Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Great Man

Yesterday was a day we have known was coming, and yet a day we have dreaded. My father-in-law passed away in the early hours of Tuesday morning. He was 80 years old.

Billie Jones grew up on a farm in Trinity County (deep east Texas). And although he didn't stay on the farm, he never lost that down-to-earth charm.

Billie Jones LOVED people, almost as much as he loved the Lord. He never met a stranger. Or let me put it this way, if he DID meet a stranger, that person did not stay a stranger long.

He loved the Lord SO much! He taught me many things. How to be a good husband and a good father. But one of the most valuable lessons I learned was watching his focus on prayer.

He defined integrity, and this is what I will talk about quite a bit tomorrow at his funeral. He believed that if you said you were going to do something -- you do it. Even if it hurts, you do it.

In recent years, his thoughts have become more and more focused on heaven. A few years ago, I began a Bible class by asking people about places they would like to visit. He said, "Heaven." I kind of made fun of his "church" answer, and immediately regreted it. Why? Because I realized that for him, it was not a "church" answer. He TRULY meant it.

Yesterday, Billie Jones got his wish.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Miley, Tell Me It Ain't So!

My granddaughter loves Miley Cyrus and "Hannah Montana." I have to admit, when she is at the house watching it, I listen in. The show is funny -- though corny. And Miley has been so wholesome on any show I have seen her on.

Then news comes out about a photo shoot she had with Vanity Fair magazine in which some "racy" pictures were taken. Here is Miley's statement:

"I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be 'artistic' and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed," Cyrus said Sunday in a statement through her publicist. "I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about."

Give her credit for apologizing. But was the magazine to be blamed, or was it an error on the Cyrus' part in judging Miley's audience. After all, since the pictures came out, there has been an outcry against her.

The following is a statement from Vanity Fair, defending its position: "Miley's parents and/or minders were on the set all day," the magazine said. "Since the photo was taken digitally, they saw it on the shoot and everyone thought it was a beautiful and natural portrait of Miley."

So is this another example of a teen going "adult," like Britanny Spears and so many before her? Or is this truly a regretful error on the part of the Cyruses? Or is it much to-do about nothing?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Persistent Prayer

Dr. Moody Stuart once drew up a set of rules to guide him in his prayers. Among these rules is this one: "Pray till you pray."...

I can so relate to that. There are occasions when I "pray" that there are so many distractions that I never actually pray. Perseverance no doubt plays a large part in effective prayer.

I have added another item to my list of things I want to become. I want to be known as an encourager. Not in the sense of "It's a great day! Put a smile on your face." No, I want to be known as someone who says things to people that help them to reframe their futures.

So I add that to "taking each thought captive" and to prayer becoming as natural as breathing.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Carly's Gone

A bit of a surprise on American Idol last night. Carly got cut. I was really expecting it to be Brooke this week. I think she was expecting it too.

Carly has one of the better voices of all the contestants. But that full-arm tatoo and her angry-rock style may have turned voters off. I would like to think her choice of the blasphemous "Jesus Christ, Superstar" may have had something to do with her lack of votes this week (I kind of doubt it).

How must it feel to be Brooke, Syesha and Jason at this point? Does anyone really doubt that the last two standing will be David Cook and David A?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Spiritual Goals

From Tozer:

"Most of us in moments of stress have wished that we had lived so that prayer would not be so unnatural to us and have regretted that we had not cultivated prayer to the point where it would be as easy and as natural as breathing...."

My personal spiritual goals (Rick) right now are 1. to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10: 5) and 2. For prayer to be as natural to me as breathing.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"Speak Where the Bible Speaks"

"Speak where the Bible speaks, be silent where the Bible is silent." It has been a motto by which we in Churches of Christ have tried to live. However, we have often been inconsistent in how we view being silent where the Bible is silent. Does it mean we are forbidden to do anything that the Bible does not endorse? Or does it mean we have freedom? But still, it is good to be a part of a fellowship that wants to find its answers in Scripture.

I have been amused through the years by some of the funny things people have said to me -- confident that they had the backing of the authority of God. I thought of one of them last night. Years ago, when I was ministering in Crockett, Texas, there was a lady who was a chronic complainer. One evening, I had baptized a young boy (about 10), and this woman came to me right after the baptism. She told me he was too young to be baptized. I personally prefer to see people wait until they are mid-teens to make such an important life decision. But I can't make that decision for another person. Anyway, this lady said, "He's not even to the 'age of accountability.'" We have used this term for years, but it is not to be found in Scripture. So I asked her, "What age is that?"

Here was her answer: "Well, since Jesus was 12 when He was in the Temple and He was perfect, then we need to add one year to that -- since we are not perfect. So, the age of accountability is 13."

Now that is rooted in some deep application of Scripture!

My prayer is that we will continue to speak where the Bible speaks. But I also long for us to be silent where the Bible is silent. By the way, I interpret that to mean that in silence, we are not to bind.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday Mishmash

I'm blogging a little later than usual this morning. Beverly and I were at the hospital in Grapevine until fairly late seeing our newest "grandson." Yes, Jody and Rachel Adams had their baby a couple of weeks early. He is beautiful, and they look like naturals as parents already. Calvin and Virginia were beaming!

I have a feeling this baby (named Clayton) may make Guinness' Book of World Records as the most spoiled baby in history. However, he has a pretty high bar set by our grandkids (Beverly is a spoiler par excellant).

I got to play golf again Saturday at Vaquero. What a treat that is! I feel guilty with the way I am treated out there. I think I am the only person who says "thank you" to the wait-staff. They are unbelievable. On the range, you finish with a club, and someone is there to clean it for you. People are constantly coming up asking if you want something to drink. No tipping is allowed.

My friend who invited me said you would not believe how many of the members complain about the conditions and service. I'm going, "HUH?" I guess some people will complain about heaven, too!

Isn't it amazing what a sincere compliment can do for you? Last night, one of our deacons came to me and said some of the kindest things about Beverly and me and how much he appreciates us. Kind words are SO energizing.

I sometimes wonder about words I speak -- especially to our young people. I know that words spoken to me by individuals from church when I was a teenager made a big difference in my life. I want to be that difference-maker to others, too.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Where is the Accountability?

I was a business major in my undergraduate college degree. I have admiration for the theory of the free-enterprise system. But doesn't there need to be some accountability? Doesn't doing what is right for America still outweigh gouging for all the greedy profit one can get?

I cite two examples: Exxon-Mobil continues to rack up obscene quarterly profits -- PROFITS (that's after expenses) for the last several quarters. I'm talking about profits like no corporation in history has come close to. Yet all the while they are taking the United States down into a recession -- coupled with inflation. After all, fuel prices affect the price of EVERYTHING. Can I afford $4 a gallon gas? Yes, in my two Honda Civics, I will be OK. But my heart hurts for the poor who will have to do without food perhaps in order to get to their job -- if they are fortunate enough to have one. It is sinful and unholy greed. And I do believe that a just God does not close His eyes to greed and taking advantage of others.

But where is the accountability? There is none. There isn't really even the practice of a free market system here. The oil companies essentially have a monopoly. In economics, it is called an olygopoly (sp?) in the case of big oil; where there are only a handful who are competing. And how easy would it be for those few to be in collusion with each other?

2nd example: AMR (parent company of American Airlines) reported yesterday that their quarterly losses amounted to $328 million dollars. I can remember a day when bonuses were given for superior performances. So with that staggering quarterly loss, what happened to the top corporate executives of AMR? The CEO received a bonus of $1.7 million, while the CFO received only a paltry (I am being sarcastic) $934,000. Not salary -- but bonus!

What do you think the company is going to tell the pilots and flight attendants and other employees when it comes time for contract talks? They will say, "Have you seen our bottom line? We are losing money. Why can't you people understand that and accept your 10% pay cut like good, loyal employees during these hard times?"

Again, where is the accountability? Does ANYONE out there picture God smiling on such greed?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More on Postmodernism

In recent weeks, I have written some about postmodernism. I came across something yesterday that I found interesting, so I wanted to share it with you:

Tim Stafford wrote in Christianity Today about teaching an introduction to Christianity class to a class of postmoderns. He said that at the beginning of class he showed his students a jar full of beans and asked each participant to guess how many were in the jar. then he asked them to write down the name of his or her favorite song.

When the lists were complete, he revealed the actual number of beans, and they determined which class participant was closest. Then he asked, "Now which one of these sons is the closest to being right?" The class answered that there is no right answer to a person's favorite song, because favorite songs are a matter of personal taste and preference.

Then Stafford asked the group, "When you decide what to believe in terms of your faith, is it more like trying to determine the number of beans or choosing your favorite song?" He said that the majority of the class said it is more like choosing your favorite song.

You heard it here: Tonight on American Idol, either Brooke or Carly is gone. Kristi Lee squeeks by again.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

God is Good!

Beverly and I are truly amazed at the ways in which God is blessing us right now -- affirming that we are where He wants us to be. Last night Beverly had her annual fundraiser for Wise County Christian Counseling (check out her website at We had a packed house! It was wonderful to have my daughter and her friend there. And a surprise blessing was to have our friends Tommy and Jennifer Maddox, who helped to make this ministry a reality, in attendance and at our table. It was just and incredible evening! I am SO proud of my wife.

Our journey has been an interesting one. When we married, Beverly thought she was getting a man who would be involved in marketing, and I thought I was getting a homemaker. After about 5 years of marriage, I went to work for Amoco Oil -- working a swing shift in the refinery in Texas City. A few years later, the Lord pulled me toward ministry -- and with that, Beverly went back to finish her teaching degree.

By our 13th year of marriage, I was in full-time ministry and Beverly was teaching school. Things stayed that way for about 11 years. Then, she went back to get her Masters degree in counseling (intending to use it in school teaching) -- and fell in love with it.

So, here we are now. I have been in ministry 20 years this June -- and love it more today than I ever have. And Beverly is doing counseling -- with unbelievable success rates. She is SO gifted.

That's why I say that I think God has brought all of this together, and just continually affirms to us His purpose for us here. And we are SO at peace with that. Thank you, Father! Thank you.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sons . . . Masters

My oldest son Josh and his family are moving out of the country. He announced yesterday to his precious church in Houston that he has accepted the preaching position for the Sycamore View Church of Christ in Memphis, Tennessee. Crossing the Mississippi River into a foreign land:).

I am thankful to the Southwest Central Church for treating them so well. There is certainly a mutual love evidenced there. Now I look forward to seeing how the Lord will use them in this new adventure. They will be starting in June. I guess my grandson Truitt will be a Volunteers fan.

It was great having my other son Jonathan and his family here Friday and Saturday. I had a morning leadership retreat on Saturday, so I didn't get to spend a whole lot of time with them. But what time I did was great. Jonathan and I played golf Friday afternoon. And then I hung out with Jed. He is such a delight! Funny, and talking up a storm!

Tiger will have to wait another year for a shot at the Slam. His play seemed to be pretty uninspired this week. Beverly and I watched some of the Masters, and I was struck at how often we would comment about how beautiful Augusta is. I have known a number of people who have been there. All of them say that it is better than they expected. Not many places that is true of. The Grand Canyon. Yellowstone. Augusta.

I read last week that no one has even been added to the waiting list for a ticket to Augusta since 2000. People put their right to purchase tickets in their wills. It's crazy.

Congratulations to Trevor Immelman!

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Bad Word: Monotony

I've heard the quote, but I can't find it in order to get it exactly right. So we might call it a paraphrase. C. S. Lewis once observed that only God and children enjoy monotony.

Think about it. What do we do when we see that there is going to be a rare break in our busy, hectic schedules? We have to fill it with activity, right? It's like we dread the thought of a still moment.

Yet it's in the stillness that we become more aware of the Father. Maybe that's why we try to keep so busy. But I think our "busyness" is more a mindset foisted on us by our culture. Busy people are productive people. Busy people are the important people. Busy equals meaningful.

Listen to people when they are together. For some, it's like a competition to outdo the other on how busy they are. It almost reminds me of kids on the playground. "I'm busier than you are." "Oh, yeah? Well . . ."

Truth be know, that all bores me. I'm not impressed with extreme business. The person who works 70 hours a week receives my sympathy -- not my admiration.

Life is about relationships. Time spent with God. Time spent with family. Time spent making connections with people.

Let us learn to enjoy monotony.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Happy Birthday, Malaya!

Today is my granddaughter's 8th birthday. What a special day it was when I became "Grampy." I can't wait to be with her tonight! Happy Birthday, Malaya. You have added so much to your Grammy's and my life.

Last night, church was cancelled because of the storms. So, Beverly and I went home and watched the Masters Par 3 championship. It was the 1st time it has ever been telecast, and it was really cute. The players allow their kids to caddie for them. And the kids hit shots. It was precious.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Midweek Miscellaneous

My father-in-law, Billie Jones, is back in the hospital this morning. He has a case of pneumonia. I love to hear him interact with the nurses, and hope if I ever find myself in the situation that he is in that I will be like him. He never loses his sense of humor.

The way things have been over the last couple of months, they need to just leave that plastic wrist band on him:)

So far this season, American Idol has gone according to script. America has done a good job in its voting, in my opinion. Last night, Carrie and Michael and Brook turned in the weakest performances. I am looking for Carrie to be voted off this week.

David Cook, the frontrunner, turned in a mediocre performance. I think David Archileta (sp?) took the driver's seat back this week.

The results will not be until Thursday night this week.

I love Randy Galloway's headline this morning after the Rangers' season opener yesterday. It says, "Home Opener Went Well Until Game Got Started." Not a good start for Mesquite star Jason Jennings, as Baltimore won 8-1. He went to high school with my daughter at Mesquite Poteet.

Tomorrow's the big day: The Masters. One of the greatest Masters' in my memory was in 1986 when Jack Nicklaus, at the age of 46, tore the back 9 up on Sunday to win his 6th green jacket. Hard to believe that was 22 years ago.

The line on Tiger is 6 to 5 (unbelieveable!). Next is Phil Mickleson at 10 to 1. Tiger is so far ahead in world rankings right now that if you split his ranking, he would still be #1 and #2.

Can't wait to see my oldest grandson Friday! He called me yesterday and said, "Hi, Rick!" Jonathan said when he prays at night and they get to me, he says "Gobble, gobble, gobble!" (You can supply whatever joke you want here). He is trying to say Grampy -- I think. But I don't even care if he calls me "Gobble."

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Prayer. . . Rosie

Thanks, Kyle, for responding to my blog yesterday. I don't know if the lack of responses to the subject of prayer speaks more about how few people read my blog or to how difficult a discipline prayer is. I prefer to think it is a lack of readership.

I don't know about you, but I think the toughest thing about prayer is distractions. That's no doubt why Jesus suggested going into one's "closet" to pray. It removes the distractions. I have loved times when I can be away from all that and just be with the Lord. I used to love to hunt for that reason. Sitting under a pine tree in East Texas on a cool Fall afternoon. Just me and the Lord -- those were special times.

One week from today is tax day. Fortunately, my tax preparers insist that I have my stuff in by mid-March. So, I submitted it in late February, and am now waiting for my refund. There are things I procrastinate about, but I must confess to finding humor in seeing lines at the post office at midnight on April 15.

Here is some late-breaking, shocking news: Rosie O'Donell was on GMA this morning. In her expert opinion, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama should run on the ticket together to (these are her words) "save our democracy."

She has written a childrens' book (I know you parents of little ones are lined up this morning for this one). Can you imagine what she must be like at home when she goes into one of those outbursts of anger? She and her lesbian lover are raising four children. She has made a fortune off of being on TV, and yet she does not allow her kids to watch it. There seems to be some irony there.

Who's next with a childrens' book? Howard Stern?

This is enough to get us all on our knees.

Monday, April 07, 2008


My internet connection is moving slower than a snail today. It has taken me forever just to get to my blog site.

Today's devotional from Tozer has hit me right between the eyes:

To pray successfully is the first lesson the preacher must learn if he is to preach fruitfully; yet prayer is the hardest thing he will ever be called upon to do and, being human, it is the one act he will be tempted to do less frequently than any other.

God Tells the Man Who Cares, 69.

I confess that this is one discipline I struggle with. Oh, I pray. But I would not consider my prayer life to be one of my strengths. I would welcome any feedback as to how you incorporate prayer into your life.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Computer Gives Birth to Baby

Suppose we get to the point where humans have some kind of memory chip implanted in us. Will we then become computers? No, we will still be what we were born as -- humans, male and female.

ABC seems obsessed right now with this story about a man giving birth to a baby. It is a bogus story from start to finish. The person giving birth is not a man. It is a woman who has had some surgery and taken some hormones -- and now claims to be a man.

Words have meanings, or else a language cannot exist. And yet in our "postmodern" culture, your words can mean whatever you want them to mean -- and my words can mean something different. How then will we ever communicate?

The same holds true with the current issue of "gay marriage." Here are two words that have been given new meanings. Gay used to mean happy. What an oxymoron. Homosexuals, as a whole, don't seem to be very happy. But the word "marriage" is also being given new meaning. Marriage is the joining of a man and woman in union. "For a man will leaven his father and mother and cling to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."

I can call Beverly my husband and my mother my father and my father my mother. I have a right to do that. But that doesn't make it so. Why? Because words have meanings.

Once again, this is political correctness gone amuck.

Are the Cowboys ever in luck! Not only might they sign Pacman Jones for a cornerback, now they can sign Chris Henry -- Bengals' receiver cut yesterday for his consistently criminal lifestyle. I bet Jerry Jones is drooling. The way things are going, he can have the team picture taken at the police station, and they can pose in mug-shots.

Speaking of Jones: It has now been nearly as long since the Cowboys have been to the Super Bowl than it was when Jerry bought the team -- claiming it needed to rid itself of the past leadership and get some fresh blood. Hmmmmm. That's a pleasant thought, come to think of it.

It was one of those moments that you always remember where you were. 40 years ago today a true American hero, Dr. Martin Luther King, was gunned down in Memphis, Tennessee. He inspired a generation of people to shed the sin of racism. Some people love to point out his moral faults. But to do so is to dismiss what he accomplished. Lincoln had them, as did Jefferson, Franklin, Kennedy and FDR. That is not to defend moral failures; but let's apply an even hand to all. King would rank in my top 5 greatest Americans of all time.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Modernism and Postmodernism

In last night's mens' class, we wrestled with a wonderful topic: Being Christ in a Post-modern world. It is hard for us to see as we live through it, but a significant philosophical change has taken place in people's world view. Those of us 35 and older don't recognize it -- except as we view it in those who are younger. It is not the same as the age-old "generation gap." No, this is a "once-in-a-500 year" total change in the way people process their world.

Those of us 35 and older lived in the age known as "modernism." It is a philosophical age that begin in the 1500s. It brought Europe out of the Dark Ages and into the "age of enlightenment." One of the leading modernist philosophers was John Locke. His methods greatly influenced Alexander Campbell -- the premier leader of the American Restoration Movement, of which Churches of Christ are a part. Modernist philosophy was about reason and absolutes. And as a modernist reads that, we think, "Of course, because that is important to establishing truth."

But a postmodernist does not see things that way. He or she hear our reasoning and ask, "So what? What difference does it make?"

You will hear many people bashing postmodernism -- especially one who is strongly tied to modernism. Our hard drives are not programmed for their way of reasoning. Nor is theirs for ours.

So what can we expect? Good and bad. This can lead to more clashes between the generations -- unless we realize that we live in two different paradigms. It means some of the things that we modernists wanted to fuss and fight over will mean nothing to the postmodernist. In fact, it will probably drive him or her away. So we better have really good and compelling reasons for what we do.

On the positive side, postmodernists will probably be more about actually being Jesus in the world. A Jesus of social justice and concern for the disenfranchised. While a group of modernists might think being like Jesus means knowing and discussing God's Word (extremely important), the postmodernist will be more about embodying THE Word (also extremely important).

Ideally, I wish we could take the best of both worldview philosophies and put them together.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Stereotyping Jesus

I read an article in Christianity Today entitled "A Jesus for Real Men." It deals with the new men's movement that began with John Eldredge's book Wild at Heart (2001) that lamented that the masculine spirit was at risk because "most men believe God put them on the earth to be good boys." He suggests that the church's tendency to promote discipleship as merely becoming "nice guys" keeps men from embodying their God-given maleness.

In his book Why Men Hate Going to Church, David Morrow says that while the local congregation is "perfectly designed to reach women and older folks" -- with its emphasis on comfort, nurture and relationships -- it "offers little to stir the masculine heart, so men find it dull and irrelevant."

According to james Driscoll, "real men" avoid the church because it projects a "Richard Simmons, hippie Christ" that "is no one to live for" and "no one to die for." Driscoll adds, "Jesus was not a long-haired . . . effeminate dude." Driscoll says Jesus was more like the "Ultimate FIghting Jesus."

The article then goes on to try to balance our view of Jesus. I have long had a problem with the way Middle Ages art portrayed Jesus. He looks pretty wimpy -- as well as very European (that's another discussion). But I have a hard time picturing Him as Hulk Hogan, either. I think there is value in studying Jewish history of that time, and tying that in with the Biblical text. Certainly the impression we would come away with of Jesus would not fit neatly into either of the above-mentioned stereotypical molds. Yes, He was a man's man. But He was also very tender and compassionate.

I found the article to be interesting.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Spring Sports Stuff

I certainly don't claim to be a sports expert. In fact, while I used to closely keep up with sports, I don't do so any more. So I am just throwing this out for fodder for you to respond:

1. Everyone seems to get caught up in March Madness. Why, oh why can't I? I can't even tell you who is left.

2. Baseball season has begun. The Rangers appear to be headed for the cellar again. Why are some teams consistently bad while other teams are consistently good? Why are some teams loaded with pitching, while other teams can't name more than a half dozen good pitchers in their past 40 years?

3. What has happened to the Mavs? Last year, they had one of the best records in NBA history. Of course we all know about their disappearing act in the playoffs. But this year, they are going to be lucky to be the 8th seed in the West. Have they lost that much? Or has the rest of the West gotten that much better? Or have they given up on Avery?

4. Jerry Jones is pursuing "Pacman" Jones. He seems to be in a one-man bidding war, because no one else seems to want the guy. Jerry appears to have a man-crush on trouble-makers (see T. O. and Tank Johnson). Would the Cowboys' acquiring Pacman be a good thing or a bad thing?

5. Next week is the most exciting tournament in golf -- the Masters. That course is what heaven must look like. It looks like every blade of grass is cut to perfection. And the azaleas are always beautiful. Does anybody want to bet against Tiger Woods?

6. Any time I write anything about golf on MY blog, I have to endure a couple of NASCAR comments. So, I might as well throw something out there about the great sport of auto racing. How many gallons of fuel will be wasted this next race as people watch cars go around in a circle?