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.