Thursday, January 29, 2009

Defending Rush?

I can't believe I am doing this today.  I am defending Rush Limbaugh.  Well, actually I'm really not.  I think he is a mean-spirited, slanderous, self-righteous baffoon who tries to hide behind love for God and country.  Yet there is no semblance of God in his words.  

But he is an entertainer! (I am using the term loosely)  He is not a voting politician.  He cannot do anything to actually affect public policy.

But I digress.  Here is where one might think I am defending him.  He is being vilified in the press right now for saying that he hopes Obama fails as president.  I mean, people are coming out of the woodwork to roast him over this.

Just wondering.  Why is it that Nancy Pelosi (Speaker of the House) and Harry Reid (Senate Majority Leader) have been able to say the same things about George Bush for years with NO public outcry?  And they CAN vote and affect public policy.

And why can Sean Penn act in ways that would have found him guilty of treason a generation or two ago, and be considered a hero by many?  And how can Alec Baldwin and Barbara Streisand and The Dixie Chicks and Bruce Springsteen and Tom Hanks (do I need to go on?) say the same kinds of things, and get a pass?    Because they are entertainers?  (see comments on Limbaugh above)  I have heard Bush compared to Hitler! His intelligence has been questioned. He has been called EVIL. 

If this country doesn't begin to pull together in the midst of our diversity, we are in big trouble.  And the hatred for individuals is SO ugly.  I don't ever remember anything like it in my lifetime.  Why does being able to pretend you are someone else by reading lines (an actor) give one perfect clarity in all things political?

I used to listen to Rush some.  I agreed with a lot he said.  But his mean-spiritedness and blindness to anything other than his own opinion TOTALLY turned me off.  But come on, people!  Let's be even-handed here.  I'm not even opposed to some form of reprimand for Limbaugh.  But let the same reprimand be issued to the Bush-haters, too.             

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Playing Champions

I'm still at home this morning. It's 18 degrees, and the streets are covered in ice. I hear a car go by every once in a while -- but very slowly. THE NEWSPAPER DIDN'T EVEN COME THIS MORNING! I will venture out in a little bit, because I HAVE to get my preps done today for Sunday. Tomorrow after lunch, Beverly and I are going to Houston to see two of our grandkids. Our son (their dad) won't even be there until Friday night, so that's just extra spoiling time.

The other day, Jonathan (above-mentioned son) called and said one of his friends from church wanted to take him and me golfing Friday. He said that he would not be there, but the friend still wanted to take me. I said, "Great." (I never turn down an invitation to play golf) Then I asked, "What is the name of the course?" Jonathan said, "It's out on 1960. I think it's called Champions?" I said, "Are you kidding? Champions is where they played the U.S. Open back in the late 60s. And they played the Ryder Cup there. And for several years, the Tour Championship was there!"

So, I will be playing Champions on Friday. They do have two courses now, so I don't know if I will be playing the above-mentioned course or the newer one. But who cares?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Weird Weather Reporting

We are in the middle of an "ice event" today.  I have come in to the office, but will probably go home late morning and study there.  The weather people are saying conditions will only get worse as the day goes on.

The coverage of weather events like this crack me up.  The local stations (DFW) will have reporters all over the place -- standing out in the cold at intersections and overpasses all over the Metroplex to tell us how cold and dangerous it is.  I would believe them without them having to endanger a crew driving out to some distant location to tell me.

And the cameras will zoom in on an icicle hanging from a guardrail.  Or a car loosing traction.  Or show shots of sleet pelting a windshield.  

And this will go on for HOURS!

PLEASE!  Just tell me the temperature, and what you expect the conditions to be.  Tell me about schools and businesses closing.  But spare me the phony theatrics.

The same thing happens in hurricanes.  "You should not be out in these conditions!  Even though we are out here -- waiting for a piece of sheet metal to come flying into our heads."  If they are out there, don't you think it puts in the minds of some people that they can be, too?

I went to the doctor yesterday for a checkup and because my blood pressure has occasionally been elevated lately.  At the doctor's office, it was 135/82!  That is the best reading I can ever remember having!  And I have dropped 15 pounds since last year's checkup ('scuse me while I brag.)  He did change my blood pressure medicine from one that has been used by the medical profession for years to a new medicine that not only treats the symptoms, but also works on the cause.  I will be interested to see how that goes.

"24" -- Wow!  I only have one question.  Why doesn't the President commission Jack Bauer to go get Bin Laden?  He could take out him and his whole terrorist network in a day (24 hours).     

Friday, January 23, 2009

Preaching a Favorite Text

This week in my preaching, I come to Luke 4 -- and one of my favorite passages.  It is the story of Jesus returning to Nazareth and the synagogue of His youth.  He reads from the prophet Isaiah (ch. 61), and uses that passage to define His ministry.

I find it interesting when I look forward to preaching favorite texts, that once I get there -- I feel more inadequate to the task than I normally do.  This week, I am praying more than usual to let the text tell the story -- and not get in the way.       

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Reason to Root for the Cards

I mentioned in a previous blog that I would be rooting for Arizona in the Super Bowl.  Following is a story that is one of the reasons (I did check this story on snopes.  It is legit.  Thanks to Jeff Jones for sending it to me).   


   In a supermarket, Kurtis the stock boy, was busily working when a new voice came over the loud speaker asking for a carry out at register 4. Kurtis was almost finished, and wanted to get some fresh air, and decided to answer the call. As he approached the check-out stand a distant
smile caught his eye, the new check-out girl was beautiful. She was an older woman (maybe 26, and he was only 22) and he fell in love.
   Later that day, after his shift was over, he waited by the punch clock to find out her name. She came into the break room, smiled softly at him, took her card and punched out, then left. He looked at her card, BRENDA. He walked out only to see her start walking up the road. Next day, he waited outside as she left the supermarket, and offered her a ride home. He looked harmless enough, and she accepted. When he dropped her off, he asked if maybe he could see her again, outside of work. She simply said it wasn't possible.
   He pressed and she explained she had two children and she couldn't afford a baby-sitter, so he offered to pay for the baby-sitter. Reluctantly she accepted his offer for a date for the following Saturday.  That Saturday night he arrived at her door only to have her tell him that she was
unable to go with him. The baby-sitter had called and canceled. To which Kurtis simply said, "Well, let's take the kids with us."
   She tried to explain that taking the children was not an option, but again not taking no for an answer, he pressed. Finally Brenda, brought him inside to meet her children. She had an older daughter who was just as cute as a bug, Kurtis thought, then Brenda brought out her son, in a
wheelchair. He was born a paraplegic with Down Syndrome.
   Kurtis asked Brenda, "I still don't understand why the kids can't come with us?" Brenda was amazed. Most men would run away from a woman with two kids, especially if one had disabilities just like her first husband and father of her children had done. Kurtis was not ordinary -- he had a different mindset.
   That evening Kurtis and Brenda loaded up the kids, went to dinner and the movies. When her son needed anything Kurtis would take care of him. When he needed to use the restroom, he picked him up out of his wheelchair, took him and brought him back. The kids loved Kurtis. At
the end of the evening, Brenda knew this was the man she was going to marry and spend the rest of her life with.
   A year later, they were married and Kurtis adopted both of her children.  Since then they have added two more kids.  So what happened to Kurtis the stock boy and Brenda the check-out girl? Well, Mr. & Mrs. Kurt Warner now live in Arizona , where he is currently employed as the quarterback of the National Football League Arizona Cardinals and has his Cardinals in the Super Bowl. Is this a surprise ending or could you have guessed that he
was not an ordinary person.
   It should be noted that he also quarterbacked the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. He has also been the NLF's Most Valuable Player twice and the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Yesterday's Inauguration

My views on politics (as a Christian leader) have dramatically changed in recent years. I do not mean this to be patronizing or spiritually superior to anyone else -- but I hope it is because I am more interested in advancing Jesus' agenda and Kingdom than I am a worldly one. Having said that, I enjoyed a lot of the inauguration yesterday.

I really liked Edward Fudge's observations. He speaks my heart in many of his comments, having myself grown up in segregated Mississippi:


Following are my personal reflections after today's inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States. I did not vote for Mr. Obama, but as a Christian who grew up in segregated Alabama, it feels profoundly right to me to witness a Black family moving into the White House. I was pleased that Rick Warren, a Bible-preaching Southern Baptist minister whose view of God's agenda extends to helping the poorest, weakest and most despised of the world's population, was asked to offer the invocation, that he did so, and the way he did (Col. 4:2, 5-6).

I strongly disagree with some of President Obama's platform -- particularly his support of abortion and the "gay" agenda -- but I strongly agree with his concern for the helpless at home and his desire to bring an end to our wars abroad. Whatever we Americans think about Mr. Obama's politics and his policies, he is now our President, and we need to pray for God's protection and guidance on his behalf. Our country faces many challenges -- a situation that calls for national unity so far as possible -- and there is much on which we may all unite.

I am not among those who can see only the bad and say only the negative. I deny that America is going to hell in a handbasket and there is nothing we can do to prevent it. Despite secularist victories here and there, our culture retains more of its biblically-based heritage than the culture of any other country in the so-called "Christian" world. Percentage-wise, more Americans regularly attend church services today than did so in 1776. There are millions of committed Christians who are Democrats and millions who are Republicans, as difficult as that might be for some in both parties to believe.

So I will pray for President Obama, and for all others in positions of power (Eph. 6:18). I will pray that God will overrule all their decisions for good, that God's name will be hallowed, his kingdom realized and his will done (Matt. 6:9-10). I will pray that we Americans, and people throughout the world, may live godly and dignified lives in peace and quietness (1 Tim. 2: 1-4). As a Christian living in the United States of America, that is the least that I can do. As a matter of fact, it is also the most powerful (James 5:16).

Monday, January 19, 2009

MLK, Super Bowl and the White House

Today is MLK Day.  He inspired America with a dream.  Regardless of your or my political bends, tomorrow we get to see a part of that dream fulfilled.  Let us pray that it will help us to get past one of the most immoral issues in America's history -- racism.
Steelers and Cardinals in the Super Bowl.  That has to make the "Phony Cowboy GM" (aka Jerry Jones) sick.  The Steelers are early 7 point favorites.  I can't decide who I am going to root for.  Unless it is my favorite team in a competition, I usually go for the underdog.  So I should be for Arizona (I made this correction after it was pointed out to me that they moved from St. Louis years ago.  Old habits are hard to break.  I still have to stop and think:  It's not the Baltimore Colts.)  But since I am now the anti-Jones fan, if Pittsburgh were to win, that would give them 6 Super Bowls -- thus taking some of Phony Cowboy GM's thunder.  By the way, have I reminded you that "Mr. 13 years without a playoff win" trashed the previous owner for going 5 years without a playoff win?  Oh, yeah -- I think I have.

I think I will be rooting for the Cards.  I really appreciate Kurt Warner.

I saw a piece this morning on GMA about the moving process at the White House tomorrow.  While the inauguration is taking place, 95 movers are transitioning the living quarters.  In 4 to 5 hours, they move the Bushes totally out, strip the paint in the Oval Office and repaint, and move the Obama's in.  EVERYTHING will be in place.  Girls' toys where they want them.  Clothes hung in the closets.  Food in the refrigerator.

I was a bit surprised at this:  Both the Bushes and the Obamas must pay for their own moving expenses.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Downed Plane, Inauguration, and Baseball

What a bargain!  Buy an airplane ticket, and get a cruise down the Hudson River for free!

I would not be joking about this if anyone had been seriously injured or killed.  What an incredible story!

I love presidential inaugurations.  There are certain things dealing with pomp and pageantry that make me proud to be an American.  Like the way we honor a veteran at a military service.  The changing of the guard at Arlington Cemetery.  And the peaceful exchange of power in the White House.

So whether I vote for a candidate or not (I even watched and enjoyed Bill Clinton's 1st inauguration), I enjoy the inauguration ceremony.  I will take my day off next Tuesday just to see it.

Update to yesterday's blog:  Kudos to Michael Young for reversing his decision and agreeing to the change of position.  He IS one of the good guys in sports, and once again he proved it.  

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Michael Young Controversy

The big talk here in the DFW area right now is about Texas Ranger Michael Young being asked to move from shortstop to 3rd base.  His response was to ask to be traded.

On one side are those who are saying that he has been loyal to the organization -- as lousy as it is.  Coming to the organization as a 2nd baseman, he has already made one position change.  And this is the thanks he gets for his loyalty.  My immediate response was to take this side.  

On the other side, some are asking,  "How removed from reality is this guy?"  People are being laid off all over the country.  People are being reassigned -- often at lower salaries.  Here is a guy making multi-millions.  He is still going to make his money.  He will STILL be a starter in the Rangers' infield.  And truth be known, while he is an adequate shortstop -- his limited range would be better suited to 3rd base.

I think those are legitimate points.  As the economy gets tougher, I have a feeling that prima donna athletes are going to have a hard time garnering public sympathy for things like this.       

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wrestling with God

Do you ever struggle with theological issues like why God demanded genocide in the Old Testament?  Do the old answers settle the issue for you ("God's ways are not our ways", "keeping Israel pure", etc)?  

Well, they don' t for me.  And it seems that I am coming across more and more people are struggling with their faith over such issues.

What really struck me is that I have cited the Koran's commanding "death to the infidel" on a number of occasions, while not recognizing the Old Testament's similar words.

I have some theories as to what was at work there, but will probably keep them to myself.  And I find myself saying more and more to God:  "I believe.  Help me in my unbelief."  It seems that things were a lot "safer," and easier, when I used to have all the pat answers.  But also shallower -- and that's not where I want to be.   

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A MUST Article for Parents of Teens

I have been waiting for about 45 minutes for a video of my grandson playing the drums to upload.  I finally gave up.  If I can get it to upload, I will post it later today.

Maybe you saw the report a couple of weeks ago that said virginity pledges among teens were ineffective.  The following article, sent to me by SmartMarriages, suggests otherwise.  While fairly lengthy, I found it encouraging.  It is a must-read for parents of teens. 

Like a Virgin: The Press Take On Teenage Sex
Yes, attitudes do make a difference in behavior.
The Wall Street Journal
January 6, 2009

The chain reaction was something out of central casting. A medical journal starts it off by announcing a study comparing teens who take a pledge of virginity until marriage with those who don't. Lo and behold, when they crunch the numbers, they find not much difference between pledgers and nonpledgers: most do not make it to the marriage bed as virgins.

Like a pack of randy 15-year-old boys, the press dives right in.

"Virginity Pledges Don't Stop Teen Sex," screams CBS News. "Virginity pledges don't mean much," adds CNN. "Study questions virginity pledges," says the Chicago Tribune. "Premarital Abstinence Pledges Ineffective, Study Finds," heralds the Washington Post. "Virginity Pledges Fail to Trump Teen Lust in Look at Older Data," reports Bloomberg. And on it goes.

In other words, teens will be teens, and moms or dads who believe that concepts such as restraint or morality have any application today are living in a dream world. Typical was the lead for the CBS News story: "Teenagers who take virginity pledges are no less sexually active than other teens, according to a new study."

Here's the rub: It just isn't true.

In fact, the only way the study's author, Janet Elise Rosenbaum of Johns Hopkins University, could reach such results was by comparing teens who take a virginity pledge with a very small subset of other teens: those who are just as religious and conservative as the pledge-takers. The study is called "Patient Teenagers? A Comparison of the Sexual Behavior of Virginity Pledgers and Matched Nonpledgers," and it was published in the Jan. 1 edition of Pediatrics.

The first to notice something lost in the translation was Dr. Bernadine Healy, the former head of both the Red Cross and the National Institutes of Health. Today she serves as health editor for U.S. News & World Report. And in her dispatch on this study, Dr. Healy pointed out that "virginity pledging teens were considerably more conservative in their overall sexual
behaviors than teens in general -- a fact that many media reports have missed cold."

What Dr. Healy was getting at is that the pledge itself is not what distinguishes these kids from most other teenagers. The real difference is their more conservative and religious home and social environment. As she notes, when you compare both groups in this study with teens at large, the behavioral differences are striking. Here are just a few:

- These teens generally have less risky sex, i.e., fewer sexual partners.

- These teens are less likely to have a teenage pregnancy, or to have friends who use drugs.

- These teens have less premarital vaginal sex.

- When these teens lose their virginity they tend to do so at age 21 -- compared to 17 for the typical American teen.

- And very much overlooked, one out of four of these teens do in fact keep the pledge to remain chaste -- amid much cheap ridicule and just about zero support outside their homes or churches.

Let's put this another way. The real headline from this study is this:
"Religious Teens Differ Little in Sexual Behavior Whether or Not They Take a Pledge."

Now, whatever the shock that might occasion at CBS or the Washington Post, it comes as no surprise to parents. Most parents appreciate that a pledge of virginity -- a one-time event that might be made at an emotional moment in a teen's life -- is not some talisman that will magically shield their sons and daughters from the strong and normal desires that grow as they discover their sexuality. What these parents hope to do is direct these desires in a
way that recognizes sex as a great gift, which in the right circumstances fosters genuine intimacy between a man and a woman and at its freest offers
the possibility of new life.

This is not the prevailing view, of course. And these parents know it. Far from conformists living in a comfortable world where their beliefs are never challenged, these families live in an environment where most everything that is popular -- television, the movies, the Internet -- encourages children to grow up as quickly as possible while adults remain locked in perpetual adolescence.

Nor do these families believe their children are better than other kids. Unlike the majority of health experts and their supporters in the press, however, they don't believe that the proper use of the condom is the be all and end all. For these parents, the good news here is that the striking behavioral differences between the average American teen and the two teen
groups in this study show that homes and families still exert a powerful influence.

That, alas, is not something you're likely to read in the headlines. For when it comes to challenging the conventional wisdom on issues of sexuality, the American media suddenly become as coy as a cloistered virgin.

Monday, January 12, 2009

It's for the Birds

Poor Atlanta (Falcons) and Seattle (Seahawks).  Poetic justice should have included them with the Ravens, Cardinals and Eagles in the NFL championship game.  They could have promoted it as the "Birds of a Feather" championship.

A sportswriter this morning noted that preseason predictions said all roads to the Super Bowl led through Dallas.  And the four teams going to the conference championships all played the Cowboys this year -- and beat them.

At least there is hope for the Texas Rangers.  I figured they had about as much luck making the World Series as the Arizona Cardinals had making the Super Bowl.  Well, the Cards are one game away.  I never thought I would see it.

"24" began a new season last night.  I'm not sure what it is about that show that captures my attention like it does.  Beverly and I don't follow much TV.  We couldn't tell you anything about many of the shows that are deemed to be great dramas.  But somehow, we got hooked on "24"-- and it keeps us riveted.  Jack Bauer is, perhaps along with Clint Eastwood, the best anti-hero ever.           

Friday, January 09, 2009

Gators Chomp Sooners

Congratulations to the Florida Gators!  Who would have dreamed a team could hold OU to only 14 points?  Two goal-line stands and a fluky interception helped.

But what can you say about Tim Tebow?  My goodness!  I'm not taking anything away from Heisman winner Sam Bradford, but if I'm going into battle -- put Tebow or Colt McCoy in front of me.  The guy is one of the gutsiest athletes I've ever seen.

His speech after that early loss to Ole Miss should go down in sports history.  He put himself on the line -- and he did what he said he would do.  What a dream season!  

And what a fine young man he is, too.  I couldn't help but laugh when he got the Unsportsmanlike Conduct call late in the game for "gator chopping" at one of the OU players who was obviously trash-talking him.

That brings me to another subject.  If I were a coach, I would hold a school for all my players -- with the title of the class being "Don't say anything stupid to the media."  For the OU player to come out last week saying Tebow would be the 4th best quarterback in the Big 12 has to go under the heading of "STUPID."  Even if Tebow's skill-set would rank him in that way, his intangibles take him to SUPER level.  And those intangibles were stoked last night!

I find it humorous that some people are being so critical of Mack Brown.  He's posturing, just like any coach in his position would.  To hear people say he is whining is silly.  I haven't heard him act whiny.  Just a bit indignant about the process. 


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Weird News

I read with interest yesterday that a group of atheists in Britain have taken out advertisements on 800 buses.  The ads say:  "There's probably no God.  Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

At first glance, I became a bit angry -- because I got defensive.  

But then I read that what inspired them was an advertisement on a bus from a Christian group, inviting people to a website where they were told they would "spend all eternity in torment."

Freedom of speech can be a double-edged sword, can't it?  We like it when it benefits our side.  We scorn it when it benefits the other.

In these STRANGE times, we Christians need to consider Jesus' words seriously when He said we need to be "as shrewd as snakes, and as innocent as doves."  We MUST put aside the militant evangelism of the past, and live out the gospel in ways people can see.  I mean really, isn't it sad that those atheists in Britain could even suggest that the pursuit of God takes away from enjoying life?  Where are they getting such ideas?  From watching "religious" people.

How about this strange piece of news?  A doctor is suing his ex-wife, who had an affair.  He had donated a kidney to her, and now wants to be compensated.  Price?  $1.5 million!


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Who Is Really Hurting Marriage?

The following article was written by Edward Fudge. Since I have been pretty vocal against homosexuality, I thought this article puts things in true perspective. Why aren't we as outraged at those who have made a mockery of marriage by breaking their marriage covenants through adultery (affecting 50% of marriages) as we are about "homosexual marriage" (affecting 2-3%)?

All sin is sinful and all of us are sinners. Those truths are easily forgotten today, as many "righteous" people seem to limit "sin" to sexual wickedness, of which they are quite sure that God considers homosexual misbehavior to be the very worst sort. Seeking some biblical perspective, I looked up nine major "sin lists" found in the New Testament (Matt. 15:18-19; Rom. 1:28-31; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 4:25-31; Col. 3:5-9; 1 Tim. 1:8-10; 2 Tim. 3:1-5 and Titus 3:3). Taken together, these nine passages identify at least 37 specific sins, which encompass wrong attitudes (14), improper speech (4) and forbidden conduct (19).

The statistical observations that follow are neither scientific nor theological but they are interesting and stimulate thought. Outward sins begin in the heart, said Jesus, and sinful attitudes include envy, covetousness, jealousy, malice, enmity, bitterness, anger, faithlessness, heartlessness and ruthlessness. Most frequently named in these nine lists (three times each) are envy, anger, slander, theft and the general term "sexual immorality." Crusading against sexual immorality is popular among church folks, but where is the moral outrage over the first three sins in that set?

More than 80% of the 37 specific sins named are unrelated to sex. The seven sins that are sexual in character are adultery, sexual immorality, orgies, impurity, sensuality and homosexual conduct. Of these, the most often-named is "sexual immorality," which is also the most general by definition. Tying for second place in biblical attention are adultery (which ensnares 40-60% of married Americans at some time) and homosexual conduct (which probably involves 2-5% of the population, though pro-gay advocates claim 10%). Which of those two sins do you suppose poses the greater threat to marriage? Of all sinners, which one should concern us most? Surely it is that sinner whom we face each morning in the mirror (Luke 18:9-14).

It breaks my heart that homosexuals are able to say, "How can us marrying hurt the institution of marriage?  Heterosexuals have done that through their own breaking of the marriage vows."  But they are right. 

Monday, January 05, 2009

I Want to be a "Crazy" Dreamer

On Sunday nights, I am preaching through Nehemiah. Last night I closed with a story that I want to define my life more. Here it is:

In 1401, builders of the cathedral in Seville, Spain wrote, "Let us build here a church so great that those who come after us will think us mad ever to have dreamed of it."

Obviously, they were making reference to a structure -- a building. But I want this statement to define the faith community I serve. I want to be a part of a church that dreams BIG, God-sized dreams. I would love for people 50 years from now to say, "Wow. Those folks back in 2009 must have been crazy to have taken that on!"

I am praying for the Lord to lay on the hearts of His people big dreams. Dreams that, by their fulfillment, show HIM at work -- and bring Him glory.

I count myself blessed every day to be serving the church I do. We have shepherds that are interested in more than meeting the budget. They are dreaming. And next Sunday, they are going to share some of those dreams with the Body. I'm looking forward to it!