Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year!

It's New Year's Eve. Time for a little reflection on 2005. No doubt, this has been one of the strangest years of my life. It began in about the worst way a year could begin. My previous employers decided to give the Rosses a joyful holiday season last year by terminating me. So, my 1st sermon of the new year was a farewell. There is so much I would love to bring to light about the way things were conducted, but that is water under the bridge. The Lord has a way of taking care of things, and so it is better left with Him.

After the experience I had there, I began 2005 with serious doubts about myself, my preaching and whether I should even remain in ministry. I began considering other possibilities. Ironically, Jeff Jones (a deacon and incredible man from the Decatur Church of Christ) had asked me to come preach on the following week. So, my 1st week as an unemployed preacher found me preaching in Decatur.

I began putting out resumes and contemplating my future. There was a lot of time for that. I talked to churches in Tennessee and Colorado and all over Texas. At the time, I just did not want to consider Decatur. I was so gunshy from what had just happened to me that I wanted to make sure that the next place I served was one of integrity and love.

Finally, after several weeks of discussions and ups and downs, Beverly and I agreed to come to Decatur. As we now come to the end of this year, I am so incredibly happy for the decision we made. My reluctance has been turned to sheer excitement. We have never been a part of a more affirming, more truly loving group of Christians as make up this community of believers. And having been there for 8 months, it is safe to say that my observations are not those of someone still stoked because they are in the "honeymoon" period.

So, we look forward with great anticipation to what the Lord has in store for 2006. I had many moments in 2005 in which I wondered where He was and what He was doing. We went months being anxious about selling our house -- wondering why it was taking so long. All the while, He was putting the pieces together for things to work out in ways that we couldn't have written a better script for.

I learned a lot in 2005. About myself. About the faithfulness of my wife. About the Lord. I want to continue to learn and grow in 2006, but I sure hope the Lord choses something easier this year:).

Blessings to you all! And Happy New Year!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Holiday Wishes

Merry Christmas! And Happy New Year!

I am on vacation from December 26th through January 2nd. I will try to blog a couple of times, but will be out of town from Wednesday through Friday. Beverly and I are going to San Antonio with Josh and Kayci. They are going to go to the Alamo Bowl, and Beverly and I are just going to hang out. We're looking forward to that.

We had a wonderful Christmas! It was so nice to have everyone together at church yesterday. Well, Jenny wasn't there. She got sick on Saturday night, so she spent Christmas day in bed. But she is fine today.

Whenever my family is all together, I am again reminded of just how blessed a man I am. Thank you, God!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Happy Holidays? Merry Christmas?

Maybe it's because I'm getting older -- and hopefully wiser. Maybe it's the influence of Donald Miller and my son, Josh. I don't know. But I find myself seeing things differently today than I would have just a few years ago. One example is the current to-do over businesses' and governments' use of the greeting "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." Ironically, this has come full-circle. I can remember when I was a kid, in our churches we were encouraged to say "Happy Holidays" because we "didn't believe in Christmas." Anyway, I digress.

I'd like to share a rather lengthy piece from an article written by Brian Mavis of His words express my feelings on all of this. He says:

In the political and business sector the word "Christmas" has been dropped in favor of "Holiday." Governments have put up "Holiday Trees" in public places. Retailers wish customers "Happy Holidays" and hang banners selling "Holiday Trees." So how have some Christian leaders reacted? With lawsuits, boycotts, and petitions. Two groups, Liberty Counsel and the Alliance Defense Fund, have almost 1,600 lawyer-volunteers to fight this movement against display on public grounds of Nativity scenes and Christmas trees -- and even the greeting "Merry Christmas." And it's working. For example, Lowe's home-improvement stores took down "Holiday Trees" banners and put up "Christmas Tree" banners. And House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., ordered the "Capitol Holiday Tree" be renamed the "Capitol Christmas Tree." As Jerry Falwell told ABC News, "We've gone on the offense now. We've put them on the defense. We're kicking their butts, and they're unhappy." (Rick's comment: Sounds just like something Jesus would say.)

I think the Christian groups fighting for our civil liberties have good motives, but bad strategies. Lawsuits, boycotts, and petitions. Is this fighting the good fight? Is this what Jesus would do? Is this obeying, "If someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well" (Mt. 5: 40)? Is this applying, "For though we live in this world, we do not wage war as the world does" (2 Cor. 10: 3)?

In addition, what are they fighting for? That we call a pine or fir tree a "Christmas tree'? There is nothing Christian or biblical about a Christmas tree. We are forsaking Christian principles in order to fight for man-made traditions. Go ahead and let Lowes, Walmart and Macy's sell "Holiday Trees." It's just crass commercialism anyway. It's best that Christ's name not get mixed up in that kind of capitalism. Do you think that these companies are changing back from "Holiday" to "Christmas" because they want to honor Christ? What a joke. They know it's good business.

I appreciate Brian for his thoughts. If we as Christians want to effect change in this nation, we need to turn our attention to feeding the hungry, helping the addict and showing the love of Christ. What do you think?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Vote for Least Favorite Athlete

OK, my blogging creativity level is running low this morning. So, let's talk sports. I watched the Mavericks lay down against the Lakers last night. Actually, I turned it off at the end of the 3rd quarter and went to bed. What is it with the Mavs when they play the Lakers? I bet Kobe wishes they had the Mavs on their schedule about every other game. 62 points! And he sat out the 4rd quarter!

Well, allow me to express my negative side today. There are some athletes I just don't care for (I'm carefully choosing my words here). I can't even tell you why for some of them. So, here is my current least favorites in the major sporting world:

Football: Terrell Owens and Randy Moss

Basketball: Kobe Bryant and Shaq

Baseball: Barry Bonds (Sorry, Josh) and Alex Rodriguez

Golf (I know, it's not a major sport. But it's my sport, and this is my blog): Veejay Singh and Sergio Garcia

So, cast your vote today.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

That's a Wrap

Today, Beverly and I, along with our granddaughter Malaya, are going to Waco to see my brother John and some of his family. John is a minister in Florida, and so we don't get to see them very often. His wife, Dianne, is also from the Austin area, so they are going to see parents -- but we're going to meet for lunch. I look forward to that.

In our home, I am the official gift wrapper. My family accuses me of being Monk (have you seen the TV show?). It takes me forever to wrap. I would estimate that I spend 15-18 hours every Christmas just wrapping our gifts. Carefully placing every piece of tape. Cutting with care to get the seams just right. And then. And then. AND THEN -- Christmas morning comes. Paper flies! No one notices the well-placed pieces of tape. No one acknowledges how nicely the seams come together.

Then, 1-1/2 hours later -- it's over! All that work -- stuffed into garbage bags and thrown away.

Oh, well. It sure beats being the shopper. That's Beverly's gig. At least while I wrap, I can watch a ballgame, or reruns of Gunsmoke.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Providence? or Free Will?

There are several theological issues that I admit I don't understand. The more I study them, the less sure I am about them. One of those issues is God's providence vs. human's free will.

There is an old joke told about a man who steps from a curb and narrowly misses being hit by a car. "God (Providence) was looking out for him," some would say. Next day, the man steps from the curb and this time gets hit. After months of recovery, someone says, "Isn't it marvelous how God spared him?" Later, he steps from the curb again (this guy is a slow learner), is hit again. This time, he dies from the injuries. "Well, God saw fit to take him home."

While I certainly don't want to be lumped in with the deist who basically believes that God once set things into motion, but has now retired to heaven -- I also don't believe that God orchestrates every situation / event. However, I do believe that He can work in every situation -- both good and bad -- to bring something good from it (Rom. 8: 28).

Again, I don't understand this theological dilemma. But I am also comfortable in my faith journey at this point to say I don't understand. There are some things that we are not wired to be able to understand. But my Father in heaven does. And my faith is in Him -- not in theology.

What do you think?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Great Opportunity

Today is election day in Iraq. I don't know what the future holds for the Iraqi people. However, recent reports coming from that country give us reasons for hope.

We in the States are interested in the outcome. These are people who have lived under the repressive rule of a cruel tyrant for several decades. And now, they have an opportunity to begin again. To walk in liberty. To bask in freedom. My prayer is that they do not give up on that and return to repression.

We are interested in the outcome because we played a large part in their opportunity. Our forces drove the dictator out, and have helped to provide an environment in which they can hold this election. So, we have a vested interest.

Can you see where I'm going with this one? We, too, were once victims of the repressive rule of a cruel tyrant. But Jesus came to drive out the tyrant and to give us an opportunity to begin again. To walk in liberty. To bask in freedom. Yet, many give up and return to a life of repression.

Jesus, our Deliverer, has a vested interest in the outcome of our lives. He has spilt blood to give us our opportunity for new life. And, by His Holy Spirit, we have been provided an environment in which we can be overcomers.

Let's pray for the Iraqi people. But let's also pray for all who bend our knees to Jesus, that we will choose to follow the path to freedom. Freedom from sin. Freedom from bondage. Freedom from the evil tyrant. Freedom in Jesus!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Sharing A Little Yancey

Certain authors just resonate with me better than others. Donald Miller challenges me to rethink my comfortable paradigms, and he does it in such a way that convicts me of how obviously off-base I have been. But Philip Yancey pulls me in because he seems to struggle with faith and issues the way I do. I relate so much to him. Many things he says I have thought about, but just hadn't put them into words. If I had, I guess I could be a best-selling author, too.

I have just begun reading Searching for the Invisible God. It's not a new book (2000), but I just hadn't read it before. Wow! It is loaded with stuff I really need right now.

Let me just share two WOW's with you today.

He quotes George Everett Ross:
I have served in the ministry thirty years, almost thirty-one. I have come to understand that there are two kinds of faith. One says if and the other says though. One says: "If everything goes well, if my life is prosperous, if I'm happy, if no one I love dies, if I'm successful, then I will believe in God and say my prayers and go to the church and give what I can afford." The other says though: though the cause of evil prosper, though I sweat in Gethsemane, though I must drink my cup at Calvary -- nevertheless, precisely then, I will trust the Lord who made me. So Job cries: "Though he slay me, yet will I trust Him."

Wow! I can so relate.

The second quote is one that addresses a trend in evangelical churches (us included) today:
"I asked the Lord..." "The Lord told me..." "God is whispering to me right now..." The wording implies a kind of voice-to-voice conversation that did not take place, and the fudged report has the effect of creating a spiritual caste that downgrades others' experiences.

Later he adds: "I have friends who see a demon behind every bush and an angel behind every vacant parking place, and I sometimes marvel at what their simple faith accomplishes. When there is no miracle, however, when they need something closer to long-term fidelity than short-term wonder, I note that they turn to people with a more cautious and longsuffering faith."

Yancey! You da' man!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Capital Punishment

For the last few days, there has been a lot of talk about Tookie WIlliams -- the co-founder of a violent gang known as "the Crips." No doubt, this man was involved in many murders -- four in 1979 for which he was tried and convicted.. He was given the death sentence in 1981. Since then, he has made amends. He has written a number of children's books deploring gangs and gang violence. He was even nominated for a Nobel Prize.

Many Hollywood actors had taken up his cause -- calling for a reprieve. Last night, Tookie was executed.

I have to confess: I don't know where I stand on the issue of capital punishment. I do think it is biblical, and I used to know that I was in favor of it. Maybe it has been through watching the Islamic extremists' carrying out of "justice" (I don't know for sure) -- but I am no longer as firm in my position as I once was. I, too, want justice. But perhaps life in prison with no parole is justice enough. I don't any longer buy into the idea of capital punishment being a deterent. I just don't know that there is anything statistically to support that. Especially is that true of the death penalty in its current form (lethal injection).

So, I guess right now I'm on the fence. I think both sides have some good arguments. Hollywood actors and Jesse Jackson being opposed to capital punishment might be enough to sway me to being in favor of it (just kidding, I think). I would be interested in hearing what you think.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Difficult Sermons

Here in Decatur, I am preaching through the Sermon on the Mount. It's like sitting at the feet of our King as He tells us what He expects of His subjects. The last two weeks have been difficult, as we have heard Jesus' words on sexual sin and divorce. I especially wanted to be sensitive yesterday, because historically we have been so hard on divorced people in the church. Instead of being a place of healing for the divorced, we have often been the source of even greater pain. God forgive us for that!

I'm not sure if I have ever had as much affirmation over two lessons in all my preaching life. This church is so incredible! It is a family who loves each other and cares for one another. And there is such a hunger for the Word! The last time I preached on divorce (before coming here, and I presented it in a very redemptive way), I was scolded by an elder. "Don't you care that you might hurt so-and-so's feelings?" Sure I do! So which pages of the words of Jesus do we begin tearing out? I hope that -- as a preacher -- I never hurt anyone's feelings. But don't you imagine there were people in Jesus' audience who were made uncomfortable by His words? And His words are just as forceful today. Further, as a servant of the Word, I would be dishonest to my calling to gloss over anything Jesus said.

I was especially touched by the couple who came to me last night. They had both undergone divorces over 30 years ago. In fact, they have been married to each other now for 31 years. They both thanked me for the lesson. And they encouraged me to continue to be proactive in attempting to prevent others from going through the pain of divorce. That seems to me to be a more spiritual response to Jesus' words on divorce.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Hittin' the Malls

Today, Beverly and I head out to make our donations to the U.S. economy. As the stock market seems to pay a lot of attention to consumer spending, today might be a good day to invest. I enjoy shopping with Beverly. Just hanging out with her is guaranteed to be fun.

I saw a report this morning about a 5-year old girl who feels no pain. She is the only known person in the United States with this handicap. Sounds good on the surface. But think about it. When she teethed, she bit through her gums. So, they had to have her teeth pulled. When her eye itched, she didn't know when she had scratched it enough. So, one of her eyes had to be removed due to the damage she did to it. Pain is necessary to experience life in its fullness.

Wow! Talk about implications spiritually! In fact, Paul often makes references to our sufferings being for our own good. Hmmmm. There may be a sermon in the making here.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Am I Missing Something Here?

I needed yesterday! Snowed in with my honey (I guess technically we were sleeted in.) Probably should be today, too. But I'm here at the office.

I was watching Good Morning America this morning. They are doing a series on Faith. Today they had several religious leaders who were commenting on the issue. One of them said, "When you come to the end of your life, all that matters is how you have loved others, how others have loved you, and your relationship with God -- however you define that."

I was with her up to the "however you define that." But it got me to thinking. Who defines a relationship? Try that one on your boss. "Sir, all that matters at this job is my relationship with you -- however I define that." Try it with your spouse. "Honey, all that matters is my relationship with you -- however I define that." Try it with your parents. "Mom and Dad, all that matters is my relationship with you -- however I define that." How far would that fly?

And here is our Creator. Our Judge. Our Redeemer. Our Father. And we are being told that WE can define this relationship? Am I missing something here? Doesn't He have any say?

I believe when it comes to relationship with God -- He has all the say. Because He is always the initiator.

Romans 5: 10-11 says "For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation."

Thank you, God! Thank You for defining the relationship. But more than that: Thank You for even making the relationship possible.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Just Ramblin'

I'm sitting here this morning watching the weather map. It's starting to rain (freezing, by the way). I had gone by the hospital this morning, and when I left -- my windshield was frozen over. Beverly got about 10 miles down the road and turned around, as the situation continued to get worse. They're calling for sleet today and snow tonight. So, I don't know if we will be meeting at church or not.

Beverly and I went to the widow / widower's banquet last night. It was so sweet. There is much to be learned in the family of faith from those who have "been there and done that." I want to know how people used to keep warm during weather like this when all you had was a potbelly stove in the kitchen -- which was allowed to burn down at night! I wouldn't want to be the 1st one out of bed the next morning!

By the way, do you struggle with self-importance? Arrogance? I want to be a humble person. But I feel pretty good about my level of humility when I see Saddam Hussein at his trial. Wow! Talk about pompous and arrogant! (I guess you're not too humble when you compare yourself to others, right?)

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Lessons from the Dental Chair

I'm like a kid when it comes to winter weather. They are predicting a sleet / snow event for our area beginning tonight and through tomorrow. I hope I'm not disappointed. I think I enjoy it so much because it forces us to step out of our routines. People seem less frantic. And of course, the scenery is often breath-taking. So, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow (but we could do without the freezing rain and sleet).

Yesterday morning, I spent a couple of hours in a dentist's chair. I don't know what it is about my teeth, but I always seem to have to spend about twice as much time as the dentist has allotted. I had a crack in one of my molars, so he was preparing it for a crown. Right now, I have a temporary one. Boy, I could try to make a spiritual application there, couldn't I? Being prepared for a crown.

But here is the application I was thinking of yesterday in that chair. I am grateful to live in a day when broken-down, diseased body parts can be repaired or replaced. I sat there wondering what someone who lived several hundred years ago would have done in my situation. No doubt, that tooth would have absessed and become a serious health problem at some point.

Then I got to thinking about my heart (spiritually). I have been praying for about a year -- more fervently than ever -- that God would examine all those hidden places in my heart. I have prayed that He, like a surgeon, would just cut out all the junk and disease. Anything that does not resemble Him I want cut out! I want to be a Jesus-clone. I want to be possessed by the Holy Spirit. Oh, how I want that! And I have so far to go. But the joy is in the journey. And that I am discovering more and more each day.

Monday, December 05, 2005


My family has been blown away and touched at the number of people who have flowed to my daughter and provided her comfort and covered her with prayers over the last few days. What a blessing! Thank you -- each one -- so much.

Saturday, I spent about 6 hours with David,my son-in-law, hanging Christmas lights at our new house. David is such a great man with an incredible servant heart. I am really proud of my daughter's choice in a mate -- as well as a daddy for my granddaugher.

We are so loving this house! I had a fire in the fireplace yesterday (the 1st one ever at this house, although it is 4 years old). The firewood was a housewarming gift from Bob Clemans. I haven't had a real fire in a long time. I just love listening to the pop and crackle of wood burning.

Yesterday I preached from Matthew 5 -- where Jesus deals with the subject of "committing adultery in your heart." The response was absolutely incredible. I don't know if I have ever had so many positive comments from any sermon I have ever preached. Perhaps it is because this is such a huge problem, but we in the church have tried to pretend it's not. Yet, as I mentioned, statistics show 5 out of 10 men in churches in America struggle with pornography! We must talk about this! We must provide help!

From the comments on Friday's blog, I was surprised that several of you put "Little Drummer Boy" as your favorite Christmas song. I would have expected it from Jeff Jones, but not from some of the others:) I am available to provide counseling on this subject.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Christmas Carols

Christmas season is in full swing now. Everywhere you go, you here Christmas Carols (why do we call them "carols" instead of songs? Is it the alliteration thing?)

My favorite Christmas SONG is "O Holy Night." I also love "O Come All Ye Faithful." But I also like some of the lighter songs like "Let It Snow," "Winter Wonderland" and "It's Beginning to Look A lot Like Christmas."

Now for my least favorite: "Little Drummer Boy." Now remember: I AM an ex-drummer. But the whole premise for this song just grates on me (please understand: most of my comments here are tongue in cheek You'll have to figure out which ones).

So here's this little Jewish boy in the 1st century -- walking around WITH A DRUM? And these wise men come up and say, "Come, see the newborn King." Right away, I am questioning them as wise men if they are inviting a little boy WITH A DRUM to come see a newborn baby. Imagine that, ladies. You've just given birth. "You have a visitor." "Who is it?" "It's a little boy WITH A DRUM. He wants to see you."

So, this little boy WITH A DRUM says, "I don't have anything to give. How 'bout I just lay a few paradiddles (sp?) on you?" AND MARY NODS "YES"! Tell me any mother with a newborn who is going to let a little boy WITH A DRUM start jamming for her baby!

And the sound of this drum drives me up a wall. "Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum." It sounds more like a plastic garbage can that's just been hit by a car at about 40 mph.

And get this: The ox and lamb kept time. Yeah, buddy. Those two incredible examples of rhythm from the animal kingdom. "Moo-moo-moo-moo-moo" and "Baa-baa-baa-baa-baa."

If this had really happened, I think it may have been enough to cause Jesus to reconsider. Oh, well -- I guess it could have been worse. Whoever came up with the idea for this song (written in the 60's, I think. That might explain a lot) could have called it "The Little Moog Synthesizer Boy." 'Come, they told me -- woo-WOO-woo-WOO-woo."

So, what's your favorite Christmas carol (song)?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Special Prayer Request

As I sat down at my computer this morning, I was trying to decide what to write my blog about. I checked some blogs that I keep up with, and came to my daughter's. Many of you know that she and her husband have been dealing with some infertility issues for several years, and desperately want another baby. They are incredible parents, and so we have been praying as a family and friends for years that the Lord would bless them again.

Well, my daughter's most recent blog absolutely broke my heart and caused me to shed some tears. Instead of telling you all about it, I am going to ask you three favors today:
1. Go to and read her blog.
2. Please leave her a note of encouragement
3. Pray! Please pray! Pray that the Lord will allow them to have another baby. Let's fill the throneroom of heaven today with prayers on their behalf.

I will be so grateful. Thanks.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Hurricane Season is Over!

That's right. I heard it on the news this morning. Today is officially the final day of hurricane season, 2005. It has been a wild year. 26 named storms! One is still stirring in the Atlantic, but is not expected to make landfall. But the effects of Katrina, followed closely by Rita, will shape lives and cities for years to come. While many restaurants and hotels in New Orleans have reopened for business, I read that it will be at least a year for some of the prominent ones. Of course, many will never reopen.

Then, I saw a report yesterday morning on Good Morning America featuring Venice, Italy. The report said that Venice is sinking. It was interesting for me to learn that it was originally built in marshes. They sunk wooden pillars, and then filled in around those pillars. Those wooden pillars are many centuries old. While the main plaza used to flood a half dozen times a year, this report said that now it floods up to 100 times a year. I think they were being overly dramatic, but they said that Venice may be destined to be the next Atlantis.

I don't know why I am telling you all of this. It does seem as if our world is changing in many, many ways. Some for the good. Others not so good. But thank God this is not home! Life is good and I enjoy it so much. But it's made more enjoyable knowing that the best this world has to offer is just a preview of coming attractions.

Now that we are through hurricane season, I wouldn't mind seeing a couple of snowfalls. Nothing makes the world seem more beautiful to me (especially familiar surroundings) than when it snows. Would it be ridiculous to wish for a white Christmas -- or do we only sing about it? I've only had one in my life -- in Jackson, Mississippi of all places. What about you?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Dryer Problems

I don't know if this is true for you or not, but every time we move -- some appliance ends up not working right. Last move, it was our washing machine. This time, it's our dryer. The heating element. Oh, it works sometimes. But more often than not, it just blows cold air. It takes a load of towels three cycles to get dry. But then, it will surprise us and decide to run hot again. In a word, it is undependable -- which makes it aggrevating.

I think I tend to be that way some times. I get hot for a while. People begin putting their trust in me. Mr. Dependable. Then, just about the time they assume I'll follow through on something -- I'm blowing cold. Can you relate?

Well, with our dryer, I can always replace it with a new model. As for me, I pray that the Lord will just update my program and replace my heating element so that I'm "on fire" for Him.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Still Thinking About Heaven

Last night, I taught a class on the 2nd coming and heaven. I had so much material to present, and so little time. This morning, I'm still thinking about it.

We've all seen the warning labels on cigarettes (or are at least aware of them): "The Surgeon General has determined that cigarette smoking is hazardous to your health." But from a Biblical point of view, every piece of exercise equipment, bottle of make-up, hair-restorer and plastic surgeon's office door should carry Paul's warning found in 1 Corinthians 15: 50: "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God."

This "earth-suit" is made specifically for my spirit to inhabit here on planet earth. But God has a more permanent suit in store for me. I don't know exactly what it will look like -- but it is imperishable! And I will receive it some day "in the twinkling of an eye." How cool is that going to be?

As I mentioned last night, there is so much speculation about all of this. But even the Apostle John didn't know all the answers. Still, his words bring me so much encouragement. In 1 John 3:2 he says, "what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we will see him as he is." We will be like Him! And we will see Him!

There is so much too look forward to!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving Wishes for You

I hope to be heading for East Texas shortly after noon today. I will be gone from bloggerland until next Monday. But I wanted to leave you with wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving. As you sit around the table or room tomorrow with loved ones, count your blessings. Whew! I know I am overwhelmed with them right now.

But here is something else I want to challenge us to this week. Tell those people -- each one -- how they are a blessing to you. Think of something specific to say that will let them know how special they are to you.

And of course, remember to thank the Father -- THE Blessing-Giver. He is continually knocking my socks off with His Wow-ness.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Nearly two weeks ago in my blog, I mentioned that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Well, it's nearly here. I can already taste the turkey and dressing and pecan pie.

This year Beverly and I are going to spend the holiday with her parents. Jenny and David and Malaya will be there, too. Beverly's mom is one of the best cooks ever. So, I can't wait.

I have so much to be thankful for this year. I could not have written the script myself and had it work out any better than it did with events in my life over the last year. I never could have dreamed of a church in which I felt more affirmed than I do in Decatur. And the way that the house situation worked out. And new friends who already feel like old friends. And still being close enough for Beverly to keep a job she absolutely loves. And my granddaughter is only 20 minutes away (as well as her parents). And another grandchild on the way! And three wonderful kids and their homerun spouses And a wife who is my best fan, best friend, and my hero. And an incredible God who has proven to me once again that He is faithful in all things. THANK YOU, FATHER!!

So, on to another related topic: What is your favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal (Dennis, foot-long chili dogs don't work here). It would be hard for me to choose. Obviously, turkey and dressing. I'm not a pumpkin pie guy. But I have to have pecan pie. My favorite pie of all is coconut cream -- but that's not very Thanksgiving.

I will tell you this: For those of you who are at the Decatur Church on Sunday -- you will be seeing more of me (get it? MORE of me?).

Monday, November 21, 2005

Old Habits

Well, I did it again. All last week, I wrestled with my text from Matthew 5 -- a murderer's heart. I preached yesterday about Jesus' application of "You shall not murder." He expanded it to include not casting aspersions on a person's mental capacity ("Raca") or moral character ("you fool"). I confessed that I am guilty of murder in the heart, calling people "jerk." I want to be broken over this!

So, as I was getting ready for work this morning, I was listening to Good Morning America. There was mention of the possibility that one of the al-Qaida leaders, Mohammed al-Zarqawi, may have been killed in a gun battle with US forces. I said, "I hope they got him!" Beverly asked, "Who are you talking about?" I said, "Oh, that jerk al-Qaida leader in Iraq." I never even caught myself.

Very kindly, Beverly said, "I thought you weren't going to say that any more." Busted!

You know what? That makes me mad. Why can't we just choose to change our behavior -- and it be done? I pray every day that the Lord will allow His Holy Spirit to totally possess me. I know we have free will. But I want to have the free will to choose to be God's "robot." I just wish it worked that way.

I'm not giving up! I will continue to put to death the murderer's heart in me.

Friday, November 18, 2005

A Lesson From Tiger Woods

I don't know how you spend leisure time in the evenings. I go through different stages. I like to watch a movie occasionally. TV just doesn't hold my interest. I told Beverly yesterday that we ought to get rid of DISH, since we probably average 30 minutes of TV time a day. I enjoy reading, if I have a good book.

For my birthday last month, Beverly got me Tiger Woods' 2006. It's a computer golf game. She has gotten it for me every year for the last 4. When I first get it, I become pretty obsessed -- as you progress from beginner to winning your tour card. After that, it becomes an occasional game here and there.

So, right now -- I'm in the obsessed stage. I'm almost to the tournament where you play 6 rounds to get your Tour card. Last night, I decided to try to make some swing adjustments, because with my mouse I tended to hit a big-time slice on occasion (at least on the advanced level of play). The adjustments I made straightened out the ball flight, but they were so uncomfortable. I mean, they seemed unnatural -- awkward. Several times, I was tempted to just give up and go back to the old way.

Then I got to thinking. Right now, I am preaching through the Sermon on the Mount -- where Jesus is describing to His kingdom subjects what life in this upside-down Kingdom should look like. And it just doesn't feel right. It's awkward. Unnatural. Uncomfortable. But like swing changes, if we keep on practicing what He says -- we will see that the results are worth the effort. And best of all, we will look more like our King.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I'm Wondering About This Evolution Thing

I have read that bears put on weight before they hibernate in the winter. Is it just me, or does the same pattern exist for humans? It seems that with the coming of spring, I have no trouble dropping about 5 pounds. Through the summer, I can maintain or even lower it some more. Then, about October -- it begins to come back. I work out as much or more -- to no avail. I don't think I eat any more (well, other than at Thanksgiving and Christmas). But we're not even there yet, and it's already coming back. Maybe it's nature's way of protecting me from the cold? Winter blubber?

Or, as my boys used to remind me: "Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat -- and so are you." Those boys. They always were so funny. Jenny would never say anything like that to her dad. She just laughs when he's knee-deep in water pouring out from under the sink, or when he nearly knocks himself unconscious.

Oh, well -- with Thanksgiving a week away, any solution to the problem is just going to have to wait.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

What a Headache!

Yesterday, I woke up with a headache. I know that if I feel a headache coming on, I need to take something. If I don't, it sometimes turns into a migraine. But yesterday morning, I didn't.

Well, a few of hours went by. I went home to eat lunch, and a migraine was setting in. I was about to call the office and say I would not be in for a while when something wierd happened. The day before, we had put some greenery above the cabinets. As I went to open the cabinet door, it snagged on the greenery. So, I thought, "I need to climb up there and fix that so that it doesn't snag again."

As I pulled myself up, my head hit the corner of the cabinet. Whenever I hit my head, I always say, "Ooh, that felt good." (Some people cuss. I just get sarcastic with myself.) I felt my head. There was a definite indention (nothing up there to stop it). Then, I felt a small gash. Then, the bleeding started. Of course, a head wound bleeds forever. So, about 30 minutes later, it finally stopped.

But here is the kicker: My migraine was gone! Go figure.

I know you are waiting for some theological application. I could do that, but it would probably be pretty cheesy. I just thought that it was wierd.

I am open to any application you might want to make. However, I doubt that the next time I get a migraine, I will resort to running my head into the corner of a cabinet. Well, maybe -- depending on how bad it gets.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Miscellaneous Musings

Friday and Saturday I was blessed by getting to see my boys play in a regional flag football tournament at UT Dallas. It is an all-star group representing ACU. That is so much fun! They made it to the quarterfinal game. Jonathan is a great defensive player -- dogging the quarterback like a cutting horse after a calf. He also plays offense. Josh plays quarterback, and was selected to the all-regional team. They are considering playing in the nationals which will be held this year in Pensacola, Florida. So, Beverly and I may be making a trip there after Christmas.

Last night, I picked up my precious sweetie from the airport. She was exhausted! But she had such a wonderful trip. Today she and my daughter are working like trojans in the kitchen -- getting things in order.

I am writing this on Monday afternoon. I often take Mondays off, and that is the case today. But I will not be able to blog on Tuesday morning, since I will be going to the dentist. He thinks I may have a cracked molar. Oh, boy.

Actually, I think going to the dentist is pretty cool. Few people know that when I was a young teenager -- when others are thinking of being firemen, policemen or rock stars -- I wanted to be a dentist. Actually, that was my goal until about my junior year in high school, when I discovered that I couldn't cut it in chemistry and was weak in the sciences.

Things are really shaping up at the Ross home! Those of you who live close by -- come on by! (Actually, you can come on by even if you don't live close).

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Theology of High School Football

I went to a high school football playoff game last night. Boyd vs. Eastland. Before the game, you could feel the anticipation and the energy. Our side was pretty crowded. For the 1st few minutes of the game, the cheers were strong and loud. Then, they began to diminish. Right before halftime, the enthusiasm level picked up for our side -- as we scored with only a few seconds left. The score was 20-7, and we were the 7.

Midway through the 3rd quarter, "fans" of our team began to leave. By the middle of the 4th quarter, even the guy sitting behind me who had to have lost his voice from cheering so loud got up and left. Final: 38-7.

I couldn't help, as I sat there, but to think about Jesus. After His teaching in John 6 about being the Bread of Life, we are told that many of His disciples left Him. He turned to the 12 and asked, "You aren't going to leave me, too, are you?" It's just human nature. We want to be associated with winners. And that's true in churches, too.

In fact, one of the most popular trends today in Christian circles is the idea that we are always winners. "Become a Christian, and be a winner in life!" Hmm. I wonder if the familly of the three girls in Indonesia who were walking to their Christian school and were abducted and beheaded by Muslims feel like winners in this life? I wonder if Paul felt like a winner in life as his neck was placed on the block. Did the Christians who were fed to the lions in the Roman coliseums say, "Everything is rosy since I chose to walk with Jesus"?

Christians lose battles to cancer just like the rest of the world. Christians die in car wrecks just like the heathen. Christians have spouses walk out on them, lose football games, and have toilets back up just like atheists.

So, what's the advantage? Well one obvious one is heaven. But there is another. Jesus said, "And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age." That's right. Even in the 4th quarter of our lives, when we are down 38-7 and everyone else is leaving. Look up in the stands. There He is. And He's cheering for us just as hard as He was when we were introduced in the pregame hoopla.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Enough Already!

Yes, I have reached the threshold. Six nights. That's my limit. I was doing OK until last night. But now, I revert to a whiny baby. "I want my Beverly back!"

I have heard from her several times through email and phone calls. Not much detail of the trip. She said she would tell me about that later. But she said she has 50 new "best friends" (I bet in our 29 years of marriage, she has had at least 250 best friends). How can you have 50 "best" friends at one time? Wouldn't all but one of them be "better" friends? But Beverly breaks all the rules, and that's one of the reasons I love her so much.

She did tell me that one of the missionaries' husbands (a local) had fought in the war in Croatia ( I think) for years. Many of them live in such difficulty over there. I think it is Croatia that has a 70% unemployment rate! Imagine that! We are so blessed

That reminds me: I heard a preacher on the radio last night relating an interview with someone from India. The person was asked his impression of Americans. He said, "You Americans are blessed with so much! And yet you seem so unhappy." Ouch.

Speaking of that reminds me: Thanksgiving is only two weeks from today! Stand back! I'm ready.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Ugliness of Revenge

Ok, it's comfession time. Over the last year, I have often sat and daydreamed about how I could extract revenge for the ugliness and disgrace shown to me nearly a year ago. Fortunately, all my daydreams have remained just that. But I want to get rid of even the thoughts.

On Wednesday nights, we are studying David in our men's class. So, yesterday I was preparing my lesson. Some things David did make me wonder why he would be called "a man after God's own heart." But other things just blow me away. Like when he was on the run for his life. Saul had tried to kill him three times, and now is hunting him like an animal. David and his men are hiding in a cave, when it just so happens that Saul enters the cave to go "potty" (That's right, read it -- 1 Sam. 24). David had the perfect opportunity to extract his revenge. But he refused to harm God's anointed one. His men basically say to him, "If you won't do it -- we will!" And he doesn't even allow them to do it!

That's the attitude I want to have. Peter challenges us (1 Peter 2: 21-23): "To this you were called, because Christ suffeed for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 'He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.' When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats."

Oh, God -- take my heart captive! Possess me! I so want to be like Jesus.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

It's a Good Sign

It's a step in the right direction! I mean, don't get me wrong. I don't rejoice in someone being punished. But enough is enough.

I'm talking about the Terrell Owens incident. By the way, is his 1st name pronounced "Tare-el" with the emphasis on the "el"? Or is it "Terrell" like the city in Texas? I've heard it both ways. But this guy has taken "jerk" to a new level. Cowboy fans will remember him as the guy who -- after catching a pass for a touchdown (whoop-de-do), he strutted around on the Cowboy star at Texas Stadium. He's also the guy who pulled a pen out of his sock to sign a ball after catching a TD in another game (wow!).

Take me back to the "old days." (Oh, my goodness. I'm sounding like my grandparents now) The days when -- in the 1st quarter of a game, a guy makes a tackle on 2nd and 8 and gets up -- pulls the runner up -- and goes back to the huddle. No strutting 10 yards downfield, flexing his muscles and contorting his body. Over one little meaningless tackle! Take me back to the days when a receiver scored a touchdown, high-fived his teammates, handed the ball to the referee, and went back to the sidelines.

I know, I'm a purist. And I'm not against celebrating! If a great play is made at a crucial point in a game -- YEAH! But over making a 1st down in the 1st half when the score is 7-7? Give me a break! It smacks of professional wrestling!

With the way Philly dealt with Owens, maybe there is hope for us purists yet. I bet there are people who disagree with me (like my sons, probably). Let's hear from you.

Monday, November 07, 2005

An Incredible Week

God is so good! His faithfulness is beyond tracing out!

Last week was incredible. As we closed on two houses in one day and moved to Decatur, I thought over and over again about how, in the last few months, I have wondered if the Lord was listening to me. And once again, I stand with my mouth hanging open in amazement, and egg on my face for doubting. The plans He had for us were much greater and better than any of the planning and scheming I have been doing. He is so awesome!

Beverly is in Germany this week. I'm a real wimp when it comes to being away from my wife. But I am so glad that she has been given this opportunity to minister to European missionary wives. She said it is beautiful where she is. I can't wait to see pictures and hear about her week.

Let's be sure to be salt (having a preserving influence) and light in the darkness this week. Let's be sure that we are spotlights -- putting all the attention on Jesus.

Hey, take this short quiz that I saw on Jeff Jones' blog. I came out as a Psalms man.

Oh, did I tell you: God is so good! His faithfulness is beyond tracing out!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A Special Gift

Today is my son-in-law, David's, birthday. From the time my daughter was born in 1978, Beverly and I prayed for a godly man to enter her life and that they together could encourage each other on the road to heaven. Once again, our incredible God has not disappointed me. David is a man with such a servant heart! And he knows so much about computers and electronics. It has come in handy for me on many occasions.

I could not have ordered a better daddy for my granddaughter. He always has time for his daughter. I love to watch them interact! Malaya absolutely adores him.

I still remember the day he asked me for Jenny's hand in marriage. I made one request of him -- that he protect her heart. He has done that and more. It is obvious how much he loves her. And it is equally obvious that she adores him!

I would love to tell some funny stories -- like when we went on vacation the summer before they got married. We went to San Antonio. We hadn't even gotten in the room before we had to call maintenance to unplug the toilet. That's my David!

Happy birthday, David! You are such a blessing to the Ross family!

Monday, October 31, 2005


I had written a blog and was ready to send it when lightning kicked off our electricity here at the office. I don't have time today to rewrite it. In fact, this week is going to be difficult for me as a blogger. Please keep checking back.

Things are moving right on schedule for us. Please lifti us this week in your prayers -- that the move goes smoothly. God has been so faithful to us!


Friday, October 28, 2005

It's Holiday Season!

I can't believe it! My favorite holiday is right around the corner. And no, I'm not talking about Halloween. Halloween is goofy.

My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. It is the most unspoiled, least-commercialized of our holidays (other than the Friday sales after). And I just love the whole idea behind it. I know this year in particular is going to be one of exta thanks. Last year's holiday season had a dark cloud hanging over it. Scrooge (or Scrooges) visited Beverly and me about this time last year. Still, we had great times with family. But this year is full of tangible blessings. And I look forward to it so much!

What's your favorite holiday?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Elder Selection

We are currently undergoing an elder selection process at the Decatur church. I really wish that the Lord had left us a 5-step procedure for this. Three men have been placed before the congregation as candidates. We are now in the "objection period." I don't know about you, but something about that seems strange. "Objection period." It almost seems to encourage the Negative Neds and Nellies to come forward. It seems that perhaps a week of prayer and fasting would be more appropriate. Perhaps even a week of affirmation. Believe me, those who are going to have objections certainly don't need to be encouraged to do so. And obviously, if there is a legitimate objection -- it should come out. Just thought I would share my opinion.

Speaking of affirmation: Being an elder in the church is TOUGH. They hear every complaint -- from the sermon being too long to the air conditioning is too cold or too hot (both in the same week). They're told to go tell so-and-so that she isn't dressed properly. And the song selection needs to have more newer songs or older songs (also both in the same week).

I want to drop a suggestion: Go affirm the elders. Tell them you appreciate what they are doing. Tell them you are behind them. Just be careful. You might have to pick them up off the floor.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A Rose By Any Other Name?

You've heard the old adage, "A rose by any other name is still a rose." I think that same principle works in reverse, too. Calling a weed a rose doesn't make the weed a rose.

On November 8th, there are a number of propositions coming up for vote in Texas. One of them, Proposition 2, defines marriage as a union only between one man and one woman. I find it incredible that this is even coming up for a vote. But the moral and political landscape of America has changed so quickly it leaves my head spinning.

Homosexuals (hardly "gay" -- which means happy) have made tremendous strides in being accepted into our culture. What God calls an abomination is now touted as no different than that which God honors (marriage). They can already live together and enjoy employee benefits that were once reserved for married couples. But this does not satisfy their agenda. They will not be content until they have totally redefined society as it has existed since creation. They are not satisfied with compromise. Those who have any sensitivities which run counter to theirs must be vanquished. I would encourage anyone who thinks their behavior is normal to read Steve Farrar's book, Standing Tall -- particularly chapters 6 and 7.

Well, if America decides to change the meaning of marriage, I wonder what God will do. Will He give in to our majority vote? Will He send down an amendment -- changing Genesis 2: 24, Matthew 19: 4-6, and Ephesians 5: 31?

In our PC culture, I realize this might qualify as hate-speech. I really don't hate homosexuals. I do hate their sinful, abominable activity. My love for God and His Word will not allow me to call what is wrong right and what is right wrong. I don't think we are being Christlike if we allow people to live in rebellion to God and we say nothing.

So, on November 8th -- I will vote "YES" on amendment 2.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

One Day at a Time

The big day is one week from tomorrow -- moving day. There is a part of me that wishes I could just fast-forward about 9 or 10 days. But then, I would miss out on what God has in store for me in those precious days.

Wow! So much to do. Switching utilities. Making all the arrangements. Address changes. It's almost overwhelming! And in the back of my mind, Jesus words keep playing over and over again. "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself." And then I just have to believe He said the next line with a twinkle in His eyes: "Each day has enough trouble of its own." Isn't that true? Not necessarily trouble -- but just stuff.

Lord, help me to live one day at a time. I want to breathe in the sweetness of each new day, and not waste one. Thank you for the newness of each day.

Monday, October 24, 2005

What a Surprise!

Yesterday we had arranged with our realtor to go and look at our new house again after church last night. Our daughter Jenny and her husband David and our granddaughter Malaya were meeting us at church so that they could go with us. So, imagine my surprise when -- at 6 o'clock -- I looked up, and there stood my youngest son, Jonathan! And behind him in the hall was his wife, Jennifer! I was stunned. They said they had heard we were going to look at the house, so they drove in from Abilene to go with us. I was thrilled!

After looking at the house, we went to eat. Soon after we had sat down, Jonathan said he had something to share with us. They are going to have a baby! That's right. My little boy is going to be a daddy. I am so excited for them! The baby is due June 8th. They are going to be incredible parents.

So, I guess I better find a 2nd job, because Beverly really gets into this grandparenting thing -- if you know what I mean. Right now, every time I see Malaya, I see my retirement. Just kidding, honey.

Proverbs 17: 6 says, "Children's children are a crown to the aged." While I don't feel very aged, I can say this grandparenting thing does make me feel like a king. I highly recommend it.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Directives From the King

As I study about living in the Kingdom of God, I have been reminded this week about just how different Jesus' teachings are from the practices of the world. "If someone asks for your shirt, give him your coat as well." Jesus, don't you realize that would mean that he wins? "Do not lay up treasures on earth." But that's how we measure success.

For me, the toughest one is this: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." Everything about that is so unnatural! But then I'm reminded: Jesus hasn't called us to live like humans. He's called us to be like our Father in heaven.

So what one teaching of Jesus most challenges you?

Thursday, October 20, 2005


I want to thank so many of you for your prayers yesterday. Beverly's procedure went well. However, she was extremely sick for about 6 hours of recovery. I managed to get her home about 6 PM, and then she began to improve. This morning, she is sitting up in bed and feeling much better.

HOW 'BOUT THEM ASTROS! I am so glad to have a World Series in Texas. This is going to be exciting.

Right now we are scheduled to close on our Trophy Club house on the morning of November 2nd and our Decatur house a few hours later. Isn't that incredible! God is so good.

This Sunday, I will begin a series about living in the Kingdom of God. It will focus on the Sermon on the Mount, where the King presents to His subjects what life in His Realm is to be like. I'm excited about this. It is one of my passions right now. I think we (the church) have made a big mistake in trying to make "church" attractive to the world by conforming to it. The Kingdom of God is a radical one. It is upside-down from the thinking and lifestyles of this world. And ironically, it is that difference that makes Jesus and His reign attractive. I'm going to entitle the series, Standing in the Reign.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Please Be Praying Today

My sweet wife is going to be in surgery this morning for a couple of hours. Please be praying that everything goes well. She will then be recovering today and tomorrow.

Also just want you to know: We executed a contract on a house in Decatur yesterday. It's at 1301 College. We should close on our house in Trophy Club and our house in Decatur on November 2nd. Praise God! I was wondering at times if He was listening to me through all of this. But this could not be working out any better.

Thanks for the prayers!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Sometimes I hate sports

Sports have to be one of the most gut-wrenching pieces of our lives. The ups and downs of an athlete must be incredibly hard to bear. You can go from hero to goat within a few minutes.

I guess you can tell I watched the game last night. I can't say that I have been a huge Astros fan (or baseball fan, for that matter) for a number of years. But my family used to watch every Astros game. So, it didn't take long to get back on the band wagon. I mean think about it -- there has never been a world series game in Texas! That's embarrassing.

So, last night I'm watching. One out away from the big series. They keep showing one of my heroes -- Nolan Ryan. I'm thinking, "Man, he must be proud of these guys" I watch Lindge as he absolutely embarrasses the 1st two hitters in the inning. Then it starts to unravel, and before you even have time to prepare for it -- BAM! All the mountain-top experience is smashed. From hero to goat in a matter of seconds.

I think I do hate sports (at least today). I have a good friend who has experienced the lows and highs of being a professional athlete. He's been the hero -- cheered by thousands. One tough game, and they're booing. And my heart hurts for him, because he is more than some unfeeling robot out on the field. He is a man who loves the Lord. He is a man who loves his family. He has a family who cares for him deeply and go through the peaks and valleys right along with him. And they hear all the "stuff," too. All of this over a game?

We have people dying from hurricanes and earthquakes. We have terrorists trying to kill us. There are thousands who die every day with no hope of eternity with God. And look at the energy we expend on a game.

I know I'm being harsh. And probably rambling. And I also know I will feel totally different tomorrow. But I just had to get this off my chest today.

Anyone feel differently?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Knocked Her Socks Off

As we have approached this move, we have pretty much assumed all along that we would buy a piece of property and build. However, we had dedicated yesterday afternoon to going with our realtor to look at rental properties and a few houses that were for sale. I had told Beverly that we would not buy a house unless she saw one that just knocked her socks off.

Well, we began by looking at a house that sat on 2-1/2 acres. As we looked, Beverly was saying, "This has potential." I was thinking, "That's not even knocking booties off -- much less socks."

Then, we went to a 2nd house. I had driven by it last week, trying to preview and eliminate any houses that I did not think she would care for. From the outside, I had thought she would not approve since the yard is not very big. As we walked to the front door, I could see anticipation in her eyes. When the realtor opened the door, Beverly's eyes grew open like saucers. She began walking through. You could literally feel her excitement. She began talking about how this would work there, etc. And when she saw the master, I thought I was going to have to pick her up off the floor.

As we left the master, she began going through the downstairs again. I had to remind her, "Honey, we haven't even been upstairs yet." I didn't know if that was going to kill her enthusiasm or not. The answer was, "Not!" She loved it, too.

Needless to say, she had her socks knocked off! So, we are making an offer today.

One thing I love about my woman is the way her face is so expressive. I will remember the look on her face from yesterday for a long, long time. And I know this: I want to be there when she sees heaven for the 1st time! Her zeal for life and for God energizes me like nothing else!

Friday, October 14, 2005

State Fair

Well, today we take our annual trip to the fair. Malaya and Beverly are like kids on Christmas eve. It is a fun day, just being with family and catching the sights. I like the car show. Malaya said that 1st thing, she wants to go to the dog show. I don't think she has ever watched more than 2 minutes of it. Beverly keeps talking about eating a corndog. For me, it's lemonade and something sweet (I guess I should say something else sweet).

How about you? Have you been to the State Fair? If so, what's your favorite sight and what's your favorite "eats"?

Have a great day! I'll tell Big Tex hello for you.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Attracted By the Outside

Yesterday I wrote about how God does not use appearance as a measure of our worth. I was reminded of that yesterday evening in a practical way. Beverly and I are in the middle of trying to find a place to live. We will probably rent for now, and build next year. But I found a house on the web. It looked really nice. So, I drove out to take a look. Beautiful lot. Deer running all over the place. Nice pool. Cute front porch. I thought that maybe this was the answer.

So, we had our realtor set up a viewing for late yesterday afternoon. Everything was going well until we opened the front door. Its floors were a strange shade of blue -- both tile and carpet. One bedroom was painted in the nicest shade of orange that I have ever seen for a bedroom. Actually, come to think of it -- I've never seen an orange bedroom before. Maybe they paint it seasonally, and this is their halloween stage. And then there was the master closet -- which set back the meaning of master.

Needless to say, we were drawn in by looks. I'm reminded of what Jesus said (Matthew 23: 27-28) "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness."

I don't want Jesus to say that about me when he looks me over. Yet, I know that there are areas of my life in which what He said applies. That's why I pray every day that He will examine my heart and do surgery so that when He looks at me, He sees Himself -- inside and out.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Another WOW From Miller

I told you I am reading Donald Miller's newest book, Searching for God Knows What. Every once in a while he just leaves me going, "Wow!" In the chapter entitled, Jesus, Miller is simply making observations from what he has read in Scripture about Jesus. One of them is "He was ugly" (Understand: Miller likes to shock with his words). He cites Isaiah 53: 2-3 as supporting this.

But listen to what he says: "Jesus was definitely representing humanity as equal, hardly caring about how He looked. One might believe that the unsightliness of Christ was a statement of humility, but that isn't true. It would be inconsistent if Christ's looks were a statement of humility. They were, rather, a statement of truth, and our seeing them as humility only suggest an obvious prejudice" (p. 126).

Wow! He got me! We think not being good-looking is humility. Why? Because culture associates looks with worth. But God said long ago to Samuel, "Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart." And I still haven't gotten it.

Oh, God -- help me to value the way You do!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Old Testament

In discussing Scripture with people through the years, I have been asked why we don't believe in the Old Testament. And you know what? I'm not sure how to answer that. My 1st response is to say, "Sure, I beiieve in the Old Testament." But what they mean is why don't I follow it.

Well, on closer scrutiny -- they don't either. In my daily Bible readings, I have been plodding through Moses' expounding on the Law. The dietary laws, sexual laws, purification laws, etc. I am bothered that the homosexual community says, "We are not under the Law of Moses any more, so what he said about homosexuality does not apply." And while that bothers me, I would have no problem if someone wanted to cook a young goat in its mother's milk (Ex. 23: 19). And my favorite food is probably shrimp -- followed closely by catfish (both considered unclean in the Old Testament).

I realize that the New Testament reinforces many of the laws of the Old Testament -- such as the prohibition against homosexuality. And I know about Peter's vision of the clean and unclean foods, etc. I also know that Jesus said (Mt. 5: 17) that He did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. I know that, at least in part -- He accomplished that by being the perfect, one time sacrifice and also by fulfilling the Aaronic priesthood, etc And I also know that Paul said that Jesus nailed the Law to the cross.

But I still struggle with exactly how to make the transition and application. God is still the same God. His character has not changed. And lifestyles and attitudes that provoked Him to anger then must still do the same today.

I do know that I want to be about making Him smile.

Any thoughts?

Monday, October 10, 2005

I've Also Been Tagged

1st things 1st! We have a contract on our house! I repeat: We have a contract! Be sure to offer up thanks to the Lord for us.

Josh, so much for your prediction about Texas-OU. Hook 'em, Horns! And did you see poor John Daly yesterday? How tragic is that? Tiger was even embarrassed for him.

I have also been tagged.......
First Memory: Watching Tarzan kill a Rhino on our black and white TV in Shreveport, LA. You had to hit the side of the TV every once in a while because the sound would go off.
First Kiss: Does anybody answer this question?
First Concert: Grand Funk Railroad
First Love: Beverly. Nothing before her was really love
First thing I think in the Morning: I need to go pottie.
First Book I remember loving: Yertle the Turtle
First Pet: A German Shepherd named Queen
First Question when I get to Heaven: How cool is this?
First word I think of for Vacation: Golf
First Best Friend: Chris Wells, in Jackson, Mississippi
Last Time I dressed up: Yesterday (Sunday morning)
Last thing I ate: Armondo's Mexican
Last CD I bought: The Eagles -- Best Hits
Last time I cried: I don't cry much, but I teared up real big when I saw Malaya walking down the hall at her Nursury Rhyme Parade
Last time I told someone I loved them: When I left my precious wife this morning
Last really fun thing I did: When Beverly went with me out to the golf course on Labor Day
Last thing I watched on TV: Good Morning America this morning
Last Halloween Costume: Wow! My memory is not that good
Last Concert- Chris Tomlin, Casting Crowns, and Stephen Curtis Chapman
Okay... I tag Josh, Jeff, John and Jonathan. Just cut and paste.

Friday, October 07, 2005


Well, for much of this state and that other one just north of us -- tomorrow is a big day. Texas-OU weekend. For those of us who root for the Horns, it's been a tough few years. Times we should have won and didn't. Times when we got blown out and shouldn't. I've never been a huge Mack Brown suppporter, and I've wondered how he has survived this drought. But if he loses this one . . .

I want to say he should be fired. And from a worldly point of view, maybe he should. But that hits too close to home for me these days. Firing someone because they don't meet your ridiculous, worldly expectations. Turning lives upside down because "I want." Breaking commitments to someone because of promises of financial support from someone else. Pretty fleshly thinking. But I've been guilty of similar thinking at times, too.

Praise God -- He doesn't think that way! I'm so grateful that He doesn't "fire me" based on His expectation of results. In fact, He loves me the same when I lose the games I should have won as He does when I play for the championship. Wow! What an awesome, beautiful God!

So, go UT! Win it, Mack! But even if you don't, I'll be pulling for you.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Hall Monitors or Trailblazers?

Remember back in school? Those hall monitors and cafeteria monitors. "Slow down!" "Quiet!" "Sit still!" "Single file!" "Having fun? Stop it!" Man, they struck fear into the processes of walking down the hall or sitting in the cafeteria.

Well, I must be honest: In my experience in churches, that's the role elders often fill. Unfortunately, I think to a large degree it's because that's what the congregation pretty much expects from them.

Here in Decatur we are beginning an elder selection process. I am hopeful that the stereotypical, culturally-shaped role of an elder is evolving into a more biblically-accurate one. Not church hall monitors. Not a board of directors -- modeled after corporate America. And certainly not operating out of fear. Men of God are not driven by fear -- but a spirit of boldness and courage. Fear strangles the very life out of a church.

I long for leaders who are more like trailblazers. "Come on! Follow us!" To paraphrase the words from Deuteronomy 1: 6-8: "We've circled this mountain long enough! It's time to break camp and advance into the hill country. God has given us the land! Let's go and take possession!" I long for leaders who are like shepherds. Men who know their sheep and lead them through the valleys into quiet pastures and still waters.

I want to be a sheep in that kind of flock!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Baseball, State Fair and the Weekend

The cycles of life are so wierd to me. I can remember a day that I knew the names of every baseball player and his stats. Back in the mid to late 80s, our family watched every Astros game that was televised -- about 156 a year (Jenny has very fond memories of this. It's probably why she watches the stuff she does today.See her blog from yesterday:

Today, I couldn't name a dozen big leaguers. But I do know that it's playoff season. And I'll be pulling for the 'Stros again. How about you? Who are you rooting for? (If your team is the Yankees, please don't contaminate this sight with a vote for them. And Josh, you can't vote for the Giants.)

On another note: Who's going to the state fair? Beverly absolutely loves it. I go along, and always end up enjoying it. Suggestion: Go to the food court and there will be a pizza place. It's run by a friend -- Tom Grace. Order a lemonade. You will thank me later. I would not recommend going this weekend however. Texas-OU. Is this finally the Longhorns' year?

On another note, Beverly and our daughters-in-law are going to be leading a ladies' retreat for our church. Jenny can't be there because her brother-in-law is getting married in Houston. But I am so proud of all of them. How cool is that? I will probably go play golf Friday afternoon and come home, fix some popcorn and watch an old movie. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Growing Older -- But for the Better?

It's hard to believe that another birthday is just around the corner for me. You would think this doing-life thing would get easier as we go -- but it doesn't. I have been praying for a long time that the Lord would reveal to me things in my life that need to be pruned or replaced by the Spirit. I am under such conviction right now about how self-centered I am. And also, I am realizing how much I put my trust in things of this world rather than in God. But along with that, the Lord is also showing me that joy is not found in these things. Rather, it is found in delighting oneself in Him.

Yet, nearly 50 years of bad habits are hard to break. I pray every day that the Lord will let His Spirit possess me. But for that to happen, I have to make room for Him. And that involves clearing out some junk.

I guess we are never too old to be made new.

"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul . . . Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground." Psalm 143: 8, 10.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Genesis Made Clearer

Hey, did you hear that the governor of Louisiana came down with a ruling on Roe v. Wade? She said she didn't care how people got out of New Orleans.

On a different note: I am really enjoying reading the book, Searching For God Knows What by Donald Miller (of Blue Like Jazz fame). He has such an interesting way of setting things up to make a point. In the book, he is going through the creation account. He is talking about how Moses emphasized that Adam and Eve were naked (mentioned 5 times). And suddenly, after their sin -- they can't wait to clothe themselves. I've always wondered about the relevence of this.

Listen to how he explains this:
And then it hit me how awful it must have been for Adam and Eve to have been deceived by Satan, to have been tricked into breaking their relationship with God.
You and I almost have it easier. We were born this way. But I remember loving a girl back in Colorado and having her explain to me she didn't feel the same and how for a year I lived in the attic of an old house in Portland, feeling an ache and emptiness in my heart I thought would never mend . . . And this feeling, this feeling must have been so much more painful for Adam and Eve, this feeling of having an infinite amount of love pouring thorugh their lives and then it's suddenly gone . . . I wondered at hoow terrible it must have felt, at the fear of no longer feeling God, at the ache of emptiness and the sudden and horrifying awareness of self. God have mercy.

Wow! Can you imagine knowing perfect intimacy with God for a long, long time -- and knowing nothing else? And then suddenly, that intimacy is gone and you are made aware of self! What a horrifying discovery that must have been.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Car Inspections

Well, it's September 29th. Beverly's car inspection is due this month. I don't like waiting until the last minute, so I'm going to get it done today rather than on the 30th.

I guess it's a good thing that the state requires car inspections. Not only does it protect others from me, but it also protects me from others. While I want to know that my brakes pass inspection, I'm glad to know that the person tailgating me had to pass as well.

But you know what? I need a regular inspection, too. I need to have my heart checked for things that cause it to misfire. I need to make sure my coolant is still in check. I need to make sure that my feet will brake and not go where they should not. I need to make sure that my headlights (eyes) are properly aligned. I need to make sure that my cruise control keeps me within the limits.

Big difference: I need it daily. If I had an inspection only once a year, I would be in horrible shape! I get out of alignment in hourly incriments -- not annual ones.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting -- Psalm 139: 23-24.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

30 Years Already?

It's hard to believe. 30 years. Wow! I remember the 1st time I saw her. It was in the Student Center at ACU. She was talking about how much she had enjoyed All-College Night, where the band I was in with Ronnie Dunn had played the night before. She was so impressed with me! She thought I had been playing the guitar. Actually, I was the drummer. As I said, she was so impressed.

But you could see it in her eyes. A joy for life. An unflagging energy. An optimism and enthusiasm that was contagious. Her love for people was so authentic. And the cute way that she added endings to short words or shortened long words. Like when we went to a Mexican restaurant, and she asked for more "chippies."

And her love for the Lord -- it was so evident. For a guy who teetered toward pessimism and cynicism -- she was just what the doctor ordered.

So, 30 years ago today -- September 28th, 1975 -- we had our 1st date. Sweet! And you know what? She's still my girlfriend. And what the doctor ordered has been just right. She has steered me around my phantom mountains and walked me through dark valleys. She has gently prodded me into greater intimacy with the Father. Her passion for Him and for life has rubbed off on me. I can honestly, and without hesitation, tell you that I think she is the most wonderful person on the planet. Her energy and optimism for life haven't changed -- unless perhaps more intense now.

Beverly, thankey-wankey yousie-woosie. The journey has been incred. You are a real beauty-mooty.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

No Stone Is Gonna Outpraise Me!

Sunday morning, Craig Jordan was sharing some thoughts before we partook of the Lord's Supper. He took us to a passage that has meant a lot to me in recent years. It is found in the story of Jesus' Triumphal Entry to Jerusalem. Luke 19: 37 says that the people began joyfully to praise God in loud voices. The Pharisees told Jesus that He needed to rebuke the people. Jesus said (v. 40): "I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."

I have had church experiences where there were people who too closely resembled the Pharisees in this story. They run to the elders or me: "We need to tone things down! Stop this praising! It's getting out of hand!" Bless their hearts. If they could only come to understand that when you've been touched by the Savior -- you're going to "begin joyfully to praise God!" Worship to the Lord is not a funeral service. If there were a casket for Jesus up front -- it would be empty! And so, we must praise!

Church: Don't let the stones take our place in praising God. Let what is so natural flow forth. He is so awesome! And He is so worthy!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Change of Seasons

I got excited last night listening to the weather. Cool front approaching Wednesday night. Low Thursday morning in the mid-50s. High of 80. As I fist-pumped and jumped around the bedroom, Beverly called from the bathroom asking what was going on. Actually, I think she said something like, "Are yousey woosey OK-sey waysey?"

I love this time of year! The cool in the air in the mornings and evenings. Well, not yet -- but it's coming! After all, it's only September 26th. I love the changing of the leaves. I love the overseeding of the golf course. Football. And then the approaching holidays.

Last year, Beverly and I were able to go to Pittsburgh in October. It was absolutely incredible -- the colors of the leaves and the chill in the air. I loved it! And no telling what I miss -- since I'm colored-blind.

No doubt about it: Fall is my favorite season. Here in Texas, it's the two best weeks of the year. I am so grateful to God for the cycle of nature. He is absolutely awesome!

So how about you? What is your favorite season?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Standing Alone

Being a golf fan, I love watching the Ryder Cup and President's Cup. These events take place in alternating years, and match the best American golfers against the best Europeans (Ryder Cup) and best international players (President's Cup). The first 3 days are team events, and then Sunday each golfer is matched against an opponent -- one on one.

Interestingly, the Americans excel in Sunday's individual matches, but struggle big-time in the team matches. And this is a pattern that goes back several years. What's up with this? Is it because American athletes are more selfish? Or could it be symptomatic of our society -- in which we exalt rugged individualism? I don't know the answer for sure. In fact, the two may be one.

What is unfortunate about it is this: I see the same thing in our churches. American Christians struggle with living in community. We honor the lone wolf who has his / her own agenda / purpose. We tend to respect (especially in the recent past) that person who is in everyone's face -- defending "soundness." Wow!

Result: Fractured fellowships. Lack of trust. Lots of individual efforts with no common goal (or vague, at best).

Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12: "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! ALso, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."

American golfers: LEARN THE LESSON! But also, I pray that God's church will learn it, too.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Theological Can of Worms

Yesterday I spent some time talking with my friend and co-minister, Jacob. He was introducing a class on Joshua last night, as they begin preparations for LTC. We got to talking about the way God had Israel kill the nations before them -- men, women and children. And we wrestled with the "why" of that. It really is not an easy one, is it? My granddad went to his grave (at 99-1/2) as an agnostic. He read the Bible, but there were a couple of things that he just could not get over. This was one of them. How could a loving God command such destruction?

We discussed all of the expected answers: purging the land of idolatry, the importance of purity and obedience, etc. But it still leaves a lot unanswered. And you know what? I'm OK with that now. It used to be that I wanted to have a nice, packaged answer for everything. But I have come to the point in my walk with God that I now realize He can't be put in a box. He is like 13,800 megavolts being stepped down through transformers to my 110 volt understanding. If He was to unload everything about Himself into my circuitry -- my mainframe would be fried.

So I am now at the point where I want to continue to search and hear ideas about tough theological issues. But it's OK if the answer can't be tied up with a bow. Psalm 139: 6 says "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain." But you know what? We will understand it better by and by.

What's your big theological can of worms?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


As a nation, we have not ever gotten over Hurricane Katrina, and now we have a category 4 bearing down on the Texas coastline. Wow! Rita. 18 named storms this year! I don't ever remember getting to "K"s before.

I feel badly saying what I'm getting ready to in light of the true devastation that has taken place in the lives of many people. And I confess that I struggle with self-centeredness too much. But I find myself worrying far too often about how this stuff affects me financially. Gas will go back up to $3 as oil companies take advantage of the storm. And with Beverly and me commuting as much as we do right now -- it is really whupping us. Also, my retirement planning has been disappointing. I was not able to really begin to save for retirement until after the great stock market days of the 90's. In fact, I reallly begin in earnest in 2000. Then there was 911, and a sluggish, bear market has now carried on for 5 years. Now Katrina. What little advances have been made in the last year are now retreating.

And you know the worst part about it? There's not a thing I can do. I can't stand to be in situations in which I can't do anything.

So, I really need to hear Jesus' words today from Matthew 6. Because we are so familiar with these words from our major translations, let me share with you from THE MESSSAGE:

"If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer apppearance than the clothes you hang on your body . . .

Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion -- do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alohngside them.

If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers -- most of which are never even seen -- don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep you life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met."

Thank you, Jesus! I really needed that. Get my eyes off of me and onto You!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

About Losing

OK, I admit it! I'm a sore loser. I can't believe I spent 3-1/2 hours of my life watching the Cowboys give away a game last night. You have a 13 point lead (less than two scores) -- and you go into protection mode in the 3rd quarter! Go figure.

But back to the problem: I'm a sore loser. I still can't get over the last game of Josh's high school career. It was at Texas Stadium. And the same scenario played out. We were winning, and gave Greenville the game. It was heart-breaking. Especially to watch my son -- who had perhaps his best game of his life -- standing on the field after the game was over. He just couldn't bring himself to leave. The coach had to go out, put his arm around him -- and lead him off.

Did I already confess that I'm a sore loser? Well, that's one reason I'm a Christian. This "battle with Satan" stuff gets me down. I hate losing to him. Some battles I win, but others I lose. And it makes me sore. But I'm involved in a game in which the outcome has already been decided. And guess who is the winner. It's ME! That's right -- I win. And I can't wait to be a sore sport and rub it in Satan's face. Talk about some trash talkin'! Satan -- you're going down! Yo mama! Who da' man now?

"Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15: 57

Monday, September 19, 2005

Reflections on Yesterday

I love Sundays with a church that is so affirming and encouraging! It makes what I do during the week so rewarding. And after the last two years, I have been given a whole new appreciation for that. Every week, there are special brothers and sisters who come up and say how glad they are that we are in Decatur. There are folks who were on the selection committee who tell me what a great choice they made. It just makes me want to give of myself even more. I love the Decatur Church of Christ!

On a similar note, I want you to be praying for a dear shepherd today. Jim Walker is going in for more tests this afternoon (Monday). We are concerned and are praying that the Lord will take care of him and heal him. Jim truly has the heart of a shepherd, and I pray that I will be serving with him for many years.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Slow Me Down

I'm teaching a men's class on Wednesday night. We're studying David. Last night, I took us to a number of psalms he wrote in his early years. One of them has really convicted me. Here is an exerpt from Psalm 8: "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?"

It made me think: How long has it been since I have taken the time to do that? To stop this crazy merry-go-round of life, and pause to stare into the heavens and ponder the unponderable. I need that! Don't you? I think I will plan real soon to drive away from the city lights and sit under the stars and "consider the heavens." I'm betting that it will put things in perspective.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Lord, Get Us to Decatur!

Well, Beverly and I have now been a part of the Decatur Church of Christ for 4-1/2 months. We are blessed! We have been overwhelmed by these people's friendliness and affirmation and acceptance. We are so ready to get moved up here.

Speaking of that, we did have two showings of our house yesterday. Pray that we get an offer today -- please! We also have a lead on some property. So, Lord -- bring it on! We're ready!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Today I want to ask you to be praying for a couple of things for Beverly and me. We have been praying for a while that the Lord would bring a buyer to our house. While we have loved our house, it is a constant reminder to me of the nightmare of the last couple of years. So, request #1: We have a showing today. Pray that the Lord will let these people be the buyers.

Request #2: I begin a new class tonight at Amberton -- teaching the Gospel of John to at least 15 students. Many of them will not be believers at all. So, please pray that their hearts might be touched with the message of Jesus.

Now, here's one I want your feedback on. I'm reading about when Moses struck the rock (Numbers 20: 1-15). Of course, this cost him a trip to the Promised Land. My question is 2-fold, and I think I know the 1st one, but just want to hear what you might say: 1. What is it exactly that Moses and Aaron did to incure such a punishment? 2. What application, if any, might this have for us today? (I wish John WIllis or David Wallace were readers of my blog).


Monday, September 12, 2005

A Special Day

I can remember where I was 25 years ago this morning. I was working for Montgomery Ward in Westgate Mall, Abilene, Texas. The store had not opened yet, when comeone came over the store PA system. "Rick Ross, you're going to be a daddy!"

Well, I took off for the car -- and drove like a mad-man to get home. I expected to see Beverly lying on the floor, breathing: "Ph-ph-ph." I opened the door -- no Beverly. I walked into the bedroom, and there she sat putting on her makeup. She smiled and said, "Give me a few minutes." Yeah, right.

Well, we took our 2-yr. old daughter, Jenny, to Jim and Jody Reese's house, and headed to Hendricks Hospital. About 3-1/2 hours later, I had a son! And what a joy he has been! When he was little, he was my shadow. 25 years later, I often find myself standing in his shadow -- so proud of who he is.

Beverly and I have been so blessed in our lives. But the greatest blessing at this point is our children and their spouses (of course, Malaya is included in that). I don't know any blessing that could take its place.

Josh, you are a keeper! I'm so proud of you, my son.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Let's Take the Land!

This morning, I'm reading about the 12 spies sent to check out the Promised Land. You know the story. Ten of them come back with a feasability study that says, "God cannot accomplish His will through us. The task is too big." Well, that's not what they said, but that's what their negative report concluded.

But Caleb and Joshua, two of the twelve, saw things differently. They said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it!" Of course they could! How? Because the God who had delivered them, parted the Red Sea, destroyed the armies of Pharaoh, fed them manna and quail -- ALL WITHOUT THEIR HELP! -- said that He would give them the land.

You know, God has told His people today similar things. Unfortunately, there are far too many "10-spyers" and too few Joshuas and Calebs. And for some reason, "why we can't" appeals to the flesh more than "God is with us."

On another note from my reading. Miriam and Aaron try to undermine Moses, so God strikes Miriam with leprosy. Then, in the next event, the people get caught up in a frenzy at the report of the spies -- and want to go back to Egypt where slavery was so wonderful (go figure). Some people would rather live in slavery than within the activity of God.

Catch this! Moses is the one who intercedes with the Lord over both these issues. He begs God to cleanse Miriam of her leprosy, and he begs Him to forgive the people of their obstinance. Wow! What a heart. Rather than extracting revenge, Moses wants to extend mercy to those who have wronged him. God, give me that kind of heart as I lead Your people. But please, give us the kind of confidence in you that says, "Let's take the land!"

Thursday, September 08, 2005


It's good to be back in bloggerland. If you are visiting for the 1st time, let me tell you what to expect here. I will try to write a new blog 4 to 5 times a week. Most days it will be sharing some thought about faith or Scripture. I usually try to share from my daily Scripture readings. But right now I'm reading through Leviticus, so I wouldn't want to lose you right away. Other times, I might just reflect on what's going on with my familly or church or events. Still other times, we might just take a poll -- like what is your favorite TV program, football team, etc.

I would love to hear from you, so please share your feedback. I'm not expecting a huge readership right away, so let's begin with something easy. What is your favorite place to eat? For me, it's a tie: Mi Tierra in the Market Square in San Antonio and Landry's Seafood Restaurant.

By the way, I have discovered that you must enter the blog address every day. You can't just click on your address history (you know, when it comes up as you are entering an address). If you do, it will take you to the previous blog, and never allow you to see new ones. I hope this makes sense to you. Sorry, I'm not a computer geek -- just a geek.

Blessings today!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I'm Back

I have not blogged since December of 2004. This has been due to a number of reasons. However, just this last week I have had a number of people asking me to begin again. So, that's what I am going to do. Thanks for all the encouraging words. I'll begin again in earnest right away.