Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Presence Living

"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." These words were written by Moses, and recorded in the 90th psalm. I want these verses to be my daily partner in the coming year. I want to be more aware of the gift and value of each day. I want to be more intentional about living in the present -- and living in the presence of God.

Here's wishing you and yours a great 2010! Let's live with kingdom awareness. Let's be available each day to be a part of His activity.

Monday, December 28, 2009

White Christmas!

No longer do I have to dream about a white Christmas. Contrary to the weather forecasts, we got a blizzard-like snowstorm last Thursday. About 4 inches -- and drifts up to 2 feet deep! And 4 days later, my yard still has enough snow to build a snowman. In fact, the backyard is still totally blanketed. I love it!

It looks like this won't even totally melt away before we get more, too. Forecasts call for up to 3 more inches tomorrow!

Lots of good college football this week. On behalf of my oldest son, I will watch Nebraska on Wednesday night. And I look forward to TCU's and Texas' games next week.

I have been quiet on the Cowboy front in this blog during the current football season. I will say at this point that even though it will probably secure him another year as Cowboys' coach, I hope Wade Phillips can win a playoff game. I am not a fan of his, but I hate to see anyone carry a monkey on his / her back. Strange, too, in that he has a pretty good regular season record for his career.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Here's wishing everyone of you the best during this Christmas season. May we all be reminded of the greatest gift of all -- God's gift of His Son.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It Must Be Tough Being an Historical Skeptic

It must be frustrating being a skeptical historian. For years, assumptions have been made by them as to the inaccuracy of biblical history -- only to be proven wrong.

The latest example is the discovery of a house dating from the times of Jesus in the city of Nazareth. The skeptics have questioned for years whether Nazareth even existed in the times when Jesus would have been a young boy. The new findings suggest that it was perhaps a hamlet of 50 houses or so covering a 4 acre area. The buildings appear to have been camouflaged to blend into their background so that the Romans would be unaware of their presence. Having been there and remembering how I could see Nazareth from far away against its backdrop, this makes perfect sense. And it being no more than a small village simply concurs with the biblical account. All the more reason for the Jerusalem big shots to look down on Jesus: "How could anything good come from Nazareth?"

So, Merry CHRISTmas, historical skeptics. You might want to go wash the egg off your faces before you hit the eggnog.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Peace and Longfellow

I have been watching with interest the story of the Utah missing mother of two. Her husband claims that on the night she came up missing, he had taken his two sons (5 and 2, I think) camping -- leaving the house at 12:30 AM. Officials can find no evidence of a camp where he claims he was.

But it got me to thinking: Utah is one of the least-populated states in the US. It is also considered to be one of the most "moral" states -- due in large part to the high percentage of Mormons living there. Is it just my imagination, or does Utah seem to have more than its share of bizarre events like this?

I would like to see results of a study on people who are involved in legalistic religion. My opinion is that such people are taught to cover up and mask for so long that it leads to serious emotional problems.

Last night our men's group was studying Romans 8. Because of the season I am in on my spiritual journey, I am really struck by how often in that chapter (actually throughout Scripture), the concept of peace is a major theme. How often are we told that a characteristic of one who has been born again and has the Spirit residing within is this: PEACE. Unfortunately, I know too few people (I include myself for much of my journey) whose lives are characterized by peace.

Along that line, I came across this story:

One of America’s greatest poets is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The year 1860 found Longfellow happy in his life, enjoying a widening recognition, and elated over the election of Abraham Lincoln which he believed signaled the triumph of freedom and redemption for the nation. The following year the Civil War began.

On July 9, 1861 Longfellow’s wife, Fanny, was near an open window sealing locks of her daughter’s hair, using hot sealing wax. Suddenly her dress caught fire and engulfed her with flames. Her husband, sleeping in the next room, was awaked by her screams. As he desperately tried to put out the fire and save his wife, he was severely burned on his face and hands. Fanny died the next day. Longfellow’s severe burns would not even allow him to attend Fanny’s funeral. His white beard, which so identified with him, was one of the results of the tragedy – the burn scars on his face made shaving almost impossible. In his diary for Christmas day 1861 he wrote, “How inexpressibly sad are the holidays.”

In 1862 the toll of war dead began to mount and in his diary for that year Longfellow wrote of Christmas, “A merry Christmas say the children, but that is no more for me.” In 1863 his son who had run away to join the Union army was severely wounded and returned home in December. There is no entry in Longfellow’s diary for that Christmas.

But on Christmas Day 1864 – at age 57 – Longfellow sat down to try to capture, if possible, the joy of the season. He began: I heard the bells on Christmas day. Their old familiar carols play, And wild and sweet the words repeat Of peace on earth, good will to men. As he came to the third stanza, he was stopped by the thought of the condition of his beloved country. The Battle of Gettysburg was not long past. Days looked dark, and he probably asked himself the question, “How can I write about peace on earth, good will to men in this war-torn country, where brother fights against brother and father against son?” But he kept writing – and what did he write? And in despair I bowed my head: “There is no peace on earth”, I said, For hate is strong, and mocks the song Of peace on earth, good will to men. It seems as if he could have been writing for our kind of day. Then, as all of us should do, he turned his thoughts to the One who gives true and perfect peace, and continued writing: Then peeled the bells more loud and deep; “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep! The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, With peace on earth, good will to men.” And so there came into being that marvelous Christmas carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bits and Pieces

I go through seasons where I know today what I will blog on the next couple of days. Right now, I am not there.

I got to play golf yesterday afternoon. The wind started picking up as I neared the end. I finished about 4 PM, comfortable in short sleeves. By the time I got home, the temperature was dropping. This morning, it's in the upper 20s. Fireplace tonight!

I feel like a child at Christmas as it approaches. It used to be that I looked forward to opening presents. I am anxiously awaiting it right now because my grandkids will begin arriving within a week! I can't wait!

I know there is no way that an NFL head coach can be lacking in intelligence. So I have to assume that Wade Phillips does a good job of acting clueless.

Although the Heisman turned out the way I had figured, it seems somewhat unfair the way it was presented Saturday night that by having two candidates from the same conference hurts those candidates. This happened to McCoy and Suh. In fact, one could argue that Suh singlehandedly cost McCoy the Heisman in two ways: 1. By totally dominating him in Texas' game against Nebraska, and 2. By taking Big 12 votes away from him.

I look forward to watching Suh on Sundays.

I know most of you don't care, but I am wondering what is going to happen to pro golf without Tiger. Love him or hate him, his fellow competitors are going to find out how much his presence added money to their pockets. I heard a pro golfer interviewed yesterday, and he admitted that Tiger's presence had put his kids through college.

As much as I enjoy the game, I will probably drop my extended package on Directv -- which is the only way to get the Golf Channel. There just aren't that many guys I am drawn to watch on Thursday's and Friday' rounds, which is what the Golf Channel covers.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Of Such is the Kingdom of Heaven

Today is National Grandparent Brag Day (Just kidding. Actually, that is every day.) There have been several incidents lately involving my oldest three grandkids that I want to brag about. I'll go from oldest to youngest.

Malaya was with her mom and dad in San Antonio this summer. They had gone to eat at La Marguerita in the Market Square, and when they finished, they had boxed up what was left to take back to the hotel with them. As they walked back to their hotel, they had passed some street people. So when they got to the hotel room, they decided to go back out and find someone to give their food to. As they were about to leave, Malaya remembered that they had brought some homemade cookies for the family to enjoy on the trip. She put them in with the food. I LOVE that!

Next is Jed. Yesterday I talked to him on the phone. I had heard that he (3 years old) had decided what he wants to be when he grows up. So I asked him. He said, "A builder." His daddy said, "Tell Grampy why you want to be a builder." Jed said (this was not prompted by his parents), "So people without houses can have one." I LOVE that, too!

Finally, Truitt. Truitt is my 2-year old Memphis grandson. This was on his daddy's Twitter a week or so ago:

Truitt's prayer tonight at dinner, "God, thank you for day...Memphis...the poor...and food. Amen." This world can't hold prayers like that."

Josh, I agree! As Jesus said, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"Fascinating" People? and GMA

Last night Beverly and I watched Barbara Walters' "Top 10 Most Fascinating People." Fascinating? I question Walters' definition when it came to several of her picks. Lewd perhaps. Defiantly immoral for sure (Adam Lambert: "I'm homosexual. Deal with it.") But what a sad statement of our culture if THAT has become "fascinating."

I did enjoy the interviews with Tyler Perry and Jenny Sanford.

Beverly and I have gotten ready for work in the mornings enjoying the company of Good Morning America for at least a dozen years. All of a sudden, they are shaking up our world. A couple of months ago, they announced that Diane Sawyer was leaving to replace Charles Gibson as anchor of ABC News. I can deal with that, although Diane and Robin Roberts have a really cool working relationship.

But the real bombshell was dropped today. Chris Cuomo is being reassigned! Come on, folks! He absolutely makes the show! He has a great sense of humor, and a warm and compassionate side as well. He is an incredible example of a man who loves his wife and kids. What's with this?

Poor Robin. She is kind of left stranded. I'm already speculating as to who they will bring in. Perhaps George Stephanopoulos? Bill Weir? I like George, but I sure can't see him bringing the energy that Chris did. And no women come to mind. They will probably get someone from The View -- at which point I will either beg Beverly to change to The Today Show, or I will have to move to another bathroom.

UPDATE at 1 PM: I was reading the paper at lunch and it DID say that George Stephanopoulos would be Chris Cuomo's replacement. It also said that Juju Chang would join them at the news desk.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Little Drummer Boy (Reprise)

I wrote the following blog 4 years ago, and SOME PEOPLE (named Jeff) will not let me forget it. I decided it was about time to recycle it. Anything I have added is in bold. Here it is:

Christmas season is in full swing now. Everywhere you go, you here Christmas Carols (why do we call them "carols" instead of songs? Is it the alliteration thing?)

My favorite Christmas song is "O Holy Night." I also love "O Come All Ye Faithful." But I also like some of the lighter songs like "Let It Snow," "Winter Wonderland" and "It's Beginning to Look A lot Like Christmas."

Now for my least favorite: "Little Drummer Boy." Now remember: I AM an ex-drummer. But the whole premise for this song just grates on me (please understand: most of my comments here are tongue in cheek You'll have to figure out which ones).

So here's this little Jewish boy in the 1st century -- walking around WITH A DRUM? And these wise men come up and say, "Come, see the newborn King." Right away, I am questioning whether they are wise men if they are inviting a little boy WITH A DRUM to come see a newborn baby. Imagine that, ladies. You've just given birth. "You have a visitor." "Who is it?" "It's a little boy WITH A DRUM. He wants to see you."

So, this little boy WITH A DRUM says, "I don't have anything to give. How 'bout I just lay a few paradiddles on you?" AND MARY NODS "YES"! Tell me any mother with a newborn who is going to let a little boy WITH A DRUM start jamming for her baby! What did he play? "Wipe out"?

And the sound of this drum drives me up a wall. "Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum." It sounds more like a plastic garbage can that's just been hit by a car at about 40 mph -- as it goes end over end down the street.

And get this: The ox and lamb kept time. Yeah, buddy. Those two incredible examples of rhythm from the animal kingdom. "Moo-moo-moo-moo-moo" and "Baa-baa-baa-baa-baa."

If this had really happened, I think it may have been enough to cause Jesus to reconsider. Oh, well -- I guess it could have been worse. Whoever came up with the idea for this song (written in the 60's, I think. That might explain a lot) could have called it "The Little Moog Synthesizer Boy." 'Come, they told me -- woo-WOO-woo-WOO-woo."

So, what's your favorite Christmas carol (song)?

Monday, December 07, 2009

College Football Recap

I cannot remember when I have ever watched three football games in one day, but I did Saturday. I nearly went 0-3. I was pulling for Pitt to upset Cincinnati, which would have helped TCU's standing. Pitt should have won the game. Cincinnati barely squeaked by because of a Pitt bobbled snap on an extra point. As a result, Cincinnati moved from 5th to 3rd in the national rankings (How does this happen?) -- leapfrogging TCU.

In the second game, Alabama embarrassed Florida. They looked really good, and their running back moved, Mark Ingram, probably moved to the forefront in the Heisman Trophy race. It was a sad way for Tim Tebow to finish his career.

Then Saturday night, Nebraska beat Texas in every way except the final score. I don't think Texas scored a point that was not aided by a Nebraska penalty. Even though I was hoping Texas would win, one of the penalties was a really poor call. But that's football. My Heisman favorite, Colt McCoy, did not do much to help his cause against one of the most dominating defensive performances I have ever seen.

In fact, in my humble opinion, the guy who deserves the Heisman this year is Ndamukong Suh, defensive lineman for Nebraska. This guy is an animal! Whoever gets him in this year's NFL draft is going to be blessed.

So, the national championship game will be Alabama-Texas. I will be pulling for the Longhorns, but from what I saw Saturday -- Alabama looks like the dominant team.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

More from Rabbi Jesus

More excerpts from At the Feet of Rabbi Jesus (This is a GREAT book, definitely could preach) -- the chapter entitled "Following the Rabbi":

A rabbi was to model how to live by using examples from his own life . . . Speaking of our tendency to imitate . . . I find that my own mind seems remarkably malleable, impressed by whatever I read or see modeled around me. A steady diet of cynical political commentary always makes me more negative. Being with friends who gossip can make me more careless about how I speak. None of us is so mature that we cannot be influenced. The question is: Who or what do we want to shape our lives? Even the culture around us will try to "disciple" us if we have not placed ourselves under the transforming influence of Jesus Christ.

I used to think . . . that Jesus' command to make disciples simply meant teaching people certain beliefs about God, helping them to accept Christ as Lord, and then educating them in doctrinal truth later on. Though all these are important, this way of defining discipleship showed that I, like many Westerners, approached the gospel primarily as information. Unfortunately, such an approach tends to produce efforts at evangelism that are thinly disguised power grabs. We try hard to foist our belief system onto others, debating with people until they declare our way the best.

An Eastern view of discipleship seems far more in keeping with the gospel . . . This approach involves not just information, but transformation. God's goal isn't simply to fill the world with people who believe the right things. It is to fill the world with people who shine with the brilliance of Christ.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


What a surprise to wake up this morning to about 3" of snow! The weather people had said we might have snow showers mixed with rain -- but basically guaranteed no accumulation. I LOVE snow. I might feel different if I lived up north. It makes even the common scenery take on a new beauty.

I better enjoy it. It will probably be gone by 10 AM.

Poor Tiger. Seems that things are going from bad to worse for him. He hasn't called me yet for advice, but here's what I would tell him. I am a big believer (much more so today than I have been in the past) of bringing everything out into the light. Covering up and living in denial only compounds whatever problem one is in. Once things are out in the light, a person can move forward.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


I was encouraged yesterday as I read an excerpt from Spangler and Tverberg in their book Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. Writing about discipleship, speaking of Jesus, they said:

. . . the changes he worked in his disciples' lives did not come instantly or even easily. Our culture is fascinated with instant fixes and extreme makeovers . . . we chafe at the years it takes to train as an apprentice. But discipleship has always been about process.

While the Gospels record many instances of Jesus instantly healing people's illnesses, we know of not even one instance in which he simply waved his hand to immediately fix an ugly habit for one of his disciples. Instead, he simply kept teaching and correcting them, giving them time to grow.

God seems to work like this much of the time in our own lives. He lets our weaknesses and difficulties drive us to himself, keeping us close. Miracles happen, but he inner transformation we so desperately desire can only be achieve over time. God seems to prefer it this way, perhaps because he knows we can only become like him by maintaining a constant close connection.

I need that! I especially like the statement: "Discipleship has always been about process."

Monday, November 30, 2009

What's Up, Tiger? And Good Football

It has been an interesting sports weekend -- and we have a big one coming up, too.

What's with the Tiger Woods' story? It sounded far-fetched to me from the beginning. He is involved in a wreck in which the airbags did not even go off, and yet his wife has to break out the back window of his SUV to "rescue" him? Hey, I am as big a Tiger Woods fan as anybody, but come on!

Beverly keeps telling me we don't need the details. I wouldn't care so much if there was a more believable explanation.

The college football season is coming down to an exciting conclusion. However, it is leading to some waffling on my part. Here is my dilemma: I really like Colt McCoy, and would love to see Texas play for a national championship. But my oldest son is a HUGE Nebraska fan. And Texas and Nebraska play Saturday for the Big 12 championship. Who do I root for? Sorry, Josh -- but I will have to go with Texas in this one.

Then there is another really big game -- Florida and Alabama. I also really like Tim Tebow. But I don't like Florida. Is there any way he could quickly transfer to Nebraska? That might pull me over to them.

But the other factor involved here is that our area is suddenly TCU-fanatical. This has been a team that, for the last couple of years, has been building momentum. They are looking REALLY good, and they are a fun team to watch. So, as they sit at number 4, I am trying to figure out what it would take to get THEM into the national title game. My guess is that it would take a Texas loss to Nebraska, #5 Cincinnati losing this week, and Alabama losing (I don't know if Florida would drop far enough if they lost). It's a stretch -- but wouldn't that be exciting?

A lot will be decided this coming Saturday.

Finally, the most exciting game in the NFL yesterday played like a repeat of the national title game from several years ago. Matt Leinart got the start for the Arizona Cardinals as they played the Tennessee Titans. The Titans started 0-6 before putting Vince Young in at quarterback. They have since gone 5-0. Matt Leinart. Vince Young. Deja vu.

Leinart's team had the lead coming down to the closing minute. Young proceeded to take his team 90 yards for a winning touchdown. I'm wondering if Leinart was suffering from flashbacks during that time?

Fun stuff.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

"No one is perfect -- not even me." This was California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's reaction to photos of his car illegally parked in Beverly Hills. It's good to see that humility is alive and well.

Today many of you will be on the road. Drive safely. And have a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving. My prayer is that as we journey together through life, we will come to the place in which our lives are lived out of a constant awareness of gratitude. I am becoming more aware in my own life that this is the only environment in which the fruit of the Spirit -- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control -- can flourish.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009


Yesterday was a rich day for Beverly and me. We were able to return to our 1st full-time ministry in Crockett, Texas to be a part of their 40th anniversary. The worship was great! I taught during the Bible class hour, and my son Josh hit a grand slam during the worship hour.

We served in Crockett from 1988 to 1993. Only 5 years. But it is incredible how deeply that 5 years impacted us. I made deep friendships there. When we occasionally go back, there are 3 guys in particular that are such good friends that when we see each other, it's like we just pick up from the last time.

I wish I had mentioned to the church yesterday about an "ah-ha" I have had. When I was in Crockett as a young, wet-behind-the-ears preacher, there was another preacher in town who was mean, who did not mind slandering people in public -- but who claimed to be the protector of "the truth." He made all kinds of false accusations about me, and I must admit that it really bothered me then. His tag line was, "Do I make you mine enemy because I tell you the truth?"

At that time, I was also a legalist -- thinking that what was REALLY important was what we did during our hour of worship each week, church organization, etc. It's just that my legalism and his were a little different.

Here is my point: Many in Crockett still feel badly for the way he treated me. But I have come to see that it is one of the most important events in my spiritual journey. I was headed down a path in which I could have ended up being somewhat like him. I don't think I could have ever been as mean and dishonest as he was -- but I could have been as "zealous" in my misplaced gospel. But seeing him and how UNLIKE Christ he was brought me to a crossroads. It made me realize that what the gospel is about is not those things that I had made of primary importance. The gospel is about a loving God extending His unbelievable grace to me. It's about me being allowed to journey with Him through life -- allowing Him to complete His work of transformation in me. To what goal? To become like Jesus. To be filled with the fruit of the Spirit -- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Qualities that are amazingly absent in the lives of people who pursue legalism.

God works in mysterious, unexpected ways to get our attention. And looking back on those times, I am SO glad He got mine.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Great American Smokeout.

Today is the "Great American Smokeout." I look back with interest at the ways in which our culture has changed throughout my life -- some things for the worse, and some for the better. When I was a kid, smoking was common. Between Bible class and worship on Sunday, the entrance into the church building would look like Indians sending up smoke signals. Many was the person that had that deadly combination of early-morning-coffee-cigarette-smoke-breath (Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about!).

As Beverly and I were cleaning the kitchen the other night, there was an old "Andy Griffith Show" on. Andy was relaxing and smoking, and Beverly went, "Wow." Seeing that now just seems strange. But that was once the norm.

I truly don't think smokers realize that their habit is so hard to hide. The smell lingers on them and anyone close to them. I used to not realize that. Having parents who smoked, everywhere I went I carried that smell. It seemed to especially cling to my clothes and my hair. Now my nose can pick up a smoker from a distance.

It's funny to me how different tobaccos smell so differently. Cigarettes stink to me -- but some more than others. I don't know if the difference is in whether they are menthol or if it is just differences in brands. But I like the smell of some cigars. And I enjoy the smell of a pipe. My granddad used to smoke a pipe -- cherry blend. The aroma still holds good memories for me. I'm sure the 2nd-hand smoke is no better for my lungs whether it is from good smelling cherry-blend tobacco or a stinky cigarette.

While I recognize people in our country have the right to smoke, there are times I wish they would be more considerate of those around them. There is an old saying: "Your rights end where my nose begins." Perhaps that is never so true as it is with cigarette smoking.

I wish every smoker who wants to quit the best of luck today. To give up cigarettes is to add years to your life -- more years to love your kids and grandkids. More years to give to living out the Christ-life. And it is also to live more healthily.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Reality of War

I am watching the documentary series on World War II that is showing on the History Channel this week. As I watch it, I wonder what MY life would have been like had I been born 40 years earlier? How would I have dealt with the sacrifices that were made domestically? What kind of soldier would I have been? What would I have done if I had been on the 1st wave to hit Omaha beach -- or Okinawa?

I find myself becoming more and more of a pacifist as I grow older. I no longer argue in favor of the death penalty. It seems that life without parole is a better alternative. And I don't think that just because our country enters a conflict -- that makes it right or justified. But I just can't see any way around us getting involved in World War II. And as I watch this show and consider the MASSIVE casualties -- 5,000 young men killed in single battles -- I wonder how people today would react.

We owe a great debt to those men and women who sacrificed through the 40s to defeat the oppressors.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Aroma of Messiah

I have started a new book: Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus, by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg. The book's goal is to take us back to our Jewish roots -- and the Jewishness of our Messiah.

One story, whether perfectly accurate or not I can't know, captured my imagination in a powerful way. As the authors relate the story of Mary anointing Jesus' feet only days before His crucifixion, they give us some interesting perspective:

By anointing him with expensive fragrances, Mary may well have been making a statement about who she believed Jesus was, proclaiming him as Messiah. In fact, the Hebrew word for Messiah is Mashaich, which literally means "the Anointed One." Hebrew kings were anointed with sacred oil perfumed with extremely expensive spices
. . . The marvelous scent that it left behind acted like an invisible "crown," conferring an aura of holiness on its recipients.

They then note the similarities between Solomon's "anointing" and entry into Jerusalem (1 Kings 1: 38-40) and Jesus' anointing by Mary and subsequent entry into Jerusalem.

But here is the part that captured me: Everywhere Jesus went during the final days of his life he had the fragrance of royalty. Jesus smelled like a king. Imagine, in the garden of Gethsemane, as Judas and the guards approached Jesus to arrest him, the guards must have sniffed the air and wondered who stood before them. When Jesus was on trial, mocked, whipped, and stripped naked, even then the aroma may have clung to him.

The authors then note how this gives a whole new slant to Paul's words about us being "the aroma of Christ (the ANOINTED One) in 2 Corinthians 2: 14-16. As Jesus' followers, we spread the fragrance of our anointed Messiah everywhere we go.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

WIsh I Had Read It 30 Minutes Earlier

Today is Veterans' Day. In recent weeks as Beverly has been gone on retreats and "keeping the grandkids" gigs, I have rented dvds of the miniseries "Band of Brothers." It is the true story of a group of soldiers from one of the most honored units in American history. They fought at D-Day, through France, and held their line in the Battle of the Bulge. They secured Hitler's fortress mansion at the close of the war.

Something that really struck me was at the end, one of the soldiers became very depressed and despondent because he HAD survived. There was something within him that felt guilty because he was going home. It was very moving.

We owe these men and women so much!

I wish I had read this exerpt yesterday BEFORE I had posted my blog. I struggle between a fleshly response to terrorism, etc -- and a Christlike response. This is from M. Scott Peck:

I cannot be any more specific about the methodology of love than to quote these words of an old priest who spent many years in the battle: "There are dozens of ways to deal with evil and several ways to conquer it. All of them are facets of the truth that the only ultimate way to conquer evil is to let it be smothered within a willing, living human being. When it is absorbed there like blood in a sponge or a spear into one's heart, it loses its power and goes no further."

The healing of evil -- scientifically or otherwise -- can be accomplished only by the love of individuals. A willing sacrifice is required . . . I do not know how this occurs. But I know that it does . . . Whenever this happens there is a slight shift in the balance of power in the world.

We ourselves in recent history have seen this truth embodied in Martin Luther King, Jr, Nelson Mandela, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

This from Philip Yancey: "The cross redefines God as One who was willing to relinquish power for the sake of love. Jesus became, in Dorothy Solle's phrase, "God's ultimate disarmament." Power, no matter how well-intentioned, tends to cause suffering. Love, being vulnerable, absorbs it. In a point of convergence on a hill called Calvary, God renounced the one for the sake of the other."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Unfortunate Information from Fort Hood

Well, my concerns about Nidal Malik Hasan are daily becoming more affirmed. This is definitely an issue that I wish I could not say, "I told you so." The tragedy is multiplied as we are discovering that the FBI has been onto him for quite some time. There HAS to be something that they can do in a preemptive way! I know their hands are tied until he actually does something. And I certainly don't want the United States to become a police state. Anyone have any answers?

Today the execution is set for John Allen Muhammad, who went on a killing spree in 2002 that left 10 confirmed dead -- and maybe as many as 17.

I am disturbed about this. As a nation, we think that if we just ignore the problem, it will go away. We did the same thing in World War 2 with Hitler.

Yet, if you study the Eastern world view of Muslims, it's not going away. They are very patient -- realizing that their goals may not be reached in their lifetimes. It's about what is best for the community.

Americans want to believe that Islam is a religion of peace. And we are SO into beating ourselves up right now (especially Christians). Sure, we have done some things poorly in history. The Crusades were an ugly chapter, but even those were ugly on both sides. The sad thing is that "Christians" ever became involved in a "Holy (?) War" in the 1st place.

Yet I challenge anyone to just look around the world. Who is primarily providing clean water and food and medical help to the poor? Christians. And where are the large majority of trouble-spots in the world today? In Islamic nations.

When Islam becomes the majority in a country, religious freedoms are denied. People of other religions are persecuted, tortured and/or killed. Citizens are repressed. Peace? It only happens in an Islamic nation if people become slaves to the repressors. I know of no exceptions.

I know this seems to be a huge issue with me. It is . . . and it isn't. I don't obsess about it. But when things in the news pop up, I do THINK about it. And I do want us to get our heads out of the sand.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Tragedy at Fort Hood

What a tragedy yesterday at Fort Hood. 14 young, defenseless people massacred by a coward. Countless others wounded.

The bravery of people in these kinds of situations always amaze me. The ones who, in the midst of the barrage of bullets, made their way to block a door into an auditorium where a graduation ceremony was taking place. And the police officer who, only moments before had been directing traffic, but made her way into the carnage and shot the coward several times -- herself being wounded. Who knows how much worse the situation could have been?

Information is beginning to emerge about the shooter. A major in the US Army, he was a psychiatrist. He was getting ready to be deployed, and didn't want to go. Already, the media are attempting to explain what he did as a form of traumatic stress syndrome.

I will be interested to hear what his being a Muslim had to do with this event. Just before I left the house, a report said that his computer showed he had been discussing suicide bombings and other Islamic terrorist tactics. It did not say if his discussions were for or against. At this point, I am praying to God that I might withhold any judgment.

I am especially praying for the families and friends affected by this act.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

I Just Don't Get It

"He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and prays the believer's prayer will be saved . . ." (Mark 16: 15-16)

"Go and make disciples of all nations, having them pray the believer's prayer in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit . . ." (Matthew 28: 19)

"When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?' Peter replied, 'Repent and pray the believer's prayer, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'" (Acts 2: 37-38)

"Or don't you know that all of us who prayed the believer's prayer prayed the believer's prayerinto his death? We were therefore buried with him through the believer's prayer into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the death through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." (Romans 6: 3-4)

"You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who prayed the believer's prayer into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." (Galatians 3: 26-27)

"He saved us through the believer's prayer and renewal by the Holy Spirit . . ." (Titus 3: 5)

". . . and this water symbolized the believer's prayer that now saves you also -- not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God." (1 Peter 3: 21)

I hope you recognize that the phrases I have italicized in these passages are actually substituting for "baptism." Yet this is what many in the evangelical Christian world teach today. Not only that, but anyone who dares to insist upon obedience to the verses cited above as they actually read is prone to being labeled as a legalist, narrow-minded, a cultist or even a heretic.

Yet for over 1500 years of church history, from its inception until the Reformation Movement, baptism was considered to be the means through which grace and salvation is mediated. While there was disagreement as to the mode of baptism (immersion, pouring, sprinkling), its purpose was never discounted. That is, not until Ulrich Zwingli, the lesser known of the big-3 reformers, decided that it was not necessary or essential.

So over the last 500 years, a "new way to Jesus" has become the norm: the believer's prayer. It is so much more convenient. People don't object to it as much. You can get whole crowds to do this simply by raising their hands.

I wonder why the disciples didn't know that? On the day of Pentecost, it would have been SO much easier to have just had those 3,000 people pray the believer's prayer. Of course, it hadn't been invented yet -- but that's beside the point. Instead, those narrow-minded disciples must have spent wasted hours baptizing all of those folks (I know, my sarcasm is leaking through).

To claim Jesus without baptism seems to me like a couple who shack up but never get married. They never experience the commitment that comes with making a covenant -- which ALWAYS includes a covenant symbol. It is so beautiful. It was Jesus' idea. The apostles taught it and practiced it. Not one person comes to Jesus in the book of Acts without being baptized. Why, oh why, is there such a rejection of it -- and anyone who teaches it -- today?

As a part of the Churches of Christ, I personally carry some baggage. There are verses we have used out of context to say things they were never intended to say. I repent of ever doing that. I repent of having been a sectarian. I repent of holding myself and my "church" up as the only lovers of truth. I repent of arrogance and self-righteousness. I have re-evaluated many of my preconceived assumptions and positions. But I've got to say, I still believe Scripture teaches a lofty view of baptism. Not as a work. Not as earning us anything. But rather, as a means through which grace and salvation can be mediated.

I would rather stand at the judgment and have to say, "God, I am sorry to discover that You didn't think baptism is necessary. But I was just preaching what You wrote in the Word" -- than to say, "God, baptism didn't make a whole lot of sense to me, so I just told people they could come to Jesus another way. So we came up with 'the believer's prayer.' It was all for You, You know. I'm sure You will understand."

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Could I Get Used to It?

Last night Beverly and I went to a fundraiser at Vaquero Country Club. It was for an organization that my daughter volunteers for called "KidStand."

The food was INCREDIBLE! This is now the 3rd time I have been out to Vaquero, and each time I am blown away. I find it difficult to allow myself to be waited on the way they do.

A part of my flesh craves that -- even envies it. I try to imagine what it would be like to actually be a member there. Gorgeous golf course. Nicest staff ever. EVERYTHING is done for you -- short of actually swinging the golf club. And to be able, even on a cool night, to sit outside on the veranda with an open-pit fire warming you -- staring at an awesome full moon as it rises. Can life be any better?

It makes me almost wish in reincarnation. That way I could say to myself, "Maybe in another life." Don't get uptight. My spirit-filled side kicks in about here -- bringing me back to the reality of how good I have it in Jesus. But still . . .

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Why Miracles?

I know this is a late blog, but I have been struck this morning by my devotional reading. It's in a chapter of Yancey's dealing with the subject of Jesus' miracles. He wraps it up like this:

Why, then, any miracles? Did they make any difference? I readily concede that Jesus, with a few dozen healings and a handful of resurrections from the dead, did little to solve the problem of pain on this planet. That is not why he came. Nevertheless, it was in Jesus' nature to counteract the effects of the fallen world during his time on earth. As he strode through life Jesus used supernatural power to set right what was wrong. Every physical healing pointed back to a time in Eden when physical bodied did not go blind, get crippled, or bleed nonstop for 12 years -- and also pointed forward to at time of re-creation to come . . . To put it mildly, God is no more satisfied with this earth than we are; Jesus' miracles offer a hint of what God intends to do about it.

Some see miracles as an implausible suspension of the laws of the physical universe. As signs, though, they serve just the opposite function. Death, decay, entropy, and destruction are the true suspensions of God's laws; miracles are the early glimpses of restoration. In the words of Jurgen Moltmann, "Jesus' healings are not supernatural miracles in a natural world. They are the only truly 'natural' things in a world that is unnatural, demonized and wounded."

Monday, November 02, 2009

Recapping Weekend Sports

Wasp-count update: We are now up to 62. I'm getting to be a dead-eye shot with the fly swatter. It was fun last night as I took down 2 while we had small group. I didn't want to be guilty of friendly-fire.

Looks like the Yankees are on their way to another championship. BOO!

While I didn't like the way Brett Favre handled himself in the last couple of off-seasons, who can deny that the man still has game? What he is doing in Minnesota is unbelievable!

Alert: Terrell Owens is missing. Hasn't been heard from since sticking it to the Bills. Any leads?

Here's hoping for a Texas-Florida national championship. The battle of the good-guy quarterbacks. ACU is getting more free publicity from the broadcasters of Texas games than they could ever pay for. Each game, the broadcasters recount several times how Colt McCoy's dad and Jordon Shipley's dad were roommates at ACU.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Cynic Returns

Maybe the fault lies with my main news source. Beverly and I watch channel 8 (ABC) for all our news coverage. But it seems like they get on one or two stories that to me are not even worthy of coverage to begin with -- and just beat them to death. Every day for months, you can count on the following non-stories:

1. John and Kate plus 8: Do we really need daily updates of this dysfunctional couple? What is newsworthy about it? Of course, I never watched the show to begin with. It's not on ABC, or I would think they were simply wanting to increase the show's ratings.

2. Swine flu: Whether I watch the morning, noon, afternoon or evening news -- there will be a 5-minute segment on this "deadly epidemic." Please don't mishear me on this one. One death from flu is too many. But the normal seasonal flu kills 70,000 people in the US -- and lasts for days in each individual case. The medical folks say that the swine strain is a short-lived, moderate flu that has not even come close to the normal flu season numbers. I understand that the elderly, young and people with health issues are more susceptible, but isn't that true of every strain of flu? Yet every time someone dies, it is like we are keeping a "death ticker." Have we done that with other strains of flu? What am I missing here? (I really am open to greater knowledge on this). Is it just because there is not much other news to scare the public with right now?

3. Michael Jackson: Great talent. Very unique person. Let him rest in peace.

OK, I have to have an occasional cynic day. I feel kind of like Andy Rooney on days like this one. I'm done.

I know nothing about the Phillies, except that they are from Philadelphia. But I am SO pulling for them!

I'll close with a quote from Augustine. Let this one roll around in your head and make its way to your heart today: "By loving the unlovable, You (God) made me lovable."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What Kind of Company Do We Keep?

Chew on these quotes from Philip Yancey. They raise issues that I have been struggling with for a year or so. I am embarrassed that I had so missed Jesus that I have not struggled with them for decades:

". . . the Christian church now attracts respectable types who closely resemble the people most suspicious of Jesus on earth. What has happened to reverse the pattern of Jesus' day? Why don't sinners like being around us?"

"Somehow we have created a community of respectability in the church. The down-and-out, who flocked to Jesus when he lived on earth, no longer feel welcome. How did Jesus, the only perfect person in history, manage to attract the notoriously imperfect? And what keeps us from following in his steps today?"

"What was Jesus' secret that we have lost? 'You can know a person by the company he keeps,' the proverb goes."

"You can know a person by the company he keeps." That one haunts me (Rick Ross). We usually use that proverb in a negative way. But what does that it reveal about Jesus? Chew on that one today.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Timely Advice

I haven't posted any Tozier for a couple of months. Remember: This guy wrote over 50 years ago. He sometimes comes across as a little grumpy. But most prophetic voices do. In a world that's prevailing messages are so different, he has a way of bringing me back to what is of ultimate importance.

O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge-by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.... --1 Timothy 6:20-21

The crowds-at-any-price mania has taken a firm grip on American Christianity and is the motivating power back of a shockingly high percentage of all religious activity. Men and churches compete for the attention of the paying multitudes who are brought in by means of any currently popular gadget or gimmick ostensibly to have their souls saved, but, if the truth were told, often for reasons not so praiseworthy as this....

Our constant effort should be to reach as many persons as possible with the Christian message, and for that reason numbers are critically important. But our first responsibility is not to make converts but to uphold the honor of God in a world given over to the glory of fallen man. No matter how many persons we touch with the gospel we have failed unless, along with the message of invitation, we have boldly declared the exceeding sinfulness of man and the transcendent holiness of the Most High God. They who degrade or compromise the truth in order to reach larger numbers, dishonor God and deeply injure the souls of men.

The temptation to modify the teachings of Christ with the hope that larger numbers may "accept" Him is cruelly strong in this day of speed, size, noise, and crowds. But if we know what is good for us, we'll resist it with every power at our command. The Size of the Soul, 117-119.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Today we are being blessed with more rain. While most of the metroplex is probably wishing it would go away, we still need it here in the northwestern section. Lake Bridgeport is still pretty low.

For the last few days, we have had a couple of wasps that come out in the late afternoon and invade our den. We had this a couple of years ago, and they went away. I never have been able to figure out where they came from. They stay up toward the ceiling (20 feet in our den), so I can't swat them.

So, Monday night I went to the store and got some foggers that will kill wasps. I set one off yesterday morning when we left the house. By lunchtime, we had two dead wasps.

Late yesterday afternoon, when Beverly had come home before her meeting, she called me to tell me there were two more "nearly dead" ones. She put a glass on top of each one:) I got home and ate, and then settled in to do some studying. Suddenly it was like a Hitchcock movie (well, nearly). Wasps begin buzzing all over the place! As they weakened, they would fall out of the sky. Then I would attack!

As of this morning, the count is up to 28. I don't know what the bag limit is. I just hope I get all of them.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Looks like the perpitrater of the runaway balloon story of last week is going to pay dearly for his few moments of "publicity." I'm not sure what he was thinking he would gain from this.

I watched a few minutes of two shows this weekend that caught my attention -- both on The History Channel. One was about the conspiracy to kill Abraham Lincoln. I found it fascinating. This conspiracy went much further than the killing of the president. That night, the vice president and several other high-level government people were also targeted. Only Booth was able to pull his part off.

This story raised the question as to if Dr. Mudd, who set Booth's broken leg and was a Confederate sympathizer, had actually at one time been a part of the plot.

The other show was about the supposed government cover-up of 9/11. There are actually people who think this whole thing was a government plot. What is scary is that they seem to be relatively intelligent people.

Of course, there are people who deny the Holacaust, who claim that the moon landing actually occurred in the desert Southwest, who say that JFK actually survived the assassination attempt and lived in South America, and that Elvis is still alive. Scary.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Strange Happenings

Surely you have heard the story of the "balloon boy" by now. As the story unfolds, it is sounding more and more like it may have been nothing more than a publicity stunt on the part of the father. If that is the case, I hope there is some way he can be held liable to pay for all the tax-payer funded planes and helicopters that had to be scrambled in an attempt to "rescue" the balloon.

I'm still trying to learn how to link things onto my blog. Sometimes I can. But I could not find the option for linking this video. Paste the below link into your address line and then watch the accompanying video (nobody was hurt):,0,2805301.story

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Intimacy with God

"I want a close relationship with God." "I want to feel the presence of the Lord." This is the heartcry of many Christians. I am one of them.

I preach about such things a lot: Intimacy / relationship with Jesus. But what does that really mean? What does it look like? How does it feel?

I get glimpses of it as I spend time in prayer. Or as I serve others in the name of Jesus.

But I want to WALLOW in it! I want to be immersed in it!

Now, what I'm about to say is going to sound a lot like Paul in Romans 7, but while I want it -- do I really want it? I want it -- but it involves time. I want it -- but it involves discipline. And my time is already allotted to other "stuff." I want it to come easier than it does.

So I often end up settling for being an acquaintance rather than being intimate. And my daily prayers for greater intimacy come across as suggesting that God is more to blame than I am. "Lord, why don't I feel your presence? I want to sense your warmth. Draw me closer." But little is changed in my daily pursuit.

So I am going public, and I invite you to hold me accountable. I want to be more disciplined. I want to spend more time in communion with my Father. To sit quietly over His word. To drink deep. To let Him speak to me.

Because the truth is: He IS with me. It's not that I need to pursue Him -- as if He is running ahead of me. Rather, I need to stop running -- and relax into His embrace.

I feel better already.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pray for Marriages

I have such a great admiration for Beverly's work! I don't know how she does what she does. I am aware of marriages that are hurting and in crisis, and I hurt so much for them. Yet, her day is filled from morning to evening with that. What a blessing she is! God has affirmed her work here in Wise County so clearly.

I pray daily for hurting marriages. I would ask you to join me in that as well. And I pray that the Father will hold up my woman. I don't know where her energy comes from -- but I know it is fueled by the Holy Spirit.

Speaking of Beverly, I hope you have all seen what is now known as "the giant Beverly." She is doing a depression seminar for women at the Richland Hills Church of Christ next week, and they have her picture on their billboard. A 15-foot Beverly overlooking north Tarrant County! Ominous.

I wish I had a picture.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sports Recap

I'm kind of going through a dry spell in blogging ideas right now. Yet, I like the discipline of posting something fairly regularly. So with nothing much on my mind, here goes:

I can't ever remember actually rooting for the Cowboys to lose -- but I was yesterday. JJones has absolutely turned me against a life-long allegiance. And while I don't think even a loss to the lowly Chiefs would wake him up to how he has wrecked this team, there is always hope. He is an opportunist who is taking advantage of a loyal fan base. But that fan base may be eroding for him.

As the Cowboys scored in overtime, you would have thought they had just won the Super Bowl the way he was so ecstatic. If that had been MY team, barely squeaking out a win against one of the worst teams in the league -- I don't think I would have been celebrating. There are definitely problems with this team.

ACU holds onto its #2 national ranking with a victory Saturday. Go Wildcats!


I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Presidents' Cup. Tiger and Phil are both at the top of their games, which hopefully will make for an interesting 2010. The 18-year old budding star from Japan looks like the real deal. As Beverly and I watched some of it, I commented that I don't know of another sport where there is such a large percentage of guys committed to family and faith. It is really refreshing. And yet the irony is that the captains for both sides were anything but that.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Presidents Cup

Today begins the Presidents Cup, in which 12 of the USA's best golfers take on an international field (excluding Europe, who participates in the Ryder Cup). I love these kinds of competitions. We get to see guys partnering with each other in different formats. Golf is usually a very individualistic sport, but these competitions place them as a team.

The Ryder Cup has been going on for a long time, and there is a much more intense rivalry. In fact, it often gets a little smash-mouthing. The Presidents Cup is not there yet. It has only been played 8 times (each event is played every other year), beginning in 1993. The Internationals have only won once -- so it has not developed much of a rivalry yet. I guess the closest thing was when Vejay Singh's caddie showed up on the 1st tee in a match against Tiger Woods with a cap that said, "Tiger Who?" Not the smartest person.

Two years ago, the event was in Canada. It was the site of the famous "Woody Austin taking a dive" moment.

I'm looking forward to watching.

Interesting interview on the Golf Channel yesterday with Bill Clinton. He was asked if he could have anyone in history, who would his 4 dinner guests be. One of them was Jesus. He said this (not a quote, but a paraphrase): "As the founder of my faith, I would like to ask him what he meant by 'Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's.'" He said he would like to know where Jesus would actually fall in the "separation of church and state."

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Name of Jesus

I'm rereading another Yancey book, The Jesus I Thought I Knew. I love this:

When I switched on my computer this morning, Microsoft Windows flashed the date, implicitly acknowledging that, whatever you may believe about it, the birth of Jesus was so important that it split history into two parts. Everything that has ever happened on this planet falls into a category of before Christ or after Christ.

Richard Nixon got carried away with excitement in 1969 when Apollo astronauts first landed on the moon. "It's the greatest day since Creation!" crowed the president, until Billy Graham solemnly reminded him of Christmas and Easter. By any measure of history Graham was right. This Galilean, who in his lifetime spoke to fewer people than would fill just one of the many stadia Graham has filled, changed the world more than any other person. He introduced a new force field into history, and now holds the allegiance of a third of all people on earth.

Today, people even use Jesus' name to curse by. How strange it would sound if, when a businessman missed a golf putt, he yelled, "Thomas Jefferson!" or if a plumber screamed "Mahatma Gandhi!" when his pipe wrench mashed a finger. We cannot get away from this man Jesus.

(H)e positioned himself as the dividing point of life -- my life . . . According to Jesus, what I think about him and how I respond will determine my destiny for all eternity.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Letterman Revisited

The following comments were on a Smartmarriages email last week.  I know that Letterman has made a public confession and asked his wife to forgive him, and I commend him for that.  He has also said he is going to work hard to save his marriage.  Yet, I found these comments to be enlightening as to our times:  
A reader wrote the following:   The public reaction to the latest admission of extramarital affairs - this time by David Letterman - may signify a new level of acceptance (or even approval) of affairs. Up until now, there has been a generally critical reaction from the public to the exposure of an affair. But this time - after Dave used his show to turn this admission into a 'funny story' - the audience laughed throughout and actually applauded several times!
Diane, who oversees the website, responded:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This was last night and it's all over the news this morning. Peggy pegs it - it's the changing of the social consciousness (or conscience) -- normalizing this behavior and lowering our expectations of monogamy -- that does the damage. Or as Scott Stanley, commitment researcher, might put it, there goes another External Constraint as the social stigma against infidelity is further undermined -- as infidelity is turned into one big joke, as something so cool. Boys being boys. Employers with power, being employers with power. 
Letterman effectively reduces the moral question to, *What's worse blackmail or infidelity?* Turns the blackmailer into the moron while he casts himself as the protector of the reputations of his prey - of the women who worked for him. Amazing. Bet his wife isn't laughing. Wonder if Harry (his son) will get the message. Daddy my hero: the cool, funny guy and the protector of women. 
Beverly reminds us that research done even by secular marriage "experts" repeatedly confirms that monogamous marriages result in greater happiness, fulfillment, sexual satisfaction and peace.  That is not the message of Hollywood or the media.  But it is a message that needs to be heard.  

Monday, October 05, 2009

Monday Memos

I have no way of measuring this for certain, but my guess is that the once-overflowing Romo bandwagon now has some vacant seating. 
I saw this quote from Robert Fulghum on my Smartmarriages email.  It is certainly worth thinking about: 
Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are
always watching you.
We began LifeGroups last night at our church.  I am SO excited about the potential this has for building relationships and meeting needs among us.  I am grateful to our elders for their vision.  May the Lord be glorified through them! 

Friday, October 02, 2009

Letterman's Confession

I saw a clip this morning from David Letterman's show last night. Apparently someone was trying to blackmail him with information about him having had affairs with female staff members. So he candidly admitted on his show that he had. To his credit, he did not make light of it or act proud of it. But what I found incredible was that when he said, "Yes, I have had sex with female staff members," the audience erupted in applause!

Isn't this the kind of thing that politicians have had to resign over? Why the double standard?

Actually, whether politicians or TV celebrities or average Joe's, this is a sad statement on where we are as a culture. Not that I am surprised. Only another reminder of the depths to which we have fallen.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


What would Jesus do? The phrase, unfortunately, has become trite. Yet in actuality, it has lost NONE of its meaning. It should influence EVERYTHING we do.

Our nation is at a place politically like I cannot remember in my lifetime: extreme partisanship. Oh, I'm not saying it hasn't always existed -- but I think more so now than I can ever remember. But there is a new twist now. Both parties want to be the WWJD party. Each has selected its two or three issues that they think they are being more like Jesus about. For Republicans, it's key issues are abortion, homosexual rights and displays of the 10 commandments. For Democrats, it's concern for the poor and health care.

I am reminded of an old Bob Dylan song entitled, "With God on Our Side." It was a commentary on war, and how both sides always think they are on the righteous side. That seems to be where we as a nation are politically.

So, WWJD? As I consider His life, He lived in a day in which politics was heated. The Jews were incensed at the Romans' occupation of their land, levying of taxes, lack of morals and attempts to control their religion (sounds fairly familiar, doesn't it?). The Romans were just as bull-headed in imposing their rule. The situation was becoming volatile . Within just a few years after Jesus' resurrection, it erupted into open rebellion and revolution.

This would have been a perfect time for Jesus to make a divine statement on politics, yet He virtually remained silent. Pretty much what comes to my mind is that He said to pay your taxes. Paul came along and said to honor the emperor (yeah, the one who would have him killed) and to live a submissive lifestyle.

Why such a passive response? Because we are citizens of another kingdom. And when we become too caught up in the pursuits of worldly kingdoms, we have little left to give to the eternal one. The kingdom of God is not advanced so much by weaving it into the fabric of any earthly kingdom as it is advanced through its uniqueness -- its counter-cultural priorities.

I am not saying we must take David Lipscomb's view and totally remove ourselves from worldly politics. But perhaps he was onto something. Our kingdom IS NOT of this world. And I think THAT is the answer to WWJD.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fed-Ex Cup and the U.N.

I'm not sure this FedEx Cup "playoff" is ever going to be what those who came up with it envisioned. Tiger Woods won it yesterday. He had six tournament wins this year, and was the most consistent finisher in the 4 playoff tournaments -- winning one. But it just seems anticlimactic that he wins the $10 million prize as he limps in to finish 2nd yesterday.

I am looking forward to the President's Cup in two weeks.

The world always has some mega-maniac to contend with. I can't think of a time in my life when we haven't. But right now, we have at least 4. There is Kim Jong-il, the dictator of North Korea, Hugo Chavez, the leader of Venezuela, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the leader of Iran, and Moammar , and Moammar Gadhafi, the leader of Libya. Which one is the most dangerous to world security?

And here's something I don't get: Why does the U.N. allow these guys to come speak to them? Is it in hopes that allowing them to vent to the world on a stage like that for up to an hour will bring them around? They made total fools of themselves, and made a mockery of the U.N. Has this tactic EVER worked?

Friday, September 25, 2009

What a World!

Today I am conducting the funeral of a 27-year old man who leaves behind a wife, 2-year old son and another child due in December. He was killed in a car wreck. So tragic. I know we preachers are always expected to have the right words, but there are no easy answers for some situations. My prayer is that the Spirit will just use me as a receptacle today to bring peace and the presence of God.

What is with some of these leaders who are speaking at the U.N.? And why does the U.N. give them an international audience to spread their poison and idiocy? How deranged does someone have to be to deny the Holocaust?

And three terrorist plots thwarted this week! For some, that may make them feel safer. For me, it brings home the fact that there are a lot of people out there that want to see us struck again. I pray that will not happen.

I often pray for the downfall of Islam. I make it clear in my prayer that I am not praying for a violent overthrow. Rather, I pray that people's eyes might be opened to its violence, as well as its inconsistencies and falsehoods. And I pray that Islam might implode because Jesus is made real to these people.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I am speaking in generalizations here: I don't know what to make of us Christians' lack of thinking about heaven. Is it because we are too busy and time-stressed here to slow down and ponder it? Is it that we are afraid it will not be better than what we know here? Is it because we have too many things to arrest our attention now (TV, Ipods, car radio, computer, etc.)? Is it that we are simply afraid?

I realize that a person can become so obsessed with heaven that he / she is of no earthly good. But that doesn't seem to be a problem with anyone I know. I do know that in my own life, when I keep a healthy eye on heaven -- I live with more peace now.

"One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, TO GAZE UPON THE BEAUTY OF THE LORD and to seek him in his temple." (Psalm 27: 4)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Am I Just Lucky?

I don't believe in predestination in the strict Calvinist sense. But I do sometimes think about how different my life might be if, having no choice in the matter, I had been born in, let's say, Sri Lanka. In a Hindu culture surrounded by poverty. Wow. Each day being simply a matter of survival.

What hope would I have for the future? How could I face each day without Jesus' Spirit living in me?

It's a reminder to me that this precious message we have is not one to be hoarded -- but to be shared.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekend Recap

Observations from the weekend of sports:
  • I like Colt McCoy. A lot. But he did himself no favors in his bid for a Heisman Trophy Saturday night. Oh, well. Maybe if that pressure were removed from his back, he could focus on the bigger prize -- a national championship.
  • Nebraska experienced deja vu Saturday. They outplayed Virginia Tech throughout the game only to loose by one point on the final play. The same thing happened last year.
  • How long before the Cow-sheep start jumping off of the Tony "Oh-no" Romo bandwagon? He scored a lot of points last night! 30 for his team, and 17 for the Giants.
  • Demarcus Ware is a GREAT football player, and I doubt we have even seen his best. Ditto Jason Witten.
  • Flozell Adams is the kind of professional athlete that makes me dislike professional sports. He is a thug. How does this guy make the Pro Bowl? He misses a lot of blocks -- thus the league-leading holding penalties. And last night's cowardly leg-whip that injured a Giants player made me sick. Is he Eric Williams' clone?
  • Jerry Jones probably doesn't care a whole lot about last night's score. He packed his monument with over 105,000 people. At an average ticket of $180, that's nearly $19 million dollars -- just in ticket sales! That does not include concessions and $50 parking. He is a shrewd businessman (actually, snake-oil salesman is more accurate). If only he would realize -- after 12 years of mediocrity --that he is NOT a football man. But megamaniacs seldom see the truth about themselves.
  • The Rangers pulled their disappearing act again this year. They just waited until September instead of late July.
  • Am I sounding kind of cynical today?
  • FedEx Cup week! I want to see it come down to Tiger or Steve Stricker. Either one of them winning it would make me happy.

I read with interest an article yesterday about where Texas would fit within the world if we were to secede from the United States. We would rank right behind Canada in national economies! I'm not predicting that this secession idea is going to gain huge momentum, but there are now at least 15 states that have some level of activity in this.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Read This

No blog of my own today. I would encourage you to go to my son's blog that is linked here: Josh Ross. I loved his blog today. I am excited about the way the Kingdom of God is being stirred to see, feel and hear the way our Father does. Could it be that much of the animosity that the world feels toward Christ followers would melt if we were more consistently living out the Jesus life among them?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Congressman WIlson is a Racist?

Beverly and I were having a discussion this morning concerning the over-the-top, out-of-line behavior of Congressman Joe Wilson, who called President Obama a liar last week. I absolutely agree that his behavior was embarrassing and unacceptable. I am disappointed that many of our Texas Republican representatives did not agree with the vote to censure his remarks. But when I heard Jimmy Carter this morning say that the comment was motivated by racism -- to me THAT was also over the top.

In my opinion, we are currently reaping the seeds that were sown during the Clinton years. When the Republicans attempted to impeach him over his perjury (and wound his presidency), the Democrats rallied the troops. They were determined to get their pound of flesh. So when George Bush became president, they were on him like ravenous dogs. Harry Reid called him a loser and a liar. He later apologized for the "loser" comment -- but not the "liar." This went on for 8 years.

Now, the Republicans are wanting to extract revenge for that. It is an ugly cycle, and it makes me wonder when it will end and they can actually get about the business of SERVING the American public.

I fear that the Democrats' defense for any charge brought against Obama is going to be, "Those comments were racially motivated." That is a cheap shot. I don't know, maybe Congressman WIson is a racist. I have heard nothing to support that other than Carter's and some other's accusations. But I am hopeful that President Obama's ideas can be discussed -- and disagreed with if necessary -- without the person in question being labeled a racist.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mocking God

How gullible are people today? Billboards like the one on the right are being posted along I-30 between Dallas and Fort Worth. There are at least 5 in the series -- each quoting a Scripture meant to validate the message.

In the one on the right, the passage cited is when Jesus healed a Centurion's servant (Matthew 8: 5-13). I see nothing in the text to even hint that this involves any homosexual activity. This is a total revision (and abuse) of God's Word.

Another billboard says, "Ruth loved Naomi as Adam loved Eve." It cites Genesis 2: 24 and Ruth 1: 14. The first passage says that "a man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife." The 2nd passage says that as Naomi is about to leave Ruth, that she kissed her goodbye, and "clung to her." This is a common practice in the East, and would not even be unusual in the West. Are we going to assume that any time a daughter-in-law hugs her mother-in-law, that there is homosexual activity?

The 3rd billboard says "Jesus said some are born gay." Jesus said that? It cites Matthew 19: 10-12, where Jesus says some people are born as eunuchs (celibate) while others are MADE eunuchs. How does being celibate equate to homosexuality? And then to make that leap that Jesus SAID some are born gay?

The 4th billboard says "The early church welcomed a gay man." This one cites Acts 8: 26-40, the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch. Apparently these people do not understand the role of a eunuch in ancient history. Eunuch DOES NOT equal homosexual. The reason men were made eunuchs was to insure that they would not have sex with an official's WIFE.

And finally the old, worn-out one: "David loved Jonathan more than women." This refers to 2 Samuel 1: 26, where these two dear friends are parting and know they will never see each other again. So they cry and hug one another. If this suggests homosexuality, then all of the East and even Western Europe must be homosexual.

What blatant dishonesty! This is an offense to the Gospel and to any thinking person's intelligence. In a court of law, these people could be held guilty of libel and slander.

Let me conclude by saying that there was a time I considered homosexuality a much bigger sin than adultery, fornication or violating one's marriage covenant. I have changed in my thinking on that. ALL are violations of God's intended purposes. Where I am today, I would be equally upset if someone tried to twist Scriptures to justify cheating on his / her wife or living in sexual sin.

Let us be aware of this: God WILL NOT be mocked. I pray for hearts to be broken and relationships to be restored to the Father. May that be the ultimate outcome of this.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The King Turns 80

He only dominated his sport for a few years -- from about 1958 to 1964. He won his last major championship in '64, at the young age of 34. And yet, through the strength of his charisma and sincere love for people and his game -- 44 years later he is still referred to as "the king." He humbly says that he does not deserve that title; but rather he is an ambassador for the game.

When he came along, TV was just becoming popular. And he was a perfect fit. Aggressive. Expressive. Interactive. And the nation -- yes, even the world -- fell in love with him. I was about 10 years old when I began following golf. By that time, he had already taken a backseat to Jack Nicklaus in his ability to dominate on the golf course. While Nicklaus would become the greatest golfer ever (Tiger is admittedly closing in), he could never knock "the king" from his throne. Even in losing to Jack, Arnie was still the fans' favorite. And he was my childhood idol. I could not count the number of times I stood over a putt, pretending I was Arnold Palmer putting to win the Masters. I never got to actually watch him win much. But I got to see a man who did much more than that.

Lee Trevino recently shook his head as he thought back on watching Arnie work the crowds. He said no matter how poorly he played or how tired he was, he always made time for the people. Trevino said, "I would have been rushing to the car. But not Arnie. He just loved the people so much."

You could argue who is the most influential athlete in history. Who most impacted his or her particular sport the most? You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who did more than Arnold Palmer.

Today my childhood idol turns 80. I still get a lump in my throat when I see him interviewed or watch reruns of an old match in which he played. He defines integrity, charity and grace. He has been an inspiration for me. Thank you, Mr. Palmer. And happy birthday.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Beatles

The Beatles have been in the news a lot lately. I find it interesting the way some music transcends the generations.

I occasionally listen to stuff I thought was great music back in the 70s (Grand Funk Railroad), and now it makes me cringe. Other music that I thought was OK back then, I now appreciate much more (for instance, the Eagles).

Elvis continues to live on, too. To be honest, I never cared for any of his music. I am not knocking you Elvis fans; just a different preference. But I do still love the Beatles -- especially their pre-drug years. I find it amazing, as I look back, that they basically wrote all those songs in a 6-year span. They hit it big in 1963, and by 1970 they were no more.

Is there really any better rock singer than John Lennon's "Twist and Shout"? And Paul McCartney singing just makes you want to smile. George Harrison took a back seat to Lennon-McCartney, but he wrote a few of their biggest hits. And then, there's Ringo. Not a flashy drummer -- but one of the best at laying down a back beat.

I don't know that I could pick a favorite Beatles' song. "Twist and Shout." "Help." "I Feel Fine." "Come Together." And I'm probably leaving out my favorite.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Noah James

Here is a picture of my newest grandson, Noah James Ross. This is his 17-day old picture. He is in deep thought, mulling over the theory of relativity.

We were able to spend some time this weekend with our oldest grandchild. When Beverly met her parents halfway to Keller last night to drop her off, she began crying. Her mother said she cried for hours because she missed us. What can I say? I'm just a wild and crazy guy!

We are planning to be with our Houston grandkids for a couple of days at the end of this week. Last time, Jonathan and I took Jed golfing with us. On the 1st hole, he grabbed his shortened driver, walked up on the tee -- and said, "Where's the hole." I like that!

You know how much I admire Tiger Woods. Great golfer. Great humanitarian. Can be a little testy at times when he's not playing well. But I wonder how any of us would handle scrutiny of every move we make. Anyway, I have been hoping someone would come along to challenge him. Mickelson has given us glimpses of that. Els, Singh, Garcia and Scott have not.

But maybe we have found the guy: Steve Stricker. When he first came along, there were some high expectations from him. But he disappeared into mediocrity for several years. About 4 years ago, he got his game (and mental outlook) together, and he has been playing great since. With yesterday's gutsy win, he has moved up to #2 in the world golf rankings. He and Tiger are good friends, and it is said that he and Kenny Perry are considered the nicest guys on the tour. That is being salt and light -- as both are very open about their being disciples of Jesus.

I look forward to seeing how the last two tournaments in the chase for the FedEx cup play out. Tiger and Stricker will be paired together for the 1st two rounds this week. Should be fun.