“As long as you learn, you live.” says Dr. Howard Hendricks, professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. “The average American stops learning at age 32. The trouble is we have to wait until 70-something to bury you.” (near-quote)

I still remember where I was sitting when I heard those words. The Torrey-Gray auditorium on the campus of Moody Bible Institute was flled to capacity with men wanting to learn more about how to live effectively and enhance our ministry skills.

I latched on to that little axiom and made it a permanent part of my outlook on life.

So when I learned my work would have me working several days in Mississippi, a place I’ve not seen yet, I decided to ask questions while I’m here. Learn all I can. Gain insight. Eat new foods – well new to me, anyway. Take it all in while about my duties.

What they say about southern hospitality is absolutely true. Ya can’t beat it.

My work partner this week is from down here (I’m writing this from my hotel room so I can say “down here” for a couple more days) and he’s a student of history. So I’ve learned tons already. Among the new information and new perspectives is the way this part of the country views the war between the states. It’s seldom called the civil war in these parts – and that’s OK by me, there wasn’t much “civil” about it. Not really. I’ve enjoyed homemade sweet tea. Red beans & rice. Butter beans. Homemade cornbread made the way they make it here. I’ve ridden along the Natchez-Trace Parkway where the speed limit is 50 mph, and the rangers will ticket you for 51. I’ve learned that it’s true; you can say just about anything about just about anybody if you tack on the words “bless his heart”. In these parts, “bless his heart” frequently preceeds and insult; just part of the way things go around here. So get ready to be blessed. 🙂

I’m asking some of the best questions I’ve asked since being in Russia several years ago. It’s nice to be working alongside people who will share what they know and who they are without wondering about you. Best of all is the fact that in Christ all these differences fade.

I’m humming the words to a hymn this morning:

In Christ there is no East or West,
in him no South or North,
but one great fellowship of love
throughout the whole wide earth.

In him shall true hearts everywhere
their high communion find,
his service is the golden cord
close-binding all mankind.

Join hands, disciples of the faith,
whate’er your race may be!
Who serves my Father as a son
is surely kin to me.

In Christ now meet both East and West,
in him meet South and North,
all Christly souls are one in him,
throughout the whole wide earth.

Words: John Oxenham, 1908

Music: , McKee, Stockton, Bourne, St. Bernard, Manchester