The online journal of Luke Dockery

Category: Travel (Page 1 of 5)

2018 Harding University Lectureship Recap


This week I had the opportunity to take part in Harding University’s 95th annual Bible Lectureship, and had a great time. I got to spend time with family and close friends, renew friendships and acquaintances of people I haven’t seen for a while, and I was honored to present two sessions on Youth In Family Ministry on Wednesday, and had good attendance in both sessions and got to field a lot of excellent questions after each session.

Also, though, I was privileged to get to hear several excellent sessions. Really, everything I went to was quite good, but below, I’ll just share brief recaps of the sessions for which I took notes:

  • Honoring Our Parents, Claiming the Promise, Andrew Phillips: this was a morning keynote session, and I thought Andrew did very well. He emphasized that honor is a heavy matter, but that not every heavy, weighty aspect of life is a burden. The weight of honoring one’s parents provides a serious responsibility in life, but it also provides a solid foundation for life.
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Gestalt: Thoughts About a High View of Scripture, Richard Oster: Dr. Oster was one of my favorite HST professors, and always does a great job. He said some fairly predictable, but laudable and appropriate things about the nature of Scripture, including this gem: “Scripture is the litmus test against which we are to measure all spiritual experiences.” He also discussed two problem areas related to Scripture that sometimes plague believers: (1) Failing to discern that Scripture is the “map” that points us to Jesus. As important as the Bible is, we are more interested in the “territory” to which it points than we are in the map itself. (2) The tendency of some to want to distance themselves from the Old Testament or shelve it altogether. This is untenable: the OT was the Bible of the early church, and the very identity of Jesus cannot be explained without it.
  • The Work of the Holy Spirit, Part 2, Monte Cox:  Dr. Cox was one of my favorite undergrad teachers at Harding, and is always a treat to listen to. He had three sessions on the Holy Spirit, but there were so many good options on Monday that I could only get in to listen to this one. It was outstanding. This was a very practical class, which sought to answer the question, “How can we cooperate with the Spirit?” in terms of defeating the influence of sin in our lives and being transformed into the image of Christ.
  • Right Click: Parenting Your Teenager in a Digital Media World, T.J. Davidson: T.J. is a friend and a really good youth minister, and he did a great job here, discussing how digital media is changing us, and some of the things we can do about it. I wish T.J. could have had more time, because I felt like there was more that he could have shared with us.
  • Serving With Honor Without Losing Your Mind, Jim Martin: Dr. Martin spoke at the Celebration of Ministry Dinner. He is Vice President at HST, and is also one of the best Twitter follows out there (@JimMartin). This dinner is always fun and basically serves as a pep talk for those in ministry. Dr. Martin laid out four ideas to address the topic at hand: (1) Believe that God is larger than my problems; (2) Beware of anxious, negative people who speak with great certainty; (3) Learn to function as a less-anxious person; (4) Remember that our God rules.
  • From Mozambique to Millennials, Part 2, Logan Thompson: Logan is a youth minister in Beebe, Arkansas, and delivered what I thought was an absolutely brilliant lecture (I was bummed that I missed Part 1). Logan discussed the three basic types of cultures (Guilt-Innocence, Shame-Honor, Fear-Power) and then discussed atonement theories that naturally fit with these different cultures. From there, he argued that pervasive social media use is basically prompting youth culture to transition from a Guilt-Innocence to Shame-Honor paradigm (I hadn’t made this connection before, but I totally agree), and suggested theosis as an atonement model that is helpful for approaching young people in this context. If this sounds completely nerdy to you, that’s fine; if you are interested in learning more, you can check out an article that Logan co-wrote with Alan Howell here.
  • The Christian’s Essential Reading List, Bob Turner: Bob is the head librarian at HST in Memphis, and was completely in his element here. In a two-part session, Bob suggested six pairs of books (in each pair, one was the type of book that you would find on the NYT bestseller list, and the other was a similar book that you would find in a theological library). In addition to being a lot of fun, these sessions gave me a bunch of books that I want to read (which, actually, is the last thing I need!).
  • Scrapper’s Delight: Ancient Trash and the World of the New Testament, Kevin Burr: This was a bonus, as it was not actually part of the Lectureship proper, but was rather a presentation of the HU Archaeology club by one of my best friends. Kevin talked about ancient trash: scraps of papyrus that have been discovered in various places of Egypt, the stories they tell, and the information they give us about the world of the New Testament. The major takeaway: “The better we know the world around the Bible, the better we can understand the Bible.”

As you can probably tell, I greatly enjoyed my time at Lectureship this year, heard a lot of good content, and left spiritually refreshed (if physically exhausted). I would highly recommend taking part in this next year if you are able!

A packed room for my youth ministry sessions: I think the sensationalist title is what brought them in. 🙂

Mary’s Burden: La Pietà

Last fall, I had the incredible blessing of spending the better part of a week in Rome with Caroline in (belated) celebration of our tenth anniversary. We got to see a lot of wonderful sights (see pictures here), and I had many favorites, but without doubt the most moving thing I saw was Michelangelo’s La Pietà. 

The French Cardinal Jean de Bilheres commissioned Michelangelo to create the sculpture for his funeral monument, and it was completed in 1499. Later, in the 18th century, it was moved to St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, where it remains today. The marble statue depicts the body of Jesus on His mother’s lap following the crucifixion.

It is a marvelous statue, revealing the tremendous talents of the master sculptor of the Renaissance: the all-too-human body of Jesus hangs lifeless, the folds of Mary’s dress reveal the great weight she carries, literally and physically, the outstretched palm reflects the great sacrifice that she, too, has made.

I feel confident in saying that Roman Catholicism places too much emphasis on the role of Mary, and there are undoubtedly doctrines that have been assembled and developed over the years that are not found in Scripture. 

At the same time, I wonder if those of us from a Protestant background have at times been guilty of emphasizing her too little. She must have been a special young lady to be chosen to be the vessel in which the Word would become Flesh, and I think close attention to the text and the way young Mary responds to the news of her unexpected pregnancy reveals just that.

And oh, what a weight that she carried! To watch her innocent Son die, bearing the sins of the world…and hers too. As the Roman spear pierced the side of Jesus, so a sword pierced Mary’s own soul as she watched it happen (just as was prophesied by Simeon in Luke 7.35).

And for me, seeing La Pietà helped drive that reality home more powerfully than I had ever felt before.

The Trip of a Lifetime

Last October, Caroline and I went on a whirlwind trip to Rome and Florence (with an overnight stop in NYC on the way) to (belatedly) celebrate our tenth anniversary. Caroline has lived in Italy for two different stints in her life, and had wanted to show it to me for a long time. I am glad she did—London has been my favorite place in the world since visiting there in 2009, but Rome is right up there with it!

A view of the NYC skyline and Plaza Hotel from Central Park.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral is a stately and impressive church—until you visit Rome. 🙂

Ancient columns from the Roman Forum. I was overwhelmed by the history of Rome.

The Arch of Titus on the edge of the Forum, celebrating the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.

A closeup of one of the reliefs of the Arch of Titus (note the Menorah).

A massive statue of Constantine, the “Christian” Emperor.

Caroline poses next to Constantine’s foot (ironically, she doesn’t like feet at all).

The Arch of Constantine, near the Colosseum.

The Colosseum was breath-taking and amazing—everything I hoped it would be.

Caroline walking along the Appian Way.

We got to spend one day in Florence (not enough time!).

The Duomo from Piazzale Michelangelo, above the city of Florence.

The Pantheon was another of my favorite places to go in Rome—we kept going back over and over again.

St. Peter’s Basilica was massive and impressive. I didn’t get a great shot of the exterior.

Looking up at the dome of St. Peter’s.

The Trevi Fountain was another of my favorites—always surrounded by happy tourists.

Michelangelo’s Moses has horns, based on a mistranslation of Exodus 34 in the Latin Vulgate.

Caroline and I greatly enjoyed our time in Rome, and I would love to return and explore more of Italy in detail. That will have to wait, however: we have already started saving up for our next trip, to a currently undisclosed location. 🙂

Chicago Travels

Back at the beginning of March, I got to take a guys’ trip to Chicago with my dad and brother. In addition to simply spending time together, the main purpose of the trip was to visit the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, which houses a variety of quality artifacts from the Ancient Near East (and thus, have direct or indirect biblical relevance).

Below are some photos I took while we were there, including the Chicago Theatre, some exhibits from the Oriental Institute, the Moody Bible Church, and some other sites from around the city.

Mooresville Church of Christ and President James Garfield

I am a little late in posting this, but over Thanksgiving break, I was able to visit the tiny village of Mooresville in North Central Alabama. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, many pre-Civil War buildings are still preserved in Mooresville.

I was interested in stopping there to pay a visit to the Mooresville Church of Christ, which has been meeting here since 1854. Even more interesting, James Garfield, who would go on to be President of the United States, preached here in 1861, while he was serving as a general in the Union Army. Many people are unaware that Garfield was a gospel preacher in the Restoration Movement.

To read more about the history of the Mooresville church, click here.

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