Monday, May 6, 2019

May the Fourth - A Tribute to My Father

I read with humor all of the “May the Fourth” Star Wars puns. Along with Pi day (March 14th) and others like it keeps us amused. However, May 4th has a much different significance for me. Even after fifty years since it occurred, a life event keeps May 4th a sobering time for my family.

On May 4, 1969, my dad, a Birmingham police officer, gave the ultimate sacrifice. He died from a gunshot wound while attempting to stop a burglary. Every time I think of that day I wish he had just let the men take the $50 lawn mowers they were trying to steal. It is pointless to lose a life over a hundred bucks worth of merchandise. But that was not the oath he took when he swore to uphold the law and protect the citizens of Birmingham.

I was only nine years old at the time. I have very few vivid memories of my dad. The ones I do have are of him helping others … always! He was the handyman for several widows that lived near us. He was a deacon at his church. He sang in the choir at church. He was the Cub Master for the local Cub Scout Pack. He was Assistant Scout Master at the local Boy Scout Troop. He volunteered at the local ballpark as an umpire for baseball games. His closet had more uniforms than street clothes.

He was also father to five kids, husband to his only wife, and cared for his elderly mother who lived 50 miles away. He was only forty-two years old. That seemed ancient at the time, but now that I’m about to turn sixty, I realize how much life he still had ahead of him. But, that all changed that Sunday morning. His focus that day was not on preserving his life, or insuring the happiness of his family, but instead carrying out the duty he had sworn to protect and serve.

He was not the only officer killed that year in Birmingham. When he died my mother became a member of a kind of sorority to which she did not willingly join. The widows of fallen officers would meet from time to time. They became linked by common tragedy.

Even though we were financially better off because of all of the support from the community, the City, State, and even federal support, it was no substitute for having a father, a husband, a son, and a friend in the man, Azell Leroy Harris.

That name is now memorialized at the City of Birmingham Police Memorial and also in Washington, D.C., at the National Police Memorial, and on several websites that honor fallen officers. I’m grateful for that. But I regret that my children, and their children will never know the man that name represents. He still lives, however, in the hearts of those that knew him.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

The Call to Worship, latest title from Dudley Harris, now available on

I'm excited to finally announce the release of my new book, the first in a trilogy on worship, called "The Call to Worship." It describes the relationship between the Believer and their Creator. God issued a call to every person to "become conformed to His Son, Jesus." Answering this call places you on a new trajectory in life that will result in experiencing all that God has made available through the New Birth into Christ. The book is now available on Amazon in both print and Kindle formats. I also have some print copies if you want to hit me up.

I look forward to hear what you think about it. If you decide to read it please send me some feedback. Also, if you read it, thank you!



Friday, May 3, 2019

Praise, Worship, and Other Things – Part 6

This is Part 6 of a series on Praise and Worship published in our church newsletter.

One of the attributes of the Church of Jesus Christ is that we follow what the Bible teaches. When it comes to praise and worship in our corporate gatherings there are not many New Testament examples given to us. Here are the references to singing given in the New Testament:

Matthew 26:30 (ESV)
And when they (Jesus and the Twelve Disciples) had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Acts 16:25-26a (ESV)
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly …

1 Corinthians 14:15 (ESV)
What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.

Hebrews 2:11b-12 (ESV)
That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” (quoting Ps. 22:22)

James 5:13 (ESV)
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.

The other references are in Revelation which were covered under the “New Song” article.

When we speak of Biblical worship there are not many specifics given for us to follow. The verse cited by most when teaching on worship in the life of the Believer it this:
“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:24 (ESV)  Here Jesus was speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well. What exactly does that mean?

It tells us where worship occurs; it is a spiritual activity. True worship is when our spirit engages the Holy Spirit in communion (fellowship). The most common expression of this is prayer, but it also involves singing or playing an instrument. Music is a gift given to us to connect with our Creator God.

The second word is the one that gives us the most varied interpretations – truth. As I just pointed out above, there are not many “truths” given to us regarding worship in the New Testament. Personally, I feel this is intentional by the Holy Spirit, by whom the New Testament was inspired. By not giving specifics regarding style or expression it keeps worship from becoming law-based. It allows us as Believers the liberty to worship in ways that works for us. The simplest way I know to sing in “truth” is to sing scripturally-based songs. The word of God is truth. Jesus is truth. Sing songs filled with both.

We will look more at “Truth” next time.