By Curtis K. Shelburne
Because I just had a new book come out (the first in a series entitled Wing Whispers), and because the powers that be at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., happen to like my publisher, my wife and I got to go to the Pepperdine Bible Lectures a week or two ago where I had been invited to share some material from the book. It’s the second time I’ve been able to go out there, and I’m more than willing to go again.
Malibu is a great place to visit and I really feel at home there. I think that’s because Muleshoe and Malibu have so much in common. Both start with an “M” and end with an “ooh” and, aside from Muleshoe’s almost complete lack of trees and absolutely complete lack of oceanside cliffs, beaches, and breezes, the terrain is very similar.
While I was at Pepperdine, I met a fellow named Billy Wilson and got to hear him preach. Billy and I share the same publisher, but I’d never heard of Billy Wilson before, much less met him or heard him preach. Wow! The man is absolutely unique, and he does very, very well.
Of course, I might have just been captivated by the accent. Billy hails from Scotland, and maybe it’s just the old Presbyterian roots of my religious tradition, but I think that a Scottish accent always helps preaching a great deal.
Billy shared lots of stories. That helps preaching a great deal, too. And he told one that I want to share.
One of Billy’s American friends — I’m assuming she’s American because though the Scottish have a Fourth of July on their calendar, it serves pretty much just to connect the third day of July with the fifth — told him about her family’s “Fourth of July” experiences.
She said it was just about the same every year. She and her family would go out on the family’s boat to watch the fireworks near the harbor, which led me to think they’re probably from Muleshoe. It was actually a pretty awful experience each year. Her sister would be throwing up over the side. Her mother would be fussing about the cold air and how it was affecting her hair. Her dad would be complaining that nobody was helping him with the grill and then, if they did, that they weren’t doing it correctly. But when the fireworks started, they all shut up and gathered together under a blanket and just looked up in awe to watch the beautiful show. And then they realized, where would they really rather be than gathered as a family all under the blanket?
Billy says, and he’s so right, that when we really see what God has done for us on the cross and we see that wonderful, breathtaking display of God’s love, we just shut up, lift our eyes to the heavens, and thank God for what he’s done, and we’re just thankful to be under the blanket with all of God’s family.
Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at