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!