Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Making the Most of Today

I read a funny story this morning. In 2004, a wildfire threatened the Escondido home of golf fanatic David Gould. He was told he needed to evacuate. So, he loaded his prized possessions (his expensive golf clubs) into his SUV and left.

The winds shifted, sparing David's home. However, a thief broke into his SUV and stole his golf clubs.

Doesn't it seem like that's the way life often works out? Especially when we live for what is here. Maybe I'm just going through a season of serious reflection. It seems as if I am discovering things that I should have discovered long ago. You see, I tend to live my life in the future. I miss out on the enjoyment of today because I am thinking ahead or worrying about next month, next year -- or even 20 years from now. I really want to simply live each day to its fullest. I don't want to waste any. Jesus said (Matthew 6: 34, The Message), "Give your attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may nor many not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes."

Well, I got off some from the story I was telling. It has a happy ending. David called local used sports equipment shops, and it paid off. He got his clubs back, and the thief was arrested.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Reflecting on Memorial Day 

I intended to write a blog yesterday, but got started in the yard early and didn't finish until after dark. I am soooo sore this morning!

Yesterday was a wonderful day! We had Malaya (our granddaughter) all weekend. Then her parents, Jenny and David, came for burgers late afternoon. Beverly had gone to the store and bought a new patio table and chairs, so we ate outside. It was just really nice.

One of the nice things was that, as I worked in the yard, I had a lot of time to reflect on Memorial Day. We are such a blessed people! Obviouly, blessed by God! But we also owe so much to men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice to assure us the freedoms that we enjoy. America has a lot of faults, no doubt. Ironically, many of our problems come with the fact that we are a democracy and a free society. Which means that things won't always go the way I might want them to. People may make cholces that don't coincide with my moral system.

But I kind of think that when we get too caught up in that, it might mean that we are living for -- and in -- the wrong kingdom. I am very proud to be an American. But I am 1st and foremost a citizen of the Kingdom of God.

So, God bless America! But of much greater significance: May God's Kingdom increase!

Friday, May 26, 2006

A Heart Matter

Beverly and I have a small covenant group we meet with on Thursday nights for study, sharing and prayer. We are studying James, and last night we were talking about the tongue.

I cited Matthew 12: 34, that says "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." And as we sat there, it's like it just hit me. The tone of my speech has been an issue for me for much of my life. I don't recognize it, but I know others do -- especially my wife and kids. Through the years, my approach has been, "I really need to work on my tone."

But it hit me last night. And it's not like it's a new revelation, because Jesus said it a long time ago. But I realized that I have been treating symptoms of the problem and not the disease itself. My problem issues from my heart. I don't like admitting that -- but the tone of my words reflects my heart.

So I am going to pause each day -- every couple of hours -- to ask God to change my heart. I want to be kinder and gentler. I want my lips to reflect a heart that is sold out to God!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

From Trivia to Elohim

Well, the Mavs-Suns series didn't exactly begin the way I would have liked. Here's hoping "The Little General" (Avery Johnson) has a plan up his sleeve to slow down the Suns. Like maybe taking Steve Nash out! (jk).

No surprise on American Idol. Taylor Hicks is the winner. I am not expecting him to be on the level of some of the past champions, however. I just can't see his records going platinum, etc. But I also realize that I don't reflect America very well.

This Sunday I am returning to a study of the names of God. I love this study! This week: Elohim. Sometimes we need to stop and be reminded that every step we take and every breath we breathe, every sight we see, everything we wear, every tool we hold, every bite we eat -- all once came from the hands of Elohim!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Honest Auto Repair Shop

Well, feed me peanuts and call me "Dumbo." The Mavs did it! It appeared to me that the refs had decided before the game who was going to win. But somehow the Mavs pulled it out! Beverly: Incredible prediction on yesterday's blog! How did you do it?

So now they face Phoenix. It should be another interesting series. However, I really think that the Spurs will be the toughest series of them all.

Yesterday I mentioned that I took Beverly's car in for tires and some maintenance stuff. I went to the Bridgestone dealership in Roanoke. The reason I mention this is because they were so incredible! I gave them a list of things I wanted them to do. On several of those things, the man said, "We will check to see if that actually needs to be done." Wow! That was a surprise. Usually, they would be telling me other things that I need.

When I picked the car up yesterday afternoon, he told me that several of the things I had requested were unnecessary at this time.

There are still good, honest people in this world!

Monday, May 22, 2006

So Who Wins Tonight?

Just have a moment this morning. So, who is it going to be tonight? Mavs? Or Spurs? I'm pulling for the Mavs, but I don't feel very confident about a game 7 in San Antonio. I'm afraid they may have dropped their opportunity.

Today I'm taking Beverly's car in for a lot of maintenance work, and then heading to the links with a good buddy.

Blessings on your day.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Pat's At It Again

God spoke to me last night. He said that we could get a damaging hail storm in Texas sometime this year. He also told me that there could be a blizzard in Minnesota next winter.

What has happened to Pat Robertson? He has now predicted several times in recent weeks that God told him that storms would hit the coast of America this year. Wow! It takes a word from God to predict that? Last night I heard a meteorologist predicting that this hurricane season, we will have 12 named storms -- with 5 of them being category 3 or higher. He also gave the statistical likelihood of a major storm hitting the east coast or gulf coast.

Of course, Pat also said there could be a tsunami hit the Pacific Northwest. I wonder if he would have even known what a tsunami was 3 or 4 years ago?

I'm sorry for being so cynical, but Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell and others have become an embarrassment to the Christian cause in many ways. They more often than not come across as buffoons, getting their moment of publicity -- and leaving the rest of us to clean up the mess.

While I agree to a large degree with the "Moral Majority" positions on abortion and homosexuality -- their obsession with these two issues (as well as the state of Israel and public education) has caused them to lose credibility with the American public. Where are their positions on empowering the poor, race relations, etc. Aren't those moral issues, too?

I feel better.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Old Testament Treasures

Reading through the Old Testament, there are things that I don't remember seeing before that are jumping off every page. For instance, why don't I remember the story found in 2 Kings 13: 20-21? Moabite raiders were entering Israel as some Israelites were burying a man. Seeing the raiders, they threw the man's body into Elisha's tomb. When the body touched Elisha's bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet! Now you would think that I would have remembered that!

I also didn't remember that Israel had a queen for a while (kind of). When Ahaziah the king died, Athaliah, his mother, usurped the throne. She had the royal family exterminated. However, her grandson, Joash, was whisked away and hidden for 6 years. Joash later became the king at the age of 7.

It really is fascinating as I read about God's working through His people -- setting them on a course to the coming of Messiah. Today, I will begin reading through Hosea -- truly one of the most beautiful love stories ever told. A story of unconditional love. A story of a man who can't help loving his wife -- even as she does everything she can to kill his love. And to think that it is told to impress upon us how much God loves us!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Times are A'Changin'

I gave a final at Amberton last night. As many of you know, I have been teaching there since the fall of 1999. Amberton used to be ACU's Dallas campus, and in the late 70s changed over to a university geared to working adults. However, it maintains its private Christian university status. As a result, all undergraduates must take 3 hours of religion. Well, John Scott (preaching minister at Saturn Road Church of Christ) and Les Massey and I are the Bible department. John and I teach lecture classes, while Les teaches e-courses.

Well, with the changing trends in American colleges, I can pretty much see the handwriting on the wall. Fewer and fewer of Amberton's students are taking lecture classes. Enrollment is growing, but it is in the e-course classes. Les' classes fill up, while John's and mine struggle to even make. As an example, my summer class only has one student signed up so far. Of course, it still has three weeks to make -- so we will see.

I have really enjoyed teaching these classes, and hope to be able to do so for a long time. But if I can't, it will be one more evening freed up in my schedule. And that wouldn't be all bad.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Yesterday's Blessing

It's nice to have times to just get away for a while and enjoy the beauty of God's creation. We spend so much of our time in an office or a fixed environment, and the change of scenery is a real "pick-me-up" for me.

Yesterday was one of those days. A buddy of mine and I went to Frankston, Texas (close to Tyler) to a golf course that is beautiful. It's called Pine Dunes, and it has been there for a long time as a 9 hole course. But a few years ago, a wealthy woman from Washington state bought it, added 9 more holes and has transformed it into one of the finest courses in the state. It is a daily-fee course, and well-worth the trip.

But just being away from the traffic and noise in such a quiet setting -- listening to the wind blow through the pine trees -- it was really nice. God is so good, and He has surrounded us with such incredible evidences of His greatness.

On a different subject: How far are the Mavs going to go this year?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Mother's Day

This Sunday is a special day as we Americans honor our mothers.

I am sorry to say that for most of my life, I have been pretty insensitive. For, while we celebrate motherhood -- for many people Mother's Day is a painful one. Mothers who have lost a child through death or estrangement. Women who are unable to conceive but want so much to be mothers. Children who have not received the nurturing touch of a loving mother. And I could go on.

So, as we approach Mother's Day this Sunday, I send out a special kudos to you moms. May your family rise and call you blessed.

But I also want those who are not looking forward to Sunday, because of one of the above reasons or some other one, to know that I am thinking about you, too. And my prayers are for you to know the peace and presence of El Roi -- the God Who Sees. He knows your pain, and His heart hurts with you. Allow Him to draw you to Himself. Feel His breath over you. Let Him fill the emptiness of your heart.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Ode to Byron

We had some bad weather move through here last night. My computer at the office (as well as Jacob's -- our youth minister) has lost its internet connection. So, I am at home writing this blog and catching up on a few things. However, we were more fortunate than those just to our east. Apparently a tornado touched down -- killing three and lifting a brick home off its foundation.

Tomorrow, Beverly and I are going to spend the day together at the Byron Nelson Golf Tournament. I can't wait! There is no one I enjoy hanging out with more than her.

Speaking of the Nelson, there may be no finer man on this planet than Byron. He is an incredible human being. I have never heard a bad word spoken about him. He is a member of the Richland Hills Church of Christ, and has done so much for ACU. He helped to establish an endowment for the ACU golf team. The touring pros absolutely adore him. He's 94 years old, and still so involved in his tournament. There is no tournament on the tour that comes close to matching what his has raised for charity through the years.

Quick story about Byron. He may be the most accurate iron player in history. One year in the Masters, he was playing the par-3 16th. It is a hole that has water down one side and partially in front. His tee shot hit the flag and kicked into the water. He went up the drop area, now hitting his third shot. It hit the flag and kicked into the water. He ended up taking a 7! (But I bet he didn't say any bad words).

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Just Call Me Monk

It is 11 AM, and I am only now able to get on to write a blog. Sorry!

I have been associated at times with Monk (the TV detective), and I admit to being pretty persnickety about some things. For instance, clutter just makes me feel unsettled and uncomfortable.

And weeds -- I can't stand weeds. I dig the flower beds and I plant what I want. The weeds were not invited. But they are so persistent about being there. And so, you will find me a couple of times a week, down on my knees, finding extreme pleasure in murdering those invaders of my space.

Then there is hair in the ears. This is a fairly new problem for me. Since hair did not grow on my ears for 40+ years, I became quite used to that. Now I suddenly have hair growing where it never had before. Maybe it has simply transferred from a little higher up on the head. But I don't like its new location. And while no one else probably notices it, it drives me crazy. So, I get after them with the tweezers. Just like pulling weeds -- I want to win this battle.

And eyebrows. What's the deal there? For decades, my eyebrows grew to a certain length and apparently either stopped or fell out. Now? Well, now I have to trim them or they would probably grow to 6 or 8 inches.

So I got to thinking (uh-oh): I want to become as finicky about unwanted stuff that is growing in my heart as I am about weeds and unwanted hair on my ears and eyebrows. In fact, I need to be obsessive about that!

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Mark of Bonds

Yesterday, Barry Bonds hit homerun number 713. That puts him one behind "the Babe" for 2nd place in career dingers -- behind Henry Aaron, who has 755.

I have never cared for Barry. This has led to some real tension in our family, since for a long time my oldest son, Josh, adored him (actually, the tension was more of the father-son teasing variety). I would admit that Barry would have gone down in history as one of the greatest combination offensive / defensive players of all time. He had a great eye for the ball, often swaying umpires to call a ball if he laid off a pitch simply because they knew how good his eye was.

Sadly, his decision to use steroids will forever taint his record. His legitimate greatness will be forever tarnished. Without ever using steroids, he would have been mentioned in the same breath as his godfather Willie Mays and other great ballplayers. But now, he will always carry a stigma -- much like the mark God put on Cain.

Wow! How blessed are we that, with God, we carry no marks from our past! Every one of us deserves to be marked. Adulterer. Gossip. Murderer (hater). Bigot. Glutton. Liar. But washed in the blood of Jesus, the only mark we carry is "Child." Praise God for His incredible mercy and love!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Golf News

There have been a couple of stories from the golf world this week that I think are worth consideration here.

The first is the ongoing saga of John Daly. Bless his heart -- this guy definitely has addiction tendencies. He has battled alcoholism for years. And now we are told that he has lost 60 million dollars gambling! Yes, that is 60 with six zeros after it.

That's sad enough in itself. But here is the saddest thing. His plan of action to deal with his gambling problem is to set himself a loss limit before he enters a casino. John, take my advice. Don't enter the casino! That is the only way to deal with addictions!

Actually, the only cure for John's addictive personality is Jesus -- the Great Healer.

Then we heard of the passing of Tiger Wood's father on Wednesday. I am always moved by father-son relationships like Earl and Tiger Woods. The lead line to one article said, "Earl Woods, who was more determined to raise a good son than a great golfer . . ." While Earl wanted Tiger to excel in golf, he also instilled in him a desire to help others. As a result, Tiger has given multi-millions to establishing foundations to help underprivileged children. This has become one of his passions.

Here are Tiger's own words after the passing of his father: "My dad was my best friend and greatest role model. He was an amazing dad, coach, mentor, soldier, husband and friend. I wouldn't be where I am today without him, and I'm honored to continue his legacy of sharing and caring."

So, one man blows 60 million dollars gambling. And another gives millions to reach out to the underprivileged. Interesting contrast.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A Glance into the Future?

As I shared with the guys last night in class, the Christian Chronicle had an article that quoted a Gallup poll stating that Churches of Christ have the highest percentage of adherents who regularly attend on Sundays. We were at a whopping 68%, while 2nd place Mormons stood at a measly 67%.:) In third were Pentecostals, and 4th were Southern Baptists.

This came a day after some disturbing information I read in another article in Outreach magazine. This article claimed that the percentage of the US population attending church on any given weekend is declining. In fact, only small churches (under 50) and large churches (over 2,000) exceeded US population growth from 1994 to 2004.

I don't know what all of this means for us. As I said last night, we could look at that and just become pessimistic. Or, we could see it as a wake-up call -- a call to get out of our buildings and into people's lives. We can't sit with our hands folded and expect the world to knock down our door. We must GO! That's the 1st word in the Great Commission.

What's that look like? Knocking doors? Setting up "cottage meetings"? (for those of you under 40, that's what we used to call setting up a Bible study in someone's home. I don't know how it got that name) Something tells me if we are going to reach a post-modern world, our strategies are going to have to take on a different look. We are going to have to be creative and bold in stepping outside of "the way we've always done it" (which was really only the norm for 40 or 50 years.)

May the Lord bless us with visionaries and dreamers! The future holds so much potential!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Do you ever wonder what heaven will be like? Think of the descriptions, particularly in Revelation. They are intended to appeal to our material side. Golden streets. Crystal seas. Pearly gates. Those early Christians who were undergoing tremendous persecution really needed that.

But last night, as I was teaching the Gospel of John, we came to chapter 14. Every time I read it, my mind is reoriented toward what heaven really is about. In verse 3, Jesus says, "I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."

"To be where I am" -- that's what heaven is! To be with the Father. To be with Jesus!

Fanny J. Crosby may be the most prolific song writer in the modern era. She wrote over 6,000 hymns in the late 19th century. Many of them are still staples in churches' songbooks. "Blessed Assurance." "To God be the Glory." "A Wonderful Savior."

Fanny was also blind. A person once said to her, "Blindness must be a terrible thing." Fanny responded, "Oh, not really. The first face I ever see will be Jesus."

Wow! That's the right perspective on heaven. To see Jesus!

Another song Fanny wrote is "As I Journey Through This Land." The chorus says, "O I want to see Him! Look upon His face. There to sing forever of His saving grace."

You can have the golden streets, pearly gates and crystal seas. Heaven, to me, means being with Jesus.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Observations from Today's Reading

Just some observations from my daily Scripture reading today:

1. Elijah being taken to heaven in a whirlwind. Now, I don't want to get too theologically confused or confusing here, but it appears that Elijah never faced death. Yet, at some point he had to experience something like death. His flesh cannot inherit the Kingdom. Maybe in that whirlwind, God worked a miraculous transformation.

2. Elisha was baldheaded. He was walking along the road one day, and some kids came out and started making fun of his bald head. Elisha cursed them. Then, two bears came out of the woods and mauled 42 of them. Lesson? Don't mess with bald-headed people!

3. Elisha fixed some stew. There was a famine, and he told the people to put on a large pot of water. A man brought a wild vine and some herbs and added them to the stew. Apparently the vine was poisonous. The people cry out, "O man of God, there is death in the pot!" I relate this story only because of something that happened a few years ago. It is a prime example of twisting Scripture to our own needs. A preacher had been asked to speak during National Drug Awareness Week. He read this passage, and then said to those gathered, "See, there is death in pot!" Yeah, buddy. I'm impressed by the exegesis that preacher performed on his text.

Monday, May 01, 2006

1st Anniversary

It's May 1. One year ago today, I began my ministry with the Decatur Church of Christ. Hard to believe it's been a year already.

Beverly and I have been totally blown away by this church! The people are the real deal! They are so sincerely kind, friendly and supportive. I feel as if I have been on a one-year honeymoon with them.

We are so excited about our future here. With Beverly starting her practice in June, there are even more reasons to be anticipating 2006+.

I just want to thank the search committee for making me your candidate for the job. David Isham and I were talking about that again yesterday. I am so humbled. I want to thank our elders. These men have been incredible! And thank you, Decatur Church of Christ, for just being you.

Beverly and I made a great decision!