Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Power of Pornography

It was so good to have Ron Carlson here to speak in Decatur last night. He is one of the most sincere Christians I have ever known. He is such a lover of people. I wish I had his energy, too.

After church, we went to Brahm's for ice cream. Ron told me that he is going to spend 5 weeks speaking about the epidemic of sexual sin. We got to talking about how many preachers we know who have been taken down by this weapon of Satan's. Ron has also been doing a lot of research on internet pornography. He said research shows that 60% of Christian men visit a porn site every day! He also told me that the NFL, in their recent renegotiations, had to drop their asking price because viewership is down. Why? Because men in the target audience (age 15-34) are on porn sites rather than watching the games.

Why would we choose to do that which will destroy relationships and rot our souls? Because Satan knows how to wrap up poison to make it look good.

Next Wednesday night, we will begin our men's class again here at church. I think I know what our topic will be.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Fall is Just Around the Corner

The cooler weather over the last couple of days and nights has been invigorating. I left the house this morning right at daybreak, and it felt so good!

We are entering my favorite season of the year. I love the Fall (not the Adam and Eve one, but the season). After a long Texas summer, it is refreshing. I love the changing of the leaves. I love the cool nights. High school football. College game day. I used to live for hunting season. Even now, I have such vivid memories of sitting in the woods on a crisp autumn morning.

I imagine most people are "Spring" people. I like Spring, but it is too much of a reminder of the long summer to come.

How about you? Submit your vote. Spring? Summer? Fall? Winter? I guess I don't need to put winter. We don't have one in Texas.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I Want To Be Like Jesus!

I was reading Philip Yancey yesterday and came across this. I hope it means as much to you as it did to me.

A phrase used by both Peter and Paul has become one of my favorite images from the New Testament. We are to administer, or "dispense," God's grace, say the two apostles. The image brings to mind one of the old-fashioned "atomizers" women used before the perfection of spray technology. Squeeze a rubber bulb, and droplets of perfume come shooting out of the fine holes at the other end. A few drops suffice for a whole body; a few pumps change the atmosphere in a room. That is how grace shouuld work, I think. It does not convert the entire world or an entire society, but it does enrich the atmosphere.

Now I worry that the prevailing image of Christians has changed from that of a perfume atomizer to a different spray apparatus: the kind used by insect exterminators. There's a roach! Pump, spray, pump, spray. There's a spot of evil! Pump, spray, pump, spray. Some Christians I know have taken on the task of "moral exterminator" for the evil-infested society around them.

I share a deep concern for our society. I am struck, though, by the alternative power of mercy as demonstrated by Jesus, who came for the sick and not the well, for the sinners and not the righteous. Jesus never countenanced evil, but he did stand ready to forgive it. Somehow, he gained the reputation as a lover of sinners, a reputation that his followers are in danger of losing today. As Dorothy Day put it, "I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Monday Morning Ramblings

Just a quick Monday morning blog. Ho-hum, Tiger won again -- with his "C" game.

Last night was great! My sweetie got home. Beverly had left Wednesday night to go be with her mom as she had surgery on Thursday morning. Then she stayed for a few days to assist her mom and dad. I do OK when she is away -- for about 6 hours. So I was really glad to see her safely home last night.

And it's raining! Thank you, Lord. Over the last few weeks, we have been getting about a half in to an inch a week. It has been so good for our lawns! And it is so refreshing. But Lord, our reservoirs need a tropical depression to camp out here for a couple of days.


A couple of months back, the Cowboys signed T.O. I said at the time that it was the last straw for me. People said that I ought to give T.O a chance. They said that he had changed. Well, it's looking like he is well on the way to destroying a third team. And it's a shame, because it looks like the Cowboys could be competitive. What a waste.

Friday, August 25, 2006

A Mixed Bag

Beverly's mom's surgery went well yesterday. Beverly will stay down there for a few days. I sure miss her when we are apart.


Well, the oil companies are pulling another one. This is one area I admit to being especially cynical about, but having worked for one years ago I know how they play their game. Last report was that our inventories were up. So, the prices have been coming down for the last couple of weeks. Well, this morning they are headed back up. Why? Because of concerns over a hurricane. Huh? Could it be that they are simply playing on the pubiic's memories from Katrina -- which was forming this time last year? The current storm that is now in the Atlantic, Debby, is expected to take a hairpin turn and never approach the US.


Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the growth of Islam in our world. Islam means "submission." Publicly, they claim to be peace-loving. However, as I look at the world globe -- anywhere they inhabit is anything but peaceful. The Koran calls for imposing "submission to Allah" upon the world. If it is only the radical, fundamentalists who are violent and who foster terrorism, why hasn't any moderate voice come out to speak against them?

What do you think? Are Moslems, in general, peace-loving and tolerant people. Or could it be that they are presenting one face to us to try to keep us complacent while building toward something sinister (ala Nazi Germany).

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Who Compares to Tiger?

While Beverly and I were gone on our trip, Tiger Woods won his 12th major. He is 3 years ahead of Jack Nickaus' record major pace of 18. He totally dominates the game of golf today. In the world golf rankings (a weird formula), he has lapped the field. His ranking is 19+. Phil Michelson is second at 9+. Tiger is further ahead of number two than number two is ahead of the very last place. He is a stud.

I know that there are those who would argue that golfers are not athletes. When I look at Tim Herron or John Daly (even Phil looks like he is spending more time with the ice cream than on the practice range), I am tempted to agree. But you would be hard-pressed to say that Tiger Woods is not an athlete. As one writer in this morning's Dallas Morning News said, I find it hard to believe Tiger would not have excelled at any sport he set his mind to.

So, here is your challenge: Who even comes close to dominating his / her sport (game) like Tiger Woods. (And those who use body-enhancing drugs don't count).


On another note: Beverly's mom is having knee surgery this morning. Please keep her and the family in your prayers.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Journey

Enjoy this quote from Tozer, and may your journey today be blessed.

O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.
--Jeremiah 10:23

The prophet here turns to a figure of speech, one which appears in the Scriptures so frequently that it is not easy to remember that it is but a figure. Man is seen as a traveler making his difficult way from a past he can but imperfectly recollect into a future about which he knows nothing. And he cannot stay, but must each morning strike his moving tent and journey on toward--and there is the heavy problem--toward what?

It is a simple axiom of the traveler that if he would arrive at the desired destination he must take the right road. How far a man may have traveled is not important; what matters is whether or not he is going the right way, whether the path he is following will bring him out at the right place at last. Sometimes there will be an end to the road, and maybe sooner than he knows; but when he has gone the last step of the way will he find himself in a tomorrow of light and peace, or will the day toward which he journeys be "a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness"?
The Set of the Sail, pp. 105-106

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What Ever Happened to Common Sense and Manners?

Yesterday I shared about our wonderful trip to the Northeast. Today, I want to make some cynical observations (with my tongue half planted in my cheek).

I know we are not to judge other people's motives. Still, I sometimes struggle with that. Such as, on an airplane -- right before taxiing or right after landing, what's with those few people who want to talk on their cell phones so loudly that no one around them can think? I truly believe I have a sign on my back that only such people can see. It says: "Please speak loudly on your cell phone when in my presence." Whether it is an airplane seat or a movie theater -- I will inevitably be seated right next to or in front of this person. Maybe I'm just not "with the times" -- but it seems to be such boorish behavior.

And what's with no manners these days? I'm on an elevator or on the subway. I go to get off. But before I can get off -- a pack of four or five people want to get on. Uh, is it just me, or doesn't it just make common sense that those getting on should first allow people to get off? "Let's all pack into this elevator and see how difficult we can make it for you to then weave your way out."

One last one. We live in America! In America, you travel on the right. Why, whether walking on a sidewalk or down an aisle or some other confined space, do people walk down the left -- and expect others to just stop in thier steps to avoid a collision?

Just some observations. I'm thinking about preaching on this, once I can come up with a Scripture that will support me.

Monday, August 21, 2006

What a Trip!

We are back. What a great 30th anniverary trip! We left cool weather and arrived home at about 11 PM last night. It was much hotter at that hour than we experienced on our trip.

We were in Boston on Monday and Tuesday. We spent a whole day on the Freedom Trail. It was very interesting reliving the history of the Revolution and seeing cemeteries with markers from the 1600s. Especially interesting was North Church -- where the lanterns were placed in the window for Paul Revere. Inside the church, the pews are petitioned so that each family sat by themselves in little cubicles. The more they paid for their seats, the CLOSER to the front. Interesting.

On Wednesday, we went on a whale-watch. A boat took us about 20 miles out into the Atlantic where we saw about 20 humpback whales. It was really cool! That night we stayed in a bed-and-breakfast in Marblehead, Mass. We slept in the same bed as Keith Richards had slept in! And we didn't even get high!

Thursday, we toured the Crane Estate in Ipswitch. It was unbelievable! A summer home used only a couple of weeks a year back in the early 19th century -- but it is incredible! Mrs. Crane didn't like the first mansion they built, so Mr. Crane had it leveled and built this beautiful home. The grounds were absolutely beautiful.

That night we stayed in Kennebunk at a quant b-and-b. It was built in the late 1600s, and had been a hiding place for the underground railroad. We slept with the windows open that night -- no AC necessary.

Friday we drove up the coast of Maine and viewed the gorgeous coastline (a couple of beautiful lighthouses). Then we cut over into New Hampshire and drove through the White Mountains. Wow! Mountain streams. Beautiful trees. It was great. Then,we drove down into the Lakes Region. We drove around the lake where "On Golden Pond" was filmed. We stopped and got an ice cream cone and sat in the twilight looking over the lake.

Saturday we went back to Boston and took in a few more sights and did a little shopping. We drove around Harvard University. ACU has it beat!

Then, Sunday we drove around Fenway Park. Wow! It is a city within a city. And we toured the JFK Presidential Library. Another opportunity to relive some history that we actually did experience (though very young, I might add). The library sits on the Bay looking out into the Atlantic and overlooking the city of Boston. Definitely a Kodak moment.

It's good to be home. But it was a delightful way to spend a 30th anniversary.

Oh, yeah, the seafood was delicious. I had never eaten clam chowder. I think I had it every day on the trip. Delicious!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Prayer Walk

Moments ago, Beverly and I completed our church's prayer walk. It was absolutely incredible! The goal is to have someone in our church praying for our young people (school age) for the next 24 hours. The room is set up in 10 stages, and at each stage we prayed for different children by name. We prayed for specifics -- for them to be light, for them to overcome temptation, for them to share Jesus, etc. It was a quick 30 minutes, and one of the coolest prayer times I have been a part of. Thank you to Jacob and Heather Baker and Tonya Hamilton for coming up with this great idea and for setting up the room in such an inviting way. If you read this blog today and have not signed up, call Jacob at the office. You won't be sorry.

On Monday morning, Beverly and I will be flying to Boston to spend a week together celebrating our 30th anniversary. We will spend a couple of days in Boston, and then drive up the coast into Maine. From there we will drive over into New Hampshire, and then return to Boston. I am really looking forward to the cooler weather! Highs in Boston this week have been in the upper 70s and low 80s. I will try to blog some while we are gone. Please do pray for our safety.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Yes, I Have Been to Paris

Beverly and I made it home late last night from Paris (just saying that makes me feel like a jet-setter). The church there was very interesting. It dates back to around the Civil War. On one wall they have pictures of all of their preachers. It was like taking a tour through the American Restoration Movement. F. D. Srygley, J. W. McGarvey, Foy Wallace, Sr -- and several others I cannot remember at the moment.

We had a nice evening there. The preacher, Patrick Cannon, seems like a fine, young man. He and his wife were very helpful. It was also good to see Roy and Anna Bolton. Roy was one of the elders who hired me when I went to the Mesquite church in 1993. After services last night, we went to Brahm's with them and did a little reminiscing. He and I laughed as we recalled after I had been at Mesquite for a while. That church was a good, stable church -- but it had a handful of people who were malcontents. To some extent, it was driven by at least one elder. In fact, two elders (including the one just mentioned) resigned within the first two weeks I was there -- throwing things into an uproar.

So, after I had been there a while, I remember asking Roy, "Roy, during the interview process, I asked you elders if there was any tension in the eldership and you told me 'no.' Why?" Give him credit for his frankness. He said, "If we had told you that, you wouldn't have come."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Today, it's off to East Texas where I will be speaking at the Lamar Avenue Church of Christ this evening. Still waiting for that call to Del Rio (see yesterday's blog).

On the way home from our Texas tour over the weekend, the air conditioner in my car went out. Yesterday was a slap of reality as I got bids on repairing it. The best bid? $1,200! So, if you see me over the next few weeks and I smell like I've been outside working, you will know why. Even the 5 minute drive home from the office works up a pretty good sweat.

I'm re-reading Philip Yancey's book, What's So Amazing About Grace. Yancey scares me because he thinks so much like I do at times. It's like he expresses what is in my head and heart. Listen to what he says about forgiving:

"By forgiving another, I am trusting that God is a better justice-maker than I am. By forgiving, I release my own right to get even and leave all issues of fairness for God to work out . . . Such a decision involves risk, of course: the risk that God may not deal with the person as I would want . . .I never find forgiveness easy, and rarely do I find it completelly satisfying. Nagging injustices remain, and the wounds still cause pain. I have to approach God again and again, yielding to him the residue of what I thought I had committed to him long ago." (p. 93)

It truly is a daily battle -- waiting for wounds to become scars.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Texas: It's a Bigggg State!

Beverly and I had a very interesting weekend. Friday morning, we headed out for Lovington, New Mexico -- where we were to do a retreat. We got about 5-1/2 hours away (nearly to Lamesa) when our gas light came on. So, we pulled over in a little town which had no gas stations. A kind lady who ran a little grocery store helped us get enough gas to get us to the next town.

Since this unexpected delay set us back on our arrival time, I decided to call my friend who ministers at the church in Lovington to tell him we were running late. He said, "Brother, you're not late. You're two weeks early." Yes, Rick Ross (mind like a steel-trap) had messed up the date.

So, Beverly and I turned around and pulled over on the side of the road. What do we do now? I got ahold of one of my elders by cellphone (Mike McDowell) and told him what had happened. After he quit laughing (actually, he was still snickering), I told him that I get two weekends a year for meetings and was only using one this year. And, since those covering for me had already made preparations, would it be OK for Beverly and me to go visit our kids in Houston. Mike was so gracious (although still laughing), and said of course.

We drove 5-1/2 hours back to Decatur. Then we got up Saturday morning and went to Houston. Got to spend time with our grandson. Got to spend one night with Josh and Kayci and went to church with them Sunday morning and heard him preach an excellent sermon on "The Table." Sunday evening, we went back to Jonathan and Jennifer's and spent the night. We were able to hear him lead worship (he is so good!) on Sunday night.

So, we went to West Texas. And we went to the Gulf Coast. Tomorrow night we head for Northeast Texas (Paris) -- where I will preach on their Wednesday night program. I guess all I need is a call to go to Del Rio, and we have covered the state.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A Special Day

On August 3, 1978 the people of Albany, Texas (north of Abilene) were overwhelmed with 20 inches of rain. The Great Albany Flood. That same day, Beverly and I were overwhelmed with the birth of our oldest child. During Beverly's pregnancy (which she loved. I know you will find it surprising that she found joy in that), people would ask if we wanted a boy or a girl. I wished for a girl. And the Lord granted my wish.

It was still in the days where the father was not allowed back with the mother during delivery. So, when I finally got to hold that beautiful bundle, it was just unbelievable. She brought so much joy into our lives.

She was born with a voice like an angel. Her cry was soft -- almost considerate. But from the time she began to talk, she could sing on pitch. To this day, her voice gives me goosebumps.

So many wonderful memories. I loved rocking her to bed every night, and reading her bedtime stories. Butterfly kisses. Working puzzles. Icees. Going for walks. PIcking the "Ok-ok" (that's okra for you grown-ups) out of my garden.

Whenever we traveled, she would shout, "I see choo-choo train." And she would continue saying it until we said, "Yes, Jenny. It's a choo-choo train."

When she was in kindergarden, she came home from school with an assignment: Write a letter to Santa Claus. So, she and I sat down to write. I asked, "What would you like to say?" No response. I said, "How about let's begin with 'Dear Santa.' What do you want to say next?" She thought for a moment and said, "Rabbit Santa."

I am so glad that Jenny is our first child. If we had had one of the boys first, we might have been tempted to stop there (Just kidding, guys). My only regret is that I was so new at the parenting thing, I made a lot of mistakes with her. If I could do it over again, she would never doubt that she is the pride of her father's heart.

I am so very pleased with the woman my daughter has become. She is an outstanding mother, wonderful volunteer, and a woman of strong faith and conviction. She made an excellent choice in a mate. David is a father-in-law's dream. And I am so very grateful for the way in which she shares precious Malaya with Grammy and Grampy.

Happy 28th birthday, my sweet girl. Hard to believe. That makes me nearly 40! You have made your daddy a proud man. See you tonight at Joe T. Garcia's.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Trip to Lovington, New Mexico

Friday Beverly and I will be heading to Lovington, New Mexico for a weekend with the church there. She will lead a ladies' day on Saturday. On Friday night, two sessions Saturday night and four sessions Sunday, I will be teaching from the Sermon on the Mount.

This is the third straight year we have made this trip. It is so special. The church is warm and friendly. And we get to spend time with our dear friends, Larry and Aleta Tittle. Larry serves as a minister there.

We will be returning on Monday, arriving in the evening. So I will be missing from the blogger world for a few days.

I'm writing this today to ask you to be praying for us this weekend, that the Lord will use us to bring words of blessing. Also, I'm writing it today because tomorrow will be dedicated to a very special person in my life.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Softball and Mel Gibson

Well, the softball season is about over. We began our post-season tournament last night. We played Grace Baptist. I think they need to reconsider their name. Last week, they beat us 35-0. Last night we had similar results: 36-6.

Obviously, we are not very good. We won less than half our games during the season. But "Grace" Baptist? They surely didn't show us any. I'm really just kidding. After the game, one of the guys apologized for running up the score. He said that the tournament winner could come down to runs scored. I told him not to worry about it. I said that they way we played, they would have had to sit down on the bases to keep from running up the score.

We play again tonight. Chances are this will be our last game.


I really like Mel Gibson. I have heard some discussion about his being stopped for drunk driving last week. But I don't know for sure what the hoopla is about what he said in his drunkenness. I need to find an article where that is detailed. It is certainly serving as fodder for the talk shows. Even on GMA this morning they were talking about alcohol's affect on our inhibitions.