Tuesday, July 31, 2007

It's Easy to Miss the Point

As I have been grading my students' work on the E-Course I am teaching this summer (Life and Teachings of Jesus), I am struck in particular by two questions on their current assignment. One has to do with the foundation of Jesus' church. Almost all the students put that the church is built upon Peter. So I have had to explain the different terms for "rock" and that "upon this rock I will build my church" actually refers to the bedrock statement of faith made by Peter, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

But another question troubles me as much or more. After the story of Jesus and the adulterous woman (John 8), I asked the students to sum up the meaning of the story. All of them put things like "we are all sinners, so we shouldn't judge," etc. And while that is true, I want them to see a greater story than that. I want them to see the BEAUTIFUL story of God's grace -- as Jesus reaches out to a woman rejected by "society," and invites her to bask in the warmth of the mercy of God. "Neither do I condemn you, but go your way and sin no more."

What a Savior!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Vacation is in View

My mind is already thinking ahead to vacation that begins on Friday. So, this morning's thoughts from Tozer beat anything I have to offer:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Some misguided Christian leaders feel that they must preserve harmony at any cost, so they do everything possible to reduce friction. They should remember that there is no friction in a machine that has been shut down for the night. Turn off the power, and you will have no problem with moving parts. Also remember that there is a human society where there are no problems--the cemetery. The dead have no differences of opinion. They generate no heat, because they have no energy and no motion. But their penalty is sterility and complete lack of achievement.

What then is the conclusion of the matter? That problems are the price of progress, that friction is the concomitant of motion, that a live and expanding church will have a certain quota of difficulties as a result of its life and activity. A Spirit-filled church will invite the anger of the enemy. This World: Playground or Battleground?, 112-113.

Friday, July 27, 2007


This has to be the strangest summer I ever remember. More rain in the forecast for the next few days. I think it all stems back to me putting in an automatic sprinkler system at the end of last summer:). But here it is the end of July -- and we are looking at highs in the upper 80s and lows in the upper 60s. Last night at about 6:30 or 7, I was outside -- and it actually had a feel of Fall in the air. It has been really nice.

I wrote about smoking the other day. Maybe you heard that Disney is not going to have any scenes with smoking in them from now on. I don't know what they will do with their old animated movies, because the report I was watching showed clips of smoking from "101 Dalmatians," "Pinnochio," and "Peter Pan" -- as well as others.

I don't know: Are kids really tempted to smoke because they see Cruella DeVille (sp?) puffing on a cigarette in a holder that is 18 inches long? Could this be an overreaction on the part of Disney?

Here's hoping that the stock market got over its little temper fit yesterday.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

From The Home of Catfish O'Harley's

Last night, Beverly and I traveled to Garland where we spoke on marriage to a group at the Saturn Road Church of Christ. We left in time to eat with her sister and her family -- in celebration of her sister's birthday. We ate at a Chinese buffet. Everything was going fine until her sister kept waving her napkin at Beverly's chair (she was trying to be non-chalant about it). There was a roach that was getting its exercise going up and down the back of Beverly's chair.

Needless to say, Beverly didn't get her fill of the buffet. That about did it for her.

At Saturn Road, it was good to see people who have meant a lot to us in our past. One couple had come over from Mesquite to hear us, and that was really special.

On a related note, I find it interesting when I tell people I am from Decatur, often their response goes something like this: "Decatur? We drive through there quite often as we're heading to ____________. We always stop at Catfish O'Harleys."

So I guess that's our claim to fame. It could be worse I suppose. Waco is known for a tornado and the Branch Davidians. Hunstville is known for its prison. Springtown was made famous in a song by The Steve Miller Band.

I'll take catfish. Although I would be willing to trade with Brenham -- known for Blue Bell Ice Cream.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Non-Smoking, Please.

I read yesterday that the Federal government is considering adding an additional tax on cigarettes -- nearly a dollar a pack. Currently, the cost for a pack of cigarettes is about half taxes (over $2 a pack).

To their credit, I haven't heard many smokers complaining. I think the extra taxes ought to go toward health care, since smokers add a hefty amount to the cost of national health services.

But it got me to thinking how much things have changed in my lifetime. When I was a kid, the majority of adults smoked. I watch the old "I Love Lucy" show, and the four of them all light up as they sit in the living room. Growing up in the home of a smoker, I can only imagine what that room must have been like -- with four people puffing away. But our clothes always smelled like smoke, as well as our bedding and curtains, etc. And I would not have thought a thing about being in a restaurant with a heavy haze of smoke.

Having been away from that for years has changed my perspective. The other day when we were in Houston, we went to an outdoor cafe. About 20 feet away there was a man smoking -- and the smoke drifted my way. And I noticed! Now, it is like someone is invading my space if they smoke around me.

Quite a difference of perspective.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Big-Time Traveler

We had a busy weekend, but it was really nice. Getting to see old friends was very rewarding. The marriage I performed was for a young man whom I had helped coach in T-Ball. His parents and Beverly and I were close friends -- enjoying movies, bowling and Cowboy games together back in the 80s. Good memories.

Yesterday a buddy of mine and I went to Possum Kingdom to play golf at The Cliffs. Wow! It was great. What a beautiful place! On the 4th tee, we had to wait as a deer crossed the tee box in front of us. As we traveled back, we had to slow down while a wild turkey made its way across the highway. I loved it!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Happy Retirement, Troy!

Beverly and I have watched WFAA-channel 8 news since we 1st came to the Metroplex 14 years ago. For all those years (and many before that), Troy Dungan has been the lead weather guy. Not a meteorologist -- and he never tried to make anyone think he was. He left the title for the other people he worked with.

Always in his trademark bowtie. One thing that sticks in my mind vividly was when Christine Kahonek was one of the weather people at WFAA -- she had a miscarriage. Troy volunteered to give her his prime 5-6 PM spot and he took her spot until she could get through that difficult time. A class guy.

Also Troy is a man of faith -- and not of the closet variety either. I find it refreshing when celebrities live confident lives of faith. They don't have to be "in-your-face" about it. But consistently -- day in and day out.

Well, after over 30 years at channel 8, Troy retired last night. I'm going to miss him.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Is This What Is Meant By The Dog Days of Summer?

I am tired. I don't know if the peculiar weather this year hasn't allowed my system to adjust to the sudden summer heat or if it's the higher humidity or if I'm just getting older. It may be all three. But I mowed our yard on Sunday afternoon. Then I played golf Monday afternoon. And yesterday I worked in my in-laws' yard. I got home last night and I was pooped.

Sometimes I wish I had more of my wife's energy. Notice I said "sometimes." Actually, she tires me out just watching her. But it seems like in years past, summers have been more laid back and slower paced. Not this summer! It has been really hectic.

Tomorrow Beverly and I will head back to Houston (I think our car could get there by itself). I am doing a wedding on Saturday evening in Texas City. Then we will leave the reception to get home -- probably around 1 or 2 AM. Then up early Sunday. Whew! I'm getting tired just thinking about it.

And when am I going to watch any of the British Open?

I need a vacation. Thankfully, in two weeks we will be going on one.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Global Warming and the Environment

I know I repeat themes from one blog to another, and I can't remember what I wrote about a couple of months ago. So this may be a repeated idea.

I can remember when I thought environmentalists were all extremists, and that 'global warming" was a fairy tale. I still am not sure that it is as drastic as some would have us believe. I know that air pollution and water pollution are not nearly as bad as they were when I was a teenager. However, I do think that global warming is affecting our weather to some degree.

But the attitude of the other extreme nauseates me. I'm talking about Rush Limbaugh and his ilk who make jokes about cutting down the rain forests and act as if human excess is a virtue. Their creed seems to be, "I will live for me. Who cares about the future?"

Surely the sane position is between the two extremes -- and probably leaning toward the environmentalists. God placed us here on this planet to take care of it. And there are things we can do to protect it -- and make it better. Will it mean doing without some excesses? Probably. Will it cost some money? Yes.

But I want my grandkids and their kids to be able to enjoy the beauty of the earth. And I don't want to risk shaking up the environment because of sheer selfish living on my part. There are so many fairly painless ways that we could make this earth a cleaner place. And I for one am willing to do my part.

Any thoughts?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Nothing is coming to mind this morning (no smart-aleck comments here, please.) So here's something to chew on from Tozer. Don't miss the last couple of lines:

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. --1 Timothy 6:17

We in the churches seem unable to rise above the fiscal philosophy which rules the business world; so we introduce into our church finances the psychology of the great secular institutions so familiar to us all and judge a church by its financial report much as we judge a bank or a department store.

A look into history will quickly convince any interested person that the church has almost always suffered more from prosperity than from poverty. Her times of greatest spiritual power have usually coincided with her periods of indigence and rejection; with wealth came weakness and backsliding. If this cannot be explained, neither apparently can it be escaped. . . .

The point I am trying to make here is that while money has a proper place in the total life of the church, the tendency is to attach to it an importance that is far greater than is biblically sound or morally right. The average church has so established itself organizationally and financially that God is simply not necessary to it. So entrenched is its authority and so stable are the religious habits of its members that God could withdraw Himself completely from it and it could run on for years on its own momentum. The Warfare of the Spirit, 9-11.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The War in Iraq

What a great time it is to be with grandkids. We didn't get to see Truitt for long, but he has really changed. He is SO strong! It was nice to be with Josh and Kayci and to speak at their church. Tomorrow, Jennifer and Jed will be coming to spend nearly a week! I'm sure we will get to see Malaya some during that time as well. Things don't get any better than that.

The stock market went crazy yesterday. Kind of surprising -- with the price of gasoline going up. That is usually a rally-killer for stocks.

What would you do about Iraq if you were in George Bush's place right now? He did not make the decision to go into Iraq alone. Congress was supportive of it, too. But you wouldn't know it now -- the way they have all distanced themselves from the decision. Cowardly, if you ask me.

Yes, in hindsight maybe we shouldn't have gone into Iraq. But to abandon that mission now is going to embolden the terrorists. They will consider it a victory.

Regardless of how you feel about the issue, don't you sympathize with those who have to make the decision?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Quick Trip to Houston

In just a little while, Beverly and I will head down to Houston town. I will speak at my son Josh's church tonight and we will spend the night and come back tomorrow. We'll get to see "the T man" (Truitt, my youngest grandchild) for a while. There is also a Marble Slab close to their house. I hope we get to go there! Sweet cream and Heath Bar, Baby!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Fate of Darwinism

I am currently reading a book by Lee Strobel entitled THE CASE FOR GOD. In it, he describes how he was once an atheist -- due to a large degree by what he had been taught in high school about evolution. He went on to become an investigative reporter for one of Chicago's daily papers.

In this book, Strobel goes to leading scientists and interviews them about Darwinism and evolution. Admittedly, most of them question the theories that many have blindly accepted. But he also quotes a number of staunch evolutionists. His case is compelling -- as he chips away at each of the "proofs" offered by Darwinists.

I am convinced that within a couple of generations, Darwinism will be considered as laughable as the "flat-earth" theory of the Middle Ages.

If you find yourself struggling with belief issues, I would recommend Strobel. I have read THE CASE FOR CHRIST, so this is my 2nd read. He also has a book entitled THE CASE FOR FAITH.

Monday, July 09, 2007


...and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire, and after the fire a still small voice. --1 Kings 19:12

"The accent in the Church today," says Leonard Ravenhill, the English evangelist, "is not on devotion, but on commotion." Religious extroversion has been carried to such an extreme in evangelical circles that hardly anyone has the desire, to say nothing of the courage, to question the soundness of it. Externalism has taken over. God now speaks by the wind and the earthquake only; the still small voice can be heard no more. The whole religious machine has become a noisemaker. The adolescent taste which loves the loud horn and the thundering exhaust has gotten into the activities of modern Christians. The old question, "What is the chief end of man?" is now answered, "To dash about the world and add to the din thereof."

I have been guilty of adding to such a mindset in the church. Busy, busy busy! As Chuck Swindoll once observed, "We more resemble a stampeding herd of cattle than sheep by still waters."

It is taking a long time, but the Lord is teaching me -- in small doses -- the value of quietness. This is definitely a discipline that I want to make a part of my spiritual practice. I've tasted enough to know I want more.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Fighting Terrorism

"Of course, not all Muslims are terrorists. But . . . virtually all suicide terrorists today are Muslims. . . . Muslims have got to understand that a death cult has taken root in the bosom of their religion; feeding off it like a cancerous tumor. . . . If Muslim leaders don't remove this cancer -- and only they can -- it will spread, tainting innocent Muslims and poisoning their relations with each other and with the world." -- Thomas L. Friedman, "Terrorist groups are easy to finish, but hard to find" (Houston Chronicle, 7/5/07).

Friedman has hit on something that I have been saying for some time. If Islam is a religion of peace and not a terroristic religion, then they must police -- and work to put an end to -- the terrorists among them. However, it seems to me that they have been far too silent at best . . . and indirectly supportive at worst.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The World As It Is

The following is from Edward Fudge's email:

"Imagine that the approximately 6.5 billion men, women and children in the world today were shrunk into a village containing 100 people with all present human ratios remaining as they are now. Forty-six people in this prototype human village would enjoy political freedom, 17 would be partially free and 37 would be denied most basic human rights.
Geographically, this village of 100 people would include 57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 14 people from the Americas (North, Central and South) and 8 Africans. Seventy of the 100 villagers would be non-white. Religiously, 66 people would be non-Christian (22 Muslims, 15 Hindus, 14 non-religious, 6 Buddhists, 9 other) and 34 would profess Christianity (18 Roman Catholics, 7 Protestants, 4 Orthodox and 5 other).

In terms of formal education, only one person in this village would have a college education. In the cycle of life, one villager would be near birth and one would be near death. From an economic standpoint, six villagers would possess half the wealth of the total village, all six of them from the United States. Meanwhile, 80 villagers would live in substandard housing, 70 would not be able to read and 50 would suffer from malnutrition."

While information like this makes me very grateful to live in America, it also reminds me that because we are so blessed we have a greater responsibility to bring about change in our world.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Denver Conference

Beverly and I had a great trip to Denver -- arriving home last night at about 12: 30 AM. The conference was more than I had expected. I learned so much about how men and women think.

It's interesting: Remember how back in the 70s and 80s, the pop psychology was that men and women are alike, and any differences are due to culture or environment. Well, now everyone is on board with the fact that our brains operate very differently. In fact, the leading experts in the field were showing how vastly different our brains respond to situations. MRIs have allowed science to watch the way our brains respond to different emotions, situations and stimuli. It was fascinating to this layperson.

It's good to be home. Happy 4th!