Thursday, May 31, 2007

Taking Things Too Far

A couple of years ago I first heard Tim McGraw's song, "Live Like You Were Dyin'". It's the story of a man who finds out he is dying, so he decides to really live. The chorus: "I went skydivin', I went Rocky Mountain climbin', I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu. And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter and I watched the eagle as it was flying."

I made the mistake of telling my family that I wanted to live more like that. And I really do.

So, on vacation two years ago, I did the bungie-seat thing -- where you are rocketed up into the stratosphere and turn loops, etc. That was a big step for me -- because I'm not crazy about heights.

Well yesterday, my son issued another dare. Beverly and I will be in Houston next week where I will be speaking at both my boys' churches (one on Wednesday night and one on Sunday). Jonathan informed me that he and Josh are going skydiving on Friday. He tried to shame me into joining them. Sorry, I just can't do that.

I did offer to take care of their wives and children after Friday.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Reporting the News

After her tirade last week on The View, Rosie O'Donnell has said she probably will never talk to Elisabeth Hasselbeck again. Poor, poor Elisabeth. I bet she has lost a lot of sleep over that one.

In a recent survey, hiring managers and human resource professionals across the nation shared the most unusual resume blunders they've come across in their careers. Top slip-ups from the survey included:

Applicant attached a letter from her mother.

Applicant specified that his availability was limited because Friday, Saturday and Sunday was "drinking time."

Applicant explained an arrest by stating, "We stole a pig, but it was a really small pig."

Applicant drew a picture of a car on the outside of the envelope and said it was the hiring manager's gift.

Applicant explained a gap in employment by saying it was because he was getting over the death of his cat for three months.

A Belated Memorial Day Tribute

I believe the drought -- one of the longest in recorded history for this part of Texas -- can now be declared over. As a result, we are going into the summer in good condition. Most of the lakes are full -- if not overflowing. Lake Bridgeport (the lake closest to us), which was down 22 feet less than two months ago, is now down about 5 feet (maybe less with the rain over the weekend). God has certainly been good to us this spring.

Imagine 3 or 4 Rose Bowl stadiums filled with people. That's about how many service men and women have given their lives in service to our country in our relatively short 200+ years. I didn't do this yesterday, but I think it would be good for every American to watch "Saving Private Ryan" every Memorial Day. We humans tend to forget things fairly quickly. So, it is good to have reminders to cause us to reflect again on the sacrifices made that I can enjoy the freedoms I do.

This Sunday I will begin preaching both Sunday morning and night. I am excited about some of my future preaching plans. On Sunday nights this summer, I am going to preach through the 1st 10 chapters of Genesis. Then in the fall, I am going to preach through 1 Corinthians. On Sunday mornings, I will complete Acts this summer. I have been asked to do a series on marriage in the fall. After that, I am going to do a series on heaven.

Friday, May 25, 2007


I find my thoughts drifting more and more toward heaven these days. I know what some of you are thinking. It's an age thing. And you may be right.

When I was younger, heaven was hardly something I longed for. In my mind (partly because of the theology of my childhood), heaven was simply the better alternative. I KNEW I didn't want to go to hell. But heaven? Singing -- FOR ALL ETERNITY? Well, I would rather sing than burn. But it was like choosing between a spanking or being grounded.

How false such an understanding of heaven is! It is about being fully aware of one's presence in the Kingdom of God. It's about being with Him -- seeing His face.

I'm already committed to a sermon series for the fall. I have been asked to preach on marriage. But I think I am going to follow that up with a study of heaven.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Going Deep

So the Metroplex is getting a Super Bowl! I bet Laura Miller is kicking herself right now for fighting so hard against building a new stadium for the Cowboys in Dallas. Arlington will definitely reap the benefits. And Jerry Jones is smiling ear to ear.

I am at a point spiritually that I don't want to be. I feel like I have just plateaued. And I don't want to stay here. I want to go DEEP with the Lord. I want to live so intimately with Him that He is the overflow of my heart. I want every thought taken captive. I want every word from my tongue to go through the Jesus filter. I want to walk so close with Him that my life will be like Enoch's. I love what it says about him in Genesis 5: 24: "Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away." That's how I want to be.

Would you pray this for me?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Recapping Last Night

Last night, my mother-in-law and father-in-law asked me over for supper. Pork roast and gravy, potatoes, corn bread, cream corn and cake and ice cream. And the doctor is wanting me to come in for a follow-up blood pressure and cholesterol check. I think I better wait a while.

When I got home, I went to change the sheets on the bed (Beverly, your favorite sheets are waiting for when you get home). I turned on "Deal Or No Deal" while I changed them (I am probably the slowest sheet-changer in the world). The man who has been dubbed "the Subway Hero" was on as a contestant (Remember him? He was the one who saw a guy fall onto the tracks and jumped down and covered him while the subway went over them). He got up to where the offer was pretty substantial -- but he only had one large amount (1 million) on the board and kept going anyway. Then he lost that. I don't know what he ended up with, but it couldn't have been much. I was hoping for a different ending.

"24" ended as less of a cliffhanger than in the past. However, it did leave several story lines open. Who thinks Jack's dad is really dead? I have a feeling that he and that computer card are both still alive.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Monday Ramblings

It was wonderful being able to spend some time with my precious grandson Truitt over the weekend. Oh, and his mom and dad, too. He is such a bundle of joy! So active! Beverly is going to be there until Wednesday -- soaking up the love. I envy her.

In my years of ministry, elders' meetings have not been at the top of my list of "fun" activities. But let me tell you: Every time I am with my current elders, it is a treat. I am so proud of them! And I am blessed to serve with them.

Tonight is a big night. Two episodes of "24." Here's predicting that the season finale will leave Jack hanging in suspense (I'm just taking a wild guess.) I wonder if he's going to have to bump off his dad?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Jerry Falwell and Teletubbies

I have had several people tell me that they have tried to post to my blog, but have been unable to. The blog account I use changed a while back, and it is now a Google account. However, I believe it will prompt you as to how to open a Google account so that you can post. The account is free. Please don't give up! Part of the fun of blogging is reading the responses.

Tomorrow Beverly and I are going to Houston to stay with Truitt (also Josh and Kayci). Beverly will stay there until next Wednesday. I will fly back Saturday afternoon. So I may not be in blogger land for a couple of days.

Jerry Falwell passed away yesterday. Back in the 80s, his Moral Majority helped to change the political landscape in America. For some of that, I applaud him. However, as often happens with things of this nature, his scope became too narrow -- fixating on a handful of issues that he and others felt defined Christianity. While I probably would agree with them on those issues, I'm not sure that Jesus ever said a word about them. I realize that in itself does not make something right or wrong. (For instance, I have heard homosexuals say that their lifestyle is OK because Jesus never said anything against it.) However, it does seem that Jesus' agenda was more geared toward justice and concern for the poor and disenfranchised.

On a closing note: The Teletubbies incident really made Christians look foolish.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

My Annual Oil Rant

Gas prices have now reached record highs nationally. So it's time for my annual rant. How do gas stations so beautifully choreograph their price changes? It's like they do it in unison. It's really quite a talent.

Here's something I don't understand: Oil companies know that May begins the summer peak season. So why do they choose this time of year to shut down units at their refineries? The reason they cite for higher prices is higher demand and limited capacity because of refinery "turnarounds" (repairs). Again, don't buy their excuses! It is price-fixing. And we -- the consumers -- are hostages.

I especially feel for the person who is just hanging on -- trying to figure out how to squeeze another $15-20 a week out of their budget. What will such a person have to do without so that the greedy oil companies can have record profits?

In my opinion, big oil companies are the least patriotic of all American businesses, because they affect our entire economy. And they take advantage of any international incident to boost prices again. I may be overstating my case here -- but I think it sometimes borders on treason.

I am ready for our politicians to get serious about alternative fuels. We MUST rid ourselves of dependence on foreign oil. This would also allow us to wash our hands of Middle East politics. We as consumers need to have choices when it comes to energy, and alternative fuels might be the answer. (Of course, the oil companies will probably own the alternative fuels, as well). Unfortunately, most of our politicians are in cahoots with big oil.

Be watching to see what Exxon-Mobil's profits look like for the next quarter.

OK, that's my rant. I just wish I felt better.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Orator? or Prophet?

Last week I mentioned my lawn needing baled. Well, what normally takes me about 2-1/2 hours (edging, trimming and mowing) took me 6 hours spread out over Friday night and Saturday morning. Then, while planting some shrubs on Saturday afternoon, I hit the water line to one of my sprinkler heads. So I got to repair that yesterday afternoon.

I think I will mow again tomorrow evening because Beverly and I are going to Houston on Thursday and I will return Saturday night. I sure don't want to face mowing a hay meadow again.

Tozer really had a way of holding us preachers feet to the fire. Here is today's devotional thought:

And I have put My words in your mouth; I have covered you with the shadow of My hand, that I may plant the heavens, lay the foundations of the earth, and say to Zion, "You are My people." --Isaiah 51:16

The Christian minister, as someone has pointed out, is a descendant not of the Greek orator but of the Hebrew prophet.

The differences between the orator and the prophet are many and radical, the chief being that the orator speaks for himself while the prophet speaks for God. The orator originates his message and is responsible to himself for its content. The prophet originates nothing but delivers the message he has received from God who alone is responsible for it, the prophet being responsible to God for its delivery only. The prophet must hear the message clearly and deliver it faithfully, and that is indeed a grave responsibility; but it is to God alone, not to men. God Tells the Man Who Cares, 85.

The late seminary chaplain Richard Seume once said, "When your people sit in front of you on Sunday morning, they're not interested in hearing another man tell them how to live their lives; they've come to hear a word from God."

May that be my prophetic perspective this week.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Mother's Day

Wow! My yard looks like a jungle today. I was going to mow it last Saturday, but there were other things that came up -- like having a grandson. But the rain and warmer nights have made the grass take off. I may need a hay bailer when I mow this evening.

It's hard to believe that my oldest son Josh and his precious wife Kayci are celebrating their 5th anniversary today. This has been a special week for them. They became parents last Saturday. Anniversary today. And on Sunday, Kayci will get to celebrate her 1st Mother's Day as a mom.

Here's wishing a Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there. Let's remember, however, that Mother's Day is not a happy day for everyone. There are many women who would love to be mothers -- but are unable to. And there are countless people who -- when they hear the word "mother" do not have good memories. So, let's celebrate the beauty of motherhood -- but with sensitivity.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Innocent Man

As you know, I am a John Grisham fan. However, I had not read his newest work, which is non-fiction, because I had heard it was not very good. Well, while I was in Houston, I noticed it on my son Josh's bookshelf. So I started reading it. I borrowed it from him so I could finish it.

It is entitled "The Innocent Man." Actually it tells the story of 4 men from Ada, Oklahoma -- all framed for two separate murders, and all sent to death row. Over the last few years, I have begun to reconsider my position on the death penalty, but this book really solidifies it for me.

I have lived pretty naively. I want to assume that our law enforcement people and our prosecutors are always honest. But this book graphically portrays anything but that. It shows men who were so eager to make a name for themselves in solving crimes that they pushed for indictments with no evidence, ignored evidence to the contrary, and played to the sympathies of a town scared by these unsolved murders.

While I would hope that such "law enforcement" is the rare exception and not the rule, it has made me realize that things like this do happen. I mean, four men in one fairly small town! And this is a true story! To think of people who are robbed of life while the guilty are still free makes me want to scream out for justice. And yet, we have heard so many criminals claim they are innocent that we have become calloused to such a cry.

What would you do if you were innocent and had been found guilty? What recourse would you have? I don't think I will ever be as hard-hearted toward such a claim as I have in the past. And while I have not changed my opinion about the death penalty necessarily from any theological standpoint, I just don't see that it serves as a deterrent to crime. Frankly, it seems somewhat barbaric. I'm not getting on a soapbox about it -- and can totally accept the arguments from both sides. I am just speaking for where I am today in my own skin.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Truitt is Here!

Early Saturday morning we got a call from my son Josh telling us that Kayci was experiencing contractions. A little later, he called from the hospital to tell us that she had been admitted. We immediately went into panic mode. I called to get people to cover for me on Sunday. I had a funeral scheduled for 2 PM. After making a few calls to see if anyone could cover, it became apparent that we would have to wait to leave for Houston after the funeral. Just before I walked in to begin the service, I got a text message: Hard labor had begun.

We got off about 3 PM. We had been on the road about a half hour when we got another text message from Josh. Truitt was here! He was healthy and Kayci was doing well.

After dealing with the disappointment of not being able to actually be there, Beverly and I drove in great anticipation of being able to see and hold our new gift. We arrived at the hospital about 8 PM. When we got there Truitt was under a heat lamp, so we had to wait until his body temperature got to a certain point before we could hold him. Of course, Beverly got the first turn. But, oh, how sweet it was to hold him.

We will go back in about 10 days. I can't wait!

You can see pictures at Truitt's blog site:

Friday, May 04, 2007

Calling for Truitt Ross

Unless our precious daughter-in-law Kayci goes into labor before Monday, Beverly and I will leave after church Sunday afternoon to head for Houston. By Monday night, we should be grandparents for the third time. Our daughter gave us our first grandchild -- a girl. Our sons are blessing us with sons.

I can't wait to see Joshua Truitt Ross! And while we're there, I'll also get to see Jed. If Jenny and Malaya come down, it will be a sweet treat -- getting to see all three.

God is blessing Truitt from the very start. Josh and Kayci are going to be such good parents. I am really proud of my kids. Jenny took to mothering like a duck to water. Of course, she had plenty of practice with our boys. Jonathan jumped right in as a daddy -- making me wish I could have a do-over to be like him. Josh? He was born to be a dad. He has a way with kids that is incredible. This is going to be fun! But the icing on the cake is that they married such wonderful people.

I count myself so blessed!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Feeding the Sheep

There are times when I wish Tozer would just "tend to his own knittin'" as my mother used to say. Today's words are very convicting to me.

Preaching: Starving at the Father's Table

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Feed My lambs." --John 21:15

There is today no lack of Bible teachers to set forth correctly the principles of the doctrines of Christ, but too many of these seem satisfied to teach the fundamentals of the faith year after year, strangely unaware that there is in their ministry no manifest Presence, nor anything unusual in their personal lives. They minister constantly to believers who feel within their breasts a longing which their teaching simply does not satisfy.

I trust I speak in charity, but the lack in our pulpits is real. Milton's terrible sentence applies to our day as accurately as it did to his: "The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed." It is a solemn thing, and no small scandal in the Kingdom, to see God's children starving while actually seated at the Father's table. The Pursuit of God, 8.

Oh, may I NEVER be guilty of such preaching.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Something to Chew On

Here's a couple of quotes I wrote down from last weekend:

"If you are over-extended, you are under-committed."

"Drivenness is not a gift of God. God calls us to peace."


Will the Mavs pull this series out? If last night was their statement game, I think not.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Closing the Deal, part 2

More thoughts from yesterday's blog theme:

You know how much I admired Byron Nelson. Certainly he was one of the greatest sports figures in history. His 11 straight PGA tour wins is about as untouchable as Joe Dimaggio's 56-game hitting streak.

But as I listened to people talk about Mr. Nelson over the past week (when his tournament was played), I was struck by the fact that nobody mentioned him who did not comment upon his faith. They would mention his achievements, his kindness, his commitment to children through his charity, etc. But they would all say something about his deep faith in God.

Mr. Nelson was a seed-planter. At his funeral, I saw celebrities who may never enter church buildings. But I guarantee you: That day, they heard the gospel. Did Mr. Nelson close the deal? I know he did on occasion. In fact, he baptized his wife, Peggy. Was Mr. Nelson evangelistic? Absolutely. How? Because he was light and salt. Because he was the aroma of Christ.