loving and personally encouraging the attendees. We agreed to make our first trip in 1991.

The conference that year was held in Salzburg, Austria in a beautiful downtown hotel. There were approximately twenty Americans including Cathy and me who had flown over together to meet with our European guests. There were approximately sixty attendees from fourteen different countries throughout western and eastern Europe. The unique thing about this particular conference was for the first time we were having simultaneous translation of the preaching. There were to be translators for Romanian, Hungarian, German and Russian. If needed each attendee could put on a headset, switch to the proper channel for his particular language and hear the sermon translated from English to their native tongue.

Before the conference began, all the speakers were encouraged to not use commonly used idioms in their preaching because of the difficulties for the translators in having the correct word to convey the exact meaning. Some examples include the phrase, “He sure knocked it out of the park,” when describing  a preacher delivering an especially impactful sermon. Another might be; “She can sing the stars down!” Pastors with previous experience in overseas ministry were more aware of this type of translation difficulty.

Paul Harper was the program coordinator for this conference and was an experienced leader. He served as Executive Administrator of Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which was Bill Stafford’s home church. The pastor of this large and influential church was Wayne Barber, and he was also in attendance at the conference.

Everyone was excited for the conference to begin and many who were in attendance had been to previous conferences, so there were already friendship bonds which had been established. The large conference room of the hotel was made ready by the hotel staff, and all the tables and comfortable chairs were positioned to take maximum advantage of the acoustics in the room. The tables which would seat eight people had six to eight headsets which could be set to one of the four channels. We tried to position at least two or more Americans at each table to encourage interaction with our guests.

Paul began the conference by leading us in singing the theme song of the ICR conferences, “Jesus Be Jesus In Me.” The words were projected on the large screen so those unfamiliar with the song could join in. After singing this praise chorus several times everyone had the tune and words correct, and it was a beautiful praise lifted to the Lord from at least fifteen nationalities! Following a prayer of consecration for the meeting given by Brother Bill, Paul began giving instructions to the attendees and his words were being translated simultaneously. The four translators were each positioned in a booth at the far back of the conference room, and if one stood next to those booths, there was quite a cacophony of sound. The booths were far enough back that the people seated on the back table were not distracted.

As Paul was explaining to everyone the technicalities of simultaneous translation he said this was our first experience, and we all wanted it to be a good one. He then said, “We ask you to please be patient with us as we are trying to get all the bugs out of the system.” All the Americans nodded our heads in agreement, but immediately many of the Europeans and especially the wives, began taking their headsets off. It looked strange and some even stood up and looked in their seats while shaking their clothing. It took only an instance to realize the translated word they were hearing was there were bugs in the system and we had been trying to get them out as quickly as possible! No one wanted bugs crawling through the headsets and possibly into their ears and down their backs. Paul realized what he had said and began apologizing profusely. He reassured everyone there were not actual bugs in the system, and it was perfectly safe to wear the headsets with confidence.

The remainder of the conference was free from such language glitches which caused fear or discomfort. Bill Stafford frequently would say when he preached he wanted to “distress the comfortable and comfort the distressed.” I suppose in this case with bugs in the system, both of these goals were accomplished; and it was all to the glory of God!

Dr. John