I don’t like writing blogs. I’m not a writer. I’m a talker. But I need to write today. It’s because I have tears in my eyes and prayers in my throat.
Tears because Howard “Prof” Hendricks, THE single greatest Bible teacher in my life, died today. The fact Prof taught the same class for 60 years means more to me than that he graduated from Wheaton college with Billy Graham, led Jim Elliots small group, served as chaplain for the Dallas Cowboys, motivated Jim Rayburn to start Young Life, and was elected by his 5th grade class as most likely to go to prison.
His class, Bible Study Methods and Hermeneutics, was the first class I ever took at Dallas Seminary. Also the most important. He taught me how to study and teach the Bible. Along with the other 13,000 men and women who sat in that last class over the last 60 years.
I’m praying because I can’t stop saying, “Thank you God for the Bible. Thank you most of all for showing me Jesus in every text. Thank you for letting me live in a country where I can have one. Thanks for giving me the ability to read. Thanks for giving me the gifts and position to teach it. Thank you for letting me sit in the front row week after week as Howard Hendricks taught me how to see the Bible like I had never seen it before.”
I can still hear him say things like:
- “Dusty Bibles lead to dirty lives.”
- “The difference in a good Bible student and a bad one is the the good one sees more.”
- “The Bible wasn’t written to make you a smarter sinner but to make you like Christ.”
- “I don’t care how many times you go through the Bible, but how many times the Bible goes through you.”
- “I happen to believe this book (the Bible) is alive.”
- “You can impress people from a distance, but if you want to impact them you have to get up close”
- “The size of your God determines everything.”
He was a man virtually unknown by most Christians, but whose impact is echoing through congregations all over the world.
If through my teaching ministry, you are growing in your love of the Bible and stimulated to read it yourself, it’s because of Howard Hendricks. When you sit under my teaching you are essentially witnessing me read my Bible like Prof Hendricks did and taught me to. Not a week goes by that I don’t use the tools that he ingrained in me.
When Jesus saved me at age 19, He gave me an unsatiable love for my Bible. I read the whole thing in like 3 months. But Prof taught me to see it better.
For example, one of the assignments he gave me was to write 50 observations that I see in one verse of the Bible, Acts 1:8. We were to turn it in the next day. I was banging my head against the desk at about 40. I somehow came up with the next 10. I turned it in the next day to hear him say, “That’s a great start Josh. Now go find 50 more.” It gets better. I turned in my list of over 150 at the next class. After reading my observations he wrote in that handwriting I once tried and failed to mimic (although I still print in all caps): “I’ve been giving this assigment for over 50 years and you’ve shown me things I’ve never seen before. Great job!” I knew he was blowing smoke, but I was about to run through a wall for the man.
Wednesday, today, is my sermon writing day. I will write out observations that I see in John 17 for myself and to show you. And when I think I’ve seen all I can, with tears in my eyes, I’ll look for more.
There’s an old woodsman proverb that says, “A tree is best measured when its down”. The man is down, but I still don’t think we can measure the impact of his life. Certainly not on mine.
“Cut the Bible anywhere and it bleeds the blood of Christ”,
A full look at his legacy: http://www.dts.edu/howard-hendricks-tribute/